True Despair

by chaos2012

First published

Trixie returns to gain her vengance against the Pony that took away everything she had.

Trixie has gone through everything in her life.

Fame. Ostracized. Hatred. Suffering. Despair.

Now, she has returned to Ponyville to extract her vengeance on the pony that caused her life to spiral downward. To make that pony feel the same emptiness the she'd been subjected to ever since their last encounter; Twilight Sparkle.

Will Twilight be able to protect her home from a pony who is hell-bent on destruction? A pony who's heart has been so damaged?

co-written by Dainn and TheMyth

While beginning as an alternate take on the episode magic Duel, the story is not a simple retelling. The entire storyline and key plot points have changed.

A Demonstration of Pain

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The city of Manehatten was experiencing one of the most intense storms it had been dealt this year. The Pegasi had missed a storm from two weeks prior due to a mishap in the organized list of dates at the Cloudsdale weather factory. Now, they had to make up for the loss by piling on the previous amount of rain clouds with the ones that were set to appear today.

The frigid winds mercilessly bombarded anything unfortunate enough to get caught in it’s path. Some windows threatened to fracture as their endurance was constantly being pushed to the limit by the near gale-force winds. The gathering rainwater on the rooftops cascaded down the sides and fell down into the streets below. Small streams flowed through the cobblestone alleyways and streets, in a downhill motion, following the flow of gravity. Everypony locked themselves indoors to escape the harsh weather.

All except one.

A lone pony ran through the vacant main street of the city, undeterred by the elements that fought against it. Its body was draped in a dark cape, partly used to help block the harsh weather, but mostly as a way to conceal its identity from anypony that may happen to be outside or look out of their window.

Dipping behind the covered wagons and stalls on the sidewalk, the mysterious figure made its way towards a certain shop in which it had been desperately searching for in this town. As the hooded figure approached the entrance, the storm outside seemed to grow in fury. It could almost hear a whisper in the wind, demanding that it turn back. The cloaked pony didn’t listen, of course. Months worth of careful planning, all of its hard work, its final chance to turn everything around … everything depended on this particular night and it wouldn’t be getting another chance as perfect as this one. The pony had come this far and it wouldn’t allow anything to bar its plans, mothernature be damned.

Coming to the door, the pony opened it and quickly escaped the bitter wind outside. Turning around, it pushed back against the wood and forced the front door shut once again to the storm. To its delight, the store lights were off. There was nopony else here.

Alright, so far so good. Now she needed to hurry before somepony else came in.

The cloaked pony then went on to shuffle through the many piles of loose items that were stuffed together in unorganized masses across the tables and floor. Pushing stuff aside, several items fell to the ground which created more noise than preferred, but the pony didn’t hear any of it. Nor did it hear the hoofsteps that creaked along the wooden floorboards, growing louder and louder at a steady pace. The pony’s mind was focused on something else entirely.

Suddenly, the lights at the front counter flipped on, startling the cloaked figure. Turning it's head around, it saw a pony coming from the doorway behind the counter. Entering the light, it was revealed to be a gray, middle aged earth-pony. Its braided light blue mane was topped by a tan and red cap, complementing the brown shirt and red scarf it adorned. His golden eyes stared through the spectacles on his muzzle at the pony that had entered his shop.

After a moment, the shopkeeper grinned at seeing a possible customer. "May I help you, traveller?" he asked in a curious tone, seemingly paying no heed to the mess that the mysterious pony had made. He watched as the dark figure slowly came into the faint light from the counter. All that he could make out under the black Cloak was the hooves of the pony, which were a bright azure color.

Walking behind his counter, he kept his eye on the secretive pony, "Something drew you to my shop, something powerful." He watched as one of the hooves lifted off the ground and pointed to the glass lid that covered the store’s most prized possession.

Inside of the glass container was a dark gray amulet In the shape of an upside down arrowhead. Inside of the amulet’s center was a blood-red diamond. On the top of the pendant was the head of a unicorn with red eyes. Spread out to the sides were gray wings tipped with red feathers. Just one glance and the cloaked pony could sense a small fraction of the near overwhelming arcane might that the artifact seemed to exude. That was why the pony was here. The cloaked figure hadn’t anticipated the shop owner returning before it could find the artifact and leave. No matter. He was just an ordinary merchant and, as far as he knew, the cloaked pony was just another customer. No need to do anything too drastic just yet.

The shopkeeper chuckled at the choice, "Aw, you have a keen eye. The alicorn amulet is one of the most mysterious and powerful of all of the known magical charms."

The "customer" once again pointed at the amulet on the shelf. The shop owner suddenly felt a strange chill go up his spine, 'What would anypony want with this trinket?' he thought to himself. Walking over, he stood between the pony and the desired artifact. "I'm afraid this is... Far too dangerous."

The shrouded pony reached under its cloak and pulled out a large bag. Tossing it onto the counter, the top of it tipped over, allowing the contents to spill out. A large number of bits toppled onto the wooden top, the gold sparking under the ceiling light. The owner was astounded; judging from the size of the bag, he guessed it must have contained at least three hundred bits. Still, he shook his head, "I don't think you understand. This amulet is not for sale and no amount of bits will ever change that."

The pony took one more look at the amulet and tightly clenched its teeth together. Taking the amulet without being seen had failed and so too did its attempts at playing the role of a common customer. The pony wasn’t leaving without that amulet, even if that meant that it had to “Improvise”.

From below the cloaked pony’s hood, a magenta glow suddenly appeared through the dark material and shot out towards the owner. His body enveloped in strong telekinetic aura, the owner thrashed about, fearful of what was to happen next. In the next instant, he felt his body thrown across the room and slammed hard into a wall.

"Agh!" he cried out in pain. In the next instant that followed, he felt the all too familiar sensation of being lifted once more, only to be thrown across the front counter. Squinting through his now hazy vision, he looked up to see the now identified unicorn walking towards him.

Fear and adrenaline took over, numbing the pain just enough to grant him the strength needed crawl down the hallway. For a moment, it looked as if the shop owner would make it to the back door. If he could just make it outside, then he could shout for help. Surely somepony would hear him and come to his rescue. Alas, whatever hope that his panicked mind had conjured in order to help him escape had been immediately switched into thoughts of despair the moment that he felt a hoof connect with the center of his back, pinning him down in place. He flipped his head around to see the dark figure standing above him, its face completely hidden in the shadows. His blood ran cold as his mind began to create images of what was going to happen to him. "Pl-please..." he pleaded through fearful gasps for air. "Y-you want the amulet?! Just take it! Take it and leave me alone! Please!"

His eyes widened at the sight of a faint glow that came from the figure’s horn. “Stop! Stop it!” Enshrouding a nearby trophy in magic, the attacker brought it down and connected with the side of the stallions head, striking him directly in the temple. The owner screamed out in pain and fear from the blow. Before he could put his hooves up to cover up, the trophy came down again on the same spot, creating a large gash on his scalp. The earth-pony's head dropped to the ground with a hard thud, completely unconscious.

Stepping off of the owner, the pony walked back behind the counter towards the item that it desired. Approaching the glass, the cloaked pony could make out the outlines of it’s cape in the reflection, followed by the bright white grin that emerged through the shadows of the hood. The blood stained pony had finally obtained what it had been working for for months, but now there was something else on its mind.


*** One week later ***

Outside of the town of Ponyville, a small cottage sat pleasantly on top of a hill. The sounds of birds happily chirping in the sky was a common occurrence here, for the owner of the home was one who gave wonderful treatment to all animals.

To the side of the home, a collection of small animals consisting of beavers, raccoons and rabbits all sat together as they listened to Fluttershy, a butter colored pegasus with a pink mane, explain to them what exactly was going to happen. Her good friend Twilight Sparkle, a lavender unicorn, quietly sat back with her assistant Spike, a young purple dragon, as they waited for Fluttershy to finish speaking with her animals.

"Don't be scared little friends, Twilight is wonderful with magic," Fluttershy said to her animal friends in a soothing tone. Suddenly, she flipped around to Twilight, shooting her a cold and steely glare, startling the unicorn with the sudden change in demeanor, "If anything happens to them Twilight, so help me!" her words dripped venomous threats with each syllable.

Spike quickly got between the two of them, placing his claws on each of the two mares in an effort to keep them separated. "Aww, don't worry Fluttershy," he said as he walked Fluttershy away. "Twilight's magic has gotten a lot better since she accidentally crushed me and Applejack with a giant snowball."

Twilight blushed with embarrassment as she remembered the incident at her first winter wrap up in Ponyville a few years prior. She had tried to enchant her snowplow to help push the snow off of the fields much faster, but ended up losing control, creating a massive wall of snow which made an even larger mess than before.

Fluttershy took a deep breath to calm herself, "Well of course she’s good with magic. No ... Twilight is great with magic. I guess I just don't want my little friends to be scared." Her eyes suddenly widened as she looked down to her precious animals, "Oh, oh! Look how scared they are!"

Despite her panic, all of the small critters had wide grins on their faces as they patiently waited for the test to commence. Twilight calmly approached and then placed a hoof on the trembling pegasus in order to reassure her. "Don't worry Fluttershy, I promise that nothing bad will happen."

"I know!" responded Fluttershy, who was now covered in sweat by this point.

Twilight walked forward to the group of animals and focused her magic. After a second, her horn glowed as purple energy began to materialize. Next, all of the animals were enveloped in a warm glow as were then lifted off the ground with great care. All of the critters cheered with excitement as they felt themselves being lifted off of the ground.

Twilight could hear Fluttershy panicking behind her, but opted to ignore it so as to not draw her focus away from the performance. The last thing that she wanted was to make a mistake and hurt any of the animals.

Levitating them higher, Twilight weaved the animals up and down in a mix of different directions. Some she had dive down in a steep arc, while others were pulled up and spun through the air. Before long, they were all flowing in a very smooth figure eight pattern overhead. Chirps and laughs emitted from the animals as they flipped around inside the unicorn’s mystical grasp.

Spike stared in awe at the spectacle and clapped his scaly paws together. "Twilight, that looks amazing!"

The lavender mare smiled as she lowered the animals back onto the ground. Once they had been safely lowered, she deactivated her magic, causing the purple aura to dissipate. She brought a hoof up to her head to wipe away the small beads of sweat that had gathered. 'Phew! That took more concentration than I thought.' she mused to herself.

Her thoughts were disrupted by the cheering that came from the tiny creatures hopping around her, demanding that she do it again.

Twilight chuckled at how much fun the animals had and respectfully declined. "That's all for now, little ones. Maybe we can practice again later, if Fluttershy says it's alright."

All of the animals then ran over to Fluttershy, who was still cowering in her hooves. She had been so worried that her animals would get hurt that she didn't even notice how much fun they were having. Spike giggled to himself, seeing her like that. He then turned and smiled up to his unicorn caretaker, "Your magic has really improved since you came to Ponyville, Twilight! Princess Celestia is going to love it!"

Twilight gave a small grin; normally she never liked others bragging about her skill, but having a compliment now and then always felt good. "Thanks Spike. I have to be at my best when she arrives with the delegates from Saddle Arabia. Even though its next month, I figured practicing far ahead would make it easier."

"But... A whole month ahead?" Spike frowned slightly. "Is that a little early?"

Saddle Arabian ponies are very impressed by flawless performances. I know I have gotten better, I still can't believe that she’s trusting me with the entertainment ..."


Twilight felt herself get hit in the side by something quick, knocking her off her hooves. After her eyes had finished spinning around, she looked up to see a cyan pegasus with a multi-colored mane standing above her. Instantly recognizing her friend, Twilight glared at her in a fit of iritance, "Rainbow Dash, what are you doing?"
"Twilight, come quick! It's an emergency!" Rainbow nearly shouted.

Twilight's grimace disappeared when she saw the panic on Rainbow's face. Rainbow never worried about anything, so to see her so stressed was a huge cause for alarm. Picking herself up from off the ground, she shook dust off her coat before speaking, "What's the matter?"

"Some weird pony came to town and is causing trouble!"

"What!?" Twilight gasped.


Several minutes later, Twilight, Spike, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy had arrived in Ponyville. A large crowd of ponies had all gathered in the streets, watching something with great interest. Twilight looked around, curious as to what was happening. "What's going on here?"

Suddenly, a bright flash of red appeared in the middle of the crowd. As soon as it vanished, a massive wave of panic, washed over the ponies. The crowd dispersed, making room for a screaming white unicorn who ran away from the mass of onlooking ponies. Twilight's eyes went wide when she saw who it was. "Rarity? What's wro-" She quickly brought a hoof up to her mouth at what she had seen, "Oh my gosh! What happened your hair!?"

Rarity's normal purple mane had been nearly burnt all the way off, leaving only enough to hang past the base of her scalp. Her eyes were filled with tears as she looked up to her friend, "Oh Twilight! I can't believe what that horrible pony has done to me! Look at this!" she screamed as she pointed a hoof up to what was left of her hair.

"What? Who did this to you?" Twilight then looked past her crying friend to see a single pony standing in front of the town hall. Its form was completely covered by a black cloak that concealed the entirety of its body, except for its azure hooves. Anger washed over her as Twilight forced her way through the crowd so that she could confront the stranger.

"Who are you? Why did you Do that to Rarity?" Her voice rising high above the murmurs coming from the crowd,bringing forth an eternal silence.

The figure sat stone still for a few moments before bringing one of its hooves up to the top of its hood. "Well, well, well. It’s good to see you again ..." it paused as it pulled back on the hood, revealing a shining two toned silver mane and azure unicorn head, "Twilight Sparkle!” She smiled as she took in the uncertainty on the lavender unicorn’s face. “I was wondering how long it would be until you showed up! I mean, that is what you so called ‘Heroes’ do, right?"

Twilight's mind immediately recognized the unicorn as the magician who came to Ponyville years prior, claiming to be the most powerful unicorn in the world. She was also the one who nearly caused the destruction of Ponyville from the lie that she created. Despite the fact that this mare never set foot in their town again, Twilight could never forget the name of the fraud who stood before her.

Looking up, Twilight stared up into the eyes of Rarity’s tormentor and spoke her name with heavy disdain . "Trixie."

The lavender unicorn silently stared at the azure mare, eying the dark cloak and the strange amulet that was connected to the front of her outfit. She was still trying to put together her thoughts as she wondered why Trixie had returned to Ponyville. Spike glared at the once show off magician with contempt. "What is she doing here?" he sneered.

Trixie glanced around to the surrounding buildings, never losing the smirk that seemed to be chiseled into her muzzle, "I have to give credit where it’s due. You have all done a wonderful job of cleaning up since the last time I was here. If I were a first time visitor, I would have never been able to tell that the little ‘accident’ ever happened here."

Rainbow Dash flew forward, crossing her hooves in front of her chest. "You mean after you nearly got our town destroyed by an Ursa Minor?"

Trixie just closed her eyes and smiled. "You have a big mouth, but I doubt it’s as large as your wing." The amulet on her chest began to glow bright red. Snapping her eyes open, they glowed the same color as the amulet. Before Rainbow could react, a bolt of red magic shot out from Trixie's horn and struck the startled flyer.

Rainbow screamed in agony as the bones in her right wing began to shift and bulge under her skin. All sorts of sickening popping sounds could be heard across the courtyard. The pegasus’s throat threatened to go raw as she fell to the ground, clutching her treasured appendage. Her body began to spasm as the magic contorted with her physical features. After a moment, it all stopped instantaneously.

Rainbow began to pant as she looked over at her horribly disfigured wing, which was now at least five times larger than it was before. With a heavy grunt, Rainbow spread both of her wings in an attempt to go airborne. Her efforts were futile as she could only rise a few inches before falling muzzle first into the dirt.

Trixie chuckled at her work before her eyes fell back onto the crowd. When she saw two certain familiar colts, her smile was replaced with a snarl, "You!"

Snips and Snails both jumped in alarm as the angry unicorn glared at them. "Uh oh! Snips, I think we should get out of here!" the gangly orange unicorn stated to his shorter green friend.

"Y-yeah, I think you’re right, Snails." Snips shakingly replied.

Before Either of them could move, however, a blast of red magic enshrouded them and pulled them through the air towards Trixie’s face, her eyes filled with unmatched fury. "You were the stupid foals who brought that Ursa Minor into the town in the first place! That entire incident was all your doing and yet I’m the one who was made to suffer for it!"

Both young colts trembled under the gaze of the enraged unicorn as they thought back to when they groveled at the hooves of Trixie when she had last visited their town, bragging about how she defeated an Ursa major, and how they had the bright idea to bring one to town for her to fight. Snails shook his head clear of the memory to focus back on Trixie as she held him, "We just wanted to see you vanquish an Ursa Major!"

"Y-yeah, we didn't know you were just a fraud!" Snips said without thinking.

The sunlight above Ponyville seemed to dim down, the clouds began to contort and transform into shades of gray, and an ominous chill began to hover through in the air. “A fraud …” she silently whispered. “A fraud.” she said again but at a higher volume. Suddenly, her eyes became enveloped in a bright red light. "Insolence! Insolence at every turn!" she shouted while stomping her right forehoof into the dirt, over and over again. “I won’t stand for the disrespect any longer!” She lifted them both higher and threw them hard across the clearing. They screamed out as they came towards a tree before a purple Aura caught them moments before impact.

Twilight gave a sigh of relief as she lowered the two frightened fillies down onto the ground before returning her glare back to Trixie. "Trixie, what do you want?!"

"Well, that sure got your attention didn’t it?" Trixie said with a smirk. "I’ve been doing a lot of research on you and your friends, miss Element of Magic, student of the Sun Goddess herself, and younger sister to the new King of the Crystal Empire!” Twilight flinched back a little at hearing this. “You know, I took the liberty of interviewing some of the ponies who claimed to have met you all before.”

She began to pace back and forth as if trying to find the right words to express what she was feeling. “I pretty much heard the same thing phrased at least a hundred different ways. They all spoke of you and your fellow ‘Defenders of Harmony’ as if you were all immortal protectors who had been sent from the heavens themselves.” She paused for a moment to look around at the other Elements. Fluttershy was trying to help relieve some of the pain in Rainbow Dash’s wing while Rarity covered her partially exposed scalp in tears. “But as I stand here now, all I see is bone and sinew …”

She slowly looked back at Twilight and smiled. “What I want, Twilight, is a magic duel. Just the two of us. Winner stays and loser leaves Ponyville, forever!" her eyes glowed red once again as she shouted louder.

Twilight was startled, both by the challenge that was thrown at her and by the strange glow that came from Trixie's eyes. 'What is that? It’s the same color as that amulet' she thought to herself. After a moment, she glared back at the blue unicorn, "Forget it. I'd never agree to anything like that."

Trixie sighed, "In that case, I think I’ll have a little fun for the rest of the day." She quickly shot another blast of magic at Spike, catching the small dragon off guard.

"Ahh! What's going on!?" Spike screamed as he was lifted into the air. Suddenly, he felt his body being contorted into a tight ball, forcing his limbs to lock tightly against his body. He cried out in pain as his bones were pushed to their limits in terms of flexibility. Then, Trixie began to bounce his body up and down off the ground like a beach ball.

Twilight gasped at seeing Spike being tortured like this. "Trixie, leave him alone!"

The azure unicorn laughed as she threw Spike against a wall, causing him to rebound and ricochet off towards the crowd of onlookers. "Why don't you make me, Twilight?" she snickered as she made Spike bounce off the heads of the scared ponies around the courtyard. After a few more seconds of fun, she dropped her grip on him, causing him to fall into the mud.

"Why are you doing this?"

All of the twisted enjoyment on Trixie’s face had crumbled away at the sound of Twilight's question. She slowly turned her head to face the purple unicorn. "Why? You mean you haven’t heard? I suppose that that shouldn’t be all that surprising, given how nice you’ve had it. I mean, you’re ‘The Almighty Hero’ who helped to save us all from the rule of a mad god and the iron-patriot who fought tooth and nail so that we wouldn’t become the live-stock of a few thousand hungry changelings! Why in blazes would you ever hear word of what happened to me?!"

Trixie walked forward until she was so close that she could have spit on Twilight. “Well allow me to get you all caught up. You ruined my life beyond all hope of repair, plain and simple.”

Twilight furrowed her brow at what she heard. "What are you talking about? I haven’t even seen you since you ran away from Ponyville!"

The azure mare sighed before walking a few paces away from Twilight."That Ursa Minor you sent back to the cave just so happened to destroy my wagon before you felt the need to show off your skills and humiliate me. After I left, I had to live on the streets for months! I had to scrape by for anything that I could get my hooves on just to eat."

"Trixie, if it was so bad, why didn't you just go home? Why did you live like that?" Twilight asked.

"You just don’t get it at all, do you? That wagon was my home! Not all ponies are like you and have a Princess to help them out with any problem. That wagon was all that I had. I had to save up months worth of bits from various odd jobs so that I could finally get myself a new one. It looked as if I’d finally be able to move past my minor setback and, once again, go back to doing my shows. But guess what? My problems were just starting! Word of what happened in Ponyville spread all over Equestria. I became a laughing stock in every town that I tried to visit. Ponies saw me as nothing but a joke ... a fraud."

Trixie began panting out of anger as she continued her story, "I was hated and pushed out of nearly every city and backwater town that I went to! I couldn't even get enough bits buy food on most days! Just so I could eat, I had to sell my new wagon and go back to living in the dirt. Months’ worth of hard work … gone. I couldn't even show my face in a town without being laughed or pointed at.” Trixie had a distant look in her eyes, as if her past was being played before her like a movie. “I’ll never forget this one day when I walked into a restaurant. I hadn’t eaten in so long and I finally had enough to get something that would keep me going for a little while longer. But, the stallion behind the counter recognized who I was. Turns out that he was the manager. And do you know what he said to me before I could even finish putting in my order?”

She turned back towards Twilight and, for a moment, her anger had been replaced with something else. “‘We don’t serve trash like you. Now leave before I have you thrown back onto the street where garbage belongs!’ That was when I had to start wearing a cloak ... only moving around when it got dark.

Trixie finally came to a stop, the same hatred in her eyes from before had been relit. "Now, I want revenge for everything that you did to me. I am going to prove that I am the strongest unicorn in Equestria. And in the process, maybe I’ll show everypony that ‘Heroes’ aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be."

Suddenly, Pinkie Pie bounded right up to Trixie's face and glared right at her. "Bring it on! Twilight is the most super awesome unicorn ever! You’ll never be able to beat her!"

"Shut up!" Trixie snapped. Shooting a bolt of magic at Pinkie's mouth, she clamped it shut and summoned a thick, metal muzzle. Placing it over the pink ponies head, she latched it on so tight that it caused her face to scrunch up in pain. Trixie grinned at silencing the annoying pony. "There, maybe now somepony will actually want you around."

Twilight looked back to all of her other friends behind her; she saw how Rarity was still distraught over her destroyed mane as Applejack tried to comfort her. Rainbow Dash was awkwardly trying to control her disfigured wing on the ground. Fluttershy was helping Spike get off the ground and stretch out his sore limbs. Her anger grew inside her as she saw her friends humiliated and even somewhat injured. She knew she couldn't let Trixie get away with what she’d done. She turned and faced her challenger, "Fine. I accept your challenge. If I win, you never come back here."

Trixie gave a sinister smile seeing that her wish was about to be granted. "And if I win, you are to live off alone, far away from this pathetic little town. Then you’ll understand what it truly means to fail … to be alone."

"First, I want you to fix what you did to my friends."

Putting a hoof to her chin, Trixie glanced up to the sky, "Hmm. No, I think I'll leave them like that until after we are finished. They will be my insurance to make sure you that you don't try to leave early. We finish this to the end."

Twilight glared at Trixie, "No. I won't duel you until you fix them!" Her eyes went wide as she watched Trixie shoot a blast of red lightning towards her. Jumping to the side, she barely dodged the attack as it crashed into the dirt. She looked back up, seeing the red glow illuminating from Trixie's eyes.

"Sorry, but the duel has already begun, Twilight!" Trixie shouted maniacally as she shot out another beam of magic.

Twilight felt her heart speed up as she quickly jumped out of the way of the incoming blast. Landing on her hooves, she stared at Trixie for a moment as her thoughts raced inside of her head. 'She is serious. She really wants to fight like this.' Charging her own horn, she fired a purple blast at her opponent.

Trixie smirked as she stood still as the beam raced towards her. "You’ll have to do better than that!" She pointed her horn down and focused her magic into the ground beneath her hooves. Suddenly, a column of Earth lifted Trixie up and over the blast, causing it to harmlessly strike the dirt. Looking down, she charged her magic and levitated a large portion of dirt, crushing it into a tightly compressed ball and launched it at Twilight.

Seeing the giant dirt mound rush at her, Twilight somersaulted forward with only a second to spare before the giant mound slammed down and shattered everywhere. Before she could stand up, however, a bright flash of red to her right caught her attention. "What the-" Trixie had teleported down to the ground, lifting up another large chunk of earth and hurdled it at Twilight.

"Agh!" Twilight yelled as she was struck in her side and knocked across the clearing. Ponies gasped as they watched Twilight being thrown down, but they were too terrified to try and move in to help.

All of Twilight's friends stared in shock at how Trixie was actually beating Twilight. "How did she get so strong?" Rarity asked.

Applejack glared and scraped her hoof on the ground, "Ah don't care how tough she is. Ah'm gonna go give her a hoof up the side of her head!"

Spike quickly put his claws on her shoulder, "No, you can't!"

Applejack turned back to him, confused by his statement, "Why can't Ah’?"

“If a pony is challenged to a magic duel, they cannot accept help from those watching it or they automatically lose!" spike exclaimed, "Once engaged in the duel, a magical bond is formed between the two combatants. It keeps them connected until the match ends."

Rainbow's eyes floated up from Spike to her friend on the ground across the clearing, "So she has to fight her alone."

Twilight rolled up to her hooves and stretched out her legs. She felt an odd tightness in her chest as she tried to breathe. "She *huff* must have broken a rib from that hit," she said to herself. She glanced up to see Trixie slowly approaching her, the glow in her eyes illuminating the same as the amulet across her neck. "What is that thing? Why is it changing the color of her aura?"

Trixie grinned to herself as she looked down to the amulet she adorned. 'The rumors of the Alicorn Amulet were true. I’m in a completely different league than I was before!' she thought to herself. Knowing she had power beyond normal, Trixie felt unstoppable.

Looking to her left, Twilight spotted a nearby fountain. A new idea began to take root as she observed the water inside. 'Let's see how she does against water!' Focusing her magic, she lifted a large stream of water, controlling the liquid as if it was a slithering snake. Beads of sweat began falling down her forehead as she strained to keep the stream from falling down into the ground. Using all of her willpower, she shot the long stream through the air towards her opponent.

Trixie shot out her own magic, colliding with the stream and enshrouding it with her aura. The water was now locked in a match in which whose force of will could overcome the other. Both were pulling with all that they had. To Trixie's surprise, Twilight was giving her amulet a run for its money. 'She’s actually resisting the amulets power!?' she sneered to herself. 'No, I won't lose! Not to her!'

Trixie's eyes grew an even brighter red as she focused her magic. After a moment, she ripped the water out of Twilights grasp, causing the purple unicorn to drop to the ground from the strain. Pulling the water behind her, the former magician separated the water into several small liquid balls. They then began to shift and distort into elongated spears, which were then frozen solid seconds later thanks to a sudden burst of magic from Trixie. She smiled when she saw the fearful expression on her target, "I'd be careful if I were you, Twilight. You might actually chip one of your precious librarian hooves if you strain yourself like this." she then turned the spears and launched them through the air.

Knowing she couldn't outrun them, Twilight focused whatever power she had left and illuminated her body. In an instant, she teleported behind the incoming ice spikes, dropping down into the dirt again and putting a hoof to her horn. "Ugh! My head!". The use of so much magic was beginning to take its toll on Twilight, causing her mind to blur. She looked back up to Trixie, who suddenly enveloped herself in a powdery glow before vanishing completely. "What-, what was that? Teleportation?"

"No. I'm still here, Twilight..." Trixie's cold voice said, "You just can't see me."

Twilight's blood ran cold when she realized what was happening. "An invisibility spell? That's impossible! Only Mage level unicorns can perform that!"

A sinister laugh was heard in the air from an unknown location, "Hard work pays off, as they say. Not that you’d know. You’ve had everything handed to you on a silver platter. You can’t even begin to comprehend how powerful my magic has become, Twilight! And this is only the tip of the iceberg!" Her laughter echoed again and Twilight fired a blast off to her left, but the blast just kept going and hit a tree. “Look at you. You’re tired … weak. Why don’t you just make this easier on yourself and submit?”

Twilight stood up and looked around, trying to find where Trixie was hiding, but was blindsided by a blast of magic from her right. "Agh!" she collapsed back down, her side burning from the strike. She shot a small blast in that direction, her magic failed once again to hit anything. Then, another blast hit her, this time it was from the left again. She collapsed onto her belly, unable to keep her head up anymore as her chin hit the dirt below. Before she could try to move, another beam hit her, this time connecting with her left shoulder.

“Ha … it’s amazing how pathetic you look right now. It’d be pretty funny if it weren’t so sad. You can go head to head with a corrupt Moon Goddess, but you can’t even put a scratch on a ‘Fraud’ like me? How embarrassing. If you can be considered one of Equestria’s greatest protectors then I’m genuinely concerned about this land’s future, and that’s saying alot considering how much I hate it here.”

Her body was aching all over from the mix of injuries and from the overuse in magic. She couldn't take anymore punishment; she just wanted it all to stop. "Alright. I *huff* I surrender."

Gasps were heard from all of the ponies watching the duel after they heard Twilight give up. They could not believe that she had actually been beaten. Trixie's laughter echoed across the clearing as her body became visible once more. "Ha ha ha! Oh my, I really am disappointed. I honestly wasn’t expecting you to give up so soon! And what’s more, not only didn't I get to test that last spell too much, but I came here for a fight, not target practice." She trotted and stood over the battered unicorn in the dirt. "But you know what? You still look okay to me from where I’m standing. Nothing but a few cuts and scratches … Surely the Element of Magic can handle more pain than this." Tilting her horn down, she fired a beam at point blank range at Twilight.
Trixie grinned as she watched Twilight fly across the clearing and crash into the side of the nearby store. Charging her horn, she teleported herself above the battered purple mare, grinning at her accomplishment. "It’s not fun lying around in the dirt, now is it? Trust me, you’ll be doing that a lot after everypony hears about how you lost to a washed up magician!" Her eyes once again glowed red as she shot another blast of red lightning at Twilight.

Twilight screamed in pain as the magic struck her body. The powerful shocks made her mind pulse from the overload of torment that her body was being subjected too. Unable to focus at all, she knew that trying to use magic was pointless, not to mention she was drained above that. She tried to thrash around, but her muscles felt locked in place as she laid there, helpless under the wrath of her tormentor.

Trixie's heart fluttered with excitement as she watched the unicorn below her cry in agony. After all of that time living like a street rat, nothing in her heart was wanted more than to find the one who took everything away from her suffer for her sins. Her grin spread even further across her cheeks when she saw Twilights movements become less and less frequent as the seconds rolled passed. "So much for the almighty Twilight Sparkle! I suppose that even the Elements can choose poorly!" laughed the azure unicorn.

"Trixie, Please stop this!" Spike screamed out from behind her, "You already beat Twilight, now leave her alone!"

Trixie stopped her stream of magic and turned around to face the small dragon. Like she figured, he was right there with the rest of those mares that tried to challenge her up on stage. All of their eyes were filled with pain from what they were watching. She turned back to look at Twilight, who was barely conscious as she tried to crawl back onto her hooves. Snickering to herself, she charged her horn up again, "Alright Twilight, as part of the duel, you are to leave this town." Shooting it at Twilight, her magic enveloped the startled mare and held her eight feet off the ground.

"That's enough, Trixie!" Applejack yelled out, "Y'all beat her in a duel, now let her go!"

"You can't possibly make Twilight leave Ponyville!" Rarity exclaimed.

Trixie just chuckled as she listened to the pleas behind her, "She agreed to this and one must honor the code of a magic duel. Even your oh-so-precious princess would know this to be true." Her eyes began glowing even brighter as she lifted Twilight higher into the air, "Now, you are to live in anguish with nothing to call your own. Just like I had to do for all of this time." Charging her horn up, she blasted Twilight into the sky and away from the town.

"Twilight!" Spike and the others sprinted after their launched friend, but as they reached the edge of the town, a large wall of red energy dropped in front of them and stopped them from advancing any further. They looked up and saw the shield stretched all the way into the sky above the town square, coming to a center point and completely sealing Ponyville inside. A sinister laugh quickly followed behind the energy, causing all of them to shudder in fear.

Trixie was standing on top of a large chunk of Earth as it lifted it her above the crowds of frightened ponies. Her eyes shined brightly as she looked down to all of the scared faces below, "This is my town now!" She tilted her head up and began shooting blasts of magic Into the clouds inside of the barrier. “Blame your heroes, the six Bearers of Harmony, for they have all failed you!” The once white patches became dark, spreading out and blotting out Celestia's sun from coming through. “And blame yourselves for destroying me with your rumors and your lies!” After several more minutes, Ponyville was enshrouded in darkness.


Meanwhile, several hundred yards away, Twilight could feel herself falling through the thick branches of the Everfree forest. She bashed and smacked against the limbs as she tumbled down through the canopy of leaves towards the muddy ground below. Panicking, she focused her magic and caught herself just inches from smashing into the forest floor. Deactivating her horn, she collapsed down into the dirt.

After a few minutes of rest, Twilight tried to stand up, but her legs gave out from beneath her. Her body was pulsing with pain. Every muscle was twitching, sending waves to her brain, making her head dizzy. She felt her mind begin to slip into blackness, but the sound of a rustling bush caught her attention. She quickly turned her head in the direction of the sound, her heart racing as she imagined what could be stalking her in the forest. "H-hello?" she hoarsely asked, unsure if whatever it was could even understand her.

A cloaked figure stepped through the leaves, walking straight for her.

Twilight panicked as she tried to crawl away, fearing Trixie was coming back for more. "Please, j-just leave me alone!"

The figure chuckled as it came closer. "Why do you back away in fright? I do not wish to fight." lifting a black and white striped leg up, the figure pulled the hood back, revealing a familiar zebra.

"Zecora?" Twilight happily exclaimed. She tried to stand up to greet her, but gasped and collapsed back down.

The zebra's grin disappeared when she saw the condition of the unicorn before her, "My, what happened, my dear? What did this to you, please tell me, I wish to hear."

Zecora quickly hoisted the battered unicorn onto her back and picked her off the ground. She carried her through the bushes as she listened to everything that Twilight had to say about the pony that came to her town, hurting her friends and challenging her to the duel. Zecora was surprised when she heard how Twilight had been beaten in the challenge. She knew Twilight had an incredible talent in magic and was perhaps one of the strongest unicorns around.

Eventually, the two of them came to a small clearing in the trees. Walking past the tiki heads set up around the path, Zecora opened the door to her home and set Twilight on the couch against the wall to the side. Trotting over to her table of potions, she began mixing up a strange glowing blue liquid with a dull green powder. As she poured them in a bowl, the contents began bubbling and sizzling like hot soup. "Now, drink this brew. It will bring relief to you."

Twilight stared curiously at the bowl that Zecora handed her, unsure about the contents. Choosing to trust her friend, she put her hooves around the sides, lifting it up to her lips. To her surprise it didn't have any kind of taste; it was like plain water. As she drained its contents, a strange feeling came over her body.

The throbbing inside of her head had disappeared almost as soon as the bowl was empty. "Huh?" she whispered as she sat up from the couch. Even the injuries across her body seemed to dull down compared to what they were before. She looked over to Zecora, who just smiled down at her. "What was that you gave me?"

"A special drink to regain your power. It removes the urge of feeling sour. Your injuries still remain as you see, but your magic can heal those as easy can be."

Twilight focused her magic in her horn, and to her relief felt it flowing steadily. Targeting her injured rib, she used her magic to realign the bone back into place, settling it in its proper setting. After that was done, she began tending to the other spots that were hit by magic. After a few more minutes of tending her wounds, she felt almost fully recovered. Smiling, she turned back to Zecora, "Thank you. I feel much better now."

"No need to thank me. You need to go back and make your friends free." Zecora bluntly stated.

Twilight tilted her head in confusion, "What?"

"The one called Trixie is still in that town. Go back right now and take her down."

"I tried that already." Twilight grumbled as she stood up and jumped to the floor, "Trixie is too strong. Somehow she is able to do spells that shouldn't be possible for a pony like her. She was doing an invisibility spell for pony sakes! Her eyes were glowing red like that amulet and-
Something in her mind clicked all of a sudden. "That amulet. I've seen it before! It's the alicorn amulet, I've read about it in several books."

Zecora came closer as Twilight was deep in thought. "The amulet that is in her hold, what makes it so special to her magic you've told?"

Twilight walked over to the couch and sat back on her haunches, "The alicorn amulet is a dark relic that amplifies the users power to a level far above normal magic usage for them. Because of how dangerous it can make a unicorn, it was taken and kept locked away. After some time though, it was lost, and nopony knew where it had gone. Most believed that the amulet was lost for good, but Trixie must have searched for it to come and challenge me."

"Hm. Her magic is strong due to that piece. So to stop her you must take that off and-"

"You don't understand, Zecora! Even if I challenged her again and somehow beat her, only Trixie can take off the amulet. The power bonds the user to it, giving them an advantage so some pony couldn't steal it. The biggest problem is getting to that point. I. Can't. Beat. Her." Twilight turned her head to the wall, her eyes swelling up in tears.

Zecora sat still for a moment before going up to Twilight and putting a hoof on her shoulder. " You are the strongest unicorn that I know in the land. No pony comes close to your talent and gets hit to the sand. I can sense in your heart that you are afraid, but there is also power that you have yet to be laid. You need something to let it all free, giving you the chance to fight full out for others to see."

Twilight lifted a hoof and wiped out several falling tears away. "Unless I have an amulet of my own, there is no chance for me in beating her."

Zecora sat there, thinking what could be done to help, when something clicked in her mind. Standing up, she went to her chest and searched for the item she desired. When she found it, a large grin spread across her face. Pulling it out, she trotted back over to the couch and tossed it onto the cushion. "Here is the item that you seek, now go and stop feeling bleak."

Twilight turned around and looked at the golden plated necklace that Zecora had brought over. On the center part was a golden jewel attached to it. "What is this for?" she asked.

"You need an amulet to beat your foe. Use this and you will feel its glow."

Twilight was skeptical about what she was told, but when she lifted the amulet in her aura, the jewel shined brightly as the magic touched it. "Wh-what was that?"

"That jewel is special from my land, for when blended with magic it makes it grand. The amulet will focus your magic and make it strong. Put it on and you will feel your magic grow like how it belongs."

Twilight quickly slipped the amulet onto her neck, clipping on the latch in back. After she had it on, she charged her magic in her horn, then noticed the amulet also gave off its own bright green glow. Closing her eyes, she continued to charge her magic, noticing through her closed eyelids that the glow getting brighter. The corners of Twilight’s mouth stretched into a large grin. "I can feel it. My magic is stronger than before! I feel like I could go on longer already!"

Zecora had to try and suppress the bright smile of her success. 'Just like I thought.'

Duel in the Forest

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One month had passed since Twilight’s banishment. A lot had changed within the small town of Ponyville within that time.

Trixie now sat atop a majestic throne, which stood at a towering 20 hooves high. Adorning her azure body was a masterfully crafted dark-brown robe, fit for royalty. On her head rested a silver crown which sparkled with a mystical light, something that complimented her silvery-blue mane. The regal attire was by far Rarity’s finest work yet. It was a crying shame that such elegant craftsmanship had been wasted on a tyrant like Trixie, or rather, Princess Trixie as she had been forcing the residents of ‘Lulaville’ to call her by. Oh, that was another thing that had changed. The day after Twilight had been banished, Trixie had changed the name from Ponyville to Lulaville. It was just another one of things where the residents were forced to bite the bullet and roll with the punches.

The Town Hall had been “Remodeled” more to Trixie’s liking in order to resemble a castle. Within the Audience Chamber, now turned Throne Room, Rarity had been forced to spend every waking hour designing banners with Trixie’s face on it. Celestia forbid that she get caught sleeping during any time of the day or make a mistake while stitching the material together. The bloodshot unicorn took a quick glance at the scars on the right side of her body and shuddered.

While Rarity was on designer duty, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were tasked with hanging the banners all over the town without any assistance from anypony else. Applejack and Pinkie Pie were forced to do various odd jobs, ranging from cleaning the castle to providing entertainment. The latter seemed a bit pointless seeing as how Trixie hadn’t smiled, or laughed, since the day after Twilight had been beaten.

The ruler of Lulaville was currently in conniptions about something. She silently rested her head against a single hoof as she stared down the corridor in anticipation of something. Nopony would have been able to tell by looking at her face, which held a since of eternal neutrality, that something was amiss. It was her eyes. Her eyes held deep within them an other-worldy hate that would have caused even the bravest of souls to tremble. One thing was for certain however, whatever the primary source of her anger was at the moment, Rarity was just happy that she wasn’t the cause.

The eerie silence hovered around like stagnant air for almost an hour before being broken by the sounds of rapidly approaching hoofsteps that echoed down the hall. A random pony, a pegasus stallion with a teal coat and an orange mane, barged through the front doors of the throne room, fatigued and out of breath. He dropped down on all four knees and bowed, his frightened gaze never leaving the polished linoleum floor.

Trixie watched for a few minutes as his body shook from the fear of being in her presence. After she was somewhat satisfied with the display of obedience, Trixie spoke in a quiet tone that seemed to resonate throughout the entire building. “You have my permission to speak now.”

The pegasus slowly rose onto his hooves and gulped. He tried to display some form of bravery, but the consistent stuttering of his words betrayed him. “H-h-he-hello P-p-p-pri -”

“You’re trying my patience. Either get to the point or face punishment.”

The stallion took a deep breath before speaking again. The last thing that he wanted was to make Trixie angry. He was present when Trixie had tossed Twilight around like a toy and had seen some of the injuries that had befallen those who made the mistake of getting on her bad side. “The disturbance that you ordered us to investigate by the north-eastern side of the barrier … we captured the pony responsible.”

Out of the corner of her eye, the self-proclaimed princess caught a glimpse of both Rarity and Applejack gasping simultaneously. Pinkie Pie would have done the same but her mouth was still fused shut. That was all the confirmation she needed to deduce that they had something to do with whatever it was that tried to pass through the barrier. No big deal, they’d regret their actions soon enough. “Bring the fool in. Now.”

The pegasus went airborne and bolted from the throne room as fast as his wings would allow. He had no desire to be in Trixie’s presence any longer than he had too. Moments later, he returned with three other pegasi, one of which had been bound by chains and shackles. Trixie recognized her immediately. While she couldn’t recall her name off the top of her head, she did remember that long flowing pink mane. She also remembered that she was one of Twilight’s friends, something that didn’t bode well for the butter colored mare.

“You’re one of the two pegasi who I placed in charge of decorating Lulaville with my banners.” Trixie put on her best smile in an effort to hide her growing fury. “Now, before I go on, remind me what your name is.”

“Flu … t … … sh …”

“Hold on.” The blue unicorn charged her magic and then fired a spell at the timid pegasus who flinched away moments before impact. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see that she was unharmed. “Now, say that again.”

“FLUTTERSHY.” The Element of Kindness covered her mouth. When she spoke her name the first time, her tone was so low that it was almost inaudible. She hadn’t spoken that much louder the second time, yet for some reason the words came out with the same intensity as a shout. That’s when it clicked. That spell must have done something to her speaking volume.

“Fluttershy, did you know that my barrier is designed to automatically disintegrate any living creature that gets too close? Had my servants failed to find you in time, we wouldn’t be having this talk right now.” Her false smile evaporated and her voice turned harsh. “Would you mind telling me what you were doing that close to the forbidden zone?!”

Before Fluttershy could speak, Trixie blasted her with another spell. “Um …” to her slight relief, the spell had been toned down enough to make her voice sound normal again. “I- I was just putting up some more of your banners! I must have flown too close by mistake, Princess Trixie! I promise I didn’t mean any harm - !”

“Shut-up.” A blast of red lightning shot through the air and whizzed past the pink maned pegasus, missing her body by mere inches. “I took the liberty of scouting every corner of MY town shortly after MY triumphant return. I know for a fact that the only thing out there is a really big lake. There’s nothing out there for you to place my banners on, unless you were trying to put your friend’s tacky sense of fashion to waste!”

Fluttershy seemed to shrink down visibly. She knew that she’d been caught. The big plan to sneak out and find Twilight had failed. “Well … I … actually there’s a -”

“Your new Princess doesn’t have the time or the patience to listen to your lies. Do I really look that stupid to you?”

“Well compared tah’ Twilight, maybe,” Applejack mumbled under her breath.

Everypony in the room gasped expect for the royal figure who sat on the throne. Her eyes began to glow brighter than anypony had ever seen, causing a shadow to eclipse the rest of her face. The ocean of anger that flowed through her veins had grown into a raging tsunami. She slowly turned towards the apple farmer who was now beginning to see how much trouble she’d just landed herself in.

Despite how furious she was, Trixie was able to keep her voice calm and controlled. “What did you just say, you sweet-apple-redneck?”

The apple farmer adjusted her hat and cleared her throat. It wasn’t intentional but Trixie had heard her, may as well see this through to the end now. Besides, she could take whatever the tyrant felt like doing to her. She cleared her throat and spoke with pride. “Ah’ said -!”

“Hold on! You!” Trixie snapped her head towards one of the pegasi, a lime green mare who had assisted with Fluttershy’s capture. “Who gave you permission to stop bowing, you mongrel?!” Before the mare had the chance to apologize, Trixie enveloped the mare in a crimson sphere and launched her through a window like a cannon. “Motor mouth!” She pointed a hoof at Pinkie Pie who jumped back in fear. “I want my window fixed in no less than two hours! If you don’t know how to fix it yourself then I suggest you find somepony who does, or else you’ll be lucky if a few broken bones are the only things I give you!”

Pinkie Pie disappeared at lightning fast speeds, leaving behind nothing but a pink blur. “And you, slave!” Her attention was aimed at Rarity now. “Your job is to design things for me, not stopping and staring while I remind a few idiots about their place in MY town!” She fired a thin bolt of magic that nicked the pale unicorn on her hoof. She held back a pained shriek and got back to work.

“Hey!” shouted Applejack. “You leave them alone!”

“Now, picking up from where we left off, what did you say you little peon?!” Small tremors seemed to pass through the room as the other ponies unintentionally continued to fan the white-hot flames of Trixie’s fury.

Applejack marched over to Trixie’s throne and looked her in the eyes as best she could, something that most ponies would have felt too intimidated to even fathom. However, the mare was beyond all sense of fear at the moment. Trixie had been terrorizing the town for far too long, not to mention what she did to Twilight. She wasn’t pleased and she was going to make sure that Trixie knew it. “Right after you said, ‘Do Ah’ look that stupid tah’ you?’ Ah’ said, ‘Well compared tah’ Twilight, maybe’!”

Trixie appeared to have calmed down a little; her eyes returned to their normal shade of purple and the shadows that obscured her face began to dissipate. She tapped her chin in deep thought while looking towards the ceiling. “By my count, you have just committed two very big crimes,” she looked down at Applejack with a malicious glare. “First you insult me, something that I would normally turn a blind eye too if it wasn’t for the fact that you had the audacity to approach my throne like this. You clearly need to be reminded that the worm has no right to challenge the eagle. As for your second offence … you spoke of the creature that I was gracious enough to rid this town of.”

“Oh, ya’ mean Twilight? Oops, ah’ guess I just said it again!” Trixie continued to stare at Applejack, clearly un-amused by her display of defiance. “And whaddya plan on doin’? Shootin’ me through a window? Attackin’ me with yer’ magic? Go ahead! Ah’ don’t care!”

“Oh of course you don’t. And as I said before, I’m not an idiot. You’re a tough one. You’re resilient. You’re used to physical injury … it’s practically a job requirement, working on that farm of yours.” She turned to Fluttershy who was still shaking like a leaf. Suddenly, the perfect punishment for Applejack had come to mind. Her eyes glowed red as she levitated a metal whip into the air and dropped it in front of the country mare. Applejack slowly picked it up, confused.

“What er’ ya’ givin’ me this for?” she asked with a puzzled expression, to which Trixie replied by pointing towards the Element of Kindness. Applejack looked back and forth between the whip and her best friend several times before realization had settled in. She dropped the whip as if it were a snake coiling itself for an attack. “Oh yer’ nuts if ya’ think Ah’m gonna do that tah’ her!”

“You are forgetting your place, you little weevil! You have both committed crimes within the utopia that I was kind enough to build and you have both made the mistake of angering your Princess!” The magic from her Amulet began to leak from her eyes as the sound of her voice boomed louder, shattering more windows.

“You aint’ noponies Princess round’ here! And Ah’ certainly aint’ doin’ a darned thing until ya’ let Twilight -”

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Trixie interrupted. The floor began to crack slightly and loose tiles fell from the ceiling. The thunderstorm outside, which hadn’t let up since it had been conjured, came down even harder. She glared at the stallion from before, the one who had informed her that Fluttershy had been caught. For some odd reason, he was starting to feel a near overpowering urge to run to the nearest bathroom. “There’s a small filly who lives on that Apple Farm with this mongrel! Find her and bring her here, NOW!”

At hearing that last order, Applejack’s resolve began to fracture. “H-hold on now, whaddya’ want with Applebloom?”

“Somepony WILL suffer the whip because of your insolence! If you won’t do as I say, then Fluttershy’s punishment will fall onto your sister tenfold!” Without warning, she fired a blast at the teal pegasus which grazed the side of his face. “You will share the punishment for not leaving like I told you to do 20 seconds ago!” With a panicked yelp, he shot into the air.

“WAIT!” shouted Applejack, forcing the stallion to freeze mid-flight. The final remnants of her resolve had crumbled away. Time seemed to slow down as the national hero reached a shaky hoof down and picked up the torture instrument. It felt cold and evil, almost like the pony who was ordering her to use it.

Fluttershy began to whimper as Applejack reluctantly approached the scared pegasus. She really didn’t want to do this, especially to somepony as gentle as the butter colored mare. The pegasus was one of her closest friends. They’d risked their lives together to help protect Equestria on more than one occasion. Not to mention that she was the very one that didn’t want to go along with the plan to sneak out and find Twilight in the first place. Applejack and the others were just so desperate to get Twilight back that they wouldn’t let her say no. The fact that Fluttershy was even in this situation was extremely unfair. However, if the apple farmer had to choose between Applebloom and anypony else, she’d pick her sister every single time.

“20 lashes instead of 5,” commanded Trixie.

Applejack muttered a single apology as she raised the whip into the air.


Something still felt out of place somehow. Something still felt so very wrong. At first she thought that forcing Applejack to cleave Fluttershy down until she lost consciousness and needed somepony to help carry her out would solve what she was feeling, or in this case, wasn’t feeling. She needed to be alone, so she gave everypony who had been forced to work inside her little castle the next two days off.

She closed her eyes and reflected on what she had done since taking over and the possible consequences of her actions.

Rarity and the cocky pegasus with the rainbow mane had both been worked like animals, never allowed a moment of rest until today. The last time that she’d seen the rainbow pony she looked as if she would drop dead at any moment with Rarity not too far behind her. The hyperactive pink pony with the motor mouth had appeared to finally accept that all hope was gone, and as a result, her hair seemed to deflate, and with it, so too did her normally bubbly personality .

Thanks to her workload, as well as the constant state of fatigue, Fluttershy had almost been rendered physically and mentally unable to care for her animals. Without the pegasus’s support, along with the barrier preventing them from journeying into the wilderness to scavenge for food, things were beginning to look bleak.

Applejack was possibly suffering even more than the others. Thanks to the never ending rain storm outside, her apple trees were receiving both an excessive amount of water and a dangerous lack of sunlight. Over a quarter of the trees within the orchard had died and more would soon follow. The orchard itself didn’t just have sentimental value to the town, but it had also become a bit of a necessity for the town’s ponies. Like Fluttershy’s animals, their food supply had been essentially cut off thanks to the barrier and constant rainfall. The future would likely play out something like this: The amount of food within the town would drop so dangerously low that everypony would be forced to steal from and murder one another over food. Eventually, everypony in the town would die off, everypony except Trixie, the only one capable of leaving and entering the barrier. If the Princesses in Canterlot somehow learned of what was going on here, Trixie had taken special measures to ensure that if somepony had damaged the barrier enough, it would trigger an explosion that would kill everypony in the town.

The grand architect of “Lulaville’s” eminent destruction tilted her head towards the ground in silence. Why didn’t any of this make her feel good? Sure, everypony was getting exactly what they deserved for ruining her, and sure, she didn’t feel any sort of guilt from any of this, but she didn’t feel happy. Ever since she took over, all she felt was empty… hollow... alone.

This wasn’t right! She should be jumping for joy right now! She had finally gotten all that she had ever wanted and yet it still didn’t make her happy! It was as if an alcoholic had set off on a grand adventure to locate the bottle of the greatest beer ever made, and as soon as his lips touched the glass, somepony enchanted his body so that all forms of alcohol would evaporate moments before landing on his tongue.

She rubbed her forelegs down the sides of her face and groaned. If she couldn’t find genuine happiness in making the other ponies suffer … then what else was there to do? Sit back and wait for them to wipe each other out?

“So, you aren’t getting any kicks out of making everypony so miserable? That’s probably the only good thing that I can say about you.”

“Impossible …” Trixie’s eyes widened as she looked about. “Twilight? How? Even without the barrier, it shouldn’t be possible for you to be here!”

“That’s because I’m not talking to you from inside the village.”

She could hear Twilight’s voice, yet the lavender mare wasn’t inside the village. That only left one possibility. “So, it seems that the little insect has learned how to use telepathy,” she mumbled out loud.

“That’s not all, Trixie.”

“Look, you circus clown of a unicorn,” Trixie said with her voice rising slightly. “You’re the last pony that I’d ever want to speak with. If you plan on saying something of any real importance, I suggest you say it now before I permanently block whatever magic frequency you’re using to reach my mind.”

There was a temporary pause before Twilight’s voice echoed in her mind once again. “I’m standing outside the same spot where you threw me out of town. Well, as close to it as I can without bumping against the barrier, anyway. There’s something that I want to discuss with you, face to -”

Before she could finish, Trixie had given a rough estimate of where Twilight likely was and teleported to that exact spot. She wasn’t that far off because the first thing she saw upon opening her eyes was a large crowd. The crowd quickly moved aside at Trixie’s approach. There, on the other side of the barrier, was Twilight. It took all that she had for the blue mare to repress her anger and stop herself from charging through the barrier and tackling the purple unicorn to the ground.

The first thing that she noticed about her former target was the strange necklace that she was wearing. Behind her stood what looked to be a Zebra. It was a little odd that Trixie wasn’t able to sense their approach, as well as everypony else that came this close to the barrier’s edge.

“Long time no see Trixie,” Twilight began. “I like the crown, and I really like that nice robe you’re wearing.” Her friendliness began to melt away with her next set of words. “I think it’s a little unbelievable how you made Rarity stay up all night and work on it, yet here you are, dragging it through the rain like it’s nothing. And Spike told me all about what you made Applajack do to Fluttershy! Trixie, you’re out of control!”

The azure unicorn looked into the crowd and saw the tiny dragon looking back at her with a type of contempt that words couldn’t describe. She’d been wondering where he was hiding. Then she looked back over to Twilight and yawned. “It seems that the long forgotten Twilight Sparkle is still as high and mighty as ever. Did you only call me out just to say that you don’t like how I’m running the show around here?”

“No, Trixie. I’m here because I want a rematch, now.”

The white and blue maned unicorn stood in shock for a moment. She quickly noticed that she was the only one who seemed surprised. Twilight must have already announced her plans to them before she had gotten here. After the shock had gone down and the anger had returned, she walked closer to the barrier until she was only a centimeter away from the lavender librarian.

“Listen very closely. You are nothing compared to me. Do you know what that means? It means that you are nothing but a lowly mongrel. A mongrel who isn’t worthy of being in the same plane of existence as me, let alone compete against me in a magic duel. When I beat you the last time, that duel was intended to be a one-time thing. So why should I grant scum like you a second chance?”

Twilight leaned in close until her horn scraped against the outside of the barrier. “You caught me off-guard last time. It wasn’t a fair match and you know it.” She pointed to the jewel around her neck and continued. “You won’t win as easily as you did last time. Now, I have an amulet of my own. Now, it’s an even playing field.” She pulled back a few steps, but she never broke her gaze from Trixie’s. “You say that you’re so ‘Great and Powerful’ and that nopony can beat you. Well I don’t believe it and neither does anypony here.”

Her tone softened a little as she continued. “Trixie, you have the chance to prove us all wrong. My amulet against yours. Just the two us, no holding back, no excuses. And after this, no matter who wins, the story between us ends once and for all. Now you get out here and give me an answer.”

Trixie sneered at Twilight, emerged through the barrier as if it was nonexistent, and stood before her, face to face in a vast field of green. The Everfree forest could be seen in the distance. A cool late afternoon breeze had gone by as the sun had started its slow descent across the horizon. Ah, how long had it been since she’d last seen the sun like this? She finally brought her attention back to Twilight.

“I will accept on one condition and one condition only.”

“And that is?” asked Twilight.

“If we do this, then it’s a fight to the finish. The duel doesn’t end until one of us dies.”
“Wait, a fight to the death? You’re willing to gamble with your life over this?”

Trixie stomped her hoof into the grass. “For somepony so smart you really don’t pay attention to well, do you? I don’t have a life anymore! All of you made sure of that! So unlike you, I have nothing to lose. Now, those are my terms and you’re the one asking me for a favor here. Do you accept my terms or not?”

“Don’t do it Twilight!” called a voice on the other side of the barrier that she recognized as Rarity. She wasn’t alone either. Rainbow Dash and the others had also arrived. “It’s not worth it! Just go get the Princesses!”

Twilight shook her head. “That barrier is unstable. I don’t know if she made it that way on purpose or not, but if this gets hit with enough force, it could cause an explosion large enough to take out the whole town. Not only that, but from what you told me, everypony in there will eventually die if somepony doesn’t do something. This is my mess and I’ll take care of it. If this is how she wants to do things, then fine. I just ask that we move closer to the Everfree. I wouldn’t want one of us to make a mistake and set off the barrier.”

Trixie smiled as the magical link between the two had been formed, signaling the start of the duel. The two unicorns teleported in front of the foot of the forest. Once they’d found a good spot, Trixie removed her crown and tossed her robe into the winds. “I didn’t think you’d actually agree to this. But now that you have, it doesn’t matter where we go. The end result will be same, no matter how good that amulet of yours might be.” She fired a red beam into the air, causing the skies overhead to darken. “You will perish. And in about three to four months time … every living thing under that barrier will be joining you on the other side.”

Spike gasped when he saw the look that had been plastered onto his caretaker’s face. She had the same hate filled look in her eyes as Trixie when she had returned to Ponyville one month ago and it sent an icy chill down his spine. Any doubts that he had had before had now been eclipsed by all of the anger that radiated from the two unicorns. They were seriously about to do it. They were going to fight once again … but only one would walk away alive and that scared the little dragon for a multitude of different reasons, especially when he heard what Twilight said next.

“You hurt my friends, you’re trying to destroy my home, and you’re holding hundreds of innocent ponies hostage. I don’t care what your reasoning is or how you try to justify it. This ends today.”

A sly grin was Trixie’s only reply. She made the opening move by quickly firing a dark red stream of concentrated heat at the purple unicorn with deadly accuracy, who in turn rolled out of the way at the last possible second. Before Trixie’s mind could fully process that her target had moved out of the way, Twilight levitated a small rock into the air and launched it full force at her opponent. The azure unicorn was able to tilt her head to the side with only a fraction of a second to spare. Both unicorns watched as the tiny projectile continued on its trajectory, disintegrating a tree off in the distance.

Trixie was stunned, but not quite as surprised as when she felt something warm trickle down the side of her face. She dabbed her hoof on her cheek and stared in surprise at the sight of her own blood. The sheer force at which Twilight had chucked the pebble alone was enough to place a cut on her cheek, even if it hadn’t been a direct hit. She looked back up to see 12 more oncoming pieces of rock hurtling in her direction with perhaps even more force than than first one. This time, however, Trixie was ready for Twilight’s attack.

An artificial pair of wings jutted from her sides. The newly formed appendages matched her amulet in that the wings were black with red feathers. One flap was all that it took for her to sail high above the tiny pebbles turned missiles.

“Aren’t you supposed to be fighting back? Or are you giving up?” Called an impatient Twilight from the ground below.

“Not even in your wildest dreams. Trust me, I will be going on the offensive soon enough. For now, I’m just interested in studying how powerful that amulet of yours is. I mean, why should we rush this?” She perched on top of a cloud and cast down a mocking smirk at Twilight. “If this will be a duel between amulets, I am curious to see what kind of pathetic spells you are going to attempt against mine.”
16 beams of light were fired into the air at Trixie. “If all you’re going to do is waste time, then you may as well have surrendered as soon as I came back!”

The azure unicorn dived down, ducking and weaving through the incoming beams of magic. “You know Twilight,” laughed Trixie while effortlessly evading the blasts. “Between the power that you put into throwing those rocks at me and these poorly aimed beams, you’re wasting an unnecessary amount of magic! Not that I’m complaining or anything.”

A small grin spread across Twilight’s muzzle. “Actually, this is one of the strategies that I practiced during my exile. All I needed was to get you to move a safe distance into the air, preferably on a mound of earth, but this works too,” she eagerly explained.

Trixie lifted an eyebrow in confusion. “What are you talking about?” Twilight pointed a hoof behind Trixie, prompting the azure unicorn to follow in that direction. The beams that the lavender mare had fired only seconds ago had looped around and were now headed straight for the airborne mare. ‘What the?!’ She lept from the cloud and flew off again, the 16 blasts in hot pursuit.

“Allow me to explain. Each one of those beams has enough power to level a small city block. But what makes them so effective during a magic duel isn’t their destructive power, or the fact that they slowly gain more and more speed as time goes by. It’s the fact that they use the link that gets formed between the combatting unicorns as a type of homing beacon. In other words, they’ll just keep chasing you until they get you.” Twilight's eyes followed the fleeing unicorn through the sky as she continued to yell into the night.

“There are only two ways to call them off that I know of. The first is if you forfeit the match, but that won’t work given the rules that you’re making us play by. The second way is if you were to try and block them all with a shielding spell, but that would drain a lot of power from you, even with that amulet. In fact, I’d be surprised if they didn’t eventually break through the shield and get you that way. So I guess that you’re just going to have to keep running around like that for the rest of your life, which won’t be for very long by the looks of it.” In honesty, Twilight was telling a small lie at her trick; her power had increased exponentially in her exile, but she knew each beam couldn’t cause the destruction she claimed. She was just hoping Trixie would fall for it and end it all here and now. To her surprise, the look on the fleeing unicorns face told her she did believe it.

Trixie shot a quick a temporary glance over her shoulder and confirmed that the beams were indeed gaining momentum. She wouldn’t have enough time to take refuge inside of the barrier over ‘her town’, and even if she did, the resulting collisions might be enough to set off the self destruct feature, resulting in her death, and technically Twilight’s victory. She could try teleporting out of the way over and over again moments before taking a hit, but that could wear her down just enough to give Twilight the edge needed to put her away. In spite of all of this, she wasn’t worried in the slightest.

“I would say that I’m disappointed, but it doesn’t really come as a surprise that you’re making the same mistake as the rest of Equestria!” Trixie called out with a smirk. One flash later and her body separated into 16 different copies plus the original. “Never underestimate me!” they all shouted in perfect synchronization.

‘She can use Duplication Spells too?!’ Twilight thought through widened eyes.

One by one, the copies turned around and flew directly into the path of Twilight’s homing spell. The series of explosions that followed were so bright that the Element of Magic was forced to look away. After the lights had cleared and the smoke had faded, she looked back into the sky to see Trixie hovering in the air, smiling and unscathed. “My turn.”

Trixie’s body was engulfed by a light-red aura … and then she disappeared. As far as Twilight could tell it wasn’t teleportation and it wasn’t the cloaking spell that she had used during their first match. For some reason she couldn’t feel the link that they were sharing either. She’d literally just … vanished, there one moment and gone in the next. Twilight, remaining alert while also keeping her icy-calm, shot an occasional glance in random directions. Whatever Trixie was trying to pull, she’d be ready for it.

“Twilight! To your left!” a stallion warned from inside the barrier.

Quickly turning around, she spotted Trixie. Her wings were still intact and she was moments away from tackling the lavender mare.

Wasting no time in moving out of her flight path, Twilight’s amulet flashed once with an emerald colored light and then she launched herself into the air and clear above her opponent by way of levitation. Her hooves were encased in patches of magic, giving her the ability to physically step on the air itself. After reaching a safe distance she allowed herself to sigh with relief. She’d only managed to avoid Trixie by an extremely thin margin.

She readied herself for battle once again while keeping a close eye on the azure unicorn. This time, she wasn’t as surprised as she was before when she vanished once again, only to suddenly reappear directly in front of her.

Time seemed to slow down for both unicorns during the extremely brief period of time that the two spent looking each other in the eye. Within a single glance that lasted for far less than a second, entire conversations about pain, regret, and revenge all passed by without being spoken in words. Twilight conjured a long flowing blade of energy while Trixie threw caution to the wind in preparation for a heavy right hook.

The question of who would strike first was answered when Twilight successfully delivered a horizontal slash across Trixie’s midsection. To her surprise however, the blade phased through Trixie as if she wasn’t even there. That’s when it happened again, she disappeared. “What the… what was that!?” Twilight yelled in shock.

Shooting her eyes back and forth, Twilight tried to find where Trixie had gone to, only to see her opponent charging her from above. Taking her blade in grasp, Twilight swung upwards, but once again the blade passed harmlessly through Trixie like her body was made of nothing. The form of Trixie vanished just like it did before, leaving no trace of her in the air. Twilight however felt the gears begin to turn as her mind put it all together that instant.

‘An afterimage! Now I see what she’s doing! She’s using a high level Time Alter spell to speed up her movements!’, Twilight thought in realization, only to recoil after feeling a flurry of punches against her face and her sides. Most of the blows had caused the skin beneath the places of impact to turn discolored, leaving behind ugly bruises and welts as well as drawing blood in some places. However, at the speed that Trixie was moving, it was very possible that Twilight could have suffered those injuries minutes ago and her body was only now registering that she had been hit. The wind was then ripped away from her in the wake of a cataclysmic impact to her chest.

Twilight’s body tensed in frustration as the truth was made clear. It wasn’t necessary for Trixie to slow down for a split second, just so she could be seen by the librarian. If she wanted too, she could have landed all sorts of attacks that would have proven fatal, but instead she was just … being arrogant! Twilight couldn’t believe it! Here she was trying to take this fight seriously and yet Trixie had been playing games with her ever since the match began!

‘Ok, let’s see if I can figure out how to pull off that same spell …’ , Amulet glowing bright green from her neck, Twilight focused a large chunk of her magic into a center point within her torso and then let it all loose in the form of an explosion. The attack had it’s desired effect; the force of the explosion had sent Trixie spiraling away, leaving the ex-magician momentarily stunned, and therefore defenseless, while she tried to regain her composure. ‘Now!’

All anypony saw was a flash of green and then Twilight was gone. Trixie also saw this, before she could completely recover, and was rendered speechless. She tried her best to hurry and activate a spell to help defend herself, but it was already too late. There was a sickening crack, like the sound of a bat striking a baseball, and then Trixie was sent flying once again by an unseen force. Then came another crack, followed by a sharp pain to Trixie’s ribcage, and then came another blow to the side of her head that almost knocked her unconscious. The frequency at which the pain occurred began to rapidly increase. The way Trixie was being thrown around greatly resembled that of a pin-ball.

Suddenly, the flurry of punches and kicks from Twilight had come to an end when the azure unicorn found herself enveloped in a light purple glow. Twilight had now become visible and was panting heavily. Without a word, she began to spin Trixie around in circles. It was slow at first, but then the speed picked up faster and faster until typhoon-like forces of wind began to rage and the sound barrier threatened to snap, but Twilight maintained control. Trixie tried to scream all the while, but the sound had been lost over the roar of the wind.

‘Trixie!’ came Twilight’s stern voice from within her mind. ‘This really is your final warning. At these speeds, if I let you go, you’ll splat against the ground at the speed of sound. If you agree to surrender now, call off this meaningless duel, and let everypony else go free -’

‘I’d sooner meet your soul at the gates of Tartarus in eternal conflict before I EVER surrendered to somepony like you, weakling!’ Trixie fired back.

Hearing the stubbornness of the unicorn above her made Twilight wince, hoping that this fight could have ended without the death of either. Clenching her eyes shut, Twilight prepared herself for the act she was about to commit. ‘Then this is the end,’. She released her hold over Trixie and watched as she smacked against the ground faster than she could blink. Her body was hidden by the thick dust cloud that emerged in the wake of the impact. Not wanting to take any chances, she rained down an endless barrage of powerful blasts into the crater that had been formed by Trixie. She could still feel the magical bond between the two within the back of her mind which meant that Trixie was still alive and could therefore launch a counterattack if given the chance.

A sudden sharp pain shot through Twilight’s head, almost causing her to stumble out of the sky. Her extreme use in magic was far beyond anything she had used in training while in the forest, signalling for her to stop. But despite her body’s protests, she wouldn’t be taking it easy. She couldn't afford that luxury until she was certain that Trixie had been rendered completely incapable of moving. Forming a large ball at the tip of her horn, she launched it down into the crater, enveloping it in a large explosion of aura.

As it finally dissipated, Twilight panted several times to catch her breath. Once her heart rate had slowed down, she descended until she was only a few meters above the ground. Cautiously, she flew forward and summoned a light gust of wind which blew away enough of the dust so that she could see into the crater. Twilight peered over the edge and saw that there was nothing there. Raising an eyebrow, she levitated any loose debris out of the way in an attempt to dig for any evidence that showed that the fight was over. One by one, pieces of dirt and gravel were lifted and tossed aside, but there was still no trace of the unicorn.

“Hey!” called Rainbow Dash. “Is it over yet? Did you … you know … take care of everything?!”

“I’m not sure!” she answered back. “She shouldn’t have survived that fall and those blasts should have incinerated whatever was left!”

“Well do do you see her down there?!” asked spike.


“Well what are you so unsure about?! It sounds to me like you won the match!” called Rarity.

“But I can still feel the bond between us! That can only -”

Her words were cut off by a violent tremor from deep within the earth. Trees were uprooted within the Everfree and ponies screamed as many of the buildings within “Lulaville” were toppled over by the magnitude. Suddenly, the ground beneath Twilight split apart and a long metallic arm jutted from the earth and reached for the unicorn. She teleported just out of reach and immediately earned a painful reminder from her body about just how much her strength had been drained by all of the high level spells that she’d been using.

A loud roar pierced the air, followed by a second metallic arm that emerged from below. Both arms seemed to be pushing against the ground’s surface, as if something was trying to push itself up. One more deafening scream gave way to an eruption that sent debris flying in every direction. Twilight was forced to shield her eyes with her hoof. Upon their reopening, Twilight stood in shock at the abomination before her.

Floating several hooves above the ground was a three headed winged dragon with a body that appeared to be fully composed out of metal. Its burning red eyes matched the crimson colored runes that covered the colossus's exterior.

Standing on top of the center head was a severely injured Trixie. She looked terrible to say the least. For every scratch on her body there had to have been at least seven cuts that dripped with her precious life fluids. Simply standing up all the way seemed to be a war within itself, a war that she was clearly losing. In spite of all of this, Trixie was able to look down at Twilight and smiled. Of course, she’d seen the azure unicorn smile plenty of times, but there was something about this particular smile that sent a chill up her spine. It was the kind of smile that one competitor shot to another when victory was on the horizon.

“Twilight Sparkle!” Trixie shouted from atop the monstrosity; she could be seen clutching her chest in white-hot agony. “I was hoping to drag things out for a lot longer than this! Short and sweet just seems so anti-climatic, it really leaves something to be desired, in my opinion! … But since you seem to be in such a big hurry for this to end, I’ll do you a favor and jump to the grand finale!”

‘What … is that thing?!’ Twilight asked herself.

As if reading the librarian’s mind, Trixie answered. “What you’re looking at, was my ace in the hole in case you lived up to my expectations during our first fight! The ability to turn an inanimate object into a living creature!

“A couple days before I came back here, I used my amulet to gather around 3000 pounds worth of dirt into one area and molded the shape to my liking. Then I changed the properties within the dirt … hardening it until it turned into rock. From there, I manipulated the iron fragments within those rocks, turning his body into metal. His only flaw is that his total strength depends on how much spell power I have.”

“I see … well judging by how you are now, he must not be as big of a problem as I first thought!” shouted Twilight.

“Almost true. Unlike you, I have a second reservoir of magic just waiting to be used.” Trixie turned her head towards the barrier that kept her hostages imprisoned. “You wouldn’t believe how taxing it’s been for me … dealing with trash like you while that barrier constantly saps the magic from my body.”

Twilight followed her gaze and saw that the barrier was starting to fade away. “Oh no …” she said with a gasp.

“Oh yes …” As the barrier went down, Trixie and her dragon began to glow with a blood red light. She smiled as the extra flow of magic was absorbed back into her body. Within seconds, all of Trixie’s physical wounds were healed. “I’ve been handicapped ever since your exile and you’re still struggling to get past me!” laughed an almost fully rejuvenated Trixie. “And now that I’m feeling a little better, why don’t we see how much of a power boost that he has now?”

All three of the dragon’s heads opened their mouths wide and leaned forward. A small sphere of dark energy formed in front of them, quickly growing in both size and power.

Twilight took a few steps back out of both awe and absolute terror. The dragon had long since passed the point of loading up enough power to destroy a small scale town like Ponyville. Now it was starting to reach the border of crippling a city the size of Canterlot. “Now what will you do, Element of Magic?!” taunted Trixie. “For your sake, I hope that amulet of yours can give you enough magic to block this! Because if this successfully touches down, there won’t be enough of you and those ponies left to even be considered dust!”

Screams could be heard in the distance as Trixie’s hostages broke away from the town in a desperate attempt to get to safety. “No,stop it! If you want to try and get rid of me then fine, but leave them alone! This is between us!” Trixie’s only reply was to transfer more of her energy into the iron construct to add fuel to the still growing sphere of destruction.

“Twilight!” The mare turned to see the rest of her friends running towards her; Spike had hitched a ride on Rarity piggyback style.

“Girls? What are you doing here?! You need to run away!”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Rainbow Dash replied with her usual spark of defiance. “This might sound a little weird coming from me, but this ‘Fight’ of yours is out of control. I mean … things were already pretty crazy when Trixie made this a death match and you actually agreed to it, but all of this …” She surveyed the battle damage to the Everfree, the landscape around her, the fallen buildings within the town, and all of the frightened ponies who either held each other in fear or trampled over one another in a futile effort to clear of the blast radius. “This is insane …” whispered Rainbow Dash.

“We don’t want to see you get hurt and we want to see you die even less!” Fluttershy shrieked while wiping away tears.

“Rainbow’s right, ya’ know. At this point it aint about winnin’ or losin’, Twi. This is about savin’ the town an’ everypony who lives in it!” Applejack shot a glance at Trixie and grinned. “Besides, we’ve risked our lives as a team tah’ save Ponyville an’ Equestria more than once. Wouldn’t be raht’ tah’ try an’ run while ya’ handle this alone.”

Twilight looked around at her friends and they all looked back at her with reassuring smiles. The lavender mare took all of this in and shook her head. “I’m sorry but … I can’t accept your help.”

“What do you mean darling?” asked a confused Rarity.

She placed a hoof on the emerald amulet that Zecora had given her in order to handle Trixie. “Repelling that blast and sending it back towards that dragon. That’s the only thing that I can think of right now that’ll lay them both out at the same time. The only way to do that is by using magic, which means that I’m the best chance that any of us have. I appreciate the support, I really do,” explained Twilight with a sad smile. “But like I said before … Trixie is my mess to clean up. This is something that I have to do alone. If you really want to help me, then get as far away from here as you still can.”

“But … but!” mumbled spike. He paused when Applejack placed a hoof on the young dragon’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry Spike. She’ll beat Trixie and her monster. Everything’ll be fine, you’ll see.” Spike stared at the apple farmer with an unsure expression. “Did ya’ forget that Ah’m the Element of Honesty? Ah’ wouldn’t say anything to ya’ unless Ah’ knew for a fact that it was true.” Spike seemed to relax a little at hearing this. “Alright, now y’all heard what she said! Let’s get movin!” The others took turns staring back and forth between a pleading Twilight and a stern faced Applejack before they reluctantly followed Twilight’s wishes.

On their way back, Applejack shot one final glance towards Twilight and sighed. ‘Please don’t make me into a liar, Twi.’

Twilight watched as her friends ran away, a sharp pain ran through her heart. It was not caused by the massive use of magic from the duel, but the fear of what would happen if she were to die right here. Not only would losing to Trixie spell her demise, but it would also mean the end of just about everypony that she loved and cared for. Shutting her eyes to hold back the tears that threatened to fall, Twilight focused her power once again while saying a silent prayer to herself. ‘Please, let me do this one last spell.’

Turning back to face the dragon,Twilight's amulet shined brighter until it illuminated everything within a twenty hoof radius. She stomped her hooves down and braced herself below the growing sphere. Trixie couldn't help but shake with excitement; looking downward at the pony responsible for the trainwreck that her life at become. The unicorn who had shattered the one thing she had before.


As the dark attack grew to ten feet in diameter, Trixie ordered the dragons to lift their heads high, signifying the beginning of the end. "Now, Twilight Sparkle, die along with the rest of that wretched excuse for a town you called home!" The dragon lurched forward, its heads whipping down and firing the giant ball down towards the ground. The black aura from the sphere tailed behind in a swirling mass of smoke.

Twilight watched in fear as the death force rushed towards her, pulling the air passed her as it sucked it into its path in a large gust. Knowing that it was now or never, she focused everything she had left in her body and released it into a single continuous beam of magic out of her horn, the energy stretching three feet across from her tip and racing high into the air.

The two forces collided together, giving birth to a shockwave that burst from the epicenter and tore through the surrounding trees within the Everfree. Their limbs snapped like toothpicks from the intense pressure pushing against the bark. Twilight immediately felt impact of the monstrous mass of power striking against her own, causing her body to skid back several feet before she could dig her hooves into the dirt and fight against the raging forces. The young unicorn strained to keep her head raised, amazed at how much strength her body was still able to churn out, but it still wasn’t enough to purge her fears of the dark mass above.

Trixies amulet radiated its dark red glow as she slowly forced the gigantic sphere of oblivion incarnate down even closer. She couldn't help but laugh into the night as it became more and more evident that her victory was only moments away. "Now do you understand, you worm?! You aren’t even in the same category as me! And now, before this over, I’ll show you the true power of the world’s most powerful unicorn!" Her eyes leaked out trails of red magic as she increased her level of focus, resulting in the blast inching its way even further down.

The sudden spike in resistance caused Twilight to stumble back a few steps, nearly losing her control over the beam that she was shooting. Her mind pulsed in agony, followed by a stream of blood running from her nose and down her muzzle due to the strain caused from over exerting her magic. Clenching her eyes shut, Twilight could sense her magic losing out against Trixies, and that there was nothing that she could do to stop her. The blast was nearly upon her now; Twilight’s magic had been reduced to nothing but a small spec, hardly visible compared to Trixie’s attack."It's over..." She cried to herself, "It's all over. I'm so sorry everyone."

Wanting to at least die happy, Twilight thought of Ponyville, then allowed her subconscious to do as it pleased. She imagined how she came to this small town, the bright sun shining down onto the kind and tranquil community. She saw the happy faces of ponies as they made their way to work, the young fillies laughing together while they played. The most precious dream however was the image of her friends together, smiling in her direction as they stood in front of her house.

Her friends.

Memories of all the different times that she spent with her friends flashed through Twilight’s mind. Rainbow Dash, who never abandoned anypony no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. Rarity, who would gladly sacrifice all that she had for the ponies that she cared about. Fluttershy was always one to show her kind and gentle spirit to any creature that needed help. Pinkie Pie was the very first pony to cross her path when she came to the town that she now called home and would always bring a smile to her face. And then Applejack, a pony who never turned down a pony in need and would never lie to hurt a loved one. And spike, her assistant who felt more like a younger brother than anything else.

Although she sent them all back to Ponyville, she wasn’t alone. They were all fighting alongside her in spirit. All she needed was to give one final push and then they could all be together once more.

That single thought struck a fire within Twilight’s heart. It wasn’t over … not yet!

"No..." Twilight growled as she struggled to raise her body a few inches up. "I won’t let you hurt my friends ever again."

From above, Trixie's smile turned into a scowl as she noticed Twilight slowly crawling back up. "What’s wrong with you? Don’t you see that you can’t win?! Just die already!"

Nearly standing all the way back to her full height, Twilight's clenched eyes leaked several tears of determination. "I won’t let somepony like you take away the things I love. I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe from anything that will try to hurt them. No matter what, I’ll always fight to keep Equestria safe. I ... Am the element of MAGIC!"

Twilight's eyes shot open, followed by a blinding white light radiating out from them. Her magic suddenly doubled in size, the beam from her horn exploding out with a massive boost. Trixie watched in horror as the allconsuming light, that now erupted from the unicorn who she believed to beaten only seconds prior, raced upward and collided with her attack. Her eyes widened even further when it slowly began to push her dark ball back into her direction. "No ... Th-that's impossible!"

Charging up her magic again, Trixie pushed the ball with every last ounce of strength within her arsenal of magic, but Twilight’s newfound might continued to easily overwhelm hers. Trixie’s own attack, which was being propelled forward by Twilight’s, hurtled into the sky towards her, and she couldn’t stop it no matter how hard she concentrated. Panicking, she tried to teleport away, but for some reason her amulet restricted her from casting anymore spells. She shot a quick glance at the Alicorn Amulet and gasped in terror. Tiny cracks were beginning to sprout from the ruby colored gem in the center.

The speed at which her mind was able to piece together what was happening was almost instantaneous. She was drawing too much power from the amulet at one time and it was now reaching a breaking point as a result. So much of her magic was being channeled into the dragon and the ball beneath her that trying to summon anymore for herself had become impossible. If she continued to try and force more power from the amulet then it would shatter. Overcome with fear and panic, she jumped off of her dragon towards the ground below moments before the blast could reach her.

The dragon was struck directly in the chest by the mixed magic, its body expanding outward until it exploded across the night sky within a lustrous shower of light. The shockwave from the blast rushed outward colliding with Trixie before she could get any further away, sending her careening down below in an out of control spiral. The shockwave also reached Twilight and sent her flying across the ground several feet before she skidded to a halt.

True Pain

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Panting, Twilight crawled back onto her shaky legs and wobbled several times before she caught her stepping. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that most of the trees around them had shattered from the shockwave. The dust was so thick that she could barely see anything over fifty feet away, which was just close enough to see exactly what she wanted.

Trixie was inside of a small crater from the impact of the fall. Her body was littered with massive cuts all across her coat, nearly staining her normally light blue coat into a shade of purple. What Twilight noticed the most was the stillness of Trixie's form. Her limbs were sprawled out awkwardly to her sides, not moving a single inch from their spots in the dirt.


The sound of Spikes voice caused Twilights body to freeze. She let out tears of happiness as she turned to see her friends running her direction, all of them had large smiles plastered across her face. "Girls, Spike. I'm so glad to see you all ag-”

The sudden tug on Twilights throat caused her to yelp in surprise. Before she could react however, the red aura around her neck ripped her amulet off and pulled it quickly towards the downed Trixie. "No!" Twilight's eyes shot open in terror as her hoof raised up and rubbed against her now bare neck. Her amulet was gone.

Crawling from the crater, Trixie gasped for air as she forced herself to get back onto her hooves and face Twilight. Her expression a mixture of near unbearable pain and an undying hatred while trails of blood dripped from her mouth. At the same time, she also displayed a look of excitement as she grinned menacingly at the amulet that drifted towards her face. "So ... this is the amulet that made you so strong, huh?" She coughed several times while forcing out a small chuckle that caused great stabs of pain to spread through her body like an infectious disease. "A unicorn like yourself shouldn't be the one to wear this." Using more of her magic, the former magician enshrouded her own amulet and pulled outward, ripping off the alicorn amulet off.

The moment she did, the red aura from Trixie's eyes sputtered out until disappearing, her own magic shifted back to its normal magenta color as well. She laughed as she threw the alicorn amulet behind her and into the trees, not even caring where it went. Her focus was on the new green jewel she had in her grasp. Quickly putting it on, she laughed out loud as the amulet began to glow a bright green. "Now that I have this, I will make you pay for destroying my life."

Fear gripped Twilights heart as she watched Trixie hobble up and face her, her horn glowing atop her head. The magenta unicorn trembled knowing that there was no way that she could hold off Trixie without an amulet of her own. 'How could I have been so stupid?!' she yelled at herself, 'I should have made sure that she was down for good before looking away!'

"Twilight!" Spike called out again as he dashed towards her.

"Spike, Girls! Get out of here now!" Twilight screamed to them, but they all refused and kept coming. "I said get out of here!"

"No we aren't leaving you again Twi!" Rainbow shot back as she came to a stop in front of her friend. Right after the rest of them skidded to a halt as well, with Spike running up and latching onto her in a tight hug.

"Twilight, we left you alone once already, we aren't going to do it a second time." Spike pleaded up to her.

"Y'all came back fer’ us, Twi. Ya’ve done enough alone." Applejack happily stated.

Twilight glanced back and forth between them, her mind racing on what she should say, but Pinkie Pie trotted right up to her face and gave a small smile. "It's okay Twilight, we’re all here, and that’s what matters."

Seeing Pinkie Pie in this state and still able to give a smile brought a tear to Twilights eye. Even in danger her friends were willing to take that risk to be with her. Nothing she could say was going to make them leave and she knew it. But before she could think anymore, the sound of magic charging behind her snapped her out of thought and made her turn around to see Trixie aiming her horn in their direction. "All of you, get behind me!" Twilight yelled as she moved in front of them.

Deciding that she had had enough of the sentimental display, Trixie’s smile dissolved into a dark scowl. She yelled out as she released a bright stream of magic towards Twilight and her friends, twisted thoughts of the bearers all falling to her power filled her mind all the while.

Twilight's heart raced as she quickly cast a large shield around herself and the others. Clenching her eyes shut, she mentally prepared herself for the feel of her barrier shattering the moment that Trixie's attack struck home. When it did hit however, the beam harmlessly bounced off.

The magicians eyes widened in confusion at her failure to break the barrier. "Wh-what?" She stumbled backward in shock.

Twilight opened a single eye to see her force field perfectly intact, not a single crack appearing on its surface. “What?” she mumbled to herself in confusion.

The injured magician collapsed back down onto the ground in disbelief; Her attack didn’t even faze Twilights barrier despite the fact she was wearing this new amulet. After a few moments she began to think her magic simply wasn’t bonding with Twilight’s jewel. “What kind of pathetic trinket is this?” she growled to herself. Wanting to retrieve her old one back, she flipped her head in the direction she threw the alicorn amulet, but to her shock, Zecora was already there, holding the amulet in her hoof.

The zebra eyed the trinket curiously before looking up to the injured magician. “So this is the jewel you used to rule. I must say however you are a fool. To rely on the amulet to increase your power, you failed to realize that fault this hour.”

“What are you talking about?” Trixie snapped, “Twilight did the exact same thing as me. She used this amulet to fight me, but you made it so only her power worked with it.”

“Yes, I did give her that jewel to fight, because her heart was too filled with fright. With that she trained hard to increase her skill, but the strength of her power came from the strength of her will.”

Twilight deactivated her shield, confused at what Zecora was talking about. “What do you mean? The amulet is what helped me stop her.”

The zebra couldn’t help but cast a small grin. “That amulet of mine, with your magic it does glow. the truth, however, is it is all for show.”

Spike’s jaw dropped slightly in disbelief to what he heard. “For show? you mean… That amulet was…”

“Your friend Twilight thought her power raised in its wake. The fact however is the amulet is fake.” Zecora watched as every pony there gasped in shock. “I had to tell her this would give her aid, if not her heart was far too afraid. While she was broken, hurt and stripped of pride, I could see the true power she had inside.”

Twilight stuttered as she tried to put together all of the facts she had just learned; all of that time she trained with that amulet of Zecora’s, she truly believed that she was stronger with it on. Now she was hearing that the entire time, the illusion was just in her head. Everything that she had done was completely on her own. All of it came from inside of her. She was this strong all along.

Before she could think anymore, All of her friends jumped on top of her and pulled her into a massive group hug.

“Twilight! I knew you could do it!” Fluttershy yelled out in excitement.

“Wow, you beat her even when she had that amulet on! You are the toughest unicorn ever!” Rainbow chimed in with delight.

While Twilight celebrated alongside her friends,Trixie was busy focusing on the lavender mare’s “Amulet”. Slowly, she reached up with her hoof and pulled the amulet from off of her neck. Trixie stared at the necklace, her hoof shaking in the air before she slammed it into ground, shattering the false totem against a rock. She clenched her teeth tighter and tighter in her growing anger. After all of that effort and determination, combined with the power from the alicorn amulet, Twilight was still strong enough to fight against her using nothing but her own power. 'No … this isn’t happening!'

Flashbacks about Trixie’s humiliating retreat shortly after Twilight stopped the Ursa Minor began to play through the ex-magician’s mind over and over like a broken record. ‘Why …’ The images in her head were replaced by the laughter of everypony who ever mocked her since her first trip to Ponyville, followed by Zecora’s words after retrieving the amulet. ‘So this is the jewel you used to rule. I must say however you are a fool.’

Amiss her inner struggle to block out all of the thoughts running through her mind, Trixie’s gaze was lifted back back up to Twilight, and then she saw another sight that caused her blood pressure to reach an all new peak.

Twilight was in the center of her friends, laughing and crying happily as she was being hugged by the mares around her. Pinkie Pie's mane puffed out back into its cotton candy like state as she hopped up and down in happiness to everything. Twilight reached down with her hoof and pulled Spike into a hug, kissing him on the forehead. All of them were so happy together, embracing each other with love. But while they were happy, Trixie felt a pain bore through her heart at the very sight.

The void inside of Trixie's heart doubled in size. All of the emptiness that she had felt before the duel was growing by every moment. Subconsciously, her hooves gripped her shoulders, almost as if she was embracing herself. Then, she did the only thing she felt at the moment.

She screamed.

Twilight and the others jumped back in shock from the decibels emitted by the magician. The magenta unicorn flipped around to see Trixie drop back down to the dirt, her head shoved down while repeatedly smashing her right forehoof into the ground. Cautiously, she stepped away from her friends and crept towards the azure unicorn. Soon after, she recoiled in shock as Trixie shot her face up in her direction, but Twilight was caught off by the expression across the other mares face.

Trixie was crying.

Tears cascaded down the unicorns face as she glared up at Twilight. "Why is this my life!?" Trixie screamed out. "Why did I ever get this life!?"

Twilight stepped back in shock from the question. "Yo-what do you mean your-

"Why couldn't I have your life!?" Trixie's lip started to quiver slightly, "Why couldn't I get what you had?"

"What are you talking about?" Twilight mumbled in confusion.

"You are a pony who had everything in your life handed to you from the start. You had a mother and a father always there for you. To be with you. You even had a brother that helped raise you too. Growing up in a home with that, you were never alone in your youth. The princess was even there to help you. The princess! You had the ruler of this land help raise you! But me? No ..." She stopped for a moment as she coughed up several times. "I had nothing.

"I grew up in an orphanage unlike you ... unlike any of you." Trixie shot a look to the stunned group behind Twilight. "I never had a pony to call family. I never knew what it was like to wake up to a pony waiting to help me through my day, to show me how to do things. To ... to say that they loved me." Sniffling hard several times, she clenched her eyes shut. "I was stuck in a place the stallion in charge never did anything for us. He wouldn't give us meals if we got too loud. that was my life as a filly.

"I got out of that crap hole as soon as I could, taking to the road and never turning back. I lived on the road for days, picking up anything I could eat to stay alive. Then I saw a magician, and the love and bits he got with his show. I wanted that, for ponies to shout my name with joy and happiness when they saw me. I wanted to be able to eat like anypony else and not out of the garbage." Her eyes opened up again, but instead of anger, there was only pain. "None of you know what it feels like to live as I did, the things I had to do to get the bits for my wagon.”

"Once I got my show wagon, it finally felt like I could have something for myself. I started traveling to different cities and doing my shows. Ponies saw me as wonderful, magical, and they saw me as powerful. In time, I began to forget all about the life that I had before and what I went through to get to where I was. The past felt more like a bad dream and I was finally starting to wake up. But then ... your town destroyed me." Trixie bared her teeth in anger once again at Twilight. "I lost everything I had that day! I spent years busting my flank just so I could change my life for the better and, in less than a day, you and your precious little town knocked me all the way back to square one! No, I take that back! You all knocked me off the board!

“I’ve worked so hard for everything, always pushing myself to become better than before. I had to do that all by myself, but you didn't have to do that, did you Twilight?"

Twilight didn't respond. She couldn't respond. She didn't know how to.

"You had a princess to teach you your magic! You were chosen to be an Element of Harmony and save the land, making you famous and special! You were born with a power far beyond most ponies and you didn't even have to earn it! Even now you have a home here with friends always there for you! In the end, the only thing I ever had was my pride and even that was taken away since that amulet of yours was nothing but a fake!"

Trixies sobs were becoming so quick she could hardly even breath. "Tell me right now Twilight! I want you to look me in the eye and tell me if it was fair! Why was I the one who never had anything? Why was I given nothing while you got power and ponies who love you!?"

Twilight and her friends were speechless. None of them knew what to say to Trixie; no rebuttal, no retort, nothing. Twilight gulped and tried to step towards Trixie.

“We are sorry to hear that.”

Twilight froze when she heard the new voice. She looked over Trixie’s back and saw two figures approaching from behind. Princess Luna and Princess Celestia came towards the mares with mixed expressions. Zecora was already bowing in respect while offering the amulet up for them to take.

“Princess Celestia! Princess Luna!” Twilight gasped in surprise, bowing with her friends.

Trixie did not bother to turn around, for she knew why they were here and she didn’t care. Trixie had been so very tired for so very long. Besides the endless abhorrence that coursed through her body, there was a small part deep within her heart that only wanted to rest, an end to her struggles and hardships. Even further down, there was a miniscule piece that had been hoping that Twilight would be able to grant her the rest that she so desired, but it seemed as though she’d just have to settle for the Princesses instead.

Twilight sat still for a moment before she stood back up. “You knew something was wrong, didn’t you?”

“Yes we did, Twilight. After I returned from Saddle Arabia, Luna told me everything that had happened.” The white alicorn’s face revealed the pain she felt. “I am so sorry we couldn’t stop this horrible act, but we knew the barrier was too unstable to try and free the town. So Luna and I waited for the right moment to act, which happens to be now since the barrier has vanished. We came as soon as we could, but it seems that you have already done your part.”

The sun goddess stared down at the cracked amulet in Zecora’s hoof. Picking it up with her magic, she breathed deeply seeing the trinket that had entrapped the town in its dark power. Summoning it back to the palace, she turned to the other Elements who were still bowing with respect. “Please rise,” Celestia instructed to the mares, and they obediently did as commanded. She winced at the condition that Equestria’s six champions were in. Lashes, burns, and cuts were all present on their features. She then gazed off into the distance and took in all of the devastation that hung over Ponyville. She shook her head with a frown forming on her face. Her attention was then drawn over to Trixie, looking down on the mare as though she were the school principal punishing a schoolyard bully.

“Trixie Lulamoon,” she spoke with a tone that echoed with authority. “You have committed crimes against the ponies of Ponyville, the Elements of Harmony and, by extension, Equestria as a whole … do you deny this?”
Trixie sighed. “No I don’t.” she said, before standing up to face the princess. “If you’re going to kill me now or banish me, then make it quick. I stopped caring months ago. There’s nothing left for me here anymore …” She wiped away the tears that stained her cheeks but her expression remained neutral, something that matched the monotone in her voice. “What do I have left to lose? Its not like anypony is going to miss me once I’m gone.”

Celestia’s eyes widened at the mare before her; it was so shocking and tragic to see a pony give up on life as easily as Trixie was doing now. She had almost finished preparing herself to pass her verdict when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Luna who, to her surprise, walked forward until she stood inches away from Trixie’s battered form.

Luna stared deep into the empty unicorn’s eyes and saw the nihilism in the mare. Her eyes widened at what she saw, her vision becoming hazy from small tears forming from the sight of the young form. She shook her head, clearing her eyes as she glared down upon the mare before her.

“I shall be the one to judge you, Trixie Lulamoon!” Luna shouted out in her Canterlot-voice, creating a boom around her that made the other ponies knees buckle. “For your crimes against the town of Ponyville and for the life you have lived thus far…”

Trixie took a deep breath, her eyes were sealed shut, patiently awaiting the end.

“I am making you my personal student!”

“What!?” Twilight and all of her friends screamed in unison. They couldn’t believe the words that just came out of Luna’s mouth. Even Celestia’s eyes were wide in utter disbelief at the sudden choice her sister just made.

Perhaps the most shocked of all of them was the magician herself. Trixie’s eyes shot open, this time in confusion while looking up to Luna. She blinked before tilting her head to the princess. “Wh-what?”

Luna lowered herself until she was on eye-level with Trixie. “I want you to be my student, Trixie, for you see-”

“Now just hold yer horses!” Applejack cut Luna off,seething anger and rage chiseled into her features. “Do y’all know what kind of horrible things this here pony has done?! She made me… she made me whip Fluttershy or she woulda hurt Applebloom!”

“She kept us prisoner for over a month in that barrier of hers. I lost count of how many times I saw a pony assaulted by her!” Rarity yelled out.

“But Princess, she… she tried to kill Twilight and the rest of us!” Spike shouted.

“Yeah, a pony like that should be locked up somewhere for the rest of her life!” Rainbow Dash shout out.

Princess Luna’s serene gaze remained locked on Trixie even through all of the shouting. She took in all their anger that they had built up over this month, something she knew they needed to release. After a few moments, she took a deep breath before finally speaking again. “Then perhaps I should still be locked away on the moon.”

All of the element bearers went silent at the statement. Celestia stepped forward, her face stern as she confronted her sister. “Luna, what are you doing? This pony has committed serious crimes against an entire town. My own student and her friends were injured because of her actions.”

“How was I any different, sister?” Luna retorted, catching her sister off guard. “Back when I became Nightmare Moon, I tried to overthrow you Tia. I wanted the land to be plunged into eternal darkness out of my blind greed and selfishness. Then, after you banished me for a full millennium and I returned, I tried once again to take over, successfully imprisoning you within the sun.” Luna turned her head to look at her older sibling, who was too stunned to say anything in response.

“But this is different, princess!” Twilight yelled out. “She tried to destroy Ponyville and everypony in it! She tried several times to kill me and-”

“I tried to do the same thing to you as well, Twilight.” Luna shut her eyes as she thought back, her guilt still haunting her for what happened. “I attempted to make you fall off of a cliff. I made a manticore attack you and your friends. I even assaulted the guards back in Ponyville. I did those things and yet you still had it in your hearts to forgive me and let me have a second chance at redemption.”

Twilight opened her mouth to speak again, but she couldn’t think of anything to say in response to the princess. While she didn’t want to admit it, Luna was right; she had done horrible things in an attempt for her quest for power, yet they found themselves able to forgive her immediately.

“But Luna, that was completely different…” Celestia said, “You were given a second chance because the Elements of Harmony removed the dark power around you.”

“Or was I forgiven because I’m your sister? Did I receive special treatment because I am a blood relative, a sibling to the princess?” Luna shot a stern look to her sister, “Is it fair that a pony who has nothing should be treated differently than one with a title despite the fact they did the same thing?”

Trixie’s body dropped back down to the dirt in complete shock about everything that was happening; she was certain that the princesses would have immediately punished her without mercy for the everything that she did to Ponyville and for what she had attempted to do to Twilight. And yet here before her, one of them was not only forgiving her, but was also requesting that she become her student.

Luna turned her attention the stunned Trixie, standing up and moving towards the young mare’s side before nestling back down again. Opening one of her wings, she moved it over and laid it across the unicorns back. Trixie flinched at the sudden touch, but Luna pulled her long feathers tighter around until they encircled to her other side. The magician trembled in confusion at what the princess was doing, but as she sat there, she couldn’t help but feel… warm. The warmth itself had nothing to do with her being shielded from the chilly air, because the feeling was coming from inside of her.

Here on the dirt, the princess of the night was using her own body to comfort Trixie. After a moment, Luna pulled her closer until their sides were almost touching. Trixie then looked up into the bright sapphire eyes of the princess, filled with kindness and comfort for her. Tears began to form in Trixie’s eyes, not from pain, but of fulfillment. She realized what Luna was doing, what she was giving her. The broken pony was experiencing something for the first time in her life at this moment.

A hug.

Trixie’s eyes began to moisten. Her chest suddenly felt sore as her heart burned. Trixie’s breathing began to hasten as she was losing her breath with each second. By instinct, her hooves shakily reached out to Luna’s neck and began to encircle it, the latter gladly accepting it and giving Trixie something else she hasn’t never received in her life. Something so soft she thought it only existed in her dreams and in the afterlife.

A nuzzle.

With her lips quivering, the fluids of Trixie’s eyes began to overflow. The unicorn was now overcome with unbearable guilt for every atrocity that she had committed. Such a feeling that she believed that she was no longer capable of feeling, slowly re-emerged when one pony gave her the kindness she had been denied since day one. What’s more, the pony that gave it to her was a princess.

Trixie immediately submerged her head into Luna’s neck, wailing out as her crying grew from barely audible whimpers into loud and out of control sobs. She started muttering out words in the princess’ neck, mostly a single sentence: “I am so sorry!” She felt a tender hoof on her neck, stroking her mane gently and felt a soft weight press down on her head. She opened her eyes to see Luna resting her head on top of hers.

Twilight and her friends looked at the scene with a new sense of sympathy and sadness. Before any of this, they merely thought of Trixie as a blight to the harmony they sought to protect. Yet now with wishing misfortune on a pony who had seen no harmony in her life, had made them feel rotten after seeing this display. Even with every horrible thing she had done to them, they felt it hard to have any anger at this moment.

Celestia was speechless at what she was seeing. Never before had she seen her sister commit such an act of kindness like this before. The elder princess however could see the pain running through the weeping mare, almost as if she was watching Luna cry after returning as Nightmare Moon. While she had come to punish Trixie, she found it hard to find the urge inside her heart anymore. Lifting her head up, Celestia looked to Twilight and the others, who all were staring down at the scene before them. She then took note of the town and saw the destruction that had been caused from everything. She looked back down to Luna with concern. “Luna, are you sure that you want to do this? After everything that has transpired here, are you absolutely sure that you still wish to make her your student?”

“Every pony deserves a second chance at life, Tia…” Luna quietly answered, “For them to change for the better. Work harder to overcome what they have gone through. And sometimes…” she smiled down to the crying mare at her side, “They need somepony to help guide them.”

When Trixie lifted her head from Luna’s neck and looked at the lunar deity with red-rimmed eyes. “Why? After everything I’ve done… why would you help me?”

“Because young Lulamoon, I see myself when I look at you.” Luna used her hoof to lift the crying mares chin up higher. “I know what is feels like to be alone, to have nopony there to comfort you when in pain. I can sense the fractures in your heart, but I know that any broken soul can be mended in time, something I am willing to give for you. Will you accept my offer?”

Trixie had no idea what to say to Luna. She brought a hoof up and rubbed at her tears to clear them away. Before this, anger and pain were the only things that gave her body the fuel needed to press on. All she wanted to do was to make Ponyville feel the same way that she had felt for all of her life. But now, it was all gone. All she felt was a warm feeling growing inside of her chest, and she didn’t want to let it go. Sniffling, she gazed up and nodded to the princess.

Luna smiled and stood up, helping Trixie up to. She looked over to Twilight and her friends, and then to Celestia. “Will you stay here with them?”

Nodding, Celestia made her way over to her own student. “Yes. I will help with the town and explain to them everything that has happened.”

Looking back down to the silent Trixie, Luna signaled for her to follow. “Come with me, we have much to discuss back at your new home.” She began walking, but stopped when the unicorn turned to face the Element Bearers.

Where once animosity towards the opposite was present in their eyes, only a deepening sorrow remained. Twilight and Trixie locked eyes with each other, each of their eyes moist with sadness. Trixie tried to say something, but stopped and closed her eyes. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything at the moment, no matter how much she wanted to. Turning back around, she trotted up until she stood alongside Luna. The latter used her magic to form a dome around herself and Trixie, which started to close in on them. When the dome was gone, so were they.