“Seems like any pony with a dash of good sense would think twice before tussling with the Great Trixie,” I taunt. I focus my power to create a tiny storm cloud over the pathetic pegasus’ rump, and concentrate to make its illusory lightning feel real to her.
“Ow!” she yelps, and I smile in satisfaction. Another great triumph for me, the Great and Powerful Trixie.
I stand on my stage, haughty, as the ponies at the front of the crowd argue about who should challenge me next. It only takes a few moments before a white unicorn with a gorgeous purple mane steps to the fore, speaking over who I assume are her friends. There is something about her . . . I can’t quite pin it down, but she has my attention. She calls herself Rarity, then she says, “Rarity conducts herself with beauty and grace.” I narrow my eyes. Is she mocking me? Is she turning down the challenge of the Great Trixie? I think not.
I call, “Oooh, what’s the matter? Afraid you’ll get a hair out of place in that rat’s nest you call a mane?”
As I predicted, no one who takes that sort of care of herself is without vanity, and that jibe enrages her. She leaps up onto the stage. My eyes are locked to her. There is something about the way she moves. . . . “You may think you’re tough with all of your so-called powers,” she says, and I panic a little, though not a jot of it shows on my face. Can she see through my illusions? Does she know my secret? I’ve only met one other unicorn who had anything approaching my skill with illusion magic, and he could see right through my shell. It is not an experience I am eager to repeat. This flashes through my mind in an instant, and I force myself to pay attention to my opponent: “. . . there’s more to magic than your brutish ways. A unicorn needs to be more than just muscle. A unicorn needs to have style.”
Now I am sure: this unicorn named Rarity can see through my illusions, and is telling me that. But why tell me in secret like this? My gaze has been fixed on her as she stalked around my stage and clothed herself in illusion, and at last the gears in my head click together and I see her clearly. My heart lurches, and I would have staggered but for my iron control while performing. Now I know. Rarity was born a stallion, and has made herself a mare. And such a mare! A tight, hot ball explodes in my mind, a swirling mass of feelings and thoughts and impressions, whipping through me in the space of a breath:
She is everything I dreamed of being when I was a colt, before I began growing and filling out into an ugly, brutish stallion’s body, huge and muscular and horrible. Every day had been like wearing a suit of clothes tailored for someone else. My talent with illusions is the only reason I am still alive. I was saved from self-destruction by being able to change that suit of clothes for one which was made for me.
It is also the reason I cannot stay in any place for long—familiarity lets ponies see through the shell eventually, and I have had my fill and more than my fill of the quiet horror in the eyes of my acquaintances.
Rarity has done what I could not. She has made herself into the pony she was born to be. I am filled with admiration and envy, and a dark core of anger. Why should she be so lucky? I have not been well-rested in many years, thanks to maintaining my shell constantly. She has grace, and beauty, and friends, and I hate her, and I want to know her, oh Sun I want to know her.
Rarity’s voice cuts through the churning mass in my mind. She doesn’t even look at me as she continues speaking, standing there in her beautiful body. “A unicorn is not a unicorn without grace and beauty.”
——- Time Limit ——-
My heart ices over. She sees through to the ill-fitting suit hidden under the shell, and she disdains it, she rejects it, she mocks it. I will cry later, when I’m out of this disgusting little nowhere town and away from her. I will cry later, not now. Because the show must go on. I want to stab at her perfection, her easy possession of the thing I crave most in life. I push magic into my horn.
I turn her hair green, a manifestation of the ugliness I see inside her, and she runs away into the crowd in horror. I watch her go. I wish we could have been friends. I push the thought away, allowing my accustomed loneliness to fall around me like an old, comfortable blanket. The show must go on.
Comments by Kyronea:
Ouch, Norse! Double mix of implied transphobia, harsh self hatred on the part of Trixie, a dose of Trixity, as well as a touch of other little implied secrets. It’s your usual blend of fantastic writing and touching tales. Well done as usual, Norse.