The Reluctant Reunion of the Redoubtable Rabble-Rouser - Chapter 1: What's old is new.
It was beginning to shape up like one of those days where the baby dragon wished somepony... anypony else had been the one to hatch him, as opposed to his dearest friend. Sure, Spike saw Twilight as more of an older sister, maybe even a mother then an employer and caretaker, but times like this made the idea of quitting more palatable. Although she had been on-edge all week, the unicorn suddenly reached levels of stress that he had not seen since the fire, and this worried him for obvious reasons.
"No, Spike!" she cried out in annoyance. "What are you doing!? The dictionary goes on the table by the door, not by the stairs! Oh, how am I ever going to get this place sorted out by this evening? She's going to think I'm a disorganized foal who can't even keep a room in order, never mind a library! Stop stalling and get back to work!"
"Twilight!" the baby dragon cried out, finally pushed over the edge. "We're talking about your mom here, not some member of parliament or the princess! I'm sure she won't mind a little mess, but if you don't calm down and breathe for a change, I'm going to get the mayor to block your magic, just in case you go loco again!"
"I am breathing, Spike!" Twilight shouted defensively. "I took a breath about ten minutes ago. I'm fine!"
"I mean like a normal pony! Deep breaths, like Princess Luna taught."
The baby dragon breathed a sigh of relief himself when the purple mare started about her exercises. Almost a week ago, Derpy arrived at the door with a letter for his pony friend. Apparently, Twilight's mom, Shimmer Tail, got a new job with much better pay and vacation time. In fact, in the letter she said she was going to have the next week off and wanted to be with her daughter for the first time in years.
At first it was touching, and the baby dragon was excited to see the white unicorn since the last time they met he was just a hatchling. However, as the week wore on, the purple pony slowly, but surely, became high-strung and neurotic... he actually had to look the word up to describe her! He never did anything like that before! And now, with her arrival in mere hours, he feared for the safety of Ponyville since she became so stressed out. It was not like they could afford to rebuild half the town again, and the princess would have strong words for her if the library got damaged.
"Are you feeling better, Twi?" he asked after the huffing unicorn showed signs of slowing her breathing.
Taking another deep breath, the unicorn finally opened her eyes, still a little bugged out, but much more serene then he remembered. "Yeah, I'm feeling better, Spike," she replied. "I'm sorry for shouting at you. I just want to impress my mom, and I got a little... stressed out. I mean, sure, we've written, but I haven't actually seen her since I was a filly, and I want to make a good impression."
"Gee, you think?" he replied somewhat sarcastically, earning him another look from his old friend. "Right, right, Dictionary by the door, I got it." Picking up the heavy book, Spike slowly carried it over to the door and set it on the table with a heavy thud. If he had dropped it with much greater force, he feared he would have broken the table. His stomach growled in protest, coaxing a giggle out of the purple mare, as the afternoon grew late, and neither had lunch yet.
"How about we take a break from cleaning and have some lunch?" she asked. "You've been a very big help to me today, Spike. Thank you."
The baby dragon practically skipped over to Twilight; she did not have to ask him twice. It was about two in the afternoon and he was practically starving. Together, the mare and dragon walked into the kitchen, counters flying open as a soft, purple aura surrounded them. Bread, hay and a few stalks of daisy floated out and arranged themselves into a couple of quick sandwiches in front of them.
Trying his best to hide it, a certain look of disappointment filtered through his face. Sure, he could stomach all of this pony food, but it just did not fill him as much as a good gemstone or two. Seeing the lacklustre expression on his face, the purple pony smiled. "Since you've been such a big help to me this week, I think you deserve a little treat." Looking up, the baby dragon's eyes went wide when he saw the most delicious gem he had ever seen float out from one of the cupboards.
"Turquoise! My favourite! Thanks a million, Twi!" He lunged forward and gripped the unicorn tightly around the neck in a hug. It was a little tighter then he meant to, but the purple pony made no move to dislodge him, allowing the time for a proper thank you. He immediately dug into the hand-sized gem, gleefully gnawing on the soft semi-precious stone. The gem positively gleamed in the light coming through the window, the highly polished and delicious stone almost too pretty to eat. Almost, mind you.
Twilight levitated her sandwich and took a bite out of it, chewing thoughtfully. She stared blankly at the wall behind the baby dragon, lost on a train of thought. Spike could gather a guess as to what she was thinking about, but he could not say for sure. It had to be memories of the last time she saw her, the last time she felt her touch or heard her mother's voice. In some ways, he envied her: at least she could remember her mom, even if she was adopted. Yet, the baby dragon reminded himself, in many ways, Twilight was like an adoptive mother herself.
Life is completely, abhorrently unfair: a literal cornucopia of pain, embarrassment and suffering. It was a lesson she found herself repeating day in and day out, with every waking breath, and with every nightmare she suffered while asleep. Everything had worked out nicely for her until that wretched day she stumbled upon that insipid hick town. Sure, she had a small downward spiral after that, but she got back on her hooves in no time flat. She was even going to perform before the princess... until life decided to cut The Great and Powerful Trixie down once more. Now, she found herself quite literally on the road to ruin, pulling her tiny replacement cart behind her slowly.
The little cart was not even a quarter the size of her once grand caravan. She could maybe fit herself in the thing if she curled up like a tiny foal and lay down inside. Not that it really mattered, since she did not even have a quarter of the stuff she used to have. Not since the unpleasantness that lead to her current situation. All of her current possessions sat comfortably under a tarp drawn over the tiny, open wagon. It was almost insulting to such an esteemed and talented unicorn to have to pull such a wretched vehicle.
For the eightieth time that day, Trixie pondered the possibility that she was jinxed, or cursed somehow. She had a pretty good idea as to who would be responsible for such a heinous act as well. Every time that purple unicorn reared her ugly face, Trixie could not help but notice her life take a significant downturn soon after. Of course, getting her royal show cancelled was probably just a fluke. At least she hoped so. If she ever found out that Twilight Sparkle was responsible for this situation as well, Trixie would hunt her down and destroy her once and for all!
Looking at the radiant sunset in front of her, the azure mare frowned at the prospect of another night without a solid roof over head. Still, the woods she traversed would offer some protection, but not much. It also did not help that she could see dark clouds gathered on the horizon. It was a good indication a town was not far off, but having to visit during a storm did not suit The Great and Powerful Trixie! The very notion of a town ahead caused her stomach to growl painfully, causing her to wince and pause for a couple of seconds. She had not eaten a proper meal in five days... right when she ran out of bits.
The Great and Powerful Trixie sighed and continued down the wooded path. Trees lightly populated the sides of the road, creating a corridor for her to traverse. They still bore no leaves, as Winter Wrap-Up was only three weeks ago. Still, songbirds sat in the trees and belted out an annoying, cheerful tune that made Trixie struggle to restrain herself from making them all erupt in flames of indignation. Hunger, cold nights, and days of endless walking did nothing to ease her cranky mood, and she was not sure if she could spare the energy to punish those feathered freaks. A unicorn as beautiful and talented as she should not even be in this mess in the first place!
Rumours of the incident with the Ursa had spread far and wide. Everywhere she went, Trixie found herself as the laughing stock of the town. Sure, some ponies tried to be tactful about it, but most of them would blurt it out with no regard for her feelings... not that The Great and Powerful Trixie needed her feelings protected, of course! All of this reflection was making her soft, and she would not stand for being soft.
Thankfully, the revery would be broken, but not exactly in a kind manner. As The Great and Powerful Trixie passed under a particularly thick branch, she felt something drop onto her mane. Instinctively, she stopped and ran a hoof through it where the sudden weight stuck her. Pulling it in front of her face, she saw a smear of white upon her regal blue hoof.
Some bird had dared aim their... droppings... on The Great and Powerful Trixie's head! This would not stand! She unhooked herself from her cart and walked forward, turning around to look at the offending avian: a blue jay. "How dare you befoul the image of The Great and Powerful Trixie!?" she ranted, "Don't you know that she could turn you into a feather duster at her slightest whim, you foul cretin!?"
The bird glared at her and puffed out its chest, arrogantly to the blue unicorn. No creature had dared look at her with such contempt or arrogance before. Well... that was not true... but only one pony had ever walked away from it without being humiliated, or treated to a black eye. Despite her wishes, she could not help but be reminded one of her more... outstanding performances. It was not outstanding in that it was amazing... but that it helped lead to her present, hopeless situation.
It was a typical late autumn day some months after her salvation had been snatched from her by the tyrannical jaws of life. Despite the pesky persistence of the Ursa rumours, The Great and Powerful Trixie still managed to eke out a living and support herself. Sure, she did not have the former prestige or fame from when she started out on her own, but at least she was still self-reliant.
Trixie walked into town early that day, as she usually did to maximise her performance time. It was a very small and out of the way town that rarely saw travelers unless they meant to be there explicitly. It bore many striking similarities to the town she never wished to return to, and briefly mistook it for... that town... before finding out it was actually called Hockdale. Looking back, Trixie would find it silly to think that the town could possibly be the one she hated. For one, there were no mountains in sight, which meant Canterlot was nowhere nearby.
Secondly, the architectural style of the town was all wrong: Hockdale had shingled roofs as opposed to the thatched ones in that most horrible place. None of this mattered to the traveling magician anyway, since she did not care what town she was in, so long as it was not that wretched hick town that nearly destroyed her career. She shook her head and puffed out her chest in triumph, as though she were a returning war hero as she trotted into the village proper.
According to plan, mares and stallions turned out to watch as she proceeded into the square. If only she had enough room on her dinky little cart to write out her name in big, bold, stylized letters. Now, that would really attract attention to her and to her fabulous show! Ah well: Trixie was a resourceful mare, and she would make do with what she had. All it meant was that when she found a place to roost, she would have to be a little louder is all.
Eventually, she found her way into the very centre of town, subconsciously cringing at the rounded square and the tall, round building in the centre. It was only then that she started drawing parallels between it and the town that cursed purple unicorn and her meddlesome friends called home. The mare shook her head wildly as she unhooked herself from her cart. Now was not the time to be lost in the past: the show had to go on, and she would rather starve than deny the masses from her spectacular performance for much longer (in fact, if she did not do the latter, she would probably do the former).
With a spark from her horn, the blue tarp covering her possessions lifted away, settling on the ground in front of the cart in a neat pile. Trixie pulled a collapsible stage out from the cart before laying it out on the dusty street. Using her magic, the small platform of wood quickly expanded to allow her enough room (and a suitable height to look down on her audience) to perform. Before stepping onto the wooden stage, now earning the attention of several passersby, the azure mare extracted a small mirror from her trunk, repeating her mantra.
"You are The Great and Powerful Trixie," she spoke the words of her mentor, gaining strength as she imagined his voice in her place. "You are The Great and Powerful Trixie!" Taking a deep breath, she put the mirror away, secured her trunk and walked up on stage. It was times like this that she missed her hat and cape. Walking up there naked did nothing to help her great and powerful image.
With a puff of smoke, the azure mare appeared on her stage, amplifying her voice to boom across town and draw in her much-needed crowd. "Come one, come all," her radiant voice boomed. "Come and see the magical marvels of... THE GREAT AND POWERFUL.... TR-R-RIXIE!" She stood on her hind legs, pausing for her magical fanfare and fireworks.
"Watch in AWE as The Great and Powerful Trixie performs impossible feats of magic yet unseen by pony eyes! Gaze in wonderment as she weaves tales of greatness of antiquity, and those that she has seen first-hoof!" She immediately dived into her show, a routine embedded into her very soul. She would start off small, conjuring bouquets of flowers, pulling rabbits out of a hat (in this case, a random pot), that sort of thing. Then, she would start with the main draw of her shows: the stories she told.
Just about halfway through her routine, a voice sounded out from the crowd. She could not be sure what exactly he was talking about, but she hoped he was muttering in awe to his friend about her powerful magic. It was always how it started... first the muttering, and then the ponies would start with the insults to her and her abilities. Everything was quickly beginning to go down south, but not as quickly as usual. It had to be because of the remote location of the town.
Sure enough, in the middle of her story, not even related to the incident, a voice pipped up from the audience. "The Great and Powerful Trixie?" asked a young stallion. "The same Trixie that boasted she once vanquished an Ursa Major, only to be proven to be a total and utter FRAUD?" He started laughing, taking the whole audience with him as realization crept across the crowd.
"Well, well, well... it seems we have some NEIGH-SAYERS in the audience. Who has the audacity to dare challenge the magical might of The Great and Powerful Trixie!? Well? Step forward and just try to measure up to the awesome ability of The Great and Powerful Trixie! Anything you can do, I can do BETTER."
The slippery slope had started again, flexing down a similar path like the ill-fated performance that doomed her reputation. It was not always like this for Trixie. She used to be respected and command powerful magic worthy of her name, but now... no! She could not afford to think like that! Not when her honour and livelihood were being so brazenly threatened.
Surprisingly, the colt was far younger then Trixie imagined, maybe by about five years younger then her, judged solely on his appearance as he clambered onto the elevated platform. He was a bright, blue-eyed unicorn colt with a shining silver coat and a vividly red mane. Of course, the cocky look on his muzzle ruffled her feathers more then she would ever openly admit.
"So," he started. "You think you're so big with those cheap little ticks of yours? My little brother could do better than you and he's only two." Several members of the audience laughed at the insult, obviously against the undeniably superior Trixie. She could already feel the anger and hate rising in her, taking this now as a personal assault on her character. Such mockery could not stand! This foal needed to be taught a lesson, and it looked like she was going to be the one to do it.
"Enough talk. You're boring The Great and Powerful Trixie. Either try to upstage her, or shut up and get off her stage."
"Fair enough to me," the unicorn replied. Immediately, his horn took on a soft orange glow. A dazzling display of light and music surrounded him as he stood there, looking smug and sure of himself and his cheap little tricks. Trixie could do such feats of magic blindfolded, and had done so several times, in fact. Little light shows like that were the very basics of unicorn magic itself. If he thought he could best her with such a pitiful display, he had another thing coming.
"Oh please, you think you can challenge The Great and Powerful Trixie with such weak magic?" She smiled as her own light show began, earning a few gasps and cheers from the crowd as she went. Normally, she would use their talent to humiliate them, but such a weak talent could not be made more humiliating. At least, she used to think so before what would happen next. Right in the middle of her performance, the magic in her horn cut out.
"What the...!?" Trixie exclaimed, nudging the appendage with her hoof, trying to spark it back to life. Laughter erupted from the crowd, making her suddenly aware of just how large a crowd had developed. There was the very real possibility that her magic cut out... in front of an entire town of ponies who already saw her with nothing but contempt. Crimson flashed across her cheeks: a unicorn's spell suddenly shorting out was much akin to... well... there was nothing more embarrassing to a unicorn!
Despite the roaring laughter of the crowd, she would not be deterred from showing up the smug unicorn, joining in on the laugh riot with his townsfolk. She closed her eyes and did everything to bring out as much magic as possible, but nothing happened: her horn would only sparkle at best. "I think I know... where you... got your... name, Trixie!" The silver unicorn breathed between bursts of laughter.
The roar of the crowd died down as the hilarity of the disabled unicorn faded away, allowing the red-maned pony the chance to let everypony heard what he thought. "You must have gotten it from... turning tricks in an alley of Canterlot for five bits a ride!" Everypony laughed much harder at the rather... raunchy (and lousy) joke at her expense. Trixie's blush deepened, but not out of embarrassment: her eyes aflame in indignation. She growled and gritted her teeth. No pony, not even that stupid Twilight Sparkle had ever insulted her so much: the little runt was going to pay!
Suddenly, the laughter died as Trixie let out a feral scream and jumped on the silver unicorn. A flurry of hooves met his face as she pounded him from head to hoof, blood from his swiftly broken nose splattering onto her face and down the front of her mane. She wanted him dead, in the most unpleasant and painful way possible. The azure unicorn did not even notice the three strapping stallions it took to pry her off the heavily bleeding colt.
After being removed from the scene, the battered unicorn was taken to the town's only doctor, who ran a small clinic on the edge of the settlement. Meanwhile, Trixie was taken into custody and charged with assault and battery. One hundred hours of community service, and a new criminal record later, the unicorn left the town behind. This only worsened her reputation, and with winter around the corner, the mare would have an even tougher time ahead of her.
Trixie shook her head and closed her eyes, slowly bringing herself out of the sudden flood of memories. She was used to this kind of thing happening to her. Sometimes she simply could not help but dwell on the past. Her blank, listless stares earned her many a chortle from the greatest pony she ever knew. In fact, a couple of times, he pulled out a pen and sketched liberally on her face in an effort to snap her out of her reminiscence. He would always say that she needed to get past it, or else she might do it on stage and skunk the show.
No! Now was not the time for another trip down memory lane... especially back to such a time. Trixie was a mare on a mission now, and she would make that blue jay pay for its transgression. Relieving oneself on The Great and Powerful Trixie was a crime punishable by death, or by losing its stupid nest. Whatever came first, or whatever was easier, at any rate.
The unicorn's eyes reluctantly turned away from the demonic bird and down to the branch upon which he perched. She followed it through the tangled mess of branches, getting a little lost a couple of times, but quickly getting back on track. Given that all the leaves on the trees had yet to bud, this made the task significantly easier then it would have been in summer.
Eventually, she found the trunk of the tree that the insidious blue jay sat upon, a villainous smile etched onto her stunning muzzle as she closed the distance between her and revenge. Trixie turned around, putting the strong maple tree in the line of fire of her rear hooves. Charging all the force she could into her back legs, the showmare leaned forward and bucked with all the strength she possessed. After several attempts at doing much of the same, the azure unicorn finally admitted defeat at the hooves of nature.
"Dumb tree!" she scolded, more directed at herself then the plant, "Why won't you fall down!? The Great and Powerful Trixie demands it!" With one last, powerful buck, the mare heard a rustling of the branches overhead. If she could not down the tree, then perhaps she could knock down the stupid bird's nest instead? Before she could deliver one last buck to dislodge it, a powerful force contacted her head, causing stars to dance in front of her eyes.
Trixie stumbled around awkwardly, nearly losing her hoofing several times as she tried to make it back to her cart in a dazed stupor. Her vision was blurred and her ears rung constantly: she could almost feel her eyeballs rolling around in their sockets from the force of the concussing blow. However, she could not see the branch that fell from the tree directly in her path, causing her to stumble over it. Defeated, Trixie flopped onto her side, away from the branch, and elected to just lie there... until the world stopped spinning anyway.
Excitement filled the air that afternoon, despite the main attraction for the day being long since over. Happy screams and laughter echoed through the yellow canvas tent. Yet, despite the over abundant mirth and celebration of the longest day of the year, the filly could not enjoy it. She paced around the tent, the butterflies in her stomach threatening to relieve her of her light breakfast. Beyond the red silk curtains, ponies cheered and applauded the competition.
Trixie sighed and walked over to her trunk, double checking to make sure she had everything she would need for the very first show of her life. For countless years, the young unicorn practiced and trained for this moment. Ever since she was a little filly, the young mare wanted to be on the stage and dazzle ponies with her magic. Many ponies called Trixie gifted with illusion magic. Now, however, it would be put to the ultimate test.
The Summer Sun Celebration Talent Show was a renowned venue for young performers to strut their stuff. It was no secret that Princess Celestia herself liked to watch the show, on occasion. Still, if potentially performing for the princess was not pressure enough, many talent scouts and entertainers of great influence were all but assured to be in attendance. A botched show here could utterly destroy her career before it even began.
"Numbah twelve," called the nasally voice of the backstage organizer with the heavy Manehatten accent. "Get ready to go. You're on in two, kid."
Trixie gulped, looking at her flank to confirm the number resting against her cutie mark. Too nervous to use her magic, the azure filly pushed her small chest up the ramp, standing in the wings to watch the final seconds of the show before her. It appeared to be some sort of juggling routine, as the young colt tossed and caught a number of bright, shiny balls in his hooves.
Time sped up significantly for the filly. Backstage, it felt as though time dragged on, but before she knew it, the colt trotted past her, wishing her the performer's version of good luck, 'Break a leg.' Trixie squeaked a little in fear and intimidation. Quickly gathering her wits she pushed her chest out into the middle of the stage. Even from behind the velvet curtain, the voice of the announcer boomed in her ears, making the filly cringe.
"Wasn't that something?" he commented on the last act. "Now, our next act is a magical performance, so let's give it up for... Ms, Trixie Treats!"
The red curtain pulled back suddenly, the light from the sun stunning the azure filly for the briefest of moments. Thankfully, nopony noticed, since they were too busy giving their polite welcoming applause. Once her lavender eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, Trixie scanned the crowd. Thankfully, the princess was absent, and her parents were around the middle of the crowd. Just knowing they were there for her, despite their objections to her choice, lifted her spirits... but only a little bit.
"Um..." Trixie started with an audible gulp. "W-w-WELCOME one and all to... to my show. Um... so... so how about we... um... we get to it?"
With a flash of her horn, the trunk she brought with her opened to allow various tools she would need to float out gently. However, a sudden cough from a member of the audience startled her, causing her to lose concentration, all of her stuff clattering and crashing to the ground loudly. "Uh-oh," she muttered for all to hear, forgetting she was on stage. Trixie turned her back to the audience and started picking up her fallen items with her teeth. It was not like they cared about seeing such easy magic, right?
Once she had all the items in position, the blue filly made them all float and circle around her, one of the items being her precious doll. Trixie took a deep breath and concentrated as hard as she could, causing her toy to twitch and shake before it fell down. Several members of the audience murmured as she welded her eyes shut, needing all her concentration to get the doll to move around on the ground, essentially bringing it to life. But the oohs and ahs all came from the front rows, leaving ponies in the back bored.
Right, she needed to fix that as soon as possible! After having her dear doll Bella strut around the stage for a good minute, she turned her attention elsewhere, causing the stage around her to warp and distort. This seemed to do the trick, as many ponies awed at her power. "So... um," Trixie started, "I also... also like to use magic to um... help me tell stories... so... um... here's the tale of the... lonely pony."
It was a simple, short foal's story, but one that captivated the audience with just how realistic she presented it with her magic. To the ponies in the audience, it was almost as if she had opened a window into the story itself, allowing them to see the events through a magical window. Although, she would pause and stare blankly for several seconds before continuing, and rarely looked at the crowd.
As the story ended, Trixie felt her confidence pick up just a little more. Now that she had their attention, Trixie decided that now was the time to pull out the big guns: her show stopper. She concentrated with all her might, horn glowing almost as bright as a star in the night sky. Sweat visibly dripped down her face as the magic infused itself with the air beside her, causing it to shimmer and distort as the illusion began to take form.
She had not tried to make a creature as big or complex as this before in public, but there was a first time for everything. A large, intricately detailed manticore appeared on the stage in a sudden flash, roaring loudly, startling the crowd. Some of the more flighty ones actually ran away from her marvellous illusion, but it only stayed there for a few seconds, growling menacingly before it disappeared. Exhausted, Trixie took a bow.
"Th-thank you," she breathed. "You... you've been a gr-great audience!"
There was no cheering and standing ovation like she had hoped, but the crowd still applauded sincerely for her impressive magical might. Picking up her stuff with her magic, Trixie trotted back down the ramp, wishing the next contestant luck, still visibly shaking from her ordeal. With a great sigh, the blue mare slumped on the ground, exhausted and underwhelmed. It was a good start, but it could have been better.
"That was absolutely horrible," spoke a deep, gruff voice from somewhere nearby, "The worst showmareship I have ever seen, and that is saying something."
"Oh yeah?" Trixie spoke defensively, "And just who do you think y-"
Looking up, she saw the stallion who addressed her for the first time, Trixie's parents walking in shortly after him. His yellow coat... black top hat... bristly black mane and handlebar moustache... it just could not be him! Her jaw dropped in realization that she had just been belittled by the greatest magician Equestria would ever see: the Great Hoofdini himself!
"Oh," she squeaked in sudden realization, cheeks turning into a deep crimson colour. If he hated her act, she stood no chance in the world of professional entertainment. She was just three seconds away from sobbing in front of the legend before he spoke again.
"However," he added. "Very few ponies are naturals on the stage, and fewer still possess your level of talent and power, Trixie. I think we can come to some sort of arrangement, don't you?"
Arrangement? Just what did he mean by that? Her worried father voiced these concerns out loud for her.
"Well, in exchange for teaching me a couple of her magic tricks, I can take her under my cape and show her the ins and outs of show business. I am not an easy pony to please though... it will be arduous and frustrating, but she will have a real chance of making a name for herself... if she can handle it. I sense great potential in your daughter, and I would be happy to assist the next generation of entertainment."
Was... was The Great Hoofdini offering HER, Trixie Treats, an apprenticeship under him!? Her head swam in thought as her parents discussed his offer with him, as most adults do. Yet, she could not help put ponder some of his words... mostly since she had no idea what 'arduous' meant, exactly. Still, if they allowed him to ask her outright, then of course she would accept.
"Trixie," The Great Hoofdini started as his conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Treats ended. "How would you like to join me on the road and learn how to be a better showmare?"
It would not come as a surprise as to what her answer would be. Who in their right mind would turn down a chance to learn from their personal idol, and an icon of the entertainment industry?
Waking up with a groan, the blue mare opened her eyes to find the ground covered in mud. Had she really fallen asleep with what she assumed was a concussion? She stood on shaky hooves in the dark of the night, trying her best to get rid of the buzzing in her skull. After another small groan, she felt her way to her cart and hooked herself back up to it. She leaned on the yoke, pulling it forward with a slight jolt.
Trixie shook her head as she walked, keeping her eyes on the road to avoid going over the edge. Times like this demoralized the unicorn more then she would ever care to admit. It was like a pit existed in the very centre of her soul, sucking in all positive emotions these days. No, it just has to be the hunger, she thought to herself. You always get angry and upset when you're so hungry. Just try to bea-- keep your chin up until we get to that town. Then, maybe there they will take... pity on us.
Slowly, the thick woods thinned out as the early spring shower began to soak through her coat, chilling the starving magician to her very bones. If only The Great Hoofdini could see her now: he would be ashamed of her, and maybe even disown her and her title. This line of thinking made Trixie's stomach twirl into a multitude of sickening knots, which would be really bad, since she had nothing in her to throw back up.
Crossing over a small stream, Trixie saw a strangely inviting rock lying on the tiny stone bridge. A thought crossed her mind, but she ignored it as she stepped into some manner of a park. A thick, foreboding wood lay to her right-hoofed side, mist seeping from it like an opened wound. She wisely decided to avoid it, and took the fork in the path that led directly into town, its silhouette vaguely familiar to her through the spreading fog and rain... yet, she could not quite place her hoof on why.
Another hunger pain tore her away from musing once more to focus on the more pressing matters at hoof. She was hungry, exhausted, cold, and about ready to, more or less, drop dead. The only thing she could do was keep moving and hope a pony would see her, take pity on her, and give her something, anything, to eat. However, the further she pressed on into the town, the more the hairs on the back of her mane stood on-end. It was the most curious feeling she had ever experienced.
Naturally, she saw no pony walking around in this sort of weather. The fog from the creepy forest behind her had already choked the streets of the town, meaning she could not see much more than a few pony lengths in front of her. Sometimes, although she was convinced she was going crazy from hunger, she could hear her name being called from somewhere beyond the veil. Chills ran down her tired spine, the smell of baked goods reaching her nose, causing more growls of protest from her stomach.
Out of the mist, an odd, yet curious structure appeared. If Trixie did not know any better, she could have sworn it was made of gingerbread. In fact, the azure mare found herself subconsciously drifting to it, hunger overriding the strange feeling she had about the town. She sniffed the air, mouth watering as the delicate tickle of baking pies, cakes, and muffins wafted across her muzzle, causing her stomach to growl again. Surely, they would take pity on a poor, starving pony without even two bits to her name, right?
Unhooking herself from her cart, the showmare walked over to the door, voices from beyond perfectly audible to her. "... thing. I'm sure that she'll love it," spoke a disturbingly happy voice. "I mean, who in their right mind doesn't like chocolate? It's just too super-yummy to turn down... unless your mom has an allergy! Oh, I can't imagine not being able to eat chocolate! Please, tell me she isn't allergic to chocolate!"
A soft giggle sounded from beyond the door. "Don't worry, she isn't. Now I'd better get this cake to her," a second voice said. The sound of hoofsteps grew louder to the eavesdropping unicorn's ears. Trixie panicked, wondering how they would take the disgraced unicorn hovering over the door like some sort of scavenger waiting for a meal. However, before she could move, the door swung open, revealing the mare behind the door. Her coat was soft lavender, and her eyes were purple enough to rival Trixie's. Her horn positively shone in the halo of light streaming out.
Trixie felt her jaw drop to the floor, backing up instinctively in fear and intimidation at the sudden appearance of... HER! It all made sense now! No wonder this place looked so familiar... it was the town that ruined her life! "T...Trixie!? Is... is that you!?" the mare beyond spoke, utterly aghast over the appearance of the azure pony. She needed to run... she needed to get out of this place as soon as possible, before her life could be ruined any worse than it already was!
Pony instinct kicked in, causing the unicorn to back up from the imposing silhouette more. "N...no... no... NOOO!" Trixie screamed. She turned around as fast as she could, making a mad dash to somewhere... anywhere but here, but this town. How could she have possibly lost her bearings so much... to arrive in PONYVILLE!? The mare cringed as the very name crossed her waking mind.
"Trixie! Wait! Come back!" the lavender unicorn called to her, hoofsteps indicating she was in hot pursuit. Trixie did not care... it was probably just a trick for her to be paraded around like the weak, stupid foal that she was! She had to run and never come back... her possessions would have to wait a couple of days before she could get them thou-
In her haste to escape, The Great and Powerful Trixie did not bother to look ahead and see the lamp post suddenly emerge from the dense fog. Stars danced in front of her eyes as she slumped onto the ground. Her ears rung uncomfortably as she dropped onto her side, completely and utterly helpless. Darkness surrounded her vision, making her fight to stay conscious... but it was a battle she was quickly losing. A soft, lavender hoof clopped against the cobblestone in front of her eyes, the darkness quickly wrapping her in its cold embrace.