The Mare With No Name

by Roberthood

First published

On the run from the law, Trixie must do her best to lay low on her way through the tiny backwater of Appaloosa...but fate has other plans.

A broken amulet drives the once Great and Powerful mare into a life on the lam. With no friends, no shelter (not even her beloved wagon!), Trixie finds herself doing whatever she can to stay one step ahead of the law, but trying to remain incognito proves difficult for the former showmare.

Written for a writing challenge, but never submitted. Rather than languish unread and gather dust, it was thought better to publish here for public consumption.

1) Downfall

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A dry wind whistled through the small town, stirring up grit and tumbleweeds in its wake. It muffled the sounds of passing ponies, and quieted the hoofsteps of one particular mare as she made her way down the central thoroughfare. Her blue coat and silver mane were stained with the dust of the trail, her gait slow and weary. The only possessions she carried were in a small pack atop her back.

“Trixie misses her wagon,” she muttered under her breath. It had been crushed, destroyed by the same events that had marked the beginning of her downfall, and ultimately led her to this backwater hamlet in the rump-end of nowhere. Though nearly a year had passed, and certainly used to the rigors of life on the road, she would certainly miss the simple comforts her mobile residence had provided her during all those years as a showpony. As if that were not enough, it seemed she was to be denied any of the luxuries she might have enjoyed in the larger cities.

Canterlot, Manehattan, Fillydelphia; These places and more had all been graced by The Great and Powerful Trixie, and more than once. Why, they likely knew her on sight, which, ironically, was the very reason she’d been forced to banish herself to this miserable little excuse for a town.

At least there was a bar.

Trixie stopped before that very building, faded and peeling paint spelling out “SALOON” in once-bold colors. Heaving a tired sigh, she pushed open the iconic double doors that made up the entrance and trudged her way inside.

The interior was richly appointed and decorated, vibrant silks and lace belying the place’s outer appearance. Art, mostly of enticing mares, adorned the walls, and in a corner a stallion played a cheerful tune on an upright piano. There were only a handful of customers at this time of day, which suited Trixie’s purposes just fine as she sidled up to the bar.

“Howdy there, missy!” Spouted the barpony in a jolly tone, wiping down the polished wood in front of him with one hoof and smoothing his impressive handlebar mustache and neatly trimmed goatee with the other. “If yer here for a drink, you’re in luck! We jus’ got ourselves a new shipment of Applejack Daniels; finest whiskey around!”

With a flourish, he pulled a bottle of the liquor in question from beneath the bar. Trixie’s muzzle wrinkled into a scowl aimed at the label, her eyes meeting those of the smiling mare on it. It was HER, one of Sparkle’s friends. That hat was unmistakable.

“Just water, if you please,” she huffed, turning up her snout a tad. If the barpony was insulted, he didn’t show it.

“Heh,” he chuckled. “Suppose its a mite bit early for some to start drinkin’ anyway.” Filling a glass from a keg beneath the countertop, he placed it before her, removing the offending bottle of whiskey as he did. Trixie raised a pale eyebrow.

“No ice?” she quipped. The barpony merely chuckled again.

“Naw, the unicorn ah hired hasn’t come by yet to refreeze mah icebox. No icebox, no ice, ah’m afraid. Sorry missy!”

Ignoring a spike of frustration, the former showpony waved a hoof at him dismissively.

“Save your apologies,” She said. With a frown of concentration, her horn lit up with a magenta glow as she stared down at the cup. Slowly, from the bottom up, it began to frost over, making the glass tinkle softly and tiny clouds of fog issue from the top.

“See?” she smirked, holding up the now-chilled glass of water with her hoof in a solo toast before bringing it to her lips and drinking eagerly. The barpony (Bottlecap, by his nametag) let out a guffaw.

“Lookie there, now!” he exclaimed. “How about that. What’s yer name, darlin’?”

“Why the Gr-” abruptly she choked, and had to resist the urge to facehoof. She couldn’t remain incognito if she went throwing her name around everywhere, could she? Best to drop the title, for now.

“Nopony special,” she said instead, a sour taste in her mouth.

“Well, Nopony,” Bottlecap said with a grin, “You needin’ a place to stay the night? Awful late to keep travelling.”

He was right. Reflected in the mirror behind him was the image of the sun beginning to set, the orange light pouring in through the front window. Night would arrive soon, and traveling after dark was generally a bad idea if you didn’t want to break a leg.

“Maybe,” she replied. “Why do you ask?”

“We~ll,” he drawled. “Ah’ll give ya a deal missy. Ah need some ice before the night rush shows up, so you do yer little trick on mah icebox, and ah’ll put ya up for the night.”

Trixie mulled his offer over a another deep pull of water. She didn’t want to appear too desperate to save her precious few remaining bits, after all.

“I suppose that would be agreeable” she stated, with all the magnanimity she could muster.

The rest of the evening went by smoothly, Trixie relaxing in a corner booth after taking Bottlecap up on his offer to wash up from a basin in the back. Now free of the dirt marring her coat, she rested in drowsy contentment, eyes lidded as she slowly rehydrated herself from a magically frosted pitcher of water. The only anxious moment had been having to dodge the saloon’s proprietor when he asked for her story.

Trixie grunted at the thought, roused from her half-nap by the memories drudged up. After her humiliation in Ponyville with the Ursa Minor, which had brought about the destruction of her beloved wagon (and a few buildings, so what?), she’d been bent on showing up that Sparkle. So determined was she, that she had resorted to more… illicit means to get her revenge. And then, just as it was in her grasp, The Great and Powerful Trixie had lost everything. Now she was the Wanted and On The Run Trixie.

She hadn’t meant to fall so easily for Sparkle’s tricks, or to break the Alicorn Amulet in a magical tug-of-war. She CERTAINLY had not meant to purchase an ancient artifact stolen from Princess Luna and sold to Trixie by an illegal fence posing as an antiques dealer. Meant to or not, however, these things had happened, and now she was stuck hiding out in the sticks while ponies across Equestria searched for her. Destruction of royal property was a serious offense, it seemed.

So no, she hadn’t much wanted to share her story with the barpony.

Fortunately, he didn’t pursue the issue, distracted as he was by the influx of new customers. As the sun finally set, ponies streamed in through the saloon’s double doors, eager to quench their thirst after a hard day’s work in the orchards. Bottlecap must have had the only watering hole in town; Trixie was soon glad she’d arrived early enough to snag a spot to herself.

Although, she was tempted to leave it for a bit, maybe let one of the rugged stallions at the bar buy her a drink… No, better to keep her wits about her. The only thing worse than being a wanted mare was being a wanted mare who was too drunk to remember not to use her name.

While she was ogling the eye candy, debating whether she should reconsider, her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a new arrival to the saloon. The stranger’s bulk filled the doorway, easily differentiated from the other ponies by the simple fact that he was not a pony at all. He was a griffon.

One of the last creatures she would have expected to show up here. Their xenophobic traditions usually kept them confined to the mountainous homelands north of Equestria, where the forbidding terrain and miserable climate discouraged most outsiders from bothering them. So why was one here, now, on the other side of the continent? And why was he so clearly scanning the room as if looking for someone?

It made Trixie nervous. She didn’t trust coincidences, and a little paranoia was healthy for a mare on the run who wished to stay on the run. So when his wandering gaze turned towards her booth, she allowed herself the indignity of ducking beneath her table, hoping her form was shielded by the crowd of drinking patrons.

After a moment, she peeked out through the forest of pony limbs. Her eyes following the griffon as he made his way to the bar, careful not to step on anypony while looking around. Trixie took the opportunity to study him a bit more closely. He was tall, even for his kind, and sported both plumage and fur in varying shades of gray covered by a dun serape. A coil of rope hung from a leather pack resting on his back, and she shuddered at the thought of how exactly he’d gotten the hide.

Now the stranger was speaking to Bottlecap, who wore an uncharacteristic frown on his face as he scratched his bearded chin with a hoof. With some small relief, Trixie noticed he didn’t point her out, or even glance in the general direction of her booth. What were they talking about?

She had to get closer, find out who this deadly-looking griffon was and what he wanted. If it had nothing to do with her, then there was no risk, but if he WAS looking for a certain mare who had once operated under the title of ‘The Great and Powerful’, then she definitely needed to know.

Trixie grabbed her own pack from its resting place next to her, slinging it on in case she had to make an expeditious retreat. Slowly she crept along the floor of the bar, careful to keep as many ponies as possible between her and the stranger. Luckily, they all seemed to be too engrossed in their drinks and conversation to notice a lone mare crawling on her stomach. Ugh, her fur was going to need another wash after this…

At last she reached her destination at the end of the long bar. Here, she could stay hidden behind the wooden corner while remaining close enough to eavesdrop a tad. All she could make out over the din of the lively patrons, however, was a word here and there.

“...Sure… last heard… Princess.” Not good. “About a… trail...Lulamoon?”


That was Trixie’s cue: if they had found her already, she needed to skip town yesterday. Downside to hiding in a small village was that when ponies (or griffons) did come looking, there weren’t many ponies to ask or buildings to search.

Trixie readied herself to crawl yet again, this time through the back rooms to the door, and silently cursed the weakness that had allowed her to take up Bottlecap’s enticing offer of a night’s sleep in a real bed for once. Just as she was about to skulk into the night, though, fate intervened in the form a drunken pony stumbling over and peering down at her.

“Wash yoush doin’ down thur?” questioned a more-than-tipsy stallion. Loudly. She tried frantically to hush him, gesturing wildly with her hooves, but the large shadow that fell across them both told her she was too late. Gulping, she looked fearfully to her left (and up, goodness he was tall), meeting the cold stare of the griffon looming over her.

“Er… hello?” Trixie said, trying not to panic. Panicking was a bad thing, it clouded the mind when you needed it the most.

“Trixie Lulamoon.” It was a statement, not a question. “You are wanted by-” Whatever else he might have said was lost forever as Trixie grabbed a nearby bottle in her magic and smashed it over his head.

Okay, maybe she WAS panicking.

Ignoring the surprised cries around her, she scrambled to her hooves and made a mad dash to the door… only to yelp as she was hauled up by her tail. The griffon held her, upside down, in front of his face while glaring at her. He was soaking wet, covered in shards of glass, and exhibited an up-and-coming lump at his temple. All told, he did not seem pleased.

“You little-” Trixie doubled down, cutting his speech off once more, this time with surge of magic from her horn. The flash of light sent him reeling back, dropping her to grasp at his eyes with his claws while he let out a squawk of pain. She landed in an undignified pile, limbs akimbo, before scrabbling upright and away with all possible speed.

She’d finally made it outside, at least. Bursting between the doors of the saloon, Trixie galloped into the street, looking left and right for someplace to hide. A cacophony of shattered glass sounded behind her, and she risked a glance over her shoulder long enough to see that her pursuer had forgone squeezing his bulk out the door, opting instead to fly straight through the large window. It didn’t seem to slow him in the slightest, and the sight made Trixie’s legs move even faster, her body coursing with adrenalin.

In desperation she tore off down an alley between two buildings, only to pull up short when she realized it was a dead end. How in Equestria had she managed to find the only blind alley in a town with a mere dozen buildings?

Turning about, she saw her escape was now cut off by a snarling griffon. He wasted not moment with talking, simply charging at her with a wordless roar.

Trixie’s horn flashed again, but this time he was ready for it, and covered his eyes with an arm. When the light had died down, he leapt at her, claws outstretched, serape flapping at the speed of his passing. He flew towards Trixie’s cowering form…

...And passed straight through, impacting the wall behind her dissolving shape. There was a sickening crack as he hit, and he collapsed to the dusty ground in a heap. A few feet away, the real Trixie poked her head up from an empty rain barrel.

“Ha!” she shouted. “Nopony alive can best The Great and Power Trrrrixie!” She waved her hooves in the air, forgetting for a second she was still in a barrel.

She was quickly reminded that fact as her revelry was cut short by the arrival of what appeared to half the population of Appaloosa. Her stomach dropped when she noticed they were led by a mustached pony bearing a shiny metal star on his chest.

“What in the hay is goin’ on here?!” he bellowed, halting a few steps away. The crowd whispered and nudged one another behind him.

“Er-” It was Trixie’s turn to be interrupted by the griffon, who let out a loud groan as he stirred. He struggled to his feet, but fell back again after trying to put weight on his apparently broken leg.

“My Griswold,” he panted. “And I am… a bounty hunter.” The sheriff squinted at him for a moment, then turned to Trixie.

“Which would make you ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’?” he asked.

She hesitated a beat before nodding. She HAD been just yelling it for all the world to hear a minute ago, after all.

“Right. Yer under arrest!”

Trixie stared at herself through the bars of her new cell. In front of her was a wanted poster bearing her own features, magically captured in a perfect likeness. Most likely taken from one of her old show posters, in fact. The paper was held in the claws of one Griswold, legally appointed bounty hunter for the Equestrian criminal justice system, and currently not happy with one Great and Powerful mare.

He’d refused any medical attention, instead relying on the strength of his wings to carry him to the local jail, where Trixie had been unceremoniously dumped in a cell. After sealing her magic with a nullifying ring around her horn, of course.

“So~,” the sheriff drawled. “Ya got anything to say ‘fore we cart ya off to Canterlot, ma’am?”

She remained silent. What was there to say? They had her, and soon so would the Princess. Trixie shivered when she thought of what might be done to her once in Canterlot. Princess Luna had had thousands of years to come up with truly excellent methods of punishing ponies. If Trixie were lucky, perhaps she’d simply be turned to stone for eternity.

The once proud pony hung her head in despair.

“Well then,” Silverstar continued. “I reckon you’ll be wantin’ me to pay yer bounty then, Griffon.”

“...No.” Trixie’s head shot back up, meeting the cold gaze of the bounty hunter. “She bested me, fair and square. My honor stings from being defeated by such a tiny creature, but it will not allow me to collect a reward I have not earned.” He stared down at her, unblinking, before shrugging out of his cloak. The sheriff pushed his hat back to scratch his head with a hoof.

“Among my kind,” Griswold went on, “when one warrior defeats another, he is granted a token or possession of his fallen opponent, both as tribute, and to serve as a reminder. A reminder that one day they may meet again and do battle, and perhaps the lost item shall be reclaimed.” Nodding to the imprisoned mare, he stuffed the tan cloth through the bars.

“Remember me, Trixie Lulamoon. Grow strong, so when next we meet, it may be interesting”. Without another word, the griffon turned and hobbled out the door and into the night. Muffled flaps of wings could be heard, and then he was gone.

“Huh,” said a baffled Silverstar. “If that don’t beat all!”

The next day was sunny and bright, with nary a cloud to be seen. A gentle breeze blew, and there could even be heard the sound of birds singing somewhere in the distance. Trixie found herself unable to enjoy the beautiful day, however, as she was currently marching to her doom.

At least she’d gotten a decent night’s sleep. Griswold’s serape, though ridiculously oversized, had proven to be delightfully warm bedding, keeping her snug in the otherwise cold and bare cell. It now lay rolled up and tucked behind the pack on her back. Sheriff Silverstar had been kind enough to let her keep her things for the trip to Canterlot, though he’d made a thorough inspection of them first, of course.

Now they stood together, waiting for a train that would arrive at any minute. Trixie peered anxiously down the tracks every so often, dreading the occasion she would look and see the billowing smoke that would herald the locomotive’s arrival. A few ponies stopped to gawk at the mare who’d caused all the ruckus last night, who was wanted by the Crown itself, congregating briefly before Silverstar waved them on their way.

Sure enough, another group was coming now. They must have believed the train would be arriving soon, because they were coming on at a gallop. And yelling. As they approached, Trixie could make out looks of fear and even terror written on their features.

Huh. With her magic still bound by the damnable ring around her horn, Trixie was hardly a threat to anypony. Why was this group so-



The half dozen ponies skidded to an abrupt halt, showering the sheriff and his captive with dust and grit. Trixie groaned; would she ever get a proper bath again? She must be filthy by now…

“What’re ya’ll going on ‘bout now?” The sheriff demanded. He seemed to be cross at having his official business interrupted by these shenanigans.

“No foolin’ Sheriff!” one proclaimed. “It’s all Pathfinder’s fault, he’s led the beast right to us!”

“Calm down, folks, calm down. Now, what’s all this ‘bout a dragon?” A mare in rear of the group seemed to shrink in on herself. “Pathfinder? You know anything ‘bout this?” The other ponies pushed the nervous mare to the front, her limbs dragging on the ground.

“W-well Sheriff,” she stuttered out. “It’s l-like they said, mostly.” She wilted even further beneath the Silverstar’s stare.

“She was pokin ‘round them hills to the east again!” Another of the group piped up. “We told her not tah, told her what ya’d said, that there was all manner ah dangerous critters runnin’ ‘round, but she wouln’t lissen!”

“...That true, Pathfinder?” The mare in question nodded miserably, eyes staring into the dirt below.

“I-i was just lookin’ around a bit. At first. Then the rain started tah come down somethin’ fierce, all outta nowhere! So I took shelter inna cave I found. And, since I was stuck, I, well…”

“You went explorin’,” The sheriff groaned, rubbing his face with a hoof.

“Y-yea,” Pathfinder agreed, continuing. “but, it weren’t like I had anythin’ better tah do. So I started scoutin’ out the back of the cave, and it jus’ went on ‘n on. Felt like fer miles! Just when I started tah think mebbe I aughta be headin’ back, I found THIS.”

She removed her saddlebags, one side bulging near to bursting, and poured it’s contents onto the ground. Trixie’s breath caught when as she realized what it was.

Treasure! A small fortune in gold and jewels, all lying there in the filthy street. Why, just a hoofull of that loot would be more than enough to fund her escape, letting her leave Equestria forever!

Get a hold of yourself, Trixie. Remember the dragon.

Sheriff Silverstar, it seemed, had not forgotten, his face turning pale beneath his fur.

“Pathfinder. D’you know what ye’ve done?” When the mare seemed unable to reply, he went on. “You’ve DOOMED us, that’s what ye’ve done! A dragon don’t take kindly tah ponies pokin’ round their lairs, an’ even less kindly to them that STEAL from ‘em!” Pathfinder was quivering now, shaking in fear. Nearby ponies had started to gather, attracted by all the commotion.

“I didn’t know, Sheriff!” she cried. “I Swear! I had no idea the stuff belonged tah a dragon till after the thing started chasin’ me.”

“I’m confused,” Trixie butted in (the sheriff was too far gone to mind, apparently). “If the dragon caught you stealing, and gave chase, how exactly did you manage to outrun it back here?” A dragon old enough to start hoarding should have been able to fly faster than any pony.

“W-well,” Pathfinder stammered. “I-i dropped some of it’s treasure on mah way outta them hills, a bit at a time. It had to stop an’ gather the stuff up, then fly it back to the hidey hole.”

Trixie blinked at the mare.

“Why,” she asked slowly, “did you not simply drop ALL of the loot? Apart from lightening your load, you might have dissuaded the beast from pursuing you further.” The assembled ponies stared once more at the thieving mare. It did not seem possible she could make herself any smaller, but that did not stop her from trying.

“I-i-i, I was, um…”

“You got greedy.” The sheriff finished for her. He glared at her so hard it was a wonder that she didn’t erupt in flames on the spot. Instead, she collapsed in a crying heap, great sobs bursting from her while she tried to explain she was sorry, that she hadn’t meant to.

“Somepony get this wretch outta here,” The sheriff commanded. “I’ll figger out what tah do with her later, assumin’ we survive what’s comin’. Hope one of ya’ll has some bright ideas, ‘cause I don’t know what good pies are gonna be ‘gainst a dragon.” His face was set in grim lines.

By now, they had amassed quite a crowd of townsponies, who all began to jabber fearfully. Some took off running, likely to round up their families and maybe try to high-tail on out of town. Abruptly one ran the front of the throng, shouting excitedly.

“I got it, I got it!” He yelled. “It’s simple! All we gotta do is, build an exact copy of the town of Appaloosa a coupla miles to the east. Every building, every storefront, every rock, and every tree! Right down the orange roof on Mudpie’s outhouse. Then when the dragon comes a-lookin’, it’ll burn down the fake town insteada the real one!”

Silence reigned over the throng, every eye boring into the pony who’d spoken. After a moment, the sheriff slowly trotted over, lifted a hoof… and slapped the stallion upside the head.

“Blaze, that has gotta be the STUPIDEST idea of yours I ever heard! And that’s sayin’ something!” Silverstar continued to berate the poor pony, while the rest of the group went on fretting about what they were to do.

Trixie however, wasn’t listening. Instead, she was gazing about the town, eyes unfocused as she tried to calculate its size. After a time, she nodded to herself.

“Oh Sheriff?” she called out above the rabble. “Could I talk to you for a minute?”

2) Redemption

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“Fer the record, I still think this is a mighty stupid idea,” Sheriff Silverstar griped. They stood on a knoll a mile outside Appaloosa, looking out across the empty prairie, tall grass swaying gently in the wind.

“Look at it this way, Sheriff,” Trixie replied. “If it works, Appaloosa is saved. If it doesn’t, we won’t care anymore, because we shall be burned to a crisp.”

“...Somehow, that don’t make me feel better.”

Trixie ignored him. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on her powers, and the land around her. She felt for the strength within her, the churning reservoir of energy just waiting to be tapped, letting it course through her. More and more she pulled in, until she felt she would burst.

She hadn’t held this much power since she’d possessed the Alicorn Amulet. It had been so simple, then, as easy as thought to control and command. Now her body seemed to pulse with the magic she summoned, her fur standing on end.

She could feel herself begin to sweat. It begged for release, demanded to be used. Slowly, with great care, Trixie directed all that energy outward, channeling it through her horn and into reality. Streams of colors burst forth into the air and across the plain, her will shaping them into tangible form. Buildings, streets, even an entire orchard coalesced into being around the two ponies.

Silverstar could only stand there, gaping at the replica of the town he’d lived in for so many years. Little inconsistencies could be seen, here and there, but to someone who’d never visited Appaloosa it would be uncanny. He noted idly that she had indeed gotten the roof of Mudpie’s outhouse right.

Trixie staggered to the side before sitting hard on her rump when her legs simply folded. Her limbs shook with exhaustion while she simply sat, panting, too tired to even examine her work. This was by far one of the most difficult illusions she’d ever performed, unaided (which, for The Great and Powerful Trixie, was saying something). Not merely because of the size, which was daunting by itself, but from strengthening the enchantment so that it would remain long enough for the dragon to show up.

Silverstar shook himself, snapping out of his reverie. He trotted over to the middle of the newly-made street, pulled off his saddlebags, and emptied them into the dirt. Gold coins bounced in the dust, clanking against jeweled crowns and strings of pearls as they landed in a heap.

Now somewhat recovered, Trixie gave the lucre a wistful look. If only she dared take a single piece, she could travel in relative comfort and safety till she made it out of Equestria. Dragon’s, however, were notorious for knowing their hoards intimately. A single missed gem would send one scouring across the continent in pursuit.

“C’mon, missy,” the sheriff called. “Let’s git out of sight ‘fore that lizard shows up.”

“...If you ever meet one, Sheriff,” she replied, “I would strongly recommend that you not call it that. Better for your complexion and its digestion.”

They trotted out of the ersatz village, taking cover in a copse of trees atop a slight rise. Truth be told, Trixie would much prefer to wait somewhere much further away, like the moon. Unfortunately, for her ruse to succeed, she needed to be close enough to manipulate the illusion further. A town that did not combust or without screaming townsponies would certainly be suspicious.

“So, do you think this will work?” Silverstar asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “I’ve never tried this before.”

“What, never?” She gave a chuckle.

“I generally try to avoid angering creatures that many times larger than myself, so yes. Never.”

“Y’know, suddenly I do feel better.”

“Oh?” He grinned at her.

“Yeah. I know at least that if I burn, you’ll burn with me.”


The deafening sound of beating wings is drowned out by a bellowing roar, so loud even the earth below seems to tremble. Some puny thing has dared to burgle the hoard of the dreadful Salamantrux, but before they have time to enjoy their pilfered treasure, they shall be taught why a dragon’s wrath is to be feared. Any who would rouse the wyrm shall be crushed, chewed, flayed and seared unto nothingness! Only ash shall remain!

Behold! Here lies the dwelling of these miserable equines, whom had been so graciously permitted to abide on a dragon’s lands. See the tiny ponies, already fleeing for their wretched lives. They shall BURN!

A glint of gold catches the dragon’s eye. The pathetic things have left out the stolen riches, no doubt an attempt to placate the beast’s fury. Those fools! None can escape a dragon’s mighty retribution! Another roar, and he is upon them, igniting homes and townsponies alike. They gallop about in terror, but to no avail.

The winged fiend lands amongst them, reveling in their cries as he scoops up his treasure in his maw, swallowing it for safe keeping. Later, he shall regurgitate it safely back into his hoard, where it will remain. For all time!

But what is this? A ways from the town, two of the equines are huddling in a strand of trees. Did they think they could escape? NO ONE ESCAPES! A flap of his enormous wings, and the dragon is soaring once more, this time toward the lone ponies.

One of them, its coat a dull brown, breaks, galloping away with all the haste its puny form can muster. The dragon’s hunter instinct kicks in, and he hones in on the running pony, overtaking it easily. Diving with claws outstretched, he opens his mouth, preparing to feast.

Then the pony disappears in a puff of smoke. The dragon pulls up sharply, hovering above, gust from his flapping clearing away the obstructing cloud.

What trickery is this? Where there was one pony, there are a dozen! They scatter, each running in a different direction. The beast lets out a roar of fury; each pony is identical, he cannot tell which is real! He shall destroy them all!

One by one he hunts them down, each dissolving into nothingness just as he rakes them with his claws. He grows steadily more frustrated until, at last, he bears down on the only remaining equine. The wretch shall pay dearly for mocking the mighty Salamantrux!

SCREEEEE! He wobbles, and nearly falls from the sky at the sound. Another dragon has come!

He banks, fleeing pony forgotten, to face the newcomer. It is one of the largest of his kind he has ever seen! Her scales are a gorgeous azure, her horns and claws burnished silver. Were it not so much larger that he, and so clearly enraged at him, he might have tried to attract the interest of such a beautiful specimen...

She lets out another thunderous cry (such a voice, she has!), firmly disabusing him of any romantic ideas, and he wheels about once more, this time away from the ruins of his destruction. Back toward his lair. The predator instinct is strong; even the mightiest hunter can be surprised, brought down by an unexpected arrival, so it is best to now to depart.

Besides, his terrible wrath has been served, his hoard reclaimed. Any miserable equines still breathing shall only serve to spread the tale of what befalls those who meddle with dragons.

It has been a good day.

“Here’s to The Great and Powerful Trixie! Savior of towns, hero to ponies!” Mugs of cider, brimming with foam, clinked together, sending the liquid spilling over the sides. Ponies cheered, Sheriff Silverstar loudest of all, praising Trixie for their salvation. She herself sipped sedately on her glass of wine (she would be damned if she would touch anything made by one of Sparkle’s friends).

The saloon, window hastily repaired, was full to bursting. Everypony in the village wanted to shake Trixie’s hoof, to thank their deliverer in person. Many tried to buy her a drink, but she dissuaded them gracefully, pointing out her bottle of berry wine, generously donated by Bottlecap.

After nearly a year on the lam, it felt good to be the center of attention once more. To be adored and sought after was something she had not felt in so long. And yet, for some reason, being thanked and praised for her help felt even better. How curious.

She sipped her wine again. savoring its tangy bite, and wondered what she would do now. No matter how well meaning the townsponies were, word would inevitably get out of her presence here, attract all they kind of attention she didn’t want. Perhaps she would slip out quietly this very night, when the revelry had died down and the ponies were deep in their cups.

After her bath, of course. Bottlecap had promised her one tonight. And maybe she could sleep for at least a few hours on a real bed…

“How is it ya knew so much about dragons, anyhow?” Silverstar asked above the din, pulling Trixie from her thoughts. She smirked back at him.

“Oh,” she replied, “just something I picked up from my years on the road. It helps to be aware of what one is up against out there, you know.”

“Well, however ya did it, I’m mighty grateful ya did. Ya sure saved my sorry hide, yessiree!” This was, in fact, about the tenth time he had thanked her. “If anypony asks, I’ll be sure to tell ‘em how you overpowered me and made your escape despite all I could do.” He winked at her.

They were interrupted by a sudden rush of ponies mobbing Trixie, hoisting her up from her seat at the bar and into the air. Her protests were overwhelmed by their thunderous singing:

“Oh, who is the best pony in all the land?
With looks so fair and mane so grand?
Trixie! Oh Trixie!

Who can best creatures great and small?
Griffons, dragons, she’ll slay them all!
It’s Trixie! Yes Trixie!

Who can cast near any spell?
She’ll outshines any other belle!
Our Trixie! Dear Trixie!

Trixie! The Great And Powerful TRIXIE!”

She could only giggle helplessly, bounced above the crowd by the enthusiastic ponies as they made circuits around the room. Her jubilation was cut short, however, when she spotted a familiar purple unicorn standing in the doorway.

“...You’re not very good at this whole ‘laying low’ thing, are you?”

Twilight bucking Sparkle.

Sparkle. Twilight bucking Sparkle. Pet student to Celestia herself, and bane of Trixie’s existence. If only she had not been so exhausted after that morning’s display of magic, she might have attempted escape, or at least made Sparkle work for it.

As it was, though, she languished in a now-familiar jail cell. Listening to Sparkle natter on yet again, tiresome as ever. It wasn’t until she mentioned the griffon that Trixie sat up and took notice.

“A bounty hunter griffon you say?” She demanded. “Are you saying he TOLD you about me?!” That overgrown housecat! If he’d given her up, after all that talk of honor, she would-

“We~ll…” she said, “not exactly… I met him on the road while tracking you from Las Pegasus. He told me only that he had come from Appaloosa, and he was a bounty hunter. But then I noticed he was injured, one his limbs was broken, and yet didn’t have a bounty with him, and that seemed strange, downright suspicious, really, so I kind of, um, er… read his mind…”

“You? Twilight Sparkle, Goodie goodie extraordinaire, you did such a thing to another pony? Er, griffon?” Trixie laughed, eyeing the other mare speculatively. “I’m almost… impressed!” More impressed with Griswold really, who’d been kind enough to keep his beak shut.

Twilight at least had the decency to blush, looking to the ground and muttering about how much Luna had “demanded her capture”. Trixie took a perverse pleasure in how much she’d managed to apparently ruffle the royal mare’s feathers.

“Miss Sparkle, I should tell ya,” Silverstar finally spoke up; he’d taken a seat in a quiet corner, remaining thus ever since (Trixie could have sworn he was about to start whittling at some point!). “There’s something ya oughta know, I believe, ‘bout Miss Trixie here…” As Sparkle was filled in on the day’s events, and Trixie’s involvement, she found herself staring out the window behind Sparkle’s head, unable to pay attention. The dragon may have made for an excellent story, but it would not dissuade the Crown from its pursuit of her, nor dissuade Twilight from eagerly delivering the fugitive to Her Highness.

While trying to count, in minutes, how much longer she had left as a free mare, Trixie
noticed a bird outside, soaring along with an independence that now seemed envious. Soaring toward her, in fact, getting closer and closer now. Except-

Was that a griffon?

Trixie blinked, sure her eyes were fooling her, but there he was , flying in from the west. With difficulty, it seemed. He wobbled in the air rather frighteningly.

He did not come through the window this time, as she half expected, but did make quite a ruckus as he broke his landing with the jail’s door, making the other two ponies jump.

“What in tarnation?!” the sheriff exclaimed, striding over to the door and flinging it open to reveal a Griswold that looked worse for wear. He appeared wounded even further, clutching feebly at arrow in his side with his broken arm, struggling to keep his feet even as stood before them. Silverstar rushed him into the room, propping the griffon’s bulk as best he could.

“Miss...Twilight... Sparkle?” He gasped out, panting between breaths. “You said…you work… for...the Princess?”

She nodded mutely, stunned by his his abrupt appearance.

“Well,” He continued, still heaving, “ know…about-” he paused, seeming unable to continue.

“What?” Sparkle demanded, leaning in, eyes wide. “What is it?”


The room was silent.

“...Minotaurs?” Twilight finally asked “From the western Isles? What’s the big deal about that? We had one of them in Ponyville not to long ago…”

“No…” he growled, and Trixie smothered a scream as he ripped the arrow from his ribs, waving it in Twilight’s face with a grimace. “A minotaur... ARMY.”

More silence.


Then there was chaos. Sparkle and Silverstar went haywire, shouting together at the griffon for more details; was he sure, how many, how far away? Trixie listened in awe as he haltingly told them of meeting the one-thousand-strong regiment on his way into the Palomino desert, armed with pike and bow, towing huge siege weapons in their wake.

“Siege weapons?” The sheriff asked, baffled. “Fer Appaloosa?! Whatever for? We ain’t got but a few buildings, no walls, not even a durn fence!”

“Appaloosa will just be the starting point,” Twilight muttered, pacing back and forth. “They’ll have assumed they can take this tiny place easily, from which they can advance into the heart of Equestria.”

“Fully supplied on our apples, no doubt!” the sheriff griped.

“We’ve got nearly a day before they get here, surely we can come up with something.”

The two of began to debate a course of action, talking back and forth while Trixie mulled over the situation herself. She did not much like the odds of repelling a trained army of bloodthirsty warriors with merely the local militiaponies. Before she could sink too far into despair, however, she noticed something about Twilight and the sheriff.

“Sparkle,” Trixie asked, halting their back and forth, “have I gone crazy, or do you and the sheriff know each other?” Something in the way they addressed each other had seemed to suggest it.

“Oh, well, yes!” Twilight answered. “We met each other back when Applejack was trying to give her cousin a tree…”

She rambled on (naturally), revealing her previous adventures in Appaloosa. As she (finally) came towards the end of her tale, Trixie’s mind grasped a burst of inspiration. The solution was obvious, really.

A smile slowly formed on her face.

Sunlight gleamed of the crudely wrought arms and armor of the minotaur forces, making Trixie squint as she examined their assembled troops. The wind tugged on her serape, now magically resized to fit her form, sending it flapping gently. Across from her small group, it also stirred the army’s banners, unfurling them to display the clan’s emblem, a hammer clenched in an armored fist. War drums pounded, their ominous sound sending a shiver of fear down her spine.

Her party consisted of only three ponies: Sheriff Silverstar, Twilight Sparkle, and herself. Griswold stood with them as well, staring at the massed warriors with eager eyes despite his wounds. He’d insisted on being present, his honor unable to let him languish in a clinic whilst such a battle took place nearby. He had, at least, finally consented to some first aid, and now sported a splinted arm and bandages around his torso. Somehow, they only made him appear more fierce.

As if noticing her watching, he turned his head, meeting Trixie’s gaze with a feral grin.

“Today is a good day to do battle,” he stated. “May the earth soak in the blood of our enemies this day, Lulamoon.”

“If all goes as planned,” she replied, a flag of simple white held aloft in her magic, “there hopefully won’t be much of that.” Despite her words, she had to admit his savage love of violence was fitting. Almost... becoming. It stood in stark contrast to the tiresome ponies she’d spent her life entertaining with mere FANTASTIC light shows and tricks.

“Pipe down, you two,” Sparkle hissed, “Here he comes!”

Across the plain strode an enormous minotaur, an equally oversized warhammer slung across his shoulders, flanked by two others of his kind. An honor guard of some kind, most likely. All three bore scars as evidence of their previous campaigns on their hides.

Their large steps propelled them quickly through the grass (while for Trixie it came up to nearly her shoulder, for the bipeds it was but knee-high), until they halted abruptly, a scant ten feet between the two groups. They stared, silently, waiting for the ponies to speak first.

“Ahem,” Sparkle began, clearing her throat. “You stand in violation of the Blackrock Treaty between the Minotaur Isles and the nation of Equestria, which states: ‘neither nation may house or transport military troops within the sovereign borders of the other, under threat of cessation of all diplomatic ties and declaration of war.”

The center minotaur glanced briefly at one of his companions, one eyebrow raised, before answering.

“Consider this a declaration of war, then,” he said, voice guttural and deep. “My people have grown weary of Equestria’s arrogance, smugly hoarding all the resources while smaller nations are left to starve. No longer shall we be slaves to your imperialism!”

“...Very well,” Twilight continued. She appeared unfazed by his accusations. “If you persist in your military aggression, you will be met with violent resistance. Are you prepared to forfeit the lives of yourself and your soldiers?”

The three seemed stunned, for a moment, before breaking into riotous laughter. Twilight stood her ground, nonplussed by their reaction.

“You haven’t answered my question,” she stated calmly.

“ are...serious?” asked their leader, gasping for breath and wiping tears from his eyes. “Three tiny ponies and a crippled griffon, against the might of a thousand minotaur warriors?”

Griswold shifted, glaring at the large creature with promises of bloodshed. He remained where he was, though, claws of his remaining arm digging furrows in the soil.

“With what strength do you intend to ‘violently resist?’” the minotaur went on. “This ‘magic of friendship’ you ponies are always going on about, perhaps?” He sneered at Twilight.

“Actually, yes.” he blinked. “The magical thing about friendship, you see, is it comes with FRIENDS.”

At Sparkle’s final word, Trixie dropped the flag she was holding, as well as the illusion spell she’d been casting on several hundred buffalo. As their invisibility faded, the prairie came alive with their snorts and stomping hooves, their sudden appearance driving the minotaur delegation back a few steps.

“Pony tricks!” Their leader shouted over the noise. “Do not think this will save you. My warriors will still cut you down like threshed wheat! As shall Equestria!”

“Mebbe,” Silverstar called. “But I reckon ya three, at least, will be dead.” He grinned cruelly.

One of the guards whispered in his liege’s ears, no doubt pointing out the odds of fending off so many with such a small escort. The minotaur warlord seemed willing to try it anyway, for a moment, but at last he nodded. Without another word the three turned tail and fled back toward the armored lines of troops, who seemed agitated, to say the least, at the situation’s developments.

At their leader’s bellow, the mass of minotaurs surged forward, rushing to meet him even as he fled away. The buffalo chief (Thunderhooves, Trixie believed he was called) gave his own warcry, sending his tribe stampeding forth, clumps of earth and grass flying in their wake.

It seemed a doomed gesture, despite their bravado. Heavily outnumbered, without any armor or weapons, and lacking the training and seasoning of their warlike adversaries, the conflict would be short-lived, impossible to win. The minotaurs seemed to sense this as well, howling with bloodlust as they came on.

Then it happened.

The buffalo began to glow, illuminated by a pale pink aura, and slowly they grew, becoming two, three, now four times their size! And still growing! Their thundering hoofbeats could be mistaken for an earthquake, and their cries were so loud they seemed to crack the very sky, across which one determined griffon flapped madly after them.

The minotaur lines had halted, unsure, as an unfamiliar emotion planted seeds in their hearts: fear. The feeling became worse and worser still as the buffalo grew larger and larger. Never had they faced foes so terrible, who seemed to radiate death itself as they charged. The whispers of dread they felt turned into full-throated shouts of dismay.

They began to break, practiced warriors dropping their weapons and running, ignoring the protests of their warlord to turn and fight. Once started, the retreat could not be held back, and the minotaur army disintegrated into a desperate route, minotaurs fleeing. Siege devices, terrible with violent potential, were trampled under hoof and into pieces as the buffalo pursued their enemy, driving them out of Equestria forever.

“Whoo-ee!” Silverstar exclaimed, throwing his hat into the air. “Lookit ‘em go! They’ll think twice ‘for bothering anypony again, I’d wager.”

“Let’s hope so,” Twilight replied, matching his grin. “Minotaurs are a proud people. They won’t forget this humiliation for some time. For his part in their disgrace, I doubt their warlord will survive the night.”

“Yea, they can be the wrathful type, I reckon,” He agreed, deftly catching his hat with an outstretched hoof. “So, miss Sparkle, it seems you’ve saved our town yet again.”

“Actually, I barely did anything this time. This was mostly Trix-” She cut off, looking around suddenly. “Hey! Where’d that mare get to? I still have to turn her in to Princess Luna!”

Miles away now, Trixie gave a whoop of exhilaration. She soared across the sky atop Griswold’s back, enjoying the sensation of the wind running through her mane, throwing back her head in delighted laughter. Griswold himself smiled, the flesh on either side of his beak curling up. Together, they followed the still-running buffalo for a time, reveling in their victory. And together, without another look back, Trixie and her guardian angel raced off into the sunset.