[MLP:FiM] How Hoofdini Really Did the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive


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After Trixie's magic show (and seeing off Princess Celestia), Twilight Sparkle, Starlight Glimmer and Trixie retreat to the local diner for hayburgers and hayshakes. There, Twilight and Starlight point out that it's obvious how Hoofdini escapes the stomach of the manticore and reappears in the box: teleportation.

Trixie knows the truth behind the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive, but doesn't dare correct Twilight and Starlight's false assumptions. How could she, when the truth is so much more horrifying?



Late evening right before closing was a slow time for the few fast-food places in Ponyville. The three mares who sat at one of the tables, chowing down on hayburgers and slurping on hayshakes, thought that a good thing. After the events of the night, they needed an easy, casual setting to wind down.

Following Trixie’s show, in which Starlight Glimmer had ditched her dinner with Princesses Twilight and Celestia, facing Celestia again had been downright stressful. So, too, was Spike, who had cooked the meal for them. After the amount of effort he had gone through to make and bake everything that had been there, Spike thoroughly refused to prepare one more item, already having a large backlog of dishes to clean up from those who had actually come to the dinner.

“If you thought that was bad, you should have seen her a year and a bit ago, when I goofed up really bad with a spell,” Twilight said with a nervous chuckle. “I thought she would have sent me to magic kindergarten.”

“Well,” Starlight said in a sing-song tone, “If you wanted to go back to magic kindergarten, I could arrange that as soon as we get the table fixed.”

Twilight facehoofed. “No, Starlight, we’re not going back in time again, especially not for frivilous things like sightseeing.”

Trixie took a sip of her hayshake, and then said, “Are you certain? Not even if you could see ponies you admire, like Star Swirl?”

“No, not even then,” said Twilight, but her tone was just a little bit less confident this time.

Starlight realised her mistake, and immediately changed subjects, hamhoofed as it was. “That was a pretty good show tonight though, Trixie. Once you got into the swing of it, I was really impressed.”

“Oh, shucks, thanks,” Trixie said, immediately taking the opportunity to sip on her hayshake again to hide her embarrassed expression.

“But, you know, doesn’t it ruin the magic of a trick if you know how it’s being done?” Twilight asked.

“Huh? Yeah, Trixie supposes. I don’t really watch other shows for entertainment, though, I watch to figure out how other magicians do their tricks,” Trixie said as she put her hayshake down again. “Why, what are you saying?”

“Oh, just the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive, and my, what a mouthful that is,” Twilight said. “I mean, it’s just obvious how you escape it.”

“Yeah, teleportation,” Starlight said, letting out a nervous giggle as she remembered teleporting Trixie out of the Manticore’s stomach and into the box next to the manticore.

“Wha? Oh, that, ah, heheh, yeah, it is,” Trixie said nervously. “I think the crowd enjoys the actual cannon shot and the novelty of having a manticore on-stage more than me popping out of a box.”

“Yes, which is why you should learn teleportation yourself if you ever repeat that act in the future,” Twilight said, admonishing Trixie. “You won’t always have an assistant ready who can do it.”

Trixie swallowed. “I’ll look into it.”

Thankfully, Starlight said something to change the topic, and Twilight was soon drawn into the new subject.

Trixie let out a breath of relief. Of course she knew how to teleport. The blue-coated mare had wanted to give Starlight a sense of accomplishment by helping Trixie in the trick, nothing more, nothing less.

Truthfully, though, Trixie had done a lot of research on Hoofdini and his methods. Trixie was certain she was the only pony alive to have figured out how he had done some of his more infamous acts, the workings of which he had never documented and taken to the grave with him. 

A few of them were actually fairly ingenious in their simplicity. Trixie could never be certain if she used the exact same methods as Hoofdini did with some of his other escape acts, but she had at least solved a possible way for a few more of them. But it was the manticore trick that Trixie had looked into, and was repulsed by what she had found.

How was she to explain that Hoofdini had never used teleportation in the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive, when the actual truth was so much worse?


“Thank you all for coming today!” Hoofdini yelled, as the crowd went wild, stomping their hooves in applause. Those gathered here had heard of his reputation, and many would be repeat viewers. Wearing his trademark flashy clothes, they were sure to get a show. After seeing off many other magicians, amateurs and professionals both, Hoofdini truly was on top of the world, and all the world was a stage.

His stage, specifically.

Hoofdini stood up on a high platform which he had accessed via a ladder. On the wall next to him were several hoops secured in place, spaced apart from near where Hoofdini was, reaching all the way down to the floor.

“Now, I know you folks have paid good money to come to the show. You wouldn’t have just wanted it to go up. In. Flames!” Hoofdini said. Just as he made the comment about going up in flames, he lit the hoops on fire with a cast of his horn, and then jumped through the hoops.

There was the sound of an audible gasp, really multiple gasps merging into one, as Hoofdini fell through the flaming hoops. Within a few seconds, he had reached the ground. Standing up, he showed off his clothes and coat to the crowd. There wasn’t a spark on thread nor hair, not even a sing mark.

The crowd went wild, and Hoofdini ended his spell as he took a bow. It was real fire, alright, but it was also a magical fire, one that would not harm its caster. If only those plebs read a book, he might not actually be rich as he was from his performances. Of course, if a pony did know a thing or two about magic, Hoofdini would be sure to humiliate them on stage.

“But enough of that,” Hoofdini said as he waved his limbs around excitedly, controlling the crowd’s tempo to keep them eating out of his hoof. “Maybe I should stop goofing around, before you folks think this play is for the birds.” Lifting his front limbs up, doves suddenly flew out of his sleeves.

The audience applauded again with loud cheering and more hoof-stomping, eating up Hoofdini’s timely jokes. It had become so easy for the stagepony over the years that he rarely needed to practice in his off-hours. When he did stumble, he was easily able to deflect it and turn it into part of his act. The common pony were so wowed by his reputation, he barely had to try. It had taken him a lot of guts and smarts to work his way up, but now in his position as top pony, the sheer momentum it would take for another to sweep Hoofdini from his spot was incredible. He made certain inertia stopped most of the younger ones from ever taking off.

After nearly a solid half-hour of acts and tricks, Hoofdini was glad for the intermission. He was no spry lad anymore, and the audience always demanded something bigger, and something better. Had he actually been forced to exert himself to keep the crowd wild, he would have sweated enough to fill a bucket by now.

Taking a breath backstage as the stage manager directed her ponies to move things around, Hoofdini grinned. Fortunately, he had made it through intact, and had saved his best for his brief second act before the theatre moved on to its next performer. This one had captured the popular imagination of the entire nation, and of course not a single other performer could duplicate it. It was a secret he would never reveal, not even to Princess Celestia were she to appear at one of his shows and ask.

Soon, Hoofdini was out on stage once more, having recovered and gathered his wits. “Mares and gentlecolts, thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience tonight! But now, it’s time for the trick that I’m sure many of you have heard about. Yes, it’s happening tonight! The one! The only! The Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive!”

Using his magic, he lifted the curtain up from behind him, even as the crowd went wild once more. The noise redoubled once they caught sight of the manticore.

The manticore growled and hissed at the ponies, but the multiple chains that held it down kept it secure and unable to harm the audience. 

“As you can see, this is a wild, untamed manticore! One of the most dangerous beasts in the animal kingdom, from the Everfree Forest, a place where ponies fear to tread!” Hoofdini said, eliciting several gasps again, even as they were certain it was all part of the act. The fools thought it was actually safe to shoot oneself into a manticore’s mouth. Hah, if only they knew the truth, he thought.

Hopping down from the stage, he moved up the aisle to where a cannon was placed, aimed at the manticore. The cannon’s construction was immense, enough to fit several ponies within its body. That was not unintentional.

“As you can see, I will be putting on a magic restricting ring,” Hoofdini said, doing just that. Immediately he felt the flow of magic from his horn being cut off. “Despite being unable to perform magic, I will still escape the belly of the manticore and reappear in that box!” Pointing to a box to the side of the manticore, he grinned, even as his stomach did backflips. Hoofdini wasn’t a bad pony, he really wasn’t. But this never got any easier.

Finally, he climbed into the underbelly of the cannon. Closing the compartment door behind him, Hoofdini immediately removed his ring, and put it on the horn of the other pony inside him. With his magic restored to him, Hoofdini woke up his clone by dispelling the stasis spell he had on the clone.

“Wha-whazzut?” The other Hoofdini asked, disoriented from his long sleep. “What’s going on?”

“You’re about to take part in my show!” Hoofdini said enthusiastically. “Do you hear the applause of all the other ponies out there? They’re cheering for you!”

“Wow? Really?!” The clone asked, looking perkier with every second.

“Yes, really,” Hoofdini said, lying as straight-faced as was possible. “Just follow my instructions and they’ll be eating out of your hooves!”

“Wow, what do I have to do?” The clone asked, looking as excited as Hoofdini did.

“Just crawl up into that space there,” Hoofdini said, indicating the spot where a pony would go to be fired out of the cannon. Of course, he didn’t tell his clone that. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Cool!” Said the clone as he climbed up further, and secured himself in the seat. 

Hoofdini swallowed. Just once, he wished one of his clones would be a little more inquisitive. But they were all practically newborns, copies of him he had created at a magical pool he had found some time back. Hoofdini put each of them in a deep sleep requiring very little upkeep, and used them merely for this trick. It never got any better, and he wished there was a way he could assuage his guilt.

But such was the price one had to pay to stay on top.

Lighting his horn, he first cast a spell on the clone to turn the other Hoofdini mute. It wouldn’t do for the clone to realise his fate in the middle of the launch and blurt out something incriminating to the crowd. Next, Hoofdini cast another spell to make sure the cannon’s aim was true, and a final spell to make certain the manticore would devour his clone. Once the clone hit the manticore’s stomach, he would be trapped, unable to use magic, and be dead within seconds from the intense acid of the manticore.

Finally, Hoofdini fired the cannon, shooting the other Hoofdini out and into the manticore’s mouth.

The crowd suddenly went silent. Hoofdini grinned. It was showtime.

He teleported into the locked box, and used his magic to unlock the chains around the box. Quickly, he put a second magic restraining ring identical in appearance to the first, now in the stomach of the manticore, upon his horn. Opening the door, he stepped out, to the delighted uproar of his audience.

Beside him, the manticore smacked its lips. The blood and guts on its teeth and lips could not be seen by the audience, and they would be long gone before the manticore began to defecate what little remains had not been digested in its stomach of the clone.

Hoofdini grinned. Life was good.


Trixie only let herself shiver right after taking a sip of her hayshake. At least then she could pass it off as a sudden brainfreeze. No, there was no way she would ever tell anypony more about what she had discovered about Hoofdini. It was tempting, to destroy the reputation of the magician she had once looked up to.

But to do so would be to invite other unscrupulous ponies to find the Mirror Pool, aware of the possibilities it could offer. For now, it was unlikely anybody else would ever find the pool by looking at Hoofdini's notes: after all, Trixie had swiped the only known copy he had left behind, taking the rest to the grave. It had taken her several more months to discover the location of the Mirror Pool, where he had gotten his clones from.

At the time, Trixie did not have the power to truly seal it away, but then she stumbled into the Alicorn Amulet. Before setting hoof in Ponyville again, she went to permanently seal it with the dark powers of the Amulet, certain nobody would be able to counteract that in the future, but still unwilling to risk it by telling others about Hoofdini’s misdeeds. It would be perhaps the only good thing she had done with the Amulet. Trixie had then found out she was just barely too late, as another pony had sought it out and used it. 

It was not just for merely being annoying that Trixie had stolen the pink pony’s mouth away from her. It was why she had gone from merely deciding to beating Twilight Sparkle in a magic duel to deciding to expel her from town after defeating the other mare. Perhaps Twilight did not know any better, but at least the memory of all those poor clones could rest a little better knowing Twilight had been inconvenienced for several days.

The only other being who would continue to know about the Mirror Pool was that zebra. When Trixie had gone to visit her, the zebra had thought she was there to steal back the amulet, only to calm down when informed about what Trixie had done with the Mirror Pool. Zecora had promised to keep an eye on the entrance to the Mirror Pool. While Trixie held Zecora to her word, she would be making a stop by again to check up on it.

The months following the Alicorn Amulet incident had been very depressing for her, and she had decided to end it all where it had begun: in Ponyville. Trixie had decided to tarnish Hoofdini’s reputation by killing herself on stage with the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive. She had reconsidered on meeting Starlight Glimmer and befriending the other troubled pony. Upon Starlight splitting up with her, Trixie had been heartbroken, and decided to go through with her original plan. Thank providence that Starlight had come back. Trixie decided she very much enjoyed living again.

Perhaps it is only fitting, Trixie thought to herself. Hoofdini ruined the lives of all those clones, mentally immature as they may have been. He won’t be able to ruin mine any further. What was nightmares about being a clone yourself and shot into a manticore’s stomach when you had been tainted by the Alicorn Amulet, after all?

Regardless, Trixie wouldn’t be doing the Moonshot Manticore Mouth Dive ever again. Leave that in the grave where it belongs, along with Hoofdini. Good riddance to him. Someday, I'll figure another method to make his name mud.


Author Notes
I don't really like how this turned out. A little too reliant on shock value, with not much for re-reading value. I did watch The Prestige. I thought of this idea separately before thinking that it sounded a lot like the movie, so it's very likely a case of cryptomnesia.