Reharmonized Ponies POV Twilight Sparkle, "Turn The Other Flank"
Greetings and salutations! I am Twilight Sparkle! I know this seems gratuitous since you wouldn't be here if you didn't already know who I am but I feel it sets the tone for things to come. Or maybe I just want something normal and polite to anchor things down. Either way. A lot has happened since we last spoke.
I know you've all heard about how we defeated Discord and once again saved the world. But what those stories -won't- mention for the sake of the little fillies who read those stories is the weeks it's taken for the ponies of Ponyville and Canterlot to recover psychologically from the trauma inflicted by Discord (at least to where they can live their lives again). Yes yes I know, you've heard all this before but laying down the ground work like this helps me think.
And I did some hasty thinking on my part before.
"Twists and turns are my master plan. Then find the elements, back where you began."
In spite of the horrible -horrible- cost of my assumption regarding the Elements being within the hedge maze, I didn't really dwell on it long after. Discord is a -cheater-. What he did to Fluttershy is proof enough. If we had gone to say the Everfree Forest first, or to my old bedroom in Canterlot Castle, Discord would simply have had his 'game' there and if we had tried Ponyville first I -know- he would have simply moved the Elements somewhere else.
So I can not feel guilty for making the wrong choice when no matter what choice I made it would have been jury rigged to be the wrong one!
There is no such thing as fair play with Discord, the only reason we won is because he couldn't comprehend the idea of us forging our friendships back together. He was right. If Celestia hadn't sent me back my own letters to her, I'd have left Ponyville and my friends would have stayed their discorded selves. I shiver when I think of the possibilities of what -would- have happened after.
No, Applejack hasn't told me about -that- part of her visions she apparently had when she met the Princess (don't ask me how she had them) and I'm very glad she has not.
After Applejack told me about somepony who needed my help in Hoofington (after she had just spent the entire day apparently helping half of Ponyville) I had to say I was very surprised. When she told me who it was I had to help, I was even more stunned. Of course I asked how she knew. She said she learned about it during her meeting with Princess Celestia.
I still find it disjointing that Celestia would command an audience with AJ and APPLEBLOOM but not the rest of us. But I had no reason -not- to trust AJ and every reason -to- trust her.
And I was honestly more confounded on the pony who Discord had seemingly taken a -personal- interest in and thus had apparently not been cured by Discord's sealing.
But why her? Okay this IS Discord we're talking about. But while he was as insane as he acted, he was fully capable of being tactical when he wanted to be, and from all accounts, he had corrupted her the same time or soon before that Discord was picking us off one by one.
It made no sense: I know, I know, 'Discord' but seriously, when it came to breaking us there was a method to his madness. So why her of all ponies?
Maybe Discord knew about my encounter with her (like he seemed to know everything about us) and was planning on using her somehow as a plan B in case his first plan of breaking me through my friends didn't work? I doubt I'll ever know for sure, this is Discord I'm talking about and trying to figure him out is usually a waste.
You have no idea how much I wanted to leave as soon as Applejack told me. However I had responsibilities to Ponyville then and there including requested gossamer wing spells for traumatized Pegasi, making sure one of my friends didn't party herself to death, and being one of the least traumatized ponies in Ponyville acting as town organizer while other ran themselves ragged into their work trying to escape the scars Discord had left on them.
So after three weeks, and -finally- getting Pinkie Pie to sleep via cutting off her supplylines of caffeine, I knew I had delayed far too long.
Rainbow Dash -really- wanted to tell me something before I left. I had to tell her it would have to wait until I got back sadly. She looked very crestfallen at that. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but I saw how awful my friends were when they were tainted by Discord for (effectively) a day! A pony who had been that way for the better part of a month? I don't know if I was being oblivious, compassionate, or egocentric, but all I knew was that I had delayed going to help her more than I ever should have. I know what the others thought of her and they had every right to, but there was something too painfully familiar in that stuck-up full of herself loud-mouth drama-queen for me to just turn a blind eye to her and just brush her off as beyond saving. And it wasn't like I was going to leave -any- pony to suffer as Discord's legacy if I had a say in it.
Rainbow Dash left looking none too happy and more than a little flustered. I really wish I had two of me.
"Rarity, I don't know how long I'm going to be gone. Mayor Mare seems to have recovered from the worst of it, but just in case I'm leaving all my notes and plans with you." I floated over the best looking saddle bag I owned (knowing Rarity would have been even more likely to complain if it was anything less) full of scrolls and books.
"What?" Rarity's jaw dropped.
"I don't know how long I'm going to be gone! Could be hours, could be days. If anything disruptive happens I need the most organized pony I know besides me. Spike is staying here and you know he'll be more than willing to help you with anything you need. Now there's a couple spell scrolls in there wired so any -adult- unicorn can use them so don't worry about Sweetie Belle getting her hooves on them too much, on second thought, do worry because those took a long time to make and I'd rather not to have spend the time to make replacements. They're mostly just for some spells I've been requested for on a weekly basis, hopefully I'll be back before-"
"Twilight!" Rarity interrupted at last her manners pushed to the limit. "How can you just drop me this on me? And I'd appreciate some details on this 'mission' or whatever it is you're up to."
"I told you before coming here I'm just going to help someone Discord hurt as badly as us... . you're my only hope."
"And you expect me to hold onto your things while you're gone and I act out any duty of yours related to magic out of the goodness of my heart?"
"Yes, Element of Generosity."
Rarity said in a completely even voice. "Blast you Twilight Sparkle."
"Look it's all just in case. If anything major turns up just have Spike dragon-mail me. I hope I'm not going to be gone all that long and I'm giving these to you just in case I can't be back in time for something unexpected."
Rarity sighed, "Alright. But I'll have you know that you're not the only one whose taken on extra responsibilities for the sake of others right now."
"I'm very sorry Rarity, but I'm pulled in a lot of directions as it is. I promise I'll be back as soon as I can!"
We nuzzled each other and I raced home to pack a few essentials. I wished I had been to Hoofington before, then with some intense effort on my part I could have just teleported there. But with nothing to directly visualize except a few maps I didn't want to risk teleporting inside the wall of a newly built gift-shop. Normally there were safely measures built in to prevent that sort of disaster, but the greater the distance the more likely mistakes could happen if you weren't being prepared for on the other end. Realistically I should have spent time trying to get Hoofington to prepare for my arrival, but there had been so much in Ponyville that needed doing, so very much. After Applejack told me and I accepted, Princess Celestia sent news ahead of time that I would be coming -eventually- to see my -patient- but I had neglected to organize my arrival. Yes, I have been feeling overworked, what precisely was your first clue?
As it was, Celestia WAS willing to provide me some extra fast Royal Pegasi transport so at least the trip there would be less time consuming then the trip back via teleportation (yes I figured I could pull it off).
"Are you secure Lady Sparkle?" One asked in a ten-hut voice once we were in the air.
I checked myself over, and wondered about the addition of 'seat belts' in the chariot but made sure I was indeed 'securely' fastened.
"Yes I am." I answered politely.
"Are you sure?" Asked the second one.
If I was a paranoid pony I'd think they were kidnapping me. "Absolutely."
"Then hold on please."
Hold onto what?
And then I screamed like a little filly.
These weren't the normal Pegasi troopers who normally carted very important ponies to and from Canterlot, these boys were born and bred to move like lightning!
The wind pressed my lips and eyelids open and I shed tears from the gale force and wondered whose bright idea it was not to install a wind screen in this thing!
These boys could have made the Wonderbolts if they wanted! Instead they had opted to try and give nice lavender unicorns heart-attacks! I couldn't really enjoy the landscape below or the mountain ranges in the distance due to spending the first few minutes screaming my lungs out that my caring and considerate transport were perfectly happy to ignore. Then I finally calmed down enough to simply hang on for dear life, even though I was indeed properly secured in the modified chariot. I swear on Princess Celestia's Cutie Mark, I did not cry out for mommy!
I will not bore you with details of being dragged along through the air at near Sonic Rainboom speeds. I shall instead inform you that my transport was kind and considerate enough to slow down gradually when we approached our destination so I wouldn't go splat against the front of the golden chariot.
Realistically I suppose I should have been -very- grateful that my ride was as swift as it was, I wanted to get there fast after all. But I was too busy being grateful I had chosen on a whim not to bring any unsecured, non-gravity-immune books with me as I normally would for the 'long trip' through the air.
For a second I thought we had gone in a big loop: a relatively small town with a much more impressive building almost overlooking it in the dead of night. Then I realized what I was seeing wasn't Canterlot, nor were the streets and buildings below me Ponyville.
I shuddered almost when I realized just how much alike Hoofington was to Ponyville. Instead of Canterlot overshadowing it in the distance was a fairly impressive magic school.
I'd learn later that while, like Ponyville, it had been founded by Earth Ponies, unicorn settlers and immigrants had long since supplanted the original population into a minority.
It was rather strange seeing so many unicorns among architecture done mostly in Earth Pony style.
Princess Celestia had provided an address and who it was I should expect. And I wondered, was this really where she had come from? The Pegasi asked if I was alright right after landing and after disengaging myself from that accursed chariot and after concluding I'd live (but not live well) they were quick to depart leaving Princess Celestia's personal envoy and apprentice in the middle of a little nowhere town this time without her best (and at the time only) friend to help her along.
Thankfully Hoofington was like Ponyville in another way, the locals were overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly (apparently having more of a night life than Ponyville), though I wasn't assaulted by a congo line of ponies who seemed eager to use the word 'friend' at least once in their introduction and lined up perfectly with the personality profiles needed to use the Elements of Harmony.
I've begun to wonder greatly if Princess Celestia arranged for my friends to be assigned their positions in Ponyville before ordering me to 'make some friends' where I'd have inevitable met each of them. It was hardly beyond her to go over the psychological profile of every pony in Equestria then pull strings for them to be assigned or moved to Ponyville. Though Applejack's family had been in Ponyville apparently for generations: both Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash had moved from Cloudsdale, Pinkie Pie came from whatever it was she did, and finally Rarity acted sometimes out of place among the rest of Ponyville's locals.
I didn't know if I should feel awed or played like a chess piece if this was true, but the Princess had never had anything but Equestria and more importantly its ponies' best interests at heart, and decided that if it were true I should just be impressed what a thousand years of planning and preparation could ... A thousand years? What about decades? Had Celestia chosen me as her student -in particular- for curing Princess Luna of Nightmare Moon?
I almost stopped dead in my tracks as I had a momentary existential crisis regarding fate and free will and really wished Spike was there to give me one of his layman's terms remarks.
In a flash of paranoia I wondered she had -bred- bloodlines for the express purpose of creating ponies who'd perfectly align with the elements before I stopped myself and remembered that the Princess Celestia I knew could never be so detached even for the sake of all of Equestria.
I breathed in deep taking in Princess Luna's cold night air. This was absurd, I had to focus before I accidently drove myself crazy. No matter what games the Princess played, I knew her love for me and those under her care wasn't a performance and that was enough.
Following some very kind directions from a random unicorn I arrived at a rather mundane house. It was not run down by any stretch of the imagination, nor was it in any kind of disrepair or destitution. But it just seemed so, normal, the kind of house you'd give a glance to and never think about the first time. It was not dressed up fancy nor did it have any quirky traits that would draw attention to itself. It was a single story home with a front and backyard and a atypical front door.
I -really- didn't like the idea of showing up this late at night (or was that early in the morning?) but I figured I had delayed them long enough, and I really didn't want to go to the trouble of finding a room to rent out yet. And maybe I felt a little guilty at making them wait as long as I had, and wondered if these delays had in fact somehow made her condition incurable.
I bit the crossbow bolt and telekinetically knocked on the door.
I waited a minute, wondering if I should just come back in the morning when the residents weren't likely to be angry with me when I saw a soft blue glow behind a window come to the front door.
"Who is it?" Said a strangely familiar female voice behind the door. She sounded groggy but not really hostile for having been woken up in the middle of the night.
I stumbled over what I had been planning to say. "I was told, I'm from Ponyville, I was sent to look at who was tainted by Discord. I'm very very VERY sorry for taking so long! I deeply apologize! And I can understand if you hate me but please, at least let me try! I really want to help her I really do! But there were just so many in Ponyville who needed help too and-"
"Are you Twilight Sparkle?" The mare voice on the other side interrupted.
I was shaken out of my mea cupla, "Yes I'm Twilight Sparkle, is Trixie here?"
The door opened and I was greeted on the other side with a light blue unicorn with a silver mane and kind violet eyes. "Yes she is."
"Trixie?" I gasped out.
The unicorn shook her head gentle and apologetically and showed me her flank which showed a pair of fairy wings connected to a book. "Oh no, I'm Nyxie. I'm her sister."
I recovered slightly. "Trixie, I mean, I didn't know she had a twin."
"Oh none of us are twins. We all just happened to look more alike then most siblings do. Puck and Robin don't look nearly as much alike as we do."
I tried to stay afloat the sea of confusion and incomplete information. "Puck and who?"
"Oh I'm sorry." Nyxie bowed her head a few times. "Puck and Robin Goodfellow are my brothers. They don't live in Hoofington anymore and aren't here right now though they did visit a couple weeks back and asked us to keep them informed."
"Who is 'us?' "
"Welllll~." Nyxie turns up her eyes in thoughts for a moment, "You're here and we're all here anyway so I guess now's as good a time for introductions as any."
I opened my mouth to question that logic as Nyxie floated a copper pot and ladle towards herself and banged them together in quick succession. "EVERYONE! WAKE UP! THE DOCTOR FROM CANTERLOT IS FINALLY HERE! FRONT AND CENTER! LET'S DO THIS!"
Throughout the not-humble-yet-not-grand dwelling the ruckus of ponies falling or jumping out of bed assaulted my ears along with noises I wasn't sure I wanted to identify and before the noise of the ladle had a chance to finish ringing in my ears I was staring in astonishment.
Three other ponies galloped into the room a couple trying to shake off sleep while simultaneously trying to perform some simple cartwheels or somersaults before lining up along side Nyxie.
I couldn't take my eyes off them! I was in a room with four Trixies! Okay, I had only had this nightmare once or twice before. The first being when my friends and I had that 'blind taste cook off' and I was very sure what I got was Rainbow Dash's cooking. Maybe the pegasus would wake me up soon.
"Sound off!" Declared Nyxie holding her hooves up like Pinkie at the climax of her 'Evil Enchantress' song. The others assumed equally Super-Pony-Rangers-esque poses. I could tell they were a few years apart in age, but I still found myself befuddled.
"Presenting Mixie The Eldest!" Her cutie mark was a a pale moon with the outline of a witch flying against it.
"Pixie! The Second Eldest!" A black and white pan flute.
"Nyxie! The Second Youngest!"
"And Lexy! The Youngest!" Half a tragedy and half a comedy mask. (But unlike another pony I had once read about these masks were black and white.)
"In attendance!" Shouted Nyxie as if calling out to an audience. "The MidSummer-Night Sisters!"
When no fireworks occurred I began to suspect I wasn't dreaming after all as the three other ponies huffed and slowly broke out of their poses.
"I still think the name is corny." Said Pixie breaking pose first.
"The name is fine it's the poses that are corny." Said apparently Lexy looking at her apparent sister.
Looking at four Trixies chatting among themselves was threatening to shut my brain down but I managed to keep going.
"So you're Dr. Sparkle?" Asked Mixie trotting up to me. I finally realized I was still in the front door and slowly trotted in.
"Erm, it's just Twilight Sparkle actually, I'm not a doctor."
Pixie was in my face a little too much in an instant. "Then why are you here to help Trixie? Nyxie just said you were the doctor from Canterlot!"
For some reason, I was sweating. "I -am- from Canterlot, and I -am- here to help Trixie. A doctor can't cure what she has. So that's why I'm here." She continued to stare at me. "I know what I'm doing. I've done this multiple times before without trouble. I'm, I'm sure I'll have your, er, sister back to normal in no time."
"Hmm." Pixie continued to stare at me as Mixie then pulled her away.
"I dunno, I'm starting to like her the way she is," Said Lexy sitting on her haunches. "She doesn't try to get out of anything we want to do together with her. She's a great listener now. And--"
"LEXY! That's not funny!" Said the three other together like was a conditioned reflex.
" ... Only joking." Lexy defended meekly.
"Seriously, you can cure her right?" Nyxie asked almost pleading with rather un-Trixie-like big eyes.
"I'm absolute sure I can." I said with as much confidence as I could muster. "But I'm sad I say I wasn't given many details. What is she like now?"
"She's like a doll." Mixie said flatly.
My addled brain responded on its own. "She likes dressing up and tea parties?"
"No." Mixie responded a tiny bit harshly. "I mean like a -doll-. She barely responds to anything! Pixie has to keep an eye on her to make sure she feeds herself. And when we can get her to respond to anything, she goes through the motions like a -robot!- We're just lucky she can still go to the little filly's room by herself! Talking to her is like talking to a rock that happened to look like my little sister."
Trying to process all this information at once, I grasped at the last thing. "Little sister?"
"Trixie is in the middle." Pixie offered helpfully.
I managed to file away that piece of information. I think I was beginning to understand something, but I wasn't sure what. The overnight trip without sleep from Ponyville to here was beginning to take its toll as I spouted out the obvious.
"You all sure look alike."
"Thanks." Said Pixie politely. "When we go outside we actually like to hide our cutie marks. It's Lexy's idea of a joke. And the locals have turned it into a game to try and guess whose who when they see us ... Trixie never really took part."
"Unless I blackmailed her." Said Lexy.
"Or I guilt tripped her." Said Mixie.
"Or I bribed her." Jumped in Pixie.
"Or I just asked really really nicely." Nyxie said last looking at her sisters with an unreadable expression.
"Point is: she really wasn't a team player," Said Mixie simply, "but I'd still rather have -her- than ... what she is now." Mixie's face contorted in discomfort as she stumbled over the second half of her sentence.
"I'll get on it as soon as I-" I let out a very large yawn. My tiredness was catching up with me faster and faster.
Nyxie trotted up to me and nuzzled me in the face, "Maybe you should get some sleep first. I don't think ... Trixie is going to be any worse tomorrow morning."
"Naw I'm fine." I said before another yawn came out and my eyelids had mysterious begun to turn to lead.
"Uh. Seriously," said Mixie in a polite but slightly forceful voice. "We'd rather have you perform the spell or whatever you need to do when you're awake and won't accidentally turn my little sister into a potted plant."
"Oh don't be silly," I said my legs slowly taking on the consistency of pudding. "The only ponies I've ever turned into potted plants were my parents, and they so totally went back to normal afterwards. I think having me chosen as the goddess' Chosen One offset any chance of a pathological fear of their own child from forming. Which is really cool cause though I think of her momjesty like a mother to me, I still love my parents and my real mom too. I know I don't talk to'em much but hey, as a filly becomes a mare she's expected to strike out on her own right?"
"Right," said Trixie-With-Witch-Cutie-Mark. "So you're asleep on your hooves now. Got it. Lexy go get a blanket from the cupboard."
"Alright," said Trixie-With-Mask-Cutie-Mark.
Trixie-With-Flying-Book-Cutie-Mark led me to a nice comfy couch.
"I mean can you believe some Earth Ponies? I know their magic isn't as visible as ours or flying-ponies, but just because we don't use our hooves all the time doesn't mean magic isn't straining hard work just like plowing a field is dangit! You know what I mean?" I asked the four much nicer Trixies, not really sure which one I was talking to. And wondering where that thought had popped up. Likely the same place all these Trixies came from.
"Right right." Said Trixie-With-Flying-Book-Cutie-Mark in a voice that strangely reminded me of how Fluttershy spoke some times as I fell onto the surprisingly comfy couch and closed my eyes for a bit. Maybe I should rest for just a tiny bit after the party marathon with Pinkie, organizing the psychologist appointments for nearly all of Ponyville, casting that wing spell again, and travel far ... across the sky.
I don't know why, but, my dreams felt, 'incomplete' that night. Like they were just words floating in a black misty sea of confusion, stunted, uninspired. Not wanting to grow into complete sentences or images. And I was swimming in the mess of it. Was I really so tired I couldn't even DREAM properly? Maybe Pinkie Pie wasn't the only one who needed some rest whether she liked it or not. Maybe it was all the Trixie look-alikes I saw, but I did dream a groggy image of my filly days, listening to one of Celestia's one on one lessons. Except I wasn't alone in this broken half-dream. There was another Trixie sitting next to me, but with a cutie mark that was a color inverted version of mine. I know dreams are supposedly often a reflection of subconscious, but if this dream held any meaning, it was lost on me.
When I woke up the next morning (maybe, I felt like I had slept a week), the sun was already high in the sky. And I saw the youngest of Trixie's apparent sisters, the one with the mask cutie mark, what was her name again? Flexy? Bexley? Ugh. Who invented specialized words for personal names anyway? The vast majority of ponies were perfectly happy with compound nouns for names... . Right. Celestia wasn't exactly a common noun. Right: 'I am be dumb unicorn.' I'll change the subject now.
I just hoped I dreamed the part where I shot my mouth off last night (and digging myself in a very deep hole) were just part of my convoluted dreams last night.
Why couldn't it have been that dream with that colt I dated exactly two times when I entered the flux between filly to marehood?
"Good morning. You're, Laxy?"
"Good morning. My name is Lexy."
"Oh I'm so so sorry, normally I absorb details like a dry sponge, I didn't think I was -that- tired last night."
Lexy looked at me slyly. "Did you know you apparently sometimes spout magical formulas in your sleep?"
"I'm pretty sure it's impossible for me to be that tired."
Lexy shrugged. "Believe whatcha wanna believe."
"So ... " I finally remembered my manners. "Thank you for letting me sleep in your house last night. It was very generous of you considering how long I've let your sister suffer."
"I actually wanted to wake you up with an exploding paper bag, and Pixie wanted to some nice loudmusic to wake you up by, but Nyxie convinced Mixie to have us let you sleep in."
"I'll be sure to tell her thank you." I said getting up and stretching muscles.
"She's in the kitchen if you want, it's about time to feed Trixie anyway."
I wondered for a moment if Lexy had spoken like someone going about the routine of feeding a pet. Then I saw the pony's body language wasn't callousness, it was numbness.
"It's my turn to fetch her, hold on." Lexy walked out of the apparent living room as I got my baring. Now that it wasn't dark as night, I saw the house had clearly once been a dwelling meant for Earth Ponies, but had been modified since to service the basic yet different long-term needs of a unicorn family. Many things were placed where telekinesis was the only way of reaching them. I wasn't that shocked or really alarmed, families moved in and out of houses and different ponies had different needs.
"Trixie! Time to come out!" Came Lexy's shout. I turned my head and curiously looked down the short hallway Lexy had vanished down and saw her in front of a doorway which Lexy waited a moment before then pushing it open and going inside.
I couldn't help myself and went down the hall and looked inside the doorway. It was a room with three bunk beds and one single. The single looked like it could be, or had been, connected to one of the others if need be. But I didn't have time to take in any other real details as my attention got drawn totally to the unicorn Lexy was pulling out of the single bed.
Of all the unicorns I had seen in this house so far, this one looked and acted the least like Trixie. The fact she wasn't wearing Trixie's hat and cape had nothing to do with it. As Lexy pulled her out of bed, I saw indeed Trixie's cutie mark on this mare's flanks, but that just made it more jarring. The pony seemed to be constantly looking down, not making eye contact with anypony, her expression was a broken melancholy that never wavered. Then I saw how the pony moved.
I remembered a mechanical pony I had seen shown off by one of my classmates in Canterlot, with its halting movements and its stiff limbs, its lifeless expression, the way it moved on its own but with no life. But that pony had been tin plated, and I could easily see the key and the gears between the joints.
Here all I saw was coat and hide, breath being taken in and out, and those exact same lifeless movements.
I swallowed my gasp of shock and alarm and galloped straight back to the living room.
Lexy must have heard me, but she made no reference to it as she led Trixie into the living room. Trixie didn't even look at me though there was no way she could have missed me.
"Come on Trixie, Nyxie's waiting for us." Lexy said gently as she prodded along the pony with muted versions of her own colors.
I tried my best not to be rude, not to crowd Trixie and not to make it look like I was trying to keep my distance.
I followed them into a kitchen that Nyxie had some places already set, and had was just finishing drying a couple other plates.
"Good morning Trixie!" She said happily and moved up to her big sister. "How are you this morning?"
Trixie didn't respond.
"Well I'm sure you'll feel better after you have something in your stomach." Nyxie said with a smile.
The breakfast was generic scrambled eggs all around. I didn't mind it.
Trixie didn't use her telekinesis, I wasn't that shocked. Trixie used her face like an Earth pony. The other two didn't make any complaint about Trixie's apparent lack of unicorn table manners. I'd be told later they had tried exactly once to try and feed her manually, and her jaw had closed like an steel trap until they stopped. Lexy had apparently tried to simply close off her breathing passages to force her to open her mouth, but that hadn't ended well.
"Trixie this is Twilight Sparkle. She's the expert we told you about whose here to help you. Twilight Sparkle, this is my big sister Trixie."
Trixie's eyeballs barely shifted in my direction and I noticed it was like she was trying to soundlessly mouth my name but her jaw didn't want to comply.
"Er, nice to ... meet you Trixie." I said doing my best to be politely.
As I ate in silence and Nyxie kept trying to coax some reaction from her sister. I didn't want to look at Trixie but I could pull my eyes away either. It was like looking at some grotesque puppet show as a pony's body was moved along with invisible strings.
"So you came from Canterlot?" Lexy asked looking at me up and down as if trying to figure out some tell tale sign.
"Technically I came from Ponyville, but I was effectively raised in Canterlot, I've spent the last year in Ponyville for, er, personal studies." Admitting I was studying friendship was sure to make me blush.
"Oh I see. No need to say more." Nyxie said with a wink and smile and I had no clue what that was about.
"Where are your sisters?" I had to ask.
Lexy said. "Pixie has a rehearsal today, if you can call it that. And Mixie is out earning her keep."
I struggled not to blink at the esoteric answers from the pony who had only just recently crossed the border between filly and mare. Trixie acted as though she hadn't heard one word of what was being spoke around her. Let alone that the pony who had saved her life and at the same time shattered her carefully crafted illusion of being the greatest mage in all of Equestria was sitting right next to her.
With a full belly and not bothering with normal morning grooming I couldn't take it anymore.
"Trixie. Stand here please." I said out of the blue in a slightly forceful tone.
Trixie complied with all the obedience of an automaton.
"Stay still." I said as if she was going anywhere. Trixie's muscles locked in place instantly.
Nyxie and Lexy started and just looked on, daring to hope.
The memory spell conforms itself to each pony, making them relive the memories that truly mattered most to them and the memories that had helped shape them into who they are. Of course that's just the crude mechanical definition and isn't even fully accurate. As much I wouldn't be the first to admit it, it had always felt like to me that the memory spell was more an intense light and a strong wind, piercing the darkness and dispelling the black clouds inside my friends' hearts.
It had woken Applejack up from her self induced haze of not wanting to face reality. It had pulled Pinkie Pie up from the emotional pit Discord had tricked her into digging herself into. It had helped remind Rarity of what was actually important to her. And had it made Fluttershy remember why she cared for others (though I admitted something had felt very strange when I had cured her but I couldn't put my hoof on what). And had it had helped Rainbow Dash remember her friends -mattered- to her (again, something felt weird when I touched her, but it was different from Fluttershy).
I gentle touched my horn to Trixie's to get better magical conduction (like I had with Rarity) and let the spell flow from me into Trixie.
A thunderous roar erupted from the blackness, breaking the connection and physically knocking me onto the floor! I reactively felt my horn to make sure it was still in one piece from the backlash. It was.
Whatever that had been, it wasn't Trixie. Or I hoped it wasn't.
Of course Trixie's sisters checked on her first before me. Trixie shuddered a few times, but otherwise she was unchanged, her colors hadn't returned.
"What happened? Is she okay?" Nyxie asked.
I answered, shaken myself. "I tried to use the memory spell to cure her but ... something came between us. No, not between, it was like something pushed me out!" Nyxie helped me to my hooves.
"Trixie ..." Lexy's voice broke. "Come on. This ... this isn't funny ... don't, don't you -want- to be better? You do right? Yeah, yeah I know you do! So, so just let the nice mare help you please?"
She might as well have been trying to talk to a wall.
"FINE! See if I care!" Lexy snarled at the unresponsive Trixie her tone the complete opposite of her words. The younger unicorn left the room in a gallop.
Nyxie looked like she WANTED SO BADLY to say something, anything, but couldn't find the words as Lexy left. Finally she turned to me and Trixie.
"Are you hurt? Is Trixie hurt?" Nyxie asked politely.
"I'm fine. Trixie is no worse than she was a minute ago."
"I see." Nyxie whispered.
I looked at Trixie. This had not been the plan at all. I had hoped to be back in Ponyville in no time. Rarity was just in case. I figured if something here went wrong, it would have to do with me not being ABLE to cast the spell, or perhaps just spend some days helping her recover from being discorded so long as a way of saying I was sorry for taking so long (not that Trixie would have done more than complain but still). I hadn't picked out or CHOSEN the memories that had healed my friends, they had, in their own way, done that on their own.
And whatever had kicked me out before I had even gotten a hoof in the front door, was more than likely still waiting if I tried to make another attempt. In other words, I needed a new spell. There was the academy nearby, but I needed my own research materials more than anything and the best supplies could be ordered from Canterlot.
Things had gotten much more complicated.
I knew the smart thing to do would be to simply hand Trixie over to the experts, those with magic experience that outweighed my ability and power. To those who knew how a pony's head worked better than one who spent more time with books than with other ponies. That was the smart thing to do. The rational thing to do. It was also logical and practical, and therefore the Twilight Sparkle thing to do.
"How soon until all your sisters are home again?" I asked.
"This afternoon I think."
"I'll wait until then. I think my best chance for helping Trixie is to take her back to my facilities in Ponyville."
" ... You'll be able to help her?" Nyxie asked her eyes on the listless unicorn.
"I'm absolutely sure."
"Alright then." Nyxie said as if that settled everything.
And with that, I had told my biggest fattest lie since the parasprite infestation and made the most selfish, self-serving, self-centered, self-absorbed, self-important decision of my entire life!
And I was honestly not sure why I had.
I spent the rest of the day asking Nyxie questions about Trixie. Sadly, since my experience with ponies wasn't exactly the best, I barely knew what questions to ask! And not knowing what questions to ask is just about the worst thing when you're trying to understand something or someone. I did manage to squeeze out a few drops of revelation that weren't just dates and statistics.
Nyxie had Trixie 'make herself comfortable' in the living room, where she sat in one of the chairs and stared out at nothing like a filly's doll.
"Oh mom and dad loved us all. And we did our best to support each other as well."
"What was she like back then?"
"Well she always seemed frustrated over something or other."
"I'll admit sometimes it was hard to tell what she was thinking."
"I swear to Celestia, I've never seen Trixie look so happy as when dad said they now had the bits for her to attend the magic academy."
"The only time she seemed upset was when Mixie said Trixie would fit right in."
"Trixie wasn't doing badly in any of her classes. Mom said Trixie was upset she wasn't doing fantastic in any of them."
"I think we all realized Trixie had problems when she tried to run away to join the circus. Mixie told her we were five parts of a whole and we should support each other. Trixie snarled that was the problem."
"Her teachers were all disappointed when she began to abandon her studies. They were all sad to see her go. Our parents were just shocked. She ended up giving her scholarship to Mixie. She became White-Beard The Gray's apprentice."
"Of course we were all overjoyed when Trixie got her cutie mark! I couldn't remember when I last saw her so -happy-! For the first time in so long she wasn't sullen! She was producing illusions and pyrotechnics out the woozoo at her Cute-ceañera, she even got Pixie to think Pixie was a baby dragon. Yes she provided the entertainment at her own party, we didn't want to stop her."
"She just left town one day. She said her goodbyes and left. It was very sudden. It was strange too. It wasn't like her act was growing stale or anything."
"She visits, usually for the Summer Sun or Winter Night festivals, except when she thinks she can make it big in one of the larger cities that year, and she shows up for the occasional birthday. The last time she visited out of season was when she made it for Master White-Beard's funeral. She spent most of it hiding from the rest of us. She looked at White-Beard just once and ran out of the room."
"All four of us actually visited Ponyville a while back, we heard our sister was going to do one of her shows there but we missed it entirely ... Mixie was not happy. Hey. YOU said you spent all of last year in Ponyville! Did you see her show?"
I did my best not to put on some forced fake grin. "I ... only really caught the end of it. My friends didn't talk about it much but they were really too emotionally charged up about it afterwards. She left in the middle of the night that same evening so I didn't have a chance to catch a full performance." Please please please PLEASE forgive me for twisting truth like this Applejack! For some reason, this tasted worse than the bald face lie I had said.
"Too bad. Trixie really knows how to put on a show and she's a great story teller when she tries to be and puts more substance than glitter into her act."
I smiled and nodded. I decided I would not tell Nyxie how Trixie had created a complete and total lie of a tall tale of Trixie defending her hometown from an Ursa Major and had been spreading it from town to town to increase her popularity and had been passing it off as reality.
Nyxie continued to answer my questions and I didn't stop her when she began to go off in different directions that proved more natural and helpful then most of my questions.
"I keep saying we should join up into one big theater troop, but Trixie keeps saying she works best alone, Mixie doesn't want to be tied down, and Pixie's scared it'll seal off other chances for her. We've never performed all together and Trixie actually got upset when Mixie suggested Pixie and Lexy could learn a few of Trixie's tricks to spice up their performances. She left town that time before we even knew she was leaving."
"We didn't even KNOW she was in town! I was stunned when I found her! I was actually rather happy until I noticed how lifeless she was. I was worried she was hurt or something or was sick ... then Discord came to town and ... I'd rather not talk about that outside of family, sorry."
"I understand." I nodded simply, slightly exhausted from the extensive questions and answers session.
When the two other unicorns came home, Nyxie had taken the time to call two others. One was a middle aged black unicorn mare with wrinkles and a silver mane who introduced herself as Morgan. The other was an dark blue Earth Pony with a lighter blue mane named Gorlois. Nyxie introduced them as her and her sisters' parents.
I was surprised. But I thought nothing of it. That theory of mixed couples creating 'magical-inferior' unicorns had been disproved for over fifty years along with that 'pure-species' drivel.
All of her family took the chance to kiss Trixie goodbye. Gorlois and Morgan kept looking me in the eyes asking I was sure I'd be able to help their child but I never broke under their gaze (somehow).
Lexy was last, who had to be pushed to give Trixie a hug, she went though the motions but she figured if Trixie couldn't even tell then what was the point?
Of all the things going wrong, this teleportation back to Ponyville was on the last thing on my list I was spending time worrying about. And miracles of miracles, nothing did go wrong! No sudden lunar eclipse throwing us into another universe, no mind swap, no splitting us into our good and evil sides. In a simple flash of light as I visualized (along with some tricky mathematical calculations done in advance) where I was and where I wanted myself and Trixie to be. We were everywhere, then nowhere, then everywhere again, and finally in my library in Ponyville. I really didn't want anyone to see Trixie who didn't have to. The unicorn whose tall tale had inspired two idiots to lure an Ursa Minor into town might not be well received.
"Twilight! You're back! I'm so happy and-what is SHE doing here-?!"
"I missed you too Spike." I said to him as softly as I could.
The joy of seeing his de facto foster parent was rather disrupted by seeing the lying smart alec who had taunted and emotionally hurt said de facto foster parent, making Spike's head swim. "Twilight, I missed you too, but why is -TRIXIE- here?"
"She's the patient I told you I was going to visit in Hoofington."
"What?! Why would Discord waste his time on -her?-"
I didn't know if it was good or bad thing that I could swear I saw Trixie's head lower a fraction of an inch.
"Seriously Twilight! You said it was someone who showed all the signs of being someone who Discord did one of his one-on-one games with! I figured you were gonna go see Princess Luna in secret or somethin'! Not her! She's gotta be faking it! No way and no how that Discord would throw away his time on someone like her! Even he wasn't that crazy!"
Okay, that time I know I saw her head lower just a tiny bit.
"Spike, that's enough, you're not helping."
"I'm trying to help -you- Twilight! This is like you telling Pinkie that she was just jealous of Gilda! She's just bad news!"
Her head didn't lower this time, but it was like her expression become ever so slightly more blank.
I put my hoof down. "I said that was enough Spike!"
Spike looked at me in shock. I remembered how Trixie had humiliated Rarity during her show, and wondered if that was adding fuel to the fire for Spike. "Twilight? Don't tell me you're defending her!"
" ..." I breathed in and out trying to figure out what to say. "I spoke with her parents and her sisters and I've been observing her since this morning. There's no way this is one of Trixie's performances."
"Why? Too good? And they're all likely in on-"
"Spike." I said gritting my teeth in a low, calm voice that held back a volcano that threatened to erupt.
"Never mind." He responded meekly.
I sighed. "I need you and Owlowiscious to both look after her with me."
"What? You mean I play to servant-boy to ... uh, why hasn't she said anything yet?" Spike asked it finally dawning on him that Trixie staying quiet this long was as illogical as Pinkie Pie standing still for the same amount of time.
I did my best not to sound sarcastic. "I am fairly certain that just as Discord reversed the traits of our Elements, he reversed Trixie's most obvious trait, in other words, her confidence."
"Fine fine. Just cast the memory spell so she remembers that she's supposed to be acting like she's Queen of the World and throw her out the door!"
"I tried that. It didn't work."
"That's just proof it's all-"
"Spike if you don't stop it I'll throw -you- out of the front door!"
"Twilight! It's Trixie! Remember? One of the bad guys?"
"DISCORD is one of the bad guys! Nightmare Moon was one of the bad guys! She's a pony who needs help and I'll do my best to give it with or without you!"
Spike looked at me in total shock before finally speaking. "Twilight, you know I'm behind you one hundred percent on anything, but, I'm worried you're just helping someone whose just gonna hurt you for helping them."
"That's a very real possibly if I can get Trixie back to herself." I sighed.
"Short answer? No one I've met who breaths oxygen deserves what Discord did to my friends and everyone in Ponyville. And I'm not making an exception just because it's someone who cared less about making friends then me. Long answer? ... There's a family who want their sister back, they can't do it on their own. I'm the only mortal pony whose managed to break Discord's taint on another pony."
"Then just ask Princess Celestia to do it and we can get this over with. I'm sure she can do it while having tea!"
"What do you mean no? You really think she'd turn you down?"
"It's not that Spike."
"Then what is it dangit-?! Haven't we had enough complications around here already?"
"I know we have Spike ... "
"Then why add more to the bundle? Doesn't Ponyville have enough problems without you bringing in someone else's?"
"Because I already promised myself I was going to. And I promised Trixie's family. And Celestia's been busy healing everyone's scars in Canterlot. She -trusted- me to help those in Ponyville. And last I checked. That's where Trixie is right now."
"Fine. Teleport her to Canterlot and THEN she'll be Celestia's problem and not ours."
"Stop talking about her like she's not in the room Spike. And I'm not going to cheat. And ... personally? I think there's a part of me that's wondering if it understands Trixie better than others do. You're right Spike. She's a liar, a blowhard, a drama queen, arrogant, and just maybe an egotist who enjoys humiliating others but can't stand it when it's done to her." I looked Spike in the eyes. "And that is PRECISELY why I am going to help her!"
Spike didn't really have much to say after that.
So for the next couple of days Spike and Owlowiscious took care of Trixie who I had stay in my bedroom and myself on the couch (Spike I said I was -really- taking things too far with that one). Trixie was as quiet as a mouse, and it got progressively more disturbing. There was no way in creation that Trixie should be even more quiet than Fluttershy.
I researched everything I could about the memory spell I used to cure my friends, what information Celestia was willing to share about Discord, and I borrowed a LOT of psychology books after I had exhausted the ones in my library from various sources.
I knew there was no way in Pony Hades that I could keep Trixie a secret and I had no intention of trying to hide her if someone asked, but I didn't volunteer the information either. My friends were all happy to see me back and there was no disaster in Ponyville during my short absence. I explained the pony I was helping was staying at my place.
Pinkie Pie was still sleeping it off, and was that day after that, and the day after that! We were beginning to get a little worried. On the plus side, with the super intrusive Pinkie Pie out of the way for the time being I figured there was no way Trixie would be forcibly revealed to the others. I am the world's stupidest brainiac pony.
I explained the pony I was helping was staying at my place. I repeat. I explained the pony I was helping was staying at my place. And do I really need to remind you who my friends are? Fluttershy wouldn't hesitate to help just about anyone except Discord (and I am fifty-fifty on that one). Rarity would consider it just good manners. Applejack would be a good neighbor. And Rainbow Dash would want to see what the big deal was with all her friends in one place.
At first I reminded myself that Fluttershy was not leaving Pinkie Pie's side going as far as to ask one of the Cakes to stand in for her JUST long enough for her to fly home, feed and clean her animals and fly back at speeds that Rainbow Dash found impressive. And Rainbow Dash was counting the time Pinkie was asleep like her waking up would signal the beginning of something both wonderful and terrible (No jokes please).
And Applejack and Rarity's own projects and tending to their own loved ones kept them away ... for exactly two days ... Of course they'd coordinate their efforts to show up at the same time. Of course they'd be unannounced, and why not? We had an unspoken open doors policy with each other as true as a Pinkie Pie Swear.
Believe it or not. I did not panic. Nor did I make any pathetic childish attempts to hide Trixie from them. Experience had taught me the utter futility of such things anyway.
I simply led them up to my room and opened the door and let the cards fall where they may.
Rarity gasped in surprise. Applejack just looked on sadly.
Then I realized I had been a complete donkey this entire time. Applejack had been the one who TOLD ME about Trixie in the first place! OF COURSE SHE'D KNOW! I felt like crawling to Princess Celestia and humbly asking if I could restart my tutelage with her from day one.
The Princess was right, I really did need to stop pressing my nose so close to the books I lost track of everything around me.
"My word!" Rarity finally gasped out. I steeled myself for Rarity's tirade on what the tacky unicorn who had turned her beautiful mane she loved so dearly into a green worm infested mess was doing back in Ponyville. Rarity was at her side in a couple seconds and looked at me in concern. "What happened to her?"
My jaw dropped. So fast and so hard did it drop that the entire library shook. The fantasy flickered through my mind that Celestia had brainwashed my friends to be extra nice when I wasn't in town.
"She's the one who Discord hurt." Applejack said plainly.
"And she's been like this since Discord did the same to us?" Rarity asked in near disbelief.
"Yep." AJ said with no sense of humor.
"Twilight why haven't you cast that memory spell yet-?!"
I startled with the attention suddenly back on me and said, "I've tried, something keeps pushing me out before it can take effect. I can't figure out what. Maybe it's something Discord left behind as a going away present."
"Poor dear." Rarity said to the grayed out unicorn whom Rarity had felt garish just being in the same time-zone before.
Then I felt like an even bigger donkey. Spike had never experienced Discord's taint. Of course he'd have no idea what it was like. Myself and my friends KNEW what it was like for Discord to get down and personal on your inner strengths being made your weaknesses rather than simply snapping his fingers and twisting you into something wrong on a whim.
And Rarity was far too generous to wish that fate on anyone.
And it hit me twice as hard as I realized, Applejack had less than half of Rarity's manners, and her injured pride was harder to bruise but longer to heal. Applejack had been just as humiliated by Trixie taking up her 'anything you can do, I can do better' challenge. True, Applejack would -never- be the kind for petty selfish revenge over a wounded ego against an egotist who had already lost everything they owned. And AJ was the one who told me in the first place. But AJ looked at Trixie like she was simply a pony in need, rather than this being the upright thing to do in spite of her personal feelings.
But ...it ... wasn't like, they were being mindlessly pleasant either or treating Trixie like she was royalty. My head felt like it was going to start swimming and was going to forget its water wings.
"I can't say you don't look better without that gaudy outfit dear, but really this whole grayed out pale look just isn't you, or any pony for that matter." Rarity snapped me back to reality as she fussed over Trixie as if trying to get the unicorn to respond to the world around her.
"Ya told the others she's the one whose here sugah-cube? Nevah mind, dumb question." AJ said pulling up on Trixie's chin and looking at her in those distant eyes. "YO! Great And Powerful Trixie! How about a rematch! Just you and me! My Earth pony muscles and hooves against your magic horn! Come on! Show me whatcha got! Come on! Come on!"
I was impressed. Trixie actually shuddered on her own from that one. A gruesome thought occurred to me. That the weeks Trixie had spent this way, had simply killed her, she was dead inside, and this was an empty husk running on reactions they were talking to. I had taken too long. I killed her. I tore away that horrible image. -Something- in there didn't want me in there, which meant there was something in there to be got to begin with.
Applejack looked disappointed at the reaction. Applejack waved her hooves in front of her but Trixie again didn't react.
Rarity, ever polite, gently pulled me out of Trixie's vision and immediate hearing range. "Maybe we should hold a magic contest between you two? Find something Trixie excels at and you fall short of?" 'Besides shooting her mouth off.' I swear I could almost hear Rarity say.
Nyxie words about Trixie's rounded scores came flashing back. "I think, that wouldn't really work. Trixie seems almost completely cut off from the world around her. I think she doesn't even recognize I'm Twilight!"
"Well, that's no good." Rarity said with as much style as she could squeeze into a few words.
We looked back inside the room to find AJ on her haunches looking Trixie in the eyes. As AJ kept looking into her eyes, I was left in amazement. Trixie began to actually shrink back from her, and ... were her eyes misting up? Almost any reaction was a good reaction! Trixie then began to TURN HER HEAD FROM HER!
AJ didn't let her and had one hoof against Trixie's face. Trixie crunched her eyes closed and actually fell backwards onto the bed.
AJ ceased her assault and stood up and looked at me. "Twili', Ah ain't know nothin' about unicorn magic. And Ah know even less about fancy-smancy psychology. But ..."
"But?" I asked amazed. AJ's element was about the only thing I could think of at the moment that might have been a new factor that could have triggered a reaction in Trixie and I was going mad from for anything AJ could tell me.
"But Ah think what's been throwing you is Trixie, now hold yer horses! Ah mean a part of Trixie! Ah Trixie in Trixie that doesn't want to come out. A Trixie who doesn't want Trixie to come out of the nice darkness where she doesn't have to look at truth."
Rarity balked. "And HOW pray tell did you extrapolate all that from simply looking at her?"
Applejack looked at us intensely. "Because she was scared to death to look at -me!-"
"Applejack there could be a million other explanations for that." I heard myself say. Why was I having Pinkie Sense flash backs?
"Except this here is the one that happens to be true. Ah saw inside her Twili! No Ah ain't gonna tell you how. Ah barely get it myself! It wasn't x-ray vision or somethin' but Ah swear on great-grandpappy's grave that I could see, feel, or soemthin' that the Trixie that is Trixie is hidin' scared in there somewhere. Discord's disease has screwed her up BAD."
Rarity's eyeslids leveled to say 'No kidding.' I wonder if it was a good or bad thing I had sent Spike out on an errand. Maybe seeing Rarity showing compassion towards Trixie would change his tune. Can't solve every problem in the world. But as sure as Celestia I hadn't given up on solving THIS one!
So even if I got past the guardian, barrier, or whatever was blocking the memory spell I might not be able to find Trixie memories to make her see truth of the lie Discord had planted in her head? Once again I seriously considered simply handing Trixie over to experts who had more experience about how a pony's mind worked than I did. But I secretly chose to simply be a donkey again and continue on the path I was already down.
I knew that if Celestia found out there was a chance she would deeply disapprove and ask me if I had forgotten part of friendship was admitting when you needed help. I wonder if I was channeling Trixie somehow. But I couldn't shake the feeling this was -my- responsibility. Like there was something about Trixie I was missing, and if I turned her over, I would never find out what that thing was, and something VERY important would be lost in the process.
And maybe what Applejack had told me was the key I needed to finally unlock the first door.
"HEY TWILIGHT!" Spike ran into the room, "You won't believe--Rarity! Look! I'm sorry! It wasn't my idea to have Trixie here but Twilight insisted-"
"It's perfectly fine Spike!" Rarity said quickly, "So what has happened?"
Spike startled at the idea that Rarity didn't mind sharing a room with Trixie and managed to collect himself. "Er okay! But you gotta hear this! Pinkie Pie's finally awake!"
A wave of relief rushed through us all. It felt so good. That was one less thing to worry about. One less friend who we had to wonder about. And one more friend we could count on and one more friend who was there.
"Spike. You look after Trixie. Guys? Wanna join me in a visit to Sugercube Corner?"
"You have'ta ask Sugahcube?" Applejack said as the other two ponies galloped out of the room.
Spike of course would protest. "Now hold on, Pinkie's my teammate too and-"
"I promise I'll be back as soon as I can." I said and didn't waste anymore time. Though I found myself wondering if I was talking to Spike or Trixie.
To Be Continued immediately in the next part. 'True Healing' get ready for plenty of surprises and maybe some heart warming. You decide. www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnsIhx…