• Published 1st Feb 2017
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Knights of the Realm - Kinni


Sunset, Trixie and Twilight were chosen as Celestia's apprentices, but they also choose to become Knights, protectors of Equestria. They are prepared for that, but Equestria is probably not prepared for them.

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Advanced Training
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Author's Note:

Back home with a new chapter!

Also, there's just one more chapter of training before we get to the plot of the arc.

Are you excited? You should be.

Fluttershy woke up. She took a moment to realize that she was in her bed instead of lying down in one of the practice fields. The pegasus got up, ignoring her aching body, and did her usual morning routine, including doing all the tasks necessary for the animals. It took a lot less time than it did before she became Twilight's apprentice, because now she could instruct the animals well enough for them to help.

After that, and after assuring her friends that she was fine, Fluttershy took off towards the usual meeting place.

Her animal friends had once again tried to convince her to stop going through that training, considering how much she seemed to be suffering with it.

They just couldn't understand how it could be worth it. And it wasn't strange that the pegasus wasn't able to explain things to them, because she barely could understand it herself. But Fluttershy had no intention of giving up. All those terrifying trainings were serving as a grind on her own soul, but what was grinded away wasn't identity, courage or anything that she actually wanted to keep, instead she felt like momentarily her being was cleared of doubt, fear and those kinds of things.

It didn't take long for them to come back, but Fluttershy started feeling more and more like they weren't as important and central to her sense of self as she thought, like her purest version was someone who wasn't held back due to them, and like she was getting closer to that version in her struggles.

There was no way she would give up on that.

And she didn't know their reasons, but from what she could feel from her fellow apprentices, they wouldn't give up either.

Her will focused, she kept going.

-

Rainbow Dash was the first to get there, as always. But this time all three of the Knights appeared together (In one of their team poses, just to remain in practice) which meant that this time they wouldn’t be getting the standard lessons.

The rest of the apprentices showed up one at a time, and the Knights waited patiently until they were all ready before Sunset started talking.

“All three of us are very proud of you girls.” She smiled “You have endured this harsh and unfamiliar training, and your basic skills have reached a standard beyond any ordinary ponies. With this, you are qualified to start the advanced training.”

The five apprentices cheered, Fluttershy even managing to reach a volume that was particularly out-of-character for her. They knew that things would probably get even harder from then on, but the simple fact that they had received such recognition from their demanding teachers meant more than even themselves thought possible.

Trixie waited until the celebration had died down before speaking up.

“Since you’ve been training your souls recently, our first new lesson should feel familiar to you.” She waited a moment to let them focus on her words “Today you start the training to learn the technique of Overdrive.”

The reactions to this news varied. Rainbow Dash was eager, knowing this meant the ability to do a lot more awesome than normal. Fluttershy was hesitant, since she remembered the results from when the three had done it to stop Discord. Pinkie Pie was curious, figuring this was a part of the secrets of the Knights they had heard about. Rarity was determined, understanding that this was something she had to learn if she hoped to become a Knight. And Applejack was calm, believing that she just had to deal with things as they came.

Nodding at them Twilight took her part of the explanation.

“Essentially, what the Overdrive does is using a direct focus of will in order to instanteneously draw a large amount of magic from the soul.” She made a diagram of a pony and their soul appear “The will part is simple and well-known. Heroes are frequently born when normal ponies become particularly determined for some reason, só their will allows them to ignore the stress and damage they are causing to their own bodies and keep drawing more and more magic from their souls, to perform extraordinary feats.” The diagram changed, showing waves of magic coming out of the soul and parts of the pony’s body blackening “Of course, this also means they suffer significant injuries in the process.”

The diagram changed again, turning into a unicorn who could be recognized as Sunset by the cutie mark.

“The key to the technique is actually your magical control. As you know, chanelling magic via every single part of the body instead of focusing on a single part will give you more time before you reach the limits of the body.” This time, the soul in the diagram gave off small arrows of magic that spread themselves equally throughout the entire body “To use Overdrive, you need enough control over your magic to be able to channel it through the entire body even while drawing a huge amount all at once.”

Then the diagram changed yet again, showing Sunset’s brain “And for the part of actually drawing huge amounts of magic at once, this is where the direct focus comes in.” Inside the brain appeared an immensely complex compacted formula, similar to a magic formula, but different “You need enough mental discipline to be able to create this focus formula that will interact directly with your soul and pull out a precise amount of power. With enough training, you’ll be able to judge exactly how much power to pull, and how to adjust the formula instantly to draw the exact amount needed.”

Then the diagram changed yet another time, showing Sunset flexing her muscles.

“Finally, even with all of that, you need to have a body strong enough to be able to draw a significant amount of magic power without causing serious injury.” Twilight made the image vanish “You haven’t gotten to the Knight standard in physical training yet, nor soul or mental training, but it should already be enough to control and use small Overdrives to practice. Any questions?”

Rarity raised her hoof "This seems a little... too simple, darling."

Twilight nodded "It really seems like that, doesn't it. But that is misleading." Twilight returned to her lecturing tone "Similar techniques have been created by many groups throughout history, but all of them were flawed in some way. Sometimes there wasn't enough focus on the training of the body. Sometimes the mental focus was too complex, or not versatile enough, sometimes the technique for channeling magic wasn't up to par." Twilight sighed "This Overdrive is the result of countless years of research and development dedicated to making it reasonably safe to use."

The white unicorn could tell that Twilight had strong opinions about that.

"Anyway." Sunset said "We should start already. First you need to memorize the focus formula." She created five of the formulas in the air, which them started to shine with a glow of heat "Thankfully, I have a good spell to help with that. Be ready, this is going to be unpleasant." Then she shot the five formulas directly at the heads of the apprentices.

We draw the curtain over the scenes where the apprentices learned firsthoof the true meaning of a "headache".

-

But the Knights had decided that it would work better to teach several things at once to the apprentices, including:

-

"And that's why it's important to learn about mental defenses." Twilight said, finishing a frankly horrifying lecture on the dangers of not having protection against mental intrusion.

The apprentices looked a little sick, specially because the purple unicorn had said all that in such a bland tone that it felt like she didn't place appropriate importance on how scary that all had been.

"You don't need to worry too much." Twilight reassured them "Perfectly protecting your mind is actually relatively easy, to the point that even ponies without the mental strength of Knights learn how to do it, like the Princess's special researchers, as well as important ambassadors." She saw they were still hesitant, so she kept going "That's because it's your mind, so you have full control over it. Simple barriers don't cut it because by their own nature they can be overcome with enough power, so the trick is creating a defense that can deal with all sorts of trickery attackers might use, taking advantage of your full control and your particular tendencies."

The five seemed to have calmed down, and some of them (notably Fluttershy) even looked interested, so Twilight kept going:

"Sunset for example had a mind that's like a galaxy, full of black holes, stars releasing blasts of radiation and other dangers, and the information is hidden within distant and well protected planets. Trixie has a world of mirrors, where illusions abound and it's easy to lose sight of who you really are and actually give up information to her. As for myself, my defenses are like my mindscape once its been messed up, and to find anything there, you need to make sense of a lot of things."

The apprentices shuddered.

"Try to think of something that works for you and then we'll practice." She started charging magic "Don't worry, I have memory charms to make me forget anything embarassing I find out."

They failed to be reassured by that.

-

As well as other useful stuff like the domain expansion. And of course...

-

"As Knights, you'll need to be prepared for anything. As such, I'll teach you purely physical combat. For most, it will mean selecting an appropriate martial art for you to learn and giving you the opportunity to train it to the right standard." Sunset Shimmer said to the apprentices.

Rainbow Dash raised her hoof"I already train in a martial art, taekwondo."

"In that case, you'll just need help altering it to become perfectly suited to your body and capabilities, and experience using it in the level of combat the Knights are involved in." Sunset answered smoothly.

"What are the styles of ya three?" Applejack asked, curious.

"Well, I actually studied lots of martial arts, which is why I can help choose for you, and I use whatever is appropriate for the occasion. Trixie has something of her own invention, that revolves around understanding the flow of movements of the opponents to attack when they are vulnerable. And Twilight's... thing, is something irreplicable where she can jump in the middle of opponents, flail around and somehow get an advantage." She looked at Pinkie "Maybe you will be the same way, but we'll have to see." The two earth ponies nodded.

"So first, I'll have you try and attack me physically in whatever manner seems most natural to you, so that I can understand your preferences and strengths." She looked at her personal apprentice "Dash, you go first."

A few minutes later, Twilight came to bring the five to their next training session, and saw they were all lying on the ground, unconscious. She looked to her partner.

"Are you sure you're not still annoyed that Trixie used the magical formation before you?" She asked pointedly.

Sunset put a hoof behind her head "Perhaps a little..." She said, sheepishly.

-

But of course, the most important part was their individual training.

-

"Hey, Dash. What's biting you?" Sunset asked "Sometimes you look a little frustrated in training."

The pegasus looked at her, opened her mouth, closed it again and thought for a little while. Then she started talking with a small hint of hesitation.

"It's like... I can feel there's something I should be able to do when I get close to my limits... But everytime I get there, it feels like there's something missing and I can't do it."

Sunset took that in and thought about how to respond to that.

"These things tend to work out eventually." She said "Keep trying but don't get too hung up on that, maybe you just need some more battle experience or something."

Rainbow nodded thoughtfully.

"And how are the Rainbow Punches coming along?" Sunset asked innocently.

Rainbow Dash grinned at her "I'd say they are coming along really well."

Sunset grinned back.

-

"And what are you having trouble with, exactly?" Twilight asked her pegasus apprentice.

"There's just so many options!" Fluttershy whined cutely "I keep thinking of all sorts of ways to use my empathy magic. I could reproduce the abilities of my animal friends, or read the intentions of opponents, or ask objects to do things for me..." She looked a little desperate "I don't know what to focus on!"

Twilight put a hoof on the shoulder of her apprentice "Calm down a little..." She waited a bit "You don't need to get too worried about choosing perfectly. There are no emergencies going on, and you'll have time to try a few of them. Choose one randomly and get going."

Fluttershy took a deep breath and smiled at her "Thank you. I think I'll do that." She looked thoughtful for a moment "I think I got a good name for my empathy abilities." The pegasus had thought hard about it, since Twilight had been very insistent that a cool name was absolutely crucial to any ability,

"Really!" Twilight smiled disturbingly broadly "What is it? What is it?"

Fluttershy was mostly used to the antics of her teacher, so she simply answered "Empathy Drive."

The pegasus saw that it was a good one because Twilight's smile somehow became even broader.


-

"How is your development going?" Trixie asked Applejack.

"Mah ability ta see weakpoints is getting better, but Ah still have a long way ta go before it becomes reliable." the earth pony answered.

"Seems nice. Trixie hopes you manage it soon, because the next topic is something she can help a lot more easily."The unicorn closed her eyes in thought.

"Ya mean trying ta see the opponents intentions? That really seems like something ya would help a lot with." Applejack agreed.

And then, Trixie finally finished the spell she had been charging for the last five minutes.

"A perfect illusion exists on all levels...

"Perfect Illusion: Dark World!" Trixie cast the spell.

Applejack focused, looking for the weakpoint in this new, complex illusion.

-

Pinkie Pie was training her emotion magic under the careful supervision of Twilight.

She focused on her joy and tried to transpose the feeling into the same physical space her magic took. She was getting closer and closer to it, but also closer and closer to reaching her limits in terms of concentration and endurance.

Suddenly, she felt a change, and chanelled her magic into a stomp.

After a moment of thought, she raised her hoof and a ballon that had appeared below it flew up to the sky.

"Congratulations!" Twilight cheered.

Pinkie smiled, then adopted a questioning expression.

"Twi, I remember you mentioning something about dark magic being based on negative emotion..." Twilight looked at her intently "Then, is what I'm doing light magic?"

"NO." Twilight said with great vehemence.

Pinkie was surprised, and looked at her teacher questioningly. Twilight explained:

"Emotion magic is based upon turning emotions into power, both positive and negative emotions, without any difference." She looked serious "Dark and Light magic is based upon synchronicity." She took a deep breath "This means that these magics warp the soul in favor of the type of emotion, forcing a connection between the soul and the emotion, creating a feedback loop that creates power, but makes it harder and harder for the user to remember the original state of their soul, until they become unable to change back." Twilight looked down "Doing so with positive emotions is in fact even more dangerous, because you end up desiring to use it more."

Pinkie looked ill at the thought of soul warping magic.

"Light magic is a lot less used than dark magic, because every one who used it in history ended up losing control. Some dark magic users managed to avoid that fate, which is one of the reasons why Luna thought she could handle using it."

Pinkie nodded and decided to go back to practice.

She understood Twilight's reaction now.

-

Trixie enjoyed watching Rarity's creative process.

The white unicorn was holding several books containing ilustrations and information about magical weapons and artefacts created by masters, looking at each of them and also making, modifying and unmaking several models, some of weapons, some of armor and some of other kinds of artefacts. And once in a while she also took a piece of paper and wrote a design on it.

The pile of designs was already significant.

But eventually Rarity slowed down and put everything away, breathing hard. She looked at Trixie.

"Seems like you have a lot of ideas." The showmare pre-empted student.

"Yes. A fabulous amount! And I already know what's the first project I want to create." She smiled "There's only one thing missing..."

"What?" Trixie asked, knowing that was what Rarity wanted.

"I need to learn a lot about wind spells to be able to enchant the materials correctly." Rarity said with a slight smile.

Trixie shook her head and started drawing a spell formula in the air.

She would have to look in the library for the advanced book of spells later, but she knew enough to start.

-

And so, time passed. And the Knights felt like their apprentices were ready to take their training one step further.

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