"So you shall ram this dagger deep into my chest, enough for me to die,
free this land from my being. So I will never be a threat to this world again."
It was a unicorn who used magic to destroy a entire village inhabited by earthponies.
After the tragedy there was only one question: Why? After the cataclysm the unicorns were hated, hunted, and killed by the earthponies. Many were guilty only of possessing the potential for magic. To survive, the unicorns were forced to leave Equestria entirely. The feared Everfree Forest was the only place they could go. There the remaining unicorns founded a village they named Evernight. As more unicorns fled into it Evernight grew into a town, then a city, led by Blackmoon, the Prime Enchantress. Driven by her hate for all who would persecute her kind, she led the unicorns to war against the earthponies.
But the unicorns were not the only ponies to flee. The pegasi, scared by the cruel actions of their friends, took refuge in the air. Soon there was Thundersky, a city in the clouds, ruled by King Lightning. The king believed he could settle this conflict, but failed to understand what drove the war until it was too late. It was hate, nothing more, that fed the fires of war.
With no pegasi left in Equestria the weather grew wild and uncontrollable. The landscape changed; the sky grew dark and cold. Both the earthponies and unicorns tried to convince the pegasi to control the weather for their kind, but King Lighting—foolishly dedicated to false hopes of peace—refused them both. So unicorn and earthpony declared war on the pegasi for their perceived treachery.
The earth ponies took Canterlot as their capital. Led by Lord Inquisitor Darlic, the self-proclaimed new ruler of Equestria, they built an empire. Their army grew larger and larger each day. Darlic’s only goal was to wipe out everyone who threatened Equestria, to restore order and begin a new era of prosperity for the earthponies.
But there is still hope in even the darkest days. The Elements of Harmony still exist, ready to save Equestria and end this conflict once and for all. But those who bore the Elements were lost and separated, and, without all the Elements, harmony could not possibly be restored.
* * * * * *
"The Purge is just a rumor, Spike.” Twilight Sparkle said, frowning at the young dragon. “Why would somepony ever intentionally kill anypony? It doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah, that village was clearly destroyed by a meteor!” Spike rolled his eyes. “Think about it, Twilight, it WAS a unicorn after all."
"It was jus an accident!” Twilight clopped her hooves on the floor in frustration. “You can't tell me that there’s going to be a purging of ponies because some unicorn had an accident."
"An accident that everypony is blaming on the unicorns! What about Celestia? She died and—" Spike covered his mouth with his claws. "I—I'm sorry Twilight, I shouldn't have brought her up. P-please don’t cry…"
Twilight closed the book she was trying to read, turning away from Spike to hide the tears in her eyes.
“Tw-Twilight? Are you okay?”
The purple unicorn quickly left for the kitchen and took a bottle filled with clear brown liquid out of a cabinet. Opening it with her magic, she poured a glass half full. She wiped her eyes with a hoof and returned to the main room, sipping the lightly.
Spike folded his arms. "I don't like it when you drink that stuff."
Twilight glanced at the glass and then at Spike, summoning her book back to her with her magic. She turned from the tome to face the little dragon. "It's fine, Spike, it helps me feel better—I mean, study more efficiently.” She added hastily. “Why don't you just go outside and play with somepony and let me finish my book?"
The unicorn seated herself comfortably on her bed, took another sip, and opened the book to read. Spike looked at Twilight and shook his head. He went towards the door but turned around before he opened it. "If you want me to leave then just say so. I'm not dumb, I can take a hint."
Twilight continued to read.
Spike sighed and opened the door. "If you keep ignoring everything you’ll lose more than Celestia. I'll be at the Sugarcube Corner when you decide to face reality again."
"I can't hear you, this book is just getting intense." Twilight looked away again.
* * * * * *
Someone was banging on the door. Twilight sat up from her bed groggily. After a few seconds she slowly walked to open it, but the moment she approached the door threw itself open. Twilight leapt back with a yelp as the door cracked from the sheer force. Applejack stood at the threshold, panting.
"Now listen to me very carefully. Yer comin’ with me right now!"
Twilight took a few deep breaths after the surprise of the door while looking confusedly at the earthpony. "What? Is this some kind of joke? Some dumb prank by Pink-"
"It AIN'T NO JOKE!” Applejack stomped with her hooves. “Yer life is in danger! Ya have to come with me, NOW!"
“Why? What’s going on? What’s happening, Applejack?” Twilight took a few steps back, dreading the answer she already knew.
"The Purge is here." Applejack said softly.
Twilight gave a nervous little laugh. “Ha! Good one! The Purge, heh, topical humor…”
“Ah said it ain’t no joke, Twilight.” Applejack looked sadly at the floor. “Ah wish it was, but…”
The purple unicorn shook her head, unwilling to believe it. "But... Why? Why would ponies do something so... so…"
Applejack hugged her. "Ah know, Twilight Sparkle, ah don’t understand it either. But its’ here, an’ even if we don’t understand it we gotta deal with it. Ah’m sorry, but ya gotta come with me."
Twilight nodded slowly. They pulled apart and she looked back at Spike’s basket. "Where’s Spike? What about the others? I can't just leave!"
"Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Spike are helpin’ the others to escape. Ah'm here to help ya, just ya."
Twilight turned back to her friend and saw, in the distance, houses burning. "What about Rarity? We can't leave her!"
Now it was Applejack who fought back tears. "L-look, Sugarcube, ah ain't gonna… gonna lie to you, she… she’s prolly dead.” Twilight’s heart skipped a beat. Applejack’s voice cracked as she continued. “We just… we gotta save what we got! So p-please, Twilight, come with me!"
Twilight faltered. She knew the smart thing was to run for safety, to follow Applejack. But she knew it wasn’t the right thing. She stood her ground. "Not without Rarity! If there’s even the slightest possibility she’s still alive, then we’ll have to take the risk and look for her! And if you won’t help me find Rarity, then at least tell me where to go when I do find her."
The earthpony had hoped Twilight would say something like that. "We’ll have to hurry or they’ll be all over us." She said, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
* * * * * *
Ponyville was ablaze. Shops and houses were either burning or hastily boarded up, panicked ponies ran to and fro as fillies wept in fear and confusion. Not since Nightmare Moon had Twilight ever seen such terror. As the two friends galloped onward their hearts sank; this couldn’t have passed over Rarity’s boutique.
Against all odds, however, the boutique was entirely unscathed. It stood out more than ever against all the other buildings in its sheer beauty. Her hopes raised, Applejack turned around and kicked extra hard against the door, shattering it.
Rarity gasped and peeped out from underneath the blanket she’d covered herself with. They’d finally come for her! She was likely the only unicorn left in all of Equestria, saved for last for her astounding beauty… There they were, two stallions approaching. She would make no resistance; perhaps they might show mercy if she didn’t fight—
"Rarity! Move your pretty lil’ flank, we gotta get outta here!"
Rarity couldn't believe the voice. How could Applejack betray her so? She stood up, throwing the blanket away with a twist of the head, glaring at the earthpony. "Et tu, Applejack? H-how could you? After all we’ve been through, after everything, you… you betray me! You throw me to the diamond dogs! You come to end my life! At least do me the courtesy of a swift death, I’d hate to suffer and have my beauty why hello Twilight darling—Twilight Sparkle?!"
Twilight and Applejack rolled their eyes. “Rarity, we can’t stay.”
Twilight's voice darkened as she stepped closer to Rarity's face. "The Purge is here."
"T-the what?" Rarity stuttered.
"The Purge!" Twilight repeated. "It’s here to murder and kill every unicorn in Ponyville!"
The aspiring fashionista nearly fainted, but Applejack held her steady with her hooves. “No! No! It can’t be the purge, it… it… it just can’t!”
“Rarity…” Applejack whispered gently.
“What about Sweetie Belle? Where’s my sister, Applejack?” Rarity sobbed.
“She’s over at Fluttershy’s with Applebloom and Scootaloo.” Applejack pulled the unicorn into a hug. “Fluttershy is brave when it counts, they’ll make it out sound. ‘sides, the Purge won’t go that far outta the way to her cottage. Now we gotta worry ‘bout you.”
Rarity sniffed. “Thank you… so much!”
“Come on, I think I can hear them coming!” Twilight called from the door.
Rarity wiped her face. “Just one thing Applejack, dear, one thing…”
“Girl we don’t have time fer ya to pack yer outfits!” Applejack glared.
Rarity turned her nose in the air. “I was going to say you owe me a new door. Just because you’re nobly saving my life doesn’t mean I’ll let you get away with damaging my property!”
Applejack giggled. "Heh heh, whatever ya say."
Outside everything had changed. There was no panicking, no screaming, no weeping or crying. Ponyville was silent, and in its quiet infinitely more terrifying than ever. The serenity disturbed three ponies and they ran as fast as their legs would carry them towards the forest. They just barely managed to evade a mob of earthponies carrying torches and pitchforks, led by a gray stallion whose cutie mark had been replaced by a scorch, marching without making a sound. When the group had passed the three friends continued on before coming to a stunned halt.
There were unicorns everywhere before them, burned at stakes, hung from trees, impaled with farm implements, beaten by rocks. The grass was soaked with fat and blood, and severed horns littered the ground. The macabre scene forced the three to wretch, and it was only when Applejack thought she heard the mob returning that they ran on.
At last they reached the edge of the Everfree Forest. Sighing with relief Twilight and Rarity walked along the path beneath the trees. It took them a moment to notice their friend had stopped. Applejack stood at the line between the two different worlds.
"Aren't… aren’t you coming with us?" Twilight asked, knowing the answer.
Applejack forced a smile and shook her head. "Nah. I'm sorry girls, but my family needs me here."
Rarity looked from Applejack to Twilight. "What about the others? Aren't they coming?"
Twilight looked sorrowfully into Rarity's eyes. “They can’t, Rarity. They still have homes and families here. The Purge isn’t looking for them, just… us.” She lowered her head. “I just wish that Spike were here…”
Applejack pulled them both into a tight hug. “Ah guess this is it… I don’t like goodbyes, but ah can make an exception. Jus’ this once.” She said, tears glinting in her eyes.
“Thanks so much for everything!” Twilight nuzzled her affectionately, not even trying to hold back her tears. “Tell the others that we love them all!”
“Oh I’ll miss you so much!” Rarity cried. “You’ll always be in my thoughts!”
They held on to each other for as long as they could. When at last they broke the embrace Twilight wiped her eyes one. “Tell Spike where we are.”
“Ah will.” Applejack smiled. “Ah promise!”
As Applejack turned and walked back to the ruins of Ponyville, Rarity called back one final request. “Take good care of Opal if you can find her!”
“Ah will!” Applejack answered back.
Twilight Sparkle and Rarity looked at each other. The path ahead was hard and they had no supplies to speak of. But as long as their friendship held strong, they were certain that things would work out in the end. Friendship is magic, after all.
And so the two walked to the unknown future, not once looking back.
Edited by Malvare
“I was your sister. I watched you, looked up to you. I hoped I could be strong as you,
but there it was, a single brief moment. I just saw the mistake you did
and realised, you were weak your entire life.”
“Let the beast burn.” The stallion loomed over the assembled earthponies, glowering at Twilight, who cowered beneath his gaze. “For the crime of possessing a tool of death and murder, this monster must die.”
“I-I didn’t do anything!” Twilight pleaded. “I’ve done nothing wrong, honest!”
“You were born a monster, a threat to all ponykind.” The stallion snorted and turned his back to her, revealing his scorched mark. “An instrument of death and despair, nothing more. Let Equestria be purged free of your kind.”
“N-no!” Twilight cried out as ropes shot out, dragging her up a tall pile of dry logs. As the bonds coiled around her, holding her fast against the pyre, she saw her friends looking sadly up at her.
“Applejack, please! Help me!”
But the earthpony walked away.
“Rainbow Dash! You have to—“
The blue pegasus flew off.
The pink pony shook her head and bounded out of sight.
The yellow pegasus slunk away.
“No… no…” Twilight shook her head in despair. “This can’t… this can’t…”
Flames roared to life, consuming the logs of the pyre. As the smoke grew thick and black the stallion reappeared. “Let justice be done.” He stared up at her until the flames grew too great. The fire lashed out at the struggling unicorn’s tail, igniting it and setting her aflame.
Twilight Sparkle opened her eyes, panting. She threw the blanket off her and checked her tail. It was still there, perfectly purple. She sighed with relief. Just another dream. She slid herself off the bed and shakily lifted a bottle with the magic of her beloved horn. Just to help get back to sleep, she told herself as she took a swig.
Twilight listened to the noise of the city by the window where she stood with her bottle. The entire population of unicorns tried to escape from Equestria into the Everfree Forest. The few who made it built a village and after more had come, it grew into a city: Evernight, the only safe place for unicorns. The charismatic Seriella Blackmoon, former head of the Magic Academy in Canterlot and reliable advisor for the late Princess, was chosen to be their ruler, the Prime Enchantress.
It had been three months since the Purge began and Twilight lived in a new tree. The tree was just like her old one with only a few differences: the bark was darker and the shelves held fewer books. She lived with the illusion of the wonderful life she once had.
Somepony knocked on the door. Twilight grumbled as she opened it. Rarity entered quickly without even saying hello. Rarity turned in the centre around, looking very nervous. “W- We are at war, darling.”
Twilight looked unimpressed and closed the door.
“Really? Are we? How horrifying!” replied Twilight rolling her eyes. “Let me guess, our friends from Equestria--”
“No!” shouted Rarity, waving a hoof at Twilight. “With Thundersky!”
Twilight was surprised by this sudden development. The pegasi had left the ground after the massacre to build an entirely new city in the clouds. Just as the unicorns had the ability to use magic, the pegasi had the advantage of wind and weather to build a city within the clouds in such a short time.“Why?” asked Twilight. “They were our allies, why would they hate us now?”
“Ah I am not quite sure they hated us first.” implied Rarity “It was us who declared war.”
“But, why?” Twilight's voice was unchanged, her eyes however, showed a bit suspicion.
Rarity took a seat, inhaling, to tell everything that had happened, on a old decayed wood stool that Twilight used scantily to get books from the top of the empty shelters.
“Seriella saw the chance to... ‘recruit’ the pegasi, to let them make the weather for us, to have sun and rain when we want it. Imagine that, a sunny day in this pesky little forest. I could finally tend to more glamorous outfits and not these smelly dirty robes! I would have to--”
Ah, where was I? Why yes, the king refused however, they didn’t wanted to pick a side.”
“So we just declared war.” Twilight sighed. She went to the closet that stood beside her bed and levitated an old half-filled bottle out, filling two glasses half-full. Drinking from her own glass, she moved the second to the white mare, who eyed it apprehensively. The magic that held the glass disappeared, causing it to fall to the floor where it shattered.
”You were supposed to hold it.” Twilight said, finishing her own glass.
Rarity looked at Twilight with pity. “What has become of you? You were once a different pony. Since Celestia’s death, you just... changed.”
“We all changed.” remarked Twilight.
“We did, but you just... you are somepony else. I don’t see the pony I once knew anymore.”
Avoiding the broken glass, Rarity opened the door to leave and turned around. “You’re losing yourself, but you’re doing nothing about it. Keep that up, and one day you’ll wake up and voila, everything gone.” She sighed and faced the lights of the lanterns outside in the cold morning. “Blackmoon wants to meet with you right now in the tower, no questions asked, just you. Good day!”
* * * * * *
The obsidian tower loomed over the treetops and all Evernight, generating a magical shield dome that emitted a slow, deep hum over the city, Twilight’s appearance inside was rare but always welcome. Large columns supported the wide ceiling, and the young unicorn could hardly guess what tremendous weight these pillars carried. The main hall was lit by torches ensconced on columns, the only lights for those who passed from the chambers upstairs to the levels below.
Twilight used the spiral stairs to go down, entering a round corridor which had doors on the other side. Twilight approached the doors and entered a hall where three unicorns stood, clad in robes and hoods, in the centre of the room, noticing Twilight as she approached.
“Twilight Sparkle,” began a stallion. “the paragon of magic, keeper of the elements, former student of Celestia. How... pleasant to see you.”
The second one, a mare continued. “So you got the message after all, good. We were about to worry that maybe you got lost.”
“Why was I ordered to come here?” Twilight said, frowning at the unicorns.
The third stepped forward, taking her hood off, revealing herself to be a green mare with a dark green mane. “Unfortunately, we need your help.”
“First you disturb me, then you insult me, and then you ask for my help?" Twilight leaned forward, whispering with the right hoof by the mare’s muzzle. “How... unfortunate.”
The green mare glared scornfully at Twilight. “If you are not interested in helping us, then head back through those doors and keep living in the misery you call a life.”
Twilight rolled with her eyes.
“So, I have your full attention? Good.” The mare nodded to herself. “A problem that. We thought you might able to solve it.”
“We have a prisoner who claims to know you.” Explained the other mare under the hood.
“Who is it?” Twilight asked.
“Someone you knew once, a little time ago. A friend of yours who used to believe, that you were dead.”
Twilight turned around to look at the dark blue mare who had spoken. She hadn’t noticed the unicorn enter at all. The three robed ponies bowed towards the mare in awe.
“Who is it, Blackmoon?” Twilight asked.
The Prime Enchantress turned around, pointing with her head as a sign to follow. The four unicorns followed Seriella to a reinforced door, glowing light blue, one level below. Using her magic, Seriella unlocked the door, revealing a corridor with cages on the left and right sides of the walls. Continuing straight ahead, Twilight noticed the cages held imprisoned earthponies and pegasi. Some slept while others just stared at the wall in front of them. One pegasus looked like he was trying--and failing--to hide his wings. As the group approached a second reinforced door at the end of that corridor, they opened a cage and motioned for Twilight to walk inside. Twilight’s eyes widened when she saw the captive
“It can’t be... tell me this isn’t happening.” She whispered.
“TWILIGHT! I was hoping to find you, they told me you were dead but I couldn’t believe it, so I came here to find you but these friendly people took me and put me in this tiny-biny room. They asked me why an earthpony would want to visit this city, so I said that I was looking for you and here you are! I am soooooo happy to see you!”
Twilight could not believe it. She closed and opened her eyes and the pink pony still stood there, perfectly real. Pinkie Pie held a hoof in front of her muzzle, forcing a smile.
“Ouhh what is that awful smell? Were you sick again and take that medicine to be healthy?”
"No, Pinkie--I mean yes--I mean--What are you doing here?” Twilight blurted.
Pinkie Pie inhaled to tell her tale again but Twilight stopped as she put a hoof on her mouth. “Forget that I asked. What about the others? What happened to them?”
Twilight took the hoof out of her face. “Sorry.”
“I said they’re fine. Applejack is on the farm shaking trees, Rainbow Dash is helping her friends with some flying, but Fluttershy... she just went off, disappeared.”
Twilight couldn’t help but smile with relief. Her friends were still alive! They were separated all over Equestria but still... “Not everything was lost, I could... we could...” Twilight looked at Pinkie Pie, who stared back at her with a small smile on her muzzle. “Why are you here?” Twilight’s tone turned serious.
“To see you of course, silly!” replied Pinkie.
* * * * * *
Twilight stormed up the stairs, Seriella following close behind. “What will happen to her?” Twilight asked softly.
“That is for you to decide.” responded the mare.
“Let her go then. Escort her to the the borders of Everfree and tell her that she should n-never return.” Twilight said.
“You know I can’t do that.” Seriella gave a knowing smirk. “Besides, if we do, the earthponies will simply accuse her of being a spy. Her own people will kill her.”
Twilight scuffed the floor with a hoof in frustration.
“There is something else, dear.” Seriella added as though they had been talking over tea. “ Something that I need you to take care of.”
She motioned for Twilight to follow. Twilight obeyed without reply.
The two unicorns walked up the tower to Seriella’s private chambers. The doors closed behind Twilight of their own accord. The room was the glass dome at the top of the tower, with a magnificent purple caduceus emblazoned upon the floor, mystic runes inscribed along every inch of its surface. The bed, and bookshelves were crafted out of black duskwood from deep in the Everfree forest. Twilight shivered slightly; the powerful shield over the city appeared to be powered by the caduceus, which radiated powerful thaumatological energies.
“A problem has appeared.” Seriella explained. “First we dismissed it as rumor--if only it were. Our dearest, most compassionate, close friend the Lord Inquisitor is about to send an army to exterminate us all, but somehow he is not the true threat. Our beloved pegasus King Lightning is about to create a massive hurricane to destroy everything that is threatening his ponies and kingdom.” Seriella gazed grimly at Twilight.“Work on it began a week ago.”
Twilight didn’t move a muscle, but with one question. “And?”
“We need you to find someopony who could stop this.” Seriella turned to face out the dome. “Somepony with the power to influence the weather. Somepony like the last alicorn left on this planet.”
“Luna? But she’s dead.”
“That is what she want us to believe.” Seriella smirked at her own knowledge. “She disappeared right after Celestia’s death and is now in hiding. She thought she was thorough covering her tracks... but I found her.”
“If you know where she is, why you don’t just send soldiers to capture her?” Twilight asked.
“Because her power is still intact. With Celestia’s death her strength grew, and she has become stronger since." The Prime Enchantress turned around back to the young unicorn. "With her power we can end this conflict quickly.”
Twilight could only wonder why Luna would have faked her own death. Surely there was more to the story than Seriella was letting on. “So why me? Why not any other unicorn?”
Seriella giggled, putting a hoof on the younger mare’s shoulder. “Because you are the pony who defeated her! The others may have contributed in their own insignificant ways, but it was you who struck down Nightmare Moon, you who faced the goddess. We both know Luna would not just use her vast power to destroy you. So I must thank you again for volunteering on such short notice like this, Twilight Sparkle. If you’d come back tomorrow you can meet your new companions!”
“I never said I was volunteering.” Twilight responded. “I don’t want any part in this war. Find a different unicorn.”
“You’re wrong, Miss Sparkle.” Seriella’s eyes gleamed. “It’s not the war, it’s Celestia.”
Twilight took a nervous step back. “Just what are you implying?”
“You don’t want to face reality, my dear foal. You don’t want to admit that Celestia is gone, and merely acknowledging that Luna yet lives is a recognition of this painful truth. So you think that by hiding in your tree you can keep the world at bay, deny the dark world that took away your mentor and my good friend. But you’re wrong, Twilight, very wrong. Lightning is preparing to destroy everything--trees included. There is no hiding from this.” Seriella stepped forward onto the caduceus. “Go back to your studies if you want; I can’t make you do anything. But if you want to live to see winter, I suggest you reconsider your priorities.”
Neither pony spoke for some time, and the chamber was silent save for the magic hum of the shielding dome. Twilight did not want to admit it, but everything the Prime Enchantress had said was true, and she knew it. She had known for a long time. “I... I’ll do it.” Twilight whispered. Blackmoon smiled.
“Take whomever you wish with you. I’ll provide one of my best.”
“What about Pinkie Pie? What will you do with her?” Twilight asked.
“She will be interrogated and then... removed.” Seriella shrugged.
“Can’t she... can you just-”
“Send her with you?” The Prime Enchantress gave her a keen gaze. “Of course! I am not one to separate friends.”
* * * * * *
She stared at the familiar bottle on the table. For a long time now it had been her only comfort; it washed away the shadows of the past, leaving a gleaming ivory tower behind, full of fond memories. But that tower had grown dim and dark, and now it could hardly be seen at all. The soothing elixir had eroded the unicorn, slowly breaking her, bit by little bit. She had denied it, claimed it couldn’t hurt in small amounts, claimed it helped heal even; but she had always known the truth. Blackmoon’s words were true, and she could not live up to the unicorn’s taunt.
Her horn glowed, and a faint violet aura appeared around the bottle. It grew stronger and stronger, until at last the glass cracked into bits. The aura lifted both the brown shards and liquid, disposing of them in a bin.
Twilight Sparkle sighed with relief. That had felt good, much better than consuming it. And now for the life of her she couldn’t recall just why she had disliked the Prime Enchantress. She had been Celestia’s very advisor!
* * * * * *
The next day Twilight cantered confidently into main hall inside the tower. An elated Rarity, a bouncing Pinkie Pie, and a stoic green mare ---the very same as the day before---awaited her, flanked by two stallion mages in dark red robes. The green pony approached Twilight.
“Twilight” The unicorn said, looking Twilight up and down. “You seem... sober today. You may call me Nissala.”
“A pleasure.” Twilight forced a smile.
“These two are Blaze and Shiver.” Nissala pointed at the two mages, who nodded curtly. Rarity rushed over and hugged Twilight, forcing Nissala to hop back.
"Oh Twilight, you won’t believe it! Pinkie Pie just told me that my shop is still intact! Can you believe that?”
Twilight returned the embrace. “That’s so wonderful Rarity!”
“So when are we going on this big adventure? I am sooo excited!” Pinkie Pie leapt about, almost knocking into the mages.
“Right now.” Nissala stepped between Twilight and Rarity.
“There’s no time to waste.”
Edited by Malvare
“A new era has begun, a new order of existence.
This infestation became a threat upon our world.
I will destroy this menace with all the power I possess,
and everyone who interferes shall be crushed!”
It was a long walk through the forest, gloomy because the sun’s rays were dampened by the dense brush. Twilight had prepared herself for almost everything: cockatrices, hydras, dragons... but not a hangover.
“My head...” Twilight held a hoof to her temple, awkwardly trying to follow the rest on three legs.
Rarity lagged back when she noticed Twilight struggling. “Oh, don’t worry dear, it will be over soon. You just need to make sure you never drink that filth again.”
“It’s definitely not worth this...” Twilight muttered. “Ugh, where are we going anyway? Seriella never said exactly.” Twilight set her hoof down and began walking normally.
“The place where you and your friends defeated Nightmare Moon, naturally.” Nissala called back from the front. “I’m surprised you don’t remember it.”
“The Moon Castle.” Twilight frowned. “You really think she’ll be there? The most obvious place in the world?”
“Do you have any better ideas?” Nissala stopped and turned to face her. “Hm? I didn’t think so. So keep moving.” With that she and the two stallions resumed trotting.
“So what will happen once we are there? Do we ask Luna kindly to come with us or would it be more difficult?”
”Difficult, I guess. You shall not worry, we have everything under control and a plan at hoof. You and your friends are merely just a key.”
Their way led them deeper into the dark forest, slowly the light around them changing into nothing but blackness. Rarity raised her head surprised. "Oh, something is wrong." Nissala's horn began to glows as from both stallions, turning to Rarity. "She senses our approaches. We shall hurry, before she does something that would not please us."
Moving trough the darkness, every unicorn had their horn lit, glowing and spending light to their surroundings, except for Twilight's that sparkled a bit but didn't created the light it should. Trying to stay unnoticed, she followed the group, behind with a distance she kept trying to lit her horn.
Reaching a river that was familiar to Twilight, the darkness disappeared as they left the maze behind them. Nissala, the battle mages and Rarity used a spell that made them walk on the surface of the water, only Pinkie Pie and Twilight walked trough this wet adventure, surprising Pinkie Pie."Hey, why don't you use a spell like Rarity?"
"I eh, thought it would be good to get a bath again, heh." Twilight forced an smile while Pinkie glared at her. "Okey dokey." Pinkie nodded with an smile back to Twilight as they reached the other side.
Twilight shook the water off her skin, relieved that she left that embarrassing moment behind her.
Reaching a canyon, its dilapidated beauty laid on the other, unreachable side, the Moon Castle. Looking down to the bottomless pit and realising that there was no bridge nearby, their next step was clear.
”As it is a part of my being as an advisor, I suggest we camp here, to reconsider our current situation.”
As these words ended an by the nod of Twilight, both battle mages began to construct their tents, including Nissala's. Finishing her own tent, Rarity peeked over to Twilight who seemed to just stand there and do nothing since she obviously didn't possessed any tent. Rarity slowly approached the purple mare that waved with her hoof on the ground. "Darling, if you... if you need a place to sleep, I really have enough place for you both." Rarity forced a smile at Twilight who looked back indifferent but then changed her face into a smile as well. "Thank you Rarity, but I really--" Rarity put a hoof on Twilight's muzzle. "No discussion Twilight Sparkle, you sleep here." Rarity put the hoof from Twilight, smiling at her as the purple unicorn nodded.
"Iiiii will sleep on my OWN tent!" stated Pinkie as she began to dig a hole a bit far from the others, making Rarity shrug. "Well, then it is only both of us. More room, I guess."
The tents were built and by the talent of Blaze, he ignite a campfire for everypony who sought a heat-source. Everypony but Twilight and Pinkie Pie that stood at the edge of the canyon, trying to reach the bottom with their eyes. Twilight inhaled for one question she still had in mind, breaking the silence. ”What happened to Spike?”
Pinkie Pie just kept looking down, becoming a sad look when she heard this question. ”He...” Pinkie looked up at Twilight. “We lost him... .” Patting Twilight's shoulder, the pink pony smiled at her. ”After we helped everypony, he decided to run back for you, to see if you are alright. I saw how he disappeared in the crowd.”
Twilight, with tears in her eyes, watched the bottom of this canyon, with the scene in her mind as a tear run down her face. "I..."
”Don’t blame yourself Twilight, I am sure he's alright!” Pinkie Pie comforted her best friend with a hug. As they stood there, hoof in hoof, Pinkie's eyes widened. “A bridge!” she yelled as she let go of Twilight, running back into her self constructed bunker of dirt she made, leaving Twilight on the edge of that grudge, who kept looked down again, with a grief in her face.
Time passed, Twilight noticed Nissala approaching. ”I hope, for the guilt you feel, you won’t jump.”
Twilight ignored her, changing the look to the castle that laid on the other side, inhaling. ”What will happen afterwards? Will Luna stop this war and everything will be as it once was?”
”I do not know, for I am not the one with the master plan. Seriella got her idea how this ends, I will follow her with devotion." Nissala turned her head to the construction of dirt behind the camp. "What is with your friend? She built up a fortress of dirt and disappeared inside it. Should we worry? Can she be trusted?”
Twilight looked at the mare besides her, not believing what she heard. ”I trust her with every rest I got in this life, so yes, she can be trusted.”
Nissala raised her eyebrows as Twilight kept looking to the other side. ”How will we pass... this?" Twilight pushed a small piece of rock down the canyon, making both mare's watching as it fell down. ”Magic is useless here, we will need something... tangible.” Nissala turned around, heading to the fire. “You shall not worry, we will find a way, Twilight Sparkle.”
Twilight kept standing there, watching the castle for a while as she finally turned around as well, approaching Rarity's tent.
”You useless blank head, I will crush you if you attempt such action again!” the voice of a stallion woke Twilight from her nap up.
”I need this stuff, I need it for my project!” Pinkie Pie's voice yelled trough the camp as well.
Twilight saw it as she left the tent, Pinkie being held by a force that was casted by the blue battle mage.
”What is going on?” Twilight stopped besides Rarity, who watched the scene a bit concerned.
”Pitiful creature,it was a mistake to bring you with us, I shall show you what we do with thieves!.” continued the red stallion while his horn burned with a small fire.
"Well, Pinkie Pie attempted to steal from him." Rarity pointed at the red stallion whos horn was about to release its painful burning power.
"Stop!" Twilight stepped between Blaze and Pinkie Pie, covering her from any incoming attacks. The battle mage hesitated to release his power upon the purple and pink pony, his horn stopped burning.
"I won't let you harm her!" Twilight's horn sparkled weak, pointing it at the stallion who took a step back and motioning his friend to release the earth pony.
”Keep in mind, we won't tolerate ponies that steal our property.” Shiver released Pinkie Pie from the force, letting her fall on the ground. The stallions returned to their tents while Rarity approached Twilight and Pinkie. ”What did you thought? They will let you take their belongings?” Pinkie Pie stood up, looking at Twilight then at Rarity, freeing herself from he mud. ”I need this stuff, I need it for my project!”
”What project, darling?” Rarity frowned.
”My how-are-we-Going-to-pass-this-gorge-without-using-magic project.” Pinkie released a smile afterwards.
Twilight lowered her voice, looking concerned at the pink pony. ”Pinkie, we appreciate what you try to do, but these ponies do not. Please, stop giving them a reason to hurt you.”
Pinkie Pie just grunted depressed "Fine, I will find my own tools!" with that she returned into her dirt palace.
”Where is Nissala?” Twilight looked around, not seeing the green mare, who was supposed to step in.
”Why yes, here is the next concern of mine... she left the camp an hour ago. I suppose we should keep an eye on her since we can't trust this arrogant mare.”
”Why? You... don't like her, too?”
”How did you kno- I mean, yes but there is something else. We shouldn’t trust her.”
Nodding to Rarity, Twilight pointed with her eyes at Nissala who approached them both, motioning Rarity.
”I got the knowledge about what happened, I am certain, you are fully behind her?”
Twilight and Rarity, who turned around, nodded.
”She is lucky that she stole from Blaze, Shiver wouldn’t be that tolerant, he would just turn her into an ice block.” Nissala turned her head, watching the pink pony. “I am sure you talked to her, for she is about to leave the camp from what I see.”
Twilight and Rarity turned around, seeing Pinkie Pie leaving into the forest. Rushing after her, Rarity used her magic to life a bark from the ground, interrupting the earth ponies trot. ”Ehh, what are you about to do my dear?”
”Changing the situation.” Pinkie Pie avoided the obstacle.
”This is not how you change a situation.” Twilight rushed and stepped right in front of Pinkie Pie.
”It is better than just taking naps and blaming myself what happened!” Pinkie kicked with her hoof on the fallen tree besides her.
”But I didn’t ran away!” Twilight glared angry.
”Really Twilight? What about when Celestia died and you crept yourself in your tree? You never came out afterwards, you didn’t even open the door anymore. I left you cupcakes every day and only Spike seemed to like it. You have to stop to live in the past, start acting in the present and think about the future!”
”But if you leave, then you have nowhere to go.” Rarity placed a hoof on her shoulder.
"Me, leaving?" Pinkie giggled. "Don’t be silly! I need just some tools because grumpy ponies didn’t wanted to share.”
Rarity exhaled relieving, putting her hoof back on the muddy ground. Only Twilight stood and thought about what Pinkie said to her. ”Should we help you, my dear?”
”I think more than two hoofs is better than just two at all, or is it four?...”
Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie Pie returned after a while from the woods, with sharp stones, Liana's and even an entire tree. Nissala who stood at the cliff, turned around and saw them three.
”I was hoping you would return. I have an idea how we could pass thi--”
”Not now, Pinkie Pie here got what we need.” Twilight waved with her hoof, entering the great citadel of dirt with her friends.
Time passed, everyone walked out, each of them carrying something that looked like a large plank, bound with ropes. They walked to the edge of the canyon and both, Twilight and Rarity used magic to throw the last plank to other side.
It landed and struck its end in the ground as the middle and first plank was held in the air with the rope that Pinkie held in her muzzle, taking few steps back, spanning the construct and striking the beginning of the first plank into the ground.
”Impressive.” was only the word what Nissala could bring out.
They collected their tents, making their way on the bridge to the other side, moments later reaching the opened gate gate of the Moon Castle.Entering the castle, they walked through this ruin, reaching the other side and getting outside. Unfortunately, something blocked the bridge that ended by the stairs, that led upstairs into the throne room.
A manticore, a creature what lived usually in caves took this castle as his new home. Seeing the small group of ponies and it roared.
”Where is Fluttershy when you need her.” Rarity sighed, looking to the left and right, seeing nothing but the canyon that's bottom was pitch black. The manticore rushed towards them, Twilight noticing that Nissala and the battle mages took formation.
Blaze far left, Shiver far right and Nissala in the middle, focusing at the manticore as it stormed with his anger into the group.
While the battle mages used their given power of fire and ice, Nissala used her power to split stones from the bridge, forming them into sharp rotating small projectiles and firing it at that mystical beast that pierced trough him.
Avoiding Nissala and the rest, the manticore came closer to Twilight who stood there offside. Twilight just realising the danger, turned around to ran away but it was too late. The manticore took Twilight and held her in his paw, roaring at her with his full anger but then he suddenly stopping.
Looking into the eyes of this creature Twilight knew that she was not in danger. From one moment to another, the manticore groaned, letting Twilight out of his paws as she fell on the ground, watching the beast stumble and falling to the ground.
Taking a few seconds to realise she saw the back of the manticore completely pierced with ice lances.
”You can be thankful, later.” said Shiver with a grin.
Entering the throne room, there she was. In all her dark beauty, Luna stood there, looking out of the window behind her throne.
“Oh my, who do we have here?” began Luna as she turned around. "I wondered how long it would take you to get here, I didn't even tried to stop you.”
Nissala was about to react but Twilight stepped forward, interrupting Luna. The question she carried over the past months shall be answered now.
”Why did you killed Celestia?”
Luna looked at Twilight and began to laugh, stopping abrupt when she saw the unicorn’s angry face and raising an eyebrow. ”You are serious with this question.”
Nissala stepped forward, pushing Twilight aside.
”We will now handle this from now on, please step aside and do not interrupt us.”
”If this is not our beloved Nissala.” Luna eyes the dark green unicorn in the hood.
Nissala inhaled. ”In the name of the Prime Enchantress and the Circle of Magi, we take you under our custody to follow us back to the tower.”
”Oh, how eloquent.” Luna giggled.
”You shall not resist, we have the power to take you with us, with or without your cooperation.” finished Nissala.
”You have the power?” Luna laughed. “You didn’t even had the power to stop the manticore from taking one of your companions. But wait, it was not because of the power, it was just the effort you didn't wanted to make.”
”W-what do you mean?” Twilight changed her look between Luna and Nissala.
”The manticore, wouldn't have kill you, you knew that, I knew that. It was merely a test.” said Luna.
”For wha--” Nissala interrupted Twilight with a push.
“She plays with your thoughts, you can not believe any of her words! She knows that she has no options left, there is not escape!”
”Why you don’t just tell her the truth, Nissala.” interjected Luna.
”Wha... What truth?” asked Rarity worried, making Luna sigh.
”Did you think she sends a wreck of a pony with her only friends to take me down? Did you think that Seriella wants me because of my power to influence weather? Did you think these three would just let you head back after I told you the truth about Seriella Blackmoon?" Luna looked to the ground, then back to Twilight. "It is not the power of wind and weather she seeks, it is the power of being a alicorn herself.”
”Do not listen to her lies! She tries everything to convert you into her bane!” shouted Nissala.
”Oh, but it is you who lies to them Nissala, or should I say First Enchantress as it is your proper rank.” Luna took step down form her throne.
”What, you are the First of Blackmoon's?” asked Twilight surprised. “Why didn’t you tell me!”
”Because it was pointless, we have our order and you as a unicorn will obey the orders given to you! Now, step aside!”
”Twilight,” Luna looked concerned at the purple unicorn. “If you let them do this, the war will end, But a greater threat will be released into this world.”
”What do you--”
Interrupted by Nissala who released a red beam out of her horn that hit Luna with its full power, Twilight stepped back, watching as Luna built a dark barrier around her.
As the battle mages began to focus their attack on Luna with the same kind of magic, Luna's barrier weakened after every great impulse, Nissala released out of her horn trough the red beam.
A loud noise of something breaking could be heard as Luna lost her barrier, being overwhelmed by the power of these three mages, she fell on the ground.
About to stand up again, Nissala stopped her with another impulse out of her horn, forcing her to the ground as she was unable to move.
Luna looked up and saw the scared pony behind Nissala. ”You have to stop them, they will destroy everything what me and my sister built up!”
Unable to think, Twilight just watched Nissala who came closer and closer to Luna.
Looking over to Rarity and Pinkie who watched this scene as well, her head was empty.
Twilight didn't knew how to react, looking at Luna who laid hurt on the ground and being restrained by both stallions while Nissala came closer, Twilight turned her look to her friends again, realising that Rarity nodded as it was a signal that she would be fully behind everything Twilight decided.
Not understanding it completely about what her thought circled, her horn fired a thunderbolt that hit Shiver, interrupting his spell and breaking the force that held Luna from one side.
For Blaze was not strong enough to hold this alicorn on his own, Luna stood up with an shock wave that struck everyone in the room down.
Regaining her consciousness, Twilight saw Luna releasing many thunderbolts at both mages and Nissala.
Only Nissala seemed to hold her barrier while the barriers of the mages collapsed after a short while, each of them being thrown against the stone walls.
Moments and Nissala lose her barrier too, the power of Luna struck her down and collapsing to the ground, breathing heavy in pain.
”It is over, you should have never come here.” Luna stepped from the throne down, looking down at the wounded unicorn before her.
”I am sorry that it had come to this but as you said, you left me no options...”
After these words spoken, Luna released a great and loud thunderbolt that hit Nissala with it’s full power. Somehow building another barrier, Nissala teleport herself out of this deadly attack to a safer places.
She was gone.
Luna stood there, watching the dust that was whirled by magic and slowly reached the ground. Turning around, she eyed the purple unicorn that stood up, smiling at her. "You have my sympathy and also my thanks that you choose to do the right way."
Pinkie and Rarity realised that it was safe to come out again. Stopping besides Twilight, they looked at the alicorn who turned around to her throne, walking up and looking to the right and left to both unicorns that seemed to be dead.
”Why did you killed Celestia?” Twilight's first question that tortured her over the past months, directly out of her mind she took a step froward, glaring at Luna.
"Pardon?" Luna turned around, raising her eyebrow by this surprising question.
"Why did you killed Celestia!?" taking another step forward, her horn sparkled clearly powerful, looking like her body already forgot the detoxification. Luna started to laugh a bit, looking at Twilight she realised. "Wait, you are serious?" Luna took a the steps down towards Twilight.
”Do you really believe that I killed my sister?"
"You did it! They saw you killing her!" Twilight's horn sparkled even more as tears run down her face. "She was your sister and you killed her--" "Don't be foolish!" Luna’s voice raised from her natural soft into a sharp and cold tone.
Rarity took a few steps back, pulling Pinkies tail and dragging her back while she stood there with a wide simile, watching this rather dramatic scene.
"If I would wanted to kill my sister, I would have killed myself instead!" Luna stopped with her hoof on the ground.
“Wha-... what do you mean?” Twilightt's horn discharged from the deadly thunderbolt, taking a few steps back she looked up into the dark blue mares eyes.
”Think about it! Why do you think she just banished me into the moon instead of finding a long term solution such a permanent death?! Why do you think she kept me alive after you defeated me? For she is my sister?! Ha, No!” Luna looked to to ground, closing her eyes and trying to uphold the tears to come out. Looking up at Twilight tearfully, her voice changed back to normal.
"I was her sister, I looked up to her. Our relationship to each other was... difficult. She did things, I did things... I was never proud about turning my back to her when I became corrupted by my own selfish believes, even that she forgave me, it still carved us. We may had our differences, but I would never kill my own sister." Luna wiped the tears out of her face, turning to the throne again.
"Then who killed her?" Rarity stepped forward besides Twilight, watching the alicorn that looked out of the window, behind her throne.
"She killed herself." Luna sighed, walking around the throne, "By her own foolish ideals, she killed herself instead trying to avoid it."
"Wha- Ho- Why?!" Twilight couldn't believe what she heard, taking a few steps back she sat down, looking at the ground. Luna sighed once again, looking at the throne before her. "I do not know, Twilight Sparkle. I really don't know."
Minutes of silence spread trough the room, leaving Twilight deep in her thoughts as she sorted everything out, reconsidering her position and slowly gaining clear thoughts.
"May I ask, what will happen now?" Rarity recovered from this information faster than Twilight, glaring at the alicorn mare.
"It may occure that the Prime Enchantress dislike your... actions, but this is not important anymore, the future is."
Standing up, Twilight wiped the tears out of her eyes. "What will happen now?"
"Destiny." said Luna short as she turned around, looking at all three mares before her, smiling.
"You all will change it, everything."
"What are we going to change?" Twilight stood up from the ground, raising her eyebrows.
"Everything." Luna kept smiling, approaching Twilight and putting a hoof on her shoulder.
"All I want you to do now is to visit you friend Zecora. She will tell you what is important for the moment."
Twilight's eyes widened. "Zecora? But how--"
"Don't ask. Visit her and accept the fate that lies before you. And don't lose hope, you will have friends that show you the way."
As Luna turned around, her horn began to glow. "I count on you Twilight Sparkle, we all do." These word resounded as a bright light flash blended Twilight and her friend. Seeing normal again, they looked around, realising that they were on the other side of the canyon by the camp side.
Twilight stood up and looked to Rarity and Pinkie Pie who were aware of what happened, nodding to each other silently as they knew their next goal, trotting off into the forest, leaving the castle and its mystery on the other side behind.
After a while of venturing through the forest they saw that old tree. Coming closer, they saw the door open, entering and looking around for that foreign Zebra. Realising that no one was home, somepony entered the house, a shade approaching them from behind.
The blue mare's horn sparkled of electricity as she glanced at the intruders with scorn.
”Who dares break into the house belonging to someone as GREAT and POWERFUL as ME!”
“Hate, disgust and contempt are the basic resources for war.
Being naive enough to believe, something could settle this conflict is foolish.
You cannot prevent fire from burning, you can only extinguish it.”
It was a rainy day. No shelter was found but a bridge where she hid beneath . Her only concern was, that her robe would get dirty. The ground where she sat was muddy, not only because of the rain, but also of the river that passed besides. She waited for this rain to come to an end so she could continue her travel. Her life wasn’t easy, people disliked her, even hated her. She lied her way through every city known in Equestria. But one day something changed, one day some of them got more violent, they started to throw stick and stones after her. It was like something or somepony drove them into this madness. That day she saw this red mare burning on a pyre, everything was clear for her. She had to get out of the city, even away from this civilization. She wouldn’t miss it anyway, for she was alone her entire life. First raised in an orphanage and then lived on the street. Her only blessing was the magic given to her, with it she’d survived much longer than others. From the moment when she was born until the present days, she learned only one rule which she followed, today and always. “You must survive.”
* * * * * * *
There she stood, all in her cyan blue beauty. She wore a hat and robe as she always did, with the only difference that it was more tattered than the last time they saw her. With her purple eyes she stared at the intruders. Twilight, just recognizing who this was, responded very surprised. ”Trixie? What are you doing here?”
”Twi--? What I am... It was YOU who broke into MY home and now you DARE to ask such questions!?”
”My goodness, why her? We could meet anypony but why her?” muttered Rarity.
”Actually, the door was open. We are her to meet Zecora, where is she?” continued Twilight.
”Hmm... she is gone and will not return soon. Maybe you should leave now, before I LOSE myself.” replied Trixie.
Rarity bowed to Twilight’s ear and whispered. ”Are you sure our destiny lies here? With her?”
”NOW leave immediately, or feel the ANGER of the GREAT and POWERFUL Trix--”
”Stop this now you foolish filly! Did you forgot what I teached you really!?”
A Zebra stood at the threshold, under a robe she watched this scene. She took her hood of and everyone saw her face, her appearance was the same as always but only with one difference, a bandage over her eyes.
Trixie, just startled by her sudden show up, calmed down and bent her head down.
”I... I didn’t meant to...” began Trixie stammering.
”Old habits are hard to discard,” she turned to Twilight and smiled. “I hope she sent you my regard.”
”Well kind of, Zecora we need your help. Something happened and we hoped you coul--”
”Speak no words before the tea, it is tradition on the other side of the sea.”
When everyone had a cup of tea, Twilight and Rarity started. They explained from the very beginning to the end. The death of Celestia, that day they had to escape, the life in Evernight, what happened in the tower yesterday, today’s journey and the encounter and conversation with Luna, Zecora just listened to the entire story. After they were done, Zecora just sat there, thinking. Trixie who stood at the window for the entire time, listened too but didn’t interrupt once. Suddenly Zecora stood up, turned to the door and was about to leave the house. Before she left, she turned around. ”It was a long journey I am sure you are tired, you can sleep here because the day is expired.” she turned to Trixie.
”These are our guest, please help them to get a rest.”
After Zecora left the house, Twilight followed her outside, for she wondered for the entire time. ”What happened with your eyes?” Zecora just smiled and disappeared into the fog of the Everfree Forest.
It was her first peaceful night since Celestia’s death, Twilight sat by the window and looked outside. She forgot almost everything that happened, it was like another life. The escape, the old life in the city, the curse. She knew everything changed since they went through the main gate of Evernight city. Twilight stood up and went to her bed, that Trixie made her. Somehow she managed to give them all a place to sleep in this little room. Trixie slept in her own hammock. While Rarity and Pinkie Pie slept on hay that was scattered on the ground. It was improvised but at least, Trixie made the effort. It was time to get some sleep, her first real slumber since everything went wrong.
Tomorrow she would learn what destiny lies before her, tomorrow begins her new life.
Twilight woke up because of the sun’s ray that blinded her eyes. She had a dreamless sleep, which she appreciated.
She stretched herself and was about to fall asleep again, she closed her eyes and turned around, so the sun couldn’t blind her. Then she started to remember what happened yesterday and realised where she was. She abruptly opened her eyes and stood up. She looked around, nobody was in the room. She started to imagine that maybe they left without her, or this is just maybe some kind of dream but then, she heard the voices outside. The door opened, Zecora entered and turned to Twilight. “Oh, you are awake, I hope you are hungry, we got cake.”
Not knowing how to react, Twilight just nodded. Wondering how Zecora could know that she was awake without seeing her, she went outside and saw her friends and Trixie sitting on cloth by a table which had apples, hay, and cupcakes on it. She sat by her friends and began to gather goods she was hungry for, it was like she didn't eat for months. She heard incidentally the conversation between Rarity and Pinkie Pie.
”Just tell me how you managed to get these... cupcakes?”
”I made them.”
”But you had nothing but your own self, how is this even possible?”
”I can’t tell you, its a trade secret, silly!”
”Why, do not tell me you just collected some mud and dirt and.... oh...” Rarity turned to Twilight who was about to take a bite. “Darling, if I were you, I would not eat that.”
Meanwhile this conversation , Zecora took a seat next to Trixie and listened. Trixie just sat there, looking at her apple she ate, she didn't care for any kind of talk.
When the table grew quiet, Zecora decided it was time to speak to those who sat at the table.
“Time to talk what will come, your journey is severe and will last long.”
Twilight was about to ask what she meant but decided otherwise, she let Zecora continue.
”This threat for war must be eliminated. You and your friends are to this, very related. Seek for you friends is the
only answer, find them, collect your strength and destroy this cancer. The Elements of Harmony is the only key,
to end this and bring peace, by its only way. ”
Twilight thought about what Zecora said, her mind circled only over one question. “How do you know that?”
Zecora who sat there turned her head to Twilight. It seemed like she looked with her blind eyes through the bandage into Twilight’s, then she got the same smile like yesterday before she vanished in the fog. Twilight ran a cold shiver her back down, as she felt Zecora’s eyes staring at her. Twilight turned her head away and looked at Trixie who stared at her during this entire time. After Twilight looked in a different direction, Zecora did the same and lowered her head. Trixie however kept staring at Twilight which she replied it with an questioning glance. Trixie just realising that she stared, shook her head fierce, stood up and walked back into the tree without an word.
Zecora just got another smile and looked up again to those who sat before her. Rarity who just watched and listened took the chance of silence to ask one of her questions. “Why is she here?” Rarity pointed with her head at the tree that Trixie entered. Zecora’s smile widened, as she heard this question.
”If you see a wounded bird on the ground, you don’t help it to get around?”
”But what happened that she is here? Was she pursued?” asked Twilight.
”If she really wishes to tell, you will have the chance to ask well.”
After those words spoken, Trixie left the tree and saw how everyone stared at her. This silence was interrupted by Zecora who stood up, stepped besides Trixie and turned around.
”It is time to go, your journey awaits, find your friends and assemble so.”
”Well, time for you to go then.” added Trixie with an grin.
”You will follow.” finished the Zebra additionally.
”WHAT!?” Trixie’s gaze was full of shock as she heard those words.
”If a bird is wounded and cannot fly, you help until it can be released into the sky. Your lessons are over, time for the test, now you will leave this nest.”
”But, I am not ready yet, there so much more you...”
Trixie wanted to protest some more but realised it would be hopeless. She just dropped her head down and turned around. “... I will need to pack my things.”
After Trixie entered the tree again, Twilight decided to discuss this with Zecora but before she could say anything.
”I know your concern but you have to trust, she will be a great help and a friend, if she must.”
Twilight just got one of these moments, that assured her, that it was the only reasonable thing to do, so she just nodded for a sign, that she understands and accepted the offer. Pinkie Pie just happy used the moment to gather all the food what laid on the table. Rarity, who was not happy about this development just accepted the fate that laid before her. “I hope you know what you are doing my dear.” said Rarity concerned.
Moments later Trixie came out, she wear her robe with hat and a little bag. She stepped next to Zecora and was about to say something but decided otherwise. Twilight and her friends were ready to depart and with them, Trixie. The group wished Zecora farewell and turned around, heading towards destiny. Trixie however, remained a little longer by Zecora and spoke with her last words. Twilight did not hear what they spoke but she was sure, that it was a goodbye.
After, Trixie caught up with the group, not sure what comes next, she accepted her fate by her new so called friends.
* * * * * * *
In the Tower of Evernight.
”You wishes to speak with me, Prime Enchantress?”
”Yes, I thought about what happened, and after your... failure, I am willing to give you another chance.”
”Thank you, Prime Enchantress, I will find Luna and bring her with the entire power I possess, here.”
”Luna? She is long gone, you will never find her, no one ever will until she decides to be found. Your task is, to
follow Twilight Sparkle, she is of greater importance than anything before. You will follow her and
her friends, you will give me reports and remain undetected, you will be their shadow following, until I want
”I will do everything in my power, for I will not disappoint you again.”
”Ah, we shall see Nissala, we shall see.”
* * * * * * *
”Where are we going next?”
Their progress had been held as they stood before a swamp, looking for an answer for Twilight’s questions.
”I am not quite sure but we should really leave this place. I hate this muddy dirty...” Rarity was interrupted by the splashing sound of somepony jumping into the swamp.
”If there are two ways, you should always take the third.” said Pinkie Pie while she trotted trough the mud.
”Pinkie, we meant what are we going to do with our situation.” Twilight tried to reach Pinkie Pie but she ignored.
”Maybe we shall ask the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie!” said Rarity with an mocking tone.
Trixie who just stood behind them, didn’t say a single word since they left Zecora’s home. She followed them all the way without giving a notice that she was actually there.
Trixie’s gaze changed into an scornful grimace after she heard this gibe from Rarity but changed abruptly back to normal, she closed her eyes and inhaled heavily. ”A Tavern is on the other side of this march, there we can gather information and buy some supplies for our... journey.”
After she opened her eyes, Trixie saw the two ponies looking at her with suspicious, they could not believe what they just heard. Trixie passed between them by and stepped into the mud of the swamp.”THIS... is the fastest way.”
”I will not follow, I protest against such unnecessary smearing!” said Rarity in disgust.
”You could use your magic, Rarity.” replied Twilight as she stepped in the mud.
”Don’t be ridiculous, you know my magic is not this powerful, that I could handle such task for this long marsh.”
Rarity just realising that no one listened, closed her eyes and gulped. She stepped to the swamp and held her left front-hoof just one centimeter over the surface of this horror. She inhaled and then, she stepped in.
They waded through the mud, Pinkie Pie in her old behavior used to hop instead of walking. Rarity to try to avoid the splashes caused by her, had her eyes closed and lived with the lie “What I cannot see, cannot make me dirty.”
Trixie who was on the front this time, seemed not to care if they follow her lead or not. Twilight went up to her.
”What do you mean by, what happened?” asked Trixie bored.
”The last time we saw you, you ran out of Ponyville.”
”I did not RUN OUT, I had an urgent appointment that I couldn’t miss.”
”But why are you here? What happened when this terror began?”
”What is the point of this conversation, do you want to mock me more as your friend already did?” Trixie asked this with an offended tone but she kept looking straight ahead.
”I didn’t mean to... I just wanted to get to know you better.” said Twilight with a little sad voice.
”Well, no thanks, I don’t need someone knowing me better.”
”But at least you could tell som--”
”Let it be!” interrupted Trixie with an sharp tone and looked at Twilight.
Twilight gave up for the moment the hope to get some personal inquiry from Trixie, she tuned back to Rarity, who kept closing her eyes.
”Why are your eyes closed? You could easily lose us.” Twilight used a concerned voice while she walked besides her.
”Darling, if you got any cucumber slices for this... mud-bath, I will be very thankful but if not, then I have to keep my eyes closed, for not to get a heart attack.”
They continued their way a moment long in silence but then she reminded about a question she wanted to ask her for so long. “What about you sister, Sweetie Belle?”
”What about her?” asked Rarity with an unconcerned voice.
”She did not come with us, I wonder if you know what happened.”
”Nothing happened, she is fine and probably with her friend Applebloom and Scotaloo ruining my shop, again.”
”Erww....” Twilight didn’t know what to say, she didn’t even know how to deal with this behavior of Rarity’s.
”Why isn’t she with you, then?” she asked finally.
”Because there was no time, remember my dear? She IS fine.” replied Rarity abrupt.
Twilight wanted to know, how she knew that but decided otherwise as she saw an building on the horizon.
* * * * * * *
“The stinky Bandit” was a Tavern at the edge of Everfree Forest. It was used as a hub by thieves and outcasts that were branded by the Equestrian and other regimes. It was also the first stop to the the outlaw city, Redswamp which laid deeper in the Everfree Forest. Earthponies, griffin, pegasi, even some unicorns lived in that city, everyone who was forced to leave their home were probably there. Ruled by Lord Belaras, grew this city into a metropole of lawless and murderers. The diplomatic status to the others was unknown, no one seemed to care about this city and their inhabitants, for them it was good of course.
After they stepped inside this tavern, they realised why it was called stinky bandit. The place was full to burst by drunken ponies and others, some of them yelled at each other, some of them just played cards and others just fought. Besides this grisly scene, there was an unpleasant odor which was difficult to describe.
Rarity that almost fainted, closed her eyes and inhaled, to face the horror that laid before her.
Trixie just looked at Twilight, who watched this tavern in its heyday, and told her.
“Let me handle this. Wait here and don’t speak with anyone until I am finished.”
After these words, Trixie disappeared in the crowd. Twilight and Rarity realised afterward, that Pinkie Pie disappeared.
”And who wishes to speak with him?” A very large and muscular brown Stallion stood before Trixie, who looked at her with a grin. ”Tell him that the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie DEMAND to speak with him!”
”I got something great and powerful myself and it demands to speak with you, too” said the Stallion and his grin widened over his entire face.
”Do you REALLY want me to crush you through this door?”
”Heh, I want you to try.”
Telaras was the little brother of Belaras, who was the keeper of this Tavern, he was also Belaras’s eyes and ears when needed. The Zebra sat there behind his desk, he was reading a letter and eating a muffin, he go interrupted by the door that just tore open and a brown stallion flew through his room. The stallion crashed into the wall and remained unconscious on the ground. A blue unicorn entered his room with her horn sparkling. “You dare!” yelled Telaras but then realised who this was. “Trixie? Is that you?”
”I am sorry for... well I am not sorry, this brick-head saw it coming.” replied Trixie with a causal voice.
”Trixie, what happened? I was looking for you but never found you. What happened?” asked Telaras surprised.
”You could call it destiny, I call it bad luck. Unfortunately, I need your help.”
”First you disappear, then you reappear and destroy my door, now you want me to help? We are not even, you
owe me something, you owe my brother, you know that.”
”You saved my life and I saved yours, we ARE even.”
”Stupid little filly, do you really think one favor is enough? We own you Trixie, we own every fiber of your being.”
”Do not try to summon my anger, we will tear this place up if you won’t help us! We will--”
Trixie was interrupted by the hit she got on her head, she fell unconscious on the ground.
“I am sorry Trixie, for it comes to that.” said Telaras as he looked at Trixie, then he look back up to the brown stallion who stood there and waited for his order.
”Rindfleisch, it seems there are more here, find them and bring them up here. And clean this mess, I don’t want them
to see their friend like this. It could affect the... negotiation.”
Twilight and Rarity walked through this filthy house, looking for Pinkie Pie. Suddenly they heard something breaking, like something was crashed into another thing. Everyone in this tavern was quiet for a single moment to listen but then the yelling and beating continued. Twilight who turned around to speak with Rarity realised, that she is also lost in this crowd. Twilight made her way back trough this chaos to search her and found her immediately. Rarity sat on a table with three other ponies and it seemed like they played cards. Twilight, no believing what she saw, went up to this table. “Rarity, we should really look for Pinkie Pie.”
”Oh well my dear, why? Pinkie Pie can take care of herself and I can take care of our finances, yes.”
”I think it is really important that--”
”Please darling, I have to concentrate if I want to be successful. These supplies won’t be bought by our pretty
”I thinks this I really the bad time fo--”
Twilight got interrupted by an hoof that fell on her shouler, she turned around and saw that brown stallion before her.
”My boss wants to speak with you and your friend.” he pointed to Rarity and added. “Your friend Trixie demands it.”
”Rarity come, we have to go.” said Twilight while pulling on Rarity’s tail.
”Oh, come on! I am just about to teach these guys here, how we play things in Evernight.”
After an strong pull, Rarity felt over the bench and stood up. She turned to the table again and pointed at the place she sat. “I sit here, I will come back, remember my face.” then Rarity turned around and went with Twilight and the brown one upstairs.
After passing the threshold without a door, they saw a Zebra looking out of the window. ”Please, sit down.”
He pointed with his head at the two stools standing before his desk. Twilight and Rarity sat down without an word. Then the Zebra turned around. “My name is Telaras but you can call me Tel.”
”Where is Trixie?” asked Twilight while looking around.
”Unfortunately she left. She said she had an important appointment that she cannot miss.”
”Typical.” was the only word, Rarity could bring out.
Twilight who was suspicious, couldn't believe, that Trixie just left them like this. She had this feeling that this Zebra concealed something. Telaras continued. “However, I am sure my brother Belaras will help you for a small payment.”
”We just need some supplies and information.” replied Twilight after accepting the truth, that maybe Trixie really abandoned them.
”Oh my brother can help you with these things. I insist, that you both go meet him, for it would be safer for you, we
don’t see many unicorns on this side of the swamp and lot of ponies here can get lot of bad ideas.”
The more Twilight thought about this situation, the more she realised that it made perfect sense for Trixie to disappear. She was selfish and a liar, but there was more. Deep inside her was somepony else, Twilight knew it, for she saw it through her eyes, she would never betray someone. No, she would never just leave them behind like that.
”I... think... we might leave this place for now.” said Twilight very carefully.
”Oh, but I am afraid it is impossible. Trixie owe me much and you as her friends should help her to repay, no?” said Telaras surprised.
”Do you really think we help someone who ‘maybe’ left us behind?” replied Rarity very distrustful.
”We will leave now.” finished Twilight as the stood up and went towards door, Telaras just shook his head.
”What a shame.” he signed his guard to take care.
* * * * * * *
They went the stairs down and realised that they were followed by this brown muclepony. Twilight just turned around and used magic to blast him away. It was a weak attempt but at least he stumbled back. Then both began to rush towards the door. The entire room watched them, some of them even tried to stop them but Twilight used the same blast on them this time more powerful, it seems that her magic returned to her. Twilight reached the door and ran outside but realised afterward, that she was alone. She turned around and walked slowly back to the door, after she opened it she saw everypony standing on each side of this room. Only the brown stallion that held Rarity, stood in the centre. ”Come in and close the door, it is cold outside.” said the stallion with a grin. “Maybe you don’t want me to break her neck, too?”
Twilight just realised how he was holding Rarity, he hugged her neck with his muscular front leg and could easily use his strength to crush it. Rarity was unconscious, unsure whether the attack or the stress. Twilight stepped in the tavern again and went up to this stallion. Before she was about to say something, somepony hit her on her head.
She fell on the ground and was surrounded by darkness.
“The key of survival is the same key to power. Knowledge.
Knowing your enemies weakness gives you a great advantage.
I saw their weakness, now they will suffer.”
It was cold. When she regained consciousness, she felt the cold stone floor she laid on. She didn’t knew where she was, for she could only dimly recall what had happened. The room was dark, stuffy and she could see almost nothing. As she listened, she heard something from time to time, voices, wailing and... frogs.
She began to remember, the swamp, the tavern, the strike, now it was all clear again. They hit her head and she lost awareness. The ‘how’ was answered but not the ‘where’. Where was she? In the Tavern? No, for it was too insecure, a escape would be easy to succeed. The next place that could come in question was, Redswamp.
A city built deep in the Everfree Forest, by The Red Swamps that gave the city its name. Mostly used by thieves and murderers but also some Mercenary groups and outcasts, that were forced to leave their lands for some reason.
They took her to the city, they locked her in a dungeon and now she had to wait until they decide something. Her only hope was, that they will show mercy, but it would be foolish to believe that. She had to react first, take the first step. The more she stared into the darkness, the more her eyes adjusted to it. She was in a small room with a steel door. She tried to stand up but there was something that held her.
Chains, she was bound to the wall with a chain around her neck. She wanted to use her magic to light everything up but something forbid it, as she noticed how her horn hung down, she knew why.
They have poisoned her, the horn was useless. She couldn’t do anything without her magic, she was useless.
She struggled against the chain around her neck, she pulled it almost in panic, trying to rip it out of the wall, but it was pointless, she was too weak. Exhausted by the ridiculous attempt to free herself, she laid there, closing her eyes as the tears ran. "So it ends."
When she heard the steps that approached the door from the other side, she opened her eyes and lifted her head.
The bar pulled back and the door opened.
Pulled trough the corridor, she only felt regret for her friends she left behind. She thought her life would change but it only took one moment and everything collapsed, her world, her dreams. She just wished, they would make it quick.
They left the corridor and she was taken upstairs to another corridor. This one was more aesthetic than the last one. The walls were made of solid stone. She supposed, she was in the castle of Redswamp, where else? It was pretty much the only solid building in the city, for the others were just made of wood and clay.
The once called Night Spear Castle, was once a strategic point for the Old Equestrian Military, many years ago. It was used to prevent the monsters from the Everfree Wilds in the far west to advance to the once beautiful Nightlight Forest but now called Everyfree. This castle was given up since they were overwhelmed but this is another story.
The brown stallion with a nose ring kept dragging her, they passed the corridor and then a great door. After entering she saw the Zebra sitting on the old stone throne on the other end of the hall. He wore an leather coat made out of Hydra skin and an old iron crone. His face was marked by the scars on his left blind eye. As he saw the prisoner dragged to him, he grinned.
”Well, well, was about time.” began the Zebra. “I hoped to see you again, was a bit long time don’t you think,
Trixie who was dropped on the ground, stood up and looked at her conveyance. She recognized him, that one she threw trough the door in the Tavern. The stallion returned the look with a grin and a wink. Then he stepped a little back. Trixie turned her head and looked back at her problem. She was about to say something but was interrupted.
”Did you really thought you could just disappear? Right after we saved your pretty ass from the Inquisitors?”
”I saved your brother from your own kind, I think we are even.” said Trixie with an weak smile.
”Oh? You really keep thinking that? Who turned him to the Skaduwee? You pushed him ‘off the cliff’ and realized
then, that I would hunt you to the end, so you saved him and ran away. Why did you cut off otherwise?”
”Because of your stupidity, I knew you and Telaras would accuse me of betrayal, I had no choice.”
Belaras turned around and walked towards his old decayed throne. Before he was about to sat down, he turned around and said with an serious tone.
”You have now no choice, you will obey me as a slave or you will suffer.”
”Me? Your slave? I would rather get burned by some scorch-flanks before I obey you.” said Trixie with an amused tone.
”We captured your friends. If you resist however, then they will have to take your place. And I will grant your
Trixie’s face changed in a shocked gaze and looked at the ground. She realized, that all her plans just vanished in one moment. She didn’t know how to react, she was certain that they would just think that she departed and would continue their way without her. Trixie saw the widened grin of Belaras after he stepped in front of her and put his hoof on her shoulder. “So, are you a good filly?”
* * * * * * *
“Your head? MY HAIR!”
Twilight woke up from her dream of eternal darkness into a world that was just as dark. She tried to use her horn to light everything up but she couldn’t for some reason. Then Twilight tried to stand up but something held her, she was clearly in chains. Her look went around the dark room, she could see almost nothing but her eyes stopped at a silhouette at the other side of this room. She saw this pony and realized, that she knew that voice from before.
“Rarity! Where are we? Can you make light?”
“I am afraid that I can’t and, I am sure you do not want to know where we are. They dragged us somewhere deeper
into this cursed forest and locked us in this imprisonment.”
“You mean we are in Redswamp?”
“I am not quite sure but I regained consciousness when we three passed a gate.”
“Alright then we have to-- three?”
“Believe it or not my dear, Trixie did not leave us behind. She was unconscious on the carriage with us.”
“Then we have to save her, too.”
“Well, I would not even contradict but our own situation is not better at the moment.”
After a moment of silence Twilight remembered something.
“Where is Pinkie Pie, do you think they...”
“I would not worry about Pinkie, she was always so hard to catch. I am sure she is fine.”
After Rarity’s words ended, they heard the door unlock and open. The light dazzled them in the first moment and in the other, they saw this familiar large brown pony they met once. Twilight realized, why her magic didn’t worked. Her and Rarity’s horn were crippled by the Poison Joke. The Stallion stepped in the cellar and inspected both mares with a grin. “The lord wishes to speak with you both.”
He freed the chains from the wall, he unbound first Rarity and sniffed at her hair with joy. Rarity surprised by this sudden action winced only. As he stood over Twilight he whispered into her ears with a large grin.
“After Beleras is done, then I wish to speak with you about the difference between your and MY magic.”
As the stallion unbound Twilight, she just gulped. After the brown muscle pony was done, he grabbed both on the chain around their neck and led them out.
Trixie turned around as she heard to door open and saw those she had let down. She looked at the ground, full of shame for what happened. Then she heard words that she never expected.
“Trixie, We knew you wouldn’t let us down.” said Twilight with an smile.
“You... knew?” Trixie’s face changed in surprise.
“Oh, my tears are running down my face. No wait, this is only the vomit out of my gob.” interrupted Belaras with an laugh. Twilight looked up to that Zebra that stood there, looking with his only one eye.
“I suppose you are Belaras.” said Twilight.
“Oh, someone knows my name, I am flattered. But tell me, who are you then?”
“My name is Twilight Sparkle and this is Rarity.” Twilight pointed to Rarity. “I hoped we could settle this...
problem and that you could let us free.”
Belaras began to laugh, after he stopped he looked at Twilight again.
“Wait, you are serious? Oh, but impossible it is. Your friend Trixie here betrayed me and now she has to
repay her depts.”
“Then take me and let them go.” interrupted Trixie.
Belaras looked at Trixie and was about to laugh again but resisted.
“Why should I? You have nothing to offer and I got already everything. And unicorns, they are very rare out here,
I’ll be fool if I ignore such occasions. No, I think, I want everything as it is. Under my control.”
“Why this is a nice destiny that lies before us.” interjected Rarity.
“But we are of no use for you, why would you keep us?” asked Twilight.
“No use? As I said, three unicorns out of their pretty tower which know magic. I think there will be many uses
for you. Now, Rindfleisch be a kind host and lead them back to their room.”
Rindfleisch, the brown stallion grabbed the chains of both and pulled them back. He dragged them back to their cells in the dungeon. Twilight looked back at Trixie before they left, she stood there and watched this scene. Trixie looked back at Twilight with a facial expression that said “I am sorry.”
They were thrown by this stallion back into their cell, he stepped in and began to bound both, Twilight and Rarity on the wall. After he was done he turned around and was about to leave but then he stopped. He stepped back and closed the door from the inside. Then he turned around with a grin.
“I think I stay for a while before I go back to the tavern. And when I remember right, I think today is payday.”
He turned to Twilight who sat there with a anxious look, and his grin widened as he was about to touch her.
“Hey handsome, why take something languid, when you can have something pure and elegant as me.”
The stallion turned his head around and saw that white mare laying there in a appealing pose. The stallion let go of Twilight and moved towards Rarity. Rarity continued.
“You are so big and strong. I am sure you want to spend time with someone that is more worthy of your time.”
Twilight just sat there, not believing what is happening.
“I got something else that is big and strong and it thinks, you are worthy of its time.” replied Rindfleisch.
“Oh yes, I am certain. Why you don’t just take this chains off me so I can take care of you. You worked so hard
today and nothing could be possibly a greater reward than me.”
Rindfleisch’s grin disappeared and his face fill with suspistion. Then he shook his head.
“Do you take me for this stupid?”
“Oh no, of course not. I just want you to unshackle my desire for you. So long I never felt that touch I am longing
for. Please rescue me from this curse.”
The Stallion gained his usual grin again and was about to free her from the chains but before he opened the last lock, he was interrupted by a noise that came from outside, a explosion. Rindfleisch turned his head and looked at the door like something was about to enter, he shook his head and looked back and got a view at the opened lock with chains before him.
Rindfleisch hit his head on the ground after somepony used a brick on his back head. Rarity took the key she gained and freed Twilight from her chain. Twilight just looked at Rarity with an impressed gaze but then it changed quickly. “Languid!?” Rarity just got a shy smile and turned back to the brown pack of muscles that groaned as he slowly gained consciousness.
“Quick! Help me to chain him up.”
Somehow they managed to bind him, they only had to use both chains to be sure. Rindfleisch regaining consciousness, began to struggle against the chains. The holder in the wall began to tear because of the strength of this monster. Twilight’s and Rarity’s joy was short-lived. The Stallion pulled in his full anger and finally broke one of the chains.
“Lets get out of here before he entrain the whole wall.” said Twilight concerned.
“Yes, we shou---”
Rarity got interrupted by the steel door suddenly being torn apart.
* * * * * * *
It was easy for Pinkie Pie to know what happened, for she stood in the crowd when this pony hit Twilight. She could have stepped in but it was already too late. Pinkie Pie had no choice but watch this scene. Pinkie Pie had to follow this brown Stallion and his companions, who put her friends and Trixie on the carriage. Pinkie Pie followed them all the way off the path, in their shadow. She followed them through the forest and over a swamp to a city. They went through a gate and so did Pinkie Pie, They entered this city and so did Pinkie Pie. They entered the castle and so Pinkie Pie had to stop. Now Pinkie Pie knew where her friends were. Now all she needed was a good plan.
“But I need those for my project!”
“Listen filly, I don’t know what happened to you when you were little, but without money you will get nothing
from here. Why don’t you just go around the corner and sell your flank for some money, then we can talk.”
Pinkie Pie turned around offended, her attempt to bring this griffin merchant to give her what she needed, failed. She had to find another way to get what she wanted. Pinkie Pie left the shop and looked around her. This city was a mess.
Beggars on the street, beatings in the corner, thieves stealing what wasn’t rivet and nail set. Pinkie Pie wondered how they could survive under these circumstances but her thoughts were interrupted by a stallion who approached her.
“I heard you need money, I could give you all the money you want.”
Pinkie Pie heard this voice and turned around. It was a large orange stallion in a fur coat, his grin was over his entire face. Pinkie Pie smiled back and turned immediately around.
“Silly I don’t need money, I need nitroglycerin, some kieselguhr and little sodium.”
“I... I can provide with everything you desire.”
“Really?” Pinkie Pie turned around with an big smile.
“Yes, come with me my dear. I will give you your nitrowhatever. And you can call me Swamp Daddy.”
Pinkie Pie followed this friendly stallion to his place. They crossed the street and took a corridor to a backyard where a old wood house was built. They entered the building and in the inside saw Pinkie Pie things, ponies embracing each others with kisses and touches. Pinkie Pie understood only the half that was going on, or she's pretending not to understand. The stallion led her upstairs and they walked across the corridor. Pinkie Pie could heard noises through the doors. After the passed, the stallion opened the last room in the centre. They entered the room and the orange one pointed with his head at the bed that stood in the room.
“Make yourself comfortable sugar, I’ll be back in one minute. Then we will negotiate about the materials you need.”
The stallion left the room with his grin and left her in that room. Pinkie Pie sat there, wondering how he could know about all the materials she needed. Then her thoughts circled again about this problem that was present the entire day.
Pinkie Pie stood up immediately because the more time she wasted, the more her plan suffered. Before Pinkie was about to open the door, it opened and this orange stallion stood before her.
“Ah ah ah, you want to leave, don’t you? I thought we could negotiate about you... employment.”
“I don’t have time to work, I already work at a sweet shop.” said Pinkie dismissived.
“Oh, I am sure you do.” replied the stallion with a smile.
“My friends are in danger and I need to find the things I am looking for.”
“But everything you need is right here sugar.”
Pinkie Pie avoided the grip of this stallion and went outside to the corridor. She made her way down the corridor and the stallion followed behind her.
“Think about what I offer you.”
Pinkie Pie went down the stairs.
“You could have anything you want if you work for me.”
Pinkie Pie was about to open the door.
“You will regret this if you walk through this door. Do you want this?”
Pinkie Pie opened the door and stepped outside, then she turned around.
After Pinkie Pie left this dark corridor and continued her way on the street again, she realized that they followed her. She continued her way on the street but those 3 stallions came closer. Suddenly they surrounded Pinkie Pie and she was unable to walk further.
“Well, I am sorry for it came to this but young fillies are rare in this city. Everyone has to look out for his own
business. You come now with us.” said the orange stallion.
“I can’t let you do that!” yelled a strange voice. Swamp Daddy turned around and his gaze changed in surprise.
All Pinkie Pie could see, was a gray stallion, smaller then the other three but that didn't stop him from beating them up. After he was finished with them he stood over the orange stallion whose nose bleed.
“You will regret this, they will--” he was interrupted by the impact that carried him into the dream world.
He turned his look to this Pink pony that stared at him the entire time.
Pinkie Pie saw that gray earthpony before him, she saw the cutiemark of him or what has left, it was scorched. Pinkie didn’t knew what to say so she just smiled, nodded and turned around to continue her way. Unfortunately, he stopped her by stepping before her.
“I know you need help. I followed you since the tavern. I know what happened to your friends and where they
are, I would help you to acquire what you need for the exchange of something. I need to come with you when you
enter the castle.”
Pinkie Pie looked with suspicion at this stallion before her.
“Because I heard about you and what you are capable off back in Equestria, Pinkie Pie I know I have the best
chances with you.”
“No, why do want to get in the castle, silly?”
“You want to hurt my friends?”
“I- No! I am no longer what I was I assure you, I want only to get into the castle.”
Pinkie Pie thought about this about a minute and then she agreed. The stallion was relieved. “You can call me Varin.”
They went the way back to the griffin merchant Pinkie spoke to earlier. She pointed at that she needed and Varin bought it. After they were done with shopping, Pinkie Pie and Varin looked for a quiet place where they could work.
After one hour, they finished. They had anything they needed and moved towards the castle.They stopped by the wall on the other side of the castle.
“Here behind the wall are the cells, your friends are probably there. If you plant it here then we could enter it on the
end of this corridor and have the best escape route.”
Pinkie Pie look turned into an suspicious gaze.
“What? You are not the only one who escaped from a prison.” replied Varin with a smile.
Pinkie Pie placed the rodes that she built, into holes in that old stonewall. She used a fire to ignite the fuse and walked slowly back, while Varin ran behind a rock. Pinkie Pie however, walked slowly towards Varin. She reached and hid behind the rock. Pinkie looked at Varin who closed his eyes and held his ears, then he opened one eye and look at that pink pony. Pinkie Pie just stared at Varin. “Boom.” with the explosion underlining these words, the wall exploded and created a large hole. Pinkie Pie stood up and walked toward the hole while Varin rushed towards his own destiny.
Passing the corridors, Pinkie Pie held by a steel door as her tail twiched. She planted another rod by the lock and ignited it and waited in front of it. She saw the burning fuse and before it reached the end, she took one step aside.
As the smoke cleared, they saw a pink pony standing at the threshold. They were both relieved to see that pony.
“Pinkie Pie! You are here.” said Twilight.facilitated.
“I never thought I’d say this but we missed you.” added Rarity.
Pinkie Pie just smiling turned around and was about to leave the cell when she heard chains breaking. Twilight and Rarity turned their head and saw this brown stallion standing over them with great rage in his eyes.
“I suggest we run.” said Rarity scared.
“As you wish.” replied Twilight also.
Before they ran out of the cell, they saw how Pinkie Pie ignite her last rod and threw it past them. It landed in the corner of the room, the stallion tried to free himself from the last chain that held him. With the bracket broken, he was free, he rushed towards the opened door but it was to late when the ceiling fell down.
* * * * * * *
Twilight suddenly stopped. “What about Trixie, we can’t leave her here.” Pinkie Pie and Rarity stopped instantly and turned around, then Rarity stepped forward.
“I know how this sounds but there is nothing we can do right now. We have to leave before they are upon us.”
“And I don’t have any Boomsticks left.” added Pinkie Pie.
Twilight turned her head and looked back to the corridor they went through. She closed her eyes and said some words to herself. After they passed the giant hole in the wall, they vanished into the forest. To forge a new plan.
“We will come back, I promise.”
“There are two kind of fish you can catch.
The first one does not resist and accept its fate, just like the good fish.
The second one resist, so you have to crush its head and tell who’s boss.
I question myself, which kind of fish are you, right now?”
Belaras stumbled as he heard the explosion, he turned around in surprise and saw Trixie still standing there, at the foot of the throne, staring at him. Trixie just shrugged with her shoulders as she saw the zebra trying to give her the fault. Moments later someone rushed trough the main door. “We are under attack!” yelled the pegasus stallion as he stopped besides Trixie.
“Oh you say, what in the world makes you think that? asked Belaras sarcastic.
“They are in the dungeon,” continued the pegasus. “They made--” another explosion rang and interrupted the pegasus. Belaras just stood there, changing the look between the pegasus and Trixie.
“It seems you have trouble.” said Trixie with a grin.
“Shut up!” yelled Belaras and looked to the stallion again. “What are you waiting for, them to greet us? Grab all the
colts you can find and get down there, NOW!”
The pegasus nodded, turned around and ran, nearly flew out of the hall. Belaras looked back at Trixie who had still the malignant grin on her face, stormed to her, grabbed and shook her violently. “What the hell do you know about this!?” Trixie just looked in Belaras one eye and said with an innocent voice.
“Me? But I am just a little unicorn, I know nothing about attacks.”
“Tell me! Or I will---” the third explosion drove trough the castle. After the explosion abated, Belaras, who just slapped Trixie, turned around and went up to his throne. Trixie fell with that hit on the ground and looked up to her tormentor, still with a little smile but it disappeared as she saw what he intended to do. Belaras took the sword that stood besides his throne into his maw and turned around, he walked towards Trixie who stood up immediately as she saw the sharp blade and quickly stepped backwards.
“You will tell me what you know or I promise, I will part you limb by limb!” Belaras voice and eyes contained anger as he said these words. He came closer and closer and Trixie kept going backward till she met the wall with her flank. Belaras stood before Trixie, with the sword in his muzzle. She closed her eyes as the zebra upswing the sword, she couldn’t do anything. Moments later, she felt nothing, she heard only the word. “YOU!?”
As Trixie opened her eyes, she saw Belaras looking at a different direction. Looking to the left, her eyes cought this gray stallion earthponie, standing there, as his sword and himself stained with blood. The only reaction from him was his left eye-brow raising up.
“Varin, you are supposed to be dead!” yelled Belaras at the stallion.
“I am sorry for being late,” said Varin heavy breathing and smiling. “Had problems slaughtering through your followers.”
Belaras let go of Trixie and turned to Varin, Trixie stepped few steps aside and watched the scene that appeared to save her life.
“I suppose you know why I’m here?” began Varin as his smile changed into a serious gaze and walked towards Belaras.
“I guess.” said Belaras as he also moved towards him with the same mood.
Varin and Belaras stopped a pony length away from each other. Varin placed the blade against his left shoulder so he could speak better. Belaras however, kept his blade in the mouth. He stared with his one eye into Varin eyes as he did also stared in his. Both had a serious and confident look, then Varin inhaled and started with a sever tone.
“You killed Nelina.”
“I see.” replied Belaras.
“I trusted you with her life. I paid you everything we had and you were only supposed to protect her but you
betrayed her and now she is dead. And this is all your fault!” Varin lost himself, his face was filled with anger and the sword trembled, that rested on his neck. Belaras, who stepped back because of the outburst, turned his head around to see Trixie, who was about to look for an escape. Belaras began to grin and turned his head back, to see Varin with this sword in his muzzle. Belaras dropped his blade to the ground and inhaled.
“Before you do something stupid, I suggest you do something reasonable and listen to me.”
Varin stared at Belaras with suspicion and then at the sword that laid on the floor, then he nodded and accepted.
Belaras clearly relieved, turned his head around and pointed at Trixie.
“She knows what happened, for she is the reason why your beloved unicorn died.”
“You liar!” yelled Varin with the blade in his mouth. Belaras grin widened and looked back at Varin.
“Oh, you should ask her for yourself.”
Trixie’s ears raised up as she started to realize that they were actually talking about her. She stopped her search for a safe escape and looked at gray stallion that stared at her. A cold shiver drove down her back as she looked into these pair of cold pure blue eyes. Then Belaras continued.
“That day the Skaduwee arrived, what happened?”
“I... don’t know what you are talking about.” lied Trixie carefully.
“Don’t fool with us! You were the one who leaked the information about me and my brother. That is why the Sultan
sent his blade, to take us down. You gave the Skaduwee information and since they didn’t need you anymore
they tried to remove you as well to leave no witnesses. You had no choice but side with my brother again and tell
the lie, that Nilena released the info about our whereabouts, so we were prepared to greet them. After we hit their
camp by surprise we killed most of them, they had to retreat but not before they saw this unicorn. For them she
was just that blue unicorn they tried to kill earlier, and so they took her as you and killed her. You knew Nelina for
she took you as her only friend, but you never needed friends before so why then? After all, you killed Nelina
because of your lies, we hunted her because we accused her for the betrayal, she had to leave the only safe
place in this cursed forest and so she was stuck on the present plate. After we got our reliable source and the
information on what really happened, you took your chance and ran away before we could act.”
Varin stood there, listening to this story. At first he didn’t believed it but then, after he watched the blue unicorn near the wall, he changed his mind. Trixie stood there, looking at the ground ashamed. She knew that it was mostly true. She looked up to Belaras but then her eyes met with Varin’s cold eyes, who kept staring at her. Trixie face changed into an apologetic gaze for a brief moment but then she looked at the ground again. The next thing Trixie felt, was a hit that pressed her against the wall, Varin pressed her and held the blade on her throat, it cut her and little drips of blood ran on the blade. Trixie was just watching this scene, she saw the rage in Varin’s eyes, she was certain that her time had come, so Trixie closed her eyes and single tears run out of her closed eyelids.
Everything went dark around Varin and when he finally regained his control he was pressing this unicorn against the wall. He looked into her eyes, he held his blade right under her throat and was able to make a clean cut, but something held him. One part of Varin wanted to kill that unicorn for what she did, she sold the only thing he cared about, he wanted to take revenge, he wanted to end this curse that followed him the past month and continue with the little life he got, but something stopped him to do so.
Another part of him watched this unicorn that didn’t even struggle against his grip, he looked into these sorrowful purple eyes of hers, it reminded him of something, or somepony. As he saw the tears ran down her face, his grip eased. He let the sword down and put it back into the sheath that was bound on his neck. Trixie went to ground and sat there, still with her eyes closed, after realizing that she still lived, Trixie opened her eyes slowly and saw Varin standing over her, Trixie didn’t see the hate in his eyes anymore, only sadness.
Moments passed and Varin turned around, he looked back at the zebra that stood there with a grin, but after Varin’s eyes met the single one of his, the grin disappeared.
“Won’t you kill her for what she did?” asked Belaras with suspicion.
“But she kill--”
“No she didn’t.” interrupted Varin as he moved towards the main door.
“Well if that is what Nelina--” Belaras was interrupted by the sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath, he backed down instantly and took his sword off the ground, prepared himself for the incoming strikes,.
“Don’t dare to talk about her!” yelled Varin as he stormed with the sword towards the zebra. Belaras repelled the first hit of Varin and then the second, Varin kept swinging and pushing with the sword till Belaras was with his back on the wall. With the last swing, Varin knocked the sword out of Belaras’s gob and the sharp end of his blade touched his throat.
“It is still your fault.” said Varin with a cold voice. Belaras stared into Varin’s cold eyes, first surprised by this sudden change but then he grinned for some reason, as he looked past him. Varin felt the breeze on his back and turned around, saw something large and brown but before he was able to act, a club hit his head with great power and he fell into the darkness.
Trixie still sat there on the ground and watched the scene that occurred. The brown stallion, appeared out of the main door. With sore and bleeding, he pulled himself with a club in his gob fast across the floor to that gray stallion that was about to kill the zebra. He upswings the club and everypony could imagine by only seeing it, with what strength he hit Varin. It seemed like Varin was dead on place, but Belaras and Rindfleisch knew better. Belars scratched his head while looking at Varin on the ground, then he looked back up to the stallion.
“You look like shit, what happened down there?”
“Both of the unicorn’s escaped.” he said with a ashamed voice while looking on the ground. Belaras eye was twitching, he wanted to yell at this hulk for some reason but instead, he closed his eye, exhaled, inhaled and opened his eye again. “Call for the Talons of Death, tell them I will pay good.”
* * * * * * *
After spending the day traveling through the forest, they spent the night in this safe place made out of everything Pinkie had found, they planned their next step. Using a campfire in the centre as a light and heat source, they gathered around it. It was a quiet night for them, for Pinkie Pie really knew how to build a bunker out of dirt, mud and wood in the given time. Rarity and Twilight wondered how she was capable for such tasks in the past days, but they thought it would be better to let this question go unanswered.
“So what are we going to do now?” was the concerned question of Twilight who kept staring out of the so called window of this building. Twilight’s concern was not only about herself and her friends, but also Trixie, who they had to leave in the castle.
“At first Twilight, we should solves this problem right in front of us. Like my hair, this is an outrage!” replied Rarity with lightly tense voice.
“You both should totally fix your horns, they remind me of licorice.” giggled Pinkie Pie as she tapped with her hoof Twilight’s horn aside. With the hanging horn in her sight, Twilight sighed.
“We probably should fix our horns first, then we need to find a way to save Trixie.”
“And my MANE? You cannot possibly expect me to keep travelling in this state of disorder.” nearly yelled Rarity with a damped voice, as she tried to put her smooth mane in order.
“As long we don’t have the herbs we need to create a cure for this poisoning I fear, you have to.”
“Oh, oh, oh, I know where to find the things we need!”
“Where?” asked Twilight immediately as her eyes widened.
“You won’t probably like the place.” replied Pinkie Pie concerned with a forced smile.”
“My dear, I don’t like THIS place, so tell us where?” added Rarity.
“You got to be joking, Pinkie!”
“Why yes, maybe we should just enter with a yell, so they know we are back.”
“Iiiiiii told you, you wouldn’t like it!”
They stood before the gate to Redswamp, each of them covered in a brown hooded cloak, that they found in a abandoned house somewhere in the forest, before they made their way towards the city. Pinkie Pie stared at both who who had a bad feeling about this, turned around and went trough the gate. Twilight and Rarity followed her reluctantly. They made their way trough the dilapidated wood and clay dwellings, and saw the miserable life that was available here. It wasn’t much different from the tavern they were in yesterday. Ponies, griffins and some zebras, beating each other, some playing cards on tables before their houses and others insulting each other on the street, but in this chaos there were some of them doing their laundry besides their house, repairing the roof on their hut, children playing hoofball or making pranks on that old pegasus that is trying to get over the street. Watching this city long enough and they could see, that the life here had its positives and negatives, sadly more negatives.
They stopped before a house that was called, Wandil Merchandises.
Before Twilight was about to enter, Pinkie Pie stopped her with a hoof on her shoulder.
“Without some money we shouldn’t enter.” Twilight turned around to look at her, as she saw that pink pony standing there with a forced smile she wanted to ask if that was the plan but unfortunately, she had been distracted by something of greater of interests.
“Where is Rarity?”
Twilight and Pinkie Pie made their way back towards the city gate to look for Rarity, they expected the worst but luckily they saw this white head with purple mane of hers trough a window, sitting by a table. They entered this house that looked like a tavern and saw the luxorious inside. It was like they walked trough a gate into another world. The chairs and tables where made out of expensive wood with gold ornamentation. It seems like only somepony with a thick enough purse can breathe the air inside here. They went toward Rarity that sat there with these gentlecolts and seemed to play cards but they where intercepted by a yellow mare.
“How can I help you sugar? You want a table together, please pick one, but if you are looking for a job then I guess
you should talk with my boss. He is upstairs and looking for something like you both.”
“Errr thank you, but where are only here to get our friend over there.” Said Twilight with a forced smile as she avoided that mare.
“Have it your way then.” said the yellow mare disappointed and turned around, to greet the next guest that entered.
Rarity felt the breeze on her back as Twilight and Pinkie approached her. Rarity turned her head around and smiled.
“You are exactly on time to see how I unburden them from their purses.”
Twilight looked at the table and saw the the pile of coins on Rarity’s side, Twilight went closer to Rarity’s ear and whispered. “How do you even play with out money?” Rarity stopped tossing the cards and looked at Twilight, she start to giggle and whispered back. “I am able to bet more than just money, my dear.”
“And what if you lose?” asked Twilight with a concerned voice.
“Me? Losing? Don’t be ridiculous darling!” replied Rarity with a smile.
Twilight and Pinkie watched Rarity as she cleared the table, one by one they stood up and gave up, the pile with money grew and grew, after the last of them left, Rarity turned her head with her left eye-brow raising and a little smile.
As they left the tavern with all the money, they headed back to that shop where Pinkie Pie bought the ingredients, food and water, and a little more that was relevant for her interest. In a old abandoned hut in the corner of the city, Twilight managed to make the cure they needed for their horns. Meanwhile made Pinkie Pie her own “cure” for other problems. As Twilight finished, she put the paste on Rarity’s and her own horn. Moments later their horn were stiff again and Rarity started immediately to clean and sort her mane. Time had passed and they sat there in the damped light that came through the hole in the roof. They discussed what their current situation was, and how they are supposed to be able to attack the castle and get Trixie out of there safe. More time passed and they got this nearly perfect idea.
* * * * * * *
Telaras Val’Zahid came with his twin brother from the far land of the zebras, the desert far in the south behind the sea. He wanted to build up a company with his brother to establish a trade relationship between the Sultan and Equestria. Unfortunately, with Celestia’s death and the conflict started, their plan vanished. They couldn’t get back home because they were exiled as a punishment. So they had to flee into the Everfree Forest and survive the next day that came. Because of Belaras rhetoric and his ruthless behavior, they gathered many followers and were able to make raids in Equestira where chaos dominated. When the Equestrian regime reestablished with the Lord Inquisitor on the throne, they had to stop the raids immediately, to not attract the Inquisitors wrath. They had to hide in the Night Spear Castle that they occupied and used as a base earlier and continued their life with minor raids. When the weeks passed, a small village appeared under the castle. Many knew to appreciate the advantage that was offered in this place, deep in the forest on the edge of the wilds, away of being followed and hunted. Months passed and a city grew soon, big enough to have enough business for Belaras and his brother, to stop the risky raids on the other fraction. Both survived and built up a new life, but only one of them was happy about what occurred over the last four months.
As the zebra sat there, reading the letters he got on the table, he heard the noise of creaking wood that somepony caused as he or she approached the door from the other side. Telaras stared at the door and waited it to be open but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The door just tore away and landed on the ground, and three ponies walked over it, entering the room one after another, then they stopped and stood before the table. Telaras was shocked for what just happened, he stared at the three before him. “Doors are meant to be open.” was the only he could bring out.
“Why I think after what occurred torn up doors are appropriate.” replied Rarity as she went to the left.
“I understand that it was... unpleasant for you.”
“Oh I am not sure you do?” said Pinkie Pie as she went to the right.
“Well, now what do you want from me, give you supplies? I think I can arrange that.” said Telaras nervous as he stepped away from this table back and watched the three surrounding him. His eyes stopped at Twilight.
“We got something more in mind than just supplies. We will take you with us.” with these words ended Twilight used her magic to paralyze Telaras and bind him with the rope, Pinkie Pie got. As she finished to hoofcuff him, Twilight released him from the magic. Telaras was able to speak again and started to yelling.
“You dare! What do you believe you will achieve with this!?
“Negotiation with your brother to release our friend.” replied Twilight with a smile.
“Who, Trxie? You propose to barter me for your friend?” asked Telaras with a unbelieving voice as he looked at the three mares. All three that stood over him nodded and Telaras began to giggle a little.
“You really believe, my brother would negotiate with you, to release your friend Trixie?” as Telaras saw the serious gaze of them, he began to laugh. As he stopped, he looked up at them three again with tears in his eyes from laughing.
“Sadly, this will not happen.” said Telaras with still a smile.
“Well, then I suppose we will force him to--” began Twilight as she was interrupted.
“Force him? Even if you stand in front of him with a dagger on my throat, he wouldn’t even care.”
“But he is your brother!” interjected Pinkie Pie.
“Yes, that is what I thought too, but after we built everything up, I was convinced of the contrary.
“Wha- What do you mean?” asked Rarity curious as she looked at her friends with a questioning face.
“Unbind me and I will tell you everything. If you ask me, I would even help you, if you help me.”
Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie Pie, stared at each other, not knowing what they should do. Then Pinkie Pie to took the word. “You could tell us everything now, silly.” Telaras sighed and began.
“My brother and I came here to establish a trade route between your country and mine. Since you had war here, we
failed. We couldn’t get back so we had only the way before us. Somehow we manged to survive and while I was
looking for a way back home, he kept looking his way for profit. After he got his cartel, he left me here in this tavern
to keep an eye for everything...”
“So?” asked Twilight.
“As I said, I was a merchant once. I trade with everything for something. Unbind me and I tell you more.”
Rarity and Pinkie nodded as Twilight looked at them with the question in her eyes if she should unbind him. After Twilight let him free, the zebra stood up and stared at the three ponies before him. Moments later he turned around and looked out of the window, sighing.
“I left my home to serve it, I came here with my brother so we could both serve but after all this what happened...”
Telaras turned around and look at Twilight.
“He changed. Changed over the past four months. I was trying to convince him, that this is not our home and that
we should look for a way back but every time I speak with him about it, he pushes me away, calling me disloyal and
treacherous and that he would have killed me the first time I brought this up.”
Silence filled the room for a moment, then Twilight took the word.
“Why are you telling us all this, what do you want?”
“Straight to business, huh? I like that. Well, since you want Trixie back and I want to take over everything he got,
our ways are equal at this point. We both want a way into this castle.”
“How do we know, that this is not a set up?” asked Rarity suspiciously.
“Because I was the one who contacted the Assassins of my country, and the one who yesterday sent this
Ex-Templar with the information, that my brother killed his only love. To end his miserable life, take over everything
and seek a way to get back home. I was looking for many ways and since you are here, I got my best chances right
now. That why I want to help, not to set you up.”
Telaras looked at the unbelieving eyes of these three and sighed. He went forward besides Twilight and picked up a letter from his desk, and showed them the letter that was written by the Skaduwee. In this letter was written, that the Skaduwee accept Telaras offer and appreciate the information he leaked.
“We had a chance to go back, right after the chaos. The Lord Inquisitor and the Sultan are friends, we could have
easily gotten to the ports and took a ship back, but my brother intended to do other things. Because of his actions,
I was called a traitor for my people, too. All I want is to serve my country, nothing more. So, do we have an
* * * * * * *
Twilight spoke with her friends about this, even they thought this was a better chance, than just storming the castle.
Still, they were in the castle right now. Twilight, Rartiy, Pinkie and Telaras with two other stallions entered the main hall. As Belaras looked up and saw the visitors, his face changed first into surprising but then to a smile.
“Brother! I see you caught what I have lost.”
“Brother. Unfortunately, I am not here to save your business anymore.” said Telaras with a severe tone.
“What do you mean? Whats this all about, brother?”
“Do you remember what you said back then, in the desert? You used to tell me, that we will make our parents proud.”
“I see.” said Belaras light affected.
“You looked into my eyes and lied to me, that this all was necessary to ensure our survival. You put me in this
awkward position as your brother. You started to care for yourself and left me to rot in this tavern. You even gave
Rindflesch’s brother, Swamp Daddy a better position as a ‘mayor’ for this city.” he pointed at Rindfleisch who
stood in the corner.
“Is this what you look for, more power?” said Belaras as he raised his eye-brow.
“No, I only want to serve my country. We could have go back home, at any time after this conflict.”
Belaras jumped up from this throne and rushed towards Telaras, he grabbed him and shook him.
“THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE!?” yelled Belaras at his twin brother with rage.
“My life is redeemed after I take care of you. The sultan ensured me of that.” replied Telaras cold.
Belaras let go of his brother and nearly stumbled. He made his way back up to the throne and sat down.
“I was the one who gave the information to the Skaduwee.” finished Telaras cold.
Belaras eye dropped some tears, as he wiped them off, he stood up again.
“I am your brother.” he started with a shaking voice. “All what I did, was for you. I did everything to ensure your
survival and you thank me this way?” Belaras voice hardened. “I believed in you, I did everything for you, for
what?! I gave you this position because I wanted to keep you safe! You were safe out there because no one knew
you were my brother, before you told it! I trusted you, I watched out for you, I even loved you as a brother and
you betrayed me like that!? Who could I believe after my own twin brother betrayed me! MY OWN BROTHER!”
Telaras had tears in his eyes, but he resisted to cry. He began.
“You changed, you are out of control. You have done things, you would normally not. You would sell me like
everything else. You only keep your eye out for yourself. You remember the incidence with that unicorn? We had a
pact with a Templar, to ensure this unicorns safety. You let Rindfleisch do these things and it killed her. You have
done many horrible things. Do you really think our father would be proud of you?”
Belaras sat there, not knowing what to say but then suddenly, he stood up.
“You are here to kill me then?”
“I fear I have to, if you don’t help me change you.”
Belaras smiled a little “Heh... father would be proud to know of what have you become.”
Telaras turned around to the three that watched this scene.
“I think now you have the chance, go for it. I will try the same.”
“I can’t let you do that.” said Belaras as out of nowhere came two pegasi and four griffins with a black talon on their breastplate. Telaras drew his sword as his guard did. Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie ran back to the main door to get down in the dungeon but unfortunately, something brown and big stood before them. They eyes widened as they realized who it was. Without the question ‘how’, Twilight uses a spell to blast Rindfleisch on the ground. As they were about to open the door, a griffin stormed in front of them, up swinging a morning star. Suddenly a thunderbolt hit the end of this morning star and knocked it out of his beak. Twilight turned around and saw Rarity who casted another thunderbolt to kick the griffin out of their way. As they rushed out of the door, Twilight keep looking at Rarity who just looked back with the face. “What?”
They made their way trough the castle and entered the dungeon, there they were greeted by a single guard who soon found himself knocked away into the wall. They ran trough the corridor and suddenly Pinkie stopped. As Twilight came near to ask if she knows what door, Pinkie just planted one of the rods she made today and stepped aside. Twilight and Rarity however, fell on the ground and covered their head.
* * * * * * *
A explosion woke up Varin as he returned from his dark, dreamless sleep. He realized only what happened as the pink pony stood over him.
“No time for talking, you sleepy silly.”
Pinkie Pie helped Varin to stand up, who only realized the half what was going on. As both leaved the cell, Rarity took a step back as she saw the scorched cutiemark of him.
“Eh Darling? You realized that this is something we call a Templar?”
“He is harmless, he helped me to help you.” replied Pinkie Pie with a smile.
“As long he won’t try to kill us.” added Twilight concerned.
“I won’t.” said Varin before he coughed and nearly collapsed on the ground.
They continued their way trough the corridor as Pinkie Pie and Rarity with Varin, who they held him under arms, stopped.
“Here is she.” yelled Pinkie as she let go of Varin and Rarity nearly fell with him on the ground because of the sudden weight that added.
Pinkie Pie planted another of her ‘boomsticks’ and stepped aside. Twilight helped Rarity to pull Varin to safety. Pinkie Pie however, watched as always the fuse to burn to its end and step the last second to the side.
Trixie got interrupted from her grief on herself as suddenly the door tore up. As she recognized that pink annoying pony she knew under the name, Pinkie Pie, she felt relieved. She stood up without any questions and went out to the corridor, where she saw the only ponies she hoped to see again but when she saw what they pulled with their magic, her steps slowed down. She didn’t knew if that was the best solution, maybe she should-- “Trixie, we have to go!”
Trixie closed her eyes and gulped, she took the step and was ready to face this challenge, she ran up to the only ponies she could call ‘friends’. As they left the castle through this hole that was nailed with wood planks but destroyed by the mighty power of Pinkies sticks, they vanished into the forest, once again. This time, together.
* * * * * * *
Belaras stood over the corpse of a dead stallion and spit on the ground. “What a waste.” He wiped the blood out of his face and turned around where this pegasus stood. Belaras looked up at her and started.
“So, you think can take them down fast?”
The blue pegasus just giggled.
“They don’t call me Dash for no reason.”
“Serving your own country is the greatest honor you can have.
I was counting that you know that brother, and accept the truth.
You left me no choice, I hope you can forgive me one day.
Brother, I am sorry.”
The cell was dark and cold, Varin gained consciousness after two hours or more. He felt his head exploding and wasn’t in the condition to think clearly. As he was about stand up, he fell on the ground.
He laughed for a minute because his humor was dark enough to see the positive side. He was not dead after all.
“Better luck next time.” said Varin smiling as he tried to stand up again. After he somehow managed to stand still, he turned his head if he could possibly see a thing. Nothing insight, the room was dark. As he heard the steps on the other side of the door, he backed down and stood there in a defensive position, ready to face everything. The door opened and a brown large pony stood in the threshold.
“Belaras wants to see you again, this time... more peaceful please.” said Rindfleisch grinning.
“Oh he can bet, after I ripped his last eye out peacefully.” said Varin tense.
The brown stallion just sighed and went towards Varin. Rindfleisch was about to grab him but Varin outmaneuvered him and tried to take him down with a powerful punch in his face. Unfortunate, this hulk just looked at him and punched Varin right back, twice as hard.
As Varin was partial conscious what happened, he remembers that he was dragged trough a corridor and then a door. After he regained fully awareness, he realized where he was and saw that zebra in front of him.
“So, after you got no sword in your gob, we can talk. Blades make me nervous sometimes, especial when
somepony got one, who wants me dead.”
“Heh, I wonder why.” smiled Varin a little while he coughed blood.
Belaras moved towards Varin and stopped before him.
“Despite that, this is your second attempt breaking into my castle and trying to kill me, I am willing to give you
one more chance. Leave now, and never come back.”
“Or what, are you scared?” said Varin, this time more himself.
“You should be the one scared, believe me. No one get such chance and even twice from me. Leave and we
forgive and forget. For our partnership.” replied Belaras.
Varin changed, his gaze cold.
“Our partnership ended with Nelina being dead. I won’t stop raiding your pathetic castle until I rip your heart out.”
“I see.” said Belaras while he turned around and went to his throne. He looked at the brown stallion, Rindfleisch just nodded with a grin.
“I think you deserve the truth, HOW Nelina really died.” said Belaras with a huge smile as he turned around.
Varin just stood there, still with his eyes pointing at Belaras. The zebra sat down and pointed at Rindfleisch.
“Go ahead, tell him.”
Varin changed his look to Rindfleisch who stepped forward from the wall he laid on, his grin was darker than before.
“The first time I saw you precious Nelina, I knew my time with her will come.”
Varin raised his left eye-brow. Rindfleisch continued.
“I couldn’t touch her because she was part of a deal but one day she betrayed us, so I finally used my chance.
She begged me not to do it, she would give me anything I want but I had already everything in front of me. It
wasn’t easy to held her pretty voice from screaming, so I had to shut her up. She cried and yelled, she tried to
resist, oh this little filly. The more she resisted, the more I liked it. She only wanted me to stop but I didn’t. I
kept thrusting and she kept screaming with her bloody muzzle. She said something before she passed out and died
because of all my hits. She said:“Please, make it stop. I beg you, just... kill me.””
Varin stared at this stallion, he was paralyzed. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t move. Then without himself notice, he just stormed forward at this hulk. Varin just watched this scene how he jumped at Rindfleisch and began to beat everything out of him. He watched how he kept beating Rindfleisch in the face, how more and more blood splashed on the ground. He was in so great rage that he passed out for one moment. He lost the scene and woke up on the ground, pressed by Rindfleisch. He gave Varin the strongest punch in his entire life. As Varin stopped to see him double, Rindfleisch stood there keep pressing him on the ground. He went near to Varin’s ear and whispered with a grin. “This is how I hit her.” and began to laugh. Varin wanted to do something but Rindfleisch was the strongest, instead the words flew out of his mouth.
“One day, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!! No... no. YOU WILL WISH THAT I KILL YOU RIGHT BEFORE I GET
STARTED WITH YOU, I WILL RIP YOUR SODDING EYEBALLS OUT OF YOUR SODDING FAC--”
The next hit transported Varin to the beyond again.
* * * * * * *
“Nelina Étoile, the first time I saw her, I saw the peerless beauty in her heart and soul. I never thought something wonderful like her would accept something brute like me but still, she was there right in front of me. Her mane, her eyes, her smile, her voice, she was perfect.
My being as a Cavalier took me all the time in my past life. The only thing that was important so far was serving the military. I was born to serve my country and my father was proud of what he raised. It was this day, I was off-duty and in Stalliongrad. It was before Celestia’s death and all the chaos that came after. I choose to visit a random tavern to get a drink and forget myself but this visit however, changed my life. I drank what I ordered and were distracted by two guests that had a fight about deeds and such. I sensed the upcoming danger and like stubborn I was, I interfered. Both picked me as a target and attacked me, fools thought they could handle a Cavalier. I taught them a lesson about Why-you-shouldn't-piss-off-a-drunken-Cavalier. After I finished them, I couldn't stop because I was drunk and in rage, I already tasted the blood. I was about to kill them but something stopped to do so, a voice. That was the first time I heard her, the first time I saw her. A blue unicorn with beautiful sparkling white mane and marvelous deep blue eyes, she stood there on the stage, singing with the most beautiful voice I ever heard. I stood there with blood on my hooves, just staring at her, listening to her chant. From one moment to another, I was at peace.
It was about a moment later when I stopped remembering what happened, probably somepony hit me with a bottle. When I woke up the next day, I was in the garrison. My comrades dragged me back out of the tavern, told me I was unconscious but the wound on my head fixed. They told me, this blue mare took care of me and that she called for my fellow soldiers. I didn’t know why she helped me, after all I was just a Cavalier, trained to kill in combat, follow orders given to me. First I only wanted to know why, I went back to the tavern but she wasn’t there. I asked the barkeeper where she was, he said that she left the city today, to travel to the next town, just to sing. At that point I just wanted to find her, listen one more time to her voice. Since I got the privilege of a father in higher ranks, I could have take longer off-duties than others. It was not fair for the others but this day, I didn’t care. I got information on what her route was, it cost me a fortune to get the information out of the barkeeper but it was worth it, I sought and found her. I didn’t even bought something to drink, I only went to these taverns to listen her. I kept following her and somehow I knew, she let me.
One evening in a different tavern, she sang about a soldier who kept pursuing his love all over the lands, he followed her over the sea and the mountains, trough the desert and swamps and finally one day, one evening, caught her. The mare let go of her travel, he let go of his duty and they settled down, they where together forever and ever.
I wasn’t just this soulless grunt for her, she looked into my eyes and saw the true pony in me. On that evening, in that tavern, I finally talked to her. She asked me if my head was alright and smiled. I was paralyzed, I never saw such beauty right before me. Her smile, her voice, her fragrance, she was like a star that fell from the sky.
I... cried, right in front of her. It was pathetic for a Cavalier but she... understood, she just embraced me. I looked at her and saw the compassion in her eyes as she looked into mine with this lovely smile of hers, she said that everything will be alright now.
Then our lips touched, I will never forget that night.”
“Why are you telling us all this?”
Varin was on his legs again, and trotted on his own besides Twilight. The wound caused on his head was healed by the helpful magic of Rarity. Pinkie Pie was on the front, staring on the ground, seeking something while Trixie was behind and kept staring if somepony followed them. Varin, surprised by this sudden interruption, replied.
“I was a Templar once, I can’t deny it. I understand that unicorns get nervous around me, but I get nervous
around nervous unicorns. So I tell my story to settle everything before they get nervous. I don’t want to be a toad
Twilight just nodded as she looked forward, she saw the dragon mountain where she and her friends once vanquished a dragon. They left the swamps and were about to enter the forest again. Not knowing where they have to go, they all had the same opinion, as far as possible be away from Redswamp. There were only three ways they could go, deeper into the Everfree Wilds where it was inhabited by the most dangerous creatures known. Back to Evernight where they were probably stigmatized as traitors and to New Equestria where the regime hated unicorns. It was a stalemate, the best thing they could do for the moment is keep moving forward until something happens. Varin continued his tale after he realized that this silence was awkward for him and them.
“We began to meet each other since that night.”
“When I was off-duty, I would go to the tavern and listen to her sing. When she was free, she visited me while I was on duty in the garrison. We began to care for each other since that night, we began to love.
One day, we stopped to see us, one day, everything changed. It was the day when Celestia died and one of our generals spread propaganda about magic being the cause of this problem, that without unicorns we would never descend into such chaos, and that it was a mistake to entrust such magical abominations to lead our country.
At that time I was a soldier, at that time I still believed in orders. Although we fought against our own soldiers and a general, we believed that this was the best thing we could do, to follow orders. The Cavaliers stopped to exists, and the Templar's were born. Our only purpose was to exterminate everything that threatened New Equestria.
It was night in a village, I don’t remember the name. We cleaned it out like the others before, I was ordered to take care over a small house on the edge of this Village. As we three approached the house, we could hear noises. I recognized it was a familiar voice I pursued over the last month and lost it in just one day. I told them to wait outside and somehow they understood “why” and let me enter alone.
There she sat in the corner, singing silently in a sad tone with tears in her eyes. As she spotted me, she stopped immediately. Her eyes glared at me, she recognized and knew why I was here. She stepped over to me and embraced me like the first time we met. She went closer to my ear and whispered, that she understood and that everything will be alright after that again. I knew what I had to do, it was against everything I stand for but I knew it was the only thing right.
I let her go, told her a safe way out and helped her trough the window in the back of the house. I told her, that I loved her and would never let something hurt her. Before she vanished in the night, she whispered one more time in my ear.
“Listen to the wind and you may hear my voice.””
“Why that sounds romantic, like in a true love story.” interrupted Rarity with a sigh.
“Call it what you want, I see it as a permanent part of my life.” replied Varin a little tense because of this disruption.
Pinkie Pie who kept staring on the ground, stopped immediately and turned around. The group stopped as well and looked into this shocked stiff gaze of Pinkie Pie, who looked at them back.
“Tshiiiii!!!” sneezed Pinkie Pie with full power at them. The group not sure how they should react just stood there, Trixie still peeking behind. Pinkie stood there with a smile, and realizing how everypony was staring at her, asked,
“Err, nothing Pinkie.” replied Twilight confused as she continued her way and took the lead, the rest followed her. Varin made up to Twilight and continued without the question if she want to hear the rest.
“I somehow knew she would wait at the edge of the Everfree forest at me. It had been a month later.”
“All I had to do was listen to the wind. Somehow I knew that she would wait for me at the edge of the Evernight Forest. I accepted to be a part of a dangerous mission, we had to set a clear line between New Equestria and the small part of Everfree, now called Evernight Forest. We confronted some refugee unicorns, but I didn't take part what happened next. I eventually put myself off, ventured deeper into the forest to find what I sought. It was a dangerous task but I was ready to face everything, my sword in my muzzle. As I reached a lake, I heard something, somepony. I was relieved as I recognized the voice and saw her. She stood there, on the other side of the lake, with a smile waiting for me. I took my armor off and made my way through the lake, as she made her way. We met in the middle in the lake, as we embraced each other, the water wasn’t cold anymore, we were together again-- “Thschiiiii!!!!”
Pinkie Pie sneezed again, this time with more power than before. Everpony turned around to check on her but Pinkie just kept smiling. Varin sighed and kept walking along the path. they moved. Twilight and Rarity suddenly appeared and surrounded him. Varin looked at both mares who glared at him with this expectant look. Varin just sighed again and continued since he had an audience.
“Since then, we met every week by this lake.”
“I began to take the patrol routes no pony wanted, by the edge of the forest. I always managed to split up from the main patrol and vanish for few hours. As the days passed on, we became more and more careless and one day it became our undoing. One of Nelinas colleagues went curious and followed her, she spotted us and vanished in the forest. The life of Nelina was revoked, she was marked as a spy, traitor and such. She had no choice but leave her new home forever and that was because of me. Somehow I managed to hide her somewhere before we confronted our situation. She had no choice but live in this damned forest, so I took all the money I had, even lended some and paid the most ruthless creature in the forest to protect my Nelina. Belaras ensured me her safety and I trusted him. My own sodding mistake.”
Varin ended the sentence as he noticed in his canthus Pinkie Pie bracing for another sneeze. Varin pointed with his head to her and whispered to Twilight.
“Is she alright, maybe she is sick or something?”
“No, no she is alright, just random. Why don’t you just continue, my dear?” interrupted Rarity suddenly.
Twilight just shrugged with her shoulders. Varin continued as he saw her apathy.
“We kept meeting but under other circumstances.”
“Since the lake wasn’t safe, we had to meet in the Everfree Forest by a swamp. Her beauty helped me forget what had happened in this world. I had to change the patrol and make up better excuses why I vanished for longer hours. Usually they would get suspicious but I had an advantage, yes I had indeed.
Another month passed and unexpectedly one day Nelina stopped showing up. I was worried but kept visiting the lake. I waited there, one, two, three hours. Once I even waited there an entire night, you can guess what problems I had with the High-Templar afterwards.
One day I became I a letter from a old friend, Telaras Val’Zahid. He was the contact between me and his brother to settle the deal. He wrote that given the unfortunate circumstances, my Nelina died.
She was dead...
The next thing I did, was grabbing my gear and set off to the tavern where I paid the zebra a visit, who ensured my loves safety. After I had a nice talk with him, with hooves, the table and a chair, I continued on my way to Redswap. I used the dumb military tactic of the Cavaliers “Charge, overrun, ask later.” I struck down half of the castle when they finally took me down. Belaras threw me in his dungeon and I had to find a way out. Since I was still a Templar, I was of value to them. So they didn't kill me, even after I had used somepony as a battering ram to make my way out of the castle. I escaped the city and had to collect my thoughts and forge a new and better plan. I made my way back to Equestria, told the commander that he can sod himself and that I quit. Unfortunately my father wasn’t happy about that, so I had to leave without permission and was marked as a traitor. I will keep follow my vengeance until its fulfilled. “
“I met your Pinkie Pie over there and we blew a hole in his castle. Unfortunately, this plan wasn’t any better than
the previous one and I again ended up in a cell, but now I have knowledge of what really happened.”
“What happe-- Tshiiii!!” interrupted Pinkie Twilight as she was about to ask Varin. He however turned around and looked at Pinkie, who kept smiling. Varin stared at her as she passed him. He waited a moment and continued his way besides the cyan blue mare. Trixie, her heart beating rapidly again, was about to make her escape out of this awkward situation but Varin began, “Trixie, I think I should apologize that--”
“No, let it be. I am sorry for what I did but I don’t want to talk about this right now.” nterrupted Trixie abruptly.
“I just want you to know that--”
“Let it be.” said Trixie again.
Varin just sighed and left it alone, and caught up to Twilight, past Pinkie who was about to sneeze again. “Tshiiii!!”
“Do you really think she is alright? I mean, she didn’t do that before.” asked Varin concerned as he walked besides the purple mare. Twilight just sighed and stopped, waited for Pinkie to walk past her and move besides her.
“Pinkie is everything alright?”
“Of course silly.” answered Pinkie, happy as always.
“Then why are you sneezing?” asked Twilight concerned.
“I am not sure but the last time I sneezed was in your big tower, right before you came and before I met Rarity.” replied Pinkie as she tilted her head in confusion.
“Does that mean, before you mee-- “Twilight, I think we are being followed!” interrupted Trixie as she made her way to Twilight.
“Yes we are but not by Belaras, I saw her in the tavern.” added Varin.
“Her?” asked Rarity confused.
“I don’t know who but it seems that she keeps her distance. We can’t do anything about her for now.” finished Varin.
Nevertheless troubled by the fact that they were followed, they continued their way through the forest. As they made their way to a lake, Varin stopped. The group realized it after Trixie stopped as well. “We should move.”
Varin stared at the lake and a tear formed in his eye. He wiped it off as Twilight approached him. Twilight stood there before Varin, looking alternately at him and the lake, then Varin began. “This is the lake...”
Now it was all clear for Twilight, she just didn’t knew how to comfort somepony she was still a little afraid of.
Twilight looked to the group up front and signaled to them to rest for a moment.
Varin sat in front of the lake and grieved. He never wanted to reveal his emotions, but it was too late. Twilight, Trixie, Rarity and Pinkie just stood a little off, unsure of what to do. Then suddenly Varin stood up and went towards them.
As he approached the group, he whispered seriously.
“I count six, one above us, two behind the rock behind me and three behind the trees to the far left of us.”
“Wha--” Twilight was about to ask but was interrupted as she saw something falling from the sky in their direction. Varin drew his sword as the rest of the group split up. Pinkie climbed on a rock that was in the lake while she put a rod in her mouth. Rarity stuck with Trixie as they backed down towards a fallen tree on the ground. Twilight, however stood there by the lake with Varin. The blue silhouette knocked Pinkie off the rock.
* * * * * * *
“Be cold and fast.” was the only thing in her mind as she stormed towards the pink pony. Somehow she was familiar with that color and as she saw her smile, it was already too late. She knocked the pony from the rock and pressed her into the ground while holding a dagger to her throat. It was a natural reflex that she learned in the past months. It was what made her effective. Be cold and fast. As the pony began to speak, her grip eased.
“It so good to see you!”
“Pinkie wha--!?” the pegasus was interrupted suddenly by something pushing her away.
Varin saw what happened, and without question he stormed towards the enemy, ready to strike her down. He knocked her off Pinkie Pie and pressed her into the ground, holding his sword to her throat. Varin was about to follow what he learned “Charge, overrun, ask later.” before he could continue, a blast threw him off the blue pegasus with the rainbow mane.
Twilight had realized who it was. She saw how the pegasus knocked Pinkie off the rock, how Varin stormed towards the pegasus and pushed her off Pinkie. She yelled to stop but he already charged. She had to stop Varin before he could plunge his sword into her. She used her magic to blast him off that pegasus. As she finished and was sure that it was really her, she noticed afterward the ponies and griffins that had surrounded them.
As she looked at them, her eyes caught sight of this familiar brown pony, with scars all over his face an body.
The blue pegasus pony stood up and flew over to him and landed beside him. As she recognized Twilight, she looked with the same surprised gaze as at Pinkie Pie a moment ago.
“Twilight? What are you doing here?”
“Heh, if that's not awkward.” interrupted Rindfleisch with a wicked grin.
Twilight’s stomach turned as she saw the deep wounds of Rindfleisch, it was a mystery how he could have survived so long.
“Well, lets get started.” finished Rindfleisch as he drew this big axe from his back. The others followed the example, everypony had a sword or a morning star in their gob and beak. Everypony except Rainbow Dash, she just stood there and stared at those she once had called friends. Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie, her mind was brimming over. She wasn't able to think clearly. As Rindfleisch was about to call for the attack, Dash stepped between them. Rindfleisch raised his missing eyebrow.
“Listen I... think I can’t do this.” began Rainbow Dash carefully.
Rindfleisch let the axe out of his gob.
“What are you talking about? You've already been paid..”
“Yeeeah about that, I think I don’t need the money.”
Rindfleisch glared at Rainbow and then looked at the rest of the mercenary group.
“I think your group needs to be cleaned out, your so called "best pegasus" is quitting. I would be eager to help."
The mercenaries just nodded, some of them targeting the blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash backed down to Twilight and whispered. “It is good to see you again.”
As the word ended something rushed past them and charged towards Rindfleisch, nearly knocking the axe out of his gob. The rest of the mercenaries began to charge as well. Rainbow Dash drew her dagger to defend Twilight from the incoming sword. Twilight backed down and saw the pegasus that stormed at her with a spear. She avoided the tip and showed him the power of a thunderbolt, that never misses its target. The pegasus, fried in the air, fell into the deep blue cold water and floated to the surface.
Both Rarity and Trixie stood there, surrounded by two griffins swinging their morning stars. Trixie asked.
“Do you have knowledge of elemental destructive magic?”
Rarity's horn began to sparkle of electricity, while the horn of Trixie blurred as air compressed before it. Trixie blasted both griffins away with great power while Rarity fired a thunderbolt that missed and lit a tree on fire. Rarity just smiled innocently while Trixie glared at her angry.
“This is my third try, I'm not that accurate.” said Rarity embarrassed as she watched how Trixie casted a thunderbolt herself. That bolt reached over the distance and hit both griffins at once. As she was finished, she looked at Rarity who stared at her with a surprised gaze, Trixie felt a great sense of pride. As Rainbow Dash finished her opponent with a stab in the griffins chest, the rest of the group watched, Varin fighting with this brown Stallion.
* * * * * * *
Varin looked up and saw him. His thoughts were clear, every move of him under control. He stood up, picked up the sword and charged. He calmly charged the colossus, he knew all the strikes he was about to do, he knew all the parries he will need to do. His mind circled over this one and only thought. "Kill that son of a bitch."
As the first strike fell, he could feel the strength of that hulk as he countered his attack with the axe. Rindfleisch lifted his axe for the next strike, Varin dodged and he hit the ground where the axe got stuck in it. He pulled the his weapon out with less effort than he used to swing it. Varin draw the second attack but hit the axe again, as he was about to stab Rindfleisch, he was forced to duck because the hulk used his strength to swing vertically.
Varin lost his sword and was forced to dodge the furious swings of this berserk. As Varin reached the sword that laid on the ground, he was interrupted by a griffin that fell on his sword. Varin pushed the griffin away and took the sword from the ground in time. Rindfleisch strike with his axe from top to bottom again. This time as the axe stuck, Varin used his chance and pierced with his sword trough the chest with great power. Rindfleisch, prevented from taking his axe, used the sword in himself as a lever and pushed Varin on the ground again. Rindfleisch took the sword and pulled it out of his chest. Varin ran toward his weapon as Rindfleisch pulled his out. Varin stormed with the sword, ready to pierce it through this monster again. Rindfleisch was too slow, he couldn't raise the axe in time, he blocked the hit with his hooves as it cut trough it. Varin swinged the sword again and tried to cut him in half, Rindfleich blocked again with his hoof, this time he held the sword by its blade. The hoove bleeding, Rindfleisch decided to take the blade with his gob and try to pull out of Varins muzzle but instead he took one hoof and punched Varin with his familiar strength. Varin fell on the ground while Rindfleisch still had the sword in his mouth. For Varin it was just scary but Rindfleisch somehow manged to bite the sword in two pieces and he spit the rest of the metal on the ground.
“Cmon, just like old times.” said Rindfelisch with a grin.
Varin saw the hilt, stood up and stormed towards Rindfleisch, he stood up an stormed toward him, Varin cleverly avoided Rindfleisch and grabbed a piece of sword from the ground. Varin turned around and saw Rindfleisch storming towards him, Varin began also to charge but not for a final confrontation. Varin avoided Rindfleisch, managing to pierce his right eye with the blade.
The monstrosity screamed as he realized what happened. Rindfleisch used his right hoof to feel the blood on his face, pouring out of the destroyed eye. Varin charged again and he knocked Rindfleisch down on the ground, he was about to use his hooves to punch Varin once again but it was too late, Varin pierced Rindfelisch’s other eye.
The hulk screamed in pain as he held both hooves to his blind eyes. Rindfleisch laid there on the ground, groaning in pain. Varin stood up from him, ready for the final hit.
That’s it, his death would satisfy Varin's thirst for vengeance, for the moment.. The one who killed Nelina Étolie, right in front of him. He was ready to part his head from his body, he already took his eyes as promised.
“What are you waiting for?” said Rindfleisch groaning. “Go for it...”
Varin lifted his sword and screamed in great rage while the blade came down striking the ground. He let the hilt go and exhaled.
“What is this? Are you just a wimp?” asked Rindfleisch as he looked with his empty eye-holes in the direction of Varin. The gray stallion stood there, unable to make up his mind.
“Kill me you little piece of shit! Kill me like I killed your Nelina!” began Rindfleisch to yell.
Moments of thinking, Varin turned his head and looked at the group that watched what he did.
“What are you doing!? KILL ME!” yelled Rindfliesch, this time more angry.
Then Varin looked at this blind pathetic monster before him, he stared at him with his cold blue eyes and said. “No.”
“What do you mean no? Kill me, like I killed your precious Nelina!” continued Rindfleisch.
Varin just turned to the group and moved towards them.
“I RAPED HER TO DEATH, SHE SCREAMED AND I ENJOYED IT, KILL ME!” yelled Rindfleisch with force.
Varin continued his way, emotionless, without a thought. Ignoring the fact that he was doing something against his principles. Rindfleisch tried to stand up and follow Varin but he stumbled and fell on the ground again.
“KILL ME! YOU SODDING BASTARD, KILL ME! I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU LEAVE ME HERE!”
Continued Rindfleisch as Varin pointed the group that is was time to go. Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie, Trixie and now Rainbow, understood somehow why he did that. They followed Varin as they left the clearing with all the corpses on the ground. They vanished into the woods, leaving the scene behind.
“I WILL FIND YOU! I WILL KILL! YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS! I WILL USE YOUR SKULL AS A PISSPOT!” screamed Rindfleisch with great rage. Afterward the last thing they heard from that blind stallion, was him begging for a death.
“Please! Make it stop! I beg you, just... kill me.”
“Never forget your own voice, my love, it is your essence.
The day you lose it, you lose yourself and everything else.”
Chapter 8. Plain as day.
“Why are you starring at me?”
“Because I don’t trust you.”
"Heh, I don't trust you either, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna spend all day staring at your butt."
“Guys, could you please stop this.”
“I’m not so fixed at my cutiemark like he is Twilight, I know that it looks cool but come on!”
It had been one hour since that incidence with Rindfleisch and the Talons of Death.. The group including Twilight, Trixie, Rarity, Pinkie, Rainbow and Varin, moved trough the maze towards the edge of the Everfree Forest. They had a heated discussion about what they are going to do next, while they traveled. Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie had the same opinion, as Zecora told them.
“The Elements of Harmony is the only key, to end this and bring peace, by its only way. ”
Rainbow, Varin and even Trixie, had a different opinion.
“If you insist to visit ponies who going to cut your horn and stab you with it, please. But I won’t throw my own life aboard because you demand it!” argued Trixie, who seems to be recovered from the stress the past day, with a tense tone.
“But you heard what Zecora said, “To find our friends is the only answer. Applejack is probably still at her farm. We only have to reach Apple Arc.” replied Twilight calm while she stared at Trixie besides her.
“But this is stupid, I’m not sure they will just let us walk in and say hello.” interjected Rainbow Dash who was behind them both.
“I agree with her at this point, if we encounter a full patrol, we’re dead.” said Varin as he was on the front, leading the group.
“But we have to find our friends, this is what Zecora and Luna want.” said Pinkie Pie who was behind.
“Whoa, whoa, hold right there.” Rainbow stopped immediately as she heard the last words. Rarity and Pinkie who walked behind them, nearly crashed into her. “Are you telling me, we are doing this for Luna? That Luna who killed Celestia!?” Rainbows gaze showed great surprise and suspicion.
Twilight and Trixie turned around, only Varin seemed to overhear their conversation and kept trotting, without them notice. Twilight stepped forward to Dash and began.
“It wasn’t Luna who killed Celestia.”
“How are you even sure?” Rainbow face got even more clueless.
“Because she told us.” replied Rarity before Twilight could.
“Oh wow, big deal. I kill that scorch-flank over there and say, “It wasn’t me.” using a sarcastic tone, Rainbow pointed past them at the still trotting stallion and laughed.
“Listen Twilight,” interrupted Trixie. “I do not doubt what happened between you an Luna but visiting a place with ponies who want probably us all dead, is not the best way to find your friend.”
“And just what the hell are you doing here?! When do you got the best friends?” disrupted Dash as she glared at this blue pony. Trixie raised her head arrogantly.
“I think the better question is, what are YOU doing here? You are the intruder who crashed into Pinkie Pie and nearly killed her.”
“I didn’t nearl--” “GIRLS could you please stop!? I think we lost Varin.” interrupted Twilight as she realized that Varin was out of sight.
“Where is he?” asked Pinkie in her actual naive voice.
“Huh, I hope far far away.” finished Dash a little relived.
Varin continued his way, he knew they were followed since he left that tavern to follow Pinkie Pie. His concern wasn’t that this shade behind them would be a danger, but the other shapes that were in forest to the left and right, planning something.
He was ready for everything, all he had to do was to make sure that his group was ready for the initial attack, his group that-- “Where are they?”
Varin turned around and realized, how alone he was. He drew the sword out, that he got from one of the Talons, to be ready for everything. If it weren’t for the huge rock that hit his head, he would probably able to fight them off. Unfortunate, this rock was heavy enough to show him the deep lands of dreams once again.
“See? Wasn’t that hard, those Templar’s can take more than ya think.”
As Varin heard those words, he slowly gained consciousness. He tried to move, to touch the bleeding spot on his head but he was unable to do so. As he keep trying to move he realized,, that he was bound. As Varin opened his eyes he first saw two shapes, one of a griffin and one of a pony. As he gained full vision again, he saw that the pony was a pegasus. A turquoise colt with light blue short mane and yellow eyes. Varin looked around and saw that he was probably inside of a old abandoned wooden hut without a roof. He just sighted by the thought, that he was taken down by “birds”.
“So, what he’s got?” said the same voice that woke him up, it was the pegasus.
The griffin just shook his head.
“Don’t ya tell me there’s nothing. He’s a Templar after all, so a bloody purse should be there.”
The pegasus came closer to Varin, near enough that he could smell the breath of that pegasus.
“Oi mate, I don’t hope for ya that’s this was all for nothing.”
“Look, mate...” began Varin. “I don’t have any problem with you or your friend over there, but you will get massive problems if you don’t let me go, like right now!” The pegasus, clearly unimpressed, turned his head to his friend.
“Oh look, he’s the funny sort. Maybe ya should stop throwing these rocks at ponies, its not healthy after all.”
The griffin just shrugged with his shoulders. The pegasus turned his attention back to Varin.
“Look mate I ain’t gonna lie to you. Ya give me something I want or we play on the day.”
“Alright that’s it, you both are in such massive deep shit, I can’t even begin to explain how you’re going out of it!” Said Varin tense as he stared in those yellow eyes of that pegasus. The colt just back down and looked to his friend, the griffin just shrugged again. The pegasus looked back to the wounded gray stallion.
“Ya got some friends out there, ya think they got something?” asked the the turquoise colt.
“Oh yes, I’m sure they got what you want. I would suggest you visit them right now, and don’t forget to tell them where I am, I don’t want to be trapped here for the rest of my life since you will lie roasted on the ground.”
The griffin and pegasus looked at each other, clearly not able to decide what they are going to do. Moments of unintelligible whispering from the pegasus, both nodded to each other in agreement, the griffin turned around and flew up. Varin watched the scene and chuckled a little.
“I suggest you to dig a grave for him, this will get messy.”
“Why? He’s just pickin rock’s.” replied the pegasus surprised.
“For wha--” Varin felt that familiar hit on his head again and passed out.
“I can’t believe we lost him.” Twilight’s voice was clearly depressed as she looked around.
“Don’t worry my dear, I am sure he is just fine.” Rarity who tried to calm Twilight, looked up as she saw Dash coming down.
“Well its not like I’m happy but hes gone.” said the pegasus as she touched the ground.
“What do you propose now Twilight? Shall we continue our way to New Equestria with out him? We need to find him.” said Trixie as she approached them three.
“Since WHEN do you care for other ponies?” interrupted Rainbow Dash as she turned her head to Trixie.
“I care, since he is our best chance to get out of here ALIVE.” replied Trixie, arrogant as always.
“I think there’s maybe much more, Twilight what didn’t you tell me? Twilight?”
“Oh you think I WANT this Templar to be with us? Dash, sometimes I wonder about your intellect.”
“What the hell does that mean? Are you saying I’m stupid?”
“I am saying that even stupidity has a certain standard.”
“GIRLS!” interrupted Pinkie Pie as she looked up to the skies, pointing at something. By the sudden interrupt, the rest followed Pinkie’s example and looked up as well. Twilight saw those two different sized points in the sky, she saw that the points kept growing bigger, coming closer. As she realized that gray stallion, carried by this griffin, she gasped. As the pegasus touched the ground, drew Dash her dagger out as Trixie loaded her horn with electricity.
The griffin who kept carrying the unconscious Varin was still in air, still in a significant height.
“Hi, y'awrigh ladies?” began the colt with a grin. Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie stood behind Dash and Trixie that were ready to strike at any time. The pegasus continued.
“I heard ya know something about the thing’s I’m lookin for.
“And just who the hell are you again?” asked Dash, slightly sore.
“Ah pardon my manners, I’m Dinnelarus Gaoithe, but ya can all me jus Din, at ya service.” replied Din grinning, charming as always. Twilight stepped forward, hoping she could avoid any hasty moves by the two who kept targeting the turquoise pegasus. Rarity and Pinkie kept changing the look between the pegasus on the ground and the griffin above them, who floated with Varin. Twilight began with her polite voice as she stepped between Dash, Trixie and Din.
“My name is Twilight Sparkle, we are just passing through this forest, what is it exactly you are looking for?”
The pegasus raised his eyebrow by this introducing, his grin disappeared for a moment but he got it back as he watched that colorful pegasus putting her dagger back in its sheet. Only Trixie seemed to be his only concern since her horn kept sparkling, loaded with a deadly bolt. Din pointed with his head above to the griffin and continued.
“As ya can see, we found ya mate. He slept on the ground, we’d decided to bring him back.”
“Oh, did you?” replied Trixie suspicious.
“Of course, we jus wanted to help but bloody unlucky we’re, we don’t have any coins left. My children's are starvin.” finished the pegasus, trying to make a sad face.
“So you want us to pay you, to get our friend back?” asked Twilight a little unsure. The pegasus gained his familiar grin again. “Now we’re talkin business!” said Din with a tongue-smack.
“How about no?” interrupted Rainbow Dash as she flew between Twilight and Din. “Dash could yo--”
“Well, Then I have to tell my friend up there that today there’ll no breakfast.” Din leaned forward to Dash and whispered. “He’ll so disappoint, he’d just let everythin go and cry.” Dash only raised her eyebrow.
Twilight pushed Dash aside and continued with a forced smile
“Well that won’t happen because we will pay his breakfast, right Rarity? RIGHT?”
“I will pretend that I overheard you my dear.” replied Rarity bored.
“I will pretend it as well if it’s all right, now step aside Twilight, -I- will pay him.” said Trixie while her horn sparkled even more. Din took a step back, unsure what to do.
“If she hit me, your bloody friend hit the ground.”
Varin gained his awareness of what happened around him. As his eyes opened he saw small points a bit far away. A purple, a pink, three blue points and a white one. Once he realized that he was in air he tried to move but something held him. As he turned his head to see what held him, he just sighed as he saw the griffin. “ Huh, You again.”
The griffin kept floating in the air, holding Varin in his arms. Varin looked down and saw the pegasus he met earlier and the rest of his group, he turned his head around to the griffin again.
“So, you blackmail them?” asked Varin a little bored. The griffin nodded as a answer.
“I see, you know that this won’t end well?” continued Varin. The griffin just shrugged.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” asked Varin him once again. The griffin just ignored this question.
“Well, excuse me, I think its time for me to go.” finished Varin with a sigh. The face of that griffin changed in surprise as he felt this pull around his neck Varin freed himself from the rope that was bound around his legs and used it to strangle the griffin in the air. The griffin let go of Varin and tried also to free himself from the rope which made it difficult for him to breathe.
Varin who held himself with that rope on the griffin’s neck, changed the position and managed to crawl on his back, using the rope as a riding leash. The griffin kept struggling in the air as his vision began to darken. He only heard the last words of Varin in his right ear as he was about to lose his consciousness in the air.
“I suggest you land now, it could get really messy if you crush into the ground from this height.”
Dinnelarus took a few steps back as he saw that this conversation won't end well. He was about to take off but heard that pink pony said “Oh look, Varin is alright!” while looking up. The rest followed her example and they saw this griffin with Varin on top falling down. The griffin used the rest of his awareness to flap his wing to not hit the ground like the rocks he used to throw. As they touched the ground, the griffin fainted. Varin freed him from the rope around his neck and stretched his own neck as he jumped off the unconscious griffin, heading towards the pegasus who stood there, shocked for what happened. Varin reached Din and gave him the strongest blow in the face he could ever managed to give. Din just fell on the ground, tasting the dirt.
Varin flexed his right front leg he just used and spat on the ground.
“I told him.” was the only he could say as he looked back to Twilight and the rest who stood behind him, a bit surprised watching this scene.
As Din opened his eyes he felt cold steel on his throat, held by Dash who was about to make the move.
“Tell me, why should I let you live?” was her only question.
“Oi, oi, oi! Easy there!” responded Din scared.
“Allow me.” said Trixie behind Dash, still loaded with the thunder in her horn.
“Ya wouldn jus kill a defenseless pony, now would ya?” replied Din very nervously, forcing his grin.
“As I said, I am not sure how you will get out of here again.” said Varin with a little ironic tone, while he bound the legs of that griffin with the rope. As he finished, he turned around to see Din pressed on the ground, by Rainbow Dash who kept holding the dagger on his throat. Varin approached them and stopped before them with a frown.
“Now before you do something we all regret...” he came closer to Din’s face, close enough that he could smell Varin’s breath. Varin exhaled into his face and stared with his blue eyes into the yellow ones.
“Now, tell me where the Sword is I had and I’m done with you.” said Varin as Dash began to press the dagger more toward his throat.
“In the bag! In the bag!” yelled Din as he felt the pressure of cold sharp steel, nearly cutting him.
“What bag?” asked Varin surprised.
“The bag he got!” Din pointed with his free hoof at the griffin who still laid on the ground. Varin took a look to the griffin but then changed his look back to the pegasus.
“I don’t know but it seems you keep drowning instead of getting out of it.” said Varin as he scratched his head.
“Oi mate, the bag is there!” yelled even more as he felt the drips of blood pouring down his throat. Varin took the look back to the griffin and then back to Din again. “No.”
“Can I kill him now?” asked Dash a little bored. Varin just shrugged and turned around.
“No!” yelled Twilight as she decided to interrupt this scene and stepped besides Varin.
“Why not?” asked Dash a bit surprised.
“Because he can help us.” said Twilight ensured.
“What!?.” like a choir everypony asked that, expect Pinkie Pie who disappeared for some reasons.
“He blackmailed us.” noted Trixie.
“He wanted my coins!” interjected Rarity.
“He wanted to kill the Scorch-flank. Not that I would be sorry but still.” finished Dash.
“Huh good to know your attitude towards me.” replied Varin as he watched the forest around them. Twilight continued.
“That is why he will help us, because if not, we will kill him instead.”
“Logical.” said Din as he tried to avoid the blade by digging with his back-head deeper into the ground.
Trixie stepped besides them four, her horn not sparkling anymore.
“And what makes you sure, that he won’t back stab us, given him the chance?”
“We’d make an agreement, when and how I back stab ya.” replied Din with a wide grin.
“Charming...” replied Rarity behind them who listened to this conversation, trying to fix her mane.
“I’ll kill him if he tries something.” added Rainbow Dash while she got off him.
“I’m sure ya will.” said Din as he stood up from the ground while freeing himself from the mud.
“Well, we cou--” “Look what I found!” interrupted Pinkie Pie, Twilight as she approached them from behind with a bag on her back. Din eyes widened as he recognized the bag he used to store all the goods he and his friend ever received. Pinkie dropped the bag on the ground, right in front of them. Varin approached it and found the sword he got earlier this day. He put the sheath by his neck and turned around again, watching the forest with the words.
“I’m done with him.”
“Now ya mate got his sword, would you let us go, please?” asked Din still a bit nervous. Trixie and Dash began to look whats in the bag while Pinkie tried to make a conversation with the griffin who gained his conscious back. Varin kept watching what happened around them and kept an eye on Din and the griffin. Just Rarity and Twilight stood there, deciding what to do next. Rarity began.
“Do we really consider to take this stinky little bandits with us?”
“Heeey.” replied Din as he heard this statement.
“Its getting dark, at least they know a place where we could all sleep.” answered Twilight, ignoring Din.
“Why yes, but do we really -consider- it?” continued Rarity concerned.
“He could show us the way and we let him go afterwards.” replied Twilight again. Din looked to Trixie and Dash who kept looting his bag. Din muttered as he saw how they found the -good stuff-.
“Huh, tryin to rob but being robbed, bloody best idea ever.”
Varin stepped besides Twilight and Rarity while watching Pinkie how she tried to convince the griffin to talk.
“What do you think, should we trust him?” asked Twilight a bit curious. Varin just turned his look to Twilight and raised an eyebrow. Then he turned his head down, showing the wound on his head, without saying a word, Rarity took immediately care over the wound. Din wanted to say something like sorry but it seemed so, inappropriate. As Rarity finished her work with magic, the wound on Varin’s head was gone, only a small scar remained. Varin looked back to Din and began.
“He is a threat, he could sell us out at any time to everypony. Even Belaras would pay something to get info about us.”
Din forced grin disappeared and was replaced by his real natural grin. “Did ya said Belaras? Belaras Val’Zahid?”
“And he is maybe even deaf by now.” finished Varin.
“Me and Belaras have a, disagreement. It’d be a bloody pleasure to help the one’s who pissed on his hoof.”
“Oh you say?” asked Varin suspicious.
“Yeah mate, look. The arse of my arse is my friend.” replied Din relieved.
“Not exactly the answer I would suspect but I think it will have to do.” said Rarity while keep fixing her mane.
“Then... you will get us where its safe?” wondered Twilight by this sudden change.
“Of course! Pissin on Belaras day is a g’day for me.” replied Din even more relived. Twilight looked at Varin waiting for a respond but he just turned around and walked away, towards the griffin. He freed him from the rope and gave it to Pinkie Pie who already carried many different kind of items on her back. The griffin just stood up, questioning looked he to Dinnelarus who just nodded that everything is alright now. Varin returned and behind him the griffin.
“How should we call him?” asked Varin.
“The bloody hell should I know? He never said anything, ask him yaself.”
“Very funny, no really. It just gave me the urge to punch you again.” replied Varin a little sore. Din forced a laugh.
“I think that won’t be necessary. I usually call him Ben.”
“Ben?” Varin raised his left eyebrow.
“Yes, like Din and Ben.”
“Are you taking me for a fool?” asked Varin even more tense.
“No! Say hello to that beautiful lady besides you Ben.” Din pointed to Rarity who stood besides the griffin. Ben looked down to her as she looked up to him and just nodded. Din got a smile. “See?”
“How nice. I am Rarity, Rarity Belle. It is a pleasure to meet you.” replied Rarity a little unsure while she held a hoof in front of Ben. Ben touched the hoof and kissed it softly with his beak. Even Din raised his eyebrows.
“He’s a bloody gentlegriffon, can you believe that?” Rarity just giggled. “Finally somepony with courteous behavior.”
Varin just sighed “This day is getting even better.” while he turned around to see what Dash and Trixie got from the bag.
The bag was empty on the ground. Varin looked trough the stash and something caught his eye. He grabbed the sword that laid in the pile and turned around. “This is MY sword!” he yelled to Din as he walked back to him.
“Ehh, some bloody griffin sold us this. We bought it because... well because of ya!” replied Din a little nervous.
Varin threw the other sword away on the ground while he drew his own sword out, wielding it for a moment.
Din kept his nervous smile, hoping Varin does not decide to decapitate him. As Din saw how Dash kept putting the gold and silver chains around her neck, he just sighed. Only as he saw Trixie, grabbing a urn he approached them.
“Oi, oi, be careful!” he yelled as Trixie only gave him a passing glance while she was about to open the urn.
“My mother is in there, ya don’t want to disturb her, now do ya?” continued Din with more nervous than before. Trixie opened the urn and Din only shut his eyes tight. Trixie’s eyes widened and sparkled as she looked inside the urn, then she looked up to Din again.
“Well, your mother was certainly made out of diamonds.” said Trixie as she looked back into the urn. Varin, Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie and Ben approached them. Rarity picked a diamond out of the urn, eyeing it closely, then she just gasped.
“Oh my, I never saw such pure flawlessness before.” Varin took the diamond from Rarity and looked at it, then to Din.
“You sure there is nothing you want to tell us, mate?” asked Varin provocative.
“Oi, why should I lie to ya?” All of them gave Din a suspicious look, even Ben tapped him on the shoulder and frowned to force him to tell the truth. Dinnelarus sighed and inhaled very deeply.
“This disagreement with Belaras... it was more a disagreement for him than for us.”
“I knew it.” noted Varin.
“You stole it from the Bandit Lord.” remarked Trixie.
“Nah, merely just pickin up but never delivered.” replied Din with a grin again.
“Will he look for it?” asked Twilight a bit concerned.
“Well, not more than us. He would just kill two birds with one stone if he ever get us.” answered Varin unconcerned.
“That’s why we show ya the way to a safe place for a sleepy night, and in the next day we will begone. With the urn. Ya all can keep the rest, as a part for our transaction.” said Din without a grin but surprising serious.
“Yeees, with just the urn.” remarked Rainbow Dash.
“No, with the diamonds. We already have enough problems, we don’t need any more reasons to hunt us.” interjected Twilight serious as she grabbed the urn with her magic, putting the diamond out of Varin’s hoof back into.
“Naawww!” replied Dash disappointed.
“Why do you still rob ponies when you have a fortune under your hooves?” asked Varin suddenly.
“Well, ya can’t eat diamonds, now can ya?”
“You can -buy- food?” continued Varin.
“And just how many new friends will we have when they find out that these diamonds belong to somepony
“Noted.” finished Varin.
“Then we have an arrangement, you show us someplace safe and we let you got by tomorrow morning, with the diamonds.” clarified Twilight.
“I think we can work with that.” replied Din with a grin again.
“You remind me of somepony who grinned like you.” interjected Varin.
“Oh, how’s he?” asked Din surprised.
“He is blind now.” ended Varin cold, and silence came over the group.
In the moment of silence, Twilight realized that the sun disappeared in the horizon, that the birds stopped and that the owls began to sing instead. She began to feel the cold wind that came trough the forest, and it made her shiver for some reason. Not sure why, but she knew that her trust in Din and Ben was alright. They just wanted to make their living like anypony else in this grim new world. Not knowing what the tomorrow could bring, their only option was to find it out, after a good sleep and with sorted thoughts they could begin a new chapter on a new day.
“So, could you show us the way to the safe shelter?”
“Sure thing, follow us ladies.”
"A simple thought spreads faster than any Virus.
Infesting your mind in a heartbeat, it cannot be fought or killed.
The more you resist, the stronger it becomes."
"Whatdya mean, ya stay here!?"
Dinnelarus glared surprised at his so called friend Ben, a griffin who accompanied him over the last months.
As the chaos raged, they helped unicorns who could afford their service of a safe transit into the Everfree Forest.
Like vultures they circled over those who used "their" road into safety, forcing them into despair.
As order was reinstated and the lines set, he and the griffin made their living with simple theft and sometimes illegal deals with the Val'Zahid brothers.
Both watched for each other, Ben a little more than Din but still, they were friends, until Ben decided to walk on a different path.
"Ya can't stay with'em, they tried to kill us!" Ben just shrugged by this statement, forcing Din for a more desperate tactic.
"I helped ya, I gave ya food, I was ya only friend! Ya can't jus leave me, now can ya!?"
"Well it seems your friend is about to leave the nest." Varin who forced a laughed by this terrible joke, sheathed his cleaned sword.
"Stop making ya jokes mate, this ain't funny!" said Din as he hugged the urn tighter with his wing nervous as Ben hugged him silently, smiling into his face with a nod.
"Ya can't be serious, ya... bloody-..." Din just watched as the griffin turned around, walking to the rest of the group that trotted off, leaving the turquoise pegasus on the street behind.
Along and dangerous way laid before them, not knowing what hid behind the next corner: Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie, Trixie, Varin, Dash and now Ben kept moving towards their destiny.
"So, why are you coming with us eeh... Ben?" A bit surprised by this sudden change, Twilight trotted besides the griffin who smiled, pointing with his long tail at Rarity in front of them.
"Rarity, what happened down there by the lake?" Trixie raised an eyebrow, looking at the white mare besides her.
"I washed my mane. Why do you ask my dear?" Rarity looked surprised by this sudden question at Trixie, who still looked suspicious at her, pointing with her eyes at the griffin behind them.
"Why, he is a good listener and a gentlecol- griffin, if somepony can give him a job, then it is me! I mean look, he is carrying all the valuable --and heavy-- things we found." falling back by her answer, Rarity gave Ben a smile.
Varin kept walking on the front, watching the horizon where the forest nearly ended, deep in thoughts he was interrupted by Rainbow Dash who flew low besides him.
"Well, it was pretty cool what you did yesterday. Taking down this griffin all by yourself, he sure didn't saw that coming." Rainbow rolled in the air, punching with her hoof in the air, motioning a fight.
Varin kept moving, ignoring Dash as she touched the ground, trotting besides him, realising that he didn’t even responded.
"I think we could become good friends, even that you are such a flank sometimes."
Raising an eyebrow by these unexpected words, he looked at Dash as she continued.
"We could conquer half of Equestria with our awesomeness! All the Inquisitors, bandit and mercenary lords that try to hate us for some reason, even..." Dash's voice and face changed dark as she stared into his eyes. "Trixie."
Varin rolled with his eyes, focusing on the road again.
"I mean, who the hell is she? Showing up, out of nowhere--..." Dash forced a laugh before she ended this sentence, realising how that sounded, making Varin frown and finally replying as they reached a crossing sign.
"I will watch her, just like I watch you."
Twilight, concerned by his sighing, approached Varin as he kept reading the crossing sign.
"Sure is, we can't plan our vacation there, Castles and towers all over this place." said Varin as he looked at the horizon.
"Maybe we can just head to apple arc, I mean that is not far from here." Twilight pointed with her hoof to the road that led south.
"No, there is a tower in the village nearby, probably still controlled by Templar's, we could visit Canterlot as well." he bumped the sign with his hoof on the spot where "Canterlot" stood.
"Then what do you propose?"
"We turn around, that is what I propose."
"Maybe we cou--"
"Oi oi oi, ya should REALLY go off the street!"
Hearing this familiar accent, everypony looked up, seeing this pegasus above them who seemed to follow them all the time.
Pointing with his hoof to the road that led north, his face showed fear instead of his familiar charismatic smile. Ben just shook his head in dismay as Varin took a step towards the floating pegasus.
"Look, mate: We know how to deal with our situation, why don't you just fly off and piss sompony else with your rocks off!?" Varin waved with his hoof at the direction of him, stomping afterwards with it on the ground. Twilight used the moment of silence to step forward.
"What do you mean with: we should go off the street?" Twilight's frowned as the pegasus touched the ground, standing before her, still with the urn under his left wing.
"Unless ya want to meet about twenty friends of him," Din pointed at Varin with his hoof. "I suggest, ya hide!"
"A patrol? Let them come at us!" Dash drew her dagger grinning, stepping forward and looking at the northern path that led out of the forest.
"Twenty is never a patrol, perhaps a search party with an Inquisitor. We have to avoid them!" Varin turned his head away, looking past Twilight at Dash who doesn't seemed to be afraid, for what comes next.
"Where are they coming from?" Twilight looked at Varin, clearly concerned in her voice.
"Probably Pure Blood Castle in the north..." The grey stallion sighed. "We should try to avoid that place too, they are not very friendly there, like this entire country. Listen," Varin looked with his steel blue eyes at Twilight's opal purple's.
"I know how badly you want to find your friend but this is suicide, this entire idea is pure madness."
Twilight looked to the southern road again."Is there any possibility to reach Ponyville?"
"There is maybe a safe path if we keep our head low but its still insane." Varin replied clearly unwilling to consider it.
"Then we avoid a unpleasant situation with an Inquisitor and his or her Templar's by heading south!" Interrupted Trixie as she walked between them, stomping with her hoof on the ground.
Galloping on the path to the south, everypony, even Varin --after pulling Dash's tail-- made their way out of the forest, entering a landscape that change over the last months.
The clouds in the sky, letting the sun only partially trough, seemed to keep their own will. Reminding, that there was nopony to tame, the weather wasn't more different than in the Everfree Forest or elsewhere.
The grass was still green as the trees brown but still, the colors were somehow damped, cold, sterile.
Reaching a small copse, they finally stooped, some of them panting from this gallop into this hostile land.
On the horizon, past a few long constructs, it could be seen by the mountain, not a capital anymore since the palace and the city itself got replace by a citadel, out of dark grey stone, surrounding the mountain with a great stone wall. Canterlot.
The true fact, that this was built in just a few months was reverent, a sign of power, of control.
Varin kept staring at this bulwark, clearly in deep thoughts as Twilight went up to him.
"I can't believe what happened here." Twilight's voice showed sadness as she looked at the horizon. "It were only months, how could everything change like that?"
Varin spits at the ground, looking at Twilight. "Happens."
Their thoughts were interrupted by the yell of a pink pony who was out of tree formation, bouncing trough the field, pointing with her hoof at the sky. "The Ascension!"
"Pinkie!" Twilight nearly ran out of the woods.
"Get her bloody back!" Yelled Din who seemed to follow them since the crossing sign.
Rainbow dashed at Pinkie Pie, knocking her into the high grass as the sound of heavy rotors could be heard, coming closer with each blow.
A huge zeppelin, dark grey platform on two great blood red balloon's with emblems of the Equestrian Templar Military, powered by six huge rotors on both sides of the platform, floated above them away.
Protected by a light steel body and equipped with the deadliest and most efficient weaponry of New Equestria, nothing, not from the ground or above should confront this gunship directly, unless somepony wanted to test their sixteen flak batteries or eight heavy ground canons.
As Rainbow Dash kept pressing Pinkie Pie on the ground, the others could only watch from afar, protected by the autumn leaves on the trees. Only as each blow got quieter, the zeppelin continuing its way, everypony sighing in relieve.
"What is wrong with you!" Dash, stood up from that pink pony who just waved after the balloon. Standing up, Pinkie Pie trotted with Dash back to the trees, where the rest looked rather shocked than relieved.
"Pinkie..." Twilight began as she stepped to her. "Please, don't do that ever again."
"Do what?" Pinkie's voice never seemed more innocent than before.
They continued their way as the zeppelin could be seen as a red point on the horizon, drifting away towards south.
With each step every one of them felt even more disturbed, by thought that their were followed by something or somepony.
As they reached the hill, they looked down, at Ponyville, some of them knowing it as their old home.
On the edge could be seen a small tower, looking over everything around the village.
Varin sighed as he took the road down, towards a bridge that led into town, everypony followed him, slightly disturbed by this silence.
"Do you think Fluttershy is still in her cottage?" Rarity's curiosity about her sister could been heard.
"Well, you could go there and find out." Trixie raised an eyebrow as they walked over the bridge, entering the silence village.
On the question, where everypony was, the only answer from Varin was: "Evacuated."
The doors and windows still barricaded, some of the houses burnt down, the village lost its glare over the past months, leaving nothing but memories.
Moving on the street, they finally reached were the marketplace used to be. There was nothing more than old abandoned wood carriages and some destroyed stands with the fountain in the centre, still spitting water out of the stone alicorn statue.
As they kept moving in the shadows of the buildings, avoiding any direct view contact with the tower, Rarity gasped as she saw it. "My home!" Running to the boutique, no pony besides Ben tried to stop her from rushing inside.
"I don't understand, you said this place was controlled by Templar's." Twilight looked around as they waited for Rarity to return.
"Well, it seems I was wrong." Varin shrugged.
As Rarity came out of the building with Ben, her face was changed, sad but also with a smile.
"I found a letter from Fluttershy." she said, nearly a tear running down her cheek. "There it stands, that she took my Sweetie Belle into safety."
Twilight hugged Rarity as more tears dropped from her azure blue eyes on the purple pony shoulder.
"She didn't said where, only that she keeps her safe, away from all this." Rarity finished, closing her eyes with a smile.
"Maybe... maybe Applejack knows more." Tried Twilight to calm her friend.
"Maybe..." Rarity opened her eyes again, wiping her tears off. "Why yes, I am done here, we can go and find Applejack.
She still have to pay me for the door over there. Many of my collections had been stolen!"
Approaching a burnt down tree, that looked like the library Twilight used to live in, they stopped for a minute, giving Twilight the chance to regain her thoughts.
She only had only one pony or better, a dragon in mind. "Spike..." She let out after a while, as Rarity approached her, hugging her this times instead..
"Well, I am sure he's fine. I mean, he was more than just a baby dragon."
“Thank you.” said Twilight, raising her head she looked at Rarity who smiled at her, smiling back with tears in her eyes.
They turned around, making their way trough the marketplace again, heading to the farm. Their conversation with each other got interrupted by the noise of heavy plate armor, approaching frontal and behind. Templar's.
As they approached them in formation, ready to charge, Varin drew his sword, Dash her dagger and even Ben his morning star from under his wing.
Din stood there with nothing but the urn under his wing, looking for a escape, while Pinkie Pie vanished again for some reason.
Trixie's and Rarity's horn sparkled with electricity, ready to unleash their deadly powers. Only Twilight seemed to stay calm, waiting for something to happen.
Surrounded by over twenty ponies, another pony, a dark blue coated stallion with dark grey hair stepped into the circle.
With a a rather more white armor than the Templar's around them, with an emblem of a red sword, on a white shield.
The Inquisitor looked with his green eyes at them, spitting on the ground.
"Well, well, what do we have here? Saboteurs perhaps, trying to attack our outer tower? Maybe spy's, trying to gather as much information as needed? Or merely just some scavengers, trying to make their living by salvage anything valuable from this abandoned village?"
"My name is Twilight Sparkle, we come in peace, we are not here to hurt or kill somepony." Twilight couldn't end that sentence with a gulp as the Inquisitor glared at her.
"Twilight Sparkle..." the stallion scratched his neck. "Former star pupil of Celestia..." The blue pony turned his head, looking at the direction where Canterlot was.
"Huh, it seems our information was incorrect. We got confirmed, that you died in the final purge." He sighed. "Well, it seems, I will have to find that contact again, and tell her how bad it is to LIE to an Inquisitor. She was supposed to kill you." the earth pony shrugged. "Well, and she was supposed to bear the element of honest..."
Twilight took a step forward, only causing the all the ponies around them took also a step closer, pointing with their swords at them.
"We are not here to fight, we will turn around and leave this place."
The Inquisitor laughed. "Oh? I guess this is impossible. Not after I got confirmed, that the one who bares the element of magic, still trots on this planet. This will need an example to put on."
"Come closer and I will put an example on you!" Dash stepped besides Twilight, with the dagger in her muzzle.
"And with that, you just lost your job as our new Clouds keeper. Very sad." The Inquisitor finished.
"You will need to get trough my dead body to even touch them, Inquisitor!" Varin stepped besides them both, staring with his cold gaze at him.
"And you! You little treacherous ungrateful lad. Your father would be very proud to know the fact, that you keep company with thieves and murderers. You were supposed to be a Templar Commander, and now you lost everything with your little tour into the forest. It was even MY task to bring you back, but thankfully, leaving some trace of diamonds, we found you here, in Ponyville."
Din looked at the ground, ashamed after he closed the urn entirely.
"But, this is not my place to judge. The High Inquisitor Cassadan will take care over your case, personally. My task was to bring you back, and now with Twilight I even achieved more today than I planed first."
Varin looked only for a second at Din, with rage lying in his eyes, he turned back to the Inquisitor, staring right into his eyes, giving the Inquisitor a light shiver on his back.
"You may try." Varin took his sword from the shoulders into his muzzle again.
"You will all die, even if you achieve to kill all of us," the blue stallion pointed with his head at the tower, where the torch burned: "An other battalion is on its way."
Twilight stepped between them. "What is it, what you want!?"
The Inquisitor drew his sword. "A pure Equestria."
Varin defended Twilight from the first blow from the Inquisitor, bashing in him, giving him a hit in his face. As Varin was about to upswing his sword, he fell on the ground, being blasted to the ground.
Trixie and Rarity managed to concentrated their power, casting a powerful blast that pushed everypony (except them) to the ground, giving them more time and space to reconsider their strategy.
Dinnelarus saw his chance however and took up, fleeing. "You haying coward!" screamed Dash as she stood up, dodging a stab from a Templar that charged at her.
Trixie and Rarity kept blasting ponies away who tried to come closer, being protected by the griffin who flew over them, dashing at Templar’s who came too close, picking up and throwing them away into windows, carriage, doors and even one into the fountain itself where the soldier got pierced by alicorn stone-statue's horn.
Twilight tried to avoid any fight but even she had to fire a thunderbolt at an colt who tried to cut her in half, making him burn for several seconds as he run to the fountain, trying to extinguish the fire.
The fight continued, Varin fought his Inquisitor, Dash her three Templar's who tried to hit her, Trixie, Rarity and now Twilight with the other half of Templar's that tried to charge them but got blasted or carried by a griffin away.
As Twilight heard more noises of heavy plate armour, her heart beat faster, making her turn around and seeing another battalion of Templar's, approaching them.
As Varin finally broke his opponents defense, he punched him the sword out of his muzzle, making him cough. Raising his head to see the others soldier, they surrounded them completely from one side.
Knowing his next task only well, he gave the Inquisitor another punch into his bleeding face, picking him up and showing him to the army of over fifty Templar's.
Dropping the unconscious Inquisitor to the ground again, he pressed the sword on his neck. "C’mon, go ahead." he smiled as a little blood came out of this mouth, heavy breathing, as the Templar's drew their swords, coming closer.
As Dash finished her opponents with two concentrated attacks on both necks and making one stumble into his own sword, she stopped besides Varin. "Well, are you ready?" Varin asked, raising his eyebrow.
Dash giggled. "I was born ready."
Rarity stopped to concentrate for a second, turning her head around, gasping as she saw the small army. Leaving a hole in the defensive, Trixie couldn't stop a Templar who saw his chance, charging at Rarity.
Trixie wanted to push Rarity away, but got interrupted by a blow from behind, making her an Rarity fall on the ground.
As Rarity raised her head, she saw the griffin Ben, choking the pony with his strong talon, making the Templar to force the sword even deeper into his chest.
Looking at Rarity besides him on the ground, Ben smiled at her while blood poured out of his beak. Snapping his neck, he let the body of the Templar hit the ground.
Ben looked at the sword that was still pierced deep trough his chest, making each breath for him harder.
As he collapsed on the ground, his vision darkened with each breath, smiling as Ben saw the white mare embracing him as he closed his eyes.
Trixie picked Rarity from Ben's body, almost dragging the crying unicorn closer to Twilight who stood behind Varin and Dash, staring past them both at the Templar's who kept coming closer.
Varin, pressing the sword at the Inquisitor’s neck, looked at the soldiers around them, as they pointed with their sword's at their direction.
Raising his sword as he knew that it was pointless, about to behead the Inquisitor that was still on the ground and unconscious, he hoped for an alternative way out of this situation at any moment.
An orange earth pony came out of the formation and stepped forward, the sword still in her sheath, wearing a Templar Commander's armor, she glared at them with her emerald green eyes.
"Hoo there, sugar cube!"
"Magic is a tool of destruction and death.
How can we feel safe when those around us possess such unlimited power?
Can we reason and be sure that they won't use their advantage against us?
Can we negotiate and be sure that they won't lie and extend their part of the deal?
Can we cooperate and be sure that they won't suppress or even enslave us?
Or, can we react before they do, prevent any damage and do what is necessary?
We cannot decide if there is a fight or not, we can only decide who wins.
- Tero Cassadan
A long corridor, again. With clean stone and torches around them, their way ended by a large steel door. Entering the room, both Templar's closed the door, standing in front of it.
It was a large room with a stone throne on the far end, banners on the side by the windows and torches lightening the room.
Tero Cassadan, a white stallion with gold mane, tail and also eyes turned from a portrait away that hung on the wall behind the throne, his armor of an High Inquisitor made this familiar noise when steel plates rubbed against each other.
Making his way back to the throne, passing it, he looked with disgust at that pony that was thrown into his room.
Frowning, the High Inquisitor approached him, staring into the ponies cold blue eyes as he said:
"For ponies who believe in this... destiny has a great sense of humor, Darlic."
"Dinnelarus Gaoithe, ya bloody stealin liar!"
It was stupid and even against Din's principal but after hours of self-pity he realised that this was the only right thing to do.
An aquamarine blue pegasus mare, wearing a brown west with black wings painted on the chest, her short chaotic cyan blue mane, tail and azure blue eyes, gave him a punch into his stomach.
Being beaten by two stallion's and a mare, wasn't exactly what he excepted, but it was necessary and for a reason.
"First ya left me behind and steal everythin, then ya tell lies, now ya beg pathetic right in front of me!" the mare turned around, taking a sip of her glass with cider from the table, looking outside the window and seeing the great sea far in the horizon.
Turning around again, she looked at that Din who grinned charming. "Why can't ya forgive me? I'm ya brother after all. Go and hug ya brother, Layla."
Nodding, the yellow earth pony with his scorched cutiemark gave Din a strong punch into his guts again, making him cough and falling to the ground again. Layla rolled her eyes. "Told ya, it's forbidden for you to use my name."
"But Layla--" Din was interrupted by another strong punch, this time into his side, causing him to collapse.
"Din, if I weren so bloody excited, I would've jus threw ya already off-board." Layla took a sword from the table.
"I can fly, ya know?" Din grinned at her while he positioned himself and sat there on the wood floor.
"Not when I cut ya wings off." Layla gave the sword to one of the stallion's, a blue unicorn who let the sword rest on Din's right wing with his magic, making him squirm. "oi, oi, oi!"
"Now tell me, brother, why shouldn I jus throw ya off?" Layla's was right inf front of Din, breathing at him.
"Did I mentioned diamonds?" grinned Dinnelarus right in front of her face.
"Diamonds?" the mare raised her eyebrow.
"Yes, a urn full of it, all jus for my lovely sister."
Layla looked at Din with suspicion. "And ya expect me to give ya life back and forgive ya?"
"And helping ya brother in a matter."
As Layla heard that she gave Din a strong punch right into his muzzle, causing him to bleed.
"My help!? I help ya to fall like a rock! Give me that sword!" she reached her hoof to the stallion who levitated the sword, making him slightly disappointed as he gave her the weapon.
Layla pointed with the sword at Din's throat, making his grin disappear. "oi, oi, oi, it's bloody dangerous, ya know!"
The mare shrugged, "Maybe." swinging the sword, hitting his face with the blunt end, making him spit more blood on the floor.
"If you weren my bloody brother..." Layla motioned the unicorn. "We put ya in a cage until ya tell me where the diamonds are. Perhaps then, I let ya live."
"Laylarissa!" yelled Din, receiving a strong punch from both, Layla and the earth pony afterwards that made him almost faint away.
Spitting more blood on the floor, Din groaned as Layla wiped her hoof on his mane off.
"I suggest ya tell me it now, so we don't have to torture ya. I almost start to like--"
Layla was interrupted by the door that slammed open, a panting white earth pony mare stood by the threshold, trying to get her breath again. Everypony in that room watched her as she gulped, yelling: "We are under attack!"
"Templar's?" asked Layla surprised.
"N-no, a pony!" the mare shook her head nervously..
Layla raised her right eyebrow. "So, what are you waiting for? Push it off this ship."
"W-we can't. She is by the port side besides one of our main rotor's and threats to use dynamite! She demands to speak with you."
Layla frowned. "What is her name?"
"She!?" Din shout in surprise as he forced himself up again, being stopped by the earth pony and unicorn.
"Wait ya know her!?" Layla looked at Din surprised.
"Do ya know her?" Din glared at his sister, still blood dripping from his muzzle on the floor.
Layla rolled her eyes, leaving the room and making her way trough the wood corridor, leaving trough another door that led outside on the platform of the Ascension.
"Layla! It's so good to see you alright!" Pinkie Pie bounced besides the huge blowing rotor with the burning rod of dynamite in her muzzle, looking at the aquamarine mare with a wide smile.
"Whoa there!" The pegasus waved with her hoof towards Pinkie Pie, motioning her to throw the rod away. Pinkie threw dynamite off-board, rushing to Layla and hugging her with the sound of a explosion. The pegasus first surprised, but then smiling returned the hug of her. "Nice to see ya."
As Layla let go of Pinkie, she motioned to everypony around them to put their weapons away, making them return to their post. "How have ya been? Hope ya keep yaself outta jail this time." Layla smiled. Pinkie Pie who heard this question inhaled deeply.
"Oh! First I went to the Evernight Forest to visit my friends Twilight and Rarity then we went together to find Luna and went after that to our friend Zecora who gave us Trixie who seems to be nice if you get to know her more and after that my friends were taken away by this mean zebra who--" Pinkie Pie stopped and closed her eyes for a second, exhaling and opened them again, glaring very serious at the mare before her.
"Layla, I need your help."
"Anything ya want, sugar!"
Twilight woke up by the noise of a crying mare. Surrounded by darkness, she couldn't see anything but blackness.
Twilight tried to lit her horn up but something blocked her magic and gave her a shock to her entire body instead.
Screaming, the pain spread trough her entire body, making her squirm and move in the chains that kept holding her in air.
When the pain stopped, she could hear her thoughts and surroundings again. Focusing, she heard that crying again, realising who it was.
"Rarity...are you alright?" whispered Twilight, looking towards the direction she thought the noise came.
"I am fine darling." the sob continued.
"W-what happened?" Twilight stopped trying to find her, she just looked at a direction she believed Rarity was.
"After Applejack hit you?" Rarity sniffed. "We tried to fight. They overwhelmed us and and we lost."
"Where are the others? Do you think Applejack betrayed us like that?" Twilight's voice saddened.
"I don't know my dear, I really don't."
In the moment of silence a unlocking steel door could be heard. Letting some light in that blended, Twilight saw Rarity and even Trixie who was unconscious, all three hanging in air, every of them having a ring on their horn. As Twilight's eyes adjusted to the light, she saw the Templar that entered.
"You..." Rarity stopped sobbing, looking mad a that orange pony.
Applejack stepped inside, closing the doors behind her. Without nothing but her armor she just stood there, smiling guilty.
"Ah'm so happy to see ya both alright, even if the situation ain't the best."
"Applejack... why?" Twilight glared at her.
"To keep ya safe of course!" Applejack's smile disappeared as Rarity frowned.
"Keep us safe? Pardon me but fighting and throwing us into a dark room, binding us with chains is not exactly what I understand under keeping safe. Unless you think that-- you believe in that!"
"Applejack, I thought you are our friend!" yelled Twilight as tears run down her face.
"Then why on Equestria are we here!?" Rarity tried to move but failed, lowering her head.
"Where wanna ya else be, burnin on a stick!? Ah' had to do that, Ah' had no choice, else we would have jus to kill ya right there! Do ya think Ah' like to put mah friends in danger, fightin'em, only to keep'em safe!?"
A moment of silence spread trough the room.
"Yar mah friends." Applejack gathered a small smile, coming closer to Twilight and wiping the tears from her cheek. "Ah' would never hesitate to do that at any time again."
"Applejack, where are the others?" asked Rarity, this time more clam.
The earth pony looked to Rarity. "Rainbow Dash is in ah cage outside and yar friend Varin probably with the High Inquisitor."
"High Inqui-... Applejack, where are we?" Rarity gulped.
"Pureblood Castle." Applejack sighed afterwards.
"Applejack..." Twilight looked up into Applejack's eyes as she looked into hers again. "Do you believe in what they believe?"
Applejack smiled. "Not ah single word."
Being pushed trough the corridor, Twilight realised that it may be her last day. Even if she pushed Twilight, Applejack wasn't entirely sure how the day will end.
All they had to do is to wait and adapt.
Applejack opened the door and motioned Twilight to go inside with a wink. The two Templar's didn't knew what happened in the cell, nor that they knew each other for so long. Inhaling, Twilight entered the large throne room, spotting two earth ponies in the centre while there were other two Templar's besides the door she entered trough.
Motioned by the High Inquisitor, Applejack to left the room, only four ponies remained by the door. Cassadan came down from his stone throne, looking at Twilight while she watched each of his steps.
"Twilight Sparkle, former star pupil of Celestia, the keeper of the element of magic." The High Inquisitor raised his eyebrows. "We were told, that you died. It seems our information were incorrect and that now I have to take care over this."
"Dear High Inquisitor, I don't fully understand your believes but my death won't solve anything."
The white pony chuckled. "It will solve many things. It will bring change."
Gulping, Twilight took a step forward, making all four Templar's behind her to draw their swords but not attacking because of the hoof that Cassadan raised.
"High Inquisitor, if you wish my death I will obey under the circumstance that my friends will be released back into the Everfree Forest."
"Twilight, this is insane!" said Varin as he looked at the guards behind her.
"Yes, listen to your mind-slave. I won't just let the others go when I can eliminate all of the cancer at once." Cassadan turned around, approaching his throne.
"And you should shut up before I consider that beating the hay out of you could actually be fun." Varin pointed a hoof at the High Inquisitor who sat down at the throne, ignoring what he said.
"Varin, if this could save my friends then I have to do this!" Twilight stomped on the stone floor.
"This won't save them." Varin looked to the ground and then to Twilight.
"Actually, there could be something I may have interest in." Cassadan scratched his head. "You tell me everything I want to know and I may release your friends."
"He lies." Interrupted Varin. "He never compromise with his goals."
"Shut it whelp!" The earth pony jumped enraged from the throne, grabbing Varin on his neck. "If you weren't the son of the stallion I follow, I would have already killed you for treachery!"
Twilight eyes widened. "W-what does he mean?"
"Oh, he didn't told you? How unfortunate." The High Inquisitor let go of Varin who just stared at him. Returning to his throne, he exhaled. "Why don't you just tell her Varin?"
"Tell me what?" Twilight switched her look nervous between Varin and Cassadan.
"Come on Varin, the lady asks you something!" The High Inquisitor waved with his hoof towards them.
Varin looked to the ground, up to Cassadan and then back to Twilight.
Taking a few steps to the portrait that was on the wall behind the throne, Varin looked at it, sighing deeply as he turned around, seeing the purple mare that glared at him.
"My name is Varin Darlic, I am the son of the Lord Inquisitor and ruler of Equestria, Léon Darlic."
Twilight, took a few steps back, stopping as she felt both swords pecking her back. Gathering her thoughts, she stepped forward, glaring at the grey earth pony.
"Why didn't you told us?"
"When was I supposed to tell you that? Oh by the way, I'm the son of the stallion who is the cause for this genocide and war?"
"You should have told us!" Twilight took another step forward.
"Yes Varin, you should have told them." Cassadan chuckled.
"Listen! I don't expect you to trust me but at least know, I only wanted to help you all." Varin took a step forward as well, putting at hoof on Twilight's shoulder.
Looking at the hoof, Twilight pushed it off her, staring into Varin's eyes. "It does not matter anymore."
"Indeed." The High Inquisitor stood up. "Today is the execution, you should tell me anything I want to know now, so I can consider to release your friends."
"I have no valuable information about Blackmoon or her Plans." said Twilight, looking at the Inquisitor.
"But you know something about this annoying barrier that keeps you precious little city save from us. I tell you something, you help us to open the barrier and we may find a... solution about your current state of disorder. Cutting all your horn's off probably. Would cause an overload and fry your brain's but at least you would be considered as normal --maybe a bit light headed-- ponies... not that we did that kind of experiments before." Cassadan waved with his hoof in a circle besides his head, chuckling.
"And let you kill many innocent ponies? Never!"
The High Inquisitor clopped his hooves together, standing up. "Ah well, you could have saved all of your friends but it's your choice." He motioned to the Templar's. "Prepeare the execution."
Grabbing Twilight, both Templar's dragged her out of the room. Varin watched Twilight as she just looked back at him, disappointed until the door closed.
Turning his head to Cassadan again, Varin came closer to the High Inquisitor. "I won't let that happen!"
The High Inquisitor stood up, motioning the other two Templar's while he trotted past Varin.
"She just let that happen. I suggest, you wait for your father in the cell."
The cloud's gathered together, releasing a slight rain over the castle as it was covered in a thick fog. In the courtyard, there were three pyres, positioned in a triangular position, surrounded by lots of dry hay.
As Twilight was dragged outside with Rarity and Trixie, she only felt regret for her friends. Knowing that this happened because of her decisions the past days.
Trying but unable to find a solution out of this deadly situation, she could only watch, only hope.
Trixie didn't said a word or looked in anyponies eyes when she woke up. It seemed that she accepted her fate and that she was in peace with herself. Rarity however sobbed, repeating the same question when they been dragged out. "Why is this happening to me?"
Their way ended as all three were strapped on each pyre, causing Twilight to drop a few more tears, as a blue pony, the Inquisitor they encountered in Ponyville took his hood off and revealed his deformed face, stopping before Twilight.
"In the name of the Lord Inquisitor and the Cardinal, you have been sentenced to death for possessing the tool's of destruct and death."
Three Templar's held burning torches in their muzzle's, approaching the bound mares.
"Your body and soul shall be cleansed by the purity of fire, leaving nothing but ashes and dust."
They lowered their heads, setting the hay aflame. Twilight and Rarity closed her eyes while Trixie just watched as the fire slowly approached her.
"You are free to leave this world."
The stallion looked focused into the fog as his eyes widened, turning around and trotting off the pier.
"I guess the Lord Inquisitor comes today!" said the Templar as he approached his partner who sat by the wall, looking at the "Skybreaker" a zeppelin that laid by the second wood pier on a large tower besides the castle. The Templar by the wall, a mare raised her head, standing up.
"Huh? He wasn't supposed to arrive today. Should we go and tell the Inquisitor?"
Both Templar's went to the first pier that was on the other side of the tower, looking at the object that approached them and the castle from the south.
"What do you think should we do? Tell the High Inqui--" a shot interrupted the stallion. Both looked to the flash that came out of the muzzle of one of the zeppelin's front canons.
Exploding besides the, they got swept from the pier, the stallion falling into the moat that surrounded the castle.
Looking up, the mare dragged herself onto the pier again, running to the tower, trying to raise the alarm. Blasted away by a second projectile that hit the tower by the entrance, she fell down the tower into a tent inside of the castle's wall.
"Burn that bad boy before it takes up!" Layla pointed with her hoof at the Skybreaker, several shots came out of the four heavy canons from the starboard side as they turned to the left, hitting it's main body and causing a big explosion as a projectile pierced trough the plating of a balloon, making the platform tilt to the side, hitting the tower.
All the ponies that were on the platform at the time fell down into the water as the Ascension passed besides.
A few more hits and the second balloon exploded, causing the zeppelin drop to the ground, crashing into the outer wall and causing a third, this time greater explosion as the debris fell into the water.
The canons continued their fire on the castle, towers, wall and gate as the earth ponies tried to find a way to take that gunship down.
Opening the ceiling of a tower, the Templar's revealed something that looked like one of the heavy canons of the Ascension, with the only difference that it was immovable.
One shot fired the canon, only hitting the armored front of the zeppelin and causing a concentrated attack by both front canons.
The tower collapsed after two hits. Layla smiled as she turned her head to Pinkie Pie.
"Now it's ya turn."
Varin knew that the execution was in progress. A steel door, two Templar's and a greater thick steel door uphold him to stop it.
First he thought about the possibility to face his father, trying to reinstate his rank and be a Templar-Commander, forgetting everything that happened but then he remind himself who he really was and decided to act.
"Hey Asshole!" both Templar's who stood there on the wall, talking with each other about some mare, looked at Varin by the cell door window. "You talking to us?" asked one of them.
"Are there any other idiot's who look like Asshole's around here?" Varin grinned.
Approaching the cell door, stretching his arms, the Templar's who answered took his sword on the table. The second behind him put a hoof on his shoulder. "Let it be or in the end we will have problems with Darlic. He is just desperate."
Varin raised his eyebrows "Oh, then excuse my statement and let me correct it. A asshole and a gutless wimp."
The stallion who held his friend released the grip, putting his sword off his back. "Maybe just a few."
Both soldier's put their weapon and armor on the table, both of them stretching their neck and arms.
"Hope you ready to see who is going to be the next gutless wimp when we are done with you."
Varin spat on the ground in front of the Templar's grinning again. "Ready doesn't even describe it."
Picking a sword and the key from the table, Varin looked back into the cell where both ponies laid unconscious on the floor. Bleeding from his muzzle, he closed the cell door. "Have fun you both."
Opening the steel door as he unlocked it, he trotted fast but steady trough the corridor. Punching the guards face into the wall, he reached the stairs and felt a vibration, following with the sound of a explosion.
"Alarm!" the Templar who spot Varin as he left the prison from under the castle, drew his sword, charging him.
Varin avoided the blade and crushed the Templar into the wall, giving him another hit on the head afterwards.
As more and more vibrations and explosion followed he finally heard "We are under attack!" from a galloping Templar that passed besides, completely ignoring him.
"VARIN!!" Drawing his sword, Cassadan approached him from behind, motioning both Templar's besides him to attack.
Avoiding both strikes, Varin punched with the blunt end of his sword into the left Templar's face, stunning him and using his body as a battering ram to press the other Templar against the wall and piercing with the sword trough both ponies.
Taking his sword out, Varin turned to the High Inquisitor and shrugged with an smile. "Happens."
"You traitor! I will--" Cassadan got interrupted by the ceiling that collapsed under the huge tremor, caused by another explosion.
Varin coughed dust and turned around, continuing his way out of the castle, realising what the cause was for this chaos as he left trough the main gate.
A giant zeppelin circled around the castle, firing with heavy artillery. Noticing the burning pyres, Varin's heart stopped for a second, rushing to the fire with the thought that he failed.
Exhaling in relieve, Varin saw nothing but the burning wood.
Somepony came first he thought, looking around and noticing trough the cloud of dust a group of ponies by the gate.
"Ah hope ya know what ya doin!"
Applejack opened the cage where Rainbow Dash was trapped, grabbing the sword from the guard that laid unconscious on the ground, she flew with great speed towards the fire that slowly grew greater and greater, slowly engulfing all three ponies that were trapped there.
Dashing trough the small fire, she freed Twilight, Rarity and Trixie by cutting everypony from the pyre, pushing everypony out of the fire before it burned them.
"No! In the name of the Lord Inquisitor, you will burn!" drawing his sword from his back, the Inquisitor who sentenced them, charged. Trixie reacted immediately as she felt the magic again after removing the ring from her horn, firing a deadly lightning bolt into the Inquisitor as he tried to pierce trough her.
Flying back, he hit the ground without any further reaction's. Twilight took her and Rarity's ring off as she laid by the traumatized pony on the ground.
"Twilight, it may be better to help us now!" yelled Trixie as she faced the group of ponies that surrounded them with swords.
As the first Templar charged, Dash pierced with an impact the sword trough the Templar's armored side, leaving it inside him, landing in front of her friends and picking the sword from the ground that dropped the Templar.
Trixie and Twilight used their talent to blow ponies away that came from the left and right side but unfortunately, something stormed into Twilight's side, making her fall to the ground.
Looking up she saw the Templar who was about to pierce her chest with the sword but something hit him so hard from behind that he fell over Twilight into the fire right besides them.
Applejack stood over Twilight, reaching her a hoof and lifting her up. Drawing her sword, she smiled to Twilight. "Ah'm here for ya."
"This is an outrage! Kill them all!" yelled Cassadan as he stepped from his balcony back inside the castle.
Their fight got interrupted by the sound of a loud Explosion.
Everypony looking to the source of the noise, they saw the Skybreaker tilting to the side, crashing into the tower as pieces fell out of it.
Nodding to each other, Dash and Applejack used this distraction to dash trough the group of ponies, making a opening in the enemy line in the direction of the main gate.
Twilight helped Rarity up and noticed this huge object coming around the tower, another zeppelin that opened it's fire.
Slowly making their way to the gate, the tower besides them collapsed because of two hits by this gunship that circled around the castle, causing a cloud of dust that surrounded them.
"Applejack, we need to open the gate!" Twilight turned around, seeing Applejack and Rainbow fighting. Trixie let go of Rarity, looking at the great heavy steel gate very carefully. "Well, we may have a chance if we work all three together."
Twilight came closer to Rarity, holding her head. "We need you now! Please Rarity, help us!"
"No... no... please, no fire, nonono." Mumbling, Rarity pushed Twilight's hooves with closed eyes away.
"She is useless! We can do it alon--" blasted away by a explosion, she landed besides Twilight. Groaning, Trixie looked at the hole trough the gate, seeing a single pony that stood in the hole.
"Come with me!" yelled that pink pony as the smoke cleared.
Looking at each other for a brief moment, Twilight and Trixie picked Rarity up, reaching Pinkie who set another rod on fire, throwing it behind her.
Leaving the castle, something exploded above them, releasing a green smoke into the air. Applejack, Dash and now Trixie kept fighting the Templar's back, following Pinkie Pie.
While supporting Rarity, Pinkie watched to the zeppelin that approached them from the side, continuing it's fire and destroying the gate completely, making more Templar's unable to follow.
The Ascension came closer, hitting and breaking some trees as it touched the ground, flying right to the left side, hovering slightly over the ground, pulling a landing stage out.
As the ship passed them, Applejack got under Rarity, picking her up on her back and jumping with Trixie the stage, turning around and reaching out their hoof for Pinkie Pie and Twilight.
Pulling Pinkie in, Twilight missed the hoof of Applejack and lost speed but was pushed onto the landing stage from behind by Rainbow Dash who flew besides her.
Everypony was on board and the zeppelin took off, leaving their followers behind on the ground and flying towards freedom.
Varin saw the scene from afar as he continued to grow the distance between him and the castle, disappearing in the woods.
Nodding with an smile, he watched the zeppelin between the tree's on the horizon.
"Stay safe you all."
“Those things... they just happen.”
Heavy steps echoed trough the devastated corridors of the castle. Sitting on the throne with cuts and bruises, the High Inquisitor supported his head with his left hoof, watching the opened door as the steps got closer and closer.
Cassadan jumped from his throne and saluted as five ponies entered the room, four stallions and a mare, four wearing the armor of a High Inquisitor but one with the armor of an Lord Inquisitor.
A grey stallion with grey mane and tail stopped, looking with his right normal and left blind eye out of the giant hole where once a window was. Léon Darlic turned his head back to Cassadan who kept standing there, quiet and nervous.
“It’s the greatest honor, my lord!” gulped the white stallion a he tried not to look into Darlic’s eyes, for he knew that it may caused a deadly cold shiver that could last for the entire day or even week.
“Where is my son?” with a cold and raw voice asked the Léon Darlic.
“We... they... he...” Cassadan gulped again. “My lord, he escaped.” saying that, he shut his eyes tight, biting his tongue.
There was no emotion on Darlic’s face but a question on his tongue: ”Who held the task to watch over him?”
“T-two recruits. We found them unconscious and trapped in the cell where Varin was kept. He probably freed himself.”
Darlic thought for a few seconds, looking out of the hole again and saw the Templar's in the courtyard that cleaned up the castle again, gathering the dead and putting on each body a sword as a sign of respect.
Putting his hoof from chest back to the ground because of losing balance, he looked into the deep cold eyes of the Lord Inquisitor as he stared at him, causing a great shiver on his back.
“Your task was to execute Twilight Sparkle and her followers. The castle was attacked by one of our own ships, the Ascension as the execution went and so they have been freed, also a Templar Commander helped them.”
Nodding, the High Inquisitor got nervous, even more as Darlic turned around to his followers.
Looking at the yellow earth pony with orange mane, tail and red eyes, the Lord Inquisitor spoke rather quiet “Espada, your order is to take that Pirate ship down and put an example on them, show them that we won't tolerate such menace. After then, you execute those who escaped including the traitor.”
The mare nodded and saluted as Darlic turned to the dark gray stallion besides her. With black mane, tail and a scar by his right green eyes, he looked right into Darlic's eyes.
“Lancia, your task is to find my son. Bring him back, no matter the cost.”
Vincento Lancia saluted. "Yes, my lord."
Watching as they left the room, Cassadan stepped forward, not sure about what to ask or say.
"M-my lord! What is my task to atone to my failure?"
Léon Darlic and the Inquisitors left without a single word, leaving the High Inquisitor in the destroyed throne room behind.
"Keep ya dirty hooves away!" Swinging her sword, Applejack defend herself from the ponies that kept surrounding her.
Trying his luck, a pegasus without tail charged her from behind but got greeted by the highest form of power, a Apple-bucker could give.
Falling off-board, the pegasus flapped his wings to get back on board, nearly getting soaked into one of the main rotors of the ship.
"Leave Applejack alone! She helped us, she is our friend!" Twilight's horn glowed as she stepped between Applejack and the entire crew of the Ascension, threatening the others.
Trixie and Rainbow Dash followed and stepped besides her, supporting their friend against the threat. Only Rarity laid on the wood floor of the platform behind Applejack, keeping herself in trauma as she squirmed, begging not to hurt her.
Layla came between her crew out, pointing with her hoof at Twilight. "Ya listen to me now very carefully, we saved ya and now we want to be sure that we won't regret it!" Coming closer, the crew drew their weapons, slowly forcing them towards the edge of the ship.
Trixie's horn began to sparkled as Dash took the short sword that lost the previous pegasus, standing next to Applejack who stepped in front of Twilight, nodding at her.
"Stooooooop!" Pinkie Pie jumped between her friends and Layla's crew, spreading her front legs as she stood on her back legs, motioning that the Pirate's shall not pass. Layla just raised an eyebrow, waving her hoof up to stop her crew from approaching. Pinkie turned around and faced her friends with a smile, coming closer to Applejack.
"Do what she want." Pinkie whispered, sometimes looking behind to be sure that they won't use this distraction.
"She want mah sword, Ah' won't give it to her!" Applejack stomped with her hoof on the wood, still with the sword in her muzzle.
Pinkie put a hoof on Applejack's shoulder."I know that she is a TINY little bit mean but--"
"Forget it, Ah' won give mah sword away!" Jack pushed the hoof away.
"But!--" "Ya can't expect me to give mah only defense agains these muggers away!"
"But if you don't want to give your sword, they will hurt you!" Pinkie Pie's looked with a sad gaze at the orange earth pony.
"They could try." said Dash with a grin.
Pinkie Pie put both hooves on Applejack shoulders, looking right into her green eyes. "Please, I did this to have you all save, don't waste it. If you want, give ME your sword, they trust me."
Applejack looked at the pink pony before her but then lowered her head to the ground.
"Alrigh sugarcube, just... Ah'm sorry." Applejack took the sword with sheath off her armored back, hoofing it to Pinkie Pie who added it to her collection of many, many things on her back, nodding with an smile at Applejack. Twilight stepped besides the orange and pink earthponies, whispering with a low voice. "Are you sure, we can trust them Pinkie?"
"Of course silly! I helped them to escape." Pinkie hopped.
"Escape?" Dash turned around with the dagger still in her mouth. "Escape from where, from what?"
Pinkie smiled and turned around to Layla who glared at her suspicious, approaching her with an smile. Pinkie stopped right in front of the pegasus mare "I keep the sword, she won't be a problem, we can trust them and they are useful."
Layla raised her eyebrows, forcing a smile. "Alright Pinkie, I trust ya at this point." Layla turned to Pinkie's friends, saluting with a grin. "Welcome on board the Ascension!"
"Pinkie!" Twilight came closer to the pink mare as Layla waved with her hoof, motioning everypony around to get back to duty. Turning as she heard her name called, Pinkie smiled at the concerned unicorn.
"Pinkie, could you tell us from where you know her exactly?" looking at the mare past Pinkie Pie, she watched as the pegasus disappeared inside the zeppelin.
"From prison! We were in the same cell." Pinkie smiled into Twilight's clueless face. "Why were you--"
"I tell you later silly!" with these words Pinkie Pie turned around, following Layla inside the Ascension, leaving Twilight, Rarity, Trixie, Rainbow Dash and Applejacke outside on the platform of the zeppelin behind.
Galloping trough the leafs that fell from the trees in the autumn, Varin kept looking for a solution to his current problem. Knowing that he had full filed or failed his purpose at some point, he had no true goal for now, but only keeping himself away from any Templar's or Inquisitor's.
Varin's hooves got weaker and weaker under him with each step, making him sometimes stumble. He didn't slept for days, causing illusion of being followed by Templar's or even worse.
As something crashed into his side, forcing him fall to the ground and hitting his head on a rock, Varin realised that it wasn't just an illusion. Slowly gaining his vision with a groan again, he spot this golden yellow mare over him.
Silver mane and tail with gold strips, she wore the armor of a Templar that was slightly damaged and recolored from red into blue. Holding a sword at Varin's throat, she stared with her fire red eyes into his ice blue. "Go on Templar, Scream for help!" said the mare with an slight eastern accent.
Returning his thoughts again, Varin frowned at the mare over him. "You are just a little rebell with a sword on my throat." Varin used this silence to make it more dramatic. "I suggest, you scream for help." ending these words, he pushed the mare aside and avoided the blade that nearly cut trough his throat. Drawing the sword from his back, standing up. The mare charged Varin immediately as she got on her hooves again, forcing to defend himself from the many fast and precise strikes.
Varin tried to find a loop in her defensive as she kept slashing into him, finally finding it as she made the mistake to step on a fallen tree.
Making his move towards the tree, Varin bucked and caused it to roll down the hill they fought on. The mare seeing that coming, balanced on the moving tree, jumping from it and trying to pierce her sword trough his neck as the piece of wood rolled down.
Varin defended the deadly strike with his sword but it still cut him near his throat slightly. Putting a hoof on the bleeding spot, he grinned. "I see you are serious."
The mare somehow upset because by this taunt, tried to jump with the sword on him again, only receiving a strong hit into her stomach.
Varin used the blind anger of her, turning around and bucking her into the guts, making her collapse to the ground in pain. Using the moment of distraction, he pressed the mare with his left front leg to the ground, cutting her from breathing. Trying to free herself from the pressure on her throat, tears came slowly out of her eyes.
"I will let you breath if you promise me, that you won't jump on me again. Are we clear?"
The mare just continued trying to free herself, now beginning to punch and buck him slightly into side and guts.
"I am not your enem- ghh!... promise me that you stop trying to kill me and
, I will let you breath." Varin stared into the eyes of her as she looked to the right, seeing her sword a bit afar from them. Trying to reach the sword with her hoof, she failed and continued to punch into Varin's side.
About to faint away, the mare looked right into his eyes, giving him a certain feeling and forcing himself to release the mare from his grip. Coughing, she inhaled deeply while holding her throat with one hoof, tearing out of her eyes even more while she was kept pressed to the ground by her shoulders.
"Are we going to play nice?" Varin raised his eyebrow as the mare looked at him.
"...sod yourself!" she said with a weak voice, spitting him in the face.
"Lovely." Wiping his face with a sigh, Varin stood up and picked both swords as the golden earth pony forced on her hooves again, still coughing and supporting herself on a tree.
"You should take that armor off... could make you breath better." Varin put the sword on his back, holding the sword from the mare in his muzzle.
"Screw you..." the mare coughed some more as she leaned on the tree.
"Listen..." Varin put the sword out of his muzzle on his shoulder, putting his right hoof on a small rock. "I am not your enemy." the mare laughed by this statement slightly. "You are a Templar. Enough reasons for me to be my enemy."
Varin sighed. "Who are you? What is your name."
"What do you care? You're going to have your fun, why still talking?"
"Because." Varin shrugged, turning the rock under his hoof around.
The mare looked at him, staring into his cold gaze as he glared at her. "Sevaria Zloteva."
Varin threw the sword right in front of her to the ground. "Nice to meet you too, Sevaria. I'm Varin."
"WHAT!?" Rarity gasped as she looked out of the hole in the wood, seeing the ground trough the clouds, she crawled under the blanket besides her and hugged an old pillow tight.
"Calm down Rarity, ya won't fall off! Ain't so bad, considering that we are on a pirate ship and Twilight speakin with Pinkie to the captain."
"Ain't-- ain't!? Wait... did you said we are on a PIRATE SHIP!?" Rarity's gaze formed into something shocked. "Woe is me?! Being kidnapped by Bandit's, Templar's and now Pirates in such a deadly height!"
"Calm down! If you fall again, I will save you like last time." Rainbow Dash stepped besides Applejack who just put a hoof on her face and shook.
"Calm down? Calm down!? I was imprisoned! I was assaulted and robbed and nearly burnt in some castle somewhere unknown! I nearly died and you dare, YOU DARE, to demand me to calm--" interrupted by a slap, Rarity and the rest looked at Trixie. "This MONUMENTAL whining disturbs my great and powerful meditation! It was a hard time for us all, YES, but its time to move on and face the future!"
"How... COULD YOU!?" Rarity touched her right cheek while she glared at the blue unicorn shocked.
"Listen Rarity, we are safe for now BUT if you don't stop that noise immediately then I will have to put you in one of those canons and fire you into the sun!" Trixie kicked with her hoof against the bed, turning around and getting on top of the bunk bed on the opposite side in this small room, laying down and facing the wall, covering herself with a blanket and closing her eyes. Applejack sat down on the bed below Trixie, looking at her armor besides on the floor, sighing.
"Rarity... Ah never thought things can turn out like this. Losing mah status, betraying mah friends."
"Friends?" Dash raised her eyebrow as she turned to Applejack. "You mean the hating sort that murders everything they don't like?"
"Dash, ya may think whatever ya want but they were still mah friends at some point. Not all Templar are monsters."
Trixie waved with her hoof, hitting the ceiling. "Of course not. The true monster are the Inquisitor's because you all had no choice! This entire Purge, you all were FORCED to kill innocent ponies!"
"Ah won't say what happened was right, but don't throw everypony into the same bucket!" Applejack punched into Trixie’s mattress from below, making her squeak and leaning her head out of the bed. "I just work with experience and yet so far, I can put every Templar into the same "bucket"."
"So ah'm a monster for ya?" Applejack raised her eyebrow as Trixie pulled her head back onto her pillow.
"For now, you are just annoying." said Trixie, closing her eyes again.
"Maybe you are annoying!" Rainbow Dash punched the side of the upper bed.
"Is it possible that you all STOP hitting me?!"
"Whatcha gonna do against it?" Dash grinned, keep pushing the side of the bed, making Trixie to raise herself with a sparkling horn that she pointed at Dash.
"Hoo there, sugarcube!" Applejack jumped up, stopping Rainbow's hoof and holding her right hoof in front of Trixie's horn.
"You should better restrain her or I will!" Trixie discharged her horn, putting her head on the pillow again.
"Restrain me!? I will show--" Rainbow Dash tried to climb the bed of the blue unicorn, unable as something pulled her tail. Turning around, she saw Applejack who kept the pegasus's tail in her muzzle.
"Jus leave her." Applejack released the tail, putting a hoof on Dash's shoulder and looking into her ruby red eyes with an smile. "Jus leave her."
Dash, rolled with her eyes, throwing her left front hoof up, "Fine!" turning to Rarity who fell asleep. Getting ontop of the bunk bed over the white mare. Dash looked at the ceiling rather annoyed.
Applejack looked around, first to Trixie, then to Rarity and Rainbow Dash, feeling that everything was peaceful for the moment, she laid down in the bed under Trixie, watching the thin mattress above her as it moved slightly by the breath's of Trixie.
"At leas we'ah safe, for the moment."
Layla filled a glass with a liquid out of a bottle that stood on the table, by the windows.
"Excuse me?" Twilight looked surprised at Layla, biting her lips as she watches the liquid poured into the glass, reminding her of something special.
"How much they pay for your head..." repeated Pinkie, whispering into Twilight's ear.
"I didn't had the opportunity to... ask." Twilight tried to force a smile at Layla who took a sip from her glass, trying to ignore the glass. Putting her glass onto the table, Layla looked back to the purple unicorn.
"Fair enough. Well, I did this favour because Pinkie did me a favour. Now that I did her the favour for saveing ya, YA should now do ME a favour for keeping ya."
"And what do you have in mind? I am not rich or anything." Twilight raised her eyebrows, turning to Pinkie who just shrugged.
"Oh but you ARE rich, I am sure we find something." Layla grinned, taking a second sip.
"I eh... don't get it, heh." Twilight forced a smile again.
"Oh, sure ya do. Pinkie told me about ya many, many attributes." Layla slowly approached Twilight with the glass.
"I still don't quite understand... I eh--" Twilight glared at the pegasus, taking a few steps back as the pegasus kept coming closer.
"Ya brain! Pinkie told me that ya are very, VERY intelligent." Layla finished her glass, pushing it in Twilight's hooves.
"I eh suppose, what do you need?" Twilight sighed in, trying to ignore the scent of alcohol in her hooves that made her throat feel dry.
Layla trotted over to a chest that was in the corner of the room, opening it, she took something in cloth wrapped out, putting it on the table and revealing a long flawless white dagger that end was sun shaped with a ruby in the centre.
"Now ya tell me everything ya know." Layla pointed at the dagger. Approaching the table, Twilight noticed the hard gold substance covering the end of the blade, looking like gold that was poured over it. Putting the glass besides the dagger, her hoof stopped right over the dagger, looking at Layla questioning. Twilight picked the dagger up as Layla motioned her with a hoof that she can touch it.
"Well, this is definitely a dagger." Twilight tried to scratch carefully the hard gold substance with her hoof off, that seemed to be molten with the blade itself.
"Oh you say?" Layla raised her eyebrows as she leaned over the table with her right arm, watching Twilight and Pinkie who also stood besides.
"Did you tried to--" "With everything," Twilight looked for a brief moment at Layla but then back to the dagger, keep scratching as Layla coninued. "We tried to melt it away and didn't even damaged that bloody thing. The unicorn we asked said that this is not simple gold and that this is NOT a simple dagger."
"What stands there?" Twilight focused on the dagger as she realised that there are some markings that are not completely covered by the gold substance.
"Ya tell me." Layla supported her head on the table with her arm.
"I... I can't read it, this... liquid is all over the dagger. I can only identify... "Sun". Where did you find it?" "Found it on board of a zeppelin we "visited"." Layla circled with her hoof over the table. Twilight stared at the dagger with full concentration as her horn began to glow, not affecting the dagger in any way.
"Why... I will need more tim--" Twilight was interrupted as Layla took a wood stool from the corner, putting it besides her and pointing at it .
"Ay, feel free to stay here."
"So, where are we going?" Varin kept a distance behind Sevaria, unsure if she still tries to find a way to kill him or not. After giving her sword back, she tried another attack but failed due exhaustion, forcing Varin to press her against the tree and give another reason to obey.
"See my father. He will decide if we let you live or not." Replied the golden mare.
"Oh, I hope he is a better fighter then." chuckled Varin.
"Shut up!" Sevaria threw a mad glace at him.
Less carved by dangerous monster, their way led them through the Everdale forest, towards south. It was a peaceful place under the ruins of Cloudsdale that still floated in a certain height above, slowly degenerating by the weather itself.
Varin sometimes noticed some parts of the factory, clouds that reminded of buildings, floating and covered by regular clouds. Rumors indicated that there was an attack ordered on the factory, an armada of airships were supposed to destroy the defensive and take over Cloudsdale. Unfortunately, as the zeppelin's approached the city, they found nothing but a destroyed and left ruin of the factory.
It wasn't clear if the pegasi evacuated and destroyed Cloudsdale to prevent the Lord Inquisitor of obtaining the technology to control wind and weather, or if there was an experimental catastrophe that destroyed the entire facility. Only the King seemed to know what happened there.
Varin stopped as he heard noise, closing his eyes he focused on his surroundings. Sevaria did noticed the abrupt stop and turned around to the grey stallion who opened his eyes again, looking to the left and the right.
"What are--" Varin interrupted Sevaria as he raised his hoof at her, staring right into her eyes. Then after a few minutes of silence he drew his sword. "I count seven."
As his words ended, something big crashed into Sevaria, pressing her against the tree again. Looking up, she saw the griffin with a swinging morning star in her talon, about to smash Sevaria's head with it.
If it weren't for Varin who charged into the griffin, piercing the sword trough the bird, then Sevaria wouldn't had the chance to draw her own sword and cut that pegasus throat wide open as he charged at Varin from behind.
Standing up, Varin pulled the sword out of the dead griffins body, looking around and noticing four griffins and two pegasi in dark grey armor with the black talon painted on the chest. "T.o.D. ..." stated Sevaria, stopping right next to Varin, both holding swords in their muzzle and watching their opponents.
One of the griffins with an long feather Mohawk on her head looked at her both dead comrades, rolling with her eyes, she drew an short axe from her back.
"Before I kill you both..." the female griffin stepped forward. "Where is that bitch Rainbow Dash? Gilda wants a talk with her."
Varin raised his eyebrows as did Sevaria. "And just who is Gilda?"
Throwing the axe with her talon, Varin dodged the spinning weapon that pierced the tree behind him. The griffin with the Mohawk pulled another but longer axe from her back.
" Ya’ve been bad, little brother.
Stealin, lie, left me to die?
Ya disappoint me, I think I taught ya these things."
"So this little thieve is your brother." Stated Rarity as she put a hoof besides her empty plate, looking past Trixie to Twilight who sat next to her left.
"Din is my little brother, aye." Nodded Layla, taking a sip from her glass with cider.
"This pathetic coward?" Rainbow Dash who sat next to Rarity and Applejack, raised an brow, looking disgusted.
"Still my brother, aye." Layla nodded again.
"Where is he?" Asked Twilight concerned, watching the facial expression of Layla as she answered.
"In a cage, deep inside this ship. He was a bad little brother and I have to teach him to not betray his own sister again. Since our parents never cared for us, I was usually the only one who took care over him, and sometimes I had to put him in a cage so he could think about what he has done."
"Serves him right." Nodded Trixie in agreement.
"I feel like I didn't ate for days!" Pinkie's smiled wide as she looked over the whole table, taking some of the salads, hay fries and sandwiches.
"Thank you Layla, it feels like we ate nothing but mushrooms the past days." With a relieved sigh, Twilight picked the bowl of salad, loading a average amount of green leaves on her plate.
"We actually ATE only mushrooms the past days, my dare." Like the “lady” she was, Rarity took only a few leaves, eating it with grace and elegance.
Rainbow Dash and Applejack took both bowls of hay fries instead, making Trixie exhale sharply as nothing was left from the fries. Watching the pegasus and the earth pony as they ate her secret favourite food, the blue unicorn took a sandwich as an alternative.
Layla had nothing on her plate, only a glass with her favourite substance in her hoof, watching all six mares she giggled slightly. Turning her head and looking behind her out of the window, she saw nothing but the dark night that was lightened by the clear moon in the skies.
Layla sighed, her deep blue eyes wandering to the revealed golden dagger that laid on a small table besides her, inhaling deeply as she was about to say something but being interrupted by a green earth pony that entered her room, carrying a bowl with apples on his flank as he approached the table, his narrowed red eyes wandering over each mare.
Layla smiled as she stood up, pointing with her hoof at the stallion with black and dark green, hair.
"Say "thank you" to the Inquisitor, our cook!"
"Next time, you can bring the bowl by yourself. I agreed to be a cook, not YOUR servant."
The older stallion with an scorched cutiemark and a scar around his throat placed the bowl with candied apples in the centre of the table, his eyes moving around the table, grunting slightly and leaving the room without a further word.
Layla sat down, keeping her smile as the older stallion left the room.
"He's such a charmer sometimes, even though I borrowed his ship."
Everyone by the table --except for Pinkie Pie-- looked up surprised, only Twilight asking.
"What do you mean?"
Layla giggled, looking to the glass closet by the wall where a sword inside laid.
"Aye, the Ascension was his ship until I, Pinkie and the rest of angry prisoners came to wish him a good day."
"Is he loyal?" Rainbow stared at Layla who just giggled even more by this question. "Aye, but not to me, he's still an Inquisitor." rolling her eyes, she looked to Dash. "He even insist to address him as such."
"Why keep him? If he is dangerous, execute him." interrupted Trixie, her eyes wandering from Layla's half filled glass to her face.
The aquamarine mare shrugged by this question.
"He is useful, he is even our only cook and his meals taste decent enough to keep him.
"She gathered a smile. "Aye, a Inquisitor as trophy is also worth to mention, don't ya think? Besides, ya can’t separate a captain from his ship, that would be jus cruel."
Twilight waved with her left hoof. "Wait, wait, wait! Maybe you and Pinkie tell us what finally happened back then."
Layla looked to Pinkie Pie who smiled back, both nodding in agreement to each other.
"I was once the captain of a small vessel, the Violetta, a fine frigate.
We've been hired to protect trading vessels from pirates, corsairs and other mercenaries who thought it would be a good idea to attack ships of the Equestrian Trading Fleet that made their way to the zebras in the south or griffins in the far north. We heard rumors that in Equestria things had changed, that the princess died and our government was taken over by two generals and the first advisor of Celestia. We hadn't heard much after that, only a few letters from the Trading Fleet that had more contracts for us, but one day... it stopped. No contracts, no letters, we were at the location where we usually waited for more but nothing came, not even a damn bottle mail. Since we hadn't enough supplies to wait more than a week, we decided to sail back, see if our home was still our home.”
“Tailtuga was a small port on the far end in the south of Equestria on a island, just a small town where all sailors were supposed to be once in their life. We approached the coast and saw the dark smoke over the town. As we came closer, we noticed the fire. Like the fool I was, I command to dock, see if anything bad happen and perhaps help those who still owned us money. As soon as we docked on, we had been boarded by a large group of soldiers that called them self "Templar's", their "Inquisitor" ordered a full inspection of the ship and capturing all enemies of the new reign. They took Scurvy, our ships doctor that was also a unicorn and killed him right in front of us, throwing him off board into the water, just like that. We tried to fight them off but had no chance since they were more than us, we gave up and were taken away. Our wings had been hurt but not chopped off so we were still useful for them, but couldn't fly away by that time. To be honest, I wouldn't left my crew behind, even if I could have fly away."
Layla filled her glass but then sighed, taking a huge swig from her bottle.
"We had more unicorns like Scurvy, I think they killed him only because he "resisted" by simply asking them why they are taking him away. Nightlight, a really kind and nice mare that was also our navigator and... my... " Layla coughed. "Lets say, we had much fun together."
Layla looked at her glass for a moment, taking another swig from her bottle and sighed.
"Damnit... as we were transported by this zeppelin --smaller then our Ascension here-- we docked on Canterlot or "The Citadel", and were put into its prison, each of us in a different cell. It wasn't a nice place, the guards were sometimes real asses but the worst were the Inquisitors. If a Inquisitor came, you could be about a hundred and one percent sure that somepony will either betray, obey or die. Those bastards knew exactly how to pull the feather till it hurt."
Layla adjusted on her chair.
"As a earthpony, ya had the choice between a life in misery or in the army. As pegasus: be a clouds keeper or a blank back. And as a unicorn... die willingly or with dignity."
Twilight raised a hoof, leaning a bit forward.
"Excuse me, you said something about blank back, what is that?"
Rainbow Dash took a large sip from her glass with alcohol before she looked over to the naive purple unicorn, across the table, inhaling. "A blank back is a pegasus without wings."
"Oh, but isn't that impossible?” Twilight tried to smile, nervous. “I mean, all pegasi are born with wings, the genetic mutation that prevent wings from growing is a rare disease, the only other option that pegasi have no wings is when somepony takes a knife and-... oh."
Twilight's smile changed to a shocked gesture of fear and disgust while looking to her plate that still had some leaves on it, looking like she was about to vomit.
Rainbow Dash shrugged, smiling sheepishly while Layla watched the purple unicorn's facial reaction with a bit amusement.
"Aye, if a pegasus lost his or her wings then you can imagine what trouble it causes. My first officer refused to do the weather and was the ass he used to be, so he got his wings cut off and died a week later by jumping off the citadels wall due insanity."
Layla took a third large swig from the bottle and drank it empty, throwing the bottle out of the opened window, she sighed, a single tear running down her cheek.
"Aye, days passed in that cell but that wasn't the worst."
The pegasus raised her head, looking to her guests.
"I found Nightlight... complete... empty in the hallway when they dragged me to the Inquisitor."
Layla stood up, turning to the windows so they couldn't see her face. After a minute, she inhaled, her voice shaking but she tried to be as serious as she could.
"They cut her horn off and it somehow fried her brain. She wasn't herself anymore, she just was a... shell. She looked into my eyes but didn't recognized me, she wasn't there anymore... I spoke with her body but not with... HER."
Layla turned around, cleaning her throat while tears streamed down her face.
"There I realised how extreme and delicate in the same time the situation was, I had to save everything before it was to late, so I planed an outbreak from the most secured place in this world. It was suicide but aye, I am here as ya can see."
Layla shrugged, taking her seat again and leaning with her front legs on the table towards Twilight and her friends.
"I had to managed to contact my crew trough the walls, screaming was no option, first: they got only the half of what you wanted and second: it caused attraction by the guards. I had to invent a more secure system of "speaking" and aye... I got the fine idea to rip one of my feathers out and press it trough the wall, and aye, it worked."
Layla widened her right wing, looking at it as the other ponies noticed that some feathers were still missing or growing.
"We used a simple point code that was common by most sailors. Instead with light, we ripped small openings around the entire feather like a text message and pressed them with the end trough a hole, hoping that the message does not get damaged by the hard stone. It were messages like, "Who died", "Who betrayed us", "What important things happened around" and "I need more feathers from ya pretty wings"."
Layla giggled, wiping the tears from her face with her wing as she turned her face to it.
"Besides of me, there were many other pegasi, but only my crew and I knew the point system. It was hard to get the feathers to those who had to get'em, we weren't all neighbors and the Inquisitors got more and more suspicious each day, when they found feathers by non-pegasi."
Laughing, she closed her eyes.
"They even found over twenty of my own feathers by my neighbor, our cook, Schnitzel was one of the earth ponies that had overall access trough the prison as a food servant, he was the best option to get messages to ponies you wanted to "talk" to. When they found our little secret out..."
Layla stopped for a second, looking at the empty bottle but then shaking the thought off to get a new one, wiping her both hooves on the table together.
"They executed him, ripped all our feathers out and put us in other different cells, far apart from each other."
Shaking her head, she stood up to get a bottle from under her bed.
"It was a disaster, but also necessary for our freedom."
Turning around, her gaze wandered over the listening ponies, taking a large swig from her new bottle and then pointing with it at the pink pony, a smile spreading around her own face.
"I met Pinkie over there."
"No wings, no contact with my crew, no sign of hope, I thought it was over for me. I had weeks before my feathers would grow again and so I was useless for the Templar's and their bloody Lord Inquisitor. I was unable to even float a bit in the cell to keep my head clear, that why I tried to sleep trough the most days. Because of the bloody sun that shined trough the window all day, I couldn't close my damn eyes... heh, I saw the clouds but couldn't reach them... I slowly began to lose sanity in there and even considered to give everything up and be their bloody slave, only to fly again. If it weren't for Pinkie Pie, I would have, along with all the other pegasi. "
Layla sat down next to Pinkie, stroking trough her pink mane and then placing her both hooves on the table again.
"It was in the middle of the night when I heard these weak bumps in the wall. I listened to it for an hour or so as it kept sounding trough the thick stone and then I realised, that these were the point code I and my crew used.
My hope went up that maybe one of my crew was on the other side of the wall, still alive, so I kept listening but understood only--" "Hi my name is Pinkie Pie!"
Interrupted the pink earth pony with an wide smile, making the aquamarine pegasus besides her smile a little.
"Aye, she bumped over an hour her name, so I decided to do the same, I bucked the message trough the wall and hoped that she would hear it since I wasn't at my best at that moment, I was really glad that we spoke trough a more pleasant way than rippin singles feathers out of a wing but I also slapped myself for not knowing earlier, perhaps all this wouldn't have happened if there was no prove besides of hoof marks in the stone, perhaps most of my crew would still live."
Layla filled her glass with the bottle again, taking a small sip as her smile widened over her face.
"Since then, we began to talk, even that she talked or bucked the entire time, it was nice to... hear it, she prevented me from hitting my head against that wall."
Pinkie leaned forward, her eyes wandering up as she reminded herself about that, inhaling deeply:
"Well, I talked about lots of different things, about the weather, the food, the walls, the bed, the-" Layla placed a hoof on Pinkie's muzzle with an nervous giggle, blushing a bit. "Let's jus say, that we talkd about many things."
As Layla took her hoof of Pinkie's face, she just winked with an smile, making Layla blush a bit more.
"W-what exactly were you--" "Unimportant!" Layla interrupted Rarity, waving her hoof dismissively at the frowning unicorn, shaking her head and continuing.
"One day I asked her if we want to try an outbreak, she just said: "Sure!" and so we started planin. First I wanted to find my crew but looking for ponies that were probably dead or on the other side of the citadel was stupid, so Pinkie got the idea to speak with all the around us, starting to buck as best as we could. I don't know how, but in less than five days, I had more followers than before. My other neighbor, was Sirius, a unicorn that still had a horn on his forehead. He told me that the ring around his horn was the only thing that kept him from tearin this place apart since he was some kind of warlock, practicin illegal magic for, Luna knows how long. He even told me that the Templar's only kept him, because he promised them to tell how to break trough the barriers of Evernight. Sirius also told- I mean clopped me that his number was about to come up and that the break out should start soon, since he really didn't knew how to destroy the barrier."
Layla took a sip, exhaling.
"Aye, I told Pinkie that soon it was time to get out and she... started the entire thing tomorrow morning. I was woken up by some heavy explosion, I first thought it was outside but as the second explosion sounded, I knew it was in Pinkie Pies cell."
Layla looked to Pinkie as she circled with her hoof around her glass with cider.
"I'm not bloody sure how, but she really opened all the cells, first hers, then Sirius's, then every other else. I noticed that some of the Templar's helped us, some of them are still on this ship."
Layla shook her head.
“I still don't know how you did that, converting them." Layla stared at Pinkie who just shrugged with an adorable smile. Cleaning her throat after emptying her glass, the pirate mare looked over to the others around the table.
"As my door got blown up, I saw her, this pink naive pony, being innocent and all but starting a bloody outbreak. Besides her was this silver unicorn, I knew it was Sirius when he nodded to me with his grey, almost dead eyes. It makes me still shiver when I remind of it, how he looked at me, his smile.”
Layla shook her head off this thought.
“I left my cell and noticed all the “chaos”, it wasn't a total massacre like in any usual prison break out, we jus simply opened all cells, grabbed weapons along from the dead guards and followed these "friendly Templar's" outside. Everything that came into our way, we overran, and the line of Templar`s at the main gate? We knew that chargin them would cause death to the most of us, and so knew Sirius, he just stepped forward, sayin "Allow me".
Layla took a another sip from her glass.
"I am not entirely sure what he did but all the Templar's started to fight against each other, jus like that they turned around and slashed their swords against each other. When they finished, only one Templar remained, fallin on his knees, poured with the blood of his own comrades and slittin his bloody throat in front of us. I had this hard feelin in my stomach as this unicorn turned around, smilin at us like nothing unusual happened."
Layla was about to pour more into her glass but then just shrugged, making it faster and taking a large swig from the bottle again.
"Whoa... my head." Rubbing her head with a hoof, she inhaled.
"We saw this precious big ship... I love big ships, hehee, aye, we came on board, greeted the Captain and told him our intentions. He wasn't happy for about a week, but without water, food and in a cage, he reconsidered his position. All the rest that didn't wanted us and whined, we threw off board and then settin the course.”
“Somepony inside the ship got the great idea to thank the Lord Inquisitor by firin our main batteries at the citadel, placin new windows while we tried to avoid their guns by flying higher, hehee."
Scratching her head, the pirate mare stood up, looking out of the window again with a sigh.
"I lost nearly everypony from my crew, some of them are still here: Pistol, Hook, Cutlass, Aseet,... Nightlight..."
A single tear run down her face again.
"We lost our friends and we will never forget them."
Turning around, she wiped the tear off, rolling her eyes.
"Aye... we made our way to the north, lettin Pinkie, Sirius and some of the other out and continued our way to Thundersky, meetin the King.
After that we--" "Wait, you met King Lighting?!"
Rainbow raised her head, spilling some of the fluid out of her mouth.
Layla nodded, giggling.
"Such a handsome old stallion. Some of us were still pegasi and in the end some of us stayed in Thundersky, others like unicorns and earthponies had to stay on our ship since they feared spies, but it was not that bad, we got a contract and work for the King as some kind of spies. Easy since we are only a large red vessel in the skies that looks like any other battleship of "The Equestrian Army".
Coughing, she sat down by her bed, looking up, a bit dizzied.
"We set a course to Thundersky if ya want to know. If nothin happens, we will reach the King by tomorrow mornin. He'd be happy to know that-... why the bloody hell did I this again Pinkie?"
The mare on the bed stared at Pinkie who leaned forward, whispering.
"To stop the war and because you are kind."
Layla raised her head with an "Ooh.", falling on her back and mumbling something before she fell asleep.
"Attack!! We are under attack!"
"Bloody hell!" Layla fell off her bed, looking around and noticing the white mare by the door step.
"Bloody who!?" Layla stood up, stretching herself but then grabbing her head and feeling the familiar pain deep inside.
The white earthpony pointed with her hoof past Layla, out of the window to the red light that disappeared right after Layla turned her head, only to see a quick flash of light in the distance.
Falling to the floor from the concussive impact right below her window, Layla raised her head to the white mare.
Falling from her bed by this impact, Twilight woke up after she hit the hard wood floor, the dagger that was on her lap by that time, piercing the wood floor right in front of her muzzle.
She studied it all night, looking for an answer till she fell asleep, along with her friends that had nothing much to do after that interesting dinner with Layla.
Watching as Applejack and Trixie ran out of the small room, a blue hoof reached Twilight's side. "Need help?"
Being pulled up by Rainbow Dash, Twilight picked the dagger out of the floor, rolling it back into the cloth and putting it in her robe she got from Rarity, who snipped it out of something that Pinkie found around the Ascension.
"What happened? Is somepony hurt?" Twilight looked around the chaos in the room, only she and Dash remained, the blue pegasus waving with her hoof on the floor while looking at the purple unicorn with guilt in her face. Yelling can be heard in the corridors as the crew of the Ascension got ready for combat.
"Twilight... " Dash sighed. "I have to tell you something before we reach the pegasi... it is very important that-" "Not now!" Interrupted Twilight while rushing out of the room.
"We have to find out what happened!"
Rainbow Dash still stood there, looking at the small hole in the wood floor that was made by the dagger, after a while nodding to herself.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you think is right, Twilight."
"Load the batteries! On my commando, hard portside! Layla circled around in the bridge of the zeppelin that was on the front of the airship, turning her head and looking out of the rear windows to see the Ascension and the other ships behind them, realising what was about to happen.
"They surround us! Forget what I said, load all guns and hit them with everything we've got!"
"What in darnation is goin on!?"
Applejack got on the bridge along with Trixie who watched the -from red flares-- lightened airship that slowly surrounded them from all sides behind them, noticing the larger battleship right behind them that kept firing, causing short lighting flashes.
Applejack got only the attention she wanted as she stopped Layla by holding her shoulders. "Tell me, what's goin on?!"
Layla freed herself from the grip by pushing both hooves away, turning around and pointing with her own hoof at the giant gunship far behind them that was lightened by the next red flares that was shoot up regularly into their direction.
"THAT’S what's goin on, sweetheart! They sent a bloody dreadnought after us with about ten destroyers! They follow us since we passed over Hoofington!"
"Can't you just, I don't know, fly faster?" Dash approached them with Twilight by her side who breathed heavily from the run across the ship." What is happening?" Asked the purple unicorn panting.
"We can't jus fly bloody faster! When we saved ya pretty flanks, two of our rotors got hit, we fly only half as fast as them!"
"Fire back! This is a battleship, it is meant for battle!" Trixie took a step towards the Pirate mare, stomping her hoof to underline her statement.
Layla took a step towards Trixie, standing right in front of her.
"If you didn't noticed sweetie, they keep bloody surrounding us and we're outnumbered! We don't even got enough ammunition to destroy all of-" A explosion interrupted Layla as one of the projectiles hit the Ascension in its bridge.
Layla and the others falling to the ground as the ceiling of the bridge was being torn away, she watched as the blue unicorn right in front of her got blown off the bridge.
Standing up, Layla and Dash stormed to the edge of the bridge, jumping down after Trixie.
With a scream, she watched as her distance grew from the ship itself, turning her head and seeing some of the other ships that kept firing from all batteries while she fell.
Trixie’s screaming stopped as she saw the pitch black ground above her head, it was a long way down while she circled in the air, making her rethink over her life again, like she already did twice.
The first time when this grey stallion named Varin held a sword on her throat, and the second time when she was bound by the pyre in that castle, just a few hours ago.
"I just wanted to be a star! I only wanted to-" Trixie's thoughts got interrupted by a grip that brought her back to reality.
Looking to the left and right, she noticed a aquamarine and blue pegasus, that grasp her by the shoulders. Layla, pulling Trixie up on Dash's back, nodded to her, both flying up towards the Ascension again that burned on some decks, flying closer as another explosion near by one of the rotors appeared, lightening the night up.
Trixie just closed her eyes, not believing that she was just saved the fourth time.
Landing on the destroyed bridge, Dash pulled Trixie off her back, following Layla as she ensured Trixie's safety.
"Can't we just evacuate the ship?" Questioned Twilight as she turned her look from the Ascensions deck the captain that looked past her, at the dreadnought far behind them, breathing slightly heavy.
"No, not if ya don't want to burn again."
"What are we going to do then?!" Dash glared at Layla who seemed to think about something, switching her look between Twilight, Dash and the giant ship behind them that kept flashing up along with the other zeppelins, the sound of passing projectiles sometimes heard.
Applejack that had helped some of the crew on the ship with the fire that was caused by some of the projectiles, approached them with a few scars and her tail a bit burned.
"Either we give up, or fall down. Both ways, we die." She breathed heavy.
Layla raised her head by this statement, looking to the orange earth pony. "Fallin? That's bloody brilliant!"
"Ah wasn't jokin!" Applejack frowned.
"Me neither!" Layla trotted to the front of the destroyed bridge, on the edge, she looked down, seeing into the blackness and noticing some flashing lights inside the thick clouds, making a smile spread over her entire face, whispering to herself. "A storm."
Turning around, she pointed at the mares right in front of her.
"Go down to the guns and tell Stahlkopf to pull our bad boys back inside, we're goin to dive in thunders!"
"We got fire on board, fast, before it reaches ze ammunition!" A dark grey stallion with black and brown long hair ran trough the battery control station, a long and large hallway in the stomach of the ship where all eight batteries were on both sides and front, attached to movable platforms, five of them still used by the crew that fired into the night sky, trying to hit the ships that took the Ascension into a crossfire from three sides.
"I heard you are in the need of help my friend, we can provide this help!" Rarity waved with her mane up while Pinkie Pie next to her bounced a bit. The earthpony turned around, raising a brow and then frowning.
"Kill ze fire or ze fire kills us!" The Stahlkopf pointed with his hoof at the fire that slowly engulfed one of the last batteries in the far end in the hall, on the left side.
"If it reaches all ze ammunition, boom. And if its ignite ze balloon, bigger boom!"
"Can't we just fire back?" Pinkie tiled her head.
"We can't! ze idiots that constructed this piece of hay never thought that a Equestrian Swordhead class need long range weapons on its rear! They never thought it has to "flee" or "fight against other airships". It's all about, "Charge! Ask later."!" Stahlkopf trotted the stairs down from the control station to the batteries in the hall, followed by Pinkie Pie who nodded to each sentence, while Rarity dashed down the stairs past them, to the far end of the corridor where the fire burned.
"Even if we go on suicidal and turn around, our eight 107 mm and sixteen 15 mm are no match against the Hammerstorm dreadnought with its four 156 mm sentry double barrel batteries, ten 107 mm --like ours-- and twenty four 15 mm flaks on its all sides. They hit our side and we vaporize in ze air!" The stallion approached one of the batteries, Pinkie still following him.
"I told her, I told this mare that we should look for an alternative if we plan any heavy contact with ze Templar's but nooo! "The Ascension is ze best and fasted ship!" Our contact with this castle cost two of our rotors we--..." A loud noise that came from the canon right next to them interrupted the engineer, looking past the batteries outside, he watched as one of the airships to their far left got hit into its side and popping in a giant explosion that lightened the night and some clouds up.
"Wunderbar... at least we are still able to hurt them but unable to escape from ze slowest airship in the Equestrian Fleet."
Galloping over to the last canon, Rarity tried to find a way to not panic over the fact: that she was in a burning airship, above the clouds in a deadly height, surrounded by explosives and being followed by Templar's that tried to kill her.
Approaching the fire slowly that started to engulf the crates with ammunition in the far back of the ship, the white unicorns horn began to glow, using her magic to control the air around the fire and suffocating it easily. Humming with an smile, Rarity turned her head back to Pinkie Pie, who still talked with the engineer that helped a weapon crew with reloading their battery.
"Pinkie Pie, darling! I presume you are done talking?"
Hearing Rarity, Pinkie smiled, bouncing over to Rarity, not to help her with the rest of the fire that still burned far in the back of the ship, but to get onto the large canon and loading its barrel with a projectile from a --nearly burned--- opened crate.
"Pinkie, I don't think it is wise to-" a loud noise interrupted Rarity, making to press her both front hooves on her eyes while she heard nothing but white noise for a period time.
Giggling, Pinkie loaded the next round into the canon and kept changing her seat between: loading the battery, moving the canon with cranks and then looking trough the scope, only to pull the trigger that caused the barrel to pull back as it fired.
Entering the the small room with a window, right under the bridge: Twilight, Trixie and Applejack saw that colt down in the hall, circling around and cursing in his own language while Rarity held her ears because of Pinkie Pie, that kept firing a entire battery whole on her own, even hitting a Swordhead and disabling one of its side batteries, only to see the ammunition igniting up and the entire back blowing up in a giant explosion, causing Pinkie to giggle.
Approaching from the side, Applejack stopped Stahlkopf with a tip on his back.
"We have to pull the guns inside." Stated Applejack, looking around. The stallion needed a few seconds to realised what this mare wanted from him, his eyes widening as his gesture changed.
"Sure!" he throw his both front hooves up. "Why don't we just stop and wait them to board us!?" Applejack took a step back, raising a brow and looking back to her friends that were also a bit surprised.
"Why don't we all go on deck, pull our flanks up and share while they board us!? After they finished, we turn around and say "Thank you!" Stahlkopf took a step closer, staring directly with his light blue eyes into Applejack's green eyes, exhaling sharply right directly into Applejack's face, making her smell the gunpowder in his breath.
"I will NOT surrender." He stated slowly, his voice cold. "If I have a giant gun, I will shoot. If I have a knife, I will cut. If I have only my teeth, then I will bite. They should remember the day when I am going down, I will take at least the half of them with me."
"Listen you psychopathic moron!" Trixie took a step forward, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. Before Trixie could say anything, Twilight stepped next to Trixie. "We need to pull those weapons back because we are about to descend into the clouds. Layla said there is a storm, and we have to take any advantage we can."
Stahlkopf's gaze changed form anger to something amused, laughing. "Did she said that?!"
Twilight looked to Trixie who just sighed, shrugging back to Twilight.
"Ah know how this sound, but if there is any change--" "What, to get roasted?" Stahlkopf interrupted Applejack, turning to the side and looking to the battery that kept firing.
"This ship does not have any isolation, it is not constructed for travel trough storms. If we get hit by a thunder, it will not only go trough the steel frame, it will also kill the entire crew that stands on that frame and will also fry our rotor system and set the entire ammunition in our back off!" Stahlkopf looked to the side. "I liked my idea better. At least won't burn and die a horrible death... well, it will certainly burn somewhere else." He chuckled while Rarity who listened to the conversation approached them from behind.
"So we die? This is it?! The end of our friendship and of Rarity Belle? Woe is me--" Pinkie's hoof met Rarity's muzzle to prevent her form whining, looking serious over to Stahlkopf.
"And if we put the ammunition into safety, deactivate the rotors and tell everypony to stay away from any electrically conductive materials?" Everypony a bit surprised by this seriousness, Stahlkopf reacted with an sigh.
"And just what do you suggest how we move over ten tons of ammunition in just such a short time period?"
Pinkie's smiles widened over her entire face, letting go off Rarity's muzzle to tap on the tip of her horn.
Stahlkopf pondered for a second, rolling his eyes and turning around to the stairs. "Fine! If your tail burns, its your business. I'll go to Layla and tell her that I resign."
Reaching the stairs, her looked back to the crew that still used the batteries, yelling.
"Pull ze batteries back in!"
"You are completely out of your mind Layla, you are crazy!"
"Oh, thank you for such charming comment, you are flattering me~"
Layla looked down on the right side of the bridge, seeing the lightning in the clouds and nearly falling down as a vibration went trough the ship again, a explosion appearing on deck.
Turning around, Layla saw as her crew slowly extinguishing the fire, shaking her head and yelling to the ponies that were still on the roofless bridge.
"We have no choice, we're going down now or we fall anyway."
Looking to Stahlkopf with an grin, she trotted around him, stopping to whisper into his ear.
"If ya don't like it, ya can leave the ship whenever ya want."
Flicking with her tail seductive, she hit his side, going back to the forth and watching as the ship began to descend, startle all the ponies on the Ascension.
Twilight breathed heavy, getting onto the bridge. "We... managed... to pull the batteries back inside and save all the ammunition and..."
Twilight gulps, looking behind.
"The others are warning the crew. We also took your brother out of his cage and now we can--"
Interrupted by the lighting that shoot right in front of the Ascension down, she gulped once more, slowly taking steps back.
Layla did not turn back, she just watched her airship going trough the thick clouds, being surrounded by lightnings that didn’t hit the Ascension yet.
The other zeppelin's behind them stopped to follow, now circling over the place where the Ascension disappeared, firing blind down into the clouds
Layla grinned. "Aye."
"A time will come, where pony judge the race.
Violence and cruelty will take lead in this conflict.
Prepare, for the true test is yet to come."
-Red Woodcutter 820 - 913
The pain in his head returned. Caused by a rock, it stabbed through his brain like a hot needle. Painful, as his eyes narrowed, still monitoring each movement of the mercenaries that kept surrounding them.
Four griffins and two pegasi watched, carefully coming closer towards both earth ponies, who stood back on back, waiting for the initial move from their enemy. Sevaria took a step towards them, breaking the silence. "I don't understand! We payed you enough, to work for us!"
Gilda chuckled, staring at the grey stallion, pointing to him and giving Sevaria a brief look.
"Your -father- payed us, and only enough for one lousy job. This idiot over there, he caused much trouble for one of our most "loyal" employer. He payed way enough to get rid of him, including all his lame friends."
"This is treason! When my father--"
Gilda drove with one claw over the sharp end of her axe, making a noise that interruped Sevaria, taking a much longer stare at her and motioning the other mercenaries to get ready. Everyone took a step closer with their weapons in their talons and muzzle, ready for the initial charge.
"This is life, sweety."
Charging with her axe, Gilda managed to trow Sevaria against the large tree behind her, forcing a groan out of her throat as she hit the wood with her armored back. Watching the scene, Varin charged the mercenary leader immediately from the side before the griffin could land another hit on the valuable rebel, that tried to stand up with the heavy armor she wore. Using the time of being protected, Sevaria took her sword, standing up besides Varin, again, back on back.
"We are in deep shit." Sevaria stated, breathing heavy.
"Yes, I hear that quite often lately." Shrugging , Varin turned to one of the griffins that took off, floating in air and about to attack. Sevaria, who had both pegasi on focused, took a step towards them, both taking a step back.
With rage in his voice, the male griffin stormed with his spear down, towards Varin who stood there on the spot, waiting for the griffin to come closer.
Only a few inches before the spear pierced him, Varin dodged to the side, the sword in his gob as he felt the end of his wing stroking over his head. Reacting immediately, Varin turned his head up, forcing the sword to be on one level with the wing bone as it went through the sharp blade.
A slicing noise and blood spill later, blood met Varin's muzzle. The griffin crashed in to the ground as his wing was cut off his body, making him flap with his other wings and causing him to scream from the pain. Picking the chopped off wing, the traumatized griffin tried to reattach the wing, to the bone again, failing to do so.
Sevaria did not turn her head to the noise and screaming behind her, since she was concentrating on both pegasi that tried to cut and pierce her with their swords. Dodging the pegasi and his floating friend was not easy.
Using this deficiency, Sevaria used a fallen tree, right next to them, jumping from it directly at the floating pegasus, burying her sword deep into his back, making the tip of the cold steel blade pierce out of his chest. With a gurgling noise, the pegasus fell to the ground, the other pegasus stopping to charge as he saw his friend dying.
Sevaria looked up to the other pegasus that was shocked from this occasional death of his friend --or brother?--. Great rage in his eyes, the pegasus stormed blind with his sword towards the mare, tears running down his face as he released a scream that was interrupted with a gasp as a sword dig deep into his valuable side, his eyes widened as he stared at the golden mare that turned the blade inside him, his vision blurring before he fell into the deep dark abyss.
"Amateurs... why do we even bother to pay them?" Gilda sighed, pointing both male griffins next to her to get ready. Both griffins, that seemed older and more experienced, wore armors that happen to be from a higher rank in the mercenary group. Flying up to the treetops, they disappeared from the vision of Varin and Sevaria, leaving both ponies in the forest clueless behind.
Silence spread, only the sobbing of the young griffin that laid on the ground with his the wing in his talon broke trough this silence. Sevaria looked to the Varin, who closed his eyes as he listened to his surroundings. His eyes widening, he stormed to Sevaria, causing her to fall over to the ground as he jumped onto her. Not a second later, one of the male griffins stormed past them, the morning star in his talon as he did not hit the pony but a small tree that split from this tremendous power by this heavy steel ball.
Helping the mare on her hooves again, Varin turned around, the sword being held in his mouth again, as he tried to hear from where the next charge could happen.
Moments later, Varin pushed Sevaria behind a tree as Gilda stormed trough the forest, her morning star missing Varin as he dodges to the ground, but hitting with the spiked steel ball a sobbing young griffin's head, that tried to stand up again, causing his entire beak to break and pierce trough his own head, causing a fast and eventually painless death.
Nodding to each other, the grey stallion and golden mare tried to find a way out of this situation, both looking trough the forest and seeing small opening on the far end.
"You think this is the best idea?" Sevaria sighed, looking back to both dead pegasis and then to the griffin.
"No." With that, Varin stormed from his tree towards the opening, Sevaria following him with a bad feeling inside her.
Making their way trough, both heard flapping wings and then the bashing sound of metal hitting wood right behind them, all three griffins trying to hit them with their morning stars as the came from the sides.
Finally reaching the opening, the charging stopped, Varin stopping in the centre and turning around, looking up and spotting a griffin that circled around the forest from above.
Realising that both ponies were not in the forest anymore, Gilda yelled to her both followers and pointing with her talon to them while she put her morning star back on her back, drawing her axe again.
Standing in the grass, Varin and Sevaria watched all three griffins as they began to surround them from above, floating in a triangle position.
"Any ideas, former Templar?" Sevaria raised a brow.
"Heh, maybe." Varin chuckled, holding the sword tighter in his gob.
Ready to charge, Gilda raised her axe to both followers to give them a sign to attack but her eyes wandering from both small ponies on the ground, to a floating shape, right behind one of the flying griffins.
The sound of a shot can be heard as one of the griffins got pierced and torn apart in air, not even able to to make a noise as the black smoke engulfed him.
Watching the badly mangled body of the dead griffin hitting the ground, Varin turned his head and saw trough between the trees airship, getting closer over the opening.
Gilda wanted to sign the other griffin to retreat, but it was too late. A few more shots from the floating airship and the other mercenaries left wing got torn apart from his body, a black smoke engulfing him as well. Gilda let herself fall to the ground, flying right into the forest as one of the main batteries on the front of the airship fired, causing a few trees to break and setting some of them aflame.
"We have to go!" Being pushed to the ground by this blow, Varin put the sword back into it’s sheath, standing up and galloping besides Sevarai back to the trees.
Reaching the woods, Varin turned around and saw the injured griffin mercenary in the grass crawling to the other side, trying to stand up but being blown away by a explosion that was caused by an second projectile from the airship as it floated right over both ponies.
Releasing her ears after this loud noise, Sevaria looked to Varin who kept watching the red airship and its shadow as it passed the opening, floating above the forest towards north, being followed by nine more shadows.
Whitetail, named by the white lilies that covered the ground, was sometimes "Flower Woods" or "Snowfield" called. The locals often told a legend, in where the forest was a part of the Everfree Forest. Corrupted through the evil, separated this forest, the settlements from the rest of Equestria.
Fear and terror ruled, as these unknown powers of Everfree affected Hoofington, Fillydelphia and Stableside.
According to the legend, princess Celestia herself decided, to cut a path through the forest for the ponies in the south and free them from the horror, that cost many lives. Creating a river, that flows still today between the Everfree and Whitetail forest, Celestia used her purging powers to shatter the bounds and separate the woods.
Her heart heavy because of all the casualties the forest caused, the princess fell into a deep mourning, that lasted over the next few years.
Rumors indicate, that where the tears of Celestia fell, lilies sprouted up from the ground, a reminding to all those who left their lifes in the Forest of Whitetail, on the borders of Everdale and Everfree.
Under the shadows of the trees, two ponies galloped towards south while the wind waved through the brown and golden leaves as hours and a hundred miles passed.
"Why am I following you again? I know that you want me to meet your father, but I doubt that we are THIS far in out relationship." Varin chuckled as he galloped besides Miss Zloteva, losing himself in her silver mane as it waved trough this gallop.
"I'm sure, I'm not this important."Added Varin after jumping over a fallen tree, turning his head straight ahead again.
"Shut it! We still need each other." Sevaria did not look to the grey stallion next to here, she kept her eyes focused on the small opening in the forest.
Hiding behind a rock, both peered over, watching the small army moving out of the city's main gate, through the camp which surrounded the city's wall, being protected by a high wood palisade.
Hoofington was one of the most stable cities that went full under control by the Inquisition on the first day. Inhabited mostly by earthponies even before the conflict, it was also one of the first cities that got targeted by the purge.
Today, Hoofington was a Templar town. Surrounded by a great wall, defensive towers and airships, it appeared to be an important strategic point in this conflict. While the unicorns massed their attacks from the west, tore the pegasi some of the local positions of the Templar's from the north. It was not a safe place to raise a family, but it was surely less safe to attack this city on day or night.
"We have to get inside somehow, they probably know that there is a cell in Hoofington after what happened to me. We have to find a way past these damn Templar's! I need to get the message trough." Sevaria gritted her teeth's, trying to sound as serious as possible.
"Wait, wait, wait. You said, that we meet your father! Delivering messages into a Templar's city was never our deal." Varin placed a hoof on her shoulder, forcing her to turn to him.
"Then I extend our deal! All you have to know is that we have to meet the Rebels in that city before I return home."
Varin motioned with his hoof and shrugged, looking towards the palisade again.
"Then go ahead, I'll follow you... tomorrow probably. I am not a Rebel anyway."
Sevaria lowered her head, looking over to the stallion.
"There is a secret way trough sewerage, we just have to reach the walls and a contact should await us."
Sevaria placed a hoof on his shoulder, making him blink surprised as he turned his head to her. "I need you for this. If you are not a Templar, than you ARE a Rebel, and as a Rebel, it is your duty to help me get this message trough. It is important, for all of us, for all ponies in Equestria."
Turning his head to the mare, their eyes met in the silence, Sevaria glaring at him urgently. Considering for a minute, Varin shrugged. "Whatever, had nothing better to do than fight a war." Varin sighed with a nod. "Alright,
I'll help you, but there is no turning back once we in." Sevaria nodded in agreement.
Varin remained silence, thinking about an idea over a minute. "Alright, there is a palisade and a camp between us, and the canal. We can't just walk in and say hello, so we will need a disguise..."
Sevaria watched him, getting this relieved feeling inside her as her curious glaring changed to a blank staring, nodding to the statement.
"This is a bad idea."
"Should work for now."
"You do realise, that they will behead us if they find out?"
After spotting two Templar’s at the edge of the small forest, Varin nodded to Sevaria and both approached them from behind, using the chance to drag them deeper into the bushes.
"This armor is way too big for me." Sevaria struggled as she hid her old armor in the bushes, besides both unconscious earthponies that were bound to a tree.
"This will work, just don't move too much." Varin rolled his eyes a bit, placing his sword by the shoulder, on his back. "Just let me do the talking." Placing the helmet on his head, Varin moved out of the forest towards the camp, followed by Sevaria who still tried to keep the armor on place.
Reaching the opened wood gate from the improvised camp protection, Varin narrowed as he watched each movement of each Templar on the small wood towers.
"Stop." Varin placed a hoof on Sevarias shoulder, holding her as a battalion approached the small wood gate from behind them. Placing the helmet from her left shoulder, on her head, Varin whispered in an serious voice.
"Keep that helmet on your head, the army tend to dislike that."
Stopping as the said Templar formation passed them, marching trough the gate, Varin motioned the mare to follow him, both adding them self to the formation from behind, going trough the wood gate as one white, red stripped battalion.
Passing the gate, inside, Varin and Sevaria part them self from the formation without others notice as they head to the main gate of the city.
Realising that it was safe to move on their own, both rushed between the tents towards the city's wall, almost reaching the half of way until somepony yelled from behind at them.
"You two! Over here, now!"
A light purple stallion with dark red mane, tail and amber eyes, wearing the armor of an Inquisitor stopped Varin and Sevaria from continuing. Both stopped, turning around and saluted to the officer that approached them with a few more Templar's behind them. With a blink to the golden mare, Varin motioned that it may be the time for a fight but thankfully, it never came to that.
"You have a problem Lieutenant and I want YOU to take care of it." Glaring at Varin, the Inquisitor changed his look between him and his companion.
Realising that he actually wore the armor with such rank, Varin nodded, speaking in a strong but also slightly changed tone, trying to not sound like himself to prevent any kind of recognition.
"Yes, mylord! What shall we do?"
"We lost contact to a search party in the sewers under Hoofington, I want you to find out and report me, what happened to them. We can't afford such disablement in a crisis like this!"
"Yes, mylord!" Varin saluted, without a single reaction to this grave change of their situation, while Sevaria watched them. Nervous about the fact, that a group in the sewerage would mean that they might found the rebel cell. Sevaria had no choice but wait and hope that they might be all still alive and hidden, deep under Hoofington.
"Take her and one of mine." After pointing to the golden mare in the over sized armor, the Inquisitor turned around, nodding to the Templar besides him and leaving them alone. A large red armored stallion with orange mane and tail watched over them, his muscular form reaching even over Varin's high.
Varin dealt with such kind of ponies before, so he looked up, straight into his emerald green eyes and commanded. " Into the dung, soldier!"
The red earthpony saluted. "Eyup, Sir!"
Reaching the entrance to the sewerage, they realised the graveness of their situation. A barricade was built, javelins pointing towards the hole that led under the city. About twenty Templar’s stood there ready with their swords, facing the blackness before them.
"You are one of the Lieutenants, the Inquisitor would send us?" A average green colt, much younger than Varin stood before them, his helmet hanging down his shoulder. Varin nodded.
"Well, here we are, the entrance to the sewers. Perhaps you would like more soldiers of mine? I heard that there may be bandits or worse." The other young Lieutenant followed besides Varin, who trotted past the barricade, stopping before the large round entrance.
"No, just don't follow us." Varin turned his head to the colt, his ice blue eyes meeting with his amber. "No matter what you hear, do not come after us. Is that clear?"
The Lieutenant stuttered. "Y-yes, of course." Taking a step back, he watched as these three entered the sewers trough the entrance. Without a further word, Varin trotted the small corridor down, seeing a improvised wood barricade on the far end which was occupied by two more Templar's. Both, saluting to the Lieutenant and his two companions, which followed behind him. Sevaria had not much choice, but trust this Stallion she just knew a day, following him deep down under a city that was filled with Templar's.
"Open the gate." Varin motioned the red stallion, pointing with his head toward the heavy steel grid that parted them from the rest of this fragrant adventure.
"Eyup Sir!" With that, the big pony immediately pulled one of the chains effortless, that hung down on both sides in the corridor walls.
"We have to get rid of him." Sevaria whispered to Varin, as he watched the muscular pony pulling the heavy gate oblique up.
"Well, I had bad experience when it comes to giants." Replied Varin, sighing as he went to the opposite wall, pulling the other chain and finally opening the gate completely up, both letting go as the chains locked in place.
The sound of a heavy plate armor echoed through the wide corridors as Varin, Sevaria and the red stallion made their way the smell of a good used sewerage meeting them.
"No one has the right to be a god.
Not a peasant.
Not a warrior.
Not a king."
-Guowang Zhansheng - Emperor of the Ibex Empire
The smell of gunpowder filled the air. The fire were extinguished, but the real threat was before them.
Through an impenetrable barrier of storm and thunder, the Ascension made her way into the clouds, over the mountains, towards Thundersky, the capital of the Pegasi.
Accompanied by lightnings in this almost eerie silence, water drops --broken free from the clouds-- hit the hull of the airship of Captain Layla Gaoithe, who stood self-assured on the bridge , her eyes raised to the horizon.
"I hope you know what you're doing. Crazy mare..." Stahlkopf turned to the stairs, about to leave the destroyed bridge before he got stopped by this lightning, that hit the rear of the ship, causing a slight shaking and loud noise. "Everypony stay away from ze frames!" he then added.
Silence spread again, the occasional lightning running down towards the ground, past the Ascension.
"Are we safe?" Rarity's voice was weak but loud enough to over sound the still functioning rotors of the airship.
"Rainbow, be so sweet and fly in front of us, lead us outta here!" Layla took a step towards the wheel that was meant to steer the ship, now for the reason of a destroyed sprocket hardly movable.
"No problem!" Floating right next to the bridge, Rainbow nodded, dashing forward and showing the Captain of the Ascension, the way.
"You think they might follow us?" Twilight stepped next to Applejack who stood on the rear side of the bridge, both ponies looking back to the rear of the ship and into the thick dark clouds.
"Ah'm sure, they won't give up like that. Darn, they are Earthponies, stubborn as hay! Ah wouldn wonder if they jus--" a lightning interrupted the orange pony, a silhouette highlighted in the dark clouds that was about to pass them from the right side.
"Layla, we have to get out of these clouds! This airship is not designed to fly through a damn storm!" Stahlkopf took a step towards the mare who pulled the damaged wheel and lever with all the strength she possessed. Turning her head to the desperate stallion after correcting the course to follow the blue Pegasus, she grinned, looking past him to the enemy airship that slowly overhauled them.
"You crazy pony, you are going to kill us all!" Stahlkopf turned around, rushing down the stairs, a lightning spark illuminating both airship as it shot down between them.
"Why are they not firing at us?" Twilight took a step worried towards the edge, spotting some Templar's on the other ships deck, moving while the ship came closer and closer to them from the right side. "What do they--"
"They gonna board us!" Drawing her sword, Applejack interrupted Twilight's thoughts, stomping with her hooves on the wood floor.
"They want our flank, let them have some!" Drawing her scimitar, Layla turned away from the wheel, looking to Pinkie Pie that appeared to work on the propeller on the left side by the bridge. "Pinkie! Be so sweet and steer this ship for me!"
Jumping from the housing which held the propeller in place, Pinkie hopped towards the wheel, grabbing it and singing just another song about steering a ship on a stormy sea. --or cloud--
"Aye, everypony get ready to welcome our guests!" Layla flew off the bridge on the large deck where Applejack, Trixie, the scared Rarity and also the rest of the Ascension crew stood, watching the Swordhead class approach, everypony of them ready for the boarding.
While Twilight helped Pinkie Pie to navigate this airship by following Rainbow, who lead them through the storm, no pony seemed to notice the danger from the left side.
"Sister! I know that you will probably kill me after you now know, that I -accidentally- left your prison... but you should REALLY look behind ya." Din who floated a bit over Layla, pointed behind her back, to the left side of the ship.
Watching the spot, in which Din directed, Layla tried to keep herself calm over the fact that she almost lost control over everything on board of this ship. Suddenly, a flash of light lit up the left side, a new airship coming alongside, Layla nearly dropping her blade to inhale deeply. "Their comin from both sides!"
Being surrounded by two airship that were filled with Templar's, the Ascension kept flying forward at maximum speed that was still possible from their still intact engines.
"We have to go deeper!" Turning to Twilight and Pinkie on the bridge, Layla yelled with all the air in her lungs.
"Deeper!? We might hit a mountain if we go much deeper than that!" Being disagreeable at this point, Trixie stepped next to the Captain, feeling her stomach drop as weightlessness takes hold from the Ascensions sharp decent
"Ya could make yaself useful and throw with Sugar some stuff at'em while we wait!" Motioning to Rarity, she stepped back in line, still facing the right side, while Applejack and the half of the crew faced the left side.
Ponies, griffins and a Zebra stood on deck, ready for the initial attack from both sides.
Flying through the wind and rain, Rainbow Dash used her natural talent to lead the ship through this storm. Avoiding any large obstacle like a mountain, she corrected her course every second wing flap.
"Damn, I want to be and fight them." Thinking about a excuse to get back on deck, she was interrupted by the sudden silence, were the wind did not blew forcefully around her ears anymore, and the missing occasional light of deadly thunderbolts, that usually rushed down every fifteen seconds somewhere next to them. The missing prerequisites for a heavy storm, were enough for the Pegasus to raise her head and looking around surprised.
"The lightnings!" Twilight yelled from the bridge down, to the formation of ponies that stood there prepared.
Layla was about to yell the attack, already flapping her wings for the first strike but being stopped by the yelling, looking up to her.
"Trixie is already working on that!" Replied Trixie, who stood on the right edge with Rarity, did not turn her head. Both, her and Rarity's horn sparkling.
"No! The lightnings and even the wind stopped!" Leaning out of the destroyed window of the bridge, Twilight waited for Layla's response.
Looking back to the purple mare, she asked. "What does that mean to us?"
"That these Templar's with their battleships are not our worst problem!" Replied Applejack.
Silence spread, only the sound of rain falling on the ships deck, over sound the silence. Drips hitting wood planks and steel plating's.
A lightning, appearing in front of the Ascension drew: Rainbows, Twilight's, Layla's and Stahlkopf‘s attention, the flash moving in a much slower speed then the usual thunder bolt, rushing over all three ships. The lightning started to circle around them, along with many others that joined after an short while.
"These are not normal lightnings." Stated Twilight to herself.
Shortly after that, three of the sparks connected to a bigger lightnings bolt, than nature would allow, gaining more and more speed.
With a loud noise of a thunder, underlined by the sound of the heavy explosion, which would appear when something penetrated the heavy plated balloon of the airships, the lightning bolt hit the left side of the Templar's airship which was on their left, causing a tilt to the side and drifting away from them, eventually crashing into a mountain with a much bigger explosion.
The second battleship started to ascend, breaking their attack up and trying to get over the cloud, too late.
The lightnings reacted to the sudden move by the Templar's and changed their movement, all of them hitting the weak spots of the airship from beneath and above, sooner or later causing a giant gas explosion, sending pieces and some of the crew, the long road down.
Being nearly stunned by this happening, Layla put her sword back into its sheath, taking a step back and watching the lightnings that surrounded them. One of the lightnings parted from the others and flying towards the bridge with a lower speed than usual.
Twilight watching this, realised surprised, that it was not a lightning bolt that flew into her direction. It was a Pegasus.
The mare Pegasus touched gently with her hooves the wooden floor, taking her silver helmet which was craved by a lightning bolt off, her burning orange eyes glaring over the purple curious mare, her orange mane and tail waving like fire in the weak wind. Stopping right in front of Twilight with this questioning look on her yellow face, she spoke: "I... know you."
"Who the hell are ya!?" Flying up to the bridge, Layla took a few steps towards the mare before being stopped by two Pegasi that slided from a lightning down in front of her.
Still staring at Twilight, the yellow mare in her silver armor replied. "Commander Spitfire, of the 21st Thunderbolts."
"What are ya doing on my ship!?" Layla took another step forward, only the face an short sword.
"What are you doing on our territory?" Raising her eyebrow, Spitfire gave that aggressive mare an short indifferent look.
Landing on the edge of the bridge after watching this happening, Rainbow Dash took a few steps towards the familiar mare, glaring as the commander slowly turned her head, looking surprised at the rainbow Pegasus in this black leather armor.
"Spitfire?" Asked Rainbow Dash, stopping right next to Pinkie Pie who kept quiet, just minding her own business at the wheel.
"Dash." Realized Spitfire calmly.
"Spitfire, tell him to lower his sword." Taking a further step towards the yellow mare, she pointed to the Pegasus that pointed his short sword at Layla's throat.
"She is an enemy of Thundersky, she deserves nothing better than death." Replied Spitfire.
"Enemy? I thought, you and the King have an agreement?!" Twilight stepped forward, only the get a sword at her throat by the second mare Pegasus.
"Well, there -WAS- this "agreement". Untill she blew it, and decided to screw with Lightning himself. Normally, we would cut her wings off but I am not in place to order that now."
"Spitfire! Stop threatening my friends!" Rainbow Dash stomped with her hoof on the wood floor, cracking a plank slightly.
"I take no orders from you, not anymore. My orders were to find and bring you back..." Spitfire sighed, motioning the Pegasi to lower their swords from the mares throats. "You are very hard to find, Rainbow, but now that you are here, things change." Giving the other Pegasi, that floated around the Ascension a signal to land, Spitfire turned to Layla.
"In the name of King Lightning, I arrest you for treason." By that, the Pegasi grabber her from both sides, unable for her to run away. Turning around to Dash, Spitfire gathered an little sarky smirk.
"Also, Soarin sends his regards. Thanks, that you left him in that pit injured, instead of killing him. We had a lot of work finding him. He still can't fly."
Shrugging to the light blue Pegasus, she turned around, taking command of this airship after Layla declared their surrender, bringing her and most of the crew down into their quarters, where they were kept safe. Only Stahlkopf and a few others remained on deck to maintain the engines that were heavily damaged by lightnings and projectiles.
Still working on the wheel --and not getting much attention--, Pinkie Pie steered the Ascension further towards north, leaving the thick clouds behind and managing a way through a deep canyon between the Skylight mountains. Only a few remained on the cold deck to maintain functionality, while they were guarded by the Pegasi that flew around the ship in an formation, leading the damaged airship over the dangerous cliffs of ice, snow and stone. Meanwhile, Spitfire and her Lieutenant, Dash and her friends were with Layla in the captains quarter.
"Get me out of these chains." Layla growled to the male Lieutenant that stood right next to her, who just answered with an: "Negative."
Din, who stood on the other side of the room quiet, just watched his sister, grinning a bit. "Seems like my own sis got problems."
"Shut up! Help me already you son of a tavern whore!" Layla gritted her teeth, glaring with hate at Din who was obviously amused by the change of places.
"You will see King Lightning, Layla, and you won't flee again. I promise you that." said Spitfire reassuring as she sniffed the quality of the liquid in the bottles from under the bed.
"I don't understand. What exactly happened between you and the King?" Twilight looked to Layla concerned, who struggled against the chains. Looking up, she smirked to Rainbow Dash, who sat in the corner of the room. "Tell her, Dash."
Twilight looked surprised to her friend who just looked ashamed at the floor. "Tell me what? Dash?"
"That... she helped me to disappear." Answered Dash with a weak voice.
"Why... why didn't you told us?" Twilight took a step towards the Pegasus in the corner. Applejack only raised her eyebrow at that while Rarity fixed her mane in the mirror. Trixie was next to Twilight and just kept listening.
"I... tried." replied Dash shrugging, still looking to the ground.
"I don't understand. Layla told us, she would bring us to Thundersky. Let us speak with the King. Why would she promise that, if she knows that she will be punished?" Twilight looked to Spitfire who looked out of the window, bucking Laylas chair slightly. "Go ahead, explain. I am curious myself how you would have talked yourself out of this."
Layla shrugged: "Well, after I'd bring Dash back, I'd spread the rumor that I found her. Also, I would not jus crash into his throne room, but just leave you somewhere near the docks."
"So, what will happen now?" Trixie decided to step in.
"I hope, we are not going into a cell again." Added Rarity groaning. "I have ENOUGH of these cells!"
"What about me? Ah'm jus Templar! They'll throw me off the city as soon they see me!"
Spitfire shrugged, not turning around as she watched out of the rear window, their float above the clouds that laid by the mountains beneath them like snow on the ground. "We will see."
Pinkie kept steering the giant airship over the mountain, a smile spreading on her face as she saw the wall of clouds on the horizon.
Thundersky was a floating city over the Thunder Mountain, the second largest mountain in the known world.
Being supported by the Griffins, the Pegasi built a city quickly within months, using their natural talent to tame and form the clouds after their will.
The top of the mountain concealed an old castle which was built by the griffins a thousand years ago, as a response to the outbreak of Nightmare Moon. Now the castle was used by the Pegasi as a fortress where the King and his army were.
The great height made the city nearly unreachable. Those who survived the long way through the cold wind and deadly storm clouds, which surrounded the mountain like a city wall, extended over an mile, had still to reach the top of the mountain, where they would be greeted by a Pegasi army which had the advantage to change the weather within minutes and bring doom upon all their enemies, who dared to invade their homes.
Lightning achieved exactly what he wanted: A safe home for his race.
The massive great gates of the rebuild fortress opened, the solid pressed clouds moving smoothly like it had no weight but able to withstand an impact of few tons. The Pegasi reinforced the old black stone castle with their own technique, to created a cloud fortress on top of the Thunder Mountain, giving the city over them in the sky its name.
The Ascension flew inside the outer clouds wall of the fortress, Pinkie Pie slowly navigating and turning the airship, so their landing stairs reached the small port which was constructed for arriving griffins. Inch by inch, Pinkie Pie managed to find the right angle, slightly ramming against the old massive stone as she yelled, pulling a few levers that turned the engines off and caused the damaged stairs to fall out and touch the black stone. "We have arrived our destination! Thank you for flying with Pinkie Airline!"
Separated from Din, Layla and her crew: Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Trixie, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were escorted by Spitfire and her entire squad through the white corridors of the reassembled fortress to the throne room. Spotting royal guards in their golden armours, which normally would work for the princess, now guarded doors and patrolled through the corridors of an old castle. The new state of order in this world forced these guards to find another “ruler” to serve, atoning for their failure of a lost Princess.
His colourful but now flawed mane and tail waved in the wind. On the balcony, he watched the arrival of this modern but damaged steel construct. His clear red eyes glanced over the cloud, which laid like a blanket over the mountains. His home, his kingdom.
“My King.” A royal guard bowed down, standing a bit far behind the king. “Your daughter has returned.”
Nodding, Lightning sighed, slowly turning around. He may was flawed, he may was old, the war may demanded a lot from him, but after all, he was not broken. He was still the King of Thundersky. The saviour of his race.
Lightning nodded, making his way inside into the warmth, stopping by the white throne which was made out of clouds as well, looking towards the opening door.
Spotting the well dressed King in his golden armour which reminded of an general, Twilight and her friends made it into the room with only Spitfire left by them, the door being closed by the royal guard behind them, only two guards remaining at each side of the throne room.
King Lightning looked over them for quite a while before he spoke, his voice old but still with the force of an great stallion which led armies into the enemies front-line.
"Welcome to Thundersky."
Spitfire bowed down while the others stood, Twilight, Rarity, then Applejack and Pinkie Pie bowing down as well, only Trixie and Rainbow Dash standing.
Lightning nodded after an while, trotting slowly down the stairs that led down off the throne, staring at Dash as he trotted past the arrogant blue Unicorn. "Rainbow..."
Sighing, Dash nodded. "Father?"
At the same time, nearly all of Rainbow's friends dropped their jaws at the same time, except for Trixie --who just raised an eyebrow-- and especially Pinkie Pie who jumped up. "I knew it!"