• Published 8th Feb 2016
  • 1,520 Views, 63 Comments

DOCTOR - Deidorimu

Equestria has fallen into chaos by Discord, Celestia and Luna fight desperately to keep Equestria in peace. Simultaneously, criminals and villains take this time as an opportunity for greed and power. And in the mid-center of this chaos lies a doctor

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One, Two, Five Steps: Part Three (S1C6)

A heavy cloud of anxiousness enveloped all but Dean. As if breathing through a thick fog, a heavy weight sat upon them. Cleo and Barney were still, watching Dean, awaiting for the colt to respond. Redger too was waiting. Not so much out of concern for the colt, as was the case with the others. He was curious to how Dean would respond upon hearing of his friend's death. Who, at this moment, had a stoic gaze set away to nowhere. His head turned away so he wouldn't have to look at Redger.

Redger took a short breath. A sigh forming before he took in the rooms pungent scent of mothballs, and he choked. "Y- You see kid?" he coughed, clearing his windpipe. "Your friend isn't coming to save you. He's gone, just like all the others. In fact, I don't even think he's a chaos demon. I think he might just be dead-"

"Redger!" Barney exclaimed, astonished.

"You shut your mouth!" Cleo spat, slamming a hoof to the table, pointing at Redger threateningly. His mace rumbled on the table slightly, nearly rolling off the side, before stopping just along the edge.

"What!? Its true! We haven't seen a second chaos demon this whole time! So either the Doctor's dead or he somehow managed to survive and now he's outta here! I'll bet if he did survive than that's exactly what he did! Ran off! As far away from this place as possible."

"Why would you assume the Doctor would do that?" asked Barney.

"Because that's what I would have done", Redger said, plainly.

"Yeah? Well you don't have stones like the Doctor does", Cleo said cheekily.

Redger scoffed, "oh please. Even if this "Doctor" really is still alive, and even if he really is still here looking for the kid, do you honestly think the kid was telling the truth about how "amazing" this stallion really is? Foalnapping animals with a giant vacuum? A pony who can control vines? It all sounds like a bunch'a horseradish to me."

"That's where your wrong", Dean piped suddenly, cutting Cleo off before he could start. Drifting his gaze to Redger, Dean looked upon him not with anger, as the others had expected, but with confidence. "Your wrong, about everything you've said. The Doctor is alive, and he hasn't ran away. He's still here, somewhere. And he's looking for me as we speak."

"I know what I saw kid, your friend ain't coming for you-"

"Did you actually see him die?" Dean asked.

The absurdity in that question made Redger shake his head, "did I- were you not listening? I saw the Doctor get dragged down the hall by that demon! He's dead!"

"You saw him get taken around a corner. That's what you said, wasn't it?"

Scoffing, Redger responded irritably, "what difference does it make?"

"The difference is that the Doctor can handle situations you wouldn't believe! You, Cleo, and Barney have been through a lot, I understand. But so have we! And the Doctor, how he can manage to surpass even the toughest of situations is beyond me. But he can! If he can handle the things I've seen him do than he can handle this!

You say you saw him taken around a corner? And that's the last you saw him? Well in that case I say that he did something afterwards! He survived that attack and now he's out there looking for me!"

"Your being delusional kid! He. is. dead!"

"Say what you want but I know he's alive!" Dean yelled, growing angrier.

Dean froze, and the four suddenly became deathly still. A low, deep, hungry growl echoed from outside. Within the hall, its presence loud and clear, enough so to sound as if the creature was inside this very room. As they each turn to the only entrance to the room, the small open lining at the bottom of the door glowed an eerie red light. A sign they knew meant that the demon was right outside.

Dean nearly jumped as he felt a hoof touch his shoulder. He turned to see Barney silently shushing him, his opposite hoof placed to his lips. Soundlessly, he mouthed, "hide", and pointed to the open closet. Dean nodded and proceeded to the closet, tip toeing slowly.

Meanwhile, in his panic Redger had started hyperventilating, and he struggled to free himself from his bounds. The cloths keeping him tied were too tight, and instead he shuffled the chair around, making the wooden legs screech as they dragged on the stone floor. Cleo jumped from his seat, quickly placing a firm hoof to Redger's shoulder and keeping him from moving. Redger went to curse at Cleo before he was silenced. The wrapping that had muffled him earlier now tied once more around Redger's mouth, Cleo's quick solution to the problem. Redger responded as expected, spitting a barrage of obscenities at Cleo. Cleo replied firmly, glaring angrily while hushing him. Redger went to say more but Cleo wouldn't have it, so he clamped onto Redger's shoulder hard, enough so to elicit a tiny squeal beneath his gag cloth. Cleo then motioned to Redger, asking him silently if he would continue to struggle. Redger shook his head in compliance, and Cleo released him. The tied pony breathing heavy as the pressure in his shoulder lingered, while Cleo stepped around the chair to untie him. All the while Barney was tip toeing to a nearby table that had been left on its side, seeking his own hiding place.

Dean was midway to the closet, and Barney was mere steps away. Cleo and Redger remained at the table, all four were out in the open. Cleo untied the final cloth and Redger was freed. Bounding from the chair, Redger propped himself against the table to recover his balance. Over an hour he had been tied to that chair and the blood was just starting to circulate through his legs again. Taking a deep breath to pass the numbness, Redger turned to Cleo, who was motioning for Redger to follow. He hated following orders, especially from Cleo of all ponies, but this wouldn't be the first time he did. Begrudgingly, he nodded and turned to follow.

It all happened in seconds. Cleo spotted it too late, and he stood helplessly, watching it fall. Dean and Barney practically jumped out of their skins, hearing a loud clang! as something solid and heavy collided onto the stone floor. The two turned back to the table closest to the door to see Cleo staring in disbelief towards a panic stricken Redger. A powerful mace rolling at his legs, bumping into a table leg and stopping.

Cleo's mace, he had left it on the table. Placed by the edge earlier, and when Redger turned to Cleo his leg dragged along the edge, bumping into the mace by accident. It plummeted, the metal crashing onto stone, emanating loud enough for anyone to hear. Anyone.

Each felt their hearts stop, the blood pumping loudly through their ears, and they awaited for the worst. If they had fingers they'd be crossed, for even the slimmest chance that the demon hadn't heard that would be a miracle. Of course, how could it not have heard. The room shook under the power of the demon's roar, and the door bent inwards. The lock giving in as the door struggled to keep in its hinges, as the demon outside pounded hard, braking the door in.

They all had the same thought to hide, and they darted forth to each their own place. Barney leapt over the side of the fallen table, crouching low behind it. Cleo did the same, galloping to a table on the opposite end of the room, right side from the closet. Dean nearly made it to the closet, but was shoved away just before entering.

Redger galloped fast, running to Dean's side and elbowing the colt in the ribs. Dean stumbled to the left as Redger entered the closet. Holding to his side, Dean shout whispered, "what are you doing!?!"

"Find somewhere else to hide!" Redger snapped, grabbing the door handle quickly.

"Wait!" Dean leapt forward, but was too late. Redger slammed the door shut, and Dean collided into it. He didn't have time to register what had happened, before the door behind him cracked loudly. Dean whipped around, the entrance door bending in the middle with a long crack, exposing wood shards in between, and he felt a sudden sense of panic rise in his chest. Quickly, he spotted the first desk fallen on its side and followed Cleo and Barney's lead. He darted forth, leapt, and skidded to a halt behind the desk, crouching just in time for the door to smash to pieces.

From Dean's perspective he spotted a cloud of shrapnel blow from above. Wooden shard spewing to the wall, raining down on and around Dean like hail. Somehow, the candle had not died, and what little light could illuminate from Dean's end of the room showed on the wall in front of him; the back, left corner of the room.

Heavy hooves pounded with each step, and Dean softened his breathing. Fighting his beating heart's want for oxygen in order to keep quiet. It was painful, but necessary. The hoofsteps grew louder, and Dean noticed his shadow hovering above him, as the demon lingered just beyond his hiding place. His deep gravel like breathing, like an evil bull about to kill, Dean heard every breath. And he hoped his own breathing was softer in comparison. The adrenaline pounding through him, the anxiety as the demon searched for them, standing right there, he could only stifle his breathing so much as his heart beat like a drum, begging for oxygen.

A sudden gust of hot air blew on him suddenly, tingling his skin as he shielded his eyes with his hoof. As he looked above once more, Dean felt the world come to a halt, as the giant demon was towering over him, glaring down on him. As if he were an ant, Dean felt tiny under his presence; vulnerable beneath the hell monster.

The demon roared and made a swipe at Dean with his razor sharp talon hooves. Dean screamed, and his adrenaline kicked in. He jumped backward, knocking his back painfully to the wall, but he managed to dodge the demon's talon. The demon roared angrily, reeling back and slamming his hoof down upon the desk. It smashed to pieces, the force of his strike creating a small cluster of splinters and chips that blew about. He plunged towards Dean, and Dean only had a second to react.

Quickly, Dean dashed left, narrowly avoiding the demon and running towards the closet. Missing Dean, the demon collided into the stone wall, slamming hard enough to break a large crater crack. He swiveled around fast, catching Dean making a sharp turn right, away from the closet. Dean galloped for the open exit, so close, but not enough so, as the demon was just too quick. The demon leapt over Dean, its sharp horns dragging along the stone ceiling, slicing through like it was made of bread. It landed in front of Dean, making the room rumble under its weight. Dean halted, realizing too late as the demon now blocked his path. He went to turn and run the opposite direction, but the demon made a grab for him.

Dean yelped as he felt a strong grip cling to his mane, the pull of his hair stretching his scalp as he was lifted off the ground. The demon, now with Dean in his grasp, roared victoriously at Dean; and Dean screamed, struggling helplessly to free himself, his face mere inches from the demon's as his ears rung beneath the power of its roar.


The demon roared once more, howling in pain as it released Dean from its grasp. Dean dropped like a dead weight, slamming painfully hard against the floor. He felt someone grabbing at his side, and it took a second of panic to realize it was Barney.

"Come on kid! Move!" Barney shouted, pulling Dean to his hooves. Dean could only follow Barney's command, as everything was happening so fast, his tired mind having trouble registering it all.

While Barney assisted him, Dean caught sight of Cleo standing before the demon. He wore a fierce expression, his poise set in a battle stance as he held his mace at the ready. Dean realized then what had happened. Cleo ran for his mace while the demon was occupied with Dean, and he had attacked the demon from behind, releasing Dean from its grasp.

The demon roared and swiped, slashing his great talon, but Cleo was ready. Bringing the heavy weapon back with precise timing, he swung with all his might. Like swinging a bat to a ball, the mace collided with the demon's talon midway, the power of Cleo's counter swing knocking away demon's attack. The demon felt the impact of Cleo's parry and staggered, his attacking talon falling limp momentarily. Cleo took advantage of the moment to repost, dashing forth while allowing his upper body to turn under the momentum of his mace. It hit the demon's talon, and continued its path, swinging sideways, then upwards, until it reached its limit, than gravity takes over. It would fall, but Cleo gave it the extra power, bringing it downwards into its fall, and curving it into an upward swing. In a battle cry, Cleo drove his mace into the demon's gut, and an ear bleeding roar, croaking like a deep screech, came from the demons bowls, rising and exploding upwards from his throat. The power of his attack equivalent to a sledgehammer driving down upon a skull, wielded with the strength of ten oxen. The demon doubled over, taking a backhand swipe at Cleo, but Cleo ducked and avoided the attack. That was all it could muster, before the demon dropped to its knees to recover.

Now was their chance. Cleo shouted to Barney, "lets go!" turning to the door as he beckoned them to follow. With Dean on his hooves, Barney pulled him along to help him move quicker, then shoved him out the door before following out himself. Cleo in the lead, Dean in the middle, and Barney galloping from behind, the three dashed down the hall once again. In their second attempt to reach the end.

An echoing roar pierced through the hall, rumbling the small interior around them, and for a moment they flinch, anticipating the worst. "Hurry! Its right behind us!" Cleo shouted.

Barney glanced over his shoulder, expecting the hall from behind to be illuminated with the demon's red glow, with the demon either close, or at the very lest, on their trail as pray to his hunt. It actually surprised him to see this wasn't the case, as the passing hall remained as dark as it ever was. "I don't see it!" Barney shouted to Cleo.

"Its coming! Just hurry!" Cleo responded.

It didn't take much longer. Their first attempt at their mad dash for the end was nearly successful, and they only had a few rooms left to pass before they made it. With the gaps between rooms being surprisingly long, the four had five dozen yards to cover before they reached the end. Their second dash, fueled in a pure fiery will of survival at their escape from death, was incredibly fast, and they progressed at thrice the speed than the first attempt. Thusly, the end of the hall came in sight rather quickly, and each of them felt their hearts beat in excitement. The aspect of escape within reach, right there, the last door set on the right, as the hall ended with a brick wall.

"There it is!" Cleo shouted. They had reached the end, and Cleo grasped at the door handle frantically. Ripping the door open, he shouted to the others, "come on! Hurry!" waving a hoof to beckon them inside. Dean and Barney galloped through the exit, and Cleo followed, slamming the door shut.

The three had found themselves back in the central room of the building. The long desk centered in the room, with the twin winding staircase leading to the second and third floor balconies above; Dean had been unconscious at the time they entered the building, so this room was new. To Barney and Cleo however, this room was all too familiar. And they couldn't be more than happy to see it again. Despite their relief, Cleo knew they weren't finished.

While Barney propped himself to the desk, and Dean flopped to the floor, both taking a moment to catch their breathes, Cleo made a dash behind the desk. With how strong the demon was he was sure this wouldn't even work, but if it could slow the demon down for even a moment than it was worth it. He grabbed a chair, carried it back to the door they came from, and propped it between the door handle. Kicking at the legs, Cleo made sure the chair was pressed firm between the floor and the handle. It may not lock the door, but it would make opening it a bit difficult. He made proper sure the chair would remain in place until he was satisfied. Afterwards, he took a step back, surveyed his work one last time, than trotted over to the others and joined them, taking a well needed break himself.

A second chair remained at the desk, and Cleo took it. Dropping down upon it as he rested his head into his hooves, breathing heavily. "We . . . we made it."

"Yeah . . . yeah we did", Barney replied, giving Cleo an unseen grin.

They rested for a minute, their area becoming eerily quiet in that time. The demon's roars where overbearing to their ears, and the lack of noise left an unsettling ringing sound, making the silence worse than it already was. For, the quiet room wasn't so because of safety, they knew they only had moments before their time was up. And each second spent in silence was a reminder of anticipation to what was to come. For the moment, however, they took in the silence gratefully. Despite the foreboding sense of danger, they needed the break. Though this room was just as dusty to breath in as the others, its grand space made it far more welcoming than the room they hid in, and especially that cramped hall. So, their breather was rather refreshing. Only, something wasn't quite right. Something was missing, and it took another minute before they realized what it was.

"Hey . . . . where's Redger?" Dean asked, standing shakily and leaning against the desk.

Barney's face dropped into unquestionable horror, and Cleo's head sprung from his hooves, an expression of equal horror present on him. He turned to Barney, as if expecting Redger to be there with him. Barney, however, had done the same, and the two realized that neither had Redger, nor did Dean. Cleo looked about, futilely searching for his ally, before realizing that Redger had not joined them in their escape.

He was still in the closet, back in the room with the demon, and that fact struck them all suddenly. Cleo, his expression shifting to terror in acceptance of that fact, stood slowly from his chair, and he could only say on thing. " . . . . . . Oh my Celestia."

A Few Minute Ago

The roars ceased, shouts had silenced, and the conflict beyond this door seemed to have finished. Redger sat in the corner of the closet, pushing his back against the wall as if he could, somehow, further himself from the danger. He waited, listening closely for any sign that someone, or something, was still out there. From what he heard it sounded as if the others had escaped. Or, escaped the room at least. They hadn't escaped the demon, for if they had left the room the demon would surely be right behind them. If that were the case, than that means Redger was alone. With the demon busy chasing the others, than for the moment, he was safe.

The end of the hall wasn't too far from here. Five minutes, he estimated that would be all he needed to get out of the building. Without having to worry about the demon, now was his opportunity, and he couldn't find any issues with high tailing it out of here. Leaving Barney and Cleo seemed cruel, but he was sure the others would manage. Of course, thinking that was a good way to put himself at ease, and to soften the guilt that he selfishly pushed away.

"He-", he hesitated. Waiting a moment longer, Redger took a breath. The thought that the demon was still out there made him think twice to leave his hiding spot. But he didn't hear anyone screaming anymore, so thinking rationally, Redger was sure that everyone, the demon included, had left. That did little to set him at ease, but the thought of finally leaving this place was enough to convince him. So, he swallowed his fear and forced himself to shout, "hey! Is anypony out there!" He paused, listening, waiting for either a response or trouble. Neither came, and he started to feel braver. Standing to his hooves, Redger trotted to the door and called out once more, "hello! Anypony there! . . . . Hello!" He waited, and still heard nothing. Feeling confident that he was alone, Redger gripped the handle and opened the door slowly.

Looking around, Redger tried finding any sign of trouble. The room didn't look too different from before. With everything Redger had heard he wasn't surprised to find that one of the tables had been destroyed, and the door had been broken through. Aside from the damage, the only particular thing that caught Redger's attention was the candle. Somehow, it was still lit, and remained standing upright on the table everyone had sat at. Odd that it hadn't fallen during the mayhem, but Redger didn't care really. He didn't see anyone here, nor did he see anything that would suggest someone hiding behind a table or such. Taking a sigh of relief, Redger trotted over to the open doorway. His legs shaking, left over adrenaline still pumping through him, as his body was winding down past the danger.

He poked his head out the doorway, checking cautiously to the left and right. The hallway was dark, without a hint of red illuminating light, meaning the demon was nowhere near. He didn't notice his mouth curl into a grin, as the aspect of escape felt to have become a reality, and it excited him. Turning his sights right, down the hall, Redger charged, galloping for his freedom.

A single minute is all it took, not nearly as long as he had expected. He could feel an overwhelming surge of excitement course through him as he saw the end, the brick wall, with the last door to the left. His escape, his freedom, right there waiting for him. It shouldn't be said that he was a fast pony, more so than the average earth pony. He saw the final door and rushed for it. In his charge he was too quick, and he couldn't stop. He slammed his right body painfully against the brick wall, but he didn't care. Not while his hoof gripped the handle to freedom.

He turned the handle and pushed, but the door wouldn't open. He tried opening it again, only for the door to remain shut. Squinting through the dark, he wondered if the door might have been locked. He checked the handle, finding that this door didn't have a lock to it, and he felt that excitement in him drain suddenly. His heart was still beating, only now it was doing so anxiously, and a tinge of panic was developing within him. He was so close, his freedom just beyond this door, and he shook the door hard, trying to open it with brute force. "Come on! Come on! Open!"

It was no use, the door wasn't locked, but it felt as if something beyond the door was keeping it shut. Something hard, making it so he can only jiggle the door without opening it. Perhaps the door had been barricaded? He assumed that might be it, and if that were the case than all he needed to do was push his way through.

He took a few steps back, in what little space this hall had to offer, and he charged at the door, slamming his right shoulder into it. The door didn't budge, and Redger stepped back groaning, holding his right leg as he waited for the pain to subside. As it did he took another step back, preparing himself for a second attempt. He took a breath, readied himself, and was abut to charge. But something stopped him.

From the corner of his eye he noticed the hall seemed to brightened. It was dim and hardly noticeable, and he probably wouldn't have noticed it either, if not for the color. His heart sank, and he slowly turned down the hall, that panic rising strong inside him. From down the hall the demon stood tall, his horns just poking the ceiling, as his light was strong enough to just barely reach Redger. His eyes dead set on Redger, as his mouth foamed, and he growled with a powerful hunger.

Redger didn't have time to so much as react, before the hall boomed beneath the force of the demon's roar. Redger flinched, and he screamed as the hall became brighter. The demon charged, and the hall turned red as he approached Redger.

Redger darted for the door, pushing and slamming his hoof against it in panic. Before he looked back to the demon, finding that he was only mere feet away. He screamed, and pleaded a thought aloud, the last thought he had. A second before he was caught. "Celestia have mercy-"

The demon roared, and he captured his prey.

The Central Room

Beyond the door, the others stood behind the desk for cover. All watching the door intently, while Dean stood behind the others, bearing their arms. Cleo with his mace at the ready, and Barney stood poised with his twin scimitars, the first time Dean had seen him with his weapons. Cleo had a natural look of a leader to him but Barney, he may have had a large build, but he wasn't so in an intimidating way. On the contrary, combine his voice with his personality, Barney was more like a huggable stuffed toy. So to see him with his war face, standing to his hind hooves while dual wielding scimitars, it was rather unsettling to witness.

Although, his weapons were, admittedly, rather beautiful. Dean never considered himself a connoisseur for weapons, he never thought much of them really, but he couldn't deny that there was something enchanting about his scimitars. Redger used throwing knives and daggers, so Dean never had a good look at those. Cleo's mace was so and so; this was the first time he noticed the detail of his weapon. A flanged mace with six curved sides and a pointed top, made from solid steel that had been stained gray, with a polished ebony wood handle, a large half cone, half sphere pummel at the bottom, finished with traces of copper that lined the blades and the rimming of the handle. Perhaps it would have looked better, had Cleo's recent use not given his mace scratches, and made it look dirty. Barney's weapons on the other hand were shinning brilliantly in the light. Silver steel from the tip down to the handle, its sleek curve sharp enough to cut skin like it was paper. A thin curvature separated from the tip, creating a secondary blade that was equally as sleek as the primary. It met at a point, four inches down, before dropping downward to the handle. It thickens beyond this point, making it useless to attack from this angle, but it wasn't made for that. It was there to give this sword its spine for strength. The handle was gold, forged in a spiral that gave the handle grip while appearing almost elegant like. Along with silver linings that swirled around the spirals, giving the handle its shiny finish. The handle was complete with a grip guard, made from steel painted gold, along with a small pummel attached at the bottom end. The weapons beauty actually made Dean enticed, and he wanted to know more about these scimitars.

A moment ago Dean had noticed the door jiggle, and he immediately warned the others. Barney and Cleo watched as the door jiggled a second time. For a moment they were about to run for the exit, but Cleo was concerned that the demon would break through before they could make it there. Unaware that Redger was the one trying to open the door, before they heard screaming within the hall.

Someone on the other side slammed against the door, there was a pause, then the demon roared. A scream followed after, and a moment of silence, before the demon banged against the door. Under the stress, none of them could put two and two together, and for all they knew the demon was the one banging against the door from the start. That scream may not have even been Redger, Redger was probably still hiding in the closet, they didn't know, and they didn't have time to figure it out either. Nor would they really have the chance.

The demon banged the door again, and the chair lodged between the ground and the door started to bend. The legs cracking slightly, ready to snap at any moment.

"What do we do!?!" Barney asked Cleo, a sense of distress present in his voice.

Wiping sweat off his brow with his foreleg, Cleo responded, "wait for an opportunity to run for the exit! If we go for it now it might break through before we make it! If that happens than we'll have no cover! And than we'll really be in trouble!"

"How are we supposed to "find" an opportunity to escape!?" Dean asked, half yelling in panic.

"Barney and I will fight it off for a little bit! That'll keep it distracted while you run for the door!"

"What!?! And leave you both behind!?!" Dean said, astonished.

Barney piped in, "kid, your a good colt, but your also hurt. Cleo and I can handle the demon ourselves for a little while but you won't last in a fight-"

"But I don't want you to sacrifice yourselves!"

Barney looked to Dean, giving him a reassuring grin. "Don't worry about us. We've fought chaos demons before. We'll be right behind you as soon as we get our chance. Okay?"

That didn't make Dean feel any better about leaving them, but the confidence and gentle tone Barney had helped to reassure him enough. He thought about it, before nodding, "a- alright. Alright I'll run for the door. Just please don't get caught."

Cleo chuckled sarcastically, "oh please, get caught now? After we just got out of Equestria? Ha! Talk about falling right before the finish line". He turned to Dean, giving the colt a cocky smirk. "Don't you worry about a thing kid. We'll take care of that demon!"

The courage from them was practically radiating, enough so that Dean himself felt braver. He nodded to Cleo, confident they knew exactly what they were doing.

The door banged suddenly, and their attention returned back to it. A second pound, and the chair creaked aloud, its legs bending dangerously far. Cleo noticed the chair weakening, and he yelled to Dean, "I'll let you know when its safe to run! As soon as it comes in we're going to keep it distracted! So get ready!"

"Got it!" Dean replied. He ran to the edge of the desk, doing as he was told and preparing himself, as he waited for the signal.

The door banged a few times more, the chair legs creaking, part of it cackling as the wood appeared ready to split. Then, the demon stopped, and for a moment everything was silent. Dean's breaths were loud and heavy, waiting anxiously for the door to burst open. While Barney and Cleo maintained their composure, both well aware that they only had seconds before it comes.

It lasted uncomfortably long, the silence. It wasn't even a full minute, but under the stress, even seconds felt far longer than they actually were. Dean, the only one, for a second, felt the demon, perhaps, had left. He wasn't sure of it, but something in the back of his mind gave him that thought. A hopeful thought that the danger had gone away. It wasn't realistic, but it was pleasant to think about.

The settling sun drooped low enough to hover right above the windows that lined the ceiling. Floating dust became visible in the rays of light, and the central room had cooled to a comfortably warm temperature. Along with the yellow tint that twilight gave this room, it felt as if the season had suddenly turned autumn. An oddly soothing atmosphere that clashed with the situation, making it almost eerie. Barney's blades somehow shone brighter in the twilight rays, and even Cleo's dirty mace became more enchanting. For a second Dean heard the last birds of the day singing outside, something that was missed by the battle ready ponies. Chirping, fluttering about, a flock flying visibly past the window lining, as their shadows caressed the floor. The sun dropped further, the yellow tinge of the room turning orange, with a slight hint of blue, indicating the approaching night. Dean could have sworn he heard the earliest awakening owl "whoo" from outside, but he couldn't tell.

There was an earsplitting roar, and the door exploded from its hinges suddenly. Wood chips and splinter debris spread like shrapnel, and the demon came bounding in suddenly. The entire central room turned red under the demon's light, as it charged for the desk.

Dean was caught off guard at the abruptness of the demon, but luckily for him Barney and Cleo were ready for it. "Look out!" Barney shouted. Leaping to Dean, Barney wrapped him in his legs and tumbled, bringing he and Dean away from the desk and out of harms way. Cleo meanwhile brought his mace back, roaring his own battle cry the clashed with the demon's. The demon leapt, Cleo swung his mace, and the desk was no more.

The demon landed, smashing atop the desk. The force of combustion, as the desk was reduced to thousands of pieces, was strong enough to throw Cleo off his hooves before he could complete his counter attack. Legs sprawled, his back slammed against the wall behind the spiral stairs, and before he knew it he was face to face with the demon. He didn't have time to recover before the demon charged, making it to Cleo within seconds, but Cleo was quick. Readjusting his stance, Cleo shakily rebalanced himself and stepped into a defensive stance. The demon struck with his left talon hoof, and Cleo blocked it in time with his mace. Tilting the weapon at an angle, as the demon's talon struck the side of the metal, between the top mace and the grip. The demon retracted and attacked with his opposite hoof, but Cleo skillfully dodged. A quick side step to the right and the demon missed, swiping at empty air. Cleo used the sharp tip of his mace to make a fast thrust, stabbing the demon between the rib. The demon roared in pain and made a backhand swing at him, but Cleo was expecting a counter attack. So he retracted his mace and jumped, rolling away towards where the desk used to be and dodging the attack.

Cleo turned to Dean, who laid on the floor, still wrapped in Barney's legs, and he shouted to him. "RUN DEAN! RUN!!!"

Barney got to his hooves fast, bringing Dean with him before giving him a shove towards the exit. "Now's your chance! Get out of here!"

Dean stumbled as he turned back to Barney, "your sure you can take it!?!"

The room rumbled under the demon's roar, and it charged at Cleo like a raging bull. Cleo turned away from the others just in time to react. Tossing himself sideways, he leapt out of the demon's path, towards the right side staircase. Rolling back to his hooves as the demon halted in Cleo's place, twisting around quickly, and roaring once more at Cleo.

With no time to waste Barney yelled to Dean, "we'll be fine! Just go! Hurry!"

He didn't want to argue, so Dean galloped to the exit; while Barney ran to Cleo, aiding his partner in the fight. With Barney at his side, Cleo repositioned his poise. Setting his mace at an angle on his right shoulder; that way, he could attack without accidently hitting Barney. Maces were heavier after all, and lacked the control that swords had, so Barney didn't need to worry about this as much. Despite so, he was still cautious of where he held his swords. "You ready?" Cleo asked, casting a glance to Barney, while keeping his eyes on the demon.

"You think we can do this without Redger?" Barney asked.

"We'll manage. Just fight like you always do!" Cleo said.

The demon charged, and they were ready for it. Moving in natural sync, formed in a bond devolved through strife and friendship, the two acted in unison. As if they knew what the other was going to do without saying it. The natural combat of warrior's friendship. The demon leapt, darting forth for Cleo, its fuming anger from the previous attacks leading it to attack the one who had hurt it the most. Cleo had expected that, and Barney simply followed in coordination. Of course, to the untrained, or those who have never fought in battle, this would be anything but simple.

The two instinctively knew which target the demon aimed for in its midleap, and Barney followed with Cleo's movements. "Hah!" Cleo was quick to dodge, leaping to the right and rolling on his side as the demon crashed onto Cleo's empty spot. "AAAGH!!!" following his movements, Barney charged to where Cleo had stood, this spot now taken by the demon, and he slashed his scimitars the moment the demon landed. The floor rumbled under the demon's weight, but did nothing to deter Barney. The twin blades sliced across its back, and the demon roared, responding with a counter attack. He swiped at Barney with a talon hoof, and Barney back stepped, dodging the attack; and vice versa, Cleo followed with Barney's movements. With the demon now focused on Barney, Cleo brought his mace up high, smashing it down with great force upon the demon's back, dead center between the cuts made by Barney. Another roar came, and the demon whipped around. Swiping the back of its hoof to Cleo, and in doing so the two had put the demon in their trap. Strategically, they placed the demon between them both. One attacks and gains the demons attention, the demon attacks that pony and the pony backs off. Meanwhile, the other pony comes in and strikes, reversing the demon's attention to the other pony. The demon attacks the second pony, the second pony backs off, and the first pony come in for a strike. Their trap, a loop of attacks to weaken the opponent, done so without the need for planning at all; just their bond and natural intuition. Of course, nobody is stupid enough to fall for that for long. This trick was simply to weaken the demon, before it realized what they were doing.

It attacked Cleo, aiming a swipe at his head. Cleo ducked, avoiding the blow, and Barney charged. "RRRRAAAAAGH!!!" flipping the blades around, Barney stabbed downwards, successfully penetrating two swords between the demon's spine. The demon thrashed about, trying to throw Barney off as Barney held strongly to his sword grips, his hind legs waving back and forth in the air. Cleo took this moment to go on the offensive, bringing his mace back and smashing it hard against the demon's hind shin bone. Barney and Cleo could have sworn they heard something crack as the demon howled in anguish. It stumbled, before falling on its front. Barney fell with the demon, and he braced for impact as he felt the demon's back collide into him. Luckily he wasn't hurt, and using his upper back, and pushing with his hind legs, Barney pulled, managing to release the blades from the demon's back. There was a meaty slice as the swords cut free. Before Barney jumped off, landing on he ground and whipping back into the fight.

"GET HIM WHILE HE'S DOWN!!!" Cleo bellowed, charging at the grounded demon.

"AAAAAGH!!!" Barney roared, using his hind legs to jump high. Returning his hold to let the blades aim the floor, as he intended to stab downwards with all his might upon the demon.

But the demon was through with this fight. Jumping to its hooves, the demon bellowed a roar with enough force to implode the windows lining across the ceiling. Shards of glass erupted about, and the demon summoned an inner power that neither of them had witnessed. A trail of fire emerged from beneath his four hooves, spiraling around in a cyclone around his body with incredible speed. The cyclone grew stronger, and wider, covering over half of the demon's body. Barney was still in the air, roaring his battle cry midleap, and Cleo held his mace above his head, ready to strike the demon down. It was blindingly fast, and at this point, the fiery cyclone had built enough of its strength. Before Barney landed, before Cleo could bring his mace down, the demon released his power. And the cyclone exploded.

From every direction the flame expanded. The dense power pushing outwards, throwing all who stood close away from the demon. As if he was suddenly hit by a dragon, Barney felt himself stop abruptly in the air. And the next thing he knew it, he was flying backwards. Soaring in the air until he smashed his back into the right end wall across the room, over dozens of yards away. Standing on the other side of the demon, Cleo was blasted off his hooves, pushed back to the left end of the room. But at this direction, he instead felt himself forced upwards and backwards, towards the spiral staircase. And he collided against the middle steps painfully, halfway up to the balcony above.

The room suddenly turned blazingly hot, as the demon's fire spiraled around, spreading across the area. Its heat and power an embodiment of the demon's fury. Even though the sun had gone, the light from the fire broke from the darkness, brightening far too strong for a pony's eye to withstand. The bright red room glowed beneath the flames, as the fire danced from the demon, and the demon turned to face its prey. Using its fire to flaunt its power, as if proving that they should give up.

Cleo groaned, taking a slow, deep breath, after the attack had left him winded. Struggling to do so as the indescribable pain, coursing through his side, made it difficult to breath. With one hoof he gripped his side, and the other he gripped the railing, using that to pull himself to his hooves. "Agh!" Cleo spat, swearing that he had broken a rib as he felt his muscle bruising. He squinted through the haze and witnessed the flames blazing at the demon's hooves, and immediately felt a tinge of panic develop. Maintaining his composure, Cleo searched for Barney from the steps and found him laying on his side, across the room at the wall he was slammed against. Concern overpowered his panic, and he shouted to him, "BARNEY!!!"

The demon roared and charged for the stairs, bringing its fire with it. The remaining parts of the desk and the wood chips scattered about were all engulfed in fire, bringing fuel to a flame within a building of stone. Turning this room into a literal oven, and Cleo realized it. The stairs and balcony from the floor beyond were all made from wood, and he was standing right on top of it. In a moment, he was about to become just like food in a brick oven, and be cooked.

His reaction time could not have been more perfect. Just before the demon leapt upon the stairs, Cleo gripped the side railing with both hooves, hopping over and dropping back to the ground floor. The demon landed where Cleo had stood, but the wood could not withstand the demon's weight, and the demon broke through. Crashing through, it fell back to the ground floor. And as it did its fire spewed about, igniting the wood from the stairs it caressed. The fire stuck to the steps and railing that remained, creeping its way upwards and expanding, until the entire balcony was enflamed. It didn't stop there, it continued its path, rising up until it reached the second balcony. And it would continue to creep until it reached the third.

Cleo stumbled, too injured to land properly, and he fell on his front. It took a moment for him to recover, groaning, as he propped himself up by his left hoof. Shakily lifting himself, he watched as the fire above quickly spread. "Oh no", Cleo realized he didn't have long, and it was then he noticed the demon was not on the stairs, but on the ground floor; having just pelted through the stairs. "Shoot!" he got to his hooves, ignoring the surge of pain that coursed his left rib, as he searched for his mace. Turning around, he found it laying against the wall, a couple dozen meters from him. He had lost his grip on it while being thrown off his hooves by the demon's fire. The mace flew away, banging the wall and falling to the ground. Quickly, he charged for it, and reclaimed his weapon. There were a few noticeable dents on one of the blades, but nonetheless, it was still usable. Turning the mace around, Cleo rolled the grip in his hoof, feeling the weapons familiar weight, before returning his strong, solid grip to his weapon.

The demon shook debris off his coat before turning to Cleo. He saw him at the wall with his mace, and he roared, returning Cleo's attention to him. The demon charged at an incredible speed, and Cleo summersaulted to the right, narrowly avoiding the attack as the demon crashed into the wall. Cleo rolled, returned to his hooves, and backed away as he thought of his next plan of attack. With its fire the demon had no doubt become stronger. As it crashed into the wall it created a small cluster of fire that seemed to combust. Leaving that part of the wall the demon crashed into cracked and seared black. The strength of the fire was enough for Cleo to feel the impact, even if he was not hit directly. Just being in close vicinity of the demon's attacks was enough to burn him. With that in mind, he was unsure of what to do next.

Meanwhile, Barney stirred, the pain in his back and head awakening as he felt the impact from the collision. Moaning, Barney lifted his head, and was taken off guard by the bright haze of the engulfed central room. The hellish horror of fire, emblazing the desk and balconies above. Flames so bright that he had to squint, and the developing smoke made it increasingly difficult to breath. Barney coughed, his heart beating like a drum, having come to his senses in this madness. Panic in his tone, and still not entirely aware what was happening, Barney shouted, "CLEO!!!"

Cleo turned to Barney, finding his friend awake and still laying on the ground, "Barney!"

His guard had dropped, so the demon took its advantage. Cleo had only turned for a split second, but that was just enough time. The demon charged forth, and before Cleo could react the demon slashed its talon hoof. Striking Cleo across his body and throwing him off his hooves. The force of the attack launched Cleo into the air, and he found himself across the central room. Dozens of yards away, landing painfully hard as he rolled, stopping a few feet by the exit. "CLEO!!!!" Barney shouted to Cleo, but Cleo didn't respond. His body motionless, tracked in soot and blood, an unseen cut on his torso from the sharpness of the demon's hoof, as Cleo laid on his front. He had once again lost his mace, the weapon laying idly inside the hallway. Thrown inside the entryway that lead to the exit.

Redger was gone, and Cleo's body lay injured, unmoving. The sight of Cleo sickened him, and Barney felt un unyielding rage develop in his heart. His sincerity and care for his friend, fallen for all he knew, gave him power. He stood to his hooves, clenching his grip to his twin scimitars, as he locked a death stare upon the demon. "How. Dare. YOU!!!" Barney roared, and the demon set his attention to Barney. The demon roared back, charging at Barney, but Barney charged as well. "DEEEMOOOOON!!!" Barney bellowed, leaping forth towards the demon.

The demon pounced at Barney, but Barney struck first. Slashing his twin scimitars, two streaks cut across the demon's face, as the two collided in the air. The demon wailed a blood curdling, gargle like shriek, and he masked his face with his hooves defensively. He had lost his balance from the attack, and the demon crashed to his side, skidding across the floor until his back met the wall, slamming against it hard. Barney bent forward, crouching in midair to avoid collision, as the demon flew over him. Crashing to his side while Barney landed to his hind hooves, summersaulting to rebalance himself, before whipping around back towards the demon. The demon growled, as it lifted itself back to its hooves, holding its face to cover his fresh wounds. Meanwhile, Barney charged, the demon still recovering while Barney took the opportunity to take an offensive stand.

Slashing rapid attacks, Barney dealt fast, fluid strikes at the demon. A cross strike, bringing his swords down at opposite, equal ends, cutting an "X" to the demon's side. The demon roared, striking at Barney, and Barney ducked, avoiding the attack. He then struck the lower part of the demon's foreleg, the one it used to attack. Twisting while he ducked, Barney used the motion to add force to his attack, turning around as he struck both swords against the demon's leg. Before the demon could react, Barney then pulled his swords back, lunging forward, and stabbing both tips into the demon's upper abdomen. He then pulled hard, retracting his blades from the demon, and back stepped in time before the demon could touch him. The demon turned, back hoof swiping at Barney, but missed. The blazing fire from its hoof just barely grazing Barney's face. Leaving no more than singed fur.

Barney rushed forward, striking with his right weapon, cutting across the demon's left shoulder. The demon struck back, swiping its talon at Barney. Barney leaned back, avoiding the attack, before making a quick jab with his left weapon at the demon's side. It growled as it felt Barney's scimitar pierce it, and it quickly became frustrated. As Barney retracted his blade the demon rose from its hind legs, towering over Barney, before it slammed down with both hooves. Bringing its power to its forehooves, the demon ignited a fire that combusted the moment it made contact with the floor. A blaze strong enough to knock Barney back. Thrown off his hooves, Barney toppled, rolling on his back, but he managed to recapture his balance. His great build made him a durable earth pony, and the attack felt no more than a solid push against his chest. If anything, the searing of his fur from the fire itself was the worst he received. Regaining his balance, Barney followed his rolling motion to stand back to his hind hooves. As he did, a loud crash from across the room caught his attention, and it was then he noticed how much smoke had filled the room.

The two balconies and spiral staircases were completely aflame, parts had weakened and had begun to collapse. Large structures of wood crashed to the stone floor, bringing clouds of ash and debris in its wake. The air was becoming unbreathable, and Barney felt the smoke he had inhaled thus far scratch his lungs. Coughing, he realized he wouldn't last here much longer. Glancing to the exit, Cleo was still motionless, and Barney knew he was going to have to carry him out, while somehow dealing with the demon.

He casted a glare at the demon, figuring then that the best chance he had to get out safely, and bring Cleo with him, was to defeat this demon right here and now. He readied himself, his scimitars gripped tight. The demon's blazing fire enhanced, growing taller, brighter, and stronger. It roared, charging at Barney, and Barney yelled a battle cry as he charged too. "RRRRAAAAAAAAAGH!!!"

The demon pounced to the air, and Barney leapt. Aiming for the ground instead of the demon, Barney skidded across his front, using his forelegs to turn himself around fast as he did. The demon, taken by surprise, soared over Barney and landed where Barney had stood previously. As the demon turned back, Barney quickly charged, attacking before the demon could react. His scimitars pointed forth, he galloped, using his shear speed to plunge his weapons into the demon's gut. Leaning into the attack, Barney used his weight to drive his weapons deeper. The demon howled in anguish, toppling onto its back. Barney followed the demon, climbing atop it as it fell. On its back, Barney used every ounce of strength he had to retract his blades, and drive it back down upon the demon. Again and again, he retracted, plunged his blades, retracted, and plunged his blades. Over and over, stabbing, until he felt the demon move no more. The demon growled in agony, and eventually, its head fell back. Its fires diminishing around its hooves, as they died along with their master.

The overwhelming adrenaline pumping through him made Barney continue to fight, even after the demon had gone limp. It wasn't until he became breathless that he ceased his attacks. Retracting his blades a final time, Barney panted, taking in large gulps of smoke that burnt his lungs. Coughing, Barney stumbled, bent over by the waist, and choked into his elbow. With little energy left, and no feasible way to recover in the smoke, Barney lost his strength and fell off the demon. Collapsing to the floor, Barney dropped his weapons as he struggled for breath. He was aware that as smoke rises the safest place to breath in a burning building is along the floor, so one should keep as low as possible if they should find themselves in this situation. So he didn't fight his fatigue to stand, and instead crawled for the door. He was sure that the demon was defeated, so not having worry about it he took his time. But not for long, as another crash from collapsing wood reminded him of the raging fire.

He coughed, breathing in and out slowly. Even if this was the safest place to breath it certainly didn't make the air clean. The age of this place had already clouded the air in dust and dirt, top that with the developing ash and smoke and it made it ever worse to breath. Still, it helped, and Barney found that he could at least crawl to the door with some ease. He reached for his weapons, having fallen to either side of him when he lost his grip, and quickly sheathed them. Another loud crash followed, making Barney flinch, and he stopped to witness the third floor balconies collapse. The floor and railings, and the spiraling staircases leading to it, all crumbling, weakening. The falling pieces of wood collapsing upon previous rubble, bringing up clouds of ash as it crashed to the growing pile below. The smoke became denser, and Barney found that the air this low didn't feel very safe anymore. He coughed as he squinted, struggling to see the door through the smoke. His eyes teared up, stinging by the smoke, and he continued to crawl.

"BARNEY!!!" someone shouted within the smoke, towards the door.

Barney couldn't see him, but he definitely recognized that voice. "Dean!?!"

"BARNEY!!! Hurry! Get over here!" Dean shouted, standing by Cleo's body.

"W- What are you doing here!?!" Barney shouted, having crawled close enough to the door to make out Dean through the smoke.

"I never left! I was watching from the doorway the whole time!"

"That was stupid! What if the demon saw you!" Barney chided.

"Never mind that! Cleo's hurt! He needs help!"

Barney had to admit Dean was right, and he was glad he was here to help carry Cleo out. At this point he wasn't sure he could manage doing it on his own. Groaning, Barney lifted himself to his hooves, finding the air to hurt more while he stood than on the ground crawling. Trotting over, Barney kneeled to Cleo as Dean stood by. Quickly, he checked his pulse, and was relieved to find that Cleo was still alive. He didn't bother to check his wounds. The sooner he got him out the sooner he could tend to it. So he looked over to Dean, "can you help me carry him out?"

Dean nodded, and bent to grab the bottom half of Cleo while Barney took the top.

A bright light suddenly appeared, catching Dean's attention to the right. Barney noticed it too, only a second after Dean. Reacting fast, Dean saw a cyclone of fire rushing for them, and he lunged at Barney. "Look out!!!" Dean pushed Barney, pushing himself backwards as he did so. Barney fell forwards, Dean backwards into the entryway, finding himself in the hall to the exit once more, and the spiraling cyclone of fire rushed between them. Igniting its path, and anyone that was in it. The blazing fire blew past, combusting against the left side wall with the strength of dynamite.

A second after the flame was gone, Dean, rubbing his head, quickly got to his hooves and trotted close to the entryway. Keeping hidden behind the door, Dean peeked into the room to find Barney laying several feet away. Barney groaned, rolling to his side as he turned back to the door. He saw Dean hiding, his head poking just into view, but neither of them saw Cleo.

The ground between them was scorched black, charred, as if the stone had turned to coal. A long line of smoldering black that reached to the other side of the room. The wall, just as burnt from where the fire had combusted, was hot to the touch; as was the line that extended between them. Dean pushed Barney and himself out of harms way, but Cleo was still laying as the fire came. And in his place, where he should have been laying, he was no longer there. Not even ash remained, his very existence seemed to have disintegrated on the spot; and Cleo was no more.

Dean realized what had happened before Barney, and he gasped, feeling a ping in his heart. Dawning on him slowly, as he stared at Cleo's smoldering spot, a rush of memories flooded Barney. The fall of Mane City when their group held twelve, passing hordes upon hordes of the corrupted, as their numbers diminished slowly. The fights, the strife's, the bonds, the ponies he lost, and the friends he made. Until they escaped Equestria, and there were only three of them. Now, there was one, and that was him. From a group that had escaped Mane City, until now. Redger wasn't here and Cleo was gone, and slowly, his breath left him. The world seemed to have crashed around him. Falling wood crumbled, reducing to ash, as the smoke built heavier in the air, and the fire roared ever strong. All of his friends were gone, the home he had known taken from him, and he was left in this stone coffin. An innocent soul to burn to dust.

He couldn't move, paralyzed beneath the weight of his abysmal reality. Dean shouted to him, but he didn't hear. Barney had no more fight in him, no energy left to continue. His mind and body seemed to have shut down, as everything around him turned blank. Only when he was knocked away did he awaken.

"OOOF!!!" the air left him as Barney felt something heavy rush into him. It pushed him several feet before stomping upon him, crushing his forelegs and pinning him down on his back. Barney gasped as he felt thick, hot breathes heave onto him, as the demon towered above hungrily. The demon hadn't fallen, it launched the attack that had taken Cleo, and it now pressed its weight against Barney, ready to finish the job. Roaring upon him, Barney flinched, embracing himself for the worst.

Dean gripped his mane tight, breathing in a panic as he thought of how to save Barney. Quickly, he looked around, hoping to find an answer in this old hallway. The hall was filling with smoke, but it hadn't nearly reached the level of density as the central room, so it was easier to see. Therefor, despite the darkness of night Dean still notice something glint. Something shine, just barely, from the light that came from the blazing fires.

The demon rose to its hind hooves, its talons high as it summoned its power. Fire ignited from the tips, and its hooves blazed as strongly as the flames that torched the balconies. The demon placed a hind hoof against Barney's lower body, crushing him. Barney felt something crack and he yipped. He struggled to free himself, but it was no use, the demon was too strong, and he had lost too much of his strength. He tried reaching for his scimitars, but in this position, his forelegs couldn't move the right way, and he couldn't reach his weapons. The demons roared, Barney, fearing for the end, shut his eyes. Turning his head away as the demon struck down; to pierce his flaming hooves into Barney.


Dean galloped forth, swinging the heavy weapon against the demon's hind leg. Cleo's mace, found in the hall, was wielded clumsily by Dean. Inexperienced, far too weak to wield such a mighty weapon, Dean had no control as the weapon swung. The mace collided against the demon, no more than bumping it off of Barney, before he stumbled, following the maces trajectory as it continued to swing. The demon growled and turned its attention to Dean. Dean, still struggling to catch himself, was unable to react as the demon made a back hoof swipe at him. He felt a powerful slap against his chest, equivalent to that of a large horse bucking his sternum. The tip of the demon's talon grazing Dean's color bone and cutting him, as he was thrown off his hooves. The mace fell out of his grip, lain on the ground far out of his reach, as Dean was slammed against his back. He fell forward, landed on his front, and dizzily, painfully and shaking, he lifted himself to his hooves. The demon was immediately charging after him, and in his panic Dean turned to run, finding himself facing an open doorway. Without thinking he ran through, finding himself back in the hall he and the others had escaped from earlier. He realized then that when the demon had struck him he was thrown against the wall which held the doorway to the hall. Now, he was back, and he had no choice but to proceed.

"DEAN!!!" Barney yelled from the central room, his voice just barley audible.

He couldn't stop with the demon on his trail. Cursing, he shouted over his shoulder as he galloped down the hall. Hoping that Barney would catch what he said, "get out of here! Don't worry about me! I'll be fine!!!" He galloped forth, running down the familiar hall. Unknowing to him that Barney didn't hear a single word.

The illuminated hall, once more clothed in a fire red, extended beyond even the light's reach. A wall, marking the end, on the opposite side of the building, was impossible to reach. Its distance so far, Dean considered that he might as well be galloping a mile in this hall. Even if he managed to outrun the demon, even if he could make it to the other exit, would the central room still be safe to pass through? Or will the flames have engulfed the room beyond passible?

Doors blurred as he past them one by one, the illuminating light growing brighter with each passing room. Dean peeked a glance over his shoulder and spotted the demon not too far away. Heaving, growling, its mouth frothing and its hooves spewing fire. Galloping like some sort of Cerberus from tarterus. Another door approached, soon to pass Dean as the others had, when a thought occurred suddenly.

The first floor had a long row of doors that lead from the central room to somewhere else. The last doors from either end lead directly to the hall, but all these door that he passed, where did they lead to? Dean remembered the room they hid in earlier was placed on the left side from the direction he ran in. Therefor, he reentered the hall from a door placed on the right. If entering a door on the left lead to another room, than wouldn't entering a door on the right lead back into the hall? That made the long row of doors make sense. In fact, if that was the case, why didn't they run through one of these doors earlier? It made sense at the time, run to the end of the hall to reach the door closest to the building exit. But had they entered any of these doors to the right, would they have reached it sooner? It made too much sense, and Dean charged for the approaching door.

Entering fast, Dean found himself in another room similar to the one they hid in. The desks and miscellaneous items scattered around, practically identical to everything in the previous room. For a moment Dean panicked, expecting to have found himself back in the central room, before he noticed a second door at the far end of the room. It made sense, with how long this hall was this must have been a room that connects with the central room. After leaving the hall and entering this room, one would need to pass another door to enter back into the central room. That had to be it. Strange that no smoke was passing the cracks in the door; and this room was so dark, Dean had expected at least shimmers of light to illuminate from the fire. But he paid no mind and dashed for the door.

Deep, heavy growling grew louder, and Dean knew the demon was getting closer. Making sure not to accidently step on anything sharp, as some of the miscellaneous items consisted of sewing needles, Dean quickly grabbed the door handle and pulled. For a moment it was jammed, and in his distress Dean thought no more than to pull harder. So he did, struggling to open the door by force. A dim red light glowed from behind, and glancing over his shoulder, Dean saw the light become brighter quickly. He knew he only had seconds, so instead of pulling, he instead bashed against the door in utter panic. Taking a step back, Dean rushed forward, slamming with every ounce of what little strength he had left against the door. It didn't budge but Dean swore he heard something crack. So he took a step back and tried again, and the door gave way.

Dean lost his footing, stumbled and fell to his front, as he found himself in a closet. Just like the one back in the previous room. It took a moment to register, his utterly baffled mind incomprehensible to this impossible closet. "W- What!?!" Dean shouted, as soon as he realized he hadn't returned to the central room. Jumping to his hooves, he galloped to the end of the closet, slamming his hooves to the wall. Banging against it, as if there was some sort of barrier that kept him from the central room, blocking his way.

It was impossible, this couldn't be, it made no sense. The central room had doors that lined the wall on the first, second, and third floor. Presumably, every floor had a hall just like this one, but that wasn't the point. The point is that those doors that line the central room walls must have lead to the hallway. There was no possible way that that single door, the one Dean had exited and entered, was the only way to enter this hall. If that were the case, than where did those other doors have lead to? And he had ran so far, how could a hall this long not have shorter paths back to the central room?

Dean stopped, as it hit him suddenly. That's right, the length of the hall. This building had a long hall that felt endless. It didn't make sense that there would be no faster way to return to the central room. But thinking about it, it also made no sense for another door, other than the last one at the end of the hall, to reach the central hall. He had ran dozens of yards, so there would be too much space between he and the central room, making it unrealistic to return to the central room with any other door in the hall that wasn't at the end. So to enter a room placed between the hall and the central made most sense to hold a door that lead back to the central room, and it seemed possible. In fact, it was. These rooms did exist, the problem was that this hall lead to rooms that can lead to the central room, and rooms that did not. And Dean realized that as he recalled the window from the metal room.

A room that held a window, yet that window did not lead outside, it merely lead to another room. With how far Dean ran he figured there must still be a lot of space between he and the central room. There were rooms that lead back to the central room, but there were also rooms that were built too far to reach the central room. So, they were built as a dead end. Perhaps there were rooms that lead to other rooms, and those rooms lead to the central room. Room upon room that worked as exit after exit, until he reached the central room. That he wasn't sure of, but the possibility was certainly there. It was horrible that he only figured this out now. In his panic he couldn't think straight. He had already seen Cleo disappear from the fire, Redger must have been gone as well, Barney was just about to be taken, and he was fearing the end was near for him as well. So he came up with the quickest solution. One that, at the time, made most sense. But thinking back, thinking rationally, the original plan of running to the final door at the end of the hall was the smartest option. Sadly, he didn't choose it.

The dark closet illuminated suddenly, turning bright red under the light. Heart beating like a drum, his lungs and chest cramping, as if he wasn't getting enough oxygen, yet, he was breathing in a panic. Slowly, he turned around, and found the demon standing mere feet away, blocking the doorway with its massive size. The demon growled hungrily, victoriously, as its prey coward in the corner of the closet. Dean struggled to come up with something, anything, but found that he couldn't. There was nothing left he could do, and he collapsed in the corner.

He covered his head, tears streaking along his face, and he curled into a fetal position. Dean could feel the ground vibrate from the demon's heavy hoof steps, approaching closer until it looked down upon Dean. Staring contently, like a meal ready to eat. Dean whimpered, swallowed, and he braced himself.

"Y- Your going to blame yourself . . . I know you will . . . y- your just that kind of pony". He couldn't help but cry a little, sniffling, as he found that he wasn't ready for the inevitable. "This . . . isn't your fault Doctor . . . this isn't your fault . . ."

The demon howled, and it attacked.