• Published 23rd May 2016
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Tartarus Forged - SvenFoxx



Twilight winds up in Tartarus and is forced to adapt to survive. When she finally gets out, how will this new Twilight change things?

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20. War Never Changes

Author's Note:

Sorry about the wait. Kept making plans and preparing for them, only for the plans to fall through on the days they would happen now. Haven't been able to play D&D for three weeks now, things keep getting cancelled.

On that note, I'll be turning 26 tomorrow. Here's hoping my birthday plans don't fall through as well.

Oh, One More Thing! I slightly edited Chapter 15, Pinkie's nightmare scene in particular. Check it out if you want, it's not really something you need to read though if you don't want to.

After half an hour, Twilight finally leaned back and stretched. She looked down at her work. The entire surface of the stone was covered in what looked like random lines and circles and symbols to the others.

“So… what is it?” Rainbow Dash asked, curious how a stone with a bunch of nonsense on it would save Pinkie.

Twilight handed the quill to Rarity as she answered. “It’s a rune array, one I designed and developed with the help of an old friend of mine,” she said, picking the stone up carefully. “What it does is take magic pumped into it and strip that magic of any and all signature, making it neutral magic. It was meant as an aid for high-tier spells requiring both a lot of power and perfect precision.” She gave the stone a somewhat mild look. “It’s also what sent me on my cross-dimensional trip.”

Rainbow Dash blinked. “Then… why are you using it on Pinkie?”

Rarity added her two bits. “And how would that help Pinkie? You can’t absorb magic that’s not the same as, or close to, your signature. It would be like drinking acid.”

Twilight nodded. “True, but Pinkie’s soul will influence the neutralized magic, giving it her signature and making it perfectly usable.” She placed the stone on Pinkie’s chest. “And don’t worry, the rune won’t do to Pinkie what it did to me. Not nearly enough magic will be going in to it.” She paused at that. “On an unrelated note, has Pinkie ever displayed symptoms of her magic acting independent of her wants?”

“Nope,” Applejack said, stepping into the clearing with a bunch of vegetables on her. “In fact, Pinkie’s the only Earth-Pony I know that has a secondary affinity in Space-Time. It's what lets her warp around the town so often. Pisses the Unicorns off something fierce, since it’s an incredibly rare affinity that’s only ever been in Unicorns.”

Twilight glanced at her, before resuming her examination of the stone. She was making sure everything was right. “I’m surprised you shared that with me. I could use that against her, you know.”

Applejack dropped the vegetables on the ground, making sure it wasn’t a muddy spot first, and shrugged. “Ah’ve been watching you since we met. Call me paranoid, but survival brings out the worst in Ponies. I wanted to make sure you wouldn’t backstab us.”

Twilight nodded. “Understandable,” she agreed.

“While ah doubt you’re the altruistic type, I think I have a good enough read on you to confidently say yer not gonna just betray Ponies for your own benefit either.” The farm mare concluded.

“My benefit? No, I wouldn’t,” Twilight admitted. “But then… I already proved I’m willing to sacrifice children, haven’t I?”

Applejack scowled. “I hate that. There’s so much wrong with that situation it’s not funny… but in the end, ya made a choice. I don’t think I’ll ever like you because of it… but I understand why you made the choice.”

“Good,” Twilight said firmly, making Applejack and the others look at her in surprise. “I’m not a good Pony. I’m not even a good person. I have had to learn to rely solely on myself while I was gone. I’ve done a lot in the name of survival… and some of it I enjoyed.” She looked at Applejack, her eyes flat. “Never trust me completely… because I can’t say for certain whether or not you’ll regret it.”

Silence remained afterwards. Everyone considered what Twilight said, and wondered what kind of experience would make a person believe they weren’t trustworthy, despite the fact that they were risking life and limb to stop a threat like Nightmare Moon.

“I… don’t believe that.”

Every eye in the clearing, barring Sunset’s for obvious reasons, snapped to Pinkie Pie, who was staring up at Twilight firmly from her position on the ground.

“Pinkie! You’re… awake?” Rainbow Dash half-asked, remembering that she shouldn’t be awake.

Twilight just sighed. “I’m beginning to suspect you like breaking all the rules,” she grumbled.

Pinkie managed a strained grin. “Rules are… no fun when all they do… is cause pain.” It was clear she was struggling to talk, let alone remain awake. She looked at Twilight in the eye. Slowly, her hoof came up and touched Twilight’s arm. “You’re… not a bad Pony… It’s all a choice… Just… choose good.”

Her eyes flickered blue momentarily, and Twilight felt a sense of peace wash over her. For a moment, she was in Pinkie’s own mind, and feeling the happiness the mare felt at meeting her. It shocked her that anyone would be happy to meet her.

And then it was gone, Pinkie’s hoof falling to the ground. She swore, feeling Pinkie’s already dangerously low magic reserves vanish completely. “Dammit! You stupid idiot!” she exclaimed, alarming the others.

“Pinkie? Pinkie!” Applejack shouted, rushing to the mare’s side. “Twi, what happened?! What’s happening to her?!”

Twilight’s hand ignited with magic, and started sending a large flow of magical energy into the stone on Pinkie’s chest, making the runes light up with white light. “This stupid mare just used the last of her magic to try and convince me she was right! Ugh! If you weren’t near-dead, I’d brain you with my shotgun!” she threatened, glaring at the pink Pony.

“Um… what’s a shotgun?” Fluttershy asked, and went unheard.

“Hang on, things are about to get uncertain.” Twilight whispered, rushing to push magic into Pinkie through the stone. She couldn’t afford to take her time now, not with how fast a Pony dies when their magical core is completely emptied.

She just hoped the stone could handle the stress.

---

Celestia sighed as she stared at the armor on the stand in front of her. She ran a hoof along the ancient metal. It shined as if it was still brand new. Such was the nature of armor bonded to the soul of an immortal.

“How long has it been?” she wondered to herself. “So much has changed. The world is different now… but…” She sighed again. “So much has changed, but war? War never changes. Right, sister?”

Celestia turned towards Nightmare Moon, who looked nonplussed at being discovered. It was a hologram, but still.

Nightmare Moon eventually chuckled. “I keep forgetting that, while I have always had the better control at magic, you were no slouch either.” She frowned. “No, war doesn’t change. It never will. The nature of war is progression. It exists for the sole purpose of reminding mortals why their peace is so great.”

“And yet, here you are waging war. I’ve seen the Shadows, sister. I’m not naïve enough to believe you would only antagonize Canterlot with them. I’m sure the death toll has already reached the hundreds. But you talk as if you still despise war, so… why? Why go through all this?” Celestia asked, gently rousing her magic and making it connect to the armor behind her.

Nightmare Moon scoffed. “This was never about war, sister. This has been, and always will be, about achieving my rightful place as the ruler of the Night.”

“That’s what you were before all of this madness!” Celestia argued. “You were the Princess of Dreams! The Guardian of the Shifting Sands!”

“I was unwanted!” Nightmare moon roared, startling Celestia. “I was a Princess her subjects only wished to see dethroned,” she continued more calmly. “I represented the unknown to them, and instead of trying to learn about me, they declared me a monster and abomination.” Nightmare Moon’s eyes glowed red. “Fine. They want a monster, then I decide they shall have one!”

Celestia looked away, guilt rushing through her veins. “… I’m sorry,” she almost whispered.

Nightmare Moon’s gaze softened briefly. “…I wish I could believe that, sister. I truly do… but I can’t.”

With that, Nightmare Moon’s projection vanished. Celestia slowly dropped to her knees, her head falling. Tears fell to the cold stone floor. “…I’m so sorry…”

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