• 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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25 — Dinner and a Show

Chapter 25:
Dinner and a Show

“You can stare at it for as long as you like, but that won’t make it disappear, my dear.” His voice echoed in the cavernous hall, soft and bubbly, a bit like what she imagined a bubble bath would sound like if it could speak. It would’ve been rather lovely to listen to were it not for the circumstances under which Trixie was hearing it.

Her stomach growled in protest as she eyed the seashell plate in front of her. It was stacked with carrots, celery, lettuce, and all sorts of lovely vegetables. It was right in front of her, and yet so far away, so frustratingly out of reach. She licked her lips.

She stretched a hoof out, only to have it stop just short of the plate. The starch-white bars of the cage prevented her from reaching any further. She whimpered softly. Then, her eyes narrowed. Screwing up her face, she began to excite the leylines in her body and force the magic to her horn, but stopped when she heard cheery laughter frothing up from the other side of the room.

“Hohohoho,” he laughed. “How terribly rude of me. I should’ve realized you weren’t hungry.”

Trixie lost control of her magic as she looked up to see the barrel-chested seapony at the end of the long coral table smiling and chuckling as he waved his hoof flippantly, calling over a pair of armed guards to take the plate away. Trixie stretched her hoof out as far is it could go, trying to stop them, but the stony-faced seapony guards didn’t even look at her. They scooped the plate up and brought it to the other end of the table where the fat seapony licked his lips happily.

Trixie’s stomach growled again.

He picked up a carrot and twirled it around, a wild look in his eye. Just as he opened his mouth to take a bite, he stopped. His chubby face contorted into a look of mock concern, and he looked up at Trixie.

“You wouldn’t mind terribly if I ate this... would you? It’s just, I’m positively famished. I haven’t had a bite to eat in almost an hour.” His lips curled into a frown, but when Trixie said nothing, they quickly curled the other direction into a twisted smile. “Ah, good!” He bit off the end of the carrot with a sort of ravenous ferocity, tearing the poor vegetable in half. Chewing loudly, and waving the stumpy carrot about flamboyantly, he kept his head upturned, as if considering something as he ate. Eventually he pointed the half-eaten carrot at Trixie—after making a big show of swallowing—and said, “Now, my daughter tells me that you came from up there.” He jabbed towards the ceiling with the carrot. Taking another bite, he added, “But I have to admit, it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anypony like yourself.” He swallowed another bite and then used the carrot to point at his own forehead. “Particularly I’m interested in this bit,” he said, jabbing at his forehead again.

Trixie unconsciously reached up to her horn, and felt its fluted ridges. My horn?

The seapony took another bite of the carrot and then threw the small nub that was left aside. “Yes, yes, that... err, protrusion you have there.”

Gears turned in Trixie’s head. My horn? He hasn’t seen a unicorn before? Her eyes widened a bit as understanding hit. This might just work to my advantage then. These rubes will never know what hit them once The Great and Powerful Trixie is done. She let a tiny smirk escape. This will certainly make for an interesting tale at my next show if nothing else.

A loud knock snapped Trixie out of her thoughts as the seapony rapped the table. “Ah! I’ve just remembered!” he said excitedly. Trixie gulped. “There was a lad—years ago—had one of those things on his head as well.” He stroked his chin. “But I can’t seem to recall what it was used for.” He tapped the table with his hoof while humming quietly and looking up at the ceiling. He waved his hoof and shook his head. “Well, in any case, it’ll come to me later. Let’s not dwell on that for the time being.”

Trixie breathed a sigh of relief. Celestia, that was close.

“For now,” he said, standing up from his chair, “let us discuss you. Chiefly, what to do with you.”

“What to do with me?” Trixie asked.

He nodded. “Yes, you see, my daughter is rather rambunctious, and she is of the opinion that we should just eat you and be done with it.”

“Well, let’s not be hasty,” Trixie said quickly. “I mean, we haven’t even been properly introduced yet.” She stuck out her hoof. “My name is Trixie Lulamoon.”

He eyed her hoof from across the room, smiled. “Formalities are such a bore, my dear. I’d rather dispense with them, if it’s all the same to you.”

Trixie retracted her hoof and frowned. “Will you at least tell me who you are?”

“I suppose there’s no harm in that.” He gave a small bow. “I am the king of the seaponies, or... at least the king of what’s left of them.”

“What’s left of them?” Trixie repeated. “What do you mean? Where’d they go?”

The seapony king sighed. “Where’d they go? Hmm, yes, that’s the question isn’t it?” He picked up a stray piece of lettuce and nibbled absentmindedly on the corner of it, lost in his own thoughts.

Trixie’s stomach rumbled again. She placed a hoof over it to silence its moanings. “Are they all dead?”

“Dead?” he repeated with a chuckle. “No, no, I doubt it. Most of them struck out on their own some years ago.” He waved his hoof around. “Said something about finding their own lakes and ponds and such. Didn’t want to live all cooped up in the same watering hole as it were. Of course, so many of them left, now it’s just me, my daughter, a few guards, and the fish left.” He sighed again.

Trixie cocked her head to the side. “They left? But how? If you’re seaponies, then doesn’t that mean you can’t live on land?”

The king shook his head, causing his flabby cheeks to ripple. “A common misconception, my dear.” His hoof made a circle around his head as he said, “Look around you. We are on dry land right now, are we not?” He smiled, adding, “Dry being relative of course,” with chuckle.

It was odd that Trixie hadn’t thought of it before, but the damp cave-like hall they were in wasn’t underwater. For some reason, the thought had never occurred to her. “So you can live on land then? Why live under the water if that’s the case?” He sucked in his cheeks and puckered his lips, making a fish face. “Ah,” Trixie said, her voice trailing off.

His face returning to normal, he said, “Besides, it’s not so much that we can’t live on land as it is we don’t want to live on land. It’s very uncomfortable, all this,” he said, pointing the way his lower half was awkwardly squashed on the ground. “Though, as you can see, we aren't entirely opposed to it. We eat and sleep on dry land, for the most part,” he said, revealing a row of shiny teeth as he smiled. “My daughter prefers catching prey in the wild, while I’m more inclined to enjoy a nice, relaxing dinner at a table like a civilized pony. Of course,” he added, with yet another flippant wave of his hoof, “civilized being relative.” Trixie eyed the bone-white cage she was enclosed in uneasily.

Suddenly, the king clapped his hooves together and a pair of guards disappeared into a hallway where, a moment later, Trixie heard a splash of water. “Where are they going?” she asked.

“Oh, they’re just off to retrieve Aria,” he said nonchalantly. “My daughter,” he explained at Trixie’s confused look, adding, “We’ve talked enough as it is. I’d rather not keep her waiting any longer. She can be somewhat... tenacious.”

Trixie sat back in her cage, causing it to rock slightly. “Waiting... for what?” she said slowly, almost breathlessly.

“Dinner to be served,” he answered equally slowly. “I had to soften you up a bit before we started. You know how it is.” He shrugged apologetically.

Trixie’s mind was doing cartwheels over itself as she tried to think of something. She could perhaps cause bright flash of light and confuse the seaponies long enough to escape, but she didn’t have an easy way out of the cage. Years ago she had tried escape-artistry, but she had never been very good at it. It would take awhile to undo the lock, unless...

“A show!” she said suddenly.

The king swallowed the piece of lettuce he had been chewing on, coughing as it had gone down too quickly. Pounding his chest, he turned to Trixie, saying between coughs. “A—" cough "—show—" cough "—you say?”

She smirked. The Great and Powerful Trixie still has a few tricks under her cape. “I’m a travelling magi—showmare by trade,” she said. “Perhaps we could work out a deal?”

The seapony king let out a belch, patting his chest lightly. “A deal?” he said. “What sort of deal?”

Trixie tried to make herself look as dignified as possible as she stood up, but it was difficult when the cage kept moving around. “I perform my stage show for you, and then you let me go free.”

The king laughed a hearty laugh that echoed ominously. “I think not,” he said. “My daughter caught you and so it’s only fair that she be allowed to keep her prize.”

Trixie grinned. “Well at least allow me to perform for you anyway. Think of it as ‘dinner and a show’. Entertainment for you and your charming daughter.”

He considered her for a moment, then shrugged. “I suppose there’s no harm in that.”

Trixie motioned to the cage door and said, “Now, of course you’ll need to let me out. I can’t very well perform if I’m locked up, now can I?”

“Quite right.” The king nodded to another set of guards who quickly moved across the room and unlocked Trixie’s cage. As they pulled her out, the king, his jowls bouncing as he spoke, added, “What is it that you do, exactly?”

Trixie stepped onto the damp cave floor, brushing herself off. She put a hoof to her lips and said, “It’s a secret. If I told you now, that’d take all the fun out of it.”

The king’s bellied laughter rang out. “Quite right, quite right, indeed,” he said.


He turned to the hallway the guards had disappeared down earlier and said, “Bring Aria in. I’ve got a special treat for her.”

Trixie too turned to the hallway to watch as the same little filly she had been fooled at the water’s edge by came prancing out of the hallway. Her mane bounced up and down as she hurried towards her father, giving him a big hug, or as big as her tiny hooves could manage. “Daddy Daddy!” she exclaimed. “Is it time for dinner?”

He patted her on the head. “Almost, my dear. This lovely young mare is going to be doing something a little special for us first.”

She clapped excitedly. “Yay! What’cha gonna do, huh?” she said, cocking her head to the side as she looked at Trixie expectantly.

Trixie clicked her tongue, wagging her hoof. “Ah, ah, ah. It’s a secret.” She smiled. “You’ll just have to wait and see.” Aria frowned, crossing her hooves. “All right, now stand back everypony,” she said, waving the guards away. They looked to the king before backing away. He nodded. With everyone on the opposite side of the room, Trixie cleared her throat. “Well then, let’s get started.”

Carefully making sure to keep her horn somewhat obscured, Trixie began to conjure up fog and bathed the room in a soft darkness. The king let out a low whistle. Aria clapped her hooves as Trixie turned the ceiling above them into a magnificent display of lights. To her trained eye, they were a perfect recreation of the night sky, all the stars in their place, but to the seaponies, it might as well have been random lights, but they were enchanting all the same. Now that they were all distracted and staring at the starry ceiling, Trixie began to let the magic course through her more completely, letting it flow into her horn. It began to glow a soft blue, but the seaponies were so distracted, they didn’t notice, except for the king, whose eyes squinted through the fog, piercing right through it to Trixie.

She saw this, but ignored him and instead began telling her story, using the stars to paint a celestial picture and the fog to conceal her movements.

“Many years ago, in the little town of Hoofington—”

“I know that place!” Aria shouted.

“Shh,” the king said, placing a hoof over her mouth but keeping an eye on Trixie.

“—there lived a mare named Midnight, and she was beloved by everyone there. One day, from out of the forest, a massive Ursa Major came crashing through the town.” She pulled a few stars out of the sky and swirled them into a bear shape and bathed it in fog, making its roar release wisps of foggy air. “Nopony knew what had brought it, but they knew they couldn’t stop it. Not without the help of Midnight. So the villagers hurried as quick as they could to her house to warn of the Ursa Major and ask for her help.” A few more stars came down from the ceiling to form a horde of ponies carrying torches. She made them gallop through the sea of fog, finally drawing away the king’s attention. She pushed a little more magic into her horn. “When they reached her house however, the found it empty. The townsponies despaired for they knew their village was doomed.” The little star-ponies wept, their foggy tears mixing into the sea as the bear moved ever closer. “But, just when all hope was lost, from out of the forest came Midnight!” A starry forest formed just in time for a mare wreathed in light to come galloping out of it. Her horn was aglow with starry magic as she charged the bear. “Using all of her strength, Midnight drove the bear back and saved the village.” The mare’s horn grew brighter and brighter, becoming almost blindingly so until finally, the light exploded from her horn in dazzling display of colors.

The fog dissipated, the stars receded, and the mare, after giving a wink to Aria, disappeared. Applause erupted from the seaponies as light began to flood the room again and the fog evaporated. Quickly though, the applause turned into only one or two claps as they all spun their heads around as if looking for something.

“Where’d she go, daddy?” asked Aria.

The king’s eyes narrowed. “It’s all coming back to me now.” He grunted. “Magic. That’s what that thing on her head was for.” He turned to his guards who were still standing around loooking for Trixie, and said, “Well don’t just stand there looking like imbeciles. After her!”

Trixie rounded a second corner, still snickering to herself. Heheh, fools. Did they really think The Great and Powerful Trixie would be so easily captured? Ha! I think not.

Her hooves clattered against the ground as she turned yet another corner and entered into a domed room with small pedestal in the middle. She approached the stone pedestal cautiously, hoping to herself that it wasn’t some kind of trap.

Surrounding it at five different points, were streams of water that poured off its edges, along troughs carved into the cave floor, and then into pitch blackness. One of the streams pointed back the way she came, but the largest went in the way she was going, but in the middle of it all was a basin where water that dripped from the ceiling collected. She stood up on her hind legs and peered into the basin.

She knew she didn’t have time to be standing around, but something was telling her to look in the basin. The urge overwhelmed her. There, at the base of the shallow stone basin was a small coin. It was silver and had a picture of a seapony on it. Oh ho, this might be worth something. It might be able to buy me safe passage, or at least a hot meal and a warm bed.

Using her magic, she swiped the coin from the basin and slipped it into a small bag slung across her back. Just then, she heard shouting from behind her.

“I think I saw her go down here!” someone shouted.

“That’s what you thought about the last turn too,” another said.

“Fine, then don’t check it. I won’t be the one taking the blame when she gets away though,” the first voice said.

Uh oh, time to get moving.

Making sure the coin was secure, Trixie followed the largest trough to black pool of water at the other end of the room. Ah, we must be in some kind of underwater cave system. She hesitated jumping straight into this murky pool, but the sound of the seapony guards getting closer changed her mind. Well, nowhere else to go but forward. Taking a deep breath, Trixie slipped into the pool as quietly as she could.

It was black.

Black was everything she could see, and she couldn’t even feel any walls around her. Panic set in as she realized how incredibly reckless it was to jump into a pool of water that leads Celestia-knows-where. Knowing that panicking was the quickest way to drown, she calmed herself down and ignited her horn. It was a good thing magic is water-proof.

Even now, with her horn’s blue glow lighting up everything around her, it didn’t make seeing where she was any easier. For all she could see, she might as well have been at the bottom of the ocean. At least then I could see the ground. she thought somberly.

Without warning, she suddenly felt a tug as she slipped almost accidentally into a current of water. It pulled her along quicker than she could figure what was happening. Before she knew it, she could see light, faint at first, but it was there,as definite and tangible as the rapidly-decreasing oxygen supply in her lungs.

Tumbling out into the light-filled water, she felt it getting noticeably warmer. The water in the cave hadn’t been frigid, but it certainly didn’t give her this warm tingly feeling. That could also be the drowning. Deciding to throw caution to the wind, she swam upwards as quickly as her awkward stroke could carry her.

Her vision began to darken around the edges as she approached the light. She could feel her lungs gasping for air, but she knew that she had to push them just a little bit longer. There it was, just within reach. She could practically taste the sunshine as she approached the water’s surface.

Her limbs became sluggish. Her vision fading faster and faster. She pushed as hard as she could, but it was getting difficult to kick anymore. The surface was so frustratingly close, and yet so inescapably far away.

Just.. one... more... kick...

Her eyelids fluttered, and she began to sink back down. Damn... she thought. So close.

All of the sudden, she felt a hoof wrap around her own. Water rushed past her as she was pulled upwards and towards the surface. Light washed over her as she breached the water, coughing and sputtering like a kid after his first swim lesson.

“Whoa there!” came a voice through the haze. “Are you all right?”

She could barely hear her. Her voice sounded muffled, like she was speaking through a pillow and from across the room. She could see her though, or at least see a yellowish blob that she assumed was her.

“Miss,” she said. “Miss, are you okay?”

Trixie opened her mouth to respond, but all that came out was a mouthful of water as she sputtered some more. As she coughed, her vision came back slowly. The haze disappeared and she could see a pinkish face, hidden behind wet locks of green and blue hair that melded together to form a single wave of color.

She smiled at her as Trixie coughed some more. Brushing Trixie’s silvery mane from her face, the mare said, “That’s it, let it all out.”

Giving another set of sputtering coughs, Trixie finally managed a few words in between gasps for air. “Who... w-who are... y-you?”

The mare tossed her mane from her eyes and revealed a pair of deep blue eyes, so blue in fact, that they almost looked black. But there was a definite blue tinge to them. It was like looking into the night sky.

“Aurora,” she said. “My name’s Aurora.”

Trixie hacked and wheezed a few more times before returning the mare’s smile and sticking out her hoof. The other mare took Trixie’s hoof in her own and shook it. “Trixie,” Trixie said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Aurora.”

Aurora chuckled softly. “The pleasure’s all mine.”

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