• Published 17th Oct 2016
  • 1,157 Views, 28 Comments

Old Fences - Purple Patch



Derpy Doo, now a mother, must struggle to come to terms with her past beside her friends and protectors in Ponyville

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Prologue

Author's Note:

I'd like to start with a huge thanks for everyone who liked my Rejuvenation Play.
I've found this very therapeutic.
Introducing Nitpick, Countess Glass's husband. And if you think you're going to like him more than his wife, well...just read on.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is off on a short but eventful adventure.
Nitpick's blustering at his introduction is based on Sir Watkyn Basset's introduction in Jeeves and Wooster (Starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry) and Sir Cumbersome Clout is based on Sir Roderick Spoke. Both are characters designed by P.G Wodehouse whose books I wholeheartedly recommend.
Syllabus Skittleby is a reference to Nicholas Nickleby, my favourite Charles Dickens novel. Plot Thickens is a play on the author's namesake.
Lastly there's reference to Red Dead Redemption I saw in a twitch gamer video.
As always, I hope you enjoy it.

"Why...Won't...You...Die?!"

The black-and-blue hippogriff, flail shaking in his claws, screeched at his opponent as his equine back-legs buckled with fatigue.

The mighty alicorn princess, crimson-mane blazing with flames, pointed her great sword out before her as the great Battle of Faceless Rock thundered on around them.

"Why don't I die, Anzu?" she asked, breathing heavily, fighting exhaustion "Why would I with so many things worth living for?" She gestured with her blade "Stand down. I promise you'll face swift justice"

"Pony scum!" the hippogriff flung himself at his foe.

A halo of burning gold laurels lit up above the alicorn as her horn glowed in a blinding light.

As her blade met his flail, the light enveloped the hill they stood upon.

Anzu screamed as his spiked armour shattered around his body and his wings were scorched with holy fire. The ground rushed up to meet him as he choked and scrambled in the dirt.

"It's over, Anzu!" The alicorn towered over him. In the grim darkness of the battle, she appeared immolated "You and your master are finished. Surrender. Now"

The deranged hippogriff slowly began laughing. It was the laugh of a mad beast.

"You pathetic little nag!" he cackled "You think you've won?! You think the master can't crush you like we did for Pansytown and all the little vermin we found within?!" He coughed blood as he laughed, his cold, empty eyes bulging.

"Twinkle-Wish screamed as she died!"

The blade of the alicorn princess swept through the air as Anzu's head, visage locked in a sadistic leer of triumph, bounced upon the hill. His body slumped to the ground as his slayer turned away.

'So much death'" she thought "'Just when I thought it was over'"


"Princess Laurelore!"

The echoing cry of a dear friend thundered from the sky as a gigantic frost dragon landed before the alicorn and bowed his head.

"Sigurd" she smiled at one of her few centuries-old friends "How goes the battle?"

"The Elements fight on and claim precious ground. Iris has led the Wonderbolts to victory and Nuzzle has arrived, a dragon army beside her" the dragon reported "Cornflower broke through the enemy lines in a charge. Adamanta has brought down the towers. And Zipadee's sabotage of the foundry was successful. The trench is ours. Baigujing, Sartorius and Dr. Poddle are our prisoners and Arkham the Ghoulking is dead. But your highness..." he paused, catching his breath, snowflakes pouring in and out of his mouth "Aurora has gone missing from the battlefield. Her Element has not been extinguished. I fear she may have been...captured. Your highness, I fear what might happen to her"

"Nothing will happen to her, Sigurd" Laurelore the Firsticorn sheathed her sword "We're ending this right now. All of us. If not..." she looked up at Sigurd and rested one hoof on his gigantic muzzle.

"It was a joy to know you, old friend"

"Princess! Princess!"

An indigo unicorn mare, dressed in a golden wizard's hat and cloak, bounded up to her Princess.

"New Tricks" Laurelore addressed the newcomer "I'm glad to see you..." she glanced down and saw that, gathered up in a sack slung over the sorceress's shoulder were the remains of the fabled staff of her teacher, Ozymandius, the mad wizard.

So there was no reasoning with him.

"You did well" she said.

New Tricks was breathless and stammered out a report, barely noticing Laurelore's sad gaze.

"Princess Laurelore, the Amazing New Tricks can barely believe her eyes! The Amazing New Tricks never even thought it possible. It's left the Amazing New Tricks completely-"

"Slow down" Laurelore commanded in a calm but firm manner "What have you seen?"

"It's him, your highness" New Tricks's eyes, one red, one blue, shone with wonder "The stallion in the blue box. He's taken to the field"

Laurelore was silent. Turning away from both Sigurd and New Tricks, she stared out deep into the battlefield.

"He came back"

"As the prophecy foretold" Sigurd mused "Very appropriate in this case"

"The old saying" New Tricks added "The oldest in fact"

The three of them recited it at once.

"Demons Run When A Good Pony Goes To War"


*


"This...is one of the most shameful cases ever to come before this bench!"

The court was silent but for the histrionic soliloquy of the lean, peevish judge, thin and white of mane with a sickly-green coat mottled with dark grey dots. The reedy, pop-eyed Right Honourable Lord Magistrate Nitpick, Sixth Earl of Speck, had a hammy and melodramatic manner that would rival the Flower Trio of Ponyville.

"In all my years as a Magistrate, I have seldom heard a tale of such heinous iniquity!"

An orange pegasus, scruffy and swaying groggily, ruffled his blue mane and opened his mouth to speak.

"I-"

"BE QUIET!"

Nitpick's voice was not good for his hangover.

The defendant's head swam as the events of last night's caper were brought up in a volley of rebuttal.

"This...parasite...can think of no better way to end an evening's hooliganism..." He made a show of appearing heartbroken, shaking with dismay "...on the night of the Preparatory College Boat Race..."

'Why doesn't this flank-head shut up and become an actor or something?'

"Can our seats of learning produce barbarians so lost to decency that their highest ambition is to steal a respected noblemare's wig and make off with it?"

"I was gonna' give it back"

"SILENCE!"

The pegasus's hooves flew to his ears.

Last night was, without a doubt, the last time he and Stumbler would challenge Cloud Chaser and Flitter to cider-drinking.

"I find you guilty as charged, Flash Sentry" Every word the Lord Magistrate spoke was rolled around his mouth like a Yak Throat-Singer "and have no alternative but to fine you the sum of five hundred bits, dishonourably discharge you from the Royal Guard and sentence you to three years in prison"

"Wait-WHAT?!" Flash Sentry was jerked back into sobriety in an instant "You gotta' be freaking kidding me! This is bull-"

"I ORDERED SILENCE!" The Lord Magistrate turned red as a plum, his gavel slamming furiously on the bench.

"Take him away!"

"Listen, you can't do this!"

"AWAY I SAY!"


Nitpick's voice was drowned out, a difficult feat, by the sound of the court doors flinging themselves open as a white-coated unicorn stallion, adorned with the gilded armour of the Royal Guard, strode into the court, his face steely and determined.

"Lord Magistrate" he sounded, calm but loud enough for the court to hear "Private Flash Sentry is to be given unto my authority as his Commanding Officer. I have been informed of the charges and can assure you I will deal with them"

"And what do you mean by intruding on matters of royal judgement?" Nitpick bristled "Who are you, young stallion? Speak!"

The officer removed his helmet, releasing a long shock of navy-blue mane.

"I am Sergeant Shining Armour of the Royal Canterlot Guard, 3rd Palace Grounds Platoon. Private Flash Sentry is under my command and as such it falls to me to moderate and punish any crimes or misdemeanours he may or not commit" he threw a disparaging glance at his newest recruit, who, though committed to his duty as a Royal Guard, was proving himself quite the troublemaker. This wasn't the first time he'd caught the ire of humourless nobles. But never had he been up before Lord Magistrate Nitpick.

Flash Sentry made an attempt to grin sheepishly at his Sergeant. Secretly, he was blessing his CO like a beggar would a guardian alicorn. Nitpick meanwhile, fumed like a foundry funnel.

"You, Sergeant, will not impede royal justice!" he pointed his gavel meaningfully at the officer "Your odious associate has perpetrated a violent and black-hearted offence against the crown and society"

"Yes, I've been talking with her Ladyship, Madam Lyrica. I assure you, on my honour as a Guard of her Highness, I will handle this"

"The sentence has already been carried out, Sergeant" the cantankerous judge declared "Three years in prison, dishonourable discharge and a fine of five hundred bits"

"Stop talking garbage"

Shining Armour had not faltered an instant. His manner had been of a tired teacher dressing down a difficult foal.

There was a collective gasp and murmur from the court as Nitpick drew himself up in disbelief, gawking at the curt stallion before him.

"I..." he growled "...am not in the habit of talking garbage, Officer!"

"Well, you're doing surprisingly well for a beginner"

The murmurs grew louder before the Lord Magistrate slammed his gavel upon the desk.

"A fine of five hundred, officer. Your associate is getting off lightly in my opinion" he sniffed, one eyebrow raised "If he cannot pay, I shall expect your office to do so in his stead"

Shining Armour gave a muffled snort of derisive laughter.

"I always wondered how he made his money" he said to no-one in particular"

"WHAT..." Nitpick bellowed "...DID YOU SAY, OFFICER?"

"Nothing, Lord Magistrate" his tone was calm, as if the Sixth Earl of Speck could do nothing to him "As I said, I will handle this"

The Sergeant turned and gestured to Flash Sentry.

"At the double, Private"

The two members of the Royal Guard left the court, the grinning orange pegasus saluting mockingly to the speechless judge.


The doors to the Canterlot Palace of Justice closed behind them and Flash Sentry could be himself again.

"Whoo!" He did a mid-air somersault "Yeah! And Flash Sentry walks again. You're the colt, sarge! Give a bro some love!"

He held out his hooves in an open hug gesture.

Sergeant Shining Armour eyed him unimpressed.

"Don't think you're off the hook, Private" he snapped "You are in deep curd, young stallion. Do you have any idea how much I had to apologise to Lady Lyrica for the stunt you pulled last night? That mare is not somepony you want to steal a wig from, Private"

"Ugh, you too, bro? I thought you were cool! I wasn't stealing it, alright?" Flash Sentry waved his hooves jadedly "I was gonna' give it back. It was a bet with Stumbler, okay? We were both drunk"

"You are not helping your case, Private" Shining Armour barked, glaring at the pegasus "Were you in uniform, answer me now"

There was a pause both of them hung on.

"No" Flash Sentry said in seriousness.

His Sergeant gave a relieved sigh. The reputation of the 3rd Palace Grounds Platoon had not been tarnished.

"I mean, I was still wearing my coverall...well...parts of it...but me and Stumbler were off duty. Blockbuster took over at o' eight-hundred and signed us out. We met up with the mares after the boat race and...one thing led to another"

"You challenged the twins to a drinking contest "

"...yeah"

"You're an idiot, Flash Sentry"

"I know" The Private couldn't help but notice Shining Armour's tone mellow out a little. While his Sergeant was a strict and no-nonsense stallion, his platoon still loved and admired him for his dedication, courage and for his prominent practice of looking out for them.

"You and Stumbler are still getting cleaning fatigues, I hope you realise"

"Sure, okay" He put a hoof around Shining's shoulder "But don't think I didn't see you getting an eyeful of dear Lady Mi Amore Cadenza"

"Wh...I wasn't getting an eyeful, Flash...I was there to cheer her on"

"What, so you didn't get a little flustered when she got her mane all wet?"

"Flash, you are inches from a flank-kicking" Shining's embarrassment was not well-hidden.

"S'alright, bro. I'm not here to pass judgement, I think Sunset Shimmer looked pretty sweet in that jumpsuit" He sniggered "And speaking of 'judgement', I saw Nitpick in the crowds and let me tell you, I did not like the way he was looking at Adagio"

"You'd be wise not to mention that in public, Flash" Shining said grimly.

"I'm just saying, being on trial for a college prank is one thing but when the guy telling everypony you're a parasite, barbarian, hooligan, whatever is creeping on mares young enough to be his daughters..."

"I know, Flash, I know" Shining Armour shook his head "Let's just get back to the mess. I believe Sunset Shimmer wanted to see you"

Flash Sentry's wings shook beside his shoulders in a frisky fashion.

"Oh yeah!" He straightened his mane "Mares can't get enough of the Flash"

"I think it's more likely she wants to scorch your tail off for wolf-whistling her at the boat race"

"Shyeah right, c'mon Shining, she liked it. I saw her"

Shining Armour's eyebrow rose knowingly.

"You sure about that?"

"Why wouldn't I be...although" the pegasus's brow beaded with sweat "...could you...walk in front?"

The unicorn chuckled. What was he going to do with Flash Sentry?


Stewing over the insult paid to him at his bench, not to mention the loss of a potential five hundred bit 'service bonus', Nitpick cleared the court and made his way out the palace of justice. He found a friend waiting for him. It brought a mild smile to the Lord Magistrate's face.

"Nitpick, old friend. I hope I'm not late"

"On the contrary, Cumbersome. You're very punctual. How do you fare, my good stallion?"

"Heartily well, sir. An excellent rally, Nitpick, excellent" he beat one hoof upon his lapel pompously "A dozen new supporters"

"Ah good...that's good...isn't it?" Nitpick rarely took an interest in his friend's political interests.

"I am sorry you weren't there, Nitpick" He said that with an air of accusation that the Lord Magistrate paid little mind to.

"Pressing business, I'm afraid. Both in office and among the Glass Household. In fact, before heading off to the Hanoverian this afternoon, to toast to your efforts I'm sure, I must pay a visit..." his tone grew dark "...to somepony who has gravely stepped out of line"

"Bah!" Cumbersome spat "There's more every year! I consider it to be a good enough reason to give him a damn good thrashing!"

"It's a 'her', Cumbersome"

"Even more reason!" he guffawed.

"I very much fear such a feat, though no doubt warranted, would attract unnecessary attention. This must be handled cleanly. Come, let us make our stance clear to her"

The two noble stallions marched grandly to the study of the mare in question, a prominent civil worker from Ponyville who'd been called over by the Chairstallion of the Royal Council himself to act as judicial official in a particularly eventful trial of numerous dangerous fugitives recently caught plotting a terrorist attack on Fillydelphia City.

The mare was young for her position, efficient, inquisitive, outspoken and highly regarded by Celestia and her most trusted associates.

All the tell-tale signs of a social climber.


"Looking forward to heading off then, are we?" Secretary Raven Inkwell helped the rightly satisfied Ponyville go-getter with her luggage "I bet you'll have plenty of stories to tell everypony back home"

"I've been away from Merry and the kids for nearly a month, Raven" Lady Justice closed her suitcase, filled with reports of her findings. The click of the suitcase gave her a feeling of great contentment "I want to get back before Hearts Warming"

"Well, I say you've earned it, Ma'am" Raven gave a smile "How you cracked it, I'll never know. Fancy Pants is exceptionally pleased"

"I am honoured by his faith in me. Give him my best regards"

"Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to give you a place here in Canterlot"

"No..." Lady Justice shook her head knowingly "I couldn't do that. My place is in Ponyville"

"I'm sure he'll understand that"

Their conversation was interrupted as the doors swung open and two stallions marched in and eyed them disdainfully.

Lady Justice knew both of them by name, face and reputation.

Lord Magistrate Nitpick, dressed in a fine black suit and an ermine trim collar with the gold medallion of office. A prickly, sanctimonious and dirty old stallion who, in Lady Justice's opinion, deserved being sat down at the other end of the court considering how many incidents concerning young mares he and his hangers-on had covered up all through his career.

His companion was Sir Cumbersome Clout, former sportsmaster at Trottingham Academy and, most recently, a loud but minor political campaigner. He was described by his party as a peerless visionary, seeking to restore Equestria to a glorious age long forgotten, for whatever reasons. He was described by nearly everypony else as a raving, violent, bigoted old fool.

To describe him, one would have to imagine a scenario in which nature had intended to make a rhino and changed its mind half way through. A monster of an earth pony possessed of muscles that threatened to tear open his brown suit, a coat the colour of a strawberry blancmange, a face set in a permanent glower and a moustache that looked like somepony had squashed a fly just under his nose.

Two very proud, very out-of-touch and very self-interested ponies. The reason Fancy Pants had hired her to act as a judge in the first place was that he didn't trust the ones in Canterlot.

"Lady Justice..." Sir Cumbersome sneered "We'd like a word with you"

"Lord Magistrate Nitpick, Sir Cumbersome" Lady Justice greeted them with an air of disregard, her eyes half-closed, her tone mediated.

"I trust you want me to hear from a dozen more friends of yours who 'Most certainly did not see you trying to fondle Fleur De Lis in the Royal Theatre three weeks ago?'"

At her words, Lord Nitpick's face curdled like mouldy yoghurt, with about the same colour, and Sir Cumbersome Clout rumbled with indignation. Raven Inkwell tilted her head with disparagement at the two ponderous stallions.

"I am not, madam, and I forbid you from mentioning that...rumour in this establishment!" Nitpick snapped "An acquaintance of yours has paid my family a great insult"

"I'm sorry to hear that"

"Your apologies are insufficient, madam" Nitpick's head rose, trying to make himself look large. It wasn't easy. Nitpick was a formidable stallion in the bench but outside of the court he was small and unimposing.

He turned to Raven Inkwell.

"Do you have anywhere else to be, Miss Inkwell?" he asked expectantly.

Raven shrugged.

"Not really"

Nitpick gave a grumble but began his complaint regardless.


"My lady wife, fraught with worry after uncovering a disgraceful scandal in Ponyville concerning her family and it's invaluable reputation, wished to speak with members of the town council. Is it not true that your relations with the town mayor are...suspiciously intimate?"

"Lord Magistrate, I resent your notion of impropriety" Lady Justice said coyly "Our relations are far from 'suspicious'...We are married. Happily. And have three beautiful children"

Sir Cumbersome snorted with disapproval but said nothing as Lord Nitpick continued.

"Never mind that now. It was at the hooves of the mayor and her associates, my lady wife informed me, that she was harassed and threatened with physical assault. Such conduct, I shouldn't have to remind you, is intolerable"

Lady Justice pursed her lips a moment.

"What did she do?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Don't act so indignant, Lord Magistrate. The citizens of Ponyville are rarely ever even slightly violent at the worst of times and, without meaning any offence...your wife has a terrible track record for setting a good impression"

"Mrs. Justice, you forget yourself!" Nitpick glowered at the Ponyville go-getter "The Glass family, and indeed, the line of the Earls of Speck, are noble families, some of the noblest in fact, and our influence is deep and far-reaching. If we do not have justice, my dear mare, we will see fit to carry it out ourselves. My wife, madam, is not to be taken lightly"

"Neither is mine" she replied, not one to be intimidated "You need not worry, my lord. I'm heading back home this very afternoon. There I'll get the full story and decide what repercussions, legal or otherwise, are warranted"

"Do you imply, madam, that my wife's report is mistaken?"

"Oh no, my lord, I don't think you're wife's mistaken at all, I just think she's lying"

Sir Cumbersome slammed his hooves on the hard wooden floorboards, nearly breaking them under the force.

"NOW SEE HERE, YOU-"

"Sir Cumbersome, believe me, I'd love to stay and chat" Lady Justice chirped cheekily as she and Raven carried her luggage out the Palace of Justice "But I've got a train to catch and my wife must be missing me terribly. I'm sure we'll get a chance to talk another time. Congratulations on the rally by the way, a dozen recruits? I wonder how many weren't there for the free drinks? I suppose you'll find out at the next rally. Toodle-oo everypony, I shan't half miss you all!"

And the two mares trotted off toward the train station, leaving the two stallions seething in the doorway.

It wasn't just anger they felt, it was worry.

This had been escalating in recent years. Social climbers reaching heights above the aristocracy. The Princess taking more interest in changing ancient laws and traditions rather than leaving politics to the noble families.

Ever since Fancy Pants had shown up.


*


At the peak of Faceless Rock, The Deceiver craned its elongated neck skyward as its finest creation pulsed with magical energy. A swirling, screaming creature from the void was enveloping the clouds above, spewing flaming rocks and tides of charging beasts pouring from its mouth.

"Yeeeeeessssss..." The Deceiver hissed, its forked tongue trailing across the edges of its lips "It's only a matter of time now"

"Master" An orange lammasu, bloodied and bruised from battle, his steel armour broken and falling off him in chunks, landed in front of The Deceiver and abased himself.

"Carthage..." The Deceiver's voice was akin to a worm slowly trailing across the interior of one's skull "You don't look very well"

It inched forward, its tentacles writhing and smacking against the dirt as the terrified lammasu quivered.

"Where are my elements, General?"

"They...they..." Carthage stared up at the towering demon he'd pledged allegiance to "They were too strong"

"Were they now?" The Deceiver sighed, its six eyes opening and closing out of sync "You were meant to bring them to fetlock, Carthage" It leaned forward, staring into the lammasu's wide, sunken eyes "I placed my faith in you and I was rewarded with failure"

"My lord, please...I won't fail you again"

"Correct" A pulsating tentacle danced in front of Carthage and began glowing.

"Carthage....it would seem you've forgotten" The Deceiver's face was dreadfully calm as the tentacle pointed forward, directly at the lammasu's face and began splitting off into two, then four, then forty.

"When you fail me, general..." it mused "...you only get to do it...once"

The mass of tentacles shot forward like a hellish blanket and swiftly filled up the screaming general's mouth, nostrils, ears and eye sockets. Kicking and flailing, the lammasu was lifted into the air like a morbid puppet. His body swelled and shook, his size and shape rapidly changing as The Deceiver watched and laughed.

"Only once!"

With a truly disgusting sound, like wet mess spilled across a floor, the body of Carthage exploded, scattering his remains across the general area. At the sight of fresh meat, swarms of ghouls leapt forward and glutted themselves on the mess in front of them.

"A shame" The Deceiver sighed, without a hint of remorse "He had great potential. Not that it really matters" It looked again at the mass of living terror above them.

"I shall not abandon my dream. Nothing can stop me now. Nothing can stop..."


"MAREPHISTALLION!"

The furious cry of an alicorn thundered across the landscape as Laurelore slammed into the ground before him, blade at the ready, eyes blazing with righteous fury.

Marephistallion the Deceiver laughed, clapping its clawed hands sardonically.

"Princess Laurelore the Firsticorn. How marvellous. You're just in time to witness your precious Equestria swallowed up and digested. Just picture what I did to Lickety-Split but...to absolutely everything!"

"Go to Tartarus, monster!" the alicorn yelled.

"No need, my dear" the demon chuckled "Tartarus is coming to me!"

One hand rose above its head, displaying the creature of the void slowly making its way into the world.

"The Monstrositor is unstoppable. In mere minutes, it will envelop the world, leaving behind a realm made in my image"

Laurelore's crimson mane bristled with flames.

"You're insane!" she bellowed.

The Deceiver shrugged nonchalantly.

"So what?"

With a roar, Laurelore shone her horn and blasted a ray of white-hot magic at the demon before her.

The ray stopped before it hit her target, slamming against an invisible shield and fading to nothing.

"Nah-ah-ah" the demon held up one claw mockingly "The pact still stands. You cannot harm me"

"That doesn't mean I can't stop you"

Marephistallion threw back its head and cackled brazenly.

"Fool! Alicorn or not, you're still just a worthless little equine who needs putting in her place. The Monstrositor was born and crafted to withstand magic, to drain it and leave this world bare. It is a beast you cannot slay, a weapon you cannot resist and I...I command it!" It spun around on its tentacles, rising to its furthest height, the amalgamation of flesh cast from Tartarus dwarfing the alicorn princess.

"I am Marephistallion the Deceiver! I am the hole in reality itself! I am beyond all magic! No Element can harm me! What will you do, Laurelore?! What can one insignificant little pony do to m-"

Its diabolical boast was cut short as, Laurelore could scarcely believe it herself, an actual motorbike and rider slammed into the demon's face, sending it sprawling across the ground, writhing with shock and anger as the vehicle did several 360's and stopped before them. The rider, a scruffy brown stallion in a woolly trench-coat and stripy scarf, coolly removed his 3-D glasses and answered.

"That!"

"You!" Laurelore cried out.

"YOU!" Marephistallion bellowed.

"Me"

The Stallion Who Stops The Monsters prepared to put his name to the test as he withdrew his sonic screwdriver and emitted a sonic pulse at the Monstrositor. The scream it produced was greater than the loudest thunderclap and the Doctor was almost certain his ears were bleeding. He wasn't about to let that bother him.

Around them, tentacles the size of tree trunks were spat out from the churning, otherworldly fiend, crashing into the ground and locking themselves in place. The Monstrositor was losing its grip. It was trying to hold on.

It wouldn't help.

"You!" Marephistallion rose, shaking with rage at the sight of the intruder in time.

"YOU! LITTLE! PEST!"

A gust of white, gold and red flew between the demon and the Doctor as Laurelore held off her terrible foe with powerful defence spells, still unable to directly harm it.

"Doctor!" she yelled over the chaos of the battle "I may not want to really know the answer to this but what the heck are you doing?!"

"Well, Laurie," the Doctor said, his all-too-familiar, death-defying grin plastered giddily across his face.

"I am a pony of science, a pony of great learning, a thinker, a wise pony and I'll be honest with you, your highness..." He stared up at the Monstrositor "I haven't got a bloody clue!"

Revving up his bike and speeding off in a wheelie, he aimed for the tentacle.

"'Ello beastie! Let's dance!" He closed his eyes.

Laurelore, Marephistallion, the Elements and, in general, all those present at the Battle of Faceless Rock, watched stunned as the mysterious time travelling pony rode vertically up the creature's tentacle, going for its mouth.

Sonic Screwdriver at the ready, the Doctor boldly uttered his favourite catch-phrase at the top of his voice.

"ALLONS-Y!"


*


Unlike Flash Sentry, Mayor Mare had not drunk so much that she felt hung-over in the morning. She was, however, dying for a morning cup of tea. Swathed in a periwinkle dressing-gown, made her way down to the kitchen, greeted to the smell of crumpets.

There was only one pony allowed inside her house who made crumpets in the mornings.

"Good morning, honey" A pretty lime-green head loomed in beside the Mayor and kissed her fondly on the cheek, passing her a steaming cup of tea.

"Liddy!" Mayor Mare, or Merry Weather when she was at home, brightened up at the sight of her wife, Lady Justice, outdoing herself in the kitchen "You weren't expected until next week"

"I just got back. Things sorted themselves out early" She threw down the Canterlot Gazette triumphantly "The Princess made herself heard this time. The Cult of Piggsicorn is no more and I tell you, Merry, I want to get that fiasco out of my mind" She shook her head, her swirly auburn mane bouncing between her ears "If you'd heard the insults, the threats they gave me, I know you would've knocked their teeth out"

"Oh come here" Merry wrapped her forelegs around her wife's shoulders and nuzzled her lovingly.

"I missed you, darling"

They kissed before sitting down to Lady's freshly-made breakfast.

"How are the foals?" Lady asked, tucking into a crumpet with great enthusiasm.

"Just wonderful. I checked up on them in Trottingham last week at the Academy. Silver Birch got very high marks in her last flight test. Sycamore is going out with Juniper Berry, you know, the green unicorn with the blue hair-buns. And Mahogany's gotten the lead role in the Syllabus Skittleby play this Winter Wrap-Up"

"Aah" Lady Justice indulged in a sigh of comfort "Just what I needed to come home to. Speaking of plays, tell me about the Rejuvenation Theatre and the little miracle in Ponyville"

"Oh you heard about that, did you?" Mayor Mare chuckled as she finished off a grapefruit "Well, here's what happened..."

Merry Weather regaled in detail the events of the Rejuvenation Theatre three nights ago.

By the end of it, Lady Justice was shaking her head in wonder, chuckling.

"And all this in a single night?" she gasped "Honestly, Merry, you make my month look calm in comparison"

"Yes but that's not all..." Mayor Mare leaned over the breakfast table and spoke quieter "Just last night, I met a member of Derpy's extended family"

"I didn't know she had any"

"Well you're about to find out why she never told anyone"

With an altogether more serious tone, Merry Weather explained what had taken place the night before.

Once she was finished, her wife sat open-mouthed staring into the bottom of her teacup.

"I can't believe anypony would treat her family like that" she murmured "It's ridiculous. It's like something out of those Plot Thickens books Mahogany likes.

"I know. Ghastly" Merry Weather said "I felt quite sick"

"Well..." Lady Justice leaned over and ruffled her wife's mane tenderly "I'm glad you sent her on her way. I'm very proud of you" She sat back in her chair and thought back "In fact, just before I left Canterlot, Countess Magnifying Glass's husband, Nitpick the Lord Magistrate, tried to pin me down and make me answer for what he called 'harassment and threatening behaviour'"

"Oh Liddy," Merry Weather covered her mouth in worry "I'm sorry...I didn't mean for this to involve you"

"It's okay, dear. I didn't let him get to me. And I was going to find out what really happened back here anyway. Now, Merry," She looked up and pushed her teacup aside "I understand why you and the mares would want to keep this to yourselves but I really think it would be better to tell somepony. If not Celestia then Derpy herself"

"It's fine. I kind of expected this" Merry said dismally "Believe me, there's nothing I'd like more than to see the Countess and her cronies behind bars but I don't want to think about what it could do to that poor old pegasus. Stress and bad memories are not the sort of thing a mentally handicapped mother needs"

"Let's get the town council together this afternoon. They'll sympathise with Derpy, they've got no reason not to" Lady Justice suggested "And they know Derpy. Tall Order and Raindrops are her work colleagues, Cheerilee and Pokey Pierce grew up with her and Doctor Horse and Nurse Redheart have been like parents to her. You know them all to be reasonable ponies, why else would you appoint them?"

Merry sighed.

"Alright, but right now our top priority in this case is ensuring that Derpy is not under any anxiety. It won't be easy but we need to make sure she's alright"

"And if we can't?" Lady asked.

"Then there's always the Doctor"


'Ding'

The muffins were ready.

Oven mitts fitted around her hooves, Derpy Doo carefully removed the tray out the oven and set to removing the piping hot muffins one by one. Dinky watched with wide, curious eyes from her seat on the kitchen table.

"Heeeeere we go" Derpy leaned forward and showed her foal "That's one muffin. That's two" she counted as she placed the muffins in a large basket "That's three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Ten tasty little muffins"

Dinky gave a excited burble of foal-talk.

"Don't worry, Dinky" she smiled at her foal, barely a week old "Doc should be here any minu..." she paused, grinned and spun round to the living room doorway where, as she expected, stood bedraggled but merry Doctor Whooves.

"Intruder!" she cried.

"How'd he get in?" the Doctor asked to which they both answered at once.

"'Intruder' Window!" The roommates burst out laughing as Dinky clapped her hooves, not quite understanding the joke but happy to see her mother and guardian so happy.

"You're just in time for muffins" Derpy pulled out a chair and offered the basket

"That's fast becoming my favourite time, Derpy" the Doctor sat down "Next to the Day It Rained Jammy Dodgers in Hyrax City"

He shook off his coat and scarf upon the chair and helped himself to a banana-nut muffin. While Derpy was on maternity leave, Mayor Mare and the town council had provided her with suitable accommodations. Doctor Whooves had offered to pay for expenses. One day, Derpy knew, the time travelling stallion would emerge from the blue box with pockets full of ancient treasure and his tail scorched by dragon fire. He'd been known to go to such lengths for those he cared about.

"So how was your day, Doc?" she asked.

"Well..."

"How...HOW?!" Marephistallion crawled along the floor, the lower half of its body torn off along with every measure of demonic energy upon the field as the Monstrositor's dead visage faded into dust in the rosy morning sky.
The Great Rejuvenator stood above him, sword raised. Behind her, Aurora, the Element of Magic, lay on the ground, watching quietly while her friends tended to her wounds sustained from battle and torture. Elsewhere on the field, the stallion who'd brought down Marephistallion's world, rested against the motorbike, bleeding from countless injuries sustained in the Monstrositor's maw.

"You haven't guessed?" Laurelore asked, her voice dripping with loathing and disgust for the demon who'd taken so much from those she loved "I didn't want to do it but you left me no choice. And that was your downfall. When you forced me to put Lickety-Split out of her misery, her essence, her strength, her will to fight and her freedom from you resided in my Equis Blade. It wasn't me cutting you to pieces there, Marephistallion, the pact still stood. It wasn't me, it was Lickety. You remember? Weak, scared, silly, little Lickety that you tortured and mutated and laughed at. She beat you in the end! They all beat you! All the ponies you slaughtered and tormented! Twinkle Wish and Wisteria, Nanny Storytime and Big Teddy, Anemone and Acacia, Ozymandias and Whimsy Weatherby, Jungle Run and Old Gatsby! They beat you! You killed them all, you laughed as you killed them all but they still beat you! Just as they said they would! How does that make you feel?!"

"Shut up!" the demon shrieked "Shut up!" Hissing and spitting, the Deceiver made one last show of power now taken from it.

"I AM MAREPHISTALLION! I AM THE DECEIVER! I AM-"

"You Are Finished!" The great Equis Blade rose and spun in front of Laurelore's face as her horn lit up the sky. A great tower of light shot into the stratosphere, billowing away the clouds above before an immense wave of magical energy burst from her body and swept across the battlefield.

"My fallen friends and family, hear me. I release your essence to Paradise and bless you all for getting us this far. May you gallop free forever in the Eternal Vale" her eyes, burning and flickering with fury, set upon the demon.

"Marephistallion! I banish you to the deepest pits of Tartarus!"

Laurelore's command was matched in volume by Marephistallion's final scream. As the magic light bathed his body, the Doctor's plentiful injuries healed. All over the area, those who had taken wounds found themselves invigorated as their princess, at long last, ended the reign of Marephistallion. More tired than he'd ever been but immeasurably proud, Doctor Whooves managed to smile.

"You tell 'em, girl"

"Oh...you know" the Doctor shrugged.

"The usual"