Hocus-Pocus Grounded

by hawthornbunny

Chapter 1: Persists over it!



Trixie stopped, both to wipe the sweat and grime off the bridge of her muzzle, and to think about what else to scratch into the conveniently tombstone-shaped rocky protrusion that she had found herself trapped with.

Rivers of hissing volcanic lava flowed past on either side, glowing an obscenely cheery orange, and wide enough that they might as well be oceans. Trixie's only refuge was a rocky bulge that stood a foot or so above the level of the lava, a domed gray island in a sea of fiery death. She was, at least, fairly sure that the lava wasn't going to rise any higher, and thus was not in danger of being incinerated. No. She was going to die of thirst instead.

The lava had been flowing for five days now; flooding, she believed, out of some upslope fissure. It had taken her quite by surprise, forcing her to scramble to safety, then cutting her off from any other areas of safe ground. None of the equipment she had meticulously selected for her journey was of any use against lava. Her canteen was empty. Trixie was sure she couldn't last another day here, and the lava showed no signs of abating.

She sighed and slumped next to her makeshift gravestone, chewing absently on the fire iron that she had scratched out her epitaph with. As impressive as her achievements were, she couldn't leave it at just two. That was just anticlimactic. She needed a third boast, something that would round out the set satisfyingly. Maybe something about her amazing performing talents? But that was already kind of implied with the whole "Illusionist Extraordinaire" thing. No, she needed something else, something unexpected; something that would tantalize her posthumous audience with a glimpse into the amazing hidden depths of this tragically misunderstood and underappreciated -

"How about 'ROCK DEFILER'?" grunted a mare standing behind her.

Trixie dropped the iron with a clatter and turned to face the source of this suggestion, which was a stuffed, crocheted doll, dull gray in color, with two olive-green buttons for eyes, and a permanent scowl stitched into its face.

"Oh, finally," Trixie said, letting out a breath of relief. "Trixie thought she would go mad and start seeing things a lot sooner than this."

The effigy of Limestone Pie shrugged. "Not too surprising, considering how bad you are at things in general." She lifted a hoof, inspecting her woollen body. "This looks terrible. You can't even hallucinate right."

"Trixie is dying," said Trixie, glaring at the stuffed toy. "Of course she can't. Otherwise, Trixie would be spending her last hours with her best friend."

Trixie had no fondness at all for the mare that this doll represented; indeed, she could say without hyperbole that Limestone Pie was one of the most thoroughly unpleasant ponies she'd ever met. A year or so ago, broke and bitless, she had been forced to seek work in the dullest, most backward hamlet in Equestria, and had ended up on the ancestral rock farm of none other than Pinkie Pie, the Element of Hilarity herself. The Great and Powerful Trixie was not particularly enthused by the menial labor of rock cultivation, but she had accepted her lot willingly.

Then she met Limestone Pie, and realized that her life was doomed to be a neverending rollercoaster of boundless misery. Trixie's polite hello had been met with an immediate and literal death threat from the earth pony. She had found herself constantly rebuked, verbally abused, threatened with violence; she had had rocks tossed back in her face when they weren't up to scratch; the first time she broke a pick, Limestone had become so enraged that Trixie had clambered atop a nearby boulder to get away from her, only to find that it was a sacred boulder, or something. Needless to say, that hadn't been a good day on the farm for her. The only consolation she had was that the rest of Pinkie's family were rather nice; it was only Limestone who seemed to be some kind of rage elemental.

Limestone shrugged again. "Sucks to be you."

Trixie sighed and nodded. "Yeah. The story of Trixie's life. Perhaps Trixie should make that the final line." She glanced back to her unfinished epitaph. "Is that why you're here? Did Trixie violate another one of your holy rocks?"

"Pfffft," Limestone scoffed. "No. That's just a normal ordinary lump of basalt. Do anything you want with it."

Trixie raised an eyebrow. "Ba-what now?"

"Basalt. It's a common volcanic rock."

Trixie frowned, rubbing her chin curiously. "Trixie knows that you know that, but how does Trixie know that? Trixie doesn't know anything about rocks."

Limestone shrugged. "You know a little bit. You learned it from me and my family. You're just half-remembering bits of things that you heard at some time or other."

Trixie closed her eyes, nodding tiredly.

"You might also know something about lava and how it's surprisingly dense for being a liquid," Limestone added.

Trixie opened one eye and squinted pointedly at the annoying doll. "Are you sure there's no way for Trixie to hallucinate Starlight? Trixie would really like to see her one last time. She's going to be heartbroken and devastated, you know. She's the one who encouraged Trixie to go on this expedition. Trixie was going to find a long-lost magical artifact at the top of this dormant volcano that actually turned out to be not so dormant after all and bring it back and be celebrated as the greatest actual non-fictional treasure hunter of our time, as well as Equestria's most powerful magician and defeater of the Changeling Empire."

"You're an idiot," Limestone growled.

"Go jump in the lava."

"You first," Limestone countered.

"No," said Trixie, flatly. "Trixie doesn't care. Trixie won't let you ruin her last moments. Stay there and insult Trixie if you want. She has heard it all before. Trixie isn't on your stupid farm any more and doesn't have to do anything that you say."

"You-" the doll quivered with rage that was somehow evident even through those inanimate button eyes. "You ungrateful scrounger! You wouldn't know the first thing about rock cultivation if it wasn't for me! I taught you how to break rocks with nothing more than an iron rod!"

"Trixie will thank you to the end of her days," yawned Trixie. She closed her eyes drowsily, and slumped back against the rock, allowing the perpetual hiss of the lava to fill her ears.

"Excuse me," came a dull voice.

Trixie open an eye warily. Standing next to Limestone was another stuffed gray mare, this one darker, with a purple mane, and wearing a dull gray but not-entirely-unstylish dress, although it might have looked better in some material other than wool.

"Maud, right?" said Trixie.

"Yes," said Maud. Trixie had only met this particular Pie once, and had found her to be... well, Trixie struggled to put any particular descriptor to their interaction. Maud seemed to be perpetually blank-faced and devoid of any kind of passion, which Trixie had actually found relieving after having to deal with Limestone.

"So... you're both here," said Trixie, lethargically. "Are you really sure Trixie can't have Starlight? Trixie will even take a knitted one if she has to."

"My sister is being somewhat indirect," droned Maud. "What she's suggesting is that you break off this large chunk of basalt, and use it as a raft. Basalt floats on lava, and it's thick enough that you'll be protected from the heat, so you can sail it all the way back onto safe ground."

Trixie tilted her head, her ears flicking back and forth as she considered this. "It's too thick," she said. "Way too thick. Trixie can't break through that. Trixie couldn't break that even if she wasn't dying."

"My sister did teach you some effective rockbreaking techniques," Maud noted. "But you're not wrong. This is a sizable slab of basalt. It would be difficult. You might die first."

Trixie let out a tremulous breath. Her eyes took in the panorama of searing fire, broken only by the rock before her.

"Trixie doesn't want to die here," she proclaimed.

"I would," said Limestone. "It's quite nice."

"Shut up," said Trixie. She scooped up the fire iron that she had dropped earlier, and turned it in her hooves. "What do you think? Sturdy enough?"

Limestone shrugged. "Try it. See if it breaks."

"Trixie doesn't know why she bothered asking," said Trixie. She inspected the base of the rock. Aside from tiny scuffs and scratches that she had made, the surface was pure and seemed to be pretty much flawless.

"No rock is without flaws," said Maud.

"Well, except one," Limestone added, with a nod.

"Use your hooves," Maud suggested. "Your eyes won't help you here. You need your magic."

"Trixie doesn't have that kind of magic," Trixie grouched, splaying the bases of her forehooves against the warm rock. She closed her eyes and gently slid her hooves downward. Limestone had taught her how to feel the tiny tugs and slips that indicated underlying imperfections in the rocks, which eased the job of cracking them apart. But those had been small, coarse rocks, not this huge slab of dense volcanic stone. Even then, Trixie was sure she'd just been guessing half the time.

"Trixie can't do it."

"Yes you can!" squeaked a cheery voice from above. Trixie peeked up, not particularly surprised by this point to see a crocheted Pinkie Pie doll beaming back at her. "Keep at it! You'll get it!"

"Hullo, Pinkie," said Trixie. "Let me guess, Marble Pie is going to show up next?"

"She's already here!" Pinkie said, pointing a woollen hoof at Trixie's mane. Trixie heard the faintest of "mhmms" from something soft that was currently sitting on her head.

"Stop messing around," growled Limestone. "Just find the flaw and go at it with the poker. It's not rocket science."

"No, it's rock science!" Pinkie sang. Trixie heard the toy on her head let out a soft giggle.

Trixie gritted her teeth. She really wasn't sure if she'd found an imperfection or not, but there was one spot on the rock that seemed to call to her. She scratched the spot with the fire iron. "What do you think?"

"Hit it," Limestone ordered.

"I agree," said Maud.

"Yeah, give it a whack!"


Trixie lifted the iron, swung her hoof back, then slammed the metal rod into the rock. Her entire foreleg immediately erupted with a twinge of pins and needles as she struck, and she grunted in pain.

"Stop whining. Hit it -" Limestone started, but Trixie was already taking her second swing, then her third, and began pounding the iron at the rock as hard as she could. Her teeth rattled and her ears buzzed as the rod clanged against the stone surface. Dark daggerlike flecks of rock spattered the ground beneath her hooves.

"Keep going! Imagine it's a punching bag!" Pinkie cheered. "Pretend it's Sparkle's stupid idiotface! Make out it's the most delectable, deathtastic pinata you've ever seen in your whole life!" The pink toy inhaled a stunned gasp. "In fact, I happen to know an extremely energetic and cheery song about that very exact thing -"

"I will actually murder you," said Limestone.

"Thank you," Trixie groaned. Her head was pounding as badly as the fire iron, and her vision was swimming. Chips of stone littered the ground at her feet. The toy on her head mumbled something that Trixie was sure would be very interesting and important if she was able to hear a word of it.

"Marble suggests that you use less force," reported Maud.

"What?" Trixie grunted. "Less force? How is that going to help me?"

"Because if you don't, you'll break the rod." Maud hopped past Trixie's legs and squinted into the gouge that she had made. "Calm yourself. Remember your training."

"Trixie was not trained for this!" she cried. "Trixie was yelled at, insulted, assaulted, and... and... made to feel not very welcome at all by this... this... horrible pony!" She whirled around and jabbed the rod accusingly toward Limestone Pie.

Limestone regarded the iron indifferently. "I still trained you though."

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!" Trixie screeched, and ploughed the iron into the rock with such terrifying force that the metal rod exploded, showering her and her toy audience with dozens of pieces of rusty shrapnel.

Maud seemed almost mildly surprised. "I really think you shouldn't have -"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" Trixie screamed and slammed her hoof into the rock. Something went crack.

"I honestly feel that you may want to reconsider this course of action," said Maud, as Trixie started to pound the rock with her bare hooves. "Rockbreaking by hoof is a learned skill, even for earth ponies. It takes a certain degree of training and willpower -"

Trixie's cries almost drowned out the sounds of fracturing rock as the tomb-slab began to wobble. The Pinkie doll wisely vacated its spot, joining its twin on Trixie's head, who shifted aside to allow her space to settle.

"You're almost there!" Pinkie cheered. "Just a couple more shots!"

A crack opened up all the way around the base of the rock. Trixie turned on a forehoof, reared up, and bucked it right in the epitaph. It cricked and splintered and toppled and flomped into the lava, creating a small outward pressure wave on the surface, but remaining perfectly buoyant.

Trixie stared at the fallen rock, flabbergasted. "Trixie has done it!"

"You did!" said Pinkie, dancing with a reluctant Marble. "We knew you could!"

"Trixie can escape," said Trixie, watching the floating stone slowly drift and turn into the flow of the lava.

"Actually, I didn't think that would work at all," said Maud. "I'm very surprised."

"Trixie has broken her leg," Trixie added.

"Pfff. You've still got three," snorted Limestone. "Are you getting on that rock?"

Trixie hobbled onto the basalt raft. It took her weight easily, and the four crochet dolls were light and imaginary enough that they didn't add any significant load. She laid back and gathered them to her chest with her good foreleg, giving them all a grateful hug. "Trixie's okay."

Author's Notes:

This story was based on the following card:

Hocus-Pocus Grounded 4U

Equipped creature you control gain life. (If an artifact creature has her has in your mana pool.

Equestria: Enough lava.

"Please in you pay forget that: persists over it!"
—Pinkie Pie

If you like the idea of stories based on randomly-selected or randomly-generated cards, check out the Plainswalkers group, which is all about that very exact thing.

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