• Published 10th May 2016
  • 1,948 Views, 422 Comments

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-Two: Angels & Demons

Author's Note:

YIPPEE! It's the 9th of January, my birthday!
I thought I'd post this chapter on the same day because I did it last year, so it's a running thing I guess...
WOOT, I'm 20! Enjoy this EPIC chapter!!!

“Hey Callie…” Bunnie spoke calmly.

My mouth became bone dry as I gazed at my deceased lover, and yet, she didn’t seem so deceased. She was alive, unburnt, and just as beautiful as ever. Was this a trick? A foul joke that my depressed mind had conjured in attempt to break me, because if it was, I would certainly break.
I couldn’t handle it anymore, I rushed forward with my arms open. Bunnie opened her arms in return and I latched onto her in a tight hug, my eyes quickly filled with tears and I squeezed her as much as I could.

“I can’t breathe Callie, please, I don’t want to die twice.” She teased.

I let go of her and looked her in the eyes.

“Dark jokes already?” I asked, sniffing.

“Of course.” She scoffed.

Hawnu Rey’eng approached, and much to my surprise, Bunnie hugged him.

“Thank you for this, I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

“Repairing Callum’s state of mind is payment enough.” He replied.

I looked between the two of them, bewildered and unable to understand.

“You know each other?” I asked.

Hawnu Rey’eng turned to face me, and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“This is no trick, nor apparition. Bunnie’s body couldn’t be saved from the fire, but I was able to retain her soul for a brief period and place her inside your brain, akin to the way Stardust Moonshimmer has, under the masquerade of Conscio. However, Bunnie’s soul isn’t resilient enough to remain here, only long enough for you to talk one last time, before she rests forever. You may give her a proper farewell.” He explained.

I stared at the guardian, before looking to Bunnie. She was real, she was truly my Bunnie.

“Hawnu Rey’eng… I… I am forever in your debt…”

“Completing the mission and saving Equus is your debt. Now, I must find Twilight and ensure her safety, so I will leave you both alone to speak your last words, take your time.” He instructed kindly.

Nodding my head, the guardian spread his wings and took off, flying further into the Dead Forest until he went out of sight. I faced Bunnie and swallowed, and licked my dry lips; I blinked once before we lunged at one another, our lips locking into a passionate kiss. Her lips were warm and moist, she was just as perfect as I remember.

“Oh Bunnie…” I sighed after breaking off the kiss.

“It’s good to see you.” She replied.

I gave her another tight hug, before she took a step away and took a look around.

“So, this is your brain huh? Not going to lie, it looks shite.”

“Yeah, apparently depression does that.” I agreed.

“I didn’t realise you had it this badly.” She said with remorse.

“You knew I had it?”

Bunnie nodded, before approaching me again, stroking the side of my face lightly.

“I can see it in your eyes, they’re all glassy and lifeless, like a shark’s.”

Thinking back, I remembered how a few people at school pointed out my ‘interesting’ eyes, a few people said they stood out and looked slightly different from most. I hadn’t realised it was so obvious, next time I had the opportunity to look in a mirror I’d have to look at them and see for myself.

“Well, I manage.” I told her with a smile.

“I’m glad.”

Bunnie stopped stroking my face and gave me a small kiss, before we decided to take a stroll through the woodland, I noticed a tree ahead being choked much tighter than the others, the creeper was gripping it so tightly it was leaking sap, as though it were bleeding. I picked up the pace and jogged up to the tree, Bunnie knelt in front of it and then looked up at me.

“The guardian told me what these are, the trees are like your neurons, and these vines are your depression, they strangle the trees and drain all the colour from the grass.”

I nodded to confirm Hawnu Rey’eng had told her the truth, and watched as Bunnie gently placed a hand on the creeper and started to caress it gently. Its grip loosened, and the tree moaned with relief as it was able to breathe again, thick sap oozed down the bark and Bunnie removed her hand.

“I made you moan like that once or twice.” She hinted.

Giving my lover the dullest expression possible, I playfully pushed her with my foot, causing her to topple over and giggle. She got back up and threw her arms around me and put her mouth to my ear.

“I wish we could go back to that bedroom for a night.” She murmured.

“Aye, t’was a pretty lush bedroom.” I agreed.

“Don’t fancy doing it right here in the woods?” Bunnie teased.

“Seriously? Here?”

“It would certainly take the term ‘mind fuck’ to a whole new level.” She giggled.

Instantly bursting into laughter, we both flopped onto the white grass together, cuddling each other while we laughed, I nuzzled into her neck and she hummed happily. I then planted a few kisses from her collarbone up to her ear, where I gave her earlobe a little nibble.

“You’re practically begging.” Bunnie sighed.

“Can’t I give you a little affection without it instantly becoming sexual?” I grumbled playfully.

“Nope.”

Bunnie wrapped her legs around me and wrestled me onto my back, which is when she sat up and straddled me. Her eyes glistened and she gave a mischievous grin.

“Look, I’ve got less than an hour until my soul evaporates into pure energy, and I have no fucking clue what happens after that, so I’ll be blunt, I’d quite like to go out with a bang.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle, before wrestling her back down and establishing dominance, and gave her another kiss.

“We can’t take too long, I’m supposed to be helping Hawnu Rey’eng locate some evil dude in this woodland. He’s kind of the reason you’re dead.” I said sheepishly.

“I know, the tin-can-man told me everything.”

I chortled at that title, I’d certainly be calling him that from now on.

“Hmph, I bet he told you more than he’s told me, the bastard only talks in riddles.” I moaned.

Bunnie pushed me back and yet again pinned me back to the ground, straddling me and planting her hands on the ground either side of my head.

“I don’t want to talk about Hawnu Rey’eng.” She hissed seductively.

“Say no more.” I grinned.

Clothing parted from our bodies and was cast to the white grass in an unclean pile, and our hearts raced faster as my last moments with Bunnie were spent with the most intense lovemaking I’d ever experience; it seemed our endurance was heightened while inside my brain, for we continued to writhe and wrestle together for ages without it coming to an end.



But all good things, do indeed come to an end, and boy was it good; we flopped onto our backs, panting and grinning from ear to ear, knowing our time had been well spent.

“Phew, fuck me…” Bunnie murmured.

“I did.” I replied.

We burst into laughter and clung to one another, alas, the laughter began to be sapped away as we knew our time together was soon to be over.

“I don’t want to let you go.” I sighed.

“I know Cal, I know… But you know you have to.” She lamented.

“Why can’t you stay here? Surely there’s a way for you to stay inside my hea-”

Bunnie shut me up with a kiss, before resting her chin on my shoulder.

“I asked Hawnu Rey’eng every question I could, there’s nothing he can do, preserving my soul for this long was apparently really difficult to do, this is the end for me Cal.” She said with a sigh.

Gulping, I tried to ignore the lump in my throat and nodded with understanding.

“Well, I’m glad I was given this moment with you.” I replied after a short silence.

She smiled, and nuzzled into my neck.

“Me too.”

We lay back and stayed where we were, the soft white grass soothed our bare skin as we held one another in a silent and peaceful farewell. The moment lasted for a few minutes, before I noticed Bunnie’s skin had begun to glow faintly.

“BunBun…” I breathed.

She sat up and looked at her hands, before looking into my eyes.

“This is it, my time has come.” She said calmly.

I held her tightly, afraid to watch her go; my eyes instantly flooded with tears as she gradually grew brighter and brighter. She wiped the tears from my cheeks and gave me a kiss.

“Don’t be afraid, I’m not in any pain.”

“I’m going to miss you.” I spluttered.

“I know, but your future is bright, Callum, very bright. Hawnu Rey’eng told me what lies ahead, and seeing as I’m about to die, I think there’s no harm in telling you the truth.” She replied.

I blinked, and tilted my head in confusion.

“Your adventure is only just beginning…”

My mouth opened slightly, to which Bunnie gave me her final kiss. I watched as my lover’s skin began to shine brightly, and she began to levitate a few inches off the ground.

“Oh Bunnie.” I murmured, my lips trembling.

“Goodbye, lover mine.”

Bunnie drifted a small distance away from me, her body now rising upwards towards the treetops.

“And one more thing!” She called to me.

I waited for her to continue, unable to speak.

“Move on from me. I’m only a small chapter in your life, while you have so much ahead of you now. Don’t look back to me in remorse, please just look back and smile! It’s okay for you to look forward now, I promise. Please Callum, live this life of yours!” She commanded.

Her voice was echoing all around me now, and I looked up at my beloved with disbelief, but I didn’t have the time to argue, she was going to leave, and I wanted her to leave with peace.

“I’ll try!” I wept, falling to my knees.

Bunnie’s form became completely unrecognisable as she became a bright blue light, before scattering outwards into wisps of pure mana, the milky substance swam around in the air, and then drifted towards me. I watched with awe as Bunnie’s soul came to me, and then circled me twice. It was then, when something extraordinary happened; the mana made its way to my chest, where it went through my skin and was sucked into my body. I gasped loudly as I felt pure energy flooding my being, all I could see was white as my body absorbed all of the substance. I could it running through my veins, it was both warm and cool at the same time, and it felt like my skin was going to burst.



The sensation faded, and my vision returned as I fell to my hands and only just had the strength to catch myself, had I just absorbed Bunnie’s soul?

“What the… What the f…” I slurred.

I shook my head, before trying to stand. As I did so, I noticed my hands had a faint aura around them, I didn’t understand what was happening, I was bewildered by what had just occurred over the past hour; it had all transpired far too fast for my brain to process all of it. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have made love to Bunnie mere moments before she permanently vanished from my life.
After calming myself down, I decided that I needed to find Twilight and Hawnu Rey’eng and press onward with my task; eliminate Nah’Lek’s manifestation.

Minutes of trudging went by, and I’d gone significantly deeper into the woodland; I noticed the trees had changed species over time, I was walking among a plethora of pine trees, opposed to the beach and oak I had first seen. A ghostly whisper echoed across the forest as a breeze with neither cold, nor heat rolled in through the pine needles. Up in the distance, I heard a peculiar low rumbling; the ground too, seemed to vibrate to a vicious, cyclical thumping, akin to a racing heart. Perhaps one dwelled beneath the earth? Tightening my grip on the fire poker, I headed onward to investigate.

As I grew closer to the unknown, I heard a creature screech briefly, along with a scream.

“Twilight.” I murmured.

Breaking into a sprint, I dashed betwixt the pines, darting from side to side to avoid them as I pelted towards my friend in danger. Yet, upon reaching the spectacle, I found her in no danger at all, at least, not anymore.

Before my eyes lay a dark plum coloured creature, three times my size, limp on the ground. From a gaping wound upon its back, leaked gleaming green blood, Fel-infused no doubt. With Hawnu Rey’eng beside it, wiping clean a unique looking longsword. Lying on her back, a few yards from the fiend’s corpse was Twilight, cowering in distress, Hawnu Rey’eng must have only just killed it.

“You missed a good fight.” He called to me.

Twilight looked up and spotted me, and cried out my name, before hurtling towards me as fast as her hooves could carry her. She dived at me and I caught her in a warm bear-hug, lifting her off the ground.

“I was busy.” I grunted back to the guardian.

He chuckled and then sheathed his sword, which was strangely on his back, opposed to his waist. After taking a glance at the monster he’d just slew, he strode towards me to greet me properly.

“I assume she’s at peace?” He asked.

“I don’t know, why don’t you ask her?” I replied.

I extended my hands, and showed him the faint glow that was barely visible in the palms of my hands, dim swirls of light beneath my skin continued to change to different shades of blue and purple.

“Bunnie is at rest, fascinating that you absorbed the remaining mana, however.” He hummed.

“What does it mean? Can I cast spells?” I quizzed.

Taking my right hand, the guardian fondled my palm delicately, trying to study the way the mana reacted to external stimuli; it seemed to be unresponsive, and he shrugged.

“I’m unsure, but pure mana is no threat to you, so I wouldn’t fret. If anything, it could potentially enhance your physical abilities, not too dissimilar to the way it affects an earth pony.”

“Wow…” Twilight murmured.

I exhaled with relief from the captivating thought that Bunnie was still in a state of twisted consciousness inside my body, and then I turned to the creature that lay a few metres away.

“What is that thing?” I quizzed.

Hawnu Rey’eng guided me towards it, so he could show me the monster up close. Upon facing the creature head-on, I found it to have a remarkably horrifying resemblance to Twilight, it had large pony eyes, although the iris was a sickly green. It had her navy-blue mane, the iconic pink stripe was instead a jet black, but it was Twilight’s mane nonetheless; I noted the hair was extremely matted and tangled.

“As I previously explained, your old memories of Twilight while under the Fel’s corruption have merged with your former feelings for her. Here in this forest, that apparition has demonstrated a physical form, this creature. Unlike Nah’Lek, your brain coined this apparition and so it could bond with your depression, and grew into a terrible nightmare.” The guardian explained.

I murmured with interest and examined the body, its jaw wasn’t ponylike at all, it had elongated outward and split down the middle into a deformed set of insect-like mandibles. The horn upon its head was thin and covered in black barbs. Its hooves had become more like arachnid shaped, with small hooked claws poking out of them.

“You said it was a hard fight?” I asked.

“Indeed, it was swift and cunning. Almost felt like a fight with Nah’Lek, I assume the trepidation he causes you mixed with that of Twilight, causing this creature to have comparable properties.”

Hawnu Rey’eng flexed his wings and faced Twilight and I.

“This was an adequate sample for how our battle with Nah’Lek will be, it’s a shame you missed it, Callum. Although the gnashing teeth will be the least of your problems, Twilight, you are probably aware of the Defiler’s fondness of blades.”

Twilight gulped nervously and nodded.

“At least I can use my magic here.” She sighed with relief.

“You can?” I asked.

She nodded, and her horn lit up to demonstrate. I supposed her physical state in real life didn’t have the same impact as it did here in my brain; this would certainly play into our favour as Twilight’s spells would surely come in handy.

Without warning, the trees all started to moan loudly; we looked around to find the creepers were all tightening their grips causing the trees to literally cry out in agonising pain. It was then when a sharp pain shot through my head, like the worst migraine I’d ever experienced. Dropping to one knee, I held my palm against the top of my head, gritting my teeth.

“What’s going on?” Twilight yelped.

“Fel activity, your brain’s defending itself.” Hawnu Rey’eng explained.

“He’s here…” I growled.

The sound of a thunderclap rippled through the woodland, and the ground shook heavily, almost causing us to lose our balance and fall over. I stood up, shook my head, and bellowed angrily into the sky.

YOU’D BETTER NOT BE FUCKING UP MY BRAIN NAH’LEK!

As if by command, the rumbling stopped. Hawnu Rey’eng unsheathed his longsword and handed it to me, I didn’t think twice before dropping the fire poker and accepting a new weapon. It felt so light, it was easily five feet long, yet felt no heavier than Kroksbane, my old military knife.

“Its name is Windwoe, crafted from Wootz steel. Sharp as a surgical scalpel, yet lighter than any combat blade you’ll ever hold. I enchanted it myself, it creates its own momentum when swung, so it can still cleave through thick armour, regardless of its weightlessness.”

“Of course, you’d give your sword a name.” I scoffed.

“Lots of people name their swords.” Hawnu Rey’eng retorted.

“Lots of cunts.” I muttered.

“Didn’t you name your knife ‘Kroksbane’, and your shotgun ‘Wrinkleboom’?” Twilight pointed out.

I opened my mouth to speak, but could come up with no reply and scowled at the unicorn, who smirked at me and flexed an eyebrow. Rolling my eyes, my focus returned to Windwoe. Teasing aside, it was truly a spectacular weapon to behold; the watery patterns across the metal were mesmerising. Gripping the handle tightly, I gave it a swing.

“Whoa…” Twilight and I said simultaneously.

Windwoe cleaved through the air with such speed, it had almost leapt out of my hands; the sound it created was phenomenal, a magical whirr reverberated outwards as if I’d cut through someone’s ghost and had heard their distorted cry.

“Enchanted blades are cool.” I muttered.

Hawnu Rey’eng chuckled with amusement, and I couldn’t help but swing it a few more times, getting more and more used to handling the nimble yet vicious weapon. I was about to swing it once more, when the trees began to moan again and my head started throbbing; Nah’Lek was using Fel again. I clenched my grip on Windwoe and gritted my teeth.

“That does it, let’s end this.” I hissed.

“I couldn’t agree more.” Hawnu Rey’eng spoke.

The three of us all took a deep breath, before marching further into the woodland towards the sound of the explosion, ready to fight our nemesis head-on.



“Well, that explains the loud crashing sound…” I huffed.

Before us, lay a ravine as wide as a road. I peered over the edge to find nothing but sheer darkness before me; who knew how deep it went?

“He’s getting desperate.” Hawnu Rey’eng hummed with interest.

I tilted my head and looked at him, waiting for him to explain. The guardian knelt down and looked down into the black gulch beside me.

“The forest is impervious to the Fel thanks to your depression, it seems Nah’Lek is trying to crack into the core of your brain to locate places unaffected by the illness in attempt to corrupt it.”

“And I just succeeded…”

The most deplorable of chills crept up my spine, which almost caused me to gag from the sheer blight that was the voice of Nah’Lek. We looked across the ravine to find a smoky haze, and from within, the eight glassy eyes glaring at us. Hawnu Rey’eng stood up straight and looked upon our foe.

“Defiler.” He spoke.

“Guardian.”

“Dickhead.” I muttered under my breath.

“Me or him?” Hawnu Rey’eng asked, not taking his eyes off Nah’Lek.

“Both.” I replied, smirking.

The guardian exhaled with amusement, before splaying his wings and preparing to engage in combat. Twilight gulped nervously, but remained vigilant and lit up her horn. I held Windwoe tightly and dropped the theatrics, I needed to focus. Hawnu Rey’eng’s hands glistened, and the ground beneath us began to vibrate; it was then that enormous roots burst from the edge of the chasm, and extended outwards to the other side, creating a natural bridge to Nah’Lek, who waited patiently for us.

“No time like the present.” I whispered to myself, and stepped forward.



I made my way across the bridge, my companions at my back either side of me. The dark fog around Nah’Lek thickened as I reached the other side and stood before him, but his eyes glowed through it like small headlights.

“So, you honestly think you can subjugate me?” He hissed.

I nodded, holding my sword tighter.

“You couldn’t hold your own against me during our previous encounters in these dreamlands, why do you think this will be any different?” He enquired.

His voice rippled through me, but I refused to break in spirit. I kept eye contact, and squinted to focus my vision on the enemy, through the smoke I could just spot his claws eagerly caressing the handles of his swords that sat either side of his torso.

“This time I’ve brought a few friends.” I said boldly.

Nah’Lek paused, and his eyes swivelled from me to Twilight, and then to Hawnu Rey’eng, before coming back to me. That is when he chuckled, the sound echoed through the woodland and seemed to cause even the trees to recoil in fear. He inhaled, and then tightened his grip on the swords.

“You should have brought more…”


Before I could blink, Nah’Lek’s swords were hurtling towards me, I had no choice but to dodge to the side, there was no deflecting such a precise thrust. He spun around and tried to slice at me, this attack I was able to deflect, Windwoe moved with lightning speed to counter the blades, metal struck metal, and the force of such weaponry meeting caused them to cry out with an indescribable sound.

Aaaagghh!” I yelled, attempting a thrust of my own.

Nah’Lek slipped beside me, but before he could counter my attack, Twilight launched a fireball at him, forcing him to spring backwards and then circle us. He moved like a cat, swiftly and silently circling his prey before swooping in for the kill.
But today, I was not the prey; as he darted towards me with his swords held high, I swung my sword over my head in an arc, knocking his blades aside. Rather than attempting another weapon attack, he caught me off-guard with a well-aimed kick with one of his enormous arachnid legs, it caught me right in the chest and sent me hurling backwards; I landed on my back and used my momentum to roll over my head and back up to my feet in an instant.

I inhaled deeply to recover my bearings and then charged back into the fight, Hawnu Rey’eng took to the air and started shooting bolts of various elements at Nah’Lek, from lightning, to ice. The Defiler darted in a zigzag pattern to avoid these attacks, all while trying to reach Twilight, who was teleporting from location to location while flinging fireballs at him. Eventually he jumped back into the thicker part of the forest and allowed the black smoke to shroud him completely. We took this moment to regroup and collect ourselves.

“Are you alright?” Twilight asked me.

“Yeah, he hits like a hammer though.” I puffed.

We faced the woodland, and quickly spotted the eyes as they came towards the edge of the thicket; Hawnu Rey’eng cast a large gust of wind in attempt to blow the smoke away, to which Nah’Lek skittered away from, before suddenly bursting from the trees to our right. He swung his swords at us, which we all evaded via wings, teleportation, and rolling. I emerged from my roll with my sword thrusting outward, almost making contact with the Defiler’s abdomen, he hopped sideways and tried to impale me into the ground, only for a fireball to make contact with his head, engulfing his face in flames.

Ssssaaaahh!” He shrieked.

The flames extinguished to reveal his eyes now glowing a blood red; enraged, he hurtled towards Twilight with his blades swinging viciously. Twilight’s eyes widened with terror, but she couldn’t move, she’d been petrified.

TWILIGHT!” I boomed.

Hawnu Rey’eng swooped in and knocked her out of the way in the very nick of time, Nah’Lek skidded to a halt and turned to face her once more; he sheathed his swords and withdrew the staff from his back, shooting a ball of dark energy without a moment’s hesitation. Thankfully she’d recovered and was able to teleport out of the way. It seemed Nah’Lek had changed tactics, perhaps I could land a blow while his attention was on Twilight.

Even with his new combat style, Nah’Lek refused to stay still, whether he was aiming for Twilight on the ground or the guardian in the sky, he was pouncing from one spot to another. I waited patiently, recording the way he moved, and how fast his reactions were towards the spells being fired at him; it took me a few moments, but I was finally able to map out his pattern.

“Alright… Left… Left… Right…” I murmured to myself.

Hawnu Rey’eng threw a ball of fire at the demigod, and he jumped to the left, Twilight fired a bolt of lightning, and again he slipped to the left. I darted to his right side and took a deep breath, and much to my desire he hopped to the right towards me.

Wraagh!” I snarled, swinging Windwoe into him with all my might.

The blade sung out supernaturally as it broke into Nah’Lek’s chitin torso just below his arm, the Defiler let out an ear-piercing screech that felt like a thousand nails bitterly clawing down a chalkboard. Dropping his staff in shock, he twisted around and grabbed me in his claws, they constricted around my left arm like a vice, puncturing my bicep and snapping my arm at the elbow. Initial shock struck me before the pain, so I didn’t scream, by the time I realised how much pain I was in, Nah’Lek had flung me into the air; I started to yell just as I hit the ground, the collision knocked the wind out of me and silenced my agonising wail. Before I had the chance to even breathe, Nah’Lek grabbed me once again, this time swinging me around and launching me towards the edge of ravine.

NOO!” Twilight cried out at the top of her lungs.

I looked up to face her, and we made eye contact for a split second before Nah’Lek reached me and gave me yet another brutal kick, sending me over the edge and down into the abyss. There was nothing to hold onto as I plunged deeper and deeper, I knew there was no preventing my fall; I just clutched onto the throbbing remains of my left arm and allowed myself to descend deeper and deeper, all while my velocity increased.



I’d been falling for a good ten seconds before I was surprisingly met with a soft fluid that broke my fall without any forceful impact, it seemed to have no surface tension whatsoever; I crashed through the mysterious liquid, slowing right down and floating in darkness.

“What the-”

The moment I spoke, a bright burst of sparks emerged from my lips, and the liquid simply vanished, causing me to drop down onto a spongey surface. The light spread around me and revealed a strange cavern, the walls and ground were made from a fleshy material; I followed the expanding embers as they coursed along the dark expanse, still grasping my mutilated arm.

After following the flickering lights for a small while, I soon found a large hole; with nothing to lose, I entered without hesitation and slipped forward, sliding down a small tube. Without both arms at my disposal, my landing was sloppy; getting up and brushing myself down, I looked ahead and found the most peculiar of scenes. The silhouette of a pony, trapped within a pulsating bubble of black and red energy; the pony was groaning in pain and looked up to see me, his eyes glowing bright green.

“C-Cal… Callum…” He wheezed.

I instantly recognised his voice, it was Conscio, – or as I had recently come to understand, Stardust Moonshimmer. He creaked in agony and tried to shake himself free, but he was clearly immobilized by whatever spell this bubble was.

“Hang in there bud, I’ll get you out.” I told him.

Circling the bubble, I found a large gem which was erupting streams of dark energy into the bubble, fuelling it; it was so dark it seemed to suck in all the light that touched it. I approached the gem and gave it a good kick, sending it spiralling away and instantly dispelling the magical prison. Stardust fell to the ground and gasped loudly in painful relief, I came up to him and examined him; his body was covered in lacerations, all of them infected, his ears were missing, as was a large section of his lower back. Aside from the injuries, his coat was a pale sky blue, his mane and tail a dark brown, identical to my natural hair colour. He lifted his head and to my horror, his eyes continued to shine green, not just his irises, but his pupils also gleamed emerald, he was possessed by the Fel.

“So, this is what Nah’Lek meant when he said he had succeeded…” I hummed.

“No… Not yet… I’m fighting it laddie…” He growled, shaking his head.

Stardust raised a hoof to his head and gritted his teeth, before gaining the strength to stand.

“Looks like Nah’Lek really went to town on you.” I pointed out.

“Thanks for statin’ the obvious. I defeated Spindles and locked the bastard away in the worst prison imaginable nearly five-thousand years ago, the bugger’s been royally pissed off with me, to say the least, and he’s spent this whole time cookin’ up a plan of revenge. If you’s think you’re gettin’ an easy victory any time soon, you’ve got another thing comin’.”

He took a step forward and instantly collapsed; on his side, Stardust shook his head violently in resistance to the deathly magic inside his body.

“Is there any way to just expel it?” I asked.

“You think I haven’t tried? My brother and I studied anti-mana for years lad, the Fel needs a host to feed on, and it ain’t going to leave my body until its sucked me dry, all I can do is fight it off until it kills me, rather than succumb and turn on ye.” He explained with frustration.

Halfway through this explanation, I had an idea; a stupid idea, but an idea nonetheless.

“Could I absorb it somehow?”

Stardust’s eyes widened, and then a small smile emerged on his lip.

“Aye… Aye, that could work. Although I don’t think I need to explain to you what the outcome will be on your end, you sure you’re willing to endure the Fel?”

I nodded, and then showed him my arm.

“I don’t think I’m any use up there anymore, but you might be able to turn the tables.”

“Oh, I’ll turn the tables, Spindles is in for a bloody treat.” He chuckled.

Stardust closed his eyes and clenched his jaw, his horn began to glow bright green as he attempted to use magic, the Fel instantly in his body moved towards his head in order to feed on his remaining mana.

“Go on, grab my horn.” He ordered.

“We’re that close already?” I teased.

“For fuck sake, I walked right into that one…” He sighed.

I rolled my eyes and gripped his horn, it was painful to the touch as it scorched my hand, but I remained vigilant and allowed the pain to flood my hand and cause my right arm to hurt more than my left. The burning spread to my body and my veins began to glow faintly as the Fel moved from Stardust to me. The end of Celestia’s vision seemed to relive itself as my skin began to turn black and I started feeling the burning hatred inside. My fingernails once again grew into long claws and dark bLood began to curdle in my stomach and come spewing out from my mOuth.

“Just a bit more lad!” Stardust shouted.

Kill him. Kill him.
Hissing through my gnashing, razor-sharp tEeth, I fought the tantalising temptation that tormented my miNd as the last of the Fel entered my body and put the last touches to my MUTATION. My left arm had completely reformed itself after Nah’Lek’s damage, the flesh had fallen away from the bone, which had now become a slightly curved spike. GOUGE OUT HIS FUCKING EYES.
Stardust’s wounds were already closing up, the infection gone, he took in a bReaTh of air and lit up his horn, this time radiating out a multitude of colours, akin to Celestia’s mane.

“You still in there Cal?” He asked.

I opened my mouth, but nothing left my lips besides more blood. Thick, mucus-like tEars left my eyes and made their way down my cheeks, fOrciNg me to blink in order to see properly. Agony, rage, and despair was all I could feel, and it was toO muCh.
FAILIURE!

“Need I kill you?”

Stardust prepared to end me -PLEASE- if it were necessary, but it was then when I heard a voice in my head that shouted louder than all the others; Bunnie’s voice.

{Please Callum, live this life of yours!}

That memory alone was enough to push me through, I got to my feet and raised my head to the ceiling of the cavern, and howled loudly like a wolf, more Fel-infused blood sprayed from my lungs and allowed me to breathe properly again. I then looked down to Stardust and bared my teeth.

“If he thinks he’s getting an easy victory any time soon, he’s got another think coming…”

My demonic voice was distorted and raspy, but it brought a smile to the unicorn’s face; Stardust nodded and allowed me to lead the way, I charged ahead and returned to the same spot I had landed. It seemed Stardust had fully recovered already; his soul must have still contained a wondrous amount of mana. His horn shone radiantly and we both started to ascend. We shot upwards like a bullet and the light of the surface grew brighter and brighter.



NAH’LEK!” I screamed, launching out of the gorge and onto the soft white grass.

A few yards away, the Defiler stood over Twilight, his staff held high; he whipped around and spotted the two of us approaching him.

“Impossible…” He growled.

“Aye, you said that, the last time I kicked yer wee spidey-arse!” Stardust laughed.

His amethyst eyes quickly turned red once again as rage consumed him, he left Twilight alone and came hurtling towards us, clearly aiming for Stardust. As soon as he reached us, the unicorn teleported us over to Twilight to regroup.

“Have you found his weak spot yet? It’s under his abdomen, he loves a good tickle there!” He chuckled.

Twilight didn’t know who to focus on, the mysterious unicorn before her, or the monstrosity that was myself, towering over everyone; eventually she settled on me.

“Callum… You… You…”

“The Fel, I know. Don’t worry, I have it under control.” I assured her.

My voice hardly sounded assuring, it was as hair-raising as Nah’Lek’s, but she seemed to relax ever so slightly. She was about to speak to Stardust when she gasped loudly at something behind us, we turned around to find Nah’Lek mere metres away, but before he could attack, he was intercepted by Hawnu Rey’eng, now wielding Windwoe in my stead. The demigod barked loudly as the guardian knocked him away from us and forced him to retaliate, buying us more time.

“Before you ask, my name is Stardust. We’ve met before, but you knew me as Conscio. Now, I’d love to sit here and chat, but Nah’Lek needs to be dealt with before Callum ends up losing his mind, so how about we’s shoot first and ask questions later?”

Twilight nodded in agreement, and picked herself off the ground and faced Nah’Lek, who was currently trying to to drive the end of his staff through Hawnu Rey’eng’s chest. Twilight fired a bolt of lightning at him, and he jumped back to evade. The guardian got back to his feet and tossed Windwoe to me, I caught it with my blackened right hand; the sword’s grip was big enough to wield it two-handed, but my monstrous appendage took up the entire handle.

“Nice lightning bolt there Twiley, now try this!” Stardust called out.

A laser of pure energy burst from his horn, smacking into Nah’Lek and knocking him onto his side; Hawnu Rey’eng followed up the attack by flying into him with full force, driving him downwards into the earth.

ENOUGH!” He roared.

Nah’Lek grabbed Hawnu Rey’eng by the leg and flung him away with all his might, before withdrawing raising his staff high into the air and then planted it into the ground; from the tip of the staff came bursts of Fel, which slung out in all directions and sizzled upon contact with the ground, Nah’Lek drew his swords and charged at me, the others couldn’t protect me as they were focused on dodging the raining Fel as it would prove fatal to them. The Fel’s mutations seemed to play in my advantage as I reacted to Nah’Lek’s strike with equal haste and ferocity, I jumped metres into the air and landed on his back, swinging Windwoe horizontally across his neck and cracking open more of his hard shell.

Aaargh! How are you resisting the corruption!?” He hissed.

“I said it once to Ingeo, and I’ll say it to you…” I said through gritted teeth.

He shook me off and tried to cut me in half, to which I blocked with Windwoe and then glared into his eyes, my own eyes glowing brightly.

“Because I made a promise, Nah’Lek.”

I rolled under him and tried to slice open his abdomen, but he hopped to the side, I was able to catch his leg though, causing him to hiss with discomfort.

“A promise to keep these ponies safe, and to save Equus from you.”

Nah’Lek thrust at my chest, and I swerved out the way, slicing upwards and breaking open one of his claws.

“And there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”

YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A HUMAN! YOU WILL NOT SURVIVE THIS!” He bellowed.

Another fit of rage swept over him and he went at me with all the force he had, eventually he was able to knock Windwoe aside and slice upwards, severing my right arm and then kicking me down to the ground. He was about to finish me off, when Twilight, Stardust, and Hawnu Rey’eng all fired beams of different elements at him, nearly sending him off the cliff and down the ravine. He abandoned his blades and lunged for his staff, firing a torrent of Fel at them; it struck Hawnu Rey’eng and his armour began to corrode, his wings darkening as the magic tried to corrupt him. Stardust ran to his aid, which left Twilight to fight Nah’Lek alone; he used his dark magic to strangulate her, lifting her into the air and dragging her towards him.

“You, Twilight… You think you know the worst of my torture? You know nothing! And when I find you, I will show you just what I am capable of…” He spoke to her.

Twilight struggled for breath as Nah’Lek tightened his magical grip, before slamming her into the ground and towering above her; I got back to my feet and crept up behind him while his attention was drawn. He raised his staff and was about to execute Twilight, which is when I crouched beneath him and clenched what little muscle I had around the black spike that my left wrist had turned into. Before Nah’Lek could strike, I drove the bone upwards into his abdomen as hard as I could, the Defiler screeched and tried to turn around, causing his belly to tear open, a few of his organs fell out onto the ground and I jumped back to look him in the eye.

“Get the fuck away from my best friend…” I growled.

Before he could speak, I thrust my skewer into his head, going through his eye and piercing his head, he twitched violently and I twisted my arm, finishing him off. He collapsed, and ceased to move.

“Friendship is magic, bitch…” I hissed.

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