Celestia's sun loomed overhead, radiating its searing warmth to the well-worked orchards below. The basking heat of the Autumn sun seemed stronger than usual for the season, causing droplets of sweat to form beneath the exhausted farm pony's mane. She reared up for a final strong buck, impacting the solid tree trunk with a loud reverberating stomp which was soon followed by the cascading sound of apples falling into the awaiting buckets beneath the golden leaves. Applejack brushed her hoof against her damp mane before tipping her beloved hat upwards to view her hard work. Her aching muscles felt well deserved as her eyes panned the horizon, the beautiful sight of every tree in an acres radiance being free of her families apples, the buckets of which were being collected from below by a struggling colt honing the same colours as the season's leaves. She smirked slightly to the sight of the farm's weakest manual help in contrast to the ruby stallion pulling the cart full of buckets alongside him with ease before returning her hoof to her mane, clearing more sweat from her blonde hairs. "Couldn't be a bit cooler today could ya?"
Applejack was preparing to tip her hat downwards once more for shade before an odd sight became visible in the distance, almost like a mirage through the haze of heat rising off the worn cobbled road. The earth pony squinted her emerald eyes in an attempt to make out the approaching figure, before after a short struggle they suddenly focused on the startling image. Applejack knew she could trust her eyes but that didn't help her with the haunting sight of a glowing spectre approaching from the distance, a large pony approached with its mane ablaze, a ghostly magenta flame coursing through its limbs and surrounding the faceless figure as if suffering an eternal undying agony. The sight spread fear into her heart, but also a deep curiosity. Especially since it seemed to be heading towards Ponyville. The cautious mare gulped the saliva in her throat before taking her first step towards the mysterious ghost.
The orange mare was relieved to not attract any unwanted attention from the travelling pony as she approached, and upon closer inspection her original fears were soon calmed to the unmistakable feeling of magic permeating the air around the 'spectre'. Though the mare was not deceased it became clear to Applejack that the mare was never alive to begin with, but rather a wooden figure, a doll which seemed to be moving on its own accord. She continued approaching closer to the continuously moving doll before cautiously trailing her hoof along the oak exterior. "What the hay is this?"
The touch in association with her speech suddenly caused the fake mare to rear up into the air, causing the onlooker to back away a few steps before returning still to the floor to dig its wooden hoof along the cobbles. From atop the adjacent wagon a cloaked figure gently brushed sand from her eyes with a quiet yawn before turning to the pony that woke her. She noticed the mare below caught in awe of her wonderful magic, so much in fact that she hadn't even noticed her examining the admirer's features for her introduction. "Greetings farm pony! Could you direct this Great Traveller to the town of Ponyville?!"
Applejack was shocked to the sudden voice from the wagon's seat above before the pieces quickly fit together in her mind. The magician in question clearly being in control of the very odd and elaborate, yet also believable spell before her. She smiled to the knowledge building from her experiences with her friend and the desire to help a pony in need as she replied. "Sure!" She pointed her hoof down the current road to a town in the distance. "Ponyville's just that town down there, keep following the road and ya can't miss it, it's only a short gallop from here." She smiled warmly as she finished her guidance, being pleased to help anypony in need. "Is there anything else ah can help you with?"
Trixie brushed her mane aside before tipping her hat to the mare beneath her. "Trixie appreciates your desire to be of assistance but she has no need of a guide! But do be sure to return to your town shortly for a spectacular performance!" The hidden magic beneath her hat began to move the wooden pony once more as she left her new admirer behind.
"Ermm, yea sure." Applejack was slightly taken aback to the surprisingly blunt return against her request to help. She watched the wagon move onwards before turning back towards the farm, as soon as she turned sudden memories filled her mind of the name she heard, and the voice speaking it. 'It can't be, why would she come back?' The farm pony quickly made her way back to the wagon, swiftly catching up with her galloping hooves to approach alongside the wooden mare. "Trixie?"
The showmare heard her name being called from beneath her as she turned once more to the pony requesting to be her guide. "The Great And Powerful Trixie already told you that she does not require a guide!" She raised her face upwards away from the mare beneath her as she finished.
Applejack's voice suddenly lost its previous helpful tone as her thoughts were confirmed, especially as the mare she remembered hadn't changed at all with her pompous attitude towards her. "So it is you. What are you doing back here again?"
Trixie could feel the harsh tone of voice being used at her, being used from a farm worker of all ponies. She stared down at the mare beneath her both physically and culturally, as she gazed down at the familiar figure a grinning smile formed across her face. "What is wrong little pony? Did Trixie's domination of your skills still leave you humiliated after you hopped off her stage?"
"The only one who was humiliated was you Trixie." Applejack snapped back in response. "Unless you want to be reminded of fleeing from the town ya best stay clear of Ponyville."
The showmare returned her gaze away from the insulting mare. "She has heard enough of your humility! It would be best if you do not join after all!" She concluded as her wagon sped up, leaving the pausing adversary behind.
Applejack stood still with clear annoyance in her eyes as she watched the wagon slow down again in the distance. "What is she up to?" The sound of large hooves approached slowly from behind, pausing directly behind the orange mare. "I'm going to go keep an eye on her, can y'all handle the farm?"
Big Macintosh withdrew his caring gaze from his sister to look back at her hoof-work at the farm. "Eeyup, ya've already done the whole weeks supply." As the stallion turned back to see his hard working sister she had already covered quite a distance galloping down an alternate path to town. "Far too much energy with her." He smiled to his own statement before returning to help the struggling colt with collecting his sister's harvested apples.
Trixie bathed in the attention her arrival brought, milking each gasp and gossiping whisper from her audience as Hilda brought her into the centre of the town, the ghostly flaming illusion around her doll earning looks of wonder and shear amazement from everypony she passed. As she finally arrived at her destination the driving pony reared into the sky and burst into bright flames, hundreds of gasps tore through her audience including the occasional scream, each and every one bringing such enjoyment to the showmare's mind before she finally ended her spell for the first time since Canterlot. The wondrous magic instantly vanished, the flames dissipated and the crafted oak fell into a small pile with a satisfying clunk before every watching eye. Trixie arose as her entrance came to an end to call out to her admiring fans, speaking aloud and proud to every ear within the town centre. "The Great And Powerful Trixie has returned as promised! Prepare yourselves for a truly awe inspiring show which shall begin in one hour! Spread the word to all of Ponyville! Spread the word to all of Trixie's adoring fans!" She lowered herself into a bow as she remained on her seat, still being above most onlooking ponies awaiting the inevitable round of applause. As she bowed to the silence fears of her previous visit began to resurface, not aided by the fact barely any cheers or stomping of hooves could be heard over the majority of her onlookers, who merely gossiped among each other as if questioning how amazing her show would be.
The showmare arose from her bow seemingly unaffected by the undesired reactions to proudly leap from atop her wagon, landing gracefully on the grassy floor of Ponyville. The same floor she had previous galloped across as she fled one year ago. She raised to her hooves to trot into her open wagon, closing the door to the world behind her before the panic in her mind could take over her physical appearance.
Amongst the crowd a shy yellow pegasus dodged past other ponies moving into her, not wanting to announce her presence to the oblivious stallions and mares moving inwards for a closer view of the opening stage. The quiet mare apologised almost silently each time she moved until inevitably one pony did knock into her, causing her to fly backwards onto the floor. "I'm so sorry." She repeated again, this time louder before staring up to the friend that nudged her. "Oh, hello Applejack."
Applejack leaned down to help her friend to her hooves. "Sorry about that sugarcube." As Fluttershy returned to her hooves she stood alongside her strong friend for protection from the nudging crowd. "Great, she wasn't lying." The earth pony commented with a sigh as she looked at the prepared stage in the centre of town.
"She called herself The Great And Power-"
"Just call her Trixie." Another voice from above interrupted as a pegasus sporting a bright rainbow mane dropped down besides the two mares, flicking her wings against the wind before she landed beside the more timid winged pony who smiled warmly to the arrival of her best friend. "She's the only one that cares for that meaningless title." Rainbow Dash temporarily looked over to Fluttershy before turning her gaze to her other friend. "What is she doing back?"
Fluttershy looked ready to speak before Applejack's voice took over. "Apparently she just wants to perform again, ah think she didn't get laughed at enough last time. She still seems to be pleased about what she did to me also."
Fluttershy started speaking quietly, attempting to get her friends attention. "I think we should let Twilight know..."
Rainbow laughed shortly in response which served to annoy her rival. "That was funny watching her tie you up though AJ, and shoving that apple in your trap."
"She mentioned she wanted to see somepony called Trixie..."
"Just as funny as watching you crash and get ya flank shocked, Dash?" Applejack responded in turn, grinning as she noticed her rival being reminded of her humiliation.
"If this is her then we should probably let her know..."
Rainbow let out an aggravated huff before replying with an almost serious voice. "Yeah okay, that wasn't funny at all."
"It would be nice since she has been mentioning her for a long time."
"Ah Darlings! There you are." A beautiful pearl white unicorn made her way through the crowd, each pony moving aside for the graceful lady to pass by uncontested. "I expected to find you here as soon as I heard about her arrival." Rarity glanced her eyes across her surroundings shortly before returning to her three friends. "Where is Twilight Sparkle?"
"Pinkie's missing also, they're probably around somewhere." Rainbow replied with a lack of urgency compared to the questioning unicorn.
"Oh Pinkie Pie will probably turn up when the show starts, it's Twilight that I'm worried about! Are you sure you haven't seen her anywhere?" Rarity could only sigh to the sight of her friends shaking heads. "Oh, she is probably still at home, she's been so upset lately but this is exactly what she has been hoping for, we must let her know!"
Fluttershy nodded in approval and opened her quiet lips, only to be silenced by a louder voice once more. "Ah know that she's been going on about her a lot. But ah still don't think it's a good idea to let her know. I just saw Trixie on the way here alone and she was still acting like a jerk."
Rarity gently raised her hoof to her friend's orange chest, holding her still as she smiled into her eyes. "I know how you feel Applejack, I myself also suffered humility thanks to her, and had a nightmare of a time turning my hair back to its beautiful violet curls. But just think about how Twilight feels, imagine if she was to discover that she missed the single opportunity she was hoping for over the last year!"
"Ah know that, but Trixie hasn't changed. She will only humiliate her as well!"
"Applejack dear." Rarity gazed into her worried eyes with her own, hoping to convince her of what she believed. "It may indeed end in a way she hadn't hoped for, but the worst would be if she never had the chance to make friends with her. We all know how Twilight feels about her lessons on friendship and, even if it isn't successful, she would still learn from it like Celestia wishes." She patted her friend's chest a final time before returning to all fours. "All we can do is hope for the best." Rarity turned her caring gaze to her other friends, switching between the bolder mares mostly to make sure they agreed as she knew Fluttershy would. "I shall go let Twilight know."
Rarity distanced herself from the still forming crowd as they closed between her and her watching friends. As their sight became blocked by the increasing premature audience, the beautiful mare exhaled lightly in thoughts of her best friend. She wasn't sure which she would prefer, if Twilight had never gotten the chance to meet the unicorn she so desired or if she met her, but was rejected.
The old stairs creaked as the dragon's paws scaled each step on his way to the library's bedroom, with a light grip on the door handle he made his way into the room that he and his carer shared. The scene was mostly dark with its curtains closed, with only the light of a writing desk's candle to light the occupying pony. Spike made his way silently to the lavender mare's side to watch over her as she wrote. "Can I get you anything Twi? I was just about to make a snack if you want one, I could make a sandwich or a salad, might even have some cupcakes spare..." He trailed off his suggestions while his motherly figure made no attempt to answer. "I could maybe get you a new quill?"
"I'm okay with my own." Twilight Sparkle replied quietly, continuing to write her thoughts on one of her friendship report scrolls. Spike glanced down at the text being written before feeling sadness overtake him, he gently placed a paw around Twilight's back to support her as she wrote, not knowing what to say any more to cheer her up on the continually worsening subject.
An unannounced knock broke the baby dragon from his stance, accidentally nudging the pony beside him before he regained his stance. "I'll just go see who it is." Spike felt worse that the lavender mare remained silent instead of complaining as she usually would to being nudged as she tried to write. Without saying another word to her the dragon quickly made his way to the front door to welcome the visitor, and upon opening the heavy door a beautiful sight graced his eyes. "Rarity!"
"Hello Spike, it is good to see you again. Is Twilight home?" The pearl unicorn questioned giving her usual caring smile to her little friend.
At first Spike smiled to the sight of the pony he had a crush on, before the mention of his carer overtook the smile with grief. "Yeah, she is. Twilight's really broken up on the whole Trixie thing now though." He looked around cautiously as if unsure to mention his following statement before entrusting the unicorn to know. "She was crying in bed this morning...but don't mention it to her, I don't think she noticed I was awake."
Rarity's stomach churned slightly to hearing about her best friend's grief, before she recovered her happier thoughts of hope. "I am sorry to hear that, but I have good news, or at least I hope it is good." She noticed Spike's attention peak to the mention of good news and knew there was no good reason to hide it from him. "Trixie has arrived in Ponyville."
"What? When!" Spike's voice suddenly increased in volume to the words he thought he would never hear.
"She just arrived a few minutes ago, she is going to perform in less than an hour. We must tell Twilight."
"Yes! Wait no." Spike quickly talked again upon noticing the worried mare's gaze. "I mean you go and tell her, I'll go make her something to eat she hasn't eaten in days."
Rarity smiled happily to her little friend's words before quickly making her way upstairs. Without thinking of privacy she burst her way inside the room and threw her hooves around the lavender mare she cared for. "Oh Twilight I have such good news for you!" She ended her sudden charge to examine the mare in her hooves, Twilight was visibly distressed and looking down at her quill and ink pot, the first of which had been pressed against their coats leaking black ink over the lighter hairs, and the later of which had been forced over by the sudden hug to drench her letter, ruining her upsetting thoughts that she wished to send. Rarity giggled slightly to the havoc she wrought before speaking once more. "I'm so sorry Twilight, but trust me this is good news!"
Twilight sighed sadly to the sight of her destroyed letter, which already made it clear to the pearl unicorn how sad she felt if she didn't scream and threaten to destroy one of her dresses in retaliation. "I suppose it has to be, as I can't send the bad news any more."
Rarity grabbed her friend's mane and pulled her unwitting head against her chest. "Oh Twilight it is just what you waited for! Trixie is here in Ponyville-"
Twilight instantly broke from the hold as she heard the words said, interrupting her best friend instantly. "Trixie? The Great And-"
"Yes Trixie! The only one, she is in the centre of town." The previously sad pony stared into her sapphire eyes shortly, as if trying to detect a lie, despite her never wanting to lie about such a thing. Within just a few short seconds she was thrilled to see Twilight dart towards the window and pull the curtains open with such speed it threatened to tear them down. The rushing mare shielded her eyes briefly to the sudden brightness of Celestia's sun before her violet eyes could finally focus on the distant amalgamation of ponies grouped around a stage that looked different, but at the same time so similar to the one she last saw complete a full year ago.
"It's her!" Twilight pulled her sight from the window to stare at the bringer of good news. "It's her! It's really her! She's back exactly one year after, it makes perfect sense!" Twilight began bouncing around the room in glee as everything she needed and wanted came to her. "An anniversary performance she would of course come a year later, then she will come every year after, I can talk to her now while she is here, then we can get to know each other and we can become friends and then she can become friends with all of you and we can talk and learn from each other and teach each other magic and see Princess Celestia and discover secrets of friendship and write reports and read books and watch movies and play games and have sleepovers and go on adventures and perform shows and eat cupcakes and discover artefacts and go swimming and-" Twilight's endless list of plans and ideas was silenced by Rarity's hoof until she stopped bouncing. When she finally removed her saliva tipped hoof ten seconds later the lavender mare calmed herself enough to look over her own body, brushing her hoof across the dampness below her violet eyes, betraying her recent tears. "I, I've got to get ready. I can't see her like this!"
Rarity wiped the dampness from her hoof with a smile as she watched the hysteric mare gallop around her room, grabbing clothing before tossing it aside to then rush to her vanity and begin frantically cycling through brushes. The pearl unicorn approached her friend from behind, causing her to pause in her desperate actions. "Twilight dear, the show won't start for a long time. Take as much time as you need to prepare, you have all the time in the world. I will take you to her when you are ready." The generous unicorn smiled to her friend as she took the advice and began brushing her mane with care. She knew it was best to not mention there was less than an hour to go, in an attempt to prevent her overly statistical friend from trying to dissect the hour apart into the durations of each perming activity she would partake in.
Rarity trotted towards the bed to rest her body, as she lay herself down she heard the clattering of cutlery and plates approaching the door. She cast her magical aura over the handle, opening it to the grateful dragon who made his way into the room with a nicely filled tray. As Spike approached his parental figure the aroma of fresh salad caused the hungry mare's stomach to rumble. Twilight prepared herself to stand to make some food before she saw the tray of delicious goods being carefully lowered onto her vanity. She smiled warmly to her assistant as he responded with an equally caring smile to her. "Thank you Spike, it looks delicious."
"It's good to see you have your appetite back." Spike replied happily as Twilight's lavender aura scooped up a collection of lettuce, dandelions and hay onto a slice of bread, covering it with another and taking the combination to her hungry lips. The baby dragon turned to smile at the pony he desired, failing to hide his blush before making his way back downstairs to the kitchen.
Rarity returned the good will to the little dragon, as much as she couldn't see anything serious between them she still found his obvious crush to be sweet. She turned to gaze out the window into Ponyville to the distant sight of the patient audience waiting for the magic show to begin. Twilight began humming a beautiful song as she continued to brush her hair after eating, one that reminded the pearl unicorn that Spike wasn't alone with having a crush within these wooden walls. Twilight's delicate voice harboured such warm feelings that she herself didn't fully understand, her vocals being enough to well tears in the listener's sapphire eyes. Rarity didn't know how anypony could not accept her friend's innocent love, but she did know for sure that she could never forgive any mare or colt that would seek to shatter her friend's delicate heart.