Two bowls of pumpkin soup sat on the table. One was nearly full and cooling in neglect while the other was being dutifully emptied a spoonful at a time by the pony it belonged to. The first bowl's owner watched her guest eat while thinking over the brief tale that had just been related to her. Finally, when the second bowl was nearly empty, she spoke, "I'll be honest Trixie, I'm surprised you came straight here."
Trixie Lulamoon bowed her head in acquiescence and said, "Yes, I suppose I should have brought this to Princess Luna, since she is my troupe's patron, but Ponyville was closer and I hoped you would know something." She looked around at all the books lining the walls meaningfully.
Twilight Sparkle shook her head. "That's not what I meant," she said. "I'm surprised you came here straight from Hoofington, through the Everfree Forest, right after losing a magic duel, and all you seem to be suffering is simple travel fatigue."
"I stayed close to the edge of the forest as much as possible," Trixie said by way of explanation, and then picked up her soup bowl to finish it off in one big slurp. "And as for Tremolo," she added when she was finished, "he was aiming to humiliate The Great and Powerful Trixie more than harm her. So, Sparkle, what do you think? Can you help?"
"I'll certainly try," Twilight said, summoning a couple of books over to her from the shelves. "You said he was wearing the Alicorn Amulet," she said as she opened the first book and gave Trixie a querulous look. "May I ask how it is you recognized that amulet? It's not one of those things you normally hear about unless you go looking, after all."
Trixie's ears drooped sheepishly and she became very interested in the pattern of her bowl. "Well," she said at last, "I did go looking for it briefly, sometime after the Ursa Minor incident when I was still seething with anger at you. The only reason I gave up on finding it was because I stumbled upon that gem that gave me control over earth and rocks first."
"I see," Twilight said, finding the page she was looking for. She set the book on the table, turned so Trixie could see the picture of the Alicorn Amulet and read the accompanying description. "Did your research into the amulet inform you how it corrupts the user?" Twilight asked. Trixie shook her head without taking her eyes off the page, her pupils steadily contracting as she read.
"It's magically locked, so only the wearer can remove it?" the showmare exclaimed when she neared the end. "Trixie does not like the sound of that!"
"Yeah," Twilight said, going back to the bookshelves, "and convincing somepony to give up power like that won't be easy. You'll either have to appeal to Tremolo's better nature-"
"Yeah, right," Trixie snorted.
"-or you need to make him think that the Alicorn Amulet isn't as useful as he thinks," Twilight finished without missing a beat. She brought a few new books to the table and said, "Now, our best bet is to use spells he's not familiar with and that at least look Great and Powerful, so why don't we go through these spell books and see what you can learn."
Trixie held up a forestalling hoof, a sly look on her face. "If tricking Tremolo is the goal, then the Great and Powerful Trixie already has a plan in the making," she said. "All I really need is to get back into Hoofington and recruit some help from my troupe, and maybe a few other ponies."
"Are you sure?" Twilight asked, disappointed.
"Quite sure," Trixie said. "In fact, I should probably head back as soon as possible. You were most helpful Twilight, so thank you, and thank you for the food as well."
"Hold up a second," Twilight said with a sigh, "At least let me put together something for you to eat on the road. And once you've got the Alicorn Amulet off of Tremolo, could you bring it to me personally? I'll make sure it gets locked away where nopony else can get to it."
"Yes, Trixie can do that." She then realized that Twilight had all but forgotten her pumpkin soup and claimed the bowl for herself, casting a warming spell on it. "By the way," she said after a moment, "The Earth-controlling Emerald, it was part of a set wasn't it? Whatever happened to them?"
"They were destroyed," Twilight answered, getting a far-off look in her eyes. "It's for the best anyway; they were probably more dangerous than a whole box of Alicorn Amulets."