Her wistful self gazed back at her from the blackened glass, reflected by the night beyond. The mare smiled sadly, a hint of understanding. "I'll give you a hint, they are not for you. Not for the Great and Powerful Trixie."
The azure unicorn brushed a strand of light cyan hair from her face and sighed, pinching off one of the bright flowers and holding it up before her. "I know," she said quietly to herself, watching the flower.
The mare in the mirror took the flower gently and pulled a petal off, letting it drop on the table. "You know who she loves. It was never the Great and Powerful Trixie. It never will be."
"It was Twilight," Trixie whispered, half as a question, though she knew the answer well.
The mare nodded sympathetically. "You never loved her either, did you? You know deep in your heart who you truly love, don't you?"
Trixie gave a little nod of her own. "Twilight Sparkle." It was not a question.
"It was always Twilight."
"Always will be."
"I know. And Luna would take her from you. She tried to kill you. You, the Great and Powerful Trixie. And she'll try again if you let her."
Trixie's jaw tensed as she glared at the flowers.
"But you wouldn't let her, would you? You know what you must do."
Trixie nodded and picked up the flowers before turning around, throwing the bouquet into the fireplace with a flick of her head. The flames licked over the gift, turning the once lush and colorful flowers to ashes as she watched. "Twilight is mine!" She picked up a coat by the door and threw it over her shoulders as she stepped out into the night.
Behind her a purple unicorn watched her in the window with a dark smile. "And you are mine, my dearest Trixie. All mine."
Luna felt a slight caress of her cheek. With a faint groan she opened her eyes and blinked at the hazy darkness around her. Her head felt heavy, like it was hoping to sink through whatever surface she was lying upon. "W-where am I? What is going on?" she whispered, struggling with her memory.
A pale light lit up above her, casting long shadows over a familiar face. Luna felt a great relief as Trixie smiled back at her. "Trixie … I'm so glad you're here! What … happened? How … how did you escape?"
Trixie remained where she was, still smiling. "Don't worry about that. What is important is what is going to happen."
Something about Trixie made Luna pause. "W-what do you mean, Trixie?" She felt suddenly uneasy around the otherwise so familiar mare.
Trixie leaned in closer. "Tell me, Luna, who do you love?"
Luna tried to focus on Trixie, tried to remain calm and clear her foggy mind. She didn't like feeling helpless, tied down and unable to move as she was. "You know I love you, Trixie. Please, I don't like this. Please help me free of these bonds."
Trixie's smile vanished. A darkness filled her eyes as she straightened back up, looking down at Luna. "I don't like being lied to. You never loved me, we both know that, so let's drop the game."
Tears welled up in Luna's eyes as she felt a growing panic. "That's not true! Please—" She choked on her words. "Please, Trixie. I do love you. This isn't you, please … I don't like this."
"Oh! You don't like me now? Well …" Trixie leaned back down, staring into Luna's frightened eyes. "I never liked you either. I never loved you, Luna." She smiled at Luna's widening eyes. "Don't look so shocked. You knew this was coming, but you had planned to be standing where I'm standing now, hadn't you? Ever so sorry to disappoint, but I couldn't let that happen, now could I?"
Luna struggled against the bonds holding her. She wanted to get free, needed to be free. The pony standing above her was not the Trixie she knew, she couldn't believe that. Her mind fought against the haze as her horn began to glow. If she could only get free of her bonds. Her magic fizzled uselessly as a hoof struck against her jaw hard. The copper tang of blood filled her mouth as she looked up at Trixie through the tears.
"Bad move, Luna." Trixie's own horn glowed and something floated up beside her, hanging in the air above Luna's eyes. A long row of metal teeth glinted in the magical light.
Luna's eyes fixed upon the saw dangling in front of her. "Y-you can't do that!" She gasped as Trixie lowered the tool, placing it against the base of Luna's horn. "Trixie!"
Trixie reached out a hoof, placing it against Luna's head and pushing down against the bed. "Better lie still, or my hoof might slip and you'll get ugly scars and jagged edges, dear."
Rarity turned slightly, burying her face in the soft covering. Something soft and warm poked her ear and rubbed against her face insistently. "It's too early, Opal …" she moaned and pushed the cat away with a weary hoof. "Just one more hour." She turned her head and sighed. Just a little longer … that would be nice.
A sudden pain shattered her slumber as the cat took an angry swipe at her cheek, leaving behind five thin red lines. Rarity's eyes flashed open with a gasp. "Opal! Wh—" Her protest at the rude awakening was cut short as she tried to grasp her surroundings. "—ere am I?" The looming trees and dark gardens didn't look anything like her home back in Ponyville.
Slowly memories began to flood back to her. The trip to the asylum, the greenhouse … the scent! "That incense!" she half cried as she recalled the events of that night. She had stepped into the greenhouse behind Fluttershy and recognized the sweet scent. It was the same incense she used when Sweetie Belle couldn't fall asleep, just stronger. She had felt the slumber come over her and backed out … she remembered stumbling out of the greenhouse towards the trees, calling for Fluttershy and the others.
"Fluttershy!" Rarity jumped up and looked about herself frantically. Everything was quiet, and not far away she could see the greenhouse. It was now dark. Nowhere could she see any sign of Fluttershy or any of the others. "Oh, Opal, of all the worst possible things …" she moaned, having cleanly forgotten the claw marks on her cheek as she lifted the cat off the ground and set it down on her back. "I have to find my friends!"
Rarity snuck up along the greenhouse and peeked through the door. The place was dark and the sweet scent had left, blown away by the breeze. Carefully she stepped inside and poked her head as quietly as she could through the green cover of plants hanging everywhere. "Nopony here," she whispered and backed out through the door. "Somepony must have ponynapped my friends! They would never just leave me … would they?"
Rarity looked around at the gardens and the dark, looming asylum. She sank a big lump in her throat and tried to keep her legs steady. "Oh Opal, this is simply dreadful! How will I ever find them?" A slight shiver crept along her spine and down through her legs. "Well! If I stand around here any longer I'll become positively frozen! Now where did I put—" Rarity paused, her eyes widening at a sudden thought and her horn lit up as of its own volition. "My diamond encrusted scarf! Oh I hope Fluttershy still has it …come along, Opal!"
Rarity's horn glowed, pulsing softly as she nudged the door open. She took a glance back at the garden, nervously scouting for anything lurking in the darkness, before stepping inside. The door on the side of the building lead to a large kitchen. Pots and pans were scattered over the tables as if somepony had been busy cooking before suddenly abandoning all work. Now the kitchen was silent and dark. Opalescence hissed and stood up on Rarity's back, puffing herself up as if at some unseen threat.
Rarity yelped as the cat's sharp claws dug into her back. "Ouch! Opal, darling! What is wrong with you?" She pulled the hissing cat off and sat it down on the floor where the animal proceeded to hide between her hooves. Rarity trotted cautiously through the kitchen, whispering at the cat following along. "Be quiet darling, we don't want anypony to hear us now, do we?"
The light from her horn provided only little illumination in the darkness, and Rarity had to walk slowly to not stumble into tables and walls. As she turned the corner of a table a glint of something in the darkness ahead made her pause. After a moment she took a few slow steps towards the source of the reflection. A single eye looked up at her, reflecting the soft light of her magic. "H-hello?" Rarity's horn glowed stronger, shinning ahead of her and falling on a stallion collapsed on the floor behind another table.
"Oh my, good sir, are you alright? What is the matter?" Rarity exclaimed and stepped closer. She stopped almost instantly and felt her insides churn as her light fell behind the table. The pony was lying on his back behind the table in a pool of dried blood and scattered muffins that he must have been carrying before collapsing. A deep cut across his throat nearly separated his head from the body.
Rarity stumbled back with a choked cry, stepping on Opal in the process. The cat wailed loudly and Rarity's hoof slipped, causing her to lose balance and fall back, violently crashing through a door into another room. In the fall her horn flared brightly, briefly lighting up the room to reveal a nightmarish scene before her.
Rarity screamed as the light died around her, yet the blood still stood out in burning red letters before her eyes, forever seared into her mind.
"A gift for Twilight, something fitting! You always gave her gifts, did you not?" Trixie threw the saw away and held up Luna's horn before her, looking at it with deep satisfaction in the dim light. "She will love this one, don't you think?" Luna looked away, crying quietly.
Trixie stood in silent contemplation of her trophy for a few minutes. She wasn't sure what she felt. "Look at her!" Trixie instinctively turned her head in response to the thought, her cold eyes lingering on Luna's face. Tears streamed down the princess' cheeks from her closed eyes, but her expression was one of defiance, not the despair of a broken pony. "So helpless now. We're not done with her yet, are we?" Trixie closed her eyes, shaking her head.
Luna's horn clattered against the floor as Trixie dropped the grim trophy and fell on her knees, a new look of horror on her face. "I … Luna! W-what have I done?" Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at the horn on the floor before her. "I-I'm so sorry … I never …" Luna remained silent. "I'm a monster," Trixie cried in despair. "I can not fight this!"
"Trixie …" Luna's voice was weak from the slumbering effect of the drug. She stirred a little, pulling against her restraints. "We need to get out of here, while … while we can."
Trixie stood up and looked at Luna with a pained expression. "I'm sorry … for everything."
Luna broke her off. "Trixie! I would give anything to … save you from this curse. But you need to forget everything for a moment and just get me free of these bonds before I lose you again." Trixie looked down. Her horn flared briefly as she untied Luna's hooves. Luna quickly threw off the leather straps and rolled off the bed, standing on shaking legs.
"Luna … how can I ever—" Trixie looked away, unable to face the princess.
"I followed you out of love, Trixie. I swore I would do anything to help you, that I would give anything if I could end this nightmare somehow. None of that has changed." She reached out and placed a hoof on Trixie's cheek, turning her head so that she could look into her eyes. They stood for what seemed like a long time, eyes locked. "Nothing has changed …" Luna whispered and closed her eyes as she leaned forwards.
Trixie sighed as their lips met. A faint gleam crossed her eyes, a brief satisfied smile. "Born for the stage, my dear Trixie. A fine performance …" Pride filled Trixie's heart. She was doing well, but the play was far from over. She relaxed and lost herself in the kiss.
A sharp pain and the unpleasant taste of her own blood broke Trixie out of the moment. Her eyes widened, and she let out a muffled cry as Luna's teeth sank deep into her tongue. Trixie stumbled and fell back, feeling the air forced from her lungs as Luna pushed her hard and spat out a mouthful of blood on the floor.
"Nothing has changed … except you!" Luna hissed as she snatched her severed horn in her mouth and charged at Trixie, death gleaming in her eyes. "You can't fool me, not for a second, monster!"
For but a second the flash from Rarity's horn lit up the grand dining hall and revealed a scene she would forever wish she could wipe from her memories. It looked like most if not all of the asylum's residents had been gathered here, and then savagely slaughtered. Some seemingly while eating dinner. Everywhere ponies were sitting or lying, thrown randomly on the floor or dragged onto a table, with throats cut, heads severed, and guts disemboweled in a seemingly senseless massacre born of some unfathomable rage.
And above and around the sea of blood which drenched the floor and tables, words had been smeared crudely in red upon the walls and ceiling. Large and messy letters scribbled by a furious hoof, their crimson message burning in the dark with some demonic light, the strangely lucid ramblings of a mad pony.
"NO MORE LEASH TO KEEP ME
AWAY FROM YOU, NO MORE
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS ENTWINED
IN A DREAM, A NIGHTMARE,
YET SO FAR APART,
ALWAYS OUT OF REACH!
STARING THROUGH A MIRROR,
CAN SEE YOU, CAN TOUCH YOU,
PART OF ME, APART
FROM ME, NEVER AGAIN
SCREAMING THROUGH MY BARS,
DON'T TOUCH ME! NO MORE!
MY REVENGE SWORN IN BLOOD,
UNLEASHED, HAS SHED YOU
FROM ME, SET TO CLAIM
BACK WHAT YOU TOOK FROM ME,
I NOW SWEAR, I COME
FOR YOU! JUST FOR YOU!"
Rarity scrambled to her hooves and backed out through the door to the kitchen, away from the monstrous scene. She shut the door and leaned against it, ignoring the dead cook nearby. She stood there in the darkness and silence for a long time, her breathing a low hissing.
Slowly, after a while, she began to stir again. She looked around for Opal, but there was no sign of the cat anywhere. Maybe it had run off, that was the least of her concerns. She needed to find Fluttershy and the others, if it wasn't already too late. If they hadn't already joined the poor lot in the other room. A determination took over from the terror in her mind and her horn once again lit up, pulsing faintly as she turned to open the door. Somewhere out there her friends were waiting, depending on her. She would not fail them.
Weaving through the massacre, Rarity made it to the door at the other end of the dining hall when she heard echoing hoof steps on the other side. Swiftly she stepped to the side and pressed herself against the wall next to the door. Darkness fell upon the room as she dismissed her spell and held her breath. The hoof steps reached the door and paused. Rarity felt her heart beat faster as the door opened, and she pressed herself closer up against the wall and into the shadows.
An indigo unicorn with a broken horn walked in and continued across the room, holding a lit candle in her mouth and carrying a pair of old saddlebags over her back. Her head was low as she wound her way amidst the corpses, and in the dim light Rarity seemed to catch a look of shame on her face. Rarity considered jumping her while she had the advantage, but quickly decided against it. She couldn't risk getting caught. Finding her friends was more important, and if this pony was on her way out maybe that was a good thing.
The other pony reached the door to the kitchen and suddenly paused. Rarity's heart skipped a beat as she pondered if the other pony might have noticed something out of the ordinary. Had she dropped something in her fall? Rarity mentally checked everything but couldn't think of anything she might be missing. If the other pony turned around she would surely spot Rarity immediately. Rarity watched the other pony closely, preparing herself for action should she turn.
The other pony shook her head back and forth a little, then finally continued on through the door. Rarity released her breath in a sigh of relief as the door to the kitchen closed behind the pony. Quickly she hurried out of the dining hall and into the dark corridor beyond.
The gloomy corridors seemed to have no end as Rarity's horn lead her deeper and deeper into the asylum, down long passages and winding stairs into what she thought could only be the depths of the very abyss. Her hoof steps echoed against the hard stone floors, frequently making her spin around when she thought she heard somepony behind her, only to stare down yet another empty hall. The atmosphere and constant feeling of being watched or followed was starting to wear on her nerves, and on several occasions had she almost set off in a panicked gallop at some perceived sound or creeping shadow in the corner of her eyes. And every time it had been nothing, or so she assured herself.
She wasn't sure how long it had been. Her horn glowed more brightly now, but still she had no idea where her friends were, or even if the spell was leading her to the right place. Perhaps their captors had taken the scarf from Fluttershy, or she could have lost it somewhere in the endless halls and rooms. Rarity gnawed her lower lip in anxiety and listened at yet another door before poking her head inside. Laundry room. Nothing.
She had to be close to the scarf, she could feel it. But where was it? Rarity turned and looked down a corridor lined with doors. So many doors. She had to concentrate, had to focus. Maybe she could get a clearer image of where exactly the spell was pointing. "I miss Twilight," she whispered. The sound of her voice made her feel a little better, a little less alone and lost. It was a small thing, but it helped. "She would have known a spell, or … something."
Rarity closed her eyes, fighting the fear and desire to keep them open. Her horn lit up a little brighter as she tried to get a better image of where to go. It was difficult with the constant feeling of somepony watching behind her. And she was growing tired, the effort of keeping the spell up for so long wearing on her. But she couldn't give up. Never.
Slowly she began to walk once more, down the new corridor. All the doors seemed to lead to cells, cells that had not been used in a long time from the looks of it. Rarity stopped at the end and listened at the last door. It was silent like the others. "Can't be anywhere else," she whispered, "it must be here." She pushed the old door open and peered down a crumbling flight of stairs. Rarity wrinkled her nose at the dust and cobwebs, but something else took her attention. Somepony had obviously been this way recently, because the dust on the steps had been disturbed.
Encouraged by this, Rarity began her descent further into the earth. "What is this place?" she thought as she stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked around at the ancient stone walls and crumbling floor. It didn't look like the rest of the asylum and had obviously not been used for anything in ages.
Rarity took another step down, but felt her hoof slip on a broken step. With a cry she fell the last few steps into the room, landing hard on her face. Her cry echoed through the room for a bit as she sat up and rubbed her bruises. "Oh Rarity, darling, you look just terrible," she sighed at her ragged looks. Why had she come along on this horrible trip? Why had all this happened, why did it all have to happen? First her little sister, and her friend Twilight. They were gone, she would never see them again. And now this, her friends lost, maybe worse. Rarity sat in the cold, dank room and cried as the memories and the miserable situation she was in overwhelmed her. She had failed them all, like she failed her sister and Twilight.
A tiny voice broke her out of her misery. Rarity looked up with wide eyes. Had she really heard it? Was it another trick of the mind, a cruel joke played by her senses?
"… anypony? p-please …"
"Fluttershy!" Rarity cried and jumped up, looking around. "Where are you?!" There was a long silence before the voice returned, barely audible.
"R-Rarity? I-I don't know …"
Rarity listened with bated breath, following the sound down a narrow passage. Her horn burned brightly as she stopped in front of an old door. "Fluttershy?" she called, listening at the door. There was a faint and familiar scent from behind the door, sweet and soothing, but no reply. Rarity frowned. She knew she would have to work quickly now.
With a deep intake of air, Rarity threw open the door and stepped into the damp room. Fluttershy was lying, tied up on a bed on one side of the room with Angel nearby. On the other side, Pinkie, Gummy and Spike were tied up likewise, all soundly sleeping. Rarity could find no sign of either Trixie or Luna, but didn't waste time speculating about their absence. In a flash of her horn she had them all untied—that was thankfully one thing she could do easily, practically in her sleep as it were. Dragging the drugged and sleepy ponies and assorted animals out of the room while holding her breath was another task entirely. "I miss Twilight," she thought to herself once again, reminded of the purple unicorn's great show of magic when she lifted that Ursa so long ago.
Trixie fell on her back with Luna swiftly upon her, the sharp horn in Luna's mouth aimed at her heart. She rolled to the side to evade the attack and tried to push the princess off, but Luna proved stronger and forced her back down with great force. The back of her head hit the floor and she felt her vision blur as she tried to hold the princess back. "Please … I-I'm sorry, for everything! I-I love you, Luna, please …" she begged.
Luna hissed and stabbed again, a grim determination shining through the tears in her eyes. "Beg all you want, you're not fooling me, I know your little mind games. You are not the Trixie I knew, you are nothing but a monster. It is too late for second chances now. I should have let Celestia have you executed after all, at least it would have been merciful."
Luna's words hit her harder than she had expected. Something deep within her stirred, a burning rage. A dark ember glowed in her eyes and magic flowed within and through her, erupting in a burst which threw Luna back against the wall. Trixie stood up as Luna collapsed on the floor. "If that is how you would like it," she hissed as she picked Luna up in her magic, "then you shall have your monster!"
Trixie advanced on Luna who struggled helplessly in the magical grip. Something floated up between them, a puppet in the likeness of a dark mare, long threads flowing along attached to its limbs. "Remember this?" Trixie held up the doll in front of Luna. "You tried to strangle me with it once, long ago. It was our first meeting, even if I didn't know it at the time. Can you guess where this is going?" The strings stirred and wrapped around Luna's neck as Trixie leaned in close to her. "A fitting conclusion to this, our last meeting."
Trixie watched as the strings tightened. Luna gasped for air, struggling in growing despair against the magic. The princess' eyes grew wider, almost pleading. Trixie smiled, unable to look away even for a second. Luna continued to struggle for a while as the strings wrapped even tighter, but soon her body grew still. Trixie stared into the now empty eyes of the mare she had once called her love. It was over. Without moving she let the magic fade away, watching the body fall limply upon the floor. A tear ran down her cheek. It was beautiful. So beautiful.
"The show is over, my love."