Sometimes, Twilight reflected as the chariot sped towards Ponyville, it was nice to know there was somepony who'd been with you for a substantial minority of your life and who was willing to support you. That was especially relevant now, heading for an assignment she couldn't help but feel was some kind of make-work.
On the other hand, given her fellow passengers, it was probably justifiable. They'd already more or less read everything in the library between the three of them, and it was getting harder to stop the other two from… experimenting.
Occasionally with fire.
As Twilight stepped out of the chariot into the town that would be her new home, a grey mare approached her.
"Ah, you must be the Princess' envoy to our humble town? We received word that you were coming to oversee preparations. It's not every year that the Summer Sun celebration is centred here, after all."
"Actually, no. I'm the new librarian." The lavender unicorn pointed behind her. "That's her."
With a bang, a sky blue unicorn wearing a magician's hat and cape appeared in a cloud of smoke. "It is I! The great and powerful Trixie, Special Envoy to her Majesty Princess Celestia!"
Twilight leant in to the mayor. "She does this a lot. I tend to tune it out."
"So! What is the first item on the agenda, my assistant?"
The "assistant" gave a long suffering sigh, and levitated a clipboard out of her bag. "Number one, move everything into the library. You're staying with Spike and I for now."
At the mention of his name, the dragon in question finally extricated himself from the chariot. "I still don't understand why she sent both of you."
"The Great and Powerful Trixie-"
"Or why you keep calling yourself that."
"Plebian. As I was saying, I was the best and only choice. And Twilight's here to do all the boring things like run the library."
"That's not boring. Quite the contrary." Twilight replied. "For starters, this particular library is old enough to have books from when the royal seat was in what is now the Everfree forest, including-"
"Yes, boring. You have proven my point. So, skipping the obvious step of moving everything into the library – by making Spike do it –"
"Which of the tasks will be the first to receive the attention of Trixie?"
Twilight rolled her eyes, something she'd done so often over the past five or so years it didn't require actual thought, and shoved the clipboard in Trixie's face.
"Just hang on a moment, Spike, then fire-send everything to me once I'm upstairs. That should get the heavy lifting out the way."
"Ah, excuse me?" the Mayor asked, confusion written on her face. "How do you two know each other? Are you really her assistant, or…"
"We're both former students of the Academy of Magic in Canterlot. The Princess decided to give both of us extra tuition after she noticed our cutie marks both symbolized magic as a whole. Trixie's personality is a little more… bombastic?" Twilight looked lost for a more appropriate term that wasn't insulting, "Than mine is, but we're used to working together."
The clipboard bounced off her forehead, just below the horn. "I asked you a question, Twilight!"
"So. What will Trixie have to do to get this two-bit town ready?"
Twilight winced. Trixie had said that very loudly, and a few of the nearby ponies on the street were giving them looks that mingled confusion with indignation.
Though one bright pink earth pony had looked around, noticed them, and promptly vanished off at speeds that would make most pegasi embarrassed.
"Well, we just need to make doubly sure that their preparations are all complete, for the most part. Oh, the first item is that we need to choose a food vendor."
"Trixie suggests shopping around."
The lavender unicorn blinked. "That's surprisingly… well, rational of you."
"The Gr-" Twilight tuned out the next few seconds – she'd got it down to an art – and came back in again on "-xie is always rational about rations!"
"Oh, nice one."
"She also thanks you for the perspicacity to notice her joke."
"Anyway, because otherwise we're going to be here forever, the first place recommended is Sweet Apple Acres." Twilight hovered the map in front of them. "It's some distance out of the town itself, but it should be a reasonable walk."
"Very well. Lead on. Just, do it from behind me or something." Trixie waved her hoof absently.
Twilight shook her head, a faint snigger escaping.
"And we would be delighted for you to supply the food."
Twilight glanced at Trixie as they left, thoroughly welcomed by the Apple clan. "Not that I'm complaining, but you didn't shop around then. Also you spoke normally and politely. I'm suspicious."
"Whatever cause would you have to be suspicious of Trixie?" the light blue unicorn asked, shocked. "Oh, and who was that other farmer on the map?"
"Carrot Top. Just over there… wait, are you-"
Trixie had galloped off ahead.
"Of course!" the earth pony said. "I'd love to."
"Trixie thanks you for your support." With an elegant bow, she left.
Twilight caught up with her outside the gate. "Okay, what was that about? Why promise the job to two ponies?"
"Because the results are going to be delicious thanks to the competition if they do find out, funny thanks to the shock if they don't, and interesting whatever happens." Trixie looked smug.
"Wonderful." Twilight sighed. "Thirty minutes planning a festival and you've already found a way to abuse the power you don't even have."
"Was there ever any doubt?"
"Knowing you, not really."
"The next item is the weather, and we need to contact the local weather team commander. I have to say," Twilight looked around at the sky, "I don't think much of him or her if this is the middle of the afternoon."
Trixie looked around as well, then teleported ten feet to their right with a bamf of smoke.
"What was that fooOORAAGH!" Splutch.
Trixie concealed her muzzle behind a foreleg to hide her grin. "The Great and Powerful Trixie welcomes you, divebombing pegasus."
"I'd hoped to get both of you." Rainbow Dash replied, getting up off Twilight's mud covered form. "But you teleported just as I arrived."
Twilight's head came out of the mud. "Bleech. You mean that was deliberate?"
"Well, the crash wasn't, but then when I was in an all but unrecoverable low altitude stall I saw you two newbies and though, why the hay not. I'm Rainbow Dash, by the way."
"Oh dear Celestia, save me. There are two of them." Twilight mumbled.
"Trixie demands to know. Do you stall a lot?"
"Well… kind of, yeah. But that's because I'm practicing awesome manoeuvres for the Wonderbolts!"
"They are awesome." Trixie allowed, musing. "Trixie supposes she can forgive you the laxity in handling the weather with that in mind."
"What? No we can't!" Twilight said, shocked. "We need the sky to be clear by tomorrow morning, of course we do, that's the whole point of the Summer Sun celebration! It's the sun rising, directed in person by Princess Celestia and if it's not done right then she'll think we were slacking off and then before we have a chance to explain she'll send us back to-"
A sprinkle of water dropped on her face from a tiny little cloud, breaking her out of her distracted rant with a sputter.
Dash glanced over at Trixie, whose eyes were screwed up in concentration. "Hey, you can do weather magic? I thought only us pegasi could do that."
The cloud disappeared, and Trixie panted slightly. "It is hard, even for Trixie, who is Great and Powerful after all. Perhaps you could finish the job of cleaning my assistant up now she has made it easier for you?"
"No problem!" Dash grabbed a raincloud, triggered it, then formed a tornado.
"There. Good as new!"
"I meg to mmffer." Twilight mumbled, then spat out the part of her fluffed mane that had gotten into her mouth. "Gah, that wasn't a pleasant five minutes. Anyway. The clouds? Please?"
"Yeah, yeah. It's not a problem, I can do it in ten seconds flat on my own. I only need the other weather team members when doing something really special."
Twilight frowned. "Ten seconds? Really?"
Dash shot off the ground fast enough that all the detritus on the floor followed her wake, and Trixie's eyes suddenly narrowed in intense attention.
Nine point four seconds later, the object of her scrutiny was back on the ground and strutting. "See? Ten. Seconds. Flat."
Twilight gaped. Trixie gave it a few seconds, then hoofed her in the left front knee. "Come on. You may be willing to stand around all day, but Trixie has other things to do."
As Twilight rubbed her knee with her other foreleg, Trixie turned her attention to Dash. "Nice work. What's the most impressive thing you've ever done?"
"Well…" Dash looked a little less confident. "When I was a filly, I managed to perform a Sonic Rainboom, but you're probably going to think that's impossible."
"No…" the blue unicorn trailed off, deep in thought. "No, I don't think it's impossible. When was this?"
"Uhh… about seven or eight years? I was in flight school at the time."
"Thank you." Trixie shook off her thoughts. "Anyway, Trixie hopes that you get into the Wonderbolts." A sly grin crossed her face. "If only so you have something impressive to do, you overgrown hummingbird."
"Hey!" Dash glared at her. Twilight pushed herself between the two.
"Don't worry. She does this to everypony. It actually means she likes you."
"Oh, really? I've run into that little excuse before."
"The Great and Powerful Trixie does not make excuses. Not even to Princess Overrated herself."
Twilight winced. "I thought you'd stopped using that one…"
"Trixie only promised not to use it to her face."
After a moment, Dash put two and two together. "Wait, that's your nickname for Princess Celestia?"
"Well, she is." Trixie defended herself. "When was the last time you saw her raising the sun?"
"We saw her do it this morning, Trixie!" Twilight looked a little wild eyed.
"Not talking to you. Asking the hummingbird."
"Er… I would have to say that I've never seen her do it."
"There you are then."
Twilight looked between the other two, then slapped a hoof into her forehead. "I can't believe you could even consider calling that a logical argument."
With a quick application of telekinesis, Twilight retrieved a notebook from a small bag. "Minion. That's a new one. Certainly better than the one you tried when we were twelve. I mean, guylight?"
"Silence! Trixie thought boys were icky then." She blushed slightly. "Oh, and hummingbird?" She leant in towards Dash, scowling at the pegasus' barely controlled snigger, and whispered. "Save a cloud for tomorrow morning. With how excited she gets, we might need to cool her off."
"Aye, aye, G&PT!" Dash replied with a salute, clearly fired up at the chance for a prank.
Then she broke down laughing. "Oh, you two are hilarious!"
The two unicorns exchanged glances. "Shall we call this one a draw?"
"Yeah." Trixie allowed, and they headed off for the next stop.
"It's decorations next, by the way. The final stop's on the other side of the village, so I thought we'd go here first."
"Impressive house. A bit strange, but then since Trixie will be living in a house tree for quite some time she supposes she cannot talk."
"And while we have a moment, what were you asking Rainbow Dash about?"
Trixie's demeanour changed, becoming more serious and even slightly solemn. "Twilight, she said she performed a Sonic Rainboom several years ago. I'll have to check, but I think if I do it'll turn out to be the same day we got our cutie marks. We might finally have an answer to what happened."
"Oh, I see. Then I apologize. I thought you two were plotting or something."
Her smirk reappeared. "Trixie never said we did not also plot."
"Right, I should be done soon. And you are? I'm sorry, darling," Rarity apologized, "But upon seeing your friend here and her dreadfully messed up mane I quite forgot myself."
"It is alright. Better that you should pay full attention to the introduction of the Great and Powerful Trixie!" With a series of small explosions, Trixie stood up on her hind legs and posed.
"Oh, did you have to get glitter everywhere?" Rarity said, leaving off helping Twilight to move the closest of her dresses out of the way of the descending cloud. "That's going to take forever to sort out. Really, dear, I mean-"
Twilight's horn shone through her still somewhat out-of-order hair, and a glowing disc of force appeared cupping most of the glitter. "Okay, I've got some of it, but-"
"Trixie will help!" Another flare of telekinesis, and the dresses that had already been affected shook themselves over the centre of the floor, then flared with a slight static charge and shed the remainder of their glitter load. "Just make sure you keep that amniomorphic spell up, Twilight. Trixie needs to replenish her stock."
Twilight rolled her eyes again, and moved a small bag under the bowl-forming spell. With a moment's mental effort, it developed a neat hole and the glitter flowed into the bag. The rest of the glitter on the floor soon followed, and as soon as the last of it was safely contained and the bag tied off Rarity relaxed.
"Please don't do that again."
"You'll have to excuse her," Twilight said. "She just... likes to make an impression on her audience."
"Well, I suppose if it's part of your style it can't be helped, but at least do it outdoors." With a conscious effort of will, she switched gears. "And you most certainly have a style. Dear, I must design an outfit for you sometime. I'm sure we could work something out for a magician's hat that framed your horn rather than hiding it like that."
"Trixie will have to decline that part, though the idea in general has merit. This hat is intended to conceal her horn."
Rarity looked disappointed, but rallied. "Oh, I heard you two were from Canterlot. Is it the new fashion there?"
"Hardly. It's because Trixie is a magician. And a magician's style is always to mislead – if the audience cannot even tell when she is doing magic, they cannot know where the magic is happening. And since many of the best magic tricks have the actual spell happening well before it looks like it is…"
"Oh, I see. Though… do you happen to know the fashion in Canterlot? I've always so wanted to move there."
"You probably wouldn't like it." Twilight said, with a hint of sadness. "Whenever we were introduced to nobles, they were just awful. You've already shown us more hospitality than we encountered there in entire years."
"I'm sure it's not that bad, dears."
"No, Twilight is fairly correct." Trixie said, thinking back. "A few of the celebrity and noble ponies were appropriately behaved to Trixie, but most of them treated their life as a big game where points were won for petty cruelty."
"Well, then." Rarity's expression set. "I'll make a better example for them."
"I think you just might." Twilight said. "Oh, is my hair done? Thank you."
The two unicorns walked down the path towards the Everfree forest.
"The turning should be near here… ah, I can hear something."
"Trixie is impressed. The birdsong is very well coordinated. She wonders who is orchestrating it."
"Yes, it is – wait, there she is!"
Twilight cantered over. "Are you… alright? Sorry for scaring the birds… er, sorry for scaring you?"
Trixie examined the yellow pegasus, now huddled down in fright on the ground. Slowly, and at great length.
Then walked over. "Hello. Sorry about startling you. Shall we start over? My name is Trixie. What's yours?"
"Pleased to meet you, Fluttershy. I like what the birds were doing. It's an unusual talent you have for a pegasus, but you do it a lot better than many earth ponies."
"Trixie…" Twilight began, slowly. "Did she break you?"
By the time they made it back to Ponyville, Trixie was nearly back to her old self.
Twilight hadn't stopped grinning, however.
"Silence. You didn't make eye contact. Her puppy-dog eyes could make Tirek himself give up evil and become a vet."
"Whatever you say. Ah, there's the library. Hmm… strange."
"I swear I saw a light on downstairs. It's out now."
"Trixie expects it is probably Spike."
"Hello! Hello! Welcome to your welcome party! I'm Pinkie Pie, the Ponyville Party Pony Paragon!"
Twilight blinked. Slowly, she leant over to Trixie. "Are you seeing what I am seeing?"
"Unless you are seeing some kind of bright pink hallucination that appears to be made of living enthusiasm, then no. Trixie's incipient insanity aside, we are having separate visions of the world."
"Oh. That's a pity then. Because I am."
Trixie thought for a moment, then made a decision. "Go on upstairs. Trixie will handle this."
"Oh, thanks." Twilight made for her bed, determined to sleep on this latest madness. "See you as soon as you manage to get them out."
Forty minutes later, Twilight groggily raised her head from the pillow.
There was no real chance of getting to sleep. Not with the series of small explosions that marked Trixie's number 4 routine (the one with the Scorpius attack story).
Being fair, nothing Trixie actually said in that one was a lie. There had indeed been a Scorpius, it had indeed attacked Canterlot, and she was indeed instrumental in saving the place. But only by providing a targeting light for the local weather control team to drop a three foot thunderbolt on the monster.
The way she worded it was something like "And then, I called lightning from the heavens, defeating the beast". Technically true, but ambiguously worded, especially since she could do some weather magic herself which made it seem plausible it was all her.
Finally she couldn't bear it any more. Judging from the sound that the show was past the most delicate bit (where Trixie's intricate magic would probably go wrong if she added her own power to the room, even passively) she trotted downstairs.
"I thought you said you would get rid of them!" Twilight took a long draught from a glass of something fruity.
"Trixie only said she would handle it. What else was she supposed to do with a new audience?"
Then the showpony shot a dirty look at Pinkie Pie. "The only problem is this one. Now she wants to be sawn in half again. Trixie still doesn't know how she put herself together the first time…"
"It was easy! All I had to do was go back to the frames when you hadn't started yet!"
The two unicorns exchanged glances.
"Yes, I'm sure." Twilight finally said. "However, it's late – it's so late it's almost early – and we have to be up quite early tomorrow for the Summer Sun celebration."
"Don't be silly! Haven't you ever been up all night before? It's great fun!"
"Don't remind Trixie. The last time she stayed up all night was a late assignment."
"And it wouldn't have been late if you hadn't spent most of that time practicing combat magic instead! That's for palace guards, not students." Twilight admonished her.
"It's misdirection, large explosions, and leaving the other pony unsure what you've just done until you explain it. That is not just magic, it's the same kind of stage magic Trixie loves!"
"Sooo…" Pinkie said, brightly. "Are you two sisters? Because you have that sibling yin yang thing going on, and you have the same kind of cutie mark, and you're from the same place, and-"
"Oh, no, no. We're not." Twilight said hastily. "But we do know each other well, we've been at the same school together for, oh, must be seven or eight years now."
"Yes. There was an exam with a dragon egg…"
Twilight sighed; nothing. She'd tried her hardest, but she hadn't managed to hatch the dragon egg. Why had she chosen such a difficult test? Was she asking too much of herself? Had she missed something she could have prepared for better?
"Make way for Trixie!"
She turned. Another young unicorn filly, about her age, was coming onto the stage.
"Okay." She replied. "It's your turn, then. Good luck." The words fell out of her like weights.
"Trixie does not," the other unicorn gulped visibly, "n-not need luck."
As the blue unicorn passed her, though, both their heads snapped round as they saw something impossible.
A rainbow-coloured shockwave broke across the sky with an enormous, rumbling boom.
The sight and sound startled both of them. Twilight's magic, still built up with nowhere to go, and Trixie's, stepping up in preparation for her own attempt, ran wild at the same moment.
The first thing that happened was that the dragon egg hatched.
The various examiners began frowning, unable to tell which unicorn's magic had done the deed.
Then the random bursts of transformative magic, explosions and lightning started. The hatchling grew to fifty feet tall, two of the old professors went flying out the window and the remainder became crockery - and that was just the start.
By the time Princess Celestia rushed over to the source of the disturbance, Twilight was enveloped completely in her wild magic and levitating a foot off the floor, face scrunched in pain. Trixie was scarcely better off, the stage around her close to catching fire, smoke pouring off her, and unable to focus due to her own magical blasts.
"What do you think it means?" Twilight asked timidly, looking at her flank.
"I think it means magic, Twilight. You certainly have the strength for it." Celestia replied. "The sparkles resemble the ones that are produced when a unicorn uses magic, after all."
"And what about Trixie's?" Trixie said, her voice firmer than Twilight's.
Celestia chuckled warmly. "It also means magic. Two different cutie marks can mean the same thing, though in this case there are subtle differences. Yours, Trixie, is a wand – which is stage magic. Illusions, mainly, as well as misdirection… but there's also the theme of showiness. Whatever you do with your magic, it will be quite a show – though possibly not what another pony might expect that to mean. The pony decides what the cutie mark means." Turning back to Twilight, the alicorn gestured at her mark. "Twilight's is a single large magic starburst surrounded by others. That suggests that her magic is stronger, when it comes to some things, but also that it's harder to control. Of course, in both cases it is relative. You will both be skilled and strong."
Twilight was unabashedly staring at Celestia now. "Wow… you're so wise."
"I've known ponies for thousands of years. I've got quite good at telling what their cutie marks mean. Why, there was a Star Swirl… oh, about a thousand years ago, who had a magic based cutie mark like yours." Celestia looked distant for a moment.
"But anyway. I'm delighted to tell you that you are both accepted to the academy."
Trixie tried to look unsurprised. Twilight protested. "B-but we don't know which of us actually hatched Spike!"
"Oh, you've decided on a name for him already?" Celestia asked gently. Twilight went red. "But I understand that, and I feel that both of you qualified – and besides," she laughed softly, to take away the sting, "With as much power as you two have, you need to learn how to control it as soon as possible."
"Ooh. Is that the dragon who let me in?"
Twilight muttered something along the lines of "So, that's who to blame…"
"Indeed. Twilight knows him better than Trixie, really." A sad little smile came over Trixie's face for a moment. "I didn't have the patience to cope with him, back then. Still don't, really. But I'm glad we had each other to help us cope, Twilight. Don't ever think otherwise."
"Aww. That's sweet!"
"Did Trixie ask your opinion, neon sign?"
"Wow, that's nice of you. A new name! I've already got a few so they're kind of a mouthful – I mean, who uses names like Diane? Or Pinkamena? At least it can be shortened to Pinkie, so that's okay, but Neon Sign would be fun! It's a pity I've already chosen my name because that could have been a real contender!"
"Every pony in this town is crazy." Twilight said in a dull tone. "Somepony likes your nicknames."
"Trixie is merely following instructions. Remember? That scroll the Princess sent us said something along the lines of 'you two should really make some more friends'. Look. Friend. Right?"
"Oh, yeah! That's the whole point of this party, to let ponies to get to know one another! Ever since I saw my first rainbow I've wanted to party, and every time I have I've got to know the ponies in it in ways I never could have imagined!"
Twilight started, and glanced over at Trixie, mouthing 'rainbow?'"
"Ahem. Trixie would like to know: How long ago was this?"
"Ooh, seven or eight years… I think. It could have been before the dawn of Equestria, though. Or both. Possibly in Gen 3.5."
The two unicorns shared a look, and decided to count that as another one for their theory.
"I can't believe this is going well."
"Trixie thinks you should calm down. Capple?"
Twilight looked at it. It was like an apple lollipop on the end of a carrot.
"Where did this thing come from?"
"Well. It started out as a duel between the Carrots and Apples, and ended up more or less as a business deal. Thus are Trixie's methods confirmed to work – a feud lasting five generations ended in a pile of ballistic fruit."
"You are completely crazy and I have no idea how that worked. Fine, I'll have the dang capple."
Trixie waited until Twilight was taking a bite. "Oh, and it's thirty seconds till the Princess shows up."
Twilight came close to swallowing the entire apple, coughed, hacked and stumbled. "You planned that!" she croaked out after recovering to some extent.
"Of course Trixie did. It's a good few minutes."
"Twilight." Trixie said, in a detached tone. "Correct me if I am wrong, but that is not Celestia, is it?"
"No." Twilight replied, in the same almost airy tones of somepony dealing with the mother and father of all shocks. "That would be Nightmare Moon, the legendary deity of evil."
"Good. I'd hate to be seeing things, on top of everything else."
"Right." Twilight looked up from the book. "That's pretty clear. The Elements are in the castle in the Everfree forest. We'd better go get them, since we're close by."
"Trixie asks who you mean by 'we'."
"Well, you and me." Twilight answered, confused.
"Twilight, you are a librarian by character and skill. Which of you and Trixie was it who partook of battle magic training?" The blue unicorn clopped her hooves on the floor. "No, you must not come into such a dangerous place. Besides, she needs you to stay here with Spike."
"You can't mean to go alone!"
"And she ain't." Applejack put in firmly. "Ah ain't taking no for an answer on this."
"Trixie did not expect you to take it for an answer," she replied, "So she will not offer it."
"Ooh, I'm coming too!" Pinkie said. "It sounds fun!"
Trixie just looked at her, then wrote it off as unimportant. "Anypony else joining Trixie?"
Dash shrugged. "Eh, why not. Better than waiting for the world to end."
"Hey, did I say it would if I came along? I'm going to save the Princess myself!"
"You're going to be looking for mystical artefacts in a thousand year old castle, not doing anything exciting." Twilight said.
"I don't know. That sounds kind of exciting." Dash gave a cocky grin. "Especially if there are traps or something! Don't think you're going to get through them without some Dash!"
"What is it, Fluttershy?" Twilight asked.
"Well, if you're going into the Everfree forest, I think I can help. The animals there are a bit less, well, safe than the ones in the rest of Equestria, but I usually get along with them."
"You have been into the Everfree forest? Trixie feels her respect for you going up several notches."
"Yes. It's just outside my cottage, and it's kind of… quiet, and… nice…" Fluttershy had begun shrinking back into her wings.
"I understand what you mean, sort of." Twilight said. "Back in Canterlot, it was nice to get an afternoon in the library just studying and reading."
"Well, dears, why don't we all go? Twilight and I as well?" Rarity weighed in.
"Unfortunately, Trixie must insist Twilight does not come. She and Spike are needed here as support for her best spells."
"How does that make sense?"
"Trixie will demonstrate! Spike, the crate!"
Said dragon left off his aside glances towards Rarity and disappeared grumbling into the basement, returning a few minutes later with an enormous wooden crate. Twilight removed the lid and sides with her telekinesis, and a huge quantity of materials spilled out onto the floor.
"Trixie expects you have always wondered how magicians pull things out of their hats? Well, here is one of the ways. She has dozens of small notes in her hat with numbers on. Each one corresponds to one of these objects, and she can use the letter-sending cantrip to transmit the note for Spike to receive."
Trixie looked proud as she continued to explain. "With Twilight here to organize and Spike to send things back to Trixie on a moments' notice, she can use anything in the crate as if it were ready to hand!"
Pinkie was already picking through the pile. "Ooh, an anvil. And that's the second biggest barrel of treacle I've ever seen. What do you use that for?"
"Treacle sticks something awful. There is nothing like it for disabling a flying enemy."
Both pegasi shivered and twitched their wings.
"Well, that seems settled." Rarity said. "There'll be six of us going."
"Trixie is not entirely sure how this happened to her one pony show, but does not mind too much. Do not be left behind."
"So!" Pinkie said abruptly as they entered the forest. "What does your cutie mark mean, everypony? I know Trixie's is magic, as in stage magic, and mine indicates a passion for parties that precludes the possibility of permanently precipitating pyroxene or peridotite, but what about everypony else's? Applejack?"
"Apples." The orange earth pony replied, deadpan.
"Oohhhh. So that one's simple, kind of boring, but all there without any extra interpretation. What about yours, Rarity?"
"Well, I have some modest talent in finding gemstones, but the true meaning is more along the lines of design and fashion. As soon as the shockwave destroyed the geode in front of me and revealed the wealth inside, I knew it was my purpose to provide the same revelation, to open ponies to their true beauty, to create!"
"Trixie thinks that you may be overdoing it on the drama there. But it is an entirely sensible approach, diva."
"Well!" Rarity huffed.
"No, Twilight explained this." Dash confided. "If she comes up with a name like that, it means she likes you but doesn't want to show it."
"Ah don't know why y'all can't be up front about a thing like that, sugarcube."
"Did Trixie ask your opinion?" the blue unicorn snapped. After Pinkie stared at her for a moment, she added "…hayseed."
"There you go! Knew you weren't as grumpy as you seemed."
"Um… do I have one?"
"No, Trixie has not thought one up for you yet."
"Oh, I know! What about the meaning of your cutie mark, Fluttershy?"
"Um… well, it's to do with animals. I first found out that I could calm animals down after they were startled by an explosion of some kind, and, well… I can understand them, and they can understand me."
"Hm. Nothing springs to mind. Tell Trixie, why do you not use your wings?"
"I just never really got the hang of it." She glanced up at Dash, hovering alongside as they travelled down the path deeper into the forest. "Rainbow Dash has always been a lot better than me. Not that there's anything wrong with that, er, Dash… I didn't mean to offend you…"
"Trixie would like to apologize for this, but she is not in the habit. You really are something of a wet blanket."
"Trixie!" Dash said, shocked. "That's going too far!"
"No, Dash, I don't mind… I mean, if it's what she thinks."
"Are you already forgetting that Trixie was asked? She does not mind a pony being a wet blanket. It is innocent and refreshing. Besides, part of the point of a nickname like hers is that it is to be a caricature."
"Ah don't understand you, Trixie."
"Well, hayseed. If you were truly and only a hayseed you would not have understood most of that conversation – and probably Rarity's accent." Trixie tossed her head. "Trixie is Great and Powerful, not blind and blinkered."
"Boastful, however, fits y'all perfectly."
"Hey, it's not boasting if she can back it up." Dash volunteered. "And the same for me, of course. Rainbow Dash, fastest flier in Equestria, remember?"
"How do you even tell something like that, dear?" Rarity asked. "It's not as if there's a way of checking apart from having races, is there?"
"I'm the only pegasus in recent history to perform a Sonic Rainboom, and I got my cutie mark from it! Seven years, nine months, fifteen days ago."
Trixie glanced at Dash, who looked slightly embarrassed. "Er, I looked up the date after you asked yesterday."
For the next few seconds the other five ponies counted in their heads.
"Wait, that's the same day ah-"
"I must have-"
"Wow, thanks for the-"
"Um, is that what startled-"
Trixie looked back and forth. "All six of us? On the same day, and from the same cause?"
There was a stunned silence. Applejack broke it. "Looks like it, sugarcube."
"Trixie expected rather better as defences go than a cliff. And are we sure this was the right way?"
Fluttershy looked sad. Dash hovered down. "Hey, don't worry 'shy. We'd still have to cross this no matter what happened. If you say it's the fastest route, I believe you."
"…thanks. I forgot that this is a path I take, and I can sort of fly. Sorry. I think there's a way down the cliff, though."
Applejack looked over the edge. "Looks like there's a path goin' along down there, too."
At that point, with a boom, the entire vertical section of the cliff collapsed. Dash was unaffected, Fluttershy leapt into the air, and the other four skidded down the incline towards a second, sheer drop.
Pinkie and Rarity fell faster, and went over the cliff, but the pegasi rushed to save them. Applejack stopped herself with main force, digging her hooves into the earth face, and Trixie ended up clinging with her teeth to a root on the very edge.
"I gotcha!" Applejack said, reaching her and trying to pull her up. She didn't have the leverage, though, and the edge itself was starting to crumble.
"'elp?" Trixie mumbled around the root.
"Y'all gonna have to let go."
"Fluttershy and Dash kin catch you. Fallin' off the cliff ain't the end. Just trust us."
"Could you get any more-waugh!"
The two pegasi hurried straight from depositing Pinkie and Rarity to catch her, but with a Bamf she disappeared, reappearing on the valley floor.
At the same speed she was travelling when she teleported, and upside down. Good thing there was a bush.
"So, remembered you could do that, huh?" Dash asked with a grin. "Looks to me like concentration might be a problem."
Trixie staggered out of the bush, hat and cloak askew. "The Great and Wonderful Audience would like to thank you. You've been a powerful Trixie." Thud.
"Oh, dear." Fluttershy said quietly. "That looks like it hurt."
After the initial shock of the Manticore appearing, AJ and Dash hurried to the front of the group as the most physical fighters. Pinkie and Rarity fell back slightly.
"Trixie, dear," Rarity said urgently, "I believe you mentioned battle magic?"
Trixie concentrated for a moment, then flipped her hat off and a large anvil appeared in a rush of green fire. Glancing at the others and their tactics as she took it in her magical grip, she wound up to-
Every pony in the clearing froze with shock as Fluttershy shouted. The Manticore stopped as well, apparently through some kind of sympathetic startlement.
"Don't be afraid, mister manticore." Fluttershy said in a soothing voice, walking forward. "We don't want to hurt you. See how I'm being unthreatening, I'm not holding anything, put that anvil down Trixie you're scaring him, just show me your paw and I'll make it stop hurting."
Trixie looked over at the paw. Right there, sure enough, was a thorn.
Fluttershy expertly removed it, and the Manticore responded by picking her up gently in its' leonine paws and licking her.
"Well, how 'bout that." Applejack said, watching. "Guess she had the right idea."
"Yes. Not such a wet blanket after all." Trixie replied, then took out some paper and a quill. Dear Twilight…
"Right. That's number thirty-four – large anvil – sent. Now we need to reorganize things to make the next one more efficient."
Spike burped. The green fire coalesced into a small piece of paper, torn at the edges. He plucked it out of the air with a practiced motion, and read it out.
"Dear Twilight: I didn't need the anvil after all, I'm sending it back."
Twilight jumped. "Quick, Spike, look out the window!"
"Huh?" he replied intelligently. Then burped again. "Uh oh."
The anvil crashed into one of the tables around the library floor, breaking two of the legs and sliding awkwardly to the ground.
"Right." Twilight said after a moment's silence. "I'll get to fixing that. Let me know if any other letters come through."
"Does anypony know how to deal with strange, fell trees?" Trixie asked, a slight quaver in her voice. "Because Trixie was under the impression that the Everfree was untamed, not actively malevolent."
"It shouldn't be like this…" Fluttershy said as they backed together, surrounded. "Normally the trees are nice."
"Right. Trixie thinks it is time for fire."
"No, hang on!" Pinkie said, springing from her place in the circle. "This makes no sense!"
"Yes, Trixie noticed."
"No, I mean it makes no sense in a different way – trees are things that grow in the day, right? And it's night, riiight? And it's Nightmare Moon we're trying to stop, riiiight?"
"Continue, but faster." Trixie said, lifting her hat off her head and sparking a pilot light on it.
"Well, plants aren't part of her portfolio, but illusions are! And the best way to handle an illusion of something scary is to laugh at it!"
"Okay, the first part made sense. Where did you get the second part from?"
"When I was a little filly and the sun was going down…
"Oh, no." Trixie extinguished her horn and turned to the others. "Just so you know, every single pony in your town is crazy, including Trixie, but there's crazy and there's this."
She paused as Pinkie's song continued. "Though the very idea that a completely random musical number will prove to be instrumental in defeating Nightmare Moon is hilarious."
"Trixie thinks this is just sad. Our opponent is a goddess. An actual physical goddess. And her fourth line of defence is a choppy river."
"Could be she's after panickin'." Applejack said, as they walked along the bank.
Dash looked into the sky, which was perhaps slightly lighter than it had been, and grinned. "I think she might be having more trouble with the Princess than she thought."
"Yeah, that makes sense!" Pinkie said. "Their portfolios are opposed so they'd be pretty close to evenly matched. Though does anypony think it strange that she said she was the ruler of night, but we still had night when she was in the moon?"
"Celestia did it." Trixie replied; she'd seen the Princess do it herself many times. "It did seem to take more effort to Trixie, though."
"Ah, darlings?" Rarity interjected. "I think I can see what's causing all the turbulence."
The rest of the group looked over. Then up. Then up again for good measure.
"Right." Trixie said after a moment's silence. "Trixie will distract it, and you, hummingbird, will get a thundercloud set up to hit it. She thinks that the water will make it a more effective attack."
"I-I'm sure this is another misunderstanding." Fluttershy said quietly. "Like the one with the Manticore. Listen, there are words in those moans."
They listened for a moment, then Rarity pointed. "I know what it is. It's his moustache. Poor dear, to lose such an impressive facial accoutrement."
Trixie threw up her hooves, then staggered a moment on her hind legs before dropping back to all fours. "Right, clearly Nightmare Moon is running out of ideas. Let Trixie know when this particular episode is done."
As she walked off to the side, she could be heard muttering "ridiculous… driven to a rage by a trim…"
"Oh, her weirdness buffer must have filled." Pinkie said brightly. "Just give her a few minutes to empty it, I see it all the time."
"Yeah, I wonder why…" Dash snarked.
"So do I!"
"No, I was… ah, forget it."
"Trixie… is sorry about that."
"No, dear, don't worry. I know you didn't mean anything by it." Rarity replied as they approached the castle itself.
The last barrier was a chasm, with only a cut rope bridge.
"This is somehow heartening. Scissors could do better than this."
"I'll handle it!" Dash said. "I feel like it's time for me to do something."
Trixie and the rest watched her fly down, take the end of the rope bridge and fly back up to attach it on the other end. Then fog closed in, muffling the sound and obscuring what was happening.
A minute or so later, Dash flew back over and the fog cleared.
"What happened there, R-D?" Applejack asked.
"Some Shadowbolt jerks showed up, trying to get me to leave you guys. But Rainbow Dash doesn't abandon her friends!"
"Trixie has never heard of Shadowbolts. They sound like a cheap knockoff of the Wonderbolts to her – and you wouldn't fit in with them anyway."
"Why not?" Dash asked, hurt.
"The whole point of a Rainboom is that it's loud, spectacular and bright. Much more wonder than shadow."
"…oh." The cyan pegasus tailed off, and went quiet to think about it for a while.
"Well, those look like the Elements up on them there pedestals."
Trixie's eyes flickered over them. "Five. Trixie supposed it wasn't going to be that easy."
One by one, the five stone orbs floated down to the ground in front of her. "Trixie will see what she can do."
Hmm… a spark will awaken them…
An explosion rang out, and thick choking smoke obscured most of the hall.
"Are you alright, Trixie?" Fluttershy asked timidly, once she'd stopped flinching.
Coughing answered her. "Spark does not-kaff - refer to black powder!"
Applejack looked around the rest of the group. "Yeah, ah'm thinkin' she's gonna be a while."
Trixie coughed. Too much smoke in the air.
Still, she was wearing the mental list down. And she wouldn't have used a mental list a few years ago – Twilight was wearing off on her, clearly.
Okay. That's five different types of fire, one teleportation, three electrical blasts. Two explosives, ten seconds of hitting them with a hoof in frustration, arranging them in a pentagon, and asking nicely.
The smoke swirl changed. She was used to smoke, so she noticed. "Everypony! Nightmare-" And then she, the Elements and the dark purple cloud sparkling with stars all vanished.
"Trixie!" Five ponies said or yelled.
Trixie shook off the teleportation distortion with long practice. The Elements were physically carried away from her as she did so by the cloud of sparkling smoke, which reincorporated itself on a nearby dais as Nightmare Moon.
Oh, good, she thought. Finally, a solid target.
"Well?" the villainous Alicorn asked, mockingly. "I have your precious Elements now. What do you plan to do about it?"
"Probably, Trixie will do something stupid and violent. She thinks you have it coming to you."
Nightmare Moon laughed as Trixie pawed the ground in front of her. "You're kidding, right?"
Trixie's horn flickered briefly under her hat, and the alicorn stumbled backwards as a spell like a magnesium flare went off less than an inch in front of her dark-adapted eyes.
The blue unicorn trotted up the steps, retrieved the Elements while Nightmare Moon was rolling on the floor pawing at her eyes, and flipped her off with a hoof for good measure. "The Great and Powerful Trixie does not kid. Only bluff."
After a few more seconds, the Alicorn finally struggled back to her feet as Trixie rolled the elements off the dais. "Well, you got them. Well done you. Now, can you use them?"
"That, Trixie will admit, is still a problem. But anyway, she has a question for you. Why-"
A lightning bolt hit Nightmare Moon on the wing, causing her to flinch.
With that distraction, Trixie whirled her cape around her. A flash of green dragonflame erupted and released a firework rather bigger than she was, which she launched at the Dark Lady of the Night with a moment's mental effort and followed up with a series of smaller rockets.
The explosion blasted the outside wall clean off the castle and sent her foe flying backwards, but unfortunately Alicorns were made of sturdy stuff and it wasn't much more than an inconvenience.
"Where are you even getting all of those?" Moon asked, shaking her head as she extricated herself from the rubble.
"A true magician never reveals her secrets." Trixie answered, and her horn flickered again. This time, she swept her hat off, and took out a ten foot pole. This she levelled at her opponent as she replaced her hat. "Have at you!"
"Well, that's a rather catastrophic decline in effectiveness." The deity snarked.
Then part of the roof fell on her.
"How many times!" Trixie chuckled, mockingly. "Trixie has said it time and again. Being a magician is all about distraction."
At that point, the rest of the group came in through the back door. Trixie kicked the Element orbs at them without looking, keeping her eyes on the Nightmare as she rose once more.
This time her enemy's eyes were less focused. Good news, that. Apparently if you threw enough rocks at somepony they eventually got slightly concussed.
"Everypony, keep hold of those. And stay out of this."
"Don't be such a dang foal!" Applejack shouted. "You'll be killed! That there's not some two bit shyster, it's Night-"
"Trixie is well aware of that, and has it entirely under control. She appreciates your honesty, but in this case it is incorrect."
"At least let me help!" Rainbow Dash weighed in next, almost leaping past Trixie to engage the Alicorn before being caught in an iron telekinetic grip and placed back where she'd sprung from.
Trixie kicked a small container forwards with one hoof, and it exploded into a dense cloud of smoke.
The Nightmare blew it away almost instantly with her large wings. "Out of tricks, magician?"
"Tell Trixie. You still haven't got it, have you?"
Moon frowned. "What?"
"She thought not. The first of the orbs that I kicked at the hayseed. It moved without any deviation from a straight line. In other words, it kept true."
"The second one, at the outsize hummingbird. She moved after I did, but it kept up with her."
"I fail to see your point." Nightmare Moon said, her horn beginning to glow as she charged up a powerful spell.
Trixie levitated a cork neatly onto the horn. "Trixie was not finished. The third one went for the wet blanket, but it did not roll straight. It missed a few small insects. The fourth was towards the diva, and it made it despite how Trixie barely tapped it compared to the others."
The cork shattered. Rearing up, the Alicorn prepared to annihilate her irksome foes with her bare hooves – just for the sheer visceral satisfaction.
Trixie didn't flinch, keeping her eyes locked on target, and absently creating a large steel wall to withers height in front of her. "Trixie is nearly finished. The one that went to the pink abomination against good taste-"
Pinkie nodded. "Yep, that's me! Only it's not taste taste, it's something else. That's obvious right?"
"-it bounced. In short, they were as honest, loyal, kind, generous or funny as you could expect from a few balls of stone. Oh, and one final thing."
"Go on." Nightmare Moon practically spat, building the power to get rid of the wall.
"You have been thoroughly punk'd."
The charge on her horn evaporated in her confusion. "What?"
Nightmare Moon's view on the world wavered as the illusion collapsed. And instead of six helpless ponies with five useless lumps of rock, there were five ponies levitating in the air wearing necklaces emblazoned with their cutie marks.
And in front of them, Trixie's hat had been replaced by a circlet. With a white, five pointed star.
Then Nightmare Moon tasted the rainbow.
"Well done, Trixie, Twilight, and all of you." Celestia said to the gathered group. "You managed to work out that the Elements are only truly powerful when used by ponies that embody them, and using them free my sister from the corruption that possessed her for a millennium."
"Thank you, Princess." Trixie replied. "I first guessed-" Pinkie gave a gasp at the use of a personal pronoun- "something like that might be involved when I found that all of us had the same origin for our Cutie Marks. But it wasn't really properly formed as a thought until I was fighting Nightmare Moon, and I realized how well my-my friends fit them."
"Well done again, then. And well done all of you. Twilight, I understand you may feel like you did not contribute – but from the story you have all told, without her you would not have known where to start."
"Trixie expects she would have been defeated easily without Twilight supplying her." The showpony contributed.
"Yes. However, I am afraid that the Summer Sun celebration is over – no matter how unusually it went this year, I for one find the return of my sister something to celebrate. So, Twilight and Trixie, you will likely have to return to Canterlot. Unless, of course, you have any other preference...?"
"I'd like to stay in Ponyville, Princess." Twilight said promptly.
"Trixie concurs. There are many ponies there who have not been properly introduced to the majesty of her presence."
"Silly!" Pinkie said, bouncing over. "You can say you don't want to leave your friends, it won't make you become less cool! Remember, Dashie is the one who's Loyalty!"
"Then, yes. Trixie… I… would like to stay with them." She grinned, happily and openly for once. "After all, without the Great and Powerful Trixie to look after them they wouldn't know what to do!"
"Hey!" two or three ponies protested, and then the room broke into laughter.
Part 2: Full Circle
Trixie decided not to make any acid comments this time. After all, the Princess was actually scared – and Celestia had been a constant in her life for most of her teenage years. This was even more serious than Nightmare Moon – Discord had even managed to steal the elements from their supposedly secure safe.
Telling the Princess off for refusing her first plan, to keep the Elements with their respective bearers, would just be cruel.
"Twists and turns are my master plan…" Twilight muttered to herself. "I think it must be the castle maze, right here. It's where all this started, after all."
"We better get in there, then." Applejack said, squaring up. "Every minute we spend out here, he's causin' more havoc."
"Trixie will go in alone." Trixie said. "And she will thank you in advance for not arguing."
"Now, look here! You can't-"
"Trixie can. Of all of us, she is the one most qualified to spot tricks and deceptions."
"You're not going to do well with the maze, though." Dash said. "You need me to get to the centre in seconds!"
"Oh, did I forget to mention?" came Discord's voice from the entrance. "You don't get to cheat on this one, my little ponies. No horns or wings allowed."
Dash flinched. "Okay, maybe not."
"Trixie has a solution for this." She took her hat off, and her horn flickered as she pulled out a small bottle of something and slathered it over her coat.
"Uh… what're y'all doing?" Applejack asked for all of them.
The bottle finished, Trixie checked herself. "Good. And it is no concern of yours, Trixie will be done before lunchtime. Whatever that means at the moment."
As if to prove the point, another day/night cycle passed in seconds.
"I can't believe you, Trixie!" Twilight burst out suddenly. "All this time learning about the magic of friendship, and now you're going to go it alone in some kind of grandstanding attempt to prove a point!"
"Believe it, Twilight."
"I'm off. Come and find me when you come to your senses." With a flash, Twilight teleported away.
Trixie created a small flame with her horn, touched it to a stick on the ground, and set off for the maze. Dash and Applejack tried to follow her, but were rebuffed by an instant brick wall courtesy of Discord.
"Well, they're not going to be interfering for a while. What is your plan, anyway, oh Element of Magic?"
Trixie gave a wild grin as she stepped into the maze, and her horn – and magic – vanished. "Observe."
She bent down and held a foreleg over the dropped ember of torch.
With a whump, the stunt gel on her coat caught light.
"The Great and Powerful Trixie's rule one. When In Doubt, Fire."
She lowered her hornless head and charged at the first hedge, bursting through it – she used only the hottest gel.
Some minutes later, she stomped down another path. Her hat and cloak were singed, her coat was substantially shorter, and the stunt gel had burned itself out.
"This is just not fair. How can Trixie determine the correct route if this maze is not actually laid out in only two dimensions?"
"Starting to feel the effects of your little boast?"
A large animate wand was floating alongside her. She took one look and shook her head. "Hello, Discord. And Trixie is fully capable of fulfilling her promise, so it is not a boast."
"You don't seem to be doing all that well. But that's always the way with you, isn't it? All flash and style, nothing underneath."
Despite herself, Trixie flinched. That had cut to the quick. "And you are any better?"
"Oh, I just occasionally warp reality, nothing big. The odd reshaping of the entire world, the occasional escape from being turned to stone… but all done with far more power than your friend Twilight." He grinned evilly. "Let alone you."
"Stop it. Trixie is not kidding."
"Did you ever work it out? All those others don't really like you. They work with you to make the Elements of Harmony work, but without them they won't have any reason to stay friends with such an obnoxious person."
"Stop it! That's not true!"
"Maybe it's not what you really are. But that's the point, isn't it? You only ever show them a fake. The Great and Powerful Trixie isn't real. She disappears as soon as the curtain comes down. Trixie is just a nobody. Nobody knows what she's like – and you've been pretending so long, even you don't know."
"I try." Trixie wailed. "I try!"
"But all you ever do is push them further away. Better to do nothing, then even try. Better be nothing, than be something they hate. Better just to be trixie. trixie, who's nothing special, nothing unusual, just bland. Her talent is magic? Well, every unicorn does magic."
"Nothing…" trixie murmured, staring into space. Her coat was now a grey-blue, and her hat and cape had fallen off. She made no effort to retrieve them.
Discord led trixie out of the maze, and showed her to the two Alicorns standing, wings spread, at the entrance.
"See? Your so-called friends aren't even here waiting. They must have got bored and gone home, like Twilight."
Impassively, Celestia and Luna furled their wings.
Discord's smug expression froze and crumbled into dust, revealing a look of utter shock beneath it. He literally could not comprehend what he was seeing, and it was plain to see on his face.
For behind and between the two Alicorns were Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity, Dash, Fluttershy… and Twilight. All wearing the Elements, all about to fire.
A ghost of a smile chased itself across trixie's face, and then the world was a kaleidoscope of rainbow light.
Luna noticed her sister's frantic gestures, and lowered her volume. "Sorry. Our sister called us in for this at the last moment, so we may have missed something, but – what happened?"
Trixie gave a slight smile. "I beat Discord at his own game. He was making such a big thing out of the maze that I realized it probably wasn't where the Elements were. Instead, they were somewhere else, and they could have been anywhere. But he's a grandstander. He loves a show, and he loves even more showing off. Our quest for the elements began back in Ponyville, with a book about them – and, indeed, that is where Twilight found them."
"But how did Twilight Sparkle know where to look?"
"You might have seen that when I took the gel out, my horn flickered. That's a code Twilight and I worked out years ago." Another slight smile. "Though we mainly used it to communicate in class without passing notes. There wasn't much to my message – Pnvile Lbry Elmnt Bk, basically. She made the big show of leaving without being asked – she's clever like that – and Discord ate it up."
"We see." Luna pondered for a moment. "But one question remains. We thought that thou wert the Element of Magic. If any pony should know, it is us."
"I am. And so is Twilight. We're both friends with the other five. We both have magic as a special talent. And we're different kinds of 'spark', but there's more than one way to lead."
"Indeed." Luna said, making eye contact with her sister for a moment.
Celestia took up the conversation. "Are you alright, Trixie? You seem… subdued."
"Hopefully I'll recover. That was one of the least fun episodes of my entire life, and it'll take me a while to get over it. But I have Twilight and the others to help me."
"Well said." The Princess of the Sun said. "And you have my deepest thanks, Trixie. It is often hard for a pony to face their flaws, and harder still to go alone into danger for the purposes of a stratagem – especially one that might win others the glory."
"I suppose the Great and Powerful Trixie served a purpose after all." Trixie mused, half to herself. "If I'd been meeker from the start, he might never have fallen for it."
AN: So yes. This resulted from wondering what Trixie would be like as an Element of Magic. Given the choice, I decided to make her and Twilight childhood friends because of the potential for their entire life to be a gigantic Bokke and Tsukkomi routine (a comedian/straight man routine).
I also think that Trixie would do well as a combat mage. After all, she's genuinely powerful (if not so powerful as Twilight) and more importantly she's very good at misleading and bedazzling others. In fact, this entire thing grew from her fight scene with Nightmare Moon.
Finally, the Discording she had is based in part off what happened to her in the Pony POV series.
Hope this at least gave you the odd laugh.