Derpibra began his trek up the trail, moving at a moderate pace. He didn’t want to take his time, but he didn’t want to wear himself out early.
The path was covered in ash, grime, and there was a bone or two here and there. They were presumably the remains of other unfortunate adventurers attempting to quest this mountain. The thought chilled his spine, but he didn’t let such scary thoughts hinder his progress. Still, there’s no telling what could be living on the trail, or how long the journey would take… or if he would even make it.
“Keep it together Derpy.” He shook his head, as if trying to shake off something.
As he trotted, he felt as if something was off. Sure he was on a volcanic mountain, but even that felt more normal than what he was feeling. As if something was watching him…
His ear twitched.
“Ha!” He front-flipped and landed about-face. A stray soldier seemed to be sprawled across the ground, coughing and wheezing.
“...Who’re you…?” Her raspy voice questioned. “Don’t… go up there…”
“...!” Derpibra covered his mouth. The mare was… a bloody mess. Her body was injured beyond belief, so much so that he couldn’t find a feasible way to describe it.
“I… was caught in… one of the traps…” She lazily pointed off to the right, and there were indications of possible explosives in the area, judging from the black blast marks. “This… is the Path of the Dragon. If you were wondering.”
“What…? Where’s the Path of the Pony? It’s easier than this I’m sure!”
“It was destroyed in a flash of darkness…” She coughed up blood, and seemed to be nearing death.
“I can help you! Just-”
“No… I’m dead. Infections, half my body's’ gone… ain’t no helping me… if you wanna go stop Magnus, just be care…” In her final breath, she passed away.
Derpibra felt tears attack his eyes. He never seen a pony die in front of him before. But he couldn’t let this set him back: he had an objective to complete.
“She must’ve been one of Daischtert’s soldiers. What was she doing here though?” He muttered.
Continuing his journey, he made sure to watch for any traps that may claim his life like that mare’s. The sight of her torn apart by Celestia-knows-what nagged his mind. She didn’t look as if she was taken by an explosive- more or less a savage animal twice her height may be the true perpetrator. But he didn’t have time to wonder. The mare was gone, so what could he possibly do about it now?
Under short notice, he felt an odd sound strike his ears. He took a quick look around, and his eyes widened in response to a fiery energy mere inches from him. He proned, and an explosion from the offending blast occurred behind him.
“What the heck was that?”
He took a swift look upwards to spot a runed cube. The ancient letters of an unknown language shined bright red, about to fire again. He looked to his right and located another runed cube, this time being blue. Another, yellow, and another green. And there were seemingly dozens of them going in no pattern in particular. Considering the haphazard pattern, one could guess there could be more hidden in a corner or crevice.
No point in wasting magic. I’d better just dodge them. Derpibra, without the use of his energy, was just average in strength and dexterity. His endurance wasn’t much better either, so the task of dodging dozens of projectiles at once would appear daunting now.
He began doing a series of jumps and flips and dashes. So far, he managed to at worst get grazed by either a fireball or spear of ice. He merely thought he was lucky, because the projectiles did seem rather quick to end his life. Too quick, actually.
Within a few minutes, he managed to clear the path with only minor cuts and burns. The path ahead only seemed hotter than the last. The source of the sweltering heat wasn’t in sight either, further frustrating Derpibra.
“I’m gonna be burnt to a crisp by the time I get there.” He scoffed.
This road however did not seem too different from the Trial of the Pony- minus the traps. It seems all he would need to do is make his trek up the mountain under extreme conditions, then the final fight between him and Magnus would begin.
“Take this!” Rainbow Dash let out a battle cry as she performed her Sonic Rainboom just close enough to knock the reinforcements into the salty ocean water.
“Time to take ‘em out like fish!” Optix exclaimed. She summoned a grenade and tossed it into the solid blue ocean.
Ponies ascended to the surface with their abiotic bodies, and the water began to turn red.
“Optix…!” Fluttershy squeaked.
“I know what you’re gonna say! This is war! Death is all around us! Now, stand ready!” Optix materialized a box magazine of blonde magic in her hoof, then slipped it into her LMG, chambering the first bullet. “Incoming!”
Bullets and magic soared through the air, making little holes in the sand beneath her boots.
“Twilight! Get me some cover!”
The purple princess landed down, but right before she could project a bubble of violet magic, Optix had a barbed arrow shot through her knee. She screamed in agonizing pain.
Twilight erected the barrier and looked down. “Optix! Are you okay!?”
“Yeah, just got the wind knocked outta me.” She said sarcastically.
Twilight remained silent, staring at her wound.
“Da’ fuck are you staring at? I got a stick through my knee!” She took off her helmet and slapped a red-cross sticker on it, then placed it on Twilight’s head roughly. “You’re the medic. Help me up!”
“Okay, okay! Rarity! You and Fluttershy need to cover us!”
Fluttershy feebly picked up a heavy rock to throw at the army, but a soldier attempted to swipe at her. She sprung upwards and accidentally dropped the stone on the soldier’s head, knocking him out. “I- I’m sorry.”
Optix picked up a pebble and tossed it at her, hitting her on the muzzle. “Sorry for him tryin’a kill you? Keep it together!”
Optix turned to Twilight. “Is that arrow out ye- agh!!”
I never thought I’d be a Field Surgeon. Twilight thought. “Just hang tight! I know everything about pony anatomy! This should be… kinda easy! I don’t think you’ll be able to walk again though…”
“To hell I won’t!”
I hope Derpibra is having better luck than we are right now…
The ritual is nearing it’s end. Derpibra thought as he trudged through the final feet of dirt leading to the top of the peak. As he took his last step, a giant golden wall shot up from the ground, seemingly out of nowhere.
“What the…!? Grr, I don’t have time for this!”
Through the ethereal wall was the sight of a massive golden dragon rising from the ground. It soared into the air and spread it’s wings apart, flaring a great solar light that blinded everything within the entire radius of the island.
“N-no…!” He shot a magic blast towards the wall, but it didn’t budge. “Damn! If only I could fly…!”
At the center of the wall was a slit. Next to it was a group of words, luckily this time in English. “A piece of history, something that fought the war you threaten to end. That is what the key is. ...What?”
He scratched his head, then began to dig relentlessly through his pockets. He had a hunch that something he was carrying could be the true key…
“...the dagger!” He retrieved the completely dulled dagger from his short scabbard and observed it. “I remember what Daischtert said back at the ruin. Maybe this is the key!” He slid the dagger inside, then it disappeared in a flash of sparkles and comforting light. The wall faded away, gaining him access to Magnus’ resurrection grounds.
It was now or never.