The Reluctant Reunion of the Redoubtable Rabble-Rouser - Chapter 2: Prisoner of Kindness
An endless field of blackness, yawning out in all directions; be it left, right, up or down, rested before the world-weary unicorn. Trixie floated in the void, trying to move, to call out... to do anything at all. Yet try as she might, she just could not seem to do anything in the cold darkness. Sometimes, usually without warning, an echo would graze across her ear, usually whispering her name back to the sca- upset unicorn.
Where was she? Was this the afterlife? How did she get here in the first place? Why could she not move or speak? These questions, and dozens more, drifted across her mind as the mare considered her position. Trying with all her might, she dredged up what she could remember before entering the enigmatic realm. There was... there was a bakery... and two mares inside talking. One of them had... a disturbingly familiar voice... and the other was cheerful and blathering on about... a cake and allergies.
Did this mean anything? Did they find out she was snooping, figure out who she was and have her killed? Or was Trixie merely unconscious, passed out from her incredible hunger? This is way too confusing for Trixie, she thought. Either I am dead, or something happened... something that I can't remember. But what could have possibly occurred, and... why do I feel warm now?
During her musings, Trixie slowly felt the oppressive cold lift, and become replaced by a tickling and pleasant warmth that swept over her entire being. It was far more kind then the cold, but for the most brief of seconds, she panicked at the very real possibility that the head injury she sustained had killed her. Wait a minute... how did she know she had a head injury? Was it the dull throbbing of her skull? That had not been there just a second ago! She could not feel anything for the longest time, but now rolling torrents of pain washed over her body, like waves upon the beach.
She moaned, she actually moaned! The Great and Powerful Trixie moaned again to prove it was not a hoax before slowly moving a hoof to her pained head. What else could she control? Slowly, but surely, the darkness began to lift as she fluttered her eyes open... was the darkness really just the inside of her eyelids? Everything was a dull, brown blur as Trixie forced herself to sit up, revealing the warmth to be the covers of a soft bed.
Somepony actually took pity on her, and brought her into their home! An enticing aroma wafted across her muzzle, leading her to a tray of food that lay at her bedside. Despite being half-blind, the azure mare felt the porcelain plate, with a few simple sandwiches upon it. Trixie inhaled the hay and daisy meal greedily, her stomach purring in satisfaction as the food impacted her gut. She did not particularly like hay and daisies, but any port would do in a storm.
Downing a glass of water also on the tray, Trixie rolled onto her side, reasonably full for the first time in days! She wanted nothing more than to drift off to sleep again. However, no matter how she tossed and turned on the comfortable (by contrast to the ground) bed, sleep would not come to her. Defeated, the magician rolled out of the bed and stood, wobbling a little from the sudden weight.
Blinking her eyes a couple of times, the mare found her vision returned to its usual perfection, allowing her to drink in the room around her. It was massive, almost unreasonably so. Beyond the table that once held the food, a large library of books rested on the floor below the loft. Another, smaller bed sat directly opposite of the one Trixie slept on, right before the stairs leading down.
Curiosity overwhelmed Trixie to nigh the point of insanity. This place looked far too big to fit anywhere in the bakery she remembered, so just where was she? Obviously, they did not know or recognize her, or else she would be grazing in The Great Plains. Just like... no... she could not think about that. She looked under the beds instead, hoping to find a diary, journal, or something else that would lead her to the identity of her saviour. Indeed, she saw a box lying directly under the bed. She had to stretch to reach it, but soon enough the box was in her possession.
Slowly, the mystery of her saviour was revealing itself before the azure mare's eyes. The simple, cardboard box had a spell on it, she could feel as much. However, it was not to ward off anypony who might dare disturb it. It felt more like a spell to expand the number of items that could fit inside, at least to Trixie. Opening the flaps with her muzzle, she dug into the box, feeling around with her hoof.
Immediately, she came across an item that tickled her curiosity; it felt cold, like metal. Upon withdrawing it, she found it was a large tiara. A massive, purple star of amethyst sat as the crown jewel, supported by spiralling tendrils of gold, securing it to the wide-brimmed base. Trixie recoiled in disgust. "Ew," she breathed. "What sort of pony wears something so... so... GAUDY!?" She simply could not resist putting the offending little tiara on her head mockingly.
Giggling, Trixie trotted over to the mirror above a vanity that sat on the loft. Aside from the white bandage and the lame tiara on her head, she looked exactly as she remembered. "Look at me," she scoffed. "I'm a pretty little princess with a totally lame tiara. Aren't I special? Fah!" However, she was quickly drawn to something else in the mirror... something that disgusted her even more, if it was possible. For the first time in months, the azure unicorn got a good look at herself. Her eyes were sunken and dark and worst of all, she could count the number of ribs she possessed.
"Stupid tiara," she scolded the headdress. "How dare you make Trixie see how... how ugly she has become!" Trixie flipped the tiara off and threw it to the ground, hoping to break the stupid, tacky garment. However, as soon as it contacted the floor at her hooves, a shockwave rippled through the air, causing the mare to tingle from head to hoof. It was the most curious sensation ever, but she ignored it and flinched when she saw it was undamaged.
"Must be enchanted to be unbreakable," she huffed, kicking it across the floor. "Back to the box!" In a flash, she began rooting through it once more, pulling out a variety of weird paraphernalia, which only got weirder the deeper she went. Among the items scattered about the floor were a large, yellow reptilian scale, a fashion magazine with a yellow Pegasus with a pink mane on the cover and a silver, star-shaped mane clip that was missing one of the points.
None of these items held any clues to the identity of the pony in question, but it was undeniable to Trixie that they were, at least, a unicorn. Perhaps they were a bit of a bookworm, or an egghead, but a unicorn nonetheless. Reaching the bottom of the box, she found several magazines and movies of colts and stallions being classy, or at least pretending to be so. Out of curiosity, she flipped open the cover of a magazine to a random page... only to quickly shut it once more.
Now, Trixie was not one to judge on a ponies... 'special interests'... but that was just plain WEIRD. Like, really weird; so weird that it stunned her for a couple of minutes before she gathered the courage to resume digging. Her search narrowed significantly when she retrieved... well... the kind thing would be to call it 'a long purple device of an intimate nature.'
"Okay, so my saviour is obviously a mare," Trixie voiced, stuffing the... item... back into the box.
"Either that, or..." she continued before pausing that train of thought. Trixie gave her head a liberal shake, quickly regretting that decision as stars danced in front of her eyes. Taking a breath, she walked down the stairs and over to a perch she had not noticed before. On it sat a large brown owl, head tucked under its wings to allow it to sleep despite the sunlight pouring into the room from the window.
The azure magician, walking around the bird, opened the door to the room and started down the main stairs. As she did, however, voices from the first floor filtered up. It was that ludicrously familiar voice, and that of another... also familiar, but not in any way that she could remember. She paused just short of revealing her hoof and stood there to listen.
"Well, what am I supposed to do?" the first, more familiar voice spoke. "She obviously doesn't like me, and from the rumours I've heard about her, I can see why."
"Just show her some kindness, dear," the second spoke. "She will come around in her own time. Just give her a chance to grow. I'm sure your lovely friends will be happy to help."
There was an uncomfortable silence hanging in the air for a while. Trixie knew they were talking about somepony, but she had no clue about whom. "Well... what if she tries to run away? Also, how is the princess? Have you... spoken recently?"
"We have," the older female voice replied. "I know that you know, dear, and it doesn't change a thing to me. I still love you, Twilight."
"Twilight!?" the blue unicorn spoke aloud, forgetting she was spying. Did she mean Twilight as in...? As in Twilight SPARKLE, Twilight!? It just could not be possible! How could a pony like that save her when she was the one to ruin her in the first place!? Her head swam, hoping beyond hope that it was not true. She took some tentative steps down to see the two mares and instantly regretted it.
There, looking at her, stood two unicorns, both with eyes as purple as hers, yet different in tone. The older one was a white mare with a two-tone mane of white and purple. She had three purple stars on her flank and a strange twinkle in her eyes when they looked at each other. Meanwhile, the insidious purple mare she knew all too well stood beside her... the one she loathed more than anything else in this world. Neither spoke before Trixie made it safely to the ground floor, the mare spotting something green in a crack in the door at the landing before it swiftly shut.
"Oh good, you're awake, Trixie," Twilight Sparkle smiled. "We were really, really worried about you... especially when you popped out of nowhere... looking as... well... bad as you do. Did you eat those sandwiches? Please tell me you did! You must have been starving!"
"Yes," Trixie replied curtly, looking at the other mare. "... And who are you supposed to be?"
"My name is Shimmer Tail," the older unicorn replied. "I'm just here visiting my filly Twilight for the week. I've only been here a day or so, though. It's nice to finally meet you, Trixie." The strange mare smiled at her warmly. It disturbed the blue mare a little, especially since she did not know her. Still, she was of little consequence, since the only pony that concerned her stood right in front of her.
Twilight shrunk a little at her gaze, and rightly so as the hatred that seeped from her eyes could only be described as 'intense.' The purple mare lowered her head and scuffed at the floor with a front hoof, intimidated. "Um... listen," she started. "I know you're mad... I would be too if half the things I heard about you were true. But please... please don't run away again. If you do... well... you were half dead that night anyway and I would never forgive myself if you died and I could have stopped it."
"Where is Trixie's cart?" she replied. "The Great and Powerful Trixie refuses to accept your... your CHARITY, Twilight Sparkle! She is a grown mare and can make it on her OWN! You know what? Don't tell Trixie. She can find it easily, and be out of this WRETCHED hick town as soon as possible!"
All of a sudden, Trixie felt a warm tingle wrap around her neck like the new scarves her mom would knit for her every fall. However, her eyes widened when she saw Twilight's horn shimmer with magic, and then suddenly stop... at the same time the tingle stopped. Did she really just cast... some sort of spell upon the magician? "Wh...What spell did you cast on Trixie!?" the azure mare cried out, demanding an answer. A hoof reached up to her throat and felt something soft, yet at the same time rough.
"I'm sorry, Trixie... but," Twilight started. "Well... I don't want you to die and... you have every right to be mad at me, but... I'm sorry."
"What is this!? What did you do to Trixie!?"
"It's a magical collar that will... that will shock you if you get too far from me. I promise, as soon as you are well, I will take it off and let you free."
"YOU MADE TRIXIE A PRISONER!? LIKE A COMMON PET!? HOW DARE YOU!?"
"I will admit," spoke the older unicorn with a small measure of disappointment in her voice. "That I do not endorse this solution... but you are a grown mare, and I am but a guest... so I will not challenge your decision, Twilight. Just know that I don't like it." Although she was blinded with rage, the azure mare could not help but appreciate that the older unicorn did not like this either.
Trixie still wanted nothing more than to give in to her instincts... to charge the lavender unicorn and take out an eye with her horn. She wanted to rip, tear and destroy her like she did that stallion those months ago. The purple pony's eyes began to glisten with tears, but she would have nothing of it. Her pitiful display could not make Trixie less mad, yet she did not charge and give in like she had before.
"Maybe," Twilight started, pausing before she continued. "Maybe I can give you something... to cheer you up a little? I found it when you were last here... in the ruins of your cart." She turned her back on the azure mare and opened up a closet, floating out a wide-brimmed hat and cloak painted in fields of stars on a blue canvas. Trixie's eyes widened as she saw her beloved hat and cape float over to her and land, taking their rightful places on her body.
A regal blue hoof felt the material as it touched her, caressing her skin in a warm embrace, like an old, dear friend hugging her tightly. If she were not so mad at Twilight, she would have cried at the memories such simple items possessed. Instead, she looked up at the lavender mare, without any hate or malice. "Thank you," she whispered sincerely.
"It's the least I could do, Trixie... I'm so sorry... about everything."
"...the Great and Powerful Trixie will forbear from punishing you for now. But you have not yet earned her forgiveness!"
"Will you at least sit down to lunch with us?" the lavender mare continued.
Trixie had to ponder on the proposition... before the fill of the sandwiches from earlier left her stomach, causing it to grumble in protest once more. "Fine," she reluctantly agreed.
Lunch, for the most part, was an uneventful affair between the three mares (plus a baby dragon, which explained the sliver of green Trixie saw earlier.) Although the other two only had tomato soup, Trixie was treated to a small feast of sandwiches, salads, juice and a couple of chocolates. Even though she ate everything in front of her, she felt a little guilty about how much she had eaten... not that she would ever say that, of course.
Eventually, the three mares went their separate ways. They left Spike, the baby dragon, to look over the library while they were out. Trixie silently mused why Ponyville had such a large library if they were as big a hick town as she thought. Perhaps they used the books for something other than reading: perhaps toiletries? At any rate, Shimmer Tail said she would meet up with the other two mares a little bit later at some place called 'Sugar Cube Corner.'
Relieved of the one sensible mare in town, Trixie had to endure an agonizing walk through it. Granted, it was not particularly hot out, so nopony batted an eye at the azure mare in her cloak and hat. Well, no more than usual, anyway. At first, she pondered why Twilight Sparkle had returned her trademark attire... but looking in a store window made it clear. The shadow of her hat hid the blackness around her eyes, masking it as shadow. As well, her cape smartly hid her exposed and withered frame. Not to mention the gem on the ties drew eyes away from the shock collar on her throat, which also matched the colour of her coat near perfectly.
All things considered, if you did not know just how bad in shape she was, with a little makeup Trixie would look as stunning and radiant as ever! Perhaps... just perhaps, mind you... Twilight Sparkle was not as bad as she first thought? Granted, she was still livid over having to stay within twenty feet of her, and the lavender unicorn would simply not stop talking about where they were going. It was some sort of farm with some stubborn mule of a mare in charge of it. Other than that, it all sailed right over her head.
The two mares soon left the limits of town and were on a dirt road leading out into the woods. It was strangely calm and serene here, especially now that she knew how close the Everfree Forest was. Little birds would fly from tree to tree, perch on branches overhanging the road (thankfully not dropping their... droppings on Trixie's head), or sing happily to one another. Trixie still did not trust the sneaky little creatures, though.
Not more than five or ten minutes of walking later, they found themselves facing a large, wooden gate in a fence. Above the opening, there was a sign covered in drawings of apples, which read, "Welcome to Sweet Apple Acres." Trixie silently scoffed at the cheesy sign, rolling her eyes instead of going into a tirade about how tacky it was. Now, she really had nothing against it, but she was just tired of Twilight being the only one to do the talking.
Before she could open her mouth to complain, Twilight stopped walking suddenly and turned to the blue mare, looking her in the eyes. "Now, listen, Trixie," she spoke, no hint of mirth in her voice. "Some ponies around here... namely the ones you humiliated... are going to be antagonistic towards you. Just... keep quiet and try not to offend them more."
"Trixie won't, if they won't," she replied, looking over the purple pony's shoulder to see that orange hayseed she tied up during the show before the Ursa. Twilight bit her lower lip nervously and nodded her head once, suddenly moving quickly, as if she wanted to get what needed done fast so they could leave.
"Hey, AJ," Twilight spoke, gaining her attention. "I came to pick up those apples for the pie my mom wants to bake for dinner tomorrow. You're all invited over, of course." Trixie, meanwhile, hung back as far as she could from her without setting the collar off. She only left the range once before and boy did it STING.
"Why sure," spoke the orange pony. "I'd love ta sample some of yer momma's cook..." she trailed off as she saw the azure mare. "Wut is SHE doin' here, Sugar Cube!?" Her eyes narrowed as she walked over, quickly becoming uncomfortably close to Trixie, who did not dare move back, as Twilight had not moved either. The azure mare did her part to stand her ground, unaware of the strength the farmer possessed.
"AJ, please don't be mean to her. She's... she's had a really rough time ever since she left."
"Serves you RIGHT, ya egotistical horse! Reckon you can come back here and make our Twilight feel sorry with yer sob story? Well, it ain't gonna fly with this here workhorse, you yella-bellied varmint!"
Trixie could have gotten mad, and she could have become sad. Instead, she stood there, calm and collected, much to her benefit. In fact, Twilight almost began to think that perhaps she would apologize... at least until her sister opened her big mouth. "Does she come with subtitles?" Trixie asked. "I can only understand... maybe every third word that comes out of her mouth. How do you DO that? Is it some kind of special redneck language?"
"How'd you like yer jaw wired shut, you prissy little bi-"
"OKAY!" Twilight shouted to cover over the last word, "Um, I'll just take those apples now and we'll be out of your mane, okay, AJ?" The orange pony paced around the blue one before her lavender friend interrupted. Trixie tried to shuffle away, closer to Twilight, but found her hooves rooted to the ground and the farmer in a dangerous position with her hind legs facing her weakened side.
"You go on an' get them apples, Twi," she replied, "I gotta stick around here and make sure the blue herrin' don't go stealing none of MAH apples. An' if she does... well, we got a barn around here that'll do nicely fer teachin' her a lesson."
"Applejack, before you get yourself worked up, you have to know that Trixie i-"
"It's RED herring, you idiot," Trixie corrected, "Secondly, a red herring is a false clue used in detective stories. I'm not even going to start on the implications of the barn."
"Okay, THAT DOES IT!" the pony known as Applejack screamed. It all happened so quickly. One second, the orange pony pushed herself onto her forward hooves, rear ones tucked in for a massive buck. Trixie knew the impact coming would be powerful, and aimed square at her fragile ribs. However, just as the thought crossed her mind, there was a sudden flash, finding her shoved to the ground as a small pop sounded in her ears.
Time sped up again, allowing Trixie to push herself up to find a sight she never expected. Twilight Sparkle had thrust herself into the line of fire and took the full brunt of the attack. She lay on the ground, pained, but pulling herself up nonetheless, glaring at the orange filly. "Twilight!" the farmer started, "Why did you do something so stupid!? You could have broken a rib!"
"Well, you could have killed her!" the lavender one yelled, wincing in pain immediately after. Without warning, she trotted over to Trixie and lifted up her cape, exposing her deathly figure to the farmer, whose jaw dropped. Trixie quickly knocked the lavender hooves away, embarrassed.
"Well... yeah, but... but you could've just tackled me instead of takin' the hit for yerself!"
"I could have hurt you, and I'd never want to hurt my friends, but..." she trailed, "But I have to protect my little sister too!" Everything suddenly went silent. As if saying a word would bring the world over the precipice of disaster. It was a silence Trixie only experienced once before... concerning the exact subject matter no less. Applejack tried several times to break the silence, only to make a small noise before shutting her trap again.
"That's... that's an awful big story to use on a pony like her," she finally said. "Ah know you can't help but see the good in ponies, but callin' her yer SISTER? Isn't that a little overboard, Twi?"
"I would never lie about such a thing, Applejack," Twilight replied in an authoritative voice that would have made the princess proud.
"Oh... Ah... Ah..." the orange pony stuttered with her head lowered, kicking at some dirt. "Ah'm sorry, Twilight... If I knew her state, or that she were your sister, I never would have..."
"It's okay, AJ." The lavender mare walked forward and gave her friend a hug, wincing in pain from the point-blank strike of her powerful hooves. They stayed like that for a long time, leaving Trixie to ponder exactly what had happened. For the second time in a week, Twilight Sparkle had saved her life. If that farmer had kicked her, she would have snapped her ribs like twigs, caused severe internal bleeding and... She did not want to think about it anymore.
Unnoticed by Trixie, the farmer had bucked into one of the apple trees and walked right in front of her, face-to-face. "Ah'm sorry about that, Trixie... here. An apple a day keeps the doctor away... Well, in yer cause, the mortician." She could not help but crack a smile at that, and happily took the apple from the farmer before eating the whole thing.
"Thank you, Applejack. Trixie... Trixie is... sorry too." It took all of her will power to say the rest of that. She was not really sorry, but if it meant one less pony on her back, the better. At least, that is what she told herself.
"I'm really proud of you, Trixie," Twilight Sparkle spoke as they walked down the streets of Ponyville once more, "It takes a lot of courage to apologize like that, and I think Applejack was impressed." After getting the apples from the farmer, the two mares walked back to the library, deposited them with Spike, and continued on their way to the bakery to meet another friend of the purple unicorn.
Sadly, the bakery would not be the last stop on the itinerary for the day. Afterwards, Twilight planned for them to stop by another friend's place and pick up some food for the bookworm's pet owl. Then, they had to go to the tailors to see about fixing a few holes in Trixie's cloak. According to her captor, they would finish all of these errands by dinner time.
Trixie did not respond to her comment, seeking to keep the silence between them. Although she could feign forgiveness for the hayseed, she could not for what Twilight pulled on her. Being denied her freedom made her livid. She wanted nothing more than to get far away from the other mare as soon as possible. Until then, she would need to be patient.
However, she would later learn that she would need all of her patience for the day ahead, especially as they descended upon the dwelling of the town's resident party pony: Pinkie Pie. Stepping inside with a jingle of the bell, the magician looked over to a side table and saw the older mare, Shimmer Tail, talking with a yellow earth pony stallion and a blue earth pony mare. "Ah, Twilight, Trixie, there you are. How was the farm?"
"It went better than expected, actually," the lavender pony replied before trotting over. While she went to entertain the older ponies, Trixie set about poking around the sweet shop, finding it a little unfair they had to come to a bakery, and she could not sample some of the wares. Not that she was particularly hungry, but everything looked just so good... too good to not want to take a nibble of some of the baked delights.
"I know! I feel exactly the same way!" chirped a voice directly behind her. Trixie jumped instinctively and nearly hit the ceiling with her concussed head. "Although I would call them simply scrumptious yummy-cakes, but 'baked delights' will do too, I suppose!" How did she know what she was saying in her inner dialogue? Could she read minds? A million questions, mostly how she had not noticed her, buzzed in her skull and threatened to make her light headed.
"It's best not to think about it," she smiled, placing a pink hoof on Trixie's shoulder. "Oh! Where are my manners? I'm Pinkie Pie! We actually met before, but you were unconscious and I helped carry you to the library, so it wasn't like we actually met and it was more carrying you than anything else. So anyway, I was carrying you to the library and I got to thinking about how you got looking as bad as you do, 'cause you looked really, really hungry, so I got an idea!
"I figured you would appreciate a chance to get up and close to some of the goods I bake here, so would you like to learn how? Okay, well, I don't do most of the baking, since I'm just the hired hoof. Mr. and Mrs. Cake can bake ANYTHING though and are, like, the best bakers in town... but Applejack is pretty good too... except for the time she poisoned half the town with baked bads. I know it wasn't her fault, but ponies were throwing up all over the place and..."
Trixie sat in awe of the pink pony blathering on in front of her. If she thought Twilight was a talker, she had NOTHING on this pony. She sat and blinked, unable to form any words, or get in any edge-wise even if she wanted. Instead, she elected to do the wise thing and just let her rant. It soon became apparent that it was not as wise a decision as she thought, since the pink pony just. Kept. GOING!
"Pinkie," interrupted the yellow stallion Trixie assumed was Mr Cake. "I think she would like to go back and help you now."
"Okie dokie lokie!" she chirped, nudging the blue unicorn into the kitchen. Trixie tried to plead that she had no interest in baking, but the pink earth pony started up again, drowning out her weak pleas for help. Eventually, she found herself in the kitchen of the bakery, her hat and cape hanging on the coat rack. She did not even remember being touched, never mind taking them off!
"How did you DO that?" Trixie asked in genuine awe. The last time she was awed like this was at the hoof of her master. However, she swiftly remembered the incessant buzzing in her head the last time she over-thought that mare and wisely decided to just stop. "Never mind, Trixie has a feeling she doesn't want to know."
"Don't worry about it, Trixie," she smiled. "Your big sis... Twilight tried to figure me out too, but it didn't go too well for her, so don't feel bad." The blue mare was about to chew her out for calling her the s-word to Twilight Sparkle, but thankfully the pink one could see the anger building up in her eyes and backtracked. "Now, let's stop shaking, it's time to get baking!"
Thankfully for Trixie, she soon found out that when inside, the range of the shock collar changed automatically to fit the hoofprint of the building. This allowed her to move around the kitchen freely without fear of a painful zap. As she would later find out, with rapidly rising dough all around her, this would be a great asset. With Pinkie Pie in the kitchen, mobility was life.
Okay, maybe that was a bit of an overstatement, but that hour in the kitchen proved to be one of the messiest, if informative, hours of her existence. There was some measure of disappointment, not much mind you, when Twilight came to collect her for their next chore. Pinkie Pie... had a unique energy about her... almost as if that void that sucked in her positive emotions was plugged in her presence. No, it had to be a figment of her imagination, since her anger at the lavender unicorn rekindled when she paused at the door just a second too long, resulting in a shock.
With her hat and cape on once more, Trixie braved the streets of Ponyville again. Thankfully, the citizens of the town were either incredibly secretive about their gossip, or they did not remember her and the Ursa incident. Or... perhaps they knew not to speak of her around the lavender mare, as ponies tended to shy away as she approached. The azure pony could tell there was a trace amount of fear around her, although she did not know why. It could have just been her imagination though.
"Hey there, Scootaloo!" Twilight cheerfully called out to an orange Pegasus filly that just rounded the corner. To say that she was surprised by the sudden greeting was an understatement.
"Oh... hello, Twilight," she smiled. "L-lovely day we're having right?"
"Still upset?" the mare asked as Trixie walked up beside her, still fuming a little with lingering smoke from the shock wafting off of her coat. The filly nodded her head a little, ears pinned to her head. "There's nothing I can say to make what I did better, Scootaloo. But I am sincerely sorry that you had to see it first hoof."
"I know," the filly replied solemnly. "I gotta get going... my mom is expecting me home by now."
"All right. Bye Scoots."
The little filly raced off, leaving Trixie to ponder a little on their exchange before she remembered the shock collar and started moving. "So, what was that about, Twilight Sparkle?" she asked. "Did you lose a fan when you botched a show? Oh, please tell me what you did to make her so SCARED of you!" She was practically giddy with excitement, unaware of the actions and events of that day almost one year ago.
Yet Twilight kept walking, ignoring her with her head held low. "Stop holding out on Trixie! Don't make her guess what you did to that poor little filly. Um... did you burn her favourite toy, or... or maybe you turned it into a rabbit and it hopped away? Oh! I know! You locked her in an iron-maiden box and forgot how to get her out!"
"I beat her idol bloody, hurt my friends, and I burned down almost a quarter of the town all because I got overly stressed," Twilight replied lowly and in a monotone. Trixie could tell that the memories hurt to recall, causing her endless delight. If she would be forced to wear that stupid collar, then she would pay Twilight Sparkle back by being as annoying as possible, and then hopefully get her to remove it sooner.
"Well," Trixie started with a certain measure of pomp in her voice. "The Great and Powerful Trixie has never had that problem. You know WHY, Twilight Sparkle? Because that stupid incident with the Ursa was a FLUKE! You hear that? You never would have vanquished it if The Great and Powerful Trixie, had not softened him up for you!"
"You're not even close, Trixie," she replied with a measure of sadness in her voice.
"Hey, Twilight, what's going on?" spoke a sudden voice from above. A sky blue Pegasus pony hovered in front of the two unicorns, her mane stained in all the colours of the rainbow. Her rosy red eyes suddenly narrowed as they fell upon the blue one of the pair, glaring at her in anger. "...And what the hay is SHE doing here!?"
Silence filtered through the streets as ponies watching decided they had better things to do and cleared out from the impending doom. Trixie did not expect Twilight Sparkle to defend her after she clearly offended her, so she decided to take things into her own hooves. "Well, Trixie isn't here by her own choice," she started, "She was on her way to another town, any other town when she stumbled upon your Ponyville and hit her head in her headlong flight from your miserable hovel of a village. If it were not for Trixie's mild concussion and her pounding head, she would be long gone by now, Rainbow Dash."
"Flight? You're not a Pegasus!" The ignorance in that sentence made Trixie place her hoof against her face.
"It also means to run away, to travel, or to escape, you idiot!"
"Oh. Well, look who's talking! You're the one who ended up here after what you pulled! I'm surprised Applejack... that's the pony you called a hayseed by the way, hasn't had you tarred and feathered yet!"
Twilight just stood there, looking at a point on the horizon blankly. Trixie turned to look her in the eye and waved a hoof in front of her face. Was that how she looked when she spaced out? Could spacing out like that be a genetic trait? Could she actually be... no, it just could not be true. "Hey! I'm talking to you, Inferior and Weak Trixie! Yeah, that's right: I saw the whole thing with the Ursa. You couldn't do jack about it, and you know it! The only reason you even tried was because of that huge ego of yours!"
"Look who's talking, Rainbow Dash," Trixie replied. "Don't you dare preach about another pony's ego! Trixie heard you the day of her show, saying how nopony needed to worry since you were already better then everypony else. At least Trixie's ego is only for the sake of her show! Or were you too STUPID to realize that it was all just an act?"
"Horse feathers! The way you talked about defeating that Ursa was just you boosting your ego! You said so yourself!" Rainbow countered.
"So what? Trixie is a travelling magician. She needs to make up stories like that to incite interest, or she doesn't eat. Rainbow Dash, you are a complete, insufferable moron if you can't see that!"
"I'm not a moron!"
"I'm not a moron!" Trixie copied mockingly.
"Stop copying me!" The childish back-and-forth of parroting continued for a few minutes, both unrelenting in their repetition. Twilight snapped herself out of her stupor to find herself in the middle of the verbal tennis match. Nopony gained ground and the whole thing was beginning to give her a headache. Sure, Trixie touched a nerve when she brought up... the incident, but she had no way of knowing... and she did not want her to know, for fear that she would... well, fear her.
"I SMELL LIKE PONY PLOP!" Rainbow Dash screamed in an attempt to corner Trixie.
"Well," she replied matter-of-factually, "I wasn't going to SAY anything, but now that you mention it..."
"GAH! I'LL KILL YOU, YOU LITTLE-!" Laughter filled the air that did not come from either of the combatants, but from the lavender pony that stood to the sides.
"I'm sorry, Rainbow," Twilight wiped a tear from her eye, "... But I've been having a rough day, and that was pretty funny how she countered your counter. Please, don't take any offence. I'd love to see you for dinner tomorrow at my place. I promise, Trixie will behave... or ELSE."
The Great and Powerful Trixie blinked in disbelief. Did Twilight just threaten to keep her in line? How was she planning on doing that? Her rapier wit and mind like a steel trap simply could not be contained. If a pony deserved it, she would belittle and humiliate them. But... it was not always like this. It used to be that only performers competing for her title would face the point of her sword. The blue mare lowered her head slightly, barely noticeable to any pony present. She did not hear the beat of wings as the Pegasus retreated, convinced to let Trixie be.
An uneasy silence followed the two mares as they journeyed from the streets of town and back out into the wilderness. She probably did not do herself any favours by outwitting the Pegasus, but what was Trixie going to do? She was honour-bound to defend herself and her profession from the likes of the aerial nuisance, even if she won the most prestigious award for a young civilian Pegasus in the country.
Maybe Twilight Sparkle was finally beginning to snap herself out of her delusions that the two of them were more than bitter rivals, at best? If it was not obvious to her just how much Trixie hated her, then she had to be about as thick as the earlier mentioned Pegasus. That or her blatant bookworm disposition made her so naive that it was not even funny. Not even to a pony who hated her as much as Trixie did.
Soon enough, the pair found themselves at the strangest house Trixie had ever seen. It, more or less, looked like an above ground burrow. Sure, it had four walls, plenty of windows and a door, but the roof was not thatched like most of the others in town. Believe it or not, the idiotic pony that lived there made their roof out of SOD! Did they not know that it would leak in a rainstorm... or was it simply decoration?
Only when they crossed a tiny bridge over a little stream that Trixie noticed an obscene number of holes scattered about her lawn, and the astronomical number of birdhouses that filled up any remaining space. Twilight swiftly moved up to the door and knocked her hoof gently on the wooden frame, the upper half already open to let some air inside. "Fluttershy?" she called out. "I'm here to pick up Owlowsious' food."
"I'll be right there," sounded a soft, nigh inaudible voice from inside the house. "Just let me take care of something first... oh, Angel, please come down!" Trixie tapped her hoof impatiently. The sooner they could get these stupid chores done, the sooner they could get back to the library and not interact with anypony. She wanted nothing more to do with the town or the ponies in it so she could get back on the road as soon as possible.
After a couple of minutes of irritating waiting later, a disturbingly familiar yellow Pegasus with a pink mane appeared at the door. Trixie could not place her hoof on where, but she had seen her before and recently at that. If it had not been for the earlier events, she would have pinned it in a heartbeat. "Please, come inside. I have some tea boiling if you would like some."
"We'd love some," Twilight replied, much to Trixie's anger.
"Do not speak for The Great and Powerful Trixie, Twilight Sparkle! She has no interest in tea!"
"Oh... um... well, I have some milk, or soda, or water, or juice... and you can have some cookies and other treats too... um... t-that is unless you don't want to..." She wanted to be mad at the yellow pony for making her stay out longer then she wanted, but as she followed her captor inside, the anger just... evaporated.
Maybe it was the sight of all the critters and the ramps, holes and perches littered throughout the living room? Or, perhaps it was the gentle nature of the pony that clashed with her desire to chew her out. Somehow, the idea of making her cry gnawed at her soul; tantalizing, yet far too cruel for her to even try. "Fine," she relented. "Trixie will have some tea and snacks if only for lack of anything better to do."
Walking into the kitchen, the three mares sat at a small, wooden table designed to accommodate only one pony. Yet somehow, the three managed to squeeze together, even if the fit was a little on the tight side. Trixie twitched a little when Twilight pulled out a box of 'Krispy Treats' from the cupboard. Her dad owned the successful company that made them. She could feel herself slipping off into her own mind again, remembering all the tea parties she attended as a little filly and how she was expected to take over the company one day.
"Trixie?" Twilight called, waving her hoof in front of the catatonic mare. This prompted an uncharacteristic giggle from the quiet Pegasus. "Uh... Can I ask what's so funny, Fluttershy?"
"Oh, it's nothing," she quietly giggled. "It's just... she looks like you. I mean... when you space out in thought. It just... um... looks adorable... on you both." Fluttershy blushed; embarrassed that she had used the word 'adorable' to describe one of her friends. "Um... I'm sorry if I'm prying, but... is she... related to you?"
"She's my little sister," Twilight sighed in a mix of resignation and embarrassment. Somehow, the word managed to filter through the blue unicorn, causing her to blink her eyes and look around, a little confused and disoriented for a second. Trixie found a warm cup of lemon tea and a couple of Krispy Treats on her plate.
"Oh, I can see the resemblance," the yellow Pegasus smiled, confusing the magician a little more.
"What did Trixie miss?" she asked with another confused blink.
"Oh, you didn't miss anything, Trixie. My name is Fluttershy, by the way. Twilight introduced us while you... um... spaced out. It's... it's a pleasure to meet you." A simple bat of her eyelashes sent Trixie reeling from the residual anger she felt toward Twilight. It was utterly impossible for her to stay mad around the Pegasus, and it slightly disturbed her.
A white rabbit hopped onto the table rather suddenly beside Fluttershy. Trixie looked at him, and he looked right back at her with a deathly glare, as if trying to tell the unicorn that if she uttered one mean word, he would ruin her. Of course, Trixie would not be intimidated by such vermin and shot him back an equally acidic stare. His face crumpled up dangerously, the little bunny bending his legs to hop at her and attack. That is, until a pair of yellow hooves wrapped around him, cuddling him tight.
"Oh Angel," Fluttershy crooned happily. "Did you want to join us for tea? I'm so happy you finally decided to come down." Either the Pegasus was oblivious to the desperate struggling of the rabbit, or she knew what he was about to do and stopped him with real kindness and love. Not the fake kind of kindness that led Twilight Sparkle to put a shock collar on her!
"Well, thank you so much for the tea, Fluttershy, but we have to get going now. Can I help you clean up?" Twilight asked her friend, half an hour after the little tea party began.
"Of course you can. Thank you so much for staying, and for offering to help clean up, Twilight." As soon as the two other mares turned away, the rabbit known as Angel glared at Trixie. She still had a little bit of tea and another biscuit to finish, so she did not get up to help. The rabbit, much against the implication of his name, picked up a butter knife from the table and pointed it at her in lieu of something sharp.
Although he could not speak, the gestures of the white bunny made themselves clear of their meaning. He pointed at his eye, then at the blue unicorn before taking the knife to his throat and made a tiny slitting sound as he slowly pulled it across. Trixie could almost hear his voice warning her, "If you're mean to that pony, I'll mess you up so badly, that they'll never find all the pieces!"
The Great and Powerful Trixie slunk into her chair a little bit, well and truly intimidated by the little white rabbit. He seemed to understand that she received the message, as he hopped down and left the terrified unicorn to her own devices. Was this how ponies felt when she was mean to them? Did they feel as angry, intimidated and scared as this? Maybe she was a little hard on Applejack and Rainbow Dash, but they deserved it for disrespecting her... did they not?
The two siblings were on the road once again. But this time, it was the invigorated Trixie on a tirade about that obnoxious little rabbit and his macabre threats. For the most part, Twilight Sparkle shrugged it off and dismissed her and her ravings as simply a figment of her overactive imagination. That would not deter the azure mare though. She was convinced that rabbit was evil; much how like the other mare was certain something else was evil too.
Thankfully, the pair swiftly approached the door of their destination. It was a tall, towering building much like the town hall, but it was white with subtle hints of purple. On the upper tier, mareaquins on poles circled the shop over the neat cursive writing that spelled out 'Carousel Boutique.' The name fits to a tee, Trixie mused as the lavender mare leading her went inside.
When she saw the white unicorn mare inside the shop, Trixie was not overly surprised. The whole day seemed to have a theme to it anyway, and the prissy unicorn who insulted her fashion sense the day of the Ursa incident would serve as the final act of the play. The usual greetings were made between the lavender and white unicorn before the latter took notice of her, eyes narrowing dangerously at the performer.
"Well, I suppose I could do... something," the white one spoke, "Can you be a dear and get me the royal blue thread from the back room please?"
"Sure thing, Rarity... and please behave, you two," Twilight replied, disappearing further into the shop. Trixie glared at the white mare just as she did, the two circling each other as soon as Twilight left, both ready for a fight.
"Well, well," the pony known to her now as Rarity started, her eyes going over Trixie from hoof to the top of her hat. "You look like you hit every branch when you fell out of the ugly tree. It serves you right. Great and Powerful? The only thing great and powerful about you, Trixie, is the odour that you exude, like some rotten trash heap!"
"Look who's talking," Trixie replied. "I nearly gagged the moment I walked into this store from all the perfume you wear. What are you trying to do? Lure a colt... or a mare? Either way, it's a big sign that you're desperate. Must be because you're so old."
The white unicorn looked simply aghast at her rather vicious retort. Ah well, it was not like Trixie had been the one to start it. She would have been content keeping the silence, but the sinister mare wanted to dance with her, so she would dance. She would not go down without a fight!
All of a sudden, the azure mare felt her cloak and hat rip themselves from her body, caught up in the magic of the other unicorn, who then smirked when she saw how fragile she was. "I might be a little older then you, but at least I'm not in danger of blowing away in a light breeze. I knew you were jealous of my beauty, but anorexia isn't the answer, darling."
"Trixie is not anorexic!" she replied indignantly. "Now shut your trap, you little bi-ahhhh!" A shock ripped through her body from the collar strapped to her neck. Unbeknownst to her, Twilight added another feature to the collar when she was not looking. Simply, when she would step out of line in an insult, it would zap her as well. This prompted the alabaster mare to giggle in delight.
"Look at you, Trixie," she said. "You call me that word when you are the perfect picture of an old hound dog! Twilight has you wrapped around her hoof, and there is nothing you can do about it. If you ask me, that doesn't make you great or powerful at all. You insulted my mane, you humiliated me and my friends, and now you are paying for it, Trixie. Yet... I can see now that you are genuinely in need, and I'm sorry for starting this whole petty argument. If you don't insult me again, I won't insult you. Deal?"
"Trixie doesn't have a choice," she muttered angrily. "If she insults you, she gets shocked. So, yes, you have a deal, but know that Trixie doesn't like it." Silence fell on the room as the white unicorn bought her hat and cape over, to her as she sat at a table and scrutinized on every detail.
"Have these been damaged before?" she asked, looking at Trixie, who gave her a quick nod, "I could barely tell. Whoever you got to fix it did an excellent job."
"Actually..." the azure unicorn muttered, "It was Trixie who fixed them. She's been on her own for years now, but she learned before she started traveling alone. She traveled with... another magician for a few years, and he would have her fix up his costumes and other behind the scenes work."
"You sew, darling!? Then why are you here? Surely you could have asked Twilight to just get you the thread. I know she can't colour coordinate, but she knows her reds from her blues... at least, I hope so."
At that very instant, the lavender mare emerged from the back rooms with a box of spools filled with blue thread. She trotted over to the desk with the sewing machine on it and gently placed the box beside her friend. "I couldn't figure out which one was 'royal blue' so I just took all the blue ones I could find and put them into a basket," Twilight explained, causing Rarity to groan and apply a hoof to her face.
A flash of sudden gratitude washed over Trixie, directed towards Twilight Sparkle. If she had not thrown off Rarity, who now ranted about how she was surprised about her not knowing indigo from mauve, then she would have to answer why she did not fix her hat and cloak herself. The whole encounter only served to remind her just how far she had fallen from her once lofty perch... the she no longer deserved her title or her memories of her master.
Trixie remained silent through the rest of her time at the tailor's shop, and even into dinner. At several points, the two unicorns discussed magic and spells. Each time, she had to fight back her tears to stop from showing her weakness right there at the table. It came as a tremendous relief when the meal ended, allowing her to escape to the bedroom. The azure mare threw herself onto the spare bed and buried her head into the pillow, bawling at her pitiful state. How could she tell those strange ponies, or even Twilight... how could she tell them that she had lost her magic?