Harmonic Spectrum

by Lux Klonoa


4. Magic ~Harmonic Awakening~

The door opened inward and Rainbow Dash walked into the bedroom of her cloud home, carrying her saddle bag along. The blue pegasus had just arrived home from her visit with Scootaloo in the hospital, after spending some time with the little filly with the Daring Do book that she bought.

Now that the filly had gone to sleep peacefully, it was time for Dash to crash in for the night as well. Midnight was approaching, with the moon almost reaching towards the middle of the night sky.

Closing the door behind her, Dash walked on to her bed, stopping at the side of it and taking her bag off with her hooves. She turned on the night light that sat on the table beside her bed, illuminating her room brightly enough with its light. She then jumped up on the bed, sitting on top of the blanket and positioning herself near the middle of the bed.

The pegasus took a loud sigh, now looking tired with her head tilted downward and her eyelids drooping down. Even though she didn't do much, she thought, it still had been quite the day for her, having had to escort the injured Scootaloo towards the hospital and then letting her become her little sister in the end, bringing joy to the little filly. It was unexpected for the pegasus, but then, after all, she knew she couldn't turn down the filly like that. At least, it took Dash's mind off of what happened last night as well.

Dash looked over to the open bedroom window and stared outside, continuing to think about the day. Then, it came up in her head.

That dream. The nightmare she had this morning. It was frightening for her towards the end, seeing Ponyville in ruins and finding the looming silhouette of the Spirit of Chaos over her like that. But what about the part of the dream before that scary moment? Why did she change into that strange white form of herself whilst walking towards the mirror and seeing it in her reflection like that? Why was she feeling a stream of calm, yet familiar feelings within her whilst she was in that form? Why was the Element of Loyalty on her? Did it have something to do with it? Most of all, why did her mane and tail look like they were on fir—

Wait a minute, she thought. The Element of Loyalty on her, her mane and tail being on fire. Suddenly, they reminded her of something, making her look a bit wide-eyed. Something that she read in a certain book.

Realizing that, Dash suddenly began to search for that same book, which she quickly spotted on the table beside her. With both of her hooves, she grabbed it, brought it to her, and opened it, quickly shuffling through the pages. She found what she was searching for and began to read it.

“...The one with the strongest connection to Harmony itself. The one chosen by destiny to be the... Flame of Harmony...?!”

Reading those last specific words, as soon as they entered it, her mind then made the startling connection. Could it be that she transformed into the very thing that she just read about, as written in the ancient records, in the dream?

At that point, something else then struck her mind, like a rock that was thrown at her from a high speed, making her look surprised even more. The calm familiar feelings she had in the dream. Whereas she couldn't recall it before, now she did. She had definitely felt these calm feelings before. She had felt them twice now, actually, when she and her friends were harnessing the power of the Elements of Harmony to defeat their targets.

Harmonic energy. That's what it really was, she thought, still looking at the book. It was Harmonic energy that removed the fear of her being trapped in the dark void, and it was Harmonic energy that slowly changed her into the white flaming pegasus in the dream, jolting through her body and bringing her own soul out from within, as much as she didn't understand that last part.

As if that wasn't enough, suddenly, Dash recalled the moment she woke up yesterday morning. The voice that woke her up. It specifically called her the “destined one.”

With all of that in her mind, Dash sat there, slowly lowering her book and looking completely dumbfounded as her mind tried to process and understand all of it.

“...What in the hay is going on here...? I... I don't understand... Oh man, please don't tell me I'm going crazy here.”

The pegasus continued to stare ahead with the same wide-eyed look. She couldn't really be going out of her mind, could she? After all, these weird happenings started just mere hours after reading this book two nights before.

Was it all simply a coincidence? Was her mind simply playing tricks on her, hearing strange voices from out of nowhere and having strange dreams like that? Or, could she truly have a bigger destiny ahead of her as hinted at by the voice, being the one who will become the Flame of Harmony?

With her eye pupils shifting left and right in confusion, Dash looked at the book again, bringing it back up with her hooves. She turned a page back and re-read the pages again to see what the requirements were.

“Strong willpower, represent all the Elements of Harmony at once, when Harmony is on the brink of collapse... No, I, I can't really be the Flame of Harmony... could I?”

The first requirement was one she met already, she knew. But the third was situational, and the second... No, she still thought she didn't represent them all, and with that, there was no way that she could be the destined one as the voice told her.

But then, something else reminded her. Turning two pages forward, she then re-read the specific part where the records had stated that there had been signs beforehand.

Signs. Could they count? The voice and the strange dream? If they really were, then it could put more credence to her being the destined one. But then, there was the Element representation again.

Dash's mind was stuck in a pit between the two of them. She wasn't completely sure of this sudden revelation.

Little did she know, however, that she wouldn't have to wait long to find out the truth.

---

A few days had passed since the night where Rainbow Dash had made the connection between the ancient records and the mysterious supposed “signs.” Since then, she never leaned towards one side of her mind that thought it was only a mere coincidence, or the other side of it that thought she really was the Flame as she was in the dream. Her mind was still stuck in-between, the seesaw of it staying perfectly balanced with neither side tilting up or down.

Dash never told anyone of it, though, not even her new little sister, Scootaloo. Maybe she should have, for it was finally beginning to bother her after a few days.

Night had fallen. In the “living room” of her library home in Ponyville, there sat Twilight Sparkle in front of a wooden table, smiling and studying the pages of the book that stood high enough with a stand at the back of it. Behind her, the kid dragon, Spike, was standing at the top of a ladder that stood at the book shelves, dusting off the books with a duster in his hand while quietly whistling a tune.

Spike continued to dust the books off, swiping through them left and right every second. Seeing a book that was covered in a large amount of dust all over it, indicating that it hadn't been used for quite some time, he pulled it out and swiped through its front cover with the duster, sweeping the dust away from it.

“Ugh, man, talk about being ancient,” he said, coughing a bit as the dust went down his nose and throat. “Seriously, why keep these in here when no one ever reads them? Ergh.”

Spike shook his head in annoyance, dusting the rest of the book off and putting it back on the shelf. He sighed afterward.

“Think we'll hear something from the Princess about those ugly bug freaks out there soon?” Spike asked, glancing back at the unicorn.

“When her scouts report back to her, yes,” replied Twilight.

“Yeah, but for how much longer? It's been a few days already, Twilight. You'd think they find something out by now, since they're apparently so good at their job.”

“Yeah, well, these are Changelings after all, Spike. They're not so easy to spy on since, you know, they can change into other ponies... Patience, Spike. I'm sure we'll eventually find out what they're up to, and I'm sure we'll be able to stop them before they carry out their plan. Whatever it may be.”

“Hm, I hope you're right, Twilight.”

Just as he was about to resume his cleaning, the kid dragon spotted something coming towards the library via one of the open windows near the unicorn.

“Oh, hey, Rainbow Dash is here.”

“Huh? Oh.”

Hearing the sound of flapping wings, Twilight looked, seeing the blue pegasus fly in through the window and landing right behind her.

“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” greeted Twilight, glancing back at her and smiling, looking at the book afterward.

“Hey, guys,” Dash greeted back, sheathing her wings as she glanced at her, smiling as well. “Studying as usual, I see.”

“Yep!”

“As always,” said Spike, continuing to dust the books off. “It's either that, or experimenting on something.”

The pegasus chuckled. “Right. Uh, anyway...”

Dash walked up to the unicorn's left and faced her, with her smile disappearing. “Um, Twilight, can I ask you something? Or rather, can I get your input on something?”

“Yeah?” Twilight faced her as well, still sitting on the floor. “What do you need, Rainbow?”

“Uh, well, you see, something's kinda been bothering me for the past few days now. I... really can't seem to make up my mind about it,” Dash said, rubbing her head with her hoof. “It's like I'm stuck in the middle, really, and well, just now, I finally decided to ask somepony about it. And since you are the brains around here, Twilight...”

The unicorn nodded. “I understand. Well, then, what's exactly been bothering you, Rainbow Dash?”

“Well... There was this dream that I had a few days ago. It was after I came back from seeing the Wonderbolts and before I told you about the Changelings that morning. Well, earlier that morning, I had this dream where... Basically, I found this mirror in this dark place and while I was walking to it, suddenly, I felt myself changing all over. My coat felt like it was being shocked by lightning, my mane and tail felt like they were getting wild and crazy for some reason, my entire body felt like it was getting stronger... And in the middle of all that, I felt very calm throughout the whole thing, as strange as that sounds. Yet, these calm feelings were somehow familiar to me. I couldn't put a hoof on it at first, but now I know.

“Well, after all that, I reached the mirror and saw myself in it,” she continued. “I looked completely different in it, Twilight.”

Calm feelings? The unicorn thought, with a puzzled look on her face, having heard the pegasus describe her dream.

“What did you look like in the mirror, Rainbow?” Twilight asked.

“Well, I—”

Suddenly, a loud burping sound, accompanied by the sound of fire, was heard, interrupting Dash. Both of them looked at where it came from, seeing a large green flame of fire above the kid dragon who now stood on the floor with the duster laying there. As the green flame faded and dispersed into the air, something then dropped onto the floor, causing Twilight to look surprised at it.

“A letter from the Princess!”

The unicorn quickly trotted over to it, with the pegasus following from behind. Her horn glowed brightly, and she levitated the letter upward and over to her face, unwrapping it and rolling it over to read its contents.

“What's it say? Anything on the Changelings?” Dash asked, standing right next to the unicorn and looking at it.

“'Dear Twilight Sparkle,’” the unicorn began reading. “’It is with great urgency that I must inform you that we have found the location of the Changeling Queen and her army. My scouts have reported that they are situated within the Everfree Forest, near and around the old Castle of the Royal Sisters, with the Queen herself inside the castle.' Wait, what?!”

“Did she say Everfree Forest?!” asked Dash, surprised. “And in that old castle where we first found the Elements of Harmony?! Are they really that close?!”

“Wow, what the heck are they doing in there?” asked Spike. “Can't believe they've been hiding under our own noses like that!”

“Hold on, there's more,” the unicorn said. “'While we do not know why they are situated there, even with the reconnaissance skills of our scouts, it is clear that, regardless of their motives, they must be stopped at all costs, as we cannot allow any more incidents similar to the one in Manehattan to happen. Thus, with your short distance to the forest, it is now upon me to deliver the Elements of Harmony to you, my faithful student, so that you and your friends may stop them for good this time. I have already sent the Elements to you via my royal courier, and by the time you finish reading this letter, they should have already arrived. Good luck, my faithful student, and be careful.’”

As soon as she finished the letter, suddenly, they heard the door knocking from behind them, making them glance back.

“Coming!” Twilight dropped the letter, turned around, and ran towards the door. She opened the door with her magic, and who stood there was a gold-armored white pegasus carrying a pinkish-purple box with one hoof.

“Here they are.” The unicorn levitated the box towards her and turned around, walking back to the center of the library with it as the royal guard then flew away.

Getting back to Dash and Spike, Twilight stopped there and placed the box on the ground. She opened it and there they were: the five golden necklaces with the jeweled cutie marks on them and the unicorn's Crown of Magic.

“Huh...?”

As soon as she placed her very eyes on them, though, Dash suddenly felt something. A sense of longing within her, it was. Something inside of her was calling out to the Elements themselves, she felt, urging to be united with them like a child that was longing to be united with his parents.

What's going on? She thought. Why was she feeling this sense of longing all of a sudden? This had never happened before, she recalled.

“Looks like we got no time to lose, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight, using her horn to levitate the Crown of Magic as well as the Necklace of Loyalty. “We have to get the others right away.”

“Oh, uh, right! Gimme it, then!”

The necklace went over to Dash's neck and placed itself on it, while the Crown was placed on the unicorn's head. She closed the box and began to levitate it again, taking it with her as she began to run for the doorway, with the pegasus taking off to the air and following her.

“Wish us luck, Spike!” exclaimed Twilight.

“Will do,” nodded Spike. “Be careful out there!”

---

On an open straight path through Everfree Forest in the darkness of the night, there trotted the ponies who had now donned all of the Elements of Harmony and were now heading towards their destination. As they walked on, several blocks of trees both tall and short slowly passed them by, with an eerie mist that could be seen past the trees. Sounds of the forest's wildlife were heard around them, from owls hooting to timberwolves howling towards the sparkling moon above.

The air was damp and cold all around, and a slightly thick patch of fog could be seen throughout the open path. Rarity shivered a bit as she trotted along.

“Remind me why we're out here in this awful place again?” she asked, looking around. “Those nasty ruffians couldn't possibly be hiding out here, could they?”

“They are,” said Twilight. “The Princess wouldn't exactly send the Elements to us if she wasn't sure that they were here.”

“Kinda hard to believe they're out here in this darn forest,” said Applejack. “Were they holed up in here all this time, after what happened at Canterlot back then?”

“I don't know. That love spell from Cadence and Shining Armor had scattered them pretty far apart from each other. Though, obviously, it didn't stop them from telepathically communicating with each other, as we learned from the Manehattan incident a few days ago,” said Twilight. “Well, whatever they're up to out here and in that castle, it isn't good, and they need to be stopped for good this time.”

“I agree,” said Rarity. “Let's get this over with so I can get back to my beauty sleep.”

“Yeah, and I can get back to my cupcake baking!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, happily smiling. “I've been working on a special recipe for them, actually, and boy, are they going to be delicious!”

The friends trotted onward to their destination, with Dash and Fluttershy remaining silent. The blue pegasus, flying in the air a feet above them, was staring at each of the Elements that they donned. The sense of longing and unity she felt inside of her earlier had gotten stronger from before, and she had noticed this when each of her friends had donned them. One by one, with every necklace being placed on them, they built upon this sense inside of her like a stack of objects.

Trotting along further, the fog around them was increasingly becoming larger and thicker with every hoof step made, as Twilight soon noticed.

“The fog... We must be getting close to the castle. Not much further now, everypony.”

Just then, a small hissing sound was heard, hissing like a snake for a bit.

“Huh?” Fluttershy stopped there, glancing around at the trees that covered their left and right. “Do you hear that?”

“Yeah,” replied Pinkie, glancing around as well. “Sounds like...”

As all of them could hear the sound which caused them to stop in their tracks and look around, the single hissing sound coming from somewhere slowly grew into a group of hissings that was being heard from around them. The hissings continued to become louder and louder, until it was as loud as a large crowd that numbered in the hundreds.

“Changelings! They're around us in the trees!” Dash exclaimed.

“Looks like there’s a lot of them surroundin' us!” Applejack exclaimed. “There seems to be just as many as there were before, back in Canterlot! Judging from these hissin' sounds and all.”

“So the entire army is here?!” asked Dash.

“Looks that way. Stay on your guard, everypony!” Twilight exclaimed.

The ponies backed themselves toward each other, facing different directions as the hissings grew louder and louder. Soon enough, like a long line of ceiling lights that was being turned on with the flip of a switch, the darkness of the forest, within the acres of trees that stood, slowly began to light up with what looked like individual horns that were glowing bright green. One by one, the glowing horns slowly vanquished the darkness away, and now it looked like there was, indeed, an army of these horns behind and near the trees. With the bright collective glow illuminating themselves as well, the Changelings were now in plain sight, with the distinctive bluish-green tint of their insect eyes.

“Oh my...!” Fluttershy squeaked, trembling slightly.

“They're everywherrrrre!!” Pinkie screamed.

“Hey, they don't seem to be looking at us!” Applejack observed. “They seem to be looking at...”

“The castle?” Twilight noticed, looking towards the area where the fog was most dense. “What?!”

Suddenly, the glow of the bladed horns became larger and brighter, with the furious appearance of an electric spark. Then, all of the horns burst and shot out long beams of green energy upward, flying towards the direction of the dense fog ahead. All of the streams then clashed into each other at the same exact point, creating a shockwave that shook the forest to its very knees and swayed the trees away. The beams merged furiously into what appeared to be a very large cloud of energy with green electricity crackling all over it.

“Whoa, what in the hay?!” Applejack stumbled along with her friends, thanks to the resulting shockwave. “Huh? Look at that!”

“It's above the castle, where the queen is!” Twilight exclaimed. “There's no time to lose! Come on, everypony!”

The unicorn began to run off into the fog, with the others following her. Going into the thick patch of fog, the ponies then reached the end of the long path, heading into what seemed like a dead end as a large block of trees were in their way. But as the unicorn knew, their destination was at the other side of this block of trees.

The ponies headed straight through the trees and into the closed section of the forest. Passing through a thick patch of grass, they constantly dodged the obstacles that stood in their way, jumping across fallen logs and deep trenches.

“Stay tough, stay tough!” Fluttershy constantly told herself as she ran through the forest with a fearful look on her face, trying to evade the trees and logs as best as she could.

Ahead, with her rainbow mane swept back and her upper hooves out in front, Dash was swiftly flying through the forest effortlessly, dodging the trees left and right with a determined look on her face.

Soon, they reached the exit out of there as the number of trees ceased to zero. Running out, the ponies then came to a halt as they had finally arrived at their destination.

“We're here!” Twilight exclaimed.

With the large green cloud of energy above them covering most of the sky now and bristling with electricity and lightning within, what laid ahead of the ponies was a long wooden bridge that overlooked a large, wide, thick cloud of fog that reached as high as a few feet above the bridge itself. At the tail end of the bridge, on the other side, stood the ruins of an old castle that was slightly covered with moss all over. Behind the main part of the castle ruins stood a tall, but slightly crumbling tower, with a staircase at the outer side of it that led to the tower's top floor.

“Looks like the bridge kept itself up after I fixed it a while back,” Dash said. “How long was it since we last came here, anyway?”

“It's certainly been a while, Rainbow,” replied Twilight.

“Yeah, kinda hard to believe that this was where it all started, really,” said Applejack. “If it hadn't been for us...”

“Eternal night would've definitely happened by now. Hmm.” Taking a glance into the castle ruins past its doors, the purple unicorn searched for any sign of the Changeling leader. “...I don't see the Queen in there, at least not from this distance. She must be in the throne room, then.”

Just then, a loud crackle of booming thunder was heard from the energy cloud above, roaring through the sky like a lion and catching the ponies' attention. Then, suddenly, the very center of the cloud shot down a burst of green lightning towards the tower that was right below it, crashing on its top side. As the ponies saw, with its continuous crashing, the lightning then seemingly seeped through its open windows, and soon, the interiors of the top floor lit up like a bright fire.

“And it looks like she is! Come on!” Twilight exclaimed.

The unicorn and her friends ran off again, proceeding across the bridge and charging straight into the castle's double doors, forcing them open to reach the tower.

---

Inside of the large throne room at the top of the tower, various streams of furious lightning were crackling in through the windows. The streams were leading towards a single point in the throne room. As they got closer and closer to that point, the lightning then merged into one as they came into contact with their destination, lighting her black jagged horn up brightly and causing her hole-filled, dark blue mane and tail to move wildly with the surrounding winds of energy.

In front of the couple of stairs that led to the moon-marked throne of the night ahead of her, the black Queen of the Changelings, Chrysalis, stood there, with her eyes closed and her head lifted up as she continued to absorb the lightning that was striking her horn from all directions.

“Ooh, yes… All of this love energy that was stolen from those pathetic equines... It is glorious!” exclaimed Chrysalis, with a smile on her face. “Soon... Soon, you'll be free from the prison they've sealed you in, and only then will you be the perfect ally for us as we take over Equestria and feed upon them all!”

The queen chuckled with a wicked-sounding tone. Then, she heard a voice from behind.

“Hold it right there, Changeling Queen!”

“Hmm...?”

With her smile fading, the Queen opened her eyes and looked back to see who it was. At sight of them, she smiled calmly, turning around to half-face them while she continued the absorption.

“Ah... it's you six,” she said. “The wielders of the Elements of Harmony, led by my would-be betrothed's annoying little sister. I knew you would come, no doubt at the bidding of that pathetic Sun Princess whose scouts had escaped from us. Hmm, it's certainly been a while since we invaded Canterlot, yes?”

“Certainly. And from that, we certainly learned that you're a dangerous one who needs to be stopped!” exclaimed Twilight, looking firm along with her friends.

“Yeah! So whatever it is that you're doing here or planning next, you better cease it right now!” Dash exclaimed, pointing her hoof at her.

“Or else, what? Unleash the power of Harmony upon me?” asked Chrysalis. She chuckled. “Oh, I don't think so, my little ponies. Not when I have this grand opportunity here that's waiting to be snatched.”

“What do you mean?!” asked Applejack. “Why are you way out here in the forest, anyway?”

“Yeah, and what is it that you're doing with your horn?” asked Twilight.

The queen chuckled again. “See for yourself.”

With her horn still absorbing the energy, Chrysalis took a few steps back and to the side, moving the surrounding light from her horn away and allowing the ponies to see what was in front of the throne itself. What they saw had caused them to let out a loud gasp.

“WHAT?! DISCORD?!” shouted the purple unicorn, her eyes wide open.

Indeed, what stood in front of the throne was none other than the grey stone prison of the many-animal-limbed Spirit of Chaos himself, still with the arms-forward position and the same shocked expression that they left him in when they fired the Elements upon him.

With the statue in sight, suddenly, in her shocked eyes, Dash flashed back to her earlier dream and to the moment where she found Discord's silhouette frighteningly looming over her with his echoing laughter. Was his appearance in her dream supposed to warn her of this? She wondered. Or was it all a coincidence?

“You're planning to free him?!” asked Applejack.

“Yes,” replied the Queen, smiling. “Honestly, why else would my Changelings and I be here in this forest of no value otherwise?”

“But, we sealed him with the Elements, and as far as I know, only the Elements can free him as well,” said Twilight. “Just how are you planning to do this?”

“With the power of love, of course. The very same power that I used to win the struggle with that pathetic Celestia. Surprising, though, that it only took the feeding of your brother to do it. Ha! And they said she was a goddess who couldn't be overcome by anything... I believe I had proven otherwise.”

Chrysalis chuckled, glancing over at Discord's statue.

“You see, my little ponies, when the white stallion and the Princess whose identity I had stolen for myself had unleashed their spell to repel us away from Canterlot, a portion of us and I had landed near these old castle ruins,” she explained. “It was here that we found him as you can see, and it was from him that I sensed an enormous power. Since they had been disguised within Canterlot for a time, it was from some of my dear Changelings that I learned of who was imprisoned before me: Discord, the Spirit of Chaos, who had ruled these lands for a time until he was sealed by the Elements of Harmony. Once, by the two sister princesses...”

The Queen glanced over at the ponies again.

“...and again by you six. Hm, how careless of me to not realize the danger that you all possessed back then. Now I know why you were heading towards that tower. It was because it stored your precious Elements in there.”

“Yeah, that's right,” Twilight said, with a determined look again. “We would've stopped you by then if it wasn't for your massive Changeling horde there.”

“Indeed, you would have. And then, we would not be here afterward. But alas... we are.”

Chrysalis turned and faced Discord's prison again, with a grin on her face.

“If the love energy of just one measly stallion unicorn can enable me to overpower Celestia, a proclaimed goddess of all things... then imagine what the love energy of hundreds of ponies can enable me to do! I would've easily taken over Equestria by now with this alone if I chose to, but then, there would still be the Elements of Harmony to oppose me after all... They say that the Elements are the most powerful magic in all of Equestria. Well, then, let's test that claim, shall we? And what better way to test it than to try and free him from his prison?!”

Twilight quickly took a step back, gritting her teeth and positioning her head slightly closer to the ground. ”I don't know what exactly is it that you're trying to gain by freeing Discord, but this ends here, wicked queen! Once and for all! Girls?”

At her command, her friends moved closer to her, looking as firm as her.

“May I ask why Discord's stone prison was placed here in the first place, anyway?” asked Rarity, looking a bit worried at the purple unicorn. “I thought he was placed back in Canterlot's garden?”

“I thought so, too, Rarity,” replied Twilight. “Maybe the Princess decided to move him here in these old ruins.”

“Well, whatever the reason, I certainly don't want a world full of nonsensical things again. He must not be freed again. Ever!” exclaimed the white unicorn, back in her determined expression towards the queen.

“I'm with you there, Rarity,” Applejack said. “Ready when you are, Twilight!”

“Yeah, let's do this!” exclaimed Dash.

The queen chuckled again. “Oh yes, let's see you try and unleash the power of Harmony upon me... while you try and defend yourself from them as well! Children! Come to the aid of your glorious queen at once! Stop them from using the Elements upon me!”

Surprised and caught off-guard by the queen's sudden call, a few seconds later, the ponies began to hear the mass hissing sounds around them again, this time coming from below and ascending to their level. Then, from the many open windows of the throne room, the Changeling horde began to pour into the area like an ocean wave, their insect wings buzzing loudly as they wasted no time in surrounding the Element wielders.

Seeing the horde surround and trap them in the space they were in, the ponies backed themselves into each other as they glanced at the horde around them.

“Darn! I knew she would call her cronies to stop us!” Dash exclaimed, gritting her teeth angrily.

“Can't we just activate the Elements now?” asked Applejack, looking worried.

“We could try, but then they'll interrupt us,” said Twilight, glancing around with irritation.

“Can't you put your shield up to protect us?” asked Rarity.

“I-I can't do that while we're using the Elements! It'll put too much of a strain on me!” Twilight exclaimed. She then growled with frustration. “Darn it!”

“Really?! What are we gonna do now?!” asked Pinkie, with her eyes wide open as she quickly glanced around.

“The only thing we can do, Pinkie,” Dash said. “We fight them off! Hyah!!”

With that yell, the blue pegasus quickly took off towards one of the Changelings, pulled her hoof back, and swung it towards the creature, knocking it away. Not wasting a single second, she kicked another of them nearby and then quickly threw a hoof toward another.

At Dash's sudden attacks, in response, the Changeling horde closed in on the ponies to retaliate.

“Rainbow is right! There's no choice! Defend yourselves, everypony!” Twilight yelled.

As the horde closed in on them, a great battle then erupted between the ponies and the Changelings in the middle of the throne room. The creatures tried to swing their hooves at the ponies, but they quickly dodged and counterattacked whenever there was a chance to. Applejack and Rarity constantly bucked and punched through the creatures, delivering blows to them while dodging their hooves. Dash and Pinkie quickly moved and plowed through them, hitting each and every one of them that flew in the way.

Fluttershy, still afraid and timid as she was, knocked each of them back to her very best as they came to her, apologizing aloud each time she hit them.

“I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I'm sorry for that, too!”

Pointing her horn and using her magic, Twilight was shooting out focused energy blasts at her targets, hitting the horde back and keeping them at bay while she stood there.

“Stay back! We're not letting you stop us!” she exclaimed.

As the battle raged on, the ponies were slowly scattering themselves away from each other as they continued to ward off the Changelings, ending up at the various corners of the throne room. Just as Chrysalis needed, however, her children were successfully buying time for her to finish her energy absorption.

“Foolish equines!” exclaimed the Queen. “What good are the Elements to you if they require you to concentrate?! And yet here you all are, so greatly distracted by my children! ...EEEYAAAH!”

Chrysalis lifted her head all the way up, and as she did, the light emitting from her horn became larger and brighter, taking on a more furious appearance. The lightning pouring in from the windows had ceased. With the bright light further illuminating the throne room, both the Changelings and the ponies stopped their fighting and looked over to her.

“What?! No!” exclaimed the purple unicorn, realizing what the Queen was about to do.

Chrysalis laughed. “It is time, Spirit of Chaos! Time for you to be free of the prison that they've wrongfully jailed you in! Be released, Discord, and join us in our grand feasting!!”

As everyone witnessed next, the Queen swiftly pointed her bright horn towards the draconequus, blasting out a wild energy beam straight at him. The beam came into contact with his chest, striking it fiercely with miniature sparks bouncing off from the point of contact. The stone prison then began to glow an outline of bright green. To the surprise of the Element wielders, cracks began to form all over him.

“What?! No way!” Applejack exclaimed. “How in the hay is it working?!”

“Impossible! Is the power of love really that stronger than the Elements of Harmony?” Rarity wondered aloud.

“No! You mustn't do this!” yelled Twilight.

Dash growled, gritting her teeth. “Stooooop!”

Wildly flapping her wings, the blue pegasus quickly took off, heading towards the Queen. Some of the Changelings flew up and tried to block her way, only for her to plow right through them. Just as Dash almost reached the Queen, however, a nearby Changeling quickly flew into her from the side and, using its entire body, knocked her away. Both the creature and the pegasus crashed to the ground, sliding across it with the creature right on top of her.

“Ugh...! Why you little...” Dash growled at it, with the creature hissing back at her in response.

Chrysalis continued her energy beam, and the statue began cracking up more and more with pieces of stone flying off of it. Then, like the glass of a window, the statue finally cracked apart and exploded wildly, with pieces of stone flying off everywhere.

Feeling the senses of his own body again and as the air entered his lungs, raising up and bringing down his arms, Discord let out a loud gasp to breathe in the air, letting loose a loud scream towards the ceiling of the throne room afterward with his head completely tilted upward. After a long time, the Spirit of Chaos was finally free of his confines once again.

“Ugh, no!” Seeing the freed draconequus, Dash tried to get up from the ground, but the creature on top of her pressured her back down again. Growling, she swiftly threw her head forward, headbutting it up to loosen the pressure on her. In the second afterward, she threw her right hoof at its face, knocking it completely off of her and allowing her to fly again.

Flying back up, Dash gritted her teeth angrily at the creature that was now hovering in the air with its wings buzzing. “You freaks are going to pay for this! Hyaa!”

Enraged, she flew up to it and launched a strong hoof on it that knocked it away again. Seeing this, the other Changelings resumed their attacks on the other ponies, and the raging battle quickly resumed.

Standing there where he was, Discord tilted his head downward and leaned his body forward, breathing heavily with his eyes closed. Then, after a few needed breathers, the draconequus opened his eyes and saw what was happening in front of him, surprising him.

“...Huh?! Where am I?! What in the name of Chaos is going on here?!” he wondered aloud, standing up straight after leaning forward and recognizing the Element wielders, dumbfounded as he saw them fighting against the creatures. “Oh my... I thought Rainbow Dash was the only violent one here.”

“Discord.”

“Hmm?”

As Discord looked at her standing in front of him, Chrysalis lowered herself to the ground, bowing before him with her eyes closed.

“It is I, Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings. The leader of the creatures who are fighting against the very ponies that sealed you within that awful prison,” she said. “With the power of love at my side, it was I who has freed you from it.”

“Oh? The power of love? Hmm... Interesting that such a power could surpass that of the Elements of Harmony,” Discord said, looking fascinated.

The queen stood up and nodded, opening her eyes. “Indeed, Spirit of Chaos. And now that I have freed you, I offer you a proposal. Join us. Help us as we take over Equestria. With your power to tear this land apart in utter chaos, it will be so much easier to feast upon the love energy of these ponies. Only then will we finally thrive as a species. The dominant species that will then rule over all!

“So, what do you say, my dear draconequus?” she asked, smiling. “Do you accept our grand proposal?”

“...Hmm...”

Folding his arms and caressing his white goatee with his lion paw, Discord thought about it for a bit.

“...Hmm, no thank you. Going solo is my preferred choice here, honestly,” he replied, with his eyes closed.

“...What? You decline our propos—”

The draconequus snapped the fingers of his paw loudly, and in one swift second, the queen suddenly felt huge gusts of wind blowing straight at her from out of nowhere, causing her to be pushed back slowly and forcing her eyes and mouth to be shut tight as she struggled against the strong winds.

“Ugh...! Wh-what is the meaning of this?! Why are you denying us our salvation?! I've freed you, darn it! How dare you oppose us like thiiiiiiiiis?!”

The gusts of wind quickly grew stronger than before, and the Queen suddenly found herself flying backwards in the air at a swift speed, screaming as she was sent flying. The strong winds, reaching them as they came, also hit the entire Changeling horde back as well, sending them flying along with their Queen as they headed towards the exiting stairwell and went out of sight.

“What the...?” Dash had just witnessed what happened, strangely unaffected by the winds with her friends. “Wow, talk about an instant betrayal there.”

“Yeah. Guess he doesn't like teaming up with anyone,” Applejack said, standing there and gazing at the exit.

“Oh, it’s not quite that, Applejack,” Discord said. “It's just that I happen to dislike ugly-looking creatures such as them. I really hope they aren't trying to win some beauty contests with their rather grotesque bug eyes.”

Hearing him, Twilight turned around to face the draconequus, looking resolute again. “Discord.”

With the Changelings gone, seeing Twilight run up to him, the ponies proceeded to regroup with her as she now stood a few feet from the Spirit of Chaos himself. All of them had their firm gaze upon him.

“I know, I know. I've missed you, too. It's been a while, eh?” said the draconequus, looking calm and trimming his eagle claw with a trimmer he summoned. “Oh, look at that. My nails have grown long, thanks to you ponies who had to put me in jail like that.”

“Uh huh... You do realize that we can seal you back in, right?” asked Twilight.

“Oh, I know, since those pretty jeweled necklaces and that crown of yours are on you as we speak. Seriously, why can't the Elements be, I don't know, a group of colorful diamond-shaped gemstones, instead? They would look more threatening to me that way if you ask me, instead of looking like something that a pretty pony princess would wear... Hm.”

Tossing the trimmer away, Discord glanced towards them, standing straight and tall.

“Honestly, the better question is, will I allow myself to taste the rainbow again like I so mistakenly did the first two times around? Once when I was laughing towards the two princesses because I thought that they couldn’t do anything to me, and again when I thought I had erased the Magic of Friendship from you? No, sirree, I don't think I can afford another blind mistake like that again. As they say, the third time's the charm.

“Seriously, do you ponies even know what it's like to be stuck in a rather cramped prison like that?” he asked, leaning forward a bit with a slightly annoyed look. “No, of course you don't. All you care about is living in your own little world that is full of peace and harmony. Where is the fun in having such a harmonic place, really?”

“Well, it's better than living in your chaotic world that doesn't make sense and is full of dancing buffalos in pink tights,” said Twilight.

“I rightfully disagree with you, Twilight Sparkle. I find my world of Chaos to be a lot more interesting than... this.” The draconequus glanced around at his surroundings and then looked towards the ponies again, chuckling this time and standing up straight. “Ah... but you don't even know what true Chaos is like, eh, Twilight?”

“Huh? True Chaos?” asked the unicorn, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Yes. Real Chaos,” Discord said, putting his paw and claw together, with them beginning to massage each other. “The world that you saw before was only the first step in renovating Equestria into my new kingdom. If only you didn't fire the Elements upon poor old me like that, then you would have seen it... I believe you will now.”

“...From the way you're sayin' it, its soundin' like its worse than what we saw before,” said Applejack. “Just what are you plannin' to do, Discord?”

The draconequus laughed, with his hands letting go of each other. “All in good time, my dear Applejack! All in good time. For now, though, I just need a little... spark. A spark that will bring forth my true chaotic world... and I know just the right way to do it.”

Discord fixed his gaze upon Twilight, calmly smiling at her.

“Hmm, the Element of Magic... The big cheese that powers all of the Elements of Harmony together,” he said. “Since I'm obviously not a being of Harmony myself, and I wouldn't want to be one anyway, I can only guess that it takes a talented unicorn in order to properly wield it... Ah, but of course. Otherwise, you six wouldn't be here and, well, you know, Chaos would be everywhere by now. Well, then, that reminds me of something. Back in the day, when I did rule Equestria, there were these unicorns who... Hm, to put it mildly, they went wild when the Chaos had affected them. As I soon knew, these very same unicorns had a great magical potential within them just like you, Twilight. And well... Hm, telling you would spoil what I'm about to do now.”

“What? What exactly happened to these unicorns, Discord?” Twilight asked, her resolution seemingly faltering slightly as she tried to understand what she just heard.

“Like I said, telling you would spoil it.”

Within a second, the Spirit of Chaos disappeared with a white flash. With the same flash a split-second later, he immediately reappeared right in front of Twilight, still calmly smiling down at her and startling all of them with his sudden teleportation.

“Hey, what in the hay are you doing?!” asked Applejack, taking a step back.

“Don't you dare touch her, Discord!” exclaimed Dash.

“Now now, my little ponies. All I'm going to do here is give her a little wake-up call. Nothing drastic,” Discord said, waving a finger of his. He chuckled again. “Ah yes... I could feel it within you, Twilight Sparkle. That swirling magical affinity that you hold inside. All doubts are erased, then. You truly are the rightful holder of the Element of Magic, my dear Twilight. Ha ha! It's splendid that you have this great affinity inside of you! ...But what good is it, really...”

Looking at his eagle claw, he lowered it down to her, putting it at the side of her head with Twilight’s eyes following it.

“...if you don't have the will to control it?”

“Hey!” Dash yelled. “I said don't touch her!”

Ignoring the blue pegasus, the draconequus lightly tapped on the side of Twilight's head with one finger of his claw.

“Uhh!”

At the instant when he touched her, suddenly, something flared up to a great degree inside of the purple unicorn. Something snapped within her like a twig, shooting great burning pain across her from the inside. It caused her eyes to widen and her pupils to shrink as small as they could.

Seeing her eyes, gasping, Dash then growled angrily and gritted her teeth at the draconequus. “You asked for it, then!”

Pulling her hoof back, she flew up to his head, attempting to swing her hoof at him. Putting his paw up with it glowing bright yellow, Discord aimed it at her. Just before the hoof tried to land on him, Dash was quickly stopped in mid-air with her Element necklace going in the opposite direction, holding her back with the same yellow glow.

“Ugh! What...?” Dash felt herself choking a bit due to her constraining necklace. “Hey! Let me go!”

“Always the violent and rebellious one, aren't you, Rainbow Dash?” Discord asked, smiling at her. “I think you need a little anger management here, really.”

Dash growled at him in response. The draconequus then grabbed her with both his paw and claw, holding her as if she was a plush doll and facing her towards him.

“Here, be a good little girl and watch this moment with me, will you?”

As she was turned around, still being held by him, Dash then noticed the purple unicorn who was now twitching and whining a lot as if she was constantly being frightened by something, with the same wide-eyed expression on her.

“Twilight, are you okay?! What's wrong with you?!” asked Pinkie, alarmed and worried with the rest of them.

Something was going out of control within the purple unicorn. Something that was continuously causing her to act and move as she did. Her dot-like, painful-looking eyes were constantly moving left and right as she tried to figure out what the draconequus did to her.

Then, she finally knew it as she recalled her past, for this had happened before.

“...N-No...! Not... again! What... did you... do to me...?! My... magic...! It's... it's going out of.... c-c-c-c---”

Before she could even finish, suddenly, her horn began to flash white a few times, flickering continuously with white particles seeping out and dropping down to the floor. Discord slowly walked back with Dash still in his grasp.

“My little ponies, you may want to step back a bit. Otherwise, you'll get caught by her magic,” he said. “And her transformation afterward as well. It's going to be quite... hot.”

“Ugh, what are you talking about?! Twilight! Snap out of it!” yelled Dash, trying to struggle out of Discord's grasp.

“Step back?” Applejack wondered aloud. “What is he—”

Suddenly, the unicorn's body began to shake violently, and her whines became louder and more frequent. The pain within her was becoming greater and greater with every second that passed, and soon, she felt like she was about to burst from within as she then began to lose complete control of herself.

“...Help... me...! Please! ...Aah! Aaaah! …AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!”

With that great scream from her, a great wild burst of purple magical energy exploded out of her from all sides, causing her friends behind her to be knocked swiftly away by the resulting strong force and the winds of it. Sliding and rolling on the floor, her friends pushed themselves up and quickly saw her floating in the air above the floor.

“Huh?! Her horn!” exclaimed Rarity. “It's...”

“...gone out of control!” exclaimed Pinkie.

The unicorn's horn, engulfed in a bright white light, was shooting out several energy blasts from it in different directions, hitting the walls of the throne room as well as going outside the windows. She was screaming at a constant rate, with her eyes glowing bright white and with no visible pupils on them as if she was blind with rage. Her mane and tail were lifted upwards, and the Element of Magic that was on her before had fallen away from her, now on the floor a few feet near her.

“Oh my goodness, she's helpless like that!” exclaimed Rarity, standing up. “We have got to do something!”

“Ugh, yeah, but how? Her magic will get in the way if we try to reach her like this!” exclaimed Applejack. “Hey, wait a minute...! Wasn't she like this before when she was a little filly, but she was stopped by Princess Celestia?”

“…Oh my word, you're right!”

“So only the Princess can stop this?!” asked Fluttershy, alarmed and afraid.

Discord chuckled, watching it all unfold. “If you ponies think you'll never see her again after this rather spectacular performance, relax. Don't fret, 'cause the fun...”

With a pair of black sunglasses appearing near his eyes, Discord then put them on with his claw while still holding the blue pegasus.

“...is about to begin. Off you go now, Rainbow Dash. Let's see if you can try and save your little friend now, hmm?”

The draconequus released his hold on Dash, dropping her down to the ground. Puzzled on why he had let her go like this, she quickly dismissed it and flew off towards the helpless floating unicorn.

“Twilight! It's alright, I'm here now! ...Oh man.”

Frantically searching for a way to try and stop her amidst the unicorn's constant screaming, Dash then looked at her brightly-lit horn. Using both front hooves together, the pegasus tried to cover and suppress her horn to get it under control.

“Aagh!!”

But as soon as she touched it, the horn shocked her back, hurting her and knocking her away to the floor. She hit it, sliding on it and stopping there.

“Rainbow Dash!” yelled Applejack. “Huh?!”

Suddenly, Twilight's screams became louder than before, and she now twitched more violently as well. As everyone saw next, the unicorn began to glow an outline of bright orange around her, and her mane and tail slowly took on a more flame-like appearance instead of their usual style.

With the ponies being forced to do nothing but watch her twitch more violently with every passing second, soon, the helpless violent Twilight finally let out one last, great, harrowing scream to the ceiling above her.

With that last great scream, another explosion occurred, this time more gigantic than before and was made completely out of orange burning fire instead of magic energy. The explosion of fire was so great that, with its devastating force, it blew away the walls of the throne room itself, letting the damp atmosphere of the forest fully enter it like a victorious army that had conquered a great city.

Fire was everywhere for the next few moments, with the entire tower having felt the shockwave that came from the explosion at its top floor. Debris was flying everywhere, and after the fire had dissipated, thick grey smoke covered what was left of the throne room.

The coughing sounds of the ponies were heard, trying to breathe amidst the smoke. After half of the smoke dissipated, Dash flew in the air with a few burnt marks on her coat, coughing a lot as she tried to find her friends.

“...Guys? Where are you?”

“We're right here, Rainbow,” answered Applejack, coughing a lot. “At the stairs.”

Flying through the smoke in the direction of the exiting stairwell, Dash found them lying next to each other on the ground near the exit. She landed and ran up to them.

“Guys! Are you alright?!”

“Yeah, we're alright,” the orange pony said, trying to stand up. “Talk about messing with fire again, eh? Ugh.”

Like Dash, the rest of them had small burnt marks on their coats as well, thanks to the explosion of fire that had occurred. The blue pegasus helped her orange friend up with her hooves, while the rest of them managed to stand up on their own.

Rarity coughed a bit. “Where is Twilight? I hope she didn't...”

At that, realizing it, the ponies then glanced around at the now-destroyed throne room, trying to search for her. The lingering smoke began to completely fade away from the area, and still there was no sign of her.

“Hey, look up ahead!” Pinkie directed, pointing her hoof at what she saw.

They looked. A thick patch of smoke still lingered in the central part of the throne room, but soon, it dissipated away, allowing them to see who now stood there.

“Huh...?” noticed Dash. “What... the...? Twilight?!”

With the smoke completely gone from the area, allowing the moon to shine its light upon it and with the damp air of the forest filling it, what now stood there in the middle of the destroyed throne room was a unicorn that was facing ahead, sporting a light tan coat with a touch of orange on it. Her mane and tail were of the unusual type. Instead of the normal kind, they were of great, orange, raging flames that stood on their end. The flames waved and moved at a fast speed, emitting orange embers from them as well.

Though the unicorn could be somepony else from the flames and the tan coat, from her cutie mark alone, however, they quickly knew that it was her.

“...What?! Twilight, is that you?!” asked Applejack, surprised at her. “Your cutie mark's the same, so it has to be you! Is it?”

“Oh my! What on earth has she become?!” asked Rarity, distraught by what she saw with her hoof on her mouth.

Seeing Twilight's new flaming appearance in front of her, Dash was quickly reminded of something: her dream. The moment where she looked at herself in the gold-plated mirror and found herself with a similar flaming appearance, albeit with a pure white coat instead of a tan one.

Then, as she remembered her dream, suddenly and somehow, the blue pegasus began to feel something coming from the burning unicorn. A stream of wild feelings that raged within her, it was, much like her flaming mane and tail. As Dash recalled the dream again, she noticed that it was in stark contrast to the calm Harmonic feelings that she felt whilst in her own flaming form.

...Chaotic energy? She thought. Was that what she was feeling from the unicorn now? If so, why was she feeling this, then? And how?

“...Twilight?” Pinkie called, looking a bit afraid.

Seemingly standing there and ignoring them, the unicorn then finally moved her front hoof to her right. With more hoof movements, she was slowly turning around to face them, and soon, all of them saw her face. Stopping there with her friends ahead of her, the unicorn sported a firm frowning look on her. Along with her flaming mane and her tan coat, the irises of her eyes were changed as well. They weren't her normal violet. They were ruby red, instead.

After a few seconds, her frowning look quickly shifted. Her eyes went back to the wide-eyed look she had before, but her pupils shrunk halfway this time instead of becoming dot-like. Then, she formed a very wide grin on her face. With the huge grin and the shrunk eyes, she looked like a pony that had belonged to a mental asylum.

Letting out slight gasps, the ponies were both surprised and greatly disturbed at the rather insane look she had now, with Fluttershy squeaking a bit in fear.

“Whoa, Twilight...! Are you... okay?” Dash asked.

In response, the unicorn began to chuckle with a wicked tone to it. A chuckle that then turned into a loud string of laughter, laughing louder and louder as she lifted her head towards the sky. Finishing her laughter, she glanced down and towards them again with the same crazed look on her face.

“Yes... I'm feeling mighty fine right now... In fact, I'm feeling rather wild right now! Heheheheeee…”

“Wow. What in the hay did Discord do to her...?” Applejack wondered aloud, blinking her eyes and looking disturbed at her.

“Whatever he did, I would say that she's definitely not herself anymore!” exclaimed Rarity.

Twilight chuckled again, her pupils going back to normal and with her grin shrinking a bit.

“Friends,” she said, calmly. “Who really needs them when you have this great power inside of you that was lying dormant before? Who needs them when you can fight on your own? ...I can't believe that my eyes were closed all this time, causing me to forget the greatest potential inside of me, causing me to forget that this is how I was supposed to be all along... I nearly reached this state when I was a little filly, but I was stopped by that darn Princess... and you five who influenced my amnesia.”

“W-what? What in the hay are you talking about, Twilight?!” asked Applejack, further disturbed by her speech.

“Oh, it doesn't matter. It’s time to begin my experiments with this power. And who else to test it on…”

Taking a step back and looking like she was about to run off, the burning unicorn's horn glowed bright orange and her flames began to rage faster than ever.

“…but you five? Stay still, would you please?”

With that, Twilight quickly took off towards the ponies ahead, her flames leaving behind several embers as she ran for them.

“Wait, Twilight! We're not who you thi—”

Ignoring her, the unicorn shot out an orange-colored energy blast directly at Dash. The blast quickly hit her, causing her to yelp in pain. The force of it knocked her up and away towards the exiting stairway behind them.

“Rainbow Dash! Oh darn, RUUUUUN!” yelled Applejack.

As Twilight reached them, the ponies immediately split up and ran away in different directions, scattering away from each other while still in the throne room area and trying to put some distance between them and the burning unicorn.

Twilight stopped there, chuckling. “Being afraid of becoming a footnote in future history books, I see.”

Turning around and glancing at each of them, Twilight was deciding who was to be her first target. Then, she glanced towards Applejack who had stopped in the corner to the right of the throne itself and turned around.

“Uh oh!” Applejack noticed her. “She's lookin' at m—”

Before the orange earth pony could finish that sentence, the unicorn used her teleportation spell, flashing out and flashing in to appear right in front of Applejack, startling her and making her jump.

“Yikes!” exclaimed the orange pony.

“Honesty, huh?” Twilight chuckled. Still grinning, her eyes shrunk again and moved her head closer towards Applejack, further startling her. “Forget honesty. Lying is way better than telling the truth. Sometimes, to lie is to succeed!”

The unicorn swiftly turned around. Using the swift momentum of her turn, she swung her flaming tail horizontally towards the orange pony. The flames struck and burned her face as well as the upper side of her body, making her scream in pain. The sheer force of the flames also knocked her back, causing her to hit her back against the corner behind her, grunting in pain as well.

The unicorn chuckled again as she looked back, watching Applejack fall to the ground on her front with a pain-stricken face, her cowboy hat falling off of her. Looking ahead after a second, trying to decide, Twilight then focused on her next target: Pinkie Pie, who was standing near the middle of the area.

“Joy and laughter? Sadness and anger is what you’ll be feeling after this. If you survive, that is,” said the unicorn. “After all, it’s a natural thing to feel them when you get attacked by someone who you thought was a friend, according to my studies!”

Having seen what just happened to Applejack, a wide-eyed, teeth-gritting look of fear then appeared on the pink pony's face as she saw those two insane, burning red eyes gazing at her directly.

“Eeeeek! Twilight, get ahold of— Huh?!”

Suddenly, a group of orange arrows that were brightly lit and bristling with energy appeared around Pinkie in the air above her. The unicorn continued to grin with her horn glowing, preparing to unleash the arrows right at the pink pony.

“Twilight, stop!” yelled Rarity from the leftmost part of the ruins and to Twilight's right. “Don't you know what you're doing?!”

As her shrunk eyes quickly shifted towards the white unicorn, Twilight chuckled once again, her horn glowing even brighter. While still preparing to unleash the arrows, at the same time, she used her horn to lift up a piece of large debris that had fallen just outside the tower and positioned it up in the air behind Rarity.

“Being greedy pays off more in the long term. Not so much when you're being generous,” said Twilight. “All of those dresses that you’ve made for us as well as everypony else, you could’ve kept them yourself and could’ve profited from them, instead!”

With both of her attacks primed to go, she then let them loose. The arrows quickly rained down on the pink pony, causing an explosion of erupting fire and smoke that rocked the area a bit, while the large piece of debris propelled itself towards the unsuspecting Rarity. Hearing something coming for her from behind, the white unicorn glanced back, only to be smashed away by the debris that crashed on her.

Screaming in pain, Rarity flew away. Landing and sliding on the ground afterward, she stopped at the other side of the area, face flat and motionless. The smoke from the arrow-strike explosion had dissipated, and the pink pony laid there face flat as well with her coat having more burnt marks than before.

Nearly all of Twilight's former friends had now fallen, thanks to her relentless assault on them. Nearly, with only one of them left, as she noticed. With her grin turning back into a smile and her eyes enlarging back to normal, looking calm, the burning unicorn slowly turned her attention towards the last remaining Element wielder, who was lying near the corner that was to the left of the throne. She was on her front in a curled position, facing away from Twilight as she continuously shook and trembled with great fear on her face.

“Heh, always the timid one, eh, Fluttershy? Always the shy one as your namesake says,” taunted Twilight, walking up to her. “No doubt, then, that you so easily represent the Element of Kindness. And when there's kindness, there's also weakness.”

Hearing her approaching hoofsteps as well as her voice, Fluttershy squealed loudly in great fear, curling herself up further like a little filly and shaking even more. Her eyes were shut tight as she dared not to look into the burning unicorn's red-hot eyes.

“Well, why don't you be cruel, instead? It makes you look tougher, really, and it’s more rewarding than you think, if you do it right,” Twilight said, grinning again as she stopped right in front of the curled pegasus. “Ah, but knowing you, you'd refuse to, anyway.”

Her horn began to glow brightly once again.

“Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything these days. Good night.”

“No! You leave Fluttershy ALONE!”

“Huh?!”

Hearing a familiar voice screaming at her from behind, the unicorn quickly turned around, only to see an angry blue pegasus speeding directly at her in the air with her hoof pulled back. Quickly smiling and using her horn, Twilight quickly summoned up an orange orb-shaped shield around her, right before Dash swung her hoof. The hoof landed on the shield and stopped there despite the strong force of her hoof, surprising her as she saw what stopped her attempted punch.

“What?!”

“Ah, Rainbow Dash. Loyal as ever, aren't you?” said Twilight, smiling at her. “You ought to abandon them now unless you want to end up like them. It’s safer, really!”

Deactivating her shield and lowering her head, the unicorn then shot out another energy blast from her horn at Dash, exploding on and knocking her away again as she yelped in pain. She crashed down on the floor near the middle of the area and laid there on her back, groaning as pain shot throughout her due to the blast.

The pegasus lifted her head up to look at the burning unicorn who was walking up to her. Having heard all of her taunts as she hurt each of her friends, Dash then gritted her teeth at her angrily. Rarity was right: the innocent studious unicorn who was the rightful wielder of the Element of Magic that they all knew was definitely no longer herself. She had now become a walking, living fire match that was itching to light up everything in flames with great magical power inside of her. All under the twisted ambitions of Discord, who was sitting on a red couch that was placed in front of the throne, as Dash saw. With his sunglasses still on, the draconequus was tossing popcorn into his mouth from a striped paper bag that he held.

“Mmm... Now this is what I call entertainment,” he said, tossing another one into his mouth. “Nothing like enacting true Chaos upon her own friends here.”

Dash growled angrily at him.

“'Nothing drastic?'” she asked, remembering what he said earlier.

“Hmm? Oh, right. What I assured earlier... Well, okay, so it is a bit drastic after all, as she's now pretty much a living fireplace instead of the cute little unicorn that she was,” replied Discord. He smiled, dropping the bag and clapping both of his claw and paw together a few times. “And my, my, what a spectacular performance she did here! Bravo, Twilight! Bravo!”

“Grrr...! Change her back! She doesn't deserve to be your puppet!”

“Ah, but I can't, my dear Rainbow Dash. If I did, the Magic of Friendship would be active again, and I'd be back in my stone prison. I can't afford that now, can I? Hmhmhm. Besides, I forgot to mention this, anyway. You know that little part where her magic had gone haywire like that? It was a test of mine for her. A test to see if she had the will to control her magic like that, to see if she could keep it at bay. Well, now, I believe we can see the results of that test here.”

Hearing him, Dash glanced towards the unicorn that now stood three feet in front of her. “Let me guess. The same thing happened to those unicorns back then?”

“Precisely, Rainbow Dash. Precisely.”

“Hmph. No wonder... And if Celestia hadn't sent those letters back to Twilight here when we first met you...”

“Yes. She would've been like this back then, and Equestria would've been my place to rule again.”

“Hm. Thankfully, it didn't turn out that way, then.”

Grunting in pain a bit, Dash pushed herself back up and flapped her wings, now hovering above the ground.

“Well, if you aren't gonna change her back, then maybe I oughta knock some sense into her!”

Quickly flying up to Twilight, Dash tried to swing her hoof up from under the unicorn's head, trying to do an uppercut on her.

“Huh?!”

But despite the pegasus' strength, to her surprise, the hoof had abruptly stopped on the unicorn's chin and neck, stopping there as if she had hit a solid rock, instead.

“What?! How in the hay…?!”

Twilight smiled and chuckled in response. “Even if I don't do anything, you can't hurt me, Rainbow Dash. Not while I'm like this.”

With her hoof still under her chin, thinking she was bluffing, Dash let go and tried to swing her other hoof towards the side of the unicorn's face. Again, it stopped on her face like a rock with no signs of the unicorn flinching from it, surprising Dash further.

“What did I just say? You can't hurt me. Ever,” said the unicorn.

Staring at her while struggling on her face, the pegasus then backed off and landed a few feet in front of the unicorn, continuing to look surprised. “No way...! You don’t even flinch!”

Discord chuckled, taking his sunglasses off and tossing them away. “Yep, indeed. She's hoof-proofed to the max. Literally solid, if I must say. So, Twilight...”

The draconequus stood up from the couch and walked up to the unicorn's side, stopping there and facing the blue pegasus.

“...I ought to applaud you for rendering the Magic of Friendship obsolete and turning on your friends like this,” he said, looking down at the unicorn. “But once is enough, really. With the power of the Elements of Harmony gone forever, it seems that you and I are finally free to spread the joy of Chaos across this world and possibly beyond. Well, if there is a place beyond Equestria, that is, but if not, then oh well. Equestria's enough for us, really.”

The unicorn chuckled, looking up at her master. “What is it that you want me to do now, Discord? Since there's no one left to oppose us anymore...”

“Hmm, well, actually, there's still the matter of the two princesses to deal with. But I'll handle them. Lift them and their little Canterlot out by the roots and all.”

Discord turned and walked away. “As for you, well, feel free to do whatever you like. Now that your power has been rightfully unlocked, it is up to you on how you use that power.”

“Hm, alright, then.”

“Have fun, then, Twilight Sparkle. Or, should I say, my faithful student. Hmhmhmhmhmm.”

Leaving Twilight to decide on her own, the draconequus then disappeared out of sight with a white flash.

“...Lift Canterlot out by its roots...?” Dash thought aloud. Blinking, she then realized something, causing her eyes to shrink as the feeling of shock came over her. “Oh, no...!”

Twilight chuckled again, glancing at each of her friends one by one, still down at the places where she attacked them.

“Heh, what a fun little experiment this was. I have to say that the results were quite fantastic.”

With her smile turning into a calm smile, the burning unicorn then turned around, looking back at them.

“Welp, as Discord had said, there's no way that you could stop us with the Elements of Harmony now. Not when there's no pony else to wield the Element of Magic there. For that, even though I had fun, it's ultimately a waste of time toying with you here when I could be out there doing further experiments... and that's exactly what I'm going to do now. Don't worry, though. Sooner or later, you'll all join me in the fun eventually. Remember the last time when you were the opposite of yourselves, going against the Elements that you represent? Yeah, that.”

Twilight glanced ahead. “Now if you'll excuse me...”

“Twilight, wait!” Dash exclaimed, with a worried look. “What is Discord exactly going to do? What did he mean by lift Canterlot out by its roots?”

“Oh, I don't know. You'll have to see for yourself. I'm gonna be too busy choosing which parts of this… town to experiment with. Which town is that, you wonder? Hm, I think it's obvious. Farewell, all of you.”

With the bright orange glow of her horn, blazing, raging flames rose from the ground and had quickly surrounded her, concealing her within them. The flames then dissipated, and she disappeared from where she had stood before.

With all the sudden events that had just happened, from where they all were, the ponies were staring at the spot where Twilight had stood, with looks of great confusion and shock across their faces.

“...Okay... Can anypony tell me what in Celestia's name had just happened here?” asked Rarity, lying there with parts of the debris behind her and groaning in pain. “I don't think I can believe any of it, honestly.”

Struggling to get up on her hooves, Applejack groaned in pain as well. “Yeah, I don't think any of us saw that coming... Ugh, is everypony alright here?”

“Yeah. I'm just... lying here,” Pinkie replied, lying on her side and blinking her eyes a few times. Along with Applejack, more burnt marks had been inflicted on her coat, thanks to the blasts that exploded on her.

After a bit, the orange pony finally stood up, struggling a bit to keep herself up and then picking her hat up, putting it on. “Gosh. Who knew Discord would turn Twilight against us like that? ...Then again, he did turn us against her the last time he was around.”

“Yeah!” The pink pony turned herself around and tried to stand up, struggling as well. “Only this time, he was serious! You could tell he was! I mean, have you ever seen a pony with a flaming mane and tail like that? It's craaaaazy!”

“Yeah, he was definitely fed up with being imprisoned all the time, that's for sure,” Rarity said, having stood up as well. “Fluttershy, are you alright, my darling? I hope Twilight didn't hurt you like she did to us.”

“No... I-I'm fine. Rainbow Dash saved me here,” replied the yellow pegasus, still in a curled-up position. After a second, she slowly stood up and walked over to Dash.

“Gosh. Poor girl curlin' herself up like that,” said Applejack, looking worried while walking to and grouping up with the rest of them near the blue pegasus. “Thank the apples you saved her just in time, Rainbow Dash. Even though you couldn't do much to Twilight in the end.”

“Yeah. I wonder why she left her alone like that, though?” asked Pinkie. “...Huh?”

As they stopped near her, the ponies noticed that Dash was looking straight down at the floor, having been like that for the past few seconds now.

“Rainbow?” Applejack called.

Unbeknownst to her friends, Dash's eyes were deep in thought, having just realized something that also made her look shocked. Having heard both Discord and Twilight, the pegasus could not help but flash back to the dream she had. Seeing Ponyville in ruins and Canterlot up on that floating rock... Was it meant to warn her of all this?

With all that had happened just now, it definitely was, she just thought. There was no way they could have meant something else, not with those way-too-obvious hints of theirs.

“...NOOO!”

With that yell, fearing for the safety of the town that they all called home, the blue pegasus jumped and took to the air with immediate haste, flying out of the ruined tower and descending back into the forest.

“Rainbow! Where are you flying off to?!” yelled Applejack, watching her fly off.

“Where is she going?” asked Rarity. “...Wait a minute, didn't Twilight said she was going to... Oh, no...”

“Ponyville?!” All of them exclaimed at once, realizing it.

“If that's where they are going to, then we've no time to lose!” exclaimed Applejack. “Come on, everypony!”

Not wasting a single second, with quick haste, the ponies turned and took off for the exiting stairwell.

“Huh...?”

However, as she followed them, Pinkie suddenly felt something inside of her. Something that was seemingly telling her to stop. She heeded it, whatever it was, and stopped. Then, it directed her towards something that was still in the throne room and told her to pick it up.

She looked back, and upon seeing it, the thing inside of her further urged her to pick it up. It was an urge she could not ignore.

Seeing the Crown of Magic on the floor near the middle of the area, the pink pony trotted up to it and took a good curious look at it.

“Huh. I wonder why something is telling me to pick this up? Maybe the Elements of Harmony can still help us after all? ...Well, whatever you say, mister mystery thingamajig inside of me!”

Turning around and putting her tail under it, the pink pony tossed the Crown upward, descending right into the depths of her bushy tail and keeping it within. With the Crown in her tail, Pinkie then proceeded on her way, running as fast as she could to catch up with the others.

---

The blue pegasus was back on the long open path in the forest that she and her friends used to reach the castle ruins earlier, going in the opposite direction towards Ponyville. She desperately flew as fast as she could, her wings flapping as hard as they could.

Were they serious? She thought as she continued to speed along the path. Were they really going to enact what she saw in her dream? Despite what Discord and Twilight had said, even though she already took their words as proof that her dream was becoming true, a small part of Dash's mind doubted it. After all, they could have said that just to deceive her, only to place their doings somewhere else, instead. For that, she had to be completely sure that they weren't lying. She had to see it all for herself to confirm it.

Dash was approaching the end of the long path. A large, open, tree-less cliff area overlooking the landscape below was ahead of her, and soon, she saw and heard them.

“Huh?!”

Entering the area and stopping near the edge of the cliff in the air, the blue pegasus saw a great explosion of fire and smoke in the distance ahead that was rising from below, accompanied by a loud booming sound with it. Trying to pinpoint the source of the explosion, she gasped in horror as she found where it came from: the center of Ponyville.

The explosion wasn't the first to happen, as she further saw, for parts of the town had already been on fire. The fires were just beginning to spread through the town now, burning through the buildings as fierce as they did with some of them starting to weather and crumble down.

Dash began to look more and more distraught at this as two more explosions erupted from the town, her mouth open in shock. Her eyes were slightly shifting left and right at a constant rate as she watched. Now that she was seeing it with her own eyes, she knew that at least one part of her dream was becoming true. At that, Dash began to lose strength from her wings, beginning to feel overwhelmed by the sight of it and causing her to slowly descend to the grass-filled ground.

Then, something stopped her slow descent as she heard loud rumbling sounds coming from past the burning town. Behind the ever-increasing smoke, she saw the sight of Canterlot quaking wildly while it was on its mountainside rest. The rumbling continued to grow wilder with every second, until finally, the city was seemingly pulling itself away, cracking apart from the mountain that kept it close. With its waterfalls slowly ceasing their run and with pieces of the earth falling away from it, the once-stationary city and palace was floating away in the air, seemingly moving closer to Ponyville and stopping there near the town.

A few seconds later, she heard a loud string of rumbling that was louder than the one before. As Dash saw, the whole surrounding area, even where she was hovering above, was quaking wildly like a rattlesnake. The pegasus then noticed that, below the floating Canterlot, a large mass of the earth was being rooted out and upwards. Reaching near it, the large chunk of rock stopped there with the city right above it. Then, the city descended down towards it, seemingly placing itself on top of it and rooting itself deep into the large rock.

Having witnessed this, with her mouth still open and her eyes being wide, Dash shook her head in denial. As much as she didn't want to believe it, the dream foretelling this destructive event became completely true.

“No...! This, this can't be happening! ...Nooooooo....!”

Growing weaker and weaker, the pegasus soon fell to the ground on her tail, sitting with her lower hooves out in front and with a very sad, yet shocked look on her face. Feelings of sorrow and anxiety were swirling wildly within her mind and chest as she stared at what was happening ahead of her.

A second later, the feeling of frustration shot through her, causing her eyes to shut themselves and her teeth to clench with each other furiously. Tears splashed away from her eyes as they closed, and she angrily lifted up and pounded her upper right hoof down on the ground as hard as she could.

“Why...?! Why didn't I warn everypony of what would happen beforehand?!” she yelled, her voice cracking. “How was I supposed to know that the dream I had was a glimpse into the future?! It just isn't fair!”

“...Ugh...! Rainbow Dash!”

From behind, Applejack was approaching with the rest of her friends, with some of them appearing to be struggling and limping except for Fluttershy. After their run-through of the forest and the open path, the four ponies had finally caught up with the pegasus. Thanks to what Twilight did to them, the run had prematurely tired them out, causing their injuries to show through their painful expressions.

The ponies stopped near Dash, with Rarity falling to the ground on her front. Applejack and Pinkie took a few needed breathers, groaning at the same time as well. Then, the orange pony looked up and saw the burning town ahead.

“Oh no... She's doin' this, isn't she?” Applejack observed, looking worried, only to notice something floating above the town and making her surprised. “Wait, what in the hay?! Why is Canterlot up there?! Is that Discord's doing?”

“Looks like it!” exclaimed Pinkie, almost leaning to the side with a painful look on her face. “Ugh, remember his little floaty things with Ponyville's buildings on top?”

“Oh my!” yelped Fluttershy, shocked and distraught at the sights ahead. “What, what about the ponies over at both of them?!”

“I simply cannot believe this!” exclaimed Rarity, laying there and looking surprised as well. “My beautiful Carousel! S-Sweetie Belle!”

As they feared for the safety of everypony in both places, the frustrated look on Dash's face reverted back to the sorrowful look she had before. Weakening her hoof and now sitting there with her head tilted downward, leaning a bit forward, Dash continued to silently sob with her eyes still closed and her tears spreading down her cheeks.

“Guys,” she said, weakly. “This... this is all my fault.”

“Huh? Your fault?” Applejack asked, looking at her. “What do you mean by that?”

“I... I had a dream a few nights ago. A dream that was a glimpse into the future. A dream that was supposed to warn me of this!” Dash exclaimed, her voice further cracking. “In it, I saw Ponyville in ruins. I saw Canterlot up on that floating rock. I saw Discord looming over me like that, laughing like the creep he was! ...I-I thought it was supposed to be just a nightmare, so I ignored it and didn't tell anyone of it. But I should have, now that this has happened.”

“…What?! So you had a dream that foresaw this?” asked Rarity, surprised.

“Yeah... and that's why it's my fault. If I had told you guys, then we would have prevented this. We wouldn't have lost Twilight to that creep.”

Dash lifted her head up to look ahead and around, allowing everypony to see her tearful face.

“It's too late now. Twilight's out there burning the town, and Discord's just beginning his stupid reign of Chaos again like before. How long is it going to be until he brainwashes everypony again? ...Without somepony to wield the Element of Magic now, we can't use the Elements of Harmony to fix all of this, guys. We just can't. It's hopeless...”

Staring ahead for a bit, she then tilted her head down and closed her eyes again.

“...Scootaloo, my little sister... I'm sorry. I've... failed you. I've failed everypony... Man, I so hate the word 'failure' right now...!”

Having said that with a raised, but cracked voice, Dash then began to sob again, audibly this time, believing that her new little sister was somewhere in that town while the flames were destroying it. Soon, hearing her sobs, the ponies couldn't help but look and feel sad as well, knowing it was possible that some casualties might have happened already.

“...No... T-there must be something we can do,” Rarity said. “And I-I'm sure it's possible that the fillies might have escaped already, as much as I worry about them and all.”

“They might have, and I sure hope they did,” said Applejack. “But either way, Rainbow is right. We can't use the Elements anymore. Honestly, what can we do now, after what just happened?”

“No... Are we, are we just going to stand here and let Discord rule over everything?” asked Fluttershy.

“Hey, what about the princesses? Can they do something about this?” asked Pinkie.

“Canterlot is up on that floatin' rock, Pinkie,” Applejack said. “Does it look like they're in a position to do somethin' about it? With Discord pullin' the strings now? If they could do somethin', then we wouldn't be seein' that up there."

“Oh, that's right. Well, what about...”

The ponies continued to chatter amongst themselves, trying to search for a way to remedy the situation only to run into a dead end each time. Dash didn't care, though, continuing to sob and being convinced that, without the only thing to help them, the world as they knew it was coming to an end.

There was no way, she continually thought to herself. There wasn't an open door for them to lead them back into the peaceful place that they all called home. There was just no darn way out of this.

As her tears continued to flow down her cheeks, Dash opened her tearful eyes, looking at the ground that her tears were dripping toward. The tears had formed into a small puddle that laid there on the grass, its size being large enough for the pegasus to see her own reflection within.

“Huh...?”

At the instant she saw herself, however, Dash stopped sobbing, looking at herself with an expression of slight surprise on her face. Realizing that it was her own tears that made up the puddle and using her right hoof to wipe them away from her cheeks, she then thought to herself.

What? Why was she crying like this? She shouldn't be sobbing like a little filly. No, she was supposed to be tough. She was supposed to be strong, not weak. To cry like this would be going against herself, her very nature. After all, she hadn't cried this much in the past. Why now?

The pegasus looked up and ahead at the town and the floating island, further realizing it and causing her eyes to be wide. Was she just going to let it all go? Was she going to let the world end like this? Was she simply going to give up?

No, she thought, her eyes now looking firm. She wasn't going to give up. She never gave up. Not in the past did she do it, and not now in the face of impending doom and destruction. To give up now, she realized, would be going against everything she and the Element on her stood for. At that thought, the pegasus then touched her lightning-jeweled necklace. She was chosen to wield and to be the Element of Loyalty in the first place, and now she was going to stick to it.

What Rarity said earlier was right. There must be something they could do. Something other than relying on the Elements and hoping for a way out with them. There had to be, and they must find it. If not them together, then Dash herself alone. Whatever it took.

With her hoof on her necklace, the pegasus then realized something, making her look down at it. The dream she had, there was more to it than just the parts that foretold this event. If some of it had already came true, then so could the rest of it. So could her being the destined one.

Was her becoming the Flame of Harmony the answer to all of this, then? Dash wasn't completely sure, but it seemed very likely. Plus, the voice and the odd feelings that she felt when they had donned the Elements. That longing sense of union with these magical artifacts as well, a sense that she continued to feel even now.

Looking around, Dash was then reminded of the book that she read, of the colt's willpower being the trigger that unlocked the hidden potential of the Elements. Was that the way to confirm that she really was the next destined one after such a long time? Again, she wasn't sure, and she knew she wasn't one to properly represent all of the Elements of Harmony, with two of them that she was sure she could never manage to represent.

Still, with all the premonitions she had been getting, it definitely couldn't hurt to try.

Wiping away the rest of her tears with her hoof and continuing to look resolute, Dash slowly began to stand up on all fours and looked ahead at the town.

“Meh, look at me crying like a little filly in the face of all this, waiting for the end of the world... No, that isn't like me at all. Rarity is right, you guys. There must be something we can do, and no matter what, we shouldn't give up either.”

“But we had just talked about this,” said Applejack. “There is no possible way we can fix this.”

“There is always a way, Applejack. We just have to find it. If we don't, then we're just letting everypony down as the wielders of the Elements of Harmony and me being the Element of Loyalty. I mean, what good is me being loyal if I'm suddenly abandoning everypony to their doom? That... just doesn't seem right to me.”

The pegasus began to walk over to the very edge of the cliff and stopped there.

“No, we have to do something about this! We can still save Equestria, even with these odds against us. We must stop them, guys. Otherwise...”

Just then, more explosions had erupted from the town, further adding to the large smoke cloud above it. At this, she angrily gritted her teeth as she tried to defy this increasingly bleak situation in her mind, no longer letting all of this go further than they should.

“Ugh...! If we don't stop her... If I don't stop her... then, then... ergh...!”

Dash's anger and defiance were being pent up within her, forcing her eyes to be shut tight and with her body shaking with rage. At this point, she was willing to do anything to stop this, even if it meant going over there and taking on Twilight by herself. She knew that she had made rash decisions like this before, always wanting to give the bad guys a piece of her own mind after they ran away. But every time she did, she was always held back, which was something she never liked.

Now that the world was at stake here, she couldn't afford to be held back this time, even though she knew she couldn't even hurt Twilight at first. But there was no harm in trying once more.

And there was no harm in trying to confirm that she truly was the destined one as well.

She growled, clenching her teeth as tight as a tiger’s. She tilted her head up towards the night sky, letting loose one loud, but angry yell to the stars above.

“WHO WIIIIIILL?!”

As her strong yell echoed throughout the landscape, Dash swiftly tilted her head down to look ahead, opening her eyes with her teeth still tightly clenched. With her wings still unfolded, she was about to take off with her body being lowered towards the ground.

“Huh...?”

Suddenly, however, she felt something inside of her, causing her to stop there in her stance. Something that was awakening, and the persistent sense of longing and unity suddenly grew a lot stronger than before. Then, the lightning symbol on her necklace began to glow bright red, making her notice and causing her to stand up straight.

“What...?”

“...Uh, hey, is it just me, or do you fellas feel that?” asked Applejack, her eyes looking left and right, feeling the sense of longing to return to something. Then, she looked down. “Huh? My Element's glowing!”

“I feel it, too! And so is mine!” exclaimed Pinkie, looking down at hers.

Fluttershy glanced at each of the ponies near her, seeing that every Element necklace was suddenly glowing bright including her own. “Everypony's necklace is glowing! What's going on here?”

“More importantly, what is this feeling?” asked Rarity. “It feels like something inside of me is urging to return to...”

Before she could finish, the feelings inside the four ponies had shifted. Now they felt like something inside of them was urging to reunite with...

“Rainbow Dash?” the four of them said in unison, looking a bit surprised.

“Huh...?” Dash turned around as she heard them. Along with the mysterious entity inside of her, looking at each of them, she could now feel the entities inside of her friends as well, with her own entity trying to reach out for them from within as if they were long-lost siblings that had separated from each other long ago. Not only that, but she felt rather calm inside as well. As she realized, it was the same calm feelings that she felt in the dream before.

Before more thoughts could be processed within her mind, suddenly, Dash's head jerked upwards a bit, yelping as well. With her mouth open, her eye pupils were then enlarged to a great degree. Her vision went suddenly blind, causing her to see nothing but pure white light.

She wasn't the only one, either. One by one, the eye pupils of her friends were also enlarged, causing them to see the same light.

Then, a second later, all at the same time as if they were machines that were in sync with each other, something faded into their vision. A moving scene, it was, and as they recognized, it was a scene that had happened in the past.

It was that of Rainbow Dash's very first Sonic Rainboom that she did as a little filly, watching as she flew out of the resulting rainbow explosion and into the air above, grinning with rainbows trailing behind her and gaining her cutie mark in the process. It then cut to the scenes where, one by one, the rest of them gained their cutie marks as a result of Dash's Rainboom, with filly Twilight's chaotic magical awakening being the last.

As the scenes went on, the ponies began to hear a mysterious voice.

The event of which had forged all of your destinies… Know that it holds greater significance than you realize.

Then, it cut to the scene where they were using the Elements of Harmony on Nightmare Moon, watching as the magical rainbow beam squeezed and engulfed the corrupted princess within, screaming as she was promptly restored back to her original self.

The true conduit of the Elements of Harmony is not the wielder of Magic. It is she whose image is on the grand canvas.

With that, it then switched to the scene where they were using the power on Discord the first time around, seeing that they emitted a miniature Sonic Rainboom before they unleashed it on him to seal the draconequus back into his stone prison.

It is she who was born with it. It is she whose soul... is on display.

The flashbacks the ponies were seemingly seeing weren't over yet, as it changed into yet another set of scenes. This time, however, they were of the most recent. They saw Dash rescuing Applejack from the burning farm, then the scene where Dash had to reject joining the Wonderbolts due to her being the Element of Loyalty. The scenes where she became Scootaloo's new big sister, had laughed with the little filly, and had a kind expression on her face when the filly was sleeping shortly followed.

Then, the flashbacks concluded with one last scene. It was that of the Elements in the darkness of their box, with all of them glowing and flashing brightly every second except for the Crown of Magic.

Only one door remains. Unlock it, and her true destiny shall be revealed.

The scene faded out. The white light slowly disappeared from their vision, and they snapped back into reality with all of their pupils shrinking back to normal, finding themselves back to where they were before.

“Whoa... W-what was that all about?” wondered Applejack, looking a little disoriented with the rest of them from their sudden trip to the past. She shook her head and glanced around. “Ugh, did anypony else see what I saw just now?”

“...I think we all saw that,” Rarity said, noticing everypony with their disoriented looks.

“What a trip!” exclaimed the pink pony, shaking her head as well. Recollecting what she saw, she looked towards the blue pegasus with an expression of surprise. “Rainbow Dash! You...”

“Yeah, I don't get it! Rainbow, is there more to you than what meets the eye?” asked the orange pony. “Do you know why we all saw that?”

With herself looking just as surprised as the rest of them, Dash then calmed down, her eyes downcast as she thought about the sudden flashbacks that she saw. Having seen them, she definitely knew why they happened.

There was no mistake now. Way too many hints, clues, and revelations had popped up for her to doubt or even deny it. What especially caught her off guard was that she had, indeed, properly represented the Elements of Kindness and Generosity, as much as she didn't expect it and had doubted it in the past. By defying this “hopeless” situation with the display of her inner willpower, she finally confirmed that she really was the destined one all along, and by doing so, she began the coming of the same miracle that happened so long ago, as evident by the calm Harmonic feelings inside of her.

A small spark appeared in her eye, twinkling a bit. Dash knew what to do now. She looked ahead at her friends with the aim of clearing their confusion.

“Guys... It looks like there is a way out of this. The Elements of Harmony can still help us after all, but... not in the way you'd expect.”

“They can? But how?” asked Applejack. “Don't we still need Twilight?”

“We don't. All we need... is us together.”

“Us together...? What do you mean?” asked Fluttershy.

“...Oh! Do you mean the Magic of Friendship?” asked Pinkie.

Dash nodded. “Yep. That. And with all of us together, only then will I be able to reach my true destiny, as you guys have heard from the flashbacks that we've all seen... Let me explain, and man, it is going to be a long one.”

---

Over the past few minutes, the blue pegasus had explained everything: the incident from long ago, the “signs” that preceded it, and how the current situation resembles it, of Harmony being on the brink of collapse. The ponies were now standing together in a circle and in the middle of the area as they continued to listen to her.

“The dream I had that predicted all of this... There was more to it,” Dash went on. “In it, I found this gold-plated mirror in the middle of the darkness I was in. Something had urged me to walk over to it, and as I did, I slowly began to feel this eerie calmness inside of me that grew with every step towards the mirror. I didn't recognize it at first, but now I know, 'cause I'm feeling it inside of me right now as we speak.”

She put a hoof up on her chest as her eyes looked down at it.

“Harmonic energy. That's what it was, and as I continued to walk to the mirror, it was this energy that began to change me into something. When I finally got to the mirror, well, I saw the result of that change. It was me as the destined Flame of Harmony.”

“...Oooooooh! Interesting!” exclaimed Pinkie, looking utterly fascinated.

“Yes, very much so,” Rarity said. “It's simply astounding that there's more to the Elements of Harmony than what was known beforehand. And with you at the center of them, of all ponies...”

“Hm. 'The true conduit of the Elements...' And here we all thought Twilight was it, instead,” Applejack said. “I agree. It's simply gosh-darn fascinatin'.”

“...The Flame of Harmony... Sounds a lot like what happened to Twilight,” Fluttershy said. “No offense to you, though, Rainbow, and I'm sorry if I did.”

“Heh. None taken, Fluttershy,” the blue pegasus said, smiling at each of them and lowering her hoof. “Well... yeah, you guys sort of already got a glimpse of it with flaming Twilight earlier. But, heh heh, I think you guys are gonna like my appearance even more when I'm done transforming. And for me to transform for real, well... I did everything so far to come to this, guys. Everything that the colt had done long ago. Now, I just need one last thing for this to happen.”

“The Magic of Friendship... The Element of Magic! Oh gosh, I think we left it in the castle when we came here!” exclaimed Applejack, looking back at the forest. “We got to go back and get it!”

Hearing her, Pinkie was reminded of something that she hid in her tail, looking back at it. “Oh, you mean this?”

The pink pony lowered and lifted up her tail swiftly, causing the Crown to bounce out and upward from the tail's bushy confines. It landed on the grass next to Pinkie's left.

“Whoa, Pinkie Pie!” Dash exclaimed, looking surprised, jumping a bit. “I didn't know you could hide things in your tail like that.”

“Hehe! Just another specialty of mine, that's all. Well, something inside of me told me to pick it up, and so I did.”

“Huh... Man, you are always full of surprises there, Pinkie Pie. Heh heh!”

“So what now, Rainbow Dash?”

“Hm...”

Dash glanced at each of the Elements that were in front of her, including her own. She then closed her eyes a second later, smiled, and nodded. She was ready to do this.

She sighed and then opened her eyes, smiling at her friends.

“Guys, I... I know that we should be working together to fight against Discord,” she said. “I prefer it that way, honestly. We're best friends after all. But... it's clear to me now that this is something I must do alone. I doubted all of this at first, you know, but it looks like I really am the destined one after all. The Flame of Harmony who will save the world... So, guys...”

Dash lifted and let out a hoof towards them, smiling with a kind expression on her face.

“My awesome friends... Are you with me? Always?”

Seeing her hoof, the ponies looked at each other and nodded, accepting what she must do alone. Applejack then walked closer to her and stopped there, smiling.

“We sure don't mind you going solo for once, Rainbow Dash. You deserve this anyway,” the orange pony said. “Remember what we said when we ganged up on you as the caped pony, Mare-Do-Well?”

“Yeah, I remember,” the blue pegasus replied. “You want me to be the hero, right?”

“Yep, we want you to. As long as you don't let it get to your head, that is.”

“Hehe. I won't.”

Applejack chuckled, nodding as well. “Good. Well...”

She proceeded to lift up and place her hoof on top of Dash's.

“...I just want to say somethin' first before we let you off. You’ve told me about it before, but now that we all saw it in those visions... You had to be honest to yourself when Spitfire gave you the offer.”

“Yeah... It wasn't easy for me to turn her down like that, Applejack. But what could I do, really? I had no choice.”

“Indeed. Always stick to bein' honest, Rainbow.”

“Right,” Dash nodded.

“Um, speaking of what we've seen,” said Fluttershy, walking up to her. “Did you know that I was there behind you when you gave that kind look to Scootaloo as she slept? It certainly surprised me.”

“You were there behind me? Really?”

“Yes, Rainbow, and it showed me that even a tough pony like yourself can display kindness every now and then.”

With that, the yellow pegasus put her hoof on top of theirs.

“...Hm. I guess you're right on that, Fluttershy,” Dash said, smiling again.

“My, my... Who knew that somepony like you would offer herself to be a little filly's big sister? That is simply being generous, I'd say,” Rarity said, going up to the blue pegasus and offering her hoof as well.

“Yeah, Scootaloo was kinda asking for it in the past, really. Besides, how could I say no to a kid like her? I wouldn't want to make her sad instead... Man, I'm kinda surprised myself that I managed to represent both Kindness and Generosity. Guess I should never really doubt myself like that, huh?”

“You definitely shouldn't, my dear.”

Pinkie was the last one to step up and offer her hoof to the pile. “It's always a great thing to see others smile and laugh with happy faces on them. I love seeing such happy faces, and you definitely made her happy in the end by becoming her big sister like that, Dashie. And even though it was over a scene in the book, both of you laughed happily together. As long as it makes somepony happy and it entertains them for positive reasons, it's all good! It makes me wanna bake a thousand cupcakes for you!”

Dash chuckled at her. “Yep!”

“And last but not least,” said Applejack. “No matter what happens, you'll always be loyal to us, right? You've shown it at the beginnin' when we discovered the Elements, and you've shown it when you refused to let me go in the burnin' barn.”

“Yeah. No matter what happens, alright. And there's definitely no way that I'll let this entire world fall to that chaotic freak!” the blue pegasus exclaimed, smiling with a firm look.

“Yeah, you definitely won't. That's for sure.”

The ponies looked at each other again, nodding once more and knowing that there's only one last thing to say for their friend to reach her destiny. Only one last thing to release her from the window-less jail within.

“We're countin' on you, Rainbow,” said the orange pony. “The fate of Equestria is in your hooves now. No matter what may happen next, our friend, we are always with you! Always!”

“Always!” shouted the rest of them one by one, with all of them smiling at her.

The final requirement was at last fulfilled. The love and friendship displayed by the ponies was felt, and the Element necklaces, the jeweled cutie marks on them, began to glow brighter than before. The Crown of Magic on the ground finally began to glow bright as well, and the sense of unity that all of the ponies were feeling was at its maximum.

The awakening within the blue pegasus became stronger. Just as she felt in the dream, now it wanted to get out from inside of her.

A second later, as they all saw, the Elements of Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, and Magic each began to emit individual streams of colored particle energy, flowing out of the jeweled symbols like water flowing in a river, with their wielders feeling like something was exiting them from the inside. All of the five streams of energy were flowing towards Dash's glowing Loyalty necklace. At the instant they merged and entered into the necklace together, the calm Harmonic energy within herself began to increase and spread all over her, making her feel calm everywhere and causing her head to slowly tilt upward with her eyes closing as well.

A slight moan was heard from her as the energies continued to siphon into her, making her feel more and more peaceful by the second. The entity inside of her, at the core of it all, was waking up even further, and it wasn't long before it was fully awakened, now pushing harder to get itself out. As it tried to push, the streams of energy stopped emitting, and the glow of the contributing necklaces and Crown dimmed.

As her head tilted back down, a smile then appeared on Dash's face. A thick glowing outline of white appeared around her, with the lightning mark on the necklace sporting a swirling multicolored glow as well. She lowered her hoof from the others', and seeing her, they lowered theirs.

“Rainbow Dash? You're... glowing white,” said Fluttershy.

“Well, if this is goin' to be anything like what happened with Twilight earlier, I think we oughta step back a bit, everypony,” Applejack said.

“Good idea," Rarity said, nodding.

The ponies proceeded to step back several feet away from the glowing Dash, far enough that they hoped not to be blown away this time.

A second after they moved away, energy winds began to emit from the pegasus from around her, blowing into the surrounding directions and causing her mane and tail to move along with them. The energy within her proceeded to bring about the feelings of change, both inside and outside of her. Along with the entity that was trying to exit out of her, these feelings of change grew stronger as well with every passing second.

Soon, the ponies began to notice that her physical appearance started shifting. Dash began to feel that her coat was being shocked by lightning, jolting through it like electricity. The color of her coat started to flash from blue to a pure white color, continuing to flash with every passing second. Then, she began to feel that her mane and tail were shapeshifting themselves, becoming wilder and wilder to her. The front and back ends of her mane shot themselves upward, flowing in the air along with her tail.

After a bit, the feelings of change sped up within her. With the energy winds increasing by the second, the flashing of her coat continued with the color of it staying white more and more. Both ends of her mane were now merging with each other at a slow rate, turning into what looked like a large, moving, rising flame that began to separate itself into smaller colored embers. The embers then began to flow away from their source, fading into the air afterward. Her tail began to go through the same change as well, and soon, it became the exact same as her mane.

“...So it's just like Twilight, then,” Applejack said, as the winds blew past her and the rest of them. “Only except that her flames are actually stayin' as their rainbow colors!”

“Yeah, and look at her coat! It's going white!” exclaimed Pinkie.

As the friends stood there and watched her transform, soon, the pegasus began to shake at a wild, earthquake -like speed as the energy began to enhance her strength, causing her to feel stronger and stronger while still appearing to be the same size on the outside. Then, she began to hover above the ground without her wings flapping, stopping a few feet above it and floating there in an upright position. With her smile turning into a frown and her eyes still closed, still shaking as ever, Dash then crossed her upper hooves together in front of her face and leaned a bit forward. Her unfolded wings began to grow and shrink in size at a furious rate as the energy inside reached them. More growing than shrinking was seen, increasing the number of feathers on each wing.

Her flashing coat began to stay white now, with the flash of her original blue color occurring every ten seconds. After a bit, still growing and shrinking, her wings now looked like they had grown large enough to shield herself with them.

The pegasus’ constant quake-like shaking grew more furious, and her energy sped up even further, changing whatever else was needed within her. The more she changed, she noticed, the more the entity inside of her moved further outward. Recalling the dream, Dash then remembered what it was.

As the voice in the flashbacks had said, the entity was her image on the canvas, painted with the colors of Harmony. It was her very own soul, fueled and brought forth by the Harmonic energy that swirled inside of her. With her appearance changing, it was her soul that was about to be put on display.

Dash swiftly moved her hooves away from her face and jolted her body outward. The instant she jolted, the pegasus let loose a great surrounding explosion of energy made out of tiny white particles that covered the entire cliff area, blowing away anything that they came across. At the same exact time, she unleashed another explosion. One that was circular, horizontal, and rainbow colored. The rainbow circle further grew larger as it spread outward, reaching towards the forest as well as the burning town and the floating rock above, until it faded away into the surrounding distances.

The four ponies held their ground against the white and rainbow explosions, trying to avoid being blown away with the winds blowing against their faces, manes, and tails. After a short while, the winds ceased, allowing them to regain their posture. They looked at who descended and was now standing there ahead, with looks of awe on each of their faces.

“Whoa... Would you look at that,” Applejack said.

“Oh. My. Word!” exclaimed Rarity, with a dramatic tone. “She's...”

“Beautiful!” Fluttershy exclaimed.

“And awwwwesoooome!” Pinkie exclaimed, looking happy at the sight of her.

Who now stood there on her hooves, with her head slightly tilted downward, was not the blue pegasus that they saw before her transformation. She was now a pure white one, and her trademark rainbow mane and tail became large rising flames that were separating colored embers from them. The size of her pegasus wings grew to a large size, and her cutie mark was changed as well. The cloud part of it went from white to a storm grey color, symbolizing the great power that she held within just as a real storm cloud held the power of lightning and rain.

Surrounding her now, making her large wings flow along with it, was a white aura that was made entirely out of tiny particles that were streaming from her. With the aura, the white coat, and the large wings, she resembled an angel that had descended from the heavens above.

Dash slowly opened her eyes. They were no longer of the shade of rose. They were ruby red, instead.

Now that the calm energy had finished its course through her, standing there, the pegasus lifted up her hoof to see the underside of it. Lowering it, she then looked all over herself, seeing her flaming tail, her large wings, and her storm grey cutie mark. With the exception of her surrounding particle aura that awed even herself, Dash was just as she looked like in the dream.

Looking ahead, she smiled. Everything that had happened in the past, every hint that was thrown at her. As much as she had dismissed and doubted them, they had all led to this very moment. She was no longer just destined to be the world's fastest pegasus, but also its savior as well.

“Wow... So this is the Flame of Harmony, huh? Well, this sure is somethin' to write about,” Applejack said, walking up to her and stopping with the rest of the friends, smiling as well.

“Indeed. Such a beautiful, yet… dramatic transformation this is!” Rarity exclaimed, still in awe. “Honestly, I don’t think I have ever seen something like this… Well, the red eyes and the flames take it away a bit, but at least your flames are still rainbow-colored, unlike Twilight's.”

“Yeah, Rarity’s right. Compared to this, Twilight's in a whole different league altogether,” the orange pony further commented. “But this... This has Harmony written all over it.”

“I agree,” Fluttershy said. “Woooooooow…”

“Yeah! You look so... super like this, Rainbow Dash!” exclaimed Pinkie, grinning happily, jumping wildly as well. “Actually, that'd be an awesome name for you like this! Super Rainbow Dash!”

Dash chuckled at this. “I wouldn't mind being called that, actually! Hehe... Thanks, everypony, for helping me do this. Who knows what I would have done without you guys, really?”

Her friends nodded and smiled in response.

Lifting up and looking at her hoof again, the smiling look on her face began to change into a serious resolute look.

“Now, to stop them,” she said with a serious tone, turning around to face the town and the floating rock.

“Go get 'em, pardner!” exclaimed Applejack.

“Yes, for the sake of Equestria!” shouted Rarity.

“For the sake of everypony!” shouted Pinkie.

“Good luck, Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy exclaimed.

Dash nodded. Swiftly lowering herself to the ground, she then launched herself into the air. Stopping high above, before she could take off, she quickly noticed something. Despite her still in the air, her wings weren't flapping at all. Somehow, the pegasus felt that she didn't need to use her wings to fly at all. Rather, it was her Harmonic energy that was enabling her to fly.

With this in mind now, Dash pulled herself back and then quickly launched forward, now flying on the way to the burning town. She didn't have the time to mess around and discover what she could do with her newfound power.

Saving the world from the rule of Discord was the only thing on her mind right now, and she was utterly determined to see it through.