• 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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22 — Simply Signal S.O.S.

Chapter 22:
Simply Signal S.O.S.

“Welcome back to the real world, Trixie Lulamoon.”

Her voice was like a muffled chorus of metal scraped against metal, harsh and biting, though it did not match the look on her face. The cloaked mare stretched out her thick metal limb in offering, a slight smile on her face.

A cold chill ran down Trixie's spine as she grasped the mare’s hoof, but she was careful not to let it show. Through the haze of her half-wakened state, she could just barely make out muted light streaming through a grime-covered window, and guessed that it must still be daytime. Steadying herself on a heavy wooden table, she brought a hoof to her forehead and lightly massaged her temple.

“Ugh, my head,” she moaned. “It feels like I was just beat with a log.”

The mare appeared unfazed, merely spinning around to scoop a carved-wood cup off a small table. The liquid inside the cup sloshed around as she held it out for Trixie.

Warily, Trixie eyed the contents of the cup with a raised eyebrow. It smelled like lavender, but it could’ve been anything for all she knew. “What is it?” she asked. “Another potion?”


Trixie’s brow furrowed. “Tea?”

She nodded. “For your headache,” she said, nodding towards the hoof Trixie was currently using to rub her temple.

Still cautious, though more than willing to rid herself of this splitting headache, she took the cup in her magic and held it up for inspection. Everything seemed fine, though, it was hard to tell given the general lack of light in the area. Deciding that if this mare had wanted to poison she would’ve already had ample opportunity, Trixie tipped the cup against her lips and let the warm tea slide down her throat.

Her eyes shot open. Sputtering and coughing, she nearly choked as the acerbic liquid hit her tongue. With a grimace that even the most disgruntled donkey would’ve been jealous of, she held the tea at arm’s length, sticking out her tongue in disgust.

“That is most certainly not tea,” she said.

Trixie could’ve sworn she heard the mare chuckle, but the look on her face was unassuming as usual. The only indication of mirth she gave was the slight twinge in the corner of her mouth that threatened to spread into a fully-matured smile.

“Bitterroot,” she said, pointing to the cup. “It’s lavender tea mixed with bitterroot. It's a natural painkiller,” she explained.

“Ah, I see. That would explain why it’s so, err, bitter,” she said, thinking that ‘bitter’ was not nearly a strong enough word to describe the taste. More like, pungent, or acidic. Setting the cup aside, she said, “Yes, well, perhaps I’ll finish it later.”

“You will not cure your headache by not drinking it,” the mare said with hints of a smirk hiding behind her expressionless face.

“Maybe so, but Trixie is not particularly interested in burning her tastebuds off just yet.” She could still taste the stuff in her throat, and it made her lips curl into an unpleasant frown. Deciding to ignore it as best she could, she nodded at the window where light was still trickling its way inside. “How long was I unconscious?”

“Only a few hours,” the mare answered. “Though, you were not unconscious, merely asleep, experiencing a dream-like sate. A vision, if you will.” She approached the previously indicated window and unlatched it, throwing it open to let more light stream in. Now illuminated, though no more expressful, her face remained distinctly unreadable.

“So, that was a dream?” Trixie asked more to herself than the mare. “But... it felt so real.”

“It was real,” she said. “More metaphysical than you're used to perhaps, but no less real than you or I.”

Trixie shook her head. “But you just said it was a dream.”

“I said it was a dream-like state, not a dream. A minor, but important, distinction I might add.”

Trixie ran a hoof through her mane subconsciously, then looked down at the brooch on her chest. She placed her hoof on it and felt the edges of the gem against her skin, allowing its coldness to permeate her body. She bit her lip, then looked to the mare. “If it was real, then...” She trailed off, looking back down at the brooch.

“Then you know what you have to do,” the mare finished for her.

“The most powerful unicorn who ever lived,” she said quietly, barely more than a whisper. The mare pretended not to hear. Clenching her teeth, and squeezing the brooch, she nodded, more to herself than her. “Yes, I know what I have to do. What I’m meant to do.” Steeling herself, she straightened up and locked eyes with the mare.

The mare’s demeanor suddenly shifted, and a smile came over her face. “Well then, allow me to point you in the right direction, Trixie Lulamoon.”

It was surprisingly beautiful day outside. The sun shone warmly across the land, and not a single cloud was to be found in the sky. There was even a light breeze that kept it from becoming too hot. None of this, though, made Trixie feel any better.

She ground her hoof into her forehead, trying to drive the headache from her mind with sheer force. With a pitiful moan, she quietly regretted not drinking the rest of the tea she had been offered. As horrid as it had been, she would still have gladly taken that over this skull-splitting migraine.

Walking along the dirt path, her cape’s fringes dragging along through the rocks and gravel, fraying and tearing more with each passing day, she couldn’t help but wish for the hundredth time she still had her mobile-stage. Losing that had been a major blow. Still though, it had been nothing compared to the blow to her ego losing to Twilight Sparkle had been. All that would change soon enough though, and she would become more powerful than any unicorn in existence. Although that would mean she would be doing exactly what the Eye told her to do, she decided that it was a small price to pay for absolute power. Besides, she could still do whatever she wanted once she had that power, so it wasn’t like she was just doing as she was told anyway, at least, that’s what she told herself.

She did her best to take her mind off the intense headache by letting her eyes wander around, mulling over what the Eye had told her. Finally, after a few minutes, she spyed a small lake off in the distance. Her heart soared. The water would help soothe her aching head, and besides, she needed to refill her waterskin. It was running low and she suspected that she had long journey ahead of her.

As she trotted through the grass towards the lake, she recalled the mare’s last words before she left.

“North,” she said. “You’ll be going North from here, to a small town nestled in a cozy valley, called Hoofington. It's merely a simple trading outpost without much to its name. Most ponies leave when they're young, but the ones that stay often become merchants or craftsmen due to the lack of any other jobs being available.”

Trixie frowned. “Yes, I’ve... been there before.” Her hoof moved to her brooch again.

“Ah, good. Then you’ll know it when you see it?” the mare asked.

Trixie nodded, though, with a glazed-over look in her eyes. “I don’t think I could forget it if I tried.” She chuckled mirthlessly.

The other mare noticed Trixie’s behavior, but said nothing of it. Instead, she continued, “There’s a smithy located on the far side of town, past the mill and around where the river curves to the northeast. The master there will help you in any way he can. He is a good man, and he can direct you further, perhaps even give you some supplies for your journey. But be warned,” she said, her face suddenly becoming grim. “You mustn’t stray from the path when you leave here. The road to Hoofington is safe enough yes, but wander too far and you may find yourself in deadly peril. Bandits and thieves roam the countryside, preying on unsuspecting passersby.”

Again, Trixie nodded. “I’ll keep an eye out,” she said, only half-believing that there was truly any danger. She turned to leave, pausing for a moment at the door. Turning back around, Trixie said, “I... thank you—” She stopped. “I don’t even know your name.”

The corner’s of the mare’s mouth curled into a sly grin. “You never asked,” she said. Trixie opened her mouth to protest, but realized that she hadn’t ever asked. “It’s all right. I understand,” she said. Placing her steel limb over her chest, she dipped her head ever-so-slightly in a miniature bow. “I am Nadir.”

“Nadir,” Trixie repeated. Nadir gave a subtle nod. “Thank you, Nadir. Thank you for everything.”

“Nadir...” she mumbled under her breath, as she approached the lake. She came to the water’s edge and leaned over, peering into the shallow waters. She saw her reflection staring back at her, ragged cloak flapping lightly in the breeze and brooch glimmering in the early-afternoon sunlight. She smiled. “Thank you.”

Taking a deep breath, Trixie puffed out her cheeks and dunked her head in the water, immediately deciding that coming to the lake was the best decision she'd ever made.The cool water brought a wave of relief over her, and put her headache in a choke-hold, forcing it into submission. She relished the feeling, but soon had to breathe and so pulled her head from the water, throwing droplets through the sky and creating a stunning rainbow that lasted for the briefest of moments before dissipating.

She brushed errant strands of her wet mane from her eyes, tossing it back over her shoulders and soaking her cape. With her face upturned, she stood for a moment, simply enjoying the feeling of the sun on her face. She let out her breath slowly through her nose, her eyes closed.

“What’cha doin’?” The voice was small and childish, with just a hint of songbird-like quality.

Trixie’s neck nearly snapped due to how fast she turned to face the owner of that playful voice.

Sitting, half-submerged in the water, was a pony, her front-legs crossed in front of her, supporting her head as she lazily rocked it back and forth, a mirthful grin playing across her face. Trixie shook her head. Clearly she must be seeing things. Opening one eye slowly, she saw that the pony was still there, her grin transformed into a look of amused perplexity.

“You look silly,” she said, giggling. “How come you’re shakin’ your head like that, silly?”

“Because you can’t possibly be here,” Trixie answered resolutely.

“Why not?” Her voice grated against Trixie's ears. It had such a sweet-sounding, sing-songy quality to it that made her sound like a petulant child.

“Because I didn’t see anypony else when I walked over here, and I didn’t hear you coming, so you must be some kind of hallucination brought on by this insufferable migraine.” She fell back on her haunches and squeezed her head between her two fore-hooves, pressing on either temple. She rubbed circles around them, assuming that that would somehow excise this impossible pony from her sight. Try as she might though, the pony remained there, now happily blowing bubbles in the water and giggling as they popped.

“What’s a migraine?” the pony asked, looking up from her bubbles.

Trixie sighed. “It’s like a really bad headache,” she said. “And apparently it causes extremely vivid hallucinations.”

The pony chuckled, covering her mouth with one hoof. “I’m not a hallucination,” she said after a moment. “Here, I’ll prove it.” Before Trixie could say anything, the pony spread both her limbs out and brought them crashing down into the water like a pony tossing a skipping stone, only with less skipping and more splashing.

Cold water washed over Trixie, and this time it felt decidedly less relieving, and much more aggravating. She shook her head, throwing water everywhere. Doing her best to straighten out her mane, she let it all hang in front of her so she could squeeze the water from it.

“I wouldn’t bother,” the pony said. “It’s just gonna get wet again anyway.”

“Not if I can help it,” Trixie mumbled. Tossing her mane back, Trixie gave the playful pony her best glare, but it didn’t seem to faze her. She merely smiled that same stupid smile. “Fine,” Trixie said, giving up. “You win, you’re real.”

The pony clapped her hooves excitedly. “I win! I win!”

“Yes, yes, you win. Now then, come out the water so you don’t splash me anymore,” Trixie said, waving the pony out of the lake. Despite Trixie’s insistence, she didn’t move. Her face curled into a small frown.

“I can’t,” she said sadly.

Trixie groaned. “And why not?”

“‘Cus my dad told me not too,” she said as if it was the most normal thing in the world. “He says I’m just supposed’ta come up here and talk to ponies, but I can't leave the lake.”

Trixie’s eyebrow rose up. “What? Why?”

“He says seaponies aren’t supposed’ta leave water, ‘cus we need the water to survive.”

Trixie rubbed her temples again, trying to clear away the migraine because she had clearly just misheard what the pony said. “Did you say... ‘seapony’?” she said, sure that she was about to be corrected.

The pony, or rather, seapony, smiled happily. “Yup!” She rolled over in the water and flashed her dull green tail, using it to splash the water, soaking Trixie again. She giggled, and offered a half-sincere apology. “Whoopsie, my bad.”

Trixie was dumbfounded. This migraine was really doing a number on her. “But this isn’t even the sea,” she said. “This is a lake! Shouldn't you be... lakeponies or somehting?”

“Yeah, I know right!” she said, suddenly ecstatic. “I keep telling my dad that we should call ourselves ‘lakeponies’ but he doesn’t listen." Her face lit up, and she wriggled her tail happily. "Maybe you could tell him that! I bet he’d listen to you.”

Trixie held out a hoof, doing her best to silence the seapony. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m not telling your dad anything,” she said. “Look, I’m kind of in a hurry, so I really should be on my way. But, it's been, err, nice meeting you.” With that, she gathered herself up and turned to walk away.

“Wait!” the girl cried. “Don’t go! Come swim with me.” She splashed the water desperately trying to get Trixie's attention.

Trixie turned back around and saw a look of utter sadness cross the seapony’s face. For a moment, she almost felt sorry for her and was about to say something when she came to her senses and told herself what a ridiculously bad idea that was. “Sorry, but I really must be going.”

The seapony lazily floated on her back. “The water’s really nice,” she said in a sing-song voice. “It feels really good.”

Trixie hesitated, wanting to turn around and walk away but feeling herself strangely wanting to take a dip in the lake with the odd seapony. She debated the pros and cons to herself, meanwhile keeping an eye on the girl. She had almost made up her mind when she saw a wild look come over the seapony.

Her eyes lit up with excitement as she dove into the water with the agility of a barracuda. A second later, she resurfaced with a fish in her hooves. Smiling happily and licking her lips, her eyes flashed as she bit into the fish ravenously, tearing it apart in a bloody mess. Trixie’s eyes practically exploded out of head with how wide they grew.

She was rooted to the spot. She couldn’t look away as the girl ripped the fish apart, throwing bloody scales everywhere. For a brief moment, she saw the girl’s mouth was lined with a hundred tiny teeth, all razor-sharp and thin as blades of grass. Her heart was beating itself out of her throat now, so she swallowed it back down. After a few seconds, the seapony had finished her meal and smiled a bloody smile at Trixie.

"Mmm, fish are so tasty," she said sweetly, though more to herself than to Trixie.

"What exactly did your dad tell you to do again?” Trixie asked.

The little seapony licked her lips clean, then said, “Oh, he told me to come up here and talk to ponies who come to the lake.”

“And then do what?” Trixie asked, biting her lip nervously.

“Y’know, just try to get them to swim with me,” she said nonchalantly.

“For what purpose?”

“Because swimming is fun.”

“No other reason?”

“Well...” The seapony brought a hoof to her chin and tapped it thoughtfully. “I suppose there is another reason. But it’s a secret,” she said playfully, putting a hoof over her lips and making shushing sounds.

Trixie felt like she knew where this was going now, and she almost couldn’t bring herself to ask what that reason was. She gulped and slowly started to back away from the lake’s edge. Keeping her eyes trained on the seapony. “I see, well, it’s been lovely talking to you and all,” Trixie said, holding a fake smile as she retreated, “but maybe we’ll see each other again soon.”

The girl giggled. “Heehee, probably sooner than you think.”

Trixie stopped, tensing her legs in preparation for a quick escape. “What do you mean by that?”

She backstroked in a circle, not looking at Trixie as she said, “Oh nothing.” Spitting a stream of water out in a fountain-like spout, she sat up in the water, then nodded. “Okay, you guys, you can take her now.”

Trixie felt two shadows looming over her. “You guys?” she repeated. “Who guys?”

“Us guys,” came a gruff voice from behind her.

She turned around just in time to see two muscular seaponies, balancing on their tails and holding tridents, before there was a loud ‘thwack!’ and stars exploded in front of her. Darkness overtook her as she fell to the ground.

As the two stallion seaponies picked her up and began dragging her limp form into the water, the girl waved at her, saying, “Night, night, sleepyhead!” Then she disappeared beneath the glassy surface of the cold lake, leaving no trace of her, nor Trixie's, existence.

A single raven, on the opposite shore of the lake, picked at scraps from a small pile of bones, some as thick as a pony's leg before giving a sorrowful caw and flying away.

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