• Published 7th Sep 2013
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Glory Be - BlackRoseRaven



Luna and Scrivener struggle to set right all the wrongs from their past and save their family and friends. Tenth and final story in the Blooming Moon Chronicles/99 Worlds Saga.

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Gate-Crashers

Chapter Sixty Three: Gate-Crashers
~BlackRoseRaven

Hel stood calmly, overseeing the completion of the portal: stone obelisks had been set up in a ring around a tall arch of metal that was being reinforced by Hecate and Freya, while Luna Brynhild etched runes and Scrivener Blooms filled the hollow obelisks with corruption on Hel's orders.

Princess Celestia was looking at Hecate uneasily, studying her silently, and Twilight Sparkle was sitting with Twilight Morgan. The purple unicorn had a much easier time with her own twinned self, looking over the Lich not with the fear Morgan was used to seeing in other Twilights, but rather fascination... although the touching here and there was starting to get a bit awkward.

Finally, Morgan cleared her throat when Twilight Sparkle rubbed at the stitches on her cheek for the dozenth time, and the unicorn blushed and withdrew before mumbling: “I... sorry. It's just that... well, by our standards, I guess I'm still so young, and... really, you're not that much older than me... and yet at the same time, you are. You're older, wiser, so much more powerful and in control of yourself... and to handle being a Lich like this, you must have amazing self-control...”

“Not as much as you'd think.” Twilight Morgan mumbled after a moment, rubbing at the back of her head and thinking about how hard it was to summon up Kismet's bell still... not to mention how often she ended up lashing out when pushed too hard. And then she closed her eyes, feeling her stomach twist, seeing a flash in her mind of the Great Reaper being pulled down into the vortex...

She shivered a little, then opened her eyes when she sensed Twilight Sparkle looking at her worriedly, and the Lich gave a small, reassuring smile as she said softly: “It's okay. I just... thought of an old friend who... we lost recently.”

Twilight Sparkle nodded after a moment, and there was awkward quiet as the two looked around the small courtyard they were setting up in. It was relatively private, but there were plenty of ponies clustering in the windows above to watch what was going on, and a few ponies peering out of the ajar doors. Then Twilight Morgan looked in surprise at her twinned self as the unicorn of this layer asked quietly: “So is this... is this what I'm going to become one day?”

The Lich frowned, and Twilight Sparkle looked back with a small smile before she shook her head, saying softly: “I don't mean that in a bad way. I just... you're me, and I'm you, right? And I had wings once... you know, before Celestia had to... had to calm me down, because I just couldn't handle it. I was almost named a Princess of Equestria myself... how silly is that?”

Morgan softened a little, and then she shook her head and said softly: “We make our own choices, Twilight Sparkle. I'm me because... because of the path I walked, and the world I lived in. I think it's easy for people to forget that. Even if we start out the same, our life experiences are going to make us very different.”

The two Twilights studied each other for a few moments, and then the Lich finally gave a quiet laugh as she looked down and murmured: “But no matter what happens... be happy, and be proud of who you are. Don't let other ponies make you feel any different, don't... stop doing what you want to do, simply because some other pony tells you that it's stupid, or you're following the wrong path, or you're wasting your time. Do what you have to do for yourself.”

Twilight Sparkle nodded a little, looking silently up at the Lich, and Twilight Morgan gazed back. Then she tilted her head as the unicorn began to speak... but they were interrupted when Hel swept forwards beside them, reaching an icy hand down to wrap around the neck of either pony as the goddess said kindly: “Well isn't that sweet? Now come on, you two! No time to dillydally, portal's ready and the deader of you two needs to get ready to get going!”

The Lich grimaced a little up at Hel, but the goddess only grinned and shrugged easily, saying mildly: “Hey, I just call 'em as I see 'em. It's not my fault you're starting to wear out that body a little. Try and keep it in good shape for what's coming next though, will you? I made that to last the long term, and believe-you-me, you're not gonna want to be out of commission these next few days.”

Twilight Morgan looked uneasily up at the dark goddess, hearing something beneath her words, but then she was shoved quickly forwards as Freya and Hecate both stepped back from the arch and traded brief nods. Nightmare Moon, meanwhile, was again lurking around the edge of the group with a smile on her face, but Luna Brynhild did her best to ignore her as she asked Hel over her shoulder: “So this portal will take us into Asgard without alerting the Pious?”

“And what about their Cenobium? The Pious must use it as a stronghold and a barracks, with it positioned right outside the Gates. Will we have to deal with them as well?” Freya asked calmly, and Hel smiled even as she huffed a little.

“Now come on, Valkyrie, as if I'd let you walk into an ambush! Even if you'd like that, you sick, sick little murderers.” Hel glanced over at Nightmare Moon, saying easily: “I'll take the Ugly Duckling here, and me and her should be enough of a tag-team to distract the Cenobium. But watch yourselves, boys and girls. If the Gatekeeper starts taking a walloping, the Light is doubtlessly going to try and reinforce him. You'll want to kill him and drop that bomb right quick before you have to deal with a whole army of Pious trying to bop you on the head.”

Brynhild and Freya both looked moodily at Hel, and the princesses seemed to pick up on this, frowning themselves. But Hecate only sighed and rolled her eyes, looking distastefully over her shoulder at the ponies who were awkwardly sitting back and just staring at what was going on: Twilight's friends, none of them who seemed to quite know what to do at the moment. “Counting on other people again. Great.”

“You have some serious problems, cupcake. And that's coming from me.” Hel said mildly, and then she gestured quickly at the ponies, waving her arms a little and saying hurriedly: “But come on, come on, before the Pious suspect something! He Of Many Countless Faces might not be around, but those Cardinals are creepy bastards. I can't hide my presence here forever.”

Luna Brynhild nodded with a grunt, and Princess Celestia rose her head before saying softly: “Then in that case, let me just wish you all the best of luck. If we can ever help you, please don't hesitate to ask.”

“And come back! We barely got to speak at all this time, you owe us all kinds of stories.” Little Luna added with a smile, although the worries in her eyes that made it clear she was asking them to come back for a different reason.

Brynhild nodded firmly, even if she was afraid it was a promise she wouldn't be able to keep, and then she took a breath before facing slowly forwards, raising her head proudly and murmuring: “We shall. We shall do all in our power to return here... and thou shall never be forgotten as our friends and benefactors. But Hel... let us dally no longer. We are ready.”

“You're far from ready, Brynhild. But I know you'll get the job done anyway.” Hel said gently, and then she flicked a wrist towards the tall metal archway, electricity sparking along the frame as the goddess said calmly: “You ponies are pretty good at mimicking magic charges, thanks to those fancy horns of yours. But today, I want each of you to reach deep down inside yourselves and just pump all the energy you got into this archway, don't go trying to match this or adjust that. Just give it everything you've got. I'll do the rest.”

Luna Brynhild nodded sharply, and behind her, Little Luna quickly parroted the twinned mare she so adored. Freya and Hecate both looked up calmly as Princess Celestia automatically looked at these versions of herself, silently studying the strange, mechanical goddess that all the same had her features, in spite of how twisted and synthetic she seemed.

Twilight Sparkle began to step forwards, but Morgan gently caught her, saying softly: “Stay back. Rifts can pull ponies in. The last thing you want is to get tangled up in this mess with us.”

“I... okay.” Twilight Sparkle nodded a little, shifting awkwardly before she looked over her shoulder at her friends, and they smiled at her, reassured her... and yet for a moment, Twilight Sparkle shifted, not moving, neither drawing forwards nor stepping back. And Morgan understood that all too well as she softened and looked over her shoulder: the feeling of being caught between two worlds, of not wanting to give up everyone you had... but at the same time, wanting to move onwards to something new, that you might have secretly longed for all your life...

The Lich gazed towards Scrivener Blooms and Luna Brynhild for a moment, then shook her head out and faced the archway again as Hel's ice puppet leisurely strode over to it, then ducked through the upside-down U of metal before spinning around and grinning as she reached out and seized into the metal arch, energy beginning to spark up and down it as she shouted: “Let 'er rip, ponies!”

Brynhild, Freya, Celestia, Little Luna, Twilight Sparkle, Morgan, and Hecate all focused forwards, horns glowing brightly as they poured their magic – untamed, little more than raw energy – into the steel archway. As they did so, the metal was suffused with a bright glow, energy thrumming louder and brighter around the frame before the goddess shouted gleefully: “Yeah, yeah! Come on, more, you almost got it! Are you horses or are you hacks, now come on, let's go go go!”

The glow around the gate built higher and higher as Twilight Sparkle's eyes snapped open, glowing with energy, and Scrivener Blooms gritted his teeth as he dropped his head forwards, pouring his strength towards both Luna and Morgan and feeding them extra energy, letting them increase the flow of raw power into the archway. Freya bared her teeth as she leaned further forwards, her whole body seeming to burn with energy as Princess Celestia and Little Luna both winced, but gamely gave everything they had, although they were shocked by the raw power being exuded by even their own world's Twilight Sparkle...

And then there was a flash, and a moment later, a swirling rift of wild colors ripped open inside the archway, and the ponies were knocked staggering by magical recoil even as Hel shouted from the other side of the portal, where her puppet had almost fused with the metal arch: “Go, go, go, before the cookie crumbles and the Pious start attacking! Hurry up, let's all get going!”

Nightmare Moon was the first to charge, heading into the rift and vanishing in a spark of light... and Luna Brynhild snarled like this was a personal offense, bolting after the passion entity with Scrivener Blooms and Twilight Morgan both hurrying after the mare on instinct.

Freya was next, and Hecate ran into the portal last, even as Twilight Sparkle staggered forwards, staring at the portal, her eyes pits of white light, wide and seeing both nothing and everything at once... before she blinked in surprise, the sense returning to her when a hoof seized her shoulder and Little Luna pulled her back, saying quietly: “I desire to as well. But it is not our battlefield, Twilight Sparkle. We both still have much growing up to do.”

Twilight Sparkle smiled faintly, then looked up in surprise as the portal sparked out of existence, Hel's ice puppet grinning at them for a moment from where it had melted into the now distorted, burnt and bent metal archway. “Good kids. Maybe there's hope for all of you after all.”

Hel laughed... and then her ice puppet shattered apart in a hail of frosty fragments and a gush of water, splattering down over the ground in a sopping puddle. But deep inside her sanctuary, Hel only grinned, seated comfortably in her cradle as she flicked a hand easily at one of the many screens around her mighty throne, her other hand toying easily with a small, spherical metal case containing Celestia's eye. “Oh yes... now... I think four should do it...”

A single finger stroked against one screen as she cast the spell with the ease of long practice... and in the field of Asgard, in front of the enormous Gates of Heaven that barred the path forwards, four bursts of blue mist seemed to vomit up from the ground itself, twisting sinuously back and forth around the cluster of stupefied ponies before solidifying into four bovine puppets that all grinned widely and stretched slowly, saying easily in echoing synchronization: “Don't waste your time, bakers: everyone knows that you gotta get a head start if you want to please the crowd.”

“Do not lecture us, goddess... damnation, my whole body hurts from thy damnable portal, I feel as if I have been turned inside out...” Luna Brynhild growled in irritation, slowly straightening before she glared over at Celestia Freya, who was already on her hooves and looking coldly back and forth. “How art thou standing? How art thou... damn thy stupid showing off, Freya!”

“I'm not showing off. I ache, too... but it must be worse for you because of your connection to Scrivener and Twilight.” the ivory mare replied quietly, before she closed her eyes and almost hesitantly pushed a hoof into the earth, before shivering once. “It's been a long time since I've tried to speak to the world... but I can hear it now, Luna. It's afraid. It's afraid of what the Pious have done, and it's afraid of what the Pious are going to do. We have to put a stop to this Gatekeeper, and quickly.”

“But where is it?” Luna muttered, looking uneasily back and forth at the empty fields in front of them, while Scrivener Blooms and Twilight Sparkle slowly picked their aching bodies up and glanced to their sides, then behind them: but all they could see was the enormous Cenobium of the Pious in the distance, and even this didn't seem to be in a flurry of activity...

Meanwhile, Luna's eyes had locked on the gates of Heaven, as Hecate stepped slowly forwards and glared with disgust over the construction: nothing but massive layers of white metal, reinforced multiple times over with heavy plating, crisscrossing girders, and cylindrical bars and chains. The hinges were massive and made from ornate gold, as were the huge clasps down the center of the swinging gates, which seemed to glow brightly against the backdrop of ivory steel.

“What a waste of materials and magic.” Hecate said contemptibly, and then she looked back and forth before starting forwards, saying coldly: “I'll set up the explosive. It's a focused blast, but we're going to have to set up a barrier after retreating to a safe distance all the same. You will not want to get caught up in even the edge of this-”

Something massive smashed down into the ground in front of Hecate, and she had just enough time to look up in surprise before a huge, stone-armored hand slapped her away like a toy, sending the mechanical goddess crashing to the ground on her back and skidding violently over the field until she slammed her claws down and caught herself. Then she looked up, staring in disbelief at the titanic Gatekeeper that had literally dropped from the sky as Luna Brynhild gaped and Celestia Freya set herself, her body beginning to glow with energy.

It was bipedal, and as it stood from the kneel it had landed in, it loomed over them at fifty, maybe sixty feet of height. It looked like stone given life, and there was a strange, long-limbed litheness to the awful thing: from its oval, elongated head to its rounded limbs and narrow body, it was like it had been sculpted in the image of something delicate and narrow that had been refined into a weapon of war.

But in spite of its thin stone frame, it was easily holding the pole of a massive battle axe in one stone gauntlet: the pole was almost as long as its body as it stood calmly and rested this against the ground, and the blade was a monstrous double-fan of polished white stone. Its other stone hand flexed slowly before it reached behind itself and pulled a large, rounded shield with an emblem she didn't recognize over its face: something like a horseshoe encompassing a circle.

It half-rose the shield in front of itself as it let the battle axe fall back behind it like a spear, slowly dropping into a relaxed battle position, and Luna Brynhild grinned widely before she snapped her horn forwards, Prúðbikkja bursting out of her mane in a flare of blue flame as she set herself. “And thou dares to challenge us?”

Scrivener Blooms flexed his Talons as he stepped forwards, anchoring them into the ground and feeling veins of mire spreading through the earth around him, as Twilight Sparkle rose her own head proudly, a curtain of black smoke twisting up through the air behind her, hovering ominously for a moment before tearing itself apart and leaving behind the enormous, obsidian bell.

Hecate snarled as she yanked herself up to her metal hooves, her body sparking with electricity as she yanked Lucy off her waist and dropped the spiked ball to the ground, flexing her claws slowly as she growled: “This pathetic construct is the Gatekeeper? This is what you're so afraid of?”

“Hel's already left with Nightmare Moon. But I agree all the same, Hecate. No matter how larger or powerful this automaton is, it's also nothing but a foal's toy soldier.” Celestia said coldly, Tyrfing gleaming on her back as her three short swords drew themselves, floating in ready positions around her. “Let's tear it apart, then destroy those Gates. We've left Heaven languishing in the grips of the Pious for far too long now.”

The Gatekeeper rose its oval head: it was wearing only a heavy helm of white, polished stone, and the only defining features of its face were the empty black pits it had for eyes. It leaned forwards slightly, the heavy stone plates armoring its body shifting slightly, letting them glimpse strange veins of black that ran through its joints and where the featureless armor thinned, every now and then a surge of light seeming to travel along this as if beneath stone was living darkness that was being forced to bend to and protect the ideals of the Light.

“Test the strength of the stone: if we can't break it, we'll lever the plates of armor off its body.” Celestia said calmly, and Luna grunted before she began to lean forwards... and looked up almost too late as the Gatekeeper moved with sudden speed, swinging its long axe around in a heavy chop that she barely managed to fling herself out of the way of.

The axe cut into the ground between Luna and Celestia with enough force to send a shockwave through the earth, and the sapphire mare snarled before she and the ivory mare leapt forwards at almost the same time, fearlessly charging towards the goliath. And, moving slowly and calmly, the giant straightened and yanked its huge axe back and free before making a wide, low sweep with the huge polearm, again moving into the attack with surprising speed.

But Celestia calmly leapt upwards, flapping her wings hard as her body burst into golden flames. Luna Brynhild, meanwhile, grinned widely as she put on an additional burst of speed, then dropped low and went into a slide on her side, dropping her spear to cradle it in one foreleg as the other went out to balance her.

The axe passed literally inches just above her head, whickering through the air, and the moment its shadow was past, Luna sprung upwards and flapped her wings hard as she focused all her strength and magic into flinging her spear with a roar, the weapon shooting through the air to slam home into one eyesocket of the goliath. The monster's head snapped backwards as black ooze burst from the socket, before Celestia shot forwards and slammed bodily into one stone shoulder, sending cracks ripping through the plating as it was knocked off balance and back into the very gates it protected.

The whole structure rattled, and Luna shouted to Scrivener Blooms as he and Twilight rushed forwards, the stallion grimacing before he skidded to a stop and slammed his Talons into the ground. Immediately, a line of black mire tore forwards through the earth before a thick spike of crystallized ooze shot up out of it, and without hesitation, Twilight Sparkle snapped her horn outwards, yanking this immense needle free from the ground and launching it straight at the giant.

But the Gatekeeper managed to half-raise its shield, and the needle shattered against this, only managing to knock a single large crack in the stone before the Gatekeeper retaliated with a vicious chop of its massive axe, and Scrivener barely managed to fling himself out of the way with a wince, cursing as he was pelted by a wave of gravel and dirt.

Then his eyes widened as the Gatekeeper swept the huge battle axe to the side, and the stallion winced before flinging himself into the air when Luna shouted the order at him, not even realizing what he was doing until he swept his Talons forwards just as the blade slammed into him. He cursed in pain, then his eyes bulged in horror as he realized his metal claws had managed to find purchase in the stone weapon and he was actually being yanked along with the immense polearm, the world whipping by as the Gatekeeper swept the axe upwards before the stallion realized stupidly he was almost right above the goliath's head and it was looking up at him.

And more because Luna was shouting at him than anything else, the earth pony kicked as hard as he could off the blade while tearing his claws free, launching himself straight at the face of the titan with a snarl of desperation and disbelief at what he was doing as he aimed himself for the spear sticking out of its eyesocket.

His claws seized into this, and both his momentum and strength shoved it down and forwards into the monster's eye: and although the gigantic construct didn't cry out, its head still jerked backwards in very clear pain, and Scrivener Blooms gritted his teeth as he bore forwards, body flexing as he forced himself to push the weapon deeper as he felt Prúðbikkja thrumming with power in his grip.

“Go, Scrivy!” Luna called as she shot up into the air, her horn glowing and yanking Sting Mk. III off her back so she could catch it in one hoof as the lever on the side snapped forwards and the runes sparked into life over the barrel. And the sapphire mare grinned widely as she flew up higher, cutting the distance between herself and Scrivener Blooms further, even if adrenaline and perhaps the raw energies of Asgard were both giving them a little more time apart than they would normally be able to spend before the pain kicked in.

She took aim with the rifle as the colossus slammed its axe down into the ground to free its hand, reaching up for the stallion forcing the spear deeper into its blackly-bleeding socket... and then Luna pulled the trigger, the recoil of the gun knocking her backwards through the air with a wince as the bullet slammed home into the other eye of the Gatekeeper, the creature's head jerking to the side as Luna shouted: “Up here, wretched cur! I fear no beast, no demon, no toy of false gods! I am here!”

She pulled the trigger again, knocking herself off balance from the magical recoil as she sent another round hammering into the goliath, and its head twisted to the side as it grabbed at Luna. The mare was able to quickly flap her wings and fly upwards, however, the large hand of the creature just sweeping past before she fired another round at the goliath, but this only struck the stone helm it was wearing, the round ricocheting off to the side.

The goliath grabbed at her again as Scrivener Blooms gritted his teeth before concentrating his energies into the spear, and to his shock, he felt it pulse with energy before both he and the polearm were blown backwards as the alicorn speartip unleashed a massive surge of energy directly into the Gatekeeper's eye.

The monster's head snapped back as it grabbed at its own features with both hands, as Scrivener plummeted backwards through the air in a hail of black muck, followed down by several broken fragments of stone as he flailed helplessly before he felt himself slowing down, something catching him and lowering him smoothly to the ground. He managed to flip his body before hitting the ground, catching himself and shooting Twilight a quick look: thanking her and synchronizing with her at the same time, the Lich nodding sharply to him as above, Luna blasted a fourth round into the goliath's stony head.

But this time, it reacted violently, suddenly swinging a hand down and nearly crushing both Twilight and Scrivener as they were forced to fling themselves backwards, as the other arm lashed its shield viciously outwards, swatting Luna backwards and sending her hurtling through the air with a hiss of pain, clutching Sting Mk. III as tightly as she could before she managed to regain her balance-

Its hand swung down, catching her in a lucky slap, and she was knocked from the air like a meteor to crash headlong into the soft earth, crying out in agony as she felt one of her wings bend painfully, along with the far-more intense feeling of what felt like half of her ribs breaking. She shivered, then glared over her shoulder, blood leaking out of her nose and mouth as she looked up at the stone titan as it loomed forwards for a moment, more than half its stony face cracked and broken and leaking black sludge, its eyesockets widened into gaping, awful pits of dark blood.

Then the monster leaned backwards, its hand reaching back and seizing the pole of its enormous axe as it stood up, raising its weapon high even as Luna struggled to raise her gun and Scrivener and Twilight Sparkle both began to pick themselves up from their own stunned heaps, as Scrivener drooled black blood and Twilight felt a strange tinkling sensation inside her chest from the damage Luna had taken. And the sapphire mare gritted her teeth as the stone blade of the huge axe gleamed before it chopped down towards her...

She was saved by a golden meteor that slammed into the blade of the huge weapon, knocking it to the side even as it swung down. It slammed down into the earth as the giant almost overbalanced, half-falling to one knee as the shockwaves that passed through the field knocked the three stunned ponies on the ground rolling and bouncing away from the huge blade, as the golden fireball shot up into the air even as it shed the coating of energy, Celestia emerging from within the shell of flames with a snarl as she shouted: “Now!”

And Luna looked up in dumb surprise as Lucy snapped out and wrapped several times around the neck of the immense polearm before it pulled taut, Hecate tightly gripping the chain and twining it around both her metallic arms as she half-ordered sharply: “Target the neck, not the blade!”

But Celestia was already moving, flapping her wings hard to launch herself upwards before flipping and corkscrewing her body as she dropped, her form bursting into golden flames as she folded her wings tightly in against her side and fell, becoming a burning comet of light that streaked down from the sky and smashed through the pole of the huge axe just beneath where Lucy had wrapped around the neck of the weapon. The huge blade jilted to the side, but didn't tear loose from the earth as Celestia hit the ground with a thunderous bang on all four hooves, her body flexing powerfully before she launched off the field in a burst of golden flames and slammed right into the face of the kneeling, half-fallen goliath to kick viciously off it, knocking its head back and shattering away more plates of stone in a burst of black sludge and aureate flame.

The colossus dropped the pole, grabbing at its broken, shattered face with one hand as it leaned heavily on its shield, clearly stunned, and Hecate's eyes narrowed before electricity shocked along her body and she leaned forwards into a run, keeping the chain taut before she leapt suddenly forwards, the pistons along her legs pumping as the boosters hidden in her hooves roared into life.

She streaked forwards through the air as she yanked viciously on Lucy's chain, adding mechanical strength to her impressive momentum, and the enormous axe blade was torn free from the ground, slinging the huge stone head viciously straight at the giant. The monster didn't even have time to look up before the massive blade of its own weapon slammed into its chest, sending cracks ripping through its stony frame as it was knocked backwards into the Gates of Heaven with a resounding crash.

The giant fell limp as Hecate dropped to the ground and yanked Lucy back, tearing the weapon free in a hail of splinters as Luna picked herself up and Twilight looked simply incredulous as she slowly shook herself out, her bell floating silently up from where it had fallen... and then one of the Gatekeeper's hands reached up and seized into the body of the axe blade buried in its chest, pulling uselessly at it. It refused to move, and the goliath simply looked down for a moment before almost calmly climbing back to its feet, as Celestia landed beside Luna and said coldly: “We'll have to tear it down piece-by-piece.”

“Very well.” Luna said calmly, flicking the cylinder of her enormous gun open before her horn glowed, yanking several bullets free from the belt of her holster and slamming them into place in the gun. Then she slammed it closed before her instincts hissed at her, and the sapphire mare's eyes flicked to the side as she added sharply: “Flank!”

Without hesitation, Celestia spun to the side, meeting a Whistler that appeared in a burst of smoke with a vicious sideways sweep of her hooked and sawtooth blades, and the monster howled in misery as it was caught against the swords before Celestia pulled viciously in either direction as she slashed outwards, and the assassin was torn into multiple pieces in a hail of blood.

Luna, meanwhile, had buried her bayonet into the throat of another Whistler, which was gargling weakly as it clutched the barrel of her gun with one hand and stabbed fruitlessly at her with the knife in its other. Luna only looked at it contemptibly, her eyes drawing down and over the lightweight, hardened leather armor these Whistlers were dressed in before she said disgustedly: “Just as Hel said. Is the damnable goddess ever wrong?”

With that, the sapphire mare tore to the side as she lashed her horn down, blasting the Whistler backwards into a broken heap before her eyes flicked up to watch as half a dozen more Whistlers appeared around the Gatekeeper. The giant itself barely seemed to notice the reinforcements, stepping forwards and raising its shield slowly in front of its broken chest as black ooze pulsed and rippled in the cracks in the stony armor protecting it.

Scrivener and Twilight both hurriedly withdrew to fall into battle line with Luna and Celestia, as Hecate only stood fearlessly at the head of the group, spreading her arms wide and clutching her spiked ball in one large claw as she shouted fearlessly: “Magic is nothing compared to the might of my machinery! Fight me, toy soldier!”

The Gatekeeper seemed to glare down at Hecate, then it suddenly leaned forwards and slammed its fist straight down towards the mechanical mare, but the mechanical goddess only grinned as her body sparked with electricity and she launched herself skywards over the attack, the boosters in her metal hooves kicking in again and blasts of flame sending her rocketing almost straight up as she hurled the spiked ball viciously into the already-shattered stone face of the goliath.

It smashed through one of the remaining solid plates of stone over its features, sending up a burst of black ooze: but this time, even as the giant's head was knocked backwards, one of its hands swung upwards and seized Hecate, beginning to crush viciously down on her. At the same time, two Whistlers vanished as the other four ran forwards, teeth grinning and knives gleaming in the fin-like grips of the imitation ponies.

They lunged towards the ponies on the battlefield as above, the Whistlers that had vanished reappeared on either side of Hecate as she struggled in the grips of the colossus, her eyes widening before she shouted in frustration more than pain when they stabbed their knives down into her collar, beginning to slowly wedge it open to try and remove her head from her body. She snarled in frustration, her horn glowing brightly before it unleashed a powerful pulse of electricity, but it only made the Whistlers to either side of her flinch and then start to hack wildly at her features and horn.

Metal was scratched and flesh was cut, blue-tinged blood leaking from thin wounds as she yanked her head back and forth, even as cables were hacked away from her mane. And the Whistlers went from snarling to laughing at her, mocking her as they cut and sliced, and the grip of the Gatekeeper tightened, bearing down with enough pressure to warp her metal body...

Below, Luna flung a Whistler's corpse to the side before aiming upwards with Sting Mk. III, yanking the lever to the 'off' position with telekinesis before she fired several rounds in quick succession. One went wild, and one ricocheted off the hand of the beast, but the last tore into the head of a Whistler and knocked it flopping off the hand of the giant with a scream.

The other looked up with a snarl, distracted... and a chain of lightning snapped up, wrapping tightly around the monster's body before it was yanked straight down onto Hecate's horn, the monster screaming and flailing helplessly for a moment before it all but exploded as Hecate roared and arched her back. The pulse of raw magic loosened the Gatekeeper's grip, and the mechanical goddess snarled as she shoved backwards with her elbows and upper back, while bringing her legs up and kicking them savagely out into the giant's fingers.

The Gatekeeper began to crush down on her all the same, and then Hecate grinned coldly before the boosters in her metal hooves roared into life, jets of flame melting stone into putty before she kicked viciously outwards, and the Gatekeeper's hand was knocked open as several of its elongated stone fingers were blown off in a hail of dark muck.

Hecate streaked backwards like a metal comet, leaving a tail of fire behind her before she smashed bodily down into the ground and skidded backwards, leaving a trench through the field even as her boosters flared off. She bounced once, heavy steel frame flipping awkwardly, but then managed to slam one metal fist down and drop herself into a kneel, looking up with a snarl on her bloody and bruised features.

Celestia's swords whickered out, and another Whistler fell in a broken heap, Twilight Sparkle looking up with her teeth grit and Scrivener Blooms ripping Prúðbikkja out of the last corpse before he tossed the weapon back to Luna, and she caught it with only a glance upwards before her eyes widened as she stared past her spear and at the gathering motes of light in the sky. “Celestia!”

“Incoming!” Celestia shouted, and Hecate glanced up with a snarl even as bright light began to shine through the field, Scrivener Blooms slamming his Talons into the ground, a wall of mire erupting out of the grasses and curving itself into a shield the stallion was able to hide behind as arrows of light pelted the field around them.

Twilight Sparkle took cover behind her bell, wincing as it reverberated violently, and Luna and Celestia both blocked the rain of purification with barriers of magic. Hecate simply stood in the rain, ignoring the thin blades of light that shattered uselessly against her metal body as she began to stride forwards.

The Gatekeeper picked up the enormous, broken stone pole in its crumbled hand, and as the rain of light energy ended, the giant smashed the pole down, shattering through the shield of mire protecting Scrivener Blooms and squashing him flat into the field with a gargle. Luna stumbled in pain, and Twilight's eyes bulged before the violet mare snarled: thankfully, Scrivener's barrier had absorbed the worst of the damage, but getting clubbed by a forty-foot long pole of stone had still left the stallion stunned and winded.

Celestia drew her horn upwards, transforming her radiant barrier into a golden fireball she then launched in a long arc into the broken features of the Gatekeeper, the explosion knocking its head to the side before a sapphire fireball from Luna smashed into what remained of its cheek and shattered stone into splinters. It brought up its shield to protect itself, and both Celestia and Luna rushed forwards, sensing weakness as Scrivener began to slowly pick himself up.

And then the ghostly melody started: like a hundred flutes all playing in harmony, the sound spilled through the air and invaded the minds and senses of the ponies, Celestia and Luna both staggering to a halt as Hecate grabbed at her head and shook it back and forth, electricity sparking violently over her body. Scrivener Blooms blinked blearily, then stared weakly back and forth as he slumped down to his knees, gasping before he realized with horror there were at least a dozen Whistler copies on either side of the field, and all of them were swaying and emitting that beautiful and awful music that was making his thoughts blur together, his body refuse to work properly, his jaws drooling stupidly open...

Twilight Sparkle looked back and forth, feeling the residual effects from Luna and Scrivener spreading into her mind and dulling her senses, her emotions, but she was able to shrug off the music itself before her eyes widened in horror as several bright spotlights of white began to form around the field, one directly over Scrivener Blooms, another over Hecate. And the Lich shouted a warning to the latter as she leapt towards the former, massive bell moving with her before she swept it upwards as hard as she could as a beam of purification shot down towards Scrivener.

The ray of light slammed into the bell, and Twilight Sparkle set herself, gritting her teeth as beam hammered uselessly into the body of the reaper's instrument, the enormous black bell shivering in midair as purification sparked and streamed around it. And beneath, Scrivener Blooms gaped at the sight of the instrument shielding him before he ran sharply forwards and leapt out, tackling Twilight Sparkle backwards with a yelp before the bell was slammed out of the air by a pulse of power that shot down through the ray of light, the pillar of purification widening and just scraping at Scrivener's hooves before it vanished into motes.

Hecate, meanwhile, had her metallic arms raised, teeth grit as she pushed back against the beam of purification washing down around her: the sheer force of energy was enough to tear loose plates from her mechanical form, but her eyes were glowing and mane writhing like the magic energy was doing little more than exciting her before she suddenly leaned forwards as her horn flashed, the beam bending like liquid and shooting across the field to hammer into the face of the Gatekeeper.

The giant's head snapped back as the ray of white light smashed through what little stone was left and into the dark, gooey abyss beneath, and the Gatekeeper began to topple backwards as black goo turned to ashes and white dust. This spilled out of the Gatekeeper's broken features as it toppled backwards, before its head – helm and all – simply shattered into pieces, an avalanche of ash-stained stone tumbling down as the Gatekeeper's headless body collapsed.

The Whistlers were cut off by the tremendous thud of the giant falling to the ground back against the Gates of Heaven, and Hecate snarled even as the bent beam of light burst apart into motes, shouting furiously: “How is the construct still alive?”

“What?” Luna looked up sharply, then her eyes widened as she realized the mechanical goddess was right: decapitated or not, the colossus was still twitching slowly, shattered hand scraping at the ground as if it was trying to pull itself back up. “Damnation, how do we stop this thing?”

“You don't!” screamed the Whistler's voice as the one apparently controlling the cadre of copies stepped forwards, snarling and gesturing wildly at the others. “Get 'em, boys! Kill the-”

Luna fired a single round into the Whistler's head, knocking it flopping backwards, but this only bought them a moment as the other Whistlers twitched before they all roared and yelled and scrambled forwards, some vanishing in bursts of smoke, others creating illusionary copies of themselves in puffs of smog to further add to the chaos and confusion.

But Celestia immediately leapt forwards past Luna, two of her swords spinning violently around her in devastating cyclones to drive the monsters back as the larger, bludgeoning blade smashed down and crushed a Whistler in front of her into the ground so she could stomp viciously down on its skull, ordering quickly: “Bind the Gatekeeper down! Hecate, set it up!”

Hecate growled at being ordered around, but began to stride forwards all the same before she snarled when a Whistler leapt up onto her back and stabbed a knife down into her collar. She reached up, seizing into the creature and swinging it like a club into another assassin that attempted to lunge at her from the side, then she easily snapped its neck with a flex of one claw before she slung it away.

Luna and Scrivener both ran forwards, Twilight Sparkle falling in beside them as her bell floated ominously behind her. The sapphire mare rose her soulstone horn, the spire glowing brightly before she snapped it forwards and unleashed a blast of blue flames, knocking several Whistlers out of the way as Scrivener Blooms tackled another monster and kicked viciously off it, knocking the fight out of it and keeping up his momentum as he landed back beside Luna and she said sharply: “Scrivy, low! Twilight Sparkle, right!”

The two ponies nodded sharply as they approached the colossus, which was gradually pushing itself back against the Gates of Heaven as dark ooze leaked from its cracked body. But before they could reach it, two Whistlers appeared in bursts of smoke above Twilight and Scrivener Blooms, dropping on top of them and burying their knives into the ponies' backs, and Scrivener howled in pain as Twilight staggered, then snarled and bucked hard forwards, launching the monster over her own head before she blasted it with telekinesis and sent it flying bonelessly into the Gatekeeper's chest.

The other Whistler clung on to Scrivener, cackling as he shook himself violently back and forth before Luna's spear shot out and stabbed through the body of the assassin, hefting it into the air before half-spinning and slamming it straight down into the ground in a bloody, broken mess. It gargled, and then Luna stomped viciously down on it to still the monster, gritting her teeth before she flapped her wings hard and launched herself past Scrivener Blooms as the charcoal stallion breathed hard in and out, dark blood leaking slowly around the silver knife still buried deep in his back before he gritted his teeth and forced himself to keep charging forwards.

Luna curled slowly around through the air to the left side of the giant as Twilight headed to the right, snapping her horn up and sending enormous, hooked vines lashing out of the ground to snag onto the damaged shield and over the limbs of the goliath construct. It shifted and automatically pulled against these, but then was distracted as more vines ripped up on its other side, summoned by Luna Brynhild as Scrivener Blooms dug his own claws deep into the grass, the earth rippling before beginning to rot rapidly away into mire that spread quickly forwards through the field.

The colossus began to sink into this as black mud spread up around its half-kneeling legs, and the Gatekeeper jerked back and forth as the stallion dug his claws deeper into the dark poison, focusing on it and sending thicker strings of dark ooze splashing up over the giant, pulling it down deeper into the brackish bog.

Twilight Sparkle focused, and the vines and ivy clinging to the shield and this side of the giant turned blue and transformed into thick pillars and sheets of ice that spread further over the stone, holding it tightly in place and making it impossible for the giant to pull loose. Then the violet mare's eyes widened as a Whistler appeared behind her... but a moment later, a blade of golden light hammered into the Whistler's head and knocked it flying as Celestia shouted: “Your fight is with me!”

Celestia was dancing back and forth between the jeering Whistlers and their singing knives: but for all their noise and barking and mobbing, they were lucky to so much as hack at Celestia's golden armor, neither insult nor weapon finding purchase as all three of Celestia's swords lashed around her like a whirlwind, a cold smile on her features as her single eye glowed with confidence and terrible, righteous fury.

A Whistler slashed at her, and she hooked its limb with her crescent sword, twisting to yank it off course and sending its knife burying into the chest of another Whistler copy before she savagely tore backwards with the hooked blade, slicing the limb off its body and sending the assassin staggering backwards with a howl of misery.

Others slashed in at her: one Celestia blocked with the bludgeoning blade of Dómr as she rammed saw-toothed Drengr into the stomach of another Whistler that leapt at her, the creature squealing before she lashed the sword to the side and slung it almost carelessly into two more Whistlers, at the same time smoothly sidestepping a wild tackle and tilting her head to the side, sparks flying from her metallic eyepatch as the blade of another knife just kissed along it.

She snapped her head out at the Whistler that had almost caught her, blasting it backwards with a flash of golden flames before her three short swords all swung sharply outwards, shoving the crowd surrounding her away before she reared and swung her head around in a circle, Tyrfing yanking off her back and circling her in several vicious reaping swings. Whistlers were slammed backwards and torn apart by the massive blade as Celestia dropped to all fours and snapped her horn down, Tyrfing slashing down and cutting another Whistler into halves as she smiled coldly and looked over her shoulder, part of her hoping they would get the Gatekeeper restrained faster, the rest of her wanting them to take as long as possible so she could continue to enjoy toying with these cowards and scum.

Hecate was already almost at the base of the giant, her eyes cold as she stopped beside Scrivener Blooms before reaching down and sinking one claw into the mire, and the stallion couldn't help but stare even as he pumped more energy down into the bog, feeling that power siphoned up by Hecate as some of the sludge around Hecate turned grayer and fainter. Then she straightened, cracking her neck calmly as electricity shocked along her metal frame before she leapt upwards, boosters kicking in and launching her higher as she dropped Lucy from one claw and caught it by the chain, lashing the spiked ball forwards to snag around the top edge of the massive battle axe sticking out of the goliath's chest.

She yanked herself upwards as she boosted towards the creature's chest, then snapped both her legs up, kicking viciously into the stone plating on its body and kicking off her to fling herself higher. A metal claw tore into the breast of the creature, and then she flung herself further upwards, boosters kicking on again for a moment to add to her momentum as she continued to wind the magical chain back at the same time, quickly ascending the chest of the Gatekeeper as it uselessly shifted back and forth against its restraints.

Hecate yanked Lucy back to her claw, snapping part of the massive axe blade off before she hauled herself up onto the cracked stump that was all that was left of the brobdingnagian monstrosity's head, and then the mechanical goddess reached down as her stomach plating clicked quickly open and the egg-shaped explosive was pushed out into her waiting claw. She smiled coldly at this, before looking up distastefully as a Whistler appeared beside her, leaping at her with a grin... and the mare simply swung the spiked ball upwards, smashing into its stomach as it squealed weakly before she turned and slammed it down into the stump of the goliath's neck, leaving the body crumpled and broken as she said coldly: “Thank you. I needed something to hold this in place.”

Hecate dropped the oval-shaped explosive onto the soft body, then simply stomped on it, using the mushed corpse to cement the explosive down into the stony stump of neck. Her claw rose up as her horn glowed brightly, a screen sparking into being in front of her: more a focal tool than anything else as she tapped a code quickly across it.

And beneath her, dangerously-glowing runes flickered into being across the body of the egg-shaped bomb, and Hecate smiled thinly before she turned around and leapt off the Gatekeeper's stump of neck. She let her arms drop to her sides as the boosters on her metal hooves activated one last time, and Luna, Scrivener, and Twilight Sparkle all looked up at the mechanical goddess, realizing almost too late what her withdrawing meant before they all turned around and bolted.

Luna's wings flapped hard as she turned around, before her eyes widened as one too-rushed, too-hard beat caused her strained wing to crack painfully, a bone either disjointing or fracturing. She fell out of the air and hit the ground, rolling once before managing to catch herself on her hooves, tossing Sting Mk. III hurriedly into the air before she launched herself forwards, cursing loudly and violently as gun and spear both floated along above her.

She fell in pace beside Scrivener Blooms and Twilight Sparkle, opened her mouth... and was promptly cut off by a sound so loud, all she registered was sudden silence. What she felt most was the searing heat, as light blinded her and she and her partners were flung violently forwards, flipping wildly out of control and bouncing painfully along the ground like torched rubber toys.

Celestia gritted her teeth as the Whistlers around her were all blown off their feet by the blast, the ivory mare skidding slowly backwards as she shielded herself with her short swords. Hecate, meanwhile, dropped out of the air and landed calmly in a kneel, red light and flame licking and tearing across her metal body even as the three soulbound ponies were sent hurtling past her.

Then the mechanical mare slowly stood and straightened, calmly striding forwards even as the red hell ravaged the world around her, only smiling coldly beneath the cowl of her mane of cables and lightning. Her eyes almost glowed with the same light as the inferno around her as Celestia staggered backwards, then looked up as Hecate brutally kicked Scrivener Blooms aside before she reached out, slapping the wall of swords away and seizing into Celestia's throat as the mechanical goddess yanked Celestia up to meet her eyes. “And is this the kind of power I'm supposed to be afraid of? Because from what I can see, it's nothing to me.”

“It's nothing to me, either, Hecate.” Celestia said evenly, and the two glared at each other before the ivory mare gave a cold smile and asked calmly: “Do you think we're destined to be enemies?”

“I think that I need to be given a better reason to work for your kind than pure entertainment.” Hecate retorted, and then she shoved Celestia backwards before looking over her shoulder as the conflagration began to slowly fade away, condensing into a single crimson pillar that burned in the place where the Gatekeeper had once stood and stretched countless miles up into the sky.

The Whistlers scattered across the battlefield were slowly picking themselves up, and several of the copies were staring in utter horror as Scrivener, Luna, and Twilight all gazed towards the Gates of Heaven in disbelief... or rather, the wrecked hulk of what had once been the Gates. The explosion had been so powerful it looked like some angry, universe-sized god had punched the gates inwards like they were made of crummy tin, and the heat that had torn across them so fierce that metal had turned to molten white slag, pouring down like water to the broken, wounded earth below.

Celestia looked calmly at this destruction... then, without the slightest change in her expression, turned towards the nearest Whistler and slashed Drengr down into the assassin. The falcate blade tore through the junction of shoulder and neck, Whistler squawking before Celestia made a show of almost slicing the monster in half, and the other Whistlers howled in terror and defeat as they vanished rapidly one after the other, even as whatever puppet was currently controlling the others screamed: “This isn't over! You can't stop us! Just wait, I'm going to get a whole army now!”

“Good.” Celestia said coldly, and then she calmly straightened before striding slowly forwards, seeming to speak to no one in particular as she asked: “How long have you been watching?”

But a moment later, one of Hel's ice puppets appeared, the frosty construct grinning widely as it slipped quickly up beside Celestia and said easily: “Oh, you know, long enough. Besides, Nightmare Moon and I were busy cleaning up that Cenobium... and well, you can't see it from here, but we've dealt with all the Pious over there and their nasty little gateway. Stole some goodies, too. My Archivists down in Helheim are going to have a fine time with these artifacts.”

Luna grunted as she picked herself up, then she glared moodily over at Hecate before asking curtly: “And the rifts?”

“Oh, don't be such a worrywart!” The construct laughed and waved a hand, shaking her head with a wry smile before she grinned widely and leaned back, raising both hands and snapping her fingers. And in twin puffs of blue, two more ice puppets appeared, before all three of these posed for a moment, declaring in perfect synchronization: “Three heads are better than one!”

“Not always.” Hecate said distastefully, looking moodily over at Scrivener, Luna, and Twilight Sparkle, and the three ponies glowered back at the mechanical goddess before she turned her eyes back towards the pillar of flames, watching as this finally slowly began to shrink little-by-little, leaving nothing but ashes and some crumbling, blackened waste in its wake. “I highly doubt Greater Heaven is going to wait long before responding to that attack.”

“Not long at all, but we have an advantage here. We want them to come to us.” said the first ice puppet that had appeared, and then it grinned widely as the other two pranced happily away, then turned to face each other and tightly interlocked their fingers, beginning to dance around in a circle as Hel dropped her head back and sang: “Ring around the rosey, pockets full of posey...”

Hecate began to growl, but then both her and Celestia's eyes widened as Luna's soulstone horn sparked, and Twilight Sparkle looked up in shock at the thrum of magic she felt filling the air, stumbling backwards and into her own fallen bell. “Hush-a, hush-a...

“We all fall down.” Hel's eyes flashed as the lone ice puppet clenched its hand into a fist, and the dancing ice puppets laughed even as their bodies vibrated violently, limbs fusing together as energy shone out of the cracks through their forms before they both shattered with a shockwave of energy that knocked the ponies stumbling... and then a far-fiercer pulse ripped through the air in reverse, a wild grab of gravity that was strong enough to even make Hecate stumble towards the gaping hole in reality that had appeared.

“Hel!” Celestia shouted in shock, and Luna's eyes widened in horror as her weapons were dragged across the field towards the singularity, hurriedly snatching these with telekinesis before cursing as the cylinder popped open on her gun and several bullets were yanked free, pulled into the empty void. “Hel, what are you doing?”

“Oh, you know. Playing blind man's bluff with Heaven and the Void.” the goddess replied cheerfully, and then she clapped her hands together as the singularity began to widen, Scrivener Blooms digging his Talons into the ground and hauling himself quickly away from the gaping hole into sheer nothingness as Luna cursed and Celestia did her best to stand her ground. “You see, we need the help of a friend who doesn't like to come when you call his name, but... here's hoping that if I toss up a little threat to everything he holds near and dear...”

“You're insane!” Twilight shouted, and Hel only laughed before pointing and bouncing excitedly on the spot when something appeared in the singularity, and the Lich felt her stomach clench, eyes widening in horror at what she thought it must be...

Except it was Theophilius Carter who calmly climbed out of the hole in reality, and then he turned around and simply grasped the top of the wound leading into Nothingness like it was a curtain before yanking it down, and the singularity popped out of existence in a burst of green electricity. The Mad Hatter wiped his gloved hands together, and then he looked pointedly over at Hel, saying mildly: “White Queen, now. It's all fun and games until someone destroys a planet. Then wherever will the bakeries go or the tea leaves be grown?”

“Well, Hatter, I knew that Kvasir would show up, and didn't depend on you at all to come and save the day. So of course it makes perfect sense that you came as if you'd heard me not-calling you.” Hel said as if this was perfectly reasonable, even if Scrivener Blooms couldn't make any reason out of it. “And there's something else I most certainly don't need you to do, honeycake. And that's going to see Alice. But if you have to go and find Alice, then please shut the door behind you. I'm depending on that a hundred and ten percent.”

“Well, you know what they say happens when you depend on anything with chaos.” the Mad Hatter said kindly, and then he hopped up into the air, clicking his heels firmly before dropping back to the ground... and simply vanishing through it as the earth rippled and transformed into a swirling vortex. Hel looked both pleased and a little disappointed at this, gazing down into the rift before Theophilius Carter poked his head up through the portal, adding: “And you should know, White Queen, that if you ever really need me to do something, direly, desperately, most assuredly need me to do something... you really just have to ask.”

“I did.” Hel said kindly, and the Mad Hatter smiled up at her in response before he tipped his hat to the ice puppet and vanished back through the portal.

The ponies were all left staring in disbelief, and Hel laughed and shook her head before she simply snapped her hand out to the side: immediately, obelisks of ice formed around the vortex, green electricity crackling over the rift as runes took shape around the edge of the swirling portal. “There. Anchored nicely into place and I'll be able to feed all the other portals into this one with the right touch. Great work, my cookies. You've all done your duty, gone really above and beyond here! Now get out of here and let the others take over from here.”

“You're half-right, Hel.” Celestia said calmly, turning her eyes forwards towards the shattered Gates of Heaven. “Even if later I feel we should talk about your... behavior, right now all I desire to do is to make sure I am first in line in taking back my home. Brynhild, your time will come later: you and Scrivener and Twilight will be dealing with what will likely be much heavier defenses. You need to rest... and that's an order.”

“Freya, damnation, do not order me around.” Luna growled moodily, but then she shook her head briefly before cursing under her breath and nodding shortly, holstering Sting Mk. III and shrinking her spear down to hide back in her mane as Scrivener and Twilight both looked with surprise at the sapphire mare. “It pains me, but... Celestia is right. Hecate, thou art leaving with us as well. And Nightmare Moon can stay and hopefully be struck by a large falling rock.”

“Fine.” Hecate said distastefully, brushing absently at her scarred, burnt body, and then she slowly rolled her shoulders before looking up into the sky uneasily. “They seem weak. But that magic was something completely different.”

“Let's hope it was the Cardinals... I don't sense He Of Many Countless Faces, but you believe you me. We don't want to be tangling with that big boy, not unless we can count completely on the Mad Hatter to help us out. And unfortunately, you can't count on chaos for anything.” Hel said softly, and Luna felt a ripple of unease run down her spine, temporarily forgetting her anger with the dark goddess to look up at her uncertainly as she thought she heard fear... and if the Goddess of Helheim was afraid of something, then Luna was afraid of just how powerful this God of Light must truly be.

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