• Published 1st Feb 2014
  • 978 Views, 76 Comments

One of these Days - Wrabbit



Far in Equestria's past, an old threat once more rears it's head, seeking revenge on the princess who thwarted it; a princess that is no more, her life claimed in the effort to destroy it. But this time is different. This time.. it can&

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Chapter 15: Separate Ways

ONE OF THESE DAYS


Chapter 15: Separate ways


~21 Aevum Illuminationis~

Standing before the chalkboard, Twilight inspected her equation again, looking for the fatal flaw in her calculations. She knew that one must exist, or she would have figured this out by now. The daunting wall of symbols and numbers would have scared off all but the most studious and serious students of magic, separating the wheat from the chaff. Not finding anything wrong with the equation itself, she instead moved over to the mental diagram she would need to use in order to cast the spell itself.

She was still examining it with a critical eye when Nyx walked in to the library's main laboratory. “I thought I'd find you here. What are you working on this ti-” The sphinx's voice caught in her throat as her eyes landed on the hideously complex mental diagram, one on which she had hoped she wouldn't have to lay eyes again for a long time. Swallowing, she walked up to the chalkboard, and not for the first time, she regretted ever agreeing to help the alicorn with this project. “This again?”

“I am certain I hath erred somewhere, but its location yet confounds me!” Twilight said angrily, slamming down the chalk in her magical grasp back into the tray.

Nyx was taken aback by this show of anger from the normally gentle mare, and her feelings of guilt redoubled. Hesitantly, she laid a paw over a forehoof and asked, “What is this really about? What's got you so upset that you're willing to take it out on innocent objects?”

With a sigh, Twilight leaned into her friend, causing the librarian to blush furiously. “I cannot let this go on for any longer. Every day that she is allowed her freedom, more and more ponies and other creatures- even her own dragons- suffer. She must be stopped, no matter the personal cost!”

Guilt and grief warred for control of Nyx's heart, but in the end, it was that she could no longer stand to see Twilight suffer that was the deciding factor. Picking up the chalk in a paw-turned-hand, she walked up to the board and calmly erased a four, replacing it with a three in one spot, and added a notation mark above another magical symbol before replacing the chalk and stepping back.

Twilight examined the new formula several times, mumbling it under her breath. With a shout of joy, she said, “Nyx! You hath done it! This is the answer for which we hath been searching! I ne'er thought to use the Starswirl Principle, but it doth fit so elegantly!” She grabbed the sphinx in a hug and jumped around in joy, but the librarian was unable to enjoy the sensation; not after giving the mare of her dreams the weapon needed to destroy herself that she had been holding back for months.

(\ /)
( . .)
*(“)(“)
~2015 Aevum Illuminationis~

Brimfrost stood in the ruined throne room, holding out the Elements she had extorted from the ponies, and giving Nightmare her first good look at them. The enormous dragoness was salivating at the thought of what she would do with the artifacts. Casting a simple cantrip, she lifted the stones from the much smaller dragon's paw, holding them up to her eye, inspecting each with a critical eye.

“Aye, thou hath served me well, my loyal minion,” she said quietly. “I do believe this calls for an appropriate rewar-” She halted mid-word as she came to the final orb, scrutinizing it with magically enhanced senses. Flicking out a huge tongue, she wrapped it around the stone, tasting its magic. In a sudden flurry of action, she backpawed Brimfrost, sending her flying over twenty feet to come to a sudden halt as she struck on of the few intact walls and fall to the ground as she bounced off.

”FOOL!” she shouted at the now cowering wyrm. “You've been hoodwinked!” Holding up the false Element of Harmony between two claws, they could both see the clay exterior falling away revealing a chunk of granite underneath.

Turning away from Brimfrost, she looked to a shadowed corner of the room and said, “T'would seem that thou hath been given an opportunity after all, my hunters.”

A scarred, mostly black and blue griffoness stepped out of the shadows and bowed. “We shall need a description of the ponies involved and their last know locations, Your Imperial Majesty. With those, we will return with the artifact you seek, or not at all.”

Nightmare ran a claw tip under the griffoness's chin, whose only emotion was a slight flinch at the contact. “Ah, my sweet Gunmetal. I knew I couldst rely on thee. Assemble thy hunting party. I am sure Brimfrost would be elated to tell thee all she knows about the ponies in question. Howe'er, I would like a little time with her to... discuss her failure.”

As the griffoness left the battered throne room, Brimfrost's screams were already echoing throughout the central complex.

(\ /)
( . .)
*(“)(“)

“Out of all the dumb ideas you've had, I think that this one is the absolute dumbest.”

Paladin paused in the act of taking off her armor to look over at Silver Belle. “Sorry about that, but it has to be this way. Out of all of us, only Knightengale and I have any experience at infiltrating, and no offense to her, but an aganippe is too noticeable for our purposes right now.” She pulled her breastplate over her head and carefully set it down next to her vambraces, wishing she could at least take those with her, but the armor of a Royal Guard was just too recognizable.

“So you're literally going into the minotaur's den totally unarmed, unarmored, and alone?” The chambermaid walked over and picked up one of the vambraces. “Won't you at least take your wands?”

Gently taking the piece of armor from her hooves, she kissed her on the cheek, causing them both to blush. “Where would I hide them? They're rather noticeable, you know. Besides, it's not like I need them to use offensive magic, they just help me focus it more precisely.”

Silver Belle foundered, trying to come up with a more credible reason to keep the unicorn from leaving on what was essentially suicide mission, but could come up with nothing more persuasive than “you'll die”. Unable to even look at her anymore, her eyes cast downward. “Is this how it will always be with us? You going off into the mouth of danger while I sit back and worry if you'll come back to me alive?”

Paladin enveloped her in a hug, hating herself for hurting her as she felt the mare's tears stain the coat on the back of her neck. “Belle, I have to do this. We're dangerously low on supplies and this minotaur town may be our last chance to lay in some more before we cross over into dragon territory. Now, the fewer ponies that go, the less chance of us being caught.” Pulling back so that she could see her face, but not letting go, she added, “Believe me, I'd rather not go at all, but Awesomeshine needs those herbs, and Silver Script says that she can extend our food supplies if I can manage to get a hold of some honey,” She still had no idea how that would be managed, but whatever worked, “so if I can do that, then it's my duty to do so.”

Ricochet walked up at that moment and said, “I've been thinking it oover, and I think she has the right of it. Better to joost skart the place, boot we need those things, So Knighty'll be gooing with ye.”

“Have you ponies gone deaf, or mad?” Paladin asked. “I said it'll be easier to get in and out alone, so that's what I'm doing.”

A hoof upside the back of her head stopped her rant, and Knightengale landed next to her. “I think you're the one who's gone mad if you think you're doing this alone. It'll be better if you have somepony to look out while you do the lifting, or vice versa. Besides, Kitten has a surprise for you; one that will change all our plans.”

The small, magenta pegasus grinned as she flew over and dropped a pile of cloth at her hooves. “Instead of sneaking in there and maybe getting caught, you'll be going in disguised.” She pulled at the cloth, which was an iridescent green, and gaily caught the light from the morning sun. Silver Script dropped some crude poles next to the pile silently. Kitten tried to find the beginning of the cloth, but quickly became lost under it; still, her muffled voice came out from under the mess, explaining her plan. “What's the one creature minotaurs respect most?”

“An even bigger minotaur?” Paladin ventured.

Kitten's head popped free of the cloth, but her face was peeking out of an obvious cloth mouth filled with unconvincing teeth painted onto a wire mesh. “Dragons, of course!” She crawled out from under the cloth, dragging the head with her, pulling the pile into a vague dragon shape. Silver Script slipped the poles into various pockets, increasing the effect, but the expression on the face was still so silly, that any fear it may have elicited was perfectly ruined.

Silver Belle lifted the head, arching her eyebrow at the googly eyes which refused to look in the same direction. “Wherever did you find this thing?”

“Made it myself!” the little pegasus proudly proclaimed. “I was going to use it for a costume next Harvestfest with Awesomeshine, but never got around to finishing it.”

Paladin shook her head. “I hate to break it to you, but this wouldn't fool a newborn foal, let alone grown minotaurs.”

“That is where I come in,” Silver Script said. “I will place a few illusion runes on it that will complete the look. The spells need a surface on which to work, so this costume should do the trick. So long as it remains intact, the illusion will as well. I will also put a spell on it to make you sound more draconic.”

Rubbing her chin with a hoof, Paladin asked, but what about our legs? How many dragons have you seen with eight legs, not to mention no wings?”

Silver Script pulled out a book from her saddlebag, flipping it to a page with illustrations of dragons. “There are several rare breeds of dragons with six to twenty-four legs. Very few of these breeds have wings much larger in proportion than Knightengale's will be in relation to this costume.”

Looking down at the costume which had been fully assembled, she noted that a space for wings had been cut out. Knightengale sighed. “I guess this means I'm in the back end of the costume.”

“Sorry,” Kitten said. “I wanted to put them where they would normally be on a dragon. Besides, we need Dame Paladin up front in case this dragon needs to use her breath weapon.”

Paladin smiled and shook her head. “Alright, we'll do it this way, but on one condition. How about we all drop the titles with each other? I think we've all earned the right to call each other just by name after all this.”

The ponies all looked to each other, then Kitten said with a smile, “You got it, Pally!”

(\ /)
( . .)
*(“)(“)

It took Paladin and Knightengale a good twenty minutes before they finally figured out a rhythm to walking. Luckily, they had plenty of time to practice on the way, and once Knightengale remembered her training, they had a sort of marching rhythm down.

They march-walked down the trail towards the minotaur town, keeping an eye out for actual dragons as well as other dangers such as small rocks over which they might trip. The town itself was fairly large, but that may have been due to the size difference between the average minotaur, and the average pony. Together in the costume (which had been rendered in loving, animated, and gruesome detail by the detail obsessed Silver Script), they about equaled the average minotaur, but being more horizontal than vertical, they still only came up about halfway to them.

This was made glaringly apparent when they passed the first minotaur, which was dressed in heavy armor and wielding a battle axe. The bovine creature glared at them as they came up, but offered a perfunctory salute. Knowing how regimented minotaur military was, Paladin guessed that there was some lingering discontent between the two races, possibly something to do with their practically being a vassal state to the dragons.

The minotaur's glare intensified as they walked up to talking distance. As they drew even, he finally spoke. “Good day, Great Wyrm. Is there something the humble town of Udderton can do for you?”

Swallowing to wet her parched throat, Paladin replied, “Just here to pick up a few things. As you were.”

The minotaur guard planted his axe deep into the dirt, blocking their path. “I hope there won't be more trouble here, today,” he said menacingly.

Paladin bristled at this and narrowed her eyes, unconsciously doing the same to the illusion. “I said as you were!” she shouted at him with her best military voice, much louder than even she had expected. The minotaur automatically snapped to attention, his axe going to his shoulder before he could even register what he was doing. Paladin telekinetically lifted herself so that she could see him eye to mouth. “Any trouble here?” He shook his head while staring straight ahead at nothing, and she dropped down to the ground again. “Good. I would hate to report back that our allies here were... uncooperative.”

They walked past the guard, looking at the other minotaurs whom had seen the exchange that suddenly found intense interest in watching anything but them. Knightengale, who had seen the whole exchange through a hidden hole in the costume, tapped the lead pony on the flank and whispered, “Nice one. I was hoping that they were as regimented as rumors led us to believe.” Paladin was unable to verbalize a response without it being amplified by the spell, so she settled for a simple grunt of agreement.

They walked through the town, looking for an apothecary, but weren't having much luck. Paladin was seriously considering stopping one of the minotaurs furtively scampering out of their way to ask for directions, when a loud, shouting voice caught her attention. They went through an alleyway, trying to sneak up to the owner of the voice which sounded like he was announcing something momentous. Going through several twists and turns, the pair eventually neared the center of town where a dragon stood on a stage alongside several young male minotaurs holding weapons.

“Come now, surely this can't be all the warriors this town has to offer? I had heard that there was no bravery like minotaur bravery; have I been misinformed?” The blue dragon hectored the gathered minotaurs which either glowered at him or looked away, refusing to meet his gaze at all. “I have seen the 'riches' this town has to offer, and I can tell you with first paw experience that the wealth out there just waiting to be taken- not just from the ponies, but from all our enemy nations far outstrips what this entire little hamlet can promise.”

He held up an amulet which Paladin recognized as belonging to the Earl of Trottingham for the audience to see. “This is but the smallest of baubles from my own collection of loot taken from the softest of targets, the ponies! If this is an example of what is to be had out there for the minimal effort of taking it from the weak hooves of ponies, imagine what the others have to reward your toil?”

“Let's get out of here before we're noticed,” Knightengale whispered. Paladin turned to go, but she noticed a poster hung on the wall. She paused to read it, and felt her blood boil. “What is it?” the aganippe asked.

Wordlessly, the unicorn tore the poster from the wall, and passed it to Knightengale's hoof, who popped her leg inside the costume to read it. “A slave market? But what does this-” She gasped as she read the part that got Paladin really steamed. “They're selling ponies!”

Paladin kicked back, gently, but firmly enough to remind her to be quiet. “Let's find where they're kept, get what we came for, then tell the others and decide what we're going to do about it then,” she whispered as she started back down the alley, towards the market. “We're going to want all of them in on this. As long as I draw breath, no pony will be a slave to any being. It's time they all be made to understand this.”

They wandered through the town, keeping to the alleys as much as possible, crossing streets out in the open only when absolutely necessary. Staying close to the center of town, they found a tall brick building with a wide, tall double door like a barn. The door was slightly ajar, and the pair were about to pass it by when they saw a pony on a leash being walked towards it by a minotaur. The pony was an earth pony mare whose tail hung limp, dragging on the ground as she listlessly walked towards the building, where she disappeared inside.

Intrigued, they walked past the open door, and gasped at the number of ponies they saw inside. Mostly mares and foals, they were all held in pens, well overcrowded beyond the point of comfort. Some wore bandages over their heads or barrels, and a few were bandaged in other places, but all were sporting some sort of injury, even all but the smallest foals. All were in poor shape, being underfed to the point of emaciation.

Dragon or no, the minotaur guards were giving Paladin and Knightengale suspicious glares, so the pair of them hurried along. Without even talking, the two of them looked at each other and nodded. The trip back was luckily uneventful, but still hoof-bitingly nerve wracking. The ever present fear of being discovered, not just by the minotaurs, but by visiting dragons, heightened their sense urgency. Rather than bothering to find the apothecary, they opted to just leave town as quickly as possible, collecting the things they needed along the way as they came across them; though, it had the disadvantage of leaving them short a few ingredients.

Paladin moved them along back to the woods at a quick trot, slowing only once they were safely back under the cover of trees. Coming up to the camp, they were greeted by an enthusiastic Kitten Caboodle. “How did it go? Did you have any trouble?”

Paladin pulled the head off the costume, breaking the illusion. “Gather 'round, everyone, there's something we have to tell you.” She told them of the poster, which Knightengale gave to pass around as she told the tale. “So, we're going to rescue them tonight, before they're... sold.” She bit off the word distastefully.

“Where are they being kept?” Silver Script asked.

Knightengale shook a hind leg, freeing it from the costume. “In a pen near the center of the town. It's... it's not pretty. Most of them appeared to be injured, and all of them starved, but there is no way we're leaving them behind.”

“Agreed,” the scholar said with a nod.

“I'll start preparing some healing and restorative potions while we wait for dusk. Sil, you better work on something that will allow them to keep up,” Awesomeshine said. A dangerous glint had taken up residence in her eyes, causing more than one of her friends to be thankful that they wouldn't be on the receiving end of her ire.

Paladin took the poster as well as a stick of charcoal from Kitten and began sketching out the layout of the town. “Then the rest of us will work on our breakout plan. Now, there are a few dragons there at the moment, but judging by the reaction of the townsfolk, I'm willing to bet that they won't be of much help as long as we leave them alone. So, what we're going to do is...”

(\ /)
( . .)
*(“)(“)

Sneaking into the town was ridiculously easy, even with the regular patrols by guards. Once more, keeping to the alleys proved to be the best plan of attack. Knightengale kept watch from above, flying just above the rooftops, warning them to take cover whenever a patrol came too close, while staying out of sight herself. All of the ponies were disguised by a bit of magic cloth that Silver Script had enchanted to blend them into the shadows, giving them a distinct edge for as long as the magic would last. The sounds of their hooves were muted by special shoes Kitten had made for each of them using thick burlap stuffed with green leaves.

Finding their way to the brick barn was easy enough, especially with Knightengale guiding them from above. The front was still guarded by two minotaurs, but after a quick reconnaissance flight, Knightengale informed them that they could get in hopefully unseen through a smashed window high off the ground at the rear. Arriving at the window, they found it to be over six hooves off the ground, but was indeed, smashed open. After examining it with her monocle, Silver Script gave a nod of approval and stood beneath it so that the other's could get a boost up.

Paladin was the first up, and standing on the provided back, she was able to peer into the poorly lit barn, and confirm that there was no guards nearby. Silently, she jumped into the open window and looked around once more before jumping silently to the cobbled floor. She stood between two pens, making a “shh” gesture to the ponies who silently watched her, hope gleaming in their eyes. She popped her wands out and looked around. Seeing no resistance, she waved at the window, and the other began pouring in.

By now, the nearly two score captured ponies were all looking at them in silent interest and waking their neighbors quietly. As Kitten began to work on the locks to the pens, Awesomeshine sidled up to Paladin and whispered, “I thought you said there were just earth ponies here.”

“There are,” she whispered back.

“Look again.”

Paladin took a good close look at the ponies again, this time looking for horns or wings, but saw none. Sure, some of them had bandaged heads or barrels, but... Really looking at one poor mare's head, she noted the odd, bloody bandage on it, with the noticeable lump it covered. Turning around to face Ricochet, she said, “Take over. I'm going to check for others, further in back.”

Distracted by the operation, Ricochet failed to notice the tone of her voice and simply nodded. The guard silently moved further into the building, towards a door with light escaping from the crack at the bottom. Putting her back to the wall next to the door, she listened to the muffled voices coming from the other side.

“I have had enough of your resistance. If you don't want yourself or your baby to end up like your friends out there in the pens, you better start being a lot nicer to me. Is that what you want? To end up on a dragon's menu? I hear that they especially love little foals.” The deep, male voice had an unmistakeable minotaur accent, and dripped with menace.

“Please don't hurt my baby! I don't care what happens to me, but my baby is all I have left of my husband!” The female voice broke down into sobbing and barely coherent pleading.

Paladin had heard enough. Taking a few steps away from the door, she charged at it, running at full tilt. Shouldering it aside with a BANG, the guard burst into the room to find the mare she had first spotted which had alerted her to the other captured ponies kneeling in front of the minotaur that had been holding her leash. Both looked at her in surprise, but the bruises and tears on the mare's face told a story that sent chills down Paladin's back.

The minotaur grabbed a knobbed club that had been resting against the side of a desk in his meaty hands. Paladin rolled under a clumsy first swing, coming to rest against the far wall, then pushed with her hind legs in the opposite direction as the club smashed into the wall where she had been an instant before. Coming to a kneeling position out of his impressive reach, she brought her wands up and fired both of them a half dozen times, sending blue bolts of energy into his chest.

The minotaur staggered back, tumbling over the desk with a crash of splintering wood, and the mare screaming out in dismay. Paladin followed in pursuit, close on his tail. She jumped onto the desk, ready to let loose another volley of bolts, but stopped herself. The minotaur had landed on a shoddy crib- more of a wooden cage, really- impaling himself on one of the wooden slats. A long, thin plank of splintered wood stuck out of his belly. As he lay there drowning in his own blood, she noticed a small movement amongst the still unbroken portion of the crate, and a tiny newborn unicorn filly crawled out from under the wood.

Paladin used her magic to pick up the baby from the floor and turned to give her to the sobbing mare. She gratefully accepted the filly and sobbed out her thanks to her savior. The unicorn gently lead her out to the main room of the barn and asked, “Are there any other captives we should know about? We're here to free everypony.”

The earth pony mare looked at the rescue party, stunned at the events happening around her. Captive ponies were milling around outside their pens, being tended to by the rescuing mares. While Kitten worked on the locks, freeing them from their bondage, Knightengale and Ricochet stood guard near the front doors and the rest tended to the wounds, Awesomeshine exhausting herself trying to heal all the worst wound with her magic. “N- no. None that I know of. This looks like everypony.”

With a nod, Paladin gestured towards Silver Script. “Alright, time to make our exit. Put it right there,” she said, pointing at a section of wall between two pens.

With a nod, Silver Script walked up to the spot and pulled out a paintbrush and a bottle which she uncorked with her teeth. Dipping the brush in the pot, she painted the wall with a black substance, quickly forming a black semicircle. That done, she put the first bottle and paintbrush away and pulled out a small, black velvet bag and upended it onto the other hoof, pouring out a measured portion of a glittery powder. With a light puff of breath, she blew the powder onto the paint, and that section of the wall disappeared, leaving an opening tall enough for a pony to walk through by ducking, but too small for a minotaur to easily walk through. After poking her head through and looking both ways, she turned and nodded to Paladin.

Turning to the assembled soon-to-be escapees, the sandy unicorn said, “Now, we're in the center of town, but we're going to try to sneak you all out. If you get separated from the group, just head south in the forest until you come to a big lake. Follow the river feeding into it, and it will take you back to pony lands. Hopefully, this whole mess will be over by the time you all reach a pony village. I would recommend staying away from the larger settlements for now, since they are bigger targets for marauders. Everypony got that?” She waited until she got some nods in return. “Then follow me, and stay quiet, for Celestia's sake. If I give the order to run, do as I told you earlier. Let's move out.”

Paladin crept out into the alley back the way they came while Ricochet stood guard, watching the other way. When the last of the ponies had ducked out of the barn, the unicorn led the sad-looking group out of danger. Escaping the town had proved to be much easier than anticipated due to the late hour. They only had to hide in silence twice as street patrols passed by, the large group of ponies surprisingly going unnoticed.

Their good fortune however, didn't last long. Flitting from rooftop to rooftop, Knightengale was the first to notice a trio of suspicious figures also using the rooftops to remain unseen. When one passed between herself and the moon, she could see the silhouette of a griffon, and judging by the way the other two moved, they were as well. As the refugees were leaving the confines of the town, the aganippe dropped down next to Paladin. “We have company. They were content to keep their distance in the town, but out here, who knows?”

Nodding, Paladin replied, “Alright then, change of plans. We'll lead them to the forest, then have them continue on to the lake, while we deal with our pursuers. I'll not let them be taken again.”

Knightengale slowed her trotting so that she could inform the rest of the ponies and have them spread the word. As soon as they hit the tree line, the freed ponies trotted on, thanking their rescuers as they passed, while Paladin and her friends stayed and hid.

They didn't have to wait long for the griffons to catch up. Just minutes after the last pony passed from sight, a female griffon dressed all in black landed and crept through the underbrush, shortly followed by a second. The third kept station over the forest, watching its brethren below. Not willing to let them get too far ahead and possibly find the escaping ponies, Paladin leapt out of her hiding spot, firing her wands at the trailing griffon, a huge fellow easily twice her size.

The bolts struck true, and he whirled around with a screech of pain. Three arrows flew out in quick succession at the flying griffoness, one striking a foreleg and the other two clipping feathers in her flapping wing. Knightengale flew from her cover at the airborne opponent and screeched an ultrasonic scream, disorienting her and causing her to crash into a nearby tree. Rocks flew at the first griffoness, some propelled by telekinesis, others by a hoofheld slingshot carried by Kitten. The rocks were poorly aimed in the dark, only succeeding in getting the fierce creature to dive for cover into some bushes.

The large male griffon pounced at Paladin, intent on disemboweling the mare. Standing in her rear hooves, she sidestepped the clumsy charge and whirled, sending him on his way with extra help from a crescent kick to his rear. Two arrows shot from Ricochet's hiding spot, pinning the large griffon's foreclaw to the ground. More rocks sailed at the hiding griffoness' hiding spot, but none could tell if they were on the mark or not.

Seeing that they were at an advantage, Paladin called out, “Fall back! They've had enough!” and jumped over a bush, disappearing into the night with her friends, heading north. The first griffoness limped out of the bushes, rubbing a bump that was forming on her head and walked over to the male griffon. “The Tartarus was all that, Scandia? I thought only one or two of them had training,” she complained to him.

Snapping the ends of the arrows off with his beak, he replied, “Beats me, Polly, but Plubia better pull her head out of the ground. Big Boss don't like failure, and I don't plan on coming back without the stone, or living the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.” With a grunt of pain, he pulled his foreleg free of the ground and licked the wounds.

A screech of pain followed by a loud CRASH announced the arrival of the third griffon, who stomped into the clearing, pulling branches from her feathers and trying to get her ears to stop ringing by rubbing her ears. “Light, that hurt! We're going to have to take this more seriously. Oh, and Scandia?” He looked at her inquisitively, and she socked him in the jaw with a closed fist, sending him to the dirt, holding a hurt beak. “I am the Big Boss, not that dragon. She's just paying for our services. What I say goes, not her. Got that?”

He nodded in silent reply, but couldn't help but think that her boast might have been more effective had she not shown such obvious signs of fear in Nightmare's presence.

Author's Note:

Sorry about the lateness of the chappie. I had family visiting this week, and little time to write. Also, I didn't think anyone would notice if I was a week late with the update. As a final note, ~3 chapters remain of this failure. Maybe I'll return to more familiar characters when this is over, most likely Twilight; possibly something with Octavia if I can come up with an original plot for them.

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