Trixie grumbled to herself a series of phrases that were not meant to be said in public. Of course, she could have yelled it out with a megaphone for all the audience in front of her seemed to care. In fact, she couldn’t even call this…this “crowd” an audience for the complete and utter lack of attention they were giving her. Her eyes scanned the crowd for any sign that somepony, anypony was actually looking at her, but all she was met with was a colorful display of the back of everypony’s head.
She took a deep breath in an attempt to suppress the growing annoyance with the situation at hoof. Sure, everything seemed like it would be perfect for her. The day was absolutely lovely; the sun was bright and shiny, and there didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky. And when she wandered into this town and saw a giant crowd gathering, well, she couldn’t resist the urge to put on a show. Catching their attention, however, was proving a more difficult challenge than she thought it would.
“Okay, fine, make the Great and Powerful Trixie work for it. But after this next trick you’ll never want to take your eyes off Trixie ever again!”
Spreading her legs apart just enough to brace herself, Trixie channeled every last bit of magic she could draw upon into her horn. Soon it began to glow brightly with the pale, blue aura of the unicorn mare, whose eyes were closed in absolute concentration. Her mind wracked itself for something big, something that just simply could not be ignored.
Several seconds later, Trixie herself began to glow as the illusion took place. Of course, to the onlookers it would look more as if Trixie was getting bigger, bulkier, and hairier as her equine form shifted into something more ursine. The sparkly dust design of her cutie mark began to shift and grow to cover the growing body, the small sparkles growing and twinkling like little stars against the darkening blue fur. Of course, the real Trixie was simply hiding within the illusion’s dark colors, which also kept her from seeing the audience as well. She doubted that the illusionary nature would be that much of a comfort when the sudden roar of an Ursa Minor echoed throughout the town square.
Exhausted but horn still glowing as she kept up the illusion, Trixie waited patiently for her favorite sound in the entire world: applause. When a moment passed with nothing but the sound of her own panting, she thought that the crowd had simply been stunned into silence. The sudden roar of laughter, however, made Trixie a little less certain that she was getting the positive reaction she had wanted.
“Hey look, we got another Ursa to ‘vanquish,’” a stallion yelled out in between fits of laughter.
“Yeah, and maybe this time it will stay out of town,” a mare’s voice added.
Trixie quickly faded the illusion away, not wanting to waste the magic on the ungrateful naysayers. With the last of it gone she could see the real target of the audience’s attention. It just had to be that lavender coated unicorn, Twilight Sparkle. She was just sitting at a table eating an oatburger in apparently the messiest way possible, her face completely slathered in ketchup. As far as the awestruck looks on the faces of the crowd were concerned, however, one would think her to be as majestic as Princess Celestia. Of course, with her recent ascension to alicornhood that comparison wasn’t exactly off either.
Taking a deep breath to regain composure, she turned her attention to the hecklers.
“Oh ha ha, Trixie gets it. Trixie failed to beat an Ursa Minor and ran out of town, so let’s throw that back in her face!” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“Oh yeah, what are you going to do about it? Trap us in a fishbowl again?” another stallion said, causing the small group of ponies around to laugh.
“Trixie already apologized for that, and she wasn’t exactly in her right mind,” she yelled, giving them a glare.
“Wouldn’t that require you to be in the right mind in the first place?” the stallion replied before laughing again.
Trixie simply glared at the stallion, but before she could say anything they started turning their attention back to Twilight. The alicorn was blissfully unaware of the attention she was getting as she levitated a soda for a sip, causing a slurping noise to ring out amongst the crowd.
“All she’s doing is drinking a soda! What’s so great and powerful about that!?” Trixie said, pressing a foreleg onto her forehead in hopes of relieving her growing headache.
“Well darling, to you it may just be ‘enjoying a soda,’ but to us she’s the Element of Magic and the newest alicorn princess, enjoying a soda,” some white coated unicorn with way too curly a mane responded. Trixie recognized the pony, but she couldn’t quite put a name to her.
”Such grace, such refinement, such poise! A ratty old showmare like you simply doesn’t have the elegance to understand.”
“She’s covered in ketchup from head to hoof!” Trixie yelled back, ”It’s like she’s never even heard of a napkin!”
But apparently at this time the crowd had turned back to admiring Twilight, who apparently had moved on from the soda to enjoying her fries. Trixie continued to yell out at the crowd, but the more she did the more obvious it was that they decided to ignore her. She yelled, shouted, insulted, and even levitated some pebbles at their heads, but they were all simply too enraptured with Twilight to apparently care. Finally, having enough of it, Trixie stomped her hoof so hard that she left a crack in her stage.
“Fine! Keep your precious Twilight. So what if she’s the Element of Magic and Trixie barely passed magic school!” she shouted, her voice starting to waver. “A-and who cares if she’s an alicorn princess who can stop an Ursa Minor all by herself. T-Trixie’s….Trixie’s…”
A half-bit conpony
A ratty old showmare
“T-Trixie’s a nopony…” she finished, the anger gone as she stood there quivering, trying to hold back tears.
Who was she to try and compete with Twilight Sparkle in the first place? Trixie wasn’t an Element of Harmony. Trixie was never the personal student of a princess. And Trixie was definitely not an alicorn princess. She couldn’t even stand up to an Ursa Minor, a feat Twilight had done ages ago and could probably do in her sleep after her fancy schmancy upgrade.
Trixie simply slumped to the stage floor, not feeling a desire to even bother anymore. As she laid there, the world around her began to fade, as if it was slowly disappearing. But before she did, she swore she saw a dark-coated pony, face covered by a black cloak, watching her from the crowd. For a brief moment, Trixie reached out towards it, as if compelled to interact with this pony who had started to fly up and towards her.
Then the world turned dark.
Trixie bolted upwards, sweat dripping down her muzzle as she struggled to catch her breath. She glanced around the interior of her wagon, half expecting to see the mocking faces of the crowd from her nightmares. Instead, she found herself barely able to make out the sight of the covers that had fallen haphazardly onto the floorboards below. Even if she could barely see, she was sure that there was no pony else in there with her; no mocking crowds, no alicorn Twilight Sparkle, and definitely not that mysterious figure.
Grumbling, she rolled and twisted until she heard the clunking of her hooves hitting the floor. Floundering in the dark a bit, she eventually brushed up against the window/stage curtains and pulled them aside. She had to wince a bit at the full moon sitting high up in the sky.
With a sigh, she closed the curtains again, and resigned herself to this being yet another sleepless night for the Great and Powerful Trixie. Like clockwork, her horn glowed as she channeled magic through it, a small burst of energy shooting towards the magic-powered lantern that sat attached to her roof. A barely audible hum could be heard as her magic worked through the focus crystal inside the lantern, warming it up until it began to glow with a yellow-orange hue reminiscent of candlelight. Sure she could use a candle, but why do that when you had magic? Besides, it was much safer. Crystals didn’t risk setting your wagon-home on fire after all.
Now that she had some light, she could better make out the interior of her wagon. There wasn’t much in it; she had enough room for supplies, some stage equipment, and a small bookshelf for whatever she could scrounge up for reading on her travels. But her eye settled on something in particular: a newspaper clip she had taped to the wall.
“’Equestria Celebrates the Coronation of Princess Twilight Sparkle’,” she mumbled to herself as she read the now quite familiar headline to herself yet again.
The coronation had been a few months ago, and Trixie remembered that day well. It helped that she had been in Canterlot at the time, hoping to take advantage of the crowds gathered there for the celebrations to make a good couple of bits. Oh, and to support Twilight, of course. After all, they had separated on rather cordial terms after the whole Alicorn Amulet incident several months back. Even in these nightmares, Trixie noticed she didn’t seem to put much blame on Twilight for the actions of others.
So what, then, was causing her to have these nightmares? Her shows that day had been okay, even if everypony was distracted by the coronation, among other issues. But that was to be expected; no matter how “great and powerful” she was, there was no way she was going to upstage an alicorn princess.
“That’s the problem,” she muttered as she laid on her bed. After realizing what she said, however, she shook her head; those weren’t thoughts she was supposed to have. Good friends didn’t think that about each other, right?
On a purely theoretical level Trixie thought she understood this whole friendship thing. You were supposed to be glad of the accomplishments of your friends, and she considered Twilight Sparkle a friend. A rival at the same time, yes, but it was a friendly rivalry. Furthermore, Trixie was proud of Twilight for what she had done; she was one of what, two new alicorns since Luna and Celestia? The other was that Princess Cadence, of course, but Trixie hadn’t personally battled her in a duel so she didn’t care all that much about her.
Yet thinking about that brought not only pride in her friend, but also this intense feeling of…jealousy was about the only word to describe it really, and Trixie really hated admitting even that much. She shouldn’t feel that way and yet every time she saw something in the news about Twilight’s princesshood Trixie felt a mixture of pride, envy, and utter annoyance at the whole situation.
It didn’t help any either that even after all this time, she would still have ponies heckling her show about the Ursa Minor incident, though they had drastically reduced the teasing about that. Instead, her recent bit of madness with that amulet and trapping an entire city in a fishbowl opened up a whole new avenue for hecklers. Oddly enough, Trixie appreciated those a little more than the ponies who simply avoided her shows in fear of her. Hecklers she could challenge to a duel; ponies that spread stories about her being dangerous and crazy weren’t so easily handled.
With another sigh, Trixie levitated over the newspaper she had bought in town that she had not yet gotten the chance to read. All this thinking about Twilight wasn’t going to help her with getting back to sleep, but the news would probably help. Upon unravelling it, however, she glared as she found herself faced with a picture of Twilight Sparkle eating a hamburger and surrounded by fillies. The foals of Ponyville had started stalking her or something, but the details were lost to Trixie as the newspaper was crumbled up and ejected from her wagon, lost to the night.
Apparently Trixie was definitely not going to get to sleep tonight.
As the dream world faded back into the darkness of the night, Luna slowly blinked her eyes in mild confusion. She was quite surprised to find that she had been evicted out of the showmare’s dream and returned back to her chambers in the real world. It had been a long time since such a thing had occurred. Normally, it was her that would end the dream, and only after helping guide the pony through whatever it was that had been troubling them. To have failed to even make contact like she had, well, that was troublesome.
Luna shifted from her position on the bed, taking a moment to stretch her out a bit. Even after all the time it took to find a comfortable position to take her walks through dreams, returning back to her physical body always felt stiff and confining. Once she felt loose and limber she gently stepped onto the stone floors, making her way to the balcony.
The moon was out in its full glory, with not a cloud to be seen as per her request to the Canterlot weather service. It was a little concerning to see that it was the height of its majesty, if only because it meant that the mare whose nightmare she had witnessed was in for a rough night. The emotions that a nightmare such as that one would bring up in the mare were beyond the simple fright of a monster. Luna truly doubted that the mare would sleep again tonight, a doubt that was born out of her own experiences.
Glancing up at the moon, her memory drifted toward one of the darker periods of her life, when it was not a thing of serene beauty but a prison for the dreaded “Mare in the Moon.” Even now, long after the events of her escape and redemption, she shuddered at the thought of the monster she had become, that “Nightmare Moon” who had tried to plunge Equestria into eternal darkness. Yet while rejecting what she had become, she had to also accept the emotions that had led to her fall in the first place: jealousy, anger, lashing out a world that she felt perpetually cast her in the shadow of her sister.
The same emotions that she could sense coming from this Great and Powerful Trixie. Sure, she had a thick coat of bravado to hide it, but Luna could sense that underneath it all was great pain. After all, the crowd wasn’t real, but a reflection of Trixie’s own subconscious thoughts and feelings, feelings that had just begun to break her by the dream’s end. It was just an unfortunate twist of fate that Luna had not acted in time and allowed Trixie to wake up before an intervention could occur.
Yet, as much it pained her to think so, Luna didn’t think immediately locating Trixie and speaking to her directly was the best option. It would be an easy enough task to accomplish, but there had been something about the dream she found odd, something that needed to be investigated before she could truly help the showmare. It was hard to miss the presence of Twilight Sparkle in the dream; the crowd made that quite clear. Obviously, then, Trixie and Twilight had a history of sorts, a history that she would need to explore in order to understand the whole story.
We shall have to ask our sister about whether she recognizes this Trixie from Twilight’s reports once she awakens.
With one last glance to the moon, Luna made her way back to her bed. While Trixie’s dream was most troubling indeed, there was nothing she could do about it until morning. The other ponies that twisted and turned in terror at night would need her help until then.