True Despair

by chaos2012

Duel in the Forest

One month had passed since Twilight’s banishment. A lot had changed within the small town of Ponyville within that time.

Trixie now sat atop a majestic throne, which stood at a towering 20 hooves high. Adorning her azure body was a masterfully crafted dark-brown robe, fit for royalty. On her head rested a silver crown which sparkled with a mystical light, something that complimented her silvery-blue mane. The regal attire was by far Rarity’s finest work yet. It was a crying shame that such elegant craftsmanship had been wasted on a tyrant like Trixie, or rather, Princess Trixie as she had been forcing the residents of ‘Lulaville’ to call her by. Oh, that was another thing that had changed. The day after Twilight had been banished, Trixie had changed the name from Ponyville to Lulaville. It was just another one of things where the residents were forced to bite the bullet and roll with the punches.

The Town Hall had been “Remodeled” more to Trixie’s liking in order to resemble a castle. Within the Audience Chamber, now turned Throne Room, Rarity had been forced to spend every waking hour designing banners with Trixie’s face on it. Celestia forbid that she get caught sleeping during any time of the day or make a mistake while stitching the material together. The bloodshot unicorn took a quick glance at the scars on the right side of her body and shuddered.

While Rarity was on designer duty, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were tasked with hanging the banners all over the town without any assistance from anypony else. Applejack and Pinkie Pie were forced to do various odd jobs, ranging from cleaning the castle to providing entertainment. The latter seemed a bit pointless seeing as how Trixie hadn’t smiled, or laughed, since the day after Twilight had been beaten.

The ruler of Lulaville was currently in conniptions about something. She silently rested her head against a single hoof as she stared down the corridor in anticipation of something. Nopony would have been able to tell by looking at her face, which held a since of eternal neutrality, that something was amiss. It was her eyes. Her eyes held deep within them an other-worldy hate that would have caused even the bravest of souls to tremble. One thing was for certain however, whatever the primary source of her anger was at the moment, Rarity was just happy that she wasn’t the cause.

The eerie silence hovered around like stagnant air for almost an hour before being broken by the sounds of rapidly approaching hoofsteps that echoed down the hall. A random pony, a pegasus stallion with a teal coat and an orange mane, barged through the front doors of the throne room, fatigued and out of breath. He dropped down on all four knees and bowed, his frightened gaze never leaving the polished linoleum floor.

Trixie watched for a few minutes as his body shook from the fear of being in her presence. After she was somewhat satisfied with the display of obedience, Trixie spoke in a quiet tone that seemed to resonate throughout the entire building. “You have my permission to speak now.”

The pegasus slowly rose onto his hooves and gulped. He tried to display some form of bravery, but the consistent stuttering of his words betrayed him. “H-h-he-hello P-p-p-pri -”

“You’re trying my patience. Either get to the point or face punishment.”

The stallion took a deep breath before speaking again. The last thing that he wanted was to make Trixie angry. He was present when Trixie had tossed Twilight around like a toy and had seen some of the injuries that had befallen those who made the mistake of getting on her bad side. “The disturbance that you ordered us to investigate by the north-eastern side of the barrier … we captured the pony responsible.”

Out of the corner of her eye, the self-proclaimed princess caught a glimpse of both Rarity and Applejack gasping simultaneously. Pinkie Pie would have done the same but her mouth was still fused shut. That was all the confirmation she needed to deduce that they had something to do with whatever it was that tried to pass through the barrier. No big deal, they’d regret their actions soon enough. “Bring the fool in. Now.”

The pegasus went airborne and bolted from the throne room as fast as his wings would allow. He had no desire to be in Trixie’s presence any longer than he had too. Moments later, he returned with three other pegasi, one of which had been bound by chains and shackles. Trixie recognized her immediately. While she couldn’t recall her name off the top of her head, she did remember that long flowing pink mane. She also remembered that she was one of Twilight’s friends, something that didn’t bode well for the butter colored mare.

“You’re one of the two pegasi who I placed in charge of decorating Lulaville with my banners.” Trixie put on her best smile in an effort to hide her growing fury. “Now, before I go on, remind me what your name is.”

“Flu … t … … sh …”

“Hold on.” The blue unicorn charged her magic and then fired a spell at the timid pegasus who flinched away moments before impact. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see that she was unharmed. “Now, say that again.”

“FLUTTERSHY.” The Element of Kindness covered her mouth. When she spoke her name the first time, her tone was so low that it was almost inaudible. She hadn’t spoken that much louder the second time, yet for some reason the words came out with the same intensity as a shout. That’s when it clicked. That spell must have done something to her speaking volume.

“Fluttershy, did you know that my barrier is designed to automatically disintegrate any living creature that gets too close? Had my servants failed to find you in time, we wouldn’t be having this talk right now.” Her false smile evaporated and her voice turned harsh. “Would you mind telling me what you were doing that close to the forbidden zone?!”

Before Fluttershy could speak, Trixie blasted her with another spell. “Um …” to her slight relief, the spell had been toned down enough to make her voice sound normal again. “I- I was just putting up some more of your banners! I must have flown too close by mistake, Princess Trixie! I promise I didn’t mean any harm - !”

“Shut-up.” A blast of red lightning shot through the air and whizzed past the pink maned pegasus, missing her body by mere inches. “I took the liberty of scouting every corner of MY town shortly after MY triumphant return. I know for a fact that the only thing out there is a really big lake. There’s nothing out there for you to place my banners on, unless you were trying to put your friend’s tacky sense of fashion to waste!”

Fluttershy seemed to shrink down visibly. She knew that she’d been caught. The big plan to sneak out and find Twilight had failed. “Well … I … actually there’s a -”

“Your new Princess doesn’t have the time or the patience to listen to your lies. Do I really look that stupid to you?”

“Well compared tah’ Twilight, maybe,” Applejack mumbled under her breath.

Everypony in the room gasped expect for the royal figure who sat on the throne. Her eyes began to glow brighter than anypony had ever seen, causing a shadow to eclipse the rest of her face. The ocean of anger that flowed through her veins had grown into a raging tsunami. She slowly turned towards the apple farmer who was now beginning to see how much trouble she’d just landed herself in.

Despite how furious she was, Trixie was able to keep her voice calm and controlled. “What did you just say, you sweet-apple-redneck?”

The apple farmer adjusted her hat and cleared her throat. It wasn’t intentional but Trixie had heard her, may as well see this through to the end now. Besides, she could take whatever the tyrant felt like doing to her. She cleared her throat and spoke with pride. “Ah’ said -!”

“Hold on! You!” Trixie snapped her head towards one of the pegasi, a lime green mare who had assisted with Fluttershy’s capture. “Who gave you permission to stop bowing, you mongrel?!” Before the mare had the chance to apologize, Trixie enveloped the mare in a crimson sphere and launched her through a window like a cannon. “Motor mouth!” She pointed a hoof at Pinkie Pie who jumped back in fear. “I want my window fixed in no less than two hours! If you don’t know how to fix it yourself then I suggest you find somepony who does, or else you’ll be lucky if a few broken bones are the only things I give you!”

Pinkie Pie disappeared at lightning fast speeds, leaving behind nothing but a pink blur. “And you, slave!” Her attention was aimed at Rarity now. “Your job is to design things for me, not stopping and staring while I remind a few idiots about their place in MY town!” She fired a thin bolt of magic that nicked the pale unicorn on her hoof. She held back a pained shriek and got back to work.

“Hey!” shouted Applejack. “You leave them alone!”

“Now, picking up from where we left off, what did you say you little peon?!” Small tremors seemed to pass through the room as the other ponies unintentionally continued to fan the white-hot flames of Trixie’s fury.

Applejack marched over to Trixie’s throne and looked her in the eyes as best she could, something that most ponies would have felt too intimidated to even fathom. However, the mare was beyond all sense of fear at the moment. Trixie had been terrorizing the town for far too long, not to mention what she did to Twilight. She wasn’t pleased and she was going to make sure that Trixie knew it. “Right after you said, ‘Do Ah’ look that stupid tah’ you?’ Ah’ said, ‘Well compared tah’ Twilight, maybe’!”

Trixie appeared to have calmed down a little; her eyes returned to their normal shade of purple and the shadows that obscured her face began to dissipate. She tapped her chin in deep thought while looking towards the ceiling. “By my count, you have just committed two very big crimes,” she looked down at Applejack with a malicious glare. “First you insult me, something that I would normally turn a blind eye too if it wasn’t for the fact that you had the audacity to approach my throne like this. You clearly need to be reminded that the worm has no right to challenge the eagle. As for your second offence … you spoke of the creature that I was gracious enough to rid this town of.”

“Oh, ya’ mean Twilight? Oops, ah’ guess I just said it again!” Trixie continued to stare at Applejack, clearly un-amused by her display of defiance. “And whaddya plan on doin’? Shootin’ me through a window? Attackin’ me with yer’ magic? Go ahead! Ah’ don’t care!”

“Oh of course you don’t. And as I said before, I’m not an idiot. You’re a tough one. You’re resilient. You’re used to physical injury … it’s practically a job requirement, working on that farm of yours.” She turned to Fluttershy who was still shaking like a leaf. Suddenly, the perfect punishment for Applejack had come to mind. Her eyes glowed red as she levitated a metal whip into the air and dropped it in front of the country mare. Applejack slowly picked it up, confused.

“What er’ ya’ givin’ me this for?” she asked with a puzzled expression, to which Trixie replied by pointing towards the Element of Kindness. Applejack looked back and forth between the whip and her best friend several times before realization had settled in. She dropped the whip as if it were a snake coiling itself for an attack. “Oh yer’ nuts if ya’ think Ah’m gonna do that tah’ her!”

“You are forgetting your place, you little weevil! You have both committed crimes within the utopia that I was kind enough to build and you have both made the mistake of angering your Princess!” The magic from her Amulet began to leak from her eyes as the sound of her voice boomed louder, shattering more windows.

“You aint’ noponies Princess round’ here! And Ah’ certainly aint’ doin’ a darned thing until ya’ let Twilight -”

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Trixie interrupted. The floor began to crack slightly and loose tiles fell from the ceiling. The thunderstorm outside, which hadn’t let up since it had been conjured, came down even harder. She glared at the stallion from before, the one who had informed her that Fluttershy had been caught. For some odd reason, he was starting to feel a near overpowering urge to run to the nearest bathroom. “There’s a small filly who lives on that Apple Farm with this mongrel! Find her and bring her here, NOW!”

At hearing that last order, Applejack’s resolve began to fracture. “H-hold on now, whaddya’ want with Applebloom?”

“Somepony WILL suffer the whip because of your insolence! If you won’t do as I say, then Fluttershy’s punishment will fall onto your sister tenfold!” Without warning, she fired a blast at the teal pegasus which grazed the side of his face. “You will share the punishment for not leaving like I told you to do 20 seconds ago!” With a panicked yelp, he shot into the air.

“WAIT!” shouted Applejack, forcing the stallion to freeze mid-flight. The final remnants of her resolve had crumbled away. Time seemed to slow down as the national hero reached a shaky hoof down and picked up the torture instrument. It felt cold and evil, almost like the pony who was ordering her to use it.

Fluttershy began to whimper as Applejack reluctantly approached the scared pegasus. She really didn’t want to do this, especially to somepony as gentle as the butter colored mare. The pegasus was one of her closest friends. They’d risked their lives together to help protect Equestria on more than one occasion. Not to mention that she was the very one that didn’t want to go along with the plan to sneak out and find Twilight in the first place. Applejack and the others were just so desperate to get Twilight back that they wouldn’t let her say no. The fact that Fluttershy was even in this situation was extremely unfair. However, if the apple farmer had to choose between Applebloom and anypony else, she’d pick her sister every single time.

“20 lashes instead of 5,” commanded Trixie.

Applejack muttered a single apology as she raised the whip into the air.


Something still felt out of place somehow. Something still felt so very wrong. At first she thought that forcing Applejack to cleave Fluttershy down until she lost consciousness and needed somepony to help carry her out would solve what she was feeling, or in this case, wasn’t feeling. She needed to be alone, so she gave everypony who had been forced to work inside her little castle the next two days off.

She closed her eyes and reflected on what she had done since taking over and the possible consequences of her actions.

Rarity and the cocky pegasus with the rainbow mane had both been worked like animals, never allowed a moment of rest until today. The last time that she’d seen the rainbow pony she looked as if she would drop dead at any moment with Rarity not too far behind her. The hyperactive pink pony with the motor mouth had appeared to finally accept that all hope was gone, and as a result, her hair seemed to deflate, and with it, so too did her normally bubbly personality .

Thanks to her workload, as well as the constant state of fatigue, Fluttershy had almost been rendered physically and mentally unable to care for her animals. Without the pegasus’s support, along with the barrier preventing them from journeying into the wilderness to scavenge for food, things were beginning to look bleak.

Applejack was possibly suffering even more than the others. Thanks to the never ending rain storm outside, her apple trees were receiving both an excessive amount of water and a dangerous lack of sunlight. Over a quarter of the trees within the orchard had died and more would soon follow. The orchard itself didn’t just have sentimental value to the town, but it had also become a bit of a necessity for the town’s ponies. Like Fluttershy’s animals, their food supply had been essentially cut off thanks to the barrier and constant rainfall. The future would likely play out something like this: The amount of food within the town would drop so dangerously low that everypony would be forced to steal from and murder one another over food. Eventually, everypony in the town would die off, everypony except Trixie, the only one capable of leaving and entering the barrier. If the Princesses in Canterlot somehow learned of what was going on here, Trixie had taken special measures to ensure that if somepony had damaged the barrier enough, it would trigger an explosion that would kill everypony in the town.

The grand architect of “Lulaville’s” eminent destruction tilted her head towards the ground in silence. Why didn’t any of this make her feel good? Sure, everypony was getting exactly what they deserved for ruining her, and sure, she didn’t feel any sort of guilt from any of this, but she didn’t feel happy. Ever since she took over, all she felt was empty… hollow... alone.

This wasn’t right! She should be jumping for joy right now! She had finally gotten all that she had ever wanted and yet it still didn’t make her happy! It was as if an alcoholic had set off on a grand adventure to locate the bottle of the greatest beer ever made, and as soon as his lips touched the glass, somepony enchanted his body so that all forms of alcohol would evaporate moments before landing on his tongue.

She rubbed her forelegs down the sides of her face and groaned. If she couldn’t find genuine happiness in making the other ponies suffer … then what else was there to do? Sit back and wait for them to wipe each other out?

“So, you aren’t getting any kicks out of making everypony so miserable? That’s probably the only good thing that I can say about you.”

“Impossible …” Trixie’s eyes widened as she looked about. “Twilight? How? Even without the barrier, it shouldn’t be possible for you to be here!”

“That’s because I’m not talking to you from inside the village.”

She could hear Twilight’s voice, yet the lavender mare wasn’t inside the village. That only left one possibility. “So, it seems that the little insect has learned how to use telepathy,” she mumbled out loud.

“That’s not all, Trixie.”

“Look, you circus clown of a unicorn,” Trixie said with her voice rising slightly. “You’re the last pony that I’d ever want to speak with. If you plan on saying something of any real importance, I suggest you say it now before I permanently block whatever magic frequency you’re using to reach my mind.”

There was a temporary pause before Twilight’s voice echoed in her mind once again. “I’m standing outside the same spot where you threw me out of town. Well, as close to it as I can without bumping against the barrier, anyway. There’s something that I want to discuss with you, face to -”

Before she could finish, Trixie had given a rough estimate of where Twilight likely was and teleported to that exact spot. She wasn’t that far off because the first thing she saw upon opening her eyes was a large crowd. The crowd quickly moved aside at Trixie’s approach. There, on the other side of the barrier, was Twilight. It took all that she had for the blue mare to repress her anger and stop herself from charging through the barrier and tackling the purple unicorn to the ground.

The first thing that she noticed about her former target was the strange necklace that she was wearing. Behind her stood what looked to be a Zebra. It was a little odd that Trixie wasn’t able to sense their approach, as well as everypony else that came this close to the barrier’s edge.

“Long time no see Trixie,” Twilight began. “I like the crown, and I really like that nice robe you’re wearing.” Her friendliness began to melt away with her next set of words. “I think it’s a little unbelievable how you made Rarity stay up all night and work on it, yet here you are, dragging it through the rain like it’s nothing. And Spike told me all about what you made Applajack do to Fluttershy! Trixie, you’re out of control!”

The azure unicorn looked into the crowd and saw the tiny dragon looking back at her with a type of contempt that words couldn’t describe. She’d been wondering where he was hiding. Then she looked back over to Twilight and yawned. “It seems that the long forgotten Twilight Sparkle is still as high and mighty as ever. Did you only call me out just to say that you don’t like how I’m running the show around here?”

“No, Trixie. I’m here because I want a rematch, now.”

The white and blue maned unicorn stood in shock for a moment. She quickly noticed that she was the only one who seemed surprised. Twilight must have already announced her plans to them before she had gotten here. After the shock had gone down and the anger had returned, she walked closer to the barrier until she was only a centimeter away from the lavender librarian.

“Listen very closely. You are nothing compared to me. Do you know what that means? It means that you are nothing but a lowly mongrel. A mongrel who isn’t worthy of being in the same plane of existence as me, let alone compete against me in a magic duel. When I beat you the last time, that duel was intended to be a one-time thing. So why should I grant scum like you a second chance?”

Twilight leaned in close until her horn scraped against the outside of the barrier. “You caught me off-guard last time. It wasn’t a fair match and you know it.” She pointed to the jewel around her neck and continued. “You won’t win as easily as you did last time. Now, I have an amulet of my own. Now, it’s an even playing field.” She pulled back a few steps, but she never broke her gaze from Trixie’s. “You say that you’re so ‘Great and Powerful’ and that nopony can beat you. Well I don’t believe it and neither does anypony here.”

Her tone softened a little as she continued. “Trixie, you have the chance to prove us all wrong. My amulet against yours. Just the two us, no holding back, no excuses. And after this, no matter who wins, the story between us ends once and for all. Now you get out here and give me an answer.”

Trixie sneered at Twilight, emerged through the barrier as if it was nonexistent, and stood before her, face to face in a vast field of green. The Everfree forest could be seen in the distance. A cool late afternoon breeze had gone by as the sun had started its slow descent across the horizon. Ah, how long had it been since she’d last seen the sun like this? She finally brought her attention back to Twilight.

“I will accept on one condition and one condition only.”

“And that is?” asked Twilight.

“If we do this, then it’s a fight to the finish. The duel doesn’t end until one of us dies.”
“Wait, a fight to the death? You’re willing to gamble with your life over this?”

Trixie stomped her hoof into the grass. “For somepony so smart you really don’t pay attention to well, do you? I don’t have a life anymore! All of you made sure of that! So unlike you, I have nothing to lose. Now, those are my terms and you’re the one asking me for a favor here. Do you accept my terms or not?”

“Don’t do it Twilight!” called a voice on the other side of the barrier that she recognized as Rarity. She wasn’t alone either. Rainbow Dash and the others had also arrived. “It’s not worth it! Just go get the Princesses!”

Twilight shook her head. “That barrier is unstable. I don’t know if she made it that way on purpose or not, but if this gets hit with enough force, it could cause an explosion large enough to take out the whole town. Not only that, but from what you told me, everypony in there will eventually die if somepony doesn’t do something. This is my mess and I’ll take care of it. If this is how she wants to do things, then fine. I just ask that we move closer to the Everfree. I wouldn’t want one of us to make a mistake and set off the barrier.”

Trixie smiled as the magical link between the two had been formed, signaling the start of the duel. The two unicorns teleported in front of the foot of the forest. Once they’d found a good spot, Trixie removed her crown and tossed her robe into the winds. “I didn’t think you’d actually agree to this. But now that you have, it doesn’t matter where we go. The end result will be same, no matter how good that amulet of yours might be.” She fired a red beam into the air, causing the skies overhead to darken. “You will perish. And in about three to four months time … every living thing under that barrier will be joining you on the other side.”

Spike gasped when he saw the look that had been plastered onto his caretaker’s face. She had the same hate filled look in her eyes as Trixie when she had returned to Ponyville one month ago and it sent an icy chill down his spine. Any doubts that he had had before had now been eclipsed by all of the anger that radiated from the two unicorns. They were seriously about to do it. They were going to fight once again … but only one would walk away alive and that scared the little dragon for a multitude of different reasons, especially when he heard what Twilight said next.

“You hurt my friends, you’re trying to destroy my home, and you’re holding hundreds of innocent ponies hostage. I don’t care what your reasoning is or how you try to justify it. This ends today.”

A sly grin was Trixie’s only reply. She made the opening move by quickly firing a dark red stream of concentrated heat at the purple unicorn with deadly accuracy, who in turn rolled out of the way at the last possible second. Before Trixie’s mind could fully process that her target had moved out of the way, Twilight levitated a small rock into the air and launched it full force at her opponent. The azure unicorn was able to tilt her head to the side with only a fraction of a second to spare. Both unicorns watched as the tiny projectile continued on its trajectory, disintegrating a tree off in the distance.

Trixie was stunned, but not quite as surprised as when she felt something warm trickle down the side of her face. She dabbed her hoof on her cheek and stared in surprise at the sight of her own blood. The sheer force at which Twilight had chucked the pebble alone was enough to place a cut on her cheek, even if it hadn’t been a direct hit. She looked back up to see 12 more oncoming pieces of rock hurtling in her direction with perhaps even more force than than first one. This time, however, Trixie was ready for Twilight’s attack.

An artificial pair of wings jutted from her sides. The newly formed appendages matched her amulet in that the wings were black with red feathers. One flap was all that it took for her to sail high above the tiny pebbles turned missiles.

“Aren’t you supposed to be fighting back? Or are you giving up?” Called an impatient Twilight from the ground below.

“Not even in your wildest dreams. Trust me, I will be going on the offensive soon enough. For now, I’m just interested in studying how powerful that amulet of yours is. I mean, why should we rush this?” She perched on top of a cloud and cast down a mocking smirk at Twilight. “If this will be a duel between amulets, I am curious to see what kind of pathetic spells you are going to attempt against mine.”
16 beams of light were fired into the air at Trixie. “If all you’re going to do is waste time, then you may as well have surrendered as soon as I came back!”

The azure unicorn dived down, ducking and weaving through the incoming beams of magic. “You know Twilight,” laughed Trixie while effortlessly evading the blasts. “Between the power that you put into throwing those rocks at me and these poorly aimed beams, you’re wasting an unnecessary amount of magic! Not that I’m complaining or anything.”

A small grin spread across Twilight’s muzzle. “Actually, this is one of the strategies that I practiced during my exile. All I needed was to get you to move a safe distance into the air, preferably on a mound of earth, but this works too,” she eagerly explained.

Trixie lifted an eyebrow in confusion. “What are you talking about?” Twilight pointed a hoof behind Trixie, prompting the azure unicorn to follow in that direction. The beams that the lavender mare had fired only seconds ago had looped around and were now headed straight for the airborne mare. ‘What the?!’ She lept from the cloud and flew off again, the 16 blasts in hot pursuit.

“Allow me to explain. Each one of those beams has enough power to level a small city block. But what makes them so effective during a magic duel isn’t their destructive power, or the fact that they slowly gain more and more speed as time goes by. It’s the fact that they use the link that gets formed between the combatting unicorns as a type of homing beacon. In other words, they’ll just keep chasing you until they get you.” Twilight's eyes followed the fleeing unicorn through the sky as she continued to yell into the night.

“There are only two ways to call them off that I know of. The first is if you forfeit the match, but that won’t work given the rules that you’re making us play by. The second way is if you were to try and block them all with a shielding spell, but that would drain a lot of power from you, even with that amulet. In fact, I’d be surprised if they didn’t eventually break through the shield and get you that way. So I guess that you’re just going to have to keep running around like that for the rest of your life, which won’t be for very long by the looks of it.” In honesty, Twilight was telling a small lie at her trick; her power had increased exponentially in her exile, but she knew each beam couldn’t cause the destruction she claimed. She was just hoping Trixie would fall for it and end it all here and now. To her surprise, the look on the fleeing unicorns face told her she did believe it.

Trixie shot a quick a temporary glance over her shoulder and confirmed that the beams were indeed gaining momentum. She wouldn’t have enough time to take refuge inside of the barrier over ‘her town’, and even if she did, the resulting collisions might be enough to set off the self destruct feature, resulting in her death, and technically Twilight’s victory. She could try teleporting out of the way over and over again moments before taking a hit, but that could wear her down just enough to give Twilight the edge needed to put her away. In spite of all of this, she wasn’t worried in the slightest.

“I would say that I’m disappointed, but it doesn’t really come as a surprise that you’re making the same mistake as the rest of Equestria!” Trixie called out with a smirk. One flash later and her body separated into 16 different copies plus the original. “Never underestimate me!” they all shouted in perfect synchronization.

‘She can use Duplication Spells too?!’ Twilight thought through widened eyes.

One by one, the copies turned around and flew directly into the path of Twilight’s homing spell. The series of explosions that followed were so bright that the Element of Magic was forced to look away. After the lights had cleared and the smoke had faded, she looked back into the sky to see Trixie hovering in the air, smiling and unscathed. “My turn.”

Trixie’s body was engulfed by a light-red aura … and then she disappeared. As far as Twilight could tell it wasn’t teleportation and it wasn’t the cloaking spell that she had used during their first match. For some reason she couldn’t feel the link that they were sharing either. She’d literally just … vanished, there one moment and gone in the next. Twilight, remaining alert while also keeping her icy-calm, shot an occasional glance in random directions. Whatever Trixie was trying to pull, she’d be ready for it.

“Twilight! To your left!” a stallion warned from inside the barrier.

Quickly turning around, she spotted Trixie. Her wings were still intact and she was moments away from tackling the lavender mare.

Wasting no time in moving out of her flight path, Twilight’s amulet flashed once with an emerald colored light and then she launched herself into the air and clear above her opponent by way of levitation. Her hooves were encased in patches of magic, giving her the ability to physically step on the air itself. After reaching a safe distance she allowed herself to sigh with relief. She’d only managed to avoid Trixie by an extremely thin margin.

She readied herself for battle once again while keeping a close eye on the azure unicorn. This time, she wasn’t as surprised as she was before when she vanished once again, only to suddenly reappear directly in front of her.

Time seemed to slow down for both unicorns during the extremely brief period of time that the two spent looking each other in the eye. Within a single glance that lasted for far less than a second, entire conversations about pain, regret, and revenge all passed by without being spoken in words. Twilight conjured a long flowing blade of energy while Trixie threw caution to the wind in preparation for a heavy right hook.

The question of who would strike first was answered when Twilight successfully delivered a horizontal slash across Trixie’s midsection. To her surprise however, the blade phased through Trixie as if she wasn’t even there. That’s when it happened again, she disappeared. “What the… what was that!?” Twilight yelled in shock.

Shooting her eyes back and forth, Twilight tried to find where Trixie had gone to, only to see her opponent charging her from above. Taking her blade in grasp, Twilight swung upwards, but once again the blade passed harmlessly through Trixie like her body was made of nothing. The form of Trixie vanished just like it did before, leaving no trace of her in the air. Twilight however felt the gears begin to turn as her mind put it all together that instant.

‘An afterimage! Now I see what she’s doing! She’s using a high level Time Alter spell to speed up her movements!’, Twilight thought in realization, only to recoil after feeling a flurry of punches against her face and her sides. Most of the blows had caused the skin beneath the places of impact to turn discolored, leaving behind ugly bruises and welts as well as drawing blood in some places. However, at the speed that Trixie was moving, it was very possible that Twilight could have suffered those injuries minutes ago and her body was only now registering that she had been hit. The wind was then ripped away from her in the wake of a cataclysmic impact to her chest.

Twilight’s body tensed in frustration as the truth was made clear. It wasn’t necessary for Trixie to slow down for a split second, just so she could be seen by the librarian. If she wanted too, she could have landed all sorts of attacks that would have proven fatal, but instead she was just … being arrogant! Twilight couldn’t believe it! Here she was trying to take this fight seriously and yet Trixie had been playing games with her ever since the match began!

‘Ok, let’s see if I can figure out how to pull off that same spell …’ , Amulet glowing bright green from her neck, Twilight focused a large chunk of her magic into a center point within her torso and then let it all loose in the form of an explosion. The attack had it’s desired effect; the force of the explosion had sent Trixie spiraling away, leaving the ex-magician momentarily stunned, and therefore defenseless, while she tried to regain her composure. ‘Now!’

All anypony saw was a flash of green and then Twilight was gone. Trixie also saw this, before she could completely recover, and was rendered speechless. She tried her best to hurry and activate a spell to help defend herself, but it was already too late. There was a sickening crack, like the sound of a bat striking a baseball, and then Trixie was sent flying once again by an unseen force. Then came another crack, followed by a sharp pain to Trixie’s ribcage, and then came another blow to the side of her head that almost knocked her unconscious. The frequency at which the pain occurred began to rapidly increase. The way Trixie was being thrown around greatly resembled that of a pin-ball.

Suddenly, the flurry of punches and kicks from Twilight had come to an end when the azure unicorn found herself enveloped in a light purple glow. Twilight had now become visible and was panting heavily. Without a word, she began to spin Trixie around in circles. It was slow at first, but then the speed picked up faster and faster until typhoon-like forces of wind began to rage and the sound barrier threatened to snap, but Twilight maintained control. Trixie tried to scream all the while, but the sound had been lost over the roar of the wind.

‘Trixie!’ came Twilight’s stern voice from within her mind. ‘This really is your final warning. At these speeds, if I let you go, you’ll splat against the ground at the speed of sound. If you agree to surrender now, call off this meaningless duel, and let everypony else go free -’

‘I’d sooner meet your soul at the gates of Tartarus in eternal conflict before I EVER surrendered to somepony like you, weakling!’ Trixie fired back.

Hearing the stubbornness of the unicorn above her made Twilight wince, hoping that this fight could have ended without the death of either. Clenching her eyes shut, Twilight prepared herself for the act she was about to commit. ‘Then this is the end,’. She released her hold over Trixie and watched as she smacked against the ground faster than she could blink. Her body was hidden by the thick dust cloud that emerged in the wake of the impact. Not wanting to take any chances, she rained down an endless barrage of powerful blasts into the crater that had been formed by Trixie. She could still feel the magical bond between the two within the back of her mind which meant that Trixie was still alive and could therefore launch a counterattack if given the chance.

A sudden sharp pain shot through Twilight’s head, almost causing her to stumble out of the sky. Her extreme use in magic was far beyond anything she had used in training while in the forest, signalling for her to stop. But despite her body’s protests, she wouldn’t be taking it easy. She couldn't afford that luxury until she was certain that Trixie had been rendered completely incapable of moving. Forming a large ball at the tip of her horn, she launched it down into the crater, enveloping it in a large explosion of aura.

As it finally dissipated, Twilight panted several times to catch her breath. Once her heart rate had slowed down, she descended until she was only a few meters above the ground. Cautiously, she flew forward and summoned a light gust of wind which blew away enough of the dust so that she could see into the crater. Twilight peered over the edge and saw that there was nothing there. Raising an eyebrow, she levitated any loose debris out of the way in an attempt to dig for any evidence that showed that the fight was over. One by one, pieces of dirt and gravel were lifted and tossed aside, but there was still no trace of the unicorn.

“Hey!” called Rainbow Dash. “Is it over yet? Did you … you know … take care of everything?!”

“I’m not sure!” she answered back. “She shouldn’t have survived that fall and those blasts should have incinerated whatever was left!”

“Well do do you see her down there?!” asked spike.


“Well what are you so unsure about?! It sounds to me like you won the match!” called Rarity.

“But I can still feel the bond between us! That can only -”

Her words were cut off by a violent tremor from deep within the earth. Trees were uprooted within the Everfree and ponies screamed as many of the buildings within “Lulaville” were toppled over by the magnitude. Suddenly, the ground beneath Twilight split apart and a long metallic arm jutted from the earth and reached for the unicorn. She teleported just out of reach and immediately earned a painful reminder from her body about just how much her strength had been drained by all of the high level spells that she’d been using.

A loud roar pierced the air, followed by a second metallic arm that emerged from below. Both arms seemed to be pushing against the ground’s surface, as if something was trying to push itself up. One more deafening scream gave way to an eruption that sent debris flying in every direction. Twilight was forced to shield her eyes with her hoof. Upon their reopening, Twilight stood in shock at the abomination before her.

Floating several hooves above the ground was a three headed winged dragon with a body that appeared to be fully composed out of metal. Its burning red eyes matched the crimson colored runes that covered the colossus's exterior.

Standing on top of the center head was a severely injured Trixie. She looked terrible to say the least. For every scratch on her body there had to have been at least seven cuts that dripped with her precious life fluids. Simply standing up all the way seemed to be a war within itself, a war that she was clearly losing. In spite of all of this, Trixie was able to look down at Twilight and smiled. Of course, she’d seen the azure unicorn smile plenty of times, but there was something about this particular smile that sent a chill up her spine. It was the kind of smile that one competitor shot to another when victory was on the horizon.

“Twilight Sparkle!” Trixie shouted from atop the monstrosity; she could be seen clutching her chest in white-hot agony. “I was hoping to drag things out for a lot longer than this! Short and sweet just seems so anti-climatic, it really leaves something to be desired, in my opinion! … But since you seem to be in such a big hurry for this to end, I’ll do you a favor and jump to the grand finale!”

‘What … is that thing?!’ Twilight asked herself.

As if reading the librarian’s mind, Trixie answered. “What you’re looking at, was my ace in the hole in case you lived up to my expectations during our first fight! The ability to turn an inanimate object into a living creature!

“A couple days before I came back here, I used my amulet to gather around 3000 pounds worth of dirt into one area and molded the shape to my liking. Then I changed the properties within the dirt … hardening it until it turned into rock. From there, I manipulated the iron fragments within those rocks, turning his body into metal. His only flaw is that his total strength depends on how much spell power I have.”

“I see … well judging by how you are now, he must not be as big of a problem as I first thought!” shouted Twilight.

“Almost true. Unlike you, I have a second reservoir of magic just waiting to be used.” Trixie turned her head towards the barrier that kept her hostages imprisoned. “You wouldn’t believe how taxing it’s been for me … dealing with trash like you while that barrier constantly saps the magic from my body.”

Twilight followed her gaze and saw that the barrier was starting to fade away. “Oh no …” she said with a gasp.

“Oh yes …” As the barrier went down, Trixie and her dragon began to glow with a blood red light. She smiled as the extra flow of magic was absorbed back into her body. Within seconds, all of Trixie’s physical wounds were healed. “I’ve been handicapped ever since your exile and you’re still struggling to get past me!” laughed an almost fully rejuvenated Trixie. “And now that I’m feeling a little better, why don’t we see how much of a power boost that he has now?”

All three of the dragon’s heads opened their mouths wide and leaned forward. A small sphere of dark energy formed in front of them, quickly growing in both size and power.

Twilight took a few steps back out of both awe and absolute terror. The dragon had long since passed the point of loading up enough power to destroy a small scale town like Ponyville. Now it was starting to reach the border of crippling a city the size of Canterlot. “Now what will you do, Element of Magic?!” taunted Trixie. “For your sake, I hope that amulet of yours can give you enough magic to block this! Because if this successfully touches down, there won’t be enough of you and those ponies left to even be considered dust!”

Screams could be heard in the distance as Trixie’s hostages broke away from the town in a desperate attempt to get to safety. “No,stop it! If you want to try and get rid of me then fine, but leave them alone! This is between us!” Trixie’s only reply was to transfer more of her energy into the iron construct to add fuel to the still growing sphere of destruction.

“Twilight!” The mare turned to see the rest of her friends running towards her; Spike had hitched a ride on Rarity piggyback style.

“Girls? What are you doing here?! You need to run away!”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Rainbow Dash replied with her usual spark of defiance. “This might sound a little weird coming from me, but this ‘Fight’ of yours is out of control. I mean … things were already pretty crazy when Trixie made this a death match and you actually agreed to it, but all of this …” She surveyed the battle damage to the Everfree, the landscape around her, the fallen buildings within the town, and all of the frightened ponies who either held each other in fear or trampled over one another in a futile effort to clear of the blast radius. “This is insane …” whispered Rainbow Dash.

“We don’t want to see you get hurt and we want to see you die even less!” Fluttershy shrieked while wiping away tears.

“Rainbow’s right, ya’ know. At this point it aint about winnin’ or losin’, Twi. This is about savin’ the town an’ everypony who lives in it!” Applejack shot a glance at Trixie and grinned. “Besides, we’ve risked our lives as a team tah’ save Ponyville an’ Equestria more than once. Wouldn’t be raht’ tah’ try an’ run while ya’ handle this alone.”

Twilight looked around at her friends and they all looked back at her with reassuring smiles. The lavender mare took all of this in and shook her head. “I’m sorry but … I can’t accept your help.”

“What do you mean darling?” asked a confused Rarity.

She placed a hoof on the emerald amulet that Zecora had given her in order to handle Trixie. “Repelling that blast and sending it back towards that dragon. That’s the only thing that I can think of right now that’ll lay them both out at the same time. The only way to do that is by using magic, which means that I’m the best chance that any of us have. I appreciate the support, I really do,” explained Twilight with a sad smile. “But like I said before … Trixie is my mess to clean up. This is something that I have to do alone. If you really want to help me, then get as far away from here as you still can.”

“But … but!” mumbled spike. He paused when Applejack placed a hoof on the young dragon’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry Spike. She’ll beat Trixie and her monster. Everything’ll be fine, you’ll see.” Spike stared at the apple farmer with an unsure expression. “Did ya’ forget that Ah’m the Element of Honesty? Ah’ wouldn’t say anything to ya’ unless Ah’ knew for a fact that it was true.” Spike seemed to relax a little at hearing this. “Alright, now y’all heard what she said! Let’s get movin!” The others took turns staring back and forth between a pleading Twilight and a stern faced Applejack before they reluctantly followed Twilight’s wishes.

On their way back, Applejack shot one final glance towards Twilight and sighed. ‘Please don’t make me into a liar, Twi.’

Twilight watched as her friends ran away, a sharp pain ran through her heart. It was not caused by the massive use of magic from the duel, but the fear of what would happen if she were to die right here. Not only would losing to Trixie spell her demise, but it would also mean the end of just about everypony that she loved and cared for. Shutting her eyes to hold back the tears that threatened to fall, Twilight focused her power once again while saying a silent prayer to herself. ‘Please, let me do this one last spell.’

Turning back to face the dragon,Twilight's amulet shined brighter until it illuminated everything within a twenty hoof radius. She stomped her hooves down and braced herself below the growing sphere. Trixie couldn't help but shake with excitement; looking downward at the pony responsible for the trainwreck that her life at become. The unicorn who had shattered the one thing she had before.


As the dark attack grew to ten feet in diameter, Trixie ordered the dragons to lift their heads high, signifying the beginning of the end. "Now, Twilight Sparkle, die along with the rest of that wretched excuse for a town you called home!" The dragon lurched forward, its heads whipping down and firing the giant ball down towards the ground. The black aura from the sphere tailed behind in a swirling mass of smoke.

Twilight watched in fear as the death force rushed towards her, pulling the air passed her as it sucked it into its path in a large gust. Knowing that it was now or never, she focused everything she had left in her body and released it into a single continuous beam of magic out of her horn, the energy stretching three feet across from her tip and racing high into the air.

The two forces collided together, giving birth to a shockwave that burst from the epicenter and tore through the surrounding trees within the Everfree. Their limbs snapped like toothpicks from the intense pressure pushing against the bark. Twilight immediately felt impact of the monstrous mass of power striking against her own, causing her body to skid back several feet before she could dig her hooves into the dirt and fight against the raging forces. The young unicorn strained to keep her head raised, amazed at how much strength her body was still able to churn out, but it still wasn’t enough to purge her fears of the dark mass above.

Trixies amulet radiated its dark red glow as she slowly forced the gigantic sphere of oblivion incarnate down even closer. She couldn't help but laugh into the night as it became more and more evident that her victory was only moments away. "Now do you understand, you worm?! You aren’t even in the same category as me! And now, before this over, I’ll show you the true power of the world’s most powerful unicorn!" Her eyes leaked out trails of red magic as she increased her level of focus, resulting in the blast inching its way even further down.

The sudden spike in resistance caused Twilight to stumble back a few steps, nearly losing her control over the beam that she was shooting. Her mind pulsed in agony, followed by a stream of blood running from her nose and down her muzzle due to the strain caused from over exerting her magic. Clenching her eyes shut, Twilight could sense her magic losing out against Trixies, and that there was nothing that she could do to stop her. The blast was nearly upon her now; Twilight’s magic had been reduced to nothing but a small spec, hardly visible compared to Trixie’s attack."It's over..." She cried to herself, "It's all over. I'm so sorry everyone."

Wanting to at least die happy, Twilight thought of Ponyville, then allowed her subconscious to do as it pleased. She imagined how she came to this small town, the bright sun shining down onto the kind and tranquil community. She saw the happy faces of ponies as they made their way to work, the young fillies laughing together while they played. The most precious dream however was the image of her friends together, smiling in her direction as they stood in front of her house.

Her friends.

Memories of all the different times that she spent with her friends flashed through Twilight’s mind. Rainbow Dash, who never abandoned anypony no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. Rarity, who would gladly sacrifice all that she had for the ponies that she cared about. Fluttershy was always one to show her kind and gentle spirit to any creature that needed help. Pinkie Pie was the very first pony to cross her path when she came to the town that she now called home and would always bring a smile to her face. And then Applejack, a pony who never turned down a pony in need and would never lie to hurt a loved one. And spike, her assistant who felt more like a younger brother than anything else.

Although she sent them all back to Ponyville, she wasn’t alone. They were all fighting alongside her in spirit. All she needed was to give one final push and then they could all be together once more.

That single thought struck a fire within Twilight’s heart. It wasn’t over … not yet!

"No..." Twilight growled as she struggled to raise her body a few inches up. "I won’t let you hurt my friends ever again."

From above, Trixie's smile turned into a scowl as she noticed Twilight slowly crawling back up. "What’s wrong with you? Don’t you see that you can’t win?! Just die already!"

Nearly standing all the way back to her full height, Twilight's clenched eyes leaked several tears of determination. "I won’t let somepony like you take away the things I love. I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe from anything that will try to hurt them. No matter what, I’ll always fight to keep Equestria safe. I ... Am the element of MAGIC!"

Twilight's eyes shot open, followed by a blinding white light radiating out from them. Her magic suddenly doubled in size, the beam from her horn exploding out with a massive boost. Trixie watched in horror as the allconsuming light, that now erupted from the unicorn who she believed to beaten only seconds prior, raced upward and collided with her attack. Her eyes widened even further when it slowly began to push her dark ball back into her direction. "No ... Th-that's impossible!"

Charging up her magic again, Trixie pushed the ball with every last ounce of strength within her arsenal of magic, but Twilight’s newfound might continued to easily overwhelm hers. Trixie’s own attack, which was being propelled forward by Twilight’s, hurtled into the sky towards her, and she couldn’t stop it no matter how hard she concentrated. Panicking, she tried to teleport away, but for some reason her amulet restricted her from casting anymore spells. She shot a quick glance at the Alicorn Amulet and gasped in terror. Tiny cracks were beginning to sprout from the ruby colored gem in the center.

The speed at which her mind was able to piece together what was happening was almost instantaneous. She was drawing too much power from the amulet at one time and it was now reaching a breaking point as a result. So much of her magic was being channeled into the dragon and the ball beneath her that trying to summon anymore for herself had become impossible. If she continued to try and force more power from the amulet then it would shatter. Overcome with fear and panic, she jumped off of her dragon towards the ground below moments before the blast could reach her.

The dragon was struck directly in the chest by the mixed magic, its body expanding outward until it exploded across the night sky within a lustrous shower of light. The shockwave from the blast rushed outward colliding with Trixie before she could get any further away, sending her careening down below in an out of control spiral. The shockwave also reached Twilight and sent her flying across the ground several feet before she skidded to a halt.