• Published 16th Feb 2019
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Equestria Girls: Duel Monsters - Night-Quill



Twilight Sparkle's crown, the Element of Magic, has been stolen. She must now pursue the wayward Sunset Shimmer into a new world. A world where a dark magic lurks beneath the notice of its inhabitants, within a most peculiar game unlike any other...

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Duel #2: Trial by Fire: The Art of the Duel

Twilight, staying ever true to rules set for libraries, and presuming the same to apply across dimensions, opened the door to the one within Canterlot High, as the dimensional counterpart of Celestia referred to this place. It wasn’t quite as grandiose as she’d hoped: Bigger compared to her Golden Oak Library home in Ponyville, but not even close to the likes of the Canterlot, Crystal or even the one in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. Still, she remained hopeful that she could find the guidance she needed to become a ‘duelist’ as the players of this game were referred to.

Almost immediately, she was not certain where to begin. The place seemed empty (in lieu of the lunch period, though Twilight did not feel hungry, at least for now), and wherever she looked, she could not find a catalogue anywhere. Near a flight of stairs to the upper level she did find a large round table, the center occupied by a hefty brazen equine bust, the surface lined in a circle with a series of devices she was not quite certain about.

Taking a seat on an accompanying swiveling chair, Twilight rubbed her much flattened chin in contemplation. The object right before her reminded her of a typewriter, minus anyplace to put in paper, whilst ahead of that sat something like an upright mirror or a window, but its surface was black and almost completely non-reflective.

Spike manage to hop up onto the table, his paw accidentally hitting against something beside the typewriter device. The window flared up in front of Twilight, showing an image of a profile of an equine head (which seemed to be some form of icon or symbol for this school) over a large stylized letter C.

She looked over at Spike, who only grinned innocently, before she took hold of the little device he’d bumped onto, which looked oddly enough like a mouse, complete with a cord for a tail, minus the ears. As she did, she spotted a little white arrow slide across the window. Looking between the “mouse” and the window in befuddlement, she ran the device against the table’s surface in random directions, the little arrow imitating the movements in near perfect synchronization.

“Computer not working?”

Twilight yelped audibly, to which she heard someone else nearby hush sharply. Some…one(?) had snuck up beside her, holding onto a book that Twilight had overlooked on the table. This was one Twilight hadn’t recalled ever meeting in Equestria. Or had she? Regardless, he was a male of this so far unknown species; taller than Twilight, his skin a shade of yellow with a spiky, slicked back mane. He wore a rather thick looking dark grey hooded jacket and blue denim leggings and black footwear accented with a lightning bolt, which was also stenciled on the right arm. As everyone else; he wore one of the disk devices on his left arm, the blade folded away, the colors oddly enough not matching his clothing, with a red wrist component and a white, maybe light grey, blade.

He held up his hands in surprise at Twilight’s response, “Whoa! Sorry about that,” to which the both of them earner another hush from behind a bookcase behind the two.

“Sorry about that,” he repeated more quietly.

Twilight did her best to compose herself, chuckling awkwardly, “No problem. I was just looking for the library catalogue.”

He raised a brow, “It’s right there,” he said, pointing at a small icon on the window… mirror?

“Oh,” Twilight giggled, “Duh!” to which she moved the arrow over said icon, but nothing happened. She shook it around frustratedly, with similar results.

The male looked down at her uneasily, “… Have you ever used a computer before?”

Com-put-tor? “Uh… no?” she uttered in uncertainty, “I’m new here and have very… backwards parents…?”

He snorted, clearly trying to stifle a laugh, “Seriously? Like luddites?”

Those exist here too?

He coughed awkwardly, scratching at the back of his head, “Uh, no offense, of course!”

Twilight gave a curt wave, “None taken. But, would it be too awkward if I asked how this ‘com-pu-tor’ works?”

“Not at all. Allow me the honor of introducing you to the information super highway,” he chuckled, pulling up a chair by the computor next to the one Twilight had occupied. Twilight wheeled her chair to the side, taking note of Spike having hid under the table, as her new acquaintance took her spot before the device, “Flash Sentry, by the way.”

“Twilight Sparkle.”

He nodded in acknowledgment, “Anyway, it’s pretty simple; you move the cursor with the mouse, double click what you wanna open,” as he did, the mouse, that he referred to it as, clicked underneath his fingers, to which the catalogue icon changed the screen into something different; it changed to a light orange with a series of worded rectangles and a thick white line in the upper half with a thin white box marked “title”, “And ‘presto’. What were you looking for anyway?”

“I was hoping to find some books on dueling, actually,” said Twilight as she eyed the device in intrigue, “You wouldn’t happen to know or recommend something?”

Flash looked at her with uncertainty, “Oh, uh… Sorry, but most of the stuff I know on dueling I just learned by doing. I suppose you’ve not dueled before?”

Twilight shook her head, “I do want to learn though,” she leaned down to grab the deck box from her bag, “Even have a deck ready!”

“Well that’s halfway there. People tend to prefer it with a duel disk though,” Flash emphasized with a tap of the device strapped to his wrist.

Duel disk, right… “Well, uh, isn’t there something that could help me get on the right track?” Twilight asked, doing her best not to sound pleading.

“Well, yea,” Flash clicked something in the upper-right corner which made the image on the mirror vanish downwards, sliding the cursor up to another tiny icon, a four-colored wheel simply called “Boggle”, to which a new image opened up, the very word dead center on it, “Just check out the online manual and it should help you get started…” he said as his fingers tapped against the keys on the typewriter looking object.

This produced letters on the white line she almost missed on the white background, after which he tapped the biggest key. In a blink the background once again changed to a line of paragraphs, each with the title highlighted in blue underlined text. He then clicked on the very first one, which unveiled yet again a new background, this one of what looked like a dark purple cover of a book. The title being Official Duel Monsters Guide, spelled in detailed, gold letters, published by something called Crystal Mirage Inc.

“I mean it’s technically in book form too,” Flash shrugged with an awkward smile, “But this one’s more accessible, err, at least when you’ve got access to a computer, of course!” he explained, scooting out of the way for Twilight to take her seat before the computer, taking the mouse in her hand, and as she’d seen him do, flicked at the little wheel to have the image move downwards, coming up to an introductory page, followed by the appendix.

Twilight’s confusion was replaced by an eager smile when all she had was right there before her.

“This is exactly what I needed!” she beamed, tapping her fists together in excitement, “Thank you so much, Flash! You saved me a lot of hassle.”

“Hey, glad to help,” he said with a hint of red to his cheeks, “So you’re transferring or…?”

“Next week,” Twilight confirmed, though her eyes were directed towards the guide, going through the appendix, seeing it wasn’t a particularly long read if she skipped most of the supplementary material such as the history, “Princess- Principal Celestia permitted me to look around, and with the mid-term match coming up, I decided to do some research.”

Of course, much of what she said was a lie: She would not be attending, in fact, she didn’t have the time to even be there next week, unless of course she failed in her task… Notions which Twilight promptly had to brush aside. She had gotten out of much more dangerous situations back home; she needed to learn and master a game, defeat the top contenders at the school, whomever those were, ensure she was the finalist, topple Sunset Shimmer, if need be, as the school pro, get her crown, and get back home or be stuck in this world for the next thirty moons… And there she went again.

“Guessing it’s your first match then,” Flash remarked as Twilight was speedily browsing through the first set of rules; the field lay-out.

“Uh-huh…”

“Not to brag, but I play a pretty good game myself.”

“Mm-hm…”

“Maybe after school I could show you the ropes? The soccer field is as good a place as any.”

“Okay.”

“Oh! Cool! So, uh, I’ll just leave you to it…”

“Right…”

“See you after the last bell then!”

“Mm…”

As Twilight’s eyes ran through the text before her, she almost didn’t notice as Spike came out from hiding under the table to hop up onto the now vacant chair beside her and onto the table surface. After a short while, the dragon turned dog’s face slid into view, bearing the most amused smile she’d seen on his visage.

“What?” she asked, looking away from her research, currently on monster mechanics.

“Did you just agree to a meet-up with a colt?” Spike raised a daring brow.

Twilight looked at Spike obliviously, “I don’t follow…”

“‘Maybe after school I can show you the ropes.’” said Spike, doing a poor impression of Flash.

That was when realization struck Twilight, “Ooh…” her eyes darted side-to-side for a moment before looking back to Spike, “I’m sure it’s nothing serious. And besides; at least I have someone to do a test duel with.”

“I dunno, Twilight…” Spike muttered as Twilighy leaned down to take out the deck box, “I think he may have been crushing on you.”

Twilight sputtered her lips, “Whaaat? Nooo…” she chortled as she opened the container to get at the deck inside, which she then slid out onto the table to get a look at what exactly what she would be working with, “And besides; he’s a…”

Having gleamed enough understanding from Flash’s demonstration, she managed to backtrack and do a quick search on what exactly this species was she had taken the guise of. Luckily, in whatever means these computers functioned, they seemed quite versatile in being able to answer a straight up question she could write down. Though at first it came out as a garbled, incomprehensible gaggle of mismatched letters when she inadvertently tried typing with her fingers bunched together. After a few additional tries, accented with some subtle cursing under hear breath, she managed finally when using only one finger per hand, annoyingly slow as the process was.

“Human?” she both answered and questioned as something she gleamed as “Wikipedia” told her, “I’m a pony. If anything, I doubt I could regard him as something I’d deem attractive…” as she managed to find her way back to the guide, she paused in thought, “Say, Spike? How would you describe me as looking?” A fair question, she felt, as she hadn’t had the chance to look into a mirror or the like.

Spike brought a paw under his jaw as he looked Twilight over, as per her request, “I’m not sure how to put it…” he muttered, “More… sharper? Angular?”

“Ooookay…?” Twilight trailed, uncertain what to make of Spike’s analysis as she went to work separating the monster, spell and trap cards, as the guide called them.

-

“Dear sweet Celestia…” Twilight groaned at the sheer enormity of the game she initially thought she could grasp in a matter of hours.

She heard Spike snort from under the table, possibly having fallen asleep. Following a yawn and some weary smacking, the dragon turned dog hopped up onto the chair beside her, giving a snort, almost like a sneeze, “What’s wrong, Twilight?”

“This whole game…” Twilight muttered, her head quite ungracefully resting atop the typewriter-device, her arms slouched with a single card grasped between her fingers, “I did some further research, and the sheer number of cards to be found: It numbers in the eight-thousands! At first I thought it would be similar to everypo- everyone!” she growled, trying to keep to the human lingo now as best she could, “But turns out almost everyone’s deck will be fundamentally different, not to mention all the different card types! I’m not just talking monsters, spells and traps, but all the ones that go out of the main deck! So I can’t even come up with a working formula to ensure victory…”

Spike looked at the defeated sounding alicorn princess in human form, scratching at the back of his head with a hind paw before answering, “Well, you do remember what Flash said, right?”

Twilight’s eyes lazily fixated on Spike, to which her head rose slightly off the typewriter, looking almost like she was pleading for the answer she simply could not see.

“Learn by doing?” he inquired, raising a brow.

Twilight finally decided to lift herself off the piece of hardware, looking down at her companion unenthused, “Spike, we don’t have much time to practice. The tournament is in three days; and in three days’ time I need to defeat the best this school has to offer, on top of beating Sunset Shimmer, who is the best.”

“But you have her deck,” Spike pointed out, “As long as she doesn’t realize you have it, and I assume she needs it to do her best; doesn’t that already put you one step ahead of her?”

Twilight raised the card she was still grasping. “High Priestess of Prophecy” she was called: One of the higher tier cards of this deck Twilight had been bequeathed by the merits of simple good fortune. At best she could tell; these cards seemed to have some allusions to the Arcana, or Tarot cards, something she herself recalled playing around with as a filly, first time with Cadence back when she was her foalsitter.

Overall, Twilight did find the cards strangely endearing, a series of what she could amount to predominately human-equivalents to patrons of the magical arts, much like herself, Celestia, Luna and, naturally, the great Star Swirl the Bearded from ages long past. She could not fathom why, but it was High Priestess that she found the most appealing. It was the first of these cards she had seen, so some form of familiarity, if one could call it such in regards to a card, had been established with it.

It was at that moment that Twilight felt a presence around her. Looking around, she found that she and Spike were still the only two to be seen.

“What’s up?” asked Spike, looking around idly in tandem.

Twilight looked uneasy as she started gathering the cards she’d spread out categorically, sliding them back into the protective case, “I don’t know. I just thought there was someone next to me.”

“I think we’re still the only ones here,” Spike remarked, stretching out tiredly.

“I guess so…” Twilight muttered, standing up to sling on her backpack, “Come on, I need to freshen up a little.”

“You think we can find food somewhere? Because we haven’t eaten since last night,” said Spike, his tone slightly strained, along with the muted rumble Twilight could hear coming from the dog’s belly.

“That’s not a bad idea, actually…” Twilight muttered, her own stomach groaning in protest.

The two of them exited the library, unaware of someone observing the two from on high, sitting gracefully atop the bookcase closest to the computer Twilight had occupied.

-

“Spike, please, you need to be quiet,” Twilight muttered.

“Sorry,” Spike’s voice gagged from within her backpack that was currently hung from a rack inside the bathroom stall, “It’s just that being a dog has made everything more,” a sickening gulp escaped from within, “Fragrant…”

Twilight sighed. Spike did have a point though; the restroom they were in did feel strangely filthier by comparison to those back home where one would expect the sanitation crews to ensure at least an alleviation of any form of stench. Here, even if it didn’t seem as outwardly appalling to the eyes, just the smell made everything feel hideous, to which Twilight was actually thankful for her transformation to have included the footwear she was sporting.

After concluding nature’s call, Twilight stepped out of the booth to try and use the faucet, which, after some difficulty, managed to get it to run (without spraying herself amazingly) to clean herself off. Having the first chance to get a proper look at herself in the restroom mirror; seeing the strangely simultaneously familiar and yet unfamiliar face was an odd spectacle, to say the least. Twilight had to agree with Spike; while her face did seem to retain much of its soft features, she did feel as if she was slightly more angular in some places. Same could have been said about her eyes; which looked smaller than she was used to, with much wider, very iridescent purple irises and smaller pupils.

Also, she could have sworn that her mane, or hair, rather, seemed to fan out behind her. Very odd, given how she usually did not style herself too intricately like Rarity. If anything, this made it look almost like she had vague wings jutting out from her back if viewed from the front. Also the center of her front bangs seemed to have acquired an extra layer at the very middle, while its sides seemed to curve further down, framing her overall face.

She tugged at her lower eyelid, scrutinizing the smooth, almost flawless skin that had replaced her coat. Pursing her lips, she shrugged, the reflection mimicking her movements. Lastly, she could not help but poking at the very useless feeling protrusions on her chest. She still could not fathom what possible physiological benefits those things had!

A disgruntled gag emanated from her back, accompanied with a soft tap against her. As she was turning to leave, someone else entered the restroom; a human with golden orange skin, a head of fiery red and yellow hair, dressed in a striking black jacket with metallic studs at the collar folds, a magenta shirt emblazoned with a red and yellow symbol reminiscent of a flaming sun, along with an orange skirt with a yellow and purple curved streak going across, and very tall, black footwear that reached well up to her knees. As everyone else, she wore a duel disk on her left arm; black with a dark orange, folded tray (as the guide referred to it as). Twilight froze upon realizing who it was.

Sunset Shimmer!

Sunset looked straight at her, her eyes a slightly muted orange tone, which Twilight found unsettling to behold for whatever reason. Unlike in Equestria, her overall form, and the striking fierceness of those orange eyes staring at Twilight made her look rather intimidating, in spite of the otherwise familiar radiant coloration.

Sunset’s brow lowered, “What are you looking at?” she asked, her voice bearing a distinct hint of spite.

What luck, she doesn’t recognize me! “N-nothing, nothing!” Twilight stammered, holding up her hands, “I was just leaving…”

Sunset thrust her arm against the wall, effectively cutting off Twilight’s exit. Twilight leapt with a gasp at the swiftness, Sunset staring at her intently.

Or does she…?

Sunset said nothing, her orange, fierce eyes staring at Twilight, her expression of spite unflinching. After an uncomfortable silence she finally muttered, “Haven’t I see you somewhere before?”

“Nope!” Twilight peeped, feigning innocence, “I’m new here! Just having a look around is all!”

Sunset stared at her for a moment longer. When Twilight believed she’d been most certainly caught, Sunset snorted arrogantly, lowering her arm, “Whatever. Just stay out of my way,” she spoke harshly, shoving past Twilight.

Twilight did her best to prevent herself from bolting out the door. Upon her escape of the restroom, for the second time that day she found herself slumping against a locker.

“Uh, Twilight?!” Spike called from the bag, prompting Twilight to push away.

“Sorry, Spike!” she fretted, tugging at the zipper to let the dog’s head poke out.

“It was her, wasn’t it?” asked Spike, peering at the restroom door.

“It was,” Twilight started to walk away, “I’m not sure, but I think she didn’t recognize me. Not yet, anyway. To be honest, in human form, I may have not recognized her either, hadn’t Principal Celestia had that photo. Regardless, we should steer clear of her for now. The longer she doesn’t know we’re here, the better…”

Twilight glanced over her shoulder, seeing that the hallways had begun to fill with the students of Canterlot High.

-

After failing to procure any form of nourishment outside of water from a drinking fountain, her bits being incompatible with the vending machines in the hallways and the cafeteria no longer serving after the lunch period, all Twilight could do was return to the library, waiting for the final bell. Staying true to not interfering with students, and not knowing where she could potentially just snatch back her crown, she thought the best she could do for now was continue learning about the ins and outs of living as a human.

Makes me wonder: How did Sunset feel the first time she came here?

It wasn’t until later, at roughly three pm. that the students finally were let off for the afternoon and began crowding the hallways more freely. Amidst the clamor of their conversations and footsteps, Twilight carefully moved amongst them, going entirely unrecognized, save for the occasional awkward apology when she bumped into someone. After making it outside through the back entrance, she found what she thought looked like a polo field, with bleachers set across from it where some students were already congregated, talking among one another or fumbling with small devices Twilight had no knowledge of.

“Took me up on the offer after all?” Twilight turned to see Flash leaning beside the school exit, holding a second duel disk in one hand, one of a generic grey color, as opposed to the color coordinated ones everyone else wore.

Twilight looked over, smiling awkwardly. Just something in the human male’s expression made Twilight feel strangely awkward.

“I guess it’s like you said; learn by doing,” she shrugged, watching as he offered the duel disk to her, “Where’d you get that?”

“CHS has some spares, seeing as we are a sort of duel academy,” said Flash, “You know how to put this on?”

Twilight shook her head, to which Flash held the device with the wrist clamp pointed towards her. Twilight assumingly, inserted her hand through. The clamp shut around her, seeming to adjust to her forearm instantly.

Twilight looked at the device now attached to her arm. It felt slightly cumbersome, and the width of the folded trays would take getting used to. It did feel slightly tight, but not enough to cut off circulation.

“It’s not that complicated; just insert your deck into the port at the front, extras go in the back here,” Flash explained, indicating his own, to which he slid a compartment open.

“Simple,” Twilight reiterated, taking out her, or rather, Sunset’s deck and inserting it into the front port. The device clicked, to which the deck became fastened to it.

“I assume you had time to go over the basics?” he asked, “I mean you did have some time to yourself and all…”

“I should be ready,” I hope.

“Cool! Wanna take the bleachers side, or shall I?” to which Flash immediately hesitated, “Actually, why don’t I take that side-”

“What? Oh, no, no I’m perfectly fine walking,” Twilight responded in protest.

“Well what with you being new here and all,” Flash replied awkwardly scratching his head.

“I assure you, I’m perfectly fine taking some steps.”

“But it wouldn’t be the-”

“Would someone just pick a goddamn side already?!” someone shouted amongst the crowd.

In their little back and forth, a rather sizable crowd had gathered around Twilight and Flash Sentry.
The two looked at one another, the both of them chuckling in embarrassment, to which Twilight took the initiative and walked across the field closer to the bleachers, the foreboding sense of all eyes being on her creeping its way up her spine.

Just great. I mean it’s only my first ever duel, and with a bunch of ponies- PEOPLE watching me…

As soon as the two of them had assumed the appropriate distance, the crowd shifting around the field, Twilight saw as Flash’s duel disk turned on, the halves of the tray sliding forward to combine into one, then swung along his arm, making a highly distinct noise.

Twilight took a deep breath and sighed, doing her best to try and ignore everyone’s stares. Dueling is a big deal here. You should have expected as such. She removed her backpack, which allowed Spike to see the impending spectacle. She held out her duel disk bearing arm… To which nothing happened.

Twilight eyed the disk, perusing its overall rather obscure construction, trying to see how to activate it.

“Hit the “on” button!” someone else shouted from the bleachers.

Twilight blushed, trying her best to find wherever said button was located, already feeling the pressure of failing in such a simple task.

“Boop!” a pink hand suddenly prodded something somewhere on the disk, making Twilight yelp, perhaps a tad too audibly as the tray’s halves slid forth, combined, and swung along her arm, the screen atop lighting up.

Twilight watched as a pink skinned girl with puffy pink hair with large, innocent blue eyes stood next to her. She was clad in a light blue short-sleeved shirt over a plain white shirt emblazoned with a large image of a cupcake, a frilled three-layered skirt, all layers a varying shade of pink that deepened the lower the layer, held up with a purple sash, and a striking pair of blue footwear. And she must have had some of the largest chest obstructions underneath her shirt that Twilight believed she’d have seen that day!

“You’re welcome~!” the girl sing-sang, before skipping happily towards the bleachers.

“Uh, thanks-” Pinkie Pie?!

Opponent detected, a heavily filtered, female sounding voice sounded from the duel disk, “Streaming data,” the images of two five by five grids appeared on the screen, accompanied by two single grids to their sides; the field, “Duel start?

“And ‘boop’!” before Twilight could even respond, the pink hand came up from over her right shoulder, tapping against the box that appeared.

The image of what seemed to be a coin appeared on the screen which spun around rapidly, settling on a red side marked “tails”.

Opponent’s start.

Flash Sentry Life Points: 4000

Twilight Sparkler Life Points: 4000

“Okay, let’s do this!” came Flash’s voice from her disk, indicating it must have been some for of two-way communicator as well.

The technological advancements in this world are leagues beyond Equestria’s, and yet they don’t even seem to use magic, Twilight thought as the disk ejected her five hand cards.

Turn 1: Flash Sentry

“Since I have the first move, I can't draw,” Flash called, “I start by playing the spell card ‘Reinforcement of the Army’!” he inserted the card into a slot at the top of the tray, the image of said card arising from the ground.

Right, so a normal spell card…

“This lets me add one warrior-type monster from my deck to my hand,” Flash ran his finger against his duel disk’s screen before tapping it, to which a card slid out of his deck which he took in his hand, which Twilight’s own screen confirmed as the type he’d declared “And then I summon ‘Heroic Challenger – Thousand Blades’ in attack mode.”

A blue portal appeared on the ground near Flash, much like in the duel Twilight witnessed between Rainbow Dash and Applejack. From within arose a humanoid warrior in predominately silvery armor wielding a curve bladed polearm, with several different shaped blades protruding from its back to the sides. (Level 4, 1300/1100)

“I activate Thousand Blades’ effect: Once each turn by discarding a ‘Heroic’ card from my hand,” Flash placed a card beside a slot adjacent to his card tray, which the card slid inside, the graveyard, “I can't special summon for the rest of this turn except ‘Heroic’ monsters. I can then special summon one Heroic monster from my deck,” he went back to his screen and made his choice, “I choose ‘Heroic Challenger – War Hammer,” his chosen card once again slid out from his deck which he slapped onto the tray.

Another portal opened, out emerging a much larger and heftier humanoid in dark blue and silver armor, wielding a large weapon of its namesake. (Level 6, 2100/1300)

Flash’s first monster, Thousand Blades, suddenly knelt down, its arms crossed over its chest, “As a cost, Thousand Blades switches to defense mode when his effect is used. (DEF: 1100) I’ll set a card facedown, and end my turn,” the image of a facedown card appeared on flash’s field.

Twilight looked at Flash’s field. A monster with an impressive 2100 attack points, without needing to sacrifice any of them from his field, and another weaker monster forced into defense.

Turn 2: Twilight Sparkle

He said Thousand Blades can bring him a monster from his deck once per turn, as long as he has cards to discard. I’ll need to get rid of that first. “Alright, here I go…” Twilight drew her first card, then went over her hand.

Six cards; three monsters, a trap, and two spells. So far she had only two monsters she could summon without a sacrifice, whereas her trap was not going to have much use, seeing as her graveyard was empty, though she second one showed promise-

“Hurry up already!”

This elicited murmuring amidst the gathered students.

“Is this like her first duel or something?”

“Did she seriously challenge Flash Sentry with a deck she doesn’t even know how to use?”

“She couldn’t even turn on her duel disk from the looks of it…”

Twilight swallowed, the murmuring an undue focus on her making her feel increasingly nervous, making her focus wan.

“I summon ‘The Fool of Prophecy’ in attack mode,” Twilight placed a card in the black cleft of the tray, to which the same blue portal appeared before her.

From within arose a human dressed in a bright yellow robe with a low, matching hat, with a twig of some sort grasped in his mouth and leisurely holding a golden rod over his shoulder. (Level 3, 1600/900)

“I activate the effect of The Fool of Prophecy,” Twilight saw as her screen flashed, switching to a view of all the cards in her deck, an image of a hand appearing in the corner, allowing her to scroll through them, the disk having even the knowledge of every card’s placement in her deck in specific order, “I… I send one Spellbook card from my deck to the graveyard,” to which she chose one called ‘Spellbook of Judgement’ which slid out of her deck, which she promptly placed at the mouth of her disk’s graveyard slot that slid it inside.

“And then I…” Shoot! I sent a Spellbook into my graveyard; now I can’t use ‘Spellbook Library of the Crescent'! Twilight cringed, indignant over losing her focus from everyone’s jeers, “Uh, I place two cards facedown…” she declared, sliding two cards into the spell and trap slot on her side of the device and tapped two of her spell and trap slots on the screen, the two cards’ images appearing before her.

There’s nothing else I can do but… “I attack Thousand Blades with ‘The Fool of Prophecy’!” she declared.

The Fool spat out his twig, to which he trained his rod towards the sky. A white orb formed at the tip of the rod which he then flung at the kneeling warrior. The orb struck home, making the image shatter into bits with a surprisingly loud explosion.

Alright, he won’t be able to summon additional monsters from his deck now. Now I just need to watch out for his stronger monster. I can still recover from that miscalculation… Right? “I end my turn.”

Turn 3: Flash Sentry

“Alright, my go,” Flash drew a card, “I summon ‘Heroic Challenger – Ambush Soldier’ in defense mode.”

Onto Flash’s field emerged another humanoid, hunched over with most of its body covered in a dark green cloak, save for a goggled head. (Level 1 0/0)

A monster with zero attack and defense? It must have some nasty effect…

“Now I’ll attack The Fool with War Hammer!” Flash declared, though more energetically as she pointed at Twilight’s only monster.

Twilight tensed slightly as the large hammer wielding humanoid leapt into the air, bringing its namesake weapon up and over its head. The moment it touched back onto the group, the hammer came swinging down upon The Fool, the robed spellcaster erupting into tiny fragments with a resounding boom of the illusory hammer striking the ground. Twilight could not help but cover her face, illusions or not, given how life-like they were.

Twilight Sparkle Life Point (-500) 3500

“When War Hammer destroys a monster in battle, his effect triggers, allowing me to equip the destroyed monster to him as an equipment card,” upon concluding, a ghostly image of the destroyed Fool melded into War Hammer, “This increases its attack points equal to the original attack of the destroyed monster.” (ATK: 3700)

3700 attack points already?! Twilight gaped, her duel disk indicating as The Fool not counting as being in her graveyard, while one of Flash’s spell and trap slots had been occupied.

“I end my turn,” Flash declared, maintaining an overall neutral expression, not gloating, not seeming disappointed.

Turn 4: Twilight Sparkle

Twilight swallowed. Closing her eyes, trying to calm herself in shutting out the stares of the spectating students.

This isn’t good. I thought I had this deck figured out during my research. But I can’t even keep it together with people gawking at me… It’s like magic kindergarten all over again…

She drew her next card. To her surprised, it was something she could actually use, “I summon ‘Spellbook Magician of Prophecy’ in defense mode.”

Before her emerged a male human dressed in blue and white robes, with an intricate round hat sporting a blue symbol atop it. He grasped a spell book in one hand, holding it underneath an arm as it hunched down onto the field. (Level 2, 500/400)

“When Spellbook Magician is summoned, I can add one ‘Spellbook’ spell card from my deck to my hand,” she scrolled through her choices, “I choose ‘Spellbook of Knowledge,’” to which her chosen card slid out for her to take. Her deck rattled afterwards, the device shuffling it for her. This technology was becoming increasingly endearing the more she beheld it.

Maybe when I return home I should tell the Princesses about the possibility of further research into engineering…

She returned her focus back to the duel at hand, “I then activate the Spellbook of Knowledge I just took: I can send either a spellcaster-type monster from my field, or a Spellbook card from my hand or field to the graveyard,” she slid the now useless Spellbook Library of the Crescent to the graveyard slot, “This lets me draw two cards,” to which her duel disk let out a chime, the screen telling her to draw the mentioned number of times.

She looked at the two cards she drew. One did not add much in terms of usefulness, but the other, she felt would be perfect.

Alright; since I now have three Spellbook spells in my graveyard, I believe I can turn things around, “I then activate ‘Spellbook of Fate.’” she declared, sliding the card into a slot, “I banish one-to-three ‘Spellbook’ spell cards from my graveyard, and based on the number, I can activate one of three effects,” her duel disk asked her to enter her choices; she proceeded to remove all three Spellbook spells she had in her graveyard, which slid out of her graveyard slot, the disk directing her to place them into a different slot on the back of the rectangular portion.

“Since I banished three, I can banish one card on your side of the field; and I choose your War Hammer!”

At that moment Flash’s monster looked to evaporate out of existence. He removed the card from his tray and placed it into the allotted slot.

“That’s the way,” he said encouragingly through the disks.

Not much I can do now but hope he doesn’t summon another monster. “I end my turn.”

Turn 5: Flash Sentry

Flash drew his next card, “During my stand-by phase my Ambush Soldier’s effect activates: By sending him to the graveyard I can special summon two Heroic Challenger monsters from my hand or graveyard.”

Twilight’s eyes widened at that. And he has at least two in his graveyard so far! But what was the one he discarded?

“Special summon back ‘Heroic Challenger – Thousand Blades’ in attack mode (Level 4, 1300/1100), as well as ‘Heroic Challenger – Clasp Sword,' also in attack mode!”

The second monster he summoned was a much smaller looking humanoid warrior in a predominately grey and gold suit of armor, but its most distinctive feature was its right arm being some form of jagged blade. (Level 1, 300/100)

“When Clasp Sword is special summoned by the effect of a Heroic Challenger monster, his effect lets me add a Heroic Challenger monster from my deck to my hand,” his chosen card slid out, which he flashed in his hand, “I will then normal summon ‘Heroic Challenger – Extra Sword’ in attack mode.”

Another humanoid warrior emerged, this one bearing very outward angling armor that was a mix of silver and khaki green, wielding a pair of double-edged swords, the one in its left hand smaller than in the right. (Level 4, 1000/1000)

“And now, with the level 4 Thousand Blades and Extra Sword, I construct the Overlay Network!” he declared, sliding the latter over the former on his tray.

Overlay… So that means Flash uses-

Twilight beheld as the two monsters on the field turned transparent, their forms sliding together, to which they erupted into a pair of blue, glowing orbs that spiraled into the air. Flash held forth a hand.

Heroic warriors of blades and of twin swords, unite your power to bring forth the blade of champions!

He pulled his hand back into a fist, “Xyz summon! Arise! Rank 4, ‘Heroic Champion – Excalibur’!

A light burst over the field. Down from above descended a towering humanoid, clad in a hefty dark red and grey suit of armor with a face obscuring helmet and impossibly large, upward jutting spaulders. It brandished a large double-edged sword that may or may not have been split halfway down its length, though it still left it looking taller than Twilight wasThe blue orbs of light circled around the great figure. (Rank 4, 2000/2000)

An Xyz monster. So the spheres represent the two monsters used to summon it, and to use its effects the user needs to send one or more overlay unit to the graveyard.

“When Extra Sword is used as Xyz material for an Xyz summon, it increases the attack by the summoned monster by 1000,” Flash added, to which a silvery aura flared up around Excalibur. (ATK 3000)

But even if he attacks with Excalibur, my monster is in defense, so it won’t deal damage to me either way…

“I activate Excalibur’s effect; my removing two overlay units from him, I can double his original attack points until my opponent’s next end phase,” said Flash, sliding the overlaid cards out from under Excalibur and sliding them into the graveyard slot, to which Excalibur’s massive sword began to surge. (ATK 5000)

“I then attack Spellbook Magician (DEF: 400) with Clasp Sword (ATK: 300)!” Flash called out, to which the smaller warrior with its jagged arm blade sped towards the kneeling Spellbook Magician.

Before Twilight could comprehend the logic behind Flash’s attack, the facedown on his field suddenly rose up, revealing itself as a trap card.

“At this point I activate my facedown card; ‘Heroic Retribution Sword!’” to which Clasp Sword’s weapon began to glow an eerie red, just before it swung forth, only for Spellbook Magician to thrust out a hand, the blade glancing off a forcefield mere inches away from the magician’s hand.

Flash Sentry Life Points: (-100) 3900

“Heroic Retribution Sword becomes an equipment card: Any battle damage I take in battle with the equipped monster is applied to both players.”

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: (-100) 3400

“In addition, after the damage step, any monster that battled the equipped monster is destroyed.”

Twilight flinched when he Spellbook Magician suddenly burst into bits with a resounding yelp.

Oh no… Now my facedown card is completely useless: Without a spellcaster-type on my field, I can’t use ‘Magical Dimension’ to destroy Excalibur and bring her out… She looked at the only remaining monster in her hand, High Priestess of Prophecy.

“I then attack directly with Excalibur!” Flash called out, extending in arm forth.

Twilight instinctively stepped back as the towering warrior with the giant sword lunged forward. It delivered an impressive one-handed upward arcing blow, which came mere inches from Twilight’s face. She felt her left arm jerk against her own control, almost as if the duel disk was responding to an impact, like some form of feedback she might feel from a spell.

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: (-5000) 0

The moment Twilight’s life points hit zero, her screen flashed red, the very unhelpful declaration of loser flashing in bold letters, followed shortly by the images of the cards on the field vanishing, leaving the soccer field empty once more, with no damage done to it whatsoever.

All Twilight could do was groan in defeat, almost feeling like slumping down on the grass, but the notion of several people watching her allowed her to stay on her feet. She could feel Spike’s paw against her shin, the dog looking up at her with a comforting smile.

“Well…” Twilight watched as Flash approached, his duel disk disengaged, “It wasn’t exactly the best performance I’ve seen so far, but…” he seemed to weigh his opinion awkwardly.

Twilight sighed, “I got distracted from all the gawking and made a misplay…” she muttered, showing the Spellbook Library of the Crescent card as her graveyard was emptied by the duel disk, “Not sure how it would have turned out then, but…”

“Hey, it’s no big deal,” Flash replied in a kind gesture, “It was only your first duel. You’ll get the hang of it.”

I certainly hope so. Time is not exactly what I have on my side right now…

“You know; there was a little something someone told me when I was first starting out,” he said, eliciting Twilight to look up at him curiously, “In dueling it’s just as important to use your heart and your instincts than just your head. You need to be in rhythm with your deck. Kinda like when I play my guitar.”

Twilight looked at nowhere in particular in contemplation. Thinking back to their, admittedly short, duel, Twilight realized that Flash, in a sense, kept a steady flow when it came to his dueling. No hesitation, just direct action. Of course, Flash had dueled much longer than she most likely every would, he knew the ins and outs of his deck, Twilight had so far only analyzed her cards, being able to just about recall what each one did. Perhaps there was some other variable she was not seeing…

-

Sunset Shimmer eyed the new girl through the classroom window. After their encounter in the bathroom, the notion of having seen her once before gnawed at the back of her mind. Initially, she thought her inconsequential, just another insignificant student among her comparably meaningless peers. Even her performance as a duelist was pathetic; a measly five turns and Flash Sentry annihilated her without so much as a hit.

Still, her cards were familiar. Though she wasn’t certain what this girl was trying exactly; with a little adjustment and the right card, she could have easily remained in the duel for at least a little while longer. Or turn the tables on Sentry, much as she could easily do if she so desired.

Still, maybe there would be a point in looking in on her, she thought. She’s clearly not a threat to me, but I can’t help but feel as if I’ve seen her… Could it possibly be her? No-one’s come for me ever since I first left…

She scoffed at the thought. Even if someone from back home had chased after her, it was of no consequence. Though the crown had slipped from her reach and was now somewhere she could not find, it was only inevitable before it was back where it belonged, with her. They would be powerless to stop her here; there was no Equestrian magic here to aid them, as she herself had discovered the day she arrived many years ago, lost and alone.

And once I have it, they’ll all regret for defying us…

A sudden throbbing pain erupted in her head. With a pained grunt, she found her hand pressing against her forehead. A sudden lightheadedness almost overcame her, when she stumbled backward, managing to catch herself against a classroom desk. As she sat there, her head feeling like it was reverberating with every beat of her heart, she felt like someone was observing her. She managed to turn around, looking over the room with one eye, finding herself alone…

When the pain began to lessen, her mind felt… Disheveled. For defying me… They’ll regret for defying me. It’s so close. I just need to be patient. Just three more days and all I’ve worked and suffered so much for, it will finally be done…

Feeling another bout of pain course through her head, she began making her way out. She needed to get home. She needed rest. Just three more days, and it would all be worth it. Nothing could stop her now. Nothing. Nobody. Nopony.

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