• Published 10th May 2016
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The Titan's Orb: Rising Storm - Old Man Dusters



While Callum and the Mane Six continue their quest to find the shards of the Titan's Orb, their path ahead grows only more deadly as they are now stalked by a relentless shadow that will stop at nothing until they are vanquished...

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Chapter Twenty: Revelations

Spinning around and around, bewilderment overwhelmed me; I was in Ponyville, it was real! I picked up all the sounds, sights, and smells; oh, the smells. The air was so different, so fresh, I detected the slightest hint of baked goods, and spotted Sugarcube Corner not too far away. The strangest thing, was that none of the ponies were looking at me, as though I weren’t there at all.

“Hello?” I greeted the first pony that came near me.

He looked around, showing he’d heard me, but shrugged after a couple of seconds and continued walking past me. That’s when I spotted Lyra Heartstrings walking across a nearby bridge, with an open saddlebag on her waist.

“Lyra!”

Like the first pony, she looked up and searched the area for the source of my voice.

“Can’t you see me?” I asked.

Her ears twitched, and then she headed off rather quickly, clearly disturbed by my voice. This was getting weirder and weirder by the minute. I looked at my hands to find they were slightly transparent, and I didn’t cast a shadow at all, as though light passed completely through me; I was completely invisible to the world. Seeing as nobody could see me, I decided to scout around and search for some reason as to why I was here in the first place. The first place I thought to check was Sugarcube Corner, as it was closest to me. Trying not to bump into anyone, I reached the bakery and quickly recognised Mr and Mrs Cake behind the counter; seeing them for real with my own eyes was beyond trippy. It had taken months just to get used to having the six around me, on Earth, but now I was there! In Equestria! I’d have been more excited if I didn’t have the feeling everything was wrong. The orb shard I had grabbed was nowhere to be seen, had it been left behind? Was Rainbow Dash sat there waiting for me to return?

That’s when I remembered the time difference across our worlds, a day here equated to a whole year back on Earth. Days would be flying past in mere seconds right now, anything could happen to the ponies within the next few minutes if I didn’t get back! I began to panic, rushing out of the door and running right into none-other than Derpy Hooves; I collided with her shoulder and toppled over her back and she fell to the ground, letting out a small ‘oof!

“I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there!” I gasped, getting up.

Derpy brushed herself down and shook her head.

“No, no, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… Wait, who said that?”

She looked around, confused.

“Hey, check it out, Muffin Face tripped over her imaginary friend again!”

Derpy instantly went red and covered her face with her hooves, I whipped around to find Diamond Tiara about a half-metre away from me, with Silver Spoon right next to her. The fillies giggled as Derpy grew more and more flustered. Being completely invisible had its perks, and I decided to perform the one action every brony has ever wanted to do.
Lining up my outstretched hand, I bitch-slapped the filly. The sound upon contact with her face was as aesthetically pleasing as the sound of cracking open a cold beer. Diamond Tiara instantly burst into tears and ran away wailing, Silver Spoon close on her tail.

{I’m sure that counts as child abuse, but holy shit, that felt good.} I thought to myself.

I turned my head back to Derpy and stood up next to her, who was curiously watching the fillies fleeing into another part of town, clearly wondering what had just happened.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

“I think so.” She replied.

She put out a hoof, trying to locate where I was.

“You’re not really my imaginary friend, are you?” She quizzed.

I laughed lightly, and then took her outstretched hoof.

“Nope, I’m real. But for some reason, nobody can see me.” I explained.

My hands were shaking from adrenaline and excitement, I completely forgot about the orb and Nah’Lek, how could I focus on that? I was in Ponyville, in conversation with DERPY HOOVES!

“Are you using a spell?”

“No, I’m just invisible for some reason.”

Derpy rubbed the back of her neck with a hoof, unsure of how to assist me, but clearly wanting to be able to provide an answer for me.

“How long has it been like that?”

“Since like, a few minutes ago, when I got here.”

“So, you’re new to town?”

I cleared my throat, and licked my dry lips, this whole experience was really surreal.

“Yeah, it’s rather complicated, but yes, I’m very new to town.”

“Well, I’m not sure if Twilight is home, but I’ll take you there, she might be able to help.” Derpy offered.

I tilted my head.

“Twilight’s here?” I asked, shocked.

“I’m not sure, she goes back and forth to Canterlot quite often.” She replied.

This was getting beyond weird, this was freaky, what was even happening?

“Okay, lead the way.” I said.

She smiled and headed away from Sugarcube Corner, I remained right on her tail. Ponyville was so much larger that the show portrayed, there were so many houses, and ponies walking around; I didn’t recognise any of them. The town hall was enormous, it was at least the size of two large barns, certainly big enough to contain all the town’s residents.

Seeing all the buildings for myself was mind-blowing, each thatched roof was immaculate, whoever built them were some very efficient thatchers. The walls were strangely modern, while some of them were made from a natural mud-like concrete, a number of them were made from stone and wood, I supposed some houses were more expensive than others.



“Well, here we are!” Derpy announced.

“Whoa.” I muttered.

Golden Oak Library, in the flesh, well, in the wood. It was a sight to behold, the hollowed-out tree stood at least three stories tall, its girth was no smaller than a redwood giant. Its branches were almost as thick as ordinary tree trunks, some of them cut away and shaped into windows. The leaves were almost the size of dinnerplates, never before had I seen such a spectacular creation from nature.

Derpy approached the red door and knocked on it, after a few seconds, she knocked again.

“I suppose there’s no one home.” Derpy shrugged.

I was about to speak, when a scrabbling came from behind the door and looked back to it. A second later, and I heard a metal latch coming undone. The door swung open, and I almost yelped from what I saw.

“Oh, hi there Derpy.”

Standing in the doorway, the top of his head coming to the same height as my waist, was a purple dragon. Spike was much slimmer than the show made him out to be, but he was no less remarkable, I could see each scale nearly arranged across his body, his large eyes glistened in the sunlight. I would have freaked out if today hadn’t been so weird already, everything was partially washing over me due to the sudden shock of where I was.

“Hey Spike, have you seen Twilight around?” Derpy asked.

His face dulled, clearly irritated.

“No, she’s out with him again.” He grunted.

Derpy ignored his change of mood, and tilted her head curiously.

“Do you know where they went?”

“Don’t know, don’t care.”

Spike shut the door, and I heard him walking away on the other side. Derpy turned to face me with a frown.

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure where to take you now.” She said.

“What was Spike’s problem? He seemed rather disgruntled when you mentioned Twilight.” I quizzed.

She sat down and looked at the enormous tree, before smirking.

“Twilight has been hanging out with the new guy in town, and Spike is just very jealous about it. He thinks he’ll end up in second place or something.” She explained.

“A new guy?”

“Yeah, he lives in Canterlot, but he visits Ponyville a lot.”

“I see.” I hummed.

“He’s kind of weird, but I like him.” She giggled.

Derpy stood up and yawned, before looking around as though she were trying to find me.

“Are you sure you’re real?”

“Positive.” I replied.

“Okay, well, I’m afraid I don’t know what to do, I’m not very good at helping invisible ponies. Can I leave you with someone else who could help?” She asked.

“Oh, I’m not a pony.” I chuckled.

She tilted her head, puzzled.

“I’m sorry… Um, what are you?”

“My kind doesn’t exist here, I’m something called a human.” I told her.

At this, Derpy’s ears pricked up and she faced me with her eyes wide.

“A human?” Derpy exclaimed.

Her reaction told me she’d heard of it before, which left me more bewildered than ever. How the bloody hell could she know what a human was?

“That’s who Twilight’s hanging out with, the human that lives in Canterlot.” She elaborated.

My mouth fell agape, and I realised what was going on, to some extent anyway.

“Is his name Callum, by any chance?” I asked.

“Yes! That was it! Do you know him?” She confirmed.

Theory confirmed, this was the future. After touching the orb shard, I’d somehow been transported into the future. However, this still didn’t make any sense, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to come to Equestria, Celestia would never allow it; as amazing as this place was, I didn’t belong here. I wanted to get as much information as I could, I needed to piece together what was going on.

“Yeah, I know him. Since when did he live in Canterlot?” I quizzed.

“I can’t remember exactly, but he’s been visiting Ponyville for months.”

“Okay, what business does he have in Ponyville?”

“Well, he’s one of the Everfree Rangers, so he sometimes comes here when he’s on call, but otherwise he comes to visit the girls.” She told me.

“The girls?”

“You know, the big shots, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity and Twilight.”

“Oh right, I see.” I hummed.

{I’m an Everfree Ranger? AWESOME!} I thought.

“Do you know them too?” Derpy asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, I could direct you to Rarity’s boutique if you like?” She offered.

“That would be wonderful, thank you.”

Derpy took me away from the library, and back towards the town centre. We headed over the same bridge I’d seen Lyra on. I spotted the Carousel Boutique up ahead, just behind a few stone houses.



“Well, I need to head off, but it was nice to talk to you. I hope you find some help, being invisible sounds like a pretty annoying inconvenience.” Derpy said warmly.

She put out a hoof for me to shake, to which I happily obliged.

“Thanks for your help.”

“No problem!” She giggled.

Derpy turned around and trotted off, I faced the boutique and started walking towards it. I was just past the first stone house when I heard the sound of magic behind me, I turned around and nearly fainted. Seeing Spike in the flesh was nothing compared to the vision before me now. They stood there on the bridge, both with their backs to me, facing the middle of town. On the left, was Twilight, and on the right…
Was her…

Princess Celestia…



She was so tall, her back was the same height as my shoulders, the tip of her horn definitely took her above six and a half feet. I barely knew where to look, the sight of her was too much for my brain to take; did I stare at the spiralling horn, or at the glistening hoof wear that decorated her ankles with the purest gold I’d ever seen? Was I to stare at the incredible length of her legs, or at the coat of fur that appeared to be whiter than the snows of the Frozen Forest?

Then my gaze took in her mane and tail, and it was just as mesmerising as the pure mana I had seen inside Twilight’s brain. The hair appeared to have no weight at all, as it calmly floated in the air, all while glistening a multitude of colours; the cartoon had it all wrong, the strands of hair weren’t different colours, but rather changed colour with each different movement, similar to the look of an oil slick on a road during a rainy day. It refracted the light differently depending on which angle it was observed, and due to constantly moving, the hairs seemed to change colour constantly.

From a scientific perspective, I had no bloody clue how it was possible; I guessed the amount of mana in Celestia’s being was phenomenal, I assumed it affected her mane and tail to the point of reacting differently to light, not to mention being almost completely weightless.

I approached them both and stopped just before the bridge so I could eavesdrop.

“We’re in Ponyville.” Twilight said, confused.

There was a small silence, before Celestia replied.

“Indeed, and what you are about to see, will be the consequence if we fail this task.”

Her voice was soft, yet stern; hearing it in person felt strange, it was the polar opposite to Nah’Lek’s voice, which felt like sandpaper across my face. Celestia’s tone was like the lightest, softest silk in the world, I daresay it was softer than Fluttershy’s, and yet it carried so much power.

I finally understood what was happening, this wasn’t the real future, this was Celestia’s vision, this was what Twilight had been shown before coming to Earth. Now I was finally going to see what had terrified Twilight from the moment she arrived.

Before she could speak back to her teacher, the sound of ponies screaming began to ring out from the other side of town, closest to the Everfree Forest, which I could just make out in the distance. Moments later, the town hall’s bell rang out, alarming everyone. Shrieks of terror echoed outwards, and the clouds began to turn darker, enveloping the town in shadow. Twilight turned to her mentor, a look of fear on her face.

“What’s happening?” She asked, afraid.

“Follow me.” The princess spoke, choosing not to answer.

Celestia took a few steps forward, while Twilight hesitated, clearly distressed by the screaming and the darkening sky; the princess stopped and turned to look at Twilight.

“No harm will come to you.”

Twilight nodded and started heading towards her, which was when Celestia’s eyes flickered to me, her expression didn’t change, but she looked right at me.

She could see me…

As Twilight reached her, she looked away from me and continued into town, at this point the sky was almost as dark as night, which was when I spotted something ahead. Fire.
I followed them towards the heart of town, where we came across multiple buildings ablaze, the red smoke billowing into the sky and turning it crimson. Terrified ponies charged past us, I had to jump out of the way as nobody could see me, however they passed through Twilight and Celestia, as though they were mere mirages. Up ahead I saw three ponies lying dead in the middle of the road, each in pools of blood that shimmered the light of the flames.

“I’m scared! Princess, I’m scared!” Twilight cried, in tears.

“You must witness this, Twilight; you must truly understand how important it is that we succeed in bringing the Titan’s Orb home again.” Celestia replied.

Twilight wept with fear as she watched Ponyville burn, a moment later I spotted something approaching. The blackened outlines of the attackers, they weren’t easy to see amongst the smoke, but the fire revealed their shapes well enough for me to recognise them. They were the silhouettes of men.

“No…” I breathed.

Men, two of them wielding spears, and one of them with an axe. Their shadowy figures edged towards us, ready to kill, ready to destroy. Celestia faced Twilight, and placed a hoof on her shoulder.

“The boy can never come to Equestria, or this will be our fate. Do you understand me?”

Twilight glanced at the sinister invaders, before facing her teacher and nodding.

“I’ll make sure he won’t, I promise.”

Celestia’s horn began to glow a bright yellow, and with a burst of golden flames, Twilight disappeared. Princess Celestia then faced me, and her eyes narrowed into a piercing glare.

“How are you here?” She asked.

I gulped nervously, instinctively I knelt onto one knee in respect, before looking up at her.

“I-I don’t know, I… I touched a fragment of the Orb, a-and somehow I ended up here.”

My voice was shaking so badly, a deaf man would be able to hear how nervous I was. The princess walked towards me and stopped when she was a metre away, she looked calm, which made me all the more nervous as Ponyville burned all around me.

“How many?”

“We’ve j-just found the third shard.”

She looked at me, her eyes full of thousands of different expressions, I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. The light of the flames danced in her eyes, she didn’t blink for ages, when she did, she turned around to face the silhouettes, still edging closer to us.

“I take it my student has been rough with you?”

I stood up, but didn’t dare move closer to her.

“Yes.”

“Do you understand why now?”

Looking around at the burning town, and hearing the screams of fear, I knew this would be the outcome if I came to Equestria. Perhaps if one human came to Equestria, the Titan’s Orb couldn’t properly create a forcefield again and would allow mankind to attack.

“I really caused this?” I asked, gulping again.

“Your kin were born to conquer; if you come to this world, they will find a way to follow you and claim this world as their own. I’ve seen the good of your race, but I’ve also seen its bad, and it’s a risk I refuse to allow in my kingdom. I know you understand.” She answered.

She turned to look at me again and I dipped my head, sighing.

“I don’t want to come to Equestria, not if this is the result.”

Celestia came towards me and placed a hoof on my shoulder, causing me to shiver from the sheer amazement that the princess was physically touching me.

“I know; that’s why I chose you. I am certain you will do the right thing.” She told me.

I blinked a few times, hearing those words felt like a lightning bolt shoot through my spine.

“I won’t fail you.”

The princess nodded, before taking away her hoof and stepping back, her horn glowing.

“Wait!” I called.

Remaining perfectly still, she allowed me to continue.

“Twilight and Rainbow are beginning to remember.”

Celestia’s expression grew contorted with concern, knowing exactly what I meant; the My Little Dashie fanfiction was anything but a work of fiction. Rob Cakeran’s story about Rainbow Dash coming to Earth was finally coming back to them. Who knew how Dashie would cope with that? Knowing she’s lived two separate lives would certainly have an effect on her, I just hoped it wasn’t a bad one.

“You may tell them what happened, just keep them safe.”

As she spoke, Celestia’s horn grew brighter, which is when I took a step towards her and reached out with a hand, desperate for more answers.

“Wait, please! I need to know more!” I begged.

She closed her eyes, and after another small silence, she opened them and shook her head.

“No, you don’t.”

With a flash, Celestia was gone, leaving nothing but a faint mist. When the mist disappeared, I felt a surge of energy through my body, and then looked down to find I had a shadow, and my body lost its transparent appearance. I was now properly inside the vision, visible to the world. I didn’t understand, if this was just a vision, then how come I was still here without Celestia or Twilight? Perhaps there were more answers that needed to be found here. I faced the men that approached me, their blackened forms still hard to depict amongst the dark red smoke.

Why are you doing this!?” I shouted.

They came closer and closer, and I realised how tall they were, all three of them were at least half a foot taller than myself. Their shoulders were broad, they looked abnormally large for men. Which made sense as they emerged from the smoke, because they weren’t men. Celestia had it all wrong, it wasn't humans she had to worry about; she had left the vision too early to discover the real adversaries.

Orcs.

“Of course...” I breathed.

Lok-Tar Ogar!” The lead orc chanted, spotting me.

They began to charge towards me, I looked around frantically for something to defend myself with, the best thing I could see was a large brick from one of the chimneys of the collapsed house beside me. I took it with both hands and faced the hulking foes before me. Besides running from one in the Frozen Forest, this was my first proper fight with an orc, I could tell right away that it was going to be more challenging than fighting a man. The leader approached me swung his axe down and I hopped out of the way, I took the opportunity to bash him with the brick, the corner of the block struck the side of his head and dazed him, causing him to drop onto one knee. I was about to deliver the killing blow to the back of his head when the second orc reached me with his spear, I knocked it aside and he crashed into me, causing me to drop the brick. He grabbed my neck with a single hand and lifted me up, these bastards were strong, in a fight for survival I didn’t hesitate to jab him in the eyes with two of my fingers, causing him to release both me and his spear, the orc clutched his face and roared with pain and rage. I caught the spear before it clattered onto the ground and faced the third orc, who was just about to skewer me. Quickly dropping to the ground onto my back, his weapon missed completely, allowing me to thrust my own spear upwards into his lower abdomen. He groaned loudly with agony as I pushed the weapon further into him, rupturing numerous organs. Before I knew what was happening, the lead orc was towering over me once again, he lifted the axe above his head, but before he could bring it down onto me, a bolt of dark energy shot through his chest and killed him instantly. I blinked twice with confusion, before standing up and looking around, searching for the origin of the assailant.

“Uh, whoever did that, thank you!” I called out.

I heard the flutter of large wings behind me, and turned around to find my saviour. I instantly got on one knee and bowed low to her with respect.

“Princess Luna…” I breathed.

“Rise.” She commanded.

I stood up straight and faced the Princess of the Night as she approached me. She circled me twice before eventually standing directly in front of me and squinted her eyes.

“A human is taller than one anticipated.” She hummed.

“I, uh… Sorry?” I replied, confused.

She exhaled out of her nose, before looking around at the burning town.

“Why does one remain in this cursed dream?” She asked.

“I don’t know, Celestia just-”

Princess Celestia!” Luna barked.

“Princess Celestia, I’m sorry. She vanished a few moments ago, I don’t understand why I am still here, I thought this was just a vision for Twilight.” I explained.

She turned away and walked towards the dead orcs, their dark green Fel-infused blood mixing with the dirt road. She prodded one of them, before turning towards me and frowning with confusion.

“My sister informed me the invaders were humans. However, while these creatures may possess similar physical qualities to you, but they do not appear to be thy kin.”

“They aren’t humans, your highness. They’re called orcs.” I told her.

“Orcs? What are orcs?” She inquired.

“Sentient beings, from a world called Draenor. They once had a tribal and shamanic way of life, that is until they were corrupted by the Fel and were consumed with a lust for blood and war. They formed an army known as the Horde and travelled to a world called Azeroth to conquer it, that’s where Nah’Lek somehow gained control over the Fel, which means he has domination of the Horde.” I informed her.

Luna looked at me for a moment, puzzled and curious.

“You mean to say Nah’Lek has an army?”

I gulped, before nodding my head. Which caused her to look back towards the orc, and then back to me.

“So long as one performs thy task and locates the Orb, it matters not.”

She was right, the main threat wasn’t the orcs, I just had to focus on gathering the shards before Nah’Lek found us. Thinking about it, he would only be on Earth if he feared us repairing the orb, the success of our mission would render the Horde ineffective.

“I won’t fail.” I said with a sense of pride.

The princess strode past me and faced the Everfree Forest, before looking at me once again.

“I see in one’s eyes a seething mass of queries. My sister has a tendency to speak in riddles, but I feel you deserve answers, I shall give you three. What do you wish to know?”

My first question had been swimming in my brain for a while.

“Who is Stardust?”

Princess Luna’s eyes widened at the name, and licked her bottom lip before answering.

“It has been many winters since I have heard that name. He is the older brother to a renowned wizard, solely responsible for writing most of the spells and tomes of magic used by unicorns across Equestria. Starswirl Moonshimmer, although he is better known as Starswirl the Bearded.”

“Starswirl Moonsh-, wait… His brother?” I exclaimed.

Luna nodded, and continued.

“Stardust was as brave as Starswirl was intelligent. Their brotherly love once carried Equestria through an age of unrelenting darkness, during the Repugnant War. Together they were able to save not only thousands of lives, but created a new era of harmony alongside my sister and myself.
When Nah’Lek came to Equestria and laid waste to the country, it was Stardust who eventually brought Nah’Lek to his knees, where he was incarcerated into Tartarus for eternity. T’was Stardust whom the Titan’s Sword chose, he dedicated his life to serve and protect his home.”

It took a while to sink in, and left me with more questions than before.

“What happened to him?” I asked.

Luna looked down, her eyes struck with sudden grief.

“Stardust lived a very long life, the sword gave him the longevity to live through hundreds of generations, alongside his younger brother, who kept himself alive with his various works of magic, wishing to truly understand magic and its potential before his time.
Both brothers grew close to my sister and I, they were the first ponies who could understand the pain of growing close to mortals, before watching them fade away. The Moonshimmers understood the blessed curse of prolonged aging, and thus, we became good friends. Eventually, Starswirl’s time came to a close, he perished in his sleep, and was buried upon the peak of Mount Cantermore, the alp in the middle of Equestria which harbours Canterlot upon its flank.
Wishing to join his brother, and believing Equestria would no longer require his protection, Stardust parted with his soul, and poured it into the Titan’s Orb, to become one with the planet and increase the Orb’s strength. He was buried beside his brother where they could lay rest together.”

The talk of brotherhood hit home, I wondered how Oliver was getting on back at home. Hearing the bond between the princesses and the Moonshimmers made me smile, and there wasn’t a point in hiding it. But aside the bittersweet story, I had some clarity about Conscio and who he was, and where he came from. It was very evident now that Conscio was indeed, Stardust Moonshimmer, and as it had just been explained to me, he had poured his soul into the Titan’s Orb. When I located the first shard in Brazil, I began hearing his voice inside my head, so his soul must have been inside the shard, which then transferred into me.

{Whoa… I’ve got an ancient Equestrian hero living inside my head…} I thought.

Before I could ask Luna my third and final question, another group of orcs came from behind the burning house, two with axes, two with spears. They spotted us and came running our way, I nodded to Luna and picked up the spear beside me. Luna obliterated the first orc with a spell, while I took on the second one by evading his axe and spearing upwards into his jaw, going through the inside of his mouth and piercing his brain. He dropped like a sack of potatoes and I couldn’t retrieve the spear under the weight of his body. The third orc reached me, only to have a bolt of glowing ice fly into his chest and kill him, I didn’t bother thanking Luna as I picked up the large axe and prepared myself for the final attacker. The hulking foe tried to lance me through the chest with his spear, to which I dropped to one knee and leant aside, bringing my axe into his leg. The metal met his lower thigh and parted the limb from his body, he roared in agony and fell to the ground. I stood up and faced the orc, who was crawling towards his spear, I strode towards him and kicked him in the face, knocking him onto his back. Before he could do anything further, I brought the axe down onto his head, splitting his face in two. I left the weapon buried in his skull and faced the princess, wiping the blood from my hands.

“You fight well.” She spoke.

I dipped my head with respect and looked at the bloodstained sky, the red and black smoke burnt high into the air and caused the entire town to be submerged in the afterglow of death. I wanted to exit this vision as fast as possible, but I still had a final question.

“Your highness, what was the Repugnant War?”

Before she could reply, the ground began to shake. I looked towards the Everfree Forest to see the trees had all been uprooted, floating into the smoky sky. From the clouds, began to spit small drops of blood, one of them touched me and it was boiling hot, causing me to grit my teeth and hiss.

Impossible! The vision is being manipulated!” Princess Luna boomed.

The Royal Canterlot Voice was something to behold, the sheer force of her tone rippled into the sky and made the smoke dance. Luna came towards me and almost deafened me as she spoke again.

I cannot stay any longer. This is no longer a vision, but a corruption! Speak to Twilight about the war, she will answer your questions!

She took off and vanished in a burst of white energy, leaving me alone in this broken world. I growled as another drop of blood fell from the sky and burnt the back of my neck. I faced the Everfree Forest to find two large orcs walking towards me. I recognised the first one, it was the same orc that had chased me in the Frozen Forest. He had a very distinct look to him; unlike the other orcs I’d faced, he carried a longsword opposed to a spear or an axe. He wore a large spiked shoulder pad on his right side, but was otherwise topless. Attached to his waist was a large skull that covered his belly and his groin. The feature that stood out the most however, was the large ponytail that sat atop his head.

The second orc caused my eyes to widen, he was enormous; standing almost a foot taller than the first, the hulking monstrosity had a huge black beard and wore two skulls on either shoulder, which seemed to be fused to him with green fleshy sinew; an off-product of being imbued with the Fel. One of his hands was abnormally large and blackened in colour. Taking on this big bastard would be a challenge, even with my quick reflexes.

It was the first orc that attacked, and I was not expecting such quickness, the longsword narrowly missed me and I rolled aside, grabbing the spear by my feet and pointing it at him, only for him to chop off the end with a quick upward slice. This orc was agile, I needed to time my counterattacks. Before I could plot a plan of attack, the second orc took me by surprise as he grabbed me from behind with his giant hand and flung me into the burning house beside us. I cried out as my wrist and upper arm made contact with a red-hot pile of ash, my flesh scorched instantly. Getting out of the wreckage as quickly as possible, I turned and fled from the duo, I was outmatched and I knew it. They both gave chase, but thankfully I outran them. Making my way to Twilight’s library, I realised there weren’t any ponies around at all, had they all escaped? I hoped there was someone who could help me, I wanted a way out of this nightmare.

I found what little remained of the library, large branches lay around the blackened stump. There wasn’t a single trace of the books, that was until I looked up. All the lasting books floated a few metres in the air, at first they seemed like ordinary books that had been burnt by the fire, but upon closer inspection I noticed they were all copies of the same book.

How to Raze the Planet – By Nah’Lek the Defiler

“Nice, mature.” I muttered.

Suddenly, my body felt as though it was being crushed, I looked down to find the black hand gripped around my waist, and was then pressed face-first into the burnt floor, the sheer force caused my nose to snap. I cried out in pain, and was then dragged outside, the right side of my face scraped along the ground until I was forced to my knees, where the first orc prepared to impale my chest with his sword.

“Hold, Grommash.” Nah’Lek hissed.

I glanced over my shoulder and spotted the demigod, dragging a single claw along the trail of blood that had come from my broken nose. He came around and stroked the longsword, before tilting his head towards the second orc who was crushing me in his grip. I was released and took a gasp of air, before standing up to face Nah’Lek and scowl at him.

“You’re a Grade A cunt.” I spat.

“Charmed.” He replied.

I wiped the blood from my upper lip, only for more to continue streaming from my nose. I rolled my shoulder and flexed my muscles, preparing myself for any surprise Nah’Lek had in store for me.

“Why come to this vision? There’s nothing to gain here.” I asked.

“Stardust grew boring, I wanted to toy with you.”

“Well get on with it, I want to continue my quest.” I sighed, rolling my eyes.

Taking his staff, Nah’Lek gripped me in his dark magic and flung me aside, causing me to skid along the dirt road and into a fallen branch of the library. I grunted and got to my feet, more irritated than hurt.

“We both know that I can take the pain, Nah’Lek. You’re just wasting your time.” I growled.

Nah’Lek stopped in his tracks and tilted his head, before looking down.

“You’re right.” He whispered.

Without warning, he whipped around and pointed his staff towards the two orcs, they roared with agony as streams of green and white energy burst from their eyes and mouths, which poured into the tip of the staff. They fell to the ground, their skin now grey and wrinkled, they had literally rotted away. Nah’Lek had used the Fel to drain their very life force, in both soul and body. He turned to face me again, and came towards me, his mandibles twitching.

“But I can do this…”

He dashed towards me and thrust the staff into my chest, where it emitted pure Fel into my being. Burning pain flooded my body as my blood began to boil, my vision started to blur as the corruption started to alter me. I dropped to my knees and let out a low growl, everything turned red and I felt this sense of Ɽ₳₲Ɇ inside me. My depression could only prevent so much Fel; this concentrated amount was unstoppable. It didn’t just ₵ØⱤⱤɄ₱₮ my mind, my body started changing, I looked at my hands to find my ₴₭ł₦ turning to a dark green, and my fingernails had grown into black claws.

What… ₩Ⱨ₳₮ HAVE YOU ĐØ₦Ɇ TO ME!?” I shouted, my voice deeper and rougher.

“I’ve gifted you the Fel.” Nah’Lek spat.

I looked up at him and got to my feet, before charging at him. He slipped to the side and smacked ₥Ɇ with the staff, knocking me back down. Nah’Lek circled me as the agonising pain increased, revelling in my indescribable ₮ØⱤ₥Ɇ₦₮.

“Feel the rage inside you, Callum. This is what I did to Twilight, this is the anger she felt every day until it drove her insane. Do you see now what I am capable of? DO YOU SEE?

Each word he spoke made me more and more angry, I lost all sense of self control as I wanted nothing more than to gouge out those eyes, those ₴₮Ʉ₱łĐ ₣Ʉ₵₭ł₦₲ ɆɎɆ₴!

“FUCK YOU!” I screamed as I charged at him once more.

The ₥Ø₦₴₮ɆⱤ dodged aside once more, just ₴₮₳₦Đ ₴₮łⱠⱠ! Just ⱠɆ₮ ₥Ɇ ₣Ʉ₵₭ł₦₲ ₭łⱠⱠ ɎØɄ!
Nah’Lek taunted me constantly, skittering side to side and all around me, ł₦₮ł₥łĐ₳₮ł₦₲ me more and more, I just want to ₭łⱠⱠ HIM! All I could see was red, and his black form dancing around.
₩ⱧɎ ₳ⱤɆ ɎØɄ ĐØł₦₲ ₮Ⱨł₴ ₮Ø ₥Ɇ!?

“You’re not as strong as you think, just look at you.”

Nah’Lek’s voice rippled through the burning town, I barely noticed the fire around me now. All I could see was myself ฿ⱤɆ₳₭ł₦₲ Ⱨł₴ ₣Ʉ₵₭ł₦₲ ₦Ɇ₵₭! I needed him dead, I just couldn’t think about anything else, he ₦ɆɆĐ₴ ₮Ø ĐłɆ! I can’t live in a world knowing he’s still alive. I suddenly felt hot bile in my stomach, I fell to my knees again and vomited onto the dirt. All that came up was blood, dark blood, I looked back up to find Nah’Lek was gone, he had abandoned me to suffer in this broken vision. ฿Ɇ₵₳Ʉ₴Ɇ ₮Ⱨ₳₮'₴ ⱧØ₩ ł₮ ł₴! When you’re trapped in your darkest moments, ɆVɆⱤɎØ₦Ɇ fucking leaves. We live in a world where ₦Ø฿ØĐɎ ₲łVɆ₴ ₳ ₴Ⱨł₮ ₳₦Ɏ₥ØⱤɆ! FUCK.

I looked up and saw more blood rain falling from the sky, I barely noticed them as they hit my skin and burnt me, causing blisters to form. What did it matter? ł'₥ ₴₵₳ⱤⱤɆĐ Ɇ₦ØɄ₲Ⱨ ₳ⱠⱤɆ₳ĐɎ! I’ve got enough wounds to last a lifetime, wounds nobody can ₣Ʉ₵₭ł₦₲ ₴ɆɆ! And if nobody can see it, nobody cares! Ponyville was no more, the flames were beginning to die down as ɆVɆⱤɎ₮Ⱨł₦₲ turned to ashes and dust. ₵Ɽ₳₩Ⱡł₦₲ along the pathway away from the library, I felt various blisters ฿ɄⱤ₴₮ as I dragged them along the ground. My skin peeled away and I started to see flesh and muscle on my wrists, the ₳₦₲ɆⱤ continued to ₵Ø₦₴Ʉ₥Ɇ me and I beat my fists against the ground until my knuckles split open, ฿ⱠØØĐ met dirt and created a dark paste beneath my hands. I continued to beat the path, I just ĐØ₦'₮ ₵₳ⱤɆ ₳₦Ɏ₥ØⱤɆ!
YOU DON’T Ʉ₦ĐɆⱤ₴₮₳₦Đ! This pain inside is too much, every day I have to live with the ₱₳ł₦, the MISERY, the ₲ɄłⱠ₮! I want to forget what ⱧɆ did to me! I WANT TO LET GO!

I dug my blackened claws into my own ₩Ɽł₴₮₴, gashing them open and ₩₳₮₵Ⱨł₦₲ as the blood poured from them and onto the mud, I stood up and began to ₵ⱤɎ loudly, lost and alone in this ฿ⱤØ₭Ɇ₦ ₩ØⱤⱠĐ. Eventually, I lost enough blood to lose my ₴₮ⱤɆ₦₲₮Ⱨ and fell onto my side, I rolled around and moaned with ₵Ø₦₣Ʉ₴łØ₦, desperate for it to Ɇ₦Đ. ₱ⱠɆ₳₴Ɇ JɄ₴₮ ₥₳₭Ɇ ł₮ Ɇ₦Đ…

Suddenly, a hand grabbed my hair and lifted me upwards, I twisted around and came face to face with a mirror, for it was Callum Horncastle who stood before me. I looked older, his jaw was more pronounced and the hair was shaved on the sides but was very long on top, with a ponytail that went down to his shoulder blades.

“Break the cycle.” He spoke.

Letting go of me without warning, I fell to my knees. Callum pulled a long knife from his waist, he said nothing as he planted the blade into my throat and twisted it. I tried to scream, but no sound emerged as my lungs quickly filled with blood and I suffocated. I slumped onto my side, and the rage and burning heat faded away as I met the dark embrace of death.

ł ₩ł₴Ⱨ…

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