Trixie found the days passed by quickly and peacefully from there. She began to develop a routine. By the time she awoke Fluttershy was making breakfast, typically oatmeal, a warm and filing meal that started the day right. Trixie would take her mornings easy, still recuperating. She had gotten her books back from Twilight, and would review them, often in the garden if the weather held. She would then usually accompany Fluttershy into town in the afternoon, having lunch with her or just taking the chance to stretch her legs. She began to fill out little by little, her coat gleamed once more, and she regained her former energy. Only one thing stood between her and true health. That was why, nearly a week since her first visit, Trixie found herself in the Ponyville library again, Twilight Sparkle staring at her.
"Absolutely no magic?"
"None at all." Trixie shook her head. Twilight frowned.
"What happens if you try?"
Trixie shuddered. "Nausea. Trixie would rather leave it at that."
"Well? Will you aid Trixie? Some book in here must-"
"There's no need. I know what it is." Twilight replied. "It's something we were all warned about in school."
"What is it? Is it curable?"
Twilight shook her head. "Trixie, there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. I mean physically."
"What?" Trixie's brow furrowed.
"Almost nothing stops a unicorn's magic, short of a few poisons that you clearly don't have, as well as... you know. Even if your horn was damaged, you'd have some. The horn is a focal point for our magic, but it resides inside of us."
"what are you getting at?" Trixie asked crossly.
"It's an emotional block." Twilight turned and levitated down a book. She opened it and sent it over in front of Trixie. Trixie glared at the open page. Twilight kept talking as Trixie read along.
"Unicorn magic is a function of imagination and emotion. That's why our spells are internal, not incantations like some other magical species. Sometimes trauma victims or those with psychological ailments find themselves locked out of their own magic. Attempts to access the magic can cause a wide range of symptoms, usually depending on the trauma"
"Trixie is not crazy!" Trixie growled.
"No." Twilight said calmly. "But you nearly died of starvation, and then had to undergo emergency surgery for internal bleeding."
"Oh. Yes, that." Trixie backed down. "How does one fix it?" she awkwardly fumbled for the page with her hoof.
"Therapy, self-help...the fact of the matter is, Trixie, some part of you doesn't want to do magic. If you want to get it back, you need to identify why."
"That's...ridiculous! Trixie...Trixie is nothing without her magic! Why would she..."
"Trixie, it's okay." Twilight reached over and put a hoof on Trixie's shoulder. Trixie scowled at first, but sighed and turned her head away.
"Trixie...doesn't understand. You are sure?"
"Nothing can block a unicorn's magic, short of death or intervention from the goddesses. I... trust me, I don't think you've upset either Princess."
"Um... right, of course." Trixie replied, thinking back to her hysteria a week ago. She shrugged off Twilight, beginning to pace. "This is...disturbing to discover, Twilight." she forgot when it was she had begun to address the other unicorn on a first name basis. It had come naturally to her at some point.
"I could lend you some self-help books if you want. This is a library after all." Twilight smiled at her. "I'm sure you'll get through it. We're here to help."
Trixie nodded, trying to smile back. It was amazing how quickly she had found herself accepted into the fold amongst Fluttershy's friends. Well, for the most part - Applejack had yet to speak to her since that first day.
"Trixie won't be needing those, uh, hopefully. She will think long and hard on this, rest assured."
Twilight nodded. "Take care. Say hi to Fluttershy for me."
"Alright." Trixie took her leave of Twilight. She wandered through town with her head low, mind churning. She was interrupted by a sudden loud gasp. She looked up to see a pink earth pony staring at her. Trixie blinked and the pony was gone.
"Oops, forgot your invitation!" a cheery voice behind her made Trixie jumped. She turned around and found the pink pony there, an envelope in her mouth. She matched Fluttershy's description.
"Wait, are you Pinkie Pie?" Trixie asked. The pony bobbed her head, smiling with her eyes. She leaned forward, prompting Trixie to take the envelope from her.
"Wow, I thought I knew everypony who knew me!" Pinkie Pie giggled.
"Um...my name is Trixie" Trixie cleared her throat. "The Great and...oh, nevermind. Fluttershy told me about you."
"Oh yippee! I'm gone for a week and I get a new pony when I come back! Yip yip yipee!" she began to bounce around Trixie. Trixie wondered just what was meant by her 'getting' Trixie like some kind of toy.
"See you at the party!" Pinkie Pie said, having bounced behind Trixie. The unicorn turned around, but she was alone again. She looked around, but the earth pony was gone.
"Party?" Trixie fumbled the envelope open, still not used to doing things manually. Sure enough, it was an invitation to a welcome party. The place was Sugarcube Corner, and the time was tonight. Trixie's name (and title) were on the invitation.
"But when... how... " Trixie shook her head, remembering how Fluttershy had tried to describe her friend. She had assumed the pegasus's nerves had colored her description, but it looked like she had been accurate. Unsure what to do with herself, Trixie decided to head back to Fluttershy's hut.
Trixie let herself in and looked around Fluttershy's home. Angel was warding off some birds inside that were trying to get at a cob of corn the bunny was gripping tightly. The birds scattered as Trixie approached.
"Hello Angel, is Fluttershy home?" Trixie asked, used to the bunny by now. He glared at her, clutching his prize tight. Trixie laughed.
"Trixie will have her own lunch, do not fear."
The bunny nodded and pointed her to the back door before hopping off. Trixie nodded and walked out the back. She could immediately spy Fluttershy on her favorite hill, almost swarmed by squirrels. Trixie rolled her eyes as she approached, a smile on her face.
"Hello Trixie." Fluttershy greeted her. The critters parted around the unicorn, but didn't flee. If Fluttershy didn't fear her, the animals certainly weren't going to.
"Could Twilight help?" Fluttershy asked. Trixie sat down and looked away. She heard Fluttershy shift, squirrels chittering in annoyance as she displaced them.
"There there." Fluttershy held up a hoof to Trixie's face. Trixie blushed - she couldn't understand how Fluttershy did it, but she could bring a blush to Trixie's face whenever she wanted, or so it seemed.
"Twilight believes my magic is gone....because I want it to be. She called it an emotional block."
"It can't be true. Trixie has been a freeloader for too long. She never wanted to impose on you."
"You haven't Trixie, I promise." Fluttershy responded. It was a conversation they had had more than once over the past week. Trixie shook her head.
"You cannot lie, Fluttershy. Trixie eats your food, and sleeps on your couch. Yet you refuse her bits all the same."
"Trixie." Fluttershy shifted closer, almost right against Trixie. "I, um, it's not a bother. I'm..." she looked away. Trixie found herself becoming accustomed to Fluttershy's mumbles, and she made out her words now. "I'm glad to have you. Really."
"You are too kind, Fluttershy." Trixie found herself getting quiet. "Trixie only wishes to repay that."
"Trixie knows, she knows. Kindness is its own reward. You may convince her of that yet." she smiled at Fluttershy. This time, it was Trixie that brought a blush to the other pony's face with such a simple gesture. For a few moments, Trixie allowed the silence to hang for a few moments. She tried to study the day around her, figuring out just what made her feel so content. The sun must be doing her good, she figured. She glanced back to Fluttershy, only to find the other mare was doing the same to her. Fluttershy looked away quickly.
"Oh, and Trixie ran into Pinkie Pie." Trixie said, deciding to move the conversation along.
"And already planning a party, like you said. It's a welcoming party. It looks like it's... a party for Trixie. How...?"
"She does that."
"Trixie supposes she should be honored."
Trixie took a breath, and looked away. She didn't want to admit it. It was something she had never encountered before, and was a sign of how weak she felt she had become.
"You're nervous." Fluttershy said, not phrasing it as a question. Trixie closed her eyes and nodded.
"Trixie understands she is not all-loved. She is powerless to defend herself this time."
"I am....imagine finding your wings had stopped working. Or...you couldn't speak with animals anymore."
"That's not what I mean." Fluttershy told her. Trixie opened her eyes to look up. Fluttershy's eyes were so warm and peaceful now.
"You have all your friends now. I...I get real scared a lot. I thought I was powerless. But with my friends..." she smiled. "I know I have ponies that care for me."
"Hmph, how lucky for you..." Trixie replied. She immediately regretted it as Fluttershy drew back, letting her hurt show. Trixie could feel it, feel a pang in her chest.
"Fluttershy, I didn't mean..." she sighed, and tried to gather herself. "Trixie... no. Listen, I know you care. I don't understand why, but I know you do. Perhaps you're the first, really. But 'The Great and Powerful Trixie' is a lone pony, a wandering mare. She always has been. You simply cannot be there for her, and we're both fooling ourselves otherwise. She must stand on her own, or fail on her own. It is the only way for her to live."
"Then... here" Fluttershy extended a wing and twisted around. She brought her head to her wing and grabbed a feather in her teeth. She jerked her head back, flinching, and the feather came free. Trixie just looked on as Fluttershy brought the feather up and placed it behind Trixie's ears, tucking it in with her short mane.
"What's that for?" Trixie asked. Fluttershy drew back and let her mane fall over her face.
"I just....now I can always be..." she blushed and ended in a squeak. Trixie paused.
"You can always be... I understand, I think. Thank you Fluttershy. Perhaps Trixie is not powerless, not now."
Fluttershy's blush deepened, as pink as her mane. Trixie almost laughed at the adorable display.
"Come, you haven't had lunch yet, had you?" she asked, heading back towards home - Fluttershy's home, she had to remind herself.
Trixie stepped into the Sugarcube Corner, Fluttershy right behind her. The party was already in full swing, and few noticed her entrance. Pinkie Pie must have - before Trixie knew it the party pony was upon her.
"I'm so glad you made it! I've been preparing all day! Well, I've been getting home too, and then I said hello to you, and then to gummy... I've been preparing for almost half the day! We have punch and presents and party favors and pop and ponies - as guests!" she giggled. Trixie found herself backing away.
"Yes, well....Trixie will find it all, she is sure."
"Oops, time to change the music! Be right back." Pinkie bounced off. Trixie gave a sigh of relief. She glanced to Fluttershy, then twitched her ear, feeling the feather she had kept in her mane. Reassured by the presence of both, Trixie entered the party proper.
Trixie found herself greeted by many ponies as she walked through, bringing a smile to her face. Most were fairly friendly, having seen her around town in Fluttershy's company. A few even asked her about her show, recalling that she had actually managed to dazzle and impress before the usra incident.
"Yo, Trixie!" Trixie heard a familiar voice and turned around. Dash smiled at her, but as Trixie turned to her a strange frown crossed over the pegasus face.
"Hello Rainbow Dash." Trixie said cordially. "Did you want something?"
Dash shook her head and the frown disappeared. "Nothing, I was just...hey, you seen Fluttershy?"
"Trixie left her near the punch." Trixie pointed over.
"Dash!" a third pony joined them, an orange pegasus filly. "You said you were going to have her tell that one story!"
"Oh, yeah, right." Dash said, looking distracted. "Uh, hey, Trixie, can you tell Scootaloo about the Ursa Minor? Scoots here was in Cloudsdale, I'm not real good on details."
"Me?" Trixie's eyes bulged. "You want...me. To tell that story?"
"Well Twilight is all 'oh it's not a big deal' and junk." Dash rolled her eyes.
"Please." the filly looked up at Trixie. "Dash said it was cool."
"Listen, Trixie does not have the ti-"
"Pleeeease." the filly's eyes widened. She was just so scruffy and....adorable.
"Kid, Trixie would but-"
"Pleeeeeease." The filly's eyes filled her head. Trixie sighed.
"Fine, fine. Ahem. Trixie believes it begins with the arrival of a particularly eloquent and classy showmare..." she began to tell the story to the enraptured filly. And as she did so, a part of her she had nearly forgotten began to wake up. Trixie didn't have her spells to aid her, but she began to add life to the story with motion and tone. She gesticulated most of the time, miming the actions of the mares that had challenged her, and how they had each been defeated. She lowered her voice to add suspense as the ursa thundered into town, waking everypony up, and raised it as the ursa entered the town with a mighty roar. That part of her she had left dormant roused. Other ponies took notice. Soon she drew a crowd as she danced about, space clearing for her. She leaned in to tell the ponies of the ursa's gnashing teeth, she drew gasps as she mimed the crushing of her own wagon. The showmare inside Trixie came back to life.
"And with a surge as magic brighter than the moon in the sky, the young mage swept the ursa minor back into the forest from whence it came, never to return to the town of Ponyville! And when she turned to survey the damage she found that the showmare had already vanished into the night, not a trace of her to be seen." Trixie finished, making the crowd's eyes widen. It was a story of their own town, one they had experienced not so long ago, but in Trixie's hooves it had become something magical, something larger than life. The party had all but stopped, everypony drawn in by the tale. Suddenly, the clapping broke out. Everypony in the room clopped their hooves against the ground, applauding and whistling at her. Trixie beamed. She felt alive again.
"Thank you, thank you! You are too kind." she tried to do a flip of her hair before remembering she had no mane to flip. She chuckled to herself - no pony had minded.
"Another, another!" the filly Trixie had started the story for bounced up and down. "That was so cool!"
"Oooh, ooh! This is like, a million billion times better than the clown I was planning!" Pinkie pushed to the front. "Another story would be super! Super duper! Super duper, um, looper!" if that pony grinned any wider, Trixie thought to herself, her head was going to come apart at her mouth.
"Oh great, juss what we need. More lyin'" a voice came to Trixie's side. She looked over to see Applejack staring her down.
"Disappeared mah hoof. An' what happened to all yer boastin' in that story, hmm?"
"Trixie...always embellishes a little. She tells what's important to the story."
"Pah! Ah knew y' were just the same ole Trixie. Oh, sorry there, Great an' Powerful, right?" she glared at Trixie. Trixie backed away.
"Applejack, it's a party..." Pinkie Pie tried, looking hurt that her friend was bringing down the mood.
"It is? Oh, sorry, Ah figured it was 'listen to the snake-in-the-grass' time. Given that she can't seem t' keep her mouth shut long enough to let us ponies get along. What, saw a crowd an' ya juss had to be th' center, didn' ya?" she accused. Trixie shook her head, backing away.
"Trixie, Trixie." Applejack mocked. "Maybe you could at leas' charge us to lissen to you lie, then you could stop leanin' on Fluttershy!"
"She's too kind for her own good." Applejack growled. "Lettin' you use her like that."
"I...I..." tears brimmed in Trixie's eyes. She couldn't face this. She wasn't great and powerful, she was as worthless as the farmer pony claimed. She turned and fled, the crowd parting before her. She ran into the night, tears streaming from her eyes. Inside, Applejack snorted and nodded.
"Couldn' argue wi' the truth, could she? Glad that's...hey, anypony else feel cold all of th' sudden?" she looked around. She realized there was a wide berth around her. Confused, she looked around. Then she met a pair of expressive eyes that now conveyed an anger like she had never imagined.
Trixie was done crying by the time she heard another pony above her. She looked back to the open chest with all her old gear in it. What a foal she had been. She should have left town the moment she had been able to stand on her feet. This town had poisoned her. She didn't even know who she was anymore.
Muttering came from upstairs - no doubt somepony with that dragon Trixie had barged past. She had just needed to remember that she had ever once had pride, ever once been a somepony, strong and beautiful. She glanced up, and carefully brushed the feather out of her hair. She brought it in front of her and stared at it. She glanced to the chest, and back to the feather. Slowly, carefully, she placed the feather in the chest and closed the lid. She heard another pony rush down the stairs.
"Trixie!" Twilight sounded frantic. Trixie looked over, surprised. The purple mare held a hoof to her chest. "Oh thank Celestia. You're alright!"
Trixie frowned. "What? Trixie was yelled at, Twilight, not beaten. Though that might have been more merciful... besides, what do you care?"
"What do I- Trixie, look, Fluttershy said she couldn't find you."
"Fluttershy? Did she go after me?"
"Y-yes. After she..." Twilight swallowed. "Yelled at Applejack."
"Come again?" Trixie could hear the words...they just didn't make sense.
"She yelled at her. I don't mean Fluttershy-yell. I've only seen her angry like that once before. She yelled a dragon into submission... I think this was even worse." she shuddered. "When she was done, she ran after you. She came back and said you weren't at home. She and Rainbow Dash just went back out."
"I...she defended me?"
"She was so furious at Applejack." Twilight said. "I never thought, it, she, it was worse than a Stare. It was a Glare. She... she made Applejack cry!"
"You're lying." Trixie replied, eyes wide.
Twilight shook her head. "Not to brag, but I've faced dragons, ursa minors, Nightmare Moon...I'll take all of them over Fluttershy angry. You gotta go let her know you're okay!"
"I must? No, no, of course I must!" Trixie got to her feet. All her regrets washed away at the thought of the yellow pegasus "Yes, you're right. Oh, oh my. I'm coming Fluttershy!" she rushed past Twilight. That strange feeling, stranger than nervousness to her, returned like never before. She felt like her heart was going to explode, like it wouldn't stay still in her chest. It infected the rest of her, demanding she move, demanding she not just sit in pity. Trixie rushed up the stairs and out the door, into the cool night. She found herself sure-hoofed as she ran towards Fluttershy's hut. Blood thumped in her ears, and the ground seemed to fly by underneath her. The hut came into view quickly, and moments later she burst through the door.
"Fluttershy!" she called the second she entered the house, her heart ready to leap out her throat. To her dismay, the house was dark and empty. "Fluttershy?" she tried the kitchen, took a few steps up the staircase "Fluttershy!" she peeked out the back door. Something colorful against the night sky caught her eye. She looked up, and was equal parts disappointed and relieved to see Rainbow Dash flying towards the house. She ran out to meet her.
"Rainbow Dash! Where's Fluttershy?" she asked. Rainbow cringed.
"She...hey, wait. Where's your feather?"
"What? I took it off, why does that-"
"Where?" Dash was in her face suddenly. "What did you do with it?"
"It's in a chest, in Twilight's house." Trixie said, perplexed and worried. "W-where's Fluttershy."
Dash broke eye contact. "She...thought you may have run into the woods again. We started searching but, um...we got separated?"
"Only a little. I came back to get our friends."
"And you're worried over a feather?!"
"I..." Dash paused. Her face grew grim. "So she didn't tell you, huh?"
"W-what? How is this important?!"
"Look, you see a lot of pegasus feathers around?" Dash retorted. When Trixie just gave her a confused look she continued.
"Look, we're not birds. Our feathers grow kinda like hair, so we only molt to lose our baby down. After that, we never lose them, not much. A pegasus only gives up her feathers on purpose for two things. One, if she's gonna die she gives them to her family to remember her. Two...if she thinks she's found her soulmate, they'll trade feathers. And I don't think Fluttershy's gonna die anytime soon."
"Her...soulmate?" the blood drained from Trixie's face. Rainbow Dash nodded, completely serious.
"You don't lose that feather ever, okay?"
"We need to find her." Dash reminded her. "I'm going to go to Twilight. I'll get your feather too. What are you gonna do?"
"I..." Trixie looked to the Everfree forest. The forest that had almost killed her. The forest that had trapped her like a rat. The forest Fluttershy was now trapped in.
"I'm going after her." she said.
"Uh, if we have to look for two lost ponies...."
"Don't worry." Trixie told her. "This is Trixie we're talking about." she flashed Dash a smile she didn't feel and headed towards the forest with confidence she didn't have.
At night the forest became almost pitch black, and Trixie was immediately unsure of where she was going. She looked back and there was no exit behind her, no trail even. Trixie swallowed and forced herself on.
"Fluttershy! Fluttershy?" Trixie called. Rainbow's words had nearly stopped her heart, but the urgency had returned to her and blood thumped in her ears. She didn't know where she was going, but something drove her on, an invisible thread tugged at her still. Moonlight pierced the darkness through gaps in the trees, and Trixie caught glimpses of red eyes and slithering bodies. She forced herself to ignore them and continued on.
Through another gap in the trees Trixie caught a landmark - a small rocky mountain forcing its way above the treeline. Trixie remembered that mountain - the one she had dragged herself up, half-dead, to try to avoid the beasts she now passed by. Of course, Fluttershy would think to check back there. Trixie redoubled her pace, trying to keep sight of the mountain.
"Fluttershy, Fluttershy!" Trixie began to call again as she neared the rocky ground. She stopped to catch her breath, straining to hear any response. She forced herself on, nearing the mountain. Then, as she inhaled to call again, she heard something. A long, high-pitched scream, the scream of a mare in great distress. Something inside Trixie broke at the noise.
"No! No, Fluttershy!" she rushed up the mountainside. The stone was riddled with caves, and her eyes darted around in search of the right one. Then another scream ran out and Trixie's head turned to a particularly large cave mouth just higher up than the one she had found. She galloped towards it, finding the cave grew lighter as she ran inside, not darker.
She rounded a bend in the cave and gasped, skidding to a halt. Fluttershy was in the cave, running around a mound of gems. Her mouth was opened wide as she stared up at a giant green dragon between her and Trixie, chasing after the pegasus.
"It's futile, little pest. Get back here!" the dragon roared, backing Fluttershy against a wall. Its back was to Trixie.
"F-Fluttershy!" Trixie called. The dragon turned its head and snorted gray smoke.
"Two pests in one night. At least now I'll have a decent snack."
Trixie snorted and steadied herself, staring down the dragon. "You shall not harm her." she said. The dragon blinked and laughed.
"Oh, and just what are you going to do, little pony?"
"Clearly you don't know who you're dealing with." Trixie replied, mind racing for a plan. "I feel it only fair to give you warning before it's too late." she began to casually trot around the cave edge, careful not look like she was heading somewhere.
"The Great and Powerful Trixie does not fear you, dragon. Why should she? You are hardly the most intimidating creature she has seen. Why, the beasts Trixie has faced eye to eye have had teeth larger than your tail! Perhaps you do not believe Trixie? Trixie understands, not many ponies have laid low ursa majors with such practiced ease as she." She was aware that the dragon's attention was still fully on her. "Even if you do not believe me, dragon, tell me, do you believe it worth the risk? If you so desire we can simply part, neither the worse for wear. So tell me, are dragons as wise as the stories tell?"
The dragon blew smoke through his nostrils. "So much talk. I think I'll take my chance, little pest."
"Well then." Trixie replied, "What you fail to realize is- Fluttershy run now! Run!" Trixie yelled. To her horror the pegasus just locked up in shock and stared up at her, barely shaking her head.
"Oh by Celestia's second horn..." Trixie swore. The dragon swept around in a growl, but saw his prey had remained in place. Trixie took the opportunity to run up to the dragon's tail. She pivoted on her forelegs and gave her best buck, whacking him with some force. The dragon yelped and turned around.
"Oh dear." Trixie tried to run as the dragon roared. She wasn't expecting such a large beast's tail to move with such agility. It flicked up behind her and clubbed her, sending her flying across the cave. She cried out as she hit one of the piles of jewels, dozens of gems scratching and cutting into her side. She looked up through the pain to realize she had landed near Fluttershy.
"Trixie!" Fluttershy ran over, tears in her eyes. "I, I couldn't..."
Trixie smiled, flinching as her weight caused the gems to shift and scrape her more. "I'm sorry Fluttershy. I left your feather behind."
"Rainbow told me." those words made Fluttershy's eyes widen. "I wish I had been able to repay you for everything."
Fluttershy leaned in and nuzzled against Trixie's cheek. "Kindness is it's own reward." she whispered. She pulled back and turned around.
"Touching ." The dragon chuckled. Fluttershy stood her ground. Trixie's eyes widened.
"Y-you won't hurt her. Y-you big meanie!" Fluttershy said, putting herself between Trixie and the dragon. Trixie was in awe.
"Fluttershy..." deep inside her, Trixie felt something change. It was almost like magic. Small, yet powerful, Trixie felt something inside her spark to life.
The dragon's claw swept at them. Trixie closed her eyes, her life flashing in front of her. The fighting, the loneliness, the hollow self-assurance and the lies, the anger, the bitterness...and then Fluttershy. She heard a small clink. She wasn't aware death came with a clink. Realizing she hadn't felt anything, Trixie opened her eyes. She looked up to find the dragon blinking at them, confused. His claw swept down again. Trixie kept her eyes open this time, and watched as the dragon's claw hit...something. A transparent bubble flickered around the two of them, the dragon's claw bouncing off harmlessly. Fluttershy glanced back to Trixie.
"Trixie, are you...?" she stared on. Trixie glanced up, realizing she could see light pouring from just out of sight above her. As the realization swept over her she could feel the light as well, or more aptly its source - the magic pouring freely from her horn.
The dragon raged and swung at them again and again, each time an impenetrable bubble flickering into view as his claws scratched uselessly across it. Trixie stood up, her magic still building, coursing through her body. She felt electrified, every inch of her body alive and tingling. Gemstones lodged in her side fell free as her body healed itself, sealing her wounds closed as if they had never existed. Seeing her stand apparently made the dragon angry, and with a roar he unleashed a torrent of fire upon them. Trixie was ready and gathered her magic before her. She didn't know how she was doing the bubble, but another plan brought forth gems into the shape of a shield, large enough to completely block both of them and then some. The gemstones conducted her magic, creating a truly impenetrable shield, the fire harmlessly flying off around it. Trixie furrowed her brow in concentration and began to push the shield out, push the fire back. The dragon found his fire being pushed aside, the shield nearly reaching his maw before his flame stopped.
"Fluttershy, when I say, you must run for the entrance."
"N-not, not without you."
"No, I promise we shall stay together." Trixie's horn flared brightly. The dragon gathered his breath, trying to stare them into submission.
"Now!" Trixie yelled, sending dozens of gems darting towards the dragon, making it roar in pain. Fluttershy made a break for the exit, and Trixie followed suit, hearing the dragon continue its rage. Even the gems wouldn't wound him much, but they would give him pause. She prepared for the worst and gathered even more gems in the air behind her to create a solid wall. Just in time as flame shot around the gem shield, licking the walls of the cave. Trixie had time to be glad she had no mane or tail to singe. Then she both heard and felt a slam that shook the ground beneath her feet.
"Trixie!" Fluttershy called out. Trixie looked up and saw the dragon had shook loose dozens of sizable rocks that now threatened them. Thinking quickly, Trixie brought the gemstones above them, wincing as boulders rained down. The gems wavered but her spell held as they made it out the cave mouth.
Outside, Trixie forced the gems aside before dumping the spell. She felt like she was beginning to burn up, and the cold night air was welcome.
"I see something!" she heard a shout. She forced herself to her feet and looked up.
"Dash!" she called. The pegasus pony flew through the air towards them.
"Guys, they're over here!" she called over her shoulder. Trixie looked down to see the rest of the gang was running up to them from the forest. Trixie sighed, and began to laugh. They had made it!
The sound of tumbling rock caught Trixie's attention. She turned around, the smile fading from her face. The dragon pushed his way through the small rock slide, his face scratched and bleeding.
"This has gone on long enough!" The dragon roared. Trixie heard gasps and shrieks behind her. She drew herself up and inhaled deeply, sparing a glance at Fluttershy. Eyes so worried, but so hopeful as they stared back at her. Trixie turned to the dragon. She was exhausting herself, her magic was burning her from the inside, and yet the dragon still threatened Fluttershy. Her own life didn't enter into the equation.
"You. Shall. Not. Harm. Her." her voice echoed with the magic that overflowed her body. Her eyes flashed with pure energy, and an aura of blue fire shone around her. The dragon brought up a claw high above his head. Trixie's horn flashed with light and the dragon's claw rocketed to earth. It roared in frustration and brought the other claw up. That too Trixie pinned to the ground. It flared its wings next, threatening to take to the air, or perhaps sweep them off their feet - but again, before it could act, Trixie was ready. The dragon's wing tips went down first, and despite the mighty beast's thrashing it soon found its wings pinned down, surrounded in a blue aura. The dragon roared, but Trixie responded with a flick of her horn and slammed its head into the ground in front of her. The dragon looked at her with wide eyes.
"I would like to ask you again, dragon." Trixie said, approaching it slowly, her magic shimmering wildly. "Do you really want to go through with this, or shall you return to your little cave?"
The dragon just whimpered, its jaw held shut by Trixie's magic. Trixie nodded and released him. The dragon paused, and then backed away. It turned around and headed for its cave. It glanced back, but Trixie was still watching and shot it a look. The dragon sulked away. Happy with that, Trixie nodded and turned around.
The group was all there, staring at her with expressions of pure awe. Only Rainbow Dash wasn't looking on, and she was caring to Fluttershy, who seemed to have gone into shock. Trixie felt the magic around her fade. She slowly came forward to the group.
"Trixie.." Twilight came up to her. "That was amazing!"
"Is she okay? Tell me she's okay?"
"Fluttershy's okay." Dash approached them. "Hey. You forgot this." she reached over and took out something she had tucked into her wing. It was a single yellow feather. Twilight and the others looked on in confusion as Trixie lowered her head to let Dash tuck it behind her ear.
"Thank you." Trixie said. "I just want to say...I blub flut-flut."
"Trixie? Trixie!" Trixie heard the voice call, but her world had turned to black. She felt the cool stone against her face and sighed peacefully as unconsciousness overcame her.