Tartarus Forged

by SvenFoxx

3. Prologue, Part Three: The Hands We're Dealt

Six months after Twilight disappeared…


The stallion in armor bowed. “It’s as you suspected, Your Highness. Twilight Sparkle was not at the village, but we did find somepony else. Purple coat, peculiar magic… and somewhat neurotic in the right circumstances,” He looked away. “It… would probably be a good idea to have a counselor arranged for Captain Armor. He didn’t take this revelation well.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Who is this pony?”

“She calls herself Starlight Glimmer, and she was in charge of the village. As we swept through, some of us noticed how odd the ponies there were acting. They were happy, but it was like a forced happiness... like a mask.”

“They were hiding something,” Celestia surmised.

The stallion paused, before slowly shaking his head. “No, Your Highness. It’s… a bit more complicated than that.” He removed a photograph from a pouch in his armor and gave it to the Princess.

Celestia examined it. It appeared to be a black equal sign. Judging by the flank it was on, it was likely a Cutie-Mark. “Interesting Cutie-Mark,” she remarked.

“Every pony in the town bore that Cutie-Mark,” the soldier explained.

Celestia’s eyes snapped to the soldier. “That’s not possible. Cutie-Marks are as unique as the pony bearing them. There are similar marks, but none that are exactly the same.”

“It was Starlight Glimmer’s magic, Your Highness. She has the ability to remove Cutie-Marks and enforce a compulsion of equality on the one who had their Cutie-Mark removed. That mark appeared on the flank of all who had their Cutie-Marks removed via her magic.”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed as she felt a stirring of anger. “Are you telling me that a Unicorn was experimenting on other ponies in this town?” she asked dangerously.

The soldier shook his head. “Again, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Every pony there had apparently willingly given up their Cutie-Marks. Starlight Glimmer has done nothing illegal. She was very careful in the fact that she has the written permission of every single pony she ever took a Cutie-Mark from, they all asked her to do it.”

“Is there any sign they are being compelled to answer that way?”

The guard frowned. “We thought that too after seeing how the magic enforced thoughts of equality in them, but Starlight agreed to return the Cutie-Marks of any number of ponies so that we may ask them without her magic influencing them. They all gave her their permission without magical influence. Apparently, they were unhappy with their Cutie-Marks, and supposedly the destiny that it implied, and leapt at the chance to have a second chance at something else.”

Celestia sighed. “Then there’s nothing more to be done. Did Starlight Glimmer explain why she was doing this?”

“We asked, but the only answer she gave was that a Cutie-Mark ruined her friendship with another pony. She won’t force her beliefs on anypony, but will happily remove the Cutie-Mark of any who asks her to.”

Celestia frowned. “Did she say who this pony was?” she asked.

“Sunburst, an orange and red stallion with a talent for organization.” the guard answered.

Celestia paused, and then started chuckling. “Truly, it is a small world.”

“Your Highness?” the guard asked.

“You’re dismissed, soldier. Good job.” Celestia smiled at the guard. After he saluted and left, she turned to Raven, her aide. “Fetch me my stationary, would you please? Oh, and send for Captain Armor as well.”


Five years after arrival…

“You’re back.”

Twilight grunted and threw the body she had been dragging behind her at the hooves of the Centaur Lord. “He pretty much wet himself when he saw me coming. He wasn’t even all that difficult to find and catch.”

“So I see. Why did you bring him here?” Tirek asked, not glancing away from the paperwork he was writing on.

Twilight kicked the body. “Go on, tell him.”

The demon shivered at the glare the purple mare was giving him. “S-Sire… I… there is a group of Wrath and Greed demons preparing to use an artifact from Equestria to bind your power and overthrow you. I was on my way here to tell you when your dog attacked-GAH!”

Twilight slammed her hoof into the demon’s back hard, smashing him into the stone floor and cracking it. Judging by the wet crunch, she definitely broke something. “Try again.” She said.

“Agh! My spine! Nightmare damn you, you psychotic-!” His words were cut off by a long metal object cracking against his temple, making him see stars.

“One last chance, or I will kill you.” Twilight growled, the metal pole in her hoof dripping some of the demon’s blood.

The demon scrabbled away from her, only to bump into the legs of the centaur watching with an amused expression. He looked up at the ruler of Tartarus with pleading eyes.

Tirek chuckled. “Oh no, don’t try that on me. If she’s giving out death threats, then you must have done something to anger her. You’re only digging a deeper hole by not doing as she says.”

The demon looked at Twilight. “…Promise me you won’t kill me if I tell the truth.”

“Sure. I promise not to kill you if you tell him the truth.” She waved her hoof. “Now, get on with it!” She growled.

“I was part of the group trying to overthrow you, but was captured by your dog. She captured me and brought me back here after slaughtering everyone else to confess to you directly.”

Tirek frowned. “I see. What of the artifact you spoke of?”

“It’s a sword of some kind that repulses dark magic with ease. Any dark magic it strikes will be rebound unto the caster, and any dark barrier cut with it will instantly shatter. It will also painfully kill any demon stabbed with it.” The demon answered.

“And how did your group plan on getting close to me to use it? It sounds to me like a holy blade, and there isn’t a demon in Tartarus that can hold such a weapon,” Tirek asked.

“They tried to get me to do it. I turned them down,” Twilight spoke up.

Tirek chuckled. “I see. Yes, that would have worked.”

“So you’ll let me go now?” the demon asked.

Tirek pointed his palm at the demon, and energy gathered at the end. “No. I don’t let traitors live.”

The demon began panicking, but found himself bound by magic and unable to move. “But… But she promised I wouldn’t get killed!”

Twilight snorted. “No, I promised that I wouldn’t kill you. I said nothing about him.”

The demon’s eyes narrowed in rage. “I’ll get you for this, Dog of Tirek!”

Twilight waved a hoof. “Sure you will. You and every other demon that made that promise.”

Tirek unleashed his attack, and the demon was destroyed. Its remains slowly turned to dust as the Centaur Lord turned to Twilight. “Once again, you do not fail me.” He paused, before smiling. “Tell me… why did you really turn them down? Why did you slaughter them for that matter? You’re normally more lenient,” he asked.

“I didn’t at first. I went along with it until they gave me the sword, and then I chopped off the head of every demon involved except for him. The sword’s in my room if you’re interested in studying it,” Twilight shrugged. “As for why… It’s only really effective against demons and creatures made of dark magic, neither of which you are. If nothing else, it gives me an additional tool to protect myself with in this wretched place. And the mass murder…” Twilight’s eyes darkened. “They were devouring souls. When I get home, I wouldn’t have been able to look myself in the mirror and call myself a moral pony if I hadn’t killed them.”

Tirek chuckled. “It amuses me how you cling to your morality in Tartarus, of all places,” He placed a hand on his chin and thought. “Yes… I do believe you have earned a reward.” He began gathering magic in both of his hands, which he pointed at Twilight. “Brace yourself, my dog. This will hurt.”

Twilight sighed, knowing it was pointless to try and run. She had been slowly learning how to channel some of her magic through her hooves, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to attempt teleportation. Besides, he would just hunt her down and make it more painful when he caught her. “I hate you sometimes,” she quipped, just before being engulfed in orange and black magic.

Then the screaming started, alongside the sounds of bones snapping, tendons ripping, and flesh tearing.