Twilight let out the most relieved sigh yet. If she could rate all the moments in her life where she would feel so relieved, undoubtedly this would rank somewhere between the end of the Canterlot Changeling invasion, and when she unraveled Star Swirl’s own machinations pertaining to fate itself. But she’d pulled it off. A duelist for only two days, and she’d already defeated Canterlot High’s top brass-
A sudden tightness found itself around Twilight’s ribs, all the while feeling something smoosh against her chest. She didn’t quite know how begin to describe it, but it felt strangely nice, but she could not fathom why.
“Woo! You did it!” Pinkie screamed in the most contradictory joy Twilight thought someone who’d just lost could exhibit, as she embraced Twilight with the force of a human vice. “You did it! You-did-it-you-did-it-you-did-it, you did it!”
Twilight cringed from the new bout of tinnitus from Pinkie’s shrill voice so close to her ears, “I sure did…”
Pinkie released Twilight from being tightly embraced between her arms and chest obstructions, leading Twilight by the wrist towards the central ring of the soccer field and holding up Twilight’s left arm in admittance of her victory. This elicited the gathered students into a chorus of cheers and standing applause. Vinyl Scratch began to blare some form of congratulatory music Twilight believed she recognized as a rather new genre called ‘techno’, all the while the DJ bobbed her head in rhythm with some form of hand sign. Twilight watched as Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and the Cutie Mark Crusaders approached in a rush.
Fluttershy was more than happy to relinquish the megaphone back to Pinkie whilst Applejack gave a firm congratulatory pat on Twilight’s back, followed by a hug from Rarity.
“Congratulations, Twilight,” said Rarity upon pulling back from the hug, her hands grasping at Twilight’s shoulders. “You… actually pulled it off!”
Twilight chuckled, “I know, I’m just as amazed as you are, arguably.”
“And there you have it folks!” said Pinkie into the megaphone at the audience, gesturing towards Twilight. “Twilight Sparkle, everybody! The girl out to change Canterlot High, the ignominious underdog aspiring for the coveted title of Duel Queen-” Pinkie grinned innocently at an indignant ‘Hey!’ from Twilight, “Who just whooped all the asses of four, count ‘em, four of CHS’ best! Now, we have a question for all of you! That’s right; you, in the audience. I’m talking you, and you, you, all of yous: What do ya say? Think Twilight Sparkle is the one to finally take down that awful, duplicitous, conniving-”
“Oh, just shut up already!”
Twilight, her friends, the audience, all on the soccer field had their attention diverted towards the edge, complete and utter silence befalling the schoolyard. Twilight’s eyes widened in worry come the realization who had so abruptly interrupted their little event.
Fiery red and golden yellow hair, striking to the point of terrifying orange eyes and golden yellow skin, a most recognizable black jacket contrasting her otherwise warmly colored outfit of purple, red and orange, complete with a black and orange trayed duel-disk, currently deactivated. Her eyes, even in the late afternoon sun, looked as if they were aglow in a baleful display of an indescribable hate.
Sunset Shimmer! Twilight spotted Priestess’ astral form appear beside her, the spirit looking upon her previous charge in what could only be sorrowful concern.
The students followed Sunset’s stride, a plethora of expressions dotting their faces. Some looked genuinely afraid of the bully and honorary Duel Queen’s approach. Others looked at her with resentment. Flash Sentry narrowed his eyes, standing up from his place on the bleachers, as if anticipating something. Twilight caught Sunset casting a disdainful glance at him, only to scoff at him. She approached Twilight and her gathered friends, each of them showing their own ire towards the fiery haired unicorn in the guise of a human girl, even Fluttershy. Even Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were glaring daggers at the taller, older girl, while Sweetie Belle looked most reluctant to be caught in Sunset’s gaze.
Sunset proceeded to walk around the group, looking at them as if observing them in an almost analytical fashion. Towards the half point of the circumference, her orange eyes were focused solely on Twilight, locking with her purple ones. No doubt she was trying to intimidate her, but Twilight needed not fall for it. She knew who this girl was, her secret, her crimes, and her actions at CHS. She stopped before Twilight and her friends, back facing the audience. She continued to observe the eight gathered, crossing her arms as she cast a visibly haughty gaze.
Sunset drew her arms from betwixt one another and began a slow, deliberate clap. She smiled wryly, focusing mainly on Twilight, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie and Fluttershy.
“Bravo,” she sneered in faux sincerity. “Bravo, indeed. That was quite the display, new girl.”
“Who in the hell invited you, Sunset?” Applejack inquired in honest, unabashed hostility.
“To be fair, it was an open invite…” Pinkie whispered from behind a palm.
Sunset shrugged in a dramatic fashion, her sneer lengthening to a smile, staring over her chin condescendingly, “What? I just came to see the new girl perform, just like everyone else. Oh…? Was I not supposed to?” She pouted in clear faux innocence.
“After all you’ve done, we much preferred it without you showing up,” spat Rarity.
“Why, Rarity,” Sunset gasped, “How uncourteous of you. Shouldn’t you be getting your girlfriend to do the posturing? Oh right, I forgot, you were the one cheating on her with Skittles…”
Rarity clenched her fist, looking just about ready to go at Sunset and sock her, but Applejack’s hand caressed her shoulder, stepping forth to stand at her side, “She most certainly can ask me of anythin’, for we found out about your little PhotoShop project.” She held Rarity close to herself, the couple joining together to size up Sunset.
“Oh?” Sunset raised a brow, “Took you this long to find out? I knew you were more than a little dense, Applejack, but two years? Sheesh, didn’t think you were that much of a hick.”
Applejack took a step forward. “Oh, Ah’m sorry, didn’t quite catch that. Why don’t ‘cha come a little closer?” she dared, doing a display of rubbing a fist against a palm, the bones of her hand cracking ominously. “Ah dare ya.”
Sunset’s eyes narrowed, but she seemed to prefer keeping her distance. She turned around facing the crowd, her arms gesturing a shrug towards the audience.
“Well how about that?” she asked seemingly everyone around her. “Four of the top students all taken down by some no-name new girl who couldn’t even last more than a couple of turns yesterday. I guess it goes to show you, that these four weren’t worth a lick of salt in facing your Duel Queen after all… Unless, of course, you weren’t even trying in the first place.” She looked over her shoulder, a single orange eye leering at the school’s cream of the crop.
Twilight could hear some of the students begin to murmur amongst themselves. She’s trying to turn the entire student body against us…
“That’s a load of horse crap!” Applejack rebutted. “A true duelist always, an’ Ah mean always does their damnedest! Or are ya just scared that Twilight here just might have your number?”
Sunset turned back to face Applejack, her sneer replaced by a venomous frown.
“How ‘bout it, Sunset?” Applejack asked daringly, patting her red and green duel disk. “Wanna throw down right here an’ now?”
Sunset chuckled, “Oh please. As if a bumpkin like you could beat me anymore than Miss Airhorn there could.” She glanced over at Pinkie Pie, “Did you know you have something on your face?”
Pinkie pouted, wiping the streaks of cherry syrup off her cheeks, licking it off, not once blinking or breaking eye contact.
“Like a child,” Sunset huffed.
“Don’t listen to her Pinkie,” said Fluttershy in defense. “If anyone’s missed your antics, I most certainly have. And we wouldn’t have you any other way.”
“I’m not,” Pinkie muttered. “Such a killjoy.”
“Ohh, and I see you and Flutters are all chummy again,” Sunset remarked. “What? Finally learn to read and write?”
“W-we’ll have you know, that… that that was a really small font,” Fluttershy rebutted, albeit not very effectively.
“Ooh, scathing,” Sunset chortled. “Have to say though, at least you finally got some spine. Should I go kick a puppy, see how that holds it up?”
“Alright, enough!” Twilight blurted, stepping up from behind her friends. Sunset’s spiteful glare seemed to intensify when Twilight stood before her in defiance. “I will not have you besmirch my friends, Sunset Shimmer. I don’t know what they’ve ever done to you, but what you did to them was inexcusable.” And what you’ve done to me.
“So, you honestly thought you could work your way up so fast to face me through this little spectacle that you and that saccharine airhorn set up?” Sunset asked goadingly. A laugh escaped her lips. “Well then…” she turned back to the audience. “Why not give our fellow students a real show?”
“She’s challenging you,” Priestess’ voice echoed in Twilight’s mind.
“I know,” Twilight concurred. “She’s trying to size me up and intimidate me. But perhaps this would be for the best. If I can defeat Sunset now, it’ll demoralize her. I just don’t know if I can defeat her with a deck that she herself built.”
“Remember what I said; she does not know you, Twilight. Your propensity for wisdom and patience are something Sunset does not have,” said Priestess in encouragement.
“Very well then,” Twilight pointed at Sunset, “Sunset Shimmer, I’ll accept your challenge. Much as I was hoping to duel you during the fall-term finals, I’ll gladly show the students your folly.”
Sunset did not hesitate, nor waver. Instead, a toothy smile formed on her lips.
“This should be interesting…”
Pinkie, in a complete contradiction to the tension, smiled eagerly, only for Sunset to come up to her and yank the megaphone from her hand. “I don’t think so. The last thing I need is your grating voice distracting me.” And with that, Sunset nonchalantly tossed the device over the bleachers.
Pinkie sputtered, “Told you she’s a buzzkill…”
Twilight assumed her previous position on the soccer field, with Sunset taking the opposite of that. This time her friends opted to stand with Twilight instead of occupying the places among the audience.
“Ya got this, Twi,” said Applejack, giving Twilight a pat on the shoulder. “You’ve shown how amazin’ you are, you sure as hell can beat ‘er.”
“We’ll be right behind you,” Fluttershy assured her.
“Yea, really (Eff!)ck her up, good!” Pinkie boasted, once again that strange sound accompanying her voice.
Twilight watched as Sunset’s duel disk’s fiery orange tray halves slid forth, combined and swung along her arm. Twilight’s dull grey disk soon followed.
I wasn’t expecting to face Sunset so soon. I just wonder, if she will invoke the Game of Darkness… I mean she wouldn’t, right? Not in front of the students, and given how we’re out in the open…
“Just so you know,” Sunset’s hushed voice came through her communicator, “I’m perfectly aware who you are, Princess Twilight Sparkle…”
Twilight suppressed a gasp just as the decks finished shuffling and the virtual coin flipped. It landed on the red tails, the start going to Sunset.
Sunset Shimmer Life Points: 4000
Twilight Sparkle Life Points: 4000
Turn 1: Sunset Shimmer (Hand: 5)
“I’ll show you why I’m the Queen,” Sunset declared as her five hand cards were ejected. Fanning them out, she went over her selection. “I activate ‘Card Advance’,” she declared, sliding a card into her disk to reveal it as a normal spell card. “I look at the top five cards of my deck, and put them back in whatever order I want.” After a moment of rearranging, said cards were returned to the top of her deck. “I then summon ‘Vilepawn Archfiend’ in attack mode.”
Thinking back to what Applejack had said about Sunset’s monsters being ‘ugly sons of bitches’, she could certainly see the reasoning for such colorful term of phrase. Onto Sunset’s field emerged a skeletal looking humanoid with most of its body covered in brownish bone plates, save for patches of exposed sinew on the sides of its chest, its thighs and arms. A grimacing skull-like face with glowing red eyes glared at Twilight, swinging a dark blue sword with the blade very much affixed to its right arm, complete with an engorged, thick golden left forearm resembling a shield. (Level 2, 1200/200)
She wasted her normal summon on such a weak monster? What is she-?
“Card Advance allows me to tribute summon in addition to a normal summon the turn it is activated. So I now sacrifice Vilepawn Archfiend to tribute summon ‘Skull Archfiend of Lightning’ in attack mode.”
Vilepawn Archfiend vanished from the field in a flash. A bolt of lightning struck its place from the clear sky, bringing with it a hulking creature keeled over on the ground. It rose to its full height, standing at an intimidating ten feet, with a pair of purple, leathery wings fanning out from its back. Like Vilepawn, it had a somewhat skeletal body, with gaps between such places like between the ribs and the hip bone occupied by engorged muscle tissues and sinew. Its arms were a vicious pair of bulbous, clawed extremities whilst atop its distended, skeletal head jutted a pair or downward curving horns. It snarled fiercely, a jolt of electricity running through its body. (Level 6, 2500/1200)
“Next, by discarding ‘Archfiend General’,” Sunset slid a card into her graveyard, “I can add the field spell ‘Pandemonium’ to my hand.” Sunset smiled darkly, “Prepare yourself to step into the very bowels of Hell, Twilight Sparkle.”
Sunset slid the card into the field spell slot at the front end of her duel disk. Twilight stepped back in trepidation when blood red, bony protrusions began to breach their way through the ground. Soon she found herself standing atop splayed-out sinew in a ring of bones leading to where the center of the soccer field would be, only instead the protrusions lead up into a teeth ringed pool of what looked to be either lava, or possibly blood. Great bony spikes surrounded the field, curving inward to form a most infernal looking arena. For the first time in any duel, Twilight was outright disturbed. Though it was merely a simulation (at least she hoped), she could almost feel the air turn noxious.
“W-what is this?” Twilight found herself stuttering.
“Here in the Archfiends’ realm of Pandemonium, I do not require to pay the price for the service of my minions. And furthermore, should you destroy any ‘Archfiend’, Pandemonium adds another of a lower level to my hand. I end my turn.”
Turn 2: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 5)
Twilight steeled herself, refusing to show fear before someone so unabashedly loathsome, “I draw.” Going over her hand, the figurative pieces to a mental puzzle fell into place. “I activate ‘Spellbook of Knowledge’,” Spellbook Organization found itself sliding into the graveyard, “By discarding a ‘Spellbook’ spell card, I draw twice.” A card most comforting in the current predicament unveiled itself. Twilight pressed three cards against her duel disk’s screen, their images unveiling themselves; Spellbooks of Miracles, the Master and Fate. “By revealing three ‘Spellbooks’ from my hand, I special summon the avatar of the mystic arts; ‘High Priestess of Prophecy’ in attack mode!”
In a flurry of emerald pages, Priestess emerged onto the field, said pages gathering into the emptied cover of her emerald tome, which snapped shut upon every slip making its way to its rightful place. (Level 7, 2500/2100)
Sunset smirked, “I take it you’re planning on using her to destroy my Archfiend with its effect? After all, you have two perfectly good Spellbooks in your graveyard.”
“She… has a point,” Fluttershy commented, observing partially through her disk’s spectator function. “Priestess can destroy Skull Archfiend with her effect.”
“That’s right, and Twilight can inflict a massive 2500 damage on Sunset from a direct attack,” Rarity added.
“Yea… about that…” Pinkie chimed in awkwardly.
“I activate the effect of Priestess: By banishing Spellbook Organization, I destroy your Archfiend. Lexicon Designator!”
Priestess’ tome levitated before her, its infinite pages fluttering before her as her hands worked into the correct gesture.
“Skull Archfiend’s effect activates,” Sunset replied.
Something arose from the red pit, dripping in thick, reddish-orange fluid, revealing itself as a cube, roughly the size of a bowling ball. It had a faded brown coloration, like sun-bleached bone, with black dots on each of its six surfaces in specific patterns: A dice.
“When an effect targets Skull Archfiend, a die is cast; should it land on one, three or six, that effect is negated, and the card that triggered it is destroyed.”
Twilight pursed her lips in trepidation. Still, that’s a one-in-two chance on succeeding, so it can go either way…
Sunset swung forth an arm, “The die is cast: Hell’s Gamble!”
The dice flung itself from over the pit, striking one of the bony protrusions surrounding the hellish arena, after which it tumbled around before bouncing close to the pit. The upward facet showed three dots in a row, which suddenly splayed open, revealing them to be a series of eyeballs.
“Called it,” Pinkie remarked flatly.
“Three. Therefore, your monster’s effect is negated, and she is destroyed in the process,” Sunset stated.
Priestess’ emerald tome erupted into flames and disintegrated before her, followed by a pained shriek as the same flame erupted below her feet and raced up her form, granting her the same fate.
“Priestess!” Twilight exclaimed in shock.
“I’m fine, Twilight,” Priestess’ astral image appeared beside her.
“Priestess, can’t you try reaching out to her? You said you were her charge before.”
Priestess gazed towards Sunset, the usually calm, if somewhat mischievous spirit for the first time since Twilight had met her, showing a clear expression of sadness, “I’ve been trying since the duel started. I don’t know how, but her mind is closed off to me.”
“Closed off?” Twilight wondered. At first, she’d assumed Sunset would know Priestess’ effect since she was originally Sunset’s card, and that the duplicitous unicorn in human form was being deliberately playing dumb. “You told me that Sunset and I are like beacons of power, hence you’re able to show yourself to me and her… Did something happen to her when she abandoned you?”
Priestess lowered her gaze, “I don’t know. Her behavior simply turned for the worse, and eventually she couldn’t see or hear me like you can.”
Twilight looked at her spirit guide in empathy, “Priestess… Maybe I can do something to jog her memory.” Twilight took another card from her hand, “I normal summon ‘Strength of Prophecy’ in attack mode.”
The red-haired, crimson armored axe-woman emerged onto the field in Priestess’ place. (Level 4, 1500/1400).
“I return Spellbook of Knowledge from my graveyard to my deck for Strength’s effect; increasing her level by one and her attack by 500. (Strength of Prophecy: Level 4 -> 5, 2000/1400) I then set one card facedown.” Twilight looked down at her screen. “I end my turn.”
“Why did she leave Strength in attack mode?” Sweetie Belle wondered aloud. “Sunset’s Archfiend is still 500 points stronger.”
“And if there’s anything Ah’ve seen about Sunset… Ah jus’ hope Twilight knows what she’s doin’…” Apple Bloom stated in agreement.
Turn 3: Sunset Shimmer (Hand: 1)
“So I destroyed your evident ace and that’s all you do in response?” Sunset asked condescendingly before drawing her card. “Well, look at that; it’s ‘Trade In,’” she quipped as she slid the card into a spell slot, “Trade In lets me discard a level eight monster from my hand, like my Imprisoned Queen Archfiend, to draw twice.” Sunset’s last card was discarded, only for two new cards to be added from her deck. Given Card Advance’s effect, Sunset was perfectly aware what she was getting.
“Now, I summon ‘Terrorking Archfiend’ in attack mode.”
A seven foot, half fleshy, half skeletal demon emerged beside Skull Archfiend. Strikingly similar in many ways, though this one had a collar of bony spikes surrounding its grimacing skeletal head, the top of which bulged into some fleshy mockery of a crown, while a two-part blood red cape hung from between its leathery wings. It rested its clawed hands against the pommel of a large blue, jagged sword. (Level 4, 2000/1500)
A level four monster with 2000 attack points?
“I don’t know what you were thinking leaving you monster out like that in the first place.” She chuckled, “Well then, I’ll just end her if you’re wont to so readily throw your minions away. I attack Strength of Prophecy with Skull Archfiend of Lightning!”
A surge of electricity ran through Skull Archfiend’s (ATK: 2500) body. With a rasping snarl, it launched a bolt off itself into the sky. An ominous rumbled emanated from up above.
“Trap card activate: ‘Safe Zone!’” Twilight declared in anticipation.
A bolt of lightning lashed out from the sky towards Strength (ATK: 2000). A blue segmented barrier formed before her much akin to the forcefield surrounding the duelists that appeared during direct attacks.
Apple Bloom gasped in realization, “Oh, hey! That’s the card Ah gave ‘er!”
“Safe Zone makes an attack position monster immune to destruction by battle, and it can’t be targeted by my opponent’s card effects. But as a cost, the monster it applies to can’t attack directly,” Twilight inquired.
Sunset snorted in annoyance, “But, you still take damage.”
Twilight Sparkle Life Points: 4000 – 500 = 3500
“Since attacking with Terrorking would be pointless, I’ll end my turn,” said Sunset, the slightest hint of irritation belied through her voice.
Turn 4: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 3)
Twilight drew her next card. I guess she wouldn’t have expected Safe Zone. She glanced over her shoulder; a small smile of gratitude aimed at Apple Bloom.
“If you know who I am, then you also know why I’m here,” Twilight spoke softly, so as not to be overheard.
Sunset’s eyes narrowed, “Your name on that saccharine nuisance’s flier tipped me off, yes. So, Celestia sent you all alone after me? I see the arrogant fool is still dead-set on subtlety as opposed to definite results.”
Twilight felt a tinge of anger, having the upstart unicorn talk foul of her beloved mentor, “Why did you take the Element of Magic? And why did you come to this world?”
Sunset merely scoffed, “Don’t expect your title of Princess to assume you’re beholden to answers.”
Twilight, browsed over her hand. At the moment she did not feel comfortable bringing Hermit of Prophecy, with his lacking attack points, against the likes of the brutish Terrorking and Skull Archfiends. At this point, with Safe Zone protecting Strength from being destroyed by battle or card effects, she figured she could weather losing another five hundred life points.
“To battle: I attack Terrorking Archfiend with Strength of Prophecy!”
Hefting her lion-headed axe, Strength (ATK: 2000) charged at the sinewy skeletal demon (ATK:2000). With a roaring heave, the axe cleaved into Terrorking’s bulging chest, its form fading into a cluster of fragments.
“Due to Safe Zone, Strength is not destroyed.”
Sunset suddenly slid her remaining hand card into her graveyard slot. The fragments of Terrorking coalesced together, reforming the demonic horror on Sunset’s field.
“What did you-?!”
“When Terrorking Archfiend is destroyed, by discarding ‘Desrook Archfiend’, I can special summon Terrorking back from the graveyard,” Sunset explained, the ever-prevalent overconfidence she exhumed showing in her voice.
Twilight looked over her hand, “I set one card facedown. I end my turn.”
“What do ya think?” Apple Bloom asked, looking up at Applejack.
Applejack furrowed her brow. So far, despite the slight dent in her life points, Twilight seemed to be holding, what with Safe Zone protecting Strength from destruction. Sunset Shimmer’s hand was also empty. However, if Twilight only knew of the full extent of Pandemonium. But, as per her vows as a duelist, she was forbidden from disclosing this knowledge to Twilight.
Turn 5: Sunset Shimmer (Hand: 0)
Sunset drew her next card. “So, you’re thinking that without cards in my hand, I’m beat?”
“I’ve made the connection that an empty hand doesn’t imply defeat, yes…” replied Twilight.
“How very astute of you, new girl,” Sunset smirked. “I play the spell card ‘Card of Demise’.” The image of a quite distressing card depicting a guillotine appeared. “Card of Demise lets me draw until I have three cards in my hand. However; my opponent takes no damage this turn, and at the end of my turn I have to send my entire hand to the graveyard…” Without more than a glance, she placed all three cards into her disk. “I place three cards facedown. I end my turn.”
Turn 6: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 3)
Twilight drew her next card, “It figures: Card Advance let you know the next five cards you’d draw beforehand.”
“I have been dueling for three years, Princess. You’ve barely even scratched the surface of what I’ve witnessed.” Sunset frowned, “To think yourself so arrogant that you even fancied yourself a proper duelist in a day. Let alone the thought of defeating me.”
“Arrogance has nothing to do with it, Sunset,” Twilight rebutted. “Just like back home, I had many wonderful friends to help me, and more.”
She… She doesn’t remember? “I summon ‘Hermit of Prophecy’ in attack mode.”
The wizened bearded sorcerer in purple emerged beside Strength, tugging at the brim of his large, pointed hat. (Level 3, 1200/700)
“In the very least, much as it repulses me from what you’ve been up to, in a way I should be grateful to you for getting me this far,” Twilight stated.
Sunset tilted her head, “What are you talking about?”
Twilight was taken aback by her opponent’s answer. “You really don’t remember?”
“Remember?” Sunset seemed unmoved. “Remember what? If you’re trying to flatter me, I’d hate to break it to you, but appealing to my better nature will not earn you anything.”
Twilight stared at Sunset in disbelief. Was Sunset this dedicated to an act or was there… Was there something wrong with her? If Priestess could not reach her with the same mental connection that Twilight shared with the spirit…
“Make your move, Twilight Sparkle!” Sunset demanded harshly. “Or surrender. I don’t care which.”
“Very well, I activate ‘Spellbook of Secrets’. This lets me add a ‘Spellbook’ from my deck to my hand,” a card was ejected, revealing it as Spellbook of Power. “Since I activated a ‘Spellbook’, Hermit gains 300 attack points and his level is increased by two. (Level 3 -> 5, 1200/700 -> 1500/700).
Applejack relaxed once the field set-up was complete. “Ah know where this is leading.”
“Using the level five Strength and Hermit, I construct the Overlay Network!” Twilight announced, to which Hermit and Strength devolved into swathes of light the coalesced together before her, forming the swirling nebula.
“Power of the cosmos and fate intertwined, the arcane wisdom and force of the universe; bring forth the mother of life and energy, that the world may witness her bountiful radiance.”
“Xyz Summon! Rank 5 Fertility Goddess: Empress of Prophecy!”
Emerging onto her field was her very first monster as a result of Xyz Summoning. The beautiful platinum blonde sorceress in her white robe that showed off her namesake fertile beauty inlaid with golden petals and vines and verdant swathes of green. She brandished her golden scepter and white-gold greatshield. (Rank 5, 2000/1700)
“Empress of Prophecy gains 300 attack points for each overlay my monsters possess. However; I remove one of them to activate Empress’ ability,” one of the revolving lights coalesced into Empress scepter. “Once per turn, I shuffle my deck,” a faint rustle of cards followed, “and excavate the top five. For every ‘Spellbook’ spell card among them, I destroy that many monsters on my opponent’s side of the field.” She can’t get lucky twice.
The inner workings of Twilight’s duel disk analyzed the top deck; ‘Spellbook Library of the Heliosphere’, The next; ‘Spellbook Magician of Prophecy’. Third; ‘Wheel of Prophecy’. Fourth; ‘Spellbook of Power’. Fifth; ‘Spellbook of Eternity’. One more than she needed, but she wasn’t complaining.
“Three Spellbooks, more than enough to wipe out both of your Archfiends!” Twilight declared, pointing defiantly at the skeletal terrors.
Images of the three Spellbooks arose around Empress. Holding aloft her scepter, they dissolved into a series of arcane symbols which began to swirl around in a foreboding pattern around Empress, like a gale picking up in velocity.
“Trap card activate!” Sunset retorted. “Continuous trap; ‘That Six’!”
Twilight’s brows rose with concern. “‘That Six’?”
“Since Empress’ ability is a targeting effect; Terrorking and Skull Archfiends’ effects activate! Terrorking; cast your die; Hell’s Gamble!” Sunset swept an arm, the dice once more arising from the red pit.
The bone dice ricocheted itself off one of the arena’s bony protrusions as if flung by some invisible arm. The macabre thing landed on four, the four dots opening into eyeballs once me.
Sunset growled, “Terrorking’s dice must land on two or five. Therefore, Empress destroys him…”
Empress swung forth her scepter, the flurry of arcane symbols tearing the sinewy demon into bits.
“However, because an effect destroyed Terrorking, Pandemonium adds one ‘Archfiend’ of a lower level into my hand.”
Something else arose from the crimson pit of Pandemonium. This time a large, dripping rectangle, revealing itself as a card, which flung itself towards Sunset, fading before it managed to reach her. A card was ejected from her deck, which she pressed against her field. “I add another level three ‘Desrook Archfiend’ into my hand, which I shall discard in order to resurrect Terrorking!”
This time Terrorking did not reassemble, but rather, its form arose from Pandemonium’s pit, dripping whatever noxious fluids it contained. With a furious flap of its wings, the demon king sprayed the juices off itself and roared. (Level 4, 2000/1500)
Skull Archfiend; cast your die!” Sunset repeated.
The dice flung itself back into the air, going only a few feet from striking Twilight. Despite knowing the dice was just as much an illusion of light, she yelped, bringing her right arm defensively over her face. She watched as the dice bounced off another protrusion and rolled near the pit, landing on a two. Twilight felt relieved, for Sunset had specifically stated it requiring the results one, three or six.
“I activate That Six’s effect!” Sunset declared. “Whenever a die is cast, if its result is two, four or six, I can change it into one!”
Twilight gasped with a start, “You’re manipulating the results?!”
Sunset only smirked, when the remaining arcane symbols revolving around Empress suddenly tore into her, a shriek just barely managing to escape her lips.
“You…” at that moment Twilight had accrued a wide plethora of obscenities to blurt at Sunset.
Sunset harrumphed, “What? Going to accuse me of underhandedness? Do you honestly think I’d have gotten this far basing my successes on something so fickle as a roll of the dice? Honestly, Princess, what do you take me for? I was Celestia’s protégé long before she even noticed you, by my own merits.”
Twilight grit her teeth, “Are you insinuating that I didn’t? You’re the one who betrayed her trust and defied her wishes. Celestia always looks out for everypony’s wellbeing, she-”
“Like when she sealed her own sister on the moon a thousand years ago?”
Twilight flinched at Sunset’s rebuttal. “She… But… She didn’t know what to do, she-”
“How cute,” Sunset scoffed. “You’re so beholden to her, you actually excuse her atrocities. Tell me, Princess, has she told you every little thing she’s done? Even the unsightly?”
A shiver ran down Twilight’s spine at Sunset’s words. Princess Celestia, Twilight’s lifelong mentor in the magical arts, the wise and powerful alicorn who’d ruled Equestria in stability for over a thousand years, doing something unsightly? It had to be Sunset trying to manipulate her adorations for Celestia in an attempt to throw her off.
“Because I activated Empress’ effect, the excavated cards are returned atop my deck in whatever order I choose,” Twilight affirmed, fanning the top five cards of her deck, rearranging them and placing them back. “I activate the ‘Spellbook of Miracles.’”
Pinkie let out one of her overly elongated, rasping gasps, “That’s the thing she used to beat me!”
“She can bring back Empress by using banished ‘Spellbook’ spell cards as overlay units,” Fluttershy added, holding her hands together over her chest. “She might not be able to destroy Sunset’s Archfiends with her effect, but with Spellbook of Power, she will be stronger than either of them.”
“That is,” Applejack interjected, “Unless Sunset has some sort of trap set up.”
“With Spellbook of Miracles, if I have a spellcaster Xyz monster in my graveyard and at least one banished ‘Spellbook’, I can special summon that monster and attach those banished Spellbooks as overlay units. The goddess of fertility, Empress revives!”
The series of revolving spheres of colored lights erupted onto the field, coalescing into a shining white star. With a blinding flash Empress was reborn with a single green overlay unit revolving around her form. (Rank 5, 2000/1700 -> 2300/1700)
Sunset sighed surreptitiously, “If you’re thinking about trying to destroy Skull Archfiend with her effect, don’t bother. That Six is a continuous trap card; anytime I roll two, four or six I can change them into a one, and one, three and five can be changed into a six. With it, Skull Archfiend is invincible to targeting effects.”
Now was Twilight’s turn to smirk, “I anticipated that notion when you used That Six the first time. But my goal isn’t to destroy Skull Archfiend by Empress’ effect. I activate ‘Spellbook of Power’ from my hand.”
The fiery orange tome twirled onto the field, opening its covers when Empress held forth her scepter, the book relinquishing its contained energy to the weapon’s tip. (ATK: 2300 -> 3300)
“Spellbook of Power increases a spellcaster-type monster’s attack by a thousand. And just in case you may have a destruction trap underneath one or both facedowns; I activate my facedown card; ‘Spellbook of Wisdom’,” Twilight unveiled her facedown. “With this, I can make one spellcaster-type monster immune to spells or traps. I choose traps. I will then attack Skull Archfiend with Empress!”
Empress (ATK: 3300) flung the crackling orb of power at Skull Archfiend (ATK: 2500), which tried to in wain launch a bolt of lightning against it. The orbs repelled the electricity and struck the skeletal demon square in its bulbous chest, the impacting explosion tearing it to bits. Twilight’s duel disk chimed, inviting her to draw a card as per Spellbook of Power’s secondary effect.
Sunset Shimmer Life Points: 4000 – 800 = 3200
“You… You actually hit me…?” Sunset Shimmer muttered in disbelief.
Twilight wouldn’t dignify her foe with any form of remark and instead slid a card into her disk, “I set one card facedown. My turn is over.”
Sunset grit her teeth, “Before your end phase, I activate the trap card ‘Alchemy Cycle’.”
A purple aura surrounded Terrorking Archfiend, the sword wielding demon collapsing onto a knee, a hissing rumble emanating from its throat. (ATK: 2000 -> 0)
“Alchemy Cycle reduces the attack points of all monsters on my field to zero until your turn’s end. Doing so lets me activate my other facedown; ‘Card of Last Will.’” Sunset’s duel disk chimed. “Card of Last Will can only be triggered when the attack of one of my monster’s is changed to zero by a card effect. It lets me draw until I hold five cards in my hand.”
So I used Spellbook of Wisdom for no reason at all: Those cards were set there just to trick me until she activated them to replenish her hand.
“Now, during your end phase, Alchemy Cycle’s effect wears off and Terror King Archfiend regains its original strength.”
The purple smoldering aura abated off Terrorking, the demon spreading its wings in fervor, its pitiable rumble erupting into an energized roar. (ATK: 0 -> 2000)
Turn 8: Sunset Shimmer (Hand: 5)
“Even so, your Archfiend isn’t strong enough to fight Empress,” Twilight stated in defiance.
Sunset drew her card. She proceeded to slowly shake her head and tut. “Princess, you have no idea of the terrors that lurk in my deck,” Sunset pressed a button on her screen. "I activate the effect of Imprisoned Queen Archfiend in my graveyard during my stand-by phase! When she's in my graveyard and Pandemonium is on my field, I can increase the attack of a level four or below Archfiend monster by a thousand until the end phase!"
From the Pandemonium pit, a pair of chains seemed to be made up of linked, metallic knucklebones snaked forth. They wound themselves around and behind Terrorking Archfiend, launching themselves upwards like serpents, their sharp tips embedding into Terrorking's back with a visceral jab. The demon roared, whether in pain or fury as the chains began to glow red. (ATK: 2000 -> 3000). Twilight could only watch in disgust.
A card was slapped onto Sunset's disk, “I summon ‘Darkbishop Archfiend’ in defense mode.”
Beside Terrorking arose another skeletal humanoid demonic being. This one’s sinew was an unsettling shade of cyan, with a bulb atop its head similar to Terrorking, albeit more simply. Its arms were covered in wide, ragged purple sleeves, while in its right arm it brandished a cyan staff with a humanoid skull affixed to the top. It took a knee, cradling its staff against itself whilst covering its chest area with its sleeved arms. (Level 3, 300/1400)
“I then activate the equip spell ‘Axe of Despair’ and equip it to Terrorking Archfiend.”
A gnarled axe materialized onto the field, at first looking like wood, an immediate disturbing feature was the bulbous head which the axe blade was affixed to: A green, shriveled humanoid head with an eternal grin etched on it thanks to the taught skin. Terrorking Archfiend gripped the axe with one hand while keeping its sword in the other. (ATK: 3000 -> 4000)
Twilight looked at the weapon with clear disgust, “Your current taste in cards is abhorrent.”
Sunset eyed her warily, “Current…?”
“I was told by a reliable source that you once used a spellcaster deck, like me…” Twilight raised a brow. “You’re not in the least bit curious how I got together a functioning deck in less than a day?”
Sunset seemed genuinely affected by Twilight’s question for the first time. The barest glimpse of uncertainty finally cracked through that mask of arrogance.
“I wasn’t lying; part of my success is thanks to you, Sunset Shimmer. The night you snuck into the Crystal Castle, you left something behind.”
“So then…” Sunset spoke in a whisper, “Prophecies…”
“I think you’re getting through, Twilight,” Priestess echoed in Twilight’s mind. “Keep at it, perhaps it’s not too late-”
Sunset shut her eyes, bringing a hand to the side of her head. Twilight for the first time felt concern for the one who stole her crowned and wronged many people. It looked as if Sunset was in genuine discomfort. She seemed to wince, as if she were in pain.
Sunset’s eyes snapped open, the vitriol returning as her orange eyes glared at Twilight. “Terrorking Archfiend, attack Empress of Prophecy!”
Twilight was taken aback to almost missing her cue, “Facedown activate: Quick-play spell ‘Spellbook of Fate’! I banish one-to-three ‘Spellbooks’ from my graveyard, and the effect is determined by the amount. I choose Spellbooks of Secrets and Wisdom, to which I force Terrorking Archfiend to switch to defense mode!” Terrorking Archfiend’s Hell’s Gamble requires it to land a two or five on a die, so there’s a one-in-three chance of it succeeding…
“Darkbishop Archfiend’s effect activates!” Sunset interjected. “Like all Archfiends, he too has the ability of Hell’s Gamble, but his can extend to any ‘Archfiend’ card. Its requirements are one, three and six.”
“That means it doesn’t matter what result she gets…” Rarity noted in confirmation. “With That Six on Sunset’s field, if she fails a roll, she’ll just change it to one of her preference.”
“That…” Sweetie Belle hesitated for a moment, “That bitch!”
“The die is cast: Hell’s Gamble!”
The gruesome dice arose from Pandemonium’s pit, flinging itself once more against one of the bone protrusions. It bounced along the sinewy floor, landing on two, the finality emphasized by the two dots opening into eyes.
“That Six’s effect activates; I change the result of two into one. Thus Darkbishop Archfiend negates your spell and destroys it.”
Twilight watched in indignance as he spell card’s image faded in a shower of golden sparks, effectively having forced her to waste two Spellbooks for nothing.
“Terrorking Archfiend’s attack therefore continues unimpeded.” Sunset affirmed.
Terrorking Archfiend (ATK: 4000) wound back its arms, snarling as its bulbous chest started to throb and bulge violently until finally its ribs splayed out its chest cavity. In utter disgust, Twilight witnessed how a swarm of buzzing, blood red insects surged forth from within, straight towards Empress (ATK: 2300). Twilight watched helplessly as the swarm covered her form entirely, and promptly melted away into a throbbing, skittering pile, before vanishing.
Twilight Sparkle Life points: 3500 – 1700 = 1800
Sunset laughed in amusement, “You can’t even hold out with more advanced Xyz monsters against me. The obvious answer is that your precious friends simply didn’t try hard enough or feigned out of some misguided obligation. So is that it then? The purported ‘magic of friendship’ as I believe Celestia called it?”
Twilight’s brow furrowed listening to Sunset’s retained arrogance. Whatever happened earlier in her trying to reach out to Sunset’s memories about Priestess and the Prophecies, whether it was genuine, or if Sunset was merely playing mind games, her continued persistence in mocking Celestia riled her. She could never believe this abhorrent unicorn was once a student of the Princess.
Sunset took a glance at her remaining four cards. The loss of Skull Archfiend may have hampered her attempts at crushing the upstart Twilight, but come next turn it would not matter. She’d seen enough that the detrimentally defensive Princess had nary any mass destruction effects in her deck, so as long as Darkbishop and That Six remained, any effect attempted against Terrorking Archfiend would be nullified. And with the improvements by Axe of Despair, come next turn, her victory was assured with the most aptly named weapon in her arsenal that sat in her hand.