• Published 4th Nov 2020
  • 2,662 Views, 190 Comments

Another Side of Friendship: Pony Tails - The Great Twixie

The continued adventures of Twilight and her new friends.

  • ...

The Great and Powerful

Twilight, Starlight, and Moon Dancer were gathered around the west castle courtyard where Trixie’s star-spangled wagon had been parked for the day. The three mares were staring intently at a fresh patch of recently disturbed dirt while Twilight and Moon Dancer were on standby with shovels. Starlight looked apprehensively at the stopwatch in her hoof, groaning.

“How long has she been down there?” asked Moon Dancer.

“Five minutes,” Starlight answered with noticeable concern.

“Do you think she’s all right?” Twilight questioned, biting her hoof. “Maybe we should bring her back up.”

“She told us not to under any circumstances,” Moon Dancer pointed out.

“But what if she passed out from lack of oxygen?” said Twilight.

“Maybe we should take just a little peek?” Starlight suggested nervously.

While the ponies chattered among themselves, nopony noticed Trixie coming up the courtyard walkway, loudly sipping an oat smoothie (with extra hay, just the way Trixie likes it!) The blue showmare trotted up next to Starlight’s left side, staring at the dirt mound with them, still unseen by her fellow Elements.

“What’re you doing?” she asked out loud.

“Trixie asked us to bury her underground and now we’re waiting for her to come back up,” Starlight explained to Trixie, who was grinning with mirth. It took a few seconds for everypony’s brains to catch up, all three spinning their heads to Trixie with dumfounded gazes. “BWAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

“Trixie?!” Twilight gasped, snapping back at forth between the mare and the dirt mound. “But – you – we – how – when – who – why – where – what?!”

“How did you get out?!” thankfully, Moon Dancer spoke Twilight-ese.

“A magician never reveals her secrets,” Trixie proclaimed, lifting her chin proudly.

“But if you’re here,” Starlight pointed at Trixie, then the dirt mound, “then who’s down there?”

Twilight and Moon Dancer exchanged curious glances, then furiously excavated the dirt pile with their shovels. They burrowed into the ground six feet before one of them hit something solid with a loud thump! The mares tossed the shovels aside and used their horns together to levitate an ornate truck large enough to fit a pony comfortably inside. After setting the trunk on the ground, Twilight undid the latches and threw the lid open. She, Starlight, and Moon Dancer jumped back as Spike popped out, leaning over the side taking large desperate gasps of air.

“Spike?” said Twilight, astonished. “How did you get in there?”

“I – don’t – know!” Spike wheezed.

Trixie threw her head back, laughing, as the poor baby dragon slumped sideways and plopped on the ground.

After a few minutes of cleaning up, everypony moved to Trixie’s wagon. Twilight, Starlight, Moon Dancer and Spike were sitting on stools that Trixie had provided at the wagon’s window, while the showmare worked her magic inside. When Trixie popped her head out, she was levitating a tray with four bottles of fizzy colored liquid – her patented Fizzy Fruit Potions! Twilight, Starlight and Moon Dancer took the potions and sipped them with delighted noises, but Spike refused to take his. He was sulking on his stool with his arms crossed in a huff.

“Aw, come on, it was just a little trick,” said Trixie. “You can’t be mad at Trixie forever.” She hovered the Fizzy Fruit Potion under his nose, tempting him. “It’s cherry – your favorite.”

“…I’m still mad at you,” Spike grumbled, but took the potion nonetheless.

“When I first saw you before the whole Daybreaker thing, I didn’t really think much of you,” Twilight admitted to Trixie. “But now that I’ve seen you’re act, it gets more impressive every time.”

“You have to be the greatest stage magician in all of Equestria,” said Starlight.

“Well, Trixie wouldn’t say the best,” said Trixie, leaning on her window sill. “Great? Yes. Powerful? Obviously. But Trixie’s not the best. As great and powerful as Trixie is, there’s one trick Trixie’s never been able to pull off: The Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive!”

“The Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive?” Moon Dancer repeated curiously.

“The most amazing and dangerous trick ever performed in ponykind!” Trixie explained enthusiastically. “Only one magician has ever pulled it off: my hero, the Great Hoofdini! You are supposed to blast yourself into the open mouth of a hungry manticore! After the manticore chews you up and swallows you, you magically step out of a box on the other side of the stage! Completely unharmed!”

“That sounds very…,” Starlight started.

“Dangerous?” Twilight remarked.

“I was gonna say cool,” said Starlight.

“I knew we were best friends for a reason,” Trixie chuckled, ducking inside to concoct more Fizzy Fruit Potions. “I don’t know how Hoofdini pulled it off. Experts have verified multiple times that he didn’t use any magic during his performance. If I tried it, I'd get chewed up and swallowed by that manticore.”

“Well, if anypony can figure it out, it’s you,” Moon Dancer complimented. She took the last sip of her potion and set it on the sill. “Can I get a refill – “

“Gangway! Coming through!”

Spike and Mane mares craned their heads to the left, spotting Twilight and Moon Dancer’s foalhood friends of Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts stampeding their way. While Twinklexhine and Lemon Hearts had the sense to run around the wagon, Minuette bulldozed her way into the Element wielders. Twilight grabbed Spike and teleported away at the last second with Starlight, but Moon Dancer was less fortunate. The bespectacled mare was lifted off her stool and carried along by Minuette, who was still running uncontrollably.

“Augh! Minuette! What’s the big idea?!” Moon Dancer cried.

The overexcited pony seemed to only just realize that Moon Dancer was clinging to her and grounded her hooves to a stop, sending the bespectacled unicorn flying into the grass. Moon Dancer spat out the clumps of dirt that got in her mouth as Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts helped her up. Twilight, Spike, and Starlight popped back a moment later; Moon Dancer shot them a nasty glare for ditching her like that.

“What’s going on?” Moon Dancer asked her old friends. “Why’re you in such a rush?”

“You mean you haven’t heard?” Lemon Hearts gasped.

“There’s a new pony in town!” Minuette shouted excitedly.

“A new pony?” Twilight repeated, blinking. “What’s the big deal about that?”

“They say she’s the greatest magician in all of Equestria!” Twinkleshine exclaimed.

WHAT?!?!?!” Trixie screamed, outraged. She slammed her window shutters so hard, the entire wagon shook. The stagemare stomped outside and up to Twinkleshine, nose-to-nose; the mare leaned back fearfully. “Who dares to steal such a coveted title that rightfully belongs to the Great and Powerful Trixie – and on Trixie’s turf no less!”

Twilight pulled Trixie back with her horn and calmly asked, “Where’s this pony now?”

“She’s at the corner of Trottington St. And Trottington Rd!” said Minuette cheered; Starlight’s eye twitched. “Come on!”

Minuette and her friends galloped their way into town. The wielders of the Elements of Harmony looked at one another curiously before following, Trixie notably dragging her hooves and grumbling under her breath.

When the mares arrived at the corner of Trottington St. And Trottington Rd (Oh, look, there goes Starlight’s eye twitch again) there was already a sizable crowd gathered on the intersection. A great stage had been built on sidewalk, much larger and grandiose than Trixie’s wagon. There were spotlights, smog machines, and even posters hanging on either side. Unfortunately, they couldn’t see who the pony on the posters was because the smog was obscuring the face.

The wielders of the Elements reached the edge of the bustling crowd when showers of colorful fireworks exploded in the sky. The crowd shouted and whistled in excitement; Trixie’s mouth twisted into a deep, disapproving frown.

“Looks like you both have a flare for theatrics,” Moon Dancer commented amusingly.

“Trixie’s fireworks are greater and powerfuller!” Trixie huffed. Twilight so desperately wanted to point out everything wrong in that sentence, but the stagemare had already stomped into the crowd. “Come on! Let’s find out which foolish mare has the audacity to think they are superior to the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

Trixie rudely shoved her way through the sea of ponies, who glared and complained, but the blue mare ignored them. She could hear Twilight and the others calling out to her, but Trixie’s single-minded focus was on the stage ahead. She caught a burst of smoke and several pigeons flew over, causing the crowd to cheer and Trixie to scoff. Pigeons? Seriously? That was amateur hour compared to the Great and Powerful Trixie!

Trixie was almost to the front; she could see the edge of the stage and somepony’s hooves between the gap in the crowd. But then somepony stepped on Trixie’s cape, nearly choking the showmare as it tugged against her neck. Trixie reached over and attempted to pull the fabric free, but whoever was standing on it was very heavyset. After maybe three or four tugs, Trixie managed to herself free, but the jerking motion caused her to fly through the crowd and flop on her stomach at the front.

The crowd went silent, staring at Trixie. The showmare grimaced as she propped herself up to her elbows when a set of hooves stepped in her line of sight.

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” a haughty voice called out.

Trixie tilted her head back and stared into the face of a gray-coated unicorn mare with a slicked mane and tail, grinning condescendingly down at Trixie. With her sharply-tailored tuxedo and top hat, Trixie could not deny that she fit the profile of a stereotypical stage magician.

But it was her eyes and Cutie Mark that brought a flash of recognition in Trixie’s eyes. The Element of Laughter rose to her hooves, her surprised expression morphing into righteous anger. The gray mare kept smiling with a aura of superiority.

“You…,” Trixie breathed harshly.

“Looks like the rumors were true,” said the gray mare. “You have settled down in Canterlot. It’s been a while, Trixie.”

“Charmy…” Trixie hissed.

Twilight, Moon Dancer, Starlight, and Spike had reached the front of the crowd when they noticed Trixie glaring a hole into Charmy’s face. The gray stagemare, for her part, seemed nonchalant about it.

“Wait, you two know each other?” Starlight asked Trixie curiously.

“Everypony, this is Charmy,” Trixie introduced begrudgingly, gesturing a hoof to the opposition. “This biggest lying, cheating, doesn’t-deserve-to-stand-on-stage pony this side of Salt Lick City.”

“That’s rich coming from a third-rate hack like you!” Charmy sneered, her cool attitude turning nasty quickly. “I have more talent in my back hoof than you have in your whole body.”

“If that’s true, you wouldn’t have needed to cheat, would you?” Trixie smugly.

“I – you – that is – “Charmy sputtered, jolting back like she had been slapped in the face. She snorted angrily and growled, “That was a long time ago! I’m waaay better now than when we were fillies!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it!” Trixie snapped.

“Whoa, whoa, okay, everypony to their corners!” Starlight jumped in between the stagemares and had to physically separate them. When it looked like they weren't going to throttle each other, she asked Trixie, “Could we get a little backstory on this?”

“Yeah, how do you know each other?” Moon Dancer asked.

“And for that matter, why do you hate each other?” said Twilight.

Trixie straightened herself up proper and said in a dignified voice, “Trixie never told you the story of how she came to be called the Great and Powerful, did she?”

“That’s just something you made up yourself, isn’t it?” said Spike.

“No, you philistine!” Trixie huffed. “A magician’s stage name is earned from the mentor they trained under, passing the title down from one generation to the next. And make no mistake: Trixie did earn it. Unlike somepony,” she added, shooting a look at Charmy, who glared in return.

“What does this have to do with you and Charmy?” asked Twilight.

“Trixie is getting to that!” Trixie snapped. “Sheesh, no appreciation for storytelling. Now let’s see…,” She tapped her chin, staring off into space reminiscently. “It all started back when Trixie was just a filly…”

A little filly version of Trixie cantered down the long, winding road through the hillside, her wizard’s hat and cape much too big for a pony of her size, but she wore them with pride. Her wagon back then was little more than a yellow box with a red roof and a hoofpainted hanging sign of her Cutie Mark. The future stagemare climbed to the crest of the biggest hill yet, wiping the sweat from her brow, when she saw her next destination ahead: A bustling little city nestled on the shore of the North Luna Ocean.

It was just a few short weeks after Trixie was kicked – I mean, left – Princess Luna’s School for Gifted Unicorns,” Trixie narrated. “Trixie was just a young filly back then with nothing but the clothes on Trixie’s back and Trixie’s first wagon that she bought at a yard sale. Trixie had crossed the Unicorn Range and arrived at the first of many stops on Trixie’s journey: Vanhoover.

Trixie walked down the Vanhoover streets with her head hanging low, skittish of her surroundings. The city was a much bigger place than Canterlot, and nosier. The ponies were so much taller, it felt like they could stomp her under their hooves like a bug. Taxi carriages zoomed past at dangerous speeds, yelling at Trixie and her wagon for getting in the way.

The big city was scary for a little filly, but Trixie was determined. Trixie had heard rumors that a famous magician performed in Vanhoover and Trixie needed to see him for herself. And thanks to Trixie’s good fortune, Trixie was able to find him on her first day.

Filly Trixie noticed a crowd gathered around a large stage settled between an insurance company and a dynamite store. Trixie unfastened herself from the wagon and approached the crowd, using her small size to weave through the forest of hooves. When she popped out in the front of the crowd, Trixie tilted her head back at the stage. Her eyes fell on a handsome, mustachioed stallion in a crisp tuxedo and top hat, a great sapphire gemstone pinned to lapel.

He waved his hoof theatrically as colorful fireworks exploded in the sky, flying dangerously close to the dynamite store.

The Great and Powerful Presto – one of the best stage stallions of the previous generation and a member of the Starmane Society of Magicians. After watching one performance, Trixie knew that the Great and Powerful Presto must be Trixie’s mentor. Unfortunately, Trixie wasn’t the only one who had the idea.

After a stunning performance, the crowd started to dissipate, chatting enthusiastically about the show. But Trixie stayed where she was, starry-eyed and smiling from ear-to-ear. Presto took notice of the tiny filly, offering her a kind smile and held out his hoof, inviting her up to the stage. Trixie gasped and reached out…when she was rudely shoved aside and fell to the ground. Gritting her teeth angrily, Trixie spun around to find another filly taking Presto’s hoof and climbing onto the stage, much to the stallion’s bewilderment. The filly looked down at Trixie with a cocky grin.

It was filly Charmy.

Charmy also wanted to learn from the Great and Powerful Presto. We both had Cutie Marks tied to stage magic, so we both wanted to learn from the best. In his endless generosity, the Great and Powerful Presto took us both in.

Presto and his apprentices were on stage at the Vanhoover Theater, the prestigious stallion showing them the tricks of the trade. He stared with a single bit, which he held up to show them, and then, with a wave of his hoof, it vanished into thin air. Presto then reached behind Trixie’s ear and pulled out the missing bit. Trixie gasped and clapped her hooves; Charmy rolled her eyes.

The experienced stage stallion gestured for them to give it a try, handing them each a bit. Charmy performed the trick like it was routine, waving her hoof and making the coin disappear, only to make it reappear behind Presto’s ear. But when Trixie made the coin disappear and reached behind Presto’s ear, a small pile of bits cascaded on the stage like a waterfall. Presto was taken aback, doubtlessly impressed, while Charmy’s jaw dropped to the floor.

Flashing forward a bit, Presto waved his magic wand for Trixie and Charmy before making it explode into a colorful bouquet of flowers. Charmy performed similarly and met with the same result, but when Trixie waved her wand, it sprouted a rainbow-flowered wreath with a pair of singing doves.

Flashing forward again, Presto showed the fillies how to pull a rabbit out of his top hat. After her previous failings against Trixie, Charmy decided to take it a step further and pulled out three rabbits at once. Charmy looked quite smug…until Trixie reached into her wizard’s hat and pulled out a very confused yak, who chased Charmy with his bellowing cries.

Trixie admits that Charmy was good, but Trixie was just a little better. Trixie could tell that Charmy loathed Trixie’s skill, but Trixie didn’t care; she was only looking out for Trixie.

After eight months of training, it was time for our final test: The Water Escape Trick.

Presto held a stopwatch as he watched his apprentices flail furiously to escape. Trixie and Charmy were both suspended by their hindlegs with their front hooves pinned to their chests by straightjackets with several chains and padlocks, all while being submerged in a tank of water.

Whoever succeeded in escaping first earned the privilege of inheriting the Great and Powerful Presto’s Great and Powerful title.

And that was you, right?” Twilight cut into the story.

Actually, no,” Trixie admitted.

The fillies kept thrashing inside the tanks under Presto's critical eye. But after a few minutes, Charmy succeeded in pulling the straightjacket over her head, freeing her front hooves and reaching for the clasps around her hindlegs. Trixie only just got loose of her own straightjacket when Charmy climbed out of the tank and landed safely onto the stage, breathing heavy but overall satisfied. She looked down at Trixie arrogantly as the blue filly flopped on the floor, looking downcast at her failure.

Trixie pulled on her hat and cape dejectedly when Presto approached his students with an unreadable expression they had never seen before. He looked them over for a short moment, then plucked the large gemstone from his lapel, holding it up in reverence.

Charmy puffed out her chest proudly…until Presto pinned it to the clasp of Trixie’s cape. Both fillies were understandably shocked.

Charmy started yelling at Presto, outraged, until the stallion shot her with a disapproving look and pointed to the straightjacket that Trixie escaped. Unlike Charmy’s, the padlocks on Trixie’s straightjacket were still locked. And as Presto levitated one of them, he made an effort to show that they couldn’t be released because they had been glued shut.

Charmy was the first to escape, but Trixie inherited the Great and Powerful Presto’s title,” Trixie continued. “Charmy had tampered with Trixie’s chains before the trick and cheated to win. The Great and Powerful Presto did not tolerate Charmy’s underhanded ways and promptly expelled her.

Presto pointed his hoof toward the door, shooting down a dark look at his former apprentice. Charmy gnashed her teeth, shouting vengeance at him and Trixie, before she turned tail and ran. She stopped at the threshold and turned back to Trixie, leering, who returned it in kind, before slamming the door behind her.

“Trixie hasn’t seen Charmy since,” Trixie concluded, exchanging glares with her archrival. “Trixie had hoped the cheating scoundrel had quit the stage. What’s this about you claiming to be the greatest magician in Equestria?” she asked Charmy, pointing an accusing hoof. “False advertisement is a crime, you know?”

“Oh, it’s no lie,” said Charmy haughtily. “After I was wrongfully dismissed – “

“Um, you cheated,” Spike pointed out.

“And during a very dangerous stunt, too,” Twilight added.

“Trixie could’ve died,” Starlight continued.

ANYWAY!” Charmy howled irritably. She quickly composed herself and said, “After I was…let go…I moved on to greener pastures. I traveled across Equestria, learning from the greatest masters of the mystic arts, astounding great scores of ponies with my perilous feats of prestidigitation – “

“So basically, you’re a rehashed version of Trixie,” Moon Dancer commented.

WILL YOU SHUT UP ALREADY?!?!?!” Charmy screamed, her mane becoming frayed and her eye twitching uncontrollably. She coughed into her hoof and brushed back her mane. “Anyway, during that strange incident with the sun a few weeks ago, I started hearing rumors about ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’ being part of this ‘Mane 6’ group and that she had settled down in Canterlot. Naturally, I had to come see it for myself.”

“Well, you’ve seen me,” said Trixie rudely, pointing down the road. “Don’t let the gates hit you on the way out.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Charmy declared with a devilish grin, leaning into Trixie’s personal space. “I don’t know what you did to earn a respectable reputation – “

“Well, first, she helped saved Equestria from burning to death – “ Twilight started until a giant cork magically plugged her mouth.

“But I’ve come to claim what is rightfully mine: the title of Great and Powerful!” Charmy declared dramatically. “And for that, I challenge you, Trixie…to a magician’s duel! The winner will be forever known as the Great and Powerful!”

The audience who had been silently watching the exchange play out let out a synchronized dramatic gasp…even though none of them had any idea what they were talking about.

“What’s a magician’s duel?” Spike asked curiously while trying to pull the cork out of Twilight’s mouth.

“It is a challenge of skill between two stage magicians,” Trixie explained with a theatrical swish of her cape. “A contest where both participants perform one trick each. Whoever pulls off the best trick wins. Not that the Great and Powerful Trixie intends to accept it. Trixie earned stage name fair – and – square.” Trixie poked Charmy’s chest to emphasize each word. “So there is no point is facing a dirty cheater like Charmy.”

“Aw, is widdle Twixie scawed?” Charmy mocked in a babyish voice.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is above such petty insults,” Trixie turned her flank to Charmy with her chin held high. “Trixie will not be goaded into – “ Charmy made a single clucking noise. Trixie spun around, pointing her hoof angrily, and yelled, “You’re on!”

“Who else saw that coming?” Starlight asked sarcastically, raising her hoof with Twilight, Moon Dancer, and Spike.

Charmy climbed the stairs to the stage with Trixie scowling behind, the ponies of Canterlot muttering excitedly; the wielders of the Elements exchanged worrisome glances. Charmy coughed importantly into her hoof and spoke in a loud, bellowing voice:

“Fillies and gentlecolts! You have been given the good fortune of witnessing a rare spectacle for the ages! A magician’s duel between two talented stagemares, right here in Canterlot!” She paused to let the ponies get in their cheers. She knew how to work a crowd, Trixie begrudgingly admitted. “Today, I, Charmy, prominent practitioner of the prestidigitation, shall face off against Canterlot’s hometown hero, Trixie!”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie!” Trixie shouted.

“The rules are simple,” Charmy explained. “We will each perform one trick, and whoever performs the best shall earn the prestigious reward of being named the Great and Powerful!

“And to make this challenge more interesting!” She added, levitating a pair of metal rings embedded with red gemstones from behind the stage curtains. “We shall be wearing these magic suppressing cuffs! These tools are used by professional police ponies to detain unicorn criminals from using their magic! This will prove undoubtedly that what you are about see is genuine stage magic!” She gave a snide chuckle as she held out one of the rings to Trixie. “That won’t be a problem, will it?”

“Hmph! You can do whatever you like!” Trixie huffed. She took the ring roughly and jammed it on her horn determinedly. She felt uncomfortably lightheaded as her magic was suppressed, but she didn’t let it show. “You will never be able to match the superior ability of the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

“You won’t be saying that much longer…,” Charmy muttered cryptically as she slipped her own ring on. “As the challenger, I have the right to perform first! And for my trick, I’m going to need a volunteer from the audience!” The ponies in the crowd started jumping up with their hooves raised eagerly; Spike was among them until Trixie shot him a nasty look. “You there! Come up, my good stallion!”

A sky-blue-coated stallion with a smokey Cutie Mark approached the stage from the right, amidst the disappointed grumbles of the audience. He smiled sheepishly as he took his place beside Charmy, who waved theatrically at him.

“And what is your name, my fine sir?” she asked.

“Er, Misdirection,” the stallion said.

“Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all?” said Moon Dancer sarcastically.

“Mphm-mphm-mphm” Twilight voiced her muffled opinion, her mouth still corked shut.

“Well, Misdirection, prepare to reach for the sky!” shouted Charmy dramatically. “For I will do the impossible! I shall transform a simple earth pony…into a pegasus!” The crowd broke out in excited chatters as Charmy brought out a large red sheet from behind the curtain and draped it over Misdirection. She made a show of rolling up her tuxedo sleeves. “As you can see, there is nothing up my sleeves. And with just a wave of my hoof…. ALAKAZOOM!”

Charmy waved her hooves in circles, which seemed nonsensical at first, until she ripped away the sheet. The audience gasped, even Twilight and the others. The stallion on stage had seemingly grown wings – actual functioning wings that he stretched reflexively. Misdirection gasped excitedly as he started flapping his new appendages, hovering a few inches off the ground as proof.

“Ta-da!” said Charmy as the audience clapped and whistled with praise. Feeling proud and accomplished, she shot a look at Trixie, who was clapping politely. “What do you think of that, Trixie?”

“That was good, Charmy,” said Trixie, nodded. “Very good. If a little obvious.”

“Excuse me?” said Charmy, brow raised.

“You’re trick – it’s so obvious,” Trixie stated amusingly. “At least to a master magician like Trixie. You planted that stallion in the audience ahead of time, pretending to pick him out of the crowd, while you had a similar-looking stallion waiting backstage.” She pulled back the curtain, revealing the earth pony Misdirection as he was about to take a bite out of a cupcake. The audience gasped again. Trixie swiped her hoof across Misdirection’s flank, smudging his Cutie Mark. “You even painted matching Cutie Marks. Adorable.”

The Audience’s cheer quickly turned sour, muttering their dissatisfaction. Charmy gnashed her teeth furiously, but took a deep breath through her nose and calmed.

“All right, then, how about you show us what you can do?” Charmy challenged.

“With pleasure,” said Trixie confidently and called, “Spike, bring Trixie her flute and wicker basket!”

In two seconds, the reliable dragon had brought the items requested on stage (“Wait, where did I find these?” he asked himself) and shuffled off. Trixie sat cross-hoofed across the basket, setting her hat aside, and brought the flute to her lips.

“And now, for your entertainment: The Saddle Arabian Snake Charmer!” Trixie announced theatrically.

Trixie started playing a catchy oriental tune with the flute, her eyes closed like she was at one with the world. The lid of the wicker basket twitched before it slowly began to rise. Several ponies took a cautious step back, expecting to see live snakes slithering out. Instead, it was only a long string of rope, swaying side-to-side like it was dancing, seemingly of its own volition. The crowd ‘oohed’ and clapped quietly, not wanting to break her concentration. The fact that she was making the rope move with her magic suppressed only made it more impressive.

Trixie changed the tempo and the rope slithered across the air, twisting itself into the outlines of various shapes. First it resembled a dancing pony, then it became a ferocious dragon, then a prancing reindeer, and finished with the unmistakable shape of Canterlot’s princess.

It seemed like Trixie was poised for an easy victory. Her trick was much more elaborate and harder to explain than Charmy’s. But while all eyes were on the blue stagemare, Starlight noticed something that was strangely out of place: Charmy was smiling.

Starlight’s gasped quietly when she saw Charmy’s horn illuminate with a violet aura. But that should be impossible, Starlight thought. The rings should be keeping their magic contained! But when she looked across the stage, that same violet aura had taken over Trixie’s rope. The rope unraveled itself and reared at Trixie like an angry cobra. The Element of Laughter was too caught up in her act that she didn’t notice anything strange until the rope snapped at her flank.

“YEOW!” Trixie yelped, jumping up and rubbing the sore spot. She faced the rope-snake as it swayed threateningly. “Hey, what’s the big idea?!”

The rope lunged at Trixie, trying itself around the mare’s hooves and into a tight knot. Trixie wobbled in place until the rope pulled up, flipping the stagemare and smacking the back of her skull on the stage. The crowd pointed and guffawed at Trixie’s embarrassment; everypony except Trixie’s loyal friends, who looked at one another with suspicious glances.

Trixie gritted her teeth as she struggled to break her bonds to no avail. Then a dark shadow fell over and Trixie had the displeasure of seeing Charmy’s arrogant sneer above.

“Well, that was certainly…interesting,” Charmy said aloud, delighted. “But it looks like you still have a lot to learn about being a Great and Powerful magician.” She reached from the gemstone on Trixie’s clasp. “I’ll just hold on to this for a while – “

“Hold it right there!”

The opposing stagemare was pushed sharply away from Trixie, sliding across the stage with her hoof still outstretched. Starlight jumped onto the stage with her horn glowing and her eyes narrowed dangerously. Moon Dancer, Twilight and Spike joined her shortly. Spike used his claws to cut Trixie free, earning the mare’s gratitude. Starlight pointed her hoof and shouted:

“She cheated! I saw it! She used her magic to sabotage Trixie!”

The crowd gasped. Charmy made a ‘tch’ noise, and said, “No way. No way. That’s totally a lie. I couldn’t have used magic because I have this magic suppression ring on my horn.” She pointed at the ring to emphasize the point.

“I know what I saw!” Starlight snapped. “You used magic to mess Trixie up! The only explanation is that your wearing a fake ring!”

“Oh please, she’s just making up stuff because they’re a bunch of sour losers,” Charmy told the audience, scoffing. “Both rings are 100% authentic. I got them from a friend at the Manehatten police department. Can you prove they’re not real, huh?”

“Mphm-mphm-mphm-mphm!” Twilight garbled something nopony could understand. Moon Dancer finally had the sense to uncork her friend; the lavender mare gasped in relief. “Thank you. As I was saying: my brother, Shining Armor, is captain of Princess Luna’s royal guard. Everypony here knows him, right?” She asked the audience.

The ponies in the crowd mumbled and nodded in agreement. Shining Armor was a respected name in Canterlot and everypony loved him, which meant they also knew about his relation to Twilight. Charmy took a step back, sweating lightly. She certainly wasn’t expecting this bit of information.

“We could have him come down here and verify the rings himself,” Twilight suggested. “That’s not a problem, is it, Charmy?”

Anypony who looked at her could tell it was a problem. The gray stagemare looked back and forth between the Mane 4 and the crowd, which was starting to look mistrustful of Charmy. The stagemare gulped loudly.

“Oh…well…let’s just call this a draw then,” Charmy suggested nervously, shuffling away. “I really must be going. Lot’s to do, ponies to see – you understand, right?”

But Trixie wasn’t going to let her get away that easily. She threw a smoke bomb at her hooves and disappeared, then reappeared in front of Charmy, cutting her off.

“Hold it, you dirty cheater!” Trixie snarled. “We’re not through yet!”

“Oh, come on, Trixie,” said Charmy. “Let’s just call it a draw and – “

“Trixie will not call it a draw! You cheated!” Trixie roared. “We must settle this once and for all, and we’ll settle this on Trixie’s terms! Trixie challenges you to a magician’s duel, Charmy!”

“And why should I even consider accept?” Charmy retorted.

“Because suspicion has been cast upon you, Charmy,” said Trixie. “And here in Canterlot, even the smallest rumors can destroy a pony’s reputation, whether they are true or not. If you run away now, everypony in Equestria will think you’re a lying, cheating snake – which you are. You’ll have a hard time finding work after that.”

Charmy grimaced, turning her gaze from her rival to the ponies in the crowd, all of them looking at Charmy in disapproval.

“Grr…fine,” Charmy agreed begrudgingly. “Name the time and place.”

“West castle courtyard – three hours from now,” said Trixie. “Be there, or be a wheel.”

“The proper phrase is ‘be there, or be square.’” Charmy corrected.

“No, squares are Trixie’s favorite shape,” Trixie announced happily. “But Trixie doesn’t trust wheels.”

“Is anypony gonna point at that her wagon is – GURK!” Starlight choked as Trixie trotted by with a hoof around the lilac mare’s throat.

“Come, Starlight Glimmer, we must prepare!” Trixie announced loudly.

“I can – GURK – walk myself!” Starlight gasped.

Charmy stared at the back of Trixie’s departing form with a prickle of apprehension in her chest. She hadn't expected to get caught in the act when she had pulled it off dozens of times before. Trixie's new friends weren't ordinary unicorns. Deep down, Charmy knew she couldn’t be Trixie in a fair duel, and she can’t sabotage the mare in the open like last time.

So she’ll just sabotage things from behind the scenes, Charmy thought with a wicked chuckle.

“That no-good, dirty, lying, cheating mare,” Trixie grumbled under her breath as she and Starlight approached her wagon. “Humiliating Trixie is such an undignified manner. Well, Trixie will show her! Trixie will win the duel, and she will do it fair and square!”

The blue stagemare walked up to her door when she slid open a secret panel next to the knob, revealing a shiny red button. Trixie pushed the button and stepped back as her wagon performed a complex transformation sequence into a grand stage complete with spotlights, a star-patterned curtain, and a wavy banner that said, “The Great and Powerful Trixie.”

Starlight blinked, and asked, “Are you sure your wagon isn’t a robot in disguise?”

“No time for silly questions!” Trixie yelled, disappearing behind the curtain. After a few seconds of waiting, she came back dragging a trunk across the stage. “We need to set up for the performance with which Trixie will defeat Charmy.”

“And what trick are you going perform?” asked Starlight.

“The same trick that earned Trixie her stage name: the water escape trick,” said Trixie with a proud grin. “Not only will it help Trixie win the duel, but it will also remind Charmy of how she washed out and became a nobody while Trixie went on to greatness!”

“You’re just a little evil, aren’t you?” said Starlight amusingly.

“Just a little,” said Trixie, giggling. “And this time, Charmy won’t be able to cheat. I’ve locked all the equipment I’ll need in this secure trunk.” She patted the trunk, gesturing to the giant padlock on the front. “Now come help Trixie set up the tank. We’ll use the water from Princess Luna’s private pond. I’m sure she won’t mind.”

Trixie and Starlight walked off stage left, leaving the trunk unattended. It was the perfect opportunity for a certain sompeony to strike.

Charmy poked her head out cautiously from her hiding spot behind the stage and scanned the area. Trixie and Starlight were nowhere to be seen. Perfect. The gray stagemare trotted up the stairs and rolled across the stage like she was in an action film. She searched the area again. All clear. She examined the trunk’s padlock, scoffing.

“Did she really think this could keep me out?” said Charmy. “And she called me amateur hour.”

Charmy's horn illuminated with a violet aura, aiming it toward the padlock. The aura enveloped the lock, and after a few seconds, the mechanism released with a soft click. She discarding the lock, undid the latches, and threw the lid wide open.

“Now, let’s see what we – “

But as the cheating showmare leaned over the trunk, her eyebrows flew up to her mane when she saw that the space was nearly empty. All that was inside was a boxing glove pointed up. Charmy scratched her head, very much confused, and leaned in closer for a better look. The next thing she knew, the glove jumped at her and –


“Oooh, my head…” Charmy moaned in a daze. “Wha – what happened…?”

As the daze began to wear off and her vision cleared, Charmy became aware of three things at once. One: She was on a large hill several yards away from Trixie’s stage, which was now crowded with dozens of loud, excitable ponies. Two: she couldn’t move her hooves; somepony had tied her up and stuffed inside a cylinder of sorts. Three: she couldn’t use her magic; something was cutting off the flow of energy to her horn and was making her lightheaded.

“Well, well, look who’s awake.” Charmy gasped and looked around at Starlight’s smug grin. “That’s what you get for trying to cheat.”

“Wha – what is this?!” Charmy screamed. “Let me out of here! I demand – “

“Shh!” Starlight hushed her. “The show’s starting.”

They both looked ahead as the curtains on Trixie’s stage parted with a drumroll and the blue showmare herself stepped out to be greeted with a glorious applause.

“Thank you, thank you, fillies and gentlecolts!” Trixie shouted theatrically, her voice carrying across the hills. “Come one! Come all! Come see the greatest show on Equestia! Now, Trixie know everypony here came to see a duel between two magicians. But after a very brief discussion, there’s been a change in plan. Instead of going against each other, Trixie’s dear, dear friend Charmy has agreed to perform with Trixie instead!”

“What?!” Charmy yelled, going unheard by the cheering crowd. “I never – “

A cork magically appeared in the showmare’s mouth via Starlight Glimmer. A little payback for Twilight.

“Prepare to be amazed as the Great and Powerful Trixie and her dear friend Charmy performs a death-defying feat not seen in many moons!” Trixie continued. “Behold, your fears come true!”

With a gesture of her hooves, the curtains raised behind her. Everypony gasped in terror and jostled back. Upon the stage was a ferocious beast with the body of a lion, the wings and horns of a dragon, and the tail of a scorpion. The beast roared and lunged at Trixie, but its reach came up short due to the chain around its neck. In the front of the audience, Lemon Hearts shivered and coward behind Twinkleshine. Trixie pretended not to notice the monster slashing its claws at her flank.

“That’s right! A pony-eating manticore, straight from the Everfree Forest!” Trixie continued. “For today, we shall be performing a slight alteration to the famous Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive performed by the Great Hoofdini! Instead of Trixie shooting herself into the Manticore’s mouth, her generous and kind-hearted friend Charmy has agreed to be shot instead!”

Charmy stiffened with fright. She was just now realizing that the cylinder was actually a cannon. The showmare thrashed all around despite the pointlessness of her attempt. Starlight giggled amusingly.

“Trixie’s fellow stagemare has entrusted Trixie to wrest her from the Manticore’s jaws of doom,” Trixie announced, waving a hoof to a box on the opposite side of the stage, “and appear safely in this black box! And we shall both be performing…without magic!” Trixie removed her hat, revealing the metal ring on her horn. “As you can see, we are both wearing authentic magic suppression rings provided by the captain of the royal guard! Thanks, Shining Armor!”

“I’m gonna need those back when you’re done!” Somepony yelled in the back.

That explains why she can’t feel her magic, Charmy thought as she flailed three times harder.

“And now, the time has come!” Trixie announced dramatically, waving a hoof to the hill. “Launch the cannon!”

From her place on the hill, Starlight gave a hearty salute and ignited the cannon’s wick with her horn. With some impressive mouth work, Charmy spat out the cork and breathed erratically.

“Y – You don‘t have to do this!” Charmy pleaded. “I’ll give you anything you want! Money?! My hat?! Is this because I cheated?! I admit it! I cheated! I’ll tell all of Equetria that I’m a dirty cheater! Just get me out of this thing!!!

“You know what they say, Charmy,” said Starlight, grinning. “The show must go on.”

Charmy opened her mouth, likely to beg more, but whatever she was going to say was lost in her throat as she was launched into the air, her coat smelling like gunpowder. The audience watched in trepidation as the gray showmare soared above their heads, screaming at the top of her lungs. Charmy flew directly into the Manticore’s open mouth, its cheeks stuffed and a genuinely look of surprise in its eyes. Then, the Manticore swallowed Charmy whole, exhaling a loud belch and Charmy’s top hat that landed at Trixie’s hooves.

The crowd gasped horrifically; Lemon Hearts fainted. Trixie picked up the top hat, giving it a once over, then tossed it over her shoulder.

“It appears that my fellow magician has been consumed by the Manticore!” Trixie declared with a dramatic sigh. “Or has she?” She rose on her hindlegs and waved her hooves at the black box. “One…two…TRIXIE!

A cloud of smoke exploded inside the box, followed by the walls collapsing, revealing a disoriented Charmy. Her mane was a mess, her tuxedo was disheveled, and she could barely stand on her hooves, but she was very much alive.

“Behold, the Peat and Growerful Shoomy…” Charmy mumbled dizzily.

The crowd went silent for a single beat…then exploded into an Equestria-shaking roar of applause. The screams even roused Lemon Hearts from her black out. Trixie grinned victoriously and gave a gracious bow to the crowd. She then faced Charmy, who drunkenily stumbled across the stage and woozily stood up to her rival with an unfocused glare.

“Your…,” Charmy babbled. “You’re desssspicable….”

Charmy’s eyes rolled to the back of her head and she collapsed, unconscious. Trixie shrugged her shoulder’s nonchalantly and continued bowing to the audience.

“Oh man, that was awesome!” Spike cheered from the front row.

“How did she do it?” Twilight wondered. “I authenticated both rings with Shiny. Neither of them should have been able to use magic.”

“Good luck figuring that out,” Moon Dancer commented. “A magician never reveals her secrets.”

As she rose from her bow, Trixie looked up to the hillside at Starlight Glimmer, whose horn was still glowing with magic, completely unnoticed by the crowd. Starlight and Trixie exchanged knowing and amused smiles.

It was good to have Great and Powerful friends.

Author's Note:

Trixie is generally treated as the butt of the joke in canon and by fans alike (myself included, even if she is my favorite character), but it's nice to have her come out on top once and a while.

And Charmy's not going away for a long time like Trixie did in canon. She's here to stay and be a repeated enemy for Trixie, and now Starlight, in a Tom and Jerry-like relationship.

Next chapter: A sleeping dragon's smoke is blocking out the sun, and it can only be awaken from inside the dream world. A task that Princess Luna leaves for Moon Dancer.