• Published 27th Nov 2011
  • 14,949 Views, 200 Comments

Tales of Harmony - Starwind Dood

Fan-fiction that will show you the harmony found in our hearts!

  • ...

Chapter 4

At the time, she didn't have the strength to keep going.

Who could blame her?

Nothing went as planned.

New Game


The entirety of Canterlot's council had been called together in the dead of night. Were it not for a combination of a chimera attack and an earthquake, many of the representatives would have stayed in their beds content to sleep. Night Light, sitting at a round table with all the elected representatives, took the floor and started, "As most of you are aware, or should be, Canterlot was recently attacked by a chimera. Said chimera attacked our outer city wall. I managed to get some architects to examine it, and based on their feedback we can assume that if another chimera attacks, especially one as strong as the last one, the wall won't be able to protect us," he concluded. He turned back to his fellow representatives, "It will cost approximately thirty million bits to repair."

The council of Canterlot gasped at the astronomical price. The city treasury did not have that level of bits, and the only way to get bits quickly was to appeal to the nobles, many of which the representatives were already deep in the pockets of. The representatives went silent.

A khaki mare with a disheveled greying mane stood up. "Well!" She banged her hoof on the desk, calling everyone's attention. "You heard Night Light: If another chimera attacks, we could lose lives."

"Gilded Scroll," an ivory-furred representative called to her, "this is the first time a chimera has attacked the city in over a hundred years," the representative pointed out. "How much danger are we really in?."

"This is the first time because we have always had our militia set up outside of the city! Now that we moved them back we have no means of obtaining advanced warnings!" Gilded Scroll argued. "We move back the militia to save bits and look what happens: The largest chimera yet makes it to the city." She gave a reproachful glance to most of the council, especially the ones who voted on moving back the militia. "We don't have the bits, so either we borrow from the Cloud Kingdom or Caballus and fall into debt, raise taxes when most of our citizens are having a hard time putting food on their tables, or appeal to the noble house for some form of loan. We can take it to a vote, now."

"Motion," Night Light started, "to vote on appealing to the nobles for funds to restore Canterlot's outer wall."

"Second," another representative added.

No sooner had they started the vote than Pokey Pierce burst into the conference hall. "Everypony! Listen!" He yelled between labored breaths. "The earthquake!"

"What about it?" Gilded Scroll asked him. "What happened, Pierce?"

"It created a canyon! All the routes to the border have been destroyed!"

The representatives all gasped at once. "How is that even possible?"

Later, with the meeting behind him, Night Light trotted down the streets of Canterlot, only the light of an almost full moon served as his guide as he bumbled home where he would find the same note from Twilight and some twice-leftover dinner. The meeting had amounted to a little over nothing. Tomorrow, he would have to swallow his pride and appeal to the stuffy ponies who held the vast majority of Canterlot's wealth; with a bucket between his teeth and his dignity on the floor.

Such a sorrowful sight, my little pony…

"Who's there?" Night Light turned, responding to the darkness of the night. His horn began to glow, providing a little light to see further, but all he could see was the moon overhead.

I can hear water. Applejack slowly willed herself awake. In the dimly-lit darkness, she could make out that she was in a cave, torch-light reflecting off of a lake behind her. Realizing she was having a hard time breathing, she pounded on her chest, forcing out the water caught in her lungs. She struggled, but soon her breathing returned to an even pace. She turned to Twilight and the rest of her traveling companions behind her: they were all out cold. "Dang," she cursed as she made her way to Twilight, hoping to revive her. She pumped on the lavender mare's chest, forcing water out through the unicorn's mouth. Applejack placed her mouth on Twilight's and exhaled into her. Applejack was rewarded with the sound of labored coughing.

Twilight coughed and hacked as she regained consciousness. "W-what happened?" she asked, dazed and confused. An orange mare came to Twilight as her vision slowly restored itself. "Applejack? What happened?"

"Glad to see you're okay," Applejack mumbled. "You know how to revive drowned ponies, right?"

"Yeah," Twilight coughed.

"Then pick a pony and get to work." Applejack got up from her spot.

"Pick a pony?" Twilight's mind buzzed for a moment before focusing on a single thought. "W-where's Spike?" Twilight asked, looked around the dark cave for her faithful dragon companion. She found him under Fluttershy, who seemed to have grabbed tightly onto him in their fall from Old Canterlot. "Spike!" She ran up to the little dragon, her body feeling weak and almost collapsing, and grabbed him away from Fluttershy. She surrounded the dragon in an aura of magic, lifting water out of the dragon's lungs. "Spike, wake up!" she cried again. "Please!"

"Well, ain't that useful," Applejack commented as she started reviving Fluttershy. Applejack noticed that her wings were visibly damaged, pointing in the wrong direction. "That don't look good," the worried mare muttered.

"T-Twilight?" Spike mumbled as he came back to life. "Twilight, what happened?"

"Later, Spike," Twilight sighed, happy that her precious dragon companion was alive.

"You might want to go do that magic hooey on that pink pony over there," Applejack motioned to Pinkie Pie, still passed out in a corner, "now."

Eventually, Twilight and her traveling companions were all awake, alive, breathing, and happy to be as such. "I'll never take you for granted again, air!" Pinkie Pie cried as she tried to hug the air she was breathing. "So, just what happened?"

"There was an earthquake," Twilight pointed out, "it destroyed Old Canterlot. The floor split apart, but I put up a barrier spell that should have protected us." Twilight thought hard for a moment. "We were falling… and I fainted. So the spell probably fizzled out when I did, sorry."

"It's alright!" Pinkie Pie bounded up to Twilight and wrapped her in a deep hug. "What matters is that you tried!"

"Okay," Applejack interrupted them, "so what happened after that? I'm drawing a blank."

"We must have fallen into an underground water reservoir," Fluttershy answered. "I know that there are a few in the Everfree Forest, and one is used exclusively by my tribe." The worried pegasus looked back at the lake. "It's not this one, though."

Pinkie Pie let go of Twilight and asked, "So, who pulled us out?"

"Yeah!" Twilight realized the validity of the question. "Who did?"

"Hello, ponies," a coarse voice answered.

Twilight turned to face the would-be attacker: a large hulking kobold. She readied her spear, ready to attack if he moved even slightly to attack them. "Who are you?" she commanded.

"Roh'ver," the kobold answered with a malicious grin. In his paw he held a formidable iron lance. "And don't attack," it laughed, "unless you want to be pony-kabobs for Diamond Dog tribe!"

"Are you the one who rescued us?" Fluttershy asked, her delicate eyes turned on the canine-like creature for an answer.

Roh'ver felt his will to fight suddenly leave him as he stared into the pegasus's unflinching stare. "Yes," Roh'ver answered, frustrated and still agitated. "Spo'teh said tribe owed purple pony and lizard favor."

"I'm a dragon!" Spike yelled out.

"And I'm cat." Roh'ver dismissed the baby dragon's ranting. Devoid of the will to fight, he lowered his lance, now bored and perturbed by the situation, especially the yellow pegasus.

"Spo'teh?" Twilight repeated. "Who is that?"

A smaller kobold appeared from behind the larger Roh'ver. "Hello, purple pony," the smaller kobold greeted her, "I am Spo'teh. I attacked you few days ago with Han'sel and Gre'tel."

"The kobolds who attacked us on our way back to Canterlot!" Spike drew his daggers and pointed that at the smaller kobold, prompting Roh'ver to grab his lance and point it at Spike, just waiting for anyone to make the first move.

"Stop!" Twilight yelled. "If you saved us," Twilight pointed out, "then you don't want to fight, right?"

"I want to fight," Roh'ver replied, "but Diamond Dogs owe you favor, so we need let you go," he huffed. "Spo'teh can show you out. I bored, so go. You bore me."

"Yeah… thanks," Twilight repeated. She turned back to the smaller kobold, somewhat stunned that sparing them when she first met them had actually paid off. "Your name is Spo'teh?" she wanted to make sure.

"Yes," he answered. "You ponies fall from ceiling into Diamond Dog territory. If I not here, you would be enslaved, or eaten, or both."

"Both?" Twilight tried not to think about how both could occur.

"I'll lead you through tunnels, but don't get lost. Other kobolds might kill you." Spo'teh replied.

"Sounds like fun!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

SKIT: Invitations

Applejack: Twilight, please explain to me why I'm being escorted by my pet dog's twice removed bastard cousins?
Fluttershy: You have a pet dog!?
Applejack: Beside the point, Fluttershy!
Fluttershy: Sorry…
Applejack: Twilight, answer!
Twilight: Because we're in their territory, why else?
Applejack: When I signed up for this-
Twilight: To raid Old Canterlot; an ancient and historical city.
Applejack: When I signed up, nopony told me about getting stuck in a kobold cave!
Twilight: Well it wasn't me who invited you.


Spo'teh led Twilight and her traveling companions through the winding tunnels dug out by the kobolds. The small kobold's warning to them was well-founded; as Twilight was lead she could feel the hungry stares of every one of the furry beats she passed. She looked back to find Applejack and Spike with a similar level of nervousness.

"Wowee! This place would be great for hide-and-seek!" Pinkie Pie chirped as she bounded along with Spo'teh. "What do kobolds like to play? I mean, I've never met one before but you all look kind of like dogs but you’re big and hulking and-"

"Pinkie," Applejack interrupted her, "please, stop." Applejack could feel the aggravated glares boring into her back. "For our sake, stop."

"Are we almost there, Mr. Spot?" Fluttershy asked.

"We here," Spo'teh answered, stopping before the boulder-covered mouth of the cave.

A tall hulk of a kobold stood at the closed-off opening. He was larger than Roh'ver, but his slouched posture made him look slightly shorter. "Spo'teh, what you do with ponies?" he asked the smaller kobold with a gruff and deep voice.

"Lead them out of Diamond Dog tunnels, Fi'doh. Owe them favor, so don't eat them," Spo'teh replied. "Open cave now?"

"Okay," Fi'doh answered. He grabbed the boulder with his gargantuan paws and tossed it aside as if it were nothing but a toy ball. Sunlight poured through the cave revealing the morning sunrise.

Twilight motioned to Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy and they all took off.

"Farewell, pony friends," Fi'doh waved as they galloped off. "You welcome back in Diamond Dog tunnels, but recommend you don't. Roh'ver crazy."

Twilight ran as fast as she her hooves would let her, to get as far away from the kobolds as she possibly could.

"Never, ever, doin' that again!" Applejack finally stopping to breathe, everyone else gasping for breath behind her. "I am done with this!" she cried out. "I was almost killed by chimeras, almost done in by an earthquake, and almost made into dinner for some danged kobolds! I'm goin' home. Good luck on your wild goose chase."

"You're leaving us!?" Pinkie Pie gasped. "You can't do that!"

"And why, might I ask, can't I?" Applejack flared up, gritting her teeth and scowling at the pink mare. Her breaths came in quick spurts, emphasizing her anger.

"Because… because…" Pinkie Pie's eyes shifted around in her head as she tried to form some answer. "Because we don't know where we are. It would be dangerous to go alone, right? If you get attacked-"

"I'll buck 'em!" Applejack interrupted her. "Last time I listened to you, I ended up here!"

"I-I was just trying to h-help," Pinkie Pie stuttered. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen."

"Well of course not, you crazy good-for-nothing bandit!"

"Applejack," Twilight placed a hoof on the orange pony's shoulder, "I get that you’re angry, but now isn’t the time to take it out on her." Twilight turned back to Pinkie Pie, who looked on the verge of tears. "You're going to make her cry."

"And since when do you care about the feelin's of this bandit!?" Applejack turned on the lavender mare, her out-of-control emotions dictating her movements, raising her hoof.

"Don't you even try and hit Twilight," Spike threatened, drawing a single dagger.

Applejack winced as her eyes turned to her indignant hoof. She sighed, trying to calm herself, before replying, "Sorry, Twi', Pinkie," she said quietly, trying not to incriminate herself any further.

"Apology accepted!" Pinkie Pie cried as she pulled herself against the malcontent orange pony.

"Get off me," Applejack groaned as she pushed the hysteric pink pony away. "Listen, I just want to get home, alright?"

"But what about the elements, and Nightmare Moon!" the pink pony gasped. "We can't save the world without your help."

"You don't need me to find any elements, and most certainly not to save any world. Do you even have any leads on where the next ones are?" Applejack asked.

"No," Twilight sighed. She pulled out her books, turning through the pages to find the ones that discussed the elements of harmony, but only in theory and in legend. "All the books suggested that the elements were kept at the old castle of the royal pony sisters, but we didn't find this element in a castle and there was only one. Everything has been blown off-course from what I know," she groaned, defeated.

"But, we still managed to find this one!" Spike reached into Twilight's bag, pulling out the single element of harmony they found in Old Canterlot. "It's proof the elements exist, right? So Nightmare Moon could show up, and if she does, we'll need these to stop her."

"Yeah," Pinkie Pie added. "We can't give up on our quest just ‘cause we don't know where to go next! We have to wander around, find a town, talk to ponies, and chances are one of them will have a clue," she said, banging her fore-hooves together to make a point.

"Her parents must’ve dropped her as a foal," Applejack chided.

"Possibly," Twilight agreed, a little concerned for the pink pony, "but she's right about one thing: we need to get our bearings and find a town. Fluttershy, can you fly up and..."

Fluttershy faced away from Twilight, her wings obviously broken and in no condition for flight.

"Right, my bad." Twilight berated herself.

"Can you heal them like you did my shoulder before?" Pinkie Pie asked.

"If I try to heal the bones without fully understanding the damage, or even pegasus physiology for that matter, I could end up permanently deforming her wings. It would be better to find a town with a hospital."

"Then we need to get Fluttershy to a doctor, stat!" Pinkie Pie panicked. "I'll gallop off and look for a road!"

"Oh no you don't," Applejack stated firmly. "I'm not trustin' you for a hill of wheat."

"Ooh! You could make a lot of cakes with that much wheat!"

"Focus!" Twilight cried out. "We'll stay together, safety in numbers, and look for a road. Are you still good to walk, Fluttershy?" she asked, less concerned for her and more annoyed with having to maintain the peace among her traveling cohorts.

"Y-yes," Fluttershy answered.

"Then let's go."

SKIT: Rotations

Spike: So it's agreed?
Applejack: Yes, iguana.
Spike and Applejack: We will take turns cooking.
Applejack: Until we split up we'll make a rotation chart.
Pinkie Pie: Ooh! Ooh! Put me in!
Applejack: The bandit cooks?
Pinkie Pie: I'm Pinkie Pie, not 'the bandit', and yes I cook!
Spike: Like?
Pinkie Pie: Cakes and cupcakes and pancakes and crab cakes!
Applejack: Crab cakes?
Spike: Okay?
Pinkie Pie: Ooh! Fluttershy! Can you cook?
Fluttershy: Well... I have a little experience.
Fluutershy: I'm... pretty good at planning nutritious meals.
Applejack: We'll need some counter to all the sugar the bandit's gonna feed up.
Twilight: Ooh! Are we talking about recipes!
Pinkie Pie: We're planning a cooking schedule!
Spike: No! Twilight isn't allowed.
Applejack: Is she that bad?
Spike: Whenever she touches a stove or an oven she burns something.
Twilight: That's only because I cook with magic, and I'm getting better.
Spike: You don't need a fireball spell to make fancy toast!


"Hey everypony, over here!" Applejack called out. In the distance she could see a large city bordering the ocean. "I found a city!" she called out again.

Twilight and Pinkie Pie barely caught up with Applejack, as they were supporting an exhausted Fluttershy. "How are you feeling, Fluttershy?" Twilight asked.

"Better," Fluttershy gasped between breaths. "I guess I tired myself out a little too fast." She didn't feel as light on her hooves with her wings damaged.

"It's alright!" Pinkie Pie assured her. "Pinkie Pie is here to help!"

"Thank you," Fluttershy replied.

"Hey, Applejack," Spike called out from Twilight's side, "any clue about the city you see?"

"Beats me," Applejack answered back, "but it's all big, and nice looking."

"That doesn't sound like Canterlot!" Pinkie Pie laughed. "Canterlot looks all old and almost broken down!"

"Yeah, well..." Twilight tried to think of something nice to say about her hometown. "Canterlot is the home of ancient culture, though. We still have customs dating back to Celestia's rule. In fact, the summer sun celebration is held in Canterlot and should be taking place in a few days."

"And it ain't worth a hill of beans," Applejack replied. "Now, can we get going? The sooner we have our bearings, the sooner I can go home and be done with this crazy mess."

"Aw, don't leave, A.J." Pinkie Pie put on her warmest smile and largest eyes, hoping to convince Applejack with visual appeal.

"First, don't call me A.J. Second, I have a younger sister who tries that all the time: I'm immune"

Applejack led the others down the hills: Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy straggling behind. She was moving a bit too fast for them as they carried Fluttershy, and Spike was too short to keep up with Applejack's strides. "Can y'all hurry up?" she called back.

"You could help, you know," Twilight griped. "It's only fair with how helpful Fluttershy's been to us."

"You two seem to have everything fine back there," Applejack retorted.

"So helpful," Twilight sighed. "Can you at least see the name of the city from here?"

Applejack searched the city for some sign of a name. "Fil... ly... del... phia?" she read slowly. "Any idea where that is?"

"Fillydelphia!" Pinkie Pie exploded with energy. "I was there with Trixie before. It's great! All big and huge and plenty of sweet shops! And it's by the sea! So that means beach parties!"
"Fillydelphia means we're in Cloud Kingdom territory," Twilight added.
"Great, stuffy pegasi," Applejack complained.

"No, this city is mostly earth ponies," Pinkie Pie pointed out. "It was originally an earth pony settlement before King Meanie Wings went and conquered it."

"You mean the short-lived pegasi conquest ten years ago?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah! King Meanie Wings went to the border to Canterlot and just started conquering stuff. Then he just stopped, what's up with that?"

"Tons of rumors about that story," Spike piped up. "My favorite one involves a failed assassination attempt. Since then pegasi haven't been very welcome around Equestria."

"For a good reason," Applejack spat.

"I'm sorry," Fluttershy cried.

"Oh, no it's not your fault, Fluttershy," Pinkie Pie consoled Fluttershy. "That was King Meanie Wings doing. You would never hurt anypony, or anything for that matter."

"Can we get on already," Applejack began forcing them along. "I mean, we do need to get her to a doctor, right?"

"Right," Twilight agreed.

Fillydelphia felt both wildly different and familiar to Twilight. Like Canterlot, Fillydelphia was dominated by large buildings and busy streets, but rather than ivory towers, Fillydelphia had modern skyscrapers. That was the best way Twilight could describe the city: modern.

"Anypony see a hospital?" Twilight asked.

"I know where one is," Pinkie Pie answered. "Applejack, take Fluttershy for me while I lead the way!"

"Fine," Applejack replied, allowing one of Fluttershy's hooves to be draped across her back. She found the pegasus unnaturally light, at least compared to an earth pony.

"Now follow me!" Pinkie Pie lead them through the busy streets, occasionally stopping for something shiny or sweet that caught her eye and then reminded of her original purpose. With Pinkie Pie mildly focused, they managed to find the hospital within an hour.

Inside the hospital, at the entrance counter, a pink-maned pony greeted them. "Hello, I'm nurse Redheart. Is there a problem?" she asked.

"Our friend's wings are broken!" Pinkie Pie cried out hysterically. "You have to do something, quick!"

"Broken wings," the nurse repeated. "Does she have any medical conditions we should be aware of?"

Pinkie Pie turned to Fluttershy, who looked like she had no idea what the nurse pony was talking about. Pinkie Pie turned back to the nurse and shrugged, "No?"

"Then I'll get a stretcher and room prepared immediately." The nurse galloped off to prepare a room and the other necessary supplies to treat the injured pegasus.

With Fluttershy's treatment being worked on, Applejack asked, "So where are we exactly? How far are we from Canterlot and Apple Acres?"

"Spike," Twilight commanded, "map."

"Right!" Spike saluted before whipping around his backpack and digging through it for a map of Equestria. "Got it right here!" he answered as he pulled out the rolled up parchment and opened it. He pointed to the north edge of Equestria, bordering the sea. "We're here, and Canterlot is here!" he moved his claw towards the eastern end of the map."

"Doesn't look more than a few nights journey," Applejack commented. "Heck, if I leave now I could reach Apple Acres before the end of the week."

"Are you mares on your way to Canterlot?" The pink-maned nurse had returned with a stretcher for Fluttershy.

"Yeah, why?" Applejack asked.

"You didn't hear about the fault tearing off the land?"

"What do you mean?" this time Twilight inquired. "Did something happen to Canterlot?"

"How to describe it... " the nurse wondered, placing a fore-hoof on her chin. "Basically, the earthquake created a canyon, destroying all the roads and completely warping the land. It's uncrossable, unless you’re a pegasus."

"What!?" Applejack yelled. "No road? Are you telling me every danged road to the Canterlot region is out!?"

"I'm sorry, but yes." the Redheart answered solemnly. "Now, if you can help your friend onto the stretcher, we can start treating her."

"Right," Twilight replied, helping Fluttershy lift herself onto the stretcher.

"Well don't this just beat all!" Applejack stormed out of the hospital, her anger reaching a fever pitch.

"Wait!" Pinkie Pie called to Applejack, but she ignored her. "Will she be alright going off alone like that?"

"Just let her steam," Twilight groaned. "I don't think being around us is going to help her cool off."

Fluttershy was wheeled off into an intensive care ward, leaving Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Spike alone to try muddle over the situation. Twilight turned back to her saddlebags, the single element of harmony slightly deforming it. It was almost indistinguishable from any other rock, but the overwhelming flow of magic Twilight felt every time she touched it was proof of its greater nature. So now what do I do?

Applejack trotted through the streets of Fillydelphia, not particularly paying attention to where she was going. She didn't care if she got lost, all that mattered to her was finding a way back to her town of Apple Acres. How am I supposed to get back home? Granny Smith is going to tan my hide for this one. Stupid bandit and her stupid ideas!

"Hey, watch where you're going!"

Applejack looked up to realize she had stumbled into a another pony.

"Sorry," Applejack halfheartedly apologized. "I'll keep my eyes on the road more."

"You better," the annoyed blue pegasus responded. "Dang it, I've got to go! You got off lucky." She ran off.

"Just what is she so riled up about?"

"Come now and fight!" another pegasus advertised from the sky. "Fillydelphia's arena is open to all challengers! Can you win the grand prize? Ten-thousand bits! Show your stuff in the arena of legends!"

"Prize bits!" Applejack repeated.

"Fluttershy! You're okay!" Pinkie Pie squealed as she hugged Fluttershy.

"Careful," Nurse Redheart warned. "We don't want to break them again."

"Okie dokie lokie!" the bubbly pink mare responded.

Fluttershy's wings had been tended to and bandaged. She was relieved of her pain, but now bound to the ground until her wings were mended. "Thank you," Fluttershy thanked the nurse in a voice that could barely be called a whisper.

"Just rest up for a few weeks and you should be just fine," Nurse Redheart informed Fluttershy before turning to Twilight and Pinkie Pie. "I was barely able to get out of your friend here that you two carried her here?"

"Yes," Twilight responded.

"You two did a good job of getting her here without causing more damage to the poor dear. Not many ponies would go that out of their way for a pegasus."

"What does that mean?" Spike asked.

"Pegasi aren't very well received here. It's part of the stigma from King Steel Wing's short lived crusade."

"I'm sorry," Fluttershy weakly replied.

"No, Fluttershy," Pinkie Pie held the meek pegasus, "You don't need to apologized for that."

"Thank you," Twilight bowed to the nurse.

"I'm just doing my job," Nurse Redheart replied.

Twilight lead her traveling companions out of the hospital, back into the sunny streets of Fillydelphia. With a sigh, she turned back to Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. "Girls," she started, "I've been thinking, and we need to find a way back to Canterlot. This journey is over."

"What!?" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "You can't do that!"

"I started this assuming all the elements were in one spot. I didn't anticipate them being split up, and I can't scour Equestria, or possibly even the world for that matter, without anything to go on," she explained. "Let's find Applejack and figure out a way back."

"Well, it was fun while it lasted," Spike lamented. "Back to cabbage stew and all-nighter essays."

"I can live without the cabbage stew," Twilight sighed.

"I can live without the all night essays!" Spike argued.

"But your claw writing has gotten so good."

"Hey there girls, and iguana," Applejack greeted them.

"You're in a better mood," Spike huffed. "What's the deal?"

"I found us a way to make some bits," the orange mare replied. "Apparently, this place has an arena competition going. Winners get bits, ten thousand to be exact."

"So you want us to risk our lives just so you can get some bits?" Twilight didn't like Applejack's idea, and she was tired of fighting. "Forget it."

"I'm sorry, but who risked her life for some measly rock again?" Applejack tapped her hoof, waiting for an answer.

"It's not a rock," Twilight answered, "and you've made your point. I guess I do owe you."

"That's what I like to hear," Applejack teased. "Listen, with the prize money we can split it equally and hire an air-carriage to get us back to the Canterlot region. How's that?"

"Sounds fair," Twilight groaned, "but I still don't like the idea of it."

"Just as long as you're still fighting. It's two on two style matches. We'll sign up, and I know you can be quite useful with your unicorn magic and all."

"I still don't like the idea of it!" Twilight repeated.

"I'll do it!" Spike piped up.

"No way!" Twilight replied as she threw Spike onto her back. "You're not going to fight!"

"Lame!" the agitated dragon sighed.

"So how are you going to get back to Canterlot?" Applejack sternly replied. "I'm all ears."

Twilight narrowed her eyes on Applejack and sighed, "You're despicable."

"Save that hate for the fight."

SKIT: Going to Make a Scene

Pinkie Pie: Twilight and Applejack fighting in the arena? This is so exciting!
Spike: Is the arena that big of a deal?
Pinkie Pie: You've never seen the Fillydelphia arena!?
Spike: No.
Pinkie Pie: It's all big and loud and ponies everywhere cheering and they host the biggest parties after every tournament and the best part is they have this speaker system hooked up all over the place so one pony can talk to all the ponies at once with a microphone!
Spike: Pinkie, you feeling okay?
Pinkie Pie: I'm just fine, why?
Spike: You're kind of making a scene.
Pinkie Pie: Oh, I've got a scene ready alright!
Spike: Oh boy.


Twilight couldn't help but marvel in awe at the Fillydelphia arena. It was modeled after Canterlot Architecture to impress a feeling of grandiose ambition, and even housed a marble statue of a winged unicorn with a double-bladed sword in its teeth. The scenery, as a whole, was breathtaking.

"We're here!" Pinkie Pie squealed. "Ooh! Where is it!?" She zipped off, bouncing from wall to wall of the arena halls.

"Hey, wait for me!" Spike cried out as he chased the uninhibited mare. "C'mon, Fluttershy!"

"Oh, alright," Fluttershy moaned as she tried to keep up with Pinkie Pie and Spike.

"I guess they're going to find seats?" Twilight assumed. She hoped that leaving Pinkie Pie and Spike alone wouldn't cause any trouble.

"Here." Applejack shoved a clipboard onto the lavender mare. "Fill this out."

"And why do I have to?" Twilight groaned.

"I thought you liked writing reports or something." Applejack grinned back.

"Nope," Pinkie Pie sighed as she zipped from one room to another, prying off doors and checking its contents. "Where is it?"

"Looking for something, Pinkie?" Spike asked.

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie answered with no hint of explanation, resuming her search.

"We're not going to get in trouble here, are we?" Fluttershy panicked.

"Just leave everything to Pinkie Pie!" Pinkie Pie bucked open another door. "Found it!"

"You're not supposed to be back here!" the pony within the room yelled. "Get out of here!"

"Thunder Hoof!"

"You do know this is a bad idea, right?" Twilight informed Applejack. "What makes you even think we can win this? We're not trained fighters."

"You may not be, but you think my fancy hoof-work was just made up on the spot?" Applejack replied. "My mom taught me to fight to buck-off apple thieves." She flexed her backlegs, accenting her physical prowess. "Just you watch who the trained fighter really is."

"Is ‘Team Sparkles' here?" A brown earth pony approached the two.

"Sparkles?" Applejack glared at Twilight. "And where did that come from?"

"You did let me fill out the form, and it did ask for a team name." Twilight smiled back, pleased with herself. "So, what did you need?" She turned back to the new pony.

"Just here to lay down some ground rules, since it says on the form you've never competed before. First, it's not a fight to the death, just ‘till one team gives in. The moment the other team gives up, you stop or risk getting disqualified. Second, you're a unicorn, so we need to ask that you wear an inhibitor. We don't want ponies being fried or frozen or something. You alright with that?"

"I can hold back my magic," Twilight offered. "Are there any alternatives to wearing an inhibitor?"

"Sorry, ma'am. It's regulation."

"Fine," Twilight groaned as a ring was affixed on her horn.

"You look silly," Applejack smirked.

Twilight glared back at the amused orange pony and warned her, "This ring doesn't stay on forever."

"Alright," the brown pony started, "you two can go take your places in the arena now. Good luck."

Twilight and Applejack waited in front of the barred gate to the arena floor. It opened automatically a moment later, welcoming the pair into the arena stage. The crowd around them cheered for the upcoming battle. Twilight was left breathless by the arena's interior, but the arena stage had nearly stolen her nerve. It must have seated more than a thousand ponies, all looking at her now. "This is really nerve-wracking and looking more and more like a bad idea."

"Just concentrate on the match," Applejack replied. "Remember what I said way back when we first entered the Everfree? I'll keep you safe."

"Are we on good terms again?" Twilight asked.

"Maybe, let's see how long it lasts this time," Applejack joked. "Thanks, though, for putting up with me."

"Don't go mushy on me," Twilight readied her spear.

"I'll be as mushy as stale bread!" Applejack readied herself.

Pinkie Pie's voice erupted throughout the arena, completely catching Twilight and Applejack off guard. "Hey there everypony!" Most of the audience members had to hold their ears just to keep Pinkie Pie's voice alone from giving them a concussion. "Today's arena announcements are brought to you by Dark Horns member Pinkie Pie: me! Someponies might say it's stupid of me to hijack a mic and then say my name over the air, but what fun is there in playing it safe?"

"She didn't..." Applejack's mouth nearly fell off her face.

"And here, as her assistant, is I, Spike! The last dragon in Equestria!" Spike's voice came next.

"They did..." Twilight groaned, trying to hide her face in shame.

"Say hi to all the ponies, Fluttershy!"

"Uhm... well..." Even with a hundred speakers to amplify her voice Fluttershy still came across as incredibly soft.

Pinkie Pie's voice came back again."So let's see who's up here? Ooh! Team Sparkles! Hi Twilight! Hi Applejack! Good luck!"

"Are we going to be looked at as accomplices to a psycho pony now?" Twilight groaned.

"I'm about to go psycho on somepony," Applejack muttered.

"And their opponents are, drum roll, please." Spike put on all his theatrics as Pinkie Pie started banging her hooves on a table for a drum roll. "Representing the Lezerano company, probably the wealthiest corporation in all of Equestria, is Team Mint!"

From the other side of the arena approached pair of well-dressed blue ponies: one a stallion and the other a unicorn mare.

"All the way from Caballus, fillies and gentlecolts!" Spike announced again. "So you know they've come far, just itching for a match!"

The blue stallion readied a single note-shaped blade. "Don't expect me to go easy on you just because you’re mares."

"I hope you're not implyin' somethin'." Applejack eyed the presumptuous blue pony. "Twilight, let me take that one." Applejack cracked her hooves, itchy to bury them in the pony’s face.

"Blues, you need to shut up," the unicorn mare responded. "I'm Minuette, by the way. It is a pleasure to meet you," the blue unicorn cheerily introduced herself, a bristled quarterstaff levitated next to her.

"Let the party begin!" Pinkie Pie shouted through the speakers, signaling the start of battle.

Applejack charged at Blues. "Revolution Apple Buck!" Applejack turned to kick Blues into the air, but he deflected the attack with his note-shaped blade. "Dang it," she cursed as she tried to regain her balance.

"Marche Waltz!" Blues lunged back at Applejack, his blade grafting a musical score into the air before striking again, shattering the illusion and nearly cutting Applejack.

"Eat this!" Applejack hollered as she threw herself at Blues. She turned herself, seemingly to give her next kick as much force as she could. Predictably, Blues tried to deflect the blow with his blade, but Applejack feinted the blow, catching Blues off-guard. With her opponent defenseless, Applejack crouched and knocked him off his hooves with a low sweeping kick. "Skyward Shot!" Applejack forced her fore-hoof through Blues, launching him into the air. "Harvest Dance!" Applejack followed Blues into the air, kicking him multiple times before calling out one last attack, "Autumn's Fall!" She flipped herself, bringing down her back-hoof on Blues' head and sending him at the ground. She landed right on top of the stallion, dealing one last blow.

"Did you see that combo!?" Spike's voice erupted from the speakers.

"Wowzee!" Pinkie Pie's voice came next. "I mean, I've been on the receiving end of those chains but A.J. sure has leveled up her game since then!"

"Stop calling me A.J.!" Applejack yelled back.

Twilight was still caught up in her fight with Minuette. The blue mare was proving to be a much more adept fighter with her weapon than Twilight anticipated.

"I'll finish you now," Minuette said coldly, a stark contrast to her earlier cheerfulness.

"What!?" Twilight fidgeted by the sudden change in demeanor.

"God's Breath!" Minuette enchanted her bristled staff, creating a hurricane around it and pointing it at Twilight. "Farewell." The concentrated stream of wind was released, roaring at Twilight.

"Watch out!" Applejack shoved Twilight out of the way, taking the powerful blast of wind for her. Completely knocked off her hooves, she flew into the arena walls, creating a crater.

"If I wasn't wearing this inhibitor that would have ended very badly," she warned them as she began to collect wind around her staff once again.

"Applejack, are you alright!?" Twilight yelled back at her.

"I've felt better!" Applejack responded. "Stay on your hooves, she's going to do that again!"

"Alright!" Twilight galloped off to the side, hoping to disrupt Minuette's aiming.

She tried to turn her staff to face Twilight again, but moving what could only be described as a miniature hurricane was too much of a strain on her dampened magic.

Twilight positioned herself directly behind Minuette and leapt into her to attack. She dove at the blue unicorn, her back hoof extending outwards to kick Minuette.

She was forced to give up the spell as she raised her staff to defend herself. Twilight's hoof bounced off the staff as she kicked herself higher into the air, using the staff as a stepping stone, positioning herself right over Minuette's head. She aimed her spear downward, gathering frost at the edge of the tip. "Comet Cannon!" she cried as a single comet hailed down on Minuette, knocking her out.

"Holy smokes that was one spicy meatball!" Pinkie Pie added to the attack.

"Meatball?" Spike's quizzical voice followed suit.

"Team Blue surrenders!" Blue announced, limping over to pick up Minuette. "No more, you've won."

"And that's the match!" Spike announced. "Any highlights for that one, Pinkie Pie?"

"Yes! This message has been brought to you by the Cake's Shop in Ponyville! Go to Ponyville and buy a cake! Gee, I can come up with something catchier than that."

"The match, Pinkie, the match!"

"Remember foals, don't play with matches!"

"They're insane," the annoyed orange sighed. "I figured you would raise that iguana to be more well-behaved than this."

"You and me both," the exasperated lavender unicorn groaned, pulling Applejack out of the pony shaped hole in the wall.

"You two fight well," Blue complimented them. "If you can pick up the slack, you just might win the prize."

"Might? Slack!" Applejack echoed. "And just what makes you say might?"

"Last year’s champions fight really well together. Individually, you two are good, but if you can't fight together than you aren't going to win. This is a team effort," he added lastly. "An exercise in friendship, even."

"Friendship?" Twilight questioned. "What does beating each other up have to do with friendship?"

"A surprising great deal. Are you willing to trust another pony with your life?" Blue asked, breaking away from his earlier tone of congratulations to one of stern seriousness.

"Well," Twilight muttered, "no. In a life or death situation the best pony to trust would be yourself."

"Pragmatic, if cynical," Blues said. "Regardless, good luck. You did beat us fair and square and I prefer to lose to winners, not losers."

"Shut up, Blues" she mumbled. "I have a killer headache."

"Sorry," Twilight apologized.

SKIT: Not Listening

Twilight: What in all of Equestria does fighting have to do with friendship!?
Applejack: Are you still caught up on what that blue-in-the-face pony said.
Twilight: He just sounded so condescending about it.
Applejack: I take it you don't like being preached to.
Twilight: It just doesn't make sense.
Applejack: Uh, Twi', you listening to me?
Twilight: He wouldn't be saying that if my magic wasn't being inhibited.
Applejack: He's not the only pony blue-in-the-faced.
Twilight: Hm? You say something.
Applejack: Yes.
Twilight: What?
Applejack: Nothing of interest.


Back inside the contestant lobby, Twilight was allowed to remove the magic-dampening ring. She placed her horn on Applejack and recited the spell. "Heal." Twilight's magic flowed into Applejack, healing the orange mare's wounds, bruises, and cuts. "Feeling better?"

"Yeah." Applejack stretched her body, trying to get used to being so suddenly well. It almost felt like shock. "That's the last time I go chasin' tornadoes. So, now we just got to wait for our next match."

"Looks like it," Twilight groaned.

"And Team Dash takes out the Bantam Bouncers!" Spike announces across the speakers. "I've never seen a pegasus with moves like that! The Bantam Bouncers may have had rhythm but I guess the iron hammer of justice wasn't enough. Any commentary, Pinkie?" The intercom went silent for a moment. "Uh, Pinkie? Equestria to Pinkie Pie?"

"What? Huh? Oh! Sorry about that folks! I kind of spaced out there! So who's next up on the chopping block!" Pinkie squealed in delight as she read the name cards. "Team Sparkles versus Team Pie-Lovers? Ooh! Do I have a fan-club already!"

"Team Pie-Lovers?" Applejack looked around the arena for her opponent. "Where are they?"

"Sorry about that," a voice apologized from high above. A blue pegasus with an even darker blue mane dropped out of the sky. He wore armor from the Cloud Kingdom military, a blue drape along the armor declaring his commander rank. "I was just eating some victory pie from my last match. Sorry if I kept you waiting. My name is Soarin'." He smiled at his opponents, exciting the crowd with a combination of deep boos and high-pitched squeals.

"And just what the hay are you supposed to be?" Applejack wryly questioned.

"Me? I'm a commander in the Cloud Kingdom military. I thought I would come here and test my skills against real competition." Soarin' looked back at the crowd. "Sample some pie too."

"I don't like this guy any more than the last!"

"Agreed," Twilight sighed.

"Where's your partner already so I can get to buckin' you!"

"Oh, he's not here. Yeah, but I'm not surrendering, so let's have a fun match." Soarin' smiled back at the two. "I actually really like strong mares."

"Twilight, do stay out of this," Applejack hissed. "I'm going to break his snout!"

"Good luck with that," Twilight groaned as she sat herself down. "I mean, it would be unfair for a two on one match."

"Oh dang," Soarin' sighed. "Still, one pretty mare is good enough for me."

"Well," Spike's voice erupted, "with our contestants just itching to fight let's ring the bell! Pinkie Pie!"

"Go!" A bell was struck, signaling the start of the match.

"They didn't have that before," Applejack responded. "Alright, Coltsanova, time for your comeuppance!" Applejack charged at Soarin', ready to bash his face against the arena floor. "Revolution Apple-"

"Watch out." Soarin' drew his double-bladed sword and parried Applejack's buck. "That's dangerous, little filly," he warned her, smiling.

"Who you calling a little filly!?" Applejack swept at Soarin's legs. Like Blues, the cocky pegasus was swept off balance, followed by a hoof striking him in the chest and throwing him into the sky. "Skyward Shot!" Applejack steeled herself. "Now for the follow-up, Harvest Dance!" Applejack threw herself after the pony, ready to buck him again with all her strength.

"Sorry, love," Soarin's wings flared up as he caught himself in a gust of air and deflected Applejack's attack. "I am a pegasus. I can't really let myself get caught in the sky, unless I want to."

Applejack cursed as she began to fall back to the earth. "No-good lousy little-"

"Again, sorry love," Soarin' winked. "Soaring Lightning Blade!" Soarin' dove down on Applejack, crushing her against the ground and calling bolts of lightning down with him.

Applejack screamed, the electricity causing her muscles to spasm, and Soarin's sword pinching her shoulder. "Twilight!" she yelled back.

"Fireball!" Twilight sent out a volley of fireballs, weakened by the inhibitor placed on her.

Soarin' looked up and saw the spell being cast just in time. He reeled his sword back, the insignia on his armor beginning to glow. "Hurricane thrust!" Soarin' swung his sword, producing a stream of wind that pierced Twilight's fireballs. He turned to the lavender unicorn, grinning sheepishly. "So are you both going to take me now?" he asked playfully.

"Shut up!" Applejack punched Soarin' with both of her fore-hooves. "Beast!" Her energy erupted through her hooves in a lion shaped blast of blue force. Soarin' was thrown off and back into the sky, where his wings flared up once more, catching himself in the air again.

"Wow, an impressive exchange between Team Sparkles and Soarin'!" Spike announced. "I've got to say, I've never seen a pegasus fight like this. Is that magic Soarin' is using? I don't know, but the work horse and scholar have their work cut out for them. You have anything to say, Pinkie?

"It's simple, Spike." Pinkie Pie's voice overtook the dragon's in the speakers. "Soarin' can use magic because he's eating performance enhancing pies."

"Can they just shut up!?" Applejack complained as she recovered herself. "Twilight, think you can use shoot him out of the sky with your magic?"

"Remember how well that worked on the chimeras the other day?" the lavender mare answered. "I can't hit something as fast as him."

"So we need to pin him again?"

"That would be the idea, yes." Twilight answered.

"Then cover me!" Applejack charged at Soarin' again.

"Filly want to play?" Soarin' flew high into the sky, eclipsing the sun and flying into Applejack's blind spot.

Applejack cursed, "Cheeky... little..."

"Soaring Lightning Blade!" Soarin' dived at Applejack again, lightning surging from his blade.

"Not this time!" Applejack jumped up to meet her opponent. "Landslide!" She caught Soarin' mid-fall, and threw him back to the ground.

"Comet Cannon!" Twilight's spear erupted with ice, pelting the Cloud Kingdom commander.

"Autumn's fall!" Applejack landed herself on Soarin's back. His armor absorbed most of the blow, but it still left him stunned. "You're done now." Applejack hissed as she backed away from the pegasus commander.

"You mares are impressive." Soarin' chuckled as he picked himself off the ground. His armor was visibly damaged and his fur was frozen in a few places, but his cheery demeanor never left. "I give, you win."

"What?" Applejack cried in astonishment.

"The battle is over!" the speakers erupted with the baby dragon's voice. "Cloud Kingdom commander and pie aficionado, Soarin', has given up that match to Team Sparkles! Meaning they get to go on to the final round! We're cutting it close here, ponies! Who will win!?"

"Well, in my book everypony's a winner!" Pinkie Pie added. "Well, unless you lose. Then you should probably go to the hospital! Oh! We were at one earlier, right Fluttershy?" The speakers went silent. "Fluttershy says yes."

"So how's it look?" Applejack asked as she exposed her shoulder for Twilight to heal. "It burns like a deep-fried apple stuffing right now."

"I can handle this," Twilight replied as she placed her horn on Applejack. "Heal." The wound began to close on itself, sealing the gash and healing the flesh. "Better?"

"Much better." Applejack was happy to be in top form so soon again. "I knew it was a good idea to drag you with me to this."

"As long as we get those bits," Twilight sighed. "It will make getting back to Canterlot so much easier-"

"Ten! Seconds! Flat!" Spike's booming voice interrupted Twilight. "Just like Team Dash promised, they finished their mach in ten seconds. We're looking at Team Dash versus Team Sparkles for an arena finale! Are you excited, ponies? I know I am!"

"Fluttershy! Do a cheer!" Pinkie Pie very audibly pushed the nervous pegasus to the mic. Sounds of a struggling and chains emanated through the arena as Pinkie tried to get the nervous Fluttershy to say something.

"Uh, while my co-hosts are busy untying themselves, we're going to take a ten minute break before the final match, folks! Get your snacks ready!"

"Because the next one is a doozy!" Pinkie coughed. "Fluttershy, I... can't... breathe!"

"They're still at it," Applejack snorted. "How come nopony has kicked them out?"

"We've got ten minutes to rest up, better make it count if our opponents are going to be that good."

SKIT: Tricky

Twilight: How did Soarin' use magic like that?
Applejack: You mean the thing where he hit me with lightning?
Twilight: Yes. Only unicorns should be able to fight using the elements.
Applejack: Fancy pegasus trick maybe?
Twilight: Tricks don't usually hurt.
Applejack: That's for sure.
Twilight: Hopefully our next opponents aren't so tricky.
Applejack: We'll take 'em. We beat that last guy.
Twilight: Only because he gave up.


Ten minutes passed, and Twilight and Applejack took their place in the arena again. On the other side was their opponents, smirking with pride. "A griffon!?" Twilight exclaimed. "This has to be against some regulation!"

On the other side of the arena stood a blue pegasus mare with a rainbow mane, and brown furred griffon with white feathers, both wearing Cloud Kingdom armor with red drapes. "Check out these dweebs, Dash," the griffon snidely commented.

"What are they?" the pegasus laughed. "A costumed egghead and a country-star reject?"

"You again!" Applejack pointed at the blue pegasus. "You're the pony that bumped into me!"

"What!?" The pegasus yelled back. "You ran into me! Oh this is perfect. I'm going to beat the stuffing out of you!"

Spike started his announcements, "Alright everypony! On one side is Team Sparkles from Canterlot. Twilight, resident unicorn extraordinaire, and top student at Canterlot University; and Applejack, local bumpkin who wouldn't know good cooking if it clung to her fetlocks!"

"Darn iguana," Applejack cursed.

"And on the other side is Team Dash!" Pinkie Pie answered next. "On Team Dash we have Rainbow Dash, the mare with flare and a mane like rain... bows! and Gilda, a teen-aged griffon with attitude! Both high ranking soldiers from the Cloud Kingdom military. You know, Spike, I've never met a griffon before! Do you think griffons like to party? I hope they do because-"

"Stop!" A new voice erupted from the speakers. "You're under arrest for breaking and entering! This area is for staff only!"

"Finally," Applejack sighed.

"Sorry, but we're having technical difficulties," Pinkie Pie alerted the audience. "Spike, Fluttershy, cheese it!" A very audible crash and struggle erupted over the speakers, leaving the crowd confused, entertained, and frenzied.

"Hey, what do you think you're-"

"Party Cannon!" An explosion erupted from high up on the arena, possibly where the announcer's office was located. Two ponies and a baby dragon ran out of the room, running from a team of guards. "Even when on the run from the law, Dark Horns entertainment promises to give you one hay of a show!" Pinkie Pie screamed. "Party time! Ready, go!"

Gilda instantly closed in on the two. "Dash! Cover me!"

"Already on it, G.!" Rainbow Dash drew her double-bladed sword and slashed it along the ground. "Tenbaken!" she shouted as a sky blue wave of energy released itself from her sword, aimed at Twilight and Applejack.

Gilda, already ahead of the the wave, lashed out at Twilight and Applejack. "Schatten Jagd!" She brought her claws down on both the orange and lavender pony, tracing lines in the air as she struck them. Applejack caught one claw between her hooves while Twilight struggled against the force of the claw on her spear. Gilda smirked as she let go of the attack and flew upwards, the pegasus's wave colliding with Twilight.

"Twilight!" Applejack turned to her, only to get assaulted by Gilda from behind. "Danged chicken!"

Gilda expressed mild amusement from Applejack's struggling. "Chicken, right." With the orange mare trapped in her talons, Gilda flew up into the sky.

"No!" Twilight called out.

"Over here!"

Twilight turned just in time to deflect a blow from the sky blue pegasus.

"Shunjinken!" Rainbow Dash thrust her blade at Twilight, who barely managed to block the attack with her spear. "Close one," she taunted. "So how long can you keep it up?" Rainbow Dash took a step forward, forcing the lavender unicorn back.

Struggling to keep her spear suspended against the blue brute, Twilight raised herself on her back legs and stomped the ground. "Stalagmite!" Twilight shouted as the earth under her opponent erupted, producing a spike.

Rainbow Dash's armor managed to protect her from most of the attack, but forced her off Twilight. " Pretty good, now try this!" Rainbow Dash threw her sword at Twilight. "Meguru No Honoo!" she cried, her sword igniting and spinning at the lavender mare.

Twilight managed to deflect the blow with her spear, but the blade only flew up, turning to assault her from overhead. She threw herself to the side, letting the blade bury itself in the ground.

"Like it?" Rainbow Dash gloated as she swooped down to retrieve her blade. "Special arms pegasus weaponry! Only for exceptional pegasi, like myself!"

"This ride of yours have an ending?" Applejack yelled at the griffon that flew higher and higher.

"Yeah, it ends with you on the ground," Gilda answered her, turning around to dive bomb the ground with the orange pony still clenched in her talons. "Letzten Moment!"

"I'm not going to take this sitting down!" Applejack cried as she struck at Gilda.

"Oh? So what are you going to do about it?" Gilda taunted Applejack smugly.

"I'll show you the strength of an honest work-horse!" Applejack swung her body, managing to shove her shoulder into Gilda. "Beast!" Applejack's primal force forced the griffon to let go, allowing Applejack to free-fall to the earth. "Twilight!"

"Applejack!" Twilight yelled back as she raced to catch Applejack, the blue pegasus grinning from ear to ear and egging her on. She caught the orange mare on her back, almost being crushed in the process.

"That, was scary," Applejack gasped. "You okay?"

"You're heavy," Twilight groaned.


"Wow, that sure was something," Rainbow Dash commented, floating over her two opponents. "Are you done yet?"

"Hardly!" Applejack roared as she launched herself at Rainbow Dash. "Harvest-"

Gilda swooped in and tackled Applejack mid-attack, pinning the mare against the arena walls. "Remember me?"

"Get off her!" Twilight cried as she dove at the griffon, her spear aiming at the holes in Gilda's armor. "Havok Spear!" Twilight turned and kicked her opponent, her back-hoof striking her opponents armor, before taking her spear and striking the griffon.

Gilda was forced off of her prey by the lavender mare's assault. She managed to get away before the spear could cut too deep into her skin. "Sly little dweeb," she cursed. Gilda flared her wings, launching herself at Twilight and Applejack. "Spirale Kralle!" Gilda lunged at the two mares again, extending her talons out-wide and spinning rapidly to cover herself from every angle.

"Stalagmite!" Twilight cried as she stomped her hooves on the ground, raising a complex of stalagmites to mire the griffon's assault. "We have to go, it won't last long."

"Hi again!" Rainbow Dash yelled out as she dived at Twilight, her blade clenched between her teeth. "Rekkuuzan!" Rainbow Dash started spinning herself, allowing her blade and momentum to cover her at all sides.

"Twilight!" Applejack managed to grab her partner and throw themselves out of the way of the attack. With a hard thud, they landed on the dirt of the arena floor. "They keep flying at us, what do we do?"

"Not sure," Twilight groaned as she picked herself up. "If only I didn't have this stupid inhibitor."

"So get rid of it!"

"That's against the regulations here!"

"We're fighting a pegasus and a griffon! I don't care about regulations!"

Gilda and Rainbow Dash soared into the sky, one's talons ready to pierce and the other's sword ready to cut. "Want to give them the special, G?" Dash turned to her partner.

"Fine," Gilda replied with retrained enthusiasm.

"The cross thrust special!" Rainbow Dash dove at Twilight and Applejack again, with Gilda behind her. The pegasus extended her blade outwards and assaulted the opposing ponies. "Shouha!"

Applejack tried to block the blow with her hooves, but was knocked off balance.

"Juumonji!" Gilda cried as she struck Applejack, knocking the wind out of her, in mid-air.

"Holy smokes!" Pinkie Pie cried, still running from armored guards. "That was incredible teamwork from Team Dash? Can Team Sparkles recover?"

"Applejack!" Twilight cried as she galloped up to the orange mare's side. "Are you okay?"

"Barely," Applejack cried. "Nothing’s broke, can you heal me?"

"I'll try." Twilight placed her horn on Applejack's wounds, but Rainbow Dash's flying sword flew between the two, interrupting Twilight.

"This is a match, not a hospital," Rainbow Dash taunted, "so no healing while I'm on watch!" Rainbow Dash dove at twilight again. "Rekkuuzan!" she began spinning her body again, ready to end the match, but she didn't hit a pony, she hit the ground, knocking the blade out of her mouth and Rainbow Dash herself out of her momentum as she hit the floor. "What the?"

Twilight and Applejack were on the other side of the arena. "Heal!" Twilight cried as Applejack's body began to heal. The inhibitor on Twilight's horn crumbled to dust.

"What the hay?!" Rainbow Dash cursed. "How did you do that!"

"Winking," Twilight replied as she disappeared and a flash of magenta light, and reappeared above Rainbow Dash. "Havok Spear!" Twilight kicked down on Rainbow dash before swinging up, knocking the pegasus back into the air.

Rainbow Dash managed to regain her footing once in the air. "I've got wings, remember-"

"Star Shower!" Twilight swung her spear upward, unleashing a salvo of magical shooting stars on the gloating pegasus.

"What the?" Rainbow Dash was pelted by the astrological force, blasting her out of the sky and landing back on the ground in a puff of smoke.

"Little dweeb!" Gilda screeched as she assaulted Twilight.

"Super Harvest Dance!" Applejack caught the griffon before she could reduce Twilight to a pile of scraps, kicking her in mid-air several times before back-flipping back to Twilights side.

"Amazing turnaround from Team Sparkles!" Spike cried out, nearly overloading the speakers and the audiences ears. "Just when you thought they were down for the count, they get up and give Team Dash a run for their money!"

Rainbow Dash was the first to recover. "So, you're playing with magic now? Fine." The Cloud Kingdom emblem on Rainbow Dash's armor began to glow. "Try some pegasus brand magic! Air Thrust!" The wind around Twilight and Applejack condensed and turned savage on them, cutting into the stunned fighters. "G! Now!"

"Jagd Schatten!" Gilda flew like an arrow at the suspended mares, slamming her claws on both of them, and throwing them against the wall. "Finish them, Dash!"

"Spark Wave!" Dash cried out, creating a sphere of electricity around the orange and lavender mare. For Rainbow Dash's opponents, the world went dark.

How many times am I going to have to wake up like this? Applejack groaned as she slowly opened her eyes. "What- what happened?" she asked, hoping someone was there to answer.

"Oh good, you're okay," a voice answered her.

Applejack turned in the direction of the voice, finding Nurse Redheart tending to her. "You again? What are you doing here?"

"Well, these arena tournaments tend to attract all the hoof-heads in the city together and somepony always gets hurt."

"You calling me a hoof head?" Applejack groaned.

"You would have to be to participate in these barbaric matches."

Applejack wanted to say something, but the nurse was right. "Fine. Where's Twilight?"

"The purple one? She's here. Just turn around," the nurse informed her.

Applejack turned her body, finding Twilight in much worse condition than she was. "You alright, Twi'?"

"I've had better days," Twilight groaned. "Well, this was all for nothing."

"I'm sorry," Applejack apologized. "You was right; this was a bad idea."

"Are you kidding me!?" Pinkie Pie burst into the room, Fluttershy following closely behind her. "I haven't had so much fun in such a long time! We need to do this again!"

"Next time you can get your flank kicked," Applejack spat back. "Last time I try throwing around hooves for money."

"Pinkie Pie," Twilight called the giggly mare, worried, "where's Spike?"

"Huh?" Pinkie Pie looked behind herself. "Isn't he... huh!? Spike? Spike!?"

Twilight threw herself out of the care bed. "Spike!" she called out, worried.

Lyra faced down the fiery pegasus commander. "Fight me!" she yelled, her broad-blade lyre pointed menacingly at the soldier.

"I told you before," Spitfire told her, "I don't fight civilians. Are you still hung up over what I said a couple days ago?"

"It won't matter when I beat you in a fight. Then we'll see who has the strength to protect what."

"You can't fight what's not here," Spitfire retorted as she took to the skies.

"Coward!" Lyra yelled back.

Such a sorrowful sight, my little pony…

"What!?" Lyra looked around, trying to find the source of the voice. "Who's there?" All she could find was the moon above her, the image of the mare on the moon almost sneering at her.