• Published 23rd Aug 2015
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Fellowship is Magic - Mr-War

Something strange is happening in Twilight's palace. The magic mirror has started acting strangely during a period of intense solar flares, leaving her worried about what complications might occur. The next thing she knows, through a sequence of even

  • ...

The Burden of Kingship

The Burden of Kingship

The atmosphere surrounding Fellowship Team Alpha was significantly improved over what'd been experienced the past few days. Gandalf was back among them. Merry, Pippin and Fluttershy were confirmed as being out of danger, and among capable allies. And they had managed to establish contact with Spike, Sam and Frodo once again, and inform them of what the current state of affairs was.

All in all, the situation for them was looking up. Or at least as up as could be expected under the present circumstances, of the fate of the world resting on them. But at the moment that was neither here nor there. Right now the present task was much, much easier to address, and simply involved liberating a kingdom from the poisonous subterfuges of a corrupt malcontent.

Compared to the former, the latter task would be like a walk in the park for the majority of their little group. Having faced so many other threats already, it was hard to get too excited over having to save Rohan.

The sense of urgency that'd weighed so heavily on them the past three days was absent on the present night, giving way to a far more restful measure of sleep for seven of their group as they rested around a campfire.

Gimli, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Boromir welcomed the opportunity to have more than the two or three hours of sleep they had been allowed over the last few days. And the change in atmosphere had done wonders for restoring Pinkie's carefree nature.

Despite not needing as much sleep due to his elven physiology, even Legolas was not entirely immune from the need to do so, and was having trouble resisting the alluring, siren-like call of rest. Rainbow Dash and Applejack weren't faring much better either. Legolas, Rainbow Dash and Applejack followed the others in closing their eyes for a brief respite.

Twilight was an exception to the unspoken rule that was making itself known. Ever since becoming an Alicorn, the need for sleep was felt lesser by her. Granted if she had good reading material to focus on, she could stay awake for days at a time and not notice it, even back when she was a Unicorn. But right now her focus was on patrolling the immediate area, and making sure their campsite was secured for the evening, lest they discover any unwanted visitors.

She had just returned to the campsite from looking around the far end of the perimeter, when she noticed Gandalf standing a few yards with Aragorn to the wizard's right. They both appeared to be in conversation while looking at a dim, but angry red glow far to the eastern horizon. Even as she approached them, she could already hear their muffled conversation. And she really didn't care for what she was hearing.

"The veiling shadow that glowers in the east takes shape," Gandalf muttered. "Sauron will suffer no rival. From the summit of Barad-dur, his Eye watches ceaselessly. But he is not so mighty yet that he is above fear. Doubt ever gnaws at him. The rumor has reached him..."

Gandalf then turned to Aragorn and said, "...the heir of Numenor still lives."

This new revelation surprised Aragorn. He had thought -even hoped- that Sauron would never find out about him. But such was apparently no the case.

"Sauron fears you, Aragorn. He fears what you may become..." Gandalf continued, before turning to acknowledge Twilight's presence. "And despite your attentions of finding a way home Twilight... Sauron fears you as well. You may not be of Numenor lineage, but you are prepared to stop Sauron, as well as help Aragorn unite all Men against him, are you not?"

"Without a doubt," Twilight replied, not even having to think on the matter. They were in the thick of it now, and she could say with confidence that not a single one of them would abandon their friends. No matter what they'd be facing, they'd be seeing it through to the end. "Nightmare Moon feared us in much the same way. Just the fact that Sauron fears us makes me feel better. He wouldn't be fearing us if he didn't believe we were a threat to him."

"Of course," Gandalf verified, "and with anyone with a will to stop all evil, Sauron will not take you lightly as an unknown anomaly, Twilight. You dared to challenge him directly, in open defiance of his rule. Such is not something he will be able to let go of."

Twilight slowly nodded in agreement. "Good then."

"And so," Gandalf explained further, "he'll strike hard and fast at the world of Men. He will use his puppet, Saruman, to destroy Rohan. War is coming. Rohan must defend itself and therein lies our first challenge, for Rohan is weak and ready to fall..."

"It's really that bad?" Twilight asked.

Gandalf nodded. "The king's mind is enslaved, it's an old device of Saruman's. His hold over King Theoden is now very strong. Sauron and Saruman are tightening the noose. But... for all their cunning, we have one advantage..."

Gandalf paused for a moment, then turned to face both Twilight and Aragorn as he continue. "The ring remains hidden."

"I'm afraid we'll have to disagree on that point, Gandalf. We have several advantages," Twilight retorted. "Sure, the ring remains hidden, but there's more than that. First, Spike is with Sam and Frodo, putting them at better odds. Second, we know for a fact that they're still well. Third, you're actually back, leading to point number four, neither Sauron nor Saruman know about your promotion. And fifth, Sauron hasn't seen the full extent of what we can do currently, and there's still much more yet to come. He doesn't have a clue what he's going to be dealing with, either now or later on."

Try as he might, Gandalf really couldn't find fault with Twilight's assessment of the situation. It was hard to deny that they were in far better standing with their Equestrian allies present than they would be on their own.

"I will stand against Sauron until my last breath," Aragorn stated. "But not as King of Gondor. I've never wanted that power."

"You know," Twilight started, "you're not exactly alone in this regard, Aragorn. I wasn't exactly given a choice in becoming royalty; that decision was made for me long ago. And in the beginning I was really hesitant about my role as a future ruler on Equestria. Becoming a new species and having to deal with all those quirks didn't exactly help either."

Both Gandalf and Aragorn looked at Twilight who continued looking eastwards as she spoke, addressing them in more a general manner rather than directly.

"I was a librarian before, and I was quite happy with that role in life. If I'd been given the choice initially, I would've chosen to continue being a librarian to this day. But, shortly after my coronation, we had a minor crisis that incapacitated both Princess Celestia and Luna simultaneously, and suddenly I found everyone looking to me for guidance and orders. And then I realized that being royalty really isn't that much different from simply being competent, and knowing what you're doing when others don't."

She then turned to face them once again, but more specifically Aragorn.

"I've seen and noticed the way others respond to you, Aragorn. Shortly after my coronation, Princess Celestia once told me that I was born to be a leader. The same applies to you. You shouldn't so easily walk away from that, if that's what's required to defeat the evil that threatens this world," she pointed out, before finally shrugging her withers in conclusion. "Ultimately, you'll have to decide what's for the best. But if you choose not to take your place as ruler, don't pretend that you're doing such for the benefit of the Free People of Middle Earth. If you don't wish to be King, admit to it up front."

Aragorn turned his gaze downwards as he contemplated the words of advice he'd been offered up, likely not expecting a parallel to be drawn between them.

Twilight then saw in Gandalf's eyes a gleam of appreciation for what she had just said. Which was good and all, but right now she'd much rather change the topic, before Aragorn tried to bring his family into the discussion for a compare and contrast. She'd crush him in that one as well, but she'd rather avoid that.

"So that glow coming from the east. That's from Mount Doom?" she asked.

"Yes, Twilight," Gandalf confirmed. "The weapon of the enemy moving towards Mordor in the hands of a Hobbit. Each day brings it closer to the fires of the mountain in which it was forged."

"I can't even begin to imagine what Frodo and the others must be going through right now. Just like I can't help but feel like we've got the easier task to deal with," Twilight mumbled in reflection. As much work as had been needed to send Spike the communication supplies, exchanges would be limited at best until they could join up once again.

"We must trust now in Frodo," Gandalf stated in reply. "Everything depends upon speed and the secrecy of his quest." Noticing Aragorn and Twilight's troubled looks, he continued. "Neither of you should regret the decision to let him depart. Frodo must finish this task alone."

"Then he may have difficulty with such, as both Sam and Spike are with him," Aragorn quipped.

"They'll figure it out," Twilight replied, "I hope..."

"I hate this place. It's too quiet," Sam muttered as they trudged along. "There's been no sight nor sound of so much as a bird for two days."

"No, no birdses to eat..." Gollum said sadly. "No crunchable birdses." Spike and Frodo exchanged odd and disgusted looks. "Oh, we are famished, we are! Famished we are, Precious!"

Suddenly, his face lit up. With a grunt, Gollum plunged his fist into the water... and pulled out a worm.

"Oh no. He's not going to..." Spike turned a little green at the thought of what was about to unfold.

"Yes, he is." Frodo mumbled as Gollum popped the worm into his mouth and swallowed it with glee.

Sam, who'd been about to take a bite of lembas, calmly lowered it back into the pack and swallowed hard.

Frodo broke off a piece of his lembas bread and tossed it to Gollum. "Here."

Gollum's eyes nearly popped out of his head as he caught the piece. "What- What does it eats? Is it tasty?" He inquired.

"It's lembas." Sam said flatly. To someone who'd been eating it for weeks straight, it was all the explanation needed. For one who hadn't however... "It certainly beats the rocks that Spike's been chewing on."

Taking the explanation for what it was, Gollum popped it into his mouth and chewed. Almost immediately he gagged and spit it back out.

"Oh come on, it's not that bad!" Spike protested. But Gollum ignored him in favor of his general brand of theatrics.

"It tries to chokes us! We can't eats Hobbit food!" he protested as he made a show of trying to remove the traces from his tongue.

"Actually, it's Elf food." Spike said with a small smirk.

Gollum threw his head back, and, once again, wailed in an overly dramatic fashion. "We must starve!"

Sam had little sympathy for the theatrics of their traveling companion. "You honestly make no sense. All this perfectly edible food that we've got, and you'd prefer to starve simply because you don't like it."

"I'm starting to think he just likes to complain about stuff," Spike added with a growl.

"Oh, cruel Hobbit... cruel, impulsive dragon!" Gollum whined, glaring at Sam and Spike.

"That's Master Dragon!" Spike stated.

"They does not care if we be hungry. Does not care... if we should die!" Gollum continued, paying no heed to Spike's interruption.

Obviously -and blatantly- not paying Gollum's rantings of any mind or consequence, Sam held out a piece of lembas, which he popped into his mouth with exaggerated relish, just to annoy their noisy companion.

Gollum grumbled in disgust, before turning to Frodo, and slowly approached him, changing his expression as he faced him...

"...Not like master," he said, lovingly, as Frodo began to glance at him, cautiously, "master cares... master knows... yes, precious," Gollum cooed in confirmation, as his intent gaze moved to where the Ring lay hidden under Frodo's shirt and a terrible hunger glowed within him...

Gollum had something akin to sympathy in his eyes, and Spike wondered if Gollum had always been... well,Gollum.

"Once it takes hold of us... It never lets go..."

To Spike's alarm, Gollum's hand reached, shakily, out towards Frodo's chest. Frodo snapped back to clear reality just in time to swat Gollum's hand away.

"Don't touch me!" He snapped. Gollum, shocked, sunk away, looking dejected. It seemed he hadn't realized what he was doing as he'd done it. Still, though, Spike realized that this was Frodo's greater reason for not trusting Gollum... and pitying him at the same time. It wasn't Gollum's fault that he was so drawn to the Ring - it was simply the effect the Ring had on its bearer. A rather frightening concept.

Despite being kept on a tight leash, metaphorically speaking, Gollum was scary, and clearly ill with his obsession with the Ring. So what was Frodo's fate to be if it continued to remain in his possession much longer?

"You and I may need to take turns carrying the ring," he mumbled to Sam.

"We might indeed," Sam agreed, before focusing his attention back on the "meal" at hand. "I tell you, Spike, I hope Twilight was right about getting some fresh food for the journey."

"I don't know why she wouldn't be," Spike replied. As a dragon he might be able to eat a lot of things, but even he needed some variety.

Plus it could earn them some much-needed relief from Gollum's grumbling.

As they traveled into the darker, foggier places of the swamp, Spike observed small fires in select parts of the bog, lit on the moss and weedy grass. He studied one for a long, contemplative moment, until something else drew his eye- something in the water... It looked like... But it couldn't be...

Without warning he shrieked at the realization.

Sam, Frodo and Gollum all jumped and whirled around at the sudden sound. "Spike? What is it?"

"There are dead people down there!" He screamed.

Gollum looked panicked in turn.

"Quiet, Master Dragon, quiet! We must be quiet!" He urged him. "Mustn't make more noise than we haves to!"

"Oh that's real rich coming from you. That's the pot calling the kettle black if I ever heard it," Spike cried as he tried to get his breathing under control.

"Gollum, whatarethose?" Frodo whispered, staring in horror at the blotchy blue faces that stared up from underneath the surface of the water.

Gollum hacked. "All dead, all rotted. Elves and Men and Orcses. A great battle, long ago. The Dead Marshes- that is their name."

"You could've mentioned that before!" Spike pressed, before taking Frodo's arm and making it a point to stay near him, all the while fighting back the urge to vomit. "A small warning about the dead bodies would have been nice."

"They's not dangerous,gollum,gollum. As long as you don't follow the lights. This way, this way..." Sam stumbled, his foot landing into the water. Gollum whipped around and gave them a stern look. "Careful now! Or Hobbits and dragon go down to join the dead ones and light little candles of their own!"

Spike released Frodo's arm to help Sam out of the water. "It's disgusting," Sam muttered. "I don't even want to know what's swimming down there. All sorts of nasty things- Bogs are bad enough without dead bodies everywhere in them." Sam brushed some oddly colored grass off his pant leg. "I suppose they're not so bad if you don't think about them."

Spike nodded vaguely. "All the same, I don't like them, and I don't want to be around them. Right Fro- FRODO!"

Much to his horror, he'd turned to see Frodo being dragged under the surface of the water by... something.

"Oh just great!"

Knowing what had to be done, Spike dove into the water after Frodo, desperate to get him back before whatever else was to be found in there could have a crack at him.

Sam was on the verge of panicking, as well as on the verge of diving in the water after them. He was already making his way to the edge of the water when he felt his shoulder being roughly grabbed.

"Fat Hobbit no can swim - will only get hisself in the way," Gollum stated.

He then proceeded to give a strangulated yell, and dive into the water himself, leaving a very worried -and confused- Sam behind to wonder just what had happened.

The same day, those of Fellowship Team Alpha had finally reached their destination when Gandalf said they would.

Edoras was built on a lone foothill with the mountain range known as the 'White Mountains' to its south, surrounded by a circular wooden wall and was accessed by a large, double wooden gate on its north face. Within the wall there were a large number of wooden and thatched buildings of various sizes. At the top of the hill was a great wooden hall that Twilight assumed to be the city's administrative centre. In that construction regard, Edoras was at least somewhat similar to Equestria, with Canterlot being near the top of a mountain.

"Twi', did ya notice what Ah noticed on the way in?" Applejack asked.

"What's that?" Twilight asked as she redirect her attention towards her friend.

"On this whole trip, Ah haven' seen even one farm er even field around the outside o' the city."

Now that Applejack mentioned it, she honestly didn't remember seeing any signs of agriculture to Edoras. It was certainly a mystery, but she didn't have a clue as to what it meant. At the moment all she could do was hope this didn't mean that replenishing their supplies would be impossible.

"Maybe it's a seasonal thing? Back home it would almost be winter by now," she mentioned.

"Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld," Gandalf confirmed to his companions. "There dwells Theoden, King of Rohan, whose mind is overthrown. Saruman's hold over King Theoden is now very strong."

"Then we'll just have to see about fixing that. There's just one thing I don't understand, Gandalf," Twilight queried. "Theoden's mind is possessed, his heir's apparently incapacitated, and Eomer's in exile. Who's exactly in charge now? Why aren't they standing up to Saruman?"

"Power in Edoras now resides with the King's Chief Counsellor, Grima Wormtongue," Gandalf stonily advised. "Himself also but a puppet of Saruman. He ensures that the Uruk-hai and Wild men in Saruman's service remain unchecked as they pillage the Riddermark."

"I would have thought his last name would have been an obvious warning not to employ this 'Wormtongue' to such high office," Rarity observed.

"He was not always known as such, Rarity," Aragorn explained.

Rarity looked at Aragorn in disbelief. "Wait. You mean he actually changed his name TO Wormtongue? By choice? Goodness, what sort of name was he born to that would motivate a change like that?"

The question was certainly a good one. But answers apparently weren't had, as the matter had already been moved beyond.

"Never underestimate the actions a person will take from a sense of unrequited love," Gandalf reflected. "Whatever the case, all of you be careful what you say. Do not look for welcome here."

The other Fellowship members followed Gandalf's lead towards Edoras. As they approached the city's gates, the girls noticed a dusty road leading from the gate heading westwards. The road passed between two lines of small barrows leading outwards from the gate. Nine barrows were to the west of the road and seven were on the east. Barrows that reminded Twilight of ancient burial mounds in historical records.

When the Fellowship reached the city gate, Gandalf was the first to greet the sentries atop it. "My friends and I wish to speak with the Lord of the Mark!"

"Apologies, Mithrandir," the chief sentry responded upon having finally recognized the White Wizard. "It is the will of King Theoden that none should enter into Edoras. The only exceptions are the Eorlingas, and our friends that come from Mundburg in the land of Gondor."

"Mundburg's another name for Minas Tirith," Boromir stated in a tone that would brook no argument. "As I happen to be Captain of the White Tower, our company should be allowed to enter!"

Like Eomer a couple of days before; the sentry cursed himself for not noticing the Fellowship had the Son of the Steward in its number.

"Forgive me for not recognizing you, Lord Boromir," the sentry apologized before hastily commanding the gate to open.

As the city gates opened with a deep wooden creak, the Fellowship noticed a green banner with a white horse emblem sailing over the wall. The banner came to rest just to their right. Rainbow Dash walked away from the horse Boromir rode on and grabbed the banner, before rejoining his side. As the Fellowship passed through the gates, Rainbow Dash passed the banner to another Rohirrim sentry, who accepted it while giving her a strange look.

As the Fellowship rode through the main street of Edoras towards the Golden Hall, the atmosphere that pervaded the city was one silent and sombre. Edoras' current population, as far as their eyes could see, appeared to comprise entirely of women, children and elderly men that warily stared at the Fellowship as they progressed through the city. But considering half of their party was made up of pastel-colored ponies, it was hard to blame them for staring.

Black seemed to be the predominant colour of clothing - either in mourning at the loss of their menfolk in war, or perhaps symbolically mourning the demise in Rohan's fortunes. The look on the residents' faces reminded Pinkie of her childhood back at her family's rock farm.

Gimli succinctly summed up the general mood of Edoras with but a single sentence. "You'll find more cheer in a graveyard."

The horrible part about his assessment, was that it was accurate enough that no rebuttal could be found.

As the Fellowship approached the Golden Hall, something stuck out against the drab scenery that caught Rainbow Dash's eye; a young woman in a white dress standing on its front porch. A woman with long, wheaten-coloured hair and seemed to be observing the approaching Fellowship with something far different than what was expressed by the rest of the citizenry.

"Who is that?" she asked Boromir with a whisper.

"The Lady Eowyn, Eomer's sister," Boromir informed her. "I've never exchanged more than common courtesies with her in the handful of times I've met her. Much to her brother's chagrin, Eowyn's a renowned Shield-maiden."

"She can fight?" Rainbow Dash asked.

Boromir shook his head. "Eomer tells me that his sister is yet to taste combat despite her requests to do so. I think he and King Theoden would prefer to keep it that way."

"I can't really say I blame them, as small as she looks," Rainbow Dash muttered.

Eowyn had retreated back inside by the time the Fellowship reached the stairs leading up to the Golden Hall. As the non-pony members of the Fellowship dismounted, Twilight noticed the intricate wooden carvings of horses on the outside of the Meduseld. So much of what she had seen of Rohan and its people reminded her of old Scandinavia, during her history class back when she and Spike were on the other side of the mirror the first time around, that the similarities could surely not be just a matter of pure coincidence. If... WHEN she visited CHS again, she would investigate this seeming link between Rohan and the culture she had read on.

The Fellowship members reached the top of the stairs with Twilight, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Boromir in front and Gimli, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity behind. They were soon met by a group of half a dozen soldiers in ranks of three by two. Unlike the composition of Eomer's eored, these Rohirrim had a standard uniform and armour. They wore a sleeveless, full-length scale hauberk as well as a fine wool cloak dyed green and edged with a red and gold pattern. Five of these Rohirrim wore a helmet featuring a visor with cutouts for the eyes and a tall metal crest of a horse's head from which flowed a mane of horsehair.

Given their high quality armour as well as fine weapons they seemed to be carrying, Twilight had no doubt these soldiers had to be members of the King's Royal Guard.

The only one of the six soldiers not wearing a helmet stood in the middle of the front row. He had a thick head and beard of red hair and was quite broad at the chest. Gandalf's eyes twinkled as soon as he caught sight of this man.

"Hama!" Gandalf cried in friendly recognition. "It's an honour to be met by no less than the Captain of the Royal Guard."

Hama gave an awkward smile in response before replying. "It is good to see you again, old friend."

His attention then turned to the others that were present. More specifically, Twilight and her friends.

"From whence did you come into acquisition of such strange and fantastical creatures such as these? Are they a gift to the King?"

Rainbow Dash growled in response, already spoiling for a fight at the evaluation of being a gift.

"My friends and I aren't gifts! We're here to seek an audience with King Theoden," Twilight stated firmly, before Rainbow Dash had the chance to say something of her own that might make the situation worse. "As to from where we hale, it's a location your cartographers have never heard of. I can guarantee as much."

Hama, much like the rest of the soldiers in the Royal Guard, were taken aback at being confronted by talking ponies. But they showed professionalism in their position, and quickly regained their composure. So Gandalf stepped in to continue.

"She speaks the truth, Hama. It is imperative that we be granted an audience with the King at once."

"Perhaps. But I cannot allow you before Theoden-King so armed, Gandalf Greyhame." Seeing a number of the Fellowship respond with furrowed brows at this announcement, Hama sought to apologize by way of explanation. "By order of Grima Wormtongue."

The way Hama spoke Wormtongue's name through clenched teeth left little doubt what he thought of the Chief Counsellor. Gandalf gave an understanding nod before handing over Glamdring in its scabbard.

"Come on the rest of you," Gandalf prompted the rest of the Fellowship. "We're among friends here."

"A most unusual bunch o' friends if ya ask me," Applejack muttered.

The front rank of the Fellowship handed over their weapons before Aragorn and Boromir stepped back to let the back rank comply. Gimli reluctantly handed his numerous axes over, while Rarity handed over her sword, bow and arrows. Twilight, Applejack and Rainbow Dash, possessing nothing that readily resembled a weapon, were permitted to opt out of such.

When it came to Pinkie, however, it was a significantly different matter. Her sling was surrendered, as was a pointed granite rock roughly the size of a grapefruit. And an axe. And a curved knife. And a sword of orcish design. And a sturdy looking padlock tied to the end of a rope. And several other implements that she was basically pulling out of her mane now, much to the disbelief of the guards who were tasked with gathering her gear. The look of confusion at being handed a slingshot would've been humorous under different circumstances.

"Pinkie," Twilight finally spoke up, "where did you get all of that stuff?"

"Around," Pinkie replied and shrugged, before pulling out a... Twilight didn't even know what that thing was... and giving it over to one of the guards who was even more perplexed at what he was holding now.

Twilight almost asked about why she'd been carrying so much stuff, and how she'd been carrying it, but stopped herself just short of doing such. Sometimes it was simply better to not know. She'd just take it as a sign that Pinkie was feeling better.

As they were involved with such, Hama noticed that Gandalf was still holding his staff.

"Your staff," Hama hinted to the wizard.

Twilight, who'd just finished subtly casting a protection spell on their gear to ensure it didn't disappear on them, now stood behind Hama. The fact that he recognized Gandalf's staff for what it was, was commendable, but currently unacceptable. Unlike her, Gandalf had no natural conduit for utilizing his magic, and if he didn't have his staff, he wouldn't be able to free King Theoden. That simply wouldn't do at all.

"Surely you can't be serious!" she objected firmly.

Coming to know Gandalf over the course of their journey, Twilight had come to discover he had a certain... paternal element about him, sort of like a grandfather. And that aspect of his character had quickly set her mind about formulating a response to Hama simply trying to follow his orders.

"Is the kingdom of Rohan so suspicious, that it would actually deny an old man his walking stick? What sort of paranoia is this? Where will this madness end? Will you next insist on cutting off our hooves? Chopping off my horn?"

The look on Hama's face at being red the riot act by Twilight was of such, that Gimli was having to fight to keep his composure and not burst into laughter at the Captain of the Guard being taken to task by a pony, and being unable to amount a defense at the tongue lashing she was delivering. Boromir wasn't faring much better, and looked like he was going to shit his pants if he had to maintain proper decorum much longer.

Finally Hama seemed to relent at this and allowed Gandalf to keep his staff, if for no other reason than to simply make Twilight shut up, and avoid losing anymore face in front of his men.

Legolas offered Gandalf his right arm to lean on as if to underline the Wizard's supposed frailty. Hama then began to lead the Fellowship into the Meduseld. As Gandalf passed by Twilight, the pair exchanged a quick wink in understanding. The Fellowship entered the Golden Hall through a pair of ancient wooden doors. After standing aside for the Fellowship, Hama stood next to his second in command, Gamling, a thin man with a light brown beard.

The inside of the hall was a study in contrasts. The craftsmanship of the Hall was impressive with it being long and wide, its wooden walls standing on a smooth stone floor. There were intricately carved wooden columns to its left and right upholding its lofty roof. Banners and tapestries of Rohirrim and their horses adorned the walls. But for all that craftsmanship, the hall's atmosphere was dark and gloomy befitting a tomb. Nor was the atmosphere solely due to the interior's apparent lack of light.

At the opposite end of the hall was a dais atop three steps. In the middle of the dais was a gilded wooden throne. Sitting on the throne was Rohan's current ruler. Theoden's appearance, however, was anything but regal. The King was a withered old man with heavily wrinkled skin, straggly grey hair and eyes that looked to be blinded with cataracts. Rainbow Dash thought the best description of Theoden's apparent state of health was 'zombie'. Sitting left of Theoden on a simple wooden stool was a man almost equally pale in colour wearing a heavy black ermine robe. The man had greasy shoulder length hair and cold blue eyes. For those in the Fellowship who had never seen him, they all concluded this man had to be Grima Wormtongue.

As they approached, it was noticed by all that the supposed Wormtongue whispered something into Theoden's ear; more than likely a preemptive attack in the making.

"The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late, Theoden-King," Gandalf commented to their host.

Gandalf released his hand from Legolas' arm and began to walk by himself towards Theoden. The rest of the Fellowship fell in behind the Wizard, with Boromir and Applejack the two leftmost of Gandalf.

"To our left and right," the Gondorian said to the Apple Farmer.

Not moving her head, Applejack quickly glanced at the hall's columns left and right. They were being shadowed by a group of five burly men on either side. More likely than not, these ten men were Wormtongue's hired thugs.

"Ah don' see a problem. Jus' a bunch o' vermin skitterin' about," an untroubled Applejack replied.

After Wormtongue whispered something in his ear, Theoden craggily laboured out the first thing they'd head since arriving. "Why should I... welcome you, Gandalf... Stormcrow?"

"A just question, my liege," Wormtongue agreed before rising to his full height of 5'4". Walking towards Gandalf, Grima sneered at him, "Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. 'Lathspell' I name him. Ill news is an ill guest!"

The Wizard didn't falter an inch as Grima blocked his path. If anything he rose in response.

"Be silent!" Gandalf sternly rebuked his accuser. "Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!"

It was then that Gandalf raised his staff.

"His staff," Grima nervously gulped before raging at the individual who'd disobeyed his orders. "Traitor, Hama. I told you to take the wizard's staff!"

At Grima's signal, his thugs rushed to disarm Gandalf. The rest of the Fellowship moved to intercept them. Gamling began drawing his sword out of concern for Theoden's safety, but Hama instantly stayed his subordinate's hand and shook his head.

Despite his earlier demeanor, Hama wasn't the least bit fooled by Twilight's bluff about Gandalf's staff being just a walking stick. He had heard the tales about the wonders the wizard had performed over many long years with his staff. By allowing Gandalf to keep his staff, he had hoped that the Wizard would be able to free Theoden of the evil magic that Saruman and Wormtongue had cast over the King. When he first entered the Royal Guard, like all its members, Hama swore an oath that he would value the King's life above his own at all times. As Captain, that oath meant more to Hama now than when he first swore it. If the price of freeing Theoden was forfeiting his own life, he felt he was doing no less than what his oath required of him.

Wormtongue watched in dismay as his thugs proved to be no match for the Fellowship. More accurately, no match for its five colorful ponies who immediately leapt into action. The one with a snow-white coat and purple mane effortlessly picked up a thug in an aura of sapphire before throwing him into a column with a loud thud. The one in the cyan blue coat, wings and rainbow colored mane had the reflexes of a cat as she nimbly dodged intended blows, and responded with flying kicks that knocked her attackers flat with but a single blow. The pink one... Grima didn't even know how to describe the takedown that he'd just seen. The four other Fellowship members barely had to be involved at all to stop any thugs from reaching Gandalf as he approached Theoden.

When Wormtongue saw Rainbow Dash flip the last thug so effortlessly, he fled in panic to the main doors. He was so intent on observing Rainbow Dash, he had failed to see that Applejack was directly in his path.

Applejack allowed Grima to trip over her anchored body, sending the Chief Counselor to ignominiously fall on his frontside. She then proceeded to sit down on top of him, and keep him pinned to the ground.

"Ah'd suggest ya stop yer fussin' an' stay here with me," Applejack warned Grima with an arched eyebrow. "Right now, Ah'm probably the only thing stoppin' all of Edoras from killing ya. If ya slip away like an ornery sidewinder, Ah won't be able ta keep that from happenin'."

Now that the marginal threat from Wormtongue and his men had been neutralized, Gandalf stood alone at the base of the dais as the others watched, waiting to see what happened next.

Gandalf closed his eyes and gently raised his left hand before speaking to Theoden. "I release you from the spell."

After Gandalf had spoken, all within the Golden Hall were slightly unnerved by the menacing laugh that come from Theoden, with a measure of strength that hadn't been present in his earlier address of them.

"You have no power here, Gandalf the Grey!" he gloated and cackled in a manner that was practically dripping with evil.

"Perhaps he doesn't. But I DO!"

Ever since entering the hall of the Meduseld, Twilight had been very deliberate in her actions, and how she conducted herself. She had intentionally been standing close to the back, allowing Gandalf and the others to proceed ahead of her, in order to obscure her presence from the line of sight of Theoden. If he truly was serving as Saruman's puppet as Gandalf had said, she didn't want her presence known about right off the bat. She wanted to maintain the element of surprise for as long as possible in case it was necessary.

Now that they had actual confirmation of Saruman actively manipulating Theoden -basically wearing the man as a disguise- it was time to spring the surprise.

"Gandalf, if you would be so kind as to step aside. This one's mine..." she stated.

In response to the request, Gandalf gave a chuckle that was both lighthearted, good natured, and simultaneously dark as all get out, before stepping out of Theoden's line of sight, letting him see her for himself.

The look on Theoden's/Saruman's face at seeing her was exquisite, and only served to make her joyless grin all the more menacing in response, like a shark detecting the scent of blood in the water.

"Round two."

Theoden moved to escape, but never even got out of his throne before Twilight crossed the distance between them in the blink of an eye, teleporting right in front of him, and pushing him back down into a sitting position.

"Nope, I don't think so," she stated as she held him down with one hoof on his chest. "Now you just sit right back, this won't hurt a bit," she continued in a faux cheery tone as the tip of her horn began to glow. "Or at least... it won't hurt Theoden any..."

The commotion within the Meduseld had been of such volume, it'd been more than enough to draw Eowyn inside to see just what events were transpiring.

Seeing it for herself, she didn't believe it any better than when she was just hearing it. Grima's men were being dispatched by ponies. Grima was being trippand sat on by another pony. And yet another pony was confronting her own uncle in a very hostile manner.

It was the last one that drove her forward to try and intervene, only to be intercepted by Aragorn and Boromir.

"No! It is for the best," Aragorn stressed as she fought to break loose. "He is in no danger."

His words were intended to assure Eowyn, but in all honesty he didn't know whether or not they were truthful. Magic was out of his realm of knowledge, especially when it was Equestrian magic. For all he knew right now, Twilight was putting King Theoden at the same risk she did Saruman when she confronted him back in Isengard.

"Hold up, lemme check on something," Rainbow Dash said as she made her way over to Twilight's side. Having been present for this once before, she had something of an idea of what was going on, but still wanted confirmation. So she reached out and placed her hoof on Twilight's wither, just as she had the last time, in order to see what events were transpiring without them.

Not two seconds later, she was pulling her hoof back with a look on her face somewhere between surprise and terror. "Whoa!"

"What is it, darling? Is everything alright?" Rarity asked, her voice heavy with concern.

"I... I don't know," Rainbow Dash admitted, before quickly turning her attention to Gandalf. "You gotta see it to believe it, it's... epic..."

Gandalf couldn't help but feel intrigued by this. He had always regarded himself as a man with an appropriate level of curiosity regarding the goings on in the world. But this had piqued his interests substantially, leaving him wanting to know just what Rainbow Dash had seen.

Doing as Rainbow Dash had done previously, he stepped forward and gently placed his hand atop Twilight's withers.

Isengard. The Orthanc. This was where Gandalf found himself as he opened his eyes. Although he hadn't remembered actually shutting his eyes.

No. This wasn't the Orthanc itself, but a mere imitation; a hazy, mental representation of the main chamber of the stone tower. And standing in the middle of the chamber were Saruman and Twilight Sparkle, two combatants facing against one another in a struggle for domination.

Each of them stood, consumed in auras that represented their respective powers and forces, magical and otherwise, the two clashing violently against one another in their struggles to determine who would persevere over the other. Twilight was, not surprisingly, represented by a rich, vibrant shade of purple that was quite befitting of royalty; and could potentially make Rarity quite jealous if she were to see it for herself.

Saruman's, however, was no longer the rich, vibrant white that he had known for himself so long ago. It has grown dingy and stained, muddied by sickly, altering shades of red and brown. It was a very sorry state to see his once-old friend currently in. How far he had fallen.

"If I go... then Theoden dies!" Saruman threatened, his deep, baritone voice heavily strained as he spoke, holding his staff in front of him as one might a shield.

No, that simply wouldn't do at all, Gandalf concluded. There was no way that Saruman would be allowed to bring any further harm to Theoden. But what happened next, before he had the chance to intervene, took him quite by surprise.

"If Theoden dies, I'll level all of Isengard and wipe itcompletely from the map!I'll melt the Orthanc down around you and reduce it to a puddle of molten rock,AND YOU'LL BE STRUNG UP AND EVISCERATED, AND PARADED AROUND FOR ALL TO SEE THE FATE THAT AWAITS THOSE WHO DARE TO OPPOSE THE FREE PEOPLE OF MIDDLE-EARTH!"

Whether or not Twilight truly had the strength to actually make good on her statement, Gandalf couldn't say for certain. But to actually feel the power that her voice commanded, that her aura conveyed, he would honestly believe that it was a task she could indeed fulfill if she felt so motivated to undertake such.

He had physically felt power like this once before, back in Rivendell when she'd commanded all those present to let Frodo speak. She had driven the lot of them into silence, Elf, Man, and Dwarf alike, with even Master Elrond choosing to pay her heed as she spoke. Now here he was witnessing it once again, feeling it once again, as she directed her fury against Saruman, and brought the full strength of her will to bear against him. In such a clash, anything could possibly happen.

"You couldn't kill Gandalf! You couldn't kill me! You couldn't even kill Rainbow Dash! You certainly won't be killing Theoden either! A puny Man such as yourself couldn't possibly comprehend what he's up against!"

Gandalf winced at this exchange. Twilight's statement was easily understandable as that of someone who was less knowledgeable on the subject, but he knew that to compare Saruman to Man was... not something to be done; at least not someone that actually valued their own well being.

As was to be expected, Saruman exploded in a rage.

"You would dare to compare me to the likes of Man!? They are a tiny, insignificant species! I am Maiar heritage! I am as far above and removed from the likes of them, as they are to the likes of ants! To their likes I am a god of this world-"

Saruman's blasphemous boast of superiority was quickly cut short, with his dingy aura disappearing right alongside it as his feet were grabbed and dragged out from beneath him by a then-unseen force, as he was pulled up into the air and brutally smashed against the floor.

Gandalf only realized as it was happening, that Twilight had managed to ensnare Saruman's mental representation in her field, and was repeatedly slamming him into the floor of the Orthanc chamber. With each slam she performed, she was physically thrashing herself about -rearing up on her hind legs, whipping her head about, and slamming back down on her front hooves- as if her own physical movements were necessary to actually go about performing the feat correctly. He watched wordlessly as Twilight slammed Saruman against the ground several times, before holding him aloft by his feet to examine him with a critical eye, and then slamming him against the ground several more times, before finally throwing him down and relinquishing her hold on him.

Saruman made no move to immediately get back up. from where he currently laid. Gandalf wasn't even certain hecouldget back up after that; duels of the will were tricky things indeed.

Twilight grunted and snorted as she scuffed her shod hoof against the floor. "I've had dealings before with those who could be considered as being the likes of gods. Those who violate the immutable rules of reality itself for no reason other than the sake of amusement," she huffed, "you by comparison, Saruman? You're nothing. You're but a tiny, insignificant percentage of an infinitesimalspeckof what a god would be! Of what a godshouldbe!"

All throughout Twilight's rant, Saruman merely laid where he'd been cast, an undignified wheeze/whine escaping his lips as he stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, likely still trying to process what'd just happened to him.

"Get out of my sight, Saruman, and let your master know that I'm coming for him next," Twilight growled as she reached out and latched onto his robes. "If you get in our way again, I promise you that I won't benearlyas nice the next time we meet," she said as she tugged him into a sitting position.

The last thing Saruman would see was Twilight's lavander-furred backside as she turned her back on him, right before bucking with her hind legs, slamming both of her shod hooves into his face with all of her might, forcefully removing him from the chamber in the process entirely.

Not even a minute had passed, and yet it had been enough for Gandalf to see what Rainbow Dash had been referring to. With the expulsion of Saruman, he pulled away from Twilight, who proceeded to collapse against Theoden where he sat on this throne, undoubtedly exhausted from her endeavors.

Rainbow Dash was at her friend's side within a heartbeat, checking to make sure she was well, and lifting her off of Theoden's prone form as Eowyn was allowed to move to her uncle's side.

At his niece's touch, Theoden raised his head and with the exception of Gandalf, all in the hall was stunned by what they witnessed. Before their very eyes, Theoden seemed to become younger in a matter of moments with color returning to his skin as well as his white hair line receding. Instead of white, the hair on his head and goatee beard was now wheaten blond in color. And his eyes. Clarity and recognition returned to Theoden's eyes as he looked at his niece in front of him.

"I know your face," he whispered before touching her cheek. "Eowyn... Eowyn!"

Eowyn broke into a relived smile as tears of joy spilled out of her eyes. The Shield-maiden knew the nightmare of Saruman's possession of her uncle was now over.

It was then that Theoden finally noticed Gandalf properly.

"Gandalf?" he asked the Wizard. "Why are you here? Who are these people? Where did these strange creatures before me come from?"

"Simply breathe the free air again, my friend, and all will be explained in time," Gandalf replied.

Theoden stood up from his throne, to the happiness of his courtiers, as well as his own body. Hama and Gamling exchanged barely restrained smiles of joy that their liege had returned in both body and spirit.

"Dark have been my dreams of late," Theoden commented mostly to himself before realising his hands, as well as the rest of him, was slightly trembling.

"Your fingers would remember their old strength better... if they grasped your sword," Gandalf pointed out

At Gandalf's words, Hama rushed up to Theoden and presented the said weapon. The King's sword, that bore the name of 'Herugrim'. Theoden wrapped his fingers around the hilt before firmly withdrawing it.

Twilight, watching the entire demonstration with a sense of pride from where she currently sat, couldn't help but find it to be very... Arthurian in nature, tales of the sword in the stone coming to the forefront of her mind as the sword left its scabbard. Like the tales around Arthur himself, Theoden seemed to grow in stature with his sword in hand. She knew that he actually hadn't... but it sure felt that way, going by the reaction of those present in the hall.

Throughout Theoden's restoration, Grima had tried to subtly free himself. Applejack's hold on him, however, was stronger than that of an iron warhammer, and far heavier. The Chief Counselor began to tremble as Theoden locked gazes and gave him a murderous glare. Grima couldn't help but hope that Applejack's rough vow of 'protection' also extended to the King's wrath.

"A'right then."

Now that Theoden was free of Saruman's influence, Applejack was quite happy to get off of Grima, and pass him over to the custody of bothHama and Gamling. The two most senior members of the Royal Guard firmly grasped Grima on either side as they dragged him outside the Golden Hall, and none too gently threw him down the stairs with a powerful heave. Grima cried in pain as he hit the stairs hard, rolling and tumbling down them, before finally coming to a stop. Blood poured out of his split lip as Theoden menacingly approached him with Herugrim in hand.

"I've only ever served you, my lord!" he beseeched Theoden as he began pulling himself backwards in fear.

Grima's lie only fueled the King's wrath towards him.

"Your leechcraft would have had me crawling on all fours like a beast!" Theoden hissed.

As there was now a large mob of Edoras residents behind him, Grima stopped moving and resorted to groveling to save his life.

"Send me not from your side!" he pathetically begged.

The situation looked quite grim. As Theoden stepped closer, it looked like Grima would be meeting a brutal end at the edge of the King's sword.

Or at least it looked like that, until a certain snow-white unicorn saw fit to stand between the two, and halt the King''s advance any further.

"Your Majesty," Rarity spoke up in as calm a voice as she could manage, "please forgive me for speaking out of turn, especially since we've yet to be formally introduced. But if you kill this deplorable wretch, doesn't that make you no better than Saruman in this matter, by sacrificing the moral high ground to claim vengeance for being wronged? Especially vengeance on one who, quite frankly, isn't worth such?" she asked.

"What?" Rainbow Dash squawked as she quickly moved to face Rarity. "Rarity, you can't be serious! It's not our place to be deciding something like that!"

"Perhaps not, Rainbow Dash. But I can't, in good conscience, just stand idly by in this situation, without at least voicing my objections to all of this. If I don't do at least that, if I hold my tongue and simply allow another to be killed... I just can't do it. We've already been responsible for so many deaths as it is. Unlike those, however, this can't be written off as a case of self defense," Rarity pointed out.

"Oh yes it is!" Rainbow Dash protested. "If we leave this buttwad alive then he's a liability. He was already working for Saruman, what if he decides to reclaim him? Worse, what if he decides to make use of what this scoundrel might know? Who knows what exploitable secrets he's got locked away in his head?"

"Rainbow Dash, you're rationalizing what's basically murder. You can't just end someone's life on the basis of what they might do, before they do it," Rarity explained.

"After all he did-" Rainbow Dash started.

"It still doesn't justify killing him on the basis of what might be done in the future," Rarity interrupted.

Rainbow Dash didn't know what to say. She tried to speak, but no words would actually come out. Her mind was reeling, trying to come up with a counterpoint that would adequately rebut Rarity's position, but she couldn't manage to come up with anything on the matter.

"Fluttershy and the others are, indirectly at least, still alive due to his actions here. Surely that must account for something," Rarity continued.

That statement had struck Rainbow Dash far harder than she thought it would, leaving her even more speechless than before. Were it not for the riders of Rohan, there's no telling what the Uruk-Hai might've done to not only Fluttershy, but also Merry and Pippin as well. Had they not come through when they did, and slaughtered every orc in sight, they might actually be mourning the loss of their friends right now. And why had they come through when they did in the first place? Because Grima had banished them from the kingdom of Rohan.

"Fine..." she mumbled in defeat and resignation. She wouldn't push for the little turd's execution since he played a part in saving Fluttershy.

But then again the decision wasn't up to either one of them. That authority rested with King Theoden, and he'd have final say on the matter.

Theoden was uncertain of how to proceed. Just a moment ago he'd been fully prepared -even intent- to slay Grima where he groveled, and rid his kingdom of such filth. But to hear these strange ponies passionately disagree on what was proper to engage, both giving reasons to support their individual positions, he found himself hesitating on the follow through.

By the time the blue pony with the rainbow mane had conceded her defeat, even his own rage had been tempered by their words.

"She may be a pony, but she raises excellent points for consideration."

It had been Gandalf's voice that had been behind the statement. It was as if the old wizard had sensed his uncertainty, and was preying upon it.

"A King must be firm. But he must also recognize tyranny when it may arise, regardless of the origin," Gandalf added in a mutter that just met his ears.

Try as he might, Theoden's resolve to end Grima rightly, the certainty that he was doing the right thing, simply couldn't withstand the assault from the others. Finally it great to be too much for him. The very thought of doing such now disgusted him.

"Be gone from my sight," he growled and looked at the ground. "Leave my kingdom now. I do not want you within a hundred leagues of me!" he shouted.

"King Theoden, Sir. If I may."

This time it was the lavender pony that was addressing him, while the pink one went about restraining Grima before he could escape.

"Rainbow Dash raises an excellent point. As Grima served as your Chief Counselor, he'd be privy to a great deal of information that could put Rohan at an equally great risk if Saruman were to get his hands on it. Assuming that he hasn't already. He's far too much of a security risk to simply just turn loose like that. Even just keeping him confined in the prisons of Rohan, assuming you have prions, is no guarantee," Twilight pointed out. If he was banished from the kingdom, he'd inevitably go running to Saruman, sniveling all the way. "At the same time, however, I have to agree with Rarity and Gandalf on this. I've seen enough killing, participated in enough killing, to want to avoid any further if at all possible."

"And what would you suggest?" Theoden found himself asking.

Out of all these strange visitors, this one had his attention the most. His mind had not been his own for so long, overshadowed and corrupted by the taint of Saruman's wicked will. And yet she had stormed into the inner sanctum of his own thoughts as if it was her own, and went about forcefully banishing Saruman, returning control of his mind to him in the process. He knew not precisely just what had been experienced, only that it was enough to instill a sense of respect within himself.

"A compromise of the three options as it were. We leave Grima alive, banishing him from the kingdom as you originally decided, but not before completely wiping his mind of any and all information that pertains to Rohan, and whatever vulnerabilities it might possess. Anything he knows, gone in an instant, as if it never existed in the first place," Twilight proposed.

Back in Equestria, such a proposal wasn't one that would be made lightly. Outside the Elements of Harmony, among the three punishments reserved for the most serious of offenders, it was regarded as the most severe. There was banishment from the kingdom, condemnation to Tartarus, and then what was colloquially known as the living death; the body remained alive and able to function, but their psyche, the very essence of who they were, all of their memories, experience, and knowledge, was completely wiped out of existence, making it as if they'd never been alive to begin with. It was essentially Equestria's equivalent of the death penalty, which was practiced by the Dragon and Gryphon nations.

It was a very horrifying, very distasteful task to undertake even when it was necessary. Very few ponies actually knew of its confirmed existence, and of them, only four actually knew how to perform such a gruesome feat. She was, for better or worse, one of the four tasked with holding such knowledge; an unfortunate requirement of being tasked with holding the position of Alicorn Princess. Princess Celestia and Luna had taken no joy in having to inform her of this painful knowledge shortly after her coronation, of what duties she may one day be required to fulfill.

But that was neither here nor there. These were far different circumstances they found themselves in. And short of execution, the living death was the best way she knew of to keep Rohan safe from whatever knowledge this greasy scoundrel might have locked away in his rotten head!

"That said, however, it's not something I can do right now. It's not a difficult process, but it requires a great deal of focus, and I'm still worn out from kicking Saruman to the curb. I'm going to need time to rest and recuperate in order to do this. Is it possible to have Grima confined for the time being until I'm ready to deal with him?" she asked.

The thought of Grima being in his kingdom even a moment longer repulsed Theoden greatly. He wanted the worm gone immediately! But even in his current state, he knew this treasonous scoundrel would pose a risk if he was in league with Saruman. And if this pony could indeed stop that from being the case, he owed it to his people to protect them whenever possible.

He shared a look with both Hama and Gamling. A look that conveyed everything that needed to be said in this matter.

"Oh yes. Yes I believe we can be very accommodating to him..."

The intent of Hama and Gamling was quite evident to Gandalf as he watched haul Grima away, more likely than not planning on venting some pent up frustrations as they confined him for the duration, until Twilight was ready to deal with him in her own way. But at the moment, such was not his concern. Instead he chose to focus on matters closer at hand, such as the gathered crowds that had been watching everything in disbelief. These were a people that needed good news to lift their spirits, and he could think of no better news than an important announcement.

"Your King is now free from Saruman's Sorcery!"

"Hail, Theoden-King!" Aragorn proclaimed.

All Rohirrim present knelt in homage to their ruler. The Fellowship quickly followed their gesture as a sign of respect to Theoden. As Theoden noted this, he realized someone important was missing.

"Where is Theodred?" he asked no one in particular. "Where is my son?"

The night, the mist dissipated enough for the darkness of the night sky to really cast down. They could hear thunder in the distance, and Spike could see the red cloud over Mordor as clear as day. He tried to sleep, but the slight whispers of the conversation between Gollum and Frodo kept him on the edge of consciousness. He didn't bother listening though; listening required concentration, and concentration interfered with resting. After the day they'd had, all he wanted to do was rest right now.

Despite that, he wondered what Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy and the others were doing right now.

Twilight was certain that they'd be meeting up again in a few days. But he was starting to doubt the accuracy of her claim. He didn't want to doubt her, but it was beginning to feel apparent that he, Frodo and Sam... all right, and Gollum, would be making the journey alone to Mordor for the time being. So what was the rest of the Fellowship doing in Rohan? Maybe they were trying to stop that other bad guy. What was his name? It sounded like Sauron, he remembered that much, but trying to focus on the details was just too much effort right now.

Well, whatever they were doing, a few things were likely certain: Legolas and Gimli were probably bickering about one thing or another, Gandalf was probably getting ready to kill the both of them, Aragorn and Twilight were leading everybody, and-


His thoughts were interrupted as an ear-splitting shriek rent through the air; one that was all too familiar to them, even after this long.

"Black Riders!" Sam shouted.

Frodo let out a cry and clutched at his shoulder, where he'd been stabbed by one of them on Weathertop. He went incredibly pale, and seemed to be incapable of movement in the wake of the noise.

"Come on Frodo!" Spike gasped. "We have to hide!" He and Sam managed to usher Frodo over to a bush as Gollum panicked wildly nearby. "Quickly! Quickly! They will see us, they willsee us!"

"I thought they were dead - Aragorn and Twilight set the lot of them on fire on Weathertop!"

"Dead?" Gollum whispered solemnly. "You cannot kill them, no." The Ring Wraith shrieked again, and Spike plugged his ears, wincing in pain. Had they always been that loud?

"Oh my Celestia," Spike whispered, looking up through the branches of the bush. "What isthat?"

High above them was a large, evil-looking flying serpent - on its back sat the Ring Wraith, riding it like a horse. The two swooped in dangerously close to their hiding spot, and for one horrible moment, Spike thought that maybe it had seen them. But then it swooped back into the air as swiftly as it had descended, taking off towards Mordor.

"They call for the Precious!" Gollum gasped. "They scream for it!"

Fordo began to convulse again, and Sam grabbed his hand. "Don't worry, Mr. Frodo. We're here."

Spike followed suit and grabbed Frodo's other hand. Once the Wraith was a safe distance away, Gollum relaxed.

"Come, come - the Black Gate is very close."

"It sure better be," Spike stated. The riders had been bad enough on plain horseback, but now they had dragons of their own to serve as mounts? That just wasn't fair at all. "I'd better let Twilight know about this; see if I can motivate her to hurry up already."

Author's Note:

I'm back! Sorry this chapter took so long to write, my computer crashed and I had to buy a new one. :ajbemused:

Anyways, our heroes finally reached Rohan and we're half-way through the Two Towers arc! :yay:

Comments ( 135 )

It's here!
*dives into it like Twilight in her favourite books*

I'm back! Sorry this chapter took so long to write, my computer crashed and I had to buy a new one.

It’s alright, you’re doing this for free.

Awesome chapter once again. I liked the parts where Equestrians don’t just take quotes and actions but do and say things they would character wise. They are leaving their own hoofprints in Middle Earth history while still staying true to who they are. You have done well.

Gollum had something akin to sympathy in his eyes, and Spike wondered if Gollum had always been... well,Gollum.

No, Spike, there was a time where he was called Smeagol...

"Gandalf, if you would be so kind as to step aside. This one's mine..." she stated.

Saruman is royally bucked.

"Round two."


"If Theoden dies, I'll level all of Isengard and wipe itcompletely from the map!I'll melt the Orthanc down around you and reduce it to a puddle of molten rock,AND YOU'LL BE STRUNG UP AND EVISCERATED, AND PARADED AROUND FOR ALL TO SEE THE FATE THAT AWAITS THOSE WHO DARE TO OPPOSE THE FREE PEOPLE OF MIDDLE-EARTH!"

That’s one peeved purple princess... The future troublemakers Twilight and her team will meet once they are back home would better surrender on sight if they know what is good for them.

All throughout Twilight's rant, Saruman merely laid where he'd been cast, an undignified wheeze/whine escaping his lips as he stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, likely still trying to process what'd just happened to him.

Puny god.

All good. I love this story!

War will soon begin. I wonder if Twilight and her friends will join the war?

Sooooo, there might be a storm during the upcoming big ole siege. And I'm just wondering, will Rainbow Dash have fun with it? :rainbowdetermined2:

After the way they have dealt with the previous encounters, and Twilight’s most recent declaration towards Saruman, is there even any doubt left?

Yet it is only the beginning...

I truly want Saruman to be reformed and restored to his former glory among the Istari.

Love how your changing stuffnanf lol nice move bearing him up like that

Welcome back, and honestly, EVERYTHING is in perfect harmony, canon and your own unique additions! I cant wait to see the warg riders and the hornburg! Your story is One to Rule Them All.

"Oh yes it is!" Rainbow Dash protested. "If we leave this buttwad alive then he's a liability. He was already working for Saruman, what if he decides to reclaim him? Worse, what if he decides to make use of what this scoundrel might know? Who knows what exploitable secrets he's got locked away in his head?"

Rainbow Dash is absolutely right.

Oh boy. I can't wait to see Spike fry Shelob's face off.

When I saw got a new computer I thought new updates yaaaaa:yay:

P.s you make the Lord of the rings 100% better because 1 borimirs alive 2 grimas gonna be a vegetable.

"If Theoden dies, I'll level all of Isengard and wipe it completely from the map! I'll melt the Orthanc down around you and reduce it to a puddle of molten rock, AND YOU'LL BE STRUNG UP AND EVISCERATED, AND PARADED AROUND FOR ALL TO SEE THE FATE THAT AWAITS THOSE WHO DARE TO OPPOSE THE FREE PEOPLE OF MIDDLE-EARTH!"

JEEZ! Twilight usus Roar.

He had physically felt power like this once before, back in Rivendell when she'd commanded all those present to let Frodo speak. She had driven the lot of them into silence, Elf, Man, and Dwarf alike, with even Master Elrond choosing to pay her heed as she spoke. Now here he was witnessing it once again, feeling it once again, as she directed her fury against Saruman, and brought the full strength of her will to bear against him. In such a clash, anything could possibly happen.

It was super effective. :raritywink:

The last thing Saruman would see was Twilight's lavander-furred backside as she turned her back on him, right before bucking with her hind legs, slamming both of her shod hooves into his face with all of her might, forcefully removing him from the chamber in the process entirely.

And unto Saruman i bequeath: A boot to the head.

Gollum, whatarethose
They's not dangerous,gollum,gollum
If Theoden dies, I'll level all of Isengard and wipe itcompletely from the map!I'll melt the Orthanc down
to a puddle of molten rock,AND YOU'LL BE STRUNG
Gandalf wasn't even certain hecouldget back up after that
of an infinitesimalspeckof what a god
Of what a godshouldbe
I won't benearlyas nice the next
and pass him over to the custody of bothHama and Gamling
They will see us, they willsee us
What isthat

Forgot your spacing here. Quite a few actually.

As to from where we hale


Grima was being trippand sat on by another pony

Uhh... Tripped and?

Finally it great to be too much for him

Some words be missing here.

"A compromise of the three options as it were. We leave Grima alive, banishing him from the kingdom as you originally decided, but not before completely wiping his mind of any and all information that pertains to Rohan, and whatever vulnerabilities it might possess. Anything he knows, gone in an instant, as if it never existed in the first place," Twilight proposed.

Another bonus point for... 'sealing cracks in the walls', as it were.

your making her to mary sue

Rather, he's making her accurate. This is an excellent portrayal of Princess Twilight. You have to remember, Middle Earth has very different magic than Equestria. It's complicated, hard to learn, and not easy to cast. Twilight has a natural advantage here.

Eru was written as a god by Tolkien, but the author of LOTR didn't talk about how this universe would work mixed with others like MLP.
Plus, for all we know, Eru has been in fact orchestrating all this and faking his inability to come back, so he would test the Equestrians along with the Free People.
Derailing from a universe is one of the things fanfics are for.
In this fic, only Mr War knows how the 2 crossovered verses interact.

This chapter brought excitement and joy when I relalized it update. Xd
I so cannot WAIT for the battle of helms deep! I'm looking forward to it the most! Xdxdxd

Friendship Team Alpha will have to go through a troop of warg riders first...

I think I've said it before, and i'll say it again....

This story is way too well written for what it is.

Seriously, just amazing.

I agree, this fanfic has earned its place among the treasures in fimfiction.net!

That may be so, but right now things seem too easy. It may change with the Battle of Helm's Deep, but right now I don't feel much in the way of tension with the Equestrians providing back-up for the Fellowship.

This, unfortunately, is also true. Adding the Equestrians has made everything just that much more easy.

There needs to be some sort of equal response from Sauron's corner. Something to scale up the threat, if you will.

Yeah. Something needs to come marching out of the Black Gate that would scare any Middle-Earthian's pants off. Or magic resistant armor, mega-wargs, something!


right now things seem too easy

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli crush Wormtongue and his henchmen, and Gandalf the White rather swiftly throws Saruman out of Theoden’s mind at that moment of the film.

We haven’t got, yet, to the skirmish against the warg riders (where the heroes may experience the believed loss of one (or several) member(s) of their team) and to the siege of Helm’s Deep involving 10 thousands of uruk hai on a side and 700 defenders (including men between 7 and 70 years old) on the other.

Am I the only one who wants some of the Rohirrim to start trying to worship the mane six? :pinkiecrazy:

I can't wait until they meet Shadowfax :twilightblush:

Maybe Gandalf will show them Shadowfax just before he departs to find the Eoreds.

This is very true. The author hasn't disappointed us yet. This pony twist of Tolkien's work has been great so far, and I expect nothing less as it goes on

Comment posted by Spettro138 deleted Feb 24th, 2018


"Rainbow Dash, you're rationalizing what's basically murder. You can't just end someone's life on the basis of what they might do, before they do it," Rarity explained.

Uh sweetheart, yeah we can. And we should. When the situation absolutely calls for it anyway. That's called keeping your country safe. The United States does it all the time. My family has had extensive military service and we know for a fact that when you make the mistake of releasing a terrorist who has knowledge about our operations and has killed people in the past, it will come back to rip your ass a new one. Its happened before and shortly after their release, soldiers have reported to have seen the same terrorists causing more harm to people and our soldiers.

It looked as if a lot of dialogue that was italicized for emphasis had the spaces removed somehow from at least one of the adjacent words. I don't know, maybe that's just how it looks in that typeface, but it looked really bad.

Anyway, I noticed a couple of word-substitution errors:

And despite your attentions of finding a way home Twilight


As to from where we hale,


A bit of both really. In the actual book, it serves no purpose other than to be a confusing and mysterious quote.

This is amazing! It's finally updated and I can read what happens from where I had left off! Awesome story!

"He was not always known as such, Rarity," Aragorn explained.

Rarity looked at Aragorn in disbelief. "Wait. You mean he actually changed his name TO Wormtongue? By choice? Goodness, what sort of name was he born to that would motivate a change like that?"

"Wormtongue" is a nickname given to him by the people of Edoras:

But first send for Éomer. Do I not guess rightly that you [Théoden] hold him prisoner, by the counsel of Gríma, of him that all save you name the Wormtongue?

I really hope he goes for the book for the battle of Minas Tirith because gandalf the gray beat all nine nazgual on whether top now he's the white the part of the movie when the witch king broke gandalfs star was stupid

This is forgetting Gandalf the Grey beats the Nazgul while Frodo and the Ring are still far away from Sauron's Eye.
When Gandalf the White faces the Witch King, Frodo and the Ring are much closer. The thing is that the closer the Ring is to its owner, the more Sauron and his Nazgul are powerful.

Yes but gandalf held sourons will away from the ring when frodo put on the ring when boramir attacked him as gandalf the white when gandalf became the white he was given power the only being on middle earth that could face him was souron

Shouldn't Twilight ask what a Maiar is? It would force Gandalf to tell her a lot about Middle-Earth and the history of Arda. Not only that, but also more reasons to fear Sauron as he is a Maiar and is Equal to Gandalf with his ring. Only when of course Gandalf would be allowed to drop his disquise and reveal himself as Olórin.

Whew, finally, I've caught up. And If I may, would you mind if I ask a few questions?

1.) How's the next chapter coming?

2.) Do you have any plans of doing a crossover with "The Hobbit"? A journey Starswirl or Stygian made in the days of old? Or perhaps we will indulge an adventure with Sunset Shimmer, who was not only transported to Middle-Earth, but sent back in time as well. (to name a few suggestions)

3.) How are you doing?


It's coming along quite nicely actually. Halfway done before I send it to my proof reader. :twilightsmile:

And I don't think I can write something like that. You can give it a go if you want. :pinkiehappy:

1.) That's good to hear.
2.) Perhaps I will. You've inspired me to come up with an idea like that. I just wanted to know if you had any plans with it before diving in myself.

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