• Published 8th Jan 2017
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The Lunar Chalice - Spirals95



A magical chalice prized to Princess Luna has resurfaced in the collection of a wealthy Griffon family. To retrieve the enchanted cup, she sends one of her followers and his friends. But some of Equestria's enemies have plans for the chalice.

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Chapter 44 - Fire and Fate

Chapter 44

Reality in the Valley Castle was beginning to rip apart at the seams as Sombra's almighty power reached its apex while dueling the group of ponies struggling to bring him down. Ignoring the laser bolts, shadow bombs, and orange bars of music magic impacting his magical shielding, the king's glowing red eyes and veins like magma burned through the room. Bricks vanished, replaced by pitch dark vortexes of swirling energy, soon the entire room was nothing but a darkened cylinder with no floor, the only lighting the ponies' attacks and the thin membrane of magic that still lead to the outside reality if even that could be trusted.

“There's no floor,” Flaming Ivory exclaimed, kicking his legs as fast as he could, “but we aren't falling?”

“All of this is an illusion,” Techorse reminded him, still trying to knock out Sombra's shields with repeated hits from his energy weapons, “except for Sombra! Keep firing!”

“I think I've had enough of your friends interrupting our confrontation, Midnight Blaze,” Sombra said in a demonic voice that he remembered from his dreams, “let me dispose of them and then finish ending you and your pathetic father!”

The monster of a stallion flew around with a trail of orange and red plasma trailing behind him, in the darkened world created by his mind and magic he truly was a king. After ascending out of the way of the blue crescents and flamethrower cast by the father and son, Sombra's horn shot out a trio of black, smokey clouds which condescend into three oblong projectiles racing for Techorse and company.

“Oh man, what are those?!” Shadow Breeze whimpered.

“Valid targets,” answered Techorse.

He turned his shots away from King Sombra, giving him the needed time to restore his defenses. The line of laser beams walked over two of the three incoming torpedoes of dark magic, striking them in the tip and detonating them in front of their intended targets. The third one nearly made it to them as well, but Flaming Ivory was able to contribute with a strong blast of orange energy, shattering the projectile.

“Techorse, continuing to be a pain in my flanks! Your time has come, fool!” declared the king, swinging his horn in a long arc just like Midnight.

The three stallions realized they had a lethal arc of orange energy coming right for them, with enough heat and force to bisect their poor bodies if it managed to hit. Techorse ordered the group to split up, and they ran in mid air as if on ground to avoid the moon-shaped spell, which smacked into the void walls of the room and vanished. This left the ponies in a rough diamond formation in the space, with Sombra at the back, Midnight and Ignitus opposite them with Techorse at their flank, and the other two stallions at the sides.

“It's too late, the missile is already beginning its climb,” Sombra laughed, pointing down below to the rising weapon trailing bright white exhaust, “Once it reached maximum speed it'll melt you, and bring me total victory over the Crystal Empire! The Shadow Ponies will HAVE THEIR REVENGE!

Techorse called him out on it, “They would Sombra, if it wasn't for the fact that we sabotaged the missile!”

What?” the King growled with reverberation in his voice, “Explain!”

“We loaded the fuel up with a potion created by the Lunar Chalice that erases Shadow Pony essence on contact,” Techorse continued, “when that missile hits the Crystal Empire, your Afradium bomb will be wiped out by a coating of that potion! You'll never be able to set hoof in the imperial border again.”

“Potion...” Midnight trailed off, “is that how you guys...”

“Cured you? You can thank Rosseth, he made it!” confirmed his friend, smiling confidently.

“Rosseth betrayed me?!” hissed the King of Shadows, “I'll send him a message the same way I invaded your mind, Midnight.”

He then stood still, and closed his eyes, reaching out with his magical senses. When he opened them again, he maliciously bared his fangs in a wicked smile.

“Oh... his mind has been voided save for his final memories,” he taunted gently, “He's dead. How fitting for a backstabbing half-pony like him.”

The sudden vacuum of morale in the room was palpable, Techorse and Midnight felt the rage accumulating in their hearts, and Flaming Ivory would have too if he hadn't been spending his rage on his spells. Of course, none of those present in the room seemed to believe Sombra, knowing the entire chamber itself was a mental illusion.

“...and what a final moment it was too... killed by your very own Princess Cadance!

“You Liar!” Shadow Breeze snapped, his amulet responding with a shimmer of red light, “Cadance would never do such a horrible thing!”

“I gather you believe I'm deceiving you to shatter your resolve, but it doesn't benefit me to lie about his passing,” King Sombra said in response before laughing out what he had seen, “how heartbroken his sweetie will be when she discovers her new beau is dead! How will a Crystal Pony react to her own princess being her best friend's murderer?”

THAT'S ENOUGH! shouted Midnight at the top of his voice before unloading a ray of solid energy at Sombra.

Sombra's horn and eyes reacted with a sinister glow, drawing out a floating sword cast from dark magic that glowed at the blade with a color and texture like lava. Midnight strained to maintain his strong magic beam, but found that Sombra was trivially cutting through it to avoid being hit.

“Neither you nor your pathetic father can win, Midnight Blaze!” Sombra shouted from behind his sword, “So what if the missile will cleanse the Crystal Empire? It's effects will not last forever, and I'll take control the minute it wears off!”

Techorse motioned to his friends to fire back at Sombra and give him more threats to worry about. But the king picked up on his plot, and six long silver and black chains snaked out from his horn, wrapping themselves around the legs of the ponies and dragging them together. Flaming Ivory tried to shoot the ethereal bonds, panicking when the segment connected to him just absorbed his magic as if it were nothing. Below them, the missile had started to gain speed and was traveling up the seemingly bottomless tube to reach them. Ignitus could see the rocket coming and wiggled against the force of the chains which sapped at his magic and dug into his flesh, but the magical summoned links were strong.

Now Sombra walked over to them, each hoofstep supported by a black ripple of space in front of him, and a deadly look in his eyes that signaled his intent. The hum of his sword could be heard by Midnight, chained next to his father intentionally so that they would have to witness their ends together.

“Those cursed chains will keep you still while I deal the traditional punishment to the enemies of my bloodline,” the fallen unicorn explained, bringing his blade to a horizontal angle and continuing to walk forward, “all five of you will be beheaded.”

None of the chained ponies could see a way out of their perilous situation. They were in Sombra's world, the realm dark magic where the rules were made by the king's whims. Every second brought his sword closer to their necks, which were exposed for the king by the chains moving down around their bodies, “listening” to their controller's will.

Flaming Ivory swallowed hard and looked at his three friends, “Well fellas, I guess this is it. We had some pretty crazy times together, didn't we?”

“We did,” agreed Shadow Breeze, trying not to cry.

Techorse added with a tearful sigh, “I'm blessed to have had three great friends like you guys. I'm sorry I got you into this.”

“No,” Midnight said, hanging his head, “this was my doing. I stopped loving my family, and gave in to darkness. I hope you understand. And dad?”

Ignitus felt his aura reach into the chains, and discovered something kept hidden deep within the enchanted summoned object. He looked quickly at Sombra, who bared his fangs at him again, and then once more down at the missile which was just a few hundred meters away, its rumble starting to fill the chamber. The detective managed to turn himself to look his son in the eye as he requested. Those beautiful, turquoise eyes so different from his own ones of ember, and his facial features that reminded him of himself growing up. The magic burning within him, and the personality and maturity he had acquired. Ignitus then heard the sweetest words come from the son he had the honor of parenting.

I love you dad.

Unable to move his hooves to embrace him again, Ignitus gave his son a proud, subtle smile with just enough emotion to let Midnight know he understood. Then he looked back over his shoulder one more time at the king, who added more fiery energy to his sword from his wicked curved horn, and prepared to swing it in a wide slash to end them all.

Ignitus snapped back to Techorse and asked, “Techorse, did you say your missile will erase Shadow Pony essence when it explodes?”

“Yes, but...”

The detective breathed in relief and said to Midnight plainly, “Take care of your mother and Twinken for me, Midnight.”

His son's eyes widened, “What?!

Ignitus's horn shot a backwards spark of orange energy into the chains behind him, lightning them up in a bright flaming glow that shattered his own bonds, leaving pieces of the chains hanging off of his legs. Sombra yelled in fury and charged, hoping to cut them down, but the detective had planned on it and jumped over the horizontal blow, sticking out his powerful front legs and taking Sombra down with a tackle, causing the two ponies to plunge Sombra-first towards the missile and dispelling the deadly sword. Ignitus intentionally let his fire magic spread around them as they plummeted, engulfing the two in orange and white flames that scorched their coats.

King Sombra looked back at the missile and screamed, “Ignitus you fool, you're a Shadow Pony as well! You'll only succeed in destroying us BOTH!”

“That's the idea, your Highness,” Ignitus Enflame laughed as he pulled back his front hoof, “you were dead the moment you took Midnight from me. You just didn't know it then.”

“Dad, NO!” shouted Midnight from above, joining the horrified looks of his friends.

With precise timing, Ignitus put his hoof through Sombra's face just as the missile's warhead hit the back of his head, punching him into the percussion cap and setting off the missile in a blinding white blast that expanding as a ball of thermal cleansing magic.

"IGNITUUUUUS!"

Sombra screamed like a banshee as his eye sockets and mouth blew out in geysers of white light, the monster's body disintegrating rapidly from Rosseth's potion wiping out the Shadow Pony essence.

DAD!” cried Midnight, trying to free himself from the chains which were rapidly falling apart.

Just as the ball of light started to engulf him, Ignitus Enflame turned around and gave his son Midnight Blaze one final look of pride before he too vanished in the expanding blast, his form becoming a silhouette that was wiped away by the blinding light. Knowing Midnight would suffer the same fate without protection, Techorse, Flaming Ivory, and Shadow Breeze flung themselves at their screaming friend and wrapped their bodies as best as they could, turning the world dark for him.


Techorse snapped to consciousness while lying on his back, coughing and sputtering from the smoke invading his lung tissue. He sat up on the dirty ground, his friends also regaining consciousness quickly. Midnight was the last to wake up, but soon he too had adjusted to the sudden brightness of the outside world. Looking around, Techorse could tell that they had been “moved” to the outside of the castle in the Valley of Shadows, which had been returned to the horrible, broken-down condition they had first found it in. The missile's explosion had not leveled the building as was expected, instead, Sombra's destruction had only resulted in the illusion of the castle's repairs being lifted. A thick column of fiery smoke coming from the observatory room, however, made it clear that the missile had indeed been destroyed. It would be a while before the castle would stop burning.

Midnight could only watch the fires with tears in his eyes.

“Midnight... I'm... I'm so sorry,” Techorse said, throwing a hoof around his downtrodden friend.

“Techorse, we can talk later,” he answered, lump in his throat.

Woof!

Perking up a bit, the sapphire stallion saw a familiar face running on all fours out of the castle. Dreamer had somehow survived the ordeal, and was heading his way with his little diary clamped firmly in his teeth!

“Dreamer?!” Midnight said, sniffling.

The little wolf pup reached his new master and dropped the book gifted to Midnight by his father at his hooves, after which he jumped up and lavished his master with kisses.

“Awww,” Shadow Breeze said, fluttering his wings, “what a sweet little wolfie he turned out to be!”

Midnight finished petting his wolf and then noticed the diary that had been dropped by the eager canine. A different feeling passed through his soul, and with his turquoise aura, the unicorn tucked it into a nearby burlap sack discarded on the ground. He slung it over his back and turned to leave the castle grounds.

“Let's get back to the Crystal Empire guys,” he said, trying to smile, “we need to let them know it's over! We won!”

“Don't bottle things,” Flaming Ivory grunted, “If you need time, Midnight.. we got time.”

Midnight Blaze turned around again and looked at each of his friends, “There's time later for me to be sad, and none of you should feel guilty about what happened to my dad. It's going to take time to heal, but we'll get past this together. Didn't we mean everything we said back there? We're all friends now... right?”

Techorse dried his own tears, “I think after all of this, we can safely say that we're all friends forlife. What do you think, guys?”

Unsurprisingly, the other two stallions agreed with a healthy nod. With their friendship confirmed for life, the four ponies and one small wolf pup left behind the smoldering castle and made their way back through the valley path with the taste of bittersweet in their hearts.


Where is he?!” Cadance floundered about in the air, every last physical attribute indicating she was a princess gone save her horns and wings.

No longer did her mane flow, no longer did she have any makeup on her face, the Princess of Love flew around with tears in her eyes, seeking out Rosseth. The river had certainly carried him far away if he was to be found at all, and the alicorn scanned each and every piece of her country for the zebra.

“Oh... no,” she whispered, having seen the striped figure washed up on a shallower patch.

The rain continued to pour around her, droplets striking the cobblestone ground, drowning out the sound of the river flowing. Cadance galloped up to Rosseth, who was slumped over on his side... unmoving.

“Ross! Rosseth!” she cried, grabbing the zebra, whose coat was wet with rain.

Shaking, Cadance's aura shot out to grab the zebra, picking him up and cradling his body like an infant. She brought him in front of her and sat down on her hind legs to hold the zebra in her hooves, his open eyes glazed over and lifeless. Cadance's eyes filled with bitter tears, and her throat plugged up.

“No,” whispered the beaten alicorn, “Rosseth, wake up... please.”

“Cadance, that's enough... Rosseth drowned.

She looked up to find Steady Hoof, who for once in his life seemed to have a touch of pity in his eyes, his own mane hair patted down by the heavy rain.

“I saw him wash up and did what I could, but... I can't treat this.”

“Steady,” sniffled the princess, refusing to look at him again, “you did what you could. Leave.”

The doctor obeyed the order in silence and left Cadance only with the zebra's body in her hooves. She made sure he was gone before pulling her hoof over Rosseth's eyes and closing them for good.

“I failed you, Rosseth. I'm so sorry... I'll never forgive myself. Ever.”

There was a sudden warm sensation on her shoulders. The rain had certainly stopped, which was strange. But looking back with her tear-flooded eyes, Cadance caught a glimpse of the Crystal Heart having finished its healing process. In the center of the spire, she could see the two halves of the artifact putting themselves back together with blue lightning dancing between them. When they connected, a bright ring of light shot out from the palace, sweeping through the land and blowing away the storm clouds. The waters receded from the streets, but the river remained significantly higher than usual. As expected of the Crystal Heart's power, Cadance saw her coat refracting light in a crystalline manner, and looking back from the Crystal Heart... so was her zebra.

“Honey,” came the voice of her husband behind her.

Cadance's ears twitched, “Oh, Shining Armor... my sweetheart.”

“We won!” he said quietly yet surely, giving her a loving look, “The golems are on our side now, the Crystal Heart is in one piece again, and everypony is accounted for. Why are you out here by the river crying?”

The princess put Rosseth down gently on the street and got up slowly, facing her husband. He had a glow about him that she remembered from the first day they met.

“Oh, Shining... he's... gone,” Cadance sobbed, running into his hooves at full speed, “and it's all my fault!”

Shining Armor, also shimmering with Crystal Magic, held her tight against his strong body, “Cadance... who's gone?”

His wife reacted in a funny way, pushing him out of the hug and looking back at where she had just been sitting.

Rosseth had vanished without a trace.

“Wh... what?” she trailed off, drying her eyes with her wing.

Princess Luna, Celestia, and Faerie Tail arrived on the scene along with another member of the Crystal Guard. They knew something had happened because of their new appearances, and Princess Luna had an idea as to what it was.

“Cadance, we have returned!” Princess Luna said, “King Sombra has been defeated!”

“Is that what this wave of Crystal Magic is about?” Cadance asked, “Are the Crystal Ponies safe, too?”

“Yes ma'am. All citizens have been accounted for... except for one,” said the Crystal Guard unicorn, “it would seem that Miss Lighthearted parted ways with the others escaping Sombra's castle. We don't know where she went.”

After letting the news sit for a while, Cadance looked out into the distance at the roads leading away from her empire and smiled softly,

“I do. I hope they're happy together.”

Shining Armor raised an eyebrow, “What?”

“Nothing, sugar, ignore what I said,” Cadance replied, kissing him quickly on the lips, “I've got something for us to 'talk' about later. You might like what I have to say.”

He quivered in anticipation, tail twirling up into a knot.

Limpwing and Arbiter came galloping along, Limpwing shouting, “Hey! Tech and his buddies are back, and they've got Midnight with them!”

MIDNIGHT!” Faerie Tail gasped, “He's okay?!”

Sure enough, the four stallions along with their new canine walked over the bridge crossing the Crystal River, and galloped up to the ponies standing in the glow of the palace. Midnight caught sight of his mother, nearly crying at the sight of his mom's emotional aura of relief.

“H.. hi mom,” he said, avoiding eye contact.

“Ohhhh, my sweet son!” she cried, walking quickly to him and grabbing him in the warmest hug he'd had in days, “You're alive and well! Oh, thank you thank you thank you Techorse!”

“Aw, Faerie Tail, I can't really take any credit...” he said, “it was a team effort.”

“Is it true, did you defeat King Sombra?” asked Princess Luna.

“Sombra has been defeated,” answered Techorse, avoiding taking credit for that as well, “I wasn't able to retrieve your chalice, however. I left in in Rosseth's hooves.”

As if answering his question, the Crystal heart flashed a bright light at the group of ponies, getting their attention. Down in a beam of light from its core, the artifact floated down the silver cup to Princess Luna, having retrieved it from inside the palace. Being nudged gently by Celestia, the reluctant Princess of the Night took her cup back with her magical aura.

“I suppose he... returned it,” Princess Luna said, “Techorse, what happened in King Sombra's castle? How was he defeated?”

Keeping his promise to Midnight, Techorse explained, “Rosseth created a potion using the Lunar Chalice that erases the magic King Sombra was using to try and conquer the Crystal Empire. We were able to use the potion to destroy the missile Sombra forced me to build.”

“So he changed?” Cadance asked, lip quivering.

“He did,” Techorse answered, “but he's...”

Princess Cadance shook her head gently, and Techorse let out a sigh of relief, “He's skipped town, hasn't he?”

“Well, considering he's a wanted felon now, probably,” Shining Armor said, rolling his eyes, “don't worry. If we catch him, we catch him. Glad to know he decided to do the right thing and help you take down Sombra.”

“Techorse,” Princess Luna said, approaching her friend, “you've gone the distance this time, and brought peace to the Crystal Empire by helping me retrieve my chalice, stop King Sombra, and restore harmony.”

“Twilight would have done it better,” he answered, winking.

“We'll see what her opinion on that is,” Princess Celestia said, winking, “all four of you have a lot to be proud of.”

“There will be medals,” Captain Arbiter chuckled, “lots of them.”

“I could go for some medals right now,” Flaming Ivory admitted, scratching himself behind the head.

“...and there'll be an extra special one for you, Shadow,” Limpwing said, “getting blown up is worth a ton of brownie points around here.”

The diplomat blushed, “Thanks, I think...”

Midnight Blaze felt guilty about everything, “Mom. I need to tell the princesses I'm sorry for causing all of this.”

“Don't you dare start that,” Shining Armor grumbled, “King Sombra took advantage of you, and that's that. We're not blaming anypony for what happened but him. Your dad had better not give you anymore trouble about it either.”

Being reminded of something, Faerie Tail let go of her son and asked, “Midnight... where is your father?”

The four stallions along with their dog looked at the ground, and avoided answering the question. All of the other ponies felt their warm feelings run dry too, and there was total silence in the courtyard of the Crystal Palace.

“M... mom,” Midnight said slowly, holding her closely again, “I... I'm sorry.”

Knowing what the answer was, her eyes and ears sunk, and she grabbed her son before crying into his hooves. The others bowed their heads and closed their eyes in respect for Ignitus. Arbiter turned away from the scene, cape swinging behind him, and Limpwing slunk away to follow her new partner wherever he was going. But even as he left, Faerie Tail found herself surrounded by the princesses, Techorse and his friends, and the others, who stood huddled around them in an act of love for her. And yet, something else besides their kindness let the gentle mother know that everything would be all right. Faerie Tail held her now crying son as close as she could.

“Everything's going to be okay, my sweet Midnight.”

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