• Published 20th Jul 2012
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The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

Twilight finds she and her friends are trapped in their own minds and must escape.

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Crash Down Ch 8 - Wind Shear

Book Five: Crash Down

Chapter Eight - Wind Shear

Daring shook her head and repositioned herself on the barstool she’d been sitting on since the group had split up and headed out to the VIP Lodging area. She stared down into the glass in front of her, the caramel-colored liquid rippling as she gently tapped the glass’s rim.

This rum isn’t real. Neither is the glass it’s in, or the bar the glass is sitting upon, she thought, and then lifted the glass to her lips, throwing the last of the liquid into her mouth and quickly swallowing it. Heck, even this buzz isn’t real.

She gently placed the glass back on the bar and raised a hoof up in front of her face. She looked at it quizzically. Not to mention I found out I’m just a fictional character from some book series, and now I’m a changeling, too. This isn’t what my hoof really looks like. I don’t even have a real hoof. Yet, somehow I feel strangely fine with that. She closed her eyes and smiled, letting the feeling of her buzz fill her mind, at least until a tap came from the bar in front of her. She opened her eyes and saw the bartender standing in front of her.

“You wanted something? You had your hoof raised.”

Daring leaned forward against the bar and smiled at the bartender. He was a handsome stallion, a blond mane slicked back and deep, dazzling blue eyes. She placed her hoof on his and winked. “Are you on the menu?” she asked playfully, licking her lips.

“Beg pardon, ma’am?”

She slouched slightly. “Oh, nevermind. I just figured if this was all a fantasy, I might as well get something out of it.”

The bartender laughed and shrugged, gesturing back towards the bottles of liquor behind him. “Afraid not, miss, flattered though I am. Perhaps I could interest you in a drink instead?”

Daring fluttered her eyes. “Sex on the Beach?”

The bartender laughed again, this time louder than the first. “You are quite persistent, aren’t you?” he asked, and then turned towards the bottles, reaching for the vodka. “Comin’ right up.”

Suddenly, a sound like a gust of wind blowing past washed through the hotel lobby, accompanied by a wave of magic. The force of it nearly knocked Daring off of her bar stool. She gripped the bar with her front hooves. Her eyes went wide as the bartender vanished in front of her. The bottle he had been holding fell to the ground and shattered, and then everything was silent.

She looked around the lobby behind her. It was completely empty. The signs of ponies having been there remained. Plates of food, drinks on tables and at the bar, but not a pony remained but her. What in the heck was that?

A second later, she heard a loud crashing sound along with voices coming from outside, just beyond the VIP Lodging doors. Okay, that can’t be a coincidence! She grabbed her helmet, slapped it onto her head, and rushed towards the large double doors.

Several minutes earlier, in the VIP Courtyard...

Following the initial blast from Rainbow Dash’s attack, Twilight pushed herself back up to her hooves. Glancing around, she could see the others doing the same. Her horn glowed with magic, and she turned it back up towards Chrysalis. Where she expected to see the changeling queen, however, she just saw a flurry of movement. Rainbow Dash was floating in the air, swinging her hooves so fast that Twilight couldn’t really see them as they moved. Blow after blow swung out towards Chrysalis, each connecting with a spark of magic, but the queen was also flailing her front hooves, blocking each attack in turn and adding her own bright red spark of magic with each block.

A glint of violet color caught Twilight’s eye from the right. She glanced over and saw Luna, her horn ablaze, nodding her head downward. In the direction of the nod was Pinkie Pie, her horn also now surging with power. The pink alicorn grinned at Twilight, who took the whole situation as a sign to act.

In a fraction of a second, Pinkie Pie launched herself into the air, and Twilight called up to Rainbow Dash. “Rainbow! Out of the way, now!”

Only a trail of rainbow color was left in front of Chrysalis, who was holding her hooves in front of herself defensively. Pinkie, Luna, and Twilight all let loose with blasts of magic, which converged upon Chrysalis in the blink of an eye. The changeling quickly surrounded herself with a sphere of crimson that shielded her from the continuous blasts from all three assailants. She turned toward Luna and growled. “Traitor! You were on their side the whole time?”

“Of course not!” Luna said with a laugh, seeming to be really getting into character. “I just know a losing battle when I see it, fool!”

So says the one who dared stand against the Elements of Harmony twice! A voice rang out in Luna’s mind, breaking her concentration. Her beam of magic flickered briefly, but she shook her head and continued the assault.

On the ground, Vitra stared up at the battle and whistled, placing Applejack’s hat back on her head firmly. “Hoo nelly, that don’t look pleasant!” she said. Her eyes focused on the sky beyond the battle and her jaw suddenly dropped. A massive crack in the fabric of the dream world had formed in the sky above. “Neither does that! Hurry it up, y’all! The reset swarm! It’s here!”

“What!?” Mulcibar shouted and turned his head up to the sky.

“We’ve been here!” a deep, gravelly voice shouted from somewhere. Like a blur, something crashed through one of the nearby windows and smashed into Linnai, dragging her up into the air and towards the far right rooftop.

“Linnai!” Mulcibar cried out, spreading his wings.

“Worry about yourself!” another voice came from the same window. This time, the door to the room with the broken window opened and a changeling with a spiked black mane and a green gem socketed into its horn stepped out onto the boardwalk. His left hoof was wrapped around a spear with a long, wide-bladed head. “Long time no see, Azura.”

“Morosa,” Mulcibar said grimly, lowering his stance. “Who’s the other?”

Morosa grinned. “Duval. Bad news for Lin, I’m afraid. Don’t make this more difficult than it already is,” he said, turning the spear to point it at Mulcibar’s head.

Several paces away, Vitra’s eyes were wide and shaking. She quickly turned to Gilda and shouted. “How many guns do you have?”

Gilda pulled up the long feathers that hung down over the point on her body that switched from bird to lion, revealing a strap with several weapons holstered. “Enough.”

“Maybe not,” Vitra responded, pointing a hoof up to the rooftop where Linnai had been dragged to. “Go! Help Linnai, trust me! You’re the best hope! And do not go easy on him at all!” With that, she took off, flying straight up into the sky and towards the crack.

Gilda shrugged and leapt into the air alongside Vitra, branching off towards the rooftop. Morosa noticed them taking off and shot a blast of magic up at Vitra, who easily dodged and laughed.

“Hey!” Mulcibar shouted, and then leapt at Morosa. “Worry about yourself!”

Mulcibar swung his right front hoof forward, smashing it right into the shaft of the spear, which Morosa had pulled up in front of him to guard from the attack.

Meanwhile, further out in the courtyard, Fluttershy found herself instinctively ducking down near a hedge, her attention being pulled in every direction, panic quickly taking over her mind.

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! What do I do?” she said aloud, her eyes darting from pony to pony. “Twilight! Rainbow! Mulcibar! Strange changeling that looks like Applejack with wings! Princess Luna!”

Too much! Too much! she thought her breathing steadily speeding up to the point of hyperventilation. Her eyes drifted back towards Mulcibar and his opponent. They almost looked like they were dancing, the spear twirling and swinging between them. Mulcibar would take control of the spear, try to land a few blows with it, all of which would be blocked, and then the spear would be wrestled out of his grip by the other changeling, who would try and do the same, just as unsuccessfully. Please don’t get hurt! Oh my goodness! What can I do? She pulled her hooves over her face and scrunched down on the ground, her whole body shaking.

“You’ve gotten slow since you joined The Order, Azura!” the changeling bellowed with a laugh.

“I don’t think so! You’ve just gotten faster!” Mulcibar responded, swinging the spear around one last time. Morosa blocked the strike with a foreleg, forcing the spear into a spin around his body and snapping it from Mulcibar’s magical grip.

“Stronger, too!” Morosa shouted, swinging the spear straight down at Mulcibar’s head. Mulcibar flipped his wings up from his back and flapped them forward, pushing him back just in time to barely evade the attack. The spear’s head slammed into the floorboards, splitting them in half. “You never made it easy, Azura!”

“Stop. I discarded that nickname long ago.”

“When you discarded us!” Morosa screamed as he swung the spear around again. Mulcibar pulled a foreleg up and blocked the attack on his left. He quickly turned his body, slamming the spear downward and embedding it into the floor again while kicking both of his hind hooves back, striking Morosa across the chest and sending him flying into the far wall.

“I had no choice,” Mulcibar said as he picked up the spear with his magic. “Joining The Order was the only way.”

Morosa laughed. “The only way to continue your treachery! Even so, I’d wanted to make this quick and painless, you know. I take no pleasure in sending you to your execution.”

“Then why didn’t you attack to kill? Why calmly come through the door and give me time to react?” Mulcibar asked, spinning the spear in the air above his head. “Face it, you love to fight, always did.”

Two Years Ago…

Mulcibar sat upon a rock outside of plain, wooden hut, dipping a blood-soaked rag into a bucket of water. Directly in front of him sat Morosa, his forehead cut open and blood trickling down his face. Mulcibar unceremoniously slapped the cold, wet rag against Morosa’s wound, causing him to cringe and let out a scream.

“That hurts, damn it!”

“Quit screaming or you’ll just bleed more.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever.”

Mulcibar gently wiped the trail of blood away from Morosa’s face. “You going to tell me how this happened?”

Morosa growled slightly. “No.”

“Fighting with Eborav again, I bet.”

Morosa flinched. “N… no!”

“We train in groups at scheduled times for a reason. We don’t have time to deal with injuries you get from your own personal vendettas.”

“Must you lecture me, Azura?”

Mulcibar dipped the rag into the cold water again and then slapped it against Morosa’s head again. “We have no need for a broken tool, and that’s what you are, never forget it. We are instruments of the queen, nothing more. Why should the queen attack herself?”

Morosa sighed, but sat silently and still as Mulcibar switched to a dry cloth, dabbing it against the gash.

“He said you’re gonna leave. That true?”

“So, he nearly cracks your skull open, and then you believe what he tells you?”

“Don’t give me that. Everyone sees it coming. You’re a good fighter, but your magic… you’re destined to join The Order.”

“Where I am told to go is really none of my concern. If she decides to put me there, then I’ll go.”

Morosa turned around and looked up at Mulcibar. “Yeah, right. You want it, we all can tell. The squad’s gonna fall apart without you.”

Mulcibar lowered his eyebrows. “It had better not. I’ll blame you, personally.”

Morosa laughed. “I thought you said personal vendettas were a distraction.”

Mulcibar smiled. “Oh, it’ll be nothing personal.”


Mulcibar blinked and sighed, snapping back to reality as he spun the spear around one more time and then pressed its tip up against Morosa’s throat. “It’s funny how looking back on how things were is so different for me, now. It’s like the past has been repainted.”

Morosa coughed, having finally caught his breath. “You still got a killer kick, Mulci,” he said, and then pushed his neck up against the spear’s tip. Blood began to trickle down his neck and onto his chest. “Go on. Do it!”

“It’s hard to deal with the fact that you don’t look back and feel the same way.”

“So it’s true then, eh?” Morosa asked with a coarse laugh. “You really are turnin’ into a damn pony. Just pathetic.”

Mulcibar shook his head. “So, did the squad fall apart?”

Morosa grinned. “Nope,” he said and then flipped his wings up from his back. He threw his forelegs up and grabbed the spear with lightning speed, yanking it past him and pulling Mulcibar into a headbutt. Their horns smashed together, making a loud cracking sound. “You’re not fighting serious, anyway, are you? You’re not even using your magic.”

Mulcibar lit up his horn and and smiled, levitating Morosa’s head back a bit and then swinging a hoof around, smashing it against his jaw. “What can I say? I like fighting, too.”

“Then you’re gonna hate this as much as I do,” Morosa responded. His wings suddenly glowed with a bright blue color and there was a blinding flash of magic. Mulcibar raised a hoof to shield his eyes.

Moments earlier, on the roof…

Upon the roof of the hotel on the right side of the courtyard was a large, long deck with several benches and tables. The desk itself extended out past the hotel’s walls and overlooked a lake in the distance. Linnai found herself thrown down onto the desk’s surface before she could even collect her thoughts. She turned and stared up at the one who had thrown her, a changeling with a strangely elongated body and thin legs. His horn was slightly curved, but sported a purple gem socketed into its base. His beady, orange eyes burned into Linnai’s mind as she recognized the attacker.

“Duval!” she shouted, and began powering up her horn.

The changeling delicately landed in front of her and clicked his tongue. In a deep, jagged voice that seemed to mismatch his body, he scolded Linnai. “Now, now, you know that’s not going to do anything,” he said. A sphere of magic shot out from his horn, enveloping the area in a faint purple glow.

Linnai quickly let loose with her magical blast, but it fizzled in mid-air as the purple glow surrounded the two of them. Her eyes narrowed. What an annoying little brat! The ability to nullify all but the most powerful magic, and who knows how much stronger he’s gotten since we last trained together, she thought, and then stood up. The only reason this pipsqueak isn’t in The Order is because magic nullification is too useful for the fighting corps.

“You magic types are all talk. Strip away your power, and what’s left?”

“Want to find out?”

“Oh please,” Duval said, licking his lips. “Show me.”

“I’ll snap you like a twig!” Linna screeched, launching herself towards Duval, who quickly sidestepped and slapped a foreleg against the back of Linnai’s neck. Linnai responded by kicking up her hind legs. Her hooves connected with Duval’s chest, sending him flying through the air and landing on the deck several yards back.

Duval pushed himself back up, one foreleg wrapped across his chest. He glared at Linnai, who was just smiling over at him. “You’ll pay for that,” he said, and then lit his horn up. “I may look weak, but looks can be deceiving!” He charged towards Linnai, his horn glowing. Linnai prepared to block or dodge, but with a flash, Duval vanished.

Before Linnai could react, she found herself being pummeled from behind by Duval’s slender, dagger-like hooves. She fell forward against the ground and rolled, kicking up into the air, Duval grabbed ahold of her legs with levitation magic and flung her across the deck, smashing her into a wall. He quickly made his way towards her point of impact, his horn powering up once again.

“Without your magic, you can do nothing to resist mine!”

“Even if it’s that weak!” Linnai said with a cough. “I’m impressed, though. When did you learn to teleport?”

Duval grinned and his horn flashed brightly. He teleported and appeared right beside Linnai. “I didn’t,” he said, staring down into her eyes.

Linnai’s expression suddenly soured. She began to scrape her hooves along the floor, scooting away from Duval, staring up at him in shock. “You’re lying! You can’t have!”

“Oh yes! And not just me! Both of us!” Duval said, his voice almost giggling with glee at the sight before him. “Beg for me to end this quickly, Linnai! I’m sure the queen will give you a painless death if you cooperate!”

Linnai clenched her eyes shut and shook her head, pressing her hooves against its sides. Damn it! I’m sorry… Twilight…

A loud bang came from behind Duval, followed by him flinching and gripping his side. He turned his head towards the sound. Linnai opened her eyes and stared as well.

Gilda stood across the way, a flintlock in each claw, approaching the two changelings. She dropped the run in her right claw and reached beneath her feathers, pulling out another one and pointing it towards Duval. “Back off, string bean!”

“Do stay put, I’ll be right back,” Duval said, and then kicked Linnai in the ribs, causing her body to curl upon itself.

Linnai coughed and shakily reached a hoof into the air towards Gilda. “Do it!” she screamed as loudly as she could. “Kill him! Do it now!”

Duval flipped his wings up from his back, and they started to glow bright orange.

Gilda fired her second gun, but Duval ducked to the side, avoiding the shot. Before he could react again, Gilda fired the third pistol, the bullet hitting true, burying itself in Duval’s shoulder.

“Stop playing around! Go for the head!” Linnai screamed.

Gilda reached under her feathers, this time producing a revolver. She spun the chambers and grinned. Surprised Dash even knew about these. They’re pretty new. Guess Daring Do books have all the latest and greatest, she thought, and then aimed the gun at Duval’s head as he continued to approach.

Duval’s wings began to almost look like they were burning. Behind him, Linnai fell to the ground, her eyes closing. “Shoot… him…” she managed to say, weakness taking her over.

“Well, we’ve only just met, but bye bye!” Duval shouted.

“Same to you!” Gilda responded, and then fired shot after shot towards the changeling.

Duval’s wings erupted in flames, sending forth a wave of fire at Gilda. The blast knocked Gilda back, igniting her body instantly and sending her sliding across the wooden deck. She smashed into the guard rails and let out a scream of pain as the fire continued to wash over her relentlessly.

“No! Stop!” Linnai screamed, but Duval refused to relent. A second later, a blast of magic shot through the air and slammed into Duval’s head, knocking him to the ground and stopping the fire. A wave of magic washed over Gilda, extinguishing the flames. Twilight Sparkle appeared in a flash right beside Linnai, teleporting from the other side of the deck.

Moments earlier, within the courtyard…

Rainbow Dash swooped around in the air, keeping her eyes glued to Chrysalis, who was now feeling the full force of a sustained magic blast from Princess Luna, Twilight, and Pinkie. The changeling growled and red streaks of energy began to flash all over her body. She glared up at Luna, her fangs bared and her eyes wide.

“You’ll be the first to die for this, Luna!” she screamed, and then turned to the flash of rainbow that zipped past her for the third time. “And you, Rainbow Dash! You’ll wish you never tried to resist me. I don’t know how you got that wing back, but this time I’ll take your head!”

“Not unless we take yours first!” a voice came from below, alongside the sound of the main doors slamming open. Daring Do slid out onto the boardwalk, holding her helmet onto her head with one hoof.

Chrysalis groaned. “You should have stayed inside, Desert Walker! You’ve earned the same fate!”

Rainbow Dash stopped in midair and grinned. “Daring! Where have you been?”

Daring shrugged and pointed a hoof back at the doors she had come through. “The bar! Duh!”

Rainbow laughed. “Always taking it easy until the last second! That’s fine! You ready to do that thing we practiced? We’ll do it just as that shield breaks!”

Darin blinked and shook her head. “That thing? I thought we’d decided we’d never use it! Dash, it could kill somepony! Correction, it will kill somepony, and that could be you!”

“That was then, and this is now!” Dash responded. “Besides, this is my dream, and she’s the bad guy! Besides, she’s not even real!”

“Dash, I’m not even real! Remember?”

Dash scrunched her face. “Yeah, but I like you! Come on, are we gonna be awesome, or are we gonna argue about this all night! Our friends are depending on us!”

Daring sighed, sheugged, and leapt into the air at Dash, slapping their hooves together. “Get up there, then! I’ll be in position!”

Dash nodded her head and sped up into the sky. Far above her, she could see Vitra fighting with something, but could barely make out what. The dark sky concealed the black bodies of the changelings up there, but Dash could see their glowing, blue eyes. Alright, she’s holding them off, she thought, and then stopped, staring down at the others. As soon as I see that red shield crack, I’m going! This is gonna be so awesome!

Higher in the sky, Vitra had ditched her Applejack form completely, though she still wore the hat on her head. Her golden patterned wings fluttered in the air as she zipped to and fro from changeling to changeling. It didn’t take much to knock them out. She would open with a hoof to the face, and then blast them with her horn. They would dissolve into thin air as quickly as they had appeared, but their speed of entry was increasing. The crack in the sky was starting to get bigger again as the changelings that warped in were literally digging their hooves and fangs into the fabric of the sky and tearing it to pieces.

This is going to get out of hand before long! Vitra thought as she blasted another changeling out of the sky. Two others warped in behind her and grabbed her hind legs. She kicked back and twisted her body. Her wings flashed and the two changelings stopped. Better start making it my reset swarm, I guess.

The two changelings she had flashed her wings at quickly turned and shot through the air, both laying into another changeling and beating it to a pulp. One of them bit into the other changeling’s throat, and it dissolved in a flash. Vitra grinned and flew towards another two newly warped-in changelings and took control of them as well.

If the reset swarm is just mindless drones, created by a spell and hell-bent on destruction, I’ll be glad to give them a target! she thought and then sent her two new drones away to attack more. Let’s see how many I can control at once! She rubbed her hooves together and flapped her wings, diving towards the fray.

As she enthralled three more changelings, a sudden flash of red caught her eye from below, and she could see Rainbow Dash between her and the flash, getting ready to dive towards the ground.

Rainbow Dash readied herself as soon as she saw the flash of magic and heard the cracking sound of the shield around Chrysalis breaking. That’s it! Almost… just gotta wait another second, she thought, and then heard another crack, and then another. Go! She dove toward the ground, flapping her wings at an insanely fast speed. A sonic rainboom shot out from her body, quickly followed by a second, as she accelerated towards the ground - towards Daring Do.

Daring Do saw the two rainbooms above and braced herself. her body began to glow slightly as she closed her eyes and raised her hooves toward the sky. She began to roll forward, staying stationary in the air, doing somersaults, spinning faster and faster. Before long, her body was spinning in a circle so fast it was impossible to see anything but a blur.

“Get out of the way!” Daring screamed. Pinkie Pie and Luna quickly dashed away from Chrysalis just as the shield around the queen shattered.

A rainbow colored streak crashed down, slamming right into the circular blur that was Daring Do.

Within that crash, within a matter of a fraction of a second, Daring Do and Rainbow Dash locked hooves. Dash tucked her wings in against her back. Daring spun Dash down and around, past the ground, past Chrysalis who was hovering a couple of yards away, and then released her, shooting her back up into the sky.

Almost imperceptibly, a razor-sharp shear of wind cut through the air straight at Chrysalis. The building that stood behind her was sliced clean in half, but Chrysalis remained, floating in the air, red magic crackling all around her.

Daring landed on the ground and Rainbow stopped a ways in the air above the courtyard. She stared down at Chrysalis in disbelief, the building behind her destroyed, but she was still there.

“Did… did we miss!?” Rainbow shouted down at Daring.

Daring shook her head. “No way! That was perfect!”

“But all for nothing, weaklings!” Chrysalis cackled. “You can’t defeat me! With this new power, I am invincible!” She swung a hoof up, pointing it at Rainbow Dash. Suddenly, her vision seemed to skew. Her hoof fell slightly in front of her. She slapped her front hooves against the sides of her head.

Wrong. You’re the weakling, here! a voice said within Chrysalis’ head. That’s fine. There’s a better host for my power, now!

The left and right sides of Chrysalis’ body began to slide apart. her eyes rolled up into her head. Her body finally fell apart, having been cut perfectly in half, just before dissolving into thin air as a mass of red magic shot out of it and up into the sky.

Pinkie leapt into the air and flew right at Rainbow Dash, slamming into her and pulling her into a big hug. “Ooooh! I’ve never done a flying hug, before! It’s even better than a normal hug!”

Luna smiled up at Rainbow Dash and Pinkie. “You did it!” she said, then nodding down to Daring Do. “We all did it! Truly a marvelous team effort!”

Before they had time to celebrate further, a scream came from the roof across the way.

“No! Stop!”

Twilight turned her head toward the sound. “Linnai! She’s in trouble! Let’s go!” she shouted, and then teleported away.

Luna nodded. “Very well! Let us go help Linnai!” she said, glancing at Mulcibar, who was still locked in combat with Morosa. “These two on the ground seem evenly matched for now.”

Not so fast, a voice said in Luna’s mind. The red magic shot back down from the sky, striking Luna and giving her entire body a bright red glow.

“What!” Rainbow shouted.

Pinkie squeezed Dash even harder. “What happened?”

Daring’s eyes narrowed. “It’s not good, that’s for sure.”

A scream came from above, and everypony turned their eyes toward where it had come from. They were met with the image of Vitra plummeting out of the sky. Rainbow Dash acted quickly, speeding through the air and intercepting her. She returned to the ground and placed her body on the grass at the garden’s edge.

“Getting worse, too! That crack in the sky is growing!” Rainbow shouted.

Vitra reached a hoof up and placed it on Dash’s shoulder. “Too much,” she said, barely audible. “Too many changelings, too fast. I couldn’t stop it.”

“We’d better wrap this up quickly, then!” Pinkie said, turning her attention back to Luna, who was now engulfed in red magic. “Princess!”

“Please! You have to stop me, now!” she shouted. “Rainbow Dash, you have to get ahold of your lucidity! It’s the only way!”

Rainbow Dash flew up to Luna, getting as close as she could without touching the red magic herself. “How? It was so easy before, but now I can’t even do anything!”

“That wind attack you did! Those lightning-fast punches! That was all your lucidity, you’re just used to that sort of thing, even in the head of battle. Now… Now you must truly take hold of your dream, just like you did when you warped in this hotel and teleported everypony here!”

“I’ve been trying! I just can’t!”

Luna reached a hoof out towards Rainbow Dash. “You must! Close your eyes and concentrate! Once you have control, I will be able to use lucidity here, as well! Victory shall be ours!”

Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to remember how she felt when she willed the hotel into existence. Come on, Dash! You can do this! This is nothing!

Too late, a voice whispered in Dash’s mind. She opened her eyes just in time to see Princess Luna release a blast of red magic from her horn. The attack hit Rainbow Dash dead on and sent her flying towards the ground. She smashed into the garden below and lay still, her body crackling with red magic.

“No!” Daring Do shouted, leaping into the air towards Luna.

“Dashie!” Pinkie yelled, diving down to where she’s landed.

From several yards away, Fluttershy leapt to her hooves and ran towards the downed pegasus. “Rainbow Dash!”

Pinkie and Fluttershy met at Rainbow Dash’s body. Pinkie turned her horn upward, creating a shield around them, while Fluttershy wrapped her hooves around Dash and hugged her.

“That won’t protect you for long!” Luna shouted from above.

“She’s right! We have to do something, and fast!” Pinkie responded, glancing down at Rainbow and Fluttershy.

Fluttershy held Dash in her forelegs. “Dashie, wake up. Please!”

Gilda lay barely unconscious and singed, doing her best to keep her eyes open and look over at Twilight. Duval turned and looked in the same direction, his grin turning into a fanged frown.

“Leave my friends alone,” Twilight said gruffly.

“Ah yes, we’d been warned about you, Twilight Sparkle,” Duval said. “I’ll enjoy putting you in your place.”

Twilight leaned down towards Linnai. Linnai gazed up into Twilight’s eyes, smiling. “Are you alright?” she asked.

Linnai nodded. “Now that you’re here,” she said, and then turned toward Duval. “Don’t underestimate him. He’s already increasing the field’s power. Inside his field, magic is useless. You have to be able to overpower him. I couldn’t do it.”

“Don’t strain yourself,” Twilight said, hunching down slightly and lighting up her horn. “I’ll handle him.”

“Well, little Twilight! Any last words before I show you just how weak you are?” Duval said as the orange glow in the air increased in intensity.

Overpower him, huh? Twilight thought, concentrating on the magic auras that Duval was releasing. He’s not that strong, but his ability makes his power seem greater than it really is. It’s all just a mind game. No sweat. She started to charge her horn with magic, the glow coming from its tip getting brighter and brighter.

“I suppose not,” Duval finally said, pouting out his lower lip. “Alright, then. Show me what you’ve got!” He began to speed towards Twilight much faster than she had anticipated he could. She dodged to the right and slid across the ground, aiming her brightly glowing horn in his direction. Her eyes shut tightly and her jaw clenched, she released the magic in her horn in the form of a very compact, straight blast of pure white magic. The orange aura seemed to crackle and burn around it as it sped through the air and struck Duval in the head, knocking him sideways onto the ground. The resulting explosive surge of energy from the impact sizzled through the air, burning away the orange aura in a star-like pattern.

Duval jerked his head up and glared at Twilight. His horn lit up and the orange glow rapidly repaired itself. “Oh, she’s quick! And so feisty!” he growled. “You certainly chose powerful allies for your betrayal, Linnai! I will enjoy making her my bitch!”

With a flash and a cracking sound, Duval vanished. Linnai raised her hoof and shouted out to Twilight. “Look out! He can teleport!”

A little late to be mentioning that, now! Twilight thought, taking evasive maneuvers as Duval appeared behind her. He lunged his hoof towards Twilight’s back, but the unicorn ducked and rolled to the side, her horn already charging up for another blast. She saw him swinging his other hoof around, now, but she easily evaded it as well. What is he doing? Even if those hits connected, he’s not swinging with enough force to do much of anything! There has to be something else! Something I’m missing!

Linnai frowned and started to push herself up to her hooves as she saw Duval grabbing for Twilight. That bastard! He’s really going for it! If he connects, there might be no stopping him! She shakily stood up and lurched towards where the two of them were fighting just as Twilight shot out another blast of magic, this time nailing Duval square across the face, blasting him backwards. Linnai hobbled towards Twilight, her joints aching with each step. She’s going to find out one way or another! We’re allies, friends… she has a right to know everything.

“Twilight!” Linnai cried out. “To me!”

Twilight turned her head, her horn already glowing as she raised her horn’s charge to a level where she could release another attack. She leapt away from Duval and landed beside Linnai, who reached her forelegs over and wrapped them around Twilight’s shoulders and neck.

“What’s wrong? He can’t touch me, this will be over soon,” Twilight said, keeping her eye on Duval as he pushed himself back to his hooves.

“No. We need to work together if we want to stop him. We can’t let him touch you,” Linnai said weakly, and then flipped her wings up, spreading them fully. She turned and stared into Twilight’s eyes, her own vision shaky and blurred. “Do you… trust me?”

“Trust you? What?” Twilight asked, her voice becoming confused. “What do you mean?”

“There’s something you don’t know yet, but with this fight, you’ll find out one way or the other. Do you trust me?” Linnai asked again, swallowing afterwards. “It’s going to be weird, maybe a bit painful, but all the same… do you?”

Twilight nodded her head and then pointed her horn towards Duval, who was poised to charge at them. “Yes. Whatever you have to do, do it.”

Linnai breathed in deeply. “I’m sorry,” she said, and then her wings began to glow with fiery light.

Twilight’s horn immediately lost all of its glow. She felt her knees beginning to wobble, and she turned to look up at Linnai’s brightly glowing wings. Linnai wrapped her foreleg around Twilight more tightly, keeping her from falling over. Her eyes were practically burning a fiery orange, and the equally flashy orange glow in the air began to evaporate from around them.

“What… are you doing?” Twilight asked weakly.

Linnai grinned and took a step forward and leaned down a bit, making sure her wings were fully in front of Twilight’s head. “Not me, Twilight. We!” she said. Duval had stopped in his tracks and was slowly backing away. “Sorry, Duval, but I learned that one, too.”

A wave of flames blasted out across the deck, scorching everything in its path. Duval’s body exploded into a pillar of fire. His screams filled the air. Twilight stared wide-eyed as the fire blast got bigger and bigger. She could see Duval’s body fall to the ground, still burning brightly. She turned to Linnai and reached a hoof up to her face.

“Linnai, that’s enough. He’s already—“

“I… I can’t stop! I can’t stop it! It’s too much power!” Linnai screamed, her own body beginning to burn underneath her wings. “Twilight, I can’t stop! Help! It’s like a floodgate being opened!”

“How? How can I? I feel so weak, I—“ Twilight said, and then gasped as she realized what had happened.

“Please! Make it stop!” Linnai asked, tears dropping only an inch or so from her eyes before evaporating.

Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated as hard as she could. She pushed her face up against Linnai’s and touched their horns together. She somehow tapped into my magic! She stole my power! How is that even possible? Twilight thought as she tried to feel for the point where the magical drain was happening.

“Focus, Linnai! We can do this together. Listen to my voice, concentrate on my magic! Feel for where my magic ends and yours begins!”

“I can’t!” Linnai shouted back, tears streaming down her face. “I’m not some magical genius like you! I had to struggle to get as strong as I am!”

“That’s not true! I’ve seen your magic! You’re as gifted as any unicorn I’ve met at Celestia’s school! No, even more so than most! Now just calm down and concentrate. I’m here for you, just focus.” Twilight carefully wrapped her forelegs around the back of Linnai’s neck and pulled her closer, pressing their cheeks together. The intense heat from above was starting to make Twilight’s scalp painfully hot, but she ignored it and focused solely on Linnai.

Linnai’s heart fluttered at the touch of Twilight’s cheek to hers, even in her current situation. I can feel you, Twilight. I can feel your heart. Your magic. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, remembering Twilight’s words. Even more gifted than most of those little upstarts at Celestia’s school? Hah! Of course I am! I’ll prove it to you, Twilight! No! I’ll prove it to myself!

A second later, the flame blast stopped as quickly as it had started. Linnai fell to the ground. Twilight charged her horn up once more and released a wave of cool blue energy, putting out the raging fire that have enveloped the deck area. She fell to the ground beside Linnai. Both of them breathed heavily, and Linnai turned her head to look at Twilight. She smiled and blinked, tears still falling from her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Twilight. I had to. I couldn’t let him tap into your magic.”

Twilight sighed and managed to chuckle. “You could have just warned me. I bet I could have stopped him.”

Linnai pulled one of her hooves up and placed it on Twilight’s cheek. “No. I didn’t want to take that chance… and besides, I couldn’t let him have you before I did. Guess I’m the jealous type,” she said, and then closed her eyes. “How do you do it? How do you contain all that power inside of you?”

“The same way you do, silly. I meant what I said, you know.”

“Well, I could certainly get used to it!” Duval’s voice came from across the way. His black and burned body was clawing its way across the floorboards towards the two of them.

Linnai and Twilight both strained, charging their horns with magic, but both stuttered and fizzled immediately. The orange glow filled the air again, though only faintly.

“Damn it! Stay away, freak!” Linnai shouted, throwing a hoof around Twilight. “She’s mine!”

Twilight twitched slightly, but then her attention was drawn by a metallic clacking sound from behind her. She turned her head downward and could barely make out a weapon lying on the ground.

“There’s one bullet left!” Gilda’s voice shouted from across the way. “Use it!”

Twilight grabbed the gun with her levitation magic and hovered it over her head. He can’t stop simple levitation with his field! I never even thought to try it, she thought, and then pointed the gun at Duval.

“Back off! I’ll fire!” she shouted, shaking the pistol in the air.

Duval laughed. “You think I care at this point? Do it!” he shouted, continuing to crawl towards them. “Do it before I take all that power from you and make it my own!”

“If you insist!” Twilight shouted, and then grunted slightly.

“The safety! You have to turn the safety off!” Gilda shouted, the sound of her slowly scuffling towards them also coming from her direction.

Twilight sighed. I don’t have time to figure this out, she thought, and then rotated the gun, pointing its butt at Duval’s head. With a single, quick motion, she swung the gun at Duval’s head, smashing against his skull with a satisfying cracking sound. His body fell still, and Twilight levitated the gun back, placing off to the side.

Gilda had arrived and picked the gun up. She held it in front of Twilight and pointed to a small switch on its side. “That’s the safety. You have to turn the safety off.”

Twilight tapped her horn and grinned at Gilda. “That’s my horn. The safety is always off.”

Gilda laughed a bit harder than she should have and gripped her sides. “Oh dude, that hurts…”

What happened? Rainbow Dash thought to herself. She felt an intense pounding in her head and pressed a hoof against its side. Her ears curled back against her head, muffling the sounds of the outside world. What’s going on?

She opened her eyes and found herself floating high above Equestria. She could see for miles in any direction, but what she saw made her whole body shake. The ground below her crumbled, mountains fell to rubble, and lava ejected from the surface in violent bursts. The sky above her seemed to shatter like glass, the shards falling to the ground and tearing away pieces of the world with them.

“No! This can’t be happening! This is just a dream!”

Then stop it! Luna’s voice echoed around her. Reject this reality and create your own! If you do not grasp this power, then all is lost!

Blurry, flickering images of Linnai and Mulcibar appeared in front of her as Luna’s voice continued. These two will be doomed to return to awaken and face their queen, whom they betrayed to help us! They will be put to death!

“I know, but,” Rainbow Dash shouted, pressing her hooves against the sides of her head harder than before. “I just can’t do it again! It’s like I don’t have it in me anymore! I wasted it making that stupid hotel!”

I will go back to my dream world, and it too may reset, sending my sister and the three foals known as the Cutie Mark Crusaders tumbling back to their own dream worlds!

Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth and tried to focus on the lucidity like she had before, but she felt nothing but panic inside. She opened her eyes and saw Twilight and Fluttershy’s images before her, now.

Those two, as well, Luna’s voice said, becoming weaker now. They will be sent back to where they began.

Rainbow Dash stared straight ahead at Fluttershy and felt tears beginning to well up inside of her.

They will remember none of what has happened. All of their efforts will have been for nothing.

Rainbow’s eyes went wide and tears began to fall freely from them as her mind flashed back to the previous day.

You know, I sort of had this silly thought, like maybe I had a crush—

It wasn’t just you.

Rainbow Dash remembered their brief but real kiss. That confession, even if I had cut her off… that was real. That was Fluttershy speaking from her heart, being braver than I thought she could be. I almost…

Dash closed her eyes and wiped her tears away. I almost wanted her to stop, like it shouldn’t have been her telling me. It should have been the other way. It should have been different!

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes and stared with determination at the image of Fluttershy before her. “It will be different next time! I’m gonna get out of here! I’m gonna save us all, and I’m gonna tell you! I’m gonna tell you just how much you mean to me!”

“Please, just wake up! Say something! Anything!” Fluttershy’s image called out to Dash.

I can stay here no longer, Rainbow Dash, Luna’s voice barely whispered. Go to her. Let her be your guiding light.

Rainbow stared down at the world and saw nothing left of it but a swirling maelstrom of rocks and debris. She pointed a hoof down at it, and it froze.

“No,” she said. “I will never let that happen.”

Rainbow Dash gasped for air and shot up to a sitting position. She found herself on the ground, a pink bubble shield above, and Fluttershy’s forelegs and wings wrapped around her body.

“You’re awake!”

Rainbow Dash turned her head towards Fluttershy, nearly touching their noses together, and smiled. “Sorry, Fluttershy. I’m back! For real this time!” She wrapped a foreleg around her friend and squeezed her close. “It was all thanks to you. Thank you for calling me back.”

Fluttershy blushed slightly and managed a smile, despite her eyes still being wet with tears. “Don’t mention it. I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing… well, seeing anypony else I care about getting hurt.” She turned and looked over at Mulcibar and Morosa, who were both standing and staring at one another. Morosa’s wings were fully open and glowing blue, just like Mulcibar’s had before.

That’s odd, Fluttershy thought, her mind filling with worry once again. She softened her grip on Rainbow, who stood up and looked skyward to Luna.

“You too, Princess Luna! Pinkie! You changelings! Everypony! I won’t leave you hanging ever again.”

Pinkie Pie strained, though managing to smile. “Can we… hurry up a bit? I can’t… hold this for any longer!”

Dash glared up at Luna. “Listen up, you!” Dash shouted, her voice creating visible ripples in the air above her. “You think you can just come into my dream and do whatever you want?”

Luna took a break from firing her sustained beam attack into Pinkie’s shield just long enough to laugh and respond. “Of course I do! Dreams are my domain, and yours is the perfect environment for nightmares!” Her eyes glowed bright red along with her horn, and then she resumed firing magic into Pinkie’s forcefield.

“Wrong,” Dash said firmly. She raised both her front hooves and clapped them together. A shockwave fired out from them, shattering through Pinkie’s shield, blasting up through the magic attack, and slamming into Luna, sending her body flying backwards. The princess’ body hit the ground, and Dash rushed across the ground to meet her at the point of impact, leaving Fluttershy and Pinkie where they stood.

“I did it, Princess. Now let’s get rid of her!”

With those words, Luna’s face relaxed, a smile spread across her lips, and a stream of red magic began to stream off of her body, collecting into a massive sphere just above her.

“Are you yourself again?”

“Yes,” Luna said between heavy breaths. “Thank you.”

“I think I’ve got the hang of this lucidity stuff. It was just like, snap! Suddenly I could do anything!”

Luna smiled. “That’s often how it is. It usually takes a catalyst. I trust you found yours.”

Rainbow Dash nodded and glanced towards Fluttershy briefly. “Yeah. I did. So, what are we going to do with all this evil magic?”

Luna sighed. “That’s my responsibility, I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry, now that you have lucidity here, I do as well,” she said, and ten pointed her horn at the ball of red magic. A single blast of magic turned the entire ball from red to white. “Mind you, I’ve been capable of forcing some lucidity if I needed to, but it’s so much easier if the dreamer has a full grasp as well.”

The white magic began to trickle through the air, streaming into Luna’s body. She turned her gaze down to Pinkie Pie. “Pinkie! This means you, as well! I’m afraid we aren’t done here. We need to stop this so-called reset swarm.”

“No!” Fluttershy screamed, interrupting Princess Luna. Rainbow Dash turned her gaze just in time to see Fluttershy diving through the air, wings spread, eyes wide.

She turned to look at what Fluttershy was rushing towards, and gasped when she saw it. Morosa was standing over Mulcibar’s body, a spear stabbed straight through his chest, blood pooling on the ground.

“I’m sorry, Azura,” Morosa said as he twisted the spear’s head. Mulcibar lay on his side, his eyes staring directly up at the other changeling, cold and lifeless. “I wish it didn’t have to end this way.”

“Mulcibar!” Fluttershy shouted, flapping her wings and speeding through the air towards Morosa.

Author's Note:

What will happen? Is Mulcibar doomed to awaken and face the wrath of Chrysalis? Find out next time!

I am so sorry this took so long to come out! In the end, my vacation, among other things, really prevented me from writing as much as I'd hoped.

So it looks like there will be a Chapter 9, but I swear on me mum that'll be the last chapter of this book! I guess I shouldn't call how many chapters a book will have until it's done!

If you like my stories, consider supporting me on Patreon.

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