Trixie quickly realized that their only chance to actually get close enough for her to use the magic formation was by reducing the number of enemies. She also realized that the fact that the enemies were completely distracted by the energy of the formation was the best advantage they had in that situation. So, the Knight decided to use a spell that would take a while to charge. As she was charging, she gave some instructions to her apprentices.
"Trixie is going to lure most of the enemies away, then we'll just have to break through. As long as Trixie can get to the center and access the formation, she will be able to deal with every one of them."
"Seems simple enough." Applejack said distractedly, as she was still looking at the mass of monsters with her Eyes of Truth, having said there was something she wanted to try.It didn't take that much longer for the spell to be completely charged.
"Perfect Illusion: Desire Drive!" She cast the spell, and used a complicated process to send the spell formula beyond the crowd of creatures and far enough away for it to make a difference. This was complicated due to the amount of chaos magic in the air, but Trixie had experience dealing with that sort of handicap.
When the formula reached far enough away, the spell activated, and suddenly it was like a powerful wellspring of magic had appeared in the location of the spell. The nature of Desire Drive was to simulate the desires of the targets, and the chaotic monsters obviously wanted to absorb a pure source of magic. There was a stampede of the weird, mismatched creatures, as most of them left the formation to go after this new tasty magic, the spell having worked as well as could be expected.
However, it was still only most of them. A few of the creatures, specifically the ones that were nearest to the center, simply couldn't be lured away so easily, due to being in the process of absorbing a great deal of magic all at once, and Trixie didn't really expect that to work perfectly. So there was only one thing left to do.
"Charge!" Trixie shouted, and started galloping in the direction of the center of the formation, before adding "I just need to get to the center and we win, cover me!"
The other two were already galloping right alongside her, and they quickly got the attention of the monsters.
The first monster in their path had the appearance of a small sphere with incredibly long and spindly limbs, ending in hands. It did not have any visible sensory organs, but it somehow managed to detect the approach of the ponies, and turned to "face" them (it did not have a face).
"I got it!" Rarity shouted, and the three kept going forward for a bit more, before the monster took a step forward, apparently preparing to do something.
It did not have the chance, as its hand was coming down on the floor, Rarity activated her telekinesis, and twisted the limb to land awkwardly and make the monster lose balance, and then she gave a terrifying telekinectic push to the sphere, making the other three hands leave the ground as the creature fell to the ground.
The three went past the monster, only to be faced with two other obstructions to their path, in the form of a cricket-like being, with a crown of tentacles and a gigantic bunny head connected to a bouncing spring.
Trixie charged up her magic, without stopping her galloping, this would be a difficult spell, even if she only needed to distract the two for a few seconds.
"Perfect Illusion: Point of View!" The magic split in two, with each of the parts going to the head of one of the creatures. It wasn't quite using two spells at once, and more like a spell doing two things, but it was the sort of thing even skilled mages would struggle to replicate in those kinds of conditions.
The effects of that spell were at once, simple and complicated. They were simple because they only changed the perception the monsters had of the ponies, where instead of running straight at them, the monsters saw the ponies change direction to their sides (the left monster saw them moving to his right and the other saw them moving to his left), but it was complicated because Trixie had to modify the spell to deal with the weird senses of the chaos creatures.
The two moved, each to one side, leaving a path in the middle open, which the three ponies passed through.
And finally, right on top of the center of the formation was the biggest of the chaos monsters. Its body was shaped like a raft made of tree trunks, it had three hads, each one with different mismatched faces, featuring bug compound eyes, dog muzzles, shark teeth and several other features. And supporting this big body was an amount of legs that could not be easily counted, all of them the same, but pointing at different directions. Then, a previously invisible mouth opened in the middle of the body, and the creature roared in challenge, at the ponies that were coming at it.
Applejack accelerated, easily overtaking and distancing herself from the two unicorns, showing that she wanted to deal with that thing. Trixie still charged up a spell, just in case.
The earth pony attained a speed that would be considered respectable even by professional athletes, and the monster tried to bite down on her with each one of its three heads, but Applejack's quick movements to the left and right allowed her to dodge them. The farmer got under the monster and her agility was tested even more as she dodged dozens of kicks by constantly jumping between the ground and the top of different feet, ducking and at one point, actually running on the side of one of the legs. And then, she got to a specific point, looked up with eyes that were shining with magic, jumped, spun in the air, and bucked the creature.
The chaotic monster released an unholy screech, and then cracks start appearing in its body. Light came out of those cracks, which expanded more and more, until the entire monster was glowing with a yellow light. The creature contorted itself and finally exploded in a multidude of sparks, releasing a gray pegasus mare who fell to the ground, groaning.
Trixie had not stopped galloping during all of this, and had gotten close enough to see Applejack with a wide smile. Her own questioning expression seemed to have gotten through to the mare, who explained:
"Ah did it! Ah saw the weak spot with mah own Eyes! Then it was just hitting it with mah earth pony magic." She said proudly.
Trixie got it, and smiled at her as she passed by the farmer. She was almost at the center-
And appearing out of thin air, a chaos creature who looked like a pyramid with three wings dived down at her. Trixie hardened her defenses with her charged magic, knowing she didn't have time for an actual spell...
And the pyramid was hit by a shower of small fragments of rock, disrupting its trajectory and making it crash without hitting Trixie.
The blue unicorn risked a glance backwards and saw a hole in the ground, with Rarity wheezing by its side, apparently having exhausted herself doing whatever she did. Trixie looked forwards again and galloped the last few meters to the center of the formation. She realized, during those last few seconds, that Rarity should have used her telekinesis like thousands of tiny shovels to excavate the earth and throw the pieces of ground at the monster. It was a very impressive bit of magic, specially on such short notice. The unicorn Knight realized how good her apprentices were, and decided she should show off a bit to reward them for their new advancements.
She got to the right spot and used her magic senses to connect with the formation. Then she "unlocked" it, to be able to actually use the power of the entire formation all at once. The way to do so was one of the biggest secrets her position afforded her to know. Immediately, she could feel the extreme power of the formation, ready to be used.
"Amplify Domain..." She whispered, and drew upon the formation to be able to execute the spell. It was actually not a very complicated magic, being something Sunset developed, because the only effect of the spell was increasing the range in which the user could directly exert their energy.
But the magnitude of the spell was immense.
Trixie's Domain expanded to cover the entire magical formation, and kept expanding, to the point where even the chaos creatures which had been lured by her previous spell were included in it. While normally, to affect long distances with magic, it was necessary to form a spell and then "throw" it, which had the risk of the magic decaying on the way if the distance was too large. But that was only because normally, one's own Domain only covers a few feet away from their bodies. But now Trixie could directly form a spell anywhere her expanded Domain reached.
Now that she could use the enormous power of the formation, the biggest limitation on what spells she could use was how complex the spell formulas she could use were, since simple spell formulas simply couldn't hold too much magical power, and Trixie wanted to use as much of the overflowing power she had access to as possible.
So Trixie's first use of the magical formation was complex yet elegant. Creating a formula that would target every single one of the chaos beings, would compensate for the interference of the chaos magic in the air, and would use exactly enough energy to dispel the chaos magic, leaving the ponies inside unharmed. As she wrote the formula, the mental strain was noticeable, but far from her limit. It was simply the most efficient way of dealing with it.
And the most stylish.
The apprentices looked around as they saw small points of light appear on the bodies of every single chaos creature they could see. And before they could do anything about it, the points of light started shining brightly, and every one of the creatures started shrinking, their forms losing their special features, and their presences becoming more "real" for a lack of a better term. Every single one of them howled, roared, screamed and gave off all sorts of noises that could be imagined, in a terrifying cacophony of noise.
But eventually, everything stopped, leaving only a bunch of ponies groaning on the floor, disoriented. Applejack and Rarity looked at their teacher, completely stupefied by that display of power.
But Trixie quickly got them moving:
"Can you gather the ponies and bring them here?" She asked.
The two hurried to comply, and Trixie started a new spell. She had rescued all those ponies, so there was a need for a place where they could be safe while she and her apprentices were busy saving the princesses. Thankfully, removing so many chaos creatures from the place had cleared the air significantly, so her next spell was significantly easier:
"Perfect Illusion: Keep Out!" She cast, creating a field around the space of the magical formation and imbuing the field with a very powerful enchatment designed to keep out bad influences. In this case, it was made to prevent chaotic creatures from coming close by presenting an illusion of absolute order, something that was inimical to their being.
By that point, Applejack and Rarity had come back with the freed ponies. They were fairly afraid, but seemed to have taken some confort in the presence of a Knight. Trixie decided to reassure them:
"You should be safe here, Trixie has cast a spell to keep the monsters out. We are going to rescue the princesses next."
The ponies were relieved, and Trixie started on her next spell, which would be the hardest of all of them, because it would cover the entire city. She spent an entire minute composing the spell formula:
"Perfect Illusion: Fake Reality!" And the spell spread from her, to englobe the entire city of Canterlot, taking root despite all the wild chaos magic around due to the sheer overwhelming power she had drawn from the formation and poured into the spell.
But at its heart, it was a very simple magic. It was made to present, to anyone who would look, that there was nothing interesting going on in the city. Discord was connected with chaos everywhere, and this would be enough to allow them to save the princesses and remove the chaos he had wrought on Canterlot and reduce his powers without him being aware. It wouldn't work under normal circunstances, but he was fairly distracted at the... moment...
Trixie saw, via her remote vision, Twilight removing her restraints. She looked at her apprentices:
"We're getting out of time! It's not going to be confortable, but Trixie can use the power of the formation to overcome the interference of the chaos magic and teleport to the castle. Come close!"
Applejack and Rarity saw that Trixie was more serious than they had ever seen her be. They moved without discussion, and the unicorn Knight quickly created the spell formula and activated a forced teleport.
The ponies still there could only wait and hope...
Pinkie Pie was a cheerful pony who always believed that things would go alright, but she couldn't help but show a worried frown. That's because her teacher had told her what happened the last time she released her own restraints completely.
Half of Canterlot had been destroyed.
She felt helpless, knowing that Twilight had been pushed to this point because she wasn't strong enough to help. But still, Pinkie decided to do whatever she could, even if it was only trying to point the chaotic unicorn in the right direction.
Discord was waiting impatiently to see what the purple unicorn would do. Despite how much they had angered him, the spirt of chaos honestly felt that he hadn't had so much fun in more time than he cared to count. There seemed to be no end to their tricks, and he was looking forward to what that unicorn would do. In fact, he actually started to seriously think about taking both of them under his wing, to think of the chaos they could wreak-
Suddenly, a gigantic hoof stepped on him.
Twilight giggled, and it could be seen that one of her legs was halfway through a small portal that had appeared from nowhere "Tag, you're it!" She removed her leg from the portal, and the hoof that had smashed Discord also disappeared.
The draconequus unflattened himself "Oh you..." He took a step in Twilight's direction.
And a hand closed around the Knight "Got you!"
He got hit with a snowball "Sorry, try again!" Twilight shouted at him, from the complete opposite direction.
Discord opened his hand. In it was a paper saying "I O U an unicorn Knight".
The spirit of chaos realized that he would have to actually make and effort this time.
And thus began the highest stakes game of tag ever since the last time the three Knights (only apprentices at the time) had decided to run one of their "special tactical simulations". And if there was an event that could earn the title of "chaotic battle", it was that confrontation between Discord and Twilight. Her power had escalated enough that she could perfectly match him even though he was using "big attacks" all the time now. He trapped her in a conjured prison, complete with guards and other inmates (all Discord), and she responded by befriending one of the inmates and organizing a break out in less time than it took to take a breath. He grabbed the entire city to be able to grab her in his hand, and a bunch of Twilights showed up, wailing about "Twilight's death" (she had indeed closed her eyes and become stiff), and took her away to organize a funeral (Discord pressed fast-forward in his remote to make this go faster). He pulled out a picture of Twilight, touched the unicorn in the picture and declared her to be it, and the Knight in the picture reached out and touched him, saying "Tag, you're it again!".
The fact that she was still using the party hat as a horn only made the situation weirder.
And the earth pony seemed to be unwilling to simply leave things to her teacher, she had challenged Discord to a game of "I Spy". And since she didn't have the same level of power that let Twilight contest with Discord, Pinkie Pie instead was using her smarts. Like when she said she spied something beginning with "E", and Discord brought out a weird, two-headed and five-legged creature which he called an equanicuderas. And Pinkie said that wasn't it, and Discord brought out a sealed envelope containing Pinkie's signature that the thing she had spied was an equanicuderas, but by that point she had replaced the equanicuderas with a bunch of rocks shaped like a rabbit.
And things went on like this for a few exchanges. But it turned out that, and this surprised Discord, it turned out that unrestrained Twilight was even less patient than him.
"Bored now." She said, and then her party hat shined, and suddenly all three of the participants in the battle were inside a conjured classroom, with Twilight at the teacher's desk while Discord and Pinkie were sitting on tables for students.
"Class, today we are going to learn why Discord should stop causing so much chaos so thoughtlessly." She announced.
Pinkie froze, and slowly turned to look at the spirt of chaos... before sighing in relief. He had taken a pose of complete attention and seriousness. It seemed like he wanted to see where she was going with that. The earth pony's heart was beating wildly, because there was very little she could do if things went south. Still, she kept listening as Twilight talked, and she actually already knew many of the reasons, because of the unicorn's lessons about the nature of chaos. She talked about how chaos without purpose was totally boring, how chaos was itself because it was unexpected, and would lose that if it was all chaos, all the time, she talked about how an excess of chaos magic would eventually harm the very structure of the world, causing it to collapse and preventing any more fun from being had...
"But still, all that is secondary." Twilight said "There is one reason which is even more important than all of that put together."
Pinkie Pie and Discord both stared. The pony because Twilight had never talked about an even bigger thing than all that, and Discord because he could feel everything was just the set-up and he was about to see the punchline.
"Because it would make Fluttershy sad." Twilight said solemnly.
There was a moment of absolute silence.
Then Pinkie Pie nodded. Indeed, making Fluttershy sad was something that would have extreme metaphysical consequences. And it was something incredibly obvious, so there had been no reason for Twilight to mention it to her.
Discord, on the other hand, had a different reaction.
"Who is Fluttershy?" He asked in a questioning tone.
Twilight stared at him in disbelief.
"Who is Fluttershy...? You actually don't know who Fluttershy is...?" She muttered "Then, allow me to enlighten you!"
The classroom exploded, and with a shine of her horn, Twilight erected a gigantic monument in the form of a stone tablet, and on that tablet was an image of Fluttershy.
"She is Fluttershy!" She pointed "Can you see it? Can you see how cute she is?!" Twilight's words resounded through the entire town and even inside the Everfree "Look at her eyes! Could you bear to make them sad?!" Twilight was speaking with an immense conviction.
Meanwhile, in another part of Ponyville, Fluttershy was blushing heavily. She had seen that gigantic image of herself and was hearing the words Twilight was saying, and she simply froze on the spot.
Sunset took pity on her and grabbed her with telekinesis and kept going.
However, despite her apparent stoicness, inwardly she was thinking about how she would tease her partner about it later.
Rainbow Dash was looking at everything that was happening from the sky, so she obviously understood everything that was going on, including the context.
She facehoofed. The pegasus knew the Knights were weird, but this was still unexpected.
Rainbow didn't think she would mention this part when she retold the tale later.
In the city of Canterlot, Trixie was currently fighting a castle again.
She hoped this kind of thing wouldn't become a routine, castles weren't opponents she could dazzle with her tricks, so it felt a little empty to fight them.
Just from the fact she could have such thoughts in the middle of a battle was enough to realize things weren't going badly. She was actually also keeping up her remote vision spell still, so she saw the scene.
Even as she kept thinking of possible outcomes for this situation, a small part of her mind was thinking about how she would tease her partner about it later.
Discord put a hand on his chin.
"Hmm... I think I remember her. She was one of the ponies that were with you earlier... She should still be near..." He turned and started making a gesture... And was interrupted by a book to the face. And not just any book, but a door sized book.
"Hey, I still haven't finished! Don't lose focus!" Twilight shouted at him.
"Tch." He pointed at the book and turned it into a squirrel "Where was I..." He was completely disregarding the unicorn.
"Looks like a book is not enough." Twilight was frowning, but she suddenly smiled "Better use the whole library, then!" And a familiar tree library appeared in the air next to the unicorn and threw itself at the spirit of chaos.
Pinkie winced when she heard the sound of things breaking from inside the library. Twilight wouldn't be happy when she came back to her senses. And her unrestrained state was becoming more and more unpredictable.
The party pony hoped the others would come back soon.