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Fate and Coincidences [Closed]


SteelEagle
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Pegasi were not fans of sudden, violent storms that broke over areas that were so lazily patrolled and controlled by the weather pegasi that the only difference between they and the storms over the Everfree lay in title alone. It seemed rude of the weather to do that, seeing as it was just so much simpler for them to be lazy and allow the pegasi to justify their lofty position atop the world. Pathfinder chuckled to herself through chattering teeth; that joke was a killer back in her schoolfilly days. She still found it funny too, mostly because for some reason a lot of her friends wanted to become weather pegasi. Well well well, school-age tormentors, who was laughing now?!

As another fierce gust, driven in her mind by the sharp whip of lightning that split the sky above with a mighty and unforgiving crack followed by an enormous boom, slammed into her and sent Pathfinder flying around the sky haphazardly and with only the limpest form of control, she imagined that they were still the ones laughing. After all, they were probably back in Cloudsdale still dating all the cute colts and beautiful mares and living in their big cloud mansions and eating all that fine food and generally having an easy time of life. Of course they'd laugh because all they saw was an idiotic pegasus flying around in a storm when she could have used a few brain cells and been, well, anywhere else in the world. Then again that was why they were acutely lame and she was amazingly awesome.

She wasn't just some stupid pegasus flying in a storm, she was Pathfinder, full-time adventurer and Daring Do Fan Club President, and she wasn't flying through a storm. She was powering through a storm, making it her little storm slave(even as another gust tossed her ruefully up in the air). She wasn't wandering aimlessly for no reason, because her aimless wandering had a definitive reason behind it. She was on an adventure, and that by its very nature made her life infinitely better than theirs. Whenever she made it back to Cloudsdale and tried to hang out around her old haunts, but was inevitably forced out because she was too old, she made it a point to bless her old friends and enemies and tormentors and bullies. After all, what better revenge than living well, what better way to live than by adventuring? The logic was perfect, even if the fools didn't recognize it. Or maybe it was because her beautiful pelt didn't match the old school photographs and she had to go through a ringer just to get in, making a mockery of it all according to those same stupid ponies? Ha, what foo-

Pathfinder would have continued that train of thought, but another series of gusts sent her cascading around the sky like an out of control pinball. It ended almost as soon as it began, but Pathfinder knew she could take little more. She had improved by leaps and bounds over the past several months, but the lingering effects on her wings after the chemicals in The Pit were the sort of things a pegasus truly feared. Her wings were still weak and she had little stamina. Pathfinded started to glide down below, the air seeming to part for her as she landed with a near-silent thud, her form illuminated by an even sharper crack and flash than before. Luckily here the gusts couldn't steal her balance like they could her form above, which made the heavy rain collecting on the brim of her hat more bearable than it would have been otherwise. All in all, Pathfinder was happy to see the weather in this area fall completely and utterly out of any local pegasi's control and in the exciting world of weather gone mad, Pathfinder would find herself in a much better position.

Still, she wasn't immune to catching a cold and her eyes scanned her surroundings. Heavily forested, though that came as no shock at all. She had to land in the densest part of the Whitetail Woods. It lacked the packed-in feeling of the Everfree Forest and it was obviously used with some leisure, but it was still a huge forest. If you got lost, you would remain lost for some time and all the proper placement of trees in Equestria wouldn't help you get out. That little fact also made getting good cover from the elements a bit harder as trees didn't overlap as often. And THAT little fact was why Pathfinder considered her adventurer's luck golden as she saw what appeared to be a crashed treehouse not fifty hoofesteps away. It had the form of some sort of living space on top of a platform, but both were broken to such a degree that Pathfinder found it hard to believe anything other than calamity had struck. Still, shelter of some kind was better than shelter of no kind, and Pathfinder started a healthy canter towards the structure close by.

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Doctor Whooves holed up in his self-propelled cart, the rain beating down upon the bright blue canvas stretched over his head. His tan coat dripped lightly, his dark brown hair slicked along his head. The firebug lantern's light at the top of the canvas swelled and dimmed, swelled and dimmed, lighting up the peak of the canvas like a beacon into the night. He hunched over a half-dismantled engine in the rear of the compartment, a spaghetti's mess of tubes spilled out of it into his hooves. He had a screwdriver clenched in his teeth as he fumbled with re-seating several pneumatic connectors.

[colour=#8b4513]"So when the landshark came after the bait, it went flying off the cliff and into the valley. Since the valley was geographically isolated by solid rock, the landshark couldn't escape, and they set up some sort of natural preserve around it, with fences warning ponies away. All neat and tidy!"[/colour] he mumbled around the screwdriver, finishing thee story as he tried to shove the mess of tubing back into the engine. [colour=#8b4513]"Right, now put two, three, and seven back in place, would you?"[/colour]

The lightning crashed overhead, illuminating everything briefly for the two ponies huddled under the canvas.

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Trixie sighed and rolled her eyes for the hundreth time as she held aloft an assortment of purple glowing mechanical parts. Once again they were stuck because the Doctor's self-propelled cart had managed to propel itself into throwing another rod, or was it a bolt? Maybe it was another clogged valve, or once again, a fluid leak? She had seen them all during their short time together, and it made her wonder why he didn't just pull the wagon like every other pony did? Still, she had to admit, it was a fascinating contraption, one she had never quite been able to wrap her head around, even though she was sure she had seen every part by now.

[colour=#6699ff]"Taking care of a landshark is nothing if you have a unicorn of sufficient magical prowess to contain him; just one more reason it is good for you to have the Great and Powerful Trixie around to keep you safe!" [/colour] Well, really she was there for the promise of mysterious and ancient magic, an ongoing quest that had lead them from Bridalback to here in the Whitetail with little to show for it other than another breakdown and a slightly leaky canvas which kept dripping right in the back of her neck, and trickled down under her lovely cloak.

Trixie shoved the parts back into place at the Doctor's request. [colour=#6699ff]"I suppose we'll just have to stay here for the night; too late to find an inn now, what with being in the middle of nowhere and all."[/colour] At least it wasn't the Everfree, the worst thing you find around Whitetail were grouchy bears. Generally speaking. She had learned better than to underestimate the trouble this eccentric earth pony could discover in the most innocuous places. [colour=#6699ff]"This next clue had best pan out! Trixie grows impatient to attain the mystical knowledge of the ancients so she may become even a better virtuoso!" [/colour] In truth she wasn't sure what she'd do with this knowledge once they found it, but the temptation was too much to ignore. Right now, she just had to resign to yet another night curled up on the cold wooden floor of the cart, dreaming that she had somepony to snug up next to for warmth other than that bony scarecrow of a pony.

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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder had gaily trotted towards the misshapen mess of a shelter with abandon for some time she felt, though it was probably not as long as it felt in the crashing chaos of a storm that swatted about her even on the ground. Regardless of how ramshackle it was, it was far better than the current craziness that she occupied on the ground. Gainful trotting followed and she could make out a dim light from within the shelter before long, her eyes finding success despite the fierce winds trying to slam shut her eyes. She got closer and voices, a stallion and a mare, could be heard from the confines of it. Pathfinder's ears tried to perk up as she started a swift gallop before launching herself through an opening.

Immediately she was bathed in weak light, skidding to a stop in front of two ponies by mere chance. One was an Earth pony stallion who had the smell of sweat about him, and the other was a unicorn mare who had the smell of lavender sweets about her. It was an odd pairing and a slightly odder mixture of smells, Pathfinder notwithstanding. She smiled wide at her new friends.

[colour=#006400]"Hey there, fillies and gentlecolts! Would you two mind if I hid in here for a while? That storm's getting really rough out there!"[/colour] She blasted with some excited authority, already peering around for what sort of sleeping arrangements the duo had. She couldn't see any, though that had more to do with her eyes still adjusting to a world without insane weather. If they were lovers, it would make the night highly awkward. Unless of course they were secretly in love with one another but were just unable to say it! That would be pretty awesome. She lacked that sort of romantic misconnection in her soon to be released(after it had been written, edited, and submitted of course) adventure novel. Research! Well, that and she was on the trail of a stolen relic of griffon legend, but whatever. Things were what they were.

Then she recognized the mare in front of her and leapt up a bit, flank almost slamming into the stallion.

[colour=#006400]"Hey! You're the Great and Powerful Trixie! I saw you perform in Stalliongrad a while back! Unless you're a changeling!"[/colour] She said dramatically before sticking her nose onto the side of the unicorn's neck and sniffing. Nope, still smelled the same. She had tried to leap from the crowd to tackle one of the hallucinations at the show and despite missing swiftly, had gotten a good whiff of the performer. She smelled the same.

[colour=#006400]"Nope! You are definitely Trixie. Awesome! I loved your show! Who's your helper?"[/colour] Pathfinder turned around, reversing the flank tpo snout scenario as she tried to make out the stallion below. Sadly, he was obscured and she was stricken by a bout of laziness.

[colour=#006400]"Hey there, Trixie's helper. Whatcha doing down there?"[/colour] She asked, tapping his thigh gingerly.

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Doctor Whooves started at the unexpected voice, banging his head on the roof of the casing, then pulling out. [colour=#daa520] "Oh, good grief, that sounded like Pathfi-"[/colour] He turned to see that his initial reaction wasn't wrong. [colour=#daa520]"Oh no..."[/colour]

As much as he approved of other adventurer ponies, he wasn't sure he could really qualify her as one of them ... more just a fangirl of adventurers. She'd swiftly gained a reputation amongst several of the ponies in Doctor Whooves' circle - thus far, he'd managed to avoid running into her, but here she was in his cart. Just what he needed - a fangirl possibly falling for *him* next instead of some imaginary book character.

[colour=#daa520]"Oh, ah, no,"[/colour] he said swiftly, [colour=#daa520]"No, not a helper ..."[/colour] He sighed softly, then said,[colour=#daa520] "I am Doctor Whooves, just a simple travelling pony, and Trixie is accompanying me upon my travels. Nothing special about it, no mysterious ruins or anything, just a couple travellers caught in a storm! You can shelter here until the rain stops, and then we can go our separate ways!"[/colour]

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Trixie was well prepared to get some much needed rest now that the Doctor had his contraption mostly together. She was used to sleeping in a wagon after all, calm or stormy - the drops of rain outside usually soothed her to sleep. Her eyes grew tired just thinking about it, and she gave a large, uncaring yawn, just as some tan colored pegasus loudly popped in! [colour=#6699cc]"Wha ... Who are you, who intru-?!"[/colour]

While she was annoyed at being interrupted, she was delighted to find a fan! A proper fan, out here in the middle of nowhere! She *liked* fans! They were so eager, and usually heaped on the praise! [colour=#6699cc]"Of course I am, my enthus-"[/colour] Trixie stopped mid-sentence with a horrified look on her face when the pegasus got right up to Trixie and started to sniff at her neck, [colour=#6699cc]"excuse me!!! The Great and Powerful Trixie likes her personal space!"[/colour] Sure, she was famous, and attractive, mares wanted to be her *and* be with her, but it would be nice if the pegasus introduced herself first before getting personal.

The odd pony appeared to be completely oblivious to any social graces and had the attention span of a gnat, already focusing on the Doctor. Trixie did smirk at the declaration the brown earth pony was her "helper", but confused that he declared they were just companions traveling together. Trixie didn't like the implications of that! Like she would just hook up and travel with some eccentric goofball stallion like a couple vagabonds! It might be ... well ... kinda true, but still! It was part of the business![colour=#6699cc] "Hmph! We are not merely traveling together, we are on a great adventure of mystery and magic, to seek a grimoire of great power!"[/colour] Trixie smiled proudly; she wasn't worried, why would some pegasus care about a book only a unicorn could use?

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Awww, it was so cute!

the two of them operated on such different wavelengths that they couldn't see it. Well, she couldn't see it either, but two ponies traveling alone in this wild wild world of Equestria had to share something personal and romantic. Maybe one could argue that was a lie as it wasn't like she and Gilda had shacked up despite spending months in The Pit and the old Griffon city, but Pathfinder would just point out they had other story centric events going on and were therefore in no need of fun romantic misgiving. But these two? Well, the only thing they were doing as far as Pathfinder was concerned was tinker with this shelter. Tinkering with their hearts was the next logical step.

This Doctor Whooves fellow had an air of familarity about him. Maybe she had read about him. Maybe she had seen him? Maybe she had done neither and his obviously flustered speech told her he had a crush on her. Well, she couldn't blame him. Who couldn't love her? She was a full-time adventurer with an encyclopedic knowledge of Daring Do. She had scars, stories, and trinkets aplenty to show them. She'd have to deny his advances but that didn't mean she couldn't allow him to see the fruits of her travels.

[colour=#006400]"Oh, that's just dandy. My tent got destroyed in the sewers of Talinpolis a few months back by the city guards, so it can be a pain finding good shelter. last time I was in a storm like this, I had to find a tree. Well, that tree was home to the Emperor Worm and his minions. Having one of those things trying to eat you like you're dirt is one of the most disgusting things ever, let me tell you! And the time before that, I went into a cave and an Ursa Major was there. It was apparently blind though and thought I was some sort of really tiny Ursa Minor. It held me gently and sang- or at least I think it was singing- and I had to feed from it. It took nearly three days of babying before I could squirm out. I felt bad after I saw it running out of it's hole all sad. I spent the next week looking for a missing Minor. That one was so mean, but despite some bruises, I reunited them. Then the Ursa Major tried to eat me after it was told what I was, which meant the next few days were spent running. Well, flying,"[/colour] Pathfinder said, flapping her wings for good measure,[colour=#006400] "but you get the picture, and that picture is," [/colour]she struck a pose, [colour=#006400]"Never get milk from an Ursa Major!"[/colour]

Trixie was up to her silly way of speech, which had been more alarming to Pathfinder when she was a younger adventurer and it was a sign of something else controlling you. Or it was a sign you were in a cult, which she was intimately familiar with. Like the Stargazing Cult that had its little clubhouse outside of Gaberott, they all spoke in the third person too. That was mostly because they had been drinking a potion which allowed the cult leader to take their identities away. Tipping over the cup had stopped that but still, that few weeks she had spent slowly losing herself to the majesty of the stars was a time she could hardly forgot. She didn't want to remember it, but beggars can't be choosers and she had at least appreciated the stars a bit more after that.

Then Trixie was a bit annoyed with the sniffing. Pathfinder pulled back a small bit and gave a somewhat embarrassed chuckle.

[colour=#006400]"I'm sorry, Missus Great and Powerful Trixie. It's just the last time I was in the Whitetail Woods it was right after the Changeling Invasion and this one Changeling looked JUST LIKE Bravado!"[/colour] She fainted in an exaggerated fashion, [colour=#006400]"Boy, that was one really weird night,"[/colour] She got back up,[colour=#006400] "so now I make sure that all the famous people I meet aren't changelings. I even investigated Princess Luna, since ya know, rumors persists that she sat out the whole ordeal,"[/colour] Pathfinder said brashly, being fully confident that her precautions would be proven right at least once.

She spoke again, and ADVENTURE!

[colour=#006400]"Adventure!?" [/colour]Pathfinder's ears nearly blew out of her skull and her wings shot out, [colour=#006400]"I love adventure! I recovered the Helm of Commander Hurricane in Talinpolis after having been captured sent to this super dank prison called The Pit and the Princesses were so happy that after I met with them, they gave me this super cool signet!"[/colour] She flashed the fancy royal signet embroidered with the official seal of the Royal Pony sisters which was on her right hindleg, the same leg whose missing patch of fur showed wrinkly, fractured muscle tissue healing slowly. Pathfinder then turned back around.

[colour=#006400]"I'm currently on the trail of some thieves who stole The Ruby Claw,"[/colour] whether the name meant of an ancient Griffon artifact meant anything to them she didn't know nor care,[colour=#006400] "who took it right from my fillyfriend Snowfall's home. They must have been pretty good as Snowfall had a really great security system, being the CEO of Northern Storm Industries and all. It's been a LOT OF FUN!"[/colour] Pathfinder neighed with excitement before she regained her composure.

[colour=#006400]"So, this Grimore! Tell me all about it, because if it's cool, I probably have information on it!"[/colour] Pathfinder blasted before she dropped her backpack and promptly dived into it, quickly vanishing inside of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doctor Whooves groaned softly when the word 'adventure' popped out of Trixie's mouth, his eyes closing as he slapped one hoof to his forehead. Yes, let's throw wood on the fire. Was she going to tell *everypony* they came across about it? He lifted his eyes to Trixie's, looking past Pathfinder, who seemed uninterested in him (thankfully!) and focused on Trixie ... and gave Trixie a 'what are you *doing*?' look.

Pathfinder talked on and on and on ... and Doctor Whooves swore his brain cells were committing suicide ... he went back to work on his engine, muttering to himself. [colour=#8b4513]"Obviously someone needs to learn to run better,"[/colour] he mumbled under his breath, [colour=#8b4513]"This job requires lots of running ... I at least had the good sense to get *out* of there before they could slap a signet on my leg after I saved the kingdom and helped Luna return to her power ... Ooo, the helm of Commander Hurricane ... big whoop. It's not as cool as the stories, as you'd know if you'd ever talked to someone who actually adventured with Commander Hurricane ... "[/colour] This was *his* cart. *HE* was supposed to be the one delivering awesome stories to Trixie!

Then some tidbit of information broke through the flood of chatter, and he jumped, banging his head on the casing again. He backed out, rubbing at his head, hissing and blinking the water from his eyes, then turned around. [colour=#8b4513]"nono, not a specific grimoire, we're just looking for the lost Royal Library that disappeared during the time of Discord ... but ... did you say the Ruby Claw?! Somepony went and dug *that* up again? Confound it, who was foalish enough to do that? Now we're going to have a bunch of ponies trying to reunite the staff!"[/colour] He sighed heavily. [colour=#8b4513]"Am I going to have to go and hide it *again*?"[/colour]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Trixie just looked at the strange pegasus mare, aghast as she rambled on and on almost incoherently. She thought Trixie may have been a Changling? Preposterous! More likely she just wanted to get close to the most stunning pony around here. [colour=#6699cc]She expects us to believe all these tall tales? What kind of pony makes up - [/colour] Trixie's thought process came to a screeching halt with mention of the Ursa Major. That brought back a flood of memories, along with feelings of shame, humiliation, and homelessness.

Trixie's patience had run out,[colour=#6699cc] "I don't know who you think you are, but do you really expect The Great and Powerful Trixie to believe these preposterous fibs? Ursa Major indeed! Do you think the Great and Powerful Trixie and her humble companion are ignorant rubes?"[/colour] If it wasn't for the Doctor's grumbling that seemed to confirm at least some of it, Trixie would have assumed the pegasus was just some crazy hermit making up stories. Wait, what if this weirdo wanted in on the grimoire promised to Trixie?!

Was this oddball of a pegasus a friend of Doctor Whooves? Though it would make sense that the were - they shared enough in common: Adventures, eccentric, annoying ... [colour=#6699cc] maybe they were once a couple?[/colour] That though made Trixie smirk. That had to be it! She had to find out more! Maybe this odd Pathfinder could be useful after all. [colour=#6699cc]"So, did you two used to "adventure" together? Annnnd ... What is this about a staff?"[/colour]

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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder had been expecting a better reaction out of Trixie. When she responded with a modicum of scorn, Pathfinder visibly pulled back. What was so unusually unusual about her story that the Great and Powerful Trixie doubted her so? After all, Trixie had plenty of tales of her own that some would say stretched belief, yet Pathfinder believed them because nopony would dare make up such stories. This included Pathfinder. After she recoiled from Trixie for a moment, she came right back at her, almost snout to snout. She also stomped her hoof petulantly.

[colour=#006400]"Hey! I never lie! See my cool signet-" [/colour]She almost stuck her signet'd hoof in Trixie's mouth[colour=#006400],"-that was placed on me by Celestia! Pathfinder never ever ever ever ever lies. Hmmph! And I don't think you're a ruby!"[/colour] She turned her back to Trixie and sighed deeply. This proved to be somewhat of a boon as she heard poor Whooves mumble about...stuff. She was still a little tiffed regarding Trixie, but her little heart started breaking for poor Whooves as her mind filled in the blanks in his murmuring.

"[colour=#a52a2a]Obviously[/colour] [colour=#006400]I need to[/colour] [colour=#a52a2a]learn to run better[/colour] [colour=#006400]because ADVENTURE[/colour][colour=#a52a2a] requires lots of running.[/colour] I [colour=#006400]had to leave[/colour] [colour=#a52a2a]before they could slap a signet on my leg. Ooo, the helm of Commander Hurricane. It's[/colour] [colour=#006400]just[/colour][colour=#a52a2a] as cool as the stories,[/colour] [colour=#006400]seeing [/colour]as [colour=#006400]she was the best pegasi ever[/colour], [colour=#a52a2a]you[/colour] [colour=#006400]know[/colour].[colour=#006400] I once had the best dream ever that[/colour][colour=#a52a2a] I adventured with Commander Hurricane...[/colour]" Pathfinder was reasonably sure that this was a very accurate description of his internal anguish over some past failed adventure. She felt sorry for the stallion. Obviously he had done something cool but in the process had become hurt and didn't get a signet like she had.

[colour=#006400]"Poor stallion!"[/colour] She blasted out at the end, drawing closer to him just as he bonked his head. Pathfinder brought her hoof to her chin and stifled a concerned giggle as both Trixie and Whooves continued speaking. She was momentarily overwhelmed, then swiftly elbowed Trixie playfully in the side. Nopony shipped half as much as Pathfinder and Celestia above she had caught the intent behind her words!

[colour=#006400]"Nah, I've never seen him before. To be honest, I thought you two were a couple when I came in here, on account of two ponies sharing such a small space in the middle of the woods and both of them being super adorable,"[/colour] She quickly switched gears to Whooves, not missing a beat nor changing facial expression, [colour=#006400]"and the Ruby Claw was just sitting on some silly little altar in this griffon ruin under their capital, connected through some forgotten tunnel network to the The Pit. It was pretty easy to snatch it, no guards or even working traps. Much harder getting the Helm because Griffon guards and their spears and traps," [/colour]She elbowed him as well, smiling broadly, [colour=#006400]"you suck at hiding stuff! Pick a place with genies or mice the size of earth ponies, silly Trixie-helper pony!"[/colour] She then blew raspberries, because when you got one over on another it was the proper course of action.

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A series of strangled noises came from Doctor Whooves, matching a series of aborted gestures of his hooves, as he tried to work through Pathfinder's declarations. [colour=#8b4513]"No traps?! But the water slides... the maze ... the sand room! You should have- there were the - not like we wanted to *kill* anypony ... "[/colour] Then he sighed and dropped his face into his hoof. [colour=#8b4513]"You found a way right into the central chamber through a cave-in from the tunnel system, didn't you?"[/colour]

Figured. The other hidey-holes were probably deteriorating by now, too ... maybe he *should* go grab some of them and drop them down deeper, darker pits ... like that Medusa nest at that dig site of Rockefilly's... [colour=#8b4513]"Ugh. Now I have to go track down those thieves. Please tell me you don't have any of the *rest* of the pieces of the Staff of Fate..."[/colour] he groaned softly.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Trixie looked at the pegasus mare with incredulous disbelief as the tan pony once again invaded her personal space, almost shoving her hoof into Trixie’s muzzle to show off some sort of toy trinket! [colour=#6699cc]“Ugh!! Remove your knick knack from out of the face of the Great and Powerful Trixie!”[/colour] she said haughtily, but before she could continue the eccentric pegasus had turned right around to focus her gnat like attention span on the Doctor. It was probably a good thing, as Trixie was about to give her a good magical zapping, something her companion never seemed to approve of.

Trixie tried to tune out the annoying gabble of the pegasus pony, when suddenly she was pulled back into the conversation. [colour=#6699cc]“A couple?! Are you kidding?? He is just somepony useful in the employ of the Great and Powerful Trixie, a guide to lead my magnificent self to the library of magic that I am destined to learn from, as I rediscover the magical might of the most ancient legends of legerdemain!”[/colour] Trixie stood up proudly, her hooves up in the air, with a few small showers of rainbow coloured sparks exploding in brilliant colour behind her.

She coughed helplessly as the tiny space under the canvas filled with smoke, and the canvas itself started to smolder and leak. She opened the back canvas and frantically waved the smoke out as best she could, [colour=#6699cc]“hehe… oops.”[/colour]

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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder considered herself quite the accomplished adventurer and one of the more truthier ponies one could ever run into. She lived her life based on a certain code of conduct that simply didn't allow for lies and fibs. Sure, she may not tell somepony everything but that wasn't a lie, just keeping certain information withheld until the most important moment came and everyone needed to know! That wasn't lying, that was just dramatic narrative and Pathfinder was nothing else if not dramatic narrative. Not dramatic enough to lie, which meant that having Trixie call her beloved royal signet a knick-knack was as annoying as four bees buzzing around your ear. Already, Trixie was souring her epic reputation though Pathfinder would still give her the benefit of the doubt. She was, after all, just a unicorn and it was really cold out. Maybe her horn was super cold and it was sending coldness all the way to her brain region? It seemed accurate so Pathfinder decided it was true. Yep, poor Trixie and her horn headache.

This Doctor Whooves fella, her crazy little assistant though? He was starting to grow on Pathfinder. All of his little hidey games were charming in a quant, somewhat useless fashion, like a little foal who wanted to play cloud catch with you but couldn't throw those tufts of cloud very far. You had to draw in really close and then act like they were throwing the tufts of cloud really far when they got it to you. Here, she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he had set up all sorts of zany traps. In all reality though, she probably would have been lucky to run into a projectile trap or some quicksand, like foal's first dungeon. She patted him on the head like one would a sad puppy dog.

[colour=#006400]"Aww, that's okay! I'm sure your big bad traps are still in place. I came in through the tunnel network when some prisoners chipped away at the exit in an effort to get out of The Pit, but I was the only one small enough to get through. I was able to break Gilda out later and let me tell you, she is pretty grateful! Good timing, too. I hadn't eaten in a while and you could swear I was a skeleton. That was what I argued when a Razorclaw tried to eat me, but Gilda had to fight him instead. Griffies can be so unreasonable sometimes," [/colour]She finished soothing him, letting his final words sink in.

[colour=#006400]"So, what's this-" [/colour]She started before Trixie once more went about her dramatics, ending in a show of sparks and smoke. Pathfinder couldn't blame her; love got her into a tizzy too, especially when she didn't want to admit to it. She'd let the question die for now. Pathfinder knocked smoke out of her face and tried to get some clear breathing space, which proved to be a problem even as Trixie apologized. Pathfinder went to go help Trixie, flapping her wings to get the smoke out of the shelter as the unicorn opened the canvas.

[colour=#006400]"It's all good, Trixie. Reminds me of a smoke bomb,"[/colour] She yelled louder than usual for no real reason, as if the smoke could somehow make it hard to hear.

[colour=#006400]"So, Doctor, what's that about the Staff of Fate?"[/colour] She continued. She was an adventurer mare of some caliber so she had heard of the Staff and many of it's pieces, but the Claw had never come up in her research. Then again, she had many concussions.

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Doctor Whooves coughed and waved his hoof in front of his face, his eyes watering a little bit. Used to smoke in his cart, he quickly pulled out a cloth and held it over his muzzle, waiting for everything to clear - which happened rather swiftly, thank goodness.

He let out a soft groan as Pathfinder, in her quite roundabout way, confirmed that they'd come in through the wall, completely bypassing the Doctors' carefully planned and laid out traps. But when she revealed that he'd let on more than he'd intended about the Staff of Fate, he froze up a bit and gave a hesitant little grin.

[colour=#8b4513]"Ummmm... nooooothing! Nothing at all! Staff of what-now?"[/colour] he tried to say, wincing at the louder tones from Pathfinder. He sighed. No, the way Trixie had been completely failing to pick up on his hints, she'd probably follow that up with a 'You said something about a Staff of Fate, you foolish earth-foal!" and then he'd have to explain anyway. [colour=#8b4513]"Oh, fine. About, ohhh..."[/colour] He tapped his hoof against the floor of the cart a couple times as he put together timelines in his head. [colour=#8b4513]"Two hundred? A little over two hundred years ago, we searched across the land for all the deepest pits and darkest holes, where ponies would be unlikely to seek for ancient treasures... and for three years we worked at putting together traps and deterents and distractions, so that anyone who found their way in would be discouraged from going further ... or think that they'd found the hidden treasure, when really it was just a decoy. I mean, if you found a secret room, and in that secret room was a bunch of chests full of gold and jewels ... who'd look for a tiny secret loose stone in the back corner of that room, that happened to hide a little unremarkable sphere, right? Or who'd break a priceless, ancient statue in order to find out there was something inside? That way, we could stop the incessent *bickering* between all those treasure hunters as they kept trying to be the first to assemble the staff! So we simply set about collecting all the pieces ourselves - child's play, really - and tucked them away where they'd not be found for centuries!" [/colour]He paused a moment. [colour=#8b4513]"Well, I guess it's been centuries, now. *sigh* And the search is starting up again.[/colour]
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Trixie held the canvas up for a little longer, dispersing the last of the smoke into the dark, rainy forest, as she listened to Whooves' evasions on the subject of the staff. His idea of an explanation left a lot to be desired. She rolled her eyes in disbelief as he talked about searching for and hiding the staff in pieces. From anypony else, Trixie would have dismissed it as an outright tall tale, completely made up from some foalhood fantasy bedtime story. With Whooves, though, ... no matter how insane the story may have sounded, he always seemed to have some aura of truth about him. Even if it didn’t make sense, it was like the whole adventure with the clockwork. They'd just gone there for salads, and it turned into a crazy catastrophe! Still, what did he really mean by being there 200 years ago? [colour=#6699cc]Ugh, why can’t he just ever be straightforward with the facts; what pony embellishes their stories like this?![/colour]

To Trixie, the central question was what the staff was; it must have been something of amazing power if ponies went through all this trouble to hide it and create all these distractions and traps to deflect any would be adventurers. What untold magic did it allow its user to weld?! She had to know ... It was important to the discipline of magic, after all! [colour=#6699cc]“The Great and Powerful Trixie is most intrigued by your most amazing narrative. Tell me, what does this Staff of Fate do? Perhaps we should acquire it to keep such a powerful magical item out of the wrong hooves!”[/colour] More importantly, to bring it into her hooves!
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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder believed a great many things. She was, after all, a mare's whose imagination provided the fuel that fired her across the Equerstrian horizon in her pure search for the thrill of adventure. She had met a firebreathing griffon recently and her catalog of adventure stories were mostly riddled with scenes of severe mental illness considered reality by an adventurer who considered such fantastical delusions the sort of future any sensible person should seek. That was the truest sign of illness, not knowing you were ill, but if Pathfinder had caught any disease it was adventure fever! The only prescription for that was, of course, more adventure. That and cowbell, since it made for a great alarm.

Point was, she was full of fanciful ideas but none of them allowed one pony to live for two hundred years. That was way beyond the life span of any normal pony, though she'd heard of a few who could claim ages close to it. Still, she doubted any of them looked a quarter as handsome as this Doctor Whooves was, and she sincerely doubted they were adventurers. Unless he was a secretly a princess- in which case she had a whole lot of questions for him or her- she doubted he lived that long. That would normally have put the rest of his story into a sincere category of doubt but so much of it made sense to her ears. If you were going to hide all of these epic things, you were going to take time, set up traps, and deploy trickery. Maybe he was lying but that wasn't as interesting as thinking that he was telling the truth and for Pathfinder the law of interest and reality had the same wording.

So as the good Doctor continued, pathfinder's eyes grew bigger and bigger, glistening more and more, her smile wider and wider and her front hooves starting to tap the ground in increasingly excited stomps.

[colour=#006400]"That's really cool! Why, I'm sure I've run across all sorts of your traps and stuff, mister mystical immortal medical doctor! So the Ruby Claw is part of the Staff, eh? Why, that's mighty strange, because when I went to Ponyville and hobnobbed with Twilight Sparkle and some rather silly curator from the military museum in Canterlot and we read over this journal from somepony named Lootraider from around two hundred years ago. He was looking for some really cool things like the Orb of Overwatch and the Amulet of Time and the Saxon Staff- well, I know about that one, I saw some griffons taking it when somepony and I found the Iris of Immortality- but was always getting frustrated by traps,"[/colour] Pathfinder dropped her saddlebag and poked her head in the minute. Finally, she stiffened up and pulled out her own notebook, this one marked, "Treasures/Possible Relics Number ten!".

She approached the Doctor, jumping up and down in place like a schoolfilly with the notebook in her mouth.

[colour=#006400]"We've so much too talk 'bout, and we have alllllll night!"[/colour]

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Doctor Whooves groaned deeply, as the two mares both seemed far too interested in what he told them to stop being interested in, thank you very much! But to no avail.

[colour=#8b4513]"Of course Lootraider kept a journal..."[/colour] he groaned softly. [colour=#8b4513] "Because otherwise, stealing all his books about the relics would have worked." [/colour] He let out a soft sigh, then lifted his head again, looking not to Pathfinder, but to Trixie. [colour=#8b4513] "OK, first off ... have I not explained this to you, yet?"[/colour] His eyes went vacant as he searched his memory... [colour=#8b4513]"Oh! No, that was somepony else! All right, first off, no, of course I'm not immortal or mystical. And I'm certainly not medical. Wrong type of Doctor. I didn't say *I* was there, I said *we* were there - the Doctors. I'm part of a long legacy of ponies, each handing down the responsibility to a successor, that have been around since before Equestria. We travel the land, seeking out the unknown, observing and recording history, and dealing with the magical threats that are constantly popping up everywhere. One of my ancient pegasus predecessors adventured with Commander Hurricane, and he handed off the title to a unicorn who had learned from Clover the Clever - but far more often, we've just been nobody ponies from all over the land. Bakers, nurses, gardeners, librarians ... the only requirement is a certain fearlessness, a passion for putting things right, and most importantly ... a sense of *timing*."[/colour]

He grinned broadly at the description, hoping they were quite as impressed with it as he had been, the first time he'd been explained the situation by the previous Doctor Whooves, back when he'd just been a timid little clockmaker named Timeturner, startled by this brash, bizarre pony who'd burst into his shop seeking an assistant who was good with delicate operations ...

He shook off the memories. [colour=#8b4513] "As far as the staff goes ... *sighs* Yeah, it seems like it's been about time to move them to new, safer locations. You lot, seriously... well, I suppose I have to make do with what I have, and you two can assist me ... so here's where the pieces of the Staff of Fate were hidden, and what traps were protecting them, as of two hundred years ago ..."[/colour]

And as Pathfinder took notes, he started to explain.
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Trixie listened as Hooves finally explained what he meant by being there, it was actually pretty interesting, the idea of passing down from one pony to the next the mantle of chronicler and purveyor of the arcane and mystery sounded pretty exciting. Such a calling in life would have fascinated her even before she began her ardent new interest in mystical tomes and artifacts of magical power, but now even more so, it made her wonder if such métier was as worthy of a lifelong pursuit as the act of public performance. In any case, she couldn't let him know how intriguing she thought it was or she'll never hear the end of it from his obviously oversized ego! [colour=#6699cc]"The Great and Powerful Trixie finds your story interesting, perhaps sometime you will have to regale the tale about fortuitous circumstances that led you to this profession!"[/colour] Perhaps more importantly, she can learn how this legacy is passed on to the next pony.

Fortunately Whooves was also willing to reveal any and all information about this staff, it was enough to keep Trixie's focus, even with the annoying pegasus bouncing around in excitement like some school filly. She was even willing to tolerate… barely, the idea that Pathfinder would be there the entire night in the small wagon with them. Magically floating a pen and paper before her, the blue unicorn laid down to listen, she was going to find this thing, either with them, or if need be, alone. [colour=#6699cc] "Ready when you are."[/colour]

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Pathfinder was a little saddened to hear that he wasn't mystical or immortal, seeing as she had yet to meet an immortal(though she chalked Celestia as being one, despite common perception that it was untrue). But she supposed hearing that he was part of some secret society- whatever he wanted to call it or claimed, she would just think of it as a secret society until she was proven wrong- was almost good enough. Most secret societies were rather boring affairs who had all sort of rituals to pass the time, but didn't actually do anything interesting. For every secret society devoted to Discord or Nightmare Moon there were ten that just hung out and played card games. You know what one of the worst things in adventure? Spending weeks trying to infiltrate some group just to discover it's the secret inner circle of a country club. Not fun.

Pathfinder listened to him, taking notes even before he began talking about the actual staff pieces and the trap. You had to try and remember everything and her memory came and went with very little regularity or reason. Why couldn't she be a part of his secret club? Pathfinder was completely fearless and she thought her timing was sublime. How many harrowing situations had been resolved due to her stumbling into them while out and about in the world? Less than she had created, but the point was her timing was awesome. But she didn't say anything and continued to listen.

He talked about the Staff of Fate- well, less the Staff itself and more about the pieces of it. It was quite fascinating, hearing him talk about all sorts of traps. None of them were really unusual to a seasoned adventurer such as herself but there was something sweet about the feel of arrows missing your head by a fraction of an inch, something awesome(read: everything) about lava boiling not more than a second away from your hindlegs. She was pretty excited about the whole thing to be honest and only interrupted poor Whooves around sixteen times, mostly to interject a long rambling story that was in some meaningless way connected to what he had just mentioned and twice to tell him about the new information of the Iris of Immortality, the Saxon Staff, and the Ruby Claw:

[colour=#006400]"Oh, the Iris of Immortality?! That was a fun adventure! I found it when I got some help by this pony named Rain Leaf. Just a botanist, but has hooves of steel as far as I'm concerned. It was just where you said it was, but by the time we got there, all of these diamond dogs had already taken care of most of the traps. These weren't your run of the mill Diamond Dogs, though. They were patient and took their time; they were starting to reset the traps as we arrived. Luckily, we got the Iris of Immortality, but they found the Staff first. Oh yeah, and sorry, but the whole thing collapsed at the end. Who woulda thunk it, eh? Too bad about that millenia old statues and art that are probably lost for good now. Oh well! I guess if any of it was really all that good, then none of it would have been left behind...[/colour]

[colour=#006400]...Yeah, sorry about ruining your Ruby Claw plans! The Pit is right next to the ruined city and those prisoners wanted out bad. I think that collapsed too after we were done, though I blame the city guards for that one. Huh, come to think it, stuff tends to collapse a lot around me..."[/colour] the start of a personal revelation was stopped cold, [colour=#006400]"yeah, on second thought, I am pretty awesome," [/colour]and so the thought died forever.

It continued for some time, Pathfinder's boundless enthusiasm and wide, glittering eyes eating up every last morsel that he gave...

She coughed, though he wasn't done. A thought in her head.

[colour=#006400]"Oh, before you finish since I am going to spend the rest of the waking hours studying and cross examining and all that good stuff, what are the sleeping arrangements? It's a tight space. Do you two curl or do you two lay straight? I can't lay straight, my wings would freak out. I'm like a cat!" [/colour]She ended with a light laugh, though the relation between pegasus and cat sleeping habits was the sort of relation that likely only made sense to her. And for good reason; it was dumb.

[colour=#006400]"But yeshers, please continut doc!"[/colour]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doctor Whooves listed to the list of destroyed shelters for these ancient artifacts with a pained expression. And the lost artifacts. And the destroyed relics. [colour=#800000]"They... the only ... they were supposed to be found... they were ... really good... " [/colour] He groaned and put his face in his hooves. Everything he'd heard about Pathfinder seemed to be correct. How had she managed to survive so long?

He kept on diligently, listing out the arrangements as best he could remember. [colour=#800000]"Though I'd really need to check the journals to be one hundred percent...[/colour]" he demurred often.

He waved his hand at the brief interruption about cats and pegasus. [colour=#800000]"yes, yes, of course you are,"[/colour] he said, not knowing why she had interrupted with a perfectly obvious statement about pegasus and cat sleeping habits. [colour=#800000]"And there aren't usually arrangements... we just sleep however we sleep."[/colour] He eyed his engine suspiciously. [colour=#800000]"Though I'm going to get this working first, I think..."[/colour]

And he sighed. [colour=#800000] "I think I'm mostly done... some more might come to me, but ... it sounds like there's a lot more work to be done than I thought. We might need to split up, perhaps ... I can certainly handle a few sites on my own, for the most part ... I have for quite a few years, after all ... and you two can go take care of the other sites."[/colour]

He leaned grabbed Trixie round the shoulders quick and pulled her close, murmuring,[colour=#800000] "Keep an eye on her and try to keep her from making too much of a mess? You're the only one I can trust with this ..."[/colour]
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  • 2 weeks later...

As Trixie listened to the Doctor talk about this Staff of Fate, she grew increasingly annoyed at Pathfinder’s constant interruptions, having to yell for the overly excited pegasus to shut up on more than one occasion. The only reason Trixie didn’t magically zip the scattered-brained winged pony’s mouth shut during the whole ordeal, other than Whooves disapproving, was because she kept revealing the details about other mystical artifacts of potential power; although Trixie was starting to suspect Pathfinder may have subsequently damaged, lost, or destroyed most of them. Whooves' contorted facial expressions during Pathfinder's regaling only seem to confirm this.

Despite all of this, the brown earth pony's recollection about the clues to the Staff's location and the various dangerous obstacles in their way were meticulously detailed, enough to convince Trixie they were genuine. She found it strange that he never once mentioned what the Staff actually does. He either didn't really know, possibly because he wasn't a unicorn, or he did and it was so amazing he didn't want to reveal it! Either way Trixie had to know, although this time she would be careful, she didn't want another Alicorn Amulet "incident" on her hooves.

As Trixie pondered her last fumbled attempt with artifacts of magic she heard the words "you two", and her eyes widened in recoiled horror! She was about to protest the very notion of being saddled with the clearly insane pegasus, well in any situation, but especially when it involved finding an artifact of no doubt untold power when Whooves appealed to the one aspect of her personality that would work - her pride. After suffering at being mocked and laughed at so many times after the Ursa incident, the fact that it appeared he truly believe in her was exhilarating. Maybe that was the real reason she stayed with him and not just the promise of new magical knowledge through mystical artifacts of yore. Still, it was Pathfinder, and Trixie sighed and rolled her eyes, [colour=#6699cc]"fiiiiiiine, but you owe Trixie for this one!"[/colour]

[colour=#6699cc]"We'll leave in the morning Pathfinder, just be sure to be ready and more importantly, be sure to follow the Great and Powerful Trixie's lead when we do! You have been blessed with a fortuitous opportunity, you shall have a mistress of magic there to help find the Staff!"[/colour] More importantly, to keep the crazy pegasus from breaking it before Trixie discovered what it did.

With that Trixie didn't have anything more to say and just levitated an old, well used blanket and walked to the corner opposite of the other two ponies to lay down on her side, covering herself. It was adequate and she was used to the cold, wooden floor of a wagon, [colour=#6699cc]"night… And try not to make too much noise, the tired and dreamy Trixie needs her sleep."[/colour]

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Pathfinder had taken part in a lot of impromptu meetings regarding the location and defenses of ancient traps, and only a few proved to be more informative than this one with Doctor Whooves. One of the others had actually been a scam that had been accurate only in as much as the information she was given led her to a store that was robbed and she had been accused. The most fruitful had been in The Pit, if only because it had led her to the Ruby Claw and from there the current situation. It had been an exciting few months and she couldn't believe that riches were being piled on top of riches on top of riches! It was a fruitful meeting, with Trixie shouting up once or twice and politely, kindly, trying to keep up. She was a magical mare of renown, but this discussion was mostly for super adventurers, which her little assistant and Pathfinder were. Still, with all of the notes they had and the fact that she must have picked up a trick or seven from him on their journey, Pathfinder was sure she'd turn out well.

Besides, she was a really awesome magician who was even more adorable and cute than Pathfinder had remembered her to be, so Trixie's suggestion that they adventure together was very well-received. Pathfinder immediately gave the mare a big, squeezing hug and a noogie.

[colour=#006400]"This'll be so much fun! With your zip-zappy magic and my adventurin' know how, we'll find that staff and become super famous adventurers alllll over EQUESTRIA!"[/colour] She screamed before releasing her to her wonderful night of rest. Pathfinder liked a nice night of rest, where your dreams were full of arrow traps and snapping alligators and occasionally some applesauce. And with Trixie Trix going to bed and the good Doctor working on his mechanical dohickey, she certainly was running out of options. Not energy, however.

[colour=#006400]"Well, if you need some help slapping your machine around, just give me a call. Also, you have nice hooves,"[/colour] She offered before sitting down and opening up her saddlebag, slowly taking out two dozen notebooks and a few quills. She started writing stuff down, humming a happy tune as she laid out horizontally, tail in it's overexcited manner fanning close to Trixie. It was a good set-up.

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Doctor Whooves sighed. Well, Trixie had helped him with most of the task, and that part had been fun, but somehow the fun had briefly gone out of working on the engine. He gently patted the engine housing in a silent sort of apology for cutting things short, and solemnly clicked the last dozen bits of pneumatic tubing back into place. A few twists of his screwdriver here and there, and he was closing up the panel. He tossed a chemical log into the boiler, then tossed a reagent stick in there - when it contacted the chemical log, there were a few brief sputters, a little burst of blue sparks... then a gout of blue smoke shot out, hitting him in the face and leaving his face blue instead of brown. When the burst of smoke faded, the log had started burning with blue flames. He swiftly closed the door of the boiler, locked it shut, twisted some knobs and dials to make sure the pressure was at the right point, and gave a small half-smile of satisfaction.

Oh, it was certainly going to be a long day tomorrow. And for the next few weeks. And probably boring, since he already knew where all the traps were. He sighed, wiped his face clean, and got as far away from Pathfinder as he could, though that was where all the heat from the boiler was radiating. He curled up with his back against Trixie's back to slip off to a brief three or four hours of sleep.
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Trixie snickered at Pathfinder's "nice hooves" comment towards the brown earth pony as she laid there on her side, wrapped in her old lavender gray blanket, [colour=#6699cc]"you know Pathfinder, he's single and available!" [/colour]Trixie smirked; she couldn't help herself when it came to getting in a few barbs at the Doctor; it wasn't as if she disliked him or anything, it just amused her to see him put on the spot in any occasion.

Trixie started to drift off once Whooves got his wagon engine working; she still didn't understand how that whole contraption worked, but it did, and despite the humming noise, it kept the inside of the wagon warm. She didn't even mind that he laid down right next to her; as long as he kept his back to her and not make any moves, she welcomed the extra warmth.

Trixie mind wandered into a dream state, visions of the Staff filled her dreamy head as she envisioned using its secrets to somehow become the greatest show mare on all of Equestria! Her magical shows featuring magnificent three-dimensional stories brilliantly displayed across the entire sky in a dazzling cornucopia of colours; adoring fans showing her with flowers and bits, as well as their adoration, lots of adoration. Her stage then morphed into an opulent room where she sat on a luxurious silken bed, eating delicious fruit sherbet on golden plates. Beautiful maidens fanning her…

That fanning was getting a bit too hurried… Trixie's eyes suddenly blinked open, a gray shaded tail swinging back and forth covered her immediate view. [colour=#6699cc]"Hey! The Great and Powerful Trixie is trying to get her beauty sleep! You think looking *this* good is easy!?"[/colour] Trixie picked up the annoying pegasus mare, along with her pen and paper, with her magic and turned her around so the tail would be facing away from the now very annoyed unicorn, before plopping Pathfinder unceremoniously back onto floor. [colour=#6699cc]"There! Now try to write quietly!"[/colour]

With that Trixie covered her face with her blanket, determined to get through this night with at least a few hours of sleep.

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Pathfinder had always been a filly, then a mare, who thought the notion of coincidence utterly silly. Things didn't just happen like they were part of some random sequence of events, each one as meaningless and trying as a storm in the Everfree. They worked together in some grand concerto, adventure the strings being played by fate herself. Pathfinder didn't have anything even remotely considered a deep, introspective thought, as the closest she could claim was the words she parroted from sources older, wiser, and more well-respected than she could ever hope to be. Fate, fate was something she believed in, and as Trixie plopped Pathfinder away from her, Pathfinder was too busy re-gathering her writing supplies and attacking the notes she had to care.

She had ran into Equestria's greatest magician and her aide, whose history was apparently fated to have the information she needed. Maybe it was silly, perhaps it was all an elaborate ruse, but the fact was that fate and adventure were so closely intertwined that the outright ludivrous was to Pathfinder the most sensible and realistic outcome of them all. So she read the notes, cross-referenced them with her notebook after notebook of sillyness, and spent hours and hours giggling feverishly as she imagined the untold adventures in front of her. Fate had led her here, and as fate always did, it would lead her to further adventures. Finally, as the storm continued to beat above them angrily, she grew tired. Slowly, she tossed the notebooks back into her saddlebag and used it as a pillow. That would have been easy enough, but as time went on, she was too excited by the prospect of an epic adventure to be still. She shifted in place, fell asleep, and rolled about the floor, finally resting with her snout in Trixie's ear and back legs only occassionally knocking againt the good doctor.

All in all, fine sleep.

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