• Published 1st Feb 2017
  • 4,665 Views, 688 Comments

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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Arriving
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Despite the place they had to go to being very distant, all that meant was that they had to use a series of teleports to move there, instead of a single large teleport. The eight Knights arrived at their destination in only a few minutes (they rested a bit in between teleports).

"... And that was the worst part of my training." Rarity said, finishing a thought she had started just before their latest teleport.

The idea had come from Trixie. Apparently, she, Sunset and Twilight used to tell each other stories about the harshness of training in order to motivate each other and build up friendship whenever things were getting a little hard. As such, the recently reunited Knights were talking about their biggest struggles in their recent special training.

"So... Sunset has spoken about how her soul almost escaped her body while she was meditating, Rainbow Dash explained how she almost dissolved herself in wind, and Rarity spoke of her struggles to maintain awareness of her own existence." Trixie helpfully summarized, before looking directly at her apprentice "By the way, Rarity, congratulations on your two new apprentices."

"Thank you." Rarity bowed slightly "I haven't been able to teach them as much as I should yet, because of the training, but after this mission, I'm going to."

"Right." Trixie said "Who goes next, then?"

"Why not ya?" Applejack suggested.

"Okay then..." Trixie sighed.

"My own training was surviving in the Shadowlands. The most dangerous part of the realm of dreams." She started, using her "storyteller" tone "It is a place where identity and meaning cease to exist. The only rule there is action, and all who dwell in that place are only defined by their actions... I can't really explain it.

"Regardless, that was a place where the boundary between self and outside was very thin. The worst part of my training there was when I accidentally left most of my identity behind, picking up other things instead without realizing it. I believe I spent the equivalent of two real world months having become a completely different pony, and only barely aware that something was wrong.

"Eventually, I had to rip my own self apart so I could remember who I really was and seek the parts of me I had lost." She concluded grimly.

"Right..." Sunset started "I think yours may have been the harshest training so far... So, who wants to follow that?"

"Ah, guess Ah should go next." Applejack said, then waited for them to do their penultimate teleport, to avoid getting cut off in the middle.

"Okay... Ya know what mah training was, and ya should understand that Ah saw a lot of things Ah really would prefer not ta have seen.. But if Ah were ta say what was the worst part... It would have ta be when Ah was seeing Tirek."

All the others stiffened at her words.

"It took a while for me ta accept it, but Ah couldn't avert mah eyes from the reality. The restraints on him are slowly weakening more and more, and he's going ta free himself soon. Not immediately, but soon."

The silence after her words was absolutely complete, to the point where it seemed that even the wind had stopped blowing.

"O-okay..." Sunset decided to get things back on track "Moving past Applejack's incredibly ominous words... Who will be the next one to talk about their training?"

"Me, me! I'll do it!" Pinkie hastily volunteered herself.

"Well..." She started, seemingly trying to think of the right words "Trying to survive at the center of the earth was pretty rough. At the beginning, I kept using my one hundred percent Anticipation mode, since it could protect me, but it was not possible to keep it going forever... And I couldn't simply protect myself with chaos magic, because the center of the earth is already pretty chaotic.

"So I had to use purification magic to purify away the most harmful parts of the matter around me, and it was pretty difficult since I wasn't all that good at purification magic in the beginning, so I ended up having to switch to one hundred percent anger mode to heal me when I got too injured.

"However, I think the worst part was when I actually got good enough in purification magic to try and escape from there." She sighed "And because of the spell Celestia used on the core, I would have to go all the way back to the surface without stopping, otherwise I would be pulled back to where I started." She sighed again "So, I decided to purify my shadow, so she could keep moving while I was sleeping, and I would move while she was sleeping.

"And actually purifying the shadow was the worst thing. In magical terms, a pony's shadow is their hidden side, the parts about themselves they hide from the world and even from themselves... And I had to face every single one of those things in order to purify my shadow."

Fluttershy put a hoof on Pinkie's shoulder, and the Knights silently showed their support.

"Then I'm the last one." Fluttershy said.

"I guess my experiences were different from Pinkie's. In my case, the worst part of my training was the beginning." She closed her eyes in thought "I really don't understand what you three did to create a place like that, but in the beginning, it felt like the land itself was inimical to life, and just trying to survive there consumed all of my energy.

"Things only got better when I realized that it wasn't that the land was inimical to life, but it simply didn't understand what life was. And its conception of life was chaotic, believing that it could only exist if it was constantly changing." Fluttershy sighed "Eventually, I managed to reach harmony with that place."

They all nodded in understanding.

"So..." Pinkie started "Does that mean that Trixie's training was still the worst?"

"It appears so." Fluttershy said.

"There's still Twilight who hasn't finished yet." Trixie noted "And that's not really the kind of competition I'd be happy winning."

"Now I feel kinda inadequate." Spike piped up "I've been going on missions constantly ever since I became a Knight and thought I was doing pretty well, but your training is on a completely different level."

"There's no need for you to feel inadequate." Sunset said "The fact that you haven't been given that type of training yet just means that you haven't reached a bottleneck with your abilities yet." She nodded "You're still growing steadily, you don't need to be in a rush to do something like that."

"Ah... I understand."

After that, the Knights performed their last teleportation, and arrived at Marefloni, the city which was the closest to the region in which the magical disturbances had been detected, and which was also the place with the highest number of disappeared ponies.

This time, there was no need to keep the presence of Knights secret, but since there was a chance this was going to be a long mission, they still went to a hotel and reserved some rooms.

"So... What's the game plan?" Rainbow asked, once they were gathered in a single room for a meeting.

"The intel department has determined that the magical flashes came from several different locations, and they have pinpointed some of those locations." Sunset explained "We're going to split into two groups and check out those locations to try and find out whatever we can."

"If we're going to be split, wouldn't it be better to split more, so we can search faster?" Pinkie asked.

"No." Was Trixie's answer "That would help search faster, but it would increase the risks involved. And anyway, not everypony has the same level of perception abilities, so gathering into teams that are guaranteed to find something is better."

"Ah, I understand. So, who is gonna be with it team?" Pinkie asked.

"Team 1 is going to be me, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Spike." Trixie said "Team 2 is Sunset, Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Applejack."

"And the places we are going to visit are those..." Sunset said, pulling out a map with a few marked spots.

-0-

The first place team two visited was a cave excavated inside the earth. And it was easy to see that it wasn't a common place. There were remnants of pots, knifes and all sorts of small objects, but the most interesting thing were the remnants of a complex magical formation, which had been mostly erased, to the point where it was pretty much impossible to tell what had been its original purpose.

"Have you figured out anything?" Rainbow Dash asked Rarity and Applejack, after they explored the entire cave.

"There's some really deep malice in this place. Also, a sense of secrets. Ah think something was created here, but Ah don't know what it could be." Applejack answered.

"I have an idea." Rarity said with reluctance "And Applejack's opinion lines up with my thoughts... But I think it would be better to look at another one of those spots just to be sure."

"Well... Okay." Said Sunset, and then the four left the cave and teleported to their next destination.

This time, the spot they appeared in was a small and narrow valley, hidden from view by a forest that grew around it. And immediately things seemed familiar. There were also bits and pieces of small objects, as well as remnants of an erased magic formation. Once again Applejack and Rarity checked around with their own sensory abilities, and the results...

"It's the same thing. It's not exactly the same, but close enough that it doesn't matter." Applejack said.

"Indeed." Rarity said "Then I guess my idea was right."

She sighed. The other three waited for her to explain.

"What is being done is the powering up of artifacts." She sighed "It is an incredibly difficult ritual, mostly because you need to use a ridiculous amount of energy to make it work, but sometimes it is worth it for getting really powerful artifacts." She looked down "However, the worst part is that I can't think of any time in history where this ritual was utilized multiple times in a short period. The energy expenditure is simply too much.

"And since the other abnormality is the disappearance of many ponies..."

The other three Knights looked at Rarity in horror, as they understood what she was getting at.

It seemed like things were serious.

Author's Note:

And another really late chapter...

Well, some more stuff about their training, and we finally see a little bit of the plot of the arc.

Things will heat up next time.

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