• Published 11th Jul 2011
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Pony Age: Origins - OmegaPony11



The Ponyspawn have invaded Equestria, and it is up to the newest addition to the Grey Wardens, Twilight Sparkle, to find the means to drive them back! With her friends and allies at her side, can Twilight win before Equestria is devoured?

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For She is the Arcane Warrior

Chapter 34 - For She is the Arcane Warrior

The fog became thicker the closer Twilight walked to the heart of the Everfree Forest, and the only sound that accompanied her were the hoof-steps of her friends. Twilight called for a halt when the fog became too thick in front of them. This portion of the forest was not as dense as the other regions, and had a crevice in the canopy that allowed them to see the massive cloud that hung above the forest.

The cloud drifted rather low to the ground, at such a distance that Twilight was sure Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy could easily fly up towards it. The Dalish likely thought the same thing, but the heavy fog coverage and potential ambushes from the hippogryphs stopped them from gaining any progress.

“All right, everypony. Let’s do this.” Twilight levitated Zecora’s potion and opened the stopper, taking a cautious whiff of the contents. It smelled pleasant enough, and Twilight could sense both a hint of blueberries added to the mix, and also the familiar magical pull of lyrium in the potion. There were just trace amounts, not enough for Twilight or Applejack to become addicted, thankfully, but it still raised an alarm. A spell resided within the potion, one that Twilight did not recognize.

Pinkie stared down her potion as the bottle sat on the ground. It appeared as if she was taking part in a competition against her concoction. She scratched her chin in contemplation as she looked at the bottle from every angle she could. As Pinkie was the party alchemist, Twilight hoped she would be able to properly identify the potion.

Instead, Pinkie held the potion in the both hooves and consumed the contents with great gusto. With a look of satisfaction, Pinkie tapped her chin with a hoof as she delved into deep thought.

“Blueberries, thyme, a hint of lyrium, typical for a mana potion, but there is something else…”

Everypony looked to Pinkie while she smacked her lips. “Aha! Ooh, that’s tricky of Zecora! She used a mix of rhubarb, firethistle, and another... I have never tasted that… before…”

Pinkie’s words trailed off as her eyes grew wide in the direction of the heavy fog. In a moment, Pinkie sprung from her seat and darted toward the thick fog. She ran back and forth for a moment, much to Twilight’s confusion. Pinkie then pointed at the wall of fog and bounced up and down in excitement.

“Look! Look! It’s amazing! It’s spectacular!” Pinkie’s excited squeals echoed through the forest, but little could stop her once she got going. “Quick! You have to chug the potions! Chug-a-lug and a lug you must chug!”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Oghren tipped back his potion and gulped down Zecora’s brew before he spat the bottle out. His eyes widened as he looked to the cloud. Oghren sputtered for some strand of words, with only a discombobulated noise emerging from his mouth.

Everypony followed suit and consumed their blue potions until they too stood against the edge of the fog. With a nod to Spike, Twilight raised her bottle in cheers and then took a swig. A slight tingle went through her body, from her hoof to her nose, which cleared her sinuses and allowed her to take a deep breath of fresh air. She felt rejuvenated after a single breath, and felt better than she had in a long time until Twilight joined the others in simply looking up.

The cloud they had seen above the Everfree revealed its true majesty once they saw past the fog. It was a structure like no other, constructed from the vast combination of clouds, pillars of enchanted alabaster stone and inlays of gold that shone in the light of the sun. How old the temple was, Twilight could not tell, but it still looked pristine.

Pristine save for the small flock of hippogryphs patrolling the skies above. Quick Kill stood on the edge of the temple and looked down on the party. The hippogryphs around the temple dove into the structure, all the while Quick Kill began to screech at the ponies.

“Curse you and curse that witch! She was the one who helped you see past our fog! No matter! This temple is too high for you groundwalkers to reach! And if your pegasi try to reach us, we shall rip them to shreds!”

Quick Kill was right. While the pegasi could fly to the cloud temple, they would be quickly surrounded and slain, while those who could not fly could do little to help. Zecora said the potion would allow us to walk on clouds, Twilight recalled, so we just need to get a big enough cloud to us so we can enter the temple.

Twilight stepped forward and glared at Quick Kill, and used her magic to project her voice with a spell. “I tell you and your kind once again, Quick Kill, only because I must. We are not here to fight! We are here to stop the violence between the hippogryphs and the Dalish so we can unite and fight the Blight!”

“You lie! You serve the Dalish! You want to kill us all!”

“Enough!” Twilight’s shout surprised everypony, most of all herself as she continued to stare daggers at Quick Kill. “If you won’t believe us, fine! But we are coming up there, and you will not stop us!”

While Quick Kill continued to screech, Twilight rubbed the bridge of her nose as she turned to her friends. “We need to get up into the temple,” she said. “Rainbow, Fluttershy… I need you two to go up and get a cloud for us. We’ll use it as boat of sorts so we can go up to the temple.”

Rainbow looked up at the temple before she shook her head. “Are you sure about that, Twilight? Pegasi haven’t been able to use clouds for hundreds of years. If we go up there, we’ll just be food for the hippogryphs!”

“We’ll protect you,” Twilight replied, “I thought of a solution. Most clouds are far too high for a pegasus to reach, but this cloud is low. Really low. And I remember what the storyteller in the Dalish camp said. They didn’t lose the ability to manipulate clouds, they forgot. I think now is the best time to remember, especially with the help of Zecora’s potion.”

Fluttershy looked up at the cloud temple, though her focus became directed on the angry hippogryphs. “W-we really have t-to go up there, d-don’t we?” Twilight felt a pang of regret as she understood Fluttershy’s fear towards the waiting talons of the hippogryphs, but if all went with her plan, there would be no danger.

Fluttershy took a deep breath, then flared her wings open as she looked to Rainbow Dash. “I’m ready when you are. Let’s just be quick.”

Rainbow smirked before getting ready to fly. “Quick is my second middle name.” She looked back at Twilight and gave a nod. Twilight regarded Rarity and Trixie before her attention shifted to cast a spell for the pegasi.

Horn aglow, Twilight encased the pair in a barrier and began to move the shield along with their flight path towards the clouds. Rarity and Trixie joined her magic with power from their staves. The union of magic gave the shield strength and removed the full burden of the spell from Twilight. The two pegasi were able to make their ascent in safety, despite the rage of Quick Kill and his flock.

“What are you buzzards waiting for!?” Quick Kill snarled. “Kill them! Kill them now! I want their flanks for my dinner!”
The hippogryphs screeched, then dove towards Rainbow and Fluttershy’s shield. Talons struck the barrier, and the magical protection shimmered and shifted about. Rainbow stared defiantly at her enemies while Fluttershy could not stop gasping and squeaking in fright. Try as they might, the aerial predators could not breach the shield as long violet, white, and blue magical powers worked in tandem.

Unable to crack the shell, the hippogryphs turned their focus on the unicorns. Twilight narrowed her eyes. Her focus on the spell as complex as this shield meant she could not focus casting wards to hold off the attack. Without a word, Applejack, Oghren, Shale and Spike formed up near the unicorns, weapons at the ready.

With no attention on her, Pinkie reached into her bomb bag and drew out a small yellow grenade. She grinned as she primed the timer, her smile widening with each click before bouncing the bomb on her tail.

“Everypony! Make like a Chantry sister and avert your eyes! Cover your ears!” Almost as if this was a game did Pinkie bat the grenade into the air towards the hippogryph that Twilight almost did not take heed of her warning. Her focus strained on the shield, Twilight shut her eyes tightly and blocked her ears with her hooves.

There was a loud ping from the grenade rather than the typical explosion, one that made Twilight’s ears feel like they were under hooves on a chalkboard. Despite her protected eyes, spots of yellow could be seen from under her eyelids. When she felt it was safe to look, she saw the hippogryph attackers rolling on the ground with talons over their eyes. Their groans provided a cavalcade over the aftermath of the bright explosive.

“That’s what I like to call the bangflash!” Pinkie exclaimed proudly, all the while the hippogryphs retreated towards the disgraced shouts of their chieftain. Oghren and Shale moved up to attack, but Twilight held them back with a hoof. Though they looked puzzled, they obeyed as Twilight watched the hippogryphs fly away.

“Fools! Cowards! Running from light and sound! Get back down there and kill them!” While Quick Kill continued to rant high about them all, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash made their way to the edge of the cloud temple. She hovered near a loose patch as she wondered as to how to harvest it.

With a deep breath, Rainbow reached out with her hooves and grabbed a good portion of the cloud. There was a slight prickle in her hooves as she pulled the cloud away from the larger aerial structure. Flapping her wings away from the cloud, she pulled hard until she had a sizable amount in her grip.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened at the act of weather manipulation before her, something that elder pegasi spoke as if it was just another legend or myth. She drifted closer to the cloud, then reached out in the same way as Rainbow did and took hold of the condensed vapour. With a squeak of surprise at the sensation, Fluttershy pulled as well until her hooves were overburdened with clouds.

Rainbow and Fluttershy acknowledged each others’ success and began to harvest the clouds. Fluttershy swallowed her fears and quickened her pace. The pair worked diligently as the hippogryphs were being warded off below them, the unicorns’ shield keeping them at bay well until the pair had crafted a large “cloud raft” big enough to carry everypony save Shale to the cloud temple proper.

Quick Kill watched in dismay as his warriors were beaten by lights and loud noises. “Fall back, you vultures!” He cawed. “They will come into the temple! We must defend the Matron!”

The hippogryphs took flight, returning to the cloud temple. Their squawks and insults not once relented, and yet they were unable to harm the party. Twilight smiled. No one was hurt on either side, and they would be able to get inside the temple for as long as Zecora’s potion would hold them.

Rainbow and Fluttershy descended with their cloud, grins on both their faces. “This is completely awesome,” Rainbow said, “Could you imagine what the pegasi could do if they remembered how to control clouds! They could rebuild their kingdoms! Pegasi could have stable homes again!”

“Once we stop the conflict between the Dalish and the hippogryphs, I will be sure to have you and Fluttershy show all pegasi that they can cloudcraft once again.” Twilight looked forward to giving hope to an entire people. For the first time since her arrival to the Everfree Forest, Twilight felt a sense of hope that they could resolve this without bloodshed.

Pinkie bounded onto the cloud raft, and much to everypony’s surprise, she rolled around on the fluffy substance with glee. “This is really soft and squishy!” Pinkie chimed, “I bet it feels wonderful to take a nap on! Come on everypony! Hop on!”
With a jump, Twilight landed on the cloud, impressed by just how soft it really was. She smiled as she trod along the cloud, carefully levitating Spike onto the cloud. Thankfully, Zecora’s potion worked on dragons, and Spike was all too eager to make for himself a quiet spot to take a nap.

While the others jumped onto the cloud, Oghren looked on with trepidation. “Donkeys are meant to stay on the ground, not go up… there. With the clouds and the flying and… damn, I need to be drunk for this.”

“What’s wrong Oghren?” Rainbow said with a smirk. “You’re not scared are you?”

Oghren flustered for a moment before clumsily climbing onto the cloud. “Yer lucky you got wings, flappy,” he muttered as he clamoured aboard. Rainbow stuck out her tongue before she took a position to the rear of the cloud, ready to push their raft towards the temple.

Twilight counted everyone and noticed one pony did not join them. Not counting Shale, she turned to see Trixie still on solid ground next to the golem. “Aren’t you coming with us, Trixie?” Twilight asked. Trixie shook her head in response.

“Trixie will be staying right here with Shale, if that is all right with you, Sparkle.” She looked to Shale, who had her head turned away like a spoiled foal. Twilight would have been amused to watch such a mighty golem sulk if she wasn’t constantly reminded that Shale could crush heads as easily as grapes.

While Trixie’s help would be valuable, it was a good idea to make sure Shale was not alone and potentially up to no good. “As long as you two stay safe. We’ll be back soon, I promise.”

Shale grunted. “Just hurry up so I can get back to crushing things under my hooves. I bore rather quickly, and the loud Trixie does not make up for good conversation.”

“Perhaps because I actually enjoy talking to solid stone walls who have more personality.”

“At least I have a personality. From the way you talk, I’d say it was ‘Sparkle this,’ ‘Great and Powerful that’…”

Twilight rolled her eyes before nodding to Rainbow and Fluttershy. Both pegasi pressed their hooves against the cloud and flapped their wings as hard as they could. The cloud shifted from underneath them, with Twilight’s guess that Zecora’s potion made them incredibly light, or the illusion of such to be able to stand on the cloud.

Pinkie hung off the rear of the cloud, waving at Trixie and Shale as they came closer to the temple. The experience to be in the air exhilarated her, and Twilight could not stop herself from a wide grin. This was the closest to flying she had ever been, and now she found herself envying the pegasus ponies for having such a wonderful gift as flight.

The ground slowly became farther and farther away, with Shale and Trixie as mere specs on the landscape while the mouth-like entrance to the temple welcomed them. Banners with heraldry unknown and forgotten hung on high, blazoned with the sun, moon, and stars. Great statures of enchanted alabaster stone unicorns welcomed into the temple, almost unsullied save for a few dark stains on the surface.

“Wait… unicorns?” Twilight was the first to descend from the cloud raft as she approached one of the welcome statues. This simply did not make sense. Why would a temple made from a massive cloud have statues of unicorns within it? Unless this was an old Imperium temple, but in that case, there would have been statues of dragons.

Rarity held one of the banners in her magic as she regarded the stitch work with great care. “This was clearly hoof stitched, yet only to my critical eye. Smells ancient, my dear.”

“This entire place seems old and strange.” Applejack walked the empty halls, gazing up at the ancient mosaics that lined the ceiling of the temple. “Ah can feel it. This place is just brimmin’ with magic.”

Twilight slowly nodded, while her mind wandered and sought out any forms of magic. The sudden tug on her horn was sharp, her attention caught by the grip of temple’s residual magic. She looked to Rarity who nodded in silent reply, and the force pulled her to come down one of the large hallways. While her interest in the magic piqued, there was still the matter of finding the heart of the temple and the Thunder Roc. She called the party together and began to explain her plan.

“Let’s split up into two groups. That way we can cover more ground. Applejack, you take Fluttershy, Oghren, and Pinkie and go to that hall over there. I’ll take Rainbow, Rarity, and Spike into this hall here with the magic. With some luck, one of us should be able to find where Notus is. Whatever happens, we can’t instigate anymore aggression between us and the hippogryphs. They’ve fled to defend their matron, whoever that is. Maybe that will leave the path to Notus clear.”

“Sounds like a plan, sugarcube,” Applejack replied, “C’mon ya’ll. Let’s get searching.” With a smile, both Wardens led their respective groups down the two separate halls while the statues of the ancients watched them.



When they first entered the sky temple, Pinkie thought the place was beautiful and serene. To her, a party here would be fun if it was just a small casual affair. A temple was a place of celebration, though it would have to be more subdued than Pinkie’s usual parties. With the white enchanted stone, clouds and ancient images of the celestial bodies, it seemed to be a crime to mess the place up.

Yet the deeper they delved into the temple, the less wonderful the temple seemed before it became simply lonely to walk through. There were no signs of other ponies or of the hippogryphs, and their hoofsteps made no echo as they squished against the cloud floor. It began to feel like walking through the temple with a weight on her shoulders.

Only one solution for that then! “This is the song that never ends! And it goes on and on my friend! Some ponies started singing it not knowing what it was! And they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song—“

“Pinkie, hush.” Applejack shot Pinkie a look that silenced her. Pinkie’s ears drooped, and she held back her song. Applejack sighed. “Sorry, Pinkie, but we can’t go on singin’ when the hippogryphs are still about. Best to keep quiet so we don’t give ‘em a chance to ambush us.”

It was always the same message. Pinkie, quiet. Pinkie, that’s nonsense. This is no laughing matter Pinkie. Nothing was a laughing matter anymore. There hadn’t been any laughing since… since…

Oh no… I can’t even remember the last time I had a good laugh. Pinkie felt her mane fall straight against her head. Not just a forced laugh, but a genuine, hearty, this-feels-like-I’m-in-a-party laugh.

“Something’s wrong, Pinkie?” Fluttershy said, as she noticed Pinkie’s straight mane. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I… I can’t stand it.” Pinkie fell onto her haunches. Her body refused to move. “All I’ve seen is death, pain, and sorrow. I can’t stand watching it anymore. Ever since we came into this forest, we’ve just seen more of it! I get it, the ponyspawn are the threat that’s gonna gobble up all of Equestria and make ponies the world over unhappy. But here we are trying to stop two sides from killing each other, and neither side wants to just sit down and talk!”

“We have to believe in Twilight’s plan, Pinkie,” said Applejack, “If we can’t do that, then we’ll fail before we even try.”
Pinkie shook her head. “But what if we try and we can’t get them to see that the fighting will destroy them both. What if we fail?”

“You’re letting that there Archdemon get into your head, aren’t ya?” Pinkie stared at Applejack, who gritted her teeth in frustration. “Archdemon of Despair. Pinkie, Ah need you to listen closely. All of us have fallen to despair at least once. Except you. Ya’ll like… like the rock of the group.”

“Shale is the one made of rocks.”

“Ah mean in a… figurative sense. Listen, when things are at their worst, for some reason you always have a smile ready for any one of us. If you don’t have that now, Ah don’t rightly know how we are gonna keep goin’. Just remember that party you’re gonna hold at the end of all this. We have to make it to that party, don’t we?”

Pinkie’s lips curled upward in a slight smile at the thought of the massive party she had planned since she joined up with Twilight and Applejack. The “We Defeated the Ponyspawn and did not get Eaten” party would be everything she ever wanted. There would be cake and pie and other sweets, there would be games and music, the kind of party that would be recorded in books! Most of all, her friends would all be there, and they would celebrate the end of the Blight together!

Quiet giggles erupted from Pinkie as she visualized the event. She would get Rarity to bob for apples, and maybe even introduce Fluttershy to a few cute stallions. On that thought, she may as well find one for Twilight as well. The responsibilities of the Grey Wardens made a lot of stress after all. Couldn’t do that for Applejack, because she would be queen! That would make the party a royal party! She’d bet Oghren wouldn’t be able to drink an entire jar of pickle brine. She’d teach Shale the pony pokey! She’d…

Go to Geldwall with Rainbow Dash to find her family. She’d be with her sisters and mother again and they would be happy again. It was everything Pinkie wanted. All they had to do was beat the Blight. No problem.

“Thanks, Applejack,” Pinkie said, “I needed a Pinkie Pick-Me-Up!”

“Ain’t no problem at all, sugarcube.” Pinkie’s smile returned to her while they continued to walk the empty halls of the temple, looking for any sign of the hippogryphs or the Thunder Roc. Unfortunately, the halls were bare of any life at all.

Oghren cleared his throat, and the sound echoed off the clouds before he turned to Fluttershy. Pinkie suppressed another giggle. She thoroughly enjoyed their “interaction,” especially with Angel glaring at Oghren from Fluttershy’s back. “So uh… you pegasuses have some pretty nice wings.”

Fluttershy’s cheeks flushed red. “Um… th-thanks?”

Oh come on, Fluttershy, Pinkie thought, he’s giving you a compliment. You do have nice wings! And I bet having lived underground, Oghren hasn’t seen many nice pegasi like you.

“They’re uh… real pretty and functional! Yeah, that’s it, functional!” Ogrhen leered ever closer to Fluttershy.
Pinkie continued to grin. See? He’s right! Those are good traits! Oghren isn’t so bad, he just needs to control his drinking. And take a bath.

“Um… thanks?” Fluttershy pawed at the cloud floor.

I’m sure he’d be fun to be with. Just tell Angel to behave and…

“So, do your wings, ya know… pomf?” Oghren wiggled his eyebrows.

And boom goes the lyrium.

“I don’t understand.”

“Ya know, you see that handsome devil across the street, and just get this urge to…”

Applejack turned her head towards the group and hushed them. Slowly she drew her sword, her head nudged through a doorway. Oghren muttered about being “blocked,” but wielded his axe in his large teeth and took a spot next to Applejack. Behind them, Pinkie and Fluttershy looked on as the two warriors inched closer to the entrance of a large room.

Pinkie’s ears caught what the other two listened for. It was a muffled cry of a hippogryph, but much higher pitched and near. There was also the sound of a low thrum in the room, like that of a growl. Pinkie opened the flap of her bomb bag, then tied her tail around a grenade. She took in a deep breath and let it out in silence.

Inside the room, a small hippogryph, a hatchling by Pinkie’s guess, was cornered by a beast she had only heard from in stories. As large as a minotaur, it resembled a manticore, a big cat with sharp fangs and claws, bat-like wings, and an elongated tail like that of a scorpion. Normally reclusive creatures, manticores were dangerous foes if provoked, though they could be chased off by numbers.

This was a manticore out of nightmares. Normally manticores had brown or tan coats of fur, yet this breed had black fur. Its snake-like tail appeared vicious with an impaling spike on the end of it. Like most corrupted creatures, its eyes were black sunken pits. It was what that Dalish scout Blitzer said, a manticore corrupted by the ponyspawn Taint.

It was a mantiskarn that now threatened a young hippogrph and ready to devour it. Lying in a pool of blood that was soaked by the cloud floor was none other than Quick Kill, his eyes closed as he bled out on the floor.

“We have to do something!” Pinkie shouted. The noise was enough to distract the mantiskarn from the fledgling hippogryph. The great beast turned around to look at those who interrupted its easy meal. The mantiskarn roared and revealed fangs of black and paws lined with razor claws.

“It’s corrupted!” Applejack leaned forward into a battle stance, ready to fight the monster. “There’s no helping it now except showing some final mercy!”

“Mercy at the end of my axe! I love that idea!” Oghren howled as he charged axe first towards the mantiskarn, narrowly dodging a swing from those black claws and replying with a strike of his own.

The mantiskarn roared again and turned his entire body as he brought his tail around for an attack. It swatted Oghren away and into one of the enchanted stone pillars, his back smacked against dense cloud. While Oghren reorientated himself, Applejack took command of the fight and leapt on the mantiskarn’s back. She delivered a quick slash at its hide with Silverbite, the magical phantom strikes followed the initial attack. Each wound opened by her sword blows poured with black blood as it flowed from the monstrosity.

While Fluttershy took aim with her bow, waiting for a moment where her arrows would not harm either Applejack or Oghren, Pinkie galloped towards the young hippogryph. It was as frightened of her as it was the mantiskarn. Its little mouth screeched as it tried to swipe at Pinkie with tiny talons. Despite the fight behind her, Pinkie flashed the child her brightest smile.

“Hi! I’m Pinkie Pie!” She winced as the mantiskarn roared again, an arrow embedded into its chest. With her full attention to the young hippogryph, Pinkie began again. “I’m here to help. Can you understand me? I’m your friend?”

The hippogryph nodded, then looked to Quick Kill and pointed at him. “Papa! Papa! You… help?”

Pinkie nodded and then checked over Quick Kill’s wounds. Several were superficial, but there were a few critical areas where the mantiskarn’s claws had dug deep. Quick Kill’s breaths was shallow, forcing Pinkie to be quick with a remedy for the wounds. She gripped a poultice in her teeth and yanked the stopper out. With the smell of the healer’s fluid in her nostrils, she poured the contents over the damage.

Quick Kill’s eyes fluttered open as he took a sharp intake of air. He looked to Pinkie with a snarl, and flexed his talons, only to stop when she playfully bonked him on the head.

“That’s enough of that, Grumpy Feathers. Now hold still.” To accentuate her point, Pinkie reached into her bag and pulled an old stale muffin and popped the pastry into Quick Kill’s beak. He squawked in protest, but his wounds and stuffed beak did not allow him to object too much. The poultice began to work slowly in regenerating his flesh, which allowed Pinkie to watch the battle continue.

Oghren was back to his hooves and furious, roaring obscenities the likes Pinkie had never heard before. Axe clenched tight in his grip, the berserker slammed the edge of his weapon into the mantiskarn’s hind leg. A sickening crack echoed as one of the mantiskarn’s smaller bones snapped, but it was enough to hobble the beast.

In response, the mantiskarn hissed as it raised its long tail, the lance-like tip poised to impale Oghren. Before it could skewer him, Applejack jumped up and took a swipe at the tail. The blade missed as she landed, yet her smile did not falter.
Silverbite did not miss. The silver strike from the phantom blade severed the tail, with the mantiskarn’s spike
fallen through the cloud floor while black blood flowed from the limb. The mantiskarn howled its agony while the tail whipped back and forth, spraying the tainted blood all over the large room. Pinkie knew all too well the dangers of the black blood, so she turned and covered both Quick Kill and the young hippogryph with her body. She was not wounded, and her armour would protect her and them from the blood.

Oghren took the opportunity to strike. He galloped hard on the clouds, then leaped onto the back of the mantiskarn. His axe hacked away at its body as he climbed onto its neck. Struggle as it might, the mantiskarn could not remove Oghren, flailing helplessly until he was able to make the decisive blow. With one mighty chop, Oghren embedded the axe into the mantiskarn’s neck before swinging his whole body downward, the blade of his axe dragged the axe across the mantiskarn’s neck.

Once Oghren was on the floor and away from the mantiskarn, the beast let out one last gurgle for a breath before its death, the throat now completely ruined. Pinkie tried to look away from the grisly death, but forced to accept it for what it was. The mantiskarn could not have been saved thanks to the deep corruption of the Taint, and had to be put down.

Fluttershy flew over to Pinkie and the hippogryphs, concern on her face while she looked over the young hippogryph. Applejack slid Silverbite back into its sheath, while Oghren approached Quick Kill with his axe still in his mouth.

“Step aside, Pinkie, that bird has been giving us nothing but trouble!” Oghren snarled as he scraped the floor with his hoof, and the weakened Quick Kill mirrored the noise. Applejack held Oghren back with a hoof and shook her head.

“Can’t ya see he’s in no condition to defend himself?” she said, “But we are being careful. Ya’ll haven’t given us much reason to trust ya. What were you doin’ dancin’ with a mantiskarn?”

Quick Kill slowly got up to an upright position. He eyed all of the ponies carefully, especially Oghren. I wish he would just put that axe away, Pinkie thought, didn’t he listen to a word Twilight said? We need to stop fighting if we can help it!
Quick Kill held the young hippogryph to his side, and looked at each pony before he lowered his head. “This is my son. He is everything to me. When the Dalish killed my mate during a skirmish, I promised to protect him. I will continue to do so. I thought I was doing so when the mantiskarn invaded our home. Not only did I fail, but you… you helped me.”

Pinkie stepped towards Quick Kill, who flinched as she approached but otherwise did nothing. “Now do you believe us? Do you believe we didn’t come here to fight you, but to talk? To end the conflict with Dalish and the hippogryphs?”
Quick Kill turned his head away from Pinkie Pie. “The purple hara’tan killed one of my brothers,” he said.

“You have no idea how awful Twilight feels whenever she’s forced to kill.” Pinkie extended her hoof towards the hippogryph chieftain, a simple gesture but one she wondered if the Dalish ever tried. “All she wants is peace. All we want is peace. Can we at least give peace a try?”

He regarded the offered hoof for a moment before Quick Kill looked down on his son, who cuddled up against his large foreleg. With a heavy sigh, Quick Kill carefully took the hoof into his talons, as he stared Pinkie straight into her blue eyes.

“I do not make that decision,” he explained, “I only lead my brothers and sisters in the defense of our flock. But I can lead you to our matron. She knows Notus well. She will listen to you.”

Pinkie beamed as she shook Quick Kill’s talons with enthusiasm, her smile wide to everypony else as Quick Kill turned to lead them to the hippogryph matron. Oghren shook his head in disbelief while Applejack gave a sigh of relief.

“Fluttershy, we’re gonna need you to fly over to Twilight and the others to get them over here.” Fluttershy nodded, then took off back towards the entrance of the temple as Applejack turned to Pinkie. “Ah sure hope we can get this matron to listen to us.”

Pinkie nodded slowly, but her smile did not fail. “She will, Applejack. I know she will. She has to want to end the fighting as much as we do.”

***

The tug on her horn would be enough to drive many unicorns mad, as the rather insistent force behind it was not relenting the closer Twilight got to the source. She quickly shot Rarity a glimpse, only to see that her fellow unicorn was admiring the remains of a society that was still kept intact within the long abandoned sky temple. Perhaps it was thanks to Twilight’s special talent in magic that she could feel the tug.

“I’m telling you, darling, I do feel the magic in the very walls, but nothing is beckoning to me except wanting to know where these beautiful fabrics came from.” Twilight sighed at Rarity’s response and wanted little more than to have the tug end quickly. As curious as she was, it acted like a rather obtrusive itch that no amount of care could cure.

Rainbow took to the air inside the tall halls of the sky temple while Twilight walked beside Rarity with Spike on her back and marveled at the temple. While they searched for any sign of the hippogryphs or the Thunder Roc, Twilight could not help but try to hypothesize why there were images of unicorns inside what should obviously be a pegasi temple. It was not an Imperium temple, but it was not a Chantry either. The temple gave Twilight a rather uncanny notion of nostalgia.

As they walked through the halls, Twilight felt the tug get stronger as a notion of familiarity washed over her. Out of the corner of her eye she could have sworn she saw specters of unicorns going about their daily lives, yet when she tried to bring the shades into focus, they would vanish as quickly as they came.

“Are you okay, Twi?” Spike said, “I’m getting kind of worried. You’ve been moving your head everywhere since you said you felt that tug on your horn.”

Rainbow Dash piped in. “Should I go get Applejack so she can use that templar freaky stuff to your magic?”

A cold fear ran down Twilight’s spine at the mention of the templar. “No! No, I’ll be fine.” What’s wrong with me? Applejack is my friend, and it wouldn’t be the first time I was under the effect of her anti-magic.

Please… hurry…

Twilight jumped as another voice much different from hers made its presence known. In my head! What is going on here!? Maybe we should just turn around and find Applejack.

Don’t… please don’t leave… don’t leave me…

Twilight let out a soft sob, her eyes watering up while her chest felt tight. Why did she feel sad? Where were these emotions coming from? Her best hypothesis was that the magic still held a residual effect throughout the temple.

“Twilight, dear, what’s the matter?” Rarity levitated her cloth and wiped the tears from Twilight’s face. “Nopony wants to see you cry. Did something happen? Let us help you.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Twilight said, though her words became choked in sharp gasps. “I think… I think there are memories in the temple. The closer we get to the source, the more pronounced they become, and…”

Go! Hurry! We need to get to the librarium quickly!

Get away from us! We did you no harm!

Anger surged within Twilight as her face went from sorrow to rage. “Come on!” she shouted, stomping a hoof on the cloud floor. “We need to get to the librarium, quickly! Those Imperium pigs will not ruin everything we have ever strived for!”

The Imperium? Why am I thinking about them? Why am I angry? Why do I know where I’m going?

BE GONE!

Twilight galloped through the halls as Spike held onto her armour tightly, Rarity and Rainbow Dash behind her. She knew every turn, every twist in the temple as more images, voices, and emotions flooded over her.

Mischievous. Come quickly! There is something I want to show you…

Happy. This is going to be great, just you wait!

Attentive. I’m going to teach you something very important.

They entered a small room filled with enchanted wooden shelves lined with crystal phials, much to Twilight’s disappointment. She imagined a grand library filled with tomes and scrolls filled with magical knowledge. Instead she was in a phylactery storage room, all the horn fragments inert. For all intents and purposes, they were dead.

Save one.

Displeasure. This is not the best form of education, but it is the quickest. Take the memories of a unicorn and place them within yourself. You’ll believe them to be yours.

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing, er, thinking.” Twilight approached the radiant phylactery with both eagerness and trepidation. Something pulled her towards it, and while she wanted to resist, the manipulations from the phylactery were stronger. Spike jumped off her back and tried to push against her leg.

“What’s gotten into you, Twilight?” Spike said.

Annoyed. What does it take to make you leave me alone! Twilight bit her tongue. Her horn glowed as she took hold of the phylactery and brought it closer to her. She inspected the phylactery and took note that it appeared little more than typical phial with a single shard of a unicorn’s horn. Despite the simplicity of the artifact, the horn fragment teemed with power, and Twilight could not wrench her eyes away.

“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash flew into the libriarium, the wind from her flight threatening to knock over several of the phials. “What’s going on? Why did you just run off on us like that?”

“I’m so sorry, Rainbow. It’s the phylactery… it wants to show me something. Memories, emotions, I don’t know how better to explain it.” Flirtatious. That pegasus has great flanks, what I wouldn’t do to… NO. I will NOT be saying that, thank you very much, memories of perversion.

“What if it is a demon, darling?” Rarity’s horn glowed bright as she tried to grip the phylactery away from Twilight, only to be rebuffed. In response, the memories all spoke a single word in unison, one that every mare, stallion and foal would have said at least once in their lifetimes.

No.

Twilight winced as hundreds of voices filled her head at once, but was still able to turn and shake her head at Rarity. “There is no demon. I don’t think there is a threat at all. I feel among all the emotions desperation. They want to show me something. I’m going to see what it is. Just give me a moment.”

Unable to tell Twilight differently, Rarity, Rainbow and Spike took a step back while she unfastened the stopper on the crystal phial. The small unicorn horn fragment was brimming with power as she brought it forward to her horn. The memories were now filled with anticipation which now leaked to Twilight. She took the risk and touched her horn with the fragment.
Her vision blurred and all noise dulled around her until everything faded to white.

***

“Twilight? Twilight, are you all right? You seem to be zoning out.”

Twilight blinked rapidly as she felt vertigo take over. She swayed for a moment and her vision blurred, yet she felt gentle hooves hold her upright. She was still in the Librarium, she was still surrounded by phylacteries, and she was still…

Wait… weren’t the shelves filled with dull phylacteries? When her sight became clear, Twilight could see that the temple was much cleaner than she remembered, that the horn fragments looked pristine and neatly arranged, and that she was face to face with a unicorn mare she did not recognize. The newcomer had a white coat and a bright red mane. She wore what appeared to be an amalgamation of white robes and armour, lined in gold with a sword strapped to her side. In the center of the chest plate a crest that bore an image of the sun and moon locked together. Looking down on herself, Twilight found she wore the same ensemble.

“It’s me, Moondancer,” said the mare. “Are you sure you are all right? Maybe we should take you to the healer. You’ve been working on those phylacteries of yours for a long time; I think you should get some rest.”

Twilight looked down at her worktable to see several phylacteries held in suspended animation above her instruments and tools. Her work on placing the memories from the other phylacteries into a consolidated source continued smoothly, though a sense of urgency remained. Yet as Twilight took a look around, she saw that she had no staff and no lyrium to work the magic weaves of such magnitude. Just how was she able to make such a grand consolidation of experiences without the proper magical tools?

“I… I think I should take a break,” Twilight said, suddenly feeling very tired. “Let’s… Let’s go for a walk. Maybe you can bring me up to speed with the goings-on in the temple.”

Moondancer smiled and the pair left the Librarium into the busy halls of the temple. Many were young foals, who stopped and bowed towards Twilight with smiles on their faces. As she walked and smiled at the younglings she felt her hoof slip and punch a hole into the floor. The children giggled for a moment as Moondancer shook her head.

“You’ve been so busy you forgot to refresh your cloudwalk spell, didn’t you? I swear, Twilight, you’ll fall to the surface if you don’t remember to keep your spells up to snuff. I know you are Star Swirl’s prized pupil, but even he would wonder if you should take a break.”

“Sorry, Moondancer,” Twilight said as she cast the spell. New memories flooded over her mind’s eye, as she had never cast such a spell before in her life yet as she stood on the cloud floor firmly she knew she cast it perfectly. She needed more direct answers as to what was going on.

Moondancer snickered as they continued to walk. “Those memories must be jumbling your own.” Moondancer’s eyes spun about in jest. When Twilight gave her glare, Moondancer cleared her throat. “Sorry, sorry. Anyways, well, you’re Twilight Sparkle, one of the Followers of Light or Arcane Warriors as those outside our order call us. You chose to specifically study on the Solar Road. You are also chief custodian of our Librarium and working on a memory phylactery for future generations to study from our thoughts directly!”

Twilight smiled at the thought, and events were not so bad in the cloud temple for the memory. Whoever possessed it held a position of respect Twilight was comfortable with, though she did not know what a Follower of Light was. She still had many questions; chief among them when in time she was. Without that knowledge, Twilight did not have a good reference guide as to the state of the world.

This must have been like an early Chantry! Twilight was in awe at the discoveries of the past she encountered, yet that troublesome suspicion that amazement would give way to horror did not leave her mind.

“What about this temple?” Twilight asked, “It’s beautiful to walk through.”

“We received this temple from the Skylords almost five years ago after helping them fight off the demons of the Fade that had passed through their capital of Pegasopolis. Commander Hurricane herself appeared to hoof over the temple to us, though we are a bit close to the Imperium stronghold of Ostequus for my liking.”

Ostequus! Twilight shook her head as memories crashed into one another. Her memories of Ostequus as an old ruin and the sight of a massacre caused by the ponyspawn were now contradicted by those of an immaculately kept fortress, now home to thousands of Imperium battle-mages.

“It’s here that we teach unicorns how to harness and manipulate the innate magic within themselves.” Moondancer’s horn and sword hilt glowed with a red aura, moving the walls of clouds aside for them to bypass a group of youngsters. Twilight raised an eyebrow at this news.

“You mean we don’t take magic from the Fade as a source?” Moondancer turned around and looked at Twilight as if she had grown another head.

“That’s how the Imperium magisters and battle-mages get their magics, taught to them by those awful dragons they worship as gods.” Moondancer shook her head. “It’s the easy way to learn magic and gain power, but the Fade is filled demons. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have been trying to calm the Fade for decades since the Hexumvirate ended the chaos in the Material Plane, but as long as the Imperium is giving strength to demons they won’t hold for long. Star Swirl has seen it.”

A loud ring echoed in the halls of the temple as Moondancer turned her head towards the source. The happy faces of the foals turned to looks of fear as they hid near adults. “The alarm.” Moondancer took a deep breath as she drew her sword with a flick of magic. She held it near her via levitation. “It’s coming from the Eluvian chamber. You still remember how to use Sophia, right?”

“Sophi-what?” Twilight looked about her until Moondancer pointed at the sword that hung against her side. As Twilight looked at the sword, new memories overcame her, these ones encompassed years in a practice yard with her sword Sophia until she won duels against other Arcane Warriors. She knew how to manipulate the sword perfectly with her magic or wield it in her mouth. Whoever possessed these memories before, their experiment with the phylactery worked.

Twilight knew things because she could remember them as if they were her own memories. Before she touched the phylactery, her knowledge of individual spells would have ranked about a hundred or so. Now she knew hundreds of spells, including chants and glyphs, all of which were practical in life or in battle. Most important of all, she knew what time period she was in.

The time before the invasion of Canterlot by the Imperium. Before the dark times. Before the ponyspawn.
They very fact that she now experienced life before the Chantry made Twilight almost giddy in anticipation. There was simply so much to learn about a world long forgotten after the fires of war and turmoil took their toll on the land. The alarm reminded her that amazement would have to wait.

Moondancer burst into a gallop, her sword by her side with Twilight behind her. They ran towards the center of the temple, as several more Arcane Warriors followed behind them. As they approached the central chamber, Twilight let out a gasp at the power she felt.

In the middle of the room was a massive mirror, shimmering with all the colours of the rainbow as magic simply flowed from it in great abundance. Twenty more Arcane Warriors stood around the magic artifact, swords gripped in magic while small shields were formed. Twilight followed suit, and watched as the warriors stood in formation, their shields blazing with energy as they held their swords aloft.

Twilight felt a sharp pain in her head as the mirror rippled for a moment. “Something is coming out of the Eluvian! Everypony to your positions!”

The mirror shifted until it almost spat an old weathered unicorn stallion from the glass. He was tall yet slight of frame with a long grey beard, yet Twilight watched many of the Arcane Warriors approach him with reverence. She heard the name ‘Star Swirl’ muttered. This was her mentor in the memory.

“Close the Eluvian!” he shouted, “Canterlot is lost! Celestia still does battle against the monsters and demons, but the city is gone! Forever corrupted!”

Twilight galloped to Star Swirl’s side. Her heart raced as she looked over the serious burn marks along his hide as well as several disfiguring gashes. They would not heal completely, but they could be reduced to simple scars. As she called for a healer, Twilight held Star Swirl’s hoof in her own as the other Warriors along with Moondancer closed the Eluvian.

The once luminescent portal was dull and lifeless now until a faint blue aura formed around it. The Eluvian glowed for a moment before fading out of existence, with Star Swirl’s pained gasps for breath as he pointed his horn and sword at the mirror.

“My teacher?” Moondancer looked at Star Swirl, who shook his head.

“I had to send it away,” he muttered, “We cannot use it anymore. The Hexumvirate will come seeking the Eluvian. Asha’Bellanar will want to take the fight directly to the Sisters. If they were to strike now, they would defeat Celestia. They must not find it. Not now. Luna is coming.”

There were gasps all around her as Twilight tried to register the information. She had just witnessed the end of the golden city of Canterlot and the news of Luna’s arrival in the world. The two events that changed the world forever in recorded memory and this was a memory that was now hers.

Twilight’s vision blurred white as the memory transitioned to another. She was still in the cloud temple, but now she stood on a balcony that overlooked the Everfree Forest. Looking down made her dizzy, and as she fell back she collided with another pony. Twilight rubbed her head, and she found she was face to face with Moondancer again.

“This is no time for one of your dizzy spells, Twilight,” Moondancer chided, “Have you finished putting all the memories into the phylactery?”

Twilight nodded. “Yes. All of the Followers imprinted their memories and emotions into a single phylactery. I’m not one to brag, but I can confidently say it’s one of the single greatest repositories of experiences this world has ever seen.”

“Good… good…” Moondancer’s voice trailed off as she stared down to the surface, as tears flowed from her eyes. Twilight bit her lip as she took in the enormity of the event. Every single Arcane Warrior prepared for battle as Star Swirl stood in the middle of them all. His face was grim, yet he did not blink as he watched the ground.

Below, Twilight saw a highly elaborate sedan chair carried by four strong pegasi land in front of the temple. The chair shone with the light of the sun reflected in luxurious silks, gold, and gemstones. Rarity would have adored the sedan yet Twilight felt uneasy watching the chair be lowered by slave stallions. The silk curtains parted, and she almost felt the collective gasp of the followers.

Stepping out of the sedan chair was a pegasus tall and beautiful, clad in the most luxurious silks that hugged against her body as chains of gold jewelry wrapped around her limbs. Her coat was as white as snow while her mane was a brilliant shade of red. Eyes of lavender looked up at the Followers of Light as a smirk formed around full, luscious lips.

Immaculate wings spread open as the pegasus took flight, and she flew with incredible speed until she was suddenly face to face with Star Swirl. Twilight winced as she turned away from her, cheeks flush with colour as she felt her face grow hot. There was an unnatural beauty to the pegasus that pulled Twilight towards her, the memories of the phylactery filling in the gaps.

She was Lianari, the Dragon of Grace, and one of the Hexumvirate. She would become the Archdemon of Destruction. One of the most powerful beings the world had ever known, and she was right in front of Twilight now.

“Such handsome and beautiful ponies, how I want to take you all to my palace. We could have so much fun.” Lianari looked over the Arcane Warriors one by one, and Twilight felt her knees shake as the Old One looked at her. Her gaze then focused on Star Swirl, who remained stoic. “Come now, Star Swirl. We do not need to fight. Just give your loyalty to the Imperium, your fealty to the Hexumvirate, and your love to me.”

Lianari stroked Star Swirl’s beard as a lover would, only to have her hoof pushed aside. “There is nothing between us but battle now, dragon,” he said, “You would spare me only to have me sit in your harem while my pupils died at your claws. You appear a temptress, but we all know you are nothing but a vile wyrm.”

Her face contorted to one of fury for a moment as she pointed a hoof at a stallion. “I could take him as a lover! Or her! Or anypony! You are the only unicorn I respect, Star Swirl, for outwitting me in battle! But I have you and your Followers hostage within my power! I could kill you all with a single spell. I offer you mercy! Imagine what my brothers will do. My sisters. Asha’Bellanar will never allow your order to live. Take my hoof and spare your ponies.”

“Our time was sealed a long time ago, Lianari.” Sadness gripped Star Swirl’s voice, yet his resolve did not waver. “If you had not come, one of your brothers and sisters would move to stop us from aiding Princess Luna. Even now Luna rises to defeat you.”

“I offer you my grace one last time, Star Swirl. Do not throw it away for Luna who struggles with her identity. We shall meet her in battle, and the Hexumvirate will triumph. Join with me. We can be together. I love you.”

“You love the idea of possessing me, Lianari. But a creature like you does not know what love truly is.”

Lianari turned her back on Star Swirl, tears of black ichor streaming down her face. Star Swirl closed his eyes for a moment before speaking. “Twilight. You and Moondancer escape to the Librarium, and ensure that the memories will reach a future generation. They must know the truth. Go, now!”

The Dragon of Grace turned around, her face ruined by her tears of black while her eyes shone a murderous red glow. “YOU WILL ALL DIE FOR INSOLENCE!” she screamed with the voice of a dragon god. “I OFFER YOU MERCY, AND YOU SPIT IN MY FACE. I OFFER YOU PLEASURE, AND YOU SHOVE IT AWAY! DIE! DIE! DIE!”

“Run!” Moondancer’s scream was the only thing Twilight heard as she galloped away from the Old One as an ear shattering screech rocked the temple. Twilight felt blood running down her ears as her drums were shattered, but as she looked back things were worse. Star Swirl the Bearded became obliterated by the force of the shout, his very form disintegrated as the Arcane Warriors reeled from the shout.

Twilight felt her heart skip a beat as she watched her mentor fall so easily, yet reminded herself that she was in a memory. There was nothing she could do that wasn’t already futile. She watched the end of the Followers in this temple and perhaps the world over until they reemerged as the Chantry. If she did anything, it would be worthless. She could not go against real history.

Now deaf from Lianari’s scream, Twilight could only feel and look her way towards the Librarium while her ears continued to ring. Her hooves moved on their own accord as she galloped next to Moondancer, the memory more blurry than before. When they arrived in the Librarium, Twilight ran over to the special phylactery, horn and sword ablaze with power. She had to complete the phylactery before Lianari’s sorcery finished the job of eliminating them all.

Though the damage to her ears muffled all sounds, Twilight could at least hear herself speak. “I just need a few moments to finish putting our memories into the phylactery,” she said. Twilight turned to Moondancer in hopes of putting her memories in quickly. What she saw was a unicorn whose eyes were wide with shock as she tried to mouth a word.

Splinters formed around Moondancer’s horn while her eyes rolled into the back of her head. Shards of her horn now fell through the cloud floor. Twilight stopped her work on the phylactery, reaching a hoof towards Moondancer. Without her horn, there was no magic. Without magic, the cloudwalking failed, and Moondancer plummeted through the floor.

Twilight felt hot tears stream across her face as she watched her only friend in the memory be taken away from her so suddenly. She gulped as the realization that it would soon happen to her became apparent and turned her focus back on the phylactery.

Yet instead of the phylactery, there were now blurry images of a unicorn in front her. The image had no definition, just fuzz as if her eyes were watery. It spoke, not with one voice, but with the voice of hundreds.

“Before my horn was shattered by Lianari, I put all the memories of Moondancer before my own. All I remember are these days, my final memories. I don’t even remember my name. But I was never important. I wanted her memory to live on, for I loved her. I wanted the Followers of Light to live on, for we were the last.”

“But I have so many questions!” Twilight called out to the memory while the temple became more and more blurred. “I only scratched the surface! I need to know the truth of magic, of the Archdemons, of the Followers!”

“Everything we knew is now yours. You are the first Follower in over two thousand years. My armour and weapons, they are yours. Treat Sophia with respect, for she is a temperamental blade. As the last, I proclaim that you follow the Solar and Lunar Roads. For you are the Arcane Warrior, and through you our teachings will not be forgotten.”

“Thank you… Twilight…”

“Twilight…”




“Twilight…”

“Twilight!”

Twilight awoke with a start as she rubbed her head, a strenuous migraine thudding against her skull. The dull and lifeless phylactery lay on the ground, while her friends stood over her. “How long was I out?” Twilight asked as she got to her hooves. She felt felt Spike’s gentle claws hold her steady.

“Twilight, darling, you were out for a few minutes at least.” Twilight balked at Rarity’s words, the memories she encountered in the phylactery rushing back over her. She had seen Star Swirl the Bearded return from the Fade, and his declaration of the fall of Canterlot. She saw Lianari, the Dragon of Grace, end the Followers of Light. Twilight walked over to a spot on the floor and felt fresh tears in her eyes. This was the same place Moondancer fell to her doom, all the life and joy gone in an instant by a petty dragon’s shout.

All her life Twilight had studied and practiced magic, yet little could have prepared her for this discovery. Her journeys had helped her to learn about the world. She had learned of magic wonderful and terrible, but they all went by the same basic rules, that all magic was bound and originated from the Fade In a matter of moments, this world and everything she knew was a lie.

She knew things now. She knew that she had magic within herself, rather than a need to channel the power of the Fade. She knew that sometime in history, someone told the world a lie that shackled the unicorns under the hooves of the Imperium, a lie that followed through into the Chantry.

This new knowledge frightened her, yet she showed nothing but mild annoyance as she shook off her nerves. She would confide the past in her friends later, for now she had to focus on the present and the troubles between the Dalish and the hippogryphs.

“I’ll talk about it when we are out of the temple,” Twilight said, “I’ll be fine.” She turned back to the phylactery. The memory had mentioned that its weapons and armour were hers. The sword felt like a focus similar to her staff. What if…

Twilight’s horn began to glow as she focused on the image of the white and gold armour of the Arcane Warriors. “ARMA,” she said, surprising everypony as her voice reverberated with power. In a flash of light, her dirty and damaged leather armour transformed into the traditional gear of the Followers of Light. A light chest plate covered her torso while a silken cape draped over her shoulders as boots of shining metal formed around her hooves.

Nodding, Twilight spoke again. “GLADIO.” A simple belt formed around her waist, but was more important was the sheathed sword that came with it. Sophia felt right to have to her side, similar to her old staff, yet the sword produced an air of calm around her. She drew the blade and checked the edge, and noticed how the light from the sun reflected off the blade. Twilight smiled, and for the first time since her staff broke, felt whole.

“Whoa…” Rainbow stood agape as she checked Twilight’s new gear over. “How did you… those look epic!

“When we get out of the Everfree, I’ll tell you everything.”

As they left the Librarium, Fluttershy flew up to the other half of the party, out of breath. “Oh, Twilight, you have to come quickly!” she said, “We found Quick Kill, and he’s taking Applejack, Pinkie and Oghren to see the Matron.”

“All right,” Twilight said, looking at the others. “This could be a trap, but let’s get ready to parlay.” Twilight let Fluttershy take the lead, her confidence rising to new levels. She had never felt so right before, so prepared. She was ready to meet the Matron of the hippogryphs.

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