• Published 5th Nov 2011
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Equestria: Total War - emkajii



War comes to Equestria: with despair, with starvation, with sacrifice and with heroism.

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XXI. Trottingham, Equestria. April, 1252

North of Rollinghoof, Equestria. March, 1252.

"You're being awful quiet, Miss Hooves," Scootaloo ventured. "Are...are you angry with us?"

Derpy nodded. "Extremely."

There was nothing but the sound of rushing wind. Derpy kept flapping her wings. They soared over the marsh, their shadow dancing through the reeds and streams and trees.

"But...you were looking for us anyway."

"Yes."

Again, nothing but the wind.

"So...you're happy to see us?"

"Yes."

"I'm...I'm sorry, Miss Hooves. We didn't mean to...well, no, not 'we.' It was all my fault. I didn't mean to be such a problem."

"I know," Derpy said blandly. Scootaloo could barely hear her over the wind.

"I won't do it again," Scootaloo offered.

"I know."

Scootaloo sighed, and watched the ground go past. It was shaping up to be a long trip back. Suddenly, she thought of something.

"I talked a bunch with the gryphons who captured us. We all did."

Derpy looked back, a hint of friendly interest on her face. "Yeah? And what did you learn?"

"They're not all bad."

"No?" She looked forward, smiling. "That's a very generous thing to say about someone who had you bound up to sell off. Why do you say that?"

"They don't want to hurt ponies. They just have some funny ideas. And ponies get hurt because of them. I know they do bad things. But...I don't think the gryphons themselves are bad. I think they're just wrong."

Derpy nodded. "You're right. I've talked to lots of them, though the shoe was on the other hoof at the time. And I learned the same things you did. They're not like us, not exactly. But they're not bad. I've met many I could be good friends with. I like the way they think, I guess, even if I don't always understand it."

"Yeah," Scootaloo said thoughtfully. "They're interesting. But...but you still kill them. Lots of them. And you even kill the ones you talk to and say you could be friends with."

"I do," Derpy said evenly.

"How?"

"I order it and ponies do it." She shrugged. Scootaloo held on tighter; a shrugging flying pony isn't the most stable of seats. "It's kinda strange, isn't it?"

"No, I mean...how do you not feel bad?"

"I do. I feel very bad." Derpy said, as if she were patiently explaining a simple topic to a slow child.

"Do all the soldiers?"

"No. They see the burnt towns and dead ponies and think the gryphons are monsters. Nopony feels bad about killing monsters."

"But why do you kill them if you know they're not monsters? If you feel bad doing it?"

"Because I have to if I want to save the lives of ponies."

Scootaloo was quiet.

"But...they don't want to kill all of us," she said. "They don't kill the ones who cooperate with them."

"They want to kill everything that makes us ponies. And to do that they'll kill all of us if they have to. It's the same thing. We can either kill them, die, or be slaves forever."

Again, Scootaloo was quiet.

"Nikolai wasn't bad," she said.

"The one I killed?"

"Yes. He wasn't a bad person. He didn't want to hurt us."

"I know. When the scout said she found you unharmed--and that you were walking along the path together--I knew whoever kidnapped you wasn't bad."

"But you killed him anyway. You didn't have to. He was helpless. You could have just rescued us."

"Nobody touches my foals, Scootaloo. That isn't the kind of thing I can just ignore."

"But I'm not...I don't know. I don't know anything. I don't like war."

"Neither do I." She said it a bit like she were letting the filly in on a secret.

"...Really? But you're good at it. I mean you say you don't like doing things but then you do them sometimes you're the only one who wants to do them and then they work the way you said they would."

"I try, Scootaloo. I'm willing to do evil things if we have to do them, but I still try to know what's right. I make mistakes but I keep trying. I think after a while most ponies give up on one or the other."

"That sounds hard."

Derpy thought, then spoke slowly.

"Yes. It's very hard. And it makes people unhappy with me, because they think I'm evil or they think I'm soft depending on what they can't do. And when I make mistakes everypony thinks it's because I wasn't extreme enough in the way they want me to be. Yes. It's hard. It's lonely. It's so lonely. I'm always alone." Derpy trailed off. There was was an awkward silence. She sounded so sad. Scootaloo didn't know how to comfort an adult. She certainly didn't know how to comfort a general.

"Well...I'm glad you're our general, Miss Hooves. And thank you for rescuing me."

Derpy wiped her face with a foreleg. She shook off her feelings. "Thank you, Scootaloo. And you're welcome."



--------



Big Macintosh pushed his nose into Derpy's tent. Derpy looked up at the red intrusion.

"Come in, Major Apple. Don't worry; you know you're always welcome here."

Macintosh hesitated, then entered. "General, I just talked with Apple Bloom. And I've just gotta say...thanks."

Derpy kept writing as she talked. "Well, we got some valuable intelligence out of it. I think we did, at least. That letter your sister found in that gryphon's bag. I'm sure once we decipher it, it'll prove valuable."

"That's a lucky break and you know it. You didn't think you'd gain anythin' by wastin' two days searchin' for some fillies, you took a lot of flak for wastin' manpower lookin' for bodies in a marsh and a burned-out town, and you certainly didn't have to go kill that kidnapper yourself. I know I ain't always seen eye-to-eye with ya, and I'd be lyin' if I said I don't still sorta blame ya for the fact they got kidnapped in the first place...but shucks, in the Apple family we appreciate it when a pony fixes things with her own hooves. So thanks. Er, thanks, General."

Derpy didn't say anything. Mac looked around the tent.

"And just so you know...Derpy? I'm sorry. 'Bout what I said. I was upset. You...you are a good mare. And I was wrong to say you weren't."

Derpy bit her lip and nodded. Still she said nothing.

Macintosh looked off to the side. He knew he should stop talking and leave. He had said what he came to say. But in the silence, he couldn't stop. "It's all true, you bein' a symbol and bein' frightenin' and all. But you're a good mare behind it. Even if I don't always appreciate what you've gotta do." He swallowed. "And I just wanted to let ya know...well...about that kiss..." He winced inwardly. He didn't know why he had brought that up. But the rubicon had been crossed.

Derpy shook her head. "Let it go, Mac. I know you were emotional about your sister when you said those things to me, and I know you're emotional about her now. Believe me, I'm glad you're happy Apple Bloom is safe. But...you were right. It's not a good idea. For the reasons you said. And...for other reasons, too. Let's just let it go."

Macintosh looked down. He pawed anxiously at the dirt. "Derpy, I'm not sayin'...well, I maybe I am. I'm just tryin' to let you know I like who you are. And I guess that means I could--aw, hell, what am I sayin'? I'm all muddlebrained. A lot's been goin' on."

Derpy felt her eyes begin to water. "Mac, please stop. You were right that night. You, me--it isn't a good idea. It was hard for me to accept that it isn't a good idea, but I did. I did. And right now you're not thinking right, and it won't last, and then it'll be even harder on both of us than it was. You know it's a bad idea. So let's just go back to normal."

He took a step closer. His head was down and bent off to the side. "It ain't just me bein' emotional. I just...y'know, I asked you how anypony could love their general. And I stand by it. Ya can't love your general like a mare; we fear ya and worship ya. But...in a sense...aw, hell, I'll say it. Don't think I'm weird, but how can ya worship something and not want it to be yours? Especially when it wants you back? Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm just thankful you saved Apple Bloom. But...I don't think I am. I think maybe you had the right idea all along. About us."

"Mac, please. I can't do this. I absolutely can't. You know I want to but I can't." She stepped closer to him. Her ears were flat back against her head. Her breathing was quick. "I can't let my thoughts get any more confused then they already are. I can't--" .

"--yeah, you can. You're lonely. Celestia knows you've told me that a hundred times. And you can't be alone forever. Let me in. You know you want to. You're thinkin' up excuses 'cause you don't wanna get hurt again." He raised his head and smiled awkwardly. "Just stop thinkin'. I certainly stopped thinkin', else I woulda left two minutes ago."

"Leave, Major Apple," she said in a shaking voice, her body trembling as she walked towards him. "I order you to leave."

He was again face-to-face with her. She smelled like sweat and dirt and ash and the marsh. He didn't care. It made her more real. "Do you mean that--that you want me to leave? I will if'n you do." He spoke softly.

"...I...I don't..." Derpy stared into his eyes, her mouth slightly parted.

"Good. 'Cause I'd plum hate to get locked up for insubordination."

He leaned forward and kissed her. She didn't resist. She didn't move. Then she closed her eyes and sighed--a body-shaking sigh verging on a growl--and leaned into it, her mouth pressing against his, tears running down her cheeks.



-----------------------------------



Trottingham. April, 1252.


Celestia kneeled happily in the grass as she reviewed the marching orders, relishing the warm sunlight. It had been so long since the days were pleasant. There was food. There was warmth. And they didn't have to struggle for either. It made her optimistic. And it had been a long time since she had been optimistic.

The army had survived the winter. They had lost thousands of ponies. But those who survived were strong, the flow of recruits and materiel had resumed, and they were nearly at peak readiness. They were about to move out. There was only one matter that troubled her--the Elements.

A purple unicorn approached her, cautiously. "You wanted to see me, Princess?"

Celestia turned her head, and smiled in earnest delight. "Colonel Twilight Sparkle! My most faithful officer! How are you?"

Twilight looked at the ground. "Fine, I suppose. We're all fine."

Celestia cocked her head. "I hardly think so, dear. You look miserable."

"...yeah. I am," Twilight said. "We all are. I mean...my friends and I are."

Celestia nodded emphatically. "I know. I understand this war has been very hard on you six especially. You're especially good ponies, and war is an especially bad thing."

Twilight looked at Celestia, her eyes watering. "Princess, I don't even recognize my friends any more when I see them. I'm not sure I can even call them my friends any more. And it's getting worse."

"I know it is. And I know it's taking a toll on you. Tell me, how is your magical ability?"

Twilight laughed. "What ability? I can't even lift a quill."

"Indeed. A unicorn's magic flows from her connection to her spirit, and you...you are deeply depressed, dear."

Twilight shook her head. "Obviously. Obviously I am. Is that why you invited me here? To tell me I'm sad? I think I've already figured that one out. I am, after all, your prized pupil."

"No, dear. I invited you here to talk."

"Why...Princess, why did you commission us if you knew we weren't suited to war?"

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "That part is obvious. Because you six wield power that even you cannot fully understand, and I may have need of that power in the coming months. The Elements of Harmony are not a cannon to be fired whenever the wielder demands, but they are responsive to crisis. And we may find ourselves in crisis."

"But...I don't think any of my friends embody their elements any more. And I don't even know where Fluttershy is...or if she's even alive."

"They do, Twilight. But they don't understand how to be virtuous and be a soldier. They want to be virtuous. They need to be virtuous. They simply must realize that they can be. They're just lost. And they're trying to get found." Celestia sighed. "But they are moving in the wrong direction."

"But Princess, I guess that's what I was just asking. If you knew war would break us down...why did you put us in the middle of one?"

"I told you a long time ago I couldn't just stick you on the front lines whenever I needed the power of the Elements; the Elements wouldn't respond to that kind of treatment, and you would probably be horrified at what you saw to the extent that you weren't able to harness your powers. I was hoping that I could ease you into war; that I could gradually accustom you to it. Unfortunately, we ended up having to fight a battle before any of us were ready...and unfortunately, it was a particularly challenging one. Then the winter was far rougher than I had expected, since I wasn't able to con--oh, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I had a plan and it didn't go well, Twilight. I'm not used to my plans falling apart. But that's what war is: plans falling apart."

Twilight looked confusedly at Celestia. "But...you're saying you didn't..."

"I'm saying I didn't expect things with you six to go this poorly. We're still alive and so is the army, which is more than I thought would happen on that front...but things have fallen apart with you six. And I need to know if you think you can put it back together."

Twilight looked hopeless. "I don't know. I don't think so. What happens if we can't? Would you just give the elements to somepony else?" The prospect seemed strangely reassuring to her.

Celestia shook her head. "It's not a simple process. And finding suitable ponies certainly isn't easy. It's you or nopony."

"I don't know. I'll try. But...what does that mean, trying? Am I supposed to just...like, talk to them?"

"...honestly, Twilight, I don't know either. I've given them all advice. They haven't taken it. They don't even listen." She drew up her head. "I have always prided myself on my ability to guide ponies to where they need to be...but rarely have I had to guide ponies in such straits under such pressures to such a difficult end."

Twilight blinked uncomprehendingly. "This...this isn't some sort of test? You don't have a plan? But you're the Princess." She said the last bit with childlike faith.

"Yes, Twilight Sparkle. I am a Princess. I am a very old and very powerful pony. I am a pony with thirteen hundred years of life behind her. But I...am still just a pony. You know your friends very well. In many ways, better than I do. In this affair--and in this affair alone--" she narrowed her eyes "--I confess your judgment is as at least as good as my own."

Twilight looked down. "I don't know. I don't think it can be fixed...ever."

"Do you truly believe that, Twilight?"

Twilight looked into Celestia's eyes. She began to cry. "Yes."

Celestia motioned for her to come closer. She hugged Twilight closely. "It can be fixed. It will be fixed. Nothing is so bad that it is irreparable. It just might take a little longer than we'd like, that's all."

Twilight sniffled. "It's really scary talking to them all now."

"I know it is, dear. Because they hurt. Nopony likes seeing their friends hurt. They need your help."

"I don't think I can help them," Twilight said through tears. "I hurt too."

"Nopony has to do more than what she can. If you can't, then you can't. That's fine. Nopony can give more than what she can give." Celestia let go of Twilight. Twilight backed up and looked around embarrassedly, uncertain if the public hug was a breach of decorum.

Celestia smiled down at her. "You know, I've got something you should read. Here." She floated a letter to her.

Twilight rubbed her eyes with a hoof, then took it between her lips. "Wha' is it?"

"Last evening I was visited by an unexpected guest. A certain pegasus by the name of Daisy May, claiming to be messenger from something calling itself the Equestrian Army of Free Ponies. She has been through much danger to get here. It seems your friends from Ponyville have been quite busy." She raised an eyebrow. "You may speak with her if you would like word of the situation in occupied territory--or news of your old neighbors--but the reason I bring it up is that she came bearing this letter. Take a look."

Twilight opened it up and held it between her hooves. Yrfurbent sie iz reino ioh harto filu kleino, selb so man thuruh not sinaz korn reinot, the first line read. "Is this...is this Old Equestrian? It looks like it, but the words aren't right at all."

Celestia shook her head. "It looks like it, doesn't it? No, it's the Gryphon High Tongue: their ancestral language. It's quite similar to Old Equestrian, of course; the languages are closely related. You might be able to hack through it with your knowledge of Old Equestrian, but I have a few reference guides to High Tongue in my personal baggage."

"Can you understand this?"

"Of course. I can speak High Tongue fluently. I have, after all, had over a thousand years to study the customs and the history of our neighbors."

"Then why are you having me translate it?"

"Because it's quite important for you to read, and every scholar knows it's better to learn from a primary text than a translation." She smiled. "And it should take your mind off things. You know. A little fun. So go have fun with it."

"Huh!" Twilight said. flipping through the pages of the letter. "The declensions aren't quite the same. I mean, I can tell it's the same root suffixes, but they surface completely differently. And there are strong verbs, but the stem changes are completely different. Ooh, no, not the infinitive, that's the same. I think. Assuming this is the same verb, which is a risky assumption to make since I obviously don't have a handle on the phoneme correspondances yet--"

"--yes, it is, absolutely. You've got it. Now, Twilight, go and read it. When you've finished reading it, come back to me at once."

"Oh, of course I will," Twilight said offhandedly. She brought the letter closer to her face."Look at this. It looks like there was a chain shift of the consonants at some point in Old Equestrian. Well it might have been in High Tong--no, of course it wasn't, null doesn't become an h, h becomes a null. But a chain shift is certainly likely. I mean, these correspondances are shockingly regular."

"Very astute, Twilight, there was indeed a chain shift. It's described in great detail in the book. It's in my baggage. Why don't you go get it?" She said the last part pointedly.

"Absolutely. I'll do that now. Hm, they don't do weak verbs like I'd expect; the past-tense suffix doesn't seem to match the apparent chain shift. Maybe they reanalyzed it as a postposition? Oh, but Old Equestrian doesn't have postpositions, so High Tongue couldn't either. Well, no, Old Equestrian does ha--no, those don't count."

"Twilight, you may leave now."

"Sure, thanks. Are the doubled consonants here true geminates or just orthographical custom?"

"TWILIGHT SPARKLE!"

Twilight looked up. Suddenly, she blushed, her ears flattened back. She lowered her head in embarrassment. "Er, oh. I'm sorry, your highness. I'm leaving now. Bye."

Celestia smiled. "Do come back soon. I'm sure you'll have much you want to discuss."



------



GENERAL CHIPPEDCLAW
FREE FILLYDELPHIA, EQUESTRIA


GENERAL SHARPEYE
FREE MIDDLEMARCH, EQUESTRIA



HIS MOST SERENE MAJESTY HAS ANALYZED THE ONGOING LIBERATION OF THE PONY QUEEN'S REALM. HE IS MOST PLEASED WITH YOUR NUMEROUS GLORIOUS SUCCESSES, BUT HAS SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW THE WAR MIGHT BE MORE QUICKLY BROUGHT TO A HUMANE END.

THE WAR AGAINST THE PONY QUEEN'S FORCES HAS BEEN FOUGHT HEROICALLY. HOWEVER, THE EXTENT TO WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN WILLING TO DESTROY THEIR OWN FAMILIES AND THEIR OWN LIVES TO MAKE WAR AGAINST US HAS BEEN UNFORESEEABLY IRRATIONAL. THIS POSES NO THREAT TO OUR PLANS, BUT DOES MEAN WE MUST SPEND AN UNACCEPTABLY HIGH AMOUNT SIMPLY TO MAINTAIN ARMIES IN THE FIELD THROUGHOUT LIBERATED REGIONS. OCCUPYING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF EQUESTRIA WOULD AT THIS POINT CONSTITUTE SOMETHING OF A BURDEN ON THE PEOPLE OF GRYPHONIA.

MOREOVER, THE FEROCITY OF THE PONY QUEEN'S ARMY IN COMBAT, AND ITS WILLINGNESS TO STEAL FROM THE IMPOVERISHED IN ITS OWN LANDS, WERE HIGHER THAN EXPERT ANALYSIS HAD PREDICTED. ARMED ENGAGEMENTS WITH PONIES HAVE OFTEN RESULTED IN UNSATISFACTORY OUTCOMES, DESPITE YOUR HEROIC LEADERSHIP; THE LAZINESS OF THE LIONS AND THE CRUELTY OF PONY TACTICS ARE TO BLAME.

OUR INITIAL PLAN WAS TO CRUSH THE ABILITY OF THE PONY QUEEN TO RESIST WITHIN SIX MONTHS. BECAUSE OF HER AMORAL CUNNING, SHE STILL RESISTS. BRINGING THIS WAR TO A CLOSE WOULD, UNDER CURRENT STRATEGIES, LIKELY REQUIRE ANOTHER YEAR. SHE WILL BE ABLE TO REPLENISH HER LOSSES, WHILE DOING SO IS MORE DIFFICULT FOR YOU. A LENGTHY WAR FAVORS THE PONY QUEEN. THIS IS, OF COURSE, UNACCEPTABLE.

IN HIS DIVINE WISDOM, HIS SERENE MAJESTY HAS SENT A TEAM OF OPERATIVES TO FAR-OFF LANDS TO RECOVER AN ANCESTRAL TREASURE BELONGING TO OUR GREAT LINEAGE. THIS TREASURE WILL ENABLE US TO DO WHAT HAS ONCE BEEN UNTHINKABLE: TO TARGET AND END THE PONY QUEEN HERSELF. SHE WILL BE HELPLESS BEFORE IT. WITHOUT HER, THE WAR WOULD QUICKLY END.

OUR FIRST STRATEGY WAS TO CAPTURE LAND AND HOLD IT. THIS WAS SUCCESSFUL. OUR CURRENT STRATEGY IS TO ENGAGE THE PONY ARMY. THIS IS, WE BELIEVE, UNWISE FOR THE REASONS ABOVE. OUR NEW STRATEGY, THEN, IS TO AVOID ENGAGING THE PONY ARMY. WE ARE TO DRAW THE PONY QUEEN OUT--TO MAKE HER PERPETUALLY FLEE OR FOLLOW, BUT TO ENSURE THAT SHE IS ALWAYS MOVING. DO NOT FIGHT HER UNLESS YOUR ADVANTAGE IS OVERWHELMING. KEEP HER IN THE FIELD, WHERE SHE WILL BE MOST VULNERABLE. DO NOT LET HER ENCAMP. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW HER TO RETURN TO CANTERLOT AND THE PROTECTION OF HER CITADEL.

GEN. CHIPPEDCLAW: I HAVE HEARD OF A POPULAR BANDIT HEROINE CAMPED IN THE TERRITORY YOUR ARMY OCCUPIES. THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. ENGAGE HER IMMEDIATELY. PONIES LOVE SYMBOLS; WE BELIEVE THEY RESIST SOLELY BECAUSE OF THE QUEEN. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU DO NOT ALLOW THE 'GREY MARE' TO BECOME A FOLK HERO OF SIMILAR POWER, OR KILLING THE PONY QUEEN WILL DO NOTHING TO END THIS WAR.

YOUR MOST OBEDIENT SERVANT,
DUKE MALACHI
FIRST MINISTER OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL


------



Celestia sipped tea as she watched the sunset. All around her were the busy sounds of ponies working. Carts were being loaded; bags were being packed; cannons were being cleaned; spears were being polished. The army was making final preparations to move out. She breathed in deeply, relishing the aura of activity that surrounded her. She had seen the New Equestrian Army through the edge of death. It was gratifying to see it healthy again.

Twilight Sparkle suddenly came running up. "Princess," she shouted, breathing heavily. "Princess! This letter!"

Celestia nodded. "Frightening, isn't it?"

"They want to kill you? Is that even possible?"

"I believe so. For instance, I cannot imagine I could survive having a spear driven through my head. I also cannot imagine how they could put anyone in position to do that, but there are many things in the world I am unfamiliar with."

"But...if it's dangerous for you to move around, then why are we moving out in the morning?"

"We're going to Canterlot. And we're going to engage the gryphon army at every opportunity on the way. Starting immediately."

"Isn't this a bit too convenient?" Twilight looked incredulous. "What makes you certain this isn't a trap?"

Celestia drank her tea. Her expression remained peaceful. "Twilight Sparkle, everything you know about war, diplomacy, and the gryphon mind was gleaned from books I gave you. Everything. Those books were written hundreds of years ago by ponies I personally instructed. Everything you know is what you have been taught either by me or by those I have taught. I will not be challenged by a pony armed only with a fraction of a fraction of the knowledge I wield."

Twilight bit her lip. "I didn't mean it like that, Princess. I'm sorry."

Celestia nodded. "It's quite all right. But do mind yourself. Arrogance is unbecoming."

Twilight looked out at the sunset. Clouds slowly shifted and swirled in the distant sky. They sat for a while.

"Princess? What happens when we get to Canterlot? If you don't mind my asking."

"Luna and I will retire to the capital and stay under heavy guard; our lives are imperative. You will take control of the army and continue to fight. You will fight them as often as you can. If you're the strategist I think you are, you'll break them cleanly and take the fight into their lands. If you aren't, then you'll grind them down and win the war by virtue of the fact that we have more blood to spill than they do." Celestia took another sip. "From the sounds of it, you'll only need to take on half their army; if things continue it seems your mailmare friend from Ponyville will soon rival our own army in ability if not in numbers."

Twilight's mouth gaped. "Me? But--"

"You're the best officer I have. You're a natural leader. I've groomed you from a young age for great things, Twilight Sparkle. This isn't what I expected, nor is it where you'll end up. But you'll do quite well. The hard part is done: I've built you the cannon. I'll send you messages giving you orders regarding your objectives. You just need to tell your cannon where to go, where to aim, and when to fire."

"But Princess, I...no, no, no. I can't do that. Princess, I can barely get out of bed in the morning. I can hardly deal with things as they are. I can't take control of the entire army."

Celestia finished her cup of tea. She poured another. "I was hoping the Elements and your friends would be a safety net. They might still. But if that doesn't work out, then so be it. You've always risen to the challenges you've faced, Twilight Sparkle. You'll continue to do so. I have faith in you."

Twilight didn't know what to feel. It had been a while since she had really felt much of anything. She just felt tired. "I don't know, Princess. I don't think it's a good idea, but if you do then I'll do my best. At least it'll be a little while before we have to fight again."

Celestia picked up a map and floated it in front of her. "Hm. I suppose two days could be defined as 'a little while,' yes."

"...we're going to fight again?"

Celestia shrugged. "We're an army, yes."

"Like...right now again?" Twilight's eyes were opened wide.

"Why did you think everypony was preparing for battle? What did you think I spoke to the army about just now?"

"You spoke to the army when I was in my tent? Is that what all the commotion was about a few hours ago? But--oh. Oh no. Oh no no no no no." Twilight went running off into the camp. She had to talk with her friends. And she had to talk with them now.

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