• 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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The Empty Flame
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The six Knights appeared at their target, an empty field that was far from any cities or forests. Since this was definitely going to be one of the biggest points of conflict, the Knights had chosen it specifically because of those qualities.

"So, it's going to take an hour and a half for Flames of Annihilation to get here. Enough time to go over her abilities as a group, plan and prepare." Sunset said seriously.

"That's fair." Rainbow Dash said "So where do we start?"

"We should probably start with the most obvious part, the flames of annihilation that give her the title she has." Trixie decided.

"Okay. From what I understand, it can be considered a continuous spell. She creates the initial flame and keeps it burning by feeding it magic, but there are a few things to make note of." Sunset explained "The first is that she is not going to weaken at all. While using large scale destruction magic continuously would be impossible for most mages, forcing them to attack in discrete waves, recovering their magic in between each wave, which would give you gaps to exploit. Flames of Annihilation is not only a particularly powerful mage, but she is also using indiscriminate fire magic, and you know why fire magic is the type most often used as destruction magic, don't you?" She asked the others.

"It's because fire can get stronger by burning things, so if you want something destroyed, using fire means you don't need to use as much power, because part of the energy will be supplied by the simple act of having the fire burn whatever it is." Rarity answered "That also means it is harder to control fire magic perfectly, which I know very well because I'm having a lot of trouble trying to create my Fire Ruler Sword."

"Exactly. So that means even though she is causing a lot of destruction in a wide range, she is not actually exhausting herself because all this means she is not actually using all that much power to keep the spell going. Well... Not all that much power by her standards, while I, for example, would need an Overdrive to feed that sort of spell for half a minute." Sunset admitted with an embarrassed expression "This is not any more tiring for her than normal telekinesis would be for a normal unicorn, and considering that she can also use Trance Mode, or rather, the ancient version of Trance Mode... She is not going to get tired any time soon."

"Ancient version?" Pinkie asked.

"Yeah. This sort of techniques and spell are improved over time to become more powerful or easier to use, that is one of the duties of the department of extreme magical research. In this case, the old version used physical manipulation of one's own body in order to create the internal magic circle, while now this is done purely in energy terms." Sunset explained "It's not any more or less powerful, but it is definitely easier to use, doesn't hurt nearly as much, and doesn't have any chance of crippling you." She said blandly.

There was a moment of silence before Rainbow Dash tried to get things back on track "Too bad we don't have Spike with us, though." She said "His immunity to flame would come in handy."

Trixie shook her head "The notion that dragons are 'immune to flame' is one of those overstatement things. They certainly have a high natural degree of fire resistance, but the kind of flames that our enemy is capable of using goes way beyond what that resistance can withstand." She looked down "There are reports of Flames of Annihilation killing old salamander dragons, which are the dragons with the greatest fire resistance. Trixie is mostly glad Spike isn't here, actually."

There was another moment of silence, and this time it was Sunset herself who broke it "Moving on, there is actually some good news. It seems unlikely that Flames of Annihilation can use the more tricky elements of purification magic. There are no reports of she doing that after going to the evil side, and losing parts of yourself to get more power doesn't exactly make you better at the more subtle forms of magic. I wouldn't say it is impossible, but I would be very surprised if she did something like purify us of our desire to fight, which is the kind of thing she was capable of doing before."

"Purification magic sounds scary..." Pinkie said "And yet, I find myself interested in learning that kind of thing."

Sunset's eyes went wide "Ahh... Talk about this with Twilight later... Going back to business, the last thing we need to consider is her mastery of fleshmolding. Fleshmolding is a class 1 forbidden magic, which means the only records of its existence are incredibly classified, and only the Knights have permission to learn it, and even them need to ask the princesses in order to receive that permission." She shook her head "Not even the highest level magic researchers have the permission for more than simply knowing it exists."

Rainbow Dash sighed "I never understood those things. If a magic is forbidden, why would you teach it to anypony?"

Then she saw that her teacher was grinding her teeth, obviously annoyed 'Oh no. What did I say?' She thought.

"If you enter a store and see a door saying 'forbidden entry', does it mean no one can enter it ever?" Sunset asked in a deliberately calm tone.

Rainbow Dash was trying to decide how to answer when Sunset did so herself:

"No! Because forbidden in this case just means that most ponies can't enter under most circumstances!" Sunset ranted "It's the same with forbidden magic! That just means the average pony doesn't have permission to use it in average circunstances, but other ponies have!" It was clear this was a pet peeve.

"Understood." Rarity said "But why is fleshmolding forbidden, anyway?" She tried to change Sunset's focus.

The unicorn took a moment to calm down "There are two main reasons. The first is that you have two choices about how to learn it, either you kill a lot of ponies, or you have a great chance of dying yourself. The second is that even if you successfully learn fleshmolding, any mistakes can resulting in literally crippling yourself."

"Really?" Pinkie seemed a little green "Why would anypony use it, then?"

Sunset sighed "Because it is really effective in what it does. It is one of the best forms of healing magic that exists, and one of the few which actually works better on its own caster." She shook her head "Regardless, the point is that this magic gives Flames of Annihilation even more endurance, since she can recover from magic exertion using it. There is a limit, since that means using magic to recover damage caused by magic, but it is still something to make note of." Sunset sighed again "Even more pressing is the fact that she can use it to recover from most injuries. It is difficult to say how far this can go, but I would bet that any injury that doesn't kill her outright can be recovered from.

"And that's pretty much it." Sunset concluded "Does anypony have any ideas on dealing with her?"

Rarity nodded "I have finished making the Water Ruler Sword, and it is telling me that there is an underground river nearby. Using it I can get enough water to help deal with her fire."

Pinkie raised a hoof "And I think I should change the environment around us into things that don't burn easily, so that she doesn't have as much fuel for her fire magic."

Sunset looked approving "Both of those are good ideas. And of course, we should set up the most powerful magic circles we can here. I imagine the best thing to do would be divide them evenly between offensive and defensive circles."

And the discussion continued, as the Knights prepared for what could possibly be the hardest battle of their lives so far.

-0-

Spike and the three avatars of Luna were currently fighting. However, while to the casual eye, the fight may have seemed like a deadly battle, more experience watchers could see that all four of them were actually remarkably relaxed and casual, like what they were doing wasn't in fact a battle, but more like a chore that could be tiring but wasn't truly dangerous, something like spring cleaning.

"Darkness without stars! Dark Sky!" Dark Moon shouted, casting her magic.

The darkness of her magic covered the sky, casting a shadow on the entire area. Many of the shadow monsters were devoured by that new darkness, while the others frantically scrambled to try and get away.

The main reason why this was so easy for them was the fact that Dark Moon specialized in darkness magic, which is particularly effective against shadow magic (because darkness eats shadows), the same way shadow magic is effective on light magic (because light only makes shadows stronger) and light magic is effective against darkness magic (because light destroys darkness). If it was only a matter of shadow creatures, Dark Moon by herself would be enough to deal with it, as she had done often in the past. However, considering that a shard of chaos was involved, it was best to send others with her, and that had proven to be the right thing to do when they had faced the main focus of the shard.

"Moonlight Fury." Spike declared, using his draconic self magic to change his form.

This time, his body acquired an elegantly rounded appearance, he got slightly taller and his colors changed to variations on white. And perhaps the biggest change of all, two curved horns grew on his forehead. Spike started attacking soon after, by firing moonlight blasts that materialized on the space between his horns. Lightning Chaser was helping him by shooting several strands of green lightning, and both of them efficiently started getting rid of the rest of the shadows.

In general, shadow monsters weren't really all that strong. There were two reasons why they were usually threatening: The first was the fact that there was never a small number of them, instead there was always a ridiculous amount of monsters to fight everytime, which could tire even experienced heroes. The second reason was the fact that they were immaterial, which meant that they could not be harmed with purely physical attacks. Were it not for this, even normal civilians would likely be more than capable of defeating them if there weren't too many.

So it wasn't a surprise that it didn't take long for the group to finish off every single threat on that "nest", as they had done on several nests before. They were about to leave and move towards the next nest when Silver Soul stopped then with a cry of "Wait!"

They stopped, and looked on in curiosity as the earth pony avatar sent her silver drilling into the ground, looking like she was focusing extremely hard. It took fifteen entire seconds, but eventually Silver Soul seemed to find what she was looking for, as she blinked and raised her hoof to bring her silver back out of the hole.

And the silver brought something with it as well. Silver Soul deposited the strange object on the ground where all of them could see it. It looked like some kind of magical amulet made by weaving together pieces of roots of many different trees into the form of a pony. The thing pulsed with magic in a fairly complicated pattern.

"Ah, darn it." Dark Moon cursed "It's Sombra again, isn't it?"

"Something felt weird about the situation right from the start, but that is concrete proof." Silver Soul sighed "Luckily, I don't think he's around or we would have noticed by now. But that just means doing this was part of one of his plans."

"Still, we can't just leave thing like this. We'll have to finish this job." Lightning Chaser said.

"You're right." Spike said.

-0-

Flames of Annihilation could be said to be many things, but one thing she definitely couldn't be considered was stealthy. The Knights who were waiting for her arrival did not have any trouble spotting her even from a long distance.

The first thing they saw was the fire. It was a wall of flames that could be confused with a forest fire from a distance, except for the fact that it didn't spread as fire did, but kept moving forward with a regular speed in an extremely unnatural way. It didn't take long for the fire to reach the start of the parts that Pinkie had changed (turning the earth and grass into white stone with smiley faces), and the fire weakened at that point, allowing the Knights to see the pony who was causing all of that.

She didn't look all that impressive. She was an average sized earth pony mare with an orange coat and light blue mane, the kind of pony that would not draw attention while walking in a street. There were only two things about her that were different from normal: The first was her cutie mark, a rather simple incense candle, but it looked somewhat faint, like a half erased drawing. The second were her eyes, or rather the way they were fixed. While most ponies would look around all the time, that mare kept looking forward without losing her focus even for an instant.

Flames of Annihilation was single minded in her goal, and she only looked towards Canterlot and the princesses.

During the last minute before she reached their range, the Knights did their last preparations and focused for the fight. Pinkie raised her Emotion Charge the last twenty percent needed to reach 80%, Rainbow Dash gathered the energy of the clouds around her, Rarity connected herself with the Water Ruler Sword to bring her water control to the max, Sunset and Trixie connected with the circles and started creating the formulas for the first spells they'd use.

Meanwhile, Applejack looked at Flames of Annihilation with her Eyes of Truth and frowned darkly. Trixie was the only one to notice, but it was to late to ask at that point.

"Water Sword Art..." Rarity was the first to cast "Geyser!"

A torrential blast of water shot itself towards Flames of Annihilation, but before it could reach, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie flapped their wings (the earth pony having created pegasus wings made of papier mache for the task) and added to the attack.

"Double Arts!" They called together "Perfect Freeze!"

Their particular magical abilities worked together in strange harmony. While Rainbow Dash's weather magic forcefully removed the thermal energy of the water to transform it into ice, Pinkie Pie actually injected the water with negative thermal energy, making it even colder but turning it back into water in the process. The result was a supercooled spear of water that was continuous instead of being divided in droplets, and had a magical intent designed to freeze everything in the world.

That attack combination could have frozen even one of Sunset's pseudo suns, but the Flames of Annihilation were not that easy to affect.

As soon as the water came into contact with the wall of flames that was the first defense of their enemy, they vanished. It was almost like a magic trick, but the sheer level of power of the flames completely destroyed the water, down to the lowest molecular levels, and even the very energy and connections that made the magic. But their job was done, for the wall of flames weakened perceptibly, and Trixie and Sunset were already casting spells to take advantage of that.

"Perfect Illusion: Force Breaker!" Trixie cast, at the same time as Sunset was casting "Multiplicity Magic: Destroyer Spear!"

Trixie's spell created a ridiculously huge scything blast of magic that cut downwards in the direction of their enemy. Almost automatically, a ring of fire rose up from the flames behind Flames of Annihilation and combined with the upper part of the barrier of flames, creating a ridiculously powerful defense... Exactly as planned, as the illusion broke against the flames, having done its job to open up a path.

In comparison, Sunset's attack was deliberately restrained and small, an arrowlike blast that contained an immense amount of condensed power, drawn from the formation of magic circles they had prepared. It flew through the air and broke through the remains od the flame barrier, then was covered by new flames that rushed to try and destroy it, but it managed to break through every single one of them and hit Flames herself.

Causing no damage whatsoever, her aura defense having nullified the attack that had been weakened by the flames. But it opened up a path, and Applejack did a Space Step straight next to the opponent, then she bucked with all the power she had charged, aiming directly at the weakest point of her heart.

That had been necessary because the very destructive nature of the magic of Flames of Annihilation meant that it was practically impossible to be particularly precise with spells next to her, which meant that simple teleportation magic or even the chaotic shifting Pinkie could do simply could not be used to get close, but Applejack's Space Step did not have the same problem.

"Truth Seeking Blow!" Applejack shouted, her attack much more powerful than the one that had previously crippled a (weakened) Chrysalis.

Applejack's hooves hit the body of the opponent... And it felt like hitting a mountain. Every single scrap of energy she had channeled for her attack was blocked by Flames aura defense. And Applejack realized that even all the attacks they had used had failed to even slow their opponent down, as she simply kept walking. More flames came to destroy Applejack, but she Space Stepped back towards her previous position and shook her head for the others to see.

Her partners immediately understood. Their Plan A had been using Applejack's movement skills to cause damage to the opponent, but apparently she simply did not have the firepower to break through the defenses. Which meant they would need to use some less safe methods. And Sunset was the one to initiate their second plan.

"Triple Magic Enhance: Grand Ray!" She cast, shooting a powerful beam of magic at the barrier of flames.

And so, the fight continued for several minutes. Applejack was mostly manipulating earth to create barriers, while Rarity was mostly using her water to reduce the fire, and Trixie, since few of her skills were very destructive, used her illusions to create opportunities for the others.

Meanwhile, the other three kept switching between helping with the defense and using powerful attacks on Flames of Annihilation. Pinkie managed to chaos shift right next to her and infuse an immense amount of chaos magic with a punch, as well as set a powerful explosive that also covered her opponent in acid, but Flames of Annihilation still didn't miss a single step, forcefully turning her internals back to normal and recovering from the damage of the explosion and acid (which was mostly superficial, as her defensive was ridiculously powerful) via use of her fleshmolding.

Rainbow Dash used the strongest single target variations of her rainboom, as well as simple direct attacks enhanced by lightning channeling. She was able to feel things breaking when she hit Flames of Annihilation, but the enemy still didn't stop walking, recovering quickly with fleshmolding. Even then, Rainbow understood that this continuous healing wasn't something that could be done forever, and every injury they gave their opponent counted for something.

Sunset was the most effective. Her destructive spells were powerful and varied, and the injuries she gave her opponent were clearly bigger and deeper than any of the others. However, no matter what she did, Flames of Annihilation kept walking without slowing down in the least.

And that was a problem. As Flames of Annihilation got closer, her defenses became ever stronger and more elaborate as she could use more and more of her power directly. The Knights were using the full potential of the magic circles and other preparations they had made, but as the flames got closer, the sheer heat of them forced the Knights to spend more and more energy on their defenses, making their attacks less effective.

But the heat was only half of the story. These were Flames of Annihilation, and their true danger lay in their magical nature. Their very essence was based around the idea of destruction, and as such, simple proximity to the flames forced everything into destruction. The Knights had to fight that magical nature using their auras, because if they didn't, their bodies would break down even without actually being hurt, and their minds would collapse into nothingness as their very thoughts were destroyed. Forcefully holding onto existence in the face of pure destruction wasn't something easy, as it meant constantly forcing awareness of every piece of themselves, and they wouldn't have been able to do it without the special training of their minds and souls.

And of course, the Knights were also constantly taking advantage of teamwork to create more powerful attacks and defenses, the strongest being a combination in which Sunset forcefully enhanced one of Dash's Rainbooms by four entire levels, managing to actually open a hole on Flames' body, which wasn't as damaging as would be for most ponies, since she was constantly using her fleshmolding to prevent blood from escaping from her injuries as well as keep her muscles working perfectly even when they were damaged. And as such, not even those powerful combination attacks managed to slow her down.

Eventually, it got to be too much. The Knights were feeling the tiredness as they pushed their bodies beyond their limits in terms of continuous high level magic flow. Flames of Annihilation was sending dozens of shapeless constructs of fire, launching tens of blasts of fire in all directions and moving her wall of fire like a sandstorm that wasn't slowed by anything and destroyed all that it touched. The barriers made by the Knights barely managed to form before being destroyed, and the six started being forced to retreat, as the enemy was so close that it felt like they were at the bottom of the ocean, being pressured by hundreds of thousands of tons of water, just due to the sheer effort it took to not die immediately when faced by the massed attack of a single Flames of Annihilation, which was comparable to the power of entire armies.

But the Knights still had one last card to play.

"Double Arts!" Rarity and Rainbow Dash shouted, the former driving her Earth Ruler Sword into the ground while the latter struck it with a hoof "Broken Circle!"

And the same powerful attack they had used in their last mission came into play again. The Knights were ready to leave that place, so there was no reason to leave the circles intact, and they might as well get whatever use they could out of it, and hopefully wound Flames a little more, perhaps even open a chance for a last powerful attack before the retreat. The Knights had made a lot more and more powerful circles this time, so the tsunami of power that swept towards Flames was even bigger than before.

The rushing power crashed against the wall of flames... and broke. No more a tsunami, it seemed like just a wave crashing against the beach without managing to significantly change it. The wall of flames was pushed back and some of the power even managed to reach the fallen Knight, but it was clearly the last drags of the energy, and once again, Flames of Annihilation wasn't affected enough to reduce her movement rate.

Sunset "tsked" in annoyance and joined her magic with Trixie's and Rarity's to execute a group teleportation away.

During the whole fight, the enemy hadn't even looked at them.

-0-

The guard flew into the room and landed next to Fluttershy, who understood immediately what was the situation.

"Knight Fluttershy, an enemy is coming. He is a male pegasus who controls a kind of golden mist. We are unable to slow him down. Two minutes estimate." The guard efficiently passed the necessary information to her.

"Understood." Fluttershy nodded "You and the rest of the guards should stay away and remain on alert for other potential threats."

The guard saluted and flew away, and Twilight looked at her apprentice and spoke:

"Are you ready?"

"Yes." Fluttershy spoke with a rare confidence "Take a look and your apprentice will show how strong she has gotten." She smiled sweetly.

"Okay. I won't be distracted by anything." Twilight said, and walked down to the end of the room.

The place they were in had been specifically chosen as the battlefield. It was the back hall of the castle, and was usually used as a meeting room for high-level foreign dignitaries, since it was big enough for two hundred ponies to fit comfortably inside, meaning that those dignitaries could even bring their support staff, and there were amenities ready to keep them there for hours in cases of particularly tricky negotiations. The room had been emptied of chairs and other furniture, becoming only a huge rectangular open space that was more than enough to allow a fight to happen.

And among the "amenities" there was a reinforced hatchway where the VIPs could hide themselves in case of dangerous situations, leading to a particularly secure room deep underground. That was the other reason why the Knights had chosen to wait on that room, the fact that it was the only entrance to the place where both princesses were hidden, protected by a good number of guards.

The estimate made by the guard was off by only a few seconds, and the pegasus crossed the threshold exactly one minute and fifty six seconds from the warning.

The pegasus stallion had a dark blue coat and a gray mane, and his cutie mark depicted a cloud. Fluttershy, thanks to her empathic senses and previous experience, managed to recognize him as one of the warrior constructs that were being made by Radiant Hope (as far as they had been able to determine).

As the guard had mentioned, the pegasus was carrying with him a cloud of thick golden mist. Fluttershy focused on him, and on his magic, and activated a very special ability.

"Empathy Drive: Soul Emulate." Was the name.

And she made a connection between herself and her opponent. She briefly felt his experiences and his desires, and she got a sense of his soul, therefore his magic. And then she emulated it.

It wasn't simply trying to do something, it was more like creating a part of herself that was the same as him, but the effect on Fluttershy herself was immense. Her coat and mane changed to the same colors as those of her opponent, and one of her eyes also shifted, this time to a deep purple. Her body started emitting the same kind of golden mist as her opponent, which she understood completely, in all its strengths and weaknesses.

She was ready for battle, but that was perhaps not the most important effect of her technique. Fluttershy had gotten a sense of everything about the opponent, and recognized that he really was a construct, but more than that, she understood that he was different from most constructs, and probably in the same way as Blank had been.

'Sombra is really tricky.' She thought, then focused on the battle.

But she would have to inform the others about it as soon as possible.

-0-

The six Knights appeared in their planned secondary position, far enough away from Flames of Annihilation to be able to partially recover from their exertions as well as prepare more magic circles and whatever else they decided was necessary for the fight after experiencing the power of the enemy.

The ponies breathed heavily and tried to calm their hearts and relax their muscles for a few seconds. Then Pinkie Pie reached into her mane and took six of the potions inside, one for each of them, which they drank to recover a bit more from their heavy magical exertion.

Only after that, did Trixie speak:

"So, Applejack, what did you notice?"

The others also looked at the earth pony with curiosity, Applejack sighed and explained.

"She's... hollow. Ya said she purified away her identity, but it went a lot farther than that. Ah don't think she has any emotions left, and most of her mind is gone too. Everything about her that wasn't related ta fighting has been burned away. And Ah really don't think she has enough left of herself ta use purification magic against us, like ya said, it feels like she is just an automaton designed ta move towards the princesses and kill them. She's barely even aware that we exist, since Ah imagine she could only recognize the princesses by this point, everypony else would just feel like part of the scenery."

Pinkie looked horrified, though that was quickly changed to an expression of determination. Trixie looked thoughtful, and the other Knights had expression that wandered around "uncomfortable". They looked at Applejack and wondered what exactly was the experience of seeing those things, then Sunset decided to get things moving again.

"So, any other comments before we get to the preparations?"

Rarity was the one to answer "I have. There's no convenient underground river around, so I would like to ask Rainbow to gather some clouds so I have water for my spells."

"Okay." Sunset nodded and Rainbow Dash flew off.

"And considering what Trixie's apprentice said, together with the things Trixie noticed during the fight, she has a few ideas of a new strategy that should allow us to deal with Flames of Annihilation more easily." Trixie said with confidence.

"That's good. What do you have in mind?" Sunset asked.

And so it went. The Knights planned out their new tactics and prepared everything for the next round of fighting. And after everything was done, they did their best to rest and try to regain as much of their stamina as possible. And it still seemed like the time had not been enough when Flames of Annihilation appeared on their sight again.

The Knights waited until she got closer and then activated various magic circles. But instead of creating attacks to shoot at their opponent, they created spells that fixed themselves upon the bodies of the Knights and were constantly reinforced from long distance by the magic the circles could draw from the earth. And those spells were all based around improving their movement and defensive skills.

And then the six spread and attacked from all directions. The idea Trixie had hit upon was based on hit and run where every Knight would attack from a different angle, forcing Flames of Annihilation to keep shifting her focus, which would also open up an opportunity for the next one to attack.

And it started out working remarkably well. Rarity had condensed all her water into her sword, creating a heat sink that could also be used to attack and defend, and she had her Earth Ruler Sword active to move quickly with flash steps. Rainbow Dash was just repeating her previous strategy while also looking out for the possibility of needing to rescue the others. Applejack was using her Space Steps to weave in and out of range, and using her Eyes of Truth to discover the perfect moments to attack in a way that would distract the opponent from the others, since she couldn't deal a lot of damage.

The other three, on the other hand, were making a lot more use of the mobility enhancement parts of the circle spells. Specifically, these spells were enhancing their ability to perform precise operations in negative conditions. Which meant that now they were free to teleport and shift even while very close to Flames of Annihilation, greatly enhancing their tactical options.

Besides that, Trixie was mostly doing similar to her apprentice Applejack, and focusing more on distracting Flames of Annihilation on critical moments to improve the situation of her allies. Pinkie Pie was proving herself to be a particularly nasty fighter, as she kept using her chaotic magic to create explosions, acid, blades and other lethal implements that constantly caused visible damage to Flames of Annihilation that she had to heal, as well as doing more of her chaos infusing punches. But as expected, the most effective attacking Knight was in fact Sunset. Her destructive spells were causing even more damage than Pinkie was capable of, and she was also singlehoofedly dealing with most of the offensive and defensive flames of their opponent, canceling them out with powerful spells.

The Knights kept up their attacks and retreats not only to avoid being a target of full focus for their opponent (which wouldn't end well) but also to return close to the magic circles so the spells in their bodies could be reinforced to be able to keep dealing with the oppression of the magic of the Flames. Combining all of that made their strategy work like a charm, and the damage they were dealing to their opponent was piling up.

But it wasn't enough. Applejack was constantly sending signals using her eyes about the state of the opponent, and they simply were not about to be able to win a battle of attrition. Their magic expenditure was great even for trained Knights like they were, and the mental burden of standing so close to destruction attribute magic, along with the pressure of having the possibility of dying if they committed the least mistake was even worse. So Sunset waited for the right moment to implement another plan. And it started with...

"Now!" She shouted to Rainbow Dash.

"EX-Mode!" The pegasus shouted, exploding with power much faster than she had been able to do before.

She moved at Flames of Annihilation at extreme speeds and hit her with a cataclysmic punch.

It was a hit that broke a lot of things inside her body and completely got the attention of the enemy. Rainbow Dash hastily flew away from a terrifying meteor at her best speeds, and everything was going exactly as planned.

"Trance Mode!" Sunset shouted, and exploded with power that the other Knights would be hard pressed to match even with Overdrives.

She teleport right to the side of Flames of Annihilation and quickly performed her spell.

"Quintuple Magic Enhance: Heartseeking Destruction!"

That spell was roughly the equivalent of cramming ten high level siege breaker spells into a small arrow, but the ridiculous powerful somehow wasn't the most dangerous part of that magic, instead it was the fact that it was designed to attack and destroy the heart of the opponent, as the heart was the symbol of life in magic, and it was practically impossible to survive with it destroyed even for masters of life magic.

The destructive arrow hit not with an explosion, but with an implosion, as the power of the magic refused to dissipate into the environment and forcefully tore through the powerful defenses of Flames of Annihilation.

And the result... Was a failure.

Even though the arrow managed to pierce deep within the body and open a big wound, the defenses of the enemy had deflected the attack and made it miss the heart. And then something absolutely horrifying happened.

Flames of Annihilation looked at Sunset.

For the first time, she had moved her eyes away from her goal, but it soon became apparent that she wasn't looking at Sunset, but at the power Sunset was emitting. And then... She spoke.

"Trance Mode... I remember... I could do that too... Was it... Like this...?"

Sunset was in a privileged position, and because of the hole on the enemy's body, she could see when runes started engraving themselves on her flesh. And she teleported back to the others just in time.

"Trance Mode... Forbidden Shift." Flames of Annihilation chanted, and it activated.

To compare Sunset's Trance Mode to that one was like comparing a lake to the sea. The energy exploded with so much intensity that the shockwave almost bowled the Knights over. The amount of power was even greater than what Twilight had used for her time spell, and the sheer concentrated mass of power and the nature of destruction of the user made the space around her fall apart and turn into nothing.

The protection spells that were being fueled by the spell circles immediately broke, unable to endure such an insane increase in the power of destruction that the enemy was emitting. And then she attacked, not with a simple wall of fire, but something more like an entire horizon of pure flames.

Sunset and Trixie immediately activated an emergency teleportation... Which didn't work, the destructive power in the air disturbing the space too much.

And the flames were beyond any defense.

Author's Note:

So... You have met Flames of Annihilation. I hope she has lived up to the hype.

Also, you might have already noticed, but I wasn't kidding when I called this arc "short and simple", things should be wrapping up in two or three chapters.

In other news, I discovered that I seem to be having more trouble keeping my writing rate consistent now that I am free than I had when I was still in college. How weird.

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