• Published 2nd Dec 2012
  • 1,014 Views, 65 Comments

Three Wishes - TimeBaby



Trixie assembles an unlikely team to help her find a magic stone that grants its bearer three wishes

  • ...
8
 65
 1,014

Chapter 2

"I'll be honest, I didn't think you'd be able to do it."

Porter followed a couple of steps behind Trixie, just in case her legs decided to give way as she shakily climbed the stairs. Though she was in a hurry to get to her room and find out what the old stallion knew, she took time to turn and give him a disdainful look.

"How long have you known Trixie, and you still doubt her?"

“Between that griffon’s attitude and yours, I was expecting to have a hefty repair bill by the time the night was over. But I know you’re set on whatever plan you've cooked up, so I thought I’d at least try to find someone to watch your flank."
They reached the top of the stairs, and Porter maneuvered around Trixie to unlock the room he had reserved for her. Once they were inside, he continued.

“Besides, I think I know what you’re after. If I’m right, you’re going to need the griffon’s help.”

“No offense, Porter, but Trixie doubts anypony in Hollow Shades knows about this. After all, Princess Celestia herself is trying to keep it secret.”

Porter smiled, and Trixie had the sinking feeling that she was about to be shown up. “Oh, so you’re not after the Wishing Stone?”

“What—how did you—”

“You still have a lot to learn about the life you've chosen, Trixie. I've been hearing rumblings about the Wishing Stone from every thief and treasure hunter who's passed through my bar for the last two months. If I had to guess, Celestia knows about it because one of them got arrested and coughed up the information in exchange for a reduced sentence. Just because the royals treat something as a big secret, that doesn't mean it actually is."

"Then there are already other treasure hunters after the stone?"

"Of course there are. But even though everypony knows the stories about it, nopony seems to know where it is. Whatever you got out of those researchers has probably given you a leg up, assuming their research involved more than hanging around in bars, trying to pump lowlifes for information."

Trixie poured herself a glass of water from a pitcher that Porter had thoughtfully placed in her room while she was still downstairs drinking. She was seriously feeling the effects of the last two days, and wanted to do all she could to ease the inevitable hangover. After draining half the glass in a single drink, she turned back to Porter.

"Then tell Trixie: what has you so convinced she’ll need help finding the Stone?"

"You should know by now, information is never free in Hollow Shades. I'll tell you, but first you have to tell me something about the Stone that I don't already know."

"And what’s to stop Trixie from just making something up?"

Porter shrugged. "As long as it sounds plausible, somepony will be willing to pay me to hear it."

"Fine, then, you have Trixie over a barrel. The stone is somewhere in the Crystal Mountains."

"Well, that narrows it down. Can’t you be a little more specific?"

Trixie didn't know why she couldn't just lie to Porter and be done with it. She had certainly never had a problem deceiving anypony else. The researchers thought they had traced the Wishing Stone’s exact location to the Crystal Mountains north of Manehattan, though they said that Celestia wanted to send in an expedition to confirm their hypothesis. Trixie knew it would be incredibly foolish to divulge that location to anypony. Still, as she tried to conjure up a plausible lie, she couldn't shake the feeling that something awful might happen to Porter if he was found to be peddling false information.

No, she thought, there was too much at stake to lose her resolve. She would give Porter a fake story, then claim the stone and use it to grant herself unlimited magical power. Porter would then be under the protection of the most powerful unicorn in Equestria—a fact Trixie would make sure everypony knew.

“Ok. It’s true that the Wishing Stone is in the Crystal Mountains. The researchers originally thought it was due north of Canterlot. But then they realized that their detection spells were being thrown off by the Stone's power. It’s actually farther west, in the mountains north of Vanhoover. Of course Trixie knows exactly where to look, but nopony in Equestria can afford that information.”

“Fair enough,” Porter said, and turned as if to leave.

“Wait!” Trixie called after him, “You still owe Trixie an explanation!”

“And you’ll have it. But I think it'll be best if the griffon hears it, too.”

Before Trixie could protest again, Porter left, closing the heavy door gently behind him. In the solitude of the now empty room, Trixie downed the rest of her glass of water and tried to rid herself of the unusual sensation of worrying about another pony’s well being.

***

Moments later, Porter returned to Trixie’s room with Gilda in tow. Outside of the spacious common room, Trixie was better able to appreciate the griffon’s powerful presence. She would certainly make a good deterrent against attacks from highwayponies and wild animals. Still, the unicorn knew that couldn't be the only reason Porter had suggested that she take up with Gilda.

After some hostility from Gilda and prodding from Porter, Trixie explained, in the most general terms, that she was on the hunt for a powerful magical artifact, and that Porter seemed to think Gilda could help her. As she expected, Gilda expressed a pronounced disinterest in having anything to do with Trixie's quest. That was when Porter finally delivered the information he had promised before.

“Of course it’s up to you whether or not you decide to help,” he said to Gilda. “But Trixie can definitely make it worth your while. And she should, because she can’t get what she’s after without help from someone like you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Gilda and Trixie asked in unison, then turned and looked angrily at each other.

“I've heard a lot of stories about this artifact, and most of them are either contradictory or too far fetched to take seriously. But there’s one thing almost everypony agrees on: the item Trixie’s after is locked away in a magical chamber designed so that no single pony can get to it. Unless she happens to be an alicorn.”

Trixie cut him off with an audible groan. “Are you kidding me? Those idiot researchers mentioned some kind of trials, but didn't say anything about having to be an alicorn to get through them!”

Porter carried on, as unperturbed as ever. “That's probably because they’re working for an alicorn, so to them it’s a moot point. But it sounds like the chatter I've heard is on the right track: getting to the artifact requires passing three trials, which are designed to keep it out of the hooves of the sort of pony that usually goes mad for power.”

Trixie, one hoof planted firmly against her grimacing face, interrupted again. “And let me guess. Even though the tests are designed for an alicorn, they could also be passed by a unicorn, an Earth pony and a pegasus.”

“Or a griffon,” Gilda added with a laugh. “Sounds like you need me even more than you thought. So, what is this super powerful magical item, and what are you willing to give me if I help you get it?”

Gilda's smirking demand was the last straw. Trixie stamped a hoof authoritatively as her eyes locked with Gilda's. “The Great and Powerful Trixie doesn't need help from anypony! She’ll pass the trials and get the Wishing Stone all by herself!”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Trixie realized she had said too much. Now it was Porter’s turn to clop a hoof against his forehead, while Gilda’s beak parted in a wide smile.

“The Wishing Stone is for real? I didn't think that goody four shoes Celestia would let anything that powerful exist.”

“It is real,” said Trixie, trying to regain her composure, “and Princess Celestia's underlings are already looking for it. But Trixie can still get there first!”

“Only if I help you,” Gilda said, her smile taking on a sinister overtone. “If the legends are true, the Wishing Stone can grant three wishes. Give me one, and I’ll do whatever I have to to make sure you get it.”

Trixie stared at Gilda, her teeth bared. “I’d sooner—”

“Find someone else with wings who’s stupid enough to help you for free? Good luck with that.”

Gilda turned and strode confidently toward the door. The anger that had consumed Trixie throbbed inside her head, a mantra telling her to let Gilda leave, to go it alone as she always had before. But then, through that pulsating darkness, a single thought struggled to make itself heard.

You only need one wish to become more powerful than Twilight Sparkle.

Gilda’s talon landed on the doorknob, and time seemed to stop for Trixie as her better judgment wrestled with her pride. One wish was all she needed. She couldn't let her chance for revenge, for the power she had always dreamed of, slip away now. She could strike a deal with Gilda—a deal she could later devise a way to break—or she could risk letting Princess Celestia lock the stone away in some forgotten vault forever.

At last, Trixie dropped her head in resignation. "Wait, Gilda. You have a deal.”

Gilda stopped and turned to face her again. Her smile was gone, replaced by a look of determination that sent a little shiver from Trixie's neck down to her cutie mark.

“Good. When do we leave?”

Before Trixie could answer, the three conspirators were interrupted by the sound of the tavern’s front doors being thrown open with such force that they banged against the walls of the common room. There was a commotion of dropped tankards and shuffling chairs, as if everypony in the building was trying to escape at once. A booming voice rang out, so loud and clear that the three of them could hear it almost as if the speaker were there in the room with them.

“By the authority of the Canterlot Royal Family, we are here to arrest Trixie Lulamoon, who is charged with the assault of Aurora Highspire!”

“Aurora—” Trixie sputtered, her face contorting in anger. “That idiot scholar! Trixie didn't assault him!”

Gilda, on the other hand, was eyeing Trixie with barely suppressed glee. “Lulamoon?”

Trixie rounded on Gilda, her horn glowing with the beginnings of a spell, but Porter interrupted. “Get out of here, you two. We’ll hold off the guards—won’t be the first time!”

He shot out the door and down the stairs, and Gilda managed to compose herself. “So get on it, Lulamoon! Can't you unicorns teleport?”

"Trixie can hog tie you with your own tail if you ever call her 'Lulamoon' again!” Trixie growled, pink sparks shooting from her horn.

“Seriously, you can’t teleport? Oh, this is gonna be a blast. All right, get on.”

“Excuse me—”

“Just get on! We’re flying!”

Instinct took over as Trixie jumped onto Gilda’s back and threw her forelegs around the griffon’s stout neck. The last thing she had time to think before her new companion tensed and burst through the room’s single, unopened window was that there wasn't enough space to build up speed for a take off.

The chill of the night air matched the inky blackness of the sky over Hollow Shades. For a moment, the combination of fear, exhaustion and the effects of two days of heavy drinking caused Trixie to break out in a cold sweat, and she had to fight to keep from being sick. Fortunately, a realization about the Canterlot Royal Guard emerged to distract her from the churning in her stomach.

“The guards!” she shouted to Gilda over the rushing wind. “They’re pegasi!”

“Heh, as if a pegasus could ever outfly a griffon!” Gilda shot back.

Trixie gave a nervous look behind them just in time to see a lone guard launch himself out of the window they had broken in their escape. Despite his heavy golden armor, the white pegasus was gaining on them with what looked to Trixie like supernatural speed.

“You want to prove that?” she shouted to Gilda, who took a quick look behind her, then smiled in a way that got Trixie’s mind racing for any spells that could save her if she were to fall from hundreds of feet in the air.

“Hang on, Lulamoon,” Gilda said with a laugh, “you’re about to have the time of your life!”

Trixie tightened her grip on Gilda’s neck as the griffon began to ascend at a steep angle. She glanced back at the guard, who was still closing the gap between them. Though her panic was making it hard to concentrate on a spell, Trixie knew she could at least buy them a little time. The pink light of her magic enveloped her horn again as she recalled the spell she had used to send Rainbow Dash spinning out of control during their confrontation in Ponyville. As Trixie focused on the feeling of the magic flowing through her, gathering in her horn, concentration came more and more easily. The spell was ready, all she had to do was get a bead on her target and—

Without warning, Trixie found herself in a different world, where the ground was above her, the sky below. In her shock, she inadvertently fired off the spell she had been preparing, which streaked past the guard, dissipating into the night. By the time she realized that Gilda had flown them in a loop, the world righted itself again, and the two of them were behind the armored pegasus. Trixie could feel the force of the wind pulling her cheeks back as Gilda summoned an unbelievable burst of speed that brought her alongside the bewildered pony.

“See ya, jerkface!” Gilda yelled as she slammed into the guard, knocking him off balance. Trixie surprised herself by finding the presence of mind to quickly fire off a less powerful version of the spell she had been readying before. It was enough to spin the guard around a couple of times and send him flying back toward the tavern, allowing Gilda to get well out his range and into the cover of the clouds before he could right himself.

“Hey, glad you could contribute!” Gilda called back as the wind noise receded enough for her voice to be audible. “I was starting to think you didn't actually know any magic.”

“And Trixie was starting to think you couldn't outfly a pegasus filly!”

Gilda slowed down, and came to rest on a dense bank of clouds. “Look,” she said, “I told you I was in, and I am. But be straight with me here, why are the guards really after you?”

Trixie took a deep breath in an attempt to calm the adrenaline rush that their escape had triggered. “Aurora was one of Celestia’s scholars who I conned into telling me about the Wishing Stone. I didn't assault him, I just got him exceptionally drunk. He and his partner must be trying to get me arrested on a phony charge to keep me quiet about what they told me."

“Well, the Royal Guard's not gonna give up easily,” Gilda said. “We need to find someplace to lay low, and I’m really gonna need some rest after all this. You know any good hiding places?”

Trixie thought for a moment. If Aurora and Velvet were trying to get her arrested on false charges, then they were obviously too scared to tell their superiors that they had given her the information. That being the case, the guards would be following them, not anticipating their arrival at the stone's location in the Crystal Mountains. There were numerous places in Equestria where Trixie could hide, but she didn't want to get too far off course. That left only one option that she could think of, one she generally tried to avoid at all costs. But, as the saying went, any port in a storm.

“Trixie doesn't know any good hiding places, but she does know some ponies who will keep us safe for a day or so. But they take themselves very seriously, so...just try not to make fun of them directly to their faces, all right?"