• 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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33 — Hoofington

Chapter 33:

As light leaked through the cracks in the curtains, casting lines across Trixie's face and across the bed, the gentle sounds of birds chirping and the school bell ringing woke the sleeping mare. She rose slowly, sitting up and casting off the bed sheets, throwing her hooves wide as she let out a long yawn. She felt rested, more rested than she had felt in many months. Just that simple thought was enough to put a smile on her face.

With another exaggerated yawn, she extricated herself from the sheets still clinging to her like sunshine on the morning air, and made her way into the hallway where she ran head first into Anvil.

"What the?" he said, looking down. He saw Trixie rubbing her head, and smiled, letting out a small laugh. "I was just coming to get you. I know you need your beauty rest, but I figured it wouldn't be good if I let you sleep all day."

Trixie, still massaging her forehead, chuckled softly. "I didn't realize I had slept in. It's been so long since I've had a chance to do it. I wasn't even sure I could anymore."

Anvil grinned, patting her on the back with a large hoof. "Ah well, it's good to get some extra rest every now and again. Just see that you don't become complacent, eh?" He laughed again. "C'mon, Aurora made some breakfast this morning. I'm sure there'll still be some left if you hurry. I doubt the boys could've finished it off that quickly."

Trixie nodded, but didn't answer right away. Instead, she bit her lip softly. "Look, Anvil," she said, her voice quiet, "I just wanted to say thank you, again, for taking me in. I always wondered what would've happened if I had never left Hoofington. Who knows how my life might've turned out?"

Anvil's eyes were soft, and his lips curled into a kind smile. He wrapped a hoof around Trixie's shoulders and pulled her into a tight hug. "No matter what happened in the past, you can't change it, and I know you know that. There's no sense in wondering about what could've been, or how things might've gone. You just gotta point your snout forward and keep on movin', y'know? Don't let the past get ya down, or start feelin' sorry for yourself. Even if things haven't worked quite the way you wanted, that doesn't mean you won't get to where you want to be in the future." He let go of the hug, pushing her to a distance where he could look in her in the eye. "I believe in you, Trix. I believe you have the ability to do whatever you want. You just gotta reach out and grab hold'a that opportunity and never let go, you hear me?"

She tried to answer, but nothing came out. Her throat was suddenly dry and she felt a heavy weight on her chest. Finally, she just nodded in answer.

"Nothing's too great for the Great and Powerful Trixie, right?"

Trixie, despite herself, let a smile creep across her face. "Right."

After she had eaten a rather filling breakfast, Trixie decided to take a walk around the town. It had been many years since she last visited Hoofington, and she felt a sudden sense of nostalgia for a place she once hated filling her. She passed Anvil’s boys on her way out the door, and received cheery 'Good morning, miss Trixie!'s from them, much to her delight.

"First time anypony's ever called me 'miss'," she mused to herself before pushing open the front door and stepping outside. Immediately her ears were assaulted by the sound of metal on metal, a harsh, angry sound that was both loud, and somehow calming. The rhythmic sound of hammer against steel was oddly comforting to her. Trixie simply stood for a moment, letting the warm morning sun wash over with her eyes closed as she listened to Anvil work away at a piece of steel. She couldn't help but feel so unbelievably comfortable right now. She felt as though she could listen to that sound for hours, but alas, it wasn't meant to last. Only a few seconds later, the hammer stopped and Trixie turned towards the forge.

Sure enough, she didn't have to wait long before Anvil rounded the corner draped in a heavy leather apron and with a hammer in his mouth. The extra long handle on it allowed him to keep his face safely away from the molten steel while he did his work. His face was soaked with sweat, and his mane was plastered to his forehead, but Trixie thought he looked just as handsome as ever. She smiled as he smiled at her, his white teeth standing in stark contrast to his blackened face.

"You headed out?" he asked, taking the hammer from his mouth and using it to point towards the town.

"I think I'm going to go for a walk around the town," Trixie replied. "I want to see Hoofington again."

"Oh yeah? That sounds like fun. I'd love to go with you, but, well..." He hefted the hammer with an apologetic look on his face.

"I understand. I don't want to cause you any more trouble than I already have."

Anvil's boisterous laugh filled the air. "Please, Trix. What kind of old friend would I be if I didn't help you out? Besides, do you really think you're that much trouble compared to the boys? It's practically like a vacation having you here. With you around to distract them, I don't have to!" He laughed again. "Well anyway, I need to get back to work. If you happen to see Aurora while you’re in town, tell her to pick up some apples while she's out. I've been thinking about them all morning. Sweet, sweet apples." He licked his lips before retreating back to his forge. A few seconds later, and the familiar sound of hammer on anvil returned.

Relishing the sound only briefly before trotting off towards the town, Trixie gave one last look over her shoulder at Anvil. He didn't look back at her, his eyes instead focused on the fiery metal in front of him, his face hardened in determination. She sighed.

For a few minutes, Trixie simply wandered aimlessly through the town, allowing the crisp morning air to fill her every breath. There was an uncanny spring in her step, and she couldn't help but sport a cheery grin as she cantered around. Hoofington, despite it having been several years, had not really changed very much. Most of the buildings were the same, the ponies had only gotten older, and the biggest difference was the handful of new houses she saw towards the western end of town. It would seem Hoofington had not attracted a lot of new real estate investors since the Ursa incident. She felt a small pang in her chest at the thought, but pushed it out of her mind quickly. She decided to focus instead on the day ahead of her. She didn't know where it would lead, but she was eager to find out.

As she made her way towards the old market, she was lost in thought, and only returned back to the real world when she felt a hoof tap on her shoulder.

"I see you’re out of bed.”

Trixie turned around to see Aurora smiling at her, saddlebags stuffed with produce hanging off her sides. Her face was cheery, and her eyes bright and full.

“Did you have your fill of breakfast this morning?”

Trixie smiled. “Yes, thank you. It was great.”

Aurora nodded happily. “You’re welcome. Now then, since you’re here, perhaps you could help me finish my shopping?” She tilted her head towards the nearly-full saddlebags. “I’m almost done, but I’ve got a few things left to get.”

Trixie’s eyes lit up. “Oh! That reminds me. Anvil wanted me to remind you to get apples while you were out.”

Aurora gave a soft laugh. “Yes, he does have a weak spot for certain fruits.”

“He did seem rather… enthused about getting more apples.”

“Sounds like my Anvil all right,” Aurora said, smiling.

Trixie tried to smile back, but her cheeks twitched, turning it more into a sort of half-smile than anything. She felt like she’d been punched in the chest, like there was a weight pressing down on her. Seeing this, Aurora’s smile faltered as well.

“Are you all right?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.

Trixie nodded, mentally berating herself for letting her emotions show so clearly. “Sorry, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about… something.”

Aurora nodded knowingly. “Anvil told me about your family,” she said. “About what happened that night.”

Trixie sighed internally. She hadn’t realized what she was actually upset about. “Yes, being back here is… hard,” she said. “It’s been so many years, so long since I’ve even seen this town that I hardly recognize it even though it hasn’t changed. I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not.”

Aurora’s features softened as a warm smile came over her face. “I, too, know something about leaving your home.” She beckoned to Trixie. “Come on, we can talk about it on the way. Those apples won’t buy themselves.”

Trixie laughed, despite herself. “No, they certainly won’t.”

Taking Trixie by the hoof, Aurora led her through the maze of merchant stalls and salesponies hawking their wares. The further they delved into the fray, the louder and more crowded it became. Despite the town’s size, Hoofington enjoyed a modest trade income from neighboring villages, and its square was quite busy this time of year. As they passed by a stallion trying to sell his fool’s gold as real, Aurora cast a glance over her shoulder at Trixie.

“You know,” she said, “I’ve only lived here for a few years, but this feels more like home than Frostvale ever did.”

“Frostvale?” Trixie asked, catching a glimpse of a mare reciting the qualities of a winter cape she was selling. “Is that where you’re from?”

Aurora nodded without looking back. “It was my home for most of my life. The wind, the ice, the snow, the cold. Those were my world back then, but I knew I didn’t want to live there forever.”

“Why did you leave?”

Aurora didn’t answer at first, her focus more on weaving her way through a particularly dense crowd than on answering Trixie’s question, but once they had made it through, she said, “For a number of reasons. I was tired of the cold. I couldn’t find steady work that didn’t involve me spending all my time freezing to death outside of the city, and, most of all, I was tired of the cold.” She paused. “Wait, did I say that one already?”

“You did.”

Aurora frowned, pursing her lips. “Well anyway, I suppose the real reason, besides the cold, is that I wanted to get away from my brother.”

Trixie felt a pang in her chest. “What do you mean?” she asked.

Aurora sighed. “It’s… well, a little complicated I suppose. Oh!” Her frown did a 180 as they came upon a trader selling apples from nearby Trotsdam. Dragging Trixie along with her, she approached the trader. “How much are your apples going for?”

The pony behind the stall didn’t respond, only pointed to a sign hanging off his cart.

“Two for a bit, huh?” Aurora mused. “Hmm, well I’m sure there’s plenty of others I can buy from. Come on, Trixie. Let’s—”

“Wait!” the stallion said, quickly getting up. “Uhh, tell you what. How about I give you a dozen apples for… five and a half?”

Aurora tapped a hoof to her chin. “Now that’s a much better deal.” She began to reach for her coinpurse, but as she brought it out, Trixie stopped her, a smile on her face.

“Make it five bits and a baker’s dozen, and you’ve got yourself a deal,” she said, her smile now a confident smirk.

The stallion ran his tongue across his teeth, looking back and forth between his apples and Aurora’s bits. He sighed. “Fine, you’ve got a deal.”

Aurora handed the stallion five bits and he put thirteen apples into a bag, the two swapping goods as she gave him a cheery grin. As they walked away from the stand, Aurora turned to Trixie. “That was pretty good,” she said. “I thought I could haggle pretty well, but you’ve got a knack for it, I see.”

Trixie chuckled, buffing her chest with a hoof. “Well, you get pretty good at it when it’s your whole life,” she said. “The trick is to never let on how much money you actually have.” The two ponies shared a laugh before Trixie said, “So… what were you saying about your brother?”

“Oh right, I never did finish telling you why I left Frostvale,” Aurora said. She turned to Trixie, holding out the bag of apples. “Do you mind carrying these?”

Trixie shook her head, taking the bag.

“About a month before I left,” Aurora said, walking back in the direction of her and Anvil’s home, “my mother died. My father had already passed long before that, back when we were still kids, and my brother never really got over it. See,” she said, “he died during an expedition into the mountains north of Frostvale. The other ponies say he died trying to cross a chasm so he could lay an anchor on the other side. He jumped across, but misjudged the distance, and ended up hitting the ledge and falling off.”

Trixie cast her eyes down. “I’m sorry to hear that. I know how it feels to lose a parent so young.”

Aurora shot a sad smile back at Trixie. “I still had my mother though, and my brother, so it wasn’t all bad.”

“I suppose not. What was your brother’s name?”

Aurora glanced up at the sky. “Corona,” she said. “Like the sun.”

Trixie followed her gaze, though the sun happened to be obscured by some clouds today. “That’s a nice name,” she replied. “My sister was Midnight.”

Aurora’s eyes drifted downwards until they fell on Trixie, who was still looking up at the sky. “Anvil told me about her,” she said. “She sounded like a lovely mare.”

Trixie, without looking at Aurora, replied, “Maybe. I never really knew her.” She looked away from the sky, staring straight ahead towards the clocktower in the distance. “But what about Corona? What happened between you and him?”

“When my mother got sick,” Aurora began, “he took it upon himself to make her better. He spent all his time studying plants and ways he could use them to heal her, but she never got any better, despite all his hard work.” She sighed. “He asked me for help numerous times, but I refused every time.”

Trixie cocked her head to the side. “You didn’t help him?”

Aurora shrugged. “I didn’t have a choice. With mother sick, and Corona spending all his time snout-deep in flowers, there was no one to work and pay the bills. The other ponies were sympathetic, but in a place like Frostvale, the generosity and kindness of strangers will only get you so far. I did what I had to do. I worked every job I could find to make sure we had a roof over our heads and food on our plates.” She shook her head. “Corona didn’t understand. He accused me of not caring about our mother, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I cared desperately about her, but I could only do so much.”

Trixie bit her lip. “So you two had a falling out, then?”

Aurora nodded. “Yeah, you could say that. He said some things after she finally passed, and it hurt. I was angry at him, so I left. I kind of wandered around for awhile before ending up here, but despite all that, I’m still glad I left. I still think about him all the time,” she said, glancing back up at the sun. “I wonder if he thinks about me, and if he’s come to realize why I did what I did, but… it’s been so long since I’ve spoken to him.” She laughed mirthlessly. “Sometimes I think should go back, but what would be the point?”

Trixie opened her mouth to answer, but couldn’t find the words to say. She simply remained silent for a few minutes as they continued to walk. When they finally reached Anvil and Aurora’s home again, Trixie finally said, “I think that you should at least try to contact Corona again.”

Aurora looked back at Trixie, giving her a knowing look. “I’ve thought about it, but I don’t even know how I would go about it. I mean, what if he doesn’t even live in the same place anymore?””

Trixie worked her tongue over her lips, lost in thought. Suddenly, an idea struck her. “You know,” she said, “I’m headed north myself. I might end up passing through Frostvale at some point. I could… try to find him for you?”

Aurora smiled softly. “Thank you, but that’s okay. I’d rather speak with him myself, and if he doesn’t want to speak with me, then so be it.” She tilted her head towards the forge where Anvil was busy hammering out a few horseshoes. “But enough about that. Why don’t you go give Anvil some of those apples? I’m sure he’d appreciate that. I need to go get dinner started myself, so I’ll leave you two to talk.” With that, she gave Trixie one last smile before heading up the steps and disappearing into the house, leaving Trixie standing outside with a bag of apples in her hooves and thoughts swirling around her head.

After a bit more rumination, she decided to push those thoughts out of her head and instead grab a few apples. Shoving one in her mouth, she took a big bite out before walking up to Anvil, apple juice dripping from her lips.

Anvil looked up, his face sweatier than it was before, but a massive smile on his face. “Apples!” he cried, reaching out for an apple only to be left dismayed as Trixie pulled the bag away.

“Ah ah ah,” she said. “What’s the magic word?”

Anvil frowned. “I don’t know any magic.”

Trixie shook the bag.

“All right, all right. Can I please have an apple?”

Trixie chuckled, reaching into the bag to grab an apple before tossing it to Anvil. “These are pretty good,” she said. “From Trotsdam apparently.”

Anvil licked his lips, eyeing the apple wolfishly. He opened his jaw wide and bit half the apple off in one chomp. “Trotsdam you say?” he said, his mouth full of apple.

Trixie nodded. “Yep.”

He gave the apple an approving look before devouring the other half and motioning to Trixie for another one. As he bit into it, he said, “You know, Trix, I was thinking about something while you were out today.”

Trixie raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

He took another bite. “Well, you said you were going on a journey, right?”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, that’s true… Why?”

“How exactly do you plan on paying for things along the way? And furthermore, what are you gonna do about winter clothes and all that? It’s only a few months until things start to get really cold.”

“Well, I—”

“Because I had an idea about that,” Anvil said, cutting off Trixie as he ripped some more flesh from the apple. “Man, that’s really good,” he mumbled. “Anyway, I was thinking that maybe you…”

Trixie’s eyebrow rose again. “Maybe I what?”

He fumbled with the apple in his hoof, twirling it around before he answered. “Well, what if you worked here? For me, I mean, at the forge.”

Trixie was taken aback. She frowned. “But, why?”

Anvil sighed. “Look, I’ll be honest with you, Trix.” He shoved the last of the apple into his mouth. “I’m not sure I like the idea of you running off north for any reason, but if you’re dead set on going—”

“I am.”

“—then I’m going to do what I can to help. So I thought that if you worked here for awhile, I’d give you free room and board, and a small stipend. You can save that up and use it help you get north when you do decide to leave.”

Trixie considered this for a moment, taking a bit of her own apple. “I was planning on leaving soon.”

“You’d be able to work for as long as you want. If you decide to leave tomorrow, then so be it. I won’t stop you.” Anvil set aside his hammer and approached Trixie, putting a hoof on her shoulder. “I won’t stop you,” he repeated, “but dammit, I won’t be happy about it.” He smiled at her. “I don’t want you to leave at all, but if you have to, then at least spend some time here before you do.”

Trixie didn’t return his gaze, instead opting to stare at her hooves. “I… I’m not sure,” she said. “Let me think about it.”

Anvil let out a booming laugh, stepping back. “I figured you wouldn’t take me up on that right away.” He shrugged. “Being a blacksmith is hard work. Can’t say I blame you for not wanting to do it.”

Trixie looked up at Anvil. “Hang on,” she said, holding out her hoof, “you think I can’t be a blacksmith?”

“Well, I’m not saying that exactly, but—”


“But, well, it is pretty hard work, and you’re not exactly the toughest pony—”

“I’m tough! I’ll do it!” Trixie said angrily, dropping the bag of apples to point at Anvil. “I’ll show you,” she said. “I’ll be the best blacksmith you’ve ever seen. Hmph.” With that, she spun around and walked away, throwing open the front door and vanishing into the house.

Anvil watched her go, bending down to pick up an apple after the door had closed. Polishing it against his chest, he grinned. “Too easy.”

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