• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,106 Views, 354 Comments

Just Horsing Around - Darkness Shade



Seemingly lost in his life, a young man finds himself waking up in a strange new land populated by some curious residents. When certain truths are revealed and he finds there's more to his appearing there, how will he adjust to his new life?

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9th Harvest

A distance away in Canterlot...

"Apps...." Ryan groaned, lying on the castle courtyard grounds in quite a bit of pain, "...why...?"

"Ryan!" Spike shouted, having been teleported with him, "Somepony! Please! Princess! Guards! We need some medical help!"

"...Spike...send me...back...."

"I can't do that! Even if I knew how to you're in no shape to fight him!"

"I...don't...care!" Ryan grumbled, trying to stand up and falling right back down, "...dammit...Apps...."

With that Ryan finally succumbed to his injuries and passed out; Spike was frantic until finally he saw Princess Celestia show up and gasp at what she saw.

"Spike, what has happened?" Celestia questioned before motioning towards her guard, "Quickly! Summon a medic!"

"Yes Princess!"

A few moments later, the medic had arrived (as did Luna once she saw the commotion) and Ryan was quickly rushed to the castle's ER; thankfully most of his injuries were superficial and it seemed his unconsciousness was mostly the product of shock and grief at not being able to help his friends....and his gal.

Luna seemed quite shaken up by seeing Ryan in such a state and she stood watch over him once he was stable; Spike had done his best to explain what had happened in Ponyville and Celestia was taken aback at the news.

"Hmmm, I did not receive such a message from Ryan today. But I don't understand...Discord is still in the garden." Celestia mused before frowning, "Come, let us investigate."

Heading into the courtyard, the statue of Discord was still there...but as they approached Celestia frowned at what she saw.

"What's wrong Princess?"

"This statue...it is..." She took a bite of it, "Ah...it is made of marshmallow."

"So then Discord was gone for quite some time?"

"It would seem so...so he may be responsible for those odd occurrences Ryan wrote to me about."

"I'm worried about the girls...Discord didn't seem too phased around the Elements of Harmony this time."

"We can only hope they win Spike; they alone control them...for now we must wait and tend to Ryan's wounds."

As Ryan lay there, still asleep, his mind replayed that last moment over...and over...and over...

'I'll always love ya Apple Ryder.'

Thoughts ran through his mind at that: Why did she say that....and why like that? Did she not think they would win? Did she think they wouldn't see each other again?

Most of all, though, was the thought that even with all the training, all the practicing, all the effort to prepare himself for the possibility of defending all that he loved and cared for...it was all for naught.

He was not able to help...and had gotten injured in the process; he was angry at himself for failing, for not being able to do anything...and for letting Discord have his way.

'Discord...if you harm mah family, harm mah friends, harm mah Apps...I will destroy you. As long as I still draw breathe, I will not...give...up!'

"Sister, you need to eat."

Walking in, Celestia could see Luna sitting by Ryan's bed though she was asleep, her front half laid out next to him as she slumped over on the mattress.

Smiling softly, she sat down the plate she'd brought in and pulled a blanket over her sister as her thoughts drifted back to so long ago and how this very scene had been played out that first day Darkness had shown up at the castle.

'She sat by his side then too...I only wish we had been stronger then.' She frowned, trying to hold back a tear at her thoughts, 'Perhaps things would have been different if you and he could have been together as you wished.'

Celestia's moment of contemplation was suddenly broken when the sensors attached to Ryan went off and then finally, he opened his eyes and woke up.

"Ugh...w-where am...." Ryan groaned, clutching his head, "Ugh, I feel like shit. Hmmm? Oh...Luna....Celestia?"

"What?" Luna mumbled, slowly coming to before seeing Ryan up and awake, "Ryan!"

"I am quite relieved to see you awake again. You've been out for almost three days."

Ryan turned to Celestia (after gently patting Luna's mane to reassure her he was okay) and frowned, "...three days? And...the girls...are...?"

Celestia did not answer and simply looked away from Ryan.

"I see...so they didn't come back." Ryan growled, pounding his fist into the mattress, "Dammit! I have to go!"

"You just healed...and you didn't stand a chance last time!" Luna gasped, "Don't rush off recklessly..."

"Luna...I'm not; I want you and Celestia to teach me everything you can in as quickly a time as possible. It might not be much, but if we have the time I have to get better."

"...under the circumstances I think we can but...there's no guarantee you'll learn all we'll try to teach you."

"I know...mah magic...it's not...not as good as Dark's was...but I can't give up! Not on them!" Ryan sighed and leaned back, "I'm surprised Discord hasn't attempted to attack us."

"Well, your friend the Doctor showed up with those from the farm that were able to escape while Twilight Sparkle and the others fought Discord. He's actually kept Discord from coming here somehow...he wouldn't say how though."

"Heh, it's okay; you can trust the Doctor. So then he's waiting...he knows I'll come back to face him." Ryan nodded, "Let's get to training then...oh, but where's Spike? I want to make sure mah little buddy is okay too."

"He is fine." Luna remarked, helping Ryan get out of his bed and to his feet, "He's been doing his best to help Derpy Hooves keep your sisters and the others calm."

"Heh, that sounds like him." He replied, taking his sword when offered it by Celestia, "Thanks for getting this for me as well...I was a little worried when Discord tossed me that I lost it. I guess T-Sparks made sure to send that with me as well..."

Now fully dressed and ready for action, Ryan gave a nod to Luna and Celestia and then off they went to, as he hoped, help make him stronger so he could save their friends.

'Apps...wait for me...I will rescue ya!'

Ryan was almost like a pony possessed as he put all his effort into helping his friends: if he wasn't in the secret library reading through Dark's journal and personal spell book, he was casting (or at least attempting to cast) magic with Luna and Celestia, and if that weren't enough he was even practicing his sword fighting techniques with the captain of the Canterlot Royal Guard.

"Maybe we should take a break; you look pretty tired."

"No Shining, I'm fine!" Ryan replied, grunting as he readied his weapon, "I can't stop; I have to get better!"

"But you're already pretty worn out; you barely take the time to stop to eat and get sleep as it is."

"...every day I take to get better, is another day Discord is doing who knows what to AppleJack and the others...and that includes yer sister remember?"

"...I haven't forgotten that." Shining Armor remarked, turning away.

"...I'm sorry, I...."

"No, it's okay...heh, I should be thankful you have the courage to try and face that monster. The Royal Guard has its hooves full making sure everypony in Canterlot stays safe...but even if we had the ability to go fight him I know he'd beat us. Twily and her friends were the ones to beat him last time. Only the Elements of Harmony can do it after all. Heh, she's done a lot of growing up in the time it's been since we've last talked."

Seeing him motion for Ryan to attack again, he obliged and brought his sword to bear with Shining's lance as a loud clanging noise rang out.

"It kills me I wasn't strong enough to help." Ryan groaned, pushing Shining back and dashing at him, "Discord did a number on me...and probably would've killed me if he could have. I knew he was crazy from what I was told...but apparently murder is something he's familiar with."

"I don't know everything about him." Shining popped right up and ran at Ryan full speed, clashing with his sword and slowly pushing him back, "The Princess doesn't talk about him much...but I know he's trouble."

"That's fer sure." Ryan noted, swiping Shining's lance away and trying to land a hit but missing and getting knocked back to the ground, "...ow."

"Are you alright?"

Nodding he took the offered hoof and slowly stood up, giving a sigh he sheathed his sword and bowed.

"That's enough fer today; you've got a point about how hard I've been pushing myself. It's been...five days now? I just...don't want to be useless. Apps needs me...mah friends need me...I can't just sit around too long."

"Hey, I understand; the big brother part of me is just torn up over the fact that there's been no word from Ponyville. I'm really worried about my sister."

Ryan nodded and put his hand on Shining's shoulder, "I know that feeling all too well; don't worry, I'll find her. I just hope I'm ready."

"Haha, with how you've been throwing yourself into training I know you will be."

"Now then I...hmmm?"

Looking to see what caught his eye, the two could see Derpy Hooves flapping over and waving at Ryan to get his attention.

"Ah, so the Doctor wishes to help me somehow does he?"

"Yeah, he said to bring you here." Derpy explained, leading him to where the Doctor and the others had been given temporary housing, "Also...he figured he might as well indulge your curiosity...whatever that meant."

Seeing an oddly out of place blue police box, Ryan couldn't help the smirk form on his face.

"Oh, I think I know exactly what he meant Derps; well then, this should be curious."

Knocking on the door, he watched as it slid open and so he walked in with Derpy; taking a glance around, he had to say it was something else to behold.

"Ah, my good chap; so glad you could come aboard. Welcome to the TARDIS." the Doctor remarked as he fiddle around with the controls, "So glad you could join us; is it how you expected?"

"I must say...it certainly fits in line with a lot of what I've seen these days that's fer sure." Ryan laughed, "And yer right...she is sexy."

"But of course. Now then! Seeing as your quite hell-bent on facing Discord, and I can't exactly give you back up seeing as I have to at least keep this spacial area free of his influence, I figured I'd at least aide in you in some manner. Your sword please."

"Mah sword?" Ryan shrugged, but handed it to him anyway, "Well, they always do say to trust the Doctor so..."

"Rightly so! Nice to see this show you spoke of got things right! It'd be rather dreadful if my name was sullied by some poor quality showing."

With that Ryan watched as he placed the sword on something that raised out from the console and then it disappeared inside it; hearing a variety of interesting noises as the Doctor typed away at the console, he had to wonder just what he was doing to it.

After a few more whirring sounds, the lights flickering in the TARDIS, and the Doctor saying 'oops' before quickly pushing a few other buttons there was an oddly out of place 'ding' and Ryan's sword reappeared from the console...but looked pretty much the same.

"Uhm...well, that was lucky!" the Doctor laughed, "For a second there I almost screwed up...almost."

"Almost?" Ryan blinked, gesturing at his sword, "Well, I imagine whatever you did to it didn't change its outward appearance."

"Ah, you're sharp; I do miss that human wit. Yes, as you've noted I've left it virtually identical to its original form but I've reinforced the blade with the hardest material I know of; I'd try to pronounce it for you but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't sound like a word so I'll save you the headache and bloody nose."

"...okay, anything else?"

"Yes, besides being nearly indestructible...."

"Wait, you said it was made with the hardest material you know of. How would it be nearly indestructible if it's so tough?"

"Like I said, the hardest I know of. There could be something out there harder than the TARDIS has records on; I may be a Time Lord but heaven knows there's still plenty to see out there."

"Oh, okay then."

"If I may continue, I've also added an interesting function for it that you might be curious about; I stumbled into this one reality a long time ago and the fighters there were quite remarkable: they had the ability to manipulate their swords into other forms and I always found that fascinating."

"Wait...so mah sword can change form?"

"Sort of...I'll explain it to you in a bit."

"...so you've decided then?"

"Yes Luna...I've done all I can. It's been a week and I can't wait any longer; I just hope they're still okay."

"If I know Discord, he's kept them alive; he never had a problem with ponies...but humans always rubbed him the wrong way for some reason."

"Hmmm, I wonder why that is?" Ryan pondered, staring out the window at the full moon in the sky, though he frowned at how Discord had ruined it with graffiti, "I just hope it's enough."

"You have done well in learning what you have." Celestia noted as she walked into the dining room, "I'm glad you at least spent the last two days not pushing yourself as hard; though we did not say as much to you when we should have, those of us in the castle are relieved that you relaxed. You were looking quite the worse for wear."

"...probably not as bad as the girls must be; stuck with that creep for a whole week." Ryan sighed, joining the two of them at the table, "I assume the scouting reports are the same as they were two days ago?"

"Yes." Celestia hung her head and sighed, "Any attempts to find out what happened end up with the recon team being sent back and Discord mocking you, stating that he was awaiting the human's return when he stopped being such a chicken."

"...his attempts to goad me out have been irritating to be sure." Ryan poked at his food, not feeling too hungry with all these thoughts in his head, "I suppose there's no sense worrying about it now."

"...Ryan?"

"Yes Luna?"

"...be careful tomorrow...okay?"

"Hey, it's me...I'll be fine."

Luna's memories played with her mind at that moment, a different scene being overlaid this one, a different human saying the exact same thing, and giving her the same exact grin with that same warm laugh.

"Hey, it's me...I'll be fine. I'll come back to you Luna...it's not proper for a gentlecolt to leave his lady waiting after all."

"...Luna? Luuuuuna?" Ryan asked, waving his hand in front of her face, "Equestria to Luna."

"Huh? Oh I'm...I'm sorry I just...please, excuse me!"

With that Luna got up and quickly made her way towards her room, not wishing for her sister or Ryan to see her crying of all things.

"Was...was it something I said?" Ryan asked, puzzled at her reaction, "Celestia?"

"...it's okay; you couldn't have known. Darkness he...he said those same words to her the night before he found the Elements of Harmony for us...the night before he was killed by Discord." Celestia explained, glancing in the direction her sister ran off in, "It's hard for her, even after all these years, to forget that love. As with all creatures, forgetting your first love is a very hard ordeal."

"...I'll say." Ryan sighed softly, frowning at the explanation, "So I was right...they were in love."

"Yes...even if he wasn't royalty she didn't care...and neither did I. I was happy to see my sister smile so much...and open up to somepony else; when she lost him...she changed."

"I see...so I was right in assuming that too...about Nightmare Moon."

"Yes...while not the single act to lead towards that unpleasant time, I have no doubt it was the first start in the slow descent towards her emotions overwhelming her." Celestia took a deep breath before smiling at Ryan, "I can tell from the look in your eyes you wish you could help her."

"Yeah...being the cause of an aching heart is something that just kills me. I wish...I wish there was a way to bring Dark back...so she could be happy. I know there isn't a way though, huh?"

"You are him...or at least were him; I know it's weird but we were unable to bring him back then much to her dismay."

"And so we can't now either; dammit."

Ryan lightly pounded his fist on the table, his heart giving him turmoil over that fact as well; sighing he stood up and walked over to the window again, staring up at the moon.

"Ryan...you should not take it so hard."

"How can't I when I just want my friend to be happy?"

"Heh, now I see what AppleJack saw in you...it's no wonder she fell in love with you so fast." Celestia got up and took him into a hug, "You have a good heart...and that is why Discord is afraid of you."

Ryan just relaxed into the hug, happy for the slight comfort it brought to him, "Afraid? Of that? Why?"

"It's why I suspect he really banished the humans from our world: he knew that someone like Darkness could become more, that one person could become many, and with that many who's hearts were strong enough to stand against him and his tricks that he could never win, no matter how many of their friends, their family, those they co-existed with he turned."

"I...I still don't quite understand; he couldn't fool them?"

"The spirit humans possessed was similar but different to ours, this made their hearts less likely to be discorded."

"...I've heard that word before." Ryan sighed and looked up at Celestia, "Strange that humans here would be like that...those from mah Earth, I think he'd have a field day with them. Heh, not to say all of them are bad, but...let's just say I'm glad I'm here."

"I see then...so...you should get some rest for tomorrow."

"I know, I know." Ryan smiled, turning around and returning her hug before bowing, "I bid you good night dear Princess."

"Haha, always the charmer. Good night Ryan."

Glancing back to see Celestia staring up at the moon as he was, Ryan slowly made his way towards his room...and paused a moment when he heard crying coming from Luna's room.

Seeing it cracked open, Ryan's heart ached at seeing her face down in her bed, clutching something to her chest as she wept; he wanted to talk to her, to try and help her but...he knew that even his mere presence seemed to sadden her.

Not knowing what to say, Ryan resumed his walk to his room before he felt something grab hold of his pants; turning around he could see that Luna had bitten his belt and looked up at him with pleading eyes.

"...I'm sorry, I heard you going by and I...I don't know what I'm doing." Luna huffed, releasing him and frowning, "You aren't him...and I can't have you...and it just kills me inside realizing just how much I truly did miss him all these years."

'Luna....'

"What...was that....?"

"Heh, you heard it too?" Ryan laughed softly, "I've been wondering on it for a while, but when I seem to need help the most or need a suggestion I've heard that gruff voice."

"...Darkness?"

'Heh...don't cry Luna...tears don't fit a face as lovely as yours.'

"Darkness...."

'Be strong...I'm...I'm sorry...that I...didn't keep my promise. But there is one thing, that will never change even though I'm gone.'

"...Darkness..." Luna was on the verge of tears at hearing his voice.

'I will never stop loving you.'

Luna gasped as Ryan had kissed her, though he and she both knew it was Dark doing the one thing he had never done before: take control of Ryan's body; however, given the circumstance, Ryan didn't mind lending Dark his body for this.

"Darkness...until the end, I will love you too."

'Heh, don't be so sad...we'll meet again one day my sweet Woona....now Ryan has been patient enough so smile.'

"I will Darkness...I will."

'Perfect, like the moon you control so well...'

And like that Dark was quiet once more, his voice gone till he was most needed; Luna was unsure of how to act but for the first time in a long while she felt a calm in her heart she had long forgotten.

"Thank you Ryan, for allowing us that moment."

"Hey, we're friends right? What's something like that if it makes mah friend happy?" He laughed softly, especially when she hugged him, "Now then, I think we need some sleep; I've got a lot to do tomorrow...and you and your sister will need to be ready as well."

"Right, right...thank you again."

"Heh, anytime."

Celestia watched from around the corner as Ryan ruffled Luna's mane (just like Dark somehow he knew just how to do that to their otherwise ethereal hair) and then headed off to his bedroom; tears pooled in her eyes at seeing her sister smile and at hearing Dark's voice once more as well.

"I miss you too old friend...watch over him and keep him safe."

The next morning, Ryan was dressed and ready for action, Spike standing by his side as well as they stood opposite Celestia and Luna.

"You're still going through with it?"

"I have to Luna...nopony else can get in; he wants me and me alone to show up."

"I'm coming with you though!" Spike shouted, "I won't just be left behind...I'm worried about Twilight and the others too!"

"Haha, I won't stop ya; just be careful little buddy. It's probably gonna get pretty messy once we get there...and I don't want you getting caught in the crossfire."

"I'll be okay, I'm a dragon: fire is my expertise."

Smiling at Spike's eagerness, Ryan turned to Celestia and Luna and nodded, "Princesses...if...if I can't help them...if I don't come back then...."

"You will come back." Luna remarked, "Dark will make sure of that...I...have something for you."

Motioning towards one of the guards, Ryan watched as Luna took something from him and handed it to him.

"This...this was his jacket; he tossed this off before his fight with Discord and...so it's all that's left besides his wand." Luna explained, watching as Ryan pulled it on and was surprised at how perfectly it fit him, "I figure it's only fitting you wear it seeing as your other one was destroyed."

"I don't know what to say Luna...thank you." Ryan remarked, looking at the well-worn but cared for jacket he now wore, "I'll be back with everyone, I promise."

"Do take care dear boy, don't forget about what I told you."

"Right Doctor, I'm sure it'll come quite in handy against him. Thanks again for yer help."

"Thank nothing of it, I'll be busy as it is keeping things stable here."

"Big bro...kick his fanny!"

"I will AppleBloom...now then, there's no more time to waste. Go ahead and send me there as we discussed Celestia."

"Very well...good luck Ryan."

"Hey, it's me...lucks always on mah side."

"...lucks always on my side....as long as I have you.”

'Darkness...' Luna thought, her memories eating at her again, 'Protect him and those he loves...'

With that Celestia focused her magic on Ryan and Spike, her power glowing around them before they vanished in a bright flash headed for Ponyville...

Discord was beginning to get a bit bored; that's not to say that all the havoc he had unleashed wasn't an utter delight, nor was it not satisfying having fun with those ponies again, yet he was still irritated by the fact that not only had he gotten away no thanks to those meddling ponies but that a week had passed and still the little human had not returned.

"...perhaps he's not as similar to him as I thought." Discord mused, pausing to sip his juice box before throwing the apple juice away once the box was gone, "I'd have thought he'd come back to give me a little fun...humans always were the most enjoyable to torment after all."

And that was when he sensed it, a build-up of energy that he recognized all too well.

"Ah, that smells like Tia's...which I think means I'm about to be quite entertained."

With a flash Ryan and Spike landed...with a boombox in tow; raising an eyebrow (and then his whole eye) at this curious addition, Discord was a bit confused when an energetic beat played epically and a wind billowed about, flapping Ryan's jacket around as he stared at his opponent.

'My Little Pony, mah little pony.....'

"And just what, pray tell, is that nonsense you've got playing there?"

"What every hero needs Discord: theme music. Vinyl Scratch was kind enough to lay it out for me..."

"Hmmm, how cute...however." Discord scoffed, snapping his fingers and smirking as the boombox grew wings and flew away, "I can't allow you to think you have any chance mister..."hero". That just wouldn't be fun...for me anyway."

"...and that boombox was brand new." Spike huffed, "What have you done with the girls?!"

"The girls? Oh yes, what have I done with them? Why I've just given them such a lovely makeover...but I dear say they seem to be a bit angry at a certain person...someone that ran off and left them to fight all alone."

"...Discord, where are they? Where is Apps!?"

"Oh my, so touchy...they're right here you silly human." Discord smirked, snapping his fingers and poofing them up behind him...though they looked quite off.

"Spike...why are they that color?" Ryan whispered, looking down at his friend.

"He must have discorded them again...but how could he do that when they had the Elements?"

"That's what discording someone does?"

"Care to share with the rest of the class?"

Ryan and Spike both jumped and dashed back from Discord who had appeared in front of them suddenly; glaring at him Ryan clenched his fists.

"...release them."

"And why would I do that Ryan? They have no desire to leave...in fact, they've been free to do so ever since you left. They, unlike most ponies, have seen that my way is the most sensible."

Discord snickered, poofing behind Ryan and pushing him towards them, "Come on...talk to them...you'll see."

Grimacing, he shook Discord off and walked the rest of the way to his friends to see they still did have the Elements on them.

'At least that's something of a plus, we know where they are.' He mused, walking over and noticing them all eyeing him oddly....save for Rarity who seemed obsessed with what appeared to be a can full of garbage, '...weird.'

"Girls? Are you alright?"

"Of course! Never better Apple Ryder!" AppleJack spat out before biting her lip and staring away from him.

"...why do you care anyway?" Fluttershy gruffly asked, glaring at him, "Why would a coward care about our well-being?"

"Flutters? Apps? What in tarnation is going on?"

"...they just realized that there's no point in fighting." Twilight sighed, slowly flopping to the ground, "...you should just give up too Ryan."

"...T-Sparks, what kind of nonsense is that to say?"

"No more nonsense then hoping your friend is going to save the day."

"Dashie..."

"Shut up you wuss! We hoped saving you meant there was still a way but we were stupid to trust you...."

"Oh my....such harsh words for their dear friend."

"Shut up Discord!" Ryan growled before walking over and kneeling in front of AppleJack, "Apps...honey...it's me. I know this isn't you."

"Sure it is! And don't honey me! We're not close like that! Nope, not at all! You totally aren't mah special somepony. Ah never liked ya anyway."

"...AppleJack." Ryan sighed softly, his mind (and a certain old hero) reminding him they were just words of trickery.

"Such a sad sight, the human's heart being broken by the one pony he loved the most. It would almost make me cry if it wasn't so delightful." Discord cackled, waiting for the moment he had planned to happen...but it never did, "...what? Why...why are you laughing? You're not supposed to laugh!"

"Hahahahaha, you really are just a..." Ryan smirked as he stood up to face him, "One-trick pony after all aren't you? Did you really think that your little discording act would really work? I must admit, I'm surprised you pulled it off on the gals again but I was told all about you and yer tricks."

'And of course, he's got a little help from me.'

"Dark!" Discord growled, annoyed that he'd been outsmarted, "...that's cheating but it doesn't matter. The Elements are the only thing that can defeat me...anything you try is just a waste of energy."

"You are right about one thing." Ryan remarked, cracking his knuckles and smirking, "The Elements are the only thing that can beat you...but I don't have to beat you, I just have to hold you enough to get through to Apps and the others."

"Hahahahaha, an admirable thought...but do you really think you've gotten better in just a week's time? You were useless when I first showed up...and I'll toss you aside once...." Discord taunted, before gasping when Ryan had his sword pressed up against his throat, "How did...."

"Let's just say I've got some powerful friends...I think you know two of them."

"Ah yes...Tia and Lulu." Discord growled, knocking Ryan back and glaring at him, "So you're a little quicker...so what?"

"I'm more than quicker now; come on!"

With that Ryan ran at him again, his sword clashing with Discord's claw as the two held each other at bay; Spike watched wide-eyed wondering if his friend would be able to hold out till...well, come to think of it Ryan hadn't told him of any kind of plan specifically.

"Well that's great...what is he going to do then? He can't just be playing it by ear can he?" Spike wondered, though blinked when he saw something flash on the back of Ryan's jacket momentarily, "What...was that?"

Ryan went flying back from Discord's attack, his feet skidding along the ground until he finally came to a stop only to take a stance once more.

"Heh...and your stronger then ya look. Impressive."

With that Ryan ran at Discord again, only to be locked in a stalemate once more.

"Come now boy, you've got to have some other plan...and you accused me of being a one-trick pony."

"Oh, I've far more tricks in store Discord." Ryan smirked, bringing up his wand in his other hand, "Rending Ice!"

"...ah yes, magic; how expected." Discord remarked, watching as a wave of ice traveled up Ryan's sword, "So you made it cold, so what?"

Ryan merely stared at him before uttering one word, "...shatter!"

Discord growled as the ice exploded out in jagged spikes, hitting him and knocking him away; though it didn't do much to injure him Ryan could see he was rather upset at that little attack.

"...you certainly have his tenacity...and his capability to be ever annoying." Discord huffed before disappearing from sight.

"Dammit..." Ryan looked about, trying to stay on guard since he had no idea what Discord was up to, "....wait a minute...Spike!"

Seeing his friend out in the open, he dashed as fast as he could towards him and knocked him out of the way just in time taking the brunt of Discord's attack full-on; groaning a bit, he rolled across the ground before slowly pushing himself up to see a smug looking Discord.

"Good to see that weakness of always protecting friends carried over as well."

"Ugh...Spike, are you okay?" Ryan gasped, seeing his friend running over, "Heh..."

"I'm sorry! I'm just a liability aren't I?"

"Nah, not yer fault. You just want to help...in fact, while I distract him see if you can get through to the girls."

"Are you sure? You look pretty beat up."

"Heh...this is nothing...compared to what'll happen if I give up now. Now go! See if you can help them!"

Spike paused for a moment before nodding and running off towards where the girls were still sitting, not even caring that their friend was fighting somewhat for his life.

Discord saw the little interruption and went to break it up only for Ryan to zap the ground in front of him with a spell, "Ah, ah Discord, yer fight is with me."

As Ryan continued to hash it out with Discord, Spike was trying to wrack his brain on how to help snap Twilight and the others out of it.

"...last time we had all those letters but without a way to get information back to them, I doubt we'll have that luck this time." Spike mused, "You've got to snap out of it...especially you Rarity. That's garbage you're rolling around in."

"Oh Spikey-Wikey, how can you possibly call such beautiful gemstones garbage? Hmmmph, it's like I don't even know you...and I don't so stay away from these!" Rarity grabbed the lid and pulled herself into it, "These are my gems! Mine!"

"Heh, maybe we should entertain ourselves with a little pin the tail on the dragon?" Fluttershy mused, cracking her hooves and staring at Spike menacingly.

"Ah man...this isn't fun." Spike huffed before turning to Twilight, "Come on Twi, you know this isn't right!"

"...we failed, so why bother?"

"What about friendship? Everything that's happened to us?" Spike shouted, "Don't you remember anything that happend last time?! I don't understand how he got into your heads again!"

"He didn't!" AppleJack quickly stated before glancing around everywhere, "We've always been like this...just hiding it...so that the mole people didn't find out."

"...mole people?" Spike asked before hearing a loud crash and turning to see Ryan being held by Discord, "Ryan! Grrr....AppleJack, that's your special somepony out there...don't you care at all that he's being beat up!?"

"Nope! Not a bit! He's not a pony so why would he even be mah special somepony? He's just a weird looking guy that's probably here to cause mischief!"

"...that's what I kept saying! Sheesh..." Rainbow Dash grumbled, "Right Pinkie?"

"...whatever."

"...so much for helping." Spike huffed, watching as Discord placed his claw on Ryan's head, "Oh no!"

"Hohoho, this has been cute boy, but it's time to make you like your dear little friends." Discord gloated, feeling he'd finally won, "Any last words?"

"...this isn't over yet." Ryan laughed, mocking Discord with his grin.

"Stubborn fool!" Discord shouted, his eyes going all weird as he stared at Ryan, "...."

Ryan blinked and tilted his head (at least as much as he could in Discord's grasp) before speaking, "Uhm...if you're trying to do what I think you are, it doesn't work remember?"

"...bah! You're just like him to the very core!" Discord growled, winding back and chucking Ryan towards Spike and the others.

Ryan grunted loudly as he landed on his back before hearing Spike run over, letting out a quiet laugh he slowly got back to his feet before psyching himself back up.

"What happened? How come he couldn't discord you?"

"It's easy little buddy; Celestia told me he couldn't turn Dark because of his heart....and that's most likely the real reason he got rid of the humans here. He was too afraid enough would exist that could fight him as Dark did....isn't that right Disky?"

"...oh you think you're sooooooo clever figuring that out? Pah! So what? Even if you can't be turned by force I'll still beat you into the ground."

Not saying anything, Ryan reached down and picked up his sword before getting into a ready stance again; motioning for Spike to step back he thought about what the Doctor had informed him and really hoped it would work as he explained.

'What's he doing?' Spike thought, watching as Ryan lifted his other hand to the sword's hilt, '...and there's that mark on this jacket again....weird.'

"Propogate...Malus Domestica!" Ryan shouted, the jewel in the hilt of his sword glowing an odd color before he charged Discord once more.

"...apples?" Discord scoffed, "Apples? Apples are your secret weapon? I've seriously underestimated how badly you must have it for the cowgirl if you're talking about apples at a time like this. And what did you even do? That puny thing you call a sword is still the same."

"Heh, is it now?" Ryan asked, bringing his sword down and watching Discord block it as before, "Perfect."

"...perfect? What are you up to?" Discord mused before seeing another sword come swinging his way, "What the Tia?"

Quickly blocking it, he was stunned to see a nearly identical sword with one difference: instead of orange, this sword's apple jewel was green.

"I must admit I'm quite pleased that worked. Not so smug now, huh Disky?"

"Hmmm, more surprised by your cleverness, that's all." Discord rolled his eyes before knocking Ryan away with his tail, watching as the sword in his right hand went flying and imbedded itself in the ground, "That all you've got? I must say, it's slightly more clever than what Darkness came up with but still...you're outclassed."

"Am I now? Heh, we'll just see about that."

Spike had to admit he was surprised by what he saw but considering the Doctor was a curious pony, this little addition to Ryan's skills seemed helpful.

"Come on Ryan! Do it! Keep at him!"

Clashing again, Ryan pulled out a third sword this time (the apple jewel red on this one) and slashed away at Discord over and over, slowly pushing him back before hearing him roar loudly.

"Oh my, did someone lose their cool?" He teased, grunting when he was kicked in the gut hard, "Ow..."

Ryan slowly skidded back, his second sword landing across from the first one before he looked at Discord and laughed.

"I seem to have touched a nerve...where's that calm, cool, collected attitude now?"

"You're toying with something you cannot fathom boy; I'm going to enjoy ending your pathetic life...then you and Darkness will both be out of my hair once and for all."

'Pah! You're just a fool and a coward Discord...'

"I agree with Dark, there's nothing pathetic about fighting for your friends and justice."

Ryan struck a pose, ready to take one last charge at him again; steeling himself, he ran as fast as he could and saw Discord do the same.

As the two met, a loud clang was heard before the two stood opposite their original positions; Discord did not seem any worse for wear but as for Ryan his last sword was now also stuck in the ground and he was grabbing his right shoulder while grimacing.

"If that's the best you've got...then I'm disappointed. This victory is mine boy! I have won this game!"

"...haha...is that so?" Ryan remarked, seeing that his swords were in the perfect position, "If you believe that, then ya aren't as all powerful and knowing as ya preach you are."

"The ramblings of a fool at his end....what could you possibly have left to fight with?"

"Bloom Arbor Pomifera!"

While initially puzzled at yet another reference to apples, Discord was shocked to find himself walled in by magic on three sides...and glared at Ryan when he realized the three swords he'd "lost" in the ground were forming the triangle imprisoning him.

"Really? You think some magic spell you know can trap me? Honestly, I expected...." Discord cut himself off when he snapped his fingers and found himself unable to escape, "What the hell did you do?!"

"You can thank mah good friend the Doctor for this little trick; turns out he found a way to channel some of Celestia and Luna's power into mah sword to help form a barrier to keep you contained." Ryan explained, limping over slowly and staring at the pissed off draconequus, "Guess I win our little game huh?"

"You've won nothing; all you've done is trap me in this...how can you have won when I still exist?"

"...you don't get it do you? This isn't just a trap..." Ryan scoffed, before bringing his hand up and snapping his fingers mockingly, "Blossom..."

With that Discord gasped as he felt something close to pain run through his body as a massive apple tree began to sprout and grow inside the barrier, twisting around and entombing him within itself as it slowly filled the enclosed space.

"Damn you boy....you...haven't....won....."

With that the tree finished growing and all that was heard was silence as the barrier's energy ran out, its purpose fulfilled; the swords no longer flashed brightly as Ryan could only smirk at where Discord once stood.

"It's been such a tree-t to match wits with you, but I'm not sorry to see you leaf." He joked, laughing before clutching his chest, "...okay, laughing bad."

Seeing Spike run over to him, Ryan couldn't help another chuckle before falling to one knee and groaning in pain; he may have been hiding it in that moment but Discord hurt him more than he let on so he was rather glad his little trick had worked.

"That was incredible! I don't even know how you did that!"

"Well little buddy, I've got the help of a lot of friends. I only did what I could thanks to them having mah back." Ryan coughed, groaning again, "I'm just glad that's over..."

"Me too...the girl's aren't back to normal yet but we'll find a way to fix that; though...why did your move only have three sides?"

"Heh, that's easy Spike: so that way he couldn't use the Fourth Wall to save himself." Ryan quipped, though all he got in reply was the silence of the battlefield (and Rarity still claiming that garbage was all hers), "...man, if Pinks wasn't all messed up she'd be rolling on the floor from that one. Anyway, let's go see if we can snap the girls out of his..."

And just as the two of them were in front of their friends, a sudden burst of wind and energy exploded from the tree Ryan had used to trap Discord; not liking the looks of this Ryan made sure Spike was behind him as he looked on with a grimace.

The tree slowly lit up and cracked, before shattering to pieces reveling a very, very pissed off Discord; the draconequus roared in frustration before setting his sights on Ryan.

"...shit....I thought we'd have more time." Ryan groaned before getting his wand and striking a pose, "Spike! Hide!"

"There's one thing you should know boy: I hate to lose!" Discord growled before he was immediately on Ryan, grabbing him and throwing him around roughly, "Usually I'm mellow, so calm...but you humans...you always seem to bring the worst of me to the surface! And now you'll see why that was a terrible idea."

"Ugh!" Ryan coughed, spitting up blood as Discord kicked him hard, "...such a sore...loser..."

"It's amusing you even held your own against me...it's too bad you have that idea of justice stuck in that skull of yours; you'd probably be just as delightful in terms of craziness as he was if only you two weren't poisoned by notions of "goodness" and "friendship"." Discord grumbled, wrapping his tail around Ryan's throat and lifting him off the ground, "And now...to return my Equestria back to its human-free state."

Ryan clawed at Discord's tail as hard as he could, feeling the lack of precious oxygen starting to affect his body; even trying to cast a spell was too hard to focus on and after a few moments he felt his mind slipping.

'...Apps....I'm...sorry...I....failed....' Ryan thought, a single tear slipping down his cheek before he hung limply in Discord's tail, '...'

"RYAN!" Spike shouted before running towards Discord, "NO!"

"Peh....just like the rest; pity, much like his predecessor he was a worthy enough challenger." Discord mumbled before tossing Ryan's motionless body at Spike, "...in the end he was just as foolish....to think of peace...and friendship...and love."

Spike tried to catch his body as best he could, getting knocked down as Ryan skidded and landed on him; shaking him as hard as he could he tried to bring him around.

"Ryan! Wake up! Wake up!" Spike pleaded, pounding on his chest to no avail, "...no...no...this...this shouldn't be happening."

"Oh come on...I'm the embodiment of chaos...and he was just a stupid mortal human. No matter how you look at it, there's no way he could hope to face me and survive."

"..." Spike slowly got up, watching as Ryan's limp body rolled facedown and balled up his fist, "...I will find a way to win my friend. DISCORD!"

"Hmmm? Now what's this? Don't tell me the little dragon is foolish enough to fight me on his own?"

"I won't just stand here after you...you...."

"Go ahead, say it; it's not like that word doesn't exist here after all...everypony is just too eager to forget that fact for the sake of pleasantness." Discord teased as he floated towards Spike, "After I murdered him."

"...you can't! Nopony does something that horrible anymore!" Spike roared, running at him and beating Discord's shins as hard as he could to no avail, "Bring him back! Bring him back! BRING! HIM! BACK!"

Discord looked down at the small purple dragon and mused that, were he to have compassion, he might actually feel for the crying Spike...but seeing as he didn't he wound back and flicked Spike away, laughing as he watched him go rolling and coming to a stop next to Ryan's body.

"And I guess that means I truly win! Heh, once I find a way around that silly Doctor's little tricks I'll finally get to have fun with dear Tia and Lulu...as for now though...I do have a bit of unfinished business."

Spike lay there in immense pain unable to do anything as he watched Discord walking towards them (and Twilight and the others he imagined) to finish them off; he was upset that he wasn't able to help at all...and that his friend had died trying to protect them.

"Ryan...at least we went down together." Spike grunted, closing his eyes and awaiting the inevitable, "...I'm sorry...I couldn't do more..."

'....Justice. Never. Dies!'

Discord stopped in his tracks at that voice and turned to look at Ryan's motionless body with wide-eyes, "No...that's not possible. It...it can't be."

A wave of energy surrounded Ryan's body as he slowly picked himself up off the ground, a pair of shades now visible on his face as he lifted his head and looked at Discord.

"I killed you! I felt your life end in my hands!"

"...you should know Justice, much like your chaos, is unpredictable." Ryan remarked, striking a pose, "I am the one that fights for justice...I am the one that fights for those he cares about...my name...is Ryan and I will not let you win."

"Oh yes, the heroic speech and the poses; sometimes I wonder just how you heroes come up with them."

"Mock me all you like, this time I will not lose."

"Excuse me if I'm not shaking in my non-existent boots; considering your sword seems to have lost its shine, you can't hope to stand up to me with just your magic."

"That's where your wrong." Ryan calmly stated, striking a ready pose while focusing inward with his magic, "I might not wield an Element of Harmony like mah friends, but Justice is still an all too important part of friendship....and you're about to see that! Justice Blitz!"

Discord scoffed as he watched the human go on and on again before shouting out some move name no doubt, "You've tried this before and I'm tiring of....what?"

"Loyalty!"

"How is that....?" Discord gasped, watching as a rainbow blur and a familiar blue pony's image briefly appeared behind Ryan, "What game is this?"

"No game Discord! Just friendship!" Ryan shouted as he was on Discord faster than he could react, "Honesty!"

Winding back, Ryan channeled the strength of a certain orange pony's Kicks McGee and impacted Discord's gut hard which sent him stepping back and gasping.

"How are you...doing this?" Discord growled in frustration.

"Generosity!" Ryan shouted as he gladly shared the pain with Discord, hitting him over and over again.

"...the fashion one too? This isn't funny!"

"I beg to differ: Laughter!" Ryan joked, grinning like a certain pink pony as he uppercut Discord and sent him flying before jumping after him.

Discord was stunned at this turn of events though in the moment he did see the irony of such an unexpected event happening to an entity that lived for such things; as he started to pull himself out of the hit he looked to see Ryan lifting his interlocked hands up and then bringing them down on him, sending him plummeting back to the ground.

"Kindness!" Ryan blinked out of sight, teleporting beneath Discord and caught him as they slowly landed on the ground.

"...ugh...." Discorded grunted as Ryan tossed him on to the ground before hopping back and holding up his right arm at him.

"And Magic makes it all complete!" He shouted, using his other arm to steady the right, "This ends now Discord!"

"You...you know that won't work...only the Elements can...."

"Yeah, yeah...shove it!" Ryan practically growled as a mysterious mark appeared on the back of his leather jacket, "You're going to feel all the pain and anguish you caused....not only for now...but for Celestia...Dark...Luna...and all the humans you mercilessly tormented and killed!"

"...as if the humans weren't just as bad..." Discord grumbled, glaring at Ryan as he focused his magic.

"Humans aren't perfect, but nopony is...you take the good with the bad and hope for happiness. Hopefully this will engrave that into yer mind forever." Ryan quietly replied back before releasing his attack, "Darkness Eraser!"

Discord, in that moment, saw not just Ryan but also the young man from all those years ago that had used that same move to weaken him just enough to allow Celestia and Luna to imprison him with the Elements; closing his eyes, he didn't bother moving as he allowed the attack to hit him full force.

"...Now stay down for a while this time." Ryan quipped as he saw Discord lying there motionless before sighing and going to check on Spike, "You okay little dude?"

"Yeah...I'll live. That was incredible though! I didn't know you could do that!" He grunted before noticing the strange mark on the back of Ryan's jacket, "Ryan!"

"To be honest with ya, I didn't even know I could do that." Ryan replied before jumping when Spike shouted his name, "What!?"

"There's something on your jacket!"

"Huh? What?" He asked, trying to turn around and see it, "What's it look like?"

"Hmmm...it looks like...a half-apple/half-lemon...weird." Spike explained before scratching his chin, "If I didn't know any better..I'd say that looks a lot like....well, like a cutie mark."

"Half-apple/half-lemon? A cutie mark? But I..." Ryan was interrupted in that thought by Discord groaning and slowly standing up, "That didn't take long..."

"I told you boy...even if you somehow have his skill, the only thing that can stop me are the Elements of Harmony."

Ryan stared at him before slowly laughing loudly, "Oh, I don't think that'll be a problem."

"Discord!"

Blinking in shock, Discord saw Twilight Sparkle angrily glaring at him, her Element of Magic fully charged and ready to strike; in fact, all six of them were back to normal and ready to put an end to this at last.

"But...how?!"

"Apple Ryder is how you darn snake in the grass." AppleJack explained, running over and giving Ryan a big hug, "Ahm so sorry for those things I said Ry, I..."

"Shhhh...you don't have to apologize; ya weren't yerself." Ryan teased, ruffling her mane and giving her a kiss, "I'll always love you too, by the way. I'm just glad to see Dark's little gambit paid off though..."

"I'd sure like a clear explanation though!" Pinkie remarked, making a very puzzled face, "How did Rysy-Wysy do what he did?"

"Yes, I am rather curious how he broke us free...and uhm, if you could keep that little garbage bit to yourself that would just wonderful darling." Rarity remarked before looking at Discord and shouting at him, "It's your fault I'm so filthy now! I'll have to go to the spa for twenty-four hours straight if I want feel clean again!"

"Heh, I'll keep it a secret." Ryan laughed, "As for how we snapped you out of it I just went with the rule that seems to, well, rule here: friendship is magical enough to overcome any obstacle. Dark helped some so...."

"Heh, so I guess you've gotten even cooler then." Rainbow Dash teased, "I like the sunglasses...nice touch."

"Uhm, I hate to break up the fun but...I think we should, maybe, take care of Discord?" Fluttershy noted, pointing at the still confused draconequus.

"That's your cue ladies...let me step back. Come on Spike! Let's give them some room to work." Ryan remarked, walking off a short distance to get out of the way, "And hey, by the way little buddy, bravo on that courageous stand ya took."

"Aw, well...ya know; couldn't let you be the only hero and all that."

"Now ladies...I'm...sure we can talk this over like mature adults."

"Can it Discord!" Twilight shouted, "You've caused even more trouble than last time...and if it weren't for some kind of miracle you would've had blood on your hands even more so than you apparently already do."

"...everypony is responsible for terrible things." Discord spat back, "There is no such thing as innocence..."

"Maybe, but that don't mean you can just go an' do as ya please." AppleJack stamped the ground, "Keeping the loop going just means nothin' gets better."

"...just hurry up and finish it."

"Come on, let's give him what he wants!" Rainbow Dash shouted, getting into formation with the others.

"LOYALTY!"

"HONESTY!"

"GENEROSITY!"

"LAUGHTER!"

"KINDNESS!"

"And MAGIC!"

An intense burst of rainbow-shaded magic exploded forth from the Elements of Harmony, sending it's wave of corrective magic out in all directions as well as sending a blast straight towards Discord.

"...so you won again...that's twice now." Discord smirked as the beam neared him, "However, I'm going to do exactly what I did to Lulu and taint this victory!"

Unsure of what he meant, they watched in horror as he launched one last attack towards Ryan before he was hit by the magic of the Elements and turned back into a stone statue once more; almost immediately afterwards, there was a loud explosion as his attack collided with where Ryan and Spike stood.

"Apple Ryder!!" "Spike! NO!"

Author's Note:

And congrats as you've caught up....unless yer from the future and I've posted more chapters by then...in which case, thanks fer reading this far and I hope ya keep at it. Haha.

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