She had been unsure to celebrate in their last victory. It had been just one step along the road and she didn't feel like cheering until they'd reached the end of it. Even now, they still had at least one more fight to go before they'd definitely won this thing.
Even so, this time she was cool with it and she was gonna enjoy it.
She'd spent the last of her energy from the sonic rainboom creating a rainbow over the weather factory. Lightning Dust had flown with her, leaving a streak of orange lightning alongside her rainbow. Her hooves were starting to hurt from how many hoof bumps she'd given and been give, her throat a little raw from all of the cheering she'd been doing.
Everypony else was taking the chance to do the same. The Wonderbolts had done a few celebratory laps and Spitfire made a speech on how well everypony had done. She'd seen Thunderlane reunite with Blossomforth, the latter tackling the former in a desperate hug and looking like she was trying to eat his face, Derpy bouncing up and down on a storm cloud with utter glee, all Pegasi around her making sure to give her a wide berth.
But through all the masses of celebrating Pegasi, she was still on the lookout for just one and it didn't take her long to find her.
"Rainbow Dash!" Even above all of the cheering and whooping, she still heard the relieved tones of Fluttershy above it all. "Thank goodness you're safe!"
"I'd say it's more thanks to my awesome I'm safe, but that works too." She grinned and hugged her. "It's good to see you safe too, Fluttershy."
"You and your team did a great job," she said kindly. "I saw your sonic rainboom from where I was. It was so amazing, I actually cheered for you! Yay!"
"Of course it was. Those bugs never saw it coming."
"I bet they didn't." Her face fell somewhat. "I heard too, about Hard Edge."
Rainbow's smile faltered too. "Oh. You did?"
"Yeah..." She hesitated a moment. "I know he what he did was wrong, but... I'm glad that he came back to our side."
"Yeah. I am too," she said with complete sincerity.
"Now, we can go and help the others too." She looked down from the cloud, in the direction of Canterlot. "I hope they're all okay."
"Me too." She smirked a little. "Especially Ray though, right?"
"Yes..." She flushed when she realised what she'd said. "I-I mean um... yes um, I hope he is okay in that um... that he uh... well..."
"It's okay, Fluttershy," she said confidently. "The guy can handle himself, they all can. I'm sure we'll be there just in time to help clear everything up."
"Okay. It'll be nice when we're all... oh my!" Fluttershy suddenly squeaked. "Do you feel that?"
Rainbow was about to ask what she meant until she noticed it. It definitely hadn't been there before. There was a pressure in the air. Sudden and intense, like somepony had forgotten that air up this high was meant to be thin, tried to fix it and had overdone it a bit.
Looking around, she saw that others were noticing it too. Reactions ranged from mild curiosity to growing fear. Personally, Rainbow tensed, ready for anything.
"Yeah, I feel it," she confirmed. "What is that?"
"Y-you don't think it's the changelings... do you?" she asked fearfully.
"Doesn't seem to fit anything they've done so far," she muttered. "Unless this is some new trick they haven't tried yet."
She started to shake. "Oh dear, oh no..."
"Cool it, Fluttershy. Whatever it is, we can handle it," she said confidently. "We've got 'em on the run, we can take 'em."
"I... I guess so." She began to calm down. "Oh, it looks like it's leaving now anyway. That's a relief."
Again, Rainbow noticed it too. Just as suddenly as it came, the pressure lifted and the air returned to normal like that same somepony had just flicked a switch. There were some murmurs of curiosity and relief from those gathered around her too.
She, meanwhile, was suspicious. What had caused that pressure? Why had it suddenly arrived and just as quickly left? And why did she have a feeling that this wasn't over yet?
"Rainbow Dash?" Her reaction hadn't escaped Fluttershy's notice. "What's the matter?"
"I dunno," she admitted. "I just think we should be ready. Whatever just caused that can't be good and it might be good to-"
She was cut off by a loud, ear splitting and powerful explosion that rocked the very cloud she stood on.
Dusk stood on a balcony in the palace, from where he had a good view of the lower town. Down in one of the most open parts of Canterlot, he could just make them out. The forms of Shining, Cadence and the small number of guards that stood with them. Every now and again, he would look up for any sign of the coming swarm.
So far, there was nothing yet. He swore he could hear them though, the collective buzzing of their wings carrying on the wind, the tiny black specks of their forms growing steadily closer. The full force of the changelings that invaded them at the start of all this was coming back for another round and that was a lot of changelings.
The very thought of it instilled quite a bit of panic. He would start to wonder if what he had in mind would get rid of them all, if it would even work, if they would have the strength to repel them after all the fighting they'd already done.
Fortunately, Twilight was there to help put his mind at ease.
"Dusk, calm down," she said gently. "You don't need to worry. Your plan is great."
He looked up at her. "You... really think so?"
"Not just that, I know it is," she said, resting her hoof on his. "I know these types of shield spells. They're designed to repel any foreign elements as outlined by the one casting it. In Shining's case, the shield will pass right through ponies, but any changelings will be pushed out of its boundaries, not just the ones that are coming, but also any that might be hidden disguised among us. We'd not only get rid of any changelings that are coming back, but also any that might still be here."
Dusk let out a long whistle. "That's a powerful spell."
"It is," she agreed. "Only a unicorn with years of training would be able to pull it off, which is why Shining is the only one who can."
"And you of course," he said with a smile.
She blushed. "Maybe, but he's been trained specifically for the use of such spells. My training in magic is a lot more generalized. If anything, you'd have a better chance of pulling it off than me."
Now it was his turn. "Perhaps but um, I'd still need some help with it."
"Well, you know how much I love helping you," she said, nuzzling his neck.
Another worry surfaced in his mind. "What if the spell doesn't have the intended effect? He's been out of this for a while and he'd had Chrysalis feeding off of him."
"It will," she said with utter confidence. "With Cadence helping to give strength to him, he'll probably have more than enough. The changelings will at least have a hard time getting in until reinforcements from Cloudsdale get here."
"Yes... I suppose so." He smiled a little more easily. "Thanks, Twilight. What would I do without you?"
She returned it, kissing his cheek. "I dread to think."
Dusk placed a foreleg around her, holding her close, grateful for just being able to do so. Just having her back told him that this whole thing would all be over soon.
He still had that lingering feeling from when he'd rid her from that changeling's control. Occasionally, he would see Twilight giving him her studying look until he caught her at it. Did she notice something too? Did she have some similar feeling? And had his started to grow steadily stronger? Had hers too, if she had it?
He was about to ask her about it, when Princess Celestia arrived on the scene.
"I see that the two of you haven't wasted any time since reuniting," she noted with a warm smile.
"Princess Celestia!" Twilight ran up to her mentor, embracing her. "You're back! Are you okay? Did the changelings hurt you at all?"
"I'm fine, Twilight," she assured, gladly returning her hug. "It's nothing I won't be able to recover from, though I admit my legs are a little cramped from being stuck in that cocoon so long."
"I'm glad it's just that," said Dusk, walking up to her. "It's good to see you and Luna are both okay."
"I feel the same for you both, for all of your friends," she said sincerely. "You've all been through so much to make it this far and I couldn't be prouder. I'd say the Elements made the right choices in picking their wielders."
"Or maybe, princess, you made the right choice by sending one particular one right to us," Twilight said, looking back at Dusk with a smile.
The princess laughed as Dusk blushed. "Yes, it was a decision I admit I'm very proud of. Even so, I'm afraid to say I've come to discuss something other than joyful reunions."
"What is it, princess?" Twilight asked. "Is everything okay?"
"I just want to know if either of you know where Ray is." Her focus was more on Dusk, with a hint of worry in her tone. "The last I heard, he was on his way to aid you against Chrysalis."
"That's true, yes." He briefly recalled all that had happened upon Ray's arrival and what he had seen transpire between him and Chrysalis. "I haven't seen either of them since and I don't really know where they might be."
"I see..." She looked away, her eyes focused on something in the distance.
It was rare that Dusk saw anything break through Celestia's mask of political neutrality, but he could have sworn he saw something akin to fear steadily growing as he'd been talking. He glanced at Twilight and the look on her face told him she'd seen it too.
"Princess," she asked tentatively, "is there something wrong?"
"I hope not," she murmured. A little louder, she added, "I don't think we need to be concerned yet. Besides, I think we have bigger things to worry about."
Dusk looked to see, at long last, the changeling host swarming towards Canterlot once more. For the sake of the battle, he focused on the coming hoard. Even so, the tone in Celestia's didn't have him convinced that the changelings were the bigger thing to worry about. Not in the least.
Especially from a growing pressure in the air he suddenly began to notice.
Such was the intensity of the volume and power of the roar that it caused the air itself to whip away at Chrysalis while she struggled to keep her hoofing in the ground. Despite this, she took a few steps back. She almost stumbled in the effort. Whether it was from the roar or from the flash of fear she now felt, she couldn't tell.
Even when it died down, her ears were still ringing slightly. The thought crossed her mind briefly that she wouldn't be surprised if those back in Canterlot, possibly even in Cloudsdale, had heard that roar.
However, her brief trepidation was replaced once again by confidence. So it was a little loud. It would take more than that to intimidate her for what she'd been through so far. That roar was just issuing a challenge and she would surpass it, as she already had done.
"Sounds interesting," she muttered to herself with a chuckle.
She looked up and shock took hold. In her efforts to keep from flying off, she hadn't noticed that she'd been pushed across the ground while standing. She had been pushed halfway to the edge of the crater Ray... or whatever he was now, had made.
She was forced to analyse the situation. With his drastic change in appearance, the process of the transformation and the destruction it had caused, not to mention the force behind the roar alone... it was safe to assume that he was much more powerful than previously. She thought back to what had triggered this his repeated growth in power, culminating in this. All of her taunts and jibes, pushing him over the edge.
Of course, that had been intentional. Typically, making ones opponents angry made them easier to deal with. They became driven more by emotion than rational thought, hence making their attacks easier to anticipate and act against. It was usually an effective solution.
With Ray, however... well, the results were fairly clear.
There was only one thing for it. Not wanting to take any more chances and growing tired of this fight, she decided to end this now and quickly.
Without another word, she spread her hooves out slightly and lowered her horn. The creature that had once been a stallion made no apparent movement in response. She gathered up her energy, waited for it to build and let herself have a small laugh when she released it.
A massive inferno of green flames streamed towards Ray. Again, he, or it, made no attempt to move. Chrysalis smirked, watching the flames widen and grow taller, like a wave that threatened to sweep over him.
Now, he began to move.
Slowly, he rose up, standing on his hind legs while hunched over, watching the inferno draw closer. The flames themselves seemed to anticipate this, moving at a faster rate and growing brighter as they went. He continued to watch, appearing to brace himself. It was like time was slowing down, the flames becoming a towering tsunami, bearing down upon him.
Chrysalis noted a low rumbling before she realised it was the creature growling. It raised one of its upper appendages into the air before slamming it down again just before the flames reached it. The effect was like another explosion, chunks of debris and dust flying into the air from the impact. The queen had to shield her eyes and look away from the gale of wind that threw dust into her face, again almost lifting her off her hooves.
She brought her leg down when it stopped. The creature was still standing, looking no worse for wear. Another smaller crater had formed from where its arm, or was it leg now, had hit the ground. Her mighty fire had been completely extinguished by that gesture, like he'd just swatted away a bothersome fly.
Such power, she thought, to create so powerful a shockwave from a single blow...
Meanwhile, the beast in question gave a low growl before rising up and slamming both of its arms into the ground. She braced herself, but no shockwave came. The ground beneath simply split and fractured as its arms seemed to bury themselves beneath. More cracks appeared with every passing second, the ground itself being forced up.
She watched with mild curiosity. Then she heard cracking beneath her hooves. She glanced down, saw the ground below her beginning to fissure and rise up.
She quickly took flight, dashing to the side just as the ground where she had been standing erupted skyward with two, massive crimson, four-fingered claws and arms jutting up through the rocks. Claws even bigger than she was, arms that had greatly increased in size while having also been stretched through the ground all of that way...
She'd seen some odd things before, but this was a new one. At least she'd managed to evade it.
Until a third claw, somehow emerging from one of the previous arms, shot after her. Refocusing on her flying, she swerved through the air, zoomed away as fast as she could across the ground while the phantom claw pursued her.
But it followed her, no matter where she flew. It was relentless, stretching on and on without limit while its owner watched on, effortlessly controlling the claw's movements.
It became a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Every aerial manoeuvre Chrysalis performed was met with an equally sharp move from the claw. Whenever she was close to the ground, she barely managed to dodge in time when it crashed through the ground beneath her. Each time it did, there was a loud boom, making the earth groan in protest.
She couldn't help but wonder as she flew... for somepony like that stallion, or for any living thing, to be subjected to this kind of magical power... how was he still able to move at all?
She didn't know how long this went on for, but she finally grew tired of running and her pursuer didn't seem to be slowing down one bit. She stopped, threw up a shield just as the claw was about to reach her. The impact was so strong the changeling actually winced from trying to maintain it. If she had the glands to do so, she might actually be sweating from exertion.
Despite her efforts, four fingertips managed to push through. The clashing of magical forces caused arcs of lightning-like energy, both green and red, to emerge from the breached point. She couldn't sweat, but her head was starting to pound from the energy she was putting out. Knowing what was coming, she readied herself and let the shield fall away.
The claws only hit the ground, for she managed to dart away just in time. Not wasting time, she sped towards the creature, still in the crater. It growled at her approach and she noticed a growing heat while she got closer, but paid it no mind. Instead, she continued closer and drew back her hoof, reinforcing it with magic. This should hopefully knock it off balance.
She was in striking distance when the creature seemed to flatten itself downward and she soared past overhead. Ignoring her singed mane, which must have fallen a bit too close to its body, she resolved to try again. Circling around, she came back for another hit, the creature quickly retracting its arms while she did, the earth ripping itself up while the appendages returned to normal size. She flew on, determined to strike this time.
The creature suddenly leaped straight overhead, Chrysalis bathed in the dark crimson red of its shadow. Before she could correct herself, it brought both arms back, let them grow once more and slammed them right on top of Chrysalis.
A brief shriek went out, along with another shockwave from the impact, making more cracks in the already abused and pulverized earth. When it landed, another cloud of dust rose up, like it too was trying to escape. It lifted its claws to appreciate its work... but there was no body. Chrysalis was gone, with only a hole where she used to be.
The beast narrowed its eyes, wary of this sudden disappearance. It scanned the environment in the same way a fox would scour a series of rabbit holes for the meal that had fled from it. A cracking noise behind it caused its head to jerk in its direction.
The changeling queen suddenly burst up from the ground behind it, her body aglow with her green aura. She was starting to look dishevelled, a revolution of anger replacing the smugness that had once reigned supreme on her face. She was getting fed up of this game. Time to cut it short.
Her aura extended out to her dominant leg in the shape of a blade, burning with the same green fire. She raised it up, ready to bring down on this thing before it could react. It had noticed her, she'd seen one of its eyes widen, but it wouldn't have the time to get out of the way. She had it now!
But then something very unexpected happened. Something... horrifying.
Watching it for any movement, she saw the creature's back. It began to bubble and morph, two orbs of white suddenly appearing, followed by the shape of a mouth. A second head was rising from them, followed by a neck, a waist, two additional arms, all in a split second. The original body parts fell limp, losing their shape and form. So confident in her victory before, Chrysalis was stunned into silence, staring right into the depthless eyes of this creature.
She would be glad to slice this abomination in two, as she was about to. But the beast was even faster. Even as it rose from its own body, its eyes never leaving hers, it drew back one of its arms, faster than she could blink and swiped at her.
Amazingly, despite her shock, she managed to react to this reversal of fates and pulled back with enough force, just in time to keep from being severed in two. But she didn't escape without incident. One of the sharp claws managed to slash her across the torso, cutting through her chitin like a hot knife through butter.
She was sent flying backwards, both from the force of the attack and the powerful gust of air it created from the tailwind, hitting the ground painfully until she slid to a stop.
Pain. That was the first thing she noticed. A sharp, piercing pain in her chest which made her gasp slightly and clutch herself. She dared to look down and was completely dumbstruck at the sight. Blood. Green blood. Her blood, oozing out from the cut the wretched beast had made. Not only that, but there was a heat from the edges of the cut that intensified her pain. Was it her imagination or were they smoking...?
Through squinted eyes, she looked back up at the beast. The second body that had... grown out of the first was settled on all-fours. The original, still attached, merged back into itself. When it was over, it looked as though nothing had happened. It looked exactly like it did before at the beginning of this fight, body tensed and teeth bared as it growled at her.
She could see her refection in its burning eyes. Dishevelled, tired, burnt and now bloody. How quickly the tides had turned...
Something occurred to her. Looking closer, she saw the beast was exactly where it was originally, at the centre of the crater. Said crater was a mess of scattered rubble and a large spider-web of cracks, much more than before. The beast though... it hadn't moved an inch from its spot, save for turning to meet her attack just before. She, however, had been flying all over the place, trying to do... something. Evading, blocking, trying to attack. But in the end, all she had accomplished...
She actually started to mirror the creature's expression. Her teeth gritted, her growl joining with the beast's, she rose back to her hooves, fury burning in her eyes like her venomous fire.
"You think you can best me?!" she shouted. "I am Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings, Ruler of the Hive and Leader of the Swarm! I was the one who had brought Canterlot, the capitol of Equestria, to its knees. I was the one to lead my subjects to glory like they had only dreamed of. I was the one who single-hoofedly brought down not one, not two, but THREE princesses! I have done much and sacrificed everything and I will not be bested by a simple stallion, or worse yet, some feral, mindless beast!"
Even as a small, imperceptible part of her brain screamed at her to stop and get away from here, she took to the sky, high above the creature and, with her eyes glowing intensely with a mixture of magic and anger, sent down a stream of fire. The biggest, strongest one yet, multiple times larger than those before, with the surrounding area almost becoming darker in the presence of bright, incredibly intense flames.
They twisted and danced through the air, once more taking the shape of a dragon, roaring in rage and hunger. A perfect avatar for the enraged matriarch to exert her will. They hurtled towards their mark, which remained perfectly still. Chrysalis's own rage fuelled the flames, her refusal to be beaten and overpowered intensifying them as they drew closer and closer...
But even the anger she so exerted was a mere spark compared to one for whom it burned even more than Celestia's sun and all of Luna's stars.
As the dragon opened its maw wide, the flames composing it meant to consume their target whole, the beast stood once more, not the least bit intimidated by the display. Once again, time seemed to slow down as it brought its head back, its chest heaving. It didn't attempt to protect itself, nor did it attempt to stand aside. It just waited for the right moment, right before the flames reach it...
And it roared.
It roared with a force and volume that truly could not be imagined coming from any natural creature of this world. The roar itself, seeming to defy the laws of reality itself, created a wall of sound so perfect, so powerful that it met directly with the serpentine form of the flames. It found resistance only for a moment before it pushed through. It completely extinguished the flames all along the body of the false dragon until it met with Chrysalis herself.
Completely unprepared for this, she screamed from the wall of wind and force that struck her body. She careened away, tumbling through the air above the crater, going beyond its edge and into the tree line. She crashed through endless miles of branches and vines before finally crashing into the ground. The boom it created was like the final beat of a heart before it expired.
She lay at the end of a long, thick scar on the ground she had created upon impact. She managed to rasp for breath and weakly got up, taking down the shield she'd activated at the last second to soften the blow. Even so, she cringed and groaned loudly from the pain she felt when she put weight on her left foreleg.
Looking down, she noted the odd angle it was bent at. Broken. Lovely. Beyond that, her whole body was sore and aching. It was all she could muster just to keep standing, let alone to keep fighting against that... thing.
Though she hated to admit it, she acknowledged now that part of her mind that had been screaming so loudly at her before. She began to cast her head around for a way out. Perhaps a strategic retreat was in order here...
She stopped when another roar pierced her ears. Craning her head, she looked through the tear in the tree line she'd made, all the way back to the edge of the crater and, past that, the very source of her pain. Even from this distance, she could have sworn it was looking directly at her. Right into her soul.
It reared its head and roared to the heavens, its tails splaying out in different directions behind it. As this happened, she felt an odd pulling sensation. Very weak, but it was there, like it was trying to pull her back towards the beast.
Glancing around, she saw surrounding plant life suffering the same effect, leaning towards it. But theirs was different. They seemed to be wilting and dying away, while at the same time, strange orbs began to appear around them in thin air. Translucent, from what she could tell. Some were white and blue, others black and red. She felt some kind of energy emanating from them and reached out for one, curious about it, despite what was happening.
Suddenly, they started to float off to the crater. Mere moments later, something began to form in the air off in the distance, above the crater.
It started off small at first, barely perceptible to her at this distance. However, it quickly grew in size, blocking out a large portion of the sky visible to her. A massive, dark purples sphere, shifting and coagulating as she sees the same orbs merging with each other and blending into the greater mass. Some were larger than others, allowing her to see them from this far off, but it was impossible to mistake even without that. These orbs, whatever they were, were joining together into that single, growing mass... all the while, that creature stood beneath it, looking up while its tails waved lazily back and forth.
Was it somehow doing this? What was it even doing? What was this feeling of energy that Chrysalis was getting from it..?
Her blood chilled when she finally realized. Looking around only confirmed it, the surroundings losing their colour and life while she watched those orbs continue to form. These orbs weren't giving off energy. They were energy. The energy of these plants, the very dirt beneath her hooves, all of it being... absorbed. Gathered into that huge, single mass up ahead.
By now, it was humongous, almost dwarfing the sun's light and covering the area in complete shadow. She started to feel a growing pressure in the air... like all of that energy being gathered into one spot was causing the air itself to tighten and stop moving. She realized how dangerous this situation is...not for the environment, not for that creature, but for her.
She suddenly began to feel small, insignificant...and out of nowhere, it hit her. That nagging feeling that had been pushing at her throughout this fight, that grew when she'd gotten hurt, and she only now acknowledged as even being present. It was a feeling that she'd never once thought she would experience again.
She was scared. She was scared of this creature, and the strength it wielded. Countering absolutely everything she did with raw power, not moving from its spot except for brief moments, simply roaring loud enough to send her flying, and now...this. Whatever that thing was...it was out of her league. That she had grown cocky enough to think that she could defeat this, even while knowing deep down the power it must have...it was she who never had a chance of winning, not her opponent.
However, she'd realized this too late. The pressure around her, combined with the near alien emotion she is experiencing, kept her rooted to the spot as she watched the event unfolding.
The beast, roaring once more, pointed all four of its tails up at the now-finished-and gargantuan-orb floating above it. The immediately surrounding forest had almost lost all life, the trees and plants grown brown and wilted, while the once soft and rich soil has become dry and hard. The pressure in the air around Chrysalis only seemed to grow more intense as the sphere rippled slightly...
And then it started to shrink. The loose rubble on the ground below began to swirl and rise toward the sphere in increasing amounts as the purple mass gets smaller and smaller, filling the air with greater amounts of pressure as it went. All of that energy, being gathered together and then compressed into a small form, was making it so dense that smaller objects were actually moving toward it, like it had its own tiny gravitational field. As the sphere became smaller and smaller, it also lowered itself closer to the earth. More specifically, closer to the beast that was controlling it.
Finally, with a resounding ring, it stopped shrinking, seemingly reaching its limit. At the same time, the unseen force of the pressure caused the ground around the creature, directly beneath the orb, to once again crack and shatter. The beast itself, however, remained unharmed, not even twitching from the force as the sphere continued to lower towards it, stopping only inches above its "face".
Chrysalis, watching this, couldn't believe that this is happening. One simply couldn't be on the receiving end of that much concentrated energy...and survive. How this creature is managing to be so close to it without being harmed in the slightest is beyond her ability to comprehend.
But then the unthinkable happened. If Chrysalis hadn't already been frozen with shock and fear, she most certainly would have been when she saw this.
The beast's jagged mouth began to open, revealing the pure white within. Once its mouth was gaping wide, impossibly so for any normal Pony, Changeling, or any intelligent creature, it leaned forward, toward the orb...
...and ate it. It closed its mouth around the orb, lowered itself back down, and swallowed.
Exactly one moment of silence passed before the effect became apparent, and the beast began to shake violently, sinking down further into the ground as though weighed by the sheer mass of the energy it had just consumed. Through the cracks of its still partially-open mouth, something could be seen shining...and the beast's entire body suddenly expanded outward, as though bloating slightly. The shine only grew more intense, with smoke now rising from the corners of its mouth...
Chrysalis's eyes widened as she realized what was about to happen. She tried to take a step back, only to cringe in pain again as she fell on her injured leg. She desperately buzzed her wings in an attempt to take flight, but it was no use. She was simply too exhausted and pained to move.
The beast, now glowing orange from the energy within, growled lowly as it prepared itself for its final attack. A beam of light now shining visibly through its mouth from within its body, it arched its back, allowing the energy to build up as much as possible. It fell back down to all-fours, looking straight at Chrysalis...
And it fired.
Every ounce, every molecule of energy devoured, instantly regurgitated and released from its maw in the form of the deadliest projectile to ever exist. The very ground split and turned to dust as it made a path for the red, orb-like explosive shell of energy, leaving a path of scarred earth and burning flames in its wake. It took only a second for it to reach the tree line, and then it didn't slow down a second; it began to simply burn through or incinerate anything in its path as it gave off a roar of its own, cutting through the air as it rapidly approached its target.
And that target was Chrysalis.
She barely has time to think. Acting only out of her sense of self-preservation, she channelled every remaining ounce of magical power she had into a shield spell, not allowing any of her own energy to go to waste. The result was a massive green shield that rose above the trees, forming a protective half-dome wall in front of her.
She got it up just as the projectile reached her. It impacted against the shield, and with several flashes of light, it detonated.
It was an explosion the likes of which the Everfree Forest had never seen before. The immediate force of the blast completely obliterated the surroundings, tearing up massive chunks of earth and disintegrating any organic matter within the blast radius. Some of the energy pushing against the shield flowed around it, creating paths of destruction on either side of the shield.
But the shield itself was not holding its ground. Slowly, bit by agonizing bit, the forces acting upon it caused it to crack. Small ones at first, then growing larger and more abundant. Chrysalis, with a growing dread in the pit of her stomach, tried to feed more energy into the shield to keep it up...
But her horn only fizzled and sparked. She had nothing left to give. She was completely spent. As such, she could only watch as the cracks grew larger and larger...until, finally, it shattered with the sound of breaking glass.
But she had just enough strength to say one last thing.
Before she could finish, her scream pierced through the air as the power of the blast reached her, instantly putting an end to all that she saw.