• Published 26th Nov 2012
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Letters From a Friend at the End of the World - alexmagnet

Twilight receives a letter from Trixie one day, but it raises more questions than it answers.

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17 — Secrets, Secrets, and More Secrets

Chapter 17:
Secrets, Secrets, and More Secrets

October 1, 1000

Dear Jerkface Twilight Sparkle,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I said to you in my last letter (which I doubt you’ve received yet), and I decided that what I said was wrong.

I don’t hate you with every fiber of my being. I hate you with every cell of every molecule of every fiber of my being. If you were to print the word ‘hate’ on every inch of every page of your thickest book, it would not equal one-one thousandth of the amount of hate I feel for you.

But that is beside the point.

I realized something more important than that. I blamed you for everything, the Ursa, my carriage, my career, my life after what happened, but I know now that that’s wrong. It’s not your fault that you defeated the Ursa Minor and upstaged me. It’s my fault for not crushing your pathetic excuse for a town when I had the chance. I had those idiots eating out of the soles of my hoof, but I threw it all away because I was too kind to simply destroy you when you refused to challenge me. It would’ve been a simple matter, too. Make no mistake though, the next time we meet I will not be so generous. You’ll wish that I had not been so good-natured the first time around.

I will defeat you. It is my destiny.

This is likely the last letter you’ll receive from me. I’m going away now, on a quest you might say, and the next time you see me I’ll be more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Until we meet again,

Trixie Lulamoon

Twilight read the letter again, scrunching her face. She sighed softly, setting the aside the letter and extinguishing the tiny spherical light source she had conjured up.

She looked a little to her right and smiled as she saw the bundle of woolen blankets heave slowly up and down. Spike may be a precocious baby dragon, but he was still a baby dragon. She reached over and placed a hoof on where she guessed his head was, petting it softly.

There suddenly was a loud snort that shattered the silence, and Twilight’s eardrums, from the other side of the cramped room. She glanced over just in time to see a sleeping Rainbow Dash roll over and exhibit a decidedly more quiet, and yet indiscernible, “Mmmhmhhhmm”. She giggled quietly.

It’s probably time for me to get some sleep too, I guess.

As Twilight was adjusting her pillow, she heard the quiet creak of the door opening and she looked up to see Lager entering the room. He didn’t notice her at first, not until Twilight said, “Lager? What are you doing up so late?”

He froze, something jingled in his free hoof, then he looked down.

“I could ask you the same, ma’am.” She didn’t really know how to respond to that, so Twilight just waited for him to say something. He grunted. “Hmph, well, fine, you caught me.” She raised an eyebrow. He backed out of the room and nodded his head back towards the bar area, saying, “C’mon then.”

Twilight’s brow creased, then, after a moment, relaxed and she shrugged. Following him to an empty booth, she sat down after he offered her a seat.

“Lemme jus’ go get a light real quick,” he said.

“Oh, no need,” Twilight replied. Her horn flashed briefly then the same ball of light appeared in front of them, slightly brighter this time. It illuminated Lager’s dark-brown fur, and the creased wrinkles beneath his sad blue eyes. They almost looked like little pools of fresh water amidst all the mud. In the faint, vaguely purplish light, she could see a tiny smile crack his thick lips.

“That’s quite impressive,” he said, indicating the makeshift lantern.

Twilight grinned. “Oh, that’s just some silly spell that I made up awhile ago so I could read at night and not wake Spike up.”

“You made that up by yourself?”

“Sure, I’ve made up lots of spells.”

He clicked his tongue. “Well, I’ll be damned. Ain’t that somethin’?”

The tiny light wasn’t quite bright enough to show off Twilight’s reddening face. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she said. “All I did was isolate the light that is normally produced from the horn when casting spells, they call it the “corona effect”, and then I move it to wherever I want using the same telekinesis spell I used to create the initial light in the first place. It’s actually very simple. It’s just a matter of—nevermind. I’m probably boring you with all this silly magic theory stuff.” Twilight cleared her throat and sat back down.

Lager waved his hoof dismissively. “No, no, it’s interesting to hear about magic. Don’t get to see much of it, bein’ an earth pony and all.” His eyes seemed to get just the tiniest bit sadder.

“Anyway, I doubt you came into our room to talk about magic theory, and I’m willing to bet that you didn’t even plan on me being awake. So that begs the question: why were you in our room at all?” Twilight said, perhaps a little more accusatory than she meant.

For a moment, Lager seemed to be fumbling with something underneath the table, then he produced a small leather bag tied together by a twine drawstring. It hit the table with a metallic thud, and the contents seemed to jingle happily.

He pushed it towards Twilight, saying, “That’s for you and your friends.”

She picked it up hesitantly with her magic, then looked past it at Lager. “What is it?”

“Bits,” he said simply. “Your lodging fees plus a little extra, what little I could spare.”

“I can’t take this,” she said, trying to hand it back to him. He refused, putting his hoof out to stop the floating satchel. “But, we’re the customers. Why are you giving us money?”

His right hoof reached up under his jaw and scratched his chin. “Look,” he said, “I’m not the kinda guy to go around handin’ out money to strangers, but I gotta feelin’ you’re gonna need it more than me.”

Twilight shook her head. “But why us?”

“Lotta folks pass through here every day. Most don’t even stay for more ‘an a few hours, the rest are gone by the end of the day.” He shrugged. “But that kid, Trixie, she was something different. Don’t know what it was, but I hafta admit, I got a soft spot for her.” In the dim light, Twilight could see his eyes staring off into space, not really focused on anything, misty. “I just don’t want to see her get hurt,” he finally admitted. Putting his hoof over Twilight’s, he said, “Far as I can tell, you three mean to find her and bring her back. Giving you a bit ‘o money is the least I can do.”

“I’m sorry. I really can’t accept this,” Twilight said as politely as she could. “I don’t feel right taking your money.”

“It’s your money too,” he said. “I charged you way too much anyway.”

“But why even charge us in the first place then?”

He leaned back in his chair and let out a long, slow sigh. Crossing his fore-hooves, he said, “Look, I’ve got a reputation around here. Like I said, I ain’t the kinda guy to go around givin’ money to strangers. If they saw me handin’ out free rooms with a bag ‘o bits I’d be outta business in a week.” He played with the stubble on his chin. “Hell, I didn’t even want you to know I was givin’ you money. Of course it’d be just my luck to find you wide awake,” he said, somewhat amused.

Twilight’s eyes glazed over as she stared at the small money pouch. After a few seconds, she said, “I–I don’t know what to say.”

“Nothing,” Lager said, leaning forward suddenly. “I don’t want you breathing a word of this to your sleepin’ friends, you hear?” Twilight nodded. “Can’t go around advertising my generosity, can I?” He chuckled warmly.

Twilight smiled, taking the satchel and placing it somewhere safe. “Thank you so much, Lager. Really, you’re too kind.”

“Don’t go tellin’ anyone else that, heh,” he laughed. He put his hooves on the table and scooted himself out of the booth. “I think it’s time both you and I get some rest,” he said. Helping Twilight out of her seat, he added, “I’ve no doubt you’ve got quite a journey ahead of you.”

After she had managed to evict herself from the cushiony seat, she glanced over her shoulder and blew out the little light ball, eclipsing them in total darkness.

“Oh, sorry,” Twilight apologized.

“S’all right,” Lager replied. “I know my way round this bar light or no. Been in this place thirty yea—Ow!”

There was a dull thud, followed by a crash and a yelp of pain.

“Oh my gosh!” Twilight cried. “Are you okay?”

Wheezy laughter echoed dryly. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Nothin’ bruised ‘cept my pride.”

“Hang on a second.” Twilight’s horn ignited with purple flame for a brief moment then another one of her light orbs bounced off and lit the room with its vaguely purplish glow.

In a heap, on the ground, Lager lay face-down. He wasn’t wearing his usual bar tender’s apron, and Twilight saw his hind legs for, she realized, the first time. One was completely normal, a leg coated in a thick layer of dark-brown fur and with a flagon-shaped cutie mark, overflowing with foam near his haunches. But the other, it was different. Something about the way it moved seemed unnatural, almost robotic. It twitched, startling Twilight.

She jumped back. “Umm...”

Sighing, Lager heaved himself up and looked Twilight in the eye. “Well,” he said without a hint of the laughter from before, “Guess that’s two things you ain’t gonna speak of again.” He patted his left back-leg.

It almost sounded hollow, and definitely not like a normal leg. Twilight’s eyes widened. “Augmentation,” she said breathlessly.

He nodded. “Busted my leg a few years back in an accident involving a chimaera, and, since I wouldn’t’ve been able to work anymore without it, I, well, had it ‘fixed’.”

Twilight’s jaw hung open slightly. She stared at the leg. As far as she could tell from here, it looked fairly normal, but it felt wrong. “I’ve heard about augmentation before,” she said. “But, I’ve never seen it in real life, and certainly not so close.”

“Tonight’s just the night for firsts ain’t it?” He smiled unhappily.

“I don’t understand. How does nobody know about this?”

“Well, not ‘nobody’. Thunderclap, he’s been my best friend for Celestia-knows-how-long, so he knows, him and a few others. But I don’t like the rest of the town to know my business,” he said gruffly. “After a few years, you get pretty good at hiding it. No one knows about this if I don’t want them to.”

“Except for me,” Twilight said quietly.

“Except for you.”

She shuffled her hooves awkwardly, biting her lip. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I–I didn’t mean to, uhh...”

He waved her away with his hoof. “Nah, don’t worry about it,” he said. “I ain’t blamin’ you; wasn’t your fault.” Suddenly, he put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder and said, “Now, I think that’s enough secrets for one night, don’t ya think?”

Still somewhat bewildered, Twilight simply nodded. After a moment she regained her composure and added to the nod. “I think that it’s time I go back to bed.” She turned around and walked towards their ‘bedroom’ door. Lager watched her open the door before he turned towards his own bedroom.

As Twilight was closing the door, she saw Lager cross the room, his head held up, and an almost imperceptible limp in his left back-leg. She stopped, opened the door again and said, “Thank you again. I’m sorry about your...” she trailed off. He glanced sidelong at her and gave a nod. She was about to close the door again, but instead added, “Goodnight.”

He turned, gave her a kindly smile and said, “Goodnight to you as well, ma’am.” Twilight smiled back, and pulled the door close. But right before it clicked, he said, “When you see her, tell her I said hello.”

She stopped, holding the door just barely cracked open. “Her?” she said, barely more than a whisper.

Twilight was just about to ask who ‘her’ was when she heard Lager’s bedroom door click shut, followed by the dull thunk of the lock sliding into place. She sighed, then closed her own door and lay down in her makeshift bed.

“Her?” she repeated.

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