The Worst Equestrian Necromancer

by Nobodyslament

A Very Merry Hearth Warming

Twilight Sparkle grunted as she rolled over in her bed. She was awake, but there were a couple reasons she didn't want to actually greet the day. One, her alarm clock hadn't gone off yet. While the little piece of clockwork was often her mortal nemesis, it was stalwart in its purpose to wake her up exactly on schedule; the only thing worse than getting out of bed was getting out of bed early. Two, the sun wasn't shining through her window; the only light seeping through her eyelids was the flickering glow of torches. She thought about that for a moment, wondering why there would be torchlight in her little Ponyville library.

Her eyes snapped open as she added ‘getting out of bed somewhere different than where you went to sleep’ to the list.

She was, sadly, not in her home. The first hint to this was the torches mounted on the stone walls. The second clue was the jail cell her entire bed was in. She bolted up, staring at her surroundings. The cell was large. Large enough for six beds to fit inside it comfortably. Twilight looked in horror at each of the beds in the room. The soft silks of Rarity's sheets caught her eye before the rough cotton of Applejack’s quilt distracted her. Sure enough, every single one of her best friends was stuck in the cell with her.

She did the first thing that popped into her mind and screamed. Her friends all scrambled awake, falling from their beds and in one case, flying straight up and hitting the ceiling with such force the stone cracked. Rainbow's voice broke through the silence that invaded the room. "What the buck, my house doesn't have a stone roof."

The friends didn't speak as they took note of their cell, instead falling into the habits gleaned from fighting evil for the past few years. Fluttershy silently hid behind Rainbow, looking over her head as Twilight ran a few diagnostic spells. Applejack began poking at the walls as Rarity inspected the bars. When they all finished their inspection Twilight broke the silence. "We're locked in with dark magic, but it's weak. There's enough Solar magic wherever we are that I could probably break it in a few minutes, but the pony that cast it would know as soon as I started."

A voice seemed to come from the ceiling. "If they were half the wizard Ragar was, they would feel it when you started the diagnostic!" There was a pause as Twilight looked around in abject horror before a cough came from the ceiling, followed by a skull sinking through the solid stone. "Erm, also if you could play along for the next hour or so, Ragar would be most appreciative. Hearthswarming for Canterlot is on the line."

The ponies stared in confusion as Ragar's head spun around, looking at each of them. After a moment he spoke again. "Could you all move together, Ragar can't decide who to look at."

The group all slowly moved to center on Twilight, who was still focused on the idea of one of her mentor’s oldest friends kidnapping her. "Ragar, you can't just kidnap us for no reason!"

Ragar's skull nodded. "Of course not! Ragar kidnapped you to save Hearthswarming. The fact that Ragar is the one who stole it has no bearing on the matter. Fear not! A warrior foretold by legend will arrive soon to free you. Also, there are fake versions of your elements under each of your beds. If you would kindly put them on, the warrior will be here soon; Ragar must prepare his final boss room for your arrival. Ragar put it off for far too long, and Black Sun has been less than helpful after I told him I put you all in a cell. He is grumpy about missing some meeting this morning."

Twilight stared at the skeleton. "He was meeting me for breakfast! We were going to head to Canterlot this afternoon and meet with Celestia!"

Ragar paused. "Oh, well then Ragar has saved you the train fare, as we're already in Canterlot! Ragar's plans are even more brilliant than he thought!" The skull ascended through the roof, with his trademark laugh following behind him.

Applejack leaned into Twilight's ear. "Erm, Sugarcube? Did that there mess of bones just say he stole Hearthswarming?"

Twilight slapped a hoof to her face. "Yes, he did. Everyone, just... play along. Ragar is mostly harmless. He just does things without thinking."

Fluttershy moved to her bed, reaching under it for the false version of her element. "Is he the one who makes those theme parks scattered around Equestria? I think I remember visiting the Zoo of Ragar when I was younger."

Rarity was the one to answer, surprising the rest of the group. "Oh yes, Darling. The nobility has all sorts of theories about him. If the rumors are to be believed, he's an immortal like Celestia, but nobody knows the details. Rumors ranging from him being a scorned lover to a secretive warlord fly around the palace with more regularity than the guards."

Twilight stared at Rarity before shaking her head, dispelling the fact she had never heard those rumors during her time in Canterlot. "Er, yes. He also apparently has Celestia's permission to study black magic. Also, I think he's completely insane, if harmlessly so. Some ponies claim otherwise, but I don't buy it."

Applejack shrugged, grabbing her own fake from its spot. "Well then, guess it can't hurt to play along. Who do you figure this lost warrior is?"

Before any of the group could voice their thoughts, hoofsteps began to sound through the hall. A young voice cut through the dungeon. "Stupid dad, going away on a business trip, stupid wizard stealing stupid Hearthswarming when I don't even get to celebrate. Why do I have to be the stupid hero to save it?"

The girls paused at the young voice before moving to the cell bars, looking down the hallway to find the foal who was obviously the hero Ragar had mentioned. They saw a simple colt with mustard-colored fur and orange mane grumbling as he walked down the hallway. Rarity was the first to act, catching on to Ragar's plan as soon as she saw the foal frowning at the floor. "Oh my! We're saved, the hero has finally arrived!"

The foal froze, staring at the cell. His eyes seemed to widen, staring at the famous heroes of Equestria. "YOU'RE THE ELEMENTS OF HARMONY! OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH. YOU GUYS BEAT DISCORD!" He began making complicated hoof gestures while sitting down. "HE WAS ALL LIKE RAWR AND THEN YOU WENT PEW PEW AND SHOT HIM WITH A FRIENDSHIP LASER!"

Rainbow Dash smiled, hovering behind the bars. "Yeah, that's totally us. But we're kinda on a schedule kid. Think you could let us out real quick?"

The foal nodded. "YEAH!" He sprinted up to the cell, pulling it open while smiling like a madmare. He was jumping in place by the time the mares walked out and nearly fell when Pinkie began matching his jumps to look him in the eyes. "HI I'M PINKIE PIE, ARE YOU HERE TO HELP US BEAT THE MEANIE WHO STOLE HEARTHSWARMING?"

The foal nodded, keeping his bounces in rhythm with the pink pony. "UH-HUH, I'M GILDED CROWN! I GOT VISITED BY A GHOST WHO TOLD ME TO SAVE HEARTHSWARMING AND SENT ME DOWN HERE!"

Pinkie Pie nodded. "So you know what way to go then?"

Crown nodded. "YEAH, C'MON!!" with that, he ran down the hallway, with the six mares following closely behind. They had very few interruptions; the only thing that even tried to stop them were badly painted cardboard cutouts in the shape of Windigos. However, the final door did stump them. Crown stared at it with a grimace. "Oh come on! There's not even a handle!"

Twilight paused as the whispered voice of Ragar seemed to come from right beside her. "Only the Hero of Hearthswarming could ever open that door. One who truly knows that Hearthswarming is inside the heart, not the decorations."

Twilight looked around, seeing only empty air, before she fully caught on to what Ragar said. With a meaningful nudge at Rainbow Dash she sat down. "Oh no, without the decorations, Hearthswarming is ruined!"

Rainbow looked between Twilight and the door for a minute, before playing along. "Yeah, I bet the awesome new Scooter I got for Scootaloo is still in there too!"

AppleJack looked at them confused, before finally getting the hint. "How can I celebrate Hearthswarming without the Apple family fruitcake recipe?"

Rarity went into the act fetlock deep, swooning backward into Twilight's hooves. "Why, without my newest outfits, however will I make Hearthswarming truly memorable?!"

Fluttershy didn't say anything, instead looking dejectedly at the floor. Seeing his heroes losing hope, Crown did the only thing a foal could; try to make them feel better. "That's not true at all." He moved to the door, pushing it as hard as he could. "As long as we keep trying, we can't lose. Besides, Hearthswarming is about being friends, all the gifts and stuff aren't important! It's about being with people you love!" The door moved an inch, and his grin exploded. "See, if we all work together we can open this door super-easy!"

Twilight moved Rarity aside and began pushing beside him. "You're right, Crown. As long as we hold Hearthswarming deep in our hearts, it'll be there forever." The other mares moved forward, each one opening the door more and more until finally the door creaked open. Revealing the most decorated room to ever exist.

Every single decoration from the city of Canterlot was festooned about the room. Hearthswarming logs were stacked to the ceiling of the vaulted chamber, tinsel covered every inch of the walls, and stacks of gifts covered the entire floor except for a small path that led to a lone figure in the center of the room. It was a pony with pure green hair making up his spiky mane, the red and white suit covering his midriff a jarring contrast to the rest of him. He was smiling a devilish grin as he looked over his haul. When he spoke it was in a dulcet tone that would have been beautiful if not for the sinister edge it carried. "I've done it! All of Hearthswarming is here. Without all the decorations, I won't have to deal with all those incessant noises they make! The ringing bells, the happy cheers, those stupid carols that flood from the streets into my marvelously miserable home."

Crown didn't seem to need the hint, and cleared his throat. "The fire of friendship lives in our hearts. As long as it burns, we cannot drift apart. Though quarrels arise, their numbers are few, laughter and singing will see us through. We are a circle of pony friends. A circle of friends we'll be to the very end."

The figure turned, staring at the group with malice in his eyes. "Foolish foal, with all these Hearthswarming decorations I am to powerful for even the Elements to stop! I, Gragar, am unbeatable!"

Suddenly, from vents barely visible through the tinsel, a tune came out. "As dawn shines on us every morn. The fire of friendship is reborn, and all the friendships we have made. We cherish in every way."

'Gragar' paused, looking to the vents. "Impossible, without the decorations and gifts Hearthswarming is cancelled! How could they possibly be singing?"

"Loyalty binds us and makes us strong
Honesty shows that we belong
And kindness shared will unite us through each day

The fire of friendship lives in our hearts
As long as it burns, we cannot drift apart
Though quarrels arise, their numbers are few
Laughter and singing will see us... through"

Twilight stepped up, smirking. "You’re wrong, Gragar. Hearthswarming isn't about all those silly gifts and decorations. Gilded Crown showed us the truth."

Gilded Crown’s eyes grew three sizes as he stared at his hero. Rainbow Dash flew up, her element appearing to glow. "Yeah, Hearthswarming is all about friends and family, and as long as we have all that, you can't stop us."

Gilded watched as all of the fake elements began glowing. The looked at the elements with confusion for a moment before they all grinned at each other, getting into position as if they were about to use their actual relics. Rarity was the one to deliver the finishing line. "And with our new friend, we can put an end to your evil deeds!"

And with that, the elements fired. A magical beam of rainbow energy flew from the young ponies, hitting Gragar full force. As the energy flew into him he let out a shriek. "NOOOOO!" The energy faded, leaving an apparently unharmed Gragar in their wake - at least, until a rainbow-tinted pool started spreading from his hooves. "Ah, I'm melting! My pure evilosity has been used against me for dramatic purposes." He began flailing as he collapsed into goo. "If only I had accepted the magic of Hearthswarming! Or moved someplace else. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?" Finally, his head sank into the pool. The six mares and colt stared for a moment before the voice called out one more time. "Blarg, I am dead."

The group jumped as yet another gust of rainbow flew through the chamber, causing all the decorations to fly from the room; when the holiday torrent died down, a very worried stallion was left in their place. He looked back and forth desperately before his eyes fell on Gilded Crown. "Crown?" Before the mares even had time to comment the stallion ran towards the colt, sliding to a stop with a hug. "I heard you went on some quest to stop some creature who stole the town's decorations! And then I couldn't find you. I swear to Celestia I'm not leaving you alone ever again!"

Twilight smiled as a soft sob came from behind her. She wasn't even surprised to see the face of 'Gragar' behind her. The green fur slowly faded, leaving only a blank skull. A napkin was held in a bony hand, dabbing at the dry skull. "Ragar loves happy endings."

Twilight smiled, tapping the skull with a hoof. "Me too, Ragar. Happy Hearthswarming."

Ragar nodded. "And a Merry Christmas to you too. Ragar is glad you played along, and when you meet Black Sun he has gifts for all of you from Ragar." Twilight raised an eyebrow, but before she could comment Ragar left.

She smiled as the rest of her friends walked up to introduce themselves to the stallion holding their new friend. After a moment she realized something. "What's Christmas?"