by RTStephens

First published

Two grandstanders. Only one horn.

In a desperate and costly bid to escape from his stone prison, Discord is left weak and helpless. Luckily for him, there is a nearby unicorn that he can hide in while he regains his power.

Actor Meetup

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A single mare trotted through the night. An upcoming show, the biggest of her life, weighed heavily on her thoughts and she needed this time to calm her mind. Plus, a walk in the world famous Canterlot Sculpture Garden would take her to a certain statue that she needed to see.

Trixie turned her head back and forth to gaze at the stone statues she passed by, each of which represented a different aspect of harmony. Friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and many others went by as she trotted through the garden. She would have found the experience of being in this place inspirational had her mind not been focused on the next night.

This is it, Trixie, the light blue unicorn thought to herself as she made her way through the darkened hedges. Only a few firefly-filled lights hanging from wooden poles lit the path she walked upon, just enough for the showmare to see by. This is your big comeback. You can’t screw it up. It’s taken you too long to get to this point and there are no more second chances.

The harsh sounds of her hooves clopping against the ground, much harder than necessary, broke her out of her musings. Trixie frowned and forced herself to trot at a more sedate pace. She couldn’t allow that particular nervous habit of hers to potentially chip a hoof on a stray rock. It would be one of many things that she didn’t need to deal with in preparing for the following night’s show.

“Calm down,” Trixie said aloud, hoping the sound of her voice would quell the growing unease that she felt. “You’ll do fine. In fact, better than fine. To really impress those stuck up nobles, you need to see that statue. Everything will be perfect once you do.”

A grin came to Trixie's face as she imagined the shocked faces of the aristocracy. “I’ll bring the worst threat this world has ever seen right before them. They’ll never see it coming. Tomorrow, I’ll knock ‘em dead! The Grand Galloping Gala will be the start of my glorious rise!”

Trixie reared up on her hind legs and neighed in delight. Finally, her chance had come! Just a little more research and she’d have the most perfect performance of her life! Trixie lowered herself down to all fours and took off into the depths of the sculpture garden.


“What do you mean Trixie can’t pass?!”

“I mean exactly what I said.”

Trixie glared up at the unicorn guard standing in her way. The grey coated stallion stood over a head taller than herself, and his muscled body was adorned with dark blue armor. His no-nonsense gaze clearly indicated that he wasn’t going to let any pony through.

Unfortunately for him, Trixie didn’t consider herself just any pony. “Do you have any idea who you are speaking to?! Trixie is the new rising star of Canterlot and she doesn’t have time to stand around and argue! Let her through or she will have you reported and demoted to kitchen duty!”

The guard, Barricade, maintained his dispassionate demeanor. “Ma’am, if you don’t vacate the premises, I will be forced to show you out.”

A low growl escaped from Trixie’s clenched teeth. Of all the rotten luck, she had to encounter a coltscout on duty. What was so important back there that needed guarding, anyway? There were only statues here, for Pete’s sake!

Trixie took a breath through her nose and released it through her mouth. Now calmer, Trixie said, “Look, my good stallion, perhaps an exception could be made for--OH MY, CELESTIA! Is that Sapphire Shores?!”

“Where?! Where?!” Barricade exclaimed. He whipped his head from side to side in hopes of catching sight of the famous pony of pop. “I love her work! Maybe I can get her auto... graph.” He noticed that the troublesome mare no longer stood next to him and the sound of galloping hooves fading into the distance reached his ears.

“Stop! Come back here!”

If Trixie heard the order, she ignored it and continued running as fast as she could. Just one glimpse; that’s all she needed. She raced through the hedge maze, eyes darting to and fro to spot the statue she was looking for. She turned a corner and gasped. There it was! A creature unlike any other lay on a pedestal just a few feet away. Just a few more seconds and she’d have everything she needed-

An impact from behind sent her sprawling to the ground to land at the base of the statute.


Trixie shook her head and looked up from her position on the ground. The guard from before stood over her and reached forward to grab her. She cried out and blindly lashed out with a hind leg. The unexpected attack caught the guard on the nose.

Barricade cursed and stepped back, rubbing his sore snout. Trixie didn’t waste the opportunity and gazed up at the stone figure. She could see the details of it now. The mismatched horns on top of the creature’s pony head, the serpentine body with four different arms and legs and the dragon-like tail coiling at its feet. There was more on the back but the angle she was looking from hid them. She moved to circle around.

“Oh, no you don’t!”

A white aura of magic surrounded Trixie’s body a second before her forward momentum stopped completely.

“NO!” Trixie yelled. She tried thrashing, but Barricade’s magical grip didn’t break. Calling on her own magic didn’t work either. “I need to see a little more!”

“Lady, you’re out of here,” Barricade spoke with finality.

“Trixie will never forgive you for this!” Trixie continued to scream. It was all she could do as the guard levitated her away from the statue.

Neither heard the small sound of stone cracking.

With his quarry in tow, Barricade led Trixie towards the exit to the gardens. With a flick of his head, he flung Trixie into the air. The unicorn landed in a row of bushes, cushioning her fall but leaving her covered in twigs and leaves.

“And don’t let me catch you around here again!” Barricade yelled at her. He turned sharply and marched back to his post, missing the hate filled glare Trixie sent his way.

Barricade reached his designated spot and began patrolling once again. Only a few minutes passed since dealing with the obnoxious mare when he felt something tap him on the back. He whirled and brandished his horn, ready to take on any new threats.

“Whoa! Take it easy!” another guardspony cried out. He stepped back and held up a hoof in a placating manner. “You’re awfully jumpy tonight.”

“Sorry,” Barricade apologized and stepped back. “I’ve had some trouble tonight.”

“I heard on my way here. What was the commotion all about?”

“Just some mare trying to get in. I don’t know why she wanted to get into the new restricted area.”

“Crazy ponies.”

“Right. So, why are you here?”

“Oh, right! I’m here to take over your shift.”

Barricade raised an eyebrow. “My shift doesn’t end for a few more hours.”

“Ah...,” the replacement guard trailed off. He shuffled a hoof nervously in the dirt before straightening up and said, “Well... I... I’ve been trying to get more overtime, see? I have a new... girlfriend to impress so I need the bits for a nice date.” The guard smiled widely.

Barricade frowned and narrowed his eyes. He walked up to the newcomer and peered at him intensely. The other guard began to sweat and his smile became more forced the longer he was scrutinized.

A grin broke out on Barricade’s face and he wrapped a hoof against the second guard’s chest. “Ha! I’ve been there! Before I married the missus, I was pulling all-nighters for weeks just to afford tickets to the theatre. I hated that stuff but she loves it. Got engaged that night so it was worth it!” Barricade saluted and trotted off. “Make sure you get flowers!” he called back. “Never fails!”

The second guard smiled weakly and waved back until Barricade was out of sight. Now alone, he wiped the beads of sweat rolling down his forehead and activated his horn. A soft purple glow surrounded it before encompassing his entire body. His form was briefly lost in a flash of light and when the light faded away, a different pony stood in his place.

“Loser,” Trixie scoffed. With a flip of her mane, she turned and trotted towards her goal.


“Now, let’s do this the right way and without any interruptions,” said Trixie, standing before Discord’s statue. Without the presence of the guard, she walked behind the creature known as a draconequus and examined the final parts she needed; a bat and pegasus wings protruding from its back.

“My, you are an ugly thing,” Trixie commented as she returned to the front of the statue. Her horn lit up and a magical aura surrounded the stone monument. “Trixie hopes you don’t mind, but she needs to make sure she gets every detail. A little scan won’t hurt you.” Trixie’s magic flowed around the statue, feeling out every nook and cranny to help form the most perfect picture of the creature in her mind.

After a few moments, Trixie ended her scan. At least she tried to. Her horn remained alight and a small glimmer of her magic was still visible on the draconequus’ goat foot. Trixie warily eyed the glow and began to edge away. Suddenly, she felt a tug on her horn.

“Wha?!” Trixie cried out in alarm and attempted to wrench her head away. There was another tug, stronger than before, and to her horror she felt her whole body being pulled towards the statue. “S-s-top! Help! Someone help Trixie!”

She dug her hooves into the ground, but this did nothing to slow her down. The pull was insistent and unshakeable. Trixie raised her hooves and braced herself against the pedestal, finally stopping her torso but her head continued to be forced forward. She gritted her teeth, tears streaming down her cheeks, as her horn pulled her head forward even as she strained to pull it back.

Trixie let out a pained gasp as her horn touched the glow on the statue’s goat leg and shivered as a chill flowed through her. Immediately, her entire body felt tired and her struggles began to lessen. Her eyelids drooped down and the urge to stop and sleep started to overwhelm her.


A surge of magic blasted out of Trixie’s horn, breaking her free of the invisible force that had held her. Trixie flew back and landed heavily on the ground. With her energy spent from her desperate gambit, Trixie gave one last wheeze of breath before passing out.

The glade became still and quiet. No living creature in the area dared break the absolute calm that had descended. That is until a finger on the stone draconequus’ eagle claw twitched.

Slowly, the hands of the statue began to creak and groan as they moved, the screech of stone grinding against stone breaking the silence of the garden. The lion paw and eagle talon strained and pushed as they reached up towards the head of the statue. The hands managed to grab hold of the face that had been frozen in horror. With a sickening crack, the hands wrenched the head in the opposite direction it had been facing, leaving it at an angle that would have been the death of any flesh and blood creature. Even so, the hands repositioned themselves and repeated the action from before, only this time jerking the head in the other direction. The hands removed themselves, revealing that the expression of the statue had changed to that of a grimace rather than one of terror. The hands placed themselves behind the wings of the creature’s back and with a strained heave, they pushed. The whole statue bent in half, backwards, as it stretched itself as much as it could.

“Ooooohhhhhh...,” the draconequus managed to moan from its mouth. “Being stuck in stone is terrible for my back.”

Discord smiled as his movements became much more fluid and raised himself into a standing position. Using his mismatched hands, he began brushing his body, pushing flecks of stone to the ground. Finally, he finished and hopped down from the pedestal he had been standing on. With one last stretch to the sky, Discord took stock of his surroundings.

“Celestia put me back in the same spot again?” He tsked. “That self-righteous twit really has no sense of originality.”

Discord suddenly lost his scowl and jumped into the air. “Freedom! Oh, how wonderfully unexpected that was!”

Despite being elated that he was no longer trapped, Discord figured he didn’t have much time before Celestia and her little pack of brats descended upon this garden and tried to put him right back where he had come from. As if he’d let that happen again. Getting turned to stone was so boring!

Acting swiftly, Discord snapped his eagle talons. The discarded stone pieces that had trapped him rose up and quickly reassembled themselves onto the pedestal. In seconds, the statue from before was back in place, expression and all.

“There. That should keep Celestia off my tail for a bit.” Dusting his hands in satisfaction, he turned towards the only other being in the grove with him. He knelt down and patted the sleeping unicorn on the head.

“Thank you, dear,” he said down to Trixie. “You performed splendidly. Perhaps I’ll look you up again once I’ve got this place to my liking.” Chuckling darkly, he rose back up-

-and then his body gave out. He crashed next to Trixie and nearly joined her in unconsciousness. He groggily attempted to push himself back up but there was no strength in his hands to do so.

“W-what... what is hap... happening... to me?” Discord gasped out. His entire body felt heavy and it was a struggle to even keep his eyes open. He tried summoning his magic, an act that was as natural for him as breathing was for other creatures, but nothing happened. A sense of panic began welling up within him, a sensation that he was largely unfamiliar with. Only in the moments when his body had begun turning to stone had he ever felt this way before.

“What is with all the racket back here?!”

Discord’s eyes widened in alarm as the sounds of a pony approaching could be heard. He had to do something quick or he’d be caught even before he’d had a chance to get away. He hadn’t risked everything just so that he would return as a roosting spot for the birds! Using every ounce of strength that remained, he reached forward with his lion paw towards the unicorn next to him. With one last thrust of his furry finger, he managed to touch Trixie’s horn. Immediately, he felt himself sucked into the protruding skull bone until there was no more trace of him.

Barricade galloped into the glade a moment later. He quickly spotted Trixie laying on the ground and growled in frustration. “You again?! Darn, stubborn mare!” When the mare in question didn’t respond, he lost his angry look to be replaced by a concerned one. He trotted up and nudged Trixie with a hoof. “Ma’am? You okay?” He bent down and placed his head against her chest and was relieved to feel her heartbeat.

Sighing, Barricade carefully lifted Trixie up with his magic and headed out of the maze. “They don’t pay me enough for this job.”


“She’s in here, your majesty.”

Princess Celestia nodded as Barricade stopped and stood at attention next to the medical center within Canterlot castle. Upon learning of a pony that had entered the restricted area, Celestia had asked to see her. Discord’s statue was still where it was suppose to be, but if a single unicorn could slip through then perhaps it was time to move it out of the garden altogether. Having a repeat of his last escape wasn’t something that Celestia wanted to experience twice in a millenium.

Stepping inside the ward, Celestia quickly spotted a blue unicorn sleeping on a bed and being attended to by a nurse pony. The nurse looked up from the chart attached to the unicorn’s bed and said, “Princess, how nice of you to come. Our mysterious pony hasn’t woken up since she was brought here but she seems to be doing well.”

“Thank you, Nurse Pulse,” Celestia replied, moving next to the bed. “I would like to inspect her myself, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.” Nurse Pulse stepped aside and allowed Celestia to hover over her patient.

The princess didn’t waste any time and lowered her horn to touch Trixie’s forehead. A golden glow surrounded her horn, starting a spell that would detect any strange anomalies. The results she got back were not encouraging. The mare was just exhausted but something about her horn felt... off. There was something there. Something... familiar. It was as if an object was just at the edge of her awareness but whenever she directed her magic to it, it would move to stay just out of reach. Celestia focused harder.

“Almost have you...” she said with some strain. “There you are-What? It’s... it’s gone!”

“Your majesty?” the nurse asked in concern.

Celestia ignored her and cast her spell again. She scanned every inch of the unicorn’s horn but could no longer detect the anomaly from before. After a second search that provided the same results, she huffed in annoyance and stopped, regarding the pony resting before her.

The princess’ musing were cut short as Trixie moaned and slowly blinked her eyes open. The unicorn studied the room briefly before resting her gaze upon the princess and gasped.

“Oh, you’re finally awake, young one,” Celestia greeted gently. “Looks like I timed my visit just right.”

Trixie involuntarily gulped. Even though she had never met either of the princesses of Equestria in person, there was no mistaking the sight of the regal winged unicorn. The soft lighting of the room was enough to display her presence but there seemed to be an inner glow to the princess, as if any room that Celestia walked into would brighten no matter how dark the surroundings.

“Feeling any better?” the princess asked.

Trixie wasn’t one to be struck speechless very often. However, waking up to find the ruler of the kingdom talking to her was quickly sapping any manner of thought from her brain. Focus! Trixie scolded herself before she clamped up completely. Obviously, the princess is here because she’s heard about my exploits and wants to be sure the most powerful unicorn of her kingdom is well! Say something before you look foalish! Trixie raised her head, took a deep breath and opened her mouth to answer.

Yes,” she squeaked out.

Nice one, moron.

Celestia smiled, softening her expression and setting Trixie a little more at ease. Though Celestia never once took her eyes off the smaller pony. “I hope you don’t mind but I have a few questions that I’d like you to answer for me. Are you feeling up to talking?”

“O-o-of... of course, your majesty,” Trixie finally managed to get out. What else could she have possibly said? Tell her to buzz off?

“Wonderful.” Celestia came around the bed and sat down next to Trixie’s side. “Now, I’d like to know what you were doing last night in the sculpture garden. Take your time, dear.”

Trixie swallowed to try to get some moisture in her suddenly dry mouth and took a moment to better collect her thoughts. She’d already messed up once and couldn’t bear to continue appearing stupid.

“Trix-I mean, I-I just... wanted to get a look at that weird statue,” Trixie began to explain. “I was going to use it in my show tonight. I wanted to make sure I got it as accurate as possible.”

“Oh, really?” Celestia raised a delicate eyebrow at that admission. “What type of show were you planning?”

"I wanted to tell the story of how the Elements of Harmony defeated the spirit of chaos. I'm good with illusions you see and I use them to help illustrate my stories."

“I see...” Celestia trailed off, going into thought.

“Can..can I ask a question?”

Celestia was brought out of her musings by the timid voice. “Certainly.”

“What... happened to me back there?”

“I’m not sure. All I’ve been told was that you were found asleep in the gardens. Do you remember anything before that?”

Trixie shook her head. “No. All I can remember was that my magic wasn’t working right and then everything went black.”

Celestia hummed to herself. She didn’t sense that the unicorn before her was lying so there was no point in trying to pry more information out of her. For now, at least. Standing to her full height, Celestia looked down at Trixie. “Thank you for taking time to speak to me. If you still feel up to it, I’m looking forward to your show tonight at the Gala. Are you still planning on performing?”

Trixie suddenly jumped to her hooves as though she had been laying on a spring. Celestia reared back in surprise. “Of course!” Trixie loudly proclaimed, finally feeling her energy return. “Trixie wouldn’t dream of cancelling after such an insignificant incident! We have a saying in the business she works in. ‘The show must go on!’ and Trixie does not disappoint!”

“Really,” Celestia drawled.

Trixie blinked. “You... will be there?”

“Why, yes. I’m curious to see your interpretation of Discord's defeat. It sounds interesting.”

Trixie was left speechless before her professionalism took over and kept her from making a foal out of herself in front the princess. “Y-yes, of course. Of course! It will be beyond anything anypony has ever seen!” She stood up on her hind legs and spread her forelegs wide, appearing ready to start her performance at this very second.

Celestia chuckled at the sight of such an excited pony, her worries of the past few minutes gradually washing away. Still, a nagging voice in the back of her head remained, insisting that something was rotten in Stallmark. Keeping an eye on Trixie for a bit longer would be necessary.


Trixie paced back and forth behind the curtain of the stage. The butterflies flying around in her stomach had started the moment she’d arrived to get a quick rehearsal in, and hadn’t left since. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had stage fright this badly.

But she couldn’t help it! This was it! This was the show that would determine if she made it or not. After picking up the pieces of her act and struggling to make it this far, this was the night that held her future in its hooves.

In an attempt to calm herself, Trixie fussed with the garbs she now wore; a purple magician’s hat and flowing cape covered in yellow stars of varying sizes. A cheap set to replace the ones lost in Ponyville. Trixie shifted the hat to better cover her head, frustrated that no matter how much she adjusted the position, it never seemed to fit right. A pang of nostalgia for her old set briefly overcame her, but she ruthlessly pushed it back. This was no time for regrets. Perhaps if things went well a better set could be afforded, one that made her feel great and powerful once again.

If things go well, Trixie thought sourly.

She smacked herself in the head.

NO! Don’t think like that! You’re Trixie! You’ll knock those royal snobs right on their flanks! You can do this!

“Trixie, you’re on in five,” a male pony called to her from the other side of the curtain.

Trixie adjusted her hat once more and took a deep breath. The churning of her stomach gradually settled down, replaced with an iron determination to make this the best night ever.

“Prepare yourself, Canterlot,” Trixie said intensely to the ponies seated just beyond the curtain. “Because this will be a night you will never forget.” With that, she strode through the curtain and onto the stage.

The stage had been set up in the grand hall of the castle, one of the largest interiors in all of Equestria. The setup crew had done their work well, designing the stage to take up the entirety of the end of the hall, stretching from wall to wall. Trixie had plenty of room to do her thing. This would be the main attraction to end a rather dull Grand Galloping Gala thus far. Trixie had to drudge her way through the lower entertainment circuits before getting noticed by an influential noble, but it had been worth it. He had been entranced by her performances and had decided to give her a chance at a much larger gathering. The hall was packed with spectators, eager to see just what this up and coming actress could do. In the center of the room, a raised pedestal had been set up. Princess Celestia sat there on a plush pillow, patiently waiting for the show to start.

Trixie walked to the center of the massive stage and gave a deep bow. She raised herself back up and gazed out to the audience, adding a brilliant smile. “Mares and gentlecolts!” she announced to them in a voice amplified by her magic. It easily carried to every ear of the large room. “And our magnificent ruler, Princess Celestia! Thank you for coming! Tonight, Trixie will perform to you a tale that is well known to you all but has never been told like this!”

Trixie began to dance around, punctuating her words with movements. Standing still was much too boring and would lose her audience quickly. Energy was what it would take to wow them in their place.

“It began on a day like any other. Celestia’s sun shone brightly in the sky and the ponies of the world went about their happy lives. Everything was well in this marvelous land of ours. But, there was a foul wind that blew that day. From somewhere and yet nowhere, strange clouds began to appear. These clouds were colored an unnatural pink and instead of the life-giving rain that we all need, they instead drenched the land in chocolate! This occurrence was strange enough but this rain not only muddied our lands but turned the plants and animals into grotesque parodies of themselves.

“Princess Celestia, in her infinite wisdom, saw these signs and knew what needed to be done before events spiraled out of control. She summoned the legendary sextet that made up the Elements of Harmony and was about to bestow upon them their individual jewel that marked their special trait-”

Trixie began pooling her magic, readying herself for the first illusion of the night. This was it! The moment she had been preparing for!

“-when he appeared!”

From her horn, a figure shot out, stretching far past the end of the stage and towering over the shocked ponies before her. This figure was made up of an amalgam of several different animals that sent a shiver through everpony present. It spread it mismatched arm, legs and wings wide, appearing even larger to the masses. It threw its pony head back and gave a laugh that shook the walls of the hall.


Trixie nearly lost control of her illusion from Celestia’s rage fueled cry. The princess had sprung to her hooves and her horn glowed a brilliant golden hue in preparation to strike the spirit of chaos down where he floated before her. She spread her wings, ready to take off and bring the battle to him if necessary.

Trixie flinched back, unprepared for such a reaction. Swallowing through a suddenly dry mouth, she proclaimed, “Yes! The princess is right! The very same being that ruled our lands over a thousand years ago before our great rulers, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, sealed him up in stone. However, as you all well know, he had returned to spread his evil over all ponies of Equestria again!” Trixie breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that Celestia, appearing a bit embarrassed by her outburst, settle back down into her seat.

Resisting the urge to wipe the sweat that had gathered just under her horn, Trixie concentrated again. With a flash of magic and stage lighting, six ponies appeared on the other end of the stage. These were much less detailed than Discord, since Trixie only had the stained glass window to go by, but each was identifiable by their colors, horns and wings. One particular purple unicorn was a little too familiar for her tastes but chalked it up as a coincidence. What were the chances of that show off in Ponyville being the same one as the Element of Magic?

Trixie stood up with her hind legs and with a wave of her forehooves, beckoned her actors to come to the front of the stage. The six ponies and Discord faced off with each other as the curtains in back shifted colors, creating a backdrop of tall, green hedgerows. “The new bearers confronted Discord in the palace hedge maze, seeking to reclaim the precious elements that he had stolen from them. But, he was crafty, and managed to turn our heroes against each other.”

Trixie settled back to all four of her legs and pointed a hoof towards the six ponies. Discord gave another chilling laugh and snapped his talon claws. One by one, the ponies’ colors slowly faded away to a dull grey, until only the purple pony was left. The ponies turned to each other and began swiping their hooves and butting heads with each other, with the purple pony trying to placate them.

The Discord illusion laughed again then burst into a blinding white light that forced the crowd to look away. When the light receded and they were able to turn back, the scenery of the curtains had changed, displaying floating buildings, checkered ground, tap-dancing bulls and many more depictions of randomness. Some in the crowd gasped as they recognized the town of Ponyville, seeing for the first time the chaos that had descended upon that unlucky town.

Served them right, Trixie thought.

A fine sheen of perspiration developed over Trixie’s coat as she hopped to her hind legs again, her horn glowing brightly in preparation for her next spell. So far, everything was going to plan but there was much left to do. In front of the storyteller, the purple unicorn reached out a hoof towards her five greyed-out friends, but they ignored her pleas and walked off stage. The pony dropped her head and wept for friendship lost while her colors drained out of her. Trixie suppressed a smile after spotting a few audience members actually wiping some tears from their eyes with a pocket handkerchief.

Suddenly, a solid ball of golden light appeared above the crowd’s heads, catching their attention. The light drifted back and forth above them, slowly making its way towards the stage. The light stopped in front of the purple unicorn and bobbed up and down in front of her. The discorded pony hesitantly reached for the light and when she touched it, it enveloped her body completely. The golden washed away, revealing the unicorn’s colors restored.

“What Discord didn’t count on was that ponies hold their friendships very dear to their hearts and are willing to fight with all their might to keep it!” Trixie explained.

The unicorn reared on her hind legs and galloped off to where her friends had left the stage. “In her darkest hour, the Element of Magic found the courage to rise up and vanquish Discord’s taint from her friends.” The purple unicorn returned on stage, followed by the brightly colored forms of the other Elements of Harmony. In a flash of light, Discord appeared before them. He pointed his lion claw at them and laughed at their pathetic attempt to stand up to him.

Finally, Trixie was ready for her climax. The bearers were once again their uncorrupted selves and began to rise up into the air. Trixie rushed over to join them and raised her forelegs to the sky. Pouring the last of her magic into a spectacular rainbow that erupted from her horn, it swirled over the heads of those gathered before striking the spirit of chaos. The illusion struggled against the rainbow, trying to push back the harmony with its claws. Discord’s image was overwhelmed and it was slowly replaced by the sight of the statue that was right now displayed in the sculpture gardens. With a final “poof!” of magic, all the conjured displays on the stage disappeared, leaving Trixie the sole occupant. She took off her magician’s hat and bowed to the crowd.

“And so did it end with harmony once again restored and chaos sealed away. The six brave ponies were honored for their duty to their country, forever immortalized within the grand tower of Canterlot for all to see. They are living legends for they still walk among us, ready to lend their strength and courage whenever it is needed.

“Glory to them! Glory to our princesses! And glory to Equestria!”

The roar of applause from the hall of gathered ponies rattled the windows and furnishings of the entire castle. Princess Celestia herself gave a vigorous clap of her hooves. The cheers and hoof stomping lasted for over a minute.

On stage, Trixie graciously basked in her well deserved moment of triumph.


“YES! YES! You did it Trixie! You did it, did it, did it! Who the mare?! You the mare! YOU! YOU! YOU! YES!”

To say that Trixie was pleased with herself was quite an understatement. Dancing, cartwheeling and bouncing around her dressing room, all the while yelling how awesome she was, Trixie felt the happiest she had ever been in a long time. A very long time.

Her jubilation lasted a few more minutes until she was just too exhausted to continue. She plopped down on the provided bed and rolled over so that she was staring at the ceiling, a huge grin spread across her muzzle. She raised her hooves into the air and imagined her name in lights above the archway that lead into the royal city. The Return of the Great and Powerful Trixie.

Tonight, Canterlot. Tomorrow, Equestria.

“Was there ever any doubt?” Trixie said softly. She giggled like a schoolfilly and turned over onto her stomach. Slowly, her eyes began to close as the day’s events finally caught up to her. As excited as she was, it had been a trying time, and rest would allow her to meet the bright new future waiting for her when the sun rose. She was soon fast asleep, her smile remaining in place.

It was an hour later when Trixie’s horn glowed softly. A clear mist began leaking out of the tip and began pooling in the center of the room. More and more of the mist spilled out and coalesced into a figure much larger than herself. Soon, the mist stopped coming and in the space next to her bed stood a much different being than anything else that lived in the castle.

Discord stretched out himself with a groan. “Ugh, it’s cramped in there,” he said. He took a moment to continue loosening himself up, glad to be out of such a confined space. Once he felt limber again, he turned towards the sleeping unicorn in the bed.

“Well, little one, I must say I’m grateful for you letting me shack up in your horn for a while and letting me leech off some magic here and there. And, this is just between you and me, but I rather enjoyed that show you put on. Even if it was about me losing,” he finished with a grumble.

The draconequus placed his taloned claw to his chin in thought and then smiled as he remembered one moment in particular during the performance. “Still, it was worth it to see the look on Celestia’s face when I popped out. That was priceless! I just know she’s going to have the most fitful sleep tonight!

“Did you like the laugh that I added?” he continued speaking to his unaware companion. “I thought it would bring a bit more authenticity to the whole thing. A proper spirit of chaos always has to cackle when revealing itself among you little ponies. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.”

Finished with his one sided conversation, he stepped away and into the center of the room. “Well, it’s been fun but I’ve got far too much work to do. Disharmony and chaos and all that jazz, don’t you know. I’ll put in a bad word for you once I’ve got this place buzzing. Ta ta.” With that, he closed his eyes and snapped his lion fingers together, willing himself away.

When he reopened them, Discord found himself still in the dressing room.

The draconequus blinked stupidly.

Frowning, Discord once again called upon his disorderly power and attempted to teleport out of the room. He remained exactly where he was. “What in blazes...?” Discord held out his talon hand and concentrated on summoning a cotton candy cloud, one of his favorite creations. Not a spec of pink appeared before him.

Forcing himself to remain calm, he pointed at a comb laying on Trixie’s dresser, his thoughts on simply having it levitate to him. Not a single hair from the showmare’s mane stuck in the bristles even so much as drifted towards him. Dumbstruck, Discord raised his hands up and looked at them as though seeing them for the first time.

“I’m... out of magic?” he whispered to no one in particular.

Impossible. Ludicrous. This couldn’t be happening. His entire being was magic. He wouldn’t be standing here in this dressing room if his body was out of magic. He felt fine, nothing like last night when he had literally keeled over in an overwhelming sense of weakness.

Discord wasn’t one to panic. The only times he could remember ever feeling that emotion was when his body was being encased in stone. Now, he was getting that feeling again and he didn’t like it.

He began pacing the room, intent on keeping his mind on figuring out what was going on, rather than losing himself to fear. “Let’s see,” Discord said to himself as he walked in circles. It helped him keep his wits in order to hear his own voice. “I know I had to strain a lot from being trapped in stone to leach magic from that pony, but all the power she let out should have rejuvenated me. I was even able to make a replacement statue without any trouble. But that’s exactly when I felt weak. Perhaps I didn’t take in enough of her magic? Or maybe I used even more than I thought to start the whole thing? I thought hiding in her horn and stealing a little magic whenever she cast a spell would do the trick and it seems to have helped. But I still can’t cast even basic magic. And yet I’m still alive...”

Discord stopped and pulled at his horns on top of his head in frustration. “Agh! This doesn’t make sense!” He suddenly whirled and roared at Trixie, “And don’t think the irony is lost on me!”

Trixie’s sleeping form didn’t respond.

The (sort of) spirit of (semi) chaos heaved a long sigh and sat heavily on the floor. He placed his lion elbow on his lizard knee and rested his pony chin on the furry knuckles. He stared off into space, pouting at this latest turn of events. He should have been raging and frothing at being so powerless, but Discord just couldn’t summon the energy to do so. While it might have made him feel better, the tiny portion of his mind that was still rational figured that it would be the quickest way for him to be found out by Princess Drool and the Elements of Lamery.

“This is intolerable,” he muttered. “To think that I, chaos incarnate, have been reduced to this.”

He sat there for a time, running through his options and not coming up with much that boded well for him. He certainly couldn’t go walking through the streets of Canterlot, proclaiming his return. Despite the idiots that lived in this country, it wouldn’t take long for somepony to point and say, “Hey, isn’t he that big dumb meanie that got sealed up in stone?” No, he had to stay hidden until his power returned to him. That meant being patient, something Discord wasn’t very good at when not stuck as a statue for a thousand years.

His eyes finally fell on Trixie, still dead to the world and completely oblivious to being in the same room with the creature that even Celestia had trouble dealing with. “I suppose if I have to be out of sight, it might as well be with you,” Discord reasoned. The corners of his mouth raised up into a smile, the first he’d had since discovering his predicament. “At least you’re interesting, what with being an actor and all. I myself have a flair for the dramatic, if I do say so myself. What do you say, my dear? Care to make a bargain?”

He rose to his feet, intent on doing this the correct way. His way. “I come before you to make a deal. I need your help so that I can heal. I propose that I stay in your horn until I am well and in return I will aid you with the stories that you tell.

“How about it?”

For a moment, the only movement Trixie made was the steady lifting of her chest as she breathed. Then, she shifted slightly in her sleep, dipping her head down into the crevasse of her legs for a better position. After that, she remained still.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Satisfied that the pact was done, Discord reached forward and touched the tip of the unicorn’s horn. As before, he was sucked into it, once again merging himself with the mare’s life force. There he would stay until he was ready to take the world by storm.

Trixie, on the verge of reclaiming the title of Great and Powerful, murmured quietly about hay smoothies before returning to a deep sleep.


View Online

The next two weeks were a blur for Trixie. The success of her show at the Grand Galloping Gala produced so much buzz among the aristocracy that she was being booked to perform almost every night. She was the hot new ticket in town and every noblepony wanted to have her to show off to all their friends and rivals. Trixie knew that she was being used as a bragging chip but with the amount of bits they were willing to throw at her, she was content to play their game. Besides, she was getting what she wanted, money and fame, so who was using who?

For the most part, Trixie kept her shows to just retelling the legends of Equestria. She was still building up her rep and didn’t want to take chances in experimenting with her own stories. This proved to be a wise move as one particular night, while acting out the confrontation between the Elements of Harmony and the newly released Nightmare Moon in a wing of the castle, none other than Princess Luna had attended. Trixie hadn’t been sure how the princess of the night was going to react to such a personal tale but the show had gone on regardless and without a hitch. Afterwards, Luna had congratulated her personally for keeping her facts straight and staying true to the spirit of her defeat and subsequent purification. Trixie had been grateful but she was still clearing out her ears of the ringing that Luna’s ye olde Canterlot voice had caused. That princess really had to learn to control her volume if she didn’t want a kingdom full of deaf subjects.

All in all, it was a glorious time to be Trixie. And now was the time to think about leaving.

Trixie was no fool. She knew that her time in the limelight wouldn’t last with the fickle nature of the nobility. The moment they grew bored of her, they’d toss her aside like yesterday’s flan. However, if she left before that time, then she’d leave as the greatest performer Canterlot had known in decades, no questions asked. Trixie had made her mark and now it was time to head to the big time.

All Trixie had were just two more appearances and that would be the end of her time in the capital city. The first was tonight and it was something a bit different from her normal fare. She had been asked to act in one of William Shakesquill’s plays, Macquine. It had been a while since she had used her talents in a classic performance but it would be something different and would help showcase her vast acting range. Trixie had jumped at the chance and had landed the role for Lady Macquine, a character driven to greatness. It was perfect.

So, as the curtain rose within the prestigious Regal Mane Attraction Theatre of Canterlot, Trixie once again took center stage, one step closer to realizing her dreams.

The actress missed seeing a group of six mares taking a seat in a row towards the back of the large auditorium. However, the draconequus currently residing in her horn, did not.


A few minutes earlier...

“Why are we here again?” Rainbow Dash asked in disgust. She glared up at the theatre building that she and the rest of her friends were now waiting in line to enter.

“Really, Rainbow, would it hurt you to attend at least one culturally significant play in your life?” Rarity chastised the blue pegasus hovering just above her. “You could stand to sacrifice a few hours and gain a new perspective.”

“A few hours?! Are you serious?!”

“Don’t worry,” Twilight Sparkle said. “There’s an intermission in the middle so that we can stretch out for a while so we’re not sitting all that time.”

“That just makes it longer!” Rainbow exclaimed.

“Ah’m with Dash on this one,” Applejack spoke up. “Ah remember goin’ to some of these fancy shmancy plays when I was living with my Aunt and Uncle Orange. They’re the most boring wastes of time.

“Listen girls,” Twilight said as she faced her friends. “I know it’s strange that Princess Celestia had us travel all the way here just to watch a play but I’m sure there’s a reason for it. She wouldn’t waste our time like that. Once this is over we’ll go see her and she’ll explain everything.”

“Let’s go see her now!” Pinkie Pie suggested, hopping up and down. “I heard that this show is really sad and I don’t want to see anything sad especially when we go see her later. Or we could go do something else! I could get a party going at the castle!”

“No Pinkie,” Twilight said gently. “The princess’s instructions were very clear. We have to see this play and then we go see her.”

“Is it really a sad show?” Fluttershy meekly asked. “I... um... I’m not too sure I can enjoy something like that.”

“Well, it is categorized as a tragedy,” Twilight admitted. “From what I’ve read, it’s one of Shakesquill’s darker works-”

“You’re not helping your case, dear,” Rarity interrupted. She stepped in the center of the loose circle the girls had made while talking. “Tell you what, everypony. You all promise to get through this play and I’ll treat you all at the fabulous Bon Sejour. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

“What’s in it fer you?” Applejack wanted to know.

“What? Can’t a pony treat her friends out after a delightful night of camaraderie?”

“She just wants to make sure all the nobleponies see her at this fashionable soiree,” Fluttershy said aloud. Her eyes then widened and her hoof came up to her mouth but it was too late to take it back. “Oops. I... wasn’t suppose to say that, was I?”

From the glare that she was receiving from her spa buddy, Fluttershy took that as a yes.

“Come on,” Twilight urged before anypony else could come up with an excuse to leave. “We’re going in and that’s final. Or do you want to explain to the princess why the tickets she gave us weren’t used?”

“We could burn ‘em,” Rainbow Dash murmured under her breath, even as she landed on the ground and slid back in line. “No one would have to know...”

A few more grumbles were heard but eventually the others relented and resigned themselves to a boring evening. They passed through the ticket counter and made their way through the main hall that would take them to the amphitheater. Pinkie Pie held them up a bit when she broke off and proceeded to raid the concession stand for all the sweets and drinks that she could carry. She’d be darned if she wasn’t going to enjoy something about tonight’s show!

Once suitably loaded, the group entered the auditorium and took their seats in a row near the back of the room. Despite being what others would call “The Nosebleed” section, each of them could clearly see the stage, and judging from the acoustics being generated from other ponies milling around, they’d be able to hear whomever was speaking just fine.

They had arrived just in time too, as the curtain had already gone up and a line of actors and actresses had filed out and bowed to the gathered crowd. An earth pony, a dark grey stallion with a black mane and a grinning theatre mask for a cutie mark, stepped forward. He stood up on his hind legs and spread out his forelegs to address the entire audience.

“Welcome, one and all!” the stallion announced in a strong voice that carried over everypony in attendance. “Tonight, the Regal Mane Attraction Theatre is proud to presents to you the William Shakesquill classic, Macquine! Please enjoy the show! We ask that everypony be quiet and respectful during the performance!”

A loud belch sounded from the back of the room, generating nasty looks from the speaker on stage and everypony else.

“Sorry,” Pinkie Pie squeaked out meekly and sank down into her seat.

“As I was saying,” the actor continued dryly. “There will be a half hour intermission after the third act. Until then, please remain seated. On with the show!” With that, the actors and actresses all bowed once again and trotted off the stage.

Watching from further up, Rainbow Dash nudged Twilight Sparkle who was sitting next to her. “Did... one of those girls down there look... familiar to you?” she asked hesitantly.

“No,” Twilight answered, shaking her head. “Why?”

“I don’t know. I just had the strangest feeling of being watched is all. Eh, don’t worry about it.” Sighing, Rainbow settled back into her seat and prepared herself for a long night.

The play began, and as many in their tight knit group feared, it was both boring and very creepy. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were soon dozing off despite Twilight’s best efforts to shake them awake. The scene with the three witches had sent Fluttershy into an uncontrollable fit of tremors that even a reassuring hoof from Rarity couldn’t stop. Pinkie Pie was chewing on her food so loudly that she could hardly hear the words coming from the stage, not that she considered that a bad thing.

It was during the fourth scene of the first act that Lady Macquine made her entrance. As the actress gave her lines, haughty and boisterous to match the character she was portraying, a minor miracle happened. Applejack and Rainbow Dash became alert.

“Wait a dang-blang minute here,” Applejack murmured to the others. “I know that voice.”

“Me too,” Rainbow seconded and sat up fully in her chair. She and the rest squinted their eyes to make out the mare that was delivering a grand performance. Recognition slowly entered their eyes as they took in the sight of the light blue unicorn speaking on stage. It was as she whirled in a flash of movement to address Macquine entering the scene that the noble robes that she was wearing rose up to expose her cutie mark for a brief moment. The mark of a star topped wand against a magical dust trail confirmed her identity.

“By Celestia...” Rarity breathed.

“That’s...” Fluttershy continued.

“Trixie!” Twilight finished with a gasp.


The six mares flinched from the irritated crowd around them urging them to stay quiet.

Rainbow tried to keep her voice as low as possible. “What’s she doing here?”

“Acting, obviously,” Rarity pointed out.

“Golly, I haven’t seen her in years,” Applejack commented.

“Not long enough, if you ask me,” Rainbow spit out.

“Well, it seems she’s found her calling,” Twilight said. “Let’s just keep watching and-”

She never got to finish as suddenly, the legs from under her chair and the ones of her friends’ disappeared in a flash. A second later and the mares crashed to the floor.

Immediately, ushers rushed to their sides and helped them back to their hooves. The personnel were quick to get them quieted down before the show could be disturbed. When they attempted to get the girls back in their seats, they realized that that would be a problem since without their legs, the chairs were essentially useless. Improvising, the personnel led them to another set of seats further back and next to one of the side walls that weren’t occupied. They hoped that way up here that the mares wouldn’t cause any more trouble.

Once she was sitting again, Rainbow Dash was quick to blame. “She did it!” she hissed, pointing a hoof at Trixie who hadn’t stopped working even with the disturbance. “I know she did!”

“Hush!” Twilight urged. “We don’t know that. Besides, her horn wasn’t even glowing when we fell.”

“Oh please, darling,” Rarity whispered over to her. “How is that only we were affected and nopony else?”

Twilight, for once, didn’t have an answer for that. However, everyone settled down but kept alert on the proceedings. The show continued with no more disturbances and one by one, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie began losing interest once again. Slowly, Rainbow and Applejack’s eyes began to close and Pinkie found pawing at the tuft of her mane dangling in front of her muzzle far more appealing than paying attention to the play. Fluttershy was content with shivering in fright at the continued appearances of the witches and later the ghosts of those that had been murdered from earlier in the show. Finally, the curtain closed on the third act and an announcement was given to have everypony leave for intermission.

“Thank Celestia,” Rainbow groaned as she got up and stretched out her cramped muscles. “How much longer is this?”

“Once we get back, it’s just two more acts,” Twilight explained, also taking the time to stretch.

“Ugh, I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

“Hang in there, sugarcube,” Applejack tried to bolster her friend’s patience. “I ain’t enjoying things any better than you.”

“If only there weren’t so many scary... things going on,” Fluttershy squeaked.

“They certainly didn’t skimp on the production values for the special effects,” Rarity commented. “I wonder if that braggart had anything to do with it.” Nopony had to ask who she was referring to.

“Whatever,” Pinkie Pie said as she impatiently waited for the crowds to thin out. “I’m going to get some more snacks!”

It was then that the emergency sprinkler systems above them decided to drench the area.


In her private dressing room, Trixie checked to make sure that everything was in place on her costume and read over her lines for a quick refresher. Most of her big monologues were already finished and there wasn’t much more that her character did in the play. She didn’t even appear in the next act but that didn’t mean she wasn’t busy. Many of the effects, particularly the ones during the witches’ scenes, were provided by her but out of sight of the audience. It added more realism than just simple stage props and helped fill out her resume;. The more she could offer to interested talent agencies, the better for her.

Her preparations were interrupted by a knock on her door. Frowning, she ignored it and continued reading the script. A few seconds later, another knock came.

“Trixie does not want to be disturbed!” she shouted at the door and turned back to the script.

When a third knock came, she gnashed her teeth and huffed. She slammed the script closed with a hoof and marched up to the door. She magically threw it open and prepared to give a mighty tongue lashing to the moron that couldn’t take a hint.

Coming muzzle to muzzle with six waterlogged mares caused her planned tirade to abruptly die on her lips.

At first, Trixie just stared at the sextet glaring at her through water soaked manes falling over their faces. As she studied them a little bit more closely however, a range of emotions ran through her. An uncomfortable silence filled the room until Trixie frowned and glared at the ponies across from her.

“What... are you doing here?”

Rainbow Dash zipped forward and thrust her nose right into Trixie’s. “Cut the act! What’s the big idea of getting us all wet?!”

Trixie grimaced as Rainbow’s movements were throwing water droplets all over the floor and more importantly, over her costume. She pushed the blue pegasus away with a hoof and wiped the water from her snout. “Do you mind? This dress isn’t Trixie’s and she has to give it back after the show.”

Applejack approached Trixie, the rest of her friends following closely behind. “Ah plum reckon you’ve got more to deal with than gettin’ your fancy dress all dirtied up!” she snarled.

Trixie took an involuntary step back. However, she wasn’t one to back down from a confrontation and certainly not from this particular group. Finding her resolve, Trixie stood her ground, raised her head and looked down her nose with a stare just as intense as the ones she was receiving. “Trixie has no idea what you are talking about. And she certainly doesn’t have time to deal with the likes of you! Begone and drip over somepony else!”

“Stop with the lies!” Applejack shot back, standing just inches from the unicorn. “We know ya did this to us! First with the chairs and then with the sprinklers!”

Trixie snorted. “As much as Trixie would love to take credit for whatever misfortune fell upon you, she was too busy giving the performance of her life. And if she had known you all would be here, she still wouldn’t have bothered. Trixie is beyond such petty vengeance.”

“I find that just as hard to believe as your story with the Ursa Major,” Rarity said with a dramatic toss of her head. “You haven’t changed at all.”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed. She lowered her head until she was eye level with the others and bared her teeth. “Is that how it’s going to be? Trixie is guilty until proven innocent? Then Trixie supposes you wouldn’t believe her if she said that ever since she left that wretched town of yours that she’s been fighting her way back to the top! It took years to get her to where she is now! And now that she’s finally made it, you come along and are trying to ruin it all again!” Trixie moved forward and the blazing anger in her eyes caused Applejack and the rest to take their own involuntary step back.

“I see how it is now,” Trixie seethed, too upset to keep up with her third pony narration. “You all came here to make a fool out of me. You can’t stand to see me with one ounce of success and are seeking to send me back to the dredges of the streets. I may have made some stnanks in my day but I’ll never claim to have made another pony’s life completely miserable!”

“Wait! Wait!” Twilight Sparkle desperately called out. “You got it all wro-”

“You stay silent!” Trixie roared at the unicorn, her anger doubling at being in the same proximity to the one that had gotten lucky and had humiliated her. “Didn’t I tell you that you would never have my show stopping abilities?!” She continued forward, forcing the Ponyvillian’s to tumble through the door and out of the room. “Well, I’ve proven it! Those ponies out there love me and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

Trixie suddenly sat back, looking down at the tangle of bodies before her. Smirking triumphantly, she said, “Now, remove yourselves from Trixie’s sight before she has security throw you out. Trixie never wants to see any of you ever again.” And with that, she magically slammed the door shut in their faces.

Silence claimed the hallway for a time. Then, slowly, the six ponies made their way to their hoofs and looked at each other for guidance.

“Well, that went splendidly,” Rarity drawled sarcastically.

“Actually, it went better than I expected,” Twilight admitted.

“How so?”

“None of us ended up with a messed up mane this time.”

“You just had to bring that back up, didn’t you?” Rarity hissed. “It was a nightmare trying to get that rat’s nest sorted out!”

Rainbow hovered up next to the door and glared at it as though it was responsible for what the pony on the other side did to them. “I say we barge back in there and teach her that lesson I wanted to give to her last time,” she heatedly suggested, smacking her front hooves together for emphasis.

“Um... actually,” Fluttershy quietly spoke up. “I think it would be best if we just left. I... I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“What?! And let her get away with everything?!”

“Fluttershy’s right,” Twilight said and began walking away. “I don’t want to deal with Trixie anymore, either. Besides, I have a feeling we’ve seen what the princess wanted us to see.”

“Ooh, so we can dump this dreary-weary place?” Pinkie Pie asked in growing excitement. “Because it’s been a total buzz kill all night and the food isn’t even that good and it’s way overpriced!”

“Ah suppose,” Applejack reluctantly agreed. She herself wanted a piece of that insufferable showmare but figured that it had been a long evening already. They still needed to speak to the princess before calling it a night. Trixie could have her stuffy and boring show.

“Then let’s go,” Twilight said and lead her friends towards Canterlot Castle.


Princess Celestia was waiting for them when they arrived in her throne room.

“So, did everypony enjoy the show?” she asked them once they finished bowing to her.

Judging from the way that none of them could look her in the eye, she guessed that they hadn’t.

“Hmm, I see,” Celestia stated. She rose up from her throne and stepped down to stand among them. “Please, tell me everything.”

Twilight and the others recounted their evening at the Regal Mane Attraction Theatre, being sure to leave out the dull play itself and focused on the unusual happenings that had befell them. Celestia listened intently, her features betraying nothing as they spoke. Once they finished, the princess gained a thoughtful, but troubled, look.

When Celestia didn’t say anything for close to a minute, Twilight dared to ask, “Princess? Is everything alright?”

Celestia closed her eyes. “I’m not sure, my student,” she said at length. “Tell me, did you notice anything strange about the actress you confronted?”

“Other than her being the biggest blowhard in all of Equestria?” Rainbow Dash offered. “Nope. Trixie’s just like she was back when she came to Ponyville.”

Celestia nodded in acknowledgement. “I suppose it’s time to tell you why I brought you here. You see, a few weeks ago, she was found lying next to Discord’s statue.”

A shocked gasp escaped from the six gathered ponies’ mouths.

The princess turned away from them and began pacing. “When Discord was sealed back up, I placed him back in the garden but under surveillance,” she began explaining. “I wanted to avoid having someone stumble upon him and accidentally let him loose again. Somehow, Trixie got past the guard.”

“Did he escape then?” Fluttershy asked, trembling at the thought of that meanie once again roaming free.

“That’s another strange thing. When I arrived after checking on Trixie, his statue was right where I left it. Nothing was out of place and I couldn’t detect his presence.” She stopped her movement and looked up at the ceiling above her, a calculated look crossing her muzzle. “It doesn’t make any sense!” she suddenly called out.

Everypony in the room held their breath, expecting at any moment for a malicious chuckle to fill the air. After several moments of nothing happening, Celestia grit her teeth together in a very unprincessly manner.

Even when he’s not around, he still manages to vex me, the princess thought bitterly.

Turning back towards her loyal ponies, Celestia said, “I’ve moved Discord’s statue to a more secure place. It was unwise to keep it out in the open for others to stumble upon it. But I’m still not convinced that things are alright. I think Trixie may still be in trouble. I’ve had my guards keep watch over her since that night but they report that nothing is out of the ordinary.”

“Not even any chocolate rain?!” Pinkie Pie cried out.

“Not even that,” Celestia confirmed, causing Pinkie to pout.

“So what is it you want us to do?” Twilight asked.

“You all have had more experience with Trixie than myself. That’s why I called you in to see if you would notice anything different about her. Though it seems that isn’t the case. Still, I want to keep an eye on her for a little while longer. That’s where you come in.”

“Do we get to blast her with the Elements?!” Rainbow guessed excitedly. “Because that would be awesome and she’d totally have it coming!”

“Rainbow!” Twilight scolded the pegasus. “We can’t just use them against any pony we don’t like!”

“My student is right,” Celestia seconded with a frown. “I don’t know what affect the Elements would have on a pony that doesn’t have anything wrong with her. I will only give them to you as an absolute last resort. Until then, I have something else in mind for you.”

This time, it was Applejack that offered a guess. “Ya want us to follow her?”


The six friends looked at each other with varying looks of incredulity. Coming all the way here to learn that their new mission was to eavesdrop on one of the most insufferable ponies they knew? It wasn’t exactly how they had expected to spend their time. However, none even considered refusing their princess’s request.

“You can count on us, princess” Twilight said for the group.

Celestia nodded her head in thanks. “As always, I know none of you will let me down. Hopefully, this is all just a false alarm and nothing will come of it. Good luck, my little ponies.”


“So, how are we going to go about this?” Rarity spoke up as she and the rest left the castle

“Oh! Oh!” Pinkie Pie raised a hoof while jumping up and down to gain their attention. “We can go undercover! We’ll ponynap the other actors, take their costumes and then we’ll be able to watch Trixie right under her nosie!”

“Pinkie,” Twilight let out a sigh as she tried to think of how to put this delicately. “As thick as Trixie is, I’d think she’d know something was up when our ‘thou’s’ and ‘thy’s’ don’t come out right. Besides I... can’t act. At least not like that.”

“Then we’ll just throw her an after play party!”

“Seein’ as how she hates our guts, Ah don’t think that will work either,” Applejack said.

“Well, I’ve got nothin’ then,” Pinkie finished, her ears flattening.

“When is the next time she performs?” Fluttershy asked. “Perhaps we could just watch Trixie from far away without her noticing.”

“Sounds perfect to me,” Twilight agreed with a smile. “Thanks Fluttershy!”

“Don’t mention it,” the pegasus said, blushing at the praise.

“Ugh. Do we really have to put up with more of her?” Rainbow groaned.

“You heard the princess,” Twilight was quick to remind everypony present. “We have to figure out if Trixie is being used by Discord or not. I don’t think I have to remind you all of what he’s capable of. Until we’re certain, I’m willing to deal with whatever Trixie can throw at us.”

It was hard to argue the reasoning, even if Rainbow didn’t want to admit it, but that still didn’t mean she had to like it. The mares grew silent then and continued on towards the theatre that they had last seen Trixie at. When they arrived, they found that the play must have ended a while ago due to the building’s lights being off and the lack of any pony entering or leaving. However, just as Twilight was about to suggest that they leave, a stallion exited the main doors and then locked them up.

“Excuse me,” Twilight greeted as she trotted up to the pony. “Would you happen to know the actress that played Lady Macquine?”

“Trixie?” the stallion asked for clarification as he pocketed his keys. Twilight nodded. “Sure do. Most of our audience came tonight just to see her. Gal’s got some real talent. Hard to believe I’ve never heard of her until a few weeks ago.”

“Yeah, um, you wouldn’t happen to know when her next show is, would you?”

“Well,” the stallion rubbed the back of his head with a hoof, looking reluctant to continue. “You see, she was scheduled for one last appearance here tomorrow but we had an accident with one of our sprinkler systems. Flooded out several rows of seats and damaged the flooring. We had to cancel the show to get that fixed up. Shame too since we were expecting to sell out again.”

“Oh, sorry to hear that.” Twilight and the rest looked sheepishly away, even though they hadn’t been the ones to cause it. “Will the show be rescheduled?”

“Not for a few days, sadly. I’m also afraid to say Trixie won’t be there.”

“She’s not? How come?”

“Said she had other plans that couldn’t wait. Once the play ended, she packed everything up and headed out.”

“Where’d she go?”

“From what I heard she’s leaving to head for the big time. In our business that means only one place. Manehattan.”


A bright, starry night was one of the most wonderful things that Trixie had ever seen. The tapestry of brightly twinkling lights high in the sky never ceased to amaze her. The stars were always a big inspiration to her as they told stories that few ponies were even aware of. There was the hunter Orion, shooting his bow towards his latest kill. In a few months, he would shift and lay down, stung by a scorpion that had come to seek revenge against all the creatures that Orion had slain. There was Draco, a dragon of colossal size, said to have guarded a tree that grew golden apples. The easiest to find was the Big Dipper, though some claimed it was a cart being pulled by ponies. Some even said it was a bear and its offspring were the giant ursas that roamed the land.

Stargazing was a secret pleasure for the showmare. While traveling the countryside of Equestria with her stage wagon, she would lay out under the stars rather than sleep inside whenever it was warm out. She would bring out her book of “Astronomical Astronomer's Almanac to All Things Astronomy” and read through the mythology surrounding all the different constellations above her. There was never a night that didn’t offer something new to see or experience. She often imagined that she would one day be placed among the stars so that every pony in the world could see just how great and powerful she was.

It brought back a lot of fond memories, a rarity these past few years. Though with her meteoric rise in fame recently, Trixie had a feeling that she’d be getting a lot of new ones to replace the old.

‘Not to mention how glorious it was to finally give those noponies a piece of my mind!’ she inwardly crowed.

It had been incredibly satisfying to finally meet the ones that had so cruelly brought her low at the height of her success. What made it even better was that they had come looking to accuse her of things she wasn’t responsible for and made it easy for her to fight back. The shocked looks that they had given her were going to have her smiling for weeks.

"I hope they never forget the day that Trixie triumphed over their wickedness!" she called out to the night sky.

As marvelous as it was to replay that scene over and over again in her mind, Trixie had other things to think about. Such as her plans for Manehattan. The show that was scheduled for tomorrow had unexpectedly been pushed back a few days, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. She had decided to bow out which meant she was now free of any obligations and could get her plans set in motion now rather than later.

The fact that she had been paid in advance didn’t hurt either.

The first step was getting to Manehattan. Trixie had thought about renting a pegasus carriage and flying there that night but had ultimately decided against it. Instead, she had packed what things she had and mailed them ahead of her. She would walk to the city, taking her time to formulate what she wanted to show for her auditions to the talent agencies. There were a few towns between here and there where she could practice and refine her craft, making sure everything was perfect when she arrived. It would almost be like old times.

Except, of course, without her wagon. Not that she would need one. Something so bulky wouldn’t be of much use for her in the tight streets of the Big Apple, especially since she would probably be indoors most times. Besides, she had gotten quite good at using the main squares of the towns she had traveled to for her stage. It helped with her improvisational skills and kept the crowds on her side when they saw her perform next to something they were familiar with. Some ponies just didn’t appreciate the special effects a stage could bring to liven up a performance.

Once at Manehattan, it would be time to get her name recognized. She already had several recommendations from the nobles and theatres she had worked for. Trixie’s reputation would get her ahead of the line of all the poor saps that tried to squeak ahead with no talent to back them up. Once she displayed to the agencies what she was capable of, then it would be time to show everypony in the land how much she could shine.

“Just like a star in the night sky,” Trixie said dreamily up at Luna’s creations.

She walked a few more miles before finding a nice grassy spot on a hill to lay on. She magicked out a blanket from one of the pouches from her saddlebags hanging over her back and sat down. She ate a small supper of hay and oats before settling down and drifting off to sleep, content with how things were going with her life.

When Trixie was deep in sleep, Discord flowed out of her horn and landed next to his unicorn host.

“By all that is disorderly and chaotic, I’m going positively stir-crazy in there!” he whined to the heavens.

The draconequus went through his now normal routine of loosening himself up whenever he popped out of Trixie’s horn. It wasn’t nearly as bad as being stuck in stone but it was a close second. The fact that Discord was slowly regaining his power was the only reason he was putting up with such an itty-bitty living space.

“Now, let’s try this,” Discord said and lifted his lion paw. A little concentration brought forth a small pink cloud just above his furry hand. He then tossed it up high in the sky where it expanded to ten times its original size. A moment later and the cotton candy confection began leaking its signature chocolate milk and Discord greedily drank up all that fell in his opened mouth.

“Ahhh,” he sighed in delight as the last of the cloud’s contents were expelled. “Nothing like a little pick me up after a hard day of chaos.” He wiped his mouth with one of his arms before looking down at Trixie.

“You naughty girl, you,” Discord chided sweetly. “You never said anything about knowing Celestia’s little twerps. And not only that, but you actually managed to give them a good what’s for!” He chuckled in genuine amusement at how the Elements of Foolery had been cussed and thrown out by a single pony. “I like you more every day, dear!”

“But that’s just the beginning,” he continued, more to himself. “Those simple parlor tricks I caused on them were just a warm-up. Soon I’ll be good as new and they’ll wish a soggy mane was all they had to deal with.

“I just wish my magic would return quicker. Think of all the dastardly deeds I’ve been missing out on! My presence alone is usually enough to make the lives of all you little ponies much more interesting! I haven’t so much as seen a doorknob disappear or a puddle lead some unsuspecting pony into an alternate dimension. Bah! Such a waste.”

Discord held a frown, thinking of what he could do to really throw Equestria for a loop, before brightening as he remembered a nugget of conversation that had perked his interests back in Trixie’s dressing room. “That’s right. That Element of Generosity, Rarity, said something about an Ursa Major. Did you perhaps tell a tall tale about it? My, and here others call me a showoff. But it gives me an idea and I’d like to see a demonstration of what it is you really can do, oh great and powerful filly.”

The draconequus cracked his knuckles and prepared himself. This would be his first true test since escaping and hiding out in Trixie’s horn. While making minor mischief was all sick and bad, it was time to up his game. The future ruler of Equestria wouldn’t settle for anything less than his worst. With a snap of his fingers, Discord vanished from the hilltop.

He reappeared miles away, deep within the Everfree Forest. While taking a pleasant stroll through the woods would bring back such fond memories of random chance and circumstance, Discord wanted to get things rolling now. He had teleported right where he wanted to be; in front of a massive cave entrance.

Strolling in as though he owned the place, Discord soon found what he was looking for. It was hard to miss, even in the darkness, seeing as the slumbering Ursa Minor was as large as a pony house. Possibly even bigger. However, as impressive as the blue minor was, the red Ursa Major sleeping just behind it was truly gargantuan. Even levitating up as high as the ceiling allowed, Discord couldn’t see all of it at once. He wasn’t easy to impress but the sight before him had him whistling in appreciation.

Discord normally didn’t bother with animals too much, other than to let whatever chaos surrounding him decided what to do with them. Messing with ponies was so much more fun as they were aware of the troubles that he caused. Most animals eventually adjusted to the disharmony of their surroundings, even if their bodies morphed into parodies of their original selves.

However, this would be an exception. The mischievous spirit wanted something big to test his unsuspecting host and there was certainly nothing bigger than an Ursa Major. Even if Trixie failed, the anarchy caused by a raging major would be far too much fun not to miss. Gathering up his magic, Discord pointed at the Ursa Minor and it disappeared in a flash. Floating down to the major next, he lifted up a gigantic eyelid of the beast and his eyes rippled with hypnotic power.

“You might want to wake up,” Discord suggested. “You’re missing something.” He then teleported out of sight.

The major rumbled a yawn and blinked to clear its vision. It sniffed the air, detecting a smell unlike anything it had ever smelled before. Growing curious, the major awoke fully and looked down to check on its cub. However, its baby was nowhere to be seen.

Usually, the major wouldn’t have been too worried, as it was important for its cub to get out and hunt on its own now that it was growing up. However, a powerful urge flared within it that made it want, no, need to find its baby. Growling with parental worry, the major stormed out of the cave and began its search, its paws causing tremors to rock the earth with every step.

Discord watched it go from above the cave entrance. “The stage is set, my little pony. Time to break a leg.” The next instant, he was gone in a flash, his maniacal laughter being all that was left behind.

The Remake

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“Well, now what?” Applejack asked.

The question was directed to no pony in particular. She, like the rest of her friends, were resting in a private room in Canterlot Castle, courtesy of Princess Celestia. It had been decided that it was too late to go chasing after their new target and had come back to get some much needed sleep. In the morning they’d all be off once again, so Applejack and her friends were taking this time to relax before getting back to work.

“Obviously, we need to get to Manehattan,” Rarity spoke up as she luxuriated in the most comfortable set of cushions she had ever laid on. On either side of her were two handsome stallion servants, each of them taking turns feeding her grapes from a golden bowl set beside her. If being this pampered was common place within the circle of the nobility, it made her seriously consider giving Prince Blueblood a second chance. Perhaps all the big lug needed was a woman’s guiding influence and he’d mend his ways?

From across the room and lying on her own cushion, Twilight Sparkle sighed as she studied a map of the country spread out in front of her. “Easier said than done. There are several ways to get to the city from here and there’s no knowing what route Trixie took.”

“Who cares how we get there as long as we get there,” Rainbow Dash said, lounging on a hammock of clouds hanging from the ceiling. She never would have thought clouds could get any more comfortable than the ones she normally slept on, but whatever magic Celestia used to create this bed had everything before this beat. It was taking considerable effort not to doze off.

“Have you ever been to Manehattan?” Applejack asked up at the pegasus. When Rainbow lazily shook her head, the farm pony continued, “Then you have no idea just how big and crowded that place is. Trixie could come in and walk right by us and we’d never know it. It’d take a miracle ta find her then.”

Fluttershy, blushing furiously at receiving the massage to end all massages to her back and wings from a mare servant, moaned out, “Then what do we do?” She groaned as the servant hit a spot that sent pleasant shivers down her spine. The specialists at the Ponyville spa could learn a thing or two from this master! “Oh! A little to the left! Um... if you would, please.”

“I know! I know!” Pinkie Pie squealed, tearing herself away from all the goodies that she had piled before her due to her finding the room service button. “We could-”

“We are not throwing Trixie a party!” her fellows interrupted.

“Aw, am I that obvious?” Pinkie pouted. “Must be in a rut.” She decided to drown her woes by plunging her entire head into a giant stack of gumdrops.

“Listen girls,” Twilight said a few minutes later. She levitated up her map and displayed it up for everypony to see. “According to the map, there are two ways to get to the city by hoof from here. Each has a few villages and settlements that Trixie would need to stop at to get resupplied. I think it’s best if we split up. It’ll help our chances of finding and watching her. Each group takes a different path. If one team finds her first, they’ll send a signal to the other to let them know.”

“And how does one team contact the other when they’ve found Trixie?” Rarity brought up. “Unless we fetch Spike, then we have no way to communicate.”

“Glad you asked!” Twilight beamed and held up a pair of clear spherical crystals no larger than a marble. “These are called Find-Me Crystals. They are enchanted to help ponies find each other in case they get lost or are bad with directions. Each group will carry one. When one group manages to find Trixie, they’ll activate theirs which will activate the other, no matter how far apart they are. As the two crystals get closer, they begin to pulse with light. The closer they get, the faster the pulse gets. All you have to do is travel in the direction of the pulse and you’ll find the other one, which the other group will have.” Twilight levitated one of the crystals over to Rarity, who took hold of it with her own magic once it got close enough. “You hang onto this one, Rarity. Only a unicorn can turn it on.”

“So I guess that means that we’ll be on separate teams,” the fashionista surmised. She looked over the Find-Me Crystal now laying in her hoof. “How do I get it to work?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll show you. But first, I think we should figure out who’s going with me and who’s going with Rarity.”

A few minutes later and the teams were decided. Twilight, Pinkie and Rainbow would be one group while Rarity, Applejack and Fluttershy would be the other. They chose which path they would take, not that there was any preference for or against either of them. Once that was done, Twilight demonstrated how the crystals worked and what to look for when it was turned on. With preparations complete, the six ponies finally called it a night and tucked themselves in. Tomorrow would be a busy day.


The sound of snoring woke her up.

Slowly and groggily, Trixie opened her eyes. She peered through her lids and saw that it was still night out. She wearily craned her neck a bit and managed to get a glimpse of the moon. Judging by its position, only a few hours had gone by since she had turned in. Trixie huffed at having her rest interrupted, especially with how much travel she still had. She mumbled a curse at herself for making so much noise and curled back up to get a few more winks in.

It was a few moments later when she realized that the snoring hadn’t stopped. And it wasn’t coming from her.

Trixie opened her eyes completely, now fully awake. Nothing was in her field of view. Swallowing through a suddenly dry throat, the unicorn slowly inched her head up. The sounds of whatever was breathing through its slumber were deep and long and seemingly coming from everywhere. Trixie wasn’t an expert in animals by any means but even she knew that whatever was causing this level of snoring was something large. Very large. Fearing to find out what it was but unable to stop herself, she nervously turned her head around.

Her gaze met a wall of blue, translucent fur with little star marks sprinkled throughout.

Trixie knew what it was instantly. She would never forget the beast that had ruined her career, not to mention nearly eating her in a cranky rage. Eyes widening in terror, she looked up and beheld the giant snout of an Ursa Minor, sleeping next to her in contentment.

The unicorn shut her eyes tightly. This is a dream. This is a dream. This is a dream. This is a dream! she repeated in her head. Trixie snapped her eyes back open, expecting to see that there was nothing there; that she was alone on this hilltop with nothing but the stars and the moon above for company.

Her heart skipped a beat when the ursa above yawned, briefly revealing canines as large as herself, before settling back down and remaining still.

Trixie’s breath came in short, agonized gasps. The coat of her body, normally a light blue, was as pale as the mane on the top of her head. This wasn’t a sick joke conjured up by her subconscious. The enormous creature besides her was real.

A panic the likes of which she hadn’t felt in years gripped her and she bolted to her hooves. She hurriedly backed up, keeping the ursa in her sights the entire time. Unfortunately, the emotional state Trixie was in didn’t come with gracefulness and she tripped over herself after only taking a few steps. She tumbled to the grassy ground. However, adrenaline coursed through her body and she scramble back to her feet quickly. She worriedly looked up and almost swooned with relief when she saw that the Ursa Minor hadn’t woken up. As quietly as she could, she began edging away. Once she had fifteen hooves between herself and the giant bear, Trixie turned and bolted.

Running as though her life depended on it, Trixie shot through the night. Gradually, the sense of panic that had completely overwhelmed her began to ease and coherent thoughts began to take form. How in the name of all that is good and pure did an Ursa Minor appear right next to me? No way I could have slept through something of that size walking up and plopping down to sleep.

Trixie shook her head. It doesn’t matter; only getting away from that monster matters. I better check my map and see where the next town... is...

Trixie skidded to a stop, plowing four dirt trenches in the road she had been running on. Heaving for breath, the showmare looked back. Even from the distance she had traveled, she could still see the form of the ursa on the hilltop. Somewhere next to it were all of Trixie’s possessions. She shook her head, banishing any thoughts of going back for her things and turned back to the road ahead of her.

“I don’t need them anyway,” she reasoned to herself. “I’ll have everything I need once I get to Manehattan. I’ll just work for my bits the way I’ve always done and that will be enough to get by until I get there.” Satisfied with her plan of action, Trixie lifted her hoof to begin heading out.


Trixie froze mid stride. She blinked twice before shaking her head and moved to leave.

This is your chance.

Once again, the unicorn halted. It took considerable effort for Trixie to firm up her features in determination and continue forward.



Trixie’s breath heaved. The voice, coming from her head and sounding suspiciously like her own, fell silent. Anger now fueling her movements, Trixie forcefully took a step, followed by another. And another.

The Great and Powerful Trixie, running away with her tail between her legs. Fitting for a mongrel like yourself.

“So what?!” Trixie snarled back, pushing onward. “No one’s here to see it. I’m making the safe choice. Surviving is what’s important; not getting myself killed when I’m so close to getting everything I want!”


“Yes! Money! Fame! Recognition for my superior talents! All of that is waiting for me to take it by the hooves!”

How about self-respect?

Trixie stopped her laborious movements. “What are you talking about?” she whispered.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t try fooling yourself.

Trixie clenched her teeth together so hard that she threatened to break her enamel. “Enlighten me.”

Hmph. Is that really necessary? I am yourself, you know. Fine, I’ll tell you.

You know that unicorn? The one that so spectacularly showed us up? She wouldn’t have run from that ursa. She would have stayed and taken care of it, just like she did last time.

“That... this is different...” Trixie argued back. “It’s not doing anything. It’s not a threat.”

It could be. What do you think will happen once it wakes up? It won’t know where it is and what happened to it. It will try to find its way back home, but how many settlements are between it and the Everfree Forest? You know how cranky these things can get when they’re riled up.

Don’t try to make excuses. It’s a waste of our time. The issue here is that we’ve never recovered from that night. You’ve tried burying it with all your might but the fact is that you lost more than your reputation at Ponyville. You lost your confidence.

“Lost my confidence?! Then what do you call what I’ve been doing all these weeks? I may have been jittery at first but since then I’ve never felt more sure of myself. Who’s wasting whose time now?!”

Your acting ability? Fair enough. That has certainly not been affected. What I meant was your magic. Aside from the stage, you’re afraid to admit that we’ve been shown as second rate. Even with all the new tricks and practicing that you’ve learned and gone through you still fear that’s not enough.

But it doesn’t have to remain this way. You have the perfect opportunity to put all your fears to rest. An Ursa Minor has dropped right into our lap. Take care of it and prove that you are not a con.

“But... but...” Trixie sputtered. “But even if I do... there’s nopony around to... see it. Nopony will... believe me...”

This isn’t about them. It’s about you. About us. Vanquish the ursa and then we’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that you can match that unicorn. And then, someday, we’ll surpass her. If gloating to her that she can’t top your show stopping abilities was gratifying, imagine what it will be like when she sees that we’ve exceeded her in her own special talent.

Trixie remained silent for a time, staring at the road beneath her. The voice had gone silent now and she didn’t think it would be returning. It didn’t need to. Everything it had said had been the truth. Now all that was left was for her to make a decision. Surprisingly, the choice came to her easily.

“I must be losing my mind,” Trixie muttered as she performed an about face and ran back the way she had come. “First arguing with myself and then rushing back to get myself killed.” Despite the dark thoughts, a smile graced her features. At least this would be a show to remember.

It didn’t take long to retrace her steps and the Ursa Minor was right where she had left it. Quietly, Trixie crept up to the giant beast until she was only a few steps away. She spotted her saddlebags next to one of the ursa’s paws and magically moved them behind herself. With that taken care of, Trixie considered what to do next.

Ever since Ponyville, Trixie had racked her brain as to what she could have done on that fateful night to get the ursa minor to go away. Her normal repertoire of spells and been woefully inadequate. It wasn’t until weeks later that she had slapped herself for not thinking of the solution sooner. It was so obvious that she could only blame the stress of the moment for not coming up with it. It would have been a risky move, but had it worked, she could only imagine how different her life would have turned out.

Unfortunately, the spell she had in mind wouldn’t work unless the ursa was awake. As much as she wanted to prove to herself that she could do this, waking a sleeping ursa where it lied sounded like the quickest way to become a tasty snack. However, there were other spells that she had learned since then. One in particular she had come across was a lance of magic that was said to be able to pierce the scales of a dragon. Unfortunately, the magic necessary to call upon such a weapon was beyond her capabilities. But that didn’t mean she hadn’t found inspiration from it.

Trixie set herself and began calling up a dark storm cloud. Inside, electricity started building up and when it reached critical mass, a lightning bolt erupted from the cloud. Before the bolt could reach the ground, Trixie grabbed hold of it with her magic. Quickly, before the energy could dissipate into the air, she molded the lightning into the shape of a sharp spear and she aimed it towards the motionless ursa.

Last time, her lightning had only slightly singed the large bear on the rear, making it more angry than hurt. This time, Trixie sought out the one place that she had a chance to cut through. Its eye.

Trixie reared back, straining to keep the lightning contained and in its appropriate form-

-but after several seconds of remaining motionless, the energy fizzled out.

Trixie remained stationary for a time, just staring out into space. She lowered her head and stomped her front hooves into the ground, blinking away tears. I... can’t do it. I can’t... kill a defenseless animal, even an Ursa Minor. I’m a magician, not a butcher.

She sat down on the grass, no longer caring about the huge bear only a few hooves away. So this is it then, Trixie sighed inwardly and closed her eyes. Even after convincing myself that I needed to do this, I can’t go through with it. She considered trying to lift up the ursa, much like that lavender unicorn did, but honestly didn’t think she had the power to do it. She’d exercised with boulders four times her size but this was way beyond that. I guess it’s just a matter of time before it wakes up, smells me and finished the job it started at Pony-


Trixie opened her eyes and looked down at the blanket that she had been sleeping on before the whole incident started. An idea began to germinate. A wild and crazy idea. There was no way it was going to work-

“It has to work,” the unicorn firmly told herself. “It will.”

Not wasting anymore time, Trixie draped her saddlebags over her back and levitated up the blanket. She crept around the ursa, making sure she was behind it and out of its sight should it wake up. She directed the blanket to hover just under the ursa’s nose, swishing it back and forth.

At first, the beast didn’t react. However, after a few more passes, the ursa’s nose started to twitch. It gave a great sniff, nearly sucking the blanket up its nasal cavity but Trixie’s hold was firm. The blanked was directed away and as Trixie had hoped, the ursa rose up to follow it in a sleepwalking daze. The bear lumbered forward, occasionally pawing at the blanket like a cat trying to catch a toy but it remaining just out of its reach. Trixie trailed behind what she hoped was a safe distance and led the giant creature with the proverbial carrot tied to a stick.

“Trixie, you genius,” the mare congratulated herself softly. “I knew you could do it. Even if no pony will ever believe this.”


“I don’t believe this.”

Discord watched his host’s actions from high above, impressed and a little disappointed that Trixie’s solution hadn’t been more... bombastic. He had expected flashing lights, daring maneuvers and... he didn’t know. Explosions perhaps? Certainly not this.

“I guess even ponies can occasionally think outside the box,” he mused. He continued to float above, noticing that Trixie was leading the ursa towards the closest border to the Everfree Forest. He grinned in anticipation.

“Well, this is only part one of my act,” Discord reminded himself. “There’s still the grand finale. Time to get the best seat in the house before it’s taken.” With a flash he was gone, once again merging with Trixie’s horn.

Below, the unicorn in question felt an odd tingling sensation to her horn but quickly shrugged it off. She couldn’t lose focus now. The trek to the forest where she could dump her burden off was getting closer. Having traveled the land as much as she did, Trixie was well aware of where the Everfree Forest was in relation to herself. She often had to plan her routes between towns so that she could avoid it and not have to deal with all the wildlife that made that untamed spot of land their own. Now that knowledge was coming in handy as she was making good time in leading the Ursa Minor back where it came from.

Trixie crested a hill and saw what she had been expecting to see. Below was the thick canopy of the forest. Even better were the lights of a small village only a few miles away. She couldn't make out many details of the town with how dark it was but she wasn't complaining. Once her task was complete she’d be making a beeline straight to it. It was almost morning now and the local ponies would be waking to start their day. She’d be arriving just in time to get a quick breakfast and then find some lodging.

But first things first, Trixie told herself. Blinking away her growing sleepiness, the unicorn continued directing the ursa in front of her towards the forest. She’d lead it in a little then toss away the blanket so that she could make her escape. The Ursa Minor would be able to find its way back on its own. It was a solid plan.

A plan that was shattered when a roar that shook the very earth sounded throughout the land.

Trixie froze in mid-trot. Her concentration on the blanket wavered and the ursa finally managed to grab it in its large maw. It settled down and began idly chewing on it. Trixie didn’t notice. Her gaze was fixed on the horizon just above the forest tree line.

If there was a word that could describe just how big an Ursa Major was, Trixie didn’t know about it. Huge didn’t do it justice. Massive didn’t come close. Suddenly, she was reminded of what that unicorn in Ponyville had said when asked what an Ursa Major was like.

“You don’t want to know.”

For once, Trixie was in total agreement with her.

The red tinted major towered over the trees it was walking through, casually knocking over some every time it took a step. Each time one of its paws touched the ground, a tremor rocked the earth. The creature looked like it could easily snap up an entire town of ponies and not even begin to feel full.

And it was headed straight for the village.

“This is so not happening...” Trixie breathed. She took a quick look at the smaller ursa she had been trying to get rid of and saw that it was busy tearing her blanket apart. The next thing she knew, she was sprinting as fast as she could towards the unsuspecting village.

This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. The repeated mantra in her mind didn’t stop her though. I can do this. If I warn the town and get all the ponies out, then I’ll be the hero!

She ran as fast as she could while keeping an eye on the large predator bearing down on the town. Luck was on her side as the ursa stopped every few steps and dipped its head down into the tree line. From appearances, it seemed it was looking for something.

It must be that smaller one’s mother, Trixie concluded. It’s looking for its baby. I have to get to the village before it does or it will tear the place apart looking for it.

Despite feeling as though she were moving at a glacial pace as compared to the ursa, Trixie finally entered the village proper. She rushed through the streets, guesstimating where the center square was, and stopped. She gasped for air, unused to having to move so quickly in so short a time. Trixie considered herself to be in good shape what with all the traveling she had done in the past, but after a full night of running and exerting her magic so much, exhaustion was setting in. She forced herself to continue as she could practically feel the breath of the Ursa Major bearing down on her.

Taking a deep breath, Trixie shouted out with a magically amplified voice, “EVERYPONY! WAKE UP! GET UP NOW! THERE’S AN URSA COMING!”

An ear shattering roar was not the response she was hoping to get.

Trixie turned around and wished she hadn’t. At least then she wouldn’t have seen the sight of a creature as large as a Manehattan skyscraper looming over the town. It seemed to regard the buildings as insignificant anthills and nothing to worry about in slowing its advance.

All around her, Trixie could see and hear the citizens of the village opening windows and bursting out of their homes to see what all the commotion was about. The cries and gasps of the townsfolk joined the cacophony of the ursa’s growls. In moments, the ponies began screaming and running for their lives.

The panic roused the attention of the Ursa Major. It bent down and sniffed the air and apparently decided that it could use a little pick-me-up in its search for its cub. It opened its tusk filled mouth, the opening wide enough to easily swallow a building whole, and bent down to fill up on all the fleeing ponies.

Trixie didn’t think. There was no time to. If she did she would have convinced herself that what she was about to do wasn’t going to work. The solution she had come up with for dealing with an Ursa Minor was put into action.

The unicorn’s horn flared brightly. The next second, an outline of Trixie’s body began to expand upwards and outwards from herself. She poured more and more power into the illusion, making the image of herself grow larger and larger. Soon, it was the size of an Ursa Minor and it caught the attention of the larger ursa terrorizing the town. It stopped its advance and regarded the new strange creature with curiosity.

Trixie could already feel her control slipping. Sweat ran down her face as she clenched her teeth together. C’mon, c’mon, just a little more!

Her illusion reached its largest she had ever managed to get it, half the size of an Ursa Major itself, before she lost control of her legs. She stumbled to the ground but she kept her focus of the spell. Trixie shut her eyes tightly, huffing and grunting with effort, and continued to make the illusion grow. Her horn flashed with discharged magic in all directions, a beacon of light that out-shown any street light surrounding her.

It was as her illusion reached three quarters of the ursa’s size that her magic finally give out. Trixie yelled with rage and tried to force herself to continue, but the glow around her horn started to fade and her transparent double began to shrink.

No... NO! Trixie screamed impotently, tears leaking from her tightly closed eyes. I can’t stop now! Please! Please! Dear Celestia, give me strength!

Hmph! Why does every one of you ponies always call to her in need? No one ever thinks to ask me for help!

The voice wasn’t her own but Trixie wasn’t in the right mind to comprehend that. She chalked it up to her own inner self from before.

You know, I’ve got more magic in my right eyeball than that over-hyped turkey does in her entire body! And she probably wastes it in making that mess she calls a mane flow the way she does. She’s got issues, I tell you.

Trixie couldn’t spare the thought to answer back. All her focus was in keeping the construct that was growing smaller by the second from collapsing completely.

Hmm, I think I understand what it is you’re trying to do. Make yourself bigger than the ursa and scare it off. Kinky!

Trixie’s horn began to sputter sparks. Soon, it would no longer have the magic to keep the spell going.

You’ve got quite the crowd watching you, you know. Just like one of your shows. Oh, wait. You can’t see them, can you? Too bad. I know how much you like the spotlight. Looks like this will be the closing curtain if you can’t do something fast!

Finally, the illusion, which was now just slightly bigger than the magician herself, faded from existence. Trixie held on to consciousness but was unable to draw forth the energy to stand. So she remained lying on the ground, panting for air and waiting for the end to come.

... Wait. This is just like one of your shows, isn’t it?

.................... Drat. That means I have to help you. I made a deal, you know. As much fun as it was to watch you fail and all the chaos that the Ursa Major would cause, I don’t back out on my bargains. You’re lucky, little pony.

The Ursa Major, having stopped its advance due to the potential threat that the pony had temporarily shown, now decided to make its move. It growled, rattling the windows of the buildings underneath it, and lunged forward to lap up its early morning breakfast.

It had only taken a single step when the Ursa Major received the shock of its life.

Trixie’s entire body suddenly ignited with eye searing white brilliance. The ursa turned away and shielded itself with a paw from the blinding light. When it peeked out a second later, it found a sight that caused its massive lower jaw to drop.

The tiny, helpless pony that was as big as a flea on its back now stood in front of it. But it was far, far larger. For the first time since it was a cub, the Ursa Major beheld a creature bigger than itself. It found that it didn’t like the sensation of feeling small.

Trixie’s colossal image towered so high that it reached the clouds that had drifted in from the Everfree Forest that night and that the local pegasi ponies had yet to clear. The magic leaking from her illusion caused the particles in the clouds to become excited, generating lightning to sporadically spark all around it, adding to the horrifying effect. The eyes of Trixie’s giant double were pure white and it directed its piercing gaze down at the now trembling form of the beast that had come so close to snuffing the life out of her.


The thunderous voice of the illusion crashed against the ursa, making it cower back.


The ursa backed up more, its animalistic instincts roaring at it to get away from the frightening being. However, the desire to find its cub was also just as strong. It couldn’t abandon it.

As if sensing what was on the ursa’s mind, the titanic illusion spoke, “YOUR BABY IS OVER THERE.” It pointed a hoof the size of the Ursa Major’s head over towards a nearby hill. “GO TO IT AND DO NOT COME BACK.”

The ursa got the idea and rushed off, miraculously not trampling over any houses on its way. It quickly found its cub sleeping contentedly, strands of cloth dangling from its mouth. The Ursa Major gently picked up its offspring, cradling it lovingly with a single paw, and then ran into the Everfree Forest and back to its lair.

Only once the Ursa Major was out of sight did Trixie finally stop her spell. The image of herself shimmered and then exploded into thousands of motes of magical sparkles. The motes drifted down to the earth like snowflakes before winking out altogether.

Down on the ground, Trixie decided that consciousness was entirely overrated and promptly collapsed onto the dirt path in the center of the village.

A voice that was not her own had one last thing to say before becoming silent itself.

You better appreciate this later.


Clear, sunny skies made for good traveling, Applejack decided. Taking a glance back at her two companions, Rarity and Fluttershy, she saw that they felt the same way. Well, Rarity had complained once or twice about all the dust she was kicking up, but the farm pony could tell that the unicorn was enjoying herself. Mostly.

“How ya hangin’ back there?” Applejack asked of her friends.

“Just... dandy,” Rarity let out reluctantly, eyes fixed forward. She didn’t even want to look down at her hooves. She just knew that they were covered in layers of dirt and that her precious pedicure from a few days ago would need touching up.

Applejack caught the undertones. “Ah, don’t be like that, Rarity. If ya ask me, we got the better end of the deal. Just a little further an’ we’ll be back home. Gives me the chance to tell Big Macintosh that I’ll be gone for a while.”

“And I can check up on my animals,” Fluttershy added. “I left the poor dears all alone, thinking that I’d be back last night. I hope they all behaved themselves.”

“I suppose I see your point,” Rarity relented. “It allows me to set up my away sign for my boutique. I’m just relieved I don’t have any orders to fill at the moment. Though I shudder to think of how much I’ll need to do to catch-up once this whole ordeal is over.”

“Yer telling me,” Applejack sighed. “There are a whole heap of apples needin’ to be bucked and Ah have to spend my time trackin’ down that no good Trixie. I reckon we won’t be the ones to find her, either. Ah can’t imagine she’d want to head down this way, not after her last visit.”

The three of them fell silent, each looking forward to reaching the top of the hill they were trotting up as it would bring them into view of their hometown. It would be a pleasant sight for sore eyes, even if they hadn’t been gone for long. They may have been a bit biased but there was no place more beautiful than Ponyville.

It was as they crested the hill that they saw the craters.

“Oh, horseapples,” Applejack whispered.

The mares stared out at the scene that greeted them. As they had anticipated, Ponyville’s picturesque landscape was just as they left it. However, a line of depressions measuring many hoof-lengths across in the ground, stretching from the town itself and beyond the horizon, marred its otherwise perfect appearance.

“What...” Fluttershy gasped. “What happened?”

“I don’t know, darling,” Rarity breathed, just as stunned as her pegasus friend.

“Well, we’re not goin’ to find answers just gawkin’!” Applejack yelled out. “Come on!” She raced down towards the town, the other two snapping out of their stupor and following soon after.

They passed several of the craters as they went by but didn’t stop to investigate them. Their first priority was making sure everypony in town was okay or needed help. Unexplained divots in the earth could be checked out later. Some ponies were actually working to fill in the giant holes, dumping loads of dirt into them and then smoothing out the top layer. Given enough time, the craters would grow with new grass and blend in with the rest of the landscape as though they had never been there.

When Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy reached the central square, they found that Mayor Mare was busy giving out directions to a crowd of ponies that wanted to help. Spike was standing next to her, furiously writing down the directions that the mayor was giving on a notepad and then ripping off a finished piece and handing it off to the next pony in line that passed him. It seemed some of Twilight’s organizational skills had rubbed off on him and he was putting his partner’s legendary talents to use.

“Spike!” Applejack called to him as she rushed up.

“There you guys are!” Spike burst out in relief, taking this opportunity to give his sore claw a break. “You won’t believe what happened here while you were gone!” He noticed that only half of the mares that left for Canterlot had come back. “Where’s Twilight and the rest?”

“They’re quite alright,” Rarity was quick to alleviate any of his worries. “We had to split up due to a new mission that the princess gave us.”

“But enough of that,” Applejack said in a hurry. “What happened here? It looks like a war zone. Is anypony hurt?”

“Thankfully, no,” Spike answered. He then got a nervous look to his scaly face and avoided eye contact with the ponies hovering around him. “Well, that’s not entirely... true...”

“What?” Fluttershy squeaked and nearly toppled him over when she thrust her face forward. “Was it any animals?”

“No! No! You see... well. You know how that Ursa Minor attacked a long while back?” Each of them nodded their heads. “Well, you also know how that was only a baby, right?” More nods, though dawning realization began to enter their eyes as they began to piece together where this was going. “Well, earlier this morning, just before dawn, we got to see just what an Ursa Major looked like.” He shuddered at having caught the sight of a full grown ursa almost trampling the town under its paws. “Twilight was right. I didn’t want to know.”

“An Ursa Major attacked?!” came three synchronized and shocked exclamations.

“Yeah. Ho boy, was it scary. Makes that dragon that lives out in the Everfree Forest look like me in comparison.”

“Then those holes we saw coming in...” Rarity trailed off.

“They’re the footprints of that thing,” Spike finished for her.

It was too much and the three arrivals sat on their haunches and shuddered. Even seeing the evidence themselves, it was hard to believe just how big a creature the ursa had to be in order to leave such large and deep craters.

Swallowing, Fluttershy recovered her nerves first and asked, “But it’s gone, right? It didn’t get a chance to attack so it must have left before it could hurt anypony.”

“If you found the Ursa Major hard to believe,” Spike said, finding it hard to believe himself even though he had seen it with his own eyes, “you’ll never guess just who managed to scare it off.”

Surprisingly, the answer was on each of the ponies’ lips the moment he stopped talking.


Spike looked up sharply at them. “How’d you know?!”

Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy looked at each other worriedly.

Fluttershy asked the question that was on each of their minds. “Do... do you really think that... she’s really being controlled by Discord?”

“It’s lookin’ that way,” Applejack said. “She couldn’t handle a Ursa Minor last time but now she’s goin’ around tusslin’ with a major? It’s a might suspicious.”

“A might?!” Rarity yelped. “I’d say it’s a lot suspicious!”

“What are you all talking about?” Spike interrupted.

Rarity shook her head to clear it of any unnecessary thoughts and regarded Spike fully. “We’ll explain later. Right now, I think it’s best that we see Trixie as soon as possible. Where is she?”

Once again, Spike grew nervous and not because the love of his life was giving him her full attention. “Well... you see. She’s a... um, the thing is... ah...”

Applejack lightly bopped him on the head with a hoof. “Spike! Focus! What happened ta Trixie?”

Spike took a deep breath and blurted, “Sheisnothere!”

The three blinked.

“Come again?” Applejack prodded.

“Trixie... she’s... not here anymore,” Spike finally finished.

Rarity swallowed and hesitantly asked, “She’s... not dead... is she?”

“No!” Spike quickly corrected. Sheepishly he continued, “Sorry. What I meant to say was, she’s been taken to another town. Once she took care of the ursa, she collapsed and wouldn’t wake up. The nurses tried their best to take care of her but they feared that she had strained herself too much with her magic. They said that they didn’t have the means to treat a unicorn that exhausted, and without Twilight to check with, they got a team of pegasi to airlift her to someplace that had a better treatment center to help her. That happened just an hour before you all got here.”

“Fiddlesticks,” Fluttershy swore. She gasped and looked ashamed for using such language. “Sorry. That just... slipped out.”

“Ah got some other choice words in case ya need ‘em,” Applejack offered.

Rarity spoke up before things got off track. “Do you know what town she was taken to?”

“Yeah,” Spike beamed. “Trottingham.”

“Applejack, can I see the map that Twilight gave us?”

“Sure,” Applejack said and fished out the rolled up map from her saddlebags. Once she had it out, Rarity magically took hold of it and unfurled it so that all of them could take a look.

“Hmm,” Rarity mused as she scanned the map. “Ah, ha! There!” She pointed at the spot where Trottingham was located.

“Oh, my,” Fluttershy commented. “That’s on the route that the others are taking.”

“Looks like we’ll be meetin’ up with them sooner than expected,” Applejack stated. “You got that doohickey that Twi gave ya, Rarity?”

“Right here!” Rarity announced, holding up the Find-Me Crystal in her hoof.

“Great. Spike, Ah think you should come with us on this. We may need to get a hold of the princess in a hurry and yer fire breath is the fastest way Ah know.”

Spike was taken aback a bit. Normally, he was left behind on the girls’ adventures. “Really? How come?”

“‘Cause if what we suspect is true, we may need the Elements of Harmony again.”

Oscar Moment

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“Come on, come on, come on. Big money, big money, aaaaaaaaand STOP!

“YES! Yeah, baby! Full bars!”

Discord pumped his fist and laughed. Once he settled down, he gave one last look at the small rectangular device in his hand that had a flashing red “TILT” on its screen. Grinning in smug satisfaction, he reached up and unhooked some cords that were attached to his horns and which led into the device. With a flash of magic, they were gone.

“Well, missy,” Discord said while dusting his hands off. He hovered over Trixie who was sleeping in a hospital bed. “That, as they say, is that. All that hullabaloo in Ponyville gave me the last kick I needed to get my batteries recharged. Things are back in disorder for me.

“Which means, dearie, that our deal is now concluded. I’ve got my powers back and you are on your way to fame and fortune. Just as promised.”

Discord landed on the floor and made a showing of walking towards the door. “As fun as this all was, working my chaos through proxy just doesn’t have the same feel to it as hands on work does. There’s nothing like sewing the seeds of disharmony when done on your own.” He reached the door and flung it open. Instead of a hospital hallway, there was a pasture of green under the noonday sun on the other side.

Discord’s parting words as he strode through the door were, “Do remember the spirit of chaos that got you where you are when you reach the big time, would you? Perhaps we could perform a duet together, just like old times!” He laughed long and hard until the door closed behind him. The room with its single occupant was silent afterwards.


The nurses of the Trottingham hospital were a patient bunch. They had to be in order for them to care for the sick and injured ponies that came in every day to seek treatment. Love and kindness were just as important for recovery as medicine and bandages. A good attitude could be the deciding factor when it came to a patient’s well being.

“Where is more of that special drink?! Trixie demands more of it!”

Still, some days were better than others.

With a resigned sigh, one of the nurses trotted down the hall towards the room where the bellow had originated from. She pushed open the door and gave a half lidded stare at the unicorn laying impatiently in her bed. Trixie huffed and crossed her forelegs in front of her.

“About time,” Trixie said. When the nurse didn’t come forward, she continued, “Well? Where is it?”

“Miss,” the nurse answered with strain to her voice. “That drink needs to be taken in three to four hour periods. You just had one two hours ago. You have to wait a little longer.”

“Preposterous!” Trixie shouted. “Trixie can’t bear to wait! Not when she’s planning the most spectacular show of her life! Her magic needs to return now and that sorry excuse for medicine is the only thing that can help!”

The nurse wished she had thought to call in sick this morning. She had had some difficult patients in her day but she couldn’t think of one as obnoxious as Trixie. The nurse tried to keep her voice level as she responded, “Again, miss. The medicine will help restore your magic but taking too much too quickly will cause you to get sick. You won’t be able to perform anything then.”

Unfortunately, sound reasoning wasn’t what Trixie wanted to hear. “Horseapples! Trixie can take it! There’s nothing she can’t handle. Not even an Ursa Major!” She sprang out of her bed and spread her arms wide. Small, illusionary fireworks exploded on either side of her.

The nurse calmly trotted up to her and poked Trixie on the horn with a hoof.

“Ooooooohhhhh....” Trixie moaned and flopped down on the floor. “Why’d you do that? Trixie doesn’t feel so good...”

“That’s because you still need time to let your magic recover,” the nurse explained with little sympathy. She grabbed hold of Trixie and forced her back into the bed. “Keep straining yourself and you’ll be here longer than necessary.” She shuddered at the thought.

“But Trixie has to tell the world of what she did!” Trixie pointed out emphatically, the nausea from before leaving her. “One minute longer is a minute that some poor pony will never know of Trixie’s great comeback!”

“Whatever...” the nurse drawled, wondering if she would need to get the restraints out. Trixie appeared to be settling down, even with her going on and on about her accomplishments, but she had a feeling she’d be coming back within minutes. “Please, just settle down and I’ll get another shot of that drink. You’ll probably need it now anyways.”

“Good,” Trixie nodded smugly. “Be off with you.”

The nurse glared at her but left to get Trixie’s medicine. Now alone, Trixie sighed as the throbbing in her head cleared and she was able to think clearly again. Immediately, thoughts of her future plans came to the forefront.

Even I never thought I had so much power. Now I know there’s nothing I can’t do! Finally. Finally, I have the trump card to really get my name out! I’ll have every pony from here to Manehattan talking about me in awe! I’ll be at full strength in no time and when I do, the best way get ponies to notice me is...


“Come one! Come all! And see the magical might of the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

Twilight Sparkle did a double take upon hearing that blaring proclamation. Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and herself had arrived in Trottingham only a few hours previously, looking for signs of Trixie. The town was significantly larger than Ponyville, and the local dialect had made for some clumsy exchanges, making their search for the showmare slow and plodding. However, it seemed that wasn’t necessary anymore.

“I guess we found her,” Twilight said back to her companions.

“Ya think?” Rainbow Dash drawled. “Jeez, I was really hoping the others would get to her first.”

“You think you’re disappointed? I wanted to go to the Trottingham museum! There’s so much history there!”

“And just when were you going to tell us about that? It sounds boring!”

“Enough talkie, sillies!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. “Let’s go see!” She rushed off towards where the announcement had come from.

“Pinkie!” Twilight called after her friend and chased after her. “Wait up!” Rainbow leaped up and followed by air.

Once the pair caught up to Pinkie Pie, she was behind a growing crowd of ponies. She bounced up and down, not in a display of excess energy, but to try to get a look at what everypony was watching. Pinkie could only get fleeting glances, but sure enough, Trixie was standing on a set of wooden beams that had been set aside for a nearby building construction project. She was dressed in her trademark hat and cloak and hamming it up for the gathered audience.

Rainbow flew up a bit to get her own look and her expression soured. “Yep. It’s her alright. Well, might as well get her.” She reared back and prepared to dart forward-

-only to be yanked back to the ground when Twilight magically pulled on her tail.

“Hold up, Rainbow!” Twilight said. “We’re not here to confront her. We just need to watch her.”

“Aw, c’mon!” Rainbow whined. “I don’t want to sit through another one of her lame shows! Just listen to her! It’s just like back in Ponyville.”

Twilight spared one more look to Rainbow to make sure she wouldn’t try to fly off and listened.

“... wasn’t until the Great and Powerful Trixie appeared,” Trixie was saying to the audience, “that the dreaded Ursa Major was driven back from destroying the poor town! Using her spectacular magic, she drove it back to the Everfree Forest, never to return!”

The crowd around them murmured to themselves, many commenting that they were having a hard time believing what they were hearing. One pony spoke up, “And just how did you do this?”

“Trixie will gladly show you!” Trixie yelled out. “Be prepared citizens of Trottingham! The ursa was defeated... by this!”

Suddenly, a gigantic image of Trixie appeared above them, startling the ponies and making a few cower in fright. The illusion looked down at them with a gloating smirk before her voice boomed out, “Feast your eyes, my fellow Equestrians! As large as an Ursa Major is, Trixie knew that it was still just a dumb animal! She grew to twice its size and scared it away. Such is the awesome magic of the Great and Powerful Trixie!” Her form shrank back down, removing Trixie from Twilight’s sight.

Twilight closed her eyes and shook her head. “Why is she doing this?” she asked the others. “I thought she had found her way in Canterlot but now she’s back to lying. Didn’t she learn her lesson last time? What’s the point, guys?” Twilight looked up and blinked. “Guys?”

Twilight whipped her head back and forth but couldn’t find any trace of her friends. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were gone.


“Pinkie, this is going to be our best prank yet!” Rainbow Dash squealed.

“You betcha!” Pinkie Pie agreed. “Maybe this will teach her it isn’t nice to be mean and tell lies!”

“Meh, I don’t care about that. This is for what happened at the play!”

The two pranksters were climbing up the uncompleted building that Trixie was performing in front of. They reached the second story and peeked their heads out from a window. Trixie was right below them.

“Ready?” Rainbow asked.

Pinkie held up a bucket of water. “Ready!”

“Then lets do this!”


Trixie stood on her hind legs and basked in the cheers from the crowd. Nothing felt better than getting an ovation up close and personal from adoring fans. Nothing could ruin this moment for her.

“I have a question,” the voice of a mare from the back called out to her. It barely rose above the din of the applauding ponies.

Trixie heard it. Her ears were always on alert to single out potential naysayers. She set herself down on all fours and gestured for the speaker to continue. “By all means, the Great and Powerful Trixie will entertain your curiosity. No doubt you want to know just how Trixie became so wonderful?”

“Actually,” the speaker said a little timidly, “I wanted to know just where this happened. For authenticity’s sake.”

“Ah! A simple request.” Trixie cleared her throat and once again reared up to her hind legs. “The encounter with the Ursa Major took place in none other than...!”

The audience leaned forward, expecting Trixie to drag out the answer for dramatic effect. They waited with bated breath as Trixie remained standing in a dramatic pose. The anticipation was palpable.

“... um,” the magician squeaked out. Sweat began to roll down her head as she tried desperately to recall the name of the village that she had scared the ursa away from. What was the name?! What was the name?! I know I went a bit off track when I dealt with the small one, but come on! I can’t botch this up because of a stupid name of a village!

Trixie whipped around so that she was no longer facing the crowd and took off her hat. She reached inside, pulled out a map and spread it out before her with her magic. She could hear the confused mutterings of the ponies behind her and frantically tried to pinpoint her location from last night. She traced her planned route with a hoof, growing confident as she began remembering the landscape-

“What’s the holdup? Don’t you know?”

“Silence!” Trixie shouted back at the speaker. “Don’t interrupt!”

“I will not be silent! You might have fooled everypony else but you can’t fool me! You’re as much a liar as you ever were, Trixie!”

Trixie halted in her scanning of the map. That voice... I... know it. But it... it... it can’t be... her. Slowly, Trixie turned around and looked towards the back of the crowd. Despite the multitude of eyes staring at her, she was drawn to one set in particular. The look of disgust and disappointment that the many times cursed purple unicorn was sending back to her sent a tingle down Trixie’s spine.

Trixie whirled around and took up an aggressive stance. “YOU!” she screamed out. “What are you doing-?!”

A torrent of water splashed on her head. She coughed and sputtered and shook her head to clear the water from her eyes. She looked up and saw the culprits who were racked with laughter near an open window. Even through her dripping eyelashes, Trixie could make out the rainbow colored mane of one of them.

Trixe roared in rage and shot out a concussive blast from her horn towards the duo. Her aim was off and it struck a wooden beam next to them, shattering it to splinters. The pair of ponies jerked away, no longer laughing. They both took one look at the beam, gulped and bolted.

“Oh no, you don’t!” Trixie yelled at their retreating forms. “You’ll pay for this!” She shot out several more blasts, trying to strike down her fleeing tormentors. Her magical bullets ripped through the building like rocks through wet tissue paper.

“Trixie! Please! Stop!”

The sound of her nemesis only spurred Trixie on. She’d show her. She’d show them all not to mess with her!

Concentrating, Trixie let loose a much larger blast than the ones before. It ripped through the pockmarked building with the force of a cannonball and shot out through the other side. The furious showmare finally stopped her assault and smirked evilly through the opening she had created. The pink and blue ponies were now revealed to her and was delighted to see them cowering in fright.

“Got you now!” She set herself and prepared to fire off one last shot.

The sound of splintering wood stopped her. She blinked and looked up just in time to see that the corner of the building she was next to was collapsing. Too many supports had been destroyed during her tantrum and gravity was taking care of the rest.

“Uh oh,” was all Trixie managed to get out before the broken structure fell on top of her.


In a large, open field far from any pony civilization, Discord skipped merrily as he tossed a handful of seeds from a bag strapped to his side. When the seeds landed on the ground they immediately spun around until they had buried themselves into the dirt.

What would come out? Who knew! That was the fun of it all!

“This would be the point where I would break out into a song,” Discord commented as he continued to prance around like a demented Johnny Appleseed. “Good thing I was able to work that clause into my contract that states I’m exempt from such silly things. Let the ponies do it.”

The draconequus stopped sewing the seeds of his chaos and looked out over his work. He rubbed his hands together in glee and said, “Oh, I wonder what kind of things will grow! Maybe orange spotted bells? Or marshmallows that taste like brussels sprouts? Or maybe even bubbles that when they burst, they paint everything green!”

Discord paused and thought about that last one for a bit. “Wait. No. Strike that. I don’t want my world covered in green! Far too boring if everything is just one color!”

Discord chuckled and willed his bag of seeds to disappear. His work was done here and it was time to move on to another location. Soon, all of Equestria, not just that bum town of Ponyville, would be swept up by his chaos. Content that he had everything under control (figuratively anyway), Discord floated up to spot a good place to plant more havoc.

That’s when pain blossomed over his head and he crashed to the ground.

“Ooooh, what happened?” Discord moaned out. Groggily, he picked himself up and gingerly poked his head where the pain had come from. He winced as he felt a lump growing behind his horns. “What could have possibly...? What is going on?”


Twilight Sparkle pushed her way through the crowd of ponies, many of whom were staring in horror at where Trixie had stood, until she was in front of the pile of broken timber. Since nopony else was doing anything to help, she got to work. Her horn lit up and she began to lift off pieces of wood and tossed them to the side.

Twilight had only managed to move a few pieces when Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie came up beside her. She regarded them through the corner of her eyes but didn’t stop with her rescue attempt. “Are you two okay?” she asked them. The duo nodded. “Good. Help me get her out of this.”

“After what she tried to do to us?!” Rainbow cried. She shrank back when Twilight shot her an angry glare.

“I don’t care who’s fault it is!” Twilight yelled. She went back to moving the wood but continued, “We’ll worry about who’s to blame later! Trixie might be hurt!”

Rainbow looked to Pinkie but the earth pony merely shrugged and began kicking beams out of the way. Rainbow sighed and followed her example. With all three of them working on the pile of fallen wood, they quickly dug their way to the bottom. Eventually, a blue hoof came into view which spurred them on to move faster.

Suddenly, a burst of power from underneath the wreckage blasted the rest of the wood away, making the three ponies to jump back. Trixie was now fully revealed, standing up and with her horn slowly losing its glow. She had several scrapes and bumps over her body and her cape was ripped in numerous places. She remained standing, motionless and unblinking.

Twilight cautiously walked up to her. “Um, Trixie? You okay?”

Trixie didn’t respond and kept staring ahead.

Twilight moved closer and waved a hoof in front of Trixie’s face. No response came from that either.

“What’s wrong with her?” Rainbow asked with a hint of worry.

“I think... she’s unconscious,” Twilight concluded.

Rainbow scoffed. “What? Is her pride that big that she can’t even fall down when knocked out?”

Twilight was about to scold the pegasus for her comment when Pinkie bounced forward and pointed at Trixie’s head. “Look!” she said with a giggle. “Now she’s got two horns!” Twilight and Rainbow leaned forward and saw what Pinkie was talking about. A red lump just behind her horn was protruding from her skull.

Twilight groaned. “She must have gotten hit there from the falling debris. We need to get her to a doctor or... Pinkie? What are you doing?”

“Drawing on her, of course!” The pony was indeed drawing on Trixie’s muzzle with a black marker she had produced from... somewhere. Already, a set of glasses and whiskers had been traced out. “When else am I going to get the chance?”

“Oh! Oh! I got dibs on her nose and chin!” Rainbow exclaimed. “I’ve got a wicked idea for a beard!”

“Stop that!” Twilight yelled and slapped the marker out of Pinkie’s hoof. “Come on! You shouldn’t be doing that when she needs help! Now help me move her.” Acting before either of them could object, Twilight levitated Trixie up and then placed her gently on Rainbow’s back.

“Why do I have to carry her?” Rainbow complained.

“Because you’re the most athletic among us. And I need to use the Find-Me Crystal to alert the others. Now let’s go!” She ushered Rainbow and Pinkie to get moving, leaving behind the dispersing crowd and towards the center of town. Twilight pulled out her piece of the crystal but was startled to find that it was already emitting a pulsing light.

“That’s odd,” Twilight said as she held up the crystal in front of her with her magic. “Why is this already turned on? The others didn’t find Trixie...”

Her musings were interrupted when Trixie let out a moan and began squirming.

“Shoot,” Rainbow cursed as her passenger threatened to fall off her back. “I was hoping we’d drop her off before she woke up. This won’t end well.” She stopped and knelt down, allowing Trixie to stumble off. Trixie staggered a few steps and then shook her head. She gingerly touched the spot behind her horn and winced.

“Ah, Trixie? How are you feeling?”

The sharp pain and Twilight’s voice cut through her grogginess and she turned to spot the last ponies in Equestria that she wanted to see. “What do you think?!” Trixie snapped. “Trixie only had a whole house fall on top of her.”

“Actually, it was only part of a house,” Pinkie corrected.

“Shut up! If you hadn’t angered her then it wouldn’t have happened in the first place! Why do you idiots keep showing up where you’re not wanted?!”

“Hey! You’re the one that keeps telling all that baloney about beating an Ursa Major!” Rainbow shot back. “We both know you can’t hack it for real.”

“Hmph. Shows how much you know.” Trixie tossed her head to the side. “Things have changed and the Great and Powerful Trixie has accomplished the impossible. Trixie was telling the absolute truth when she said that she had vanquished an Ursa Major. She even has witnesses.”

“Oh, really,” Twilight drawled. “Then how come you couldn’t answer when I asked where you did this?”

Trixie’s features became uncertain as she once again tried to recall the town she had ended up in that night. She berated herself for not asking any of the hospital staff how she had gotten to Trottingham. She wasn’t even sure how long she had been out. The rush of excitement and her impatience to get out totally let slip those crucial details.

Twilight shook her head when it became apparent that Trixie wouldn’t answer. “You know, I was actually thinking that you had changed Trixie. I should have known better. You’re still a hopeless liar.”

I am not lying!”

The force of Trixie’s bellow blew Twilight and the others off their hooves. They lay in a groaning pile for a time before Twilight laboriously picked herself up. When she looked up, Trixie was right in front of her, her horn glowing brightly and utter fury etched onto her marker covered face.

Twilight gulped. She couldn’t remember a time in her life when she was on the receiving end of such hatred. Anger and contempt she had been exposed to before but nothing like this. It didn’t sit well with her and she hoped to never have to experience it again.

“Trixie,” Twilight said as gently as she could. “Trixie, please. Calm down. Let’s talk this over.”

If anything, Trixie features contorted even further and she snarled through gnashed teeth.

“I’m sorry for what I said,” Twilight continued. “Let’s not fight, okay? We’ll listen to what you have to say. I promise.”

Trixie once again didn’t respond with words. She advanced forward, her torn cape billowing behind her from the discharge coming from her horn.

Twilight kept her eyes locked on the other unicorn and edge herself in front of her friends. Reluctantly, she began calling forth her own magic. Luckily, the local ponies were smart enough to not interfere and gave plenty of room for the unicorns facing off with each other. Twilight prayed that whatever came next, nopony got hurt.

A sniffle was the last thing she was expecting.

Twilight blinked. She regarded Trixie a bit more closely and noticed tears beginning to build up in the magician’s eyes. “Trixie?” Twilight asked. Tentatively, she held up a hoof and reached forward.

Trixie flinched back. She sobbed and slapped the approaching hoof away. With a wordless cry, Trixie turned and galloped off, disappearing in the gathered crowd of confused ponies.

Twilight watched her go, too astounded to do anything.

“What was that all about?”

Rainbow Dash’s question roused Twilight out of her stupor. She noticed that Rainbow and Pinkie Pie had stepped up beside her.

“I... I don’t know,” Twilight admitted.

“Hey! There ya’ll are!”

Any further conversation was halted by the sound of Applejack’s voice. She, Fluttershy and Rarity came running out of the mass of surrounding Trottingham civilians. Spike was riding on Applejack’s back.

“Girls?” Twilight said to them once they had reached her. “Why’d you come looking for us so quickly?”

“We came across some important information and it couldn’t wait, darling,” Rarity answered for them. “Besides, we had reason to believe that Trixie would be here anyway.”

“Ya just missed her,” Rainbow stated and pointed at where Trixie had run off to.

“Really?” Applejack gasped. “Well, still, we’ve got things to tell ya and-”

“Hold that thought, AJ,” Twilight interrupted her. “We need to catch up to Trixie first. She’s really upset and I don’t want her doing something she’ll regret later.”

“That’s assuming she can feel regret,” Spike mumbled.

Twilight pretended not to hear that. “Come on! Before we lose her again!” She ran off in the direction that Trixie had taken with the others following close by. The throng of ponies had thinned out, making it easier to run through the streets. Rainbow Dash took this further by taking to the air and getting a higher view. After a few moments of flying ahead, she spotted a blue pony with a purple cape galloping through the streets.

“There she is!” Rainbow called back to them. “I’ll cut her off!” Not waiting for a response, Rainbow zipped ahead. In no time she was gliding just above the fleeing unicorn and dived down to intercept her.

Unexpectedly, Trixie changed course and ducked into an alleyway. Rainbow lost sight of her for only a second so that she could adjust her flight plan. She banked hard and flew into the alleyway.

She immediately crashed into a large balloon shaped like a storm cloud.

Panicked and confused, Rainbow batted away the balloon and looked down. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open as a full blown parade, with ponies marching, playing instruments and blowing streamers, flowed underneath her. The parade headed towards the opening of the alley where she saw her friends stop in their tracks and stare in shock at what was passing by them. The ponies on parade continued marching on, heedless of the stares, and out into the open streets. Finally, the last pony in line trotted by, allowing the others to squeeze into the alley and meet up with Rainbow.

“What the hay was that all about?!” Rainbow asked.

“No idea,” Twilight answered. She shook her head to clear it of irrelevant thoughts and said to Rainbow, “Where’s Trixie?”

“Oh, shoot! Hang on-”

“Hold up!” Applejack spoke up before the pegasus could take off again. “Do ya’ll hear that?”

One of Fluttershy’s perked up. “I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly! Look!” Applejack pointed out into the streets. “That parade! It’s gone!”

It took a moment for that to sink in for everyone. The parade had dozens of ponies, each of them making noise with their streamers and music. However, now there was no sign of them out in the streets and not enough time had passed to have partied out of sight. The citizens of Trottingham were strolling along on their business, seemingly unaware that a celebration had been in their midst only moments before.

The mares all looked at each other with trepidation. As one, they all glanced down the alleyway, which showed that it was a dead end only a few pony lengths in. There was no trace of Trixie.

Applejack swallowed through a suddenly dry mouth. “Gals,” she began. “I have a bad feelin’ about all this. And yer not going to believe what it is we’ve got to tell ya.”


Miles outside of Trottingham, next to a secluded pond, a flash of magic signaled the arrival of the spirit of chaos. Discord quickly looked around but didn’t see any ponies in sight. Well, besides the sleeping one he was carrying in the crook of his arm.

Discord set Trixie down on the ground and inspected the mare before him. “My, it looks like you’ve been through a lot since I last saw you,” he commented as he took in her disheveled state. Bumps and bruises covered her body, her muzzle was covered in marker, her cape was almost completely in tatters and her cheeks were streaked with dried tears.

However, Discord ignored all that in favor of the most prominent injury that Trixie was sporting. Gingerly, he poked at the large bump that was just behind her horn. The moment he put pressure on it, he winced and pulled back. The lump next to his own horns throbbed painfully.

“This can’t be happening,” he snarled. “I have to get to the bottom of this.”

He conjured up a magnifying glass and used it to carefully scan over Trixie’s body. He stroked his beard as he traced over her, starting from her flank and working his way towards her head. It was as he passed over Trixie’s chest that he spotted something odd. A thin purple line was flowing out of where Discord figured her heart was located. He followed the path of the line with the magnifying glass, bending over as it extended away from her and towards himself. Eventually, he came to the end of the line. It was flowing into his own chest.

“Oh dear,” the draconequus breathed out.

With a sinking feeling, Discord increased the magnification of the glass eye piece tenfold. The line he had been investigating zoomed in. He quickly discovered that the line wasn’t just one strand but two: one red and one blue. The strands were tightly woven together; so close that they seemed to blend into each other, creating the purplish color he had seen before.

“This is... my life force. My soul. It’s combined... with hers.”

A sudden flash of memory sprang forth.

Princess Celestia was staring down at him, her horn casting some sort of detection spell on the unicorn he had hidden himself in. He panicked as he had no power to counter it or try to disguise himself. She was going to find him and ruin everything! It wasn’t fair! He’d only just escaped! How was he going to bring about his wonderful chaos to the ponies of the world if he was sent right back to the podium?!

He desperately dodged Celestia’s efforts to pin him down. He searched for anything that could help him; a path or a hiding spot. She was on to him and was getting closer! Just as he was sure he was done for, an avenue for escape suddenly presented itself. A beam of blue light appeared before him, leading further down into the unicorn’s consciousness. Without thinking or hesitating, he plunged himself into the beam. He immediately felt himself merging with the unicorn’s very life essence. Mentally crossing his fingers, he allowed himself to disperse and float within the either that was Trixie’s spirit.

Discord blinked away the memories and came back to the present.

“It... it was only supposed to be temporary,” he whispered to himself. “Once Celestia was gone I separated my soul from this one. I know I did! Then why am I still connected to her?”

Forcing himself to stay calm and focused, Discord transformed the magnifying glass into a set of thin, bifocal glasses and affixed them in front of his eyes. With both of his hands now free, he carefully reached forward and grasped the line that connected him with Trixie. Working as delicately as a surgeon, he slowly picked at the intersection of the two strands of spirit with his claws. However, a few minutes later and he hadn’t managed to work his claws in between the threads. He increased his glasses’ magnification once again and got a better look. One of his eyes twitched when he saw that the strands weren’t just twisted around each other, but were halfway fused together as well. Trying to unravel them would be impossible.

Discord didn’t get the chance to further ponder this latest revelation as he detected an intruder bearing down on him and his unknowing host from above.


“I so don’t believe you.”

“You doubtin’ the Element of Honesty?”

“Well, no,” Rainbow Dash admitted to Applejack. “But still! This is Trixie we’re talkin’ about! She couldn’t cast her way out of a closet!”

“She’d just tear the whole house down instead!” Pinkie Pie pointed out and laughed at the image that came to mind. Having just escaped from a collapsing building made it easy for her to do.

“Rainbow Dash, I know this is hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes,” Spike explained to the stubborn pegasus flapping above him. The group had moved to a park within the town so that they could converse in relative peace. The now combined teams had swapped stories but it was this last piece of information that didn’t fly with everypony. “She grew huge and scared the Ursa Major off. There are a ton of its footprints left over to prove it.”

Twilight Sparkle frowned at hearing this and gained a thoughtful look. “I suppose that’s why she got so mad at us. She was telling the truth the whole time and we threw it back in her face.”

“C’mon, Twilight,” Rainbow said to the librarian. “How were we supposed to know? Her track record stinks. I mean... c’mon.”

Despite the words, Twilight didn’t appear to be comforted by them. She sighed and said, “In any case, we have to find her. Again. From what you guys said and what just happened with that marching band, it really looks like Discord is behind this. Problem is, she could be anywhere now.”

“Why don’t we just use that Find-Me Whatchamacallit?” Pinkie Pie brought up.

Twilight rubbed her temples. “Pinkie, Trixie has to be carrying one of the crystals for it to work that way.”

“I know that!”

“Then why did you ask?”

“Because, silly-filly! I put it on Trixie before she ran away.”

Five ponies and one baby dragon blinked at her words. “Come again?”

“Well, I had this feeling, just like one of my Pinkie Senses, that I should place it on her. So I did! When you dropped yours when she woke up I stuck it under her cape so it wouldn’t fall out.”

Twilight was speechless for a moment but then turned to Rarity. “Do you still have yours?”

“Already on it,” Rarity said and pulled out her Find-Me Crystal with her magic. It was pulsing with a slow but steady light.

Twilight’s face split into a grin and she rushed forward to wrap Pinkie Pie up in a hug. “Pinkie, you’re a genius!”

“You keep calling me that but I’m still just a pony,” Pinkie corrected her. Still, she happily returned the hug.

“Alright, Darlings,” Rarity called to them. “Let’s save the heartwarming stuff for later. We still have a mission-”

Rainbow Dash streaked by and snatched the Find-Me Crystal out of Rarity’s magical grasp. Before anyone could think straight, Rainbow was already high above them.

Twilight found her voice first. “Rainbow! Come back! We have to do this together!”

“Don’t worry!” Rainbow yelled down to them. “I’m going to get this all taken care of! Too much time has been wasted already!”

“Dash, you come down here this minute!” Applejack roared up at the pegasus. “Don’t be getting all high and mighty now!”

However, her words didn’t have any effect as Rainbow blasted off, a rainbow trail following behind her. The ponies left behind looked at each other in astonishment. Then, as one, they raced after her, galloping as fast as their hooves would take them.


“Okay, so maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” Rainbow Dash said to herself as she flew through the sky. Dusk was now settling in and she wanted to find Trixie before it got too dark to spot anything. Luckily, the Find-Me Crystal in her hoof was leading the way for her. “But, I just can’t stand the thought of some pony hating me...

“Jeez, I’ve had ponies angry at me before... but nothing like that. I gotta find her and... apologize. Maybe then she’ll calm down and we can all laugh about it later.”

It felt like the right thing to do and Rainbow would rather do it on her own and not let her friends see such a scene. It would be embarrassing enough to admit to Trixie that she may have gone a tad overboard with her prank earlier. Especially knowing now that Trixie had earned her right to brag this time. Rainbow was still trying to wrap her head around that.

“Guilt stinks.”

The crystal in her hoof began to pulse at a faster rate. Rainbow scanned the ground below her, trying to pick out where Trixie was against all the lengthening shadows of the oncoming twilight. The crystal was now pulsing so fast that it may as well have been one continuous stream of light. Rainbow passed over a large pond and that’s when the crystal gave a ringing ping. She circled around and dove down. Sitting by the edge of the pond, looking confused, was Trixie.

“There you are!” Rainbow announced as she stopped herself just a few feet above where Trixie sat. “Thought you could get away that easily?”

Trixie jerked her head upwards and spotted the newcomer. Her face shifted from a lost look into a scowl. “Now what do you want?! Haven’t you done enough?!”

“Hold on! Hold on!” Rainbow waved her hooves in front of her. “I just came to-”

“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say! Leave me alone!”

“If you’d just let me finish-”

“No! Begone with you!” To help punctuate her statement, Trixie levitated up a rock laying next to her and flung it towards Rainbow.

“Whoa!” Rainbow yelped and darted out of the way of the stone. “Hey! That could have hit me!”

“That’s the idea,” Trixie intoned darkly. A half dozen more rocks were lifted all around her. “Are you familiar with a shooting gallery?”

“Uh... yeah?”

The unicorn smirked. “Good. Because Trixie has the ammo. She just needs a target. Let’s see you get in touch with your inner duck.” With that, Trixie shot several rocks forward.

“Ah!” Rainbow whipped to the side to avoid a rock aimed at her chest. “Wait!” Another zipped past where her head had just been. “You got it...” One grazed by her mane. “... all...” She lifted her rear from being struck on her flank. “... wrong!” She twirled away from more projectiles coming from all directions.

Below, Trixie laughed as Rainbow Dash desperately danced through wave after wave of her makeshift bullets. “This is too much fun! You really know how to cheer up a pony! But do you have what it takes to keep up with Trixie?”

“Ha! I can keep this up all night!” Rainbow taunted. “I’ve been in tag games that were closer than this!” Indeed, she was finding a groove to Trixie’s attacks. Rainbow casually skipped away from a trio of rocks that flew past her head, neck and hind legs. A backflip sent her through a ring of stone pieces that Trixie failed to close fast enough. “Thanks for the exercise though, oh Lame and Pathetic Trixie! Easy breezy-OW!”

Rainbow felt a stinging pain to the back of her head from an unnoticed stone. Rainbow saw the showmare grin in triumph while she rubbed the spot that was struck. “Oh, that’s it! It. Is. On!”

Rainbow dove down, aiming herself straight at Trixie. The unicorn rose up more rocks and shot them forward, confident that she had the upper hoof. Trixie’s smug grin died when Rainbow plowed her way through them without even flinching and continued towards her. She was on top of Trixie before the magician had a chance to cast another spell. However, instead of tackling her opponent to the ground, Rainbow changed course at the last instant and spun around Trixie faster than her eyes could follow.

“One Rainblow Dry, coming up!”

Trixie tried getting a fix on Rainbow’s movements but it proved impossible. All she could see was a multi-colored blur. Her eyes began to whirl in their sockets and she fell over in dizziness. She was in no shape to tell but her mane and tail were now completely frizzled. She regained her senses when she felt something grab onto her tail and lift her off the ground.

“Wha? What?” Trixie moaned. She saw the earth below her move further away causing a bout of vertigo. She shut her eyes and yelled out, “Let go of Trixie this instant, you ruffian!”

“Waff fat?” Rainbow mumbled around Trixie’s tail that she had clenched in her mouth. “Af camf hearff youff!”

“I said put me down!”


Trixie screamed as she received her wish and plummeted to the ground. She smacked down onto the unyielding turf and let out a whoosh of air. Groaning at all the punishment her body had taken today, she tried making it back to her hooves only to get a head rush and fall back down.

“You ready to listen or do I need to get ruff with ya again?”

Trixie wearily looked up. Rainbow Dash was staring down at her. The pegasus was smirking at her with the same triumphant expression that Trixie had worn only moments ago. The sight of it on the receiving end infuriated the magician and gave her new strength to pull herself up.

“Never,” Trixie seethed. “The Great and Powerful Trixie never gives in.”

“Ah, pony feathers,” Rainbow sighed. “Why don’t we just call it even then?”

“Giving up? Then you admit that Trixie is the superior equine?”

“As if! Who’s the pony on her last legs here?!”

“Then prove it. I dare you to try that last move again.”

Rainbow scowled and prepared herself for another round. “Fine. Don’t say I didn’t offer the chance to stop later. One-two-three-GO!” Rainbow blasted forward and whirled around Trixie once again.

Trixie shut her eyes as it was still impossible to get a bead on the speedy flier. However, with what she had planned, she didn’t have to. She bent down and touched her horn to the ground and shot off a bolt of magic. Instantly, a wall of dirt over a meter high erupted from the earth.

On Rainbow Dash’s next pass, immovable object met irresistible force.

The pegasus crashed into the wall with a sickening smack. Her body speared through the dirt and came out the other end. But only half way. Rainbow’s head and forelegs dangled over one side while her rear and tail drooped over the other. "Owie...," Rainbow moaned as she watched the stars swirling over her head.

“My, my,” Trixie tsked as she gazed at her new trophy. “If only I could get this mounted. Too bad Trixie doesn’t have a living room to show you off in.” She tapped the mound of dirt with her horn and it crumbled to the ground, sending Rainbow with it. Before Rainbow Dash could gather her wits, Trixie encompassed the pegasus with her magic. Rainbow’s eyes widened and she struggled against the power holding her but it was a futile effort. Trixie’s grip was inescapable.

“Now,” Trixie drawled as she held Rainbow up to eye level. “Let’s hope this teaches you not to mess with the Great and Powerful Trixie. Be sure to tell your loser friends the same thing.” She brought Rainbow in close so that their noses were touching and glared into her eyes. “Now make like a tree... and get out of here.”

“Uh, that’s not how it gooooooooeeeeessssss!”

Rainbow’s receding cry came from being flung through the air, twirling end over end. A second later, she splashed into the pond that they had been battling next to. Trixie walked over to the edge of the pond, looking forward to seeing the annoying pony drag herself out all waterlogged and humbled. She was going to savor this victory to the fullest.

Just as soon as the pegasus broke the surface of the water.

… any second now.

A tinge of worry began to creep into Trixie as she continued to wait for Rainbow to appear. Just what could be taking the brat so long?

“Oh, don’t tell me,” Trixie stated with dread, “that she can’t swim!”

There was still no sign of Rainbow and the ripples from her landing had long since disappeared. Panic swept over her and with a cry of frustration, Trixie made a leaping dive into the dark water. She lit her horn and swam down to where she suspected Rainbow would be. The pond didn’t appear to be that deep but it was still enough that a pony wouldn’t be able to stand in the center and be able to peek their head above water. Trixie cast her gaze to and fro and spotted what she was searching for.

It was fortunate that Rainbow’s mane was so bright and colorful. It stood out against the dark ground at the bottom of the pond. Trixie swam forward as hard as she could and wrapped her hooves around the pegasus’ midsection. Trixie kicked her hind legs for all she was worth but Rainbow’s extra weight kept her from moving. Her lungs began to burn with a lack of oxygen and she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to pull Rainbow along with her in time. Desperate, Trixie aimed her horn down and shot off a burst of magic with as much power as she could summon.

Seconds later, Trixie and Rainbow Dash rocketed out of the pond. They arced in the air in an ungraceful heap and landed hard on the muddy shore. Trixie coughed and sputtered on the ground for a few moments before collecting herself and rising to her hooves. She felt woozy from expelling so much magic so quickly but forced herself to continue on. She shook as much water off of her as she could and staggered over to Rainbow. Trixie gulped as the other pony didn’t appear to be breathing and her coat was taking on an unhealthy purple hue.

Trixie panicked, unsure of what to do. She was showmare, not a doctor! Regardless, she was going to give it her best try! Trixie pushed Rainbow so that she was on her stomach, reared up on her hind legs and brought her forelegs down onto Rainbow’s back. Hard.

Rainbow Dash’s eyes bugged out and a stream of water shot from her mouth. She hacked and wheezed as air began filling in her lungs. Once she began to breathe regularly, her body decided that she’d been through enough and passed out.

Trixie heaved a breath that she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. “What a day,” she grumbled.

Seeing as how Rainbow wasn’t going to expire any time soon, Trixie got to work creating a fire. The water from the pond was seeping into her skin and she shivered from the coolness of the night air. She didn’t have to imagine that the same was happening to her unexpected guest. In short order, she had gathered enough dry twigs and sticks into a pile and lit a fire under it with a spark from her horn. Trixie pulled Rainbow over next to the growing flames and sat down next to her.

It was an hour later when Rainbow began to stir. She groaned and coughed a few times before peering out at her surroundings. She noticed the fire crackling close by. “Ohhh, what happened?”

“You nearly drowned, you fool.”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash slowly lifted her head and searched for the voice. Her confusion only grew when she noticed Trixie lying close by. “Trixie?”

“Trixie assumes that they don’t teach swimming 101 in your cloud city, do they?”

“Ah, no. Don’t need to. Not enough water to :cough: :cough: swim in.”

Trixie snorted and continued to gaze into the fire.

“You... saved me?” Rainbow prodded.

Trixie glanced at her through the corner of her eye. She looked away again but gave a barely perceptible nod.


Trixie huffed and explained, “Because whatever you and your friends might think of me, I am not a monster.”

Rainbow shifted uncomfortably where she lay. “I don’t think you’re a monster. Just a jerk.”

“No more than yourself,” Trixie shot back. “Why did you come looking for Trixie, anyway? She made it perfectly clear that she didn’t want anything to do with you.”

Rainbow took a moment to run through what she wanted to say. This whole situation she found herself in had become so bizarre. “I... believe you about the Ursa Major.”

“Oh? What made you change your mind?”

“My friends told me. One of them saw you do it. Said you made yourself really big to scare it away.”

Trixie looked at her with an unreadable expression. Seeing as she now had the magician’s attention, and before she lost her nerve, Rainbow continued, “And I wanted to say that... that I’m sorry. For pulling that prank on you. I didn’t think you’d get so mad over it.”

Trixie remained silent. After a few seconds she turned away and back to the fire.

“Aren’t you going to say all is forgiven and it’s all wind through the clouds?” Rainbow asked.

“Trixie doesn’t see any reason to,” Trixie responded. “You admitted you were wrong, as you rightly are.”

“Wait! What? I just :cough: got everything off my chest and you can’t :cough: do the same?!”

“There is nothing to ‘get off’ Trixie’s chest.”

“The hay there is! That’s not how ponies treat each other you ungrateful-”

“Enough!” Trixie shouted. She trotted over until she was standing right above Rainbow Dash’s recovering body. Trixie pointed a hoof at her and said, “Let’s get something straight between us. I don’t like you. At all. The only reason I’m putting up with you is so I don’t have the death of another hanging over my head. Once the morning comes, I’m dumping you off at the next village. Your friends can find you on their own.” She stomped away and sat on the opposite side of the fire, furthest away from Rainbow.

Rainbow herself didn’t know what to say. Dealing with Trixie was so unlike dealing with other ponies she knew. When somepony apologized to you, you accepted it gratefully and all was set to right. Life went on and all was forgiven and forgotten. Apparently, Trixie followed a very different set of rules.

Rainbow shivered as the night’s chill air reminded her of the cold water that she had been pulled from. Thoughts of Trixie and what made her tick were cast aside in favor of curling up as tightly as she could. The heat of the fire wasn’t doing enough to make her feel warm. Even so, she eventually fell asleep, her soft snoring sounding into the quiet landscape.

Trixie remained where she was for a few minutes before getting up and checking on Rainbow’s condition. The pegasus’ body trembled and every few seconds she let out a cough. Sighing, Trixie unhooked what was left of her cape and wrapped up Rainbow Dash in it as tightly as she could. It was useless for anything else anyway. That done, she threw more kindle onto the fire so that it would last a little longer and curled up next to it. She too fell asleep within minutes.

Some time later, mist spilled out of Trixie’s horn. Discord coalesced from the mist and sat down on an unoccupied spot between the two ponies. With a snap of his fingers, a stick with a marshmallow stuck at the end appeared in his hand and he began roasting it over the fire.

“Well, I must admit, I was highly entertained by you two!” Discord stated and flicked the burning marshmallow into his mouth. He greedily swallowed it and began preparing a new one. “I haven’t seen such disharmony since the founding of Equestria. Makes me wonder what you need me for. Don’t take that literally, though,” he warned.

Discord snapped down on the end of the stick that held his latest marshmallow, eating it (and part of the stick) in one gulp. He tossed away the stick, leaned back and rested against a conjured up cushion floating in the air. He regarded Trixie with a lazy smile. “Once again, I’m glad it was you that I ended up with. Can you imagine if I had gotten stuck with a goodie-goodie like Twilight Sparkle? Bleh!

“But you. You are delightfully unpredictable. You fight like a pony possessed against Rainbow Crash here but then save her from the brink of death minutes later. Such wonderful chaotic potential.”

He groaned as he remembered why he had come seeking Trixie in the first place. “I still don’t get why our life forces or souls or whatever are so tangled up. I suppose I’m stuck with you for now until I can figure out how to separate them. Be grateful that I’m in a good mood from your little tussle earlier.”

His gaze fell on Rainbow Dash and he pondered what to do with her. It would be a shame to let her leave without a parting gift. He rose up and hovered above her. “I’ll probably end up kicking myself for this later but a game is far more interesting when there are more players.” He reached down and placed a taloned finger against Rainbow’s forehead. A spark of light flowed down his digit and into her noggin. When he was finished, Discord floated back and nodded in satisfaction.

“There. Even Twilight Sparkle should be able to figure that one out. By the time those twits get it, I’ll be off this leash I’m on.” The draconequus chuckled and rubbed his hands together. “Then, the real fun can begin!”

With that, Discord flowed back into his hiding spot within Trixie’s horn. The campsite belonged to Trixie and Rainbow Rainbow once again.

The Big Time

View Online

They found her in the medical ward of Horschester.

“Boy, howdy! You look more worked over than that busted old plow of my brother’s!”

“Shut up, Applejack.”

“Rainbow,” Twilight Sparkle said softly as she came up to the bedridden pegasus. “How are you feeling?”

Rainbow Dash looked away and crossed her forelegs together. “... fine,” she grumbled. “Doc says I have a lingering cough but that’s it.”

“My gosh, Rainbow Dash,” Rarity spoke up. “Did Trixie do this to you?”

Rainbow looked away. “We had a... fight. I tried talking to her but one thing led to another and the next thing I know we’re going at it.”

“I see,” Twilight sighed.

From atop her back, Spike asked, “Where is she now?”

“Don’t know,” Rainbow answered. “She dropped me off here yesterday and I haven’t seen her since. Frankly, I don’t care.”

“Rainbow!” Twilight scolded. “You know we have a mission-”

“The mission’s over!” Rainbow yelled, making her friends to back up in surprise. “There’s nothing wrong with Trixie other than her being a pain in the flank. We’ve been wasting our time for nothing and I’m tired of it! Let’s just cut our losses and go home!”

The others looked at each other, slowly absorbing what Rainbow had said. Finally, Applejack stepped forward. “And how do ya figure that? What makes ya think that we should just give up?”

“Well, what do we know so far? Give me one good reason why we need to keep hunting down that blowhard.”

“Well,” Twilight began, “she was found in the garden-”

“So?” Rainbow interrupted. “She tripped and took a snooze. Big deal.”

“It is a big deal, Rainbow. She wasn’t suppose to go in there.”

“You weren’t suppose to go into that Star Swirl the Bearded wing and nothing bad happened, right?” Rainbow countered.

“Well, no...” Twilight floundered.

“You’re forgetting how she just so happened to gain enough power to scare off an Ursa Major of all things,” Rarity brought up. “Explain that.”

“She’s good with illusions,” Rainbow pointed out. “Whoopty do.”

“And that parade that appeared and disappeared outta thin air?” Applejack offered. “Seemed rather elaborate even for her.”

“How do we know? She could have learned a spell or two to pull it off.” Rainbow spread out her legs in exasperation. “Look, all of these are just guesses. There’s no real evidence that Discord or anyone else is behind all this. It’s just a big false alarm.”

“I don’t feel the same way, Rainbow,” Twilight said. “We need to make sure. It’s too important that we get this right.” She sighed as Rainbow recrossed her forelegs and decided to change the subject a little. “At least she’s still wearing the Find-Me Crystal. Right?”

Rainbow reached under the blanket of her bed and pulled out a shredded piece of purple cloth with stars on it. She tossed it at the foot of her bed and a small crystal rolled out. Rainbow held up a similar crystal in her hoof. “Not anymore.”

Twilight moaned. “Great. Now how are we supposed to find her?”

“We don’t!” Rainbow shouted and hopped out of bed. “Let’s just let her go! She can have her stupid shows or whatever! According to me, we’re outta-” She suddenly stopped her tirade and stared ahead blankly.

Her friends watched her uneasily. Cautiously, Applejack stepped forward and placed a hoof on Rainbow’s withers. “Dash,” she called to her. “You okay, hun?”

Rainbow Dash continued to stare ahead, oblivious to Applejack’s prodding. Then, her mouth began to move and she spoke in a sing-song voice, “A message I wish to speak for those ponies that continue to seek. The one that fills you with fright is hiding in plain sight. This and more for you to grapple down at The Big Apple.”

Silence filled the room afterwards. The others stared at the pegasus as though she had grown a second head. Applejack reacted first and grabbed Rainbow with both forelegs and shook her hard. “Rainbow Dash! Wake up! Snap out of it!”

The violent shaking managed to finally rouse Rainbow from her unresponsive state. Focus returned to her eyes and her stomach began to churn from being ponyhandled from Applejack’s desperate shaking. “Huh? Whoa... WHOA! Lay off! I’m gonna hurl! Hugh!”

Rainbow pushed Applejack away and rushed to her puke pail. She made it just in time and emptied the contents of her stomach. Once she was finished, she took a moment to gather herself before turning back around. She glared at the farm pony. “Ugh! Wadja do that for?!”

She didn’t receive an answer. Everypony wore a look of shock and didn’t say anything. Dread began to spread over their faces.

Curiously enough, it was Fluttershy that managed to find her voice before anyone else. “That... that sounded a lot like... one of... Discord’s riddles.”

Before anypony could comment further, a pony burst into the room and shouted, “Ah! It’s terrible! There’s... I... well... I don’t know how to explain it! Just come and see!” The pony rushed back out, leaving a confused group of equines behind.

The six mares and one dragon looked at each other briefly before running out of the room. They followed the pony that had given the strange announcement until they burst out onto the streets of Horschester.

A collective blink came from the group.

It was just like Ponyville at the height of Discord’s brief reign. Buildings looked more like cardboard cutouts than three dimensional structures, raspberry jelly was shooting out of a nearby well like a geyser, carts of food and other goods were floating in midair and many more sights of chaos greeted their eyes.


The Ponyvillians looked up at the shout of warning in time to see a meteor streaking towards them. With a yelp of surprise and fright, they scrambled out of its way. The resulting impact caused a shockwave that blasted the ponies off their hooves and flung them several feet away. Slowly and painfully, they managed to pick themselves up and regarded the fallen meteor warily.

“Sorry about that,” a flying pig apologized as he landed in the crater the space rock had created. The pig held a croquet mallet in one of his hooves. “Just playing through.” The pig placed his mallet against the meteor, set himself into a stance and swung with unbelievable force. The mallet struck the meteor, sending it back into the sky. The pig watched it go and looked dissatisfied with his latest stroke. “I think I sliced it.”

Without another word, the pig took off after his “ball.”

Applejack turned towards Rainbow Dash. “Is that enough evidence for ya?”

“... Shut up, Applejack.”


Manehattan. It was as large, grand and crowded as Trixie had heard it would be. Thousands of ponies shuffled through the streets either by hoof or by carriage. Street vendors and newsstands filled the sidewalks for as far as the eye could see. Equine Square itself could fit the entirety of Canterlot Castle within its neon lit borders. The buildings rose higher than any Ursa Major that had ever walked the lands.

It was here that Trixie was determined to find her fame and fortune.

“I can’t believe how long it took me to get here,” Trixie murmured to herself as she looked out the window of her hotel room. The city, lit by Celestia’s sun, sprawled beneath her. “So many days of traveling and hardships, enough to fell a lesser pony. But, that’s all behind me. Time to move forward. My time has come.”

Trixie turned away from the window and trotted towards the bathroom. She needed to get ready for her first appointment and a hot shower would be most welcome. Then, it was go time.

It had been such a relief to come here and find all her belongings that she had sent from Canterlot had arrived safely. Honestly, with the type of luck she had been pulling lately, she half expected her things to have been lost on the way. However, everything was in order. Now she could concentrate on more important things.

After refreshing herself, adding some eyeshadow and combing her mane to perfection, Trixie checked over what she should wear. Her last set of hat and cape were gone, but they had never felt right anyway. Instead, she chose a lavender vest that complimented her eyes and checked herself over in a pony sized mirror. It was a simple ensemble but it would do the job just fine. Satisfied, she left the hotel and strode purposefully down the street.

Floating above her, hidden from her view and everypony else, Discord fussed over the strands that made up the life connection between himself and his unknowing host.

“Come on, come on,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’m going to get it this time. Just a little more annnnndddddd, wala!” Discord held up the strands before him. The mess of threads tangled in his hands resembled a failed cat's cradle.

“Arg!” Disgusted, Discord let go of the strands and let them flow back to their original, untangled state. He placed his lion paw against his chin and sulked. “I’ve been working on separating us for days and I’m still no closer than when I started. Where’s Celestia when you need her? This is more that overgrown turkey’s specialty than mine.”

While he hadn’t been able to figure out how to separate himself from Trixie’s essence, Discord now had a pretty good idea of just how it happened. Really, it came down to his own disorderly power. He had meant to merge with Trixie temporarily, just long enough to hide from Celestia, and then break away afterwards. However, his very nature had played against him. Instead of an easy separation, Discord’s chaotic influence had merged him with Trixie without his knowing. Even now, his power was working to keep them together despite his efforts to undo it.

As Discord continued to ponder over this, his attention was diverted when Trixie passed by a newsstand. He floated down to it and read the headline of one of the displayed papers.

[Weird Happenings Overtake Local Towns!]

“This looks promising,” Discord mused. By now, Trixie had walked out of sight. Feeling daring, the draconequus dropped his invisibility and came into view for all the city to behold. Barely a glance was sent his way as the locals went about their business.

Discord reached forward and plucked up the newspaper that interested him. He began to read through the main article and whistled appreciatively. “Well, well. Looks like my little seedlings finally sprouted. Ah, they grow up so fast...”

“This ain’t a library, fella.”

Discord blinked and looked down. A dull grey pony stood behind the newsstand’s counter and was giving him a cross look. “You wanna read that paper, it’ll cost you a bit.”

Discord continued to stare at the pony. He finally managed to ask, “That’s what you have to say towards the spirit of chaos and disharmony? Aren’t you just the tiniest bit curious about having a strange creature like me standing before you?”

The owner of the newsstand gave a small shrug. “I’m a Manehattenite. I’ve seen it all. Now about that bit...”

Letting out an over exaggerated sigh, Discord snapped his fingers. A half dozen brown sacks appeared above the pony and then crashed down on top of him. A few golden bits spilled out of the sacks when they impacted the sidewalk.

“Will that do?” Discord asked with disinterest, already turning back to his paper.

“That’ll do...” the flattened pony groaned.

Discord continued to read through the newspaper, occasionally chuckling as he read about all the wonderful chaos he had created. If he weren’t so distracted with Trixie, he’d be there to witness it all in a flash. Still, it was nice to see he hadn’t lost his touch.

A bell chime sounded, as though a timer had gone off, and Discord jerked to attention. He reached behind him and came back holding a watch. “Oh, it’s that time already. I should be hearing that wonderful sound right... about...”

“WHAT?!” an enraged cry echoed through the streets.

“... now.”

Laughing darkly, Discord placed away his watch and teleported. A splendid scene was about to play out and there was no way he was going to miss it.

Left behind, the newsstand pony wobbly made it to his hooves. He shook his head to clear out any lingering dizziness and picked up one of the bits that had fallen out of the sacks. Without preamble, he bit into it.

“Chocolate,” he sighed and looked down at all the “Fool’s Gold” he had acquired. Well, on the bright side, at least he wouldn’t have to spend anything for this year’s Nightmare Night.


“You have to be kidding Trixie!”

Her furious statement was directed at the earth pony sitting behind a desk across from her. He was an orange stallion with a red mane so greased with oil that it glistened like a glazed doughnut. He wore a finely tailored business suit that cost more than most ponies made in a year. He tapped his hooves in front of him, staring dispassionately ahead.

“It is as I said, miss,” he said, seemingly unaffected by the mare’s outburst. “Your talents are not what we are looking for.”

“Do you not know who it is you have before you?” Trixie demanded to know. She slammed her forehooves down onto his desk, scattering his belonging everywhere. “I am the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

The stallion didn’t react to her growing hostility besides giving a curt, “So?”

“So? SO?! Trixie will have you know that she performed at this year’s Grand Galloping Gala to rave reviews! She dazzled the crowds every night since then with her wonderful tales of heroics and adventure! She played Lady Macquine to a packed audience at the Regal Mane Attraction Theatre of Canterlot!

“Trixie vanquished an Ursa Major for crying out loud!”

The oily talent agent shook his head and groaned. “I’m fully aware of your credentials, Miss Trixie. But in this town, you’re still an unknown. The best I can offer you is work with one of our subdivisions with special effects and lighting.”

“Menial labor, you mean,” Trixie sneered.

“Call it what you want but that’s all you will get.”

Trixie stared hatefully at the stallion but managed to keep her anger from spilling over into violence. At least, for now.

“I don’t understand,” Trixie said a little more calmly, trying a different tactic. “I’m a show pony and my background clearly shows that I have what it takes to bring in the crowds. Why should it matter that this is Manehatten and not Canterlot?”

“I’ll tell you,” the agent said and stood up from his chair. He walked around his desk and stood before Trixie, making sure that he had her full attention. “The ponies of Canterlot are an easy bunch to please. Once you have their attention, that is. After that, you could prance around with a bucket on your head and they’d call it art.

“Here at Manehatten though, ponies don’t have the luxury of checking out every up and comer that thinks she’s hot stuff. City ponies are too busy for that. So they rely on agencies like mine to weed out the slop and only show them the best. And I do not consider the opinions of snooty nobles in Canterlot to know what it means to be the best.

“So this is my recommendation to you. Either take my offer, possibly work your way up, or go back to Canterlot. I’m sure you’ll find a niche somewhere there.”

It took considerable effort on Trixie’s part not to snap at him. “I am not going to wallow away my time in some effects pit. And I don’t want to find a niche. I’m going to be a star that everypony will see, no matter the place! I can’t get that at Canterlot. They’ll forget about me within a month! That’s unacceptable for Trixie!”

“Then our business here is done,” the agent said with finality. He reclaimed his seat and began rearranging his scattered papers on his desk. Without glancing at her, the agent motioned for Trixie to leave. “Do see yourself out.”

It was all Trixie could do not to cast a spell over him and turn his mane into a tangled mess that no amount of oil would be able to fix. Instead, she had a different way to mark her exit. “Trixie has no interest in your second rate agency, anyway. Obviously, this is a sign that her talents would be wasted here. Trixie will be sure to forget about you when she’s living the life of Broadway!”

With that, she turned her tail and nose up at the oblivious agent and trotted out of his office. There were other places that would die to have her sign up with them. She couldn’t keep them waiting, now could she?

She failed to hear the malevolent laughter that rang out in the office behind her.


“Think, Twilight! Think! What could that riddle mean?”

“Um, Twi?”

“Come on, you can do this! You figured out Discord’s last one; you can figure this one out too!”


“Hide in plain sight? How does anyone hide in plain sight? Unless he means he’s invisible... in plain sight. Is that even possible?”

“Hellooooo! Twilight!”

“And the big apple? As in Sweet Apple Acres, perhaps? There are a lot of apples there and maybe he’s hiding in the biggest one...”

“Yo! Egghead!”

A not so gentle rap to her head brought Twilight Sparkle out of her pondering.

“Ow! What? What? What did I do?!”

“Sugarcube,” Applejack spoke up to gain the unicorn’s attention. “It means Manehatten. Ah don’t know about the rest but The Big Apple is just another name for Manehatten.”

Twilight gave her a confused look. “Why would somepony call it something else when it already has a name?”

Applejack shrugged. “Beats me. Just the way it is.”

“In either case,” Rarity piped in, “at least we know where to start. We should be able to figure out the rest as we go.”

“We’re really going, aren’t we?” Rainbow Dash pouted.

“Of course, darling. Unless you want to live in a world like that.” Rarity pointed out the window of the medical ward. A row boat being crewed by a troupe of ducks floated by.

Rainbow sighed in defeat. “Fine. Let’s just go.”

“Before that, we need to contact the princess,” Twilight said. “We’ll tell her to meet us there and to bring the Elements of Harmony with her. Spike? Take a letter.”

“Already on it!” her dragon assistant said excitedly as he held up a quill and a piece of parchment.

“Good. Let’s begin.

“Dear Princess Celestia...”


“What the hay is going on here?!”

Trixie’s rage fueled cry to the heavens went unanswered as she left the fifth straight talent agency in row. She couldn’t believe it. Just couldn’t believe it! What was wrong with these ponies?! Didn’t this town know greatness when it came up and bit them on the flank?! Obviously, Manehatten’s show business industry was in dire straights if they were turning back one such as herself over one-hit wonders like Sapphire Shores. That pony of pop was entirely overrated.

One by one, each appointment that she had scheduled had ended with her storming out. Reasons such as, “You’re not well known enough,” or “We aren’t interested in your talents,” kept being thrown in Trixie’s face. She knew the real reason though. They were all scared that she would swoop in, become the best actress they had ever seen, and make all their other clients jealous. All lame excuses so that Trixie wouldn’t outshine the lot of them.

“It has to be...” Trixie sniffed as she trotted through the busy streets. “It has to...”

Trixie levitated up her schedule and sighed as she crossed another name off the list. She only had one more left and she was debating whether it was worth going or not. Today had been such a letdown and she just wanted to go back to her hotel and sleep it off. Perhaps tomorrow things would turn around.

“Ah, Miss Trixie. We are expecting you.”

Trixie blinked and looked up from her list. A unicorn mare stood next to her, her coat and mane colored orange and black respectively. Her cutie mark was comprised of several black lines with arrowheads crisscrossing each other and pointing in random directions. She stood next to an outdoors restaurant and extended a hoof in greeting. “My boss is waiting for you. Come with me, please.”

Trixie shook the offered hoof in a daze. She must have been really out of it to have stumbled upon her last appointment without realizing it. The unicorn ushered Trixie through the tables where several groups of ponies were dining. Towards the back sat another unicorn, this one a stallion, with the same coloring as the mare that walked next to her. However, the stallion wore a brown business suit that covered his flank and a pair of sunglasses that hid his eyes. Trixie took a seat opposite him.

“Hello there, Great and Powerful Trixie,” the stallion greeted her. He turned towards his assistant. “You may go now.” The unicorn mare bowed her head and walked off, leaving Trixie with the stallion who regarded her once again. “Thank you for coming. My name is Striful. A pleasure to finally meet you.”

“The same,” Trixie answered casually.

“Well, let’s not beat around the bush. We are both very busy and there’s no need to waste time. I own a company that’s looking for up and coming ponies like yourself that showcases the very best in show biz. I’ve looked over your accomplishments and I have to say I’m very impressed. Not many can boast about facing down an Ursa Major and live to tell the tale.”

“Oh, so you do believe that,” Trixie beamed and smiled appreciatively. “Not many want to believe Trixie but it’s the honest truth.”

“Indeed it is.” Striful smiled as well. His horn glowed with a black aura and levitated out a piece of paper from his suit pocket. He set the paper on the table and pushed it in front of Trixie. “This is a contract that I wrote up. I’m offering you the opportunity to represent my company. Just sign on the dotted line and you’ll be on your way to stardom the likes of which you’ve never experienced before.”

“Finally, a pony that recognizes true talent when he sees it,” Trixie complimented. “Not that there was any doubt.” She picked up the contract with her magic and accepted a quill that Striful offered her. She quickly glanced through the document, nodding in satisfaction at all the bits and benefits that she would be receiving, and hovered the quill against the dotted line.

Just as she was about to write her name, she happened to see some squiggles at the very bottom of the page. Curious, she brought the contract closer and squinted but she couldn’t make out what was there. Narrowing her eyes, Trixie cast an Enlargement spell. The paper quadrupled in size in an instant.

“H-hey!” Striful stuttered in shock. “What are you-”

“Cute. Very cute.”

Trixie lowered the contract, revealing her unamused face. “Is this some kind of joke? Trixie prays for your sake that it is.”

“I... don’t know what you’re talking about,” the agent answered uneasily.

The contract returned to its normal size and Trixie immediately crumpled it up into a tight ball. She then flung it at Striful’s face, bonking him on the nose. “Your fine print,” Trixie hissed. “You think Trixie was born yesterday and would miss it? Hardly. And giving you her eternal soul? How amateurish. What are you, the spirit of death or something?”

“Not exactly,” Striful chuckled darkly. He reached up and removed his glasses. Trixie grimaced at what she saw. His eyes were yellow with mismatched red pupils. “I wasn’t planning on revealing myself to you. It’s so annoying when you ponies don’t fall for one of my schemes.”

Trixie felt the hairs all over her body stand on end. She slowly left her seat and began backing up, not once taking her eyes off of him. “W-what-what are you?”

“Ah, my dear, forgotten me already? Such a shame. And after everything I’ve done for you, too.” Striful twisted his muzzle into a cruel smile and raised his hooves to the air. Dark clouds appeared and began swirling above him. A bolt of lightning struck him and his entire body erupted with white light. Trixie was forced to look away which only brought her attention to her surroundings.

The scenery all around her had changed. She was no longer standing in the ritzier part of town but rather the seedier, grungier streets that she had meant to avoid. The pleasant patio that held diner tables and ponies eating were melting away like heated wax before her horrified eyes. The resulting brownish liquid then flowed around her and towards where Striful was positioned. The liquid rose up around his still blazing body until it completely encompassed him, forming a brown cocoon.

Trixie’s hopes that this nightmare would be over soon were dashed when the cocoon began to form cracks all around it. In a climatic burst, the cocoon shattered into pieces, revealing the being underneath it. She had thought that she had seen the worst so far. She was wrong.

Discord rose up to the sky, his maniacal laughter reverberating throughout the entire area. Thunder and lightning crashed all around him, painting the perfect picture of malevolence.

As soon as it began, it was over. The storm clouds suddenly disappeared and Discord sat down on a conjured up black beanbag chair. “Ah, nothing like a dramatic entrance,” Discord crooned as he wiggled a bit to sink deeper into his seat. “Haven’t had one of those in a while.”

He lazily glanced down at the shell-shocked pony staring up at him. “I really need to think about investing in a camera for these moments. Your face is priceless!”

Indeed, Trixie’s expression was a mixture of disbelief and terror. Impossibly, the worst threat in living pony memory was right in front of her. How could this be? She didn’t know, but that was the least of her worries. Unfortunately, Trixie was too dumbstruck to do much of anything but just stare.

“I would introduce myself,” Discord began, “but since you gave an entire play about me, I think we can skip the introductions. We have a lot to talk about, my little pony.”

Given the situation, there was really only one coherent solution that Trixie could come up with.

She turned tail and fled.

Trixie raced through the dirty and dimly lit back alleys that she had somehow found herself in. There was little time to ponder as to how she got here. All her thoughts were on moving forward as fast as she could. She dodged past garbage cans, jumped over discarded junk and galloped through corridor after corridor of brick laden walls. She turned a corner and saw a T-juncture coming up and, with no better idea of where to go, she decided to head right.

The wall to the right of Trixie moved.

The rumble of a multistory building sliding next to her scared her witless. A scream tore from her throat and she watched in fear as the direction she was about to take closed up. Panicked, she took the only route open to her and turned left.

She heard more rumblings coming from behind her but she dared not look back. Up ahead, she saw what she hoped was an exit from this madness. Light, blessed light, spilled out of a slit in a wall only a few strides away. If she could squeeze through, Trixie was sure she’d escape.

Only for the slit to vanish from the bottom up as a silver zipper sealed it closed.

“You won’t take me!” Trixie roared. She charged at full tilt and fired off a blast of magic. The shot collided with the sipper, tearing through it and once again revealing light. Now invigorated, Trixie continued to fire her magical missiles to be sure that the path remained open. Her breath came in short gasps and her horn felt like it was on fire but she didn’t stop. Forcing herself through the exhaustion and pain, she tunneled her way through the wall with the primal need to stay alive.

At last, she burst through the end of the wall and came out the other end. Wonderful sunlight greeted her. Weary eyes spotted ponies scrambling out of her way as she rocketed past them. She stumbled and crashed to the pavement, totally spent. Trixie lay where she fell, huffing and shaking uncontrollably from her ordeal.

However, despite her pains, Trixie still managed to smile in relief. She had done it. She was safe.

“Stop! Watch out!”

Trixie’s eyes shot open. The last thing she saw was the wheel of a pony drawn carriage rolling towards her.


“Well, I think I’ve messed with her long enough,” Discord mused as he backstroked through the sky. “Better go get her before the poor gal has a heart attack and d-”

Searing agony suddenly lanced through his neck. Discord attempted to howl in pain but only a choked whimper escaped his mouth. It felt like his throat had been crushed in a vice. As a spirit comprised almost entirely of magic, Discord technically didn’t have to breathe but that detail was forgotten in his panic as he tried to suck in air. He wasn’t even aware that he was falling until he impacted on the pavement below. Once the dust from his landing settled, Discord’s still body was revealed.

All around him, Manehattanites crowded around the strange creature that had suddenly fallen out of nowhere. The sidewalk had cracked around where Discord had landed, leading many to believe that he must have surely passed on. Nothing could survive a fall like that.

A pitiful moan drifted past Discord’s pony lips. Some of the ponies closest to him jumped back in surprise.

“It’s alive!”

“Ew, what is it?!”

“It looks like some kind of weird manticore...”

“Look! It’s moving!”

The crowd backed away as the draconequus laboriously pushed himself up to a sitting position, leaving a perfect indent of his body in the sidewalk. He had never felt such pain before in his long life and every movement of his neck created stabs of intense suffering. Grimacing, Discord grabbed his head in both of his hands and pulled. A pop, like a cork escaping from a wine bottle, sounded out.

Several mares from the crowd fainted dead away.

“What?!” Discord’s disembodied head complained from its perch on top of his lion paw. “Haven’t you ever seen someone take their head off before?” Ignoring the annoying ponies around him, Discord rotated his paw so that his head could examine the rest of his body. His eyes bulged out when he got a look at his headless neck. A deep, rectangular indentation ran through one side of his throat.

“That’s... never happened before,” Discord said with worry. His hands positioned his head just above the stump of his neck. Taking a deep breath (despite not being connected to any lungs), Discord clamped down on the end of the stump with his mouth and blew. Like a balloon, the draconequus’ body began to inflate. It continued to grow, to the point where it seemed that it would pop at any second, until a sickening crack was heard. Many of the surrounding ponies nearly lost their lunch.

However, Discord’s unconventional methods worked. The indentation in his throat was gone. He released his mouth, causing his body to deflate back to its original dimensions. Finally, Discord ended the gruesome display by placing his head back where it belonged and gave it a sharp twist.

“Aaaaahhhhh,” he groaned in relief. He wrenched his head one last time, locking it in place. “Much better.”

Feeling in top shape, Discord hopped to his feet and looked over the wide eyed ponies staring up at him. “Now then. Does any one of you know where I can find a blue unicorn? One with a cutie mark like this?” He held up his eagle claw and an image of a wand with pixie dust appeared above it.

The demeanor of the crowd quickly turned from shocked disbelief to sorrow. Slowly, and as one, their eyes traveled to the street beside them. Discord followed their gaze and frowned.

In the middle of the street, a group of ponies were gathered. Some were carefully pushing away a wooden carriage while the rest were crowded around something laying in their center. Discord teleported next to them and with a quick force of magic, flung them to the side. With the ponies out of his way, Discord got to see what they had been looking at. His eyes widened and his face fell.

Trixie lay before him. Her eyes were closed and she was completely still with no sign of breathing. A red welt covered her neck, right across her throat.

Gingerly, Discord pressed a lion claw under Trixie’s jaw line. He couldn’t feel a pulse. Undeterred, he placed an ear against her chest but there was no heartbeat. Raising himself back up, Discord sat back and steepled his claws together, unsure of what to do next. He just gazed down at Trixie, a troubled look across his face.

“Um, sir?”

Discord jerked and looked down at his side. A blue pony with a grey mane was standing next to him, clearly uncertain as to what to make of the draconequus. “Was this pony... a-a friend of yours?”

Discord turned back to Trixie. At length he said, “She was... an acquaintance.”

“Oh, I see. Well, I’m sorry to say but she’s... passed on. Her throat... well, you know.”

“What? Are you a doctor?” Discord surprised himself with the amount of force that had entered his voice.

“Actually, I am.” The pony indicated his cutie mark which was a thermometer. “If it’s any consolation, it was over quickly. She didn’t suffer for very long.”

Discord remained silent. How long he sat there, he didn’t know. A part of him told him to leave and to get ready for when the Elements of Harmony would arrive. He was free now. There was no reason to be here. However, the rest of him didn’t want to go. It didn’t feel... right, for some reason.

A gasp from the doctor jostled him out of his conflicting feelings. “I-Impossible...”

Irritated with the pony’s continued presence, Discord nonetheless followed the doctor’s shocked gaze. He blinked.

Trixie’s chest slowly rose and fell with regular consistency. She was breathing.

The doctor got closer and examined the mare closely. “Her neck. It wasn’t like this when I checked her over before. It... healed. H-How...?”

Before he could comment any further, the draconequus next to him pushed him away. Discord bent down, focused his eyes and peered at the pair of strands that connected him to Trixie’s life force. What he saw startled him. “Well, I’ll be,” he breathed.

“Ah, sir?” the doctor asked timidly. “What are you-?” He didn’t get to finish as a flash of light forced him to look away. The pony blinked his eyes rapidly to get the resulting afterimage to slowly disappear. When he felt capable, he opened his eyes and gasped once again.

Discord and Trixie were both gone.


View Online

The road to Manehattan turned out to be long, arduous and annoying.

But mostly annoying.

“C’mon, Pinkie!” Twilight Sparkle yelled at the earth pony lagging behind.

“Just one more jar!” Pinkie Pie called to her. “I swear!”

“You said that fifteen minutes ago!” Rainbow Dash scolded. “We could have been there by now if it weren’t for you! Even Fluttershy’s outpacing ya!”

“Please don’t bring me into this,” Fluttershy squeaked and hid as much of her face as she could under her mane.

“You guys don’t understand!” Pinkie continued to plead. “Once we dust dopey Discord again, I won’t have another chance at this!”

“Darling, you can always just buy more!” Rarity pointed out. “At this rate, I’ll be practically living at the spa to get all this filth out of my poor mane and coat...”

“But this isn’t just ordinary chocolate milk!” Pinkie held up a glass jar filled with the delicious liquid. A cart bulging with identical jars was being pulled behind her. “This is Discord branded chocolate milk! Once you’ve had a taste, nothing else can compare!”

“Sugarcube, you’re starting to sound like Filthy Rich now,” Applejack commented. She took off her hat and gave it a shake to clean off as much of the milk as she could and then placed it back on her head. With how hard the unnatural chocolate rain was coming down from the pink clouds above, Applejack figured it would only take minutes for the hat to get completely soaked again. “Honestly, that scares me more than having to face Discord again.”

“Oh! Do you think he’d be interested in buying these? He and I will have the market covered!”

Yes. Very, very annoying.

Just keep moving forward, Twilight mentally told herself, trying to ignore Pinkie’s antics and the sticky chocolate running down her body. Ahead of her, the lights of Manehattan’s skyline shone like a beacon in this chaotic storm. We’re almost there. We’re going to make it and beat Discord like we did last time. Then, I’m going to take his statue and dump it in the deepest corner of the Everfree Forest where nopony will ever be able to find him. Maybe at the bottom of Froggy Bottom Bog. Hopefully that stupid hydra will swallow him.

These dark thoughts kept her going. Days of traveling through increasingly bizarre and random countryside were beginning to fray at her nerves. Twilight was sure the same was happening to the others. At least this time they were together and not corrupted. Though, with how stressed everypony was becoming, it wouldn’t be long before they were at each others throats anyway. Pinkie was definitely coping with the situation the best but her constant need to stop and gather up as much chocolate rain as she could was really starting to get old fast. Twilight wouldn’t be surprised if the earth pony was now composed of seventy percent chocolate milk with how much she had drunk on the way to Manehattan.

“Almost there, girls!” Twilight called out to her friends in an attempt to bolster their spirits. She turned her head and motioned towards Applejack. The farmer trotted up until she was walking besides her. “You’re the only one of us to be here before, Applejack. What’s the best way to get in?”

Applejack dipped her head down for a minute in thought. Finally, she raised back up and said, “Well, I haven’t been here since I was a filly so some things might have changed since then. Most of Manehattan’s on an island so bridges are the only way in or out. I suggest we cross the Hooflyn Bridge since it’s closest to us and all.”

“Great. Anything else you can tell us?”

“Not really. Can’t remember a whole lot off the top of my head at the moment. I’m just so worried about my Aunt and Uncle Orange that I can’t think of anythin’ else!” Applejack tilted her head forward, the brim of her hat casting a shadow over her eyes. “If that big palooka did anythin’ to them, I’ll buck him so hard his arse will kiss the moon.”

Twilight shivered and cautiously backed away from Applejack, letting the earth pony lead the way. “R-right. I’m sure t-they’re safe. It’s a big city after all...” She trailed off as she followed, casting uneasy glances towards her fellow pony.

The others’ demeanor changed soon afterwards. Whether from Applejack’s quiet threat or the city growing larger as they drew closer, everypony, including Pinkie Pie, grew silent. Gradually, the traffic of ponies began to increase and the group was forced to press closer together in order to stay close. Moving forward was made all the more difficult due to most of the traffic moving away from the city.

I guess they think getting out of Manehattan is safer than being it in, Twilight thought sadly. They just don’t realize that nowhere is safe until Discord is gone.

Just then, the flow of equines ahead of them parted and a half dozen ponies in police garb and two Canterlot pegasi guards appeared. The police created a perimeter around the six mares while the two guards approached them.

“Twilight Sparkle?” one of the guards spoke up.

“I’m here!” Twilight announced and bounded forward.

“The princess is waiting ahead. Follow us.” The two turned smartly and marched ahead. Twilight and the rest followed close behind, picking up speed now that the local authorities were giving them an escort. It wasn’t long before they came upon the suspension bridge named Hooflyn Bridge. Next to the pathway that led onto it were several more guards, creating a circle where no civilians were allowed to enter. Inside that circle, in the very center, stood Princess Celestia.

“Princess!” Twilight cried and ran up to her beloved mentor.

“I’m glad to see you well, my student,” Celestia said and nuzzled Twilight. Celestia straightened up when the others came up to stand next to her. “And to the rest of you. It pleases me that nopony has been harmed.”

“Speak for yourself...” Rainbow Dash grumbled.

“Oh?” Celestia quirked an elegant eyebrow at the pegasus. “Care to explain?”

“One word. Trixie.”

“So she was involved in all of this,” the princess concluded with a sigh. She firmed up her features and levitated a chest from her carriage located nearby. “We’ll have to deal with her later. For now, we’ve got bigger problems to deal with. To solve them, you’ll be needing these.” Celestia hovered the chest in front of the six ponies and opened it.

“The Elements of Harmony!” Twilight exclaimed. Indeed, the five necklaces and one crown that made up the most powerful magic known to ponykind were inside.

“Yes,” Celestia confirmed. “I got your letter and rushed here as soon as I could. With these, I’m sure you’ll send Discord back where he came from.” With a flick of magic, Celestia placed the artifacts on their respective holders.

“Oh, yeah!” Rainbow cheered, posing for everypony to see her lightning bolt adorned necklace. “Now we’re talkin’!”

“It’s a good thing that brute didn’t steal them again,” Rarity commented while she adjusted her own element. “I’d hate to have to go through all that hullabaloo like last time.”

“Indeed,” Celestia agreed. “By the way. Where is Spike? He didn’t come with you?”

“We convinced him to stay in Horschester,” Twilight explained. “I thought it would be better if he didn’t come.”

“Oh, I don’t think he minded too much,” Fluttershy said. “Especially, when he found out that Horschester was one of the biggest gem mining towns around.”

Everyone shared a laugh at that. Then, with utter seriousness, Celestia turned away and motioned for the Elements of Harmony to follow her. Pinkie Pie took a moment to unhook herself from her jar filled cart, got a promise from one of the guards to look after it, and then scampered after her fellows.

“We’ll cross into the city from here,” Celestia told the group as they passed under the first arch of the bridge. “Mayor York Guardia and I have done our best to evacuate the city so that we can keep others from being hurt.”

“Has Discord appeared yet?” Applejack asked as she took her first step on the Hooflyn Bridge in years. Nostalgia flooded her briefly before reminding herself that she had a job to do. She would take her friends sightseeing later.

The princess frowned but continued moving forward at a brisk gallop. “No,” she said at length. “I know he’s in there somewhere, but other than a few scattered sightings a few days ago, Discord hasn’t made his entrance yet. I believe he is waiting for all of you.”

“How about Trixie?” Twilight queried next.

“There’s been no sign of her either. I don’t know what’s become of her.”

Silence fell over them as each mare prepared herself for another confrontation with the spirit of chaos himself. Crossing the bridge proved uneventful, even with all the citizens of Manehattan passing them on either side. The throng of ponies leaving the city seemed endless and Twilight wondered how so many could live all on one island. When they reached the other side, Celestia led them through the emptying streets.

“Whoa, nelly,” Applejack breathed as she gazed at the deserted walkways that should have been bustling with activity at this time of day. “I never in mah life would have thought that this town could get so... quiet.”

“It’s spooky,” Fluttershy agreed. “Do we really need to go deeper?”

“Where are we going, princess?” Twilight wanted to know.

“I’m not sure,” Celestia admitted. “Though, I have a feeling we’ll find out soon enough.”

They were coming up to an intersection and Celestia made to keep going straight. However, a pair of railroad crossing gates suddenly appeared before her in a flash. Warning sounds and lights from the gates began to blare and blink and the gates closed. The princess and her fellow ponies screeched to a halt to avoid crashing into them.

Before anypony could say anything, they all felt the ground begin to shake. The tremors grew with each passing second, making it hard for any pony without wings to stay on their hooves. They braced themselves as best they could and steeled their resolve for whatever was coming towards them.

A pair of tap-dancing, six story buildings rumbled into view, stage right.

A collective blink passed through the group.

Except for Pinkie Pie. “Oh! Dinner and a show!” she squealed and began munching on some popcorn.

The two massive structures, each complete with a pair of stone legs and arms, performed a nimble dance routine that miraculously didn’t crack the pavement. In one of their hands, they twirled a wooden cane the size of a train passenger car and on the top of their roofs sat a black top hat. The brief show finally ended when the buildings took off their hats and bowed to their equine audience.

“Yay!” Pinkie Pie cheered and clopped her hooves together. “That’s the way to bring down the house!”

The railroad gates lifted. The buildings righted themselves and pointed their canes further down the lane. Their free hands motioned for the ponies to come forward.

A few moments passed before Rainbow Dash dared to speak. “Do... we keep going?

Celestia slowly nodded. “Come along. And stay close.” She cautiously trotted forward. Her smaller companions did the same though Fluttershy needed to be dragged by the tail by Applejack due to freezing up in fear. The buildings snapped to attention and marched down the street ahead of them.

After two blocks of following their “escorts,” the walking buildings came to a stop. The princess and the Ponyvillians did the same but tensed to act whenever necessary. Applejack took note that they had stopped right in front of the Equire State Building. The buildings stepped to the side to allow another normally inanimate object to step forward.

A loud gasp escaped from the lips of all the bearers of harmony. The Statue of Ponity, one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city, walked up to them.

“Hello, girls!”

The gathered ponies numbly looked up. On top of the Statue of Ponity’s crowned head, Discord happily waved down at them. The statue lifted the arm that carried its book upwards so that the draconequus could hop onto it and then lowered him to the ground. Discord jumped to the pavement and turned towards the symbol of hope and freedom.

“Thank you for the ride, dear,” Discord said gratefully. He pointed his eagle claw towards the direction of the harbor. “Fancy is that way. Have a nice trip!” The Statue of Ponity cracked a smile and lumbered off to begin its journey home.

“Hate to see what the fare will be for that carriage ride,” Discord commented as he watched the statue disappear around a bend. He smirked and turned around to face his guests. “Now then, where were-WHOA!”

Discord flattened himself to the ground as a harmonized rainbow flew past where his body used to be. The rainbow continued on and impacted against his dancing buildings. A blinding white light, accompanied by a roaring sound like a crashing wave, lit up the area. As the light gradually receded, Discord peeked his eyes open and looked at where the rainbow had flown. His wonderful creations, the tap-dancing buildings, were now just regular structures placed in the middle of the street.

Discord scowled and leaped to his feet. “Hey! I wasn’t ready yet!” he yelled.

The source of his ire touched down from their magically combined attack. The Elements of Harmony glared back at him.

“Shoot,” Fluttershy cursed, her features scrunched up into a disappointed frown. “I was sure we’d get him while he wasn’t paying attention.”

“Okay, girls,” Twilight called to them, setting herself for another try. “Let’s make this next one count!”

Discord frantically waved two white flags above his head. “Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!”

“We are not interested in anything you have to say, Discord!” Princess Celestia shot back.

“Oh, it’s the daymare herself,” Discord mocked. “Finally decided to get off your duff and mingle with us commoners?”

Celestia brushed off the insult. “The only thing I need to know from you is how you escaped! I’ll be sure to make no more mistakes once you are back to being stone.”

“Oooh, origin story time, is it?!” Discord cackled with glee and regaining much of his former enthusiasm. A snap of his fingers later and a comic book appeared in his hands. He held it before him so that they could all get a good look at it. On the cover was the title, “My Little Pony: The Return of Discord! Collector’s Issue #1” and below that was a picture of the draconequus himself explosively breaking out of his stone prison.

Discord flipped through the comic until he came to the page he was looking for. “Here we are! Looky!” He threw the comic into the air where it hovered and increased to billboard size. “There’s me right as I’m being turned to stone by you naughty elements. I strained with everything I had but I still got stoned. That might have been the end of me if it weren’t for a curious little pony.” The page flipped to show Discord as a statue in the sculpture garden. Beneath his pedestal stood a light blue unicorn.

“Trixie!” Twilight cried out.

“Hmm, was that her name?” Discord pondered as his lion paw stroked his beard. “Whatever. There’s so many of you, it’s impossible to keep track. Anyway, she happened across me and a little bit of luck allowed me to get a hold on her magic. From there, it was a simple matter of soaking up what I could and break free! And here I am!” He finished by spreading his arms wide in triumph with the comic book exploding into fireworks that streaked across the sky.

When the celebratory display ended, Celestia stepped forward. “It was you I sensed when I checked Trixie over. If only I had been quicker, I could have stopped you then.”

“Yes, yes,” Discord waved impatiently towards her. “But you lost your chance and now I’ve got things in place to bring forth my wonderful chaos to all of Equestria!”

“Not if we can help it!” Twilight spoke up and jumped in front of Celestia. The rest of her friends took up positions next to her. “We’re going to stop you! Just like we did last time!”

With an exaggerated sigh, Discord placed his hands on his hips and said, “Are we really going to go through this tired routine again?”

“We’ll fight you as much as we have to!” Applejack proclaimed. “Ain’t no way we’re lettin’ ya get away with this!”

The spirit of disharmony rolled his eyes at all the foolish heroics on display before him. “Oh, very well. If you insist. But first...” A flash encompassed everyone present, leaving the street deserted afterwards.

After another flash of light, the ponies stumbled about, disoriented from being teleported with no warning. It took a few moments to clear their heads of a sudden bout of dizziness. When they finally managed to see clearly, they found themselves standing on metal grating rather than the pavement of the streets.

“... a little change of scenery.”

Celestia was the first to regain her bearings. “Where did you take us?” she demanded.

Discord swiped his arm around to encompass the area. “Look around and see for yourself.”

The group did so. The first thing they noticed was that the vast expanse of Manehatten was spread out before them, alerting them that they were much higher up. Looking around further, they appeared to be on some type of observation walkway with guardrails and coin operated binoculars set up at regular intervals. Celestia looked upwards and beheld a massive spire spiking the sky. Before anymore could be taken in, a gasp from Applejack caught their attention.

“We’re on top of the Equire State Building!”

“Bingo!” Discord congratulated the earth pony. “Got it in one!”

“Why are we here?” Rainbow Dash complained. “Now we have to lug your ugly mug all the way down when we beat you!”

“I thought this spot would be appropriate for our epic showdown,” Discord explained, seemingly unfazed by Rainbow’s assurance that they would win. He drew himself up to his full height and donned a more serious expression. “Now, listen up. This is how it’s going to go down. I’m going to give you ponies one free shot. Better put your all into it, ladies.” His terms given, he crossed his arms and smiled smugly at their confused faces.

“That’s it?” Twilight asked suspiciously. “You’re going to just stand there and let us use the elements?”

“Did I stutter, Twilight Sparkle? Surely your hearing can’t be as bad as your magic.”

Twilight growled through clenched teeth and set herself into an attack stance. “Fine. Girls?! We’re taking him down!” She heard her friends give similar shouts of encouragement and grouped together.

Concentrating, the Elements of Harmony began radiating pure unity among them. A brilliant burst of white light enveloped them and they all rose up into the air. The ponies’ manes and tails billowed in the magical gust of wind that sprang up. Twilight’s body floated to the center of the circle created by the others and her tightly shut eyes opened to reveal that they were completely white. That act heralded the creation of a spectacular rainbow that shot up into the sky before descending down upon its intended target.

Discord smiled and spread his arms wide as if welcoming a hug from a long lost friend.

The rainbow impacted him with the force of all the honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty and magic that had been generated. Stone formed around his feet and swiftly covered the rest of his body all the way to the tips of his horns. A final flash of light obscured the statue from sight.

From the Elements, another flash of light erupted and shot into the sky, spreading out and disintegrating the cotton candy clouds that covered the country. The sun’s rays shone across the land as though bathing it in its own form of love. Finally, their labor finished, the power surrounding the six chosen ponies winked out and they dropped back to the ground. The mares grinned in satisfaction at seeing Discord’s imprisoned form, looking oddly content and serene in his last moments.

Princess Celestia came up to her subjects and beamed down at them. “Well done, my little ponies. Once again, I thank you for lending us your strength in our time of need. Harmony has triumphed once again.”

Twilight blushed at the praise and responded, “I’m just glad Discord didn’t try to turn us against each other. I never want to go through something like that again.”

“Indeed,” Celestia agreed. “I’m going to make sure that it never happens a second time. Discord will not be bothering anypony ever again.”

“Well now, I wouldn’t say that.”

Celestia’s heart skipped a beat. The sound of clapping, intermixed with frogs croaking, cats meowing and crickets chirping, reached her ears. She whirled around and gasped.

The stone statue of Discord was where it should be. Its hands coming together contemptuously were not.

“Lovely work you girls did,” the statue spoke with a sneer. “But, I’m thinking grey is not my color. Wouldn’t you agree, Rarity?” Before the seamstress in question could comment, the statue snapped its fingers. A bucket of paint appeared above it and dumped a white, black, grey and brown liquid over its head. The opposing rainbow of colors washed down the statue’s form and paradoxically filled in Discord’s normal array of hues. In a flash, a large mirror appeared and Discord inspected himself before nodding in satisfaction. “Much better.”

The restored draconequus turned towards his audience. He grinned in delight at their stunned expressions. “Surprised? Don’t be. Your little love taps no longer work on me. I’ve grown beyond even the power of the Elements of Harmony.”

Several moments went by in silence as the gathered ponies continued to stare at him in utter disbelief. Finally, hesitantly, Twilight Sparkle found her voice.

“But... but... but that’s not fair!”

“Haven’t you learned anything about me, Twilight? I don’t play fair!” He disappeared in a flash and reappeared next to her. Before she or anypony else could stop him, Discord picked her up and gave her a not so gentle noogie to the head. “Don’t be such a sore loser! To show I’m a good sport, I’ve got some wonderful runner-up prizes for you all!” He disappeared again and Twilight flopped down onto the metal walkway.

As Twilight painfully made it back to her hooves, a Discord plushie popped into existence before her. Others just like it appeared in front of the other startled ponies as well.

“Do you like them?” Discord asked eagerly as he hovered above. “I’ve been working on these dolls for a while and I think they’ll go viral across Equestria in no time!” Another Discord doll appeared in his lion paw. “They even talk! Listen!” He pulled a string from the doll’s back with his eagle claw, causing a mechanism inside to activate and say in a distorted version of Discord’s voice, “Chaos is a wonderful thing!”

Discord laughed joyously and tossed the doll over the side of the building. “Well, my little ponies,” he said once his chuckles died down. “This has been a hoot but I’ve got places to be and disharmony to spread! Stay tuned for my comeback tour!” With one final parting laugh, he flashed and was gone.

The Elements of Harmony and the Princess of Equestria were left with their mouths hanging open. No pony moved or could even think of anything to say. Eventually, Twilight’s focus turned towards the doll that still hovered in front of her.


The unfortunate plushie ignited into flames from the unicorn’s magic. She huffed and puffed heavily as she watched the doll disintegrate before her.

“Um, Twilight?” came Rainbow Dash’s concerned voice behind her.

“What?” Twilight bit out.

Rainbow zipped in front of her and held up her own Discord doll. “Could you kill mine with fire next?”

Twilight Sparkle was more than happy to comply.


A burst of light signaled Discord’s appearance.

“Honey!” he called out. “I’m home!”

He ducked to avoid a waffle iron thrown at his head.

“Let me out of here!”

The furious cry was followed by more hotel objects magically flung at him from seemingly every direction. Discord took cover behind a sofa just as a lamp, chair and an entire bed collided with where he had just been. He cautiously peeked his head over the top and gasped as knives and forks headed his way. He dipped down but didn’t quite get away this time. Several of the kitchen utensils embedded themselves into the cushions but a few got lodged into his horns.

“I can see you’re feeling better,” Discord drawled. He stood up and plucked the sharp objects from his deer antler and goat horn and leveled a glare at the panting unicorn on the other end of the room.

“You monster!” Trixie screamed. She lifted up more furniture with her magic and prepared to fling them at her captor. “How dare you keep me prisoner!”

“Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s for your own good!” Discord defended, brandishing his hands in a placating manner. “I’m merely keeping you safe from all the dangers out there.”

“Shut up!” Trixie set herself to launch her improvised ammo.

Discord held up a hand in warning. “Ah, ah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”


“Because what happens to me also happens to you.”

Trixie snarled and kept her levitating bludgeoning weapons ready. “Liar!”

“Don’t believe me? How about this?” Discord formed a fist with his eagle claw and unceremoniously slugged himself in the face.

“Ow!” Trixie yelped as pain blossomed over her muzzle. She lost concentration with her magic and the furniture she had collected crashed to the floor.

“See? What did I tell you?”

Trixie rubbed her head, anger and confusion warring within her. “Ohhh, what happened?”

“Something quite unexpected, my dear,” Discord said as he rounded the sofa and took a seat. “Now, do calm down and I’ll explain.”

The throbbing on her muzzle had dulled so Trixie looked up and stared daggers at the mismatched creature before her. “I don’t want to hear anything from you!”

“On the contrary, I think you’ll be very interested in what I have to say,” Discord countered. “You see, you may have gained immortality.”

Trixie blinked and her prepared rant died on her lips. “What?” she whispered.

Discord pointed at a spot between them and a microscope appeared. “Take a look through that.” He sighed when Trixie didn’t make any move to go near it. “Come now, it won’t hurt you. Just put your eye on the end there and you’ll see something fascinating. I promise.”

A few moments went by as the unicorn looked at him in distrust. “What will I see?”

“Sorry. Can’t spoil the surprise. You’ll just have to find out.”

Despite every iota of her being yelling at her that it was a trap, Trixie’s curiosity got the better of her. She slowly and warily walked up to the device. She gave Discord one final look to check for any funny business before placing an eye down on the top lens. She frowned as all she saw were two threads tightly interwoven together. One red and one blue.

“I don’t get it. All Trixie sees are two different lines tangled up.”

“Those lines are our life force,” Discord revealed. “Don’t ask me how it happened, since I’m not sure myself, but when I hid in your horn to get away from Celestia, I got ourselves all mixed together.”

Trixie backed away from the microscope and gazed up at him in horror. “Wait. You hid in Trixie’s horn?”

“For nearly a month now,” Discord casually answered while filing his claws.

Trixie’s jaw dropped. Little by little, several unexplained instances over the past month began playing through her mind. Her ears flattened and her face fell as she breathed, “It was you.”

“Hm?” Discord smirked as he watched Trixie piece together the puzzle that had eluded her for so long.

“The things those ponies accused me of at the play. The Ursa Minor and the Ursa Major. You sent them to me.”

“Go on...”

Trixie swallowed as she continued. “I ended up in the middle of nowhere without knowing how just before that pegasus attacked me. All those rejections from the talent agencies...” She trailed off as tears began welling in her eyes.

“Good girl!” Discord clapped his hands together as she finished.

“Why...why me?”

The spirit of chaos shrugged. “You happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. But hey, it hasn’t been all bad! You wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for me.”

Trixie sniffled. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I helped you improve on your shows at the beginning. Then I gave you a little boost so that you could scare off that Ursa Major. We both got something out of it in the end, so no hard feelings?”

“No... no hard feelings?” Trixie repeated. Her held back tears finally fell down her cheeks. She ignored them as she reared up and screamed, “You... you ruined my life, you jerk!”

“Hardly,” Discord waved away her outburst. “If anything, your life is just starting.”

“How do you figure?!”

“Trix. Can I call you Trix?”


“Fine. I already told you that you’ve essentially gained eternal life. I’m not joking. I’m a spirit. I live as long as there is disharmony amongst ponies. That means I live for a very, very long time.”

Trixie wiped her tears away with a hoof. “I don’t understand. How could I live as long as you?”

Discord impatiently pointed at the still present microscope. “Our life forces, remember?! Think! With them tied up as they are, we share a link! As far as I can tell, as long as one of us lives, the other survives!” He suddenly hopped off the sofa and spread his arms wide as his tone changed from annoyance to joy. “And I proved it when I had those meddlesome elements strike me with everything they had!”

“The... elements?” Trixie asked. Then realization hit her like a hoof to the face. “You don’t mean the Elements of Harmony?!”

“Yep! Turned me to stone they did! But with you still kicking it here, our link brought me back! Ha! Ha! Ha!” His laughter echoed throughout the room. He fell back onto the sofa and cackled so hard that tears began leaking from his eyes.

Trixie stared ahead blankly. She tuned out the celebrating draconequus as the current revelations began to sink in. It was just too much to take and she sank to the floor. How long she stayed that way, she didn’t know, but she was brought out of her catatonic state when she felt something patting her head.

“Now, now, Missie,” Discord soothed as he affectionately rubbed her head with his paw. “I know what you’re thinking. How could something so wonderfully chaotic happen to little ol’ me? Luck of the draw, I say!”

“Wonderful? Luck?” Trixie spoke with no emotion. She looked up at him with empty, blank eyes. “My life is over. You’re going to keep me locked up here forever so that you can’t be beaten.”

“Well, I could do that,” Discord admitted. He stood and waved his hands. The hotel room wavered before dissolving away. In its place, Trixie found herself laying on a cloud overlooking the city of Manehattan in all its nighttime glory. The lights of the buildings below her twinkled like stars and stretched on for miles in every direction. “Or... I could offer you this.”

Trixie lost her hopeless expression as she took in the magnificent sight below her. “What are you talking about?” she asked in wonderment.

“Why, Manehatten, of course!” Discord exclaimed. “This is where you wanted to make it big, right? Well, here’s your chance! I’ll go and deal with the rest of Equestria the way I want but leave this town all to you.

“Imagine, your name on Bridleway every night! Ponies clamoring for each performance! Fans dying to just get a fleeting glimpse of you as you walk the red carpet or take the stage!”

It was easy for Trixie to imagine. She had been imagining it her entire life. The fame, the glamour and the fortune readily danced before her eyes. Everything she had ever wanted literally lay before her.

However, with this too-good-to-be-true offer came suspicion. She regarded Discord with narrowed eyes and stated, “How do I know that this isn’t a trick?”

“Moi, deceive you?” Discord pouted. “Why ever would you think that?”

“Takes one to know one.”

Surprisingly, Discord chuckled in genuine mirth. “Ah, that’s why I like you. Your sassy self is very refreshing from all the regular pony dullards.

“Don’t you worry, you have my word. I want to keep you nice and happy so that you’ll have plenty to live for while I do my thing elsewhere.” He looped an arm around Trixie’s neck and pulled her in close. “What do you say? Do we have a deal?”

Trixie pushed him away from her personal space. “Don’t touch Trixie.” She then looked away and down at the glittering lights spread across the landscape. She bit her lower lip as indecision battled within her. Allow Equestria to be plunged into eternal disharmony while she basked in glory? Or refuse and be miserable for the rest of eternity?

Her answer came out slowly and hesitantly. “I... I... don’t know.”

Discord frowned. However, he shrugged and floated a few hooves away before turning back to her. “Well, I can see you need some time to think this over. Fair enough. I’ll give you a few days to come to a decision. I’ll even throw in a little incentive to help you along.” Grinning, he snapped his fingers and Trixie’s astonished form winked from sight.

Now alone, Discord rubbed his hands together. “As for me, I’ve got work to do and places to be. Look out, Equestria! Here I come!”


View Online

“Well? Now what?”

Huddled next to her friends at the entrance to the Hooflyn Bridge and dripping with chocolate rain that poured from the pink sky, Twilight Sparkle frowned and dipped her head to stare blankly at the ground. Rainbow Dash hovered above her, waiting for some type of response to her question. The seconds dragged on but the unicorn didn’t react. Rainbow glanced around and noticed all of her fellows were in similar states of depression. Even Pinkie Pie was acting subdued, her cart of chocolate milk jars sitting forgotten off to the side as she sighed and pawed at the ground.

Finally, Twilight voiced her answer. “I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

Rainbow swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat and landed next to her. The pegasus patted and rubbed Twilight on the back with a hoof. “Hey... hey. Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you’ll think of something. You always do. You’re the smartest egghead I know. So just... take your time. Okay?”

Twilight closed her eyes and nodded slowly. “Sure.”

Afraid to say anymore, Rainbow decided to stay quiet but kept her hoof on Twilight’s back. Twilight didn’t make any attempts to remove it.

Silence fell over the group with the only sounds coming from the drops of chocolate striking the ground. Nearby, Princess Celestia paced back and forth, her features scrunched up in frustration. Finally, she stopped and stomped the ground, gaining everypony’s attention.

“My little ponies,” she called out. “To me, please.”

Quickly, the bearers got to their hooves and eagerly trotted over to the princess. Once they reached her, they looked up with desperate hope in their eyes. It tore at her heart to see such expressions. Celestia regarded each one equally, making sure that all of these brave ponies got the recognition they deserved.

“I’m going to be honest with all of you,” she began, taking her time with her words. “I’m at a loss as to how Discord could have overcome the Elements’ power. Such a thing should never happen... but it did. However, I, and more importantly, all of you, can not dwell on that. If we do, we will only be playing into his hands.

“So please, no more sad faces. Together, I’m sure we will think of something to stop Discord once and for all.”

Her small speech over, the six mares looked to one another. They searched each other’s eyes, looking for that spark that would reignite their passion to bring back the harmony that had been taken away from them and the rest of Equestria. One of them firmed up her features and stepped forward.

“Princess, I promise you we’ll find a way,” Rarity spoke with absolute conviction. “We all have overcome challenges in our lives, many of them together. This is no different. As you said, we just have to find the right path. And once we do, nothing will be able to stand in our way.”

“Yay!” Pinkie Pie cheered and enveloped Rarity in a tight hug. “That’s the way to talk!” She let go of the somewhat flustered unicorn and turned to the rest of her friends. “Come on, everypony! What do you say we ditch all this dreary-weary stuff and get to cracking this nut?!”

“Sounds good ta me!” Applejack seconded. “Ain’t nothin’ we can’t do if we all work together!”

The others soon joined in with their own shouts of encouragement and before long, smiles spread across each of their muzzles. The feelings of camaraderie and good cheer grew and grew. An aura of palpable harmony spread from them, pushing away the gloomy chocolate milk attempting to drown them in woe.

Celestia beamed with pride at the sphere of unity that now protected them. “You see? Discord’s power can be overcome. It just takes a little friendship.”

Twilight Sparkle also gave a wide smile, letting the wonderful feelings that her friends shared with her to lift her from the depression that had threatened to overwhelmed her. There was no way Discord was going to win, not with how great she felt. And now, it was far past time she got down to business. “Okay, girls,” Twilight addressed the group. “Let’s all put our heads together and think of what to do next.”

Pinkie came up to Twilight, took the unicorn’s cheeks in her hooves, and bonked their foreheads together.

“Ow!” Twilight cried in pain and pushed the earth pony away. “Pinkie! What are you doing?!”

“Putting our heads together, just like you said!” Pinkie explained while rubbing her sore noggin. “I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work without getting a huge headache though.”

Twilight planted her face in a hoof. “Pinkie, that’s not what I meant. It means to brainstorm ideas.”

“Huh. Hey, Dashie. Could you go get a raincloud-”

“Don’t even go there!”

Pinkie Pie sighed in exasperation. “You know, Twilight? If you just said what you mean, then others wouldn’t take what you said the wrong way.”

A series of strangled noises and half formed words spilled out of Twilight’s mouth. Before she could go into full blown rage mode, Applejack stepped between the two ponies and spoke up. “Let’s get back on track here. Now, what do ya’ll think should be our next move? I reckon that we should find out how Discord managed to beat our elements. We do that and I’m sure we can plan a way to finish him, good.”

“A perfectly reasonable suggestion, Applejack,” Rarity said. “Just... how do we go about doing that?”

An uneasy silence permeated through the group, threatening to pull them all back down from their earlier high. Fortunately, they were saved from stumbling over the abyss when Fluttershy meekly raised a hoof.

“Um... I... um have an idea. That is... um... if you want to hear it...”

Rainbow Dash let out a long suffering sigh. “C’mon, Fluttershy. You know us better than that. We’ll listen to whatever it is you have to say.”

“I think we should find Trixie.”

“Except that.”

Applejack swatted the blue pegasus over the head. “Quit the back talkin’!”

“Aw, come on!” Rainbow whined as she rubbed her sore head. “This again?! Gotta find Trixie! Gotta find Trixie! Can’t we get some type of leash and collar and tie her to a tree so we can keep her in one place?”

Fluttershy dipped her head down in shame. “I’m sorry. I... I guess it wasn’t a very... good idea.”

Twilight came up to her and patted the animal caretaker on the back. “No, Fluttershy. You’re right. This whole thing started with Trixie. I’m sure if we can find her and get her to talk, she’ll know something that we don’t.”

“You can’t be serious...” Rainbow moaned.

Twilight rounded on Rainbow and spoke sternly, “If you have any better suggestions, I’m all ears.” Twilight whirled around and pointed at Pinkie Pie. “That means I’m willing to listen!”

Pinkie Pie haughtily waved a hoof at her. “Well, duh. What do you take me for, Twilight? A simpleton?”

It took a colossal force of will for Twilight to turn away and address everyone present. “Now then. I know we’ve been from one end of Equestria to the other trying to track Trixie down but she’s the only lead that we have. There’s gotta be something she knows that can help us beat Discord.”

No pony voiced any objections but the put upon expressions some of them wore made it clear just how enthusiastic they were to once again take up the chase for the wayward unicorn.

Rarity huffed out, “Well, that’s all well and good, but just how do you propose that we find her? She could be anywhere in that city or... anywhere for that matter.”

“I should be able to help you with that,” Celestia suddenly interjected. Seeing as she now had everypony’s attention, she continued, “There’s a spell that can pinpoint Trixie’s exact location. The only thing I would need is something that belongs to her. Do any of you have something like that?”

“Trixie’s cape!” Twilight yelled in excitement. She turned to Rainbow and asked, “Do you still have that cape that you came back with?”

Rainbow Dash cringed and began nervously pawing the ground. “Um... no. It burned up back in Horschester when that candle came to life. You know? The one we all ran away from before leaving?”

“Oh. Shoot.”

Pinkie suddenly began bouncing up and down while waving a hoof in the air. “Oh! Oh! I know! I know!”

When Pinkie didn’t elaborate and just kept hopping, Rarity decided to prod her. “Well, Darling? Are you going to tell us?”

“Oh! Right! Um, yeah. What about her other set?”

“What other set?” Twilight asked.

“You know! The one she left in Ponyville. We could use that!”

It took a moment for Twilight to figure out what Pinkie was going on about. However, the memory of the night that an Ursa Minor had nearly rampaged through the town sprang forth. A grin spread across her muzzle and she began matching Pinkie’s enthusiasm. “Yes! That should work! Good going, Pinkie!”

“Ah, not to be a stickler or anythin’,” Applejack hesitantly spoke up, “but that’s all the way back in Ponyville and we’re all stuck here. I reckon we don’t have time to be travelin’ all the way back and forth.”

“I can help with that too,” Celestia offered and spread her wings to their full length. “All of you. Stand beside me. Three on each side under my wings.” The ponies did as they were told and once they were in place, Celestia’s horn glowed. A second later, a brilliant flash encompassed them all and they were gone.


They reappeared in front of the Ponyville town hall in a burst of light.

“Whoa,” Rainbow Dash breathed, swaying back and forth on her hooves as she fought down a sense of dizziness. “What a rush...”

“You get used to it,” Twilight Sparkle commented as she placed a hoof on Rainbow to help regain her balance.

“I liked it!” Pinkie Pie squealed. She looked up at Princess Celestia. “Can we do that again?!”

“Let’s get what we came here for first, Pinkie,” Rarity interrupted and began trotting away. The others followed suit.

“I apologize if the trip here was unsettling,” Celestia said as they made their way through the streets. Like at Manehattan, chocolate rain fell from pink clouds above. However, that seemed to be the extent of Discord’s influence as everything else seemed to be in order. “It was the fastest way I knew to get us here.”

“Don’t worry about it, princess,” Twilight defended her mentor. “We made it here alright.”

“Speak for yourself,” Rainbow mumbled quietly.

Nothing more was said as they moved on. The going was easy as no other ponies were out on the streets. Understandable, considering that the rain had heralded the coming of Discord’s brief reign over them last time. The townsfolk were all probably huddled in their houses and praying that salvation would be coming for them soon.

The seven mares finally reached their destination. A one story, unmarked wooden shed about as long as a train car situated near the outskirts of the town. Rarity opened the unlocked door and graciously held it open for everyone else to walk in first. Inside, the walls and floors were covered with all manner of discarded items and materials. Rugs, brooms, tools, kitchen utensils and many other household things filled nearly every nook and cranny of the shack.

“Hmm, looks like the last one in here didn’t clean like they were suppose to,” Rarity sniffed in disdain. “Honestly, some ponies.”

“I may be a little out of touch,” Celestia said as she glanced around at all the... junk scattered to and fro. “But what is this place?”

“It’s sort of a lost and found,” Applejack explained while rummaging through a pile of garbage bags with clothes in them. “When townsfolk lose things, they come here to see if it’s been found and left here by somepony else. Though lately it’s been used more as a dump than anythin’ else.”

“And sometimes, ponies that can’t buy new tools will look in here and see if they can get what they need for free,” Fluttershy added. “It’s like a donation building for some.”

“I think I’ll go with dump, like AJ said,” Rainbow Dash muttered. She poked at a doll on a shelf that was covered in so much dust that its colors were hard to make out. Her hoof came back with a layer of it that she blew away into a small cloud before moving on.

“Do we know what we’re looking for?” Rarity asked as she did her best to avoid touching anything other than with her magic.

“I’m pretty sure this is where Snips and Snails left Trixie’s stuff when they cleaned up her caravan,” Twilight answered as she went deeper into the shack. “I don’t remember her ever coming back to get it.”

“Hey, guys!” Pinkie spoke up from the deepest corner of the shack. “I think I found it!”

The group crowded around where Pinkie was pointing. She had moved away some boxes which had been covering up a worn, brown chest. A note had been taped on the lid that read “The G&PT.”

“Well, open it up!” Rainbow said.

Pinkie nodded eagerly and flipped a small switch that kept the chest closed. She then lifted the lid and peered inside. Several bundles of fireworks and rockets filled one side of the chest while the other contained a pile of books.

“Hey!” Twilight suddenly cried out and levitated one of the books towards her. “She had a copy of ‘Astronomical Astronomer's Almanac to All Things Astronomy’ the whole time?! I’ve been meaning to get that replaced ever since Spike torched the last one!” Luckily, none of the others seemed to care about her find. She discretely hovered the book off to the side and under a pile of clothes to retrieve later.

“Jeez, she had a lot of trash,” Rainbow complained and began tossing the fireworks and books away carelessly.

“Careful, Rainbow!” Twilight admonished, desperately catching the thrown items with her magic and setting them down gently. “If you set off one of those rockets then somepony could get hurt!”

“Ah, ha! Got it!” Rainbow whipped around and held up a see-through package. Inside, light purple cloth with stars of varying sizes and colors could be seen.

“Wonderful,” Celestia congratulated the triumphant pegasus. “Let’s get to a more open spot and then I’ll cast the spell.”

The Ponyvillians and one princess shuffled out of the shed and towards Twilight’s library. There, under the cover of the branches and leaves, the rain didn’t reach them. Rainbow handed the package to Celestia who opened it up and levitated out the hat and cape. Despite being folded up and packed away for years, the cloth of the two articles didn’t appear to have any creases in them. Nor did they appear damaged in any way, an oddity given that an ursa’s paw had trampled all over them.

Celestia ran a quick cantrip over the material and hummed in appreciation. “These clothes have enchantments cast over them. I assume this is why they are in such good condition.”

“What kind of enchantments?” Twilight asked, her interests peaked.

“We don’t have time to look into it further. You’ll just have to ask Trixie when you find her. But, this will help me locate her easily.” Celestia concentrated and her golden hued magic rolled over the hat and cape in a second. The magical energy pulled together at the tip of the hat. Then, a white ball of light shot off into the distance and hung in the sky like a miniature moon. Celestia placed the hat and cape back in the bag and pointed at the speck of light in the sky. “We are fortunate. She’s close by. Under that beacon is where she’ll be. Let us go-”

“Your highness!”

From above, a pair of pegasi guards touched down and rushed up to Celestia with panic in their eyes. Seeing the normally stoic guards act this way sent a disturbing shiver through the group of ponies.

“The castle!” one of the guards gasped out.

“All of Canterlot!” the other added.

“It’s in total chaos!” they both exclaimed.

Celestia’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Discord,” she hissed. She turned towards the bearers and proclaimed, “My ponies. You know what you must do. I’m needed elsewhere. I know that you will succeed. Farewell and good luck.” With no further words, the princess took to the skies, followed closely by her guards. In a flash of golden light, they teleported away.

Twilight faced her friends. “You heard her, girls. We can’t let her down. Once we find Trixie and convince her to help us, Discord’s got a date with destiny.”

A rallying cheer rose up from the Elements of Harmony. With determination and spirits high, they raced off towards the horizon.


“Not much farther, now,” Rainbow Dash said as she rejoined the others after taking a quick peek at the beacon from high above. “A few more minutes at most.”

“Good,” Twilight replied back. “Everyone keep sharp. Don’t let your guard down.”

The pace they had set through the countryside was brisk but not too fast to tire them out. Twilight wanted to be sure that they were all in top condition for whatever came their way. With Discord’s power covering the land, anything and everything could happen. So far, the going had been fairly easy with only hippo ballerinas, flying whales, dancing roses, masked crocodiles and walking brooms impeding their way. Honestly, Twilight was surprised that a musical hadn’t broken out with so many odd creatures running amok.

However, they were almost there. With a final push through a forest of giant mushrooms, the ponies found themselves right below the pulsing beacon that the princess had created. Only a few feet away stood their target.

“You have been a wonderful audience today!” Trixie shouted out. She stood on her hind legs upon a mushroom, overlooking a field full of every manner of creature that Twilight had ever encountered and more. Manticores, Diamond Dogs, sea serpents, a green dragon, rabbits, an Ursa Minor, fauns, a hyrda, even parasprites were all crowded together. Each one clapped or cheered in any manner that they could for the pony performer before them.

As Twilight and the others picked their jaws off the ground, Trixie continued her speech. “Things have only just started! The show is far from over!”

“Um, Trixie?” Twilight hesitantly called up to the unicorn.

Trixie landed on all fours and turned towards the voice. She quirked an eyebrow down at her before smiling brightly. “Ah! More fans! Trixie approves!” The magician pointed a hoof down towards the “audience.” “Find a seat and be prepared for feats of magic the likes you have never seen before!”

“Is she for real?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“It’s lookin’ like Discord got to her,” Applejack stated.

“Yeah, but she’s not all grey like we were,” Pinkie Pie pointed out. Indeed, Trixie’s normal light blue coat and platinum mane and tail appeared even brighter than normal with how enthusiastic Trixie was acting.

“Darling!” Rarity shouted up at the performer. “Please come down! We have things we wish to discuss with you!”

“Now, now, now,” Trixie admonished them. “Do be patient, my zealous little admirers. Trixie will be signing autographs after the show. You can try to get a word in with her then.” She flipped back around and faced the crowd of creatures once again.

“We are not your admirers!” Rainbow yelled. Her retort was wasted as Trixie ceased to notice them anymore. “That’s it! Time for round two, baby!” She charged forward but hardly made it off the ground when Applejack snapped down on her tail and reeled her back in.

“Hold on there, buckaroo!” Applejack said through clenched teeth. “You take her down and then we got a whole host of critters ta deal with!”

“Applejack’s right,” Twilight confirmed. “We’ll have to do this in stages. First, we get the animals to leave and then we can handle Trixie.

“Fluttershy? Get to it.”

The pegasus in question blinked before feeling herself getting pushed towards what constituted the stage. “M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-meeeeee?!” she shrieked in terror. Fluttershy tried desperately to dig her hooves into the ground but Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie were overpowering her efforts. “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-but why?!”

“You’re the only one that can do it!” Twilight explained. “Animals always listen to you!”

“Yeah!” Pinkie chirped in. “And if they don’t want to listen, you can just stare them away!”

“I-I-I-I-don’t know! I’ve never tried it on so many before! And it would be mean!”

“Just give it your all, sweetie!” Rarity encouraged her. “We know you can do it!”

With one final shove, Fluttershy stumbled out in front of Trixie’s mushroom. Shaking uncontrollably, she cautiously peeked out from behind her mane. Over a hundred set of eyes stared back at her.


“You there! Pipe down and get off Trixie’s stage! You’re ruining-Urk!”

Distantly, Fluttershy heard scuffling and shouting behind her but that was irrelevant against the horrors she was now facing. Memories of being on stage, of being paraded in front of ponies with flashing cameras and judging gazes raced through her mind. Oh, how she hated being the center of attention. It was almost too much to bear.

“P-please... I... um... would really appreciate... if you... um... were to... to go back home,” she barely squeaked out. “If you... don’t mind, that is?”

The assortment of animals looked at each other quizzically. One of the Diamond Dogs in the front row raised a paw and said, “Actually, I don’t even know how we got here. Is it really okay if we just go?”

Fluttershy nodded rapidly. “Oh, yes! Please do! If you would all just follow my lead...” With that, the caretaker began to direct each of the creatures to file out, starting with the larger ones first so that they didn’t trample anything smaller than them. Now in her natural element, Fluttershy’s confidence swelled and in no time she had all the animals moving along and back where they belonged. She promised each one of them that she’d visit later to see how they were doing.

Sometimes, it felt good to be a pony.

When Fluttershy returned, sporting the largest smile on her muzzle that anypony could remember, she found that the others had also finished their part of the plan.

“Boy, howdy, have I wanted to do that for a while now,” Applejack crowed as she looked over her hoofwork.

All Trixie could do was glare at the farmer as struggling against her hogtied legs wasn’t accomplishing anything. Even cursing at the hayseed was denied due to the apple lodged in her mouth.

“Keep her still, AJ,” Twilight said as she knelt down next to Trixie’s head. Her horn glowed a soft magenta.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Twi?” Applejack asked as she held Trixie down. The showmare increased her efforts to get away but she was no match for the earth pony’s strength. “She don’t look all Discorded like we were. She is actin’ kinda funny though...”

“How can you tell?” Rainbow quipped.

“She’s not exactly your biggest fan, Twilight,” Rarity pointed out. Her own horn was ready to counter any magic Trixie tried to cast. “What if she tries to fight back?”

“I have to try,” Twilight sighed. “She’s a victim in this too. I just hope she’s willing to listen. Well, wish me luck.” Wasting no more time, Twilight touched her horn against Trixie’s.



White everywhere.

No matter where Twilight Sparkle looked, all she saw was white. There was no horizon, no landmarks. She couldn’t tell how far anything was, not that there was anything to see.

Nothing. Just white.

She looked down at herself and was relieved that at least her body looked fine. She wasn’t just a pair of floating eyeballs in this... whatever this place was. She did note that she wasn’t casting a shadow but she seemed to be standing just fine.

Did I do something wrong? she wondered to herself. I just meant to cast the same memory spell that I used before to get my friends to come around. Now I’m... here. What n-?

“Lost, my dear?”


Twilight rocketed several hoof lengths up and then came crashing back down. How that were possible when there was nothing to stand on, she didn’t know or even cared at the moment. Once she picked herself up she whirled around and prepared herself in case of a fight.

“Quite the reaction there, young lass.”

Twilight couldn’t believe her eyes. Her gaze swept over the blue magician’s hat with yellow stars, blue crescent moons and jingling yellow bells. She roamed further to see a stallion’s muzzle looking down at her with gentle amusement. A long, white and curly beard hung down from his chin. His coat was a deep midnight blue though most of his body was covered up by a flowing cape that matched his hat.

Twilight breathed out a name without even realizing it. “Star Swirl the Bearded.”

“Oh? You’ve heard of me?” Star Swirl chuckled.

“Heard of you?!” Twilight sprang up as though she had been standing on hot coals. She beamed up at the ancient unicorn mage and grinned so hard that her cheek muscles strained to match the joy that Twilight felt at that moment. “You’re the greatest unicorn to have ever lived!”

“Oh, pish-posh,” the elder waved away. “I’m sure there have been much more talented unicorns after my day. I just came up with a few tricks here and there. Now then, what brings you here in Trixie’s mind?”

“Oh, right,” Twilight blushed, embarrassed that her fangasm had gotten the best of her. Still, it wasn’t everyday that she got to be muzzle-to-muzzle with one of her favorite idols of all time. It took some effort but Twilight forced herself to focus on the issue that brought her here. “I need to ask Trixie to help us. The Spirit of Disharmony is running amok in Equestria and we think that she might know something to stop him.”

“I see...” Star Swirl trailed off as he pondered this news. “That is quite the predicament.”

“If I may ask?” Twilight sheepishly piped up. When Star Swirl gave her a nod, she continued, “Ah, what are you doing here?”

“Oh, that’s easy. I represent the part of Trixie’s mind that has not yet been corrupted by Discord. He got to her, he did, and it won’t be long now before she’s completely under his influence.”

“That’s terrible!”

“Calm down, young one. All is not lost. You seem to be a rather talented unicorn in your own right. With you here, we may yet be able to reach her.” Twilight’s cheeks reddened at the praise. Star Swirl turned and began walking away. “Come along. This way.”

Twilight trotted up to him until she was keeping up. “Where do we go? It’s all just a blank in here.”

“Ah, that’s the beauty of the mind. We can go anywhere and everywhere with just a thought. Observe.” With a wave of his hoof, the white all around them fizzled. A new setting dissolved into place, that of a forest in the tranquil grasp of night. The quiet of the forest didn’t feel oppressive, but soothing and serene. The sky appeared cloudless, with thousands of stars lighting the heavens above and a perfect crescent moon slowly making its journey from one horizon to the other. It were nights like these that Twilight would love nothing more than to spread out a blanket on a hilltop and just spend hours gazing up at all the wonderful wonders that Luna had created.

“It’s beautiful...” Twilight let out slowly, savoring this perfect moment.

“It pleases me that you enjoy this so much,” Star Swirl said with a warm smile. “Let’s hope that this puts Trixie in a pleasant mood. Come.” He moved forward again, this time on a tangible dirt road. Twilight followed, awestruck at how magnificent this encounter had turned out. The two unicorns traveled only a short distance before the trees began to thin out and eventually open up to a grassy field. The view became even more spectacular as now all of the starry sky was visible to see.

And only a few paces away, a caravan with Trixie’s cutie mark painted on its side lay in the center of the field.

“She’ll be inside,” Star Swirl explained. “Do be prepared.”

“For what?” Twilight asked.

“For anything.”

The simple answer didn’t do much for Twilight’s nerves but she had come this far and wasn’t turning back until she got Trixie to listen. Too much was at stake to be apprehensive about a confrontation. Star Swirl trotted up to the caravan’s door and opened it up with an aura of white magic. It swung open without any resistance.

“We are fortunate. She’s allowing us in without a fuss.” He stepped aside and gestured for Twilight to enter. “After you, my lady.”

Twilight nodded and firmed up her features. With a confident step, she climbed up the wooden planks that lead to the door and stepped in. Inside, it was pitch black. The light of the moon only penetrated a few inches in. “Trixie?” Twilight called out as she walked further in. “Are you here? It’s Twilight Spa-”

The door slammed shut behind her.

Twilight jumped and instinctively lit up her horn. At least she tried to. Blinking, Twilight concentrated harder. However, she couldn’t feel the flow of magic that was as much a part of her as any limb of her body. She strained with all of her might but nothing was happening besides an oncoming headache.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” came a disappointed voice. Star Swirl’s voice. “I take it all back. You’re pathetic.”

“What’s going on?!” Twilight cried out to the darkness.

A response came with a burst of blue light all around her. Twilight shut her eyes from the glare. When she cautiously opened them back up, she found herself in a new surrounding. She gasped as she saw steel bars all around her, trapping her on all sides. Beyond the bars lay the sprawling expanse of tall skyscrapers and neon lights.

“Where... where is this?” Twilight asked to herself.

“Equine Square.”

Twilight spun around. Star Swirl stood just outside the steel cage, next to the edge of the building they were atop of. He stared out at the sight of the most lit corner of Equestria, a wistful smile on his lips. “Breathtaking. And soon to be all mine.”

“What are you talking about?!” Twilight demanded. “And where’s Trixie?!”

Star Swirl shimmered. His form lost a few inches, his coat lightened up and the hat and cape gradually formed into a familiar purple color. When the transformation completed, a mare stood in the stallion’s place.

“Surprised, aren’t you?” Trixie smirked at her captive.

Twilight stared. Her eyes then narrowed and she pointed an accusing hoof at Trixie and roared, “How dare you use one of my heroes against me!”

“Don’t be hatin’ just because you got trapped,” Trixie replied smoothly.

“How do you even know him?!”

Trixie scoffed. “Please. What self respecting unicorn doesn’t know of Star Swirl the Bearded? Granted, Trixie doesn’t know his exact personality but,” she pointed her own hoof at Twilight, “it was enough to fool you, wasn’t it?”

Twilight glared at the showmare, wanting nothing more than to slap her for abusing one of the most famous ponies in history. However, with effort, Twilight forced her emotions down. She closed her eyes, counted to ten, and placed the most neutral expression she could upon her features. Keeping her tone level, she spoke, “Trixie, I didn’t come here to fight you. And I don’t want this to be about us. Equestria’s in danger and we need your help to set things right.”

“Yes, yes, Trixie knows all of this,” Trixie said impatiently. “That big, nasty beast is on the loose. Though why the Elements of Harmony didn’t come to see Trixie herself and had to send you is rather insulting. They can’t spare the time to come see her themselves?”

“The Elements of Harmony have their hooves full, trying to keep Discord at bay. I’m sorry, but they just couldn’t make it.” Twilight figured that telling Trixie the whole truth wouldn’t help her in this case. She had to keep things civil and revealing that she was one of the fabled heroes that wielded the elements would probably set her off.

Trixie huffed. “Fine. Trixie supposes that she can give them some slack. As for you...” The magician reared up on her hind legs and pointed a foreleg towards a spire that rose from the building they were standing on. A ball with hundreds of lights attached at the spire’s top lit up like a sparkling diamond. “You have until that ball drops down to speak. If you haven’t convinced Trixie to help you in that time, then she’ll throw you out and let you deal with things on your own.”

“Wait, what?!” Twilight shrieked.

“As well as being great and powerful, Trixie is also generous. She will hear you out so that you can make your case. In fairness, Trixie will tell you what Discord offered her.” Trixie landed on all fours and paced around Twilight’s prison. “That creature came to Trixie and gave her a choice. Either accept his deal or live as his puppet. If Trixie were to accept, then all of Manehatten will be hers to do with as she pleases. She’ll be free from his rule, able to perform to the masses like she always wanted. Oh, and eternal life.” She stopped her circling and thrust a hoof in Twilight’s face.


The ball began its descent.

Twilight just stared. The opportunity that she had been hoping to get was here but not in any way that she had expected. Did Trixie seriously expect for her to come up with a counter offer so that she would help them?

“Clock is a tickin’.”

Twilight shook her head, hoping to make some sense out of all this. She looked up and saw that the ball was steadily moving to the bottom of the spire. At its current rate, she estimated that she had about five minutes. Twilight gulped and turned to Trixie. “Trixie, you can’t be serious. Equestria’s in danger! Whatever Discord said to you can’t be worth that!”

“Try me,” Trixie retorted.

“Ugh! This is stupid!”

“For somepony that has a time limit, you’re not making good use of it.”

“Alright. Fine! I’ll play your game. But I don’t believe for a second that you don’t care what happens if Discord gets away with things!”

Trixie raised an eyebrow. “What makes you say that?”

“Because you wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of scaring off that Ursa Major if you didn’t care. My baby dragon saw you trying your best to warn the town that it was coming and when that didn’t work, you risked your life to vanquish it.”

A small frown formed on Trixie’s face. “Yes... I... didn’t want to see that town smashed to bits,” she admitted. Her eyes narrowed as she continued, “But it paid off in the end! Trixie finally got to claim what nopony had ever done before! It was the chance she was waiting for and she took advantage of it. So there!”

“Then what about my friend, Rainbow Dash, hmm?” Twilight pressed. “She told me that you threw her in some water and would have drowned if you hadn’t saved her.”

“That... that...” Trixie fumbled for words. “I... Trixie didn’t want to be labeled a murderer, is all. Yes, that’s it. Call Trixie what you will but she will not be called that.”

Twilight shook her head. “You know what I think? I don’t think you’re as tough and mean as you want others to think you are. I think you’ve got more compassion in you that even you don’t realize.”

“It doesn’t matter what you think!” Trixie shouted. “All you’re doing is spouting philosophical nonsense when you should be pitching what you can give me!” She jabbed her hoof at the still descending ball. “You still haven’t convinced me of anything and time’s running out!”

Twilight grimaced as she noticed that the ball was at the halfway point. Reasoning with her captor wasn’t getting her anywhere besides a boot out of Trixie’s mind. Sighing, Twilight thought of something that might appeal to the selfish unicorn. “Alright, how about this? I’m Princess Celestia’s personal student-”

“That seems awfully unfair,” Trixie grumbled.

“Just let me finish! What I mean to say is that I have some pull with her and I might be able to convince her to offer you the same thing. I don’t think Princess Luna has a student of her own yet. I promise to do what I can so that you can have the same opportunity.”

Trixie actually appeared to mull that one over. “Hmm, tempting...” She smiled and regarded Twilight fully. “What else you got?”

Twilight hemmed and hawed. “What... else... what... but... A unicorn would give up her own horn for a chance like that!”

A yawn escaped from Trixie’s mouth. “Perhaps Trixie would have been impressed by something like that at one point, but that was before she had all the time in the world to learn any spell she wanted to. Keep trying.”

Twilight growled through clenched teeth. “You... you... mean... pony!”

“Ohhh, that didn’t hurt.”

With a cry of frustration, Twilight flopped down onto her belly and racked her brain for something that Trixie couldn’t say no to. Unfortunately, working against the clock always rattled her nerves and left her unable to think clearly. To make matters worse, more was on the line than a passing grade. What could she possibly say that would get Trixie to help them willingly? Perhaps coming in here was a mistake all along. Perhaps she should just wait out the time limit, leave and get her friends to force Trixie to help-

“No. No, we can’t do that,” Twilight quietly said to herself. “We’d be no better than Discord then.”

“What are you babbling about?” Trixie asked as she adjusted her hat a little.

Twilight stood back up and gave a resigned sigh. “I’m sorry, Trixie. I just don’t know what to say. I was hoping you’d see our plight but it looks like you’ve already made up your mind. I... I just hope you can live with yourself, after this. Eternal life is... well... forever...”

“Yes, it is,” Trixie gleefully agreed. Just then, a blast of magical white light and the sound of party streamers erupted from besides them, signalling the completion of the ball’s fall. “Time’s up,” Trixie grinned. “You failed.”

Twilight cringed at “failed.”

“Do be a dear and prattle on now,” Trixie gloated and began trotting away. “Good luck to you and your friends. You’ll be needing it, Miss... Miss...” Trixie stopped and tapped her hoof against her chin. “Um... this is... embarrassing but... Trixie never got your name.”

“Twilight,” the librarian offered in a depressed tone. “Twilight Sparkle.”

“Twilight Sparkle...” Trixie repeated the name as though she were trying to remember something. “Twilight... Sparkle... Trixie... has heard that name somewhere... Sparkle... Twilight... Wait. Wait! Twilight Sparkle?!”

Twilight watched in stunned confusion as Trixie gained a horrified look. Suddenly, the scenery changed abruptly, the buildings of Manehattan sinking into the ground and the sky above being replaced by a high, majestic ceiling. Walls rose up from where the buildings once stood on either side of the two unicorns. Each wall contained dozens of stained glass windows.

Twilight gasped as she recognized where she now was. “Canterlot Tower!”

Trixie ignored her as she ran up to a series of windows that had been installed more recently. “Nonononononononononono!” she chanted desperately as she looked at two windows in particular. “This... no... can’t be.” She looked between them and the lavender unicorn still stuck in her cage with wide, troubled eyes.

“Trixie, what’s wrong?” Twilight called to her. She had no idea what it was that had Trixie in such a ruckus but it worried her. More so when Trixie’s coat flickered briefly. Twilight could have sworn she saw grey temporarily cover Trixie’s normal colors.

“You... this... no... No!” Trixie screamed and angrily whirled on Twilight. “It’s not true! Tell me it’s not true!”

“What’s not true?!” Twilight desperately wanted to know. “Trixie! You’re not making any sense!”

“You... you’re... you’re an Element of Harmony!”

“Oh, right. Um... yes, Trixie. I... I don’t brag about that but, yes, I am. I’m the element that represents magic.”

If anything, Trixie’s muzzle fell even further. “You... magic... element... Y-y-you mean I’VE BEEN SINGING YOUR PRAISE THE ENTIRE TIME?!

Twilight closed her eyes tightly and fell back on her haunches from Trixie’s shrill cry. She twitched her ears, relieved to know that they were still attached after taking such a loud force of sound. Grimacing, she peeked open an eye. “Um... sorry? I... didn’t know it would be such a big deal-OHMYGOSH! Trixie! Look at you!”

“No... big... deal,” Trixie repeated dully. She failed to notice the color draining from her body, starting at her tail and slowly reaching to the top of her hat. She turned away from Twilight and sat heavily on the floor. “Why do I even bother...”

The cage keeping Twilight contained sparkled briefly before disappearing altogether. She wasted no time in taking advantage of her new freedom and rushed up to Trixie. Twilight grabbed Trixie by the shoulders and twirled her around so that she was now facing her. “Trixie! Snap out of it! Wha-why are you acting like this?!”

Trixie didn’t react other than to face away. “Just go away...”

“No! I’m not going to leave you like this! It’s... it’s Discord! He’s taking you over!”

“It’s not him. It’s me. I... want so badly to be noticed... To go down in history as one of the greats.

“But I’m not fooling anypony. It will never happen.”

“But what about the Ursa Major? You did that when even I couldn’t! Ponies saw you do it!”

Trixie shook her head. “No. I... failed that too. I tried, I really did. But it wasn’t enough. Discord gave me the power to finish my spell. All I was able to do was take care of its baby.”

Twilight blinked before patting Trixie on the back. “That’s okay too! Don’t you see? You’ve matched me now. We’re even! We both took out an Ursa Minor! Very few can claim that!”

Trixie remained silent as she lay down on the floor and hid her muzzle with her hat. “Manehattan. Even if I take Discord’s deal, he’ll be the one responsible for getting the ponies to come to my shows. Not me.

“I’m worthless.”

Trixie’s coat shimmered again and her colors became even darker.

“Don’t say that!” Twilight shook Trixie harder. “Nopony is ever worthless! Everypony has something he or she is good at! Our cutie marks are proof of that!”

Trixie shoved Twilight away and lay back down again. “Leave me alone. Just... go. Save the world or something.”

“We can’t! We tried! The elements don’t work on him anymore! That’s why we came to find you! We need your help!”

Twilight heard a sniffle coming from under the hat. She lifted it off to find Trixie crying into her legs. “T-t-that’s my... my fault too,” she barely managed to say. “I-I let him out. I didn’t mean too. I didn’t even know...” She lost the ability to talk as sobs overcame her.

Twilight sat down next to the distraught mare and gathered Trixie into a tight hug. “It’s okay,” she soothed, gently stroking Trixie’s mane. “You didn’t know. Discord tricked you. He’s good at that. It’s not your fault. But, you have what it takes to make things right again. I know you do.”

Twilight looked up from her comforting and towards all the windows of past and present heroes that were still surrounding them. An idea came forth and she smiled down at Trixie. “That’s it. Trixie, you seem to care a lot about these windows, right?”

Trixie gave a slight nod. Struggling through her sniffles, she said, “Yes. They... inspire me. It was here that I got my idea of what to do at the Grand Galloping Gala. I... I wanted to give a show like nopony had ever seen.

“And that’s when everything went wrong.”

Twilight pulled Trixie closer. She whispered in her ear, “How would you like to be a part of them?”

“What do you mean?” Trixie asked with a sniff.

“Trixie, I can guarantee you that when we beat Discord, you’ll be honored with one of these windows. You’ll be among the legends that you love so much. You’ll be a hero, for all to see.”

Trixie lifted her tear streaked muzzle and stared into Twilight’s eyes. “Really?”

“Really. And I promise I’ll be there to see it with you. All of my friends too. And the princesses. All of Equestria will know just how great and powerful you are.”

Trixie looked at the other unicorn for a time, searching for any falsehood or deception. All she could see was Twilight’s friendly gaze and a promise that everything that she said was the truth.

“I... accept.”

A flash of light filled Twilight's vision.


“Ah!” Twilight yelped and fell back onto her rear. She shook her head to clear it of the last of the disorientation she felt and opened her eyes. Her friends all stood around her, anxious expressions adorning their muzzles.

“You alright, hon?” Applejack asked in concern and helped Twilight to her hooves.

“Ohhhh, give me a second,” Twilight moaned and rubbed her forehead. She blinked a few times and slowly took in her surroundings. She was back next to the mushroom forest that they had crossed to get here. Trixie lay before her, no longer hogtied and, more importantly, no longer grey. “I’m fine. Everything good here?”

“Well, we were getting a little worried when we saw Trixie change colors,” Fluttershy revealed. “What happened?”

“Oh, yeah. Things didn’t go exactly how I wanted at first,” Twilight smiled sheepishly. She brushed that away and stood up proudly. “But, I did it. I got Trixie to help us. Now we just need to find Discord and put things to an end, once and for all.”

“Do you always talk such mushy nonsense?”

Everypony turned to see Trixie slowly open her eyes and look up at the group of ponies next to her. Cautiously, Trixie got to her hooves and faced off with them, her half lidded stare regarding them. “Trixie hopes that she doesn’t have to listen to such things the whole time.”

“Hey, if I have to put up with it, then so do you,” Rainbow Dash shot back.

Trixie looked them over, a small frown tugging at her mouth. “Let Trixie guess. You’re all the Elements of Harmony.”

“Righty-o!” Pinkie Pie cheered.

“Hmph. Figures.” Trixie sighed and turned towards Twilight. “Remember our deal, Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight nodded. “I’ve got it.”

“A whole window.”


“All to my own.”

“Don’t push it.”

Trixie harrumphed again and began trotting away. “Well, don’t just stand there, gawking. Trixie has places to be after this and she doesn’t want to be late.”

“Hold up.”

Trixie stopped and turned back to them. “What is it?”

Rarity stepped forward and levitated a package in front of the blue unicorn. “We all thought you might want these back. Think of it as an act of good will. I for one would like to put all of our unpleasant history behind us.”

The showmare’s eyes widened at what she saw through the clear packaging. Her lips trembled as she accepted the package with her own magic and opened it up. Trixie almost lost concentration as she carefully unfolded a purple magician’s hat and cape. “My... my outfit. My... my precious...” Her voice broke and her eyes teared up. Delicately, she draped the cape around her and clasped it in place. Her hat came next, settling it on her head. They fit as perfectly as the day she had lost them.

“I... I don’t... I don’t know what to say...”

“Saying ‘thank you’ will be enough,” Twilight said with a smile.

Trixie realized she was crying and hastily wiped away her tears. “Trixie... that is... I... T-Thank... you. Thank you, very much.”

“Don’t mention it,” Applejack responded and patted Trixie on the back. “Friends do this for each other all the time.”

Trixie uncomfortably accepted the gesture. “I wouldn’t go so far as call us... friends. I'm not ready to forget just yet.”

“We’ll work on that,” Twilight spoke up. “Now let’s get going. You can tell us everything you know on the way.”

“Right,” Trixie agreed. She swirled around, her cape billowing dramatically behind her. “Now, let’s show that pompous oaf that no one messes with the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

“Oh, brother,” Rainbow complained. “Now there’s two of ‘em.”

Trixie ignored her and galloped off, the Elements of Harmony following close behind.


Princess Celestia cautiously cantered down the hallway leading to her throne room. Nothing had impeded her way here, which worried her more than if an entire plague of parasprites had arrived and tried to gobble her up. At least then she would have something to take her mind off the growing wariness she felt.

Just as her guards had said, Canterlot had been gripped in the chaos that Discord was infamous for. She had asked them to do what they could to keep things from getting worse but she knew that they were in over their heads. Celestia had decided to seek out the source and had been led here. Discord would pay for what he had done to her beautiful kingdom.

The large double doors to her throne room loomed ahead of her. With a casual flick of magic, they opened up and she strode through. Inside, she clearly saw that... nothing had changed. Everything was where it should be. Celestia was about to turn and check somewhere else when the doors she had just opened closed on their own accord.

“Heh, heh, heh. Leaving so soon, Celestia?”

The princess turned back around. The few brief seconds that she had looked away had been plenty for the room to change. The grand royal colors that adorned all the architecture had been replaced with dark reds and browns. Grey stone bricks made up the walls and floor. Torches lined the walls instead of the windows that had allowed natural light to fill the room. The harsh light of the flames contrasted sharply with the pleasant light of the sun that had made the place feel welcome to her subjects. Blood red tapestries hung from the high ceiling, their ends frayed and torn.

And, where her golden throne use to be, there stood a menacing black and red throne. Sitting on it, swirling a metal goblet of chocolate milk in his eagle hand and drumming his lion fingers onto the armrest with the other, was Discord.

“Welcome home,” Discord greeted her with a dark chuckle. “Like what I’ve done to the place?”

Celestia answered by charging forward, her horn blazing with golden power.

Exit, Stage Left

View Online

The journey to Canterlot gave Trixie plenty of time to think. Think about how deplorable it had been to break down in front of her greatest rival and get suckered into helping her. Think about how she had just given up the best deal that anyone had ever offered her and ditch it for a piece of glass. Think about how they were all charging into the den of the very beast that could turn the whole of Equestria upside down and was now invincible due to her existence.

Mostly though, she was thinking of how to get the pink pony next to her to shut the hay up.

“So then I was like, what could I do with this much clover, cider and belt buckles? I mean what pony in their right mind has these things?”

“Trixie could name a few...” Trixie said through gritted teeth.

“But then it just came to me! Like a... like a... um...”

“Buck to the head?”

“Oh! Like the most brillianty of brilliant ideas, ever! We’d have a second cider season! Everypony in town would wear all these clovers, some green outfits and we’d do nothing but drink cider all day! The buckles would be there to hold in our cider bellies when it was all over!

“I called it: St. Shamrock’s Day!”

Trixie knew she was asking for it but she couldn’t help herself. “Who’s the saint?”

“What?! You’ve never heard of St. Shamrock?”

“Can’t say Trixie has.”

“He’s only the most awesome, spectacular, unbelievable, unbeatable, unquestionable-!”

“You made him up, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Right. Trixie is done with you.” She trotted faster and away from the annoying pink anomaly.

“Wait! I haven’t told you about the time oatmeal was so not the right-”

“Twilight Sparkle!” Trixie yelled loud enough to drown out Pinkie’s plea to be heard. “Have you come up with anything yet?”

Twilight looked back at the other unicorn with a small frown. “You know, you can just call me Twilight. All my friends do.”

“Out of the question,” Trixie responded sharply. “Need Trixie remind you that she is still not ready to forgive any of you? If ever? Things will go much more smoothly the way they are now.”

“And what’s that suppose to mean?” Rarity asked. “Just how exactly do you see us?”

“Business partners,” Trixie answered. “Trixie can deal with the lot of you that way. She has plenty of experience dealing with others she doesn’t like but must work with.”

“That’s not hard to believe,” Applejack commented.

Trixie shot the farmer a glare before continuing on. “Let there be no misunderstanding between us. Once this is over with and Trixie has all the fame that she deserves, she will go on her merry way. She has a reputation to rebuild. No thanks to any of you.”

“We already explained, Trixie,” Twilight spoke up, trying to keep tempers from getting out of hoof. “We were following you to make sure you were okay.”

“You could have told me instead of humiliating me!” Trixie snapped.

“We’re sorry. Really, we are!”

“Enough. Trixie doesn’t want to hear your excuses. Just tell Trixie what you have come up with, Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight sighed. Her efforts, along with the others, to get Trixie to loosen up around them were not having much effect. Trixie seemed determined to keep her distance, no matter what. Deciding that focusing on the bigger problem would keep things civil, Twilight began, “Well, I’ve... never heard of this life link thing you described. If I had access to the Canterlot library, I’d take some time to look it up but we don’t have time.

“So far, the best way seems to be to find some way to sever the connection you have with Discord and then that should be enough for us to stop him.”

“And how do you plan to do that, without putting Trixie’s life in danger?”

“I don’t know!” Twilight exclaimed. “I was thinking that we could try the Elements of Harmony but they didn’t work on Discord. I’m hoping that maybe Princess Celestia will know something but we haven’t seen her since she left for Canterlot.” Twilight lowered her head and stared at the ground. “I hope she’s okay...”

“C’mon, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash spoke up as she flew down and trotted next to her. “This is the princess we’re talking about. She’ll probably have everything taken care of by the time we get there. There’s no way that dope could have gotten the best of her!”

“I hope you’re right...”

“There it is!” Pinkie Pie suddenly popped in between them, pointing into the distance.

Canterlot Mountain rose before them, but the normally majestic sight was marred by floating buildings, upside down trees, waterfalls of chocolate milk and many other strange phenomenon that defied the laws of nature. Strangest of all was that both the sun and the moon hovered above the mountain, covering one side in sunshine and the other in the dark of night. However, under the night side of the city, the sight that caused the most distress among the gathered ponies was the castle itself. Before, where a magnificent white castle was perched on the side of the cliffs, a fortress of black stone stood. Twisted spires rose up from a massive, blocky structure. Torchlight burned from spots all over the grotesque building to cast harsh shadows across its walls.

“And here I go!” Pinkie turned and took off like a shot in the opposite direction.

Applejack proved to be a tad faster.

“Hold your horses, there!” Applejack scolded as she stomped down on Pinkie’s tail, holding the pink pony in place. “I know it looks bad, and a might scary, but we have a job to do!” She looked towards her friends, trying to give the most reassuring look she was capable of. “Right?”

“R-Right,” came the shaky answer from Twilight. She gulped, before firming up her features and took a determined step forward. “Right! We are not going to let Discord get away with this! This is our land; not his! And we are going to fight for it!”

A resounding cheer rose up from the gathered ponies, their confidence swelling despite the grim odds against them.

Trixie didn’t join in on the celebration.

“Do you have a plan or is this all just false bravado?” she asked of them.

“As a matter of fact,” Twilight said as she came down from her emotional high, “I do. We need to get to the Princess and see if she knows anything about this life link. I’m sure she’ll know how to help. Once she fixes you, we’ll be able to beat Discord with the Elements.” Murmurs of agreement passed through the others at the idea.

“And what of Trixie? Does she just sit here and twiddle her hooves?”

“Well,” Twilight replied while scuffing a hoof through the dirt. “We can’t have Discord finding out you’re helping us or he’ll put you somewhere where we can’t find you. Then we’ll never beat him.”

Trixie snorted “So, Trixie is supposed to stand by and let you gain all the glory? Again?”

“This is no time for pride, Trixie. Too much is at stake.”

“And you are a foal if you think you can just waltz in there without him noticing any of you. You all stick out like a bunch of blank-flanks.”

“Oh?” Rainbow Dash joined in, standing protectively next to Twilight. “And you don’t?”

Trixie smirked. “Observe.” She grabbed one end of her cape, draped it around herself, and twirled in place. Before the other ponies’ eyes, Trixie suddenly disappeared from sight, as though she had stepped behind an invisible curtain.

“Ta da!” came the magician’s disembodied voice.

Twilight looked less than impressed. “So? It’s an invisibility spell. You might be able to sneak past a pony that can’t sense magic but Discord’s different. He’ll sense you coming a mile away.”

“Ah, Trixie loves the sound of a pony that has no idea what they are talking about. You see, Trixie is not using any of her magic at all.”

Twilight blinked. “Beg your pardon?”

“Go ahead. Try to find Trixie.”

“Ugh. Must we do this?”

“Just do it, you twit.”

“Fine!” Reaching out with her magic, Twilight scanned the area where Trixie’s voice was coming from, intent on putting an end to this nonsense.

A full minute passed before Twilight sagged from exerting everything she had and gave up.

With a flourish, Trixie flung the cape away, revealing herself once again and in the same spot as before. A smug look graced her features. “Trixie normally keeps this a secret, but her cape and hat are more than just fancy clothes. She’s had them modified to perform magic that doesn’t require her to use her horn. Becoming invisible is just one of them. She’s completely untraceable from magical scans.”

Rainbow helped Twilight right herself before addressing Trixie. “Okay... And your point?”

“Simple. You all go in and raise a ruckus-”

“Rackus!” Pinkie Pie piped in.

“Don’t interrupt! You all gain Discord’s attention. With him distracted, it will be an easy feat for Trixie to go in a different way and find the princess. Once she removes the link, you all can do your thing with the elements. How about that, hmm?”

The group of friends looked to one another, exchanging their opinions between themselves without uttering a single word. Finally, Twilight turned back to Trixie. “What about your link to him? Won’t Discord be able to feel you coming through that?”

Trixie groaned. “I don’t know, okay? All the more reason that you keep him busy so that he doesn’t think about it.”

Twilight fell silent, thinking over the plan. At length, she said, “Alright. Let’s do it. The more we wait, the more Discord gets his claws in our world.”

“Then get going.” Trixie waved them off before twirling her cape around her again, once more becoming invisible. “Trixie has her own part to play.”

“Just be careful,” Twilight cautioned. “Discord’s not one to take lightly.

“And I want to talk about that cape of yours later... if you don’t mind. That’s actually pretty cool.” Twilight missed the eye rolls of the others behind her.

“We’ll see,” was all Trixie had to say before the sound of her hooves galloping away reached their ears.

“Okay, girls!” Twilight announced to her fellow elements. “We have a job to do! We beat Discord once! We can do it again!”

The ponies gave a cheer and then rushed off towards the transformed castle.


“Really, Celestia. What were you thinking?”

Princess Celestia remained silent and stared ahead, ignoring the draconequus sitting on his throne.

“I’m sure you know that it took both you and your sister to seal me up the first time. And that’s with the elements as well.”

Celestia continued looking forward.

“Speaking of which, where is widdle Woona? I haven’t seen her in ages. Heard a nasty rumor that she had been sealed up on the moon. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

The princess’ features hardening was her only response.

“Giving me the silent treatment, eh? Well, I suppose that’s fine, too. Otherwise we’d just have the same old discussions as before. Right versus wrong. Chaos versus harmony. Cupcakes verses muffins-”


“Cupcakes are so much more delicious, though!” Discord protested. “I mean, what can you do with a muffin that you can’t do with a cupcake?! Put butter on it? Oh, that’s original!”

Celestia finally circled around to face her capture. There wasn’t much room to move in the transparent bubble that she was encased in, hovering above the floor besides the throne, but it was enough to turn her body if she wanted to. “While I do enjoy a cupcake every now and then, muffins are much better for a pony. And they taste just as good.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Discord waved off her counter argument. “I see we still don’t agree on the obvious then. You like all that boring nutritional garbage while I know what ponies really want.” He grinned up at her before taking a drag of his chocolate milk from his iron goblet. “At least I got you talking.”

Celestia’s frown matched Discord’s smile as she contemplated the prison she was in. Her efforts to break free had so far amounted to nothing other than wasting magic. Every attempt rolled off the smooth surface of the bubble and returned at its center. The stronger her struggles, the more power flowed towards the middle, strengthening the walls that surrounded her. It was as if her own power was being used against her to fuel this trap that she found herself in.

Discord smirked as he watched Celestia puzzle over predicament. “Want to know what I did?”

Celestia cast her gaze one final time over the bubble before stopping at Discord. Her eyes narrowed and she said, “By all means.”

The spirit of disharmony gave a joyful squee and tossed away his goblet. “That’s what I wanted to hear!”

That’s right, he loves to gloat, Celestia thought, keeping her angry expression from slipping. If I keep him talking, he’ll slip and reveal how I can escape.

Discord smirked as he strutted around the bubble keeping her in place. “That, my dear Celestia, is what I like to call a corealis trap. Came up with it all on my own while I wallowed away in that statue you put me in. I had to find a way to pass the time somehow, you know.

“Anyway, it’s designed to keep a prisoner in as long as there is disharmony in their hearts. Any force you try to use will just be used to make the trap stronger.” Discord stopped his circling to smile up at the princess. “Care to guess how you escape?”

Celestia gazed down at him for a moment before speaking. “By having a heart that is at peace?”

Discord’s smile never left his face. “I figured you would get it.”

This is too easy, Celestia considered to herself. Why would he give me the answer so quickly?

“You’re probably now wondering just why I told you all this,” Discord continued, making Celestia uneasy with how close he was coming to reading her thoughts. Discord shrugged and sat back down on his throne. “Simple, really. I’m curious to see if you have what it takes to be as pure as the ponies you rule think you are. If you can get out, so be it. If you don’t, you don’t. A little randomness in everyone’s life does a world of good. Especially, for me! HA! HA! HA!”

His built up laughter was interrupted when a sound like a wind chime range through the room. Quirking an eyebrow, Discord pointed his index fingers out in front of him and then dragged them diagonally apart. A circular view screen stretched out before him, displaying the yard just before the entrance to the castle. A familiar group of ponies were galloping towards the drawbridge.

“Well, well, well,” Discord mused. “Didn’t take long for your shock troops to come and try again.” He tilted the screen so that Celestia could see it herself. “At least now I’ve got some entertainment. No offense Celestia, but you really need to brush up on your conversational skills. You work on that while I greet our guests!”

In a flash, Discord disappeared, leaving Celestia alone in the room. She silently wished her faithful ponies luck before closing her eyes and attempted to clear her mind and soul of all turmoil and strife.

The hovering screen remained however, which would prove to be a distressing distraction.


The Elements of Harmony, wearing their designated necklaces and one crown, stood before a deep mote that cut through the ground before the closed drawbridge. The medieval castle lay beyond, the moon above casting its light down upon it, making the black fortress appear all the more massive and foreboding. It was a visage that seemed to have come straight out of a storybook of knights, princesses and dragons. Twilight Sparkle herself would have loved to curl up with such a book instead of having to live through it. The glamor of real life just never seemed to measure up to the words on a page. Too much bodily harm involved.

The unicorn cleared her head of such thoughts. Now wasn’t the time for them. Twilight looked back at Rainbow Dash and gestured towards the drawbridge. “Can you fly up and see if you can find some type of lever or pulley to open it up?”

“No need for that, Twilight Sparkle.”

Everypony started as the drawbridge descended of its own accord. Once it had opened completely, the archway that had surrounded the bridge while it was closed began to move. The bridge itself also flopped up and down. The ponies stared at the sight in confusion before Discord’s voice came from the open archway.

“Hello again, ladies,” he greeted. Understanding dawned on them as they realized that the archway was acting as a mouth with the bridge being used as a tongue. “Come to give me a housewarming party?”

“OH! OH!” Pinkie Pie hopped up and down in excitement. “Can I set it up for you?! I’ve never tried hosting a party at a castle like this before! I’ve got so many ideas, I don’t know where to begin! I mean I’ve got to get the caterers, the band, send out invitations, find steamers that match the walls and-”

Pinkie’s pie hole was closed up by Twilight’s hoof.

“We are not here for any stupid parties!” she yelled up at the animated structure. “We are here to stop you from causing any more trouble for us!”

“Bah, you’re no fun, as usual,” Discord said through the archway. The building and bridge formed back into its original, unmoving state. However, Discord’s voice still came from beyond the opening. “By all means, come in and try. Celestia’s certainly not much company and I need something to get away from her nagging.”

Hearing that her beloved teacher was being held inside caused Twilight to feel a rage the likes she hadn’t felt in some time. To the shock of her friends, Twilight’s mane and tail ignited into flames, forcing them to back away from the intense heat. The next thing they knew, Twilight took off like a shot inside the cavernous opening of the castle.

I’ll make you pay!” Twilight’s furious cry echoed from within.

The others hesitated, gulped and ran after her.

Inside, they found the livid unicorn quickly. The fire that had consumed her had gone out, but her coat had small patch marks of soot all over her body. Wisps of smoke rose from her singed mane and tail. She stood panting and glaring up at the highly amused draconequus floating before her.

“Now that was a sight worth seeing!” Discord said in approval and clapped his paws together.

“Where is she?” Twilight seethed through clenched teeth.

“Oh, don’t worry your silly head over her, Twilight. Right now she’s probably trying to attain zen or something. You, on the other hand, have other things to worry about.”

“Don’t think you can destroy our friendship, again! It won’t work! I won’t allow it!”

Discord tsked. “Really, now. Do you think I would waste my time to do that again? And what would the point be anyway? Your tacky bling can’t harm me, friendship or not. No, I’ve got something else in store for you all. Starting with you, Twilight Sparkle.”

“You leave her alone!” Rainbow yelled and placed herself before her unicorn friend. “You’ve done enough!”

“Ah, such loyalty,” Discord crooned. “I’ll be getting to you later, Rainbow Dash. For now, I would like to share with you a little something from your precious friend’s past.” He snapped his fingers and a sheet of paper appeared in his eagle claw.

“What’s that?” Rainbow asked cautiously. She set herself to move as fast as possible should anything happen.

“This, little ponies, is Twilight Sparkle’s eleventh grade report card.”

A strangled gasp escaped from Twilight’s mouth, causing everypony to turn to her in concern. The searing anger that she had felt earlier was suddenly replaced by a much different emotion. “You wouldn’t.”

Discord responded with a nasty grin. A pair of reading glasses appeared before his eyes and he held the card up to his face. “Let’s see. Historical Studies: A.”

“No,” Twilight said, a look of panic beginning to form on her muzzle.

Ignoring her, Discord continued on. “Arithmetic: A+.”

“Please, stop,” she pleaded.

“Magical Theory: A+.”

“You can’t do this to me!”

“Home Economics: A-.”

Twilight shoved Rainbow out of her way and called forth every ounce of magic she could to snatch the card from Discord’s grasp. He merely disappeared.

“Chemistry: A.”

Everypony looked up, spotting Discord standing upside down on the ceiling and reading the card as though nothing had happened.

“Practical Cantrips: A+.”

“No!” Twilight desperately yelled up at him. “Stop!”

“Technical Writing: A.”


“And finally,” Discord announced with a flourish of his hands. “Physical Education-”




Having cried out her anguish, Twilight collapsed to the floor, sobbing her eyes out.

Discord righted himself and landed on the ground, his glasses and the report card disappearing on the way. “Well, I can see I’m done here for now. Be seeing you later!” A flash of light signaled his exit.

The ponies left behind looked at each other and then down at the distraught Twilight.

“Um, maybe Canterlot has a different way of grading than Cloudsdale,” Rainbow Dash said to the others. “But doesn’t a B+ mean above average?”

“Last I heard, yes,” Rarity answered, before laying down next to Twilight and patting her on the back. “Ah, Twilight dear. Why are you so upset? Those marks were superb. I never got such good grades when I was in school.”

Twilight tried to answer through her weeping. “Y-you don’t... und-d-derstand. I w-would have been... a-a straight A student... if it wasn’t for that worthless. Stupid. Class.” She punctuated her last words with a hard smack to the floor with her hooves.

A collective blink passed through the group.

Rainbow Dash knelt down and placed a hoof onto Twilight’s withers. “Um, I don’t know how to say this, since I know this kind of stuff means a lot to you, but... you’ve got some really messed up priorities.”

“WWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Twilight burst out with a fresh set of Pinkie Pie levels of steaming tears.


“Oh-ho! Which one should I pick next?” Discord pondered to himself as he walked the dark halls of his castle. “Perhaps Fluttershy or Rarity? Or maybe I should go with an earth pony? I need to make sure I spread my attention around or they might think I don’t like them anymore.”

Thinking of the ponies invading his new abode slowly wound its way towards another pony that he hadn’t checked on for a while now. “Better call in my life line.” Discord waved his lion paw and an image of the link he shared with Trixie appeared before him. He inspected it for a moment before murmuring, “Hmm, nothing seems out of the ordinary.

“I wonder if she’s made a decision yet. Not sure what I’ll do if she refuses. I guess I’ll worry about it later if it comes to that. I’ve got pests to deal with.” Another wave of his paw and the image faded away. A moment later, Discord also disappeared.

If he had looked closer, he would have noticed the red and blue lines of the link had fused further together and that the distance between himself and his symbiote had shrunk significantly.


Trixie peaked around a bend of a corner before stepping out into the torch lit hallway and quietly trotted down it. So far, getting in and moving around the castle had been surprisingly easy. No traps or creatures had impeded her way. She wasn’t sure yet if that was a good or bad sign.

The only problem she had encountered was where to go. There was no rhyme or reason to the layout of the castle and no clues as to where the princess was located. She could only hope that something would lead her in the right direction as she was reluctant to use any magic, no matter how insignificant.

Despite keeping her eyes and ears focused on the task at hoof, Trixie’s mind began to wander around the decision she had made that lead her here. Truthfully, she was a little relieved when Twilight had appeared and given her an alternative to Discord’s offer. Letting him get his way while she partied hard in Manehatten had been very tempting, but her more sensible (and annoying) side kept reminding her that he was the spirit of chaos and could not be trusted. Agreeing to Twilight’s proposal had given her the excuse necessary to back out of a deal with the devil himself and ease her conscience.

However, while she could live without Manehattan and all its bounty, the other perk she was tossing aside kept nagging at her. Eternal life. Such a thing was hard to ignore, especially as she had tasted death once already. It had not been a pleasant experience.

Maybe the princess or the elements can find a way to keep Discord sealed up or something, Trixie pondered as she chose a random path at an intersection. Or maybe we can compromise with him. Perhaps chaos and disorder only on the weekends? It could work... yeah, right.

Sighing softly, Trixie continued her search, both for the princess and a solution to keeping her immortality intact.


It took over five minutes of coaxing and gentle understand for the five mares to get Twilight moving again. That hadn’t stopped her whining, though.

“Why was I forced to take a useless class like gym, anyway? I could have used that time to read more books. Why couldn’t it have been just pass or fail? Maybe I could cast some sort of time spell, go back and-”

“NO!” came the desperate cry from her companions.

“But it’s not that hard, really,” Twilight pressed. “The theory’s already been made to bend time using fluctuating buffer patterns. All I need is an artifact of power to get-”

“Um, Twilight,” Fluttershy nervously interrupted her. “Not to, ah, offend you or anything, but, um, I really don’t like the idea of you traveling through time and, well, messing things up.”

“I’d be careful...”

“Twilight. You know how I told you I became New Fluttershy thanks to Iron Will’s seminar?”

“Um, y-yeah...”

Fluttershy suddenly grabbed Twilight on either side of her muzzle and forced her to look into the pegasus’ gaze. “Don’t. Buck. With time travel.” Fluttershy let her go and immediately lowered her head in embarrassment and stammered, “T-that is, um... it wouldn’t be very... nice, I mean.” She quickly trotted off and past the others, whose wide eyed stares followed her as she left.

Twilight blinked. Twice. “Ah... what was I talking about?”

“Nothing!” came the rushed response.

In a daze, Twilight nodded and followed after Fluttershy. The others did the same, silently vowing to never speak of this again.

They caught up to Fluttershy quickly and were greeted with a surprise. Perched on her outstretched hoof, cooing excitedly, was Princess Celestia’s pet phoenix, Philomeena. The bright, flame colored bird flapped her wings to take flight, circled overhead twice, then took off further down the hallway. Fluttershy addressed her friends with a bright smile on her muzzle.

“Guys! We’re in luck! Philomeena knows where the princess is held! She’s going to lead us to her!” Cries of delight came from them and as a unified group, they rushed after the phoenix.

Philomeena flew a few pony lengths ahead of them, squawking now and again to alert Fluttershy of which direction to take. Deeper and deeper the ponies went into the castle, taking turns at several intersections, until the magical bird stopped at a huge double-sided wooden door. Philomeena twirled in front of it and pointed a wing towards it.

“This is it,” Fluttershy translated. “The princess is inside.” She and the rest pushed against one of the wooden doors. It proved to be heavy, even with six ponies working it, but it slowly opened enough for them to squeeze through.

The room on the other end revealed itself to be a large hall similar to the one used to hold the Grand Galloping Gala. Only, instead of the high marble columns and royal blue tile, thick pillars of grey brick reached to the ceiling and a deep red carpet covered the floor. Hanging from the ceiling were six tapestries, each one displaying the image of a pony. Two unicorns, two pegasi and two earth ponies. Each were grey in color and appeared to be sad.

“This is definitely one of the few places I wouldn’t want to hold a party,” Pinkie Pie commented uneasily.

Above, Philomeena flew above them and pointed a wing towards the back of the room. A white pedestal could be seen and on top of it lay a red chest. Philomeena sang to them.

“She says that that chest might be able to help us,” Fluttershy explained. She started forward.



“Oops. Sorry,” Rainbow Dash apologized to the now cowering Fluttershy. Rainbow leaped ahead of the group and addressed them. “I want to open it. It’s just like in one of Daring Do’s books! A treasure sitting out in the open just waiting for somepony to pick it up.”

“But, wait,” Applejack spoke up. “What if there are traps?”

“Oh! I hope so! That would be awesome!” Rainbow flipped around and pawed at the floor as if getting ready for a race to start.

“Rainbow, we should do this together,” Twilight admonished. “We don’t know what to expect and you could be hurt.”

“Now, now, now. I’m not that type of spirit.”

Without warning, Philomeena streaked up and across the room where she crashed into the tapestry depicting one of the pegasi. The cloth became engulfed in flames and fell to the floor. The startled ponies and one horrified Fluttershy watched as the fire grew bigger. Then, a figure walked out of the fire. It was a pegasus and a very familiar one.

“You want a race, Rainbow Dash?” a greyed out mirror image of herself asked. “You’ve got one.”

The fire behind the corrupted Rainbow Dash flared in all directions. Before the ponies could react, the flames burned away the room to reveal a blue sky and each of them now standing on pink clouds. Rainbow gasped as she recognized the scene before her.

“Hey! This is just like the race course back in Cloudsdale! Just more... pink.”

“How observant.”

Rainbow yelped at hearing her own voice next to her and whipped her head around. The grey Rainbow Dash smugly gazed back at her.

“First one to the chest, wins,” her counterpart said, pointing a hoof at the mentioned prize. The chest now floated within a black star high above them.

“You’re on!” Rainbow replied hotly. “Ain’t no way you’re gonna beat me! Even if you are me!”

“Shall we then?” Grey Rainbow Dash set herself into a starting stance, followed closely by Rainbow herself. “Pinkie Pie? Would you mind starting us off?”

“You betcha!” Pinkie exclaimed. She bounced from one cotton candy cloud to the next, headless of the fall she would take should she slip, until she landed on a cloud right before the competitors. She took a big bite out of the cloud and then raised a hoof into the air. “Ready?” The racers tensed. “Set.” Pinkie slashed her hoof down. “Go!”

Rainbow Dash was off the moment the last word came out of Pinkie’s mouth. Living up to her namesake, she flew through the air like a bullet, aiming herself for the dark star shining its pale light ahead of her. She reached it within seconds and thrust out a hoof to touch it.

The star swerved out of her way.

“Huh?!” Rainbow cried in alarm and quickly put on her air brakes. She whirled around and spotted the star streaking downwards. “Hey! You didn’t say it could move!”

“You didn’t ask,” Grey Rainbow Dash said as she suddenly shot past Rainbow from above and headed towards the retreating star.

“Come back here!” Rainbow gave chase, gaining on her double with every flap of her wings. Within moments she caught up, flying side-by-side with Grey Rainbow Dash. The other pegasus adjusted her speed, now matching Rainbow move for move.

The two racers followed the star as it darted from one end of the course to the next. It always remained just far enough out of reach that neither competitor could get to it before it careened in a completely different direction. The minutes wore on and Rainbow began to huff and puff with the effort to stay at her top speed. She wasn’t used to keeping her fastest pace for prolonged periods of time, preferring to use short bursts to conserve her breath. It infuriated her to see that Grey Rainbow Dash appeared as fresh as when they started.

Then, unexpectedly, Grey Rainbow Dash veered away and flew into a large pink cloud. Rainbow didn’t ponder the strange behavior and focused on the prize just a few lengths ahead of her. She pushed her wings harder, confident that she would reach it in just a few more flaps-

Grey Rainbow Dash rocketed out of a cloud further ahead and reached for the star. Rainbow’s eyes widened in shock at the sudden turn around. However, the star randomly changed course once again, causing Grey Rainbow Dash to miss it by a hoof. This didn’t seem to deter Grey Rainbow Dash as she flew into another cloud a second later.

“Wait a minute!” Dash yelled and screeched to a halt. “That’s cheating!”

“I only said first one to the chest, Rainbow Dash,” Grey Rainbow Dash’s voice came from behind her. Rainbow squawked and turned to face her. “I never said how to do it. Anything goes, as they say!” With that, Grey Rainbow Dash dove into another cloud and reappeared out of another one further away, on course for the moving star.

“Oh, yeah?! Two can play at this game!” Rainbow shot into a nearby pink cloud, intent on regaining the advantage.

All she managed to do was get sticky, cotton candy all over her body and mane.

“Ew! It’s all over me! Get it off! Get it off!”

A bullhorn sounded and just as quickly as it appeared, the sky and clouds were gone to once again be replaced by the castle hall from before. The mares glanced around in confusion for a moment before regaining their bearings.

Except Rainbow Dash. She was still busy cleaning herself off of the sugary confection.

“I win!” Discord appeared before them, holding up the chest in his eagle claw. “What fun! What fun!”

“You no good cheater!” Rainbow shouted at him and would have attempted a flying tackle if her wings weren’t stuck to her side.

“Where’s Philomeena?!” Fluttershy scolded as she stepped forward with a frown on her muzzle.

“One at a time, ladies,” Discord admonished. “Your little chickadee is fine, Fluttershy. I sent her to the heart of an active volcano where she’s enjoying the ultimate hot tub!” He held the red chest before him. “As for this, I’m feeling generous so I’ll give this to you, Rainbow Dash! Losers like you need rewards now and then to make them feel special.” He tossed the chest which bounced off Rainbow’s head and landed on the floor. The lid sprang open from the impact.

Rainbow moaned and rubbed her sore head before poking her face inside the chest. Her head popped out a second later. “There’s nothing in here!”

“You were expecting something?”

“Well, yeah! Chests hold stuff we need! The box itself doesn’t do us any good!”

“Ha! I only said you might need the chest. I never said anything about what was inside of it. Or not, in this case.”

“Once I get my hooves on you...” Rainbow threatened as she tore off a piece of cotton candy stuck to her.

“You big meanie,” Fluttershy joined in.

“Aw, you hurt me, girls,” Discord said. He tapped his lion paw against his chest. “Right here, where it counts.”

“I doubt you even have a heart,” Twilight commented angrily.

“Actually, I don’t. Alvederzane!” In a flash, he was gone.

With Discord gone for now, Rarity trotted up to Rainbow with a lit horn. With a flick of her head, her magic stripped away the last of the cotton candy. She placed it in the discarded chest and shut it like a garbage can. “Well. That was pointless.”

“GRRRR!” Rainbow forced through grit teeth. “I can’t stand losing! Especially to him!”

“Oh, I hope Philomeena is okay,” Fluttershy moaned in worry. “A volcano has to be really... hot.”

“Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” Twilight reassured her. “From what I’ve read, phoenixes can survive in even the hottest places. I’m sure Philomeena is fine.”

“I hope so...”

“C’mon, everypony,” Applejack called out. “We’re not gonna find anything here. Let’s get a move on!”

The others quickly agreed and left the chamber to search somewhere else.


“Oh, my poor little ponies...” Princess Celestia sighed.

The display that Discord left behind showed everything that he was doing to the Elements of Harmony. No matter how much she tried to ignore it, Celestia couldn’t help watching the painful scenes unfold. It wasn’t helping her in the slightest from escaping the corealis trap. The perfect centering of her entire being just wasn’t possible with her heart breaking each time her subjects dealt with Discord’s antics.

“If only I were free, I might be able to do something to help. But I can’t be free if I don’t clear my heart and mind of strife. Darn you, Discord.”

Celestia closed her eyes and took deep, long breaths. Keep your mind off of troubles, she thought. Don’t think of anything that would bring a frown to your face. Several minutes of this allowed her to settle down, even with the noise of the display next to her. Peaceful thoughts. Bright blue skies. Large grassy fields. Ponies of all kinds and ages playing together in harmo-

“Rarity! Would you stop fussing over them thar rags?!”

“Oh, but this is simply dreadful, Applejack! These tapestries just don’t mesh well with the rest of the decor! What was Discord thinking?”

“I don’t care what he was thinkin’! We’re not here to decorate!”

“Girls! Please! Stop fighting! It’s not going to help us!”

“As if I need to be told that, Twi. Tell it to her!”

“Listen here! Just because things are a little off kilter, doesn’t mean I can just ignore this travesty of tapestries!”

Celestia groaned and rubbed her temple with a hoof. “Couldn’t he have at least changed the channel before he left?”

She sighed and opened her eyes, looking into the magical view screen. She could tell the stress of the situation was getting to them. Discord certainly did his job well when causing disharmony between ponies. He reveled in it, grew stronger and used it to cause even more chaos. Matters were even worse now that the power that could stop him no longer affected him. What were they to do to set things right?

Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned and saw the far door at the end of the room opening and closing, but no one had come in. Celestia squinted her eyes and listened carefully. Above the noise of the view screen, she thought she could hear the soft rustling of cloth coming closer. It was hard to tell.


Celestia jumped to her hooves. She rarely became startled but the voice had came out of nowhere. She looked around the room but there was no sign of who had spoken.

“Who’s there?” Celestia cautiously called out. It would be just like Discord to mess with her even as he was having fun with others. “Show yourself.”

The sound of fabric being parted below her reached her ears. She looked down and saw a floating unicorn head staring up at her.

“Um, do you remember me, Princess?” the blue pony asked hesitantly.

Celestia smiled down at the pony. “Indeed, I do, dear Trixie. Much has happened since I last saw you at the Grand Galloping Gala, hasn’t it?”

“You can say that again,” Trixie grumbled under her breath.

“Are you here to help? Or are you working for Discord?”

Trixie’s eyes flashed with anger. “I have no allegiance with that monster! It’s because of him that everything has gone wrong with my life! I want him stopped as much as anypony!”

“I am glad to hear that,” Celestia said and dipped her head down. “I must also apologize to you, my little pony. If I had been faster, I could have stopped him from escaping that night and saved you a lot of grief.”

“Well,” Trixie shifted uncomfortably. “Trixie didn’t know about him either until recently. He hid in Trixie’s horn and stole her magic whenever she used it.”

“And now he’s back to full power,” Celestia commented. With that little mystery cleared up, she raised her head and asked, “How did you manage to find me?”

“Twilight and the others decided to keep Discord busy while Trixie tried to find you. This whole castle is just a random set of halls and rooms so Trixie just decided not to think of where she was going. It seemed to have worked.”

“I’ve gathered that myself,” Celestia agreed and indicated the view screen hovering nearby. “My student and her friends have been led by the nose the whole time. They won’t find me unless Discord wants them to.”

Trixie took a moment to inspect the bubble surrounding the princess. “Are you trapped? Is that why you can’t help?”

“That’s right. Discord created this prison to keep ponies like me from stopping his fun. My magic keeps getting turned away when I try to break it. He said I could escape if I’m clear of all fear and doubt, but even princesses are not perfect.”

Trixie circled around the bubble, scrutinizing every inch. Finally, she stopped and nodded her head. “Well then. Let the Great and Powerful Trixie give it a try!”


“Will you two cut it out?!”

“She started it!” “She started it!”

“Ugh! You both are as bad as school fillies!” Twilight complained to the still arguing Applejack and Rarity. “How did you two even get to this point?! Rarity, we don’t have time to spruce up the place! Applejack, stop antagonizing her!”

“Gesundheit,” Rainbow offered helpfully.

Movement had come to a halt once the farmer and the socialite had started going at it over the castle’s furnishings. The six ponies were all gathered in the middle of a long corridor. Make that an endless corridor. Moving forward didn’t seem to move them along any more than just standing still. Frustration over the lack of progress had led to the shortening of tempers which now caused an argument over the silliest of things to break out.

“Come on,” Twilight urged and galloped off. “We’ve got to keep going.”

“What’s the point?” Applejack asked tersely. “We ain’t made no headway for a while now and we ain’t gonna unless we can get out of this loop we’re in. Face it; we’re stuck.”

“I’m not giving up!” Twilight yelled from far ahead. “You stay there if you want but I’m going... on?”

Her friends blinked as Twilight appeared from the opposite direction she had taken. She sheepishly walked up to them.

“You were sayin’?” Applejack drawled.

“Maybe I can teleport out of here,” Twilight pondered to herself. “No... I don’t know where to point myself... Perhaps a Lost and Found spell? No... that’s not it... Maybe tear down the walls? That won’t work with this strong of magic...” She continued to think for several more minutes, uttering gibberish about one spell or another.

“Boring,” Rainbow whined.


The ponies snapped their heads up to see Discord walking through a side wall as though it weren’t there. “I can see that this little episode is winding down. Time to move on.” He snapped his fingers and transported them in front of a huge metal door. “Let’s get on with the climax, shall we?”

“Wait!” Pinkie Pie hopped forward and raised up a hoof to gain his attention. “What about me?”

“What about you?” Discord replied back.

“You didn’t get to me, yet! You did all those awful and terrible things to the rest of my friends but I didn’t get my turn! Come on, lay it on me!”

A collective facehoof resulted.

“Pinkie...” Twilight groaned.

Meanwhile, Discord tapped a claw to his chin, appearing to think it over. “Nah. I’ve got nothin’.” With that, he disappeared.

Pinkie’s jaw dropped. “He... he didn’t... do anything. All my hopes and dreams... they’re still there. All hopey and... dreamy.” She sagged to the floor, looking ready to cry.

Her friends shared odd looks between themselves before Fluttershy walked up to Pinkie and sat down next to her. “Um, Pinkie? After this is over, do you want me to... um, laugh at you and maybe... take away all your treats?”

Pinkie looked at her with shining eyes. “You’d do that for me?”

“Of course. If it would make you feel better, that is.”

Pinkie wrapped Fluttershy up in a tight hug. “Oh, thank you! Somepony that’s willing to treat me badly! I can’t wait!”

“There... there?” Fluttershy slowly patted the earth pony’s back. Whatever makes her happy, I guess, Fluttershy thought to herself in puzzlement.

“Oooookay...” Rainbow interrupted the “touching” scene. “Let’s keep going before we all go crazy.” She reared back and then blasted forward. She thrust out a hind leg and kicked the metal door with all her might. It crashed to the floor with Rainbow standing proudly on top of it. “Ready or not, here we come!”

The Elements of Harmony spilled into the room and formed a line. Before them sat Discord in his thrown. Princess Celestia hovered in her bubble next to him.

Discord lazily pointed at his busted door. “You’re paying for that.”

“Not unless we stop you first!” Twilight promised. “Release the princess and prepare yourself!”

“For what?” Discord genuinely wanted to know. “What can you do that you haven’t tried already?”

Twilight’s eyes sought out Celestia’s. The princess winked back at her.

A smile formed on the unicorn’s muzzle. She strode forward, taking the lead position before the other element bearers. “It doesn’t matter how many times we fail. We’ll keep trying until you are no longer a threat to us. Harmony will prevail and so will friendship!”

“Oi,” Discord moaned and ran his lion paw over his face. “If there’s one thing I can’t stand about being the spirit of chaos is lame, heroic speeches. They’re all the same.”

“Then let it be the last one you ever hear! Form up!” Taking positions besides Twilight, her friends began concentrating and forming the link that would unleash the power of the Elements of Harmony.

“I think not.”

That was the only warning they received before magic picked them all up and flung them apart, scattering them across the room.

Discord now stood in the middle of the room, arms crossed and no longer looking amused. He watched as the ponies recovered and slowly staggered towards him, determination etched into their eyes. “I give you high points for stubbornness but this has got to stop. I’m a busy draconequus and can’t be bothered by this nonsense every moment of the day. So, as much as I find you all so entertaining, I’m afraid I’m just going to have to put you in a time out.” He raised his eagle claw and snap-

A sharp pain suddenly came from his rear end.

“Yeeeooowww! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” Discord clutched his bottom and ran around in a panic.

“Do it now!” came a strained voice.

The bearers obeyed, rushing together and gathering their power. Quickly, the six mares ignited with harmonious magic and a rainbow shot out from them.

Discord stopped his dance of agony and looked up in time to receive a rainbow to the face. Before he knew it, his entire body became encased in stone.

The cleansing magic of harmony bathed the throne room, transforming it back to its original state. The elements shining on each of their wielder’s necks and head flashed one final time before winking out. The ponies regained their senses and smiled at each other for a job well done.

A flourish of movement came from besides the restored throne as Trixie revealed herself. She gingerly used her magic to grab hold of a hairpin and winced as she yanked it out of her butt. She tossed it to the side in disgust and trotted forward. “Trixie hopes you all appreciate what she had to sacrifice in order to help. She won’t be able to sit right for a week.”

A giggle came from next to her. Princess Celestia, released from her bubble, descended down to the floor. “Do you want me to kiss it better, for you?” she asked playfully.

“Trixie declines. She’s been embarrassed enough as it is.”


Celestia was nearly bowled over as Twilight came in from a flying tackle. The princess chuckled as her student hugged her for all she was worth. “Happy to see me, I see.”

“I was so worried,” Twilight babbled. “I thought Discord had done terrible things to you.”

“No,” Celestia soothed as she nuzzled Twilight back. “Just forced me to watch as you all were picked on.” She gently pushed Twilight away and addressed the unicorn waiting expectantly beside her. “Thank you, Trixie, for your help. Discord couldn’t have been beaten without you.”

“Of course,” Trixie readily agreed. “Was there any doubt?”

A laugh was shared between the ponies gathered. Finally, Twilight looked between Celestia and Trixie and asked, “How’d you do it? Is Discord gone for good?”

“Yes, Twilight,” Celestia explained. “Trixie was able to release me from the prison Discord put me in. Magic couldn’t help me within the bubble but she found out that it could be broken from the outside. Quite easily, in fact. Once I was out, she told me of her link with Discord and I was able to weaken it enough so that she wouldn’t bring him back. Then we just waited for the right moment to use the elements on him. All’s well-”

“That ends well.”

All at once, the floor beneath them ruptured. Thick green vines sprouted and wrapped themselves around the startled ponies. Celestia violently tore free of the ones surrounding herself with magical lacerations and turned to do the same for the others.

“I wouldn’t do that, Celestia.”

The princess stopped as the vines tightened around the smaller ponies, causing cries of anguish to come from their mouths. She whipped her head to where Discord’s statue had been left, but it was no longer there. When she turned back, the spirit of chaos himself stood in the middle of the vines holding the Elements of Harmony.

“Nice try,” he sneered, his eyes flashing with contempt. “You nearly had me there. Now, if I detect even a glimmer of magic, these vines will grow thorns. Big ones. Understand?”

Celestia hatefully glared back but her horn did not glow.

Discord shot one last look her way before stepping towards the only other pony that he had not trapped. Trixie gulped and backed away. She didn’t make it far before a wall of vines grew behind her, keeping her from moving any further. Discord stopped a few lengths away and looked down at her with... disappointment?

“Why?” he asked simply.

Trixie glanced to and fro but any escape routes were cut off. Not that she thought she’d get far anyway. Putting on a brilliant smile, she asked back, “W-why, what?”

Discord narrowed his eyes. “I thought we had something. Something between us.”

“W-w-w-we do!” Trixie stammered. “That link thingy! Heh!” Her nervous grin faded as Discord’s frown deepened. “Um, how did you survive that, anyway?”

“I told you once that Celestia is overrated. She’s just as bumbling with her magic as her student. Besides, I just checked and your end resisted her. You don’t really want our link gone, do you?”

Trixie swallowed and pinned her ears back. She averted her muzzle away from those gathered.

“Thought so. Now...” He raised his hands and Trixie looked up in fright. She could feel an enormous amount of power being built between them. “Let me show you how real magic is done!”

“What... w-w-what are you going to do to me?!”

Discord loomed above Trixie, his eyes now irisless and completely yellow. He snarled and brought his hands down, aiming towards her.

Trixie did the only thing she think of.

She slammed her head against the floor.

“Iiieee!” Discord yelped and rubbed his noggin, all the power he had generated dissipating away. “Stop hitting yourself!

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you but I’ll think of something. Now hold still so that I can move you somewhere safe. We’re going to have a long talk later, mis-huh?”

A golden glow covered his entire body. The next instant, Discord slammed against the floor, Celestia towering above him with her horn aglow. The vines holding the six element bearers withered away, setting them free.

“Use the Elements of Harmony again!” Celestia commanded, her voice strained as she channeled as much power as she could to hold Discord down. Behind her, the bearers grouped together and began summoning the rainbow to blast him.


With a colossal force of will, Discord threw off the magic binding him. However, he was slow getting back to his feet. “This is getting tiresome,” he groaned. The next thing he knew, something climbed up on his back.

Trixie, her hat removed, rushed forward, reared back and stabbed down with her horn.

The roar of pain that tore out of both Discord and Trixie’s mouths would never be forgotten. Her horn pierced his back, just above his wings. The duo writhed in excruciating agony.

“FIRE!” Trixie screamed, tears leaking from her clenched eyes as she forced herself to remain in place.

The Elements of Harmony hesitated.

“But you’ll be turned to stone, too!” Twilight shouted above the hum of magic that surrounded her.


Twilight tried to think of something, anything, to keep what was about to happen from happening. The build-up of magic from the elements wouldn’t be denied however, and the sparkling rainbow erupted out of them.

Trixie had one final thought as the rainbow streaked towards her. If I’m going down, I’ll do it with style.

The rainbow struck.


As soon as she was able to move, Twilight sped towards the impact zone. Her eyes watered as she came upon the scene.

Discord lay upon the ground, a pained and sorrowful look on his face. Above him, head held high and proud with her cape billowing behind her in a dramatic fashion, stood Trixie.

Twilight Sparkle dropped to the floor and cried in front of the stone statue.

The Fat Lady Sings

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Twilight heard her friends trot up next to her. They all remained silent and sat down. She felt one of them place their legs around her, though she didn’t turn to see who it was. For a time, they all stayed that way, sitting in front of Trixie and Discord’s petrified forms. Finally, Twilight felt the legs around her tighten.

“You okay, hon?” Applejack asked softly.

Twilight simply shook her head. Unsure of what else to do, Applejack continued holding her friend.

Princess Celestia trotted into her view next. She looked over the statue briefly before turning towards her subjects, muzzle heavy with sorrow. “I apologize. Much of what has happened this day is due to me. I’m not going to get into what could have been or should have been done, though. Trixie’s sacrifice will not be forgotten. I will make sure of it, personally.”

“It’s not fair,” Twilight murmured quietly. “I... promised her...”

Celestia bent down and nuzzled Twilight gently. “I know. I know all too well. I’m here for you if you need it. And so are all your friends.”

“Can’t... can’t anything be done?” Twilight looked up at her mentor with desperate hope. “Can’t you free her?”

“I’m not sure, Twilight. If I do, then Discord will be free again. Then we’ll be back to fighting him.”

“Can we use the Elements to at least try?”

Celestia sighed. She understood Twilight’s sense of loss, she really did. “I do not know if there is anything more we can do. The Elements of Harmony have passed judgement. Using them again will not change things. I-”

A crack sounded behind her.

Celestia blinked in surprise. She stepped away to reveal that a large fissure had formed where Trixie’s hoof met Discord’s back. Celestia backed away, urging the others to do the same.

More cracks began to appear one after another. Soon, the entire statue became littered with them. The ponies dared not speak and unconsciously held their breath. They watched as a small piece of stone fell away at the base where Discord lay.

All at once, the whole statue crumbled to the floor.


Twilight rushed forward before anypony could stop her. She reached the spot where the statue had once stood and stared down at it helplessly. It was now just a heap of rubble.

Headless of the danger, Twilight began to push away piles of stone with her hooves. She distantly heard her friends calling to her to get away but she ignored them to continue clearing away what was left of the statue. Just as she feared that she would reach the bottom and find nothing, her hoof came into contact with something solid. She brushed away a few more pieces of stone to reveal a blue unicorn horn.

Twilight's face lit up. “She’s alive! I knew it! She’s okay! She’s-”

Rumbling from underneath the rubble caused her to back away. An avalanche of stone pieces cascaded down the body that emerged. Trixie’s head appeared first, eyes blinking and groggy, followed by the rest of her. She moved away from the discarded rock pile, taking small, uncoordinated movements as though she were a newborn taking her first steps.

“Oh,” Trixie groaned as she stepped forward. “Did anypony get the license of that carriage?” She shook her head a few times, causing a few more crumbs of stone to fall from her body, and looked up. She noticed that everypony was staring at her. “What? Do I have something on my muzzle?”

A collective blink passed through them. Nopony made a move or said anything.

“What is it?” Trixie asked, worry entering her voice. “What’s happened?”

Rarity gulped, conjured up a small hand mirror, and cautiously levitated it to her. “I think... you’d better see for yourself.”

Trixie reached forward with a paw to grab the mirror when it got close enough and stared into it. Yellow eyes with mismatched red pupils stared back at her.

Slowly, the creature passed the mirror over its entire body. It was pony shaped in head and body, but several new appendages had been changed or added. A single tooth jutted from its mouth on one side. A pair of horns, one a deer antler and the other a goat’s horn, protruded behind a unicorn’s horn. Trixie’s platinum mane flowed through them. Four different legs of animals were attached to its blue pony body. From its back sprouted a bat and pegasus wing. A long, red dragon tail emerged from its behind. Finally, Trixie’s cutie mark had changed. The wand was still present, but black lines coiled around it and pointed off in random directions.

The creature took its time inspecting itself, not uttering a word. The others watched it in anticipation and worry. Finally, the creature placed down the mirror and stared up at the ceiling.

“I am...”

The ponies across from it leaned forward...

“... strangely gorgeous.”

… and fell flat on their muzzles.

“Oh, you gotta be kidding me!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed after picking herself up. She rushed forward and spread her legs apart to indicate the entirety of the being in front of her. “Look at you! You’re all... weird!”

“So says the one with rainbow hair,” the creature shot back. It was only now that it noticed that its voice sounded as though it were two different voices overlapping each other. “I bet you dye it.”

“Hey! I’m all natural, you... you... whatever you are!”

“Rainbow, stop!” Twilight scolded the pegasus. “Don’t be mean to her!”


Twilight switched her focus to the new chimera. “What’s that?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Twilight Sparkle?” the creature mocked. “It seems your elements did something wondrously unexpected. It looks like they combined what used to be Trixie and Discord into one.”

Twilight stared at it in shock. “What? But... but, how?”

The chimera stood up on its hind lizard and goat legs and shrugged. “Who knows. Magic is funny like that.”

Suddenly, Celestia galloped forward and stood before the chimera. With it standing on its hind legs as it was now, the princess was able to look it in the eyes without having to bend down. The creature flinched back and held up its lion paw and eagle claw in warding.

“Now hold on, princess!” the chimera said with desperation. “Let’s not be hasty!”

Celestia’s horn glowed and a golden blanket of magic flowed over the creature’s body. Before the chimera could attempt to shrug it off, the glow disappeared. Celestia regarded it carefully, gaining a cautious look from the chimera. Finally, she said, “It’s true. There is no trace of the life link. It has merged completely.”

The creature quirked an eyebrow. “Soooooo... what now? You going to try using the elements again?” It landed on all fours and braced itself. The unicorn horn glowed a soft purple and its front fingers twitched. “You know they won’t work, your highness.”

“That’s right. They won’t.” Celestia continued looking at the chimera. A palpable air of tension filled the room as one godlike being faced the other. Celestia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “The elements have passed their judgement. There doesn’t need to be anymore fighting.” She reopened her eyes and her mouth lifted in a hint of a smile. “As long as you don’t cause too much of a fuss, that is. After all, you are still one of my subjects. I still get to order you around.”

The chimera winced, feeling a part of itself being compelled to follow its ruler. “Ew.”

A head peeked around the princess’ body. Twilight hesitantly stepped forward until she stood in front of the creature. “So, you’re not gone? You are still in there,Trixie?”

“I’m not Trixie anymore,” the chimera waved off. “Discord neither.” The chimera looked over to the pile of rubble it had emerged from. A simple activation of magic and a star covered cape floated out of it. The cape levitated over and wrapped around the creature’s neck. It reared up, cape fluttering behind it, and proclaimed grandly, “Call me... Trixcord!”


“Spike? Is the telescope set up?”

Spike stopped dusting a row of books to turn and address Twilight’s question. “I think so. It’s right where it usually is.”

“Thanks,” Twilight said. She stepped away from her work desk and trotted up to her loft.

“Weren’t you working on your next letter to the princess?” Spike called to her before she left his sight.

“I’m taking a break,” she replied. Spike shrugged and went back to his chores.

Twilight reached her living area and climbed up to the window that her favorite telescope was set up next to. A flick of magic teleported her new copy of “Astronomical Astronomer's Almanac to All Things Astronomy” to her side. She quickly referenced one of its pages, gently adjusted the telescope’s position and placed her eye against the viewer. The constellation Draco shone back at her, its serpentine form a beautiful sight against the dark of the sky.

The unicorn shifted the telescope slowly to another part of the night sky, looking for more constellations to gaze at. She passed over Orion, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Major, a smiley face, Eridanus, Taurus-


Twilight whipped the telescope back. Where Lepus should be located, a pony’s face instead gazed back at her. Impossibly, the constellation winked at her and stuck out a star outlined tongue.

“Trixie!” Twilight yelled up at the stars.

“Cord. Trixcord.”

Twilight felt something tapping her head. She whirled around and found the creature made of pony parts and many other things floating next to her, casually leafing through her astronomy book.

“Trixcord was wondering where this had gotten to,” Trixcord commented as it flipped through the pages with its eagle claws at a blurring pace. “Brings back memories...”

Twilight held back a retort and said instead, “Princess Luna won’t like you messing with her stars. I hear she gets touchy about that since she takes a lot of effort to make them look special.”

“She’ll get over it.” Trixcord tossed the astronomy book away. Twilight reacted quickly with her magic to keep it from landing roughly on the floor. She placed it on a shelf and glared up at the chimera.

“Aren’t you suppose to be keeping a low profile?” Twilight asked sternly. “There are a lot of ponies that don’t trust you, you know.”

“Feh, don’t remind Trixcord. The princess is still making me write status letters to her. It’s like I’m in a prison with no walls.” Trixcord crossed its arms and pouted.

“Better than being in stone though, right?” Twilight pointed out.

Trixcord grimaced at the thought. “True,” it conceded. “Still, even with Equestria opened to me, it can get so boring. Trixcord has all this power and nothing to use it on.” Its eyes suddenly opened in delight and looked down at Twilight expectantly.

Twilight spoke before Trixcord could. “No.”

“You don’t even know what Trixcord was going to say...”

“I’ve seen that look before and I know it’s nothing good. Especially for me.”

“You’ve got to learn to loosen up, Twilight Sparkle,” Trixcord chided with a grin before fading away. “You’ll enjoy things more that way.”

“Trixcord!” Twilight screeched before racing down the stairs. She found the chimera sitting at her desk, a quill in its lion paw. Spike stared at the creature uneasily before deciding that the downstairs hadn’t had a good cleaning in a while. He rushed away, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake.

“Ugh, this is what you do in your spare time?” Trixcord complained as it reached down to begin adding to the letter. “You’ve got to get out more. Let’s spruce this up, shall we?”

“Leave that alone!” Twilight summoned her magic and yanked the paper and quill from out of Trixcord’s reach. She levitated them behind her and watched for any movements to take them back. Her expression softened when she saw Trixcord body sag. She trotted up to it.

“Look, I’m sorry things are so tough for you right now,” Twilight said in sympathy. She placed the parchment and quill back down on the desk. “I wish I could make things better, but it’s just going to take time to adjust to things.”

Trixcord harrumphed and walked away from the desk, head held high. “Time is not something Trixcord has to worry about anymore, Twilight Sparkle.” It walked to the center of the room and stared at the bust of a wooden stallion head displayed on a table. “Trixie got what she wanted on that day. So did Discord. Eternal life along with being free to do as Trixcord pleases. Well, almost anything Trixcord pleases.

“I have adjusted. You’d think that I would be furious to be stuck like this but really, it feels as natural as when I was Trixie and Discord. I have no regrets about that.”

“Then...” Twilight trailed off, unsure of what Trixcord was getting at. “What’s the problem?”

“Equestria hasn’t adjusted to me yet,” Trixcord answered bitterly. “I'm still a spirit of chaos and a showpony. Trixcord has a function to perform and it’s annoying having to hold back. No pony sees me at my best. Pulling pranks like what Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash do are so boring. I need something big to satisfy myself.”

Twilight wasn’t sure what to say. She herself was always satisfied with just laying by the fire with a good book. There wasn’t much that could beat that, except maybe laying down under the stars with a good book.

Still, she was just a pony. Trixcord was... something else entirely. She couldn’t imagine how it would feel to have an instinctual urge to do something and being forced to keep it toned down.

Trixcord continued to look at the wooden bust. Seeing as the chimera wasn’t going anywhere, Twilight walked up to one of her bookshelves and scanned through the titles there. One book called, “Unexplained Phenomenon That Are Phenomenal” caught her eye. She plucked it with her magic and brought it over to Trixcord. “Here. Maybe something in here will give you an idea.” Twilight placed the book down and smiled encouraging at it.

Trixcord raised an eyebrow, but shrugged and lazily flipped through the book. Twilight nodded in satisfaction and went back to her letter. A few minutes passed, the only sound the quiet shuffling of pages being turned. Finally, Trixcord stopped and read through a passage with intense interest.

“That’s it!”

Twilight jerked in surprise, causing her quill to draw a thick black line across her letter. “Shoot! Not I’ve got to start all over again! Thanks a lot, Trix-” She turned around to scold the chimera but found that it was gone. “... cord?”

Suddenly, a flash of light filled her windows. Twilight rushed out of her library and noticed that other ponies were out and looking around in confusion. Movement on the ground caught her eye. Colors danced across the dirt path, predominantly fluorescent green with some red sprinkled in. Realizing the colors were just a reflection of something above her, Twilight looked up to the sky.

It was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. A display of light flowed high in the air, rippling like a curtain in the wind. The light stretched from one end of the horizon to the other and possibly even further than that. Ponies watched the glorious light show with rapt attention, too enraptured to look away.

“Aurora borealis,” Twilight murmured in awe. She had never seen one. The last time such an event had been seen was reported to have happened over a thousand years ago. However, nothing in her books could ever describe properly what she was experiencing now.

“By Celestia, the sky’s on fire!”

“It’s the end of the world!”

“Run for your lives!”

Twilight was brought out of her gazing of the aurora to witness ponies scrambling to get back inside. She ran forward and called out, “No! No! It won’t hurt you! It’s just a result of an illusion of light! It results from the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmo-!”

Mad cackling next to her drowned out her long winded explanation.

Twilight looked down and saw Trixcord rolling on the ground and laughing uncontrollably.

“L-l-l-look at them run! Ha! Ha! Ha! Everypony in Equestria is probably f-f-freaking out right now! This is just too much! The whole world is my stage to p-p-perform on!” The chimera lost all ability to talk as it lapsed into another round of joyous laughter.

Twilight shook her head in exasperation. She wanted to lecture it, tell it that it wasn’t very nice to scare ponies like that and remind it that Celestia wouldn’t be very thrilled about this later.

However, seeing the chimera find something that brought it some happiness, and didn’t really hurt anypony, Twilight thought she’d let it get away with it for now. Just so long as this didn’t become a regular occurrence-

“Just wait until they see what Trixcord has in store for them tomorrow!”

Then again, Twilight Sparkle heard that the lands of Draconia were rather nice this time of year.

Director's Cut

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Eight ponies proceeded down the hall of Canterlot Tower. The bearers of the Elements of Harmony and the princesses of Equestria held their heads high as they made their way past the stained glassed windows of the heroes of the past. Each of them wore a stoic expression, fighting back tears that threatened to spill. There had been enough sorrow; now was the time to honor one of their own.

Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, who had returned after an extensive pilgrimage throughout the land to reacquaint herself with the ponies she helped rule, stopped in front of a window covered up by a red curtain. The princesses parted and stood on either side. Simultaneously, their horns lit up and drew back the curtain to reveal the window underneath.

It was as grand as all the other windows in the tower. At its top were depicted the bearers of harmony, their bodies aglow with power. At the bottom lay Discord, his misshapen body fallen in defeat. And in the center stood a blue unicorn, her body acting as a conduit for the elements to strike down their common foe.

Perched on the sill of the window, lay a star covered magician’s hat.

“My friends,” Celestia announced. “Let us honor today a pony that sacrificed herself so that we may all live happily. This window is a promise that her noble cause will not be forgotten. May her soul rest in peace.”

The princesses bowed to the window. After a moment of gazing at the glass structure, the bearers did the same. All except one.

There came the sound of a magical discharge, followed by an ear piercing shattering of glass.

A collective gasp escaped from the ponies as they scrambled away from the window to avoid its falling pieces. Once the danger had passed, seven pairs of shocked eyes stared at where the window used to be. Only a few shards of glass remained in the frame. The rest was strewn across the carpeted floor. Then, as one, they tracked the pony responsible as she stepped forward, her hooves crunching glass as she went.

“T-Twilight?” Applejack stuttered. “Why?”

Twilight Sparkle didn’t answer. She stopped just below the remnants of the window, the sun’s rays striking her at full force now that there was nothing to impede them. Twilight remained silent for a full minute before she found her voice.

“This... this isn’t... right,” she began, struggling against the emotions building within her. “I... I made a promise. I promised that she’d be here, in this room, seeing this window. All of us. Together.” Twilight lowered her head and shut her eyes tightly. The tears building up finally spilled forth and fell to the floor.

Suddenly, Twilight whirled around and faced the gathered ponies. Her muzzle was set in the most determined expression they had ever seen. “I’m going to keep that promise! Somehow, someway, I’m going to find a way to separate Trixie from Discord. She’ll be here with us to celebrate like she should be. I swear to all of you, this will not be the end of her story.”