The Reluctant Reunion of the Redoubtable Rabble-Rouser - Chapter 5: The Heir of Hoofdini
Later the next day, a curious sight presented itself to anypony who looked up into the early afternoon sky over Ponyville. It was a massive sphere with tiny wings, bobbing up and down on an erratic flight path across the breadth of the town. "Twilight?" Trixie called as she stood outside of the library, just about to go out with the others and enjoy a picnic in the park. "What the Sorrel Hells is THAT thing?"
The purple mare stepped outside and squinted her eyes to cut through the glare, trained on the object the blue unicorn pointed to. "That's Derpy Hooves. She's a mailpony and it's not very nice to call her a thing... unless you're talking about the object she's carrying."
"Well, of COURSE that is what I was talking about, you idiot!" she sighed. "Honestly, you NEED to get out more. Just the fact that you did not know immediately what I was talking about is... vexing, at best"
"Hmm," Shimmer Tail mused as she stepped outside to join her two fillies, followed by Spike who pulled a little wagon with a picnic basket and chequered blanket in it. "Looks like a cauldron to me."
"It must be going to Zecora. That would explain why she's heading for the Everfree Forest with it," Twilight reasoned before diving into yet another lecture: this time on who Zecora was and how she and her friends first met her. Trixie found it humorous how xenophobic the townsponies could be if they branded a Zebra as some sort of evil enchantress. She had encountered Zebras before in her travels and aside from the quirk of their constant rhyming she found them all quite hospitable.
Meanwhile, high in the sky overhead, the gray Pegasus wondered just how she got herself into her current predicament. Had it been stubborn pride, or was it sheer determination to show that she could be just as physical as anypony else? Either way, she felt like the mythical pony Atlas, trying to carry the universe upon her shoulders. Except, in this case it was a five hundred pound cauldron and she was struggling desperately to keep it from slipping from her hooves.
"Derpy!" called the voice of her boss earlier that afternoon. "We have a package here for Ms Zecora. Do you think you can take it over?" The gray Pegasus gave a salute and nodded her head before trotting into the backroom for the parcel. However, her jaw hit the ground when she saw the massive, black cauldron sitting in the middle of the room. Shaking her head, the mare trotted over and sized up the item.
Eventually, a plan of attack formed. The mailmare flew up to the lip of the tub and splayed herself over it so all four of her hooves gripped it tight. Straining her wings, she picked up the wrought-iron cauldron and fluttered over to the door, only for the width of the item to impact the sides. The sudden stop made her lose her grip, causing her to fall into the huge container with a resounding 'blong.'
"Use the carriage doors, you feather brain!" her boss exclaimed after applying a hoof to his face. "Any damage on that door comes out of your pay, so move it!" Putting herself into position once more, the addled Pegasus carried the cauldron out the other door and into the wild blue yonder.
Back in the present, sweat dripped profusely from her brow, all six of her limbs aching and desperate for release from this borderline form of torture. She did not dare drop her cargo, especially over town where it could cause severe damage, or even kill somepony if it landed on top of them. "Groundhog... cakes!" she muttered as she strained to keep aloft. The mailmare had already stopped twice to regain her strength. Besides, she had just flown over the border of the forest, meaning that her destination was only half a mile away at best.
Oh no, she thought after about ten more minutes of flying above the forest, almost at her destination. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no! Don't Slip! Don't Slip! Don't Slip! Her legs were slick with sweat from the exertion she put herself through, causing the smooth black iron of the huge pot to succumb to gravity despite how hard she tried to grasp it. A terrifying sound, like a hoof on a window sounded in her ears, meaning that the quarter-ton parcel was about to leave her grip.
All of a sudden, the amber-eyed Pegasus shot into the air before she could collect herself. A massive thud on the ground told her that she had lost her cargo. On the ground, a wild Manticore sat in a clearing in the woods, grooming itself after a tasty meal. Suddenly, something heavy fell on its scorpion tail, causing the appendage to lunge forward in reflex. The beast roared in agony from both the initial pain, and from the sting of its own tail.
Sure, Manticores were immune to their own poison; they would sting themselves all the time. However, the beast still became enraged beyond all rational (as far as a wild beast could go, at any rate) thought. Whatever had caused it pain was going to die! Looking up, he saw a flying pony looking down: obviously the one to hurt it.
"Uh-oh," muttered the Pegasus as she realized just what happened. The Manticore below let out a terrible, bone-chilling roar of agony and anger. It flexed its terrible, bat-like wings and focused only on the pony. Retribution would be swift and in the most primal, brutal way possible. The beast clawed at the cauldron and swatted it off with a single strike before bending his legs and springing into the air with terrible speed. Derpy Hooves was no Rainbow Dash, but she could have easily set a new record for the hundred-hoof sprint for town as the beast charged.
"There you are, Rainbow. What took you so long?" Twilight asked as the Pegasus descended from the sky. The group had decided to meet in the town square before continuing on to the park. That meant Trixie had to stand out in the open with all of those judgmental ponies for well over ten minutes before the rest of the lavender mare's troupe of friends could meet.
The town square brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for Trixie, mostly about that night with the Ursa. Every little bit of her caravan had been swept up, and all the damage done by the beast repaired: it was as if nothing ever happened. Then again, the showmare reminded herself that the town had suffered a massive fire that was reported in most of the newspapers in the country, so most of the damage from her... episode... probably burned away.
"I took a nap after my morning stunt routine and lost track of the time. Sorry if I left you hanging, Twi," she replied. "So are we going or not? Come on, I'm hungry!"
"Well, we all have to save room for tonight. I'm throwing Shimmer a farewell party since she has to go back to Canterlot tomorrow morning and that makes me really sad because I never really got a chance to talk much with her and she seems like a really nice pony and all, so I might ask for her address so I could send a letter an-"
"PINKIE PIE!" Rainbow shouted, annoyed by her ramblings. Trixie could not help but nod in silent gratitude, since the chromatic Pegasus seemed to be the only pony that could get the pink mare to actually shut up on command. "We know this already: you don't need to tell us again!"
"But the reader doesn't know that!" Pinkie whined.
"Pinkie," Applejack started, "Ya know we all love ya somethin' fierce, but when in the hay are you going to stop going on about that there 'reader' pony ya keep bringing up? Every time you do we get nothin' but bad news, sugarcube."
"Well, I can't help it! I'm just doing what the author says. Besides, the reader isn't a pony at all... they're some sort of hairless monkey in clothes," she chirped happily.
"Oh great, now there's another one," sighed Rarity as she held a hoof to her head. "This is getting old. Can we just move along with our picnic?" The rest of the ponies present decided to ignore Pinkie as she went on a ridiculous rambling rant. She did not seem to notice, so no harm, no foul.
Just as they were about to grab the pink party pony and move out, a grey Pegasus shot overhead, yelling about something distressing, judging by the tone. "Woo! Look at her go!" cried Rainbow in a light sense of pride and surprise at the speeding mare. "Way to go, Derpy! You show that mail who's the boss!" However, shortly after she flew over head, ponies cried out and started to stampede into the square.
"MANTICORE!" a red pony with a lily in her mane cried out as she darted past, just one of dozens screaming and running for their lives. Dust from the fleeing ponies kicked up all around them, sending the assembled ponies (and baby dragon) into a fit of coughing. When it settled, they found themselves alone in the square, no sound other than the approaching steps of the beast present.
"Oh great!" Twilight exclaimed. "Well, considering that it's a Friday, we shouldn't be surprised. Strange stuff happens to me and my friends around Friday," she added, sensing the confusion present on Trixie's face. "Fluttershy, can you go and try to calm it down please? Your way with animals will probably save the day without a problem, and then we can continue with our picnic."
"Oh...okay, Twilight," the Pegasus with the strawberry mane replied. "I hope it's the one we met when we went to save Equestria from Nightmare Moon. He was such a cutie and---" she cut herself short, noticing the glares from her other friends. In an instant, she knew she had said too much and continued, "I'll just... get going then."
However, she did not have far to travel as the enraged monster stomped into the square, knocking over merchant carts with every swap of his pony-sized paws. Seeing ponies in its line of sight angered it more, especially since it could not find the Pegasus that first hurt it. Other ponies had tried to stop the creature as it advanced: a wing hung limply at his side, broken. The yellow pony of the group bravely walked forward with a soothing smile plastered upon her face.
Trixie stood at the sidelines, watching in awe as the gentle Pegasus approached the horrible monster more readily than she approached the azure mare herself. Did this pony have no fear, or was it simply because the creature was not a pony, which lead to a sudden, exponential growth in confidence? She had said something about dealing with them before, and something about Nightmare Moon, but that was just some old mare's tale. It could not actually be true, could it?
At first, the creature was confused: this pony did not charge, nor did she flee from it. However, anger overrode the curiosity as a fresh wave of pain from his injured tail, backside (where the stinger struck) and wing returned two-fold. He roared fiercely, yet it would not deter the pony. "Aw, you poor thing," she spoke softly, wings flared as she approached the Manticore. "It's no wonder why you're so cranky. Now, if you'll just calm down and let me have a tiny little look, I promise that I can help make the pain go away."
The Manticore did not listen. He loosed another loud roar into her face as a final warning. The monster was not particularly hungry, but that would not stop it from biting off the stupid pony's head. Still, she kept moving towards it in spite of the obvious danger.
In the flash of an eye, the horrible Manticore raised one of its massive front paws; claws extended, and administered a sudden, powerful swipe at the yellow mare. She flew through the air, out of her own control and landed in a heap after crashing into a cart, instantly knocked unconscious from the blow to her head. Everypony gasped and cried out her name, seeing her lying in a wreck, a hoof at an odd angle with small trails of blood coming from her nose.
"Mom!" Twilight called out, suddenly realizing the situation would hardly be shrugged off. "Get Spike and Trixie out of here, now! Find some place safe for them to hide while we deal with this beast!"
"Now, wait a minute!" Trixie voiced in indignation. "Why are you tossing me into the same boat as Spike? Surely I could do something! Maybe serve as a distraction? Please! I want to assist! I want to show that I meant all I said!"
"No time to argue!" she shouted in reply as the rainbow Pegasus rushed forward in defence of her felled friend. "Besides, you don't have any magic, and you'd just get in the way!" The rest of the ponies (mostly Rarity, as she was a fellow unicorn) gasped in surprise at the revelation. This only served to aggravate the blue unicorn.
"Twilight! You promised not to tell!" the failed magician cried with some measure of hurt. "How DARE you say that I would just get in your way! I know my limits, and I wouldn't push myself more then I know I can handle!" However, as the two unicorns argued, the rainbow Pegasus had already started circling the monster at full speed, creating a tornado of rainbow to obscure its vision. She would not make the same mistake as the last time, and kept her eyes constantly glued on the beast's tail, little knowing that the appendage was not likely to flail at her.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't risk it! Now hurry up and go find them!" In the short gap of time, Shimmer Tail had done her duty and grabbed the mischievous baby dragon by the tail before galloping away from the scene, much to his disdain.
"No! I refuse to be babysat by you anymore, Twilight Sparkle!" she spat. "I don't care how many Manticores there are! You are NOT going to shrug me off like a little foal and you will just have to accept it! As you said, we don't have TIME to argue, so I'm staying and there is NOTHING you can do about it!"
Twilight made to start an argument about how wrong and stupid she was being, but a sudden yelp and cry of "GANGWAY!!!" from Rainbow was their only warning to move, or be mowed down by the speeding pony. They all managed to avoid her just in time as she slammed into the base of the fountain; cracking it just enough to let tiny streams of water gush out and wash down her mane. The Pegasus moaned and raised a hoof to her aching head, eyes spinning in their sockets. "I think I'm going to be sick," she moaned.
In a matter of seconds, the rainbow tornado she conjured vanished from existence, revealing the very dizzy (and far angrier) Manticore behind it. As soon as it figured out what happened, it roared again, spraying saliva from beyond the sharp teeth it possessed. The ponies quickly scattered from their place as it charged. "We'll have to work together!" cried Twilight as she desperately tried to formulate a plan on the fly.
Meanwhile, the monster stopped dead in the middle of its charge, its eyes darted from pony to pony, trying to find the weakest of the group to attack first. All of a sudden, a weight hit the small of the creature's back, causing it to roar and buck wildly. The pony on its back let out a loud, "YEEHAW!" as she slipped a rope over its head. Applejack rode the beast like she would a bucking bronco at the rodeo: she figured the mythical beast would be easy pickings.
That assumption would quickly turn out to be a big mistake. The beast still had some tricks up its proverbial sleeve. It pushed through the pain and swatted at the orange filly with the stinger-tipped appendage, sending her flying off of its back and into a heap on the cobblestone street. "We got ourselves a live one!" Applejack smirked as she pulled herself up.
A soft lavender glow encased the snarling Manticore before gently lifting off the ground. It flailed its legs in vain desperation to escape the telekinetic grasp of Twilight Sparkle and growled as it realized they had it cornered. Then Rainbow Dash, thinking their victory was assured, charged at the apparently helpless beast.
It saw its chance and capitalized on it, despite not being one of the brightest creatures around.The monster grabbed hold of her as she zoomed close, the force causing it to turn in the magical hold before releasing her, sending the Pegasus on a collision course with the mare who cast the spell. Even a Manticore could see the soft glow of working magic around a unicorn's horn.
Rainbow Dash slammed into the lavender mare, sending her flying into the fountain in the square. The sheer force of the strike cracked the base of the white-stone statue on top, making it wobble unsteadily before the loose head of the pony figure snapped off and impacted the unicorn on her skull. "Twilight!" the azure unicorn cried as the scholar slumped into the fountain.Trixie galloped across the square to find her in a small splotch of red water forming around her head, thankful her muzzle stayed above the surface of the water so she could breathe.
The Pegasus lay on her back beside Twilight, none the worse for wear besides the constant ache she felt all across her body. A soft moan sounded to her side, the lavender mare still conscious, if only just. "Come on, Pinkie! Looks like it's up ta us!" cried a voice from beyond. In light of everything going on around her, the athletic flier decided at that very moment to never charge into something ever again... at least, until she forgot and did it anyway.
Pinkie Pie hopped around the attacking Manticore, defying logic (in her usual Pinkie Pie way) by not being where the monster had slammed its paws into the cobblestone. Every time it thought it squished the annoying pink pony, she popped up somewhere else, giggling. "You're not very good at this game, are you?" she asked with a sigh of disappointment after suddenly appearing on its head. "I really expected you to be a pro at this, since you guy eat moles, right? Whack-a-mole is my most favourite game EVER. Well... maybe after Pin the Tail on the Pony, or darts, but you know that I mean."
While the bubblegum mare continued to distract it, Rarity used her magic to pull as much rope, twine and string to her as possible to make enough rope for the farmer to ensnare the rampaging monster. Everypony seemed able to contribute something to the effort, except for Trixie, who scuffed her hoof next to the fountain. They were giving their all to defend the town, but there she stood, about as useful as a woodpecker in a petrified forest.
However, the Manticore became bored with the pink pony and lunged forward like a rocket, swiping at the orange farmer. Applejack cried out in surprise before being batted into a store window, shattering all the glass and landing inside. "Hey! That wasn't very nice!" Pinkie cried before the monster seized its moment and bucked the pink pony off of its back. Her eyes spun as she lay flat by the edge of the fountain, hitting her head on the cobblestones.
All that stood between the raging monster and the rest of Ponyville at that moment was a duo of unicorn mares: one talented with precision and bringing the inner beauty out in things and the other a powerless waste of space. Trixie looked to Rarity, her eyes wild in desperation. "Well, now what do we do!?" the azure pony cried out.
"I have no idea, but we'd better do it fast!" she replied, the monster slowly approaching them.
Trixie bit her lip, trying desperately to think of something, anything, to get them out of the jam they found themselves in. She had experience in working her way out of tight spaces, but every plan required something she did not have: magic. Sure, Rarity had magic, but the blue mare did not think she could pull off any powerful illusions. It was all beginning to turn hopeless. Her mind quickly brought her back to the Ursa Incident: she could easily turn tail and abandon the town for the sake of self-preservation.
The alabaster unicorn took matters into her own hooves, as her light blue counterpart had taken the inopportune moment to space out. She turned the makeshift-rope she made for Applejack and thrust it at the approaching Manticore, hoping to tie up its legs and keep it immobile until Twilight could recover and teleport it somewhere else, or something of the like.
Ponies lay all around the failed magician, injured as they fought passionately to defend their businesses, their homes... their friends from the rampaging beast. "Always remember, Trixie," spoke an ethereal voice in the back of her mind. At first, it startled her until the foggy wisps of a memory played out in her mind.
The young mare stood on the stage of a small theatre in a town she had long-forgotten. Its stage creaked and groaned a little with each hoofstep, showing its age. Before her stood the magnificent stallion without his tophat or cape, looking down on her with a shadow of a smile. "Always remember, Trixie," the stallion spoke to the tired filly. "Magic is like any other substance in this world. It requires certain elements and conditions to run."
"What are they, Sir?" the filly of about eleven inquired curiously.
He walked over to her, standing tall and proud over the submissive student. His soft green eyes bore holes into her, as if laying her soul bare before him. "The first element is the easiest to acquire: imagination. If you can see it in your mind's eye, then you can make it so! But, you need some... oomph, some power behind it to get it to work: just like with anything else in life."
"And... what is the second element?"
"It is known by many things, my young apprentice, but I prefer to call it 'The Spark. ' Other ponies call it The Spark of Friendship," he gently swatted the filly when she rolled her eyes. "Friendship is the most powerful, most pure source of magic around. Sure, there are others, but having good friends makes a unicorn... no, anypony... more powerful than any arcane rituals or dark siphoning spells can ever hope. Do not scoff it or ignore it, or else you may find yourself faced with a challenge you cannot conquer because your magic has become so weak!"
"All right, Sir, I won't," she replied with disinterest towards his wizened words.
"I'm being serious here, kid!" he added with a measure of annoyance in his voice. "If you ever forget that, I swear by the creators that I'll tan your sorry hide from here to Cape Shetland!" She winced at the sudden outburst and nodded her head more sincerely. "Good, now let's go get some lunch. We have a hard evening of drills to run through."
By the time the memory finished playing out in her mind; Rarity was struggling to add more ropes and material to her restraints on the monster. It constantly bit and clawed at the bindings, becoming more enraged with every added fibre. Trixie felt tears well up in her eyes over how truly she failed her master. Even as stunned ponies around her began to stir and regain their composure, she could not see them as anything but broken and too hurt to carry on.
Despite everything she had done, these fillies extended the olive branch to her (eventually) and made Trixie feel like she belonged. Even if they did not particularly like her, since she knew she could be, well, irritating at times. Yet here they were, defending their town, each other, and even her. The azure mare had only known each of these ponies for a few days at best, but she found she wanted to help them in their plight, no matter the consequences she would incur for herself.
She had to help... her friends.
Suddenly, the azure mare's eyes went wide as a strange new feeling swept over her. It felt like a wave of pleasant warmth had washed over her cold body, like getting into a steaming bath on an icy winter's night. A fire, long dormant, ignited in her chest. It could only be 'The Spark' that he had told her about those many years ago. Trixie slowly walked over, ignoring the cries for her to turn back.
The beast had ripped away most of the restraints, the alabaster unicorn becoming too tired to maintain a decent hold on them. "Rarity," she spoke as she passed, "Let me handle this annoying little pest."
"Trixie?" moaned a slightly concussed Twilight, blood still seeping from her head wound, "What are you doing!? Get out of the---" However, looking at the younger unicorn, her jaw dropped. "No! Don't do it! This isn't worth it!" she cried out, struggling to vault over the fountain to stop the reckless magician. She had no magic, yet her horn was alight in a soft fuchsia glow.
"What's wrong?" Rainbow asked in confusion, pulling herself up to look. "Isn't it a good thing she has her magic back?"
"Normally, yes, but I think she's using her LATENT magic!" Spying the confused look on the Pegasus, she elected to explain with the short version. "All ponies have latent magic, but only unicorns can tap it. Basically, she's using her... her soul, her spirit to fuel the spell!"
Trixie could hear her words, causing her to roll her eyes as she stood no more than five hooves from the now free monster. Twilight must have really doubted her if she thought she would do something so foalish. "I'm going to give you a single chance," she spoke to the beast, "Leave town right now, and never come back... or I'll throw you out myself!"
Naturally, the towering Manticore did not care about this new participant in the fray, for it had bested other unicorns before. The beast roared with all the ferocity and might it could muster in an attempt to make her shrink back and flee. Saliva rained forward, coating the azure mare in a thick layer of the fluid, but she did not even flinch.
The magician met the eyes of the beast, bored by the primal display of power. Still, if it wanted to play that way, then she could oblige. She puffed out her chest and took a deep breath, filling her lungs to capacity. Something big would be needed to properly scare the infuriating creature in front of her. Immediately, an idea sprung to mind, causing a jocular smirk to crack across her face just at the thought.
With her magic, she amplified and altered the pitch and tone of her voice letting out a bellowing howl that caused everypony around to drop their jaws in shock. If she were not so focused on the task at hoof, she would have joined them since it had been months since she had altered sounds. Even the beast looked a little taken aback, its face blank and eyes blinking in rapid succession. Yet, it was not properly scared. Not yet, anyway.
Trixie's body began to shimmer and cascade into an aura of soft lavender. Her matte coat began to sparkle and glisten as tiny points of light speckled her flank. Sky blue suddenly became a darker, transparent indigo, her mane and tail retreating into her body as her eyes turned red and yellow. She bubbled and twisted as she grew in size, hooves becoming paws, teeth becoming jagged, head rounding out as her horn disappeared into her head.
The magician growled to fit her new role in the play: going from the wiry thespian to the buff (okay, so it was more fat) star in one moment. She towered over the buildings of Ponyville, roaring once more in triumph over the success of her spell. In place of the small, weak little unicorn there stood a large, powerful, and angered Ursa Minor.
"Holy shoot!" exclaimed Applejack in surprise as she dragged herself out of the building, coat dotted with thin trails of blood. No pony else could move or speak at what they just bore witness to: even Twilight could never handle transformation magic on that scale!
The Manticore cast its gaze skyward at the giant Ursa, now directly under the beast's head. However, it would not go down without a fight! The foolish and injured monster jumped onto one of the tree-sized paws and started clawing and biting at the creature. The former mare casually shook the titanic appendage and sent the beast hurtling into a building, glass, stone and wood raining all around it.
Trixie rolled her eyes at the pitiful attempt to bring her down. Yet, she had to admit that maintaining the spell proved just a little more taxing then she realized. It did not matter to her in the slightest, but it might worry everypony else, so she decided she would end it quickly. After all, it had caused enough pain and bits in property damage for one day.
The blue bear reached into the ruined building and extracted the Manticore from it by the tail. She held the flailing monster up to her face and sent concussive blasts of sound hurtling towards the beast's frail form, nearly giving it a heart attack. It must have figured she was going to eat it, since it began to struggle more the closer she brought it to her drooling maw. Trixie snorted, humid breath curling its mane, and tossed the desperate creature a few hundred meters into the air.
Catching it once more by its tail, she began to twirl the beast like a flail, standing on her hind legs to give more height and distance to her throw. The creature howled and cried in desperation, blurred into a single incomprehensible noise by the forces of physics. Trixie gave a toothy smirk, the horrible Manticore reminding her of a foal's toy she used to have.
Then she let go, sending the monster flying towards the dark heart of the Everfree Forest. It gave one final cry of fright as it flew off into the distance, becoming a speck on the horizon. Trixie gave one last roar in triumph as her body shrank and turned back into that of the pony they all knew. She reared on her hind legs, the forward ones kicking at the air as if she were running. "And DON'T you come back, lest you face The Great and Powerful Trixie once more!"
Silence permeated the square, ponies that hid themselves in their homes, or stayed on the edges of the battlefield chancing to come closer. Trixie fell forward, standing on four hooves once more as she shook some sweat from her brow. Only then did she become aware of all the eyes upon her, making the azure magician look around and blush. Twilight, the rest of the gang, and all the other ponies... even Shimmer Tail and Spike looked upon her with mouths agape.
Trixie bit her lip, unsure what would happen next. Would they hate her, dub her as evil, and chase her out of town? No normal pony could do what she had done, but they did not know it was all fake. "Um..." she trailed, looking for words, "That was a trick? I mean, it was an illusion. A very strong one, but it got rid of the Manticore. It shouldn't feel any pain... aside from what was inflicted on it before and... Um... that building is actually undamaged, so..."
Applause: thunderous, wondrous applause filled the square as everypony stamped their hooves upon the cobbled road, cheering in excitement and awe at the display of powerful magic. "Three cheers for The Great and Powerful Trixie!" shouted a colt somewhere in the crowd. "Hip-hip hooray! Hip-hip hooray! Hip-hip hooray!" everypony chimed in. It was the magician's turn to become speechless as the others came over, adding their own words of congratulations and excitement to the din.
As the crowd closed in on the azure pony, they broke out into song to the tune of 'For she's a jolly good filly.' So that's what it takes to earn some respect around here? she mused. You just have to save this town, and you're considered as close as a life-long citizen. There would be another time to ponder the phenomena. For now, she needed some rest, and her companions... her friends... needed their wounds treated.
In the days following the fight, the azure mare felt more at home in the town of Ponyville then she did in her native Canterlot. Walking down the streets, she would get at least five ponies saying hello to her and wishing her a nice day before they moved on with their tasks. In fact, the party to send her birth mother off was twofold: to celebrate a wonderful visit and the return of Trixie's magic.
As much as she liked this new-found sense of belonging and kinship, the magician could not deny her calling. "What do you mean, you're not staying!?" Twilight cried three days after the incident. "The library is big enough to hold you... if it's because you don't want to stay here with me, we can go see the Mayor. I'm sure she'd be happy to find a place for you."
"It's not that simple," she calmly replied. "Your place is here with your books. I just... I'm not ready to be tied down to a single place. Maybe one day I'll come back to stay, but not for a long time yet. I'm a TRAVELING magician, Twilight. I can't deny my destiny."
It had been a struggle to convince her that she had to go, but eventually the learned mare caved and realized that she could not stop her, even if she tried. Trixie stood outside the edge of town the very next day, reflecting on her week and a half in the most horrible place in the world... and how it had become more precious to her than any other settlement she had ever known.
Never in her life had she felt more accepted and welcome. Sure, she always had her parents in Canterlot, but she was a grown mare and, well, the town seemed to resonate with her. So much so that the very idea of leaving tied a knot in her stomach: yet she had to move on and let the world gaze upon the NEW Great and Powerful Trixie, so they could bear witness to her awe-inspiring magic. Still, she could not deny that Ponyville had become her home.
"Are you sure you have to do this, Trixie?" Twilight asked once more as the rest of their friends arrived to see the magician off.
"Yes, Twilight. Like I said, you belong here, studying the magic of friendship for the princess. My place is upon the open road, dazzling the masses with Trixie's awesome magic!" she grinned as they groaned at her attitude.
"You just keep that ego o' yers in check, ya hear?" Applejack chided, still bandaged over her more serious wounds.
"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!" the azure mare promised, going through the motions of the typical Pinkie Pie Swear. Speaking of the excitable mare, she swiftly appeared beside the unicorn and gave her a big hug, babbling on about something unrelated, of course.
"Now, darling," Rarity started over the din, "Just remember what I told you about inner beauty and I'm sure you won't have to worry one bit about becoming that obnoxious braggart again."
Trixie smiled and nodded her head. "None of you need to worry about Trixie. There will always be a piece of her here, so it's not like we're really parting ways."
"Well, that's good. If we hear otherwise, we're going to track you down and beat some sense into that thick skull of yours!" Rainbow added snidely. Trixie nodded her head and smiled at the rainbow Pegasus.
"I'd welcome that, actually. Creators know that The Great and Powerful Trixie needs the occasional reality check. If any of you spot my caravan during your travels, feel free to drop by. It gets... lonely out on the road sometimes. Oh, and could you all please STOP telling Trixie to watch her ego? She's not deaf and she doesn't have a memory problem. Stop squawking at her!" Most of the ponies present just rolled their eyes and shook the comment off, used to the blue mare's smugness by then.
Fluttershy nodded her head and shuffled some of the dirt around with her good front hoof. She had not spoken a word to Trixie since she heard about how she handled the Manticore, but the others had told her that they felt it might have been for the best. She just felt sorry she could not find it to tend to its injuries than anything else. "Have fun," she muttered quietly when everypony else stopped talking.
"Well... if you're really going through with this, then you forgot to pack something," Twilight spoke, pulling a purple unicorn doll out of her saddlebags. "I enchanted them with a spell I found in a book. If you whisper my name into her ear and then talk, I'll be able to hear you though mine." She pulled out her own azure plush doll, handing off Trixie's Bella back in an exchange of telekinetic magic. "So... if you ever want to talk, we can keep in touch since you'll be moving around and the mail will have a tough time finding you."
"Thanks, Twilight," the blue unicorn spoke before gently stuffing her doll under the tarp of her wagon and inside the trunk.
"Just promise me one thing, Trixie," the lavender mare added sternly as Trixie hooked herself into the yoke of her cart, after shaking off Pinkie Pie, (quite literally) of course.
"Sure, what is it?"
"Promise me... Promise me that you'll keep safe. That... that you won't let your ego get out of hoof."
Trixie snorted, groaning in frustration over the overprotecting librarian. "Twilight, if you or anypony else mentions keeping my ego in check just one more time, I'll backhoof you from here to Canterlot!" she replied in mild annoyance. "Of course Trixie promises to keep safe. I'm not a daredevil like Rainbow and I'm not a foal either. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going. Your suffocating kindness is making me tardy for my next performance!"
The lavender scholar nodded her head, remembering the show she had put on for the town as a way to thank them all for their new-found hospitality. The difference in quality between her performances at Ponyville was staggering. Everything seemed far more real and impressive. The azure mare wheeled her cart around, facing toward the woods down the path she came. She started slowly down the road, before deciding to speak again. "See you later... big sister."
Twilight and the rest of her friends stood at the edge of town, waving goodbye for several seconds. The lavender mare had almost not heard those last couple of words, as if she did not want anypony to hear them, but spoke them aloud anyway.
"Did she just..." Applejack voiced in recognition. However, before she could get the full thought out, the librarian interrupted her.
"Yes. Yes, she did." Twilight Sparkle smiled as she watched the magician walk off into forest. A feeling the likes of which she never experienced before flooded to the surface. For the first time, she had an idea of what it was like to have a sibling who shared a mutual respect and love for her. I'll see you soon, little sister, she thought as she reluctantly turned away.
Trixie trotted down the winding forest road, cart practically floating behind her as she whistled a tune she picked up in some town long ago. For the briefest of seconds, she thought she could see Hoofdini among the trees, nodding in approval over her new attitude. A smile crept upon her face as she took that as a sign she was doing the old coot proud again. For once, the future looked bright. For now she took up the title of 'The Great and Powerful Trixie' out of respect for the memory of her fallen mentor. Trixie did not need to hide anymore: not when she had ponies who thought of her as a friend. Not when she had a sister whom she loved more than anypony else in Equestria.
--- The End. ---