>"Wake up, freeloader!" shouted a gravely voice.
>The blinds in the room were pulled back to let in the break of dawn.
>The pony still in bed groans as she pulls her cape over her head.
>"Trixie resents being called a freeloader." she sleepily murmured.
>"You're a freeloader until you actually pull your own weight around here" the annoyed tone not leaving her words.
>"Now get moving!" she violently yanked Trixie's cape off her head and let it fall to the cold floor.
>Trixie bolted upright in the bed.
>Eyes glaring at the ash colored pony.
>"That was Trixie's cape you just defiled you...you...jerk!"
>The grey colored pony looked on unamused.
>"I've heard worse"
>She trotted towards the door slowly.
>Each hoofstep loud and threatening.
>Almost like they could split the earth in two if need be.
>"Grab some breakfast and then get going on the west field today"
>"Get it done before noon" she ordered.
>"Why?" she asked annoyed.
>The ashen mare stopped in the middle of the door frame.
>Her front leg placed on the wall.
>"Huh, I must be going crazy."
>"I could have swore I heard you questioning my orders" she began to turn around to face Trixie who was still sitting in bed.
>"Imagine that, the freeloader questioning the ponies who are giving her a roof over her head and three meals a day" her icy glare focused on Trixie.
>"Now...what did you say freeloader?"
>Getting herself out of bed, Trixie groaned as a response.
>"Fine, fine whatever" she mumbled as she made her way to the door.
>"That's what I thought." the grey mare turned around and trotted down the stairs to the kitchen.
>When she was out of sight, Trixie stuck her tongue out at her.
>Trixie grumbled her entire way down to the kitchen where a similar looking grey mare was busy cooking breakfast.
>Her long, rock colored hair always seemed to be obscuring one of her eyes.
>Unlike the other one however, Trixie found that she rarely ever spoke.
>She mostly smiled and gave head nods.
>Deep in her thoughts Trixie was hunched over at the kitchen table.
>She was literally and practically at rock bottom.
>A small sigh escaped her lips.
>As that happened, a small bowl of greenish brown water with rocks in it was placed in front of her.
>She looked up and saw the shy grey mare's small smile as she nodded her head.
>Trixie levitated a spoon into the bowl and hovered it back out.
>Her conscious just contemplating going hungry or risking eating something called "rock soup"
>A choice she never thought her life would come to.
>But, here she was.
>Against her better judgement, she closed her eyes and carefully piloted the spoon into her mouth.
>As soon as one drop of the soup touched Trixie's tongue her eyes nearly bulged out of her skull.
>"Bleh!" she spat the spoon out into the bowl.
>She desperately rubbed her tongue with her front hooves trying to rid herself of the horrid, salty, rocky taste
>"Ptoo!" she spat what appeared to be a piece of gravel into her napkin.
>Trixie's stomach growled as she poured her bowl back into the pot on the kitchen stove.
>"Trixie wasn't hungry anyway" she tried to tell herself.
>And with that, she headed out the door.
>Countless rocks as far as the eye could see in nearly every direction
>How a rock farm of three mares managed all these rocks still escapes Trixie.
>But then again, Trixie didn't really care.
>This was something she had to do so she didn't have to sleep in a dark, smelly cave or something.
>She took a deep breath.
>"Let's get this over with" and headed off towards the west field of rocks.
>Trixie began the long journey through the rocks and boulders of various sizes.
>Pickaxe by her side.
>Along the way she noticed the crumbled remains of what looked to be gigantic rocks.
>All sorted into piles by shape, and category.
>Trixie shook her head.
>"What an absolutely menial task to do day in and day out" Trixie's thoughts drifted.
>"How these ponies can actually take pride in this is nothing but embarassing" she shook her head
>Finally, she came across the patch of rocks she was supposed to chip and break down.
>They were all varying sizes, shapes, and were definitely going to take some time to smash.
>So, Trixie lifts her pickaxe up high and gets going.
>Each swing chipping off a small piece at a time.
>Meticulously adding more debris to the surrounding area.
>Hours seemed to pass in minutes.
>The sun beat down upon Trixie like a wrathful god.
>Sweat dripped out of her in buckets.
>She was barely done half the rocks in the field and she already felt like death.
>"Stupid...-pant- rock soup." Trixie's mouth was panting as her tongue dried out even further.
>Her strength was disappearing.
>Every swing almost softer than the last.
>Her legs began to wobble as she began to feel light-headed.
>Trixie fell to dirt-covered ground needing a second or two to just rest.
>"So this is how Trixie goes?" her thoughts were growing morbid.
>"Among rocks?" she felt her heart sink into her stomach.
>She gulped down her barren throat.
>Her gaze turns towards the sky.
>Vultures were circling her.
>Waiting for their dinner.
>Trixie closed her eyes and tried to think of a plan to survive.
>The sound of hooves clopping towards her caused her eyes to open in a hurry.
>Dark grey hooves were before Trixie.
>Slowly, she looked up and saw a navy blue top with a tucked in collar.
>This all leaded up to the expression on the mare's face.
>Blank, as if some kind of robot.
>It was dull.
>Her mane was straight and dull as well.
>"Same color mane as the jerk pony who calls Trixie a freeloader" Trixie's thoughts grumbled.
>Trixie saw the pony reach into a pocket in the side of her top.
>She pulled out a canteen and a cupcake with pink frosting.
>She placed them on the ground in front of the still feeling like death Trixie.
>"You looked hungry" the mare's voice was monotone and very bored sounding.
>The mare proceeded to then turn at a snail's pace and began to trot back to wherever she came from.
>Trixie felt the blood rushing to her cheeks and a surge of anger rush to her heart.
>"Trixie doesn't need your pity offerings!"
>She tried to stand upright and yell her lungs out, but every attempt ended with her wobbling to the ground.
>"Trixie's not even hungry anyway you stupid rock horse!" as she berated the dull mare Trixie's stomach growled like a bear.
>Betrayed by her own stomach.
>The grey mare turned around.
>Her expression never changing.
>She turned around and very calmly trotted back over by Trixie's side.
>She grabbed the canteen with her mouth and unscrewed it with her hoof.
>"What do you think you're doing?" Trixie demanded still feeling all woozy.
>"Answer Trixie when she speaks!" but the pony wasn't listening
>Gently she poured a little bit of water into Trixie's mouth
>Trixie was in the middle of starting another rant when she opened her mouth the same time the water fell.
>She coughed and sputtered as she wasn't expecting sudden water.
>"You-cough- idi-cough-ot!" Trixie's eyes watered.
>But, the water was already taking effect surprisingly as Trixie felt some minor strength return to her legs.
>She put some pressure on her front legs as she began to lift herself up.
>A warm feeling on her side drew her attention.
>Trixie turned her head to see the grey pony in the blue dress was helping her up.
>This just twisted Trixie's heart around like an angry blender.
>Once back to her hooves, Trixie glared towards the mare
>"...I guess you expect Trixie to give you praise now?" she wiped some of the dirt off her fur.
>But the grey mare stood still and continued to give Trixie that same bored expression.
>"Trixie still didn't need your help" her face scrunched up as she looked away.
>"I can do the rest for you" the dull monotone voice flabberghasted Trixie.
>Trixie cautiously turned her head towards the pony.
>Raising a quizzical eyebrow towards her.
>"It won't take me long" she continued.
>Trixie weighed her options.
>As much as she hated other ponies looking down on her with pity.
>She hated breaking rocks slightly more.
>"Fine" she raised her nose to the air.
>"Trixie, will allow you to finish up while she rests for a minute"
>She opens one of her eyes and sees the grey pony already breaking rocks at a faster pace than Trixie was.
>Single swings with her pickaxe were shattering boulders into the tiniest bits of gravel.
>Trixie levitated the cupcake up to her mouth.
>She took a small bite.
>It was pretty soft and tasty.
>She put the rest into her mouth as she licked her lips.
>There stood the grey pony as she smashed the last rock in the field.
>In the time it took Trixie to eat a cupcake.
>"All done" the grey mare said with the same bored tone.
>And like before she began to walk back wherever.
>Trixie felt a knot in her stomach.
>"Wait, how did you go through all those rocks already?" she said shocked.
>"Explain yourself to Trixie!" she emphasized her shouting with a stamping of her front leg.
>The grey mare turned around.
>Her half-lidded eyes locked with Trixie's
>"I like rocks" she took a few more steps forward and stopped again.
>She looked back one more time at Trixie.
>"I'm Maud by the way"
>Trixie didn't know if she was still in awe from how this "Maud" made her look like a joke.
>Or if the heat was still getting to her, but she could have swore she saw a tiny glint in Maud's big green eyes.
>It was subtle, and her face remained neutral about everything, but something like that would be bound to stand out on a pony like her.
>And with that, she finally started to walk away from Trixie.
>Leaving her with numerous thoughts, and a dropped jaw.
>She shook her head clear and scrunched her face up into a scowl.
>Her cheeks flushed red.
>"Stupid dumb Maud" Trixie mumbled while sitting on the ground.
>After a moment or so of stewing in her fury.
>Trixie decided to head back to the farm and hopefully be done with the day.
>Looking up towards the sky, Trixie saw the Sun almost perfectly above her head
>She couldn't wait to see the look on the that jerk pony's face.
>The mere thought filled Trixie up with absolute glee.
>Glee she hadn't felt in a while.
>It made Trixie feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
>"Hey!" a harsh yell broke Trixie's happy thoughts.
>The angry grey mare with the ashen mane was glaring towards Trixie.
>"I thought I told you to clear the west field!" her glare intensifying.
>Trixie gave a small smirk back.
>"You did, and that is why Trixie is back here."
>The grey mare scrunched her face and looked through a window at a clock.
>"...It's not even noon yet." she growled
>"If you want to check for yourself go right ahead" she trotted past the huffing grey mare.
>"Trixie is going back to sleep" she said with a self-satisfied expression.
>"Oh no you don't!" she ran in front of Trixie nearly toppling her over.
>"While I go and see how bad you screwed everything up." her front leg pointed over to an area attached to the house.
>It looked like a wheelless, sideless wagon, but with rocks instead of other stuff.
>"You go help Maud sort the gems from the geodes" her brash voice rough with vitrol.
>Trixie scowled at having more work to do.
>"Stupid slave driver pony" she mumbled under her breath.
>Both mares then set off in different directions.
>Trixie hung her head defeated.
>Maybe someday she'll get one up on that grey pony.
>As Trixie trotted her way to the gem sorting area.
>Her thoughts wandered.
>She hated being here, and she hated being bossed around by the grey mare.
>If she had her wagon back then maybe she might be able to start performing again.
>Memories flashed to the front of Trixie's mind.
>All of them were her shows after the whole Ponyville Ursa Minor incident.
>Ponies of all different walks of life.
>Laughing at her.
>Booing at her.
>Throwing rotten fruit at her stage.
>Everywhere she looked she saw the cruel eyes of everypony.
>"Hello" a familiar monotone voice broke Trixie out of her thoughts.
>Shaking her head she blinked as a gleaming light nearly blinded her.
>She raised a hoof in over her eyes and squinted.
>Glorious, sparkling gems all piled up on one end of the table.
>And on the other end, dull, round, blackish-gray stones piled on top of each other.
>They reminded Trixie of Maud.
>"The loud one said you needed the great Trixie's assistance?"
>Maud stood on the other side of the table and blinked at Trixie.
>Stoic and still like the gravel all around them.
>"Limestone" she replied.
>Trixie's eyebrow raised up in confusion.
>"You're talking about Limestone."
>She finally had a name to place with the beast finally.
>"I know she comes off as rude, but her heart is in the right place" Maud threw another gem on the pile.
>Trixie rolled her eyes.
>"Whatever, the "rude" pony said you could use my help with something?" Trixie's eyes still had her flair of smugness.
>Maud gently placed another rock in the rock pile.
>"I'm done" she announced.
>Trixie felt her face scrunching in a very annoyed expression.
>"Fine, Trixie didn't want to help you with your dumb rock thing anyway" she lowered her legs to the ground and sat in the soft dirt.
>Trixie's eyes fell to the ground.
>She didn't want to risk heading back inside.
>The rude slave driver pony might make her do something else.
>Her ears perked up and so did her eyes as she noticed Maud still standing on the other side of the table.
>Staring at her with those bored eyes.
>Trixie felt like she was being judged.
>"Why don't you take a picture it'll last longer!" she shouted at Maud.
>Maud blinked and remained silent.
>"I don't have a camera" her deadpan reply like boiling oil poured in Trixie's face.
>Trixie's teeth clenched and grinded.
>A vein in her neck pulsed and throbbed with each one of her quickening heartbeats.
>"You think you're sooooooooo clever don't you?" she spat at Maud.
>"Well you're not!" Trixie's hind legs began to stand up as she removed herself from the ground.
>"You're...you're just a stupid mud pony" her anger reaching a boiling point.
>"Trying to prove you're superior to me through smashing rocks and-and picking up rocks!" Trixie stamped her hoof in fury.
>"It only proves how useless you really are!" she groaned in frustration.
>A bitter feeling was spreading throughout Trixie's chest.
>She watched Maud carefully, but there wasn't a change in her demeanor.
>Still blank, and still unresponsive.
>Maud blinked at Trixie as if what she just said was meaningless.
>She looked down at the gem pile and pushed a lovely, blue sapphire towards Trixie.
>Staring in disbelief at the gem and at Maud.
>Trixie felt her blood go way past its boiling point
>A growl escaped her throat.
>She viciously swiped at the sapphire and sent it flying where it landed with a thud in the dirt nearby.
>Expecting to see a heartbroken Maud, Trixie looked back over at her and saw the same look on her face.
>Almost like her face was stuck that way.
>Her heart feeling like it was exploding in a harsh pang of agony.
>"Are you actually brain damaged!" her scream sounded like it echoed for miles.
>Trixie's nostrils flared as a sharp exhale came through them.
>And nothing from Maud.
>No tears, no yelling, no response.
>Trixie's chest huffed in and out with hot, angry breaths.
>Without warning, Trixie charged at the table.
>She pushed up against it with her side trying her hardest to flip it over
>But it wouldn't budge.
>A few rocks toppled over on the ground, but even with all her effort Trixie couldn't move it an inch.
>She stopped and tried to catch her breath.
>"What was the point of flipping this table?"
>"It's not like Maud's going to react to it anyway" Trixie's thoughts calmed her down.
>Her breathing returned to normal, but she was still wound up from just everything.
>All of lows in her life were adding up and sinking Trixie further and further.
>"I hate this place" she whispered barely loud enough for Maud to hear.
>And with that, Trixie turned away from Maud and started back towards the farm.
>She didn't even bother looking back because she knew what she would see.
>The blank, aggravating stare of Maud.
>"At least the rude one reacts to me" Trixie bitterly sighed.
>"At least she..." Trixie's eyes clenched shut as she shook her head.
>"Whatever, Trixie's going back to bed" Trixie said as she looked up at the sky.
>The sun was not quite dipping into the horizon, but she could tell it wasn't noon anymore.
>It didn't matter she was already feeling done with the day.
>The scene of Maud pushing that sapphire towards Trixie replayed in her head.
>She didn't know why it infuriated her so much.
>Maybe it was because it made Trixie feel like a broken charity case.
>Like she was someone who needed pity.
>But she was above that.
>She was Trixie, the greatest magician in all of Equestria!
>"Stupid dumb rock ponies" she kicked at a nearby pebble and it hit the side of the farm with a thud.
>And as if on cue, there stood Limestone with her trademark glare.
>Looking more angry than usual.
>"Trixie helped Maud as you commanded" her tone slightly mocking.
>Limestone took a step towards Trixie.
>The ground shook underneathe her.
>She froze in place as Limestone took another powerful step towards her.
>And another, until she was almost booping her nose into Trixie's.
>Her stare was colder than an iceberg.
>"I don't know how or what you did, but the west field looks...decent" her tone spiteful.
>Like that killed a little part of her inside just to admit that.
>Trixie took a step back from Limestone and gathered herself.
>Taking a deep breath
>Her smug aura returning nearly full force.
>"It seems like you were wrong to doubt Trixie's abilities" she smirked at Limestone.
>Her face scrunched as she let out a small growl.
>"Just, go help Marble make dinner!" she jabbed her hoof towards the inside of the house.
>And with that, Limestone shuffled away with her head lower than usual.
>Meanwhile Trixie held her head up with pride.
>It was good to be noticed, and make others know you're there.
>A scent wafted into Trixie's nose as she begrudgingly forced herself into the rock farm's kitchen.
>It reeked like dirty water mixed with more dirt.
>"What is that horrid smell assaulting the great Trixie's nasal passages?" Trixie asked aloud.
>A sad whimper drew Trixie's attention towards the end of the kitchen with the same, quiet, light-grey mare.
>Stirring a pot on top of a stove.
>Appearing more downtrodden from Trixie's previous comment.
>Trixie walked closer to the pony who was trying to focus on cooking.
>Hiding behind her hair to look smaller.
>The harsh aroma growing stronger as she approached.
>Curiously, she peered into the pot.
>Brown, murky water bubbling and boiling while small rock-shaped bits float around inside the gross looking concoction.
>Trixie stuck her tongue out
>"Don't you ponies eat anything else besides...this" she pointed a disgusted hoof at the pot.
>Marble let out a whine as she retreated behind her mane even more.
>She shook her head.
>"Surely you've got to have something else to eat" Trixie was closing in on Marble and invading her personal bubble unintentionally.
>Marble just wrapped her face up in her mane in response.
>Unamused is one of the words to describe Trixie's reaction.
>"One overreacts, one can't react, and the other is too scared to react"
>"These ponies are out of this world" Trixie's thoughts drifted.
>A set of hooves clopping behind the two ponies caused Trixie's head to turn suddenly.
>The stony expression of Maud greeted her gaze
>Trixie instinctively grinded her teeth as she felt her stomach shrink up into itself.
>"Hmph" Trixie shook her head away from Marble and made her way to the staircase up to the bedrooms.
>Each one of her hoofsteps full of anger from the farce of a day.
>Before she could even set hoof on the first step however.
>"Aren't you going to eat?" Maud's voice made Trixie's spine crawl.
>Trixie turned her head towards Maud.
>"You lack any "real" food so no"
>"Trixie just wants to go back to bed" she grumbled as she rubbed her eyes with her front leg.
>Silence, exactly what Trixie expected in response.
>"Nice talk Maud, like always" her tone bursting with snark
>And with that, she slowly hiked herself up the stairs away from the rock-loving headaches.
>With a sigh, Trixie approached the door to the shared bedroom and gently shoved it open.
>Her bed was at the end.
>It was the only one with just a pillow.
>There wasn't a blanket, or anything to keep her warm when the temperature dropped drastically at night.
>All she had was the cape on her back.
>And Limestone had angrily threw it in a ball in the corner.
>It was the color of the early morning.
>With fantastical portrayals of stars glimmering and shimmering big and small.
>Truly, it was one of Trixie's pride and joys.
>She levitated the cape up and shook it clean.
>It didn't look that bad.
>Just some minor teeth marks near the collar.
>Trixie drew the blinds in and carefully got herself into bed.
>The mattress felt cheap.
>Springs felt like they were digging into Trixie's back.
>But, it beat sleeping outside.
>Slowly becoming comfortable, Trixie rested her eyelids as they grew heavier.
>She yawned and started the journey to sleep town.
>Sadly, her trip was detoured by the sound of someone walking towards the bedroom.
>Slow, deliberate hoofsteps.
>Trixie didn't dare to move a muscle.
>She just clenched her eyes shut and pretended to be asleep
>The hoofsteps grew louder, and closer.
>Until they stopped right before Trixie's bed.
>Feeling a presence right behind her Trixie didn't dare breathe.
>Something was set on the dresser besides Trixie's bed.
>And with that, the presence walked away.
>Until Trixie couldn't hear the hoofsteps' noise any longer.
>Nearly jolting upwards in bed for the second time today.
>Trixie quickly scanned around the room to make sure the intruder was gone.
>She took in big, greedy gulps of air to make up for the last few minnutes.
>Seeing nopony around Trixie felt herself easing down and relaxing.
>Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something white and out of place on the dresser.
>Turning her head, her eyes go slightly wide as she recognizes a plate, but it wasn't an ordinary plate.
>For it had food, actual food on it.
>A daisy sandwich, an apple, and a cup of water.
>Trixie's heart jumped for joy.
>With great excitement in her heart, Trixie levitated the sandwich over to mouth and had it packed away in less than four bites.
>Either that was the best daisy sandwich she had ever tasted, or she was hungier than she originally thought.
>She took a gulp of water to wash it down.
>A sigh of content escaped her mouth.
>Another thing was standing out on the plate now that the sandwich was gone.
>It was a small piece of white, rectangular paper with her name written on it.
>Letting the apple hover to one side of her, and levitating the note in front of her face.
>Trixie began to read it.
"Trixie, I'm sorry you're not having an easy time adjusting to life on the farm."
"It will get easier, but until then"
"I'll gladly help out like I did today anytime you ask."
"Your friend, Maud"
>Trixie absentmindly took a bite of her apple.
>She scanned over the letter again.
>This time she noticed a little blurb written at the bottom.
"P.S, Check behind the apple"
>Trixie felt her eyebrow raise up in confusion.
>Tilting her head to the side she saw a small object wrapped in brown paper.
>"How did Trixie not notice this?" she floated the small object over to her.
>She flipped it over and inspected it.
>Not having any idea of what it might be.
>She shrugged and tore the paper away and wadded it into a ball.
>A familiar glint caught her eye.
>A gorgeous, azure blue glow was peeking out from the brown paper.
>Tearing away the rest of the paper.
>Trixie finally recognized what she was unwrapping.
>It was the breathtaking sapphire Maud tried to give her earlier.
>Trixie let out a small gasp.
>The sight still made her upset to see, but without Maud's vacant eyes looking at her she felt different.
>A weird feeling twinged throughout her body.
>Like a cold fire spreading over her limbs
>For a moment she just lied down in bed and stared out the window.
>"Huh..." she said confused.
>Maybe she was being noticed more than she thought she was.
>Even if she couldn't see it.
>Sleep kept a safe distance from Trixie that night.
>"That stupid rock pony" she rolled her eyes as she thought the phrase.
>"After all the insults she still..." Trixie paused.
>Usually a pony tells Trixie to take a hike once she starts getting agitated.
>"What makes Maud different?"
>She tossed and turned in her bed.
>Until her eyes fell upon the still vibrant sapphire lying on the nightstand.
>Drifting further into thought, Trixie couldn't think of an answer.
>But, staring at the sapphire did make her realize how tired her eyes truly felt.
>Soon they began to feel heavy.
>And then poof.
>Trixie was out like a light.
>Before she knew it the break of dawn assaulted all her senses but taste and smell.
>The world's most unwanted alarm clock.
>All Trixie wanted to do was continue her lovely snooze, but then Limestone would be up here faster than a hungry manticore.
>So she figured it wouldn't be worth the risk.
>Hopping out of bed.
>Brushing her mane, and her teeth.
>She descended the stairs.
>Not looking forward to the day as per usual.
>As she entered the kitchen she noticed that Marble wasn't the one making the food today.
>Instead it was the ashen mane that greeted Trixie and tied her stomach in knots.
>Trixie tried to silence her hoofsteps but the wooden stairs creak still caught Limestone's attention.
>"Good, you're up" she stirred the pot a few times.
>"You're doing the North Field today"
>"Grab some breakfast and get going!"
>Trixie groaned and rolled her eyes.
>She glanced out a nearby window to the North Field and saw a moderate amount of rocks to go through.
>A lightbulb went off in her head.
>"Is Maud around?"
>Limestone turned her head away from the pot of rock water and glared at Trixie.
>"N-Not that Trixie needs her help or anything"
>"She's just...curious" Trixie gave a big, nervous grin.
>Limestone's eyes squinted dead center on Trixie.
>She was trying to crack Trixie by sheer intimidation alone.
>"Maud had to go in town today to meet up with someone"
>"She'll be back before dinner" Limestone went right back to stirring the pot.
>Trixie stood at the door her mind bursting with questions at the new information.
>"Diiiiiiiiid, she perhaps mention who she was meeting?" she asked back at Limestone.
>"Don't know, don't care, it's her business not mine" retorted the blunt, loud, grey horse.
>Drooping her head forward she scowled.
>Not feeling like bashing her head against a brick wall she trotted out into the North Field.
>To get the day over with.
>Just like yesterday.
>The walk out to the North Field wasn't as bad as the west one.
>Being that the North field was almost directly in front of the house.
>But, it was also directly in view of the farm and by extension Limestone.
>So even if Maud were around Trixie wouldn't be able to get away with what she did yesterday.
>Gulping loudly, Trixie set her equipment down by her first rock.
>A pickaxe, and a bottle of water.
>To avoid the mistake of yesterday.
>"Welp...here goes nothing" Trixie bit her lip as she lifted her pickaxe high above her head.
>Then with one fell swoop she brought it down and cleaved a good chunk of the stone off.
>Excitedly gasping, Trixie's eyes beamed wide open.
>"Trixie knew she'd become an expert sooner or later!" she hopped in place for a second.
>"Alright, now Trixie just has to do that...several hundred more times" her voice dropped as she looked around.
>Rocks almost as tall and wide as her.
>She looked at the chunk she just knocked off.
>It was as big as her hoof.
>Groaning already for the third time this morning, Trixie begrudgingly went back to breaking rocks.
>"Stupid Maud making this look easier than it i-" Trixie was cut off as she heard the sound of a wagon pull up to the side.
>A grey mare in a plain blue dress stepped out into view.
>"Oh there's Maud" Trixie set her tools down and began her trek over to her.
>"Wonder who she had to talk to in town" as she approached a feeling in her stomach caused her body to tense up and freeze in place.
>In mid-step she was frozen.
>Maud was looking through the curtain of the wagon.
>Trixie saw it pull off to the side and reveal an ivory white unicorn.
>On her head was a sun-yellow bonnet with pink floral patterns
>Little bits of shimmering, vibrant purple visible underneathe.
>Pink sunglasses adorned her eyes.
>Trixie could tell whoever this mare was she certainly liked to make an impression.
>Her lips moved, but Trixie couldn't tell what she was saying.
>She laughed and reeled her head back.
>Then she leaned forward and looked towards Maud with a certain longing in her eyes.
>Maud started to lean forward as well.
>They both shut their eyes and pursed their lips.
>Causing Trixie's heart to feel like it's falling through her body with one, little kiss.
>Falling, emptiness, and time collapsing upon itself.
>These are just some choice words used to describe the feeling inside Trixie's heart.
>A feeling she's not felt in quite a while.
>All she could do was stand there like the very rocks she stood among.
>The sound of gravel crunching drew Trixie's mind back to the forefront to witness what had to be a dream.
>But no, there stood Maud who was stiffly waving goodbye to the wagon.
>She turned her head in Trixie's direction when the wagon was out of sight.
>As soon as she caught a trace of Trixie however.
>Maud did something that made Trixie believe she was 100% in a dream.
>Her expression changed.
>Eyes widening, pupils shrinking, and her front legs shudder a bit.
>Almost like she just saw a ghost.
>Faster than usual, Maud hurriedly paced over by Trixie's side.
>Her face still in an alerted state.
>"...How much did you see?" Maud's voice full of concern in her own neutral way.
>Maud's head dipped down as she couldn't look Trixie in the eye.
>Trixie's own heart was throbbing widly in her throat.
>No words would come out of her mouth.
>Silence passed between them.
>"...Please, don't tell Limestone"
>"I'm not ready to tell anypony yet"
>Maud's voice layered with a hint of defeat under how monotoned it sounded.
>Still in shock, Trixie tries to force out a word or anything.
>Maud lets out a sigh.
>She began her way back to the farm.
>And like a strike of lightning, something connected inside Trixie's brain.
>A feeling that no dream or fantasy could muster up.
>It hummed inside of Trixie's head.
>Revving it up like an engine.
>"Trixie actually doesn't know if she should tell the rude pony or not" Trixie's confidence slowly returning.
>Maud stopped dead in her tracks.
>Trixie could tell she was hanging off of every word she was saying.
>"But, maybe if you...sweeten the pot, so to speak" Trixie gave a snide look towards Maud.
>"Trixie won't speak a word of what happened here" she raised her nose above her head.
>Closing her eyes as she relished in her assured victory.
>"Wha...what can I do?" a slight hint of anxiety in Maud's voice.
>A huge beaming grin formed on Trixie's face.
>"All of Trixie's chores for starters"
>Maud turned her head towards Trixie.
>"From sun up to sun down every day you do my work and you'll have Trixie's guarantee nothing she saw will be talked about ever again."
>Hearing Trixie's demands caused Maud's head to dip again.
>You couldn't really tell she was processing anything from far away, but Trixie noticed her breathing was slightly sluggish than it usually was.
>The wind whistled around them.
>Waiting for Maud's answer
>It didn't have to wait long.
>So the deal was made.
>Maud started in on Trixie's chores right away.
>Meanwhile Trixie casually walked over to her bag and grabbed her bottle of water.
>"You should be thrilled Maud" she said as she took a sip.
>"Now you get to spend twice as much time surrounded by rocks."
>"This should be a dream come true for you" Trixie's sarcasm assaulting Maud's ear drums like cannonfire.
>She just continued pounding down boulders around the field.
>With the finesse she displayed yesterday, but Trixie saw Maud take a glance towards the sun.
>It was obviously passed noon and was nearing the start of evening.
>So she quickened her pace and managed to smash every rock in the North Field.
>Trixie clopped her hooves together.
>"Good job Maud" she smugly took another drink of water.
>Trixie trotted over by her side.
>"Same time tomorrow?" she playfully nudged Maud's side.
>She was breathing harder than normal.
>But Trixie just continued along back to her bed.
>"Don't stay up too late" Trixie yelled back through a devious grin.
>She marched right through the door to the farm.
>And before anypony could yell or make a noise at her Trixie quickly ran off to bed.
>Still running high on the events of the day.
>Still smiling like an idiot.
>This was the ticket Trixie was searching for all along.
>Finding a way to get someone else to do the work while she got the reward.
>"...So why does Trixie feel bad" she thought and thought, but to no avail.
>"Bleh, she deserves this" Trixie grumpily lied down in her bed.
>"...Actually getting Trixie's hopes up like that"
>Trixie grabbed her cloak and wrapped it around her body close.
>"Trixie hope she works herself until she's broken"
>Trixie's stomach grumbled.
>But she was too focused on her emotional turmoil to eat.
>With a heavy sigh, she closed her eyes and tried to force herself to sleep.
>Unsure if she's ready for tomorrow.
>And so, the next couple of weeks went by a certain schedule.
>Trixie would get up, and feel even more exhausted than the night before.
>She'd wobble down the stairs and be sternly lectured by Limestone on what was to be accomplished that day.
>Trixie couldn't remember the last thing she ate, but she always made sure she had plenty of water with her.
>Since she had to keep the illusion up that she was the one doing the work.
>She'd made the habit of just following Maud around.
>Stacking small rocks on top of each other to pass the time.
>Trixie laughed to herself.
>Meanwhile Maud effortlessly took on all of Trixie's chores plus her own.
>However, Trixie failed to notice how subtly exhausted Maud was beginning to look.
>On some rocks she'd take two or three to completely shatter them.
>As the weeks advanced Maud would end most of her days lying down in the dirt completely out of breath.
>There was a cold twinge in Trixie's heart.
>"Feels like after the Ursa Minor attacked that town..."
>She shook those thoughts from her head before they dragged her down.
>"Maud deserves this remember that" she reassured herself.
>Her head felt heavier than usual.
>She chalked that up to the whole hunger thing.
>At least that's what she keeps telling herself
>Another dawn and another morning where Trixie barely rested.
>The routine was ingrained into her body by this point.
>She hobbled out of bed.
>Did her morning duties.
>And then stepped downstairs to be yelled at by Limestone.
>"Before you scream in Trixie's face for the tenth time this month let her at least find Maud first." she yawned.
>She ran muzzle-first into Limestone.
>Accidentally booping her.
>Trixie nearly jumped out of her skin.
>"That's the thing, she's missing." Limestone walked over to a nearby counter with a bag.
>"She went in town like she always does, but that was hours ago!" she tightened the strap on the same bag.
>"So I need you to go find her before things get too out of control." Limestone yelled as she placed the bag on Trixie's back.
>"Understand?" but before Trixie could respond Limestone practically pushed her out the door.
>"Bu-" Limestone slammed the door in Trixie's face mid-sentence.
>A scowl appeared on her face.
>"But I don't even know the first place to look for her" Trixie looked around.
>Nothing but fields of rocks like any other day.
>With a heavy sigh Trixie decided to walk around the fields to see if Maud was just doing some extra rock inspections or something.
>No sign of her in the North Field, South Field, East Field, or even the West Field.
>Every rock that Maud had smashed that week were still scattered around the fields.
>But, not a grey pony beside any of them.
>As Trixie walked along the plain, dirt path her thoughts went to where they've been delving ever since that day last week.
>Maud and that white mare laughing together.
>Looking happy together.
>"She probably left this awful place for her" Trixie thought outloud.
>"It's what Trixie would do that's for sure" she kicked at a small pebble.
>It went sailing into a nearby cave.
>Deciding to take out her frustrations, Trixie followed the rock and prepared another kick.
>Before she did however, she heard an odd sound.
>Stopping in her tracks.
>Trixie heard the noise again.
>She turned her head to where it was coming from.
>Something inside her was urging her to investigate.
>That's exactly what she did
>Brilliant, shining gems protruded out of the cave walls.
>They were a vibrant tone of purple.
>Just looking at them made Trixie's temper cool down for a little while.
>She followed the path and continued to admire the various forms of gems along the walls.
>Trixie caught the sight of something peculiar in the dirt she was stepping through.
>Leaning down she saw a trail of horseshoe prints continuing down the tunnel.
>They were pressed in solid into the ground.
>Picking her head up, Trixie found her gaze focused on the direction the noise came from.
>The prints were leading off that way.
>Following all the suspicious clues, Trixie would soon come across what seemed to be the hub of the cave.
>Around her were deposits of the same beautiful, purple gems glowing brightly.
>But the most interesting sight wasn't the gems.
>It was the stoic gray mare sitting off to the side of a stack of oddly shaped rocks.
>Trixie's eyes were so locked onto Maud that she didn't notice the little pebble she was kicking from earlier.
>Her hoof collided with it causing an echo to travel around to everyone in the cave.
>Maud's head turned slightly.
"...Hello" her blank tone sounding less full than usual.
>"Maud, what are you doing in here?" Trixie's tone sounding less full of herself than usual.
>The grey earth pony's hoof reached down and brushed against a small pebble.
>Almost as if she was petting it.
>Her hoof stopped mid stroke.
>As if she was thinking of what to say next.
"The lustrous attributes of these gems has a calming effect on most ponies who view them."
>Trixie observed Maud's head dip forward.
>The dirty bindings of guilt had dug deep into Trixie's heart.
>But she ignored them.
>"Trixie thought you'd left to go see your girlfriend" Trixie found herself sitting against the soft ground.
>A haunting silence hung over the two.
>What felt like vines were cutting and wrapping themselves around Trixie's heart.
>Her face grimaced slightly.
>Maud's silence spoke what words failed to.
>Trixie felt her face break out in a sweat.
>Her lips trembled as did her legs.
>"What is wrong with you?" Trixie berated herself.
>"Get it together, this isn't your fault." she rubbed the sides of her head with her hooves.
>"Maudie?" a shrill voice caused Trixie to stop dead in her tracks.
>Turning around, Trixie looked down the tunnel behind her and saw a white glow of a unicorn horn.
>And it was coming towards the two ponies.
>Ivory white coat, dark purple mane, and a strut that practically commanded respect.
>Inside Trixie's brain, a connection was finally being made.
>A memory flashed right by, it was the beginning of her show in Ponyville.
>How the crowd began to cheer on her hecklers.
>The orange farm pony, the stupid blue one, and the uptight white unicorn with those dumb purple curls.
>Those same curls that were before Trixie's very eyes once again.
>The unicorn stopped in front of Trixie.
>She appeared to be concerned as her eyebrows fell slightly.
>"...Maudi-" her eyes widened when she got a glimpse of Trixie's blue coat and cutie mark.
>"Y-You!" the white unicorn exasperately said.
>Trixie pointed a hoof at her chest.
>"Trixie should be the one who is surprised here!" a small bubble begins to grow inside Trixie's chest.
>It's coarse and bitter feeling.
>"You weren't happy with ruining Trixie's reputation, and her home so now you've come to destroy her and finish the job!"
>"Is that it?" her eyes formed a vicious glare
>But all the pristine unicorn gave in response was an eye roll.
>"Rarity- I mean, I seem to recall a certain boastful blue pony blowing smoke up everypony's flanks" her nose raised in the air.
>Trixie's teeth clenched down harder as the bubble continued to expand in her chest.
>But, out of nowhere it popped.
>No matter what Trixie thought about the stinging sensation of bitterness covered it like a rainstorm putting out a fire.
>"...And Trixie deserved to be humilated the world over?" her teeth still clenched.
>"To be pointed and laughed at..."
>"To be less than the stupid rocks on this Celestia forsakened farm?"
>The snooty air surrounding the white unicorn seemed to vanish.
>Trixie's bluntness had caught her off guard.
>Her head hung low as her ears drooped.
>"No dear, no pony deserves to feel that way."
>"We're...sorry that happened to you."
>Trixie's eyes softened from their glare.
>But she was still feeling like the world was jerking her around.
>Like she was a play thing and nothing more.
>She suppressed the tears in her eyes and swallowed the sad vibes.
>"Sorries can't fix everything." the words were ice cold out of her mouth.
>"Believe Trixie, she knows better than anypony"
>Trixie dragged herself off to the side so Rarity had a clear view of Maud.
>She sat with her back towards them both.
>Hopefully sending the signal she wanted to be alone right now.
>Hearing a sigh, Trixie can only assume it worked.
>"Maudie?" the sound of hoofsteps could be heard behind Trixie.
>"Maudie, why did you run away?" Rarity's voice beginning to sound desperate rather than concerned.
>Curiosity got the better of the brooding Trixie.
>She carefully turned her head as to not arouse any suspicion.
>There was Rarity standing to Maud's side.
>Looking like she would start begging for Maud to even cough, let alone talk.
>She grew more and more terrified the longer Maud kept silent.
>Running out of ideas, Rarity wrapped her hooves around Maud.
>Squeezing her tight.
>"Talk to me Maudie..." she started to brush her mane with her hoof gently.
>Maud closed her eyes and let out a small sigh.
"Rarity, do you remember what I told you about my family?"
>Rarity looked taken aback by the question.
>She pressed a hoof against her mouth and pondered.
>"Uhh, could you be more specific darling?" she said not sure where this was heading.
>Maud looked directly at a gem growing from the ceiling of the cave.
"The farm runs flawlessly under Marble's and Limestone's care"
"Pinkie has a successful and fufilling life making other ponies smile..." she paused for a moment and looked towards the ground.
"...And me...I smash rocks." her head dipped slightly.
>Rarity stroked Maud's back comfortingly.
>"Maudie..." she painfully whispered.
"My sisters have their lives in order...meanwhile I'm stagnate in mine"
>Trixie swallowed more of her bitterness upon hearing that.
>"...And you don't know where to even begin to start..."
>"So you just wait for the right sign to come along...but it never does." Trixie didn't need to turn.
>She felt both mares staring at her.
"...I just don't know what I want anymore" Trixie swears she heard the slight sound of a sob in Maud's throat.
>The gray mare began to stand up with Rarity still beside her.
"I thought I wanted to help ponies, but I"m still empty.
>She looked Rarity straight dead in her eyes.
"That's why I ran Rarity, it all caught up to me"
"I realized how I'll never feel whole until I figure out where I fit in this world"
>Rarity's face frowned the more Maud spoke.
"You deserve somepony with their life together Rarity"
>As she said this, she cupped Rarity's chin with her hoof delicately.
>Rarity's eyes shimmered under the light of the gems.
>Trixie heard the small sounds of sobbing.
>And Maud embraced Rarity still with her stony expression on her face.
>"I-I love you Maudie..." she sniffled as her warm tears stained the shoulder of Maud's dress.
"...I know" came Maud's glum reply as her eyes averted to the cave floor.
>They focused on the gems and rocks scattered about the floor.
>Expressionless as Maud almost.
>Meanwhile, Trixie's heart was as heavy as her head.
>She levitated a bottle of water from the bag Limestone packed her to her mouth.
>And took a sip.
>The water tasting horrid as her tongue felt even dryer than before.
>Trixie shook her head.
>"You got what you wanted" Inner Trixie told outer Trixie.
>And those words seemingly echoed around the cave.
>No more words were spoken between the three mares.
>With broken hearts, they all exited the cave the same way they arrived.
>Rarity dabbed at her eyes with a hankerchief as she tried to keep a strong face on.
>It wasn't the easiest thing to do.
>Once back out in the rock fields, Trixie looked around and felt an odd comfort from seeing such a familiar sight again.
>She wasn't trying to distract herself while Rarity and Maud hugged each other again.
>A frozen wind chilled at Trixie's spine.
>For she had a sinking feeling that the two former lovers knew this would be their last embrace.
>But, all good things come to end sooner or later.
>As Maud and Trixie have figured out.
>Breaking off the hug gently, Maud carefully guided Rarity's hoof down to her side.
>She gently squeezed it.
>The sound of gravel being crunched gathered the attention of the sorrowful white unicorn.
>Turning to look she saw it was her ride.
>Back to her life.
>Slowly, she slipped her hoof from Maud's grasp until just their hoofs were touching.
>Taking one last longing, bittersweet stare, Rarity's mouth formed into a small smile.
>Tears were pooling in her eyes.
>She let Maud's hoof drop back down towards her side.
>Her body shaking uncontrollably.
>Before she could change her mind.
>The proud white mare shut her eyes.
>And turned with her back facing Maud and Trixie.
>Making the short trip to the wagon, alone.
>Maud's stare was focused on the ground below her.
>Neither one could bear to look at one another.
>Meanwhile Trixie's guilt strickened heart was feeling like a burnt out firework.
>As the wagon pulled away, Trixie walked by Maud's side.
>"Come on Maud" Trixie pointed her head over to the farm.
>Maud's head lifted up and looked towards it.
>Her nod acknowledging Trixie morose like a dead tree waving in the breeze.
>Trixie was never good at being a source of comfort.
>Partly because Trixie's never had friends to comfort in the first place.
>The only few positive points she could draw from her life, are of her mom, and of the crowds who come to see her perform.
>But never friends.
>The two lifted their heads up in a snap at the sound of the roaring yell.
>Standing before them was Maud's sister Limestone, and for once she actually looks happy.
>Trixie didn't know if that was a bad thing yet.
>She power walked up to the two.
"Where have you been?" Limestone was an inch away from Maud's muzzle.
>Maud glanced away from her sister's fiery gaze.
>Every second of silence only fueling the ticking bomb that was Limestone.
>"Trixie...found her passed out in a nearby cave!" Trixie thought of a lie on the spot.
>"She must have been knocked in the head by a random gem or rock" Trixie pointed towards Maud's head.
>Maud shot a confused blank stare back at Trixie.
>The always thinking on her hooves unicorn responded with subtle head nod.
"I didn't even make it to town." Maud's voice her normal monotone pitch.
>She pulled the small pebble from before out of her dress pocket.
"Boulder wanted to spend the day with his cousins in one of the gem caves."
"And I guess they got kind of rowdy"
>As Maud finished making her fake alibi.
>Limestone glared deep into her eyes.
>Squinting them almost shut.
>The ash gray pony lifted her hoof up, and doing this caused Trixie to flinch and look away.
>But instead of a smacking noise.
>Trixie heard the sounds of little pats.
>She turned back towards the two, and saw Limestone was hugging Maud.
>The side of her face pressed against her mane.
>She whispered something and broke the hug off.
>That is when her attention turned to Trixie.
"...I can't believe I'm saying this, but...good job freeloader" the words caused her lips to scrunch up.
>Like they were pure poison.
>Inside Trixie still felt devoid of anything that wasn't bitterness.
>Even when she finally got Maud's jerk of a sister to give her something positive for once.
>A bag was tossed at Trixie's hooves.
"You've really earned your share this week" Limestone's expression was elated, and happy.
>Which for her was disturbing.
>Trixie took a look inside the bag.
>It was a decent pile of bits.
>Enough to get something started anyway with the bits she had already saved up.
>Trixie tied the bag back up and set it to the side.
>"...Thank you" came Trixie's meager expression of graditude.
>There wasn't an inkling in her to push Limestone's buttons.
>She was getting everything she wanted.
>Maud to break up with Rarity.
>And now Limestone giving her praise for once.
>Limestone nodded towards Trixie.
"Keep at it freeloader, we'll make you a rock pony out of you yet." she confidently walked back through the house.
>Leaving Trixie, and Maud by themselves.
>The two had managed to avoid the swift blade of justice.
>But at what cost?
>Both ponies sat in the dirt.
>Looking at practically everything but each other.
>Trixie found the courage to at least look over to Maud.
>She was in the same pose huddled back in the cave.
>She may not be the most expressive pony.
>But Trixie has been around her enough to know when something is off.
>She wasn't that too absorbed in herself.
>The sullen rock horse's head moved slightly.
>There were countless things Trixie wanted to say in that moment.
>She just wanted the sour feeling in her heart to go away.
>However, one question jumped above the rest.
>"Di-Did you ever see Trixie..." her eyes fell as she rubbed her left front leg with her right.
>"As... you saw that unicorn?
>Trixie felt the weight of immense guilt settle on her lungs.
>There was a part of her that knew she was being selfish.
>But she didn't care.
>She just needed one more question answered, one more mystery solved before she decides what to do next.
>Maud turned fully to face Trixie.
>Lines were clearly visible beneath her eyes.
>Her ears lightly sagged.
>Then the gravel colored pony did something Trixie was expecting.
>The last piece of Trixie's heart finally felt burnt to a crisp upon this revelation.
>Trixie walked past Maud not making eye contact with her.
>"...Goodnight Maud" like she was marching to her death.
>She slipped upstairs without Marble or Limestone seeing her.
>And threw herself onto her bed.
>Placing her hat over her eyes, and her cape around her body.
>To block out the outside world.
>Removing the hat from her eyes, Trixie noticed she wasn't being bombarded with light.
>In fact it was the opposite, it was pitch black almost.
>The sound of a rough snore came from in front of her.
>Carefully she lifted herself up and saw a form in the bed across from her.
>And to the side she noticed another pony in bed as well.
>Upon closer inspection, Trixie realized it was Maud.
>Her face the same just her eyes were shut.
>"Must be late" Trixie thought.
>With as little noise as possible.
>Trixie got out of bed, and crouched to the floor.
>She looked under her bed and saw her prize.
>A big, brown burlap sack.
>With the ease of a hummingbird.
>Trixie sat the sack on the bed.
>Staring at it.
>Contemplating the choices that have led her here.
>She tied her cape around her neck.
>And adjusted her hat upon her head.
>Gingerly, she stepped over to Maud's bedside.
>Where the neutral toned mare was fast asleep.
>Trixie just stared at her sleeping form for a minute.
>The memories of the last month floating by in her mind.
>Her gut was giving her a definitive answer on what to do.
>But her heart was second guessing itself.
>Using her magic, Trixie untied the bag, and levitated a small object wrapped in brown paper out and placed it on the bedside table.
>A sharp exhale exited Trixie's nostrils.
>She leaned down close to Maud's face.
>The scent of earthy tones greeted Trixie.
>Then without hesistation, the proud blue showpony placed a warm kiss on Maud's head.
>She tossed a little in response, and turned on her back.
>But luckily for Trixie she stayed out like a light.
>Letting out another sigh, Trixie tied the bag up tight again.
>And with a somber gait, walked out of the bedroom.
>Before she closed the door behind her, she took one last look at the three sisters.
>How she wished this could be her life.
>But, deep down Trixie knows she doesn't belong here.
>Closing her eyes, she gently shut the door behind her.
>"...Trixie loves you...Maud" she whispered through the quiet home.
>Taking one last glance behind her at the small rock farm.
>She forced her eyes back to the front.
>There was nothing for her back there.
>Trixie had to move forward.
>No matter the cost.
>Maud's eyes snapped open when she heard the creak of the front door.
>Jolting her head from her pillow she looked to her sides.
>But didn't see Trixie sleeping in her bed..
>That's when she noticed the small wrapped up object on the table beside her.
>Moving the covers off herself.
>Maud reached a hoof out and grabbed the object.
>She manuvered the wrapping paper off in a way so it wouldn't wake up her sisters.
>But, when a piece of the corner slid off, a beautiful blue gleam caught Maud's eye.
>Her heart was pounding.
>Carefully, she slid the rest of the paper off, and finally understood what it was.
>It was the heart shaped sapphire she gave Trixie her second day here.
>Her vision wandered to the window.
>And as if something otherworldly was commanding her, Maud stepped towards it.
>The sapphire in hoof
>There was nopony out there.
>Maud held onto the sapphire like it was the most precious thing in the world.
>Placing it against her heart.
>And to Maud, it was the second most precious.
>The gray earth pony sat by that window all night.
>Hoping a miracle would happen.
>Maybe not today, but someday.
>"...Love you...Trixie" Maud pressed her hoof against the glass.