• 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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39 — The Start of a New Journey

Chapter 39:
The Start of a New Journey

Ching... ching... ching... ching...

The sound of steel on steel echoed dully in the sweltering room as Trixie, brow furrowed and her eyes narrowed, hammered resolutely at a piece of white-hot iron. With every hammer strike, a shower of sparks flew into the air, splashing across the heavy leather apron Trixie wore to protect her chest. Sweat, beading on her forehead, trickled down her face and landed on the steel, sizzling on impact and the disappearing in a flash of steam. As she bent the metal to her will, Anvil watched from around the corner, the hints of a smile playing across his face.

Anvil felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around. He smiled, seeing Aurora standing behind him. "Did you finish already?"

She nodded. "Luckily I had no trouble finding anything, and carrots were on sale, so that was good." Peering past his shoulder, Aurora saw Trixie flip the steel piece over and start working the other side. "She's made a lot of progress over the past few months, hasn't she?"

Anvil glanced over his shoulder at Trixie, the traces of a smile now replaced by something more forlorn. "Yeah," he said, "she's got incredible raw talent, but she can't focus to save her life." He laughed quietly. "I think she'll be fine though. Trix has always been good at stubbornly pressing forward despite any obstacles. She may not be the smartest, or the strongest, or even the most powerful mare, but she's got tenacity. She's got it in spades."

Aurora sighed, looking into Anvil's eyes. "So, she's really leaving, huh?"

Anvil nodded. "Yep."

"Hard to believe it's been three months since she showed up, isn't it? Feels more like it's been three days."

"She's gotta do what she's gotta do," said Anvil with a shrug, never taking his eyes off Trixie. "She says she's gotta go up north. Apparently there's something real important to her up there."

A far off look entered Aurora's eyes. "I know how she feels," she said. "It's been so long since I spoke to my brother. I wonder if he's still in Frostvale?"

Anvil glanced over his shoulder at Aurora. "I'm sure Trixie could find out if you ask her. Frostvale's a big town, but somepony's likely to know where he is."

Shaking her head, Aurora said, "No, I'd rather not put that burden on her. Besides, I'm sure Corona is still angry with me for leaving, and the last thing I want to do is put Trixie in the middle of that." She chuckled. "It's funny though, when I spoke with her the other day she told me the same thing you did. I told her not to worry about it, but I suppose you two think alike more than I'd thought."

Anvil smiled, turning back to watch Trixie dunk the steel into the quenching trough. Steam filled the area for a brief moment, then it evaporated quickly. "Aye, we've always been like that, though she's a lot more bullheaded than I am. Serves her well though. Never known her to face a problem she couldn't stubbornly force her way through."

"It won't always be like that, you know," said Aurora, her face flat.

"I know," replied Anvil.

"But does she?"

Anvil didn't respond. He simply watched Trixie work for a bit before he said, "Do you mind packing a bag for Trixie? She'll be leaving soon."

Searching the back of Anvil's head for something she couldn’t find, Aurora said, "Of course. That's why you had me pick up those supplies, isn't it?"

He turned around and smiled. "Yep. And make sure you put that coin purse in there as well, but bury it down there so she doesn't see it right away. I know she'd refuse to take it if she knew we were giving it to her."

Aurora grinned. "Way ahead of you, sweetheart. I already took care of that."

He laughed, shaking his head. "When aren't you ahead of me? It's like you can always see two steps ahead of me."

She gave a nonchalant shrug. "Maybe you're just easy to read?"

"Maybe I am."

Aurora watched Anvil for a moment, then turned around. “Well, I’ll go get her things ready for Trixie. I’m sure you want a minute to talk to her alone, anyway. I’ll tell the boys not to bother you for a bit.”

“Thanks,” said Anvil, smiling. Waiting for her to turn the corner, he went back to watching Trixie for a second, then came out of hiding and cleared his throat. “Hey there, Trix,” he said, nodding as she turned to see him. “Still working on that bracer, huh?”

Trixie grinned, lifting a rag with her magic and wiping her brow. Holding the hot iron in a pair of tongs, she showed it off. "It's a little rough, but the curve fits my hoof nicely. I wish I had more time to finish the others, but..." She trailed off.

“Y’know,” said Anvil, taking the tongs from Trixie and holding it up to examine himself, “you don’t have to leave today. It’s getting close to noon already, and I’m sure you’re tired from working the forge. You could just sleep here one more night and then leave tomorrow when you’re fresh.” He flipped over the bracer, noting the myriad of dents and imperfection it had in it. Anvil had to resist the urge to beat all the dents out himself.

Trixie took the tongs back and smiled. “I appreciate the thought, but I’ve already made up my mind.” Moving the bracer over to the quenching trough, she dunked it in, once again filling the room with steam for a brief moment. This time, however, she let it sit in the water. “I want to leave today because there will be a full moon tonight, and I plan on using its light to travel a little extra. Besides, I’ve long since overstayed my welcome here. Three months is… much longer than I had planned.”

Sighing, Anvil put a hoof on Trixie’s shoulder. “Come on, you know that’s nonsense, Trix. You haven’t overstayed anything. Aurora and I are happy to have you here. Plus, you know how dangerous it can be traveling by moonlight, especially around here.”

“I’ve been on the road long enough to know how to handle myself,” said Trixie, slipping out of Anvil’s hold. Her horn took on a blue glow as she untied her apron and hung it on a nearby rack. Placing her hooves on the wooden railing that surrounded the smithy, she rested her chin in the crook of her intersecting hooves and looked out at the town. “More than the full moon though,” she continued, “I feel like this is the right time to leave. If I stay another night, it’ll just make leaving that much harder tomorrow. No,” she said, taking her hooves off the railing and turning back to Anvil, “now is the right time.”

“Well, I guess if you’re so dead set on leaving, there ain’t much I can do to stop you,” said Anvil with a sad chuckle. “I am serious about not traveling at night though,” he added, his voice becoming more serious. “In the forests north of here, the ones you’ll be going straight through, there’ve been calciyote sightings, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what that means.”

Trixie lifted a hoof and pointed at her horn. “Luckily I’ve got this. I know enough attack magic to keep them at bay, should they dare to come near me. Anyway, I’ve dealt with much worse things than calciyotes just getting back to Hoofington. I’m sure I can handle a few stray dogs.”

Anvil shrugged. “If you say so, Trix. But keep this in mind, all right? Calciyotes have no fear of fire like timberwolves, but they are deathly afraid of thunder. If you get cornered by one or two, just make a loud noise, as loud as you can, and it’ll send ‘em running. If there are more though, like a whole pack,” he grimaced, “well, you better hope you have enough magic to fend them off for awhile. Calciyotes are relentless.”

“Thunder,” repeated Trixie. “Hmm, I think I have a spell that would simulate that sound rather well.” She nodded. “Yes, I’m sure I do.”

“Good to know you’re not completely unprepared,” said Anvil, laughing. “I was worried I’d be sending you off without any means of defending yourself.’

Trixie made a pouting face. “I told you before, I’ve made it through worse just to be here talking to you. I can handle myself better than you ever could alone on the road.” She puffed out her chest. “I’m practically an expert at survival by now.”

“I’m sure you are,” said Anvil, giving Trixie a goofy grin, “but calciyotes won’t be the only thing you face if you’re planning on heading north, y’know. There’re lots of things between here and there that want to see you inside their bellies, Trix. The last thing I want is to hear about you getting eaten by some dragon.” He laughed.

“Don’t worry,” said Trixie, her voice softening, “I’ll be fine, Anvil. You don’t have to worry about me. I know what I’m doing.”

A sad smile creeping across his face, Anvil approached Trixie and put his forehead against hers. “Of course I have to worry about you, Trix. Somepony has to, and you sure ain’t doin’ it. I know you know what you’re doing, but I’ve gotta worry, don’t I? That’s what friends do, right?” He stepped back and looked Trixie in the eye. “I wish you didn’t have to go, Trix. I wish you could’ve stayed here in Hoofington. Everything would’ve been like it was back then, back when we were foals.”

Trixie shook her head. “No… it wouldn’t.” Shuffling her hooves, Trixie said, “I’m going to go finish packing my things, and take care of something before I leave. Don’t worry,” she added, seeing Anvil’s crestfallen face, “I won’t go without saying goodbye.” She turned around and walked around the corner to the front door, leaving Anvil by himself.

Anvil stood in silence for a moment, then headed over to the water barrel where Trixie had placed her finished bracer. He extracted the tongs and examined the piece for a moment. Again, all the little imperfections, the bends in the curvature of the piece, the dents from where it had been hammered poorly, the dimples from where it had been hammered too hard, stood out to him. He considered taking it over to the anvil and finishing it for Trixie, but he knew in his heart that that wouldn’t be what Trixie wanted. So, with a heavy sigh, he placed the bracer back in the barrel and followed in Trixie’s hoofsteps, heading back into the house.

As Trixie closed the door to her room behind her, she let out a quiet sigh. Her hooves heavy, she walked over to her saddlebag and removed a sheaf of parchment from one of the compartments along with a quill and her inkwell. Dipping the quill into the ink, she unrolled the paper with her magic and let the feather hover for a moment while she thought. She stayed like this for a full minute before she finally let the first drop of ink touch the parchment. As she scribbled out her letter, she found herself wondering what exactly Twilight was doing right now, not that it mattered much. When she finished, she looked back over her letter, and then nodded, satisfied.

Dear Twilight,

It’s been awhile since I last wrote to you, hasn’t it? I’ve been busy here in Hoofington, so I didn’t have the time to write until now. I’ve been staying with a friend and his wife and two foals. They’re both boys and they act like it all the time. Watching them pick on the girls they like reminds me of when I was a foal. Anyway, I don’t mean to get all nostalgic.

In case you were worried about me, I’m fine. I’ve been learning how to smith from my friend. It’s only been a few months since I started, so I’m not great at it yet, but I will be one day. Maybe when that day comes I’ll make something for you. What would you like, I wonder? I can’t make very much right now, but I’m sure in the future I’ll be able to make anything you want. I made a bracer for myself though. It was the first thing I ever made from start to finish myself. Everything else I’ve been doing was just repairs to farm equipment and stuff. This was the first time I made something just for me. It’s a little rough, and probably not all that useful as a real bracer, but I’ll show it to you when I come back. I wonder if you’d be impressed?

Well, anyway, I just wanted to give you this letter to let you know I’m leaving Hoofington. My real journey is just now beginning, and I’ve got a long way to go before I reach the end. I hope this letter finds you well. I’ll see you again someday, but for now… I’m heading north.


Opening an envelope, Trixie slipped the letter inside and then sealed it with a hot pool of wax from the desk in her room. She addressed it to Twilight, as she always did, and then put it into her saddlebag. With one last look around the room, Trixie gave a sad smile and then slung her bag over her back. She left her bedroom at Anvil’s house for the last time.

A few hours later, Trixie was standing outside the porch, Anvil, Aurora, and the two boys with her. She had her hat and her cape on, the latter held securely by her brooch. Adjusting the tilt of her hat just so, she said, “Well, I suppose this is goodbye then, isn’t it?”

Anvil nodded, his features sagging. “Yep. I guess it’ll be awhile before I see you again, eh?”

“Most likely,” said Trixie, carefully making sure to keep her voice even.

“You’ve got a big adventure to go on now,” he said, giving her a small smile. “Make sure you take care of yourself while you’re gone.”

Trixie nodded. “I will. And… thank you, again, Anvil, Aurora, for letting me stay here so long. I hope when I return to repay your kindness.”

Anvil waved his hoof dismissively. “Bah, don’t worry about it, Trix. You’re practically family. Besides, it was nice having somepony to help out with the forge for awhile. With you helping me, I was able to get twice as many repairs done in half the time. I only wish I had been able to pay you more.”

Nudging the bag on her side, Trixie made the satchel jingle. “You’ve done more than enough for me, Anvil. If anything, you probably overpayed me. I’m sure it’ll be enough.” She turned to Aurora, the mare’s mane blew in the gentle breeze. “And thank you too, Aurora. When I come back, I’ll make sure to bake you an apple pie to pay you back for all the ones you baked for me.”

Aurora’s clear laughter rang out. “Oh, I would’ve ended up making those anyway. Anvil’s got an appetite for apples like nopony I’ve ever known.”

Smiling, Trixie said, “Well, either way, thank you anyway.”

Anvil glanced down at his sons, nudging them with his back hoof. They looked up at him, and he nodded towards Trixie. Quickly stepping forward, both foals leapt at Trixie and wrapped themselves around her forelegs. “We’ll miss you, Trixie!” said one.

“Yeah, thanks for playing with us,” said the other.

Trixie gave them a warm smile and leaned down to pat them on the head. “I’ll miss you boys too,” she said. She returned their hugs and then sent them scampering back to their parents. Drawing in an elongated breath, Trixie let out a slow exhale. “I think it’s about time I head out then.”

“Before you go, though,” said Anvil, stepping forward and producing a small bag from behind him, “I want you to have this.” He walked down the steps and slipped the bag over Trixie’s neck, securing it to her saddlebags so it didn’t drag. “It’s just some fruits and vegetables to help you on your way. There’s not much in there, but it should be enough to at least last you two or three days if you eat conservatively.”

Trixie felt her heart lighten all of a sudden, despite the added weight. She grinned, then reached up and wrapped her hooves around Anvil’s neck. “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you very much.”

Putting his hooves on Trixie’s neck, Anvil hugged her back, squeezing her tightly like he was trying impart some final goodbye through touch alone. When he released her, he took a step back. “The next town north of here is only a three or four day walk, so you should be able to resupply once you get there. Ask for Holly Dash once you get there. She buys supplies from me all the time, so she’ll be willing to help you if you tell her you’re my friend.”

Nodding, Trixie said, “I’ll do that.” Feeling the extra weight added on by the bag of fruits and vegetables, but glad to have it, Trixie gave Anvil and the rest of the family one last look, then she beamed at them, more to reassure herself than them. “Well, it’s time for me to leave. Thank you all for everything you’ve done, and I’ll miss you. When I’m done, I’ll come back for a visit. Besides, by then I should be well on my way to Ponyville, so I’ll be heading back this way anyway.” She turned to leave, then stopped. “Oh, I almost forgot.”

Turning back around, Trixie’s horn lit up as she flipped open a pouch on her saddlebag. She removed the envelope she’d previously addressed from inside and then floated it over to Anvil. He cocked his head to the side, hesitating a moment before taking it. “What’s this?” he asked.

“It’s a letter for a friend,” said Trixie. “Do you mind making sure it gets delivered for me?”

Anvil nodded, slipping the letter into the front pocket of his apron. “Sure thing, Trix. Mind if I ask what it’s about?”

“It’s nothing,” said Trixie, waving her hoof. “It’s just something I’m doing. Oh, do you also mind waiting about a week or so before sending it? I want to be long gone from here before it reaches her.”

Raising his eyebrow, but not raising any objections, Anvil said, “If that’s what you want.”

Trixie nodded. “It is, thanks.”

An awkward silence hung in the air for a moment as they all stood there looking at each other. Eventually, Trixie glanced over her shoulder towards the northern gate of Hoofington and said, “Well, now it’s really time for me to go. Goodbye again, and thank you again.”

Anvil nodded, as did Aurora. They waved their hooves, watching as Trixie did a 180 and started walking away. They watched her for a moment before Anvil said, “I’m gonna miss you, Trix. Take care of yourself, all right?”

Trixie was too far way to hear this, but somehow she felt his words anyway. With her eyes fixated on the northern entrance, she refused to look back, lest she change her mind at the last minute. For a minute or so she walked in silence before reaching the gate. With a nod to the drowsy watchpony, she stepped out on to the road for the first time in months.

The streets of Hoofington weren’t paved, but there was something different about feeling the dirt of the open road from the dirt of the town. She relished the feeling for a moment, then looked out over the daunting road that stretched out before her as far as she could see. At the edge of her vision, she could see the outline of the Whitetail Woods looming over the landscape that was otherwise mostly flat. The road disappeared into these woods, swallowed up by the darkness.

With a nod to herself, Trixie started walking down the path, the steady clip clop of her hooves the only sound she could hear besides the occasional chirp of a passing bird, or hum of a cricket.

For several hours, Trixie walked without saying a word, which was unsurprising given she had no one to talk to. It was odd, she noted, how quiet things got when you weren’t surrounded by friends. She’d only been away from Anvil’s home for a few hours, and she was already missing the near constant background noise of Anvil working the forge, or the boys wrestling on the porch, or the sounds of ponies passing by as they went to the market. Now all Trixie had to keep her company was the road, the sky, her hat, and her cape… just like it used to be.

She looked up at the sky overhead, the clouds as they passed by, and she wondered if Twilight was looking at the same sky right now. It seemed too much to hope, but maybe if she were looking up at the same time Trixie was, there’d be some small connection between them, something to bring them just a tiny bit closer, despite the fact that Trixie was actively increasing the physical distance between them. She considered the somewhat ironic nature of this for a moment, then laughed despite herself.

“I used to love being alone,” she said to no one but the road. “I used to love traveling the open road, never really knowing where my next stop was going to be, or who I’d meet. But now… now I just want what’s familiar back. I want to go back to Ponyville. I want to go back to you, Twilight, even if you haven’t forgiven me yet. I can’t though. I can’t leave until I’ve finished my journey. I’m not doing it for you, and I’m not doing it because somepony told me to anymore. I’m doing this for Trixie, and Trixie wants to see this finished.” Trixie paused a moment, then chuckled under her breath. “Look at me,” she said, shaking her head, “talking to myself already. I’ve only been away from other ponies for a few hours and I’m already reduced to babbling. What’s next? Am I going to start hearing voices?”

“Excuse me, miss!”

Trixie stopped dead in her tracks. She looked around, then up at the sky. “I was just joking!” she yelled. “I don’t actually want to be crazy.”

“Miss, over here!”

A boulder to her left seemed to be talking to Trixie. She stared at it for a moment, her head cocked to the side. “Hello? Is there somepony there?”

“Yes, behind the rock! I’m stuck.”

Trixie let out a sigh of relief, wiping her brow. She quickly hurried to the rock and saw that behind it there was, indeed, a trapped pony along with another pony who, herself, was not trapped.

“Oh, thank goodness you came by,” said the stallion, laying back against the rock. “I was worried I’d have to send my wife into town by herself to find help.” He sat up then nodded to his foreleg. Chuckling, he said, “I, er, got myself caught trying to pluck a flower for my wife here. Seems a little silly now, don’t it?”

The mare he was with rolled her eyes. “I told you I didn’t need it. You should’ve just left it.”

“Oh, come on, dear,” he said, smiling at her. “I know spiderlillies are your favorite.”

“Spiderlillies?” said Trixie, raising her eyebrow.

He nodded. “Yep, that’s what they’re called. These flowers grow in the oddest of places, usually in a dark corner, or under a somethin’. It’s why they’re called spiderlillies.”

“I see…” Trixie nodded slowly. “Well, anyway, you say you’re stuck?”

The stallion tugged at his hoof, but it didn’t budge. “Sure enough, miss. Do you think you could help me out? I see you’ve got a horn there, that should be simple enough to do for a unicorn like you, right?”

“Uh, yeah, sure, just one second.” Trixie motioned for the mare to get out of the way while her horn took on a bright glow. Furrowing her brow, she aimed her horn at the rock and, with some effort, she lifted it very slightly, enough for the stallion to quickly pull his hoof out. When she was sure he was safely away from the rock, she let it fall back down with a muted thump. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Did your hoof get hurt?”

He smiled at her, shaking his hoof out. “Nope, looks like I’ll live!” He laughed heartily. “Must’ve just got caught on something. Either way, thank you, miss. We owe you one.”

Trixie waved her hoof dismissively. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“Me too,” said the mare. “You had me worried, you fool. I swear, sometimes I don’t know why I’m still with you.”

Clearing her throat, Trixie said, “Yes, well, anyway… I need to get going, so now that you’re free, I’ll be leaving now.”

“Oh, which way are you heading?” asked the stallion, cocking his head to the side.

Trixie pointed towards the forest north of them, now much closer than it had been when she left Hoofington. “I’m going north, through the Whitetail Woods.”

“On your way to Pinecrest, eh?” The stallion nodded knowingly. “Mm, I figured as much. Well, lucky for you we’re heading the same way. Would you care to join us?”

Trixie considered for a moment joining them, then the thought of the empty road she’d just left crept back into her mind. She smiled. “Yes, I’d love to have some company.” She bowed a bit, removing her hat. “I’m Trixie Lulamoon. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The mare held a hoof to her chest, saying, “I’m Astrid, and this loaf is my husband, Polaris. We’ll be glad to have some company too.”

“Aye, we sure will,” said Polaris, chuckling. “I’m sure Astrid’ll be glad to have another mare to talk to.”

Trixie felt a grin cross her face. Despite herself, she laughed, feeling her heart, yet again, getting a bit lighter. “So will I,” she said. “Astrid, was it?”

The mare nodded. “That’s what my parents called me.”

“I’m sure we’ll get along just fine,” said Trixie, her smile growing wider.

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