• 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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Final Chapter

Final Chapter

As a veteran of the Filesian occupation wars, Loghoof was no stranger to the horrors strife and battle caused to pony psyches. Everything he knew of warfare, leading hosts of ponies ready to die for their country, even lifting a sword and fighting on his own did not prepare him for this.

The Wardens were right, in the end. Loghoof could not have anticipated the sheer savagery of the ponyspawn, nor their tenacity when the battle began. The pony body was not made for hours upon hours of fighting, but it seemed ponyspawn could force the fight upon them as much as they desired. The death of the great star beast tore down the already fragile troop morale.

Now ponyspawn were attacking the gates of Trotterim with everything and anything they could, and it would take a miracle to hold them back. Loghoof shifted the bloody sword in his mouth, darting his eyes back and forth to find some sort of advantage he could capitalize on.

There, he thought as he eyed what appeared to be a massive thelock the Warden had called “The Vanguard.” Cut off the leadership’s head and the rest will surely follow.

“Macintosh!” Loghoof called out. “Keep this area secured while I go after their leader!”

“Ain’t no way you gonna take that fella alone, Loghoof,” Macintosh replied. “Look at the size of ‘em. He’s bigger than me, and he’s probably stronger to boot.”

“We have to buy the Wardens time to defeat the Archdemon. If we can take out the Vanguard, perhaps the ranks of the ponyspawn will fall back. If you don’t stay here and keep the gates secured, the ponyspawn will flood into the city. The Wardens cannot defeat the Blight and the Archdemon at once.”

“If you fight the Vanguard, you’ll be killed!” Macintosh stomped his hoof for emphasis. “This ain’t time for a sacrifice, Loghoof!”

“Then I will go with him.” The Filesian general Puissant gallop towards the two, though Loghoof glowered as he heard his declaration. Despite his cold glare, Loghoof could never seem to be rid of the Filesian. He was doing this for Equestria’s safety, not for Filais. The general only had his nation’s interests at heart.

Loghoof stood in front of Puissant. “I have troops ready to follow me. I don’t need the help of an accursed Filesian. I never wanted you in this country to begin!”

Puissant sighed, drawing his warhammer from his back. “When will you look past your petty ways, Loghoof Mac Tir. I am here to help you. I am here to protect Filais and Equestria and to make sure the Blight is stopped here and now. Perhaps our histories are too filled with animosity for you to see past my heritage, but for one night, this night I ask you this. Stop looking at me as if I was one of the Filesians that hurt you and look at me as if I were a friend. At the very least your ally for the next few minutes.”

If they were not staring down the legions of the Blight, with an Archdemon wreaking havoc over Trotterim, Loghoof would have challenged Puissant then and there. The very notion of Loghoof calling a Filesian a “friend,” after all the years he had suffered under their occupation…

Loghoof turned his attention to the Vanguard, watching as the hulking monstrosity of a ponyspawn tore into the defenders of Equestria. The blade he wielded in his tusks held a razor’s edge with no real point, ending in a squared blade. A bloodletter blade, as Loghoof knew them, one that was meant to spill as much blood as possible.

“Very well,” Loghoof finally relented. “We will face the Vanguard together then. Macintosh…”

“Trotterim will be the same as you left it.” Macintosh smiled, looking up just in time to see a screamer fly towards his head. With a swift movement of his sword, Macintosh cleaved the screamer in two, sending both parts to crash into the ground in a mess of black gore.

Loghoof shook his head. This was a stallion he attempted to kill!

Without another word, Loghoof and Puissant began their mad sprint to the Vanguard as he continued his brutal advance to the gates. The thelock general was flanked by several of his breed, all armed with their impossibly functional wargear. Despite his retinue of guards, they did very little, giving the Vanguard a wide berth as he continued to cut a path towards the main gate of Trotterim.

“For Equestria!” Loghoof’s battlecry resounded from his mouth, galloping towards the Vanguard and his force with reckless abandon. Seeing the Hero of White River charge into battle, the ponies of Equestria followed Loghoof into the thick of the fray, pushing and fighting through the throngs of ponyspawn.

Puissant charged with him, shouting in his bizarre language for his chevaliers to attack. Loghoof forced himself to admit that the Filesian chevaliers proved themselves to be capable warriors in their own right. Despite wearing gaudy armour and using ridiculous tactics, Puissant trained them well that their ideas simply worked against the ponyspawn. So well in fact that of the thirty chevaliers that came over to Equestria, only two had fallen.

The chevaliers smashed into the ranks of the ponyspawn, skewering them on spears made of silver and steel, quickly dislodging the heads from ruined bodies before turning back for another charge. The Vanguard eyed them with a quiet fury, powerful jets of steam exiting the nostril holes of his helmet. One chevalier charged towards the Vanguard himself, bringing his spear upwards to the heart of the massive ponyspawn.

He never stood a chance. The Vanguard reared on his hind legs, kicking and howling through his helmet and sounding like a terrible creature out of nightmares. The intimidation factor worked, causing the chevalier to slow down, only for his spear to snap in two as the Vanguard smashed his hooves on top of it. The chevalier looked up at the hulking Vanguard, only to have his neck caught by muscular forelegs.

The Vanguard turned his hidden gaze up at Loghoof and Puissant as he lifted the chevalier’s neck so it would be exposed. The chevalier tried to kick and scream, desperate for escape, but the Vanguard proved too strong. Slowly the thelock general dragged his bloodletter across the neck of the Filesian knight, never once having his eyes depart from Loghoof and Puissant. Blood poured down the ruined neck and across the Vanguard’s blade, dripping down his hoof to the ground.

“Monster! You shall pay for your crimes!” Puissant reared up and charged, rushing past Loghoof towards the Vanguard. The other thelocks threatened to attack, only to be held back by a snarl from their leader. Lifting his hammer, Puissant swung with all his might in a crushing blow. Despite the strength behind the blow, the Vanguard parried it peerlessly, blocking the hammer with his sword.

Loghoof would not allow Puissant to fight alone, not when the fate of Equestria hung in the balance. With a quick gallop, Loghoof made his way to Puissant only to be blocked by two of the Vanguard’s followers. The two thelocks growled and gnashed their tusks, the rusted blades showing their serrated edges.

He gritted his teeth around his sword, waiting for the thelocks to make the initial attack. Loghoof tactics relied on his enemies making a mistake and capitalizing. Loghoof kept his distance from his attackers, warding their attacks with both his sword and his shield. The thelocks struck hard and fast, with Loghoof unable to match their strength and speed.

Parrying one blow allowed the other to slash through Loghoof’s armour. The older teyrn grimaced as he felt the bite of their serrated swords tear the metal of his plate into his skin. Loghoof replied with an attack of his own; bring his blade up in an arc, aiming for one of the thelock’s necks. The blade cut true, but the wound was superficial at best. The thelock responded with a stiff strike from the pommel of its sword against Loghoof’s head.

Loghoof fell, dropping his sword as the two thelocks loomed over him with their blades dripping with his blood. He cursed his feeble aged body. If he was younger…

There was nothing to be said though. Loghoof was old, and like how he could never truly challenge the much younger Applejack and the Warden, so too could he not challenge the strength of the ponyspawn. He tried to get back on his hooves, hoping that he could call on what little reserves of energy to continue the fight. He was a soldier, a warrior, and he would die on his hooves.

His legs buckled under the pressure of trying to stand, only to be bashed by the helmet of a thelock. This time, Loghoof fought back, kicking up his sword and catching it in his mouth. Loghoof then struck, digging the sword into the neck of the offending thelock. With all his hate, Loghoof pounced on the thelock, dragging the ponyspawn to the ground and pushing his sword deeper into the creature’s body.

The other thelock brought his sword up in the air, with Loghoof looking up and just barely able to catch the blade with his hoof gauntlet. Loghoof screamed as the blade cut through his armour, dropping him to the ground again next to the bloody corpse of his fresh kill.

Puissant looked over his shoulder at the downed Loghoof before cursing in his native tongue. Raising his hammer in a wide arc, he struck the Vanguard hard against the side of the helmet, dropping his bloodletter. Despite the opening he had obtained, Puissant galloped to Loghoof’s side, swinging his hammer again at the thelock that threatened Loghoof.

The first blow was a mirror image of Puissant’s attack against the Vanguard, his hammer’s head smashing against the helmet of the thelock. Once the thelock was stunned, his weapon dropped to the gound, Puissant followed up with a downward crush, pummeling the thelock’s skull to a black bloody pulp.

Puissant moved to assist Loghoof. This time, Loghoof swallowed his pride and allowed the Filesian to help him to his hooves. “Thank you,” Loghoof said, as quietly as he could. “I never expected such form a Filesian.”

“We have much to teach you then, my friend.” Puissant laughed, only to drop his hammer. Looking down at his chest plate, he saw the end of his chevalier’s spear thrust through his chest, blood pouring from the fatal wound.

Puissant’s eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell over, dead, with the Vanguard standing over his body with the bloodletter gripped between his tusks. The iron bars that masked his eyes made the Vanguard’s fearsome visage even more so, thanks to the body of the fallen general at his hooves. Loghoof’s mouth hung open as he struggled to get away from the Vanguard.

“No…” Loghoof choked on the denial in his voice. Puissant had just saved him. This was not how an honourable soldier should meet their end, at the hooves of a monster like the Vanguard, like any ponyspawn. He was a good pony, a good Filesian.

“A friend.” Loghoof looked up at the Vanguard as it laughed a terrible noise that filled him with both dread and anger. Puissant was right. Loghoof could have looked at him as a friend, rather than with distrust and hate. Loghoof tripped on his wounded leg, collided with the thelock body he had slain, his sword still sticking out of its chest.

Is death what Loghoof needed to learn? From the moment he was born, death was all around him thanks to the Filesian occupation. He learned the harsh truth of his world. He sent the son of his best friend to die in Ostequus. Now he could only look on as the one Filesian, a people he thought of as his most hated enemy, who had tried to be his friend died.

The Vanguard’s shadow loomed over Loghoof’s trembling form, its long, serpentine tongue licking his tusks in anticipation of pony meat. “Despair,” the horror hissed, lifting his sword high for a killing blow.

Loghoof lifted his head up to the Vanguard and shouted with all his energy and fury. His was a primal scream from some sleeping fury he held within, something that gave the Vanguard pause. That moment of hesitation was all Loghoof needed. It was the opening he wanted to have to fight back.

Once the Vanguard was staggered by Loghoof’s act of defiance, the former Teyrn of Glenwell removed his sword from the ponyspawn corpse, swinging in a quick arc towards the neck. The edge of his sword caught onto one of the Vanguard’s neck plates, tearing it and several pieces of twisted flesh that made up the large thelock’s soft underside.

The Vanguard reacted violently, lashing out with both his sword and his hooves, though this time Loghoof was ready, twisting his body so his shield would take the blow. Despite the strength the Vanguard put into his attack, Loghoof easily took the shock of his block and replied with a stiff shoulder ram into the Vanguard’s mouth, causing him to drop the bloodletter.

“For Equestria… For Puissant… I strike you down!” Loghoof rallied himself to his hooves, lifting his sword upward and catching the edge into the neck of the Vanguard. The creature roared in pain, lashing its neck in a desperate effort to remove Loghoof and his sword. Instead, Loghoof kept pushing the blade up in a sawing motion, spilling near endless amounts of blood from the Vanguard’s jugular.

Once Loghoof was certain that the Vanguard had finally stilled, he released the hold on his blade and fell over in complete exhaustion. His breathing was ragged as he tried to crawl to the body of Puissant, taking note that with the death of the Vanguard, the ponyspawn were not as certain of their victory, those desperate few pony soldiers able to push them back.

“We did it, my friend,” Loghoof muttered as he laid a hoof on the fallen general’s shoulder. For what seemed like a long time,
despite the current situation, Loghoof smiled. “The Vanguard is dead. We’ll win this. For both our nations. No more ponyspawn in our lands. We’ll go back to the good old days of sniping at each other with words.”

Whether it was delirium through the loss of blood or the fact that the closest thing to a kindred spirit was a fallen general, Loghoof did not know why he continued to speak. “I always did think I would die next to a Filesian. Of course, I always thought I would be the one to kill him, rather than die alongside him. It has been a rare honour, Puissant.”

As the darkness of unconsciousness was about overtake him, Loghoof felt his body shift aside due to powerful hooves, the tingling sensation of healing poultice being applied to his many wounds. Loghoof tried to speak, only to have a bottle shoved into his mouth, the tangy taste of oranges spilling into his gullet.

Loghoof coughed into his hooves as he finally regained his breath, only to look up into the eyes of a tearful and worrying Sunsword. He found himself blushing like a colt once she took his head into her hooves, pressing his face into her chestplate.

“My Lor-” Sunsword quickly caught herself, having forgotten that Loghoof was no longer a noble. “Loghoof. I thought I lost you. I tried to get here as quickly as I could.”

I don’t deserve this. “Sunsword, what are you doing?”

Before he could get an answer, Sunsword kissed him square on the lips even though the battle around them continued. Loghoof was still stunned when a cough alerted both earth ponies that somepony else was watching them.

“Heh, I tried to rut in a battlefield once,” the damnable donkey Oghren said, smirking all the while. “But uh… you might want to wait until after the Archdemon is dead. It’s running around Trotterim right now, and I’m going to find Trixie and Shale so we can help.”

The Archdemon was stampeding over his city? Loghoof quickly got to his hooves, feeling revitalized by Sunsword’s care. “The Archdemon is in Trotterim? I will not allow it!”

“Sunsword, bring my friend’s body back to the gate and defend it with Macintosh.” Loghoof removed his sword from the corpse of the Vanguard, his focus solely on the burning city ahead. “Donkey, let’s find your unicorn and golem friend. So long as I draw breath, the ponyspawn and their master will not take Trotterim! This battle is not over yet!”

***

“The battle is over. We lost.”

Twilight’s eyes were glassy and out of focus as she spoke, her words devoid of any emotion. “Spike is dead. Riordan is dead. We have no more Star Strands. We can’t summon the Elements of Harmony. We have no hope. It’s over.”

“Don’t talk like that!” Rainbow staggered over to the Twilight. “We can still do this. We can still find a way to win! So what if we can’t use the Elements of Harmony? We’ll carve a path through the Archdemon’s scales if we have to! And then we’ll—”

“And then what, Rainbow Dash?” Twilight barked back. “And then you, or Applejack, or myself will make the fatal blow against the Archdemon? Let me ask you, do you even fathom what it means to make the killing strike? Do you even understand what is being asked in trade?”

Applejack scuffed the ground with her hoof. “We give up our lives, Twilight. We know that. Riordan made that pretty darn clear.”

“No!” As she shouted, Twilight felt tears of grief stream down her face as every word was punctuated with anger. “We give up more than our lives. Didn’t you listen? Our very souls are destroyed along with that of the Archdemon. Four Wardens stepped forward, a blade in their mouths, and destroyed the Archdemons that caused the Blights. They get no final rest, they don’t get to go to the Seat of the Sisters, they simply cease to be! Can you stand there in front of me and tell me you can willingly make such a blow, knowing that in the end you will no longer exist?”

All of Twilight’s pent up frustrations and anger was let loose. She no longer cared who her words hurt. Spike was dead. “Even if we did stop the Archdemon, what would any of it matter? There would still be ponyspawn in the Dark Tunnels. Asha’Bellanar still roams the world, hurting fillies just to prolong her twisted life. Ponies in power who are filled with hate like Loghoof and Boreas push their agendas rather than doing what they could for the good of their people. Greed, bigotry... they would all still exist!”

“Spike died… he died for nothing. He died for a world that would have hated him for what he was, hunting him because he was a dragon. He died for a world that won’t even know his name. He died defending ponies who don’t give a single shit about him!”

Her words spent and her throat dry, Twilight’s breath heaved in her throat as she continued to sob bitterly. It wasn’t fair! Spike was still so young, to have his life cut short by a monster was just too cruel. It should have been her that fell. She was going to die anyways; at least Spike would have been able to live a full life.

She suddenly felt a firm hoof lift up her chin, forcing her look into the pussy tear stained eyes of Rarity. “Stop tormenting yourself, Twilight,” she said through her strained voice. “I loved Spike as a brother, as we all have come to love each other as sisters. Do not think for a minute that his death hasn’t affected us all. He was there with you when we all met. You are not alone in his grief, instead know that is shared with all of us.”

“But he would not want to have his death stop us from doing what was right. There is still an Archdemon free, and the Blight continues to rampage all around us. For every moment they are allowed to run rampant, there is another Spike who dies and another Twilight Sparkle who are feeling the same grief. What right do we have giving up when we can save so much pain?”

“But without the Elements of Harmony—“

“We’ll find a way, Twilight,” Fluttershy interjected. “We’ve done so much. Things most ponies could never fathom. We can do one more thing. We can win.”

“We’re together forever, no matter the distance,” Pinkie chimed in. “We just need to stay strong for each other. For Spike.”

“You still have that piece o’ parchment, Twi,” reminded Applejack. “Maybe… maybe there is one last clue in the wisdom of the Wardens of old. If not… then we do things the old fashioned way. But we’ll do it together, come hell or bad apples.”

Twilight looked up into the sympathetic eyes of her friends, swallowing her self-pity as she felt the warmth being shown from their hearts. They were as much Spike’s friends as she was, and they too were feeling his death in their own ways. They were right; it wasn’t fair that she was keeping all the grief, and it wasn’t the time for crying. If Spike were here right now, he would have helped Twilight stand up and ready herself for the challenge ahead.

I’m tired, the doubt in the back of her head said, Spike is gone, and I’m tired of fighting. I want everything to go back to the way they were.

That’s impossible and you know it, Twilight told herself. We have a job to do. A duty. Spike helped us take those steps to become a Grey Warden. For his sake… for his memory, I will see this duty done, even if it kills me.

Twilight took a deep breathe, wiping away the last of her tears with a dirty hoof. “Thank you…” Twilight mumbled, her horn encased in a violet aura as she lifted the parchment marked with the Elements of Harmony. Yet without the Star Strand…

Wait. Twilight paused her thoughts as she looked back on the temple of Luna, on the statues of the first bearers of the Elements of Harmony. The Elements of Harmony were first used against Nightmare Moon, the corrupted Luna, before they were ever used against the Archdemons. That means they couldn’t have had a Star Strand to activate the Elements!

“We don’t need the Star Strand,” Twilight said aloud, causing murmurings of confusion from her friends. “The original bearers didn’t need a Star Strand to defeat Nightmare Moon, and nothing in the parchment says anything about using the relic of Luna. But that means something else activated them…”

Twilight’s eyes widened, a sparkling glimmer in her pupil as realization struck her cold. “She pointed a hoof at Applejack. “Honesty… you’ve been nothing but honest with everypony you’ve met, Applejack, even when a lie could have made things easier. You are not only honest with your words, but honest to yourself when you accepted the crown of Equestria.”

“Generosity… Rarity, you’ve shown the most generosity of any pony I’ve ever met. Whether it was time, your appearance, to even your own life, you gave it all freely expecting nothing in return. Even under the threat of Flemeth, not once did you falter.

Kindness… I’ve said it before, I will say it again. Fluttershy, you have the kindest heart that would warm even the coldest of hearts. Despite the cruelty the world and its inhabitants have shown you, you hold on to that kindness as if it were a lifeline, and through you there is a small beacon of light for others to emulate.

Laughter… Pinkie Pie, your energy and your spirit are limitless, and so are you. Your very smile brightens the world, even when the very forces of despair try to bring you down. I feel happy when I see you, as if I know everything is going to be all right.

Loyalty… Rainbow Dash, you’ve stayed with us when it would have been better to fly. You’ve kept true to your oath, even when it would have been easy to break it. Through thick and thin, you’ve stayed true to what it means to be a loyal friend, and with that, I thank you.”

Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, Loyalty. Five of the Elements were gathered, that much Twilight knew, but it was her duty to awaken them with the Element of Magic. Slowly, she closed her eyes and let her magic, her true magic from within, guide her spell. Her horn began to glow a soft, white light, before exploding in a cascade of radiance.

I can do this, Twilight reaffirmed. I can awaken the Elements. I have to believe that Spike’s death was not in vain. That he had faith in me when we left the Tower to become a Grey Warden. That his faith in me was not misplaced. I have to believe in myself, that I can carry on the fight to the bitter end, that I won’t be burdened by despair.

I have to believe in my friends… not just these ponies, but the others too. Trixie, Shale, Oghren… they fought and suffered with us as well. I believe in our friendship because friendship…

“Friendship is Magic.”

As the words fell off Twilight’s lips, her horn exploded with magic, beams of light being emitted from the tip of her horn. Every colour of the rainbow illuminated from her spell, encompassing her friends in a soft aura of light. A feeling of calm serenity washed over Twilight as she felt a soft weight press against her forhead. She opened her eyes to look up and see the Element of Magic tiara sitting on her head, the divine star centerpiece shimming in arcane light.

Twilight’s battered armour was replaced with the magical wargear of her element, her body encased in violet plate and flowing robes that hummed with magic. Sophia floated to her side, but this time the blade was engulfed in a lavender flame. Despite the inferno on her sword, Twilight smiled at the sight. It reminded her of Spike’s firebrand, and the new form her weapon took seemed fitting, somehow.

Her friends were soon similarly equipped with the same Elemental armour they donned when they fought against Asha’Bellanar. Their wounds closed shut, broken wings and slashed flesh healing instantly in the light of the Elements. Everypony smiled at each other as they felt the power course through their veins.

“This is it,” Twilight said as she took a step forward to pursue the Archdemon. “Let’s finish thi—“

“Wait!” Twilight turned to the interruption of her speech to see Loghoof, Oghren, Shale and Trixie gallop towards them. The sight of such a motley crew made Twilight wince, their wounds were visible in the light of the Elements. Shale looked especially bad, as most of her head was missing and the rest of her body was cobbled together with various stones.

“We’re coming with you,” Trixie said. “We’ve come this far with you all. There is no way Trixie is just going to let you take all the glory for yourselves!”

“This is our fight as much as it is yours,” Loghoof added. “Equestria is at stake. I may have been your enemy once, but now I fight by your side! Let us rid this once beautiful land of the Archdemon forever!”

Shale lumbered over to Twilight, looking down with only one remaining eye. “Battered I may be… I will still fight with my friends. It will take more than an overgrown minotaur to stop me. Let us be rid of the abomination once and for all.”

Oghren looked around for a moment, and Twilight felt a lump form in her throat. “Where’d Spike go?” he asked, though his voice caught in his throat. He knew Spike would never leave Twilight’s side.

Instead of waiting for an answer, Oghren gripped his axe and began to rush through the trail the Archdemon left behind. His tail was pulled to keep him standing still, with Pinkie giving him a sad smile.

“You can’t go rushing off like that,” she said, lifting a grenade with a heart inscribed on the side. “Stand with the others! We’ll get you all ship-shape lickity-split!”

Oghren listened to Pinkie, standing with Trixie and the others, though Twilight could see he was barely keeping his berserker rage in check. With a single turn of the timer, Pinkie tossed the Element-empowered healing grenade their way, shielding her eyes from the sparkling cloud that burst from the bomb.

Where the ragged and wounded had stood, now was a group of fully healed and revitalized allies ready to charge into the fray. Loghoof looked at himself in amazement while Trixie hugged her signature hat and cape. Even Shale was restored to her mighty self, her stonework and augmentation crystals clean polished to mirror sheen. Oghren was healed as well, but he could no longer sit still, galloping off after the Archdemon.

“Oghren’s got the right idea!” Rainbow called, flaring her wings and taking to the sky. “Let’s take this to the Archdemon together! Charge!”

With their spirits ignited by a common cause and the Elements glowing with vibrant life, the party surged through the streets of Trotterim, following the trail of careless destruction the Archdemon left behind.

It did not take long to find the dragon itself, as its body still dragged the chains held tightly by ruined ballistae. The crazed eye of Uthemiel swivelled in all directions, only to stop as it turned almost completely around, staring at the sight of the Elements of Harmony and their allies. The Archdemon turned around slowly; regarding the assembled force with what Twilight guessed was a mix of trepidation and fury.

Again Twilight saw the image of the unicorn avatar appear on the Archdemon’s head, but instead of the rage she showed before, the shadow of Uthemiel appeared frightened. Her eyes widened as she took in the site of the sacred jewels that made up the Elements.

Images flashed in Twilight’s mind, some rapidly giving way to the next while others lingered. She saw the battlefield outside of Trotterim, being shown the corpses of hundreds if not thousands of ponies, their lives snuffed as hordes of Ponyspawn continued to descend onto the city. The image of the battlefield flashed again, this time showing countless foals and family members of the soldiers mourning over their bodies. Another flash, and this time Twilight was shown bodies of those she knew, of Zharia, of Wise Eyes, and of General Puissant, all who had fallen in battle.

Again the view within Twilight’s mind’s eye shifted, this time to a burning city. The Archdemon flew over Trotterim, breathing out her shadowfire and reducing the city to ash. The flash-transition then showed the battle between the Archdemon and the Ursa Major. She saw the Ursa fall and shattered like glass against stone.

The next image made Twilight pause, as the Archdemon showed her Spike’s death again and again and again. In between each recollection of his murder, Twilight was shown images of the deaths of all her friends, each one screaming in agony as the shadowfire put them to the torch.

Twilight replied to the Archdemon’s last ditched attempt to unnerve her by firing a bolt of violet energy against its jaw. The black dragon recoiled as the blast rocked it, forcing the demon to take a tentative step backwards while Twilight advanced.

How?” the visage of the unicorn Uthemiel said with disbelief. “How is it you know not of fear? Of despair!? How can you be immune to my influence?”

“I’m not immune,” Twilight replied. “I do know of fear, of despair. You’ve shown me plenty of both. But I can look past both to do what’s right. I am not ruled by despair. And I will do what I must. Because I am a Grey Warden.”

Twilight’s horn flashed again, and another, more powerful violet beam struck against the neck of the Archdemon. Sophia flew from Twilight’s side, the flames searing the ebon dragon’s scales while cutting cleanly through her flesh.

“Everyone, listen to me!” Twilight’s voice echoed as lifted her sword above her head. “I’m going to channel a spell that will use the Elements of Harmony and expose the Archdemon’s heart! Keep the Archdemon occupied!”

“Will do, Twilight!” Applejack galloped at full tilt, a magically enhanced Silverbite held tight between her teeth. The moonsteel blade seemed to glow a brilliant white light as Applejack slashed the air in her assault on the Archdemon, each slash forming a magical edge in the air before speeding off to cut the dragon’s hide. The Archdemon tried to answer back with a swift claw, but Applejack proved too quick, dodging the claws and reaching the Archdemon’s chest.

Silverbite cut through the Archdemon like a hot knife through an apple, splitting the scales and flesh cleanly in twain. Black blood burst from the ugly wound, causing the Archdemon no small amount of pain.

Before the Archdemon could recover, Rarity’s horn lit up and crackled with lightning. Despite the show on her horn, it was her ornate staff that attacked, drawing a glyph in rapid yet fluid motions. Lightning erupted from the edges of the glyph, dancing around the Archdemon and shocking it relentlessly.

As her friends continued to attack, Twilight focused on her spell. She pulled her attention to the east, and focused on the ley lines that connected the Elements together. For a moment Twilight could have sworn she saw the shades of ponies moving through her spellwork, helping in anyway possible. Unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies banded together in another reality native to the Elements, lifting objects into place in the sky.

The first was an apple-shaped mirror, seemingly carved out of rubies and emeralds. The next was another mirror, this time in the shape of a gemstone made of diamonds. Another mirror appeared, taking the form of a butterfly. A balloon-mirror quickly materialized, and then a mirror taking the form of a lightning bolt. The last mirror, a magical star, came into existence nearest the Archdemon, just as the first light of dawn peeked over the horizon.

“Warden! Look out!”

Twilight opened her eyes, spinning on her heels to see just in time the donlock known as the Stalker leaping towards her, his toothed blade ready to repeat the damage it had caused before.

Yet as Twilight was quickly producing a counter spell, the Stalker was tackled in mid-air by Loghoof, forcing the smiling slasher to roll away. “Don’t worry about this runt,” Loghoof said, “Focus on the Archdemon, before there isn’t a Trotterim left to save!”

The Stalker recovered from its barrel roll, only to look up and see that it was surrounded by a crowd of Trixies. They all smirked as their prey tried to attack the images, until one burst into an Oghren, waving his axe wildly as the rage overtook him. Oghren’s axe met flesh in brutal fashion, easily piercing through the Stalker’s armour and tearing the skin apart. It tried to parry, only for Oghren to cleave most of its face off in a single swing, effectively disarming the ponyspawn rogue.

Desperate for a way to escape, the Stalker backed into the tall legs of Shale. It looked up into the disgusted eyes of the golem, and before it could escape back towards the berserk Oghren, Shale lifted her hoof and quickly stomped, crushing the Stalker and its threat in a single motion.

The attack on the Archdemon continued without pause. Pinkie bounded around the master of the Blight, tossing grenade after grenade in its direction. They all detonated at different times, but all the explosions tore into the body of the Archdemon equally. The thunderous blasts and blinding flashes of light debilitated the Archdemon, forcing it to be unable to respond to any attack made against it.

Fluttershy took to the sky, raising her bow against the Archdemon while pulling an arrow from her quiver. With the arrow knocked and ready, Fluttershy muttered something, likely a quick prayer, taking aim at the normal eye. The arrow expanded lengthwise and glowed with a golden aura, the arrowhead covered in runes, and Twilight could feel the power pulsing from the single shot.

Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy fired her golden arrow, wincing in disgust as the empowered shot caused the Archdemon’s normal eye to burst open. The manic eye spun about, but the Archdemon could do nothing but helplessly claw at its own face to remove the arrow.

The crackle of a storm alerted everyone that the attack was far from finished. Rainbow Dash spun in the air, a tornado taking shape and hurtling towards the Archdemon. Bits of debris were caught by the storm, and everyone took cover away from Rainbow’s weather influenced attack. The tornado collided with the Archdemon, too weak to lift away such a large dragon, but Rainbow made her intentions known as she left the whirlwind to fly above it.

Her dagger glinting in the morning light, she spiralled down through the eye of her makeshift hurricane, attacking the distracted Archdemon with a flurry of slashes against its scales. The roar of pain coming from its mouth was muffled by the storm, until the tornado finally died down with a triumphant Rainbow posing outside of it. The Archdemon collapsed from its wounds, a sure sign that the damage was done.

With the Archdemon breathing out its death throes, Twilight knew her opportunity to use the Elements and expose the heart was small. If the Archdemon died from its wounds now, it would return in a new, healthy body, and they would not be able to repeat the same feat again. As the sun revealed itself above the horizon, bathing the charred and ruined city of Trotterim in morning light, Twilight channelled her magic along with that of the mirrors of the Elements.

Each mirror began to hum with magic as a single ray of light shot from the sun, summoned by Twilight’s magic. The beam passed through each mirror, gaining colour, width, and intensity as it journeyed from the east. As the beam passed through the sixth and final mirror, the Archdemon looked up to see the magic of Harmony at work.
In its eyes, Twilight once again saw fear.

“For all you have done… for everypony you killed, for all the lives you’ve caused suffering… you will end, Uthemiel!” Twilight all but screamed, her horn blazing with her magical power. The beam of light from the mirror shot forward, but did not strike the Archdemon. Instead, the beam focused itself on the tip of Twilight’s horn, her eyes glowing white-hot from the power of the spell.

Twilight had never felt more serene as she did right now. Through the power of the Elements, she felt her friends’ very essence course through her body. She felt their hopes, their dreams, and their faith in each other and in her strengthening her magic. In this single moment, she was one with them all, and Twilight was in perfect harmony.

Without hesitation, Twilight lowered her horn at the torso of the Archdemon. The prismatic ray formed from the light of the sun and the power of the Elements exploded from her horn, spiralling into the Archdemon and through its chest, the magic piercing the body in its entirety. The Archdemon made no sound as the beam tore its chest apart, forcing the black heart into the open air.

Yet for Twilight, all she could see was white as the world exploded around her.



Twilight did not know how long she had been out. A few minutes, perhaps more, but the pain she felt burned every fibre of her being. She stood up slowly, listening to the cracks and creaks of her bones, noting that she was no longer wearing the armour of the Elements. Sophia lay beside her, no longer on fire.

She looked to her friends, to see that they were all unconscious. Safe, and relatively healthy, but they would not awaken for some time. This is fate, Twilight thought as she looked to her sword, then up at the Archdemon. This is what I have to do.

Straight ahead, the Archdemon lay bleeding, breathing shallow gasps while its heart pumped away without missing a beat. The disgusting organ seemed to mock Twilight, as the scales of the Archdemon moved slowly in an attempt to hide it. The fact that it was a very large and very real heart rather than the glowing center of magic within Asha’Bellanar made Twilight even more resolute. The corruption of the Archdemons was made manifest in such a vile organ.

Her magic spent, Twilight took the hilt of her sword into her mouth. She could not hesitate. She could not wait. She had to strike here and now.

Urging the last of her strength to her legs, Twilight broke into a full sprint, clenching the sword tight in her mouth. As she galloped, her thoughts drifted to her friends. This would be the last time she saw any of them, and she would never even get the chance to say goodbye.

I’ll miss you all, she thought as she neared the heart. Thank you for everything. Live well for me. Live well for Spike.
Twilight struck.

***








Spike crawled out of wreckage of the Chantry building, unable to move his legs and only his left arm was in any condition to drag him. Yet drag him it did, pulling a coughing Spike away from the ash until he could collapse in a heap. His body, or what was left of it, was a twisted mockery as his scales and his armour were melted together. His entire body was numb from the pain that even the molten steel on his face felt like nothing.

The light of the sun bathed over him as he turned onto his back, and Spike could not help but chuckle at the sight.

“Heh… isn’t that funny, Twilight?” Spike said, “I never felt truly alive in the Tower until we left it, and I saw the sun for the first time in my life. It was beautiful then. Still beautiful now.”

He turned his head slightly, and saw in the distance a pillar of prismatic light stretching into the sky. He blinked again, only to be certain that he was seeing the truth. The spirits of both Twilight and the Archdemon swirled around the pillar of light, the single yet brilliant light of Twilight in battle against the darkness that was the Archdemon.

Spike looked on in fear. If he didn’t do something quick, Twilight would be gone, killed just to slay the Archdemon forever. Lifting his good arm up, Spike placed a claw onto his chest and began to tear it open.

After seeing Asha’Bellanar’s heart exposed, Spike had wondered if all dragons could reveal their hearts. Seeing as how she and the Archdemon could, Spike breathed with relief as his chest cavity opened wide. He looked down to see a single glowing center, taking note of his own heart was no different from the draconic form of Flemeth.

His plan was foolish, headstrong, and the likelihood of failing was exponential.

Spike didn’t care. He would do anything to save Twilight.

“This is it then,” Spike muttered as he let his arm fall limp. “I hope you do all right without me, Twilight. I know this world will be a better place with you in it. Me, I’ve just been your number one assistant. Consider this my last assistance. Goodbye… and I love you.”

He locked eyes with the spirit of the Archdemon, just as it and Twilight’s soul could finally collide. It’s me you want, Spike thought, desperate to be heard. I have your blood in me as well. I’m a dragon. You want me. Use my body to become strong. It’s me you want…

The Archdemon’s soul stopped its flight, turning its blood red visage towards the fallen Spike. Ignoring Twilight completely, it flew towards Spike with reckless abandon, before shifting into the form of a twisted unicorn mare. Spike looked around, seeing his own spirit being lifted from his body to meet the Archdemon head on.

“You… one of the broods… your will…” the Archdemon screamed, trying to get away from Spike. It felt odd that even though his spirit was small compared to the unicorn, Spike felt amazingly strong. He grasped at the fleeing tail of the Archdemon, pulling it towards him. His spirit-self started to decay at the same time as the Archdemon, bits floating away into the air and evaporating into nothingness.

“I won’t let you hurt Twilight anymore.” Spike jumped onto the back of the unicorn-Archdemon, digging his claws into her body. “We’re both going down. Way down.”

Uthemiel continued to shriek and struggle, even as more bits of her soul continued to break away. To Spike, it felt more like… falling asleep. His eyelids became heavy, and despite the writhing body, he felt comfortable and relaxed.

Soon the light of the sun gave way to a simple visage of pure white. He could feel himself floating away, but all sound was muffled. He could not even hear the screams of the Archdemon.

“Goodnight…” Spike closed his eyes, and let the soft glow of oblivion carry him away to everlasting rest.

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