• Published 26th Apr 2013
  • 3,633 Views, 81 Comments

Brag you Down - Skyeheart



Trixie's showboating skills start to get a little bothersome for the rest of the elements of harmony. So Twilight devises a plan with her friends to teach her a little humilty...with unforeseen consequences. Set in the Manehattanverse

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Act 3: FRAUD!

Twilight Sparkle paced around the floor of the Manehattan library for about the umpteenth time, her mind riddled with guilt and her eyes sore from a restless night of worry.

"Oh no no no no no...what have I done? This...how did...it wasn't supposed to turn out like this! How could all of Manehattan turn on Trixie for something we did?"

It had just seemed so perfect at the time. Mare-Do-Well would perform deeds of heroism without boasting or bragging, they then reveal themselves to Trixie, she would realize how silly she'd been in trying to compete for fame against her own friends, they'd all share a laugh and she'd be a better pony for it in the end.

So why hadn't anypony else seen it that way?

Twilight looked from one ridiculing face to the next, their seemingly cruel laughter echoing in her ears. A bubbling pit of fury started to churn in her gut. And with each laugh she heard, it continued to grow until she finally stamped her hoof so hard into the street, the pavement cracked.

"Stop it! STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT! STOP LAUGHING!! What is wrong with you all?! How can you just treat her like that all of a sudden?!"

"Hey, you started it," said young stallion from the front row. "Wasn't that the whole reason you all kept having her eat dirt? To show us all the 'Great and Powerful' Trixie isn't so great or powerful after all?"

"Yeah, you all pointed out how full of herself she was, and then showed us she really isn’t all that special!" said the mare next to him.

Twilight shook her head, not believing her ears. "Yes-I mean no-! But…she is special! I mean...she's...she's still Trixie! Nothing's changed about her!" she stammered as she looked at the crowd, who now looked confused and annoyed with her. "She's still a great magician that helps ponies! She can still do lots of amazing feats! We just...I don't...that is...all we wanted was for her to stop milking her popularity so much!"

"Mission accomplished. After what a sham you made her out to be these past few days, I doubt she's going to be popular for a looooong time!"

Twilight Sparkle just sat down hard on the cobbled path, her sore hoof's pain catching up to her. The laughter had resumed, but it all seemed muffled and distant as her thoughts went completely blank, her psyche still unable to comprehend how this conclusion, or rather escalation, had come about.

"I...I just don't understand. What went wrong? We were just trying to set an example, not humiliate her! At what point did everypony think that was what we were trying to convey?!"

The ringing of the bell broke her away from her ramblings, signaling that a patron had entered through the front door. She recognized the dappled pony as one of the Manehattan construction workers.

"Hey there, just looking for an architect guide. Don't want a repeat of last week's fiasco," he said.

"Oh, well. Maybe I can help you find what you're looking for," Twilight offered. Perhaps some actual work as a librarian would give her a clearer head to think with.

The stallion quickly sidestepped to the shelves before the unicorn could call for her dragon assistant. "No thanks, I'm quite familiar with the Dewhoof Decimal System and pretty sure you'd only make things more difficult for me."

Twilight was taken aback. "W-what? That's ridiculous! How can two ponies looking for the same reading material be less efficient than one? If nothing else, it helps."

"Yeah, if your definition of helping is making your friend and the mare who saved my hide look like a clumsy buffoon, I definitely would reconsider my doctor's prescription. Ah, there we go."

Twilight blinked at the worker who yanked a large manual out and into his saddlebag. Octavia had mentioned Trixie was quick enough to get one of the workers before her at the construction accident, this was him?

"But...but it was supposed to be for her own good! Just show Trixie what a real hero is like, so she could be more like one, that was it!"

"You saying what she did before you went all roastal on her backside wasn't heroic?" Girder questioned.

"She was signing autographs!"
"So?"
"She was bragging and swaggering for stuff as menial as preventing a pie from falling!"
"So?"
"She was embellishing tall tales just to get another cheer!"
"Well they didn't hurt anypony did they?" Girder looked squarely at the conflicted bookworm. "Ever heard the term 'nopony's perfect'? To be quite frank, a large bulk of us already knew quite a few chunks of her stories weren't real. But you know what was real? That what she did do was help ponies. Big or small, she made lives better. If she got rewarded for it, it's becuase we thought it was praiseworthy, not her. You saying you got a gripe against the whole city at what we think is good and what's bad?"

Twilight gave her head an uncertain shake. "N-no..."
"Did you want to be more recognized than your friend?"
"No."
"You think Trixie staged all those accidents to make herself look good?"
"What? No!"
"Then I don't see why you had to go and pull the rug right out from underneath her."

Twilight desperately tried to find a valid argument that could ease her guilt. "B-but what if she told one lie too many? What if she got so cocky, she'd end up causing a problem and getting somepony hurt?"

"Then that would be by her own doing, not yours. Like I said, lots of ponies already knew the more outrageous parts of her yarns were fiction, but we still applauded it all the same. Why? Because the parts that were true were things we really were grateful for, and the rest made a good story. But now, thanks to you, almost nopony will even listen to the real parts since Mare-Do-Well only drew their attention to the hot air surrounding it. That's all they see now. No one complained until you did. Sure, bragging's annoying, maybe even rude and improper sometimes. But it doesn't change the fact that the actions leading up to it saved my life, and my son's."

"Your...son?" Twilight asked.

"He goes to Manehattan West Elementary," the construction worker hinted. He helped himself to the library stamp as he performed a self-checkout. "That's worth a few fibs and autographs if you ask me. Heck, I'd love it if one of them were mine. Now if you excuse me, I've got a month's worth of construction to catch up on."

And without so much as a good day, the stallion closed the door on his way out, somehow leaving the library even hollower and emptier than before he came in.


Yawning to herself, Honey groggily marched across the halls of her museum to open the doors for the day. Mental note, for the next building upgrade, spring for that automated door system that unlocks itself at 6am.

When she pushed the doors open though, she was rudely greeted by a blinding light...that wasn't Celestia's sun. The steps of her museum were swarmed with reporter and camera ponies, a complete jumble of loud voices and flashing bulbs quickly descending into a mainstream anarchy.

"Miss Do, any comment on-"
"-your role in the Mare-Do-Well incident?"
"-giving up your archeological studies-"
"Honey Do, are you and the other Elements-"
"Is there a new candidacy for-"
"What was your reasoning-"
"-Element of Laughter-"
"-your connection to-"
"Why the secrecy for-"
"Will you continue to-"
"-Manehattan's new hero?"

It had been ages since Honey had to deal with a surprise media mob. And yet, in the back of head, she kinda expected this to happen ever since that day with the parade. If there was anything the presses loved to death aside from the groundbreaking discoveries, royalty, and publicity stunts, it was the juicy scandals. And what could be more juicy or scandalous right now than a falling out between the Elements of Harmony?

Still, despite the years of uneventfulness, she still knew how to deal with said newshounds in the best way possible. Backing up, and not giving the horde a chance to close in, she slammed the doors shut on them without a single word.

A couple seconds later, the door slid open a crack to allow a tan hoof to slide around and attach a 'closed' sign to the handle before slamming shut again.


"Ok, gang. Who's on lunch rush duty today?"
"Uh, that would be Rain Gauge, but he called in sick today."

The team captain at the Manehattan Weather Center rested a hoof on her cheek. "Great...any coincidence that he also happens to be my ace storm maker and we're scheduled for a T-3 thunderstorm this afternoon?"

"I'll get lunch!" Junior Cadet Blossomforth volunteered. "Where're we taking out from?"

"Oh, how about that new Neighpon place that opened up three blocks down from 24th?" a mare suggested.

"Sounds good! That's also near my favorite bakery. Anypony want me to pick up some treats as well?"

"Sure thing, just don't get any banana cream pies! I kinda want to eat my dessert, not wear it on my face like a clown!"

Blossomforth's ears took an abrupt downturn at the guffawing seniors before them. "We kinda didn't mean for that to happen to her..." she interjected softly.

"Yeah...I guess you're right," said another stallion on the far end of the hangar, leaving a dead silence for about five seconds before he timed his punchline just right. "Cherry would have been much more hilarious!"

Blossomforth facehoofed, then surly departed the institute with puffed cheeks. "It was only funny the first time I heard it," she muttered to herself. "...and the tomato one yesterday wasn't funny at all."


"I'm terribly sorry, Florentine, but I'm afraid the menu was set weeks in advance. We'll have to wait until next soiree to unveil your latest dessert."

"But Madame Sherbert, my friend personally works for zee Herald. I have 'en inside source that says he will love it!"

Orange Sherbet allayed her pâtissière's objections with an inviting hoof. "Tell you what. I'll arrange a small get together with some associates later within the week at my office, and you can debut your cotton candy marzipan there. Is that good?"

"I suppose," the chef resigned. "Thank you, Madame."

As Sherbet exited the kitchens, she happened to glance upon an unfolding scene with her newest buscolt. The young stallion was attempting to make his work a little more fun by juggling some plates onto his cart. And while his captive audience was amused, his waiter was not.

"Might we move this along?" he suggested. "I do have a family of six to seat at this table."

"Sure thing, just let me grab the silverware." the rookie steward reached out a hoof while he kept his eyes on three wine glasses steadied with his tail. Unfortunately, what he thought was spoon turned out to be a pointy fork, that he gripped from the wrong end.

"Ouch!" He immediately seized up, and his performance came to a glass shattering end. The nearby patrons gave a small chuckle as the buscolt sheepishly went to fetch a broom.

"Looks like mister dinner and a show just pulled a Trixie," overheard Sherbet from one of the customers. Tempted to personally usher out the smart mouthed pony, she mustered every ounce of professionalism in her and decided not to dignify the mare with a response.

Instead, she proceeded to return to her lunch with her daughter, who was waiting for her in a the VIP booths. Hopefully some mother-daughter time would make her feel better.

"Mother? Can I ask you something?" Tangerine inquired as her mother sat herself back down across from her.

"Of course, Tangerine. What is it?"

"Are you a bully?"

The Orange matron half-choked on her cucumber gratin. "B-bully? Why would you ask that?"

"Because Babs told me what you did to Trixie was a lot like what many of the mean foals at her old school did to her," the quietly apprehensive filly elaborated. "She is not correct, is she? Because Babs also says bullies cannot be friends, and you are still a friend of Miss Trixie, right?"

Her daughter's words cut the rich mare deeper than the filly could ever hope to understand at her age. Putting decorum aside, Sherbet slouched over the table, resting her neck over a pair of crossed hooves. "Oh my little citrus blossom, how I wish I could tell you I was 100% certain..."


A somber and tragic tune exuded from Octavia's cello as she practiced in the unoccupied orchestra pit of the empty opera house.

"Really not helping the mood here Octavia," Honey called from onstage. There she, Blossomforth, Orange Sherbet, and Twilight Sparkle all sat in a circle on the cool hardwood floor.

"'Tis not my fault this theatre's upcoming performance happens to be Pintoliaccio, the sad clown," Octavia explained. "Though I will confess, the irony of said piece's underlying tone given our situation is not lost on me."

"Element of Laughter or Element of Laughingstock? It has been days since the Mare-Do-Well appreciation day incident revealed the hero rivalry to be nothing but a hoax planned against Trixie Lulamoon by the other Elements of Harmony to debunk her fraudulent celebrity status and... You know what? I can't even finish reading this one." Blossomforth folded her subscribed tabloid under her hooves and sighed, letting her bangs droop over her eyes. "We really messed up big time."

Sherbet lay flat on her back, her mane hanging loosely over the floor. "My own daughter compared me to a schoolyard ruffian the other day. I've never felt more low. And all the tittering Lyrica Lilac and Royal Ribbon are doing about it at my afternoon tea socials, even making fun of her name. I actually believe Lulamoon is a very beautiful last name, don't you?"

"The name is the least of our worries!" Honey shot up to her hooves and fumed back and forth. "I knew we should have just talked to her in the first place! I should have just gone with my gut and realized when this convoluted scheme had gone too far. But no, I just had to think this was a mere tit for tat exchange like the time she made my pith helm disappear for a full month. We just had to have a little laugh of our own. Well now the laughing won't stop!"

"How did things come to this?" Twilight hopelessly groaned. "It was just supposed to be a joke at worst, who could have possibly thought the ponies of Manehattan would be so judgmental over one little incident?"

"Technically, it was at least five. And given that it's been front page material for over a week now, I wouldn't say little either."

"Now you're not helping," Honey grumbled, snatching away Blossomforth's newspaper and crumpling it up. "Stupid liberal press and their liberal 'paraphrasing'. I just may have to get a third identity if this keeps up!"

"But why her?" Twilight rehashed her previous statement. "This was all our doing, our fault. We're the ones who pushed Trixie into this, why won't Manehattan blame US?!"

"Because it was not we who were disgraced in the eyes of the public." Octavia finally made her way up the stairs from the pit to join the informal circle. "Shame, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder."

"I can actually relate," said Sherbet. "When I first moved here with Mosely, I received numerous ridicules from my new socialite peers about my vernacular and posture. It was only after months of integration into the Orange Conglomerate did they finally see enough of themselves in me to stop gossiping at the dinner parties. Of course, I weathered the slings and arrows by my husband and his family. But Trixie..."

"Who does Trixie have?" finished Honey. "Not us, not when we're the problem itself. I mean, have any of you even heard from her since...you know?"

Everypony in the room solemnly shook their heads. Twilight then stood up, new determination, albeit small, working its way into her head. "Then if she won't talk to us...we'll just have to talk to her. She needs to know we will be there for her, we can at least fix that!"

"Uh, Twilight-"

But Twilight was galloping out the hall before Blossomforth could start.

"Uh, she does know my team has a downpour planned in less than an hour right?"


"Why didn't Blossomforth mention there was going to be a downpour around this time?"

Twilight trudged hoof deep in the sidewalk puddles whilst Spike did his best to walk directly underneath her. One moment she had ducked into the library to fetch her dragon assistant, the next she had jumped out into a wall of water. And while it only took her a second to magic up an umbrella barrier over her head, that one second was all the rain needed to give her a full body wash. It also didn't help that an umbrella spell wouldn't keep her hooves from getting soggy with each step she took on the pavement.

"Ugh, I can't see past three hooves in this torrent. Spike, how much further is it to the Bridleway district?"

The little dragon stuck his nose back into the city map. "We turned left at Maple, so...just past that intersection!"

A passing carriage sprayed a wave of muddy water over the duo just as Spike pointed. The umbrella spell didn't help at all.

I have a new appreciation for raincoats... the drenched unicorn thought to herself.

"Okay, keep an eye out for Pizzazz Amphitheater. That's supposedly where her next performance is scheduled for the week."

As Twilight scanned across the street parallel to herself, Spike made a cursory glance to the left of the walkway, and did a double take.

"Uh...found it. But I don't think Trixie's here."

Twilight turned to where Spike was pointing and gaped in disbelief. There was the said amphitheater alright. Alongside the sides of the building were posterboards of all the performers and actors playing. Quite a few of them had the showmare's picture on it labeled 'The Great and Powerful Trixie!'.

Overlapping her posters however, was a large strip of sticker tape with big large letters in red.
SHOW CANCELED
Also, on an unrelated but still shocking note, more than half of her posters had pencil mustaches, mule ears, goat horns, pimples and/or goatees drawn on the magician's face.


The doors of the Vaude-a-torium opened and closed for the exiting duo. "Nine theaters and not a trace of her!" Twilight openly worried. "Everypony we've tried asking haven't even seen her!"

"Actually, they just couldn't stop laughing the moment we mentioned her name," Spike corrected. "You're sure that 'take your mouth away' spell will wear off by the way, right?"

Twilight gave Spike a malicious smirk. "Eventually..."

Her horn then bonked into a wooden obstruction directly in front of her path. "Ow! What kind of inconsiderate pony would leave their carriage parked in an out-of-sight side alley where anypony could just bump into it?"

"Uh, Twilight, this isn't a carriage..." Spike squinted up at the large overhanging wooden banner with a crescent wand and stars decorated on it.

"It's Trixie's wagon!" Twilight exclaimed. Then a flash of lightning lit up the area, and her excitement dampened immediately. Graffiti decorated the walls of the show wagon along with an assortment of spray painted words.

FAKE
PHONY
FRAUD

"No..." Twilight whispered to herself. All her nerve seemed to freeze up as she climbed up to the door. She just stood there with a hoof raised for the longest time.

"Well?" Spike asked amidst the pouring rain. "I kinda want to at least dry off."

Twilight finally knocked. "Trixie?" she nervously asked with a soft tone, "Are you there?"

When no reply came, she reached out to knock again, stopped at the edge of the doorframe, pulled back, then after a few seconds raised her hoof again. This time the door slid open a crack as her hoof connected lightly. When nothing else happened after a few seconds, she turned to Spike. "I guess it's unlocked."

"Good, hope she has some spare towels in stock." Spike pushed the door wide open as he let himself in.

"Spike, wait! We can't just barge in unannou-" Twilight stopped to take in the insides of the magician's abode.

A bed, dressing table, closet, trunk of assorted props, fairly standard furniture for an entertainer on the go. They all had been depicted and bedazzled in Trixie's flashy stars and moon design with matching colors. Boxes of fireworks and fanfare instruments were set aside on the far corner. A tall vanity mirror took up the wall space in between. The left wall had nothing near or hung on it except some blue curtains and large signs along with a metal latch on top. Twilight then realized it was actually the folded stage Trixie used when she did street performances. Doubling in function as a wall, very clever design. I'd like to meet the pony that designed this cart. The rest of the interior walls had no paint or wallpaper but...

"Wow, even on the ceiling too?" Spike looked up to the gleaming smile of a Trixie photo over the bed. "Makes you wonder why she hasn't married herself yet."

There was one last thing that caught Twilight's eye as she gazed around the many faces of Trixie. Another desk, smaller than the dressing table. Unlike the rest of the furnishing, it didn't seem to be Trixiefied. It had a small second shelf with several knick-knacks and small award trophies. One or two framed pictures of ponies who weren't Trixie sat above several locked drawers to the side. Was this a personal study perhaps?

What drew the most attention to the desk however, was the surrounding wall around it. A bunch of article clippings and pictures were pasted together on it in a patterned mess.

"What's all this?" Spike wondered aloud.

"Looks like some sort of newspaper collage," Twilight determined as she stepped closer to take a read at one of the postings. To her surprise it wasn't an article on Trixie but-

"New escape act, Casket of Catastrophe unveiled last night by...Hairy Hoofdini?!" Twilight took a step back in surprise as her eyes darted to another article, this time with a picture of a dashing stallion in a black tux cape holding a black white-tipped wand. "Hoofdini pulls off the unbeatable Sultan Surprise...Dauntless Decent, conquered by the Great Hoofdini...The Rainbow Faint, Hoofdini most daring escape yet...this is a memorial to Hairy Hoofdini!"

"Who?"

Twilight looked at Spike with an incredulous look, like he had just grown a second head. "You've never heard of the Amazing Hoofdini?! He's only the most incredible illusionist in history! He's performed over 101 magical feats that no other unicorn has even come close to attempting. The spellworking used at escaping his deathtraps would have baffled even Starswirl the Bearded! He's...he's a genius!"

Her eyes twinkled as she squeed a giddy smile. "He's the whole reason I started studying magic in the first place! Well, that and Princess Celestia, but he worked on a totally different angle! I just had to know how he did it, how his tricks worked. I wanted...I wanted to be just like him!"

Spike looked at one of the pictures on the collage. "You wanted to sport a top hat and a waxed handlebar mustache?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Okay, not exactly like him." Twilight exited out of her adorkable schoolfilly state, but still held an enthusiastic tone. "But you know what I mean! Before I became Celestia's student, he was my number one idol!"

"What's his number now?" Spike asked.

"492."

Silence reigned as the little dragon half-lidded his eyes and gave a deadpan twist of the lips.

"Hey, he's still in the top thousand!"

"You have that big a list*?" In actuality, Spike wasn't that surprised.

"I've read up on a lot of ponies over the years."

"No kidding." Spike turned his attention back to the clippings on the wall. "So why do you think she has this kinda borderline creepy shrine to him mounted in her bedroom?"

"I think it's pretty obvious," Twilight conjectured, "that Trixie's an even bigger fan of his work than I was."

"I was more than just his fan..."

Twilight nearly leapt into Spike's little arms as she whirled around in a heart stopping moment to see azure mare they came to see in the first place, minus her trademark cape and hat. Her mane and tail hung limply over her body as it was drenched and saturated with rainwater. Her eyes seemed glazed and dark as she held a stiff, emotionless frown.

"I was his apprentice."

Twilight gasped in surprise. "You?! You're Hoofdini's heir? Omigosh, I can't believe this. I-I knew you were a talented magician, but you're telling me Hoofdini taught you all his secrets? How? When? Where? D-do you think you could show me a few? Like how the Mirror Maze Madness was done? I-"

Spike nudged Twilight in the ribs again. Dealing with lost composure was a thing he was used to on a regular basis, although it usually stemmed from the other end of the emotional spectrum.

"Oh, sorry..." Twilight blushed. "I kinda drifted on a tangent there for a moment, almost forgot why I was here in the first place. Listen I...I wanted to apologize for the whole Mare-Do-Well thing."

Trixie looked at her dolefully then leaned her side against the door, her back half turned to the purple unicorn. "Go on."

"Yes, I..." Twilight swallowed and licked her lips nervously. "I’m sorry that we embarrassed you in front of everypony and made you look stupid. We shouldn’t have done it.” She looked at Trixie and gulped as she noticed that the azure unicorn hadn’t moved a hoof. “And…ah…I’ll never ever do it again. None of us will. Uh, by the way, where's your hat and cape?"

"Packed away," Trixie answered in a monotone. "They actually get in the way when I'm pulling my stage for long distances."

"W-what?" A warning bell went off in Twilight's head. "P...packed away? Long distances? You're leaving?"

"I am a traveling entertainer after all. It's not like me to stay in one place for too long. I'm surprised I've stopped here this long. Must have been my attachments to this city."

"B-but...then...why? Why leave now?" Twilight stammered.

Trixie clenched both her eyes shut and her jaw as if she’d pulled something. Slowly she looked at Twilight Sparkle with a painful scowl.

"Why? Why?! You're really asking me that? Why do you think, Twilight Sparkle?!" Twilight scrambled in a short backpedal as Trixie jerked her neck forward, her teeth bared. "Do you have any idea what you and the rest of your conspirators have done?!"

“I…we embarrassed you…and…I…” Twilight's voice faltered. She’d never had a friend mad at her before…not like this.

"You betrayed me! All of you! You had me lose every last shred of respect from everypony around me! I mattered to them because I was doing good things. And then Mare-Do-Well showed up and proceeded to show everypony how special I wasn’t. How I wasn’t strong enough...or fast enough...or magic enough…”

Twilight curled up, shaking, not knowing what to do or say to end this. "T-Trixie..." she whimpered.

"You know what hurts most? It was you girls who did it. I thought Mare-Do-Well was going to steal you away from me the way you all kept gushing about her. But I was wrong it the worst possible way." Tears started to become apparent over Trixie's face. "My whole reason for staying here...the ponies who I thought were my friends...who I didn't want to leave...were Mare-Do-Well!"

"We are your friends!" Twilight felt tears herself as she shouted desperately. "That's why I'm here aren't I? I'm trying to apologize Trixie!"

"For what? Do you even know what you're apologizing for?" Trixie roared as she wept. "Do you even realize what your actions did?"

“I… I…” Twilight cried, unable to look away, and incapable on answering her.

"You took away my fame, Twilight! Don't you get it! My reputation was everything to me! That's all I had, that's all any magician has! What is a performer without popularity? Have you ever wondered that? Without it, I have no one to come to my shows, I have no purpose to do anything, I have nopony who wants to be with me...I have nothing."

And with that she finally collapsed sobbing. And Twilight just sat there with her. “That’s… that not true Trixie. That’s not all that you have. You’re a great magic user…” But her praise made the mare slump even more.

"No, I'm not really that great...or powerful. When push comes to shove...I always fail when it's important. And when I fail...I end up alone, because nopony wants to be with a failure. Real magical unicorns would never fail. They'd be able to pass the entrance exam for Canterlot's School for Gifted Unicorns...they'd be able to save her master's life..."

"What?" The sudden tension provided a lull in the hysterics as Trixie directed the room's attention to a news clipping near the bottom of the wall.

Tragedy at the Pegasus Theatre: Hoofdini's last stand

"That's right..." Twilight murmured. "His big accident on the '97 Big Top tour..."

"You asked how I came to be the amazing Hoofdini's protégé? Well, it all started a little after I failed to pass the entrance exams for Canterlot's school of gifted unicorns. House Lulamoon wasn't the most wealthy or prestigious of nobilities, it was actually quite small, but we did have a long standing history of reputable spellcasters, powerful ones. That's probably why all the other unicorn foals followed me when I went outside to play or run errands, to see what defined one of the most powerful unicorn families in Canterlot. I was a leader to them. But when every other unicorn foal I knew had succeeded but me, they stopped coming. Instead they just passed me by on the streets talking with each other about what new spells they learned, leaving me out with nothing but my fantasies to play with, lonely unchanging fantasies with no one to share to. Being the first dropout in the family history was already disappointing enough to my mother, so when I had convinced myself that my talent was not meant to be squandered inside studying but shown off traveling the world, she didn't approve. Well, not that she didn't approve, she just didn't seem to care. I was ignored in the neighborhood, I was ignored in my house, so I guessed no one would even notice if I ran away."

"You ran away?" Spike interrupted.

"Not entirely," Trixie answered. "I did grab some things and sneak out of the mansion. But the way I was going, it was probably going to end up as another classic hungry and tired foal comes crawling back before she could even reach the edge of town stories...had not I met him.

I had just passed the Canterlot bazaar and was walking down an incline, when I tripped and tumbled down the hill. At the bottom, Hoofdini was putting on a little preview for his nightly performance at the Canterlot Thespian Halls. I happened to roll right into one of his custom milk can traps, and was locked inside. I was so startled at the snare, I must have used my magic without knowing, because a second later I was back outside and a small audience was clapping for me. Hoofdini was impressed as the initial surprise wore off him. He told me that the locks for the can could only be opened from the outside simultaneously, each with a self-changing magic combination. Five thousand others beside him have attempted to escape it on their own, and I was the first to succeed.

You can probably guess what happened afterwards. He escorted me home, we talked with my parents, he offered to train me. My mother still didn't care at that point, and I didn't care whether she cared. I was done trying to live her dream, I wanted to live mine. So having gotten formal permission to leave with him it really wasn't running away anymore, it was just leaving for a new life.

Five years...five whole years we traveled all over Equestria, and I saw how he garnered ponies attention. And he didn't just give ponies a show, he helped them. Like the Blue Diamond robbery case in Las Pegasus."

"I remember reading that, he was one of the special detectives they hired?"

Trixie nodded. "He easily cracked how the thieves bypassed the security, it gave the investigators a good lead. But more importantly, whatever he did, he did in confidence. And it inspired confidence in others, it inspired it in me. We had admiration, we had approval, and when we were just on the road, we had each other.

And then it all vanished, because one pony just had to show him up."

"The Steel Soul challenge..." Twilight whispered.

"Yes, in addition to being a magnificent magician and escape artist, he also exposed many scam artists who greatly overcharged ponies for lazy second rate techniques, ponies with no passion who took his profession just to trick easy money from the masses. He outdid their own challenges everytime, showing how simply it could be done and how unoriginal their moneymaking tricks were. But he only did it to performers who he knew had no love for the slight-of-hoof game. He was a hero to the magician world.

So it happened, one night on our tour with the Big Top circus. After finishing his act for the entire town of Neigh Orleans, a two bit conjurer barged into the ring, claiming him to be the fraud. Hoofdini accepted his challenge, the Steel Soul trial. His opponent demonstrated to the crowd with a mortar that he wheeled in that he could take a direct blast from a cannonball and not be hurt in the slightest, as if his body was made of steel. Hoofdini dismissed it was a simple substitution technique used on the ball along with a hidden chamber in the cannon that held a rubber one. But as he stepped in front of the cannon to debunk the stallion, I felt something amiss this time, some magic disturbance. And when the cannon fired...well...you know enough."

"It wasn't a substitute, a real cannonball pulverized him in the chest."

"He cheated...my master was completely correct about the hidden second chamber of the cannon. But what he didn't know was that the charlatan had used his scam earnings to hire a master teleportation graduate to sit in the audience, and use his magic to swap the fake cannonball with a real one in his bag, so that both chambers now had real ammunition in it. But the audience didn't know that, all they knew was that Hoofdini had failed. And I...I could do nothing to save him, I could only still there and watch as the pretender declared that a new legend had just been born...the pony who defeated Hoofdini."

She turned away from the wall, coldly looking into Twilight's eyes. "And they cheered. They cheered...they cheered for that greedy, selfish butcher! My master slipped into a coma in a hospital bed less than a week later from the shock of his internal injuries, broken in both body and spirit, and everyone celebrated that!!"

"B-but that's not true! I read the newspapers, he was caught within a month! He was banned from all forms of magic for life, never to perform again. He even got a prison sentence!"

"So got what he deserved, but did that change anything? Did it change the boos that were once cheers flung at the most important stallion in my world for doing nothing wrong as the paramedics dragged his mutilated body out of the tent? Did it change the fact that no one but I even knows he exists in that bed and have been his sole visitor in the past ten years?!

Did it change that after five years of trying to bring my name to the public, to gain everypony's adoration, that I was by myself once again...and nopony knew...or even cared?"

Trixie slowly walked past her back towards her door. "Have you ever been alone, Sparkle? Truly alone? I have, and it is the worst feeling possible. And now I am again. That's the life of a thespian, either you are famous, or you're yesterday's news, a nopony. That's why they're always moving, to keep their fame alive. And when you're always moving, there are things you just can't find...like friends."

"No, no...you do have friends...you have us..."

"Do I?" Trixie snapped. "Are you? Cause from my standpoint, Mare-Do-Well's the two bit conjuror, and the face behind her mask is the hired magic muscle that rigged the cannon. Guess what that makes me? This is one hoofstep of my master I never wanted to follow!"

With that, she stepped out once again into the pouring rain. Closing the door shut behind her, the ruined showmare clambered down and began to hitch the reins of her mobile home over her shoulders.

A brilliant flash and a pop appeared in front of her, and Trixie found herself completely in Twilight's full grip as the mare lunged forward to embrace her. "I'm sorry Trixie! I’m sorry I did it…I’m sorry I didn’t think how it’d hurt you!” Twilight said as she completely broke down, her tears matching the rainfall's pace. “I…I didn’t realize…everything.” Twilight rubbed her own nose as she brushed her mane back out of her eyes. "P-please...please don't leave Manehattan...I don't want to lose you. I don't care if you're too boastful anymore, everypony has their faults, everypony! We love you as you are! My friends...are the most precious things in my life now. I never had any before I came to Manehattan! Please...please...I promise we'll never do anything like this again. I promise we'll never abandon you, we'll never let you be alone! Just please...don't go off and leave...please forgive me..."

Trixie silently continued to shed soft tears beside the heaving unicorn. "...To be honest, I don't want to lose you either. You girls are also the first friends I've ever made as well. But...what kind of friends just go behind another one's back, put on a bunch of ridiculous outfits and gang up to humiliate me just for some self improvement kick? How can I...how can I trust you girls anymore? It's not possible...not like how I could before."

“We never meant to hurt you,” Twilight murmured softly. She gently stroked the sides of Trixie's pale blue mane. “You know that, don’t you?”

Trixie sniffled, relinquishing a weak nod. “But you did.”

"I know...I know now. I'm still so new to friendship. I should have gone with Daring's idea and just kept trying to talk with you. I was...I was just so used to how all my life in Canterlot, ponies became so ignorant when they started to act self-righteous, I guess I didn't trust you well enough to listen to me unless I did something extreme."

"Like how I ran away from mother," Trixie gave the weakest of laughs. "I...I guess I have embellished myself a little too much recently."

"A little?"

"Don't push, I still have a right to be mad at you all and will be regardless."

"..."
"..."
"..."

"Okay, a lot. I probably wouldn't have even listened to me. But I still wouldn't have gone that far!"

"Yeah, that really was stupid. I suppose we've both been pretty crummy friends lately."

Another moment of non-verbal communication passed between the two as they tried to figure out what to say next.

"Listen, I-"
"Trixie-"

They both started at once, only to fall into an awkward silence. Then, just when you thought they had burned out all hysterics, they gave one last string of outbursts as they pulled together once more.

“I’m sorry!” They said at the same time, their voices quivering with emotion.

"I'm sorry I was such a pompous bragger and didn't listen to you!"

"I’m so sorry I went behind your back and came up with the Mare-Do-Well plan like a scheming nag!"

"I-I’m sorry I called you Twilight Snarkle!"

"I-wait, what?" Twilight put aside all sadness aside for the briefest of moments and pulled away to express her confusion. "When did you call me that?"

"Oh...right...I was alone for that. Well I'm sorry anyway."

Twilight let loose a smirk for an even briefer moment. "Seriously? Twilight Snarkle? Even Spike could have thought up a better nickname than that."

"Just what's that supposed to mean?!" called a voice from still inside the wagon.

The two shared a brief chuckle before lapsing into an uneasy silence. Twilight then cleared her throat delicately as she ran a hoof along the ground. "Listen...I really mean it when I say you don't have to change for us Trixie. That's...that's the thing about being a friend, right? Liking you for the good and the bad. I know I'm not perfect, especially since this whole mess, but...you'd still want to be with me, won't you?

Trixie grew somber again as she stared out past the lavender mare. "And what about the city? Even if I do still have friends, how will I live? All everypony’s going to think when they see me now is ‘look, there’s Trixie the loser’. I'll be nothing but something for them to laugh at."

Twilight sniffed and looked her in the eye. Her voice lowered as she mustered every last ounce of seriousness in her next choice of words. "Trixie, I swear to Celestia, I'll do whatever it takes...even if it takes the rest of my life...if I have to give up books forever, cut my horn off, or even become the next Nightmare Moon! I will get the ponies of Manehattan to stop laughing at you. I won't let them call you a fraud anymore. I will bring back...the Great and Powerful Trixie." She gave a hiccup in her throat, trying to keep herself steady. "I know that I have no right to ask you for this, but will you forgive me for... for hurting you, Trixie? Will you still be my friend?"

Trixie took a slow, deep breath. "If I do, can you do me one thing, Twilight?"

"Anything! You name it, it's yours!"

The smallest of smiles crept up from the mess of tears. "I want a violet and cornflower sandwich with a clover salad on the side. Fifteen no shows in a row has left me a little short on lunch money, and I don't fancy eating out of a trash can."

Twilight sniffed and rubbed her nose again, returning the fragile expression. "Of course...Great and Powerful Trixie."

As the cold rain continued to pound down on them, the two mares drew closer in their hug, sharing each other's warmth, forgiveness, and love.


"Here you are, and a nice cup of hot cocoa to go with it." Orange Sherbet placed the large tray on the table in front of her penthouse sofa, where Trixie sat, dried off and completely wrapped in a warm blanket. The rhythmic sound of raindrops pelting against the rooftop gave a soothing ambiance to the warm room, where the Manehattan six rested, waiting out the rain. "Feel free to stay here as long as you like," the Orange hostess added to her tired guest.

"Again, we're really sorry about all this," Blossomforth said. "We'll do everything we can to help you get back on your hooves."

"Trixie heard you the first fifty times," the azure mare said as she blew on her hot beverage. "And she is impoverished, not destitute. She still has a bed of her own to sleep on."

"Oh, you can't possibly mean to camp out in the streets in your wagon every night, I insist!"

"And just what is wrong with Trixie's mobile studio?" Trixie raised an eyebrow at her rich compatriot.

"Oh, nothing! Nothing at all. I just thought it might be...lonely sleeping like that!" Sherbet corrected. "And besides, I know Tangerine would just love your company."

"Trixie supposes that's a valid point, and she does like your filly. Still, don't go around thinking she's helpless just because of some rough luck."

"Verily," Octavia answered, wiping some crumbs from the scones they shared. "Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Twilight sighed in contentment as she tasted a crumpet next to her renewed friend. Things were finally starting to look up. No more misunderstandings, everypony had made up, Trixie was even back to talking in the third pony. She had really missed that. "Never change, Trixie." She gave a light nuzzle against her friend's mane.

"Yeah, yeah. Warm mushies all around," Honey interjected. "But this whole mess isn't completely cleaned up just yet. We're all in agreement, right? We gotta figure a way how get Trixie's reputation back. Any ideas?"

"Couldn't we just tell everypony it was all our fault?" Blossomforth suggested.

"No dice. I know my media, they're in full propaganda mode right now," Honey replied with disapproval. "A direct apology will only give them an opening to turn one scandal into many."

"Maybe a comeback performance," Sherbet proposed. "I could arrange a citywide event with Mayor Tux, and we could devise a whole new routine with Trixie. Something fresh and spectacular that will make them forget this whole fiasco ever happened."

"Kinda hard to forget when the mere mention of her name sends everypony into a giggle fit," Spike pointed out. "She's been laughed off every stage in Manehattan, I don't think building a new one going to produce a different result."

"He's right," Honey agreed. "The ponies presently aren't going to give her a chance unless she does something truly spectacular. Something that could help every pony in the city."

"Something only she could do," Sherbet pondered.

"Something heroic," Blossomforth added.

"Something...unbelievable," finished Octavia.

The minutes ticked on by as they sat sat in silence. Then, Twilight jumped from her seat, her horn alight. "That's it! I know how we can make Trixie a hero again!"

Everypony leaned their heads forward in anticipation.
"Really?"
"How?"
"Don't keep us in suspense girl!"
"Care to share your idea with the group, today maybe?"

Twilight distanced herself a few paces away from the others, then turned her head to them with a wry smile. "Trixie is going to save the city...from an Ursa Major!"


Meanwhile, in the apartment complex above the Games and Gadgets toy store, a similar brainstorm was going on between two colts.

"Thisth isth terrible," Specs griped with a hoof propped against his chin. "We're the only two membersth left in the Great and Powerful fanclub! Even Babs quit our club."

"Technically, nopony quit," Cutup refuted from the podium made up of stacked boxes of comic books. "They just stopped coming to our meetings."

"Sthame thing," the tall bespectacled colt sighed. "What are we going to do? We can't let the Great and Powerful Trixie be laughed at forever."

"Eh, it's the classic antihero conundrum the way I see it," Cutup analyzed. "Like when Sleipnir was banished from the Eternal Herd for violating the truce with the Wovlengrad in part for protecting the mortal realms from Fenrir's invasion, or when Batstallion took the blame for Twinface's tyrannical rampage originated by the Prankster's chaos serum."

"I thought we both agreed that particular thpinoff wasth terrible," Specs mentioned.

"It was," Cutup agreed. "But the point is, if there's anything a lifetime of graphic novel reading has taught me, it's that every hero has their darkest hour before they return triumphant in a victory so incredible, it redeems them completely."

"Stho...what your thaying isth, if we want to help everyone sthee how amazing the Great and Powerful Trixie isth again, we gotta get her to do thomething big, big and life sthaving!"

"Exactly! Now come on! Use that B+ noggin of yours. What awesome exploit could the Great and Powerful Trixie do that no other pony could do?"

The answer came to them both at the same time. "THE URSA MAJOR!"

"Sthe thaid it herthelf! Only sthe's been able to beat one!"

"Yeah, like how she chased that one in Hoofington back into the Everfree forest! That's what we'll do! We'll find an Ursa Major, and then bring it here for everypony to see her defeat one and save the city!"

"Everyone will have to acknowledge her asth the greatesth unicorn ever after that!" Specs' smile suddenly disappeared as he scratched his head. "Uh, one problem...we don't have an Everfree foresth in Manehattan."

His stout companion joined him in pondering and pouting, then his eyes lit up. "But we do have a zoo!"

Author's Note:

*The total number of notable magic users in Twilight's list is 205,753. Starting at the bottom with Flicker the luminous, formulator of the basic lighting spell, ending at the top with, you guessed it, Celestia.

Anyways, sad part's over. We'll be back to the funny in spades after this!