By Saddlesoap Opera

Appendix Three of the Pony Psychology Series


The Typical and Commonplace Trixie trotted glumly down the cobblestoned streets of Canterlot, her deep purple eyes downcast. The azure Unicorn's silvery blue mane and tail were tied back in modest queues, and a rough, dark blue linen cloak slung across her shoulders protected her from the mild chill in the early evening air and the faint drizzle falling from the slate-grey clouds.

Trixie blended seamlessly into the bustling crowds heading home for the night, standing out no more than a blade of grass in a meadow. She was one of them, accepted on first glance and passed by without a moment's thought.

Oh, how she hated it.

Once, not so very long ago, she had been a showpony – a magician. Stomped applause had been her food, oohs and aahs her drink. She had dazzled crowds of haughty fellow Unicorns, slack-jawed Mudhooves and flocking Buzzards alike. With the merest exertion of her magical talents, she had unleashed wonders upon the stage. She had shown the foalish masses what greatness looked like.

She had been a somepony.

Ponies had known her name – and cried it out loud in glee as she'd passed by. She'd been adored. She had lived a life of well-deserved luxury, riding the wave from town to town and gig to gig, the last bit from one spent as the first bit from another came in.

But then…then she'd brought her show to Ponyville.

In the months since the disastrous destruction of her home and livelihood in that backwater burg, she had been condemned to a fate worse than poverty, worse than failure, worse even than public humiliation:


She could deal with hecklers. Bad reviews came with the business, and a great performer knew how to either let them slide or put the neighsayers in their place. But the questions, oh horror, the questions. Those were a different matter. They were devastating.

Who are you? How do you spell that again? Are you new round these parts? Oh, are you a showpony or something? Why haven't I heard of you, then? Why aren't you doing a show now?

Each new face void of recognition felt like a sandbag crashing onto her back. Fame was fickle – every showpony knew that. What was worshipped one day could be forgotten the next night. Fads and sensations came and went at frantic speed, their passing unmourned.

When those two little morons in Ponyville taunted an Ursa into attacking the town, they'd done worse than give a certain purple showoff the chance to upstage her: they had made her yesterday's news. Without the clout to secure gigs in permanent venues she'd been reduced to taking odd jobs to save up for a new stage-coach, working for her obvious inferiors like some feckless common labourer. Like a nopony.

Trixie realized that she'd stopped moving. Ponies passed by on either side of her, not sparing a single glance her way. She frowned, pushing down a surge of wretched self-pity.

Just then, a fuchsia-maned white Unicorn filly trotting behind her and magicking along a large collection of boxes and parcels failed to spot Trixie, and the hovering cargo plowed right into her. Trixie tumbled off her hooves and sprawled on the muddy cobbles.

"Oh my!" said the filly, her violet eyes wide. "I'm terribly sorry!" She set down the boxes and approached Trixie. "I didn't see you there!"

"Of course you didn't…" muttered Trixie bitterly under her breath, her pride hurting more than her body. She struggled her way back onto her hooves. "My fault, I'm sure," she said, louder and more sarcastically.

"Not at all!" continued the young Unicorn. "Please, let me make it up to you. I was just on my way to have breakfast before delivering these boxes – would you like to join me? My treat?"

Trixie raised an eyebrow. "Breakfast…? It's an hour after sunset, you know."

The Unicorn blushed. "Ah…yes. Well, I only woke up a short while ago. You see, I'm actually a servant of…" – the Unicorn looked around, as if checking for eavesdroppers, and lowered her voice – "…Her Royal Highness, Princess Luna!"

Trixie drew closer to the white Unicorn. A Royal servant – this could be her chance to start rebuilding her connections! "Ree-aaallly…?" she asked, a hint of her former scintillating glory creeping into her voice.

The Unicorn nodded. "My name's Moondancer." She offered a front hoof.

Trixie took it, shook it, and faked her most sincere smile. "Trixie. Lead the way, Moondancer. Breakfast for dinner it is!"


A few minutes later, the two Ponies sat half-surrounded by boxes at a corner table in a small eatery a few streets away from the Royal Palace.

Moondancer, Trixie was relieved to discover, was not as dull-witted as most menial Ponies. She was still no match for Trixie's keen mind, of course, but it was refreshing nonetheless to converse with a Pony of some intellect.

"…Your Cutie Mark, you say?" said Trixie, taking a sip of her wheat smoothie.

Moondancer nodded. "Her Majesty says the Moon and Stars are the mark of a bloodline of Her ancestral servants – the Moon Herd." The Unicorn leaned, craning her neck to peer at Trixie's still-muddy flank. "You know, now that I see it, your Cutie Mark actually looks pretty similar…!"

Trixie looked down at her own hindquarters; the mud partially covered her comet-trailing magic wand Cutie Mark, making it somewhat resemble a crescent moon and star. Acting on a sudden impulse, she made a show of magicking off the mud to conceal the more subtle weaving of a quick illusion spell. Hidden multicasts were foalsplay for a magician of her skill.

When the glow of her horn faded, the resemblance was uncanny. It wouldn't stand up to thorough scrutiny – truly faking Cutie Marks was impossible – but Trixie suspected that Moondancer was not the suspicious type.

"Why, I think you're right!" said Trixie, feigning surprise. "We must be distant cousins!"

Moondancer giggled and clopped her front hooves together in delight. "That's wonderful! Almost all of my relatives live far away. What are the odds I'd bump into a cousin right here on the streets of Canterlot?"

"I know!" gushed Trixie, laying it on as thick as she could. "It's like…it was meant to be." She smiled broadly. "We should celebrate!"

"What do you mean?"

"You bought the meal – why don't I buy the cider?"

Moondancer frowned. "Oh, I shouldn't. I still have to deliver these parcels to the Palace, and later I have to meet with Her Highness…my day's just starting."

"Awww…now, don't be like that," pouted Trixie. "One little drink won't kill you."

Moondancer bit her lower lip. "Well…if it's just one…"


"Shhhure She's powerful, *hic!* bu-but She's also just so…vulnerable, you know?" slurred Moondancer.

Trixie nodded, and then magicked her latest empty glass over to the far side of the table to join its dozen-odd brethren. As expected, a seasoned showpony like herself had a far superior tolerance for strong drink than that of a simple chambermaid. That's it, she silently told herself. Keep her talking. Make nice. Get an in. Tonight the servants' quarters…tomorrow, the Royal Auditorium!

"Sometimes Shee gets this, this look, and it's sooo sad! If it wasn't sussh a no-no, I'd wanna give 'Er a biii-iig hug every time I see 'Er like that!" She laughed, and a deeper flush spread across her already-rosy cheeks and nose. She lowered her voice. "'Course I kinda did do that once, I guess…"

Trixie raised an eyebrow. "Ohhh…? Whaddyamean?" She cleared her throat, and forced the slur out of her voice. "*ahem*…What do you mean?"

Moondancer pressed her front hooves to her cheeks and shook her head. "Oh, nooo…! I can' tell ya! Iss' jussst…scandalous!"

Trixie's breath caught in her throat. A scandal? A ROYAL scandal? Could it be – one of the Royal Pony Sisters dallying with a common serving-filly? Imagine the leverage gossip that juicy could give! The thought filled Trixie with a feeling not unlike the sensation that had passed over her when she'd first mastered the simultaneous triple-cast, perhaps best summed up as:


"Awww, c'mon," Trixie goaded her, chucking her shoulder with a hoof. "You can tell cousin Trixie!" Trixie's horn glowed, and the piles of boxes and parcels around the table rearranged themselves into a semicircular barrier between the two Ponies and the rest of the restaurant.

"Okay…but this'ss jusst between us, right?" When Trixie nodded, Moondancer blushed harder. She leaned across the table, gesturing for Trixie to meet her in the middle. Trixie did so; both Unicorns' front hooves rested on the tabletop, and their noses were only inches apart.

"A few weeks ago, the Royal Sisters got inna fight 'cause of what happened wayyy back in th'day…"

"Go on…" said Trixie softly, clamping down on her excitement.

Moondancer magicked up her glass and took another sip of cider. "And I gave Luna…Oh! I mean, Princess Luna, a hug 'cause She was mad about bein' banished, and about how She couldn't do anythin' about it. Well…not until Princess Celestia showed up all…all…Oooh! I can't! I can't say it!" Moondancer's front hooves trotted in place on the table; her blushed deepened by several shades.

Trixie's curiosity and the hard cider in her system overcame her patience. With a furtive glance out of the gaps in the parcel-wall around the table she ignited her horn and focused on Moondancer's flushed features.

Smooth, feathery tendrils of nearly-transparent magic snaked out from Trixie's horn like pale ink spreading through water. As the spell enveloped Moondancer's head the white Unicorn's eyes grew wide and her pupils dilated. She gasped softly.

"It's all right," purred Trixie, her voice resonating through the magic now sinking into Moondancer's cider-dulled mind. "You can trust Trixie…

"Trust…you…" Moondancer's eyelids half-closed; she sagged, her front hooves splaying on the tabletop.

Trixie grinned a self-satisfied grin. She'd only ever used the maresmerism spell on assistants and volunteers before. "Yesss…that's right…you can tell Tried-and-True Trixie anything…" Trixie leaned in closer, looming over the white Unicorn. She was close enough now that her hot, cider-scented breath tickled across Moondancer's horn as she spoke. "Luna was mad, and she couldn't do anything about it. And then…?"

Moondancer was breathing faster and the flush in her cheeks was spreading, but her voice was a dreamy monotone as she spoke. "And then…Princess Celestia arrived in the courtyard…and She was…


"She was…naked!"

"W…Wh–" Trixie almost lost control of the spell. She indulged in a frown before snapping back to her enchantress routine. "…Why was that scandalous? The Princesses almost never wear clothes."

A flicker of resistance shone in Moondancer's dimmed eyes. "B-because…she…n-no…! Don't…don't wanna say…" She shook her head, and her horn glittered with a feeble counterspell.

Trixie scowled and poured more energy into her spell. The tendrils phasing through Moondancer's head brightened and thickened, fiercely gripping her like ghostly lavender talons. A shudder passed through Moondancer's body, and a single tear escaped her left eye. The sparkles around her horn snuffed out.

"You want what Trixie says you want…" Trixie whispered harshly, the resonance in her voice now lending it a sinister growl. "…And Trixie says you want to tell her!"

Moondancer whimpered and squirmed in Trixie's magical grasp, but to no avail. Her muscles soon slackened once more, and with one last soft moan her face lost all expression. "Yes, Trixie…" she muttered weakly.

Trixie smiled a self-satisfied smile. "Good. Now, tell Trixie about Celestia," she said, her voice returning to its earlier soothing purr.

Moondancer swallowed. "P-Princess Celestia was…n-naked…because She t-took off the Regalia of the Day-Mare. W-without Her Regalia, She was just Princess Luna's big s-sister – just a r-regular Unicorn, but with wings. I couldn't see her like that…I'm not worthy. It was just…wrong!" Moondancer shuddered again, and blushed deeper.

"You're telling me that Princess Celestia is so big and impressive because of her jewelry?"

"Y-yes…Princess Luna said that nopony can hate Her when She wears the Regalia. Only l-love her."

The half-mad seeds of a grand scheme began to bloom in Trixie's cunning mind. Perhaps if she'd had more gold to her name, if her jobs of late had been less demeaning and dull, or if she'd drunk less cider, she would have dismissed the idea out of hoof. But instead…

"Nopony can…" Trixie trailed off, and then addressed Moondancer once more. "Trixie says you want to sleep now, my informative little helper. You have a nice, long nap, and when you wake up, you'll only remember a strange dream you had about a Great and Powerful Unicorn named Trixie…"

"Yes, Trixie…"

"And smart, too," Trixie quickly added. "Trixie is also smart. …And pretty."

"Yes, Trixie…" Moondancer's eyelids drooped and then closed, and she slid down to nestle her head on top of her folded front legs. In moments she was snoring softly.

Trixie magicked open the wall of parcels and headed for the door.

"Hey…!" called out a passing serving-filly. "Is your friend okay?"

Trixie grinned and shrugged. "Some Ponies just can't hold their cider. You know how it is."

Without another word, Trixie trotted out of the eatery and back onto the muddy streets.


An hour later the Focused and Driven Trixie was snaking her way between artfully-cut topiary and the graceful marble statuary of the Canterlot Sculpture Garden, approaching the Royal Palace walls yard by painstakingly-slow yard. Rain still drizzled lightly from the dark grey clouds, but enough moonlight still shone through for her to find her way. The damp air was heavy with the scents of night-blooming flowers.

This is insane, she thought to herself as she skittered between two bushes and rested out of sight for a moment. The stresses of being lowered to labouring like an Earth Pony have clearly driven Trixie mad!

Despite her slow progress and the chilly, damp night, Trixie's heart was pounding and sweat shone on her blue hide. Her stomach hadn't been this full of butterflies since her first time on stage.

Somewhere ahead, she could hear the rhythmic hoof-falls and metallic clacks of a patrolling Royal Guard. She pulled her cloak around herself. Her horn ignited and she slowly faded into soundless invisibility. She trotted as quickly as she could past the golden-armoured grey Pegasus, straining to keep herself unseen and unheard.

In her haste she brushed a flower-filled urn as she passed, and the terracotta vessel tipped over and smashed behind her. The guard stopped and turned to face the sound, his wings raised in surprise.

It was only then that Trixie realized that she couldn't conceal the raindrops falling onto her cloaked form.

Icy panic splashed down her spine; What has Trixie done? she silently lamented. A Great and Powerful magician, doomed to languish in a dungeon! Or banished to darkest Pundamilia! Or both! And all because of some half-baked cider-fuelled scheme! Trixie dropped down flat on the stone path and cringed, waiting out the seconds before the guard would notice her and have her clapped in irons.

It took quite some time after the guard checked the urn and moved on for Trixie to remember to breathe.

Trixie released the spell and her breath at the same time. The adrenaline draining out of her system made her legs wobble as she struggled her way back onto her hooves. Trixie knew she was too cunning to be caught so easily! she blustered unconvincingly to herself. Trixie knew it all along.

She sidled up to the towering white outer wall of the Palace and cast a quadruple-strength variant of the sticky-hooves spell she used in feats of legerdesabot. She reared up and pressed her front hooves to the wall…followed by her rear hooves.

Trixie crept up the vertical surface slowly and carefully, concentrating on keeping the glow of her horn dim enough to avoid attention. Her legs were aching by the time she finally made it to the balcony of the tallest, most ornamented tower.

Trixie could still turn back, an imagined voice of reason offered. Trixie doesn't have to do this. Trixie could… She frowned as she heaved herself up over the edge of the balcony and onto its smooth floor. …Could what? she countered to herself. Continue to work her horn off in obscurity while showponies like Blacksteed and Hoofdini steal all the glory? Stay a nopony doing nothing, and slowly forget the sound of crowds cheering her name…? No. Never. Trixie would rather die!

Trixie shivered slightly, and felt a drop of moisture slide down her cheek. A moment later she realized that it wasn't from the rain. The sincerity of that last thought had taken her by surprise.

Her horn glowed softly as she conjured a sizeable black velvet sack. She magicked it aloft and stared through the entryway into the expansive chambers inside the tower.

"Okay, Trixie," she whispered. "Showtime!"


The Royal Princess Luna stood in a wide clearing in the gardens of the Royal Palace, tapping a hoof impatiently. Sunrise had been scheduled for nearly ten minutes earlier, but the moonless sky was still dark and Princess Celestia was nowhere to be found.

Luna was about to take flight and go looking for her older sister when a young seneschal trotted up and bowed on bended knee.

"Your Highness," said the mint-green Unicorn, his eyes downcast, "Your Royal Sister requests Your presence in Her bed chamber."

Luna raised an eyebrow. "Did my Royal Sister say why?"

The seneschal shook his head. "She did not, Your Highness."

"Very well. You may go."

Luna took to the air as the servant departed. She flew between the Palace's spired towers and landed on the balcony of Celestia's room. Immediately, she noticed muddy hoofprints leading from the tower wall, up and over the balcony's edge, and into the room.

"Celly…?" Luna asked, her voice full of concern.

"I'm here, Luna." The voice that answered from deeper in the shadows of the unlit room sounded small and youthful, without Celestia's usual regal tone.

Luna trotted inside, but soon stopped dead in her tracks.

Celestia was standing in the middle of the room, unornamented and unshod. Without the power of her Regalia she was barely taller than Luna herself, and her rose-coloured mane and tail hung motionless.

It was only the second time in the past millennium that Luna had seen her sister's true form, and as before the sight stirred up ancient memories and emotions.

"Celly! W-why aren't you…why aren't you w-wearing…" Luna winced, angry at herself for letting her agitation put a quaver in her voice.

Celestia put a front hoof to her lips, calling for silence, and nodded her head at the hallway door, where the light from torches in wall sconces cast the shadow of Pony legs through the crack at the bottom of the door. Somepony – a servant-filly most likely – was eavesdropping.

"I am feeling…unwell," Celestia said, and gestured to the polished wooden vanity where her Regalia usually sat overnight – now empty.

Luna's jaw dropped and her wings spread in silent shock, but she forced herself to play along. "O-oh! I…I'm sorry to hear that, Sister! When did you first take ill?"

"Some time in the night," Celestia answered, her voice weak with feigned illness. "I'm afraid that I won't be able to perform my Royal duties in my current state. You will have to act in my stead, Sister."

"WHAAHH?" Luna gasped. "Celly, you can't be serious! I…I haven't…I mean, it's been more than…"

Celestia smiled and chuckled softly, faking a slight cough. "Oh, my dear Luna. Traditions have changed surprisingly little in the past thousand years. You'll find holding court and raising the Sun as natural as flying – I'm sure of it. Besides…the public needs to see you more often, anyway."

Luna struggled to get a firmer grasp of the past few minutes' developments. "Very…very well, Sister. I will do as you ask. In the meantime, should I send for a physician to help diagnose your…condition?" Luna mimed shading her eyes with a hoof and looking around as if hunting.

"I appreciate the thought, but that won't be necessary, Luna. It's just a case of Alicorn Flu. I'll be right as rain in a few days, you'll see. Of course, I mustn't be disturbed until then. Even the smallest exposure to this illness would spell certain doom for any mortal Pony." Celestia smiled a mischievous smile. Beyond the hallway door, the sound of a silver platter being dropped in surprise and hastily picked back up echoed off the stone walls.

Luna slowly shook her head in wonder. Celestia's social acumen never failed to amaze her. Even in a crisis like this, she was calm, confident, and mindful of spinning events to her advantage. Despite how implausible her reassurance seemed, Luna found herself believing Celestia when she said the matter would take care of itself.

"As you wish, Sister," said Luna. "I hope you feel better soon." She turned to leave via the balcony, but then paused and turned back. "It was good to…to see you, Celly." She smiled.

Celestia smiled back as her younger sister took off to go and bring forth the dawn.

"You too," she whispered.


The Shaky and Anxious Trixie sat on the dirt floor of her modest shack on the outskirts of Canterlot, staring down at the bulging black velvet sack.

Her heart had started pounding the moment she'd entered Celestia's room, and even now, several hours later, it had showed no signs of slowing down. If the contents of the bag weren't what Moondancer had said they were…if she'd misinterpreted drunken ramblings, and done what she'd done for no gain…

She fiercely shook her head. "Well…?" she asked herself. "Only one way to know, right?"

She removed her dusty cloak, patted the dust from her hide and magicked a brush through her mane and tail before sitting back down in front of the bag. No sense meeting one's destiny unkempt, after all.

She took a slow, deep breath, and magicked open the sack.

Even in what little daylight shone through the shack's window and the holes in its roof, the six Orichalcum relics shone like jeweled mirrors. They were exquisite works of art, and more than deserving of the label priceless – that much was obvious. But were they really…? Could they really…?

As hesitantly as if she were stepping into a pit of vipers, Trixie reached out a front hoof and slipped it into one of the gleaming golden shoes.

Trixie yelped in surprise as the relic clamped tight, adjusting itself to fit her hoof snugly. The metal felt cold and heavy, but it also positively seethed with magic. A broad grin slowly spread across Trixie's face.

She magicked the other three shoes upright and then hopped into them. Like their companion, they changed shape to create a perfect fit. Trixie laughed softly. The feeling of flowing magic was stronger now, sending pins and needles up her legs.

She magicked up the peytral and thrust her head through it, settling the armoured yoke around her neck. She gasped as it tightened itself; the pins and needles feeling spread over her entire body, and dizzying warmth soon joined it.

Trixie levitated the jeweled tiara and held it before her. Her wide-eyed stare reflected in its faceted amethyst ornament. She swallowed, closed her eyes, and put it on.

In a nearby meadow, a young rabbit was busying himself with morning silflay, nibbling at the dew-moistened grass. The day was shaping up to be a warm and restful one, free from worry.

It was, that is, until a shack a dozen yards away exploded in a blinding purple-white maelstrom.


Fluttershy hummed softly as she waited in line outside the windmill on the northeast edge of Ponyville, a sack of wild grains poking out from one of her saddlebags. Thoughts of fresh-milled flour and its conversion into nutritious pancakes danced through her head.

Suddenly, a cry rang out from the east. The yellow Pegasus joined the other Ponies in line in turning to face the sound, her brows knitting in concern.

A cloud of panicked birds erupted from the nearby woods and swarmed toward Ponyville, followed soon after by a small stampede of squirrels, mice, chipmunks and other forest creatures. Some of the queuing Ponies fled before the commotion, while others took cover. Fluttershy, however, stood her ground.

"Oh, my!" said Fluttershy to the advancing throng. "What's wrong, all of you?"

Before any of the terrified animals could pause to answer, a series of rhythmic crashes sounded from the woods and a massive shadow spread forth to cover the trees, the windmill, the cringing Ponies, and Fluttershy herself.

The Pegasus slowly backed away. Her eyes widened and her ears drooped as she stared up in shock at what had cast the shadow. A tiny squeak escaped her lips.


Rainbow Dash and Applejack trotted side by side out of the park on the north side of Ponyville, hotly debating the results of their latest athletic endeavour.

"Bein' 'ahead by a wing' don't even make sense…!" Applejack insisted. "Yer wings are right in th'middle o' yer body!"

"True," said Rainbow Dash, "but I slid over the finish line. Sideways. And my wing totally crossed before you did."

"Shewt! If I'd a known we were gonna count stuff like that, I'd a thrown mah hat across the line!"

Rainbow Dash hopped forward and turned to stare her Earth Pony friend down. "Hey! Hats are not the same thing as wings!"

"And just what's wrong with mah hat?" countered Applejack, flicking the brim of her Stetson with a front hoof.

"Nothing! That's not what I – rrgh!" Rainbow Dash turned aside in annoyance, and spotted a familiar Pegasus trotting toward them. "Ah! Maybe Fluttershy can settle this. Hey, 'Shy! Do wings…whoa." As Fluttershy approached, Rainbow Dash trailed off.

Fluttershy was almost sleeptrotting, her hooves dragging as she moved heedlessly forward. Her eyes were wide but empty, as glassy as those of a porcelain doll. Her mouth was locked in a thin, off-kilter smile. She stopped moving as Rainbow Dash and Applejack cantered over to her.

"Are you okay, 'Shy?" asked Rainbow Dash, her voice tinged with worry.

"Oh, yes, Rainbow Dash," answered Fluttershy in an airy whisper. "I'm just fine. Wonderful, really. And it's all thanks to Her!"

"Her?" blurted Rainbow Dash and Applejack.

"Oh, yes," continued the yellow Pegasus dreamily. "I'm much happier now. She changed my life! I don't know how I ever carried on without Her." She smiled wider, but her gaze stayed hollow.

"What are you talking about?" said Rainbow Dash frustratedly. "I saw you yesterday, and you didn't say anything about meeting…about a new…'Shy, what the hay's going on?"

"I'm a mite curious too, sugarcube," added Applejack. "You're actin' awful strange."

"I'm just fine," she repeated. "You'll understand once you meet Her, I know it. She's just so…so…" Fluttershy sighed euphorically.

Rainbow Dash inhaled for an incredulous tirade, but a sudden crash cut her off. Another crash soon followed. Then another. And then a massive shadow fell over the three Ponies.

"There she is now," Fluttershy said, and smiled adoringly as her two friends looked up and past her in terror.


Twilight Sparkle stepped out of Ponyville's bookstore with a satisfied grin on her face. Spike was sitting on her back, examining the tome she'd just purchased.

"I don't get it, Twilight," said Spike. "We live in a library – why do you need to go and buy books?"

"Oh Spike," Twilight answered, "you can never have enough books."

"That's easy for you to say!" said Spike, slipping the book back into Twilight's saddlebags and folding his arms. "You don't have to clean them all u – uhh…uhhhrrrr…."

"Spike…?" Twilight craned her neck to peer at the baby Dragon. As she did so, the area darkened as the market square fell under a shadow.

"Urrr…." Spike was looking up in frozen shock at the enormous presence looming up behind the bookstore. Twilight followed his gaze. She gasped softly.


A gargantuan bear seemingly made of starry night sky towered over downtown Ponyville, its scintillating purple hide contrasting sharply with the pale ivory shade of its huge claws and fangs.

"It can't be…" whispered Twilight, her voice crawling with fear. "An Ursa Major!"

"Don't be scared," said a familiar, gentle voice from nearby. "There's nothing to worry about…"

Fluttershy trotted into view from behind the Ursa, and stopped a few feet from one of its scythe-taloned paws. She was soon joined by Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Pinkie Pie. Behind them, past the Ursa, a throng of townsponies was following along. All of them – even the endlessly-effervescent Pinkie – had the same staring-at-nothing look in their eyes and the same beatific smile on their lips.

"What's wrong with all of you?" shouted Twilight. "We need to run! NOW!"

"Don't be silly!" said Pinkie Pie. "This is the best party ever!"

"No need to go runnin' about," agreed Applejack. "You'll see things our way by and by."

"Indeed," added Rarity. "Panic is so unseemly."

"Just go with it," said Rainbow Dash. "It'll be awesome!"

Twilight backed away a few paces and slowly shook her head. "N-no…I…I don't understand…I…"

The terrible beast leaned forward over the shop, bringing its cottage-sized head down to within a few yards of the terrified Unicorn. She would have cringed, but for the sight of the Pony standing on top of the blue starburst marking the Ursa's forehead.

"So…beautiful…!" whispered Spike.

She was a Unicorn, but nearly twice Twilight's height, with a rich cerulean hide and a flowing mane and tail that shone and reflected like quicksilver. Her gleaming spiraled horn came to a needle-thin point. She wore shining golden finery on her hooves, neck and forehead. A pair of delicate, silvery, enchanted gossamer wings stretched out from her back like rainbow-tinted silk banners. An aura of divine majesty and might radiated out from her like heat haze from a mirage. Her Cutie Mark, standing out in vivid relief on her flanks, was a star-topped wand trailing the glow of magic.

Twilight's eyes widened. "Oh, no…!"

"Oh, yes," said the awe-inspiring Unicorn before her as she hopped down from the Ursa's muzzle. Her voice echoed through the still afternoon air as she spoke. "For shame – have you already forgotten what you were told? You will NEVER…have the amazing, show-stopping ability… of THE GREAT! AND POWERFUL! TRIXIE!"

Trixie reared, threw her head back, and laughed a booming, triumphant laugh. Thunder rumbled from the clear sky in response.