• Published 17th Jun 2012
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Justice Itself - Autocharth



Tyrael destroyed the Worldstone, saving mankind and blasting himself unintentionally across reality.

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Act I - Ch. 3 Of Matters Most Eww!

No...no , it couldn’t be!

It is! Chapter 3 “Of Matters Most Eww!" Is up! Its done! Its...probably got a few grammar mistakes, but hey anyone who points them out gets a metaphorical Auto’s Grammar Point per grammar mistake.

Retroactively, that gives Nealend86 and Urdreth both two Auto’s Grammar Points each, keeping them tied for first place.

Also: pre-/post- story writing mistakes don’t count! And I don’t think there’s a prize, I just like saying things.

Enjoy the story!

-

Chapter 3 Of Matters Most Eww!

***

Tyrael was feeling odd. In all fairness that was not particularly new. He had been feeling odd since he was put in the meat shell, but this was a new oddness. His insides appeared to be...doing something. He wasn’t sure what.

The Archangel of Justice had no idea his new internal organs had begun their dirty work. He had only eaten for the first time today. What happened to the food mortals ate had never been an issue Tyrael had cared to investigate.

He dismissed the feeling, seeing their likely destination ahead. Twilight had already shown him the town square with its massive tree, the town hall and even paid a visit to Sugar Cube Corner. That Pinkie Pie was disconcerting.

“Is something wrong?” Twilight’s voice intruded on his thoughts and she looked concerned.

“I am fine.” He answered calmly. It was unlikely to be very serious. What was the worst it could be? It was only a body and he had gotten on fine without one for millennia.

To distract her he motioned towards the cottage ahead. It appeared to be built inside a hill. “Remind me, who lives here?”

“Fluttershy. I’m not sure if you remember seeing her last night, she’s kind of shy.”

“I recall. She was attempting to conceal herself behind your friends...and her own hair.” He thought back to the previous day and the brief sight of Twilight’s friends. Now he was thinking about it, why had they been gathered in response to a possible situation? Moral support?

He quickly turned his attention back to Twilight when he realised she was talking. “Fluttershy can be really bad about meeting new ponies – not that I can talk myself – so I wondering if you could, uh...” she trailed off, embarrassed at what she wanted to ask.

“Yes?” He prompted her.

“Just..try to be not so...or be a bit more...” Twilight struggled for a way to say ‘you’re going to scare her’ without being rude.

She need not have bothered. “You worry I will frighten her.” It wasn’t a question.

Twilight nodded with her cheeks a little red.

“I will...try to be less intimidating.” He reassured her, but even she could tell he doubted his ability to do so.

“Well, what’s the worst that can happen?” she asked herself quietly.

“I will frighten her and she will flee in a mad rush, possibly harming herself.” Paladin said emotionlessly. Twilight stared at him in horror. “This would likely make her more scared and leave her harder to calm, which could very well allow her to do further damage.”

He suddenly caught on to the shocked expression on Twilight’s face.

“What?”

A minute later they reached Fluttershy’s door and Paladin had been given a stern warning to never talk like that around anypony, but especially not Fluttershy. He frowned but agreed.

Twilight’s hoof was just about to tap the door when Paladin reached up and stopped her. “Sit a moment and listen.” He told her, and felt a curious moment of déjà vu. Like he had heard someone say something similar before.

They stood there and soon Twilight heard what Paladin had. A quiet conversation-

“IRON WILL agrees!”

Twilight jumped back at the sudden shout while Paladin...was not fazed. He simply took a step to the side and looked in through a window.

Generally not having windows, Angels had never learned manners when it came to peeking into someone’s house.

“Tell me, are minotaurs a common sight in Ponyville?” he asked in a suddenly tense voice. Tyrael’s eyes became hard. While different, the creature inside was too much like a minotaur demon for him to feel comfortable. It reminded him too much of Death Lords, and he had slain many in his time.

“No! Not at all!” Twilight said frantically, worry in her voice. “And that name, Iron Will, Rarity told me about what happened the last time he was in town. He turned Fluttershy into a total b- uh, she became incredibly rude and unpleasant. Cruel, even.”

She looked at Paladin. His nostrils flared and his jaw muscles were visible as he tensed like a spring wound tight.

“Move aside,” he commanded in a flat tone. Without thinking about it Twilight found her legs doing as he said. “Should he prove hostile, I will ensure your friend’s safety. On my word, open the door and I will enter.”

Twilight nodded. He just sounded so sure, so certain she found herself going along with it.

“Now!” he barked quietly.

The door began to swing open and he pounced, charging through. He burst into the cottage and found the demon before him-

“Halt, demon!”

-sitting at a table a quarter his size with a cup of tea in hand.

Iron Will stared at the strange pony who had just come bellowing into the room, roaring like a madpony and looking ready for a fight.

Tyrael stared at the strange creature before him who was calmly reclining with a piece of delicate china raised to its lips. His wings had half-opened without thought and his legs were spread to give him stability.

Fluttershy squeaked from behind her chair, shivering hard enough to rock the furniture.

The minotaur rose to his feet, placing the tea cup carefully down.

“What did you just call Iron Will?” he demanded, his voice deep and threatening. “Iron Will is no demon! The strange pony is asking for Iron Will to show him exactly what Iron Will-”

“You cannot intimidate me, demon. I have heard of your mind twisting magic and it will not stand.” Twilight peeked in, staring at the back of Paladin’s head. He sounded so...fierce. Harsh. “Surrender and face justice.” If only he had his angelic senses, he could have properly felt this monster’s level of power. As it was he was left to deal with merely the obvious visual signs.

“No one calls Iron Will a beast!” roared the incensed minotaur. He took a heavy step towards the pegasus, snorting unconsciously as old instincts rose up at this challenge.

Despite his lack of arms, power or sword Tyrael did not consider turning away for a single moment. He would stand against this creature until one of them was gone from this world. The fact this ‘Iron Will’ had reach, probably physical strength and natural weapons far superior to his was noted and duly ignored.

“...-op...please stop....we were just having tea....”

Tyrael’s ears cocked suddenly as he picked up something. Barely audible but it was there. He kept his gaze locked on the demon but a benefit of having such large eyes was a wide range of vision.

“O-or you could keep f-fighting, but I would really rather you didn’t, if you don’t mind, please stop fighting, please.”

There! The beast had apparently found the source at the same time and both began to move towards it. At the sign of the other moving, they froze.

It was at this point a small white rabbit hopped from wherever it had been into the middle of the room. It looked back and forth between, then towards Twilight at the door and back to the quivering chair concealing Fluttershy.

“Move aside little bunny, Iron Will has to show this foal what Iron Will does to those who mock Iron Will.” The massive minotaur took a step towards Paladin, muscles bulg-

“Ok, that’s it.” It was with some surprise Paladin and Iron Will found that gravity no longer applied to them, hovering a few feet above the floor as they suddenly were. Twilight walked between them, horn aglow and an irate expression on her face. “There’s only so much gratuitous use of third person speech patterns I can handle a year and with the way my life works Trixie is to due to try and get revenge sometime soon.”

“Release me! He must be dealt with!” Paladin bellowed.

“No.”

That, surprisingly, was that. The sheer shock of being told ‘no’ overwhelmed Tyrael and he felt his jaw drop open. Since this was his first face, this was also his first expression of complete and utter shock.

His ideas or strategies had, if rarely, been denied. When another of the Angiris Council disagreed with them they did not simply say ‘no’ though. Imperius would loudly proclaim his plan of attack preferable, Auriel would softly agree Tyrael’s plan had merit but perhaps they might consider whatever she had been formulating, Itherael would simply begin explain something revealed by Talus’ar and Malthael would nod and ask for what the others thought before revealing his own opinion.

They mostly certainly did not say ‘No’ in an offhand way and walk past ignoring him!

Twilight ignored the most expressive look she had yet seen on Paladin’s face, half-shock half-indignation, to walk over to Fluttershy.

“Fluttershy, come out. I’m so sorry, we just heard him shouting and overreacted.” She gently explained, poking her head around the chair. “Paladin didn’t mean to frighten you, he was just trying to protect you.”

“From who?” Iron Will loudly interrupted.

“From you!” growled Paladin.

Iron Will scratched his forehead in confusion. “From me? Err, from Iron Will? Why would Fluttershy need protection from Iron Will?”

Despite floating without control a foot above the floor Paladin was obviously trying to be dignified. “Miss Twilight told me of how you dared manipulate her friend’s mind. I will not stand idle while an innocent will is stolen!”

The minotaur stared at him for a moment before looking away in embarrassment. “Iron Will thinks you have the wrong impression. It, err, it was my fault though.” He admitted unusually quietly.

“Oh no, now that isn’t true.” With the shouting gone, Fluttershy emerged. She gave Iron Will a shy, soft smile. “It was just as much my fault for taking your lessons too far. You really shouldn’t blame yourself.”

“Iron Will does not shirk his word or his mistakes.” He protested stubbornly.

Twilight rubbed her forehead wearily. “Okay, I really think we need to start at the beginning. Paladin, I’m going to put you down. Promise me you won’t try to attack Iron Will. Please?”

He silently considered this, finally nodding. “Very well.” The pegasus agreed. “It seems I may have...made judgement too soon. I will hear out the whole story before acting against Iron Will.”

She turned to look at Iron Will next. “And when I put you down, I don’t want to see any more of this stamping and snorting business, alright? I don’t care if he called you names.” Twilight added in the same voice she used when Spike was being difficult. It was a particular tone of voice she had learned from watching her mother tell off Shining Armour on the rare occasion he got into trouble.

“Iron Will agrees.”

Letting out a sigh of relief, Twilight released them both.

“Now” she began “let’s deal with this like adults.”

Seating himself on the floor, Tyrael ignored the strange rumbling going on inside. Right now, this was more important. He could deal with his shell’s flaws later.

***

“TWI~IIIIII~LI~IIIII~IGHT!”

The inhabitants of Ponyville had long since gotten used to Spike living there. Most if not all knew him on sight, since there was really no one else to get him confused with. He had even made friends with quite a few, being a very personable young dragon and if gems or Rarity wasn’t involved he would mind his manners.

“TWI~IIIIII~LI~IIIII~IGHT!”

There was the time when he turned into a massive monster and thoroughly trashed quite a few buildings, not to mention stealing everything not nailed down and a lot of things that had been – and the nails in a few cases. There had been a few complaints about that, because there’s always one pony who has to write a letter to an editor.

“TWI~IIIIII~LI~IIIII~IGHT!”

He had been dreadfully embarrassed but had dutifully been dragged around to see everypony he took something from and apologised sincerely. His next birthday would involve a very carefully regulated schedule and he was no longer allowed to get any treats from friends more than twice a day.

“TWI~IIIIII~LI~IIIII~IGHT!”

Still, the sight of him running through the streets screaming for his de-facto mother/sister/caretaker was rather odd. A few heads turned to watch him go, but he didn’t look hurt so by and large the ponies of Ponyville were happy to let him do as he pleased so long as he didn’t grow big and take up a life of monster-sized thievery.

“TWI~IIIIII~LI~III-mph!” Spike was rather suddenly on the ground and staring up the sky.

“Oh, sorry Spike.” Caramel pulled the little dragon to his feet. “I didn’t see you there.” He said, waving a hoof at the corner he had just walked around.

Spike puffed as his body suddenly realised that running and screaming at the same time for a long duration was a lung-testing activity.

“It -huff- its all -pant- alright.” Spike waved the colt off and put his claws on his knees as he recovered. “Have -pant- you seen -huff-Twi-pant-”

“Twilight?” Caramel offered after making a mental note to suggest to Twilight that she should make Spike get a little more exercise.

The dragon nodded frantically and showed the rolled up scroll in his hand. “Urgent.” He squeezed out between the slowing pants.

“Well, I, uh, ran into her and Paladin in the market this morning. I think she said something about showing him the town.” Explained the cobbler.

“What? The whole town?” Spike cried in distress. His head was moving back and forth as though he might see through the surrounding buildings and find Twilight.

Looking at the worried and clearly panicked Spike, Caramel was reminded that the little dragon was also a baby dragon. He sighed as an idea came to him. It was the least he could do to make up for the whole pie thing.

Caramel turned to offer his back to Spike. “Hop on.”

“Huh?”

“Hop on. I don’t really have much to do right now, so I’ll give you a lift.” He explained.

A grin replaced the confusion on Spike’s face and he gleefully scrambled onto Caramel’s back.

“Onward, noble steed!” Spike called out, chest puffing and pointing in the direction he had been heading, attracting a few giggles and chuckles from nearby ponies.

“Hey.” objected Caramel quietly, a little red in the face from the attention but he obeyed nonetheless.

***

Paladin was staring at her, and it was making Fluttershy nervous. He was also shifting uncomfortably like he needed to go to the bathroom but she didn’t want to say anything in case it made him angry.

Tyrael stared at her, and resisted the urge to shift again. It really was getting annoying now, and the moment this conversation was dealt with he would ask Twilight about it. For now, he would deal with the fact that the trembling yellow-and-pink pegasus in front of him was helping the massive Iron Will work out some new ideas for his ‘seminars’.

Twilight smiled, certain things were working out. “So, Mr Will-”

“Call Iron Will Iron Will, he doesn’t mind!”

“...sure thing.” Twilight managed as her smile became strained. “So, Iron Will, after all that you came back here to get Fluttershy’s advice?”

He nodded, taking a delicate sip before he replied. “Indeed! Iron Will realised that maybe teaching ponies to act like a minotaur was a...bad idea.” He coughed to hide his embarrassment. “Iron Will did not know it was considered rude in pony society.”

“All that stuff Rarity told me you taught Fluttershy isn’t that bad among minotaurs?” Twilight asked with scholarly interest. “I’ve read a few books about minotaurs but its all history.”

“Oh yes! Among minotaurs, its all about being the biggest, baddest bull you can be!” he suddenly roared, going into a pose out of habit. He noticed them all looking at him and sat down again. “*Ahem*, I mean, Iron Will just though he could help ponies.”

“Oh, but you have!” Fluttershy quickly comforted him, giving the muscular monster a pat on the knee. “I just took it too far, and in the end I did learn how to be a bit more assertive. You said a lot of other ponies found it helpful too.”

“Iron Will still decided he needed to change his seminars in a more pony-friendly direction!” Iron Will continued. He said even a simple statement like he firing it from a canon. “And who better then the first pony to not be one-hundred percent satisfied?”

“You see, Paladin?” turning to look at the dour Paladin, Twilight gave him a cheerful smile. “It was nothing to worry about.”

He said nothing as he concentrated. This strange stirring in his...gut, was it? It was getting more uncomfortable, a real physical pressure inside him. Tyrael had only had this shell for barely a day but already he was beginning to dislike it.

“Yes, I see.” He muttered distractedly. He blinked, bring his attention back to the present. “My apologies, Iron Will, I overreacted. I have, in the past, encountered creatures with some similarity in appearance to you. They were far less...civilised.”

Iron Will shrugged. “Iron Will accepts Paladin’s apology!” a light bulb seemed to go off in his head. “When they tell you to say sorry, tell them don’t worry!” he roared before pulling out a notepad and pencil and frowning as he scribbled the new phrase down.

“Here’s an invitation to Pinkie’s party tonight. We’ll see you there?” Twilight dropped the invitation on Fluttershy’s table and gave her friend a reassuring smile.

“O-okay. I wouldn’t want disappoint Pinkie by not turning up.” Fluttershy murmured, nodding gently. She shot a concerned look at Paladin. “I-is he okay?”

Twilight followed her gaze, finding Paladin standing by the door occasionally jostling himself. “I’m sure it’s nothing.” She told the kind pegasus, but nonetheless resolved to ask her guest about it once they were outside.

“Farewell, Fluttershy.” Paladin nodding in her direction as he led the way out.

The door swung shut behind them, slightly harder then Twilight intended.

Tyrael felt a rumble from his lower intestines, loud enough to be heard as they worked away for the first time, but dismissed it. Surely Twilight would have said something if it was unusual.

It was just a shame she hadn’t heard it over the sound of the door closing vigorously.

***

At some point, and Caramel wasn’t sure quite when, they had stopped running – well, he had stopped running – and now he trotted towards Fluttershy’s cottage, a giggling dragon on his back.

“I can’t believe I missed that!” Spike sniggered. “Seriously, Twilight with a pie to the face!” he fell back into childish giggling again.

Sighing, Caramel just quickened his pace. He had only meant to try calming Spike down yet somehow ended up telling him about the incident this morning. The cobbler really doubted Twilight would appreciate him sharing the story with Spike.

To his credit, it had distracted Spike from his increasing worry as they failed to locate Twilight and Paladin. The little dragon still refused to share what the letter was about but maintained that it was important.

“I can’t wait until I see Twi.” Caramel looked back to see Spike rubbing his palms together in a vaguely sinister gesture. “So, nickname, nickname...” Spike’s expression twisted into one of deep, deep thought.

They were just rounding a corner flanked by thick growth when Spike snapped his claws as inspiration struck.

“I know! Pielight!” he laughed. It took him a moment to realise Caramel had stopped moving. “Hey, what’s the hold-” Spike leaned over to look at Caramel’s face and trailed off when he found an unamused Twilight and Paladin – who always looked unamused anyway – looking at him. “-up....

Caramel’s expression had become a rictus of nervousness. He tried smiling but failed, his facial muscles giving way in their desperate need to tighen defensively.

“Caramel.” Twilight’s voice was carefully neutral.

“T-Twilight.” Caramel’s, on the other hand, was shaking like a tower of jelly in an earthquake.

“Paladin!” Spike joined in.

Paladin didn’t. He was looking down and pressing a hoof against his stomach with a confused cast to his face. It took Spike a moment to remember why he had been looking for them in the first place.

“Twi, be angry at Caramel later, we’ve got trouble!” he jumped down and ran to her, waving the scroll. “Its from the Princess, you really need to read it.”

Already preparing to give Caramel a scathing lecture about not telling Spike embarrassing things about her, Twilight was distracted by the words “from the Princess” and leapt to take the scroll.

As she magically unrolled it, Twilight noticed Spike shooting Paladin slightly odd looks and sliding away from him like he expected the big pegasus to start vomiting all over the place.

It only took her a minute to realise why. Twilight froze, staring at the letter. In particular, she was staring at and rereading a certain paragraph. She read the whole letter again to make sure she hadn’t misunderstood anything.

To my faithful student, Twilight Sparkle,

There is a matter of grave important I, quite foalishly, failed to warn you of last night.

The magic used to preserve Paladin’s life was extremely draining for both my sister and I and this important fact simply slipped our minds. I am most sorry that you will have to deal with this mess.

You see, the magic used saved him from a most black magic that had wounded his very being. It was not without a heavy price, however. Paladin’s body was renewed, as though it was created only a day ago. This is why he lacks any scars despite his rather dangerous lifestyle. Part of the price was knowledge lost to him. You may have already realised that Paladin does not know how to do many things we take for granted, such as use of certain everyday tools and items. Bodily necessities like food and drink are lost to his thoughts now, as though he has never needed to eat before.

...Luna has just reminded me of something I really wish I did not have to ask of you. For this, you will likely require the assistance of a stallion. You are intelligent and insightful, but this is a matter you are physically unsuited for. It may have dawned on you that what goes in must come out, so to speak.

Paladin no longer knows what his body requires to function and remain healthy. He also no longer knows the needs and urges of his body, and I fear he may not know how to...attend to ‘bathroom matters’.

I hasten to add he will have full control of his bodily functions, he simply will not understand them. Nor will he remember that he lacks such knowledge, meaning you may have to take pre-emptive measure.

I do feel I am asking much of you, my most faithful student, but I promise I will make up for it.

Yours faithfully, Princess Celestia (and Luna, who has been watching me right over my shoulder and insists I include her).

Tyrael watched the colour drain from Twilight’s face as she lowered the scroll and stared at him, hard. He tensed, preparing in case the Princesses had changed their mind. If so, they were fools to do so without coming themselves. Even in this state he would take a legion of their minions with him.

A light went off in Twilight’s head, and she slowly turned to look at the slowly backing away Caramel with a smile that a villain would kill for. He gulped at the look in her eyes, something combining with relief, success and satisfaction of revenge quickly achieved.

“Caramel, how would you like to help me with something the Princess herself asked me to do?” Twilight asked in a wholly innocent voice that sent alarm bells ringing in his head.

“U-uh-”

“Great!” Twilight turned to smile somewhat awkwardly at Paladin. “We need to have a talk. Really need to.”

***

It was three hours later, after a lecture that left Caramel green in the face and an awkward explanation from the cobbler to Paladin about how to, ahem, drain the lizard. Spike had long since retreated to the basement with some comics, with Twilight’s blessings. This was one thing she had no interest in making Spike help with.

“Any questions?” she asked brightly, switching off the projector. “Yes, Caramel?”

He lowered his hoof, the one which wasn’t pressed against his mouth anyway, and pointed towards the bathroom. At her eye-roll and sigh, he vanished in a green-topped blur followed shortly by the sound of dry-retching.

“Miss Twilight, why did you make him stay? This was for my benefit, he obviously already knows everything he needs to.” Paladin pointed out. He looked a bit overwhelmed, and had adopted an expression of disgust early on. From his rare muttered comments, Paladin had come to the conclusion that bodies weren’t worth the effort or mess they seemed to have as mandatory.

It took Twilight a few seconds to reply. “...no reason.”

“I may not be particularly sociable, but I assure you I can tell revenge when I see it.” Apparently the new influx of disgust and disbelief in the last few hours had weakened his stone wall expression and Twilight managed to pick up Paladin’s faint disapproval.

Neither said anything, Twilight looking away and Paladin sitting in contemplation.

“Spike will be calling me ‘Pielight’ for days!” she grumbled.

“How devastating.” The pegasus’ said back dryly.

Caramel came staggering back into the main room, collapsing next to Paladin. “I’m going to have nightmares for weeks.” He moaned.

“I pray you do not.” Reaching down, Paladin pulled him to his feet. “You have my thanks, Caramel. I am sure it was not an easy thing for you to explain, and I know you did not wish to be there to...show me, but what you did was invaluable.”

“R-really?” surprised at hearing him say that much at once, Caramel stared at the bigger stallion.

“Indeed. Should you require aid, ask me. So long as you ask of me nothing unjust, I shall do all I can.” Paladin told him. He was completely serious, and by the hard look on his face Caramel could tell he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“O-ok.”

“Good.” Nodding at him, Paladin looked to Twilight. “Miss Twilight, do we not have a ‘party’ to attend?” he asked, reluctance evident.

Twilight looked at the clock on the wall and leapt to her feet. “You’re right! We better leave or we’ll be late. Spike!” she vanished down into the basement, shouting for her assistant.

Paladin let out a sigh and his lips curled back in displeasure. “I suppose this is good fortune; I am beginning to feel ‘hungry’ again.” He scowled.

The past few hours had been extremely unpleasant for Tyrael. He was, frankly, disgusted. ‘How do they manage it? Do humans suffer this affliction as well? I pray they do not.’ a shudder ran the course from head to tail. ‘Consuming other material was bad enough, but the act of expelling it is simply foul. Crude and vile, all of it.

The sheer indignity that he, an Archangel, was reduced to this was not lost on him. Tyrael would have spat in anger, but the thought of spitting reminded him far too much of the other, ugh, bodily functions. It all reminded him far, far too much of demons. He had been covered in their gore before, cut his way through the guts of titanic abominations and the wash of foulness had meant nothing to him but another display of their vile nature.

But now, now he got a strange feeling that seemed to fit the word ‘queasy’ he had been given when he remembered ripping his way out of a Demon Hellbearer with his bare hands.

It was infuriating and there was nothing he could do about it!

“Let’s go!” Twilight emerged at nearly running speed, pacing in front of the door. “I don’t want to be late.” She said firmly.

Paladin directed a quick look at the still, yes, still queasy Caramel. Always, or at least when she was calm, observant Twilight got the message. She might not have known him long but Twilight was willing to guess Paladin’s meaning.

“Since you helped out so much, Caramel, would you like to come? Pinkie always appreciates more guests.” ‘And hopefully you’ll do something clumsy so Spike will forget about Pielight.’ she thought cheerfully.

Still a bit out of it from trying valiantly to chuck his guts and the surprise of Paladin’s gratitude, all he managed was a nod. Spike alternated between sympathy, thinking up pie related puns to annoy Twilight and sniggering at Caramel.

***

“SURPRI-umph!”

Paladin stared into Pinkie’s eyes, who kept beaming at him despite the fact his wings was pressing her throat against the floor. She had apparently decided to ambush him as he entered. He had reacted as anypony who had been fighting for longer than the concepts of a ‘year’ had existed and leapt to the side. His wing hand unfurled and he had rammed it into his attacker’s throat and pushed them down, only to discover his assailant was a certain party pony.

“My apologies.” He moved his wing away and pulled Pinkie to her feet. “You startled me.”

“It’s alright.” Pinkie beamed again, and when Pinkie beams it was probably the closest anypony had come to turning a smile into a weapon. “I managed to surprise you! Surprise!” she shouted again in total knowledge that it was redundant but happy to do so anyway.

With what dignity he still retained after his day so far, Tyrael turned to observe ‘his’ welcome party. Rainbow Dash was engaging in a contest against Applejack to see who could hold a mouthful of ‘Gummy Cola’ longest, as Pinkie cheerfully explained. Her Gummy Cola was still in the testing phase, but she thought it was coming along nicely.

Fluttershy was behind one of the chairs, if the way it quavered was any sign. Letting out a sigh Tyrael decided to ensure she was alright. Really, frightened so easily by what happened when he entered?

Behind him came Twilight with her scaly passenger and a slightly recovered Caramel.

“Ohh, Caramel! Another partier! That’s great! Twilight said Paladin wouldn’t want a big super everypony welcoming party yet, so I had to just invite the girls. I’m so happy you came along as well.” Pinkie cheered, bouncing over to him. “Want some Gummy Cola?”

His gaze went between the cup of brown liquid and the little reptile, which blinked at him. Then a flashback of what Twilight had shown them came back and he accepted the drink.

“Thanks Pinkie. Mind if I grab some cake? I kind of...threw up all my lunch.” He asked carefully.

“You silly billy! Why would you do that?” she asked, discreetly making ‘loony’ motions in front of him.

He ignored it and went for the food. “I don’t want to think about it. Ever. Again.”

Pinkie giggled at this and bounced over to say hi to Twilight.

For his part, Tyrael was having little success luring Fluttershy out. “Please come out” had given him no results thus far.

He decided to try another tactic. “Miss Fluttershy, are you afraid of me?” he asked directly.

There was silence and a very, very quiet murmur of “...m-maybe a l-little... ”

Tyrael closed his eyes for a moment. This was very unfamiliar territory. If he cared to reflect, everything that had happened since he had destroyed the Worldstone had been unfamiliar territory. Which only made sense, since he was more than a world away from what he knew.

With his attention focused on the cowering pegasus he failed to notice the rest of the small party had focused on him with critical eyes.

“I can understand why you might find me intimidating.” He began, his voice as gentle and soft as he could manage. “I am very large and I know my manner is not what you would call warm. Nor have I done much to dissuade you from being influenced by my physical appearance. Twice I have entered a building and acted aggressively before you. You are gentle, and I know from what your friend has told me that you are known for your kindness. It is much to ask, but please allow me another chance. Kindness is not something I have witnessed much of in my...life, but I am capable of it. Let me show you that you do not have to fear me.”

The chair stopped quaking. Tyrael watched, actively straining to keep his expression from going back to its default of stony unfeeling. He hoped, and as he did so reflected that Auriel would be much better suited to this strange world then he.

“...Okay.”

His thoughts were dragged away from the Angiris Council by the soft spoken word. Later he would muse on how Imperius react if he were to learn he and the rest of the Angiris Council could be banished from Tyrael’s thoughts by a single word from a single, frightened little pony.

Fluttershy emerged from behind the chair, giving him one of her shy, gentle smiles.

Like a glacial movement, a smile, no a grin began to grow on Tyrael’s face. For the first time, something in this strange world brought a smile to the lips of the ancient angel. Unlike the rare smile born from his memories of a old scholar who soldiered on this was a true wide grin.

Despite everything, his weakening and his stranding, Tyrael felt good.

Behind him the girls and Spike cheered for reasons they weren’t quite sure of, with Caramel chiming in at the end after swallowing a mouthful of cupcake.

For a short time, Tyrael decided to relax. He wasn't sure how to truly relax, but this place seemed the best chance he would ever get. Just for one evening he would let the mortals play. He was still not happy with his situation, but he could endure it. What could it hurt?

***

At that moment, across the endless wastes of Pandemonium...

“This is an insult!”

Striding across the platform, an angel raised his fist at the Seat of Valor. His form was male but slender, his armour tinted a frosty blue to match the chill pale blue of his wings. The contours of his form was edged and lethal, shaped to almost resemble shards or fragments of ice. A great helm, its open face split by a sharply pointing bar that would have been between the eyes and covering the nose of a mortal, held the darkness that concealed an angelic visage.

“You are abandoning him!” The angel roared, pointing accusingly at the Seat’s occupant.

Enough!” A far more ornate angel stepped away from the Seat, glaring down at its challenger. “You will be silent!

The call had no affect on the protestor, who simply made a gesture of defiance. “No! Until a new Archangel of Justice is born from the Spine, I will never cease.”

Imperius, Archangel of Valor, balled his fist in anger. Even his metal halo seemed to shake with his rage. “Tyrael has been destroyed. Even had he survived, he would return to answer for his crime! If you wish the best for him, Ardleon, you will cease this. Let him cower from punishment if he lives until he crawls back.

“Crime?” Ardleon spat back. “Punishment? You presume too much, Imperius. He is the Archangel of Justice. Who are you to judge him?”

In an instant Imperius became a column of steam reaching down to the platform Ardleon stood on. A fist of metal, cooling from cherry red of heated steel, closed on his helm before he could react.

I am Imperius.” The Archangel tightened his grip. “Tyrael’s destruction of the Worldstone has cost us Malthael, I will not let more be lost to his foolishness.” He released the lesser angel, throwing Ardleon to crash at the other end of the platform.

Ardleon staggered to his feet, and his words came out as a growl. “I will not give up him. You are wrong, Imperius! Tyrael is the greatest among us. Were it not for him, the Prime Evils would have corrupted the mortal world long ago.”

Were it not for him, the mortal world would have been destroyed along with all of its abominations long ago.” Returning to his throne, Imperius cast one final look back at Ardleon. He sneered as he spoke, “If you are such a fool, join him. Search Pandemonium for him if you wish to waste your time. None may join you in your exile. If you go, you go alone.

“Fine!” Before he left, Ardleon stabbed a finger at Imperius. “But know this, Imperius; Tyrael will return, and unless you heed him you put all the High Heavens in peril.” With that he turned and strode from the chamber. Anger made his steps heavy and he radiated a cold fury.

As he neared the Diamond Gate, a voice called out to him.

“Ardleon, we would have words with you.” The irate soldier turned and found a sight he had not expected.

Auriel, Archangel of Hope, and Itherael, Archangel of Fate, stood in the shadows of a spire. They watched him, fully at ease despite the clear anger present in their lesser kin.

“What do you want?” Normally he would have never dared speak so to one let alone two Archangels but Ardleon found his appetite for them absent. “You already made clear your opinions in the chamber. Your lack of them.”

“We must not act without restraint.” Auriel told him softly. “With Malthael lost in his own mind and Tyrael’s being lost across Pandemonium the Council has never been so weakened. For now all we can safely do is limit Imperius and hope for the best.”

“Hope” Ardelon snarled the word, “means nothing if one does not act. You allow him to control the Council, the entire High Heavens.”

Auriel made to respond, but Itherael spoke first. “Tyrael will return.”

The other two watched him carefully, but the enigmatic Archangel said nothing more.

“You know this? Why did you not speak of it in the chamber?” demanded the incensed warrior.

“His return is inevitable. Yours is not.”

Ardleon’s voice failed him at this. Rarely did Itherael give such a direct warning.

“The choice will be yours.”

With those final words, Itherael was gone. Auriel remained, watching Ardleon carefully.

She gave him a minute to digest that before she spoke again. “I wish for Tyrael’s return as much as you do, brother. He is our hope, I feel it. I wanted to speak with you before you left, to quench some of the bitterness you suffer from. To give you hope.”

“Hope...” Ardleon barked a harsh laugh. “He saved my life once already, allowing Azmodan to escape justice. I owe him much, and if my fate is to be nothingness in payment for his return, I will lay down all that I am without hesitation.”

Auriel nodded and said no more, walking alongside him as he continued towards the Gate at a more sedate pace. The vast Diamond Gate opened, sliding smoothly out despite the colossal size.

He said nothing as he left her side, marching through the slender opening. Once he was clear, the Gate began to close once more.

Ardleon peered through the narrowing gap and his hidden eyes seemed to meet Auriel’s.

“Hope for me.”

The Diamond Gate sealed, and the heart of the High Heavens was lost to him.

Ardleon stepped through the air in front of him, shifting across reality into the endless reaches of Pandemonium.

His journey had begun.

* Chapter Fin. *

Author's Note:

Quick Notice: Sorry if you expected something big and flashy from the letter, but there it is. Its explained in far greater detail in my blog post, which I would link if I knew how. As it is, swing up to the author bar and click the "Blog" button if you're interested.

Dark Gods Below! I’ve actually finished the 3rd chapter! Already! Bugger me rigid, this can’t be! I can only assume I’m in a coma dreaming of a world where my story is getting lots of faves and good comments and I’m finishing a third chapter within a four or so days of putting up the second!

This one is nearly as big as the last too! If only I could apply this motivation to other things.


Shortened story for Ardleon’s name: Tyrael mentions an angel by that name in optional conversation dialogue in Bastion’s Keep in Act III, so I decided to use it. For more information, including some stuff about the chapter and a few extras check out the blog post that should be going up at the same time as this.

As I’ve said there, don’t expect him to turn up for a while however.

As always, thanks for reading! Keep the comments coming so I might swim the sea of confidence proudly on a boat of internet brony approval!

I really do wish the stories on my favourite list updated as quickly as I am, but then again I’ll probably slow down way slower then them and their writers probably don’t have as much free time as me.

And don’t forgot to point out grammar mistakes I’ve missed. I hate it when I forget a word.

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