• Published 16th Feb 2019
  • 588 Views, 71 Comments

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 #3: Familiar Faces: Broken Bonds

“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.”

After whom Twilight could proclaim as the first proper friend, based on his more respectful demeanor towards her had to leave for the time being, something about band practice, her mind hung on Flash’s words, revolving in her mind as she excused herself to return back to the one place she felt most comfortable; the library. While some students were now present, the person seemingly in charge, who looked much like Miss Cheerilee from Ponyville, albeit her colors seemed inverted, looking almost like somepony completely different. And the more not said about that factor, the better, seeing how books were involved.

To pass the time and remain calm (and take her mind off her increasingly rowdy stomach), she thought perhaps looking into something of her forte would help her focus and find her “rhythm”. Human or alicorn, her forte was and always would be magic. Princess Luna’s warnings about magic in this world had had gnawed at her mind, given how it seemed so elusive that nothing of its kind had manifested before her. Or if she could still even sense magic as she could instinctually as an alicorn, perhaps her transformation into a human having taken that from her too. Using the, oddly enough, same computer once more, she checked to see if perhaps the library might have even just a pamphlet’s worth of information pertaining to magic.

To her surprise; they did. In the history section she’d found quite a few encyclopedias about the supernatural. Along with witchcraft and the occult. Feeling strangely eager to find out about possible magical heritage in this world, Twilight grabbed one about purported witches… and soon placed it back onto the shelf, a feeling of revulsion running through her gut.

“They burned people alive tied to stakes?! Savages…” she hissed, looking like the book was genuinely repelling her.

She tried something else, finding a much more informative, and less harrowing, work titled ‘The Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft’. It wasn’t a difficult read, but it did well the enlighten her about the history of magic and the occult (something both Equestria and this world seemed to regard with trepidation).

Seating herself at a nearby table she allowed herself to get completely lost in her research, hearing Spike’s silently snoring inside her backpack.

For magic being elusive, it seemed to play a major role for early civilization here. She thought, going through a chapter pertaining to one of the ancient civilizations of this world, going back over three thousand years. Quite fascinatingly, the sun seemed to be a veritable deity, if not an outright god to them.

“That’s just silly,” Twilight snickered, “The sun’s not a god. Another being just moves it.”
Twilight did not notice an ash-skinned bowler hat wearing student look at her from the far-off adjacent side of the table with an expression of utter befuddlement.

-

As students more frequently began to exit the premises, Twilight figured it best to go lay low somewhere for now and wait. Odd as it felt, she had nowhere else to go; she knew nothing of the locale of this Canterlot, she was penniless by this world’s standards, and she did not feel it safe to spend the night without a roof over her head.

Going back to return the book to its rightful place, she suddenly thought she caught glimpse of someone in white walk by between the large bookcases, swearing to have caught sight of a glimmering pink head of hair, when she bumped into someone.

“Whoa nelly!” whomever she collided with exclaimed, the two of them stepping away from one another before she turned to look at Twilight.

Twilight did her best not to gawk when she saw a familiar orange-skinned, freckled face, complete with the ever-present Stetson she had come to forever associate with it.

“You nearly scared the living daylights outta me,” the dimensional counterpart to the one and only Applejack, chuckled, “Ah thought Ah was the only one here.”

Twilight shared in the round of restrained laughter with her. Memories of when she first met the farmpony in Ponyville flooded back into her mind, the nostalgia warming her heart in this strange and unknown world. Seeing the familiar, yet unfamiliar face of the Element of Honesty felt very comforting, even if she surely did not know who Twilight was.

“Yea, I had a bit of a sit-in,” Twilight giggled, indicating the book in her hand, “I must’ve missed when everyone else left.”

Applejack snorted, nodding at the cart of books beside her, “While here Ah am stuck shelving these things before Ah can call it a day,” she sighed, looking resentful, “And Ah just had to play Rainbow’s game when Ah should’a known we’d get in trouble for sure…”

“Oh, right! I saw you and Rainbow dueling in the gymnasium, actually,” Twilight noted.

Applejack looked at her, raising a questioning brow, “Say, don’t think Ah’ve seen you here before,” she held out a hand, “Ah’m Applejack!”

Twilight took the human girl’s hand, to which the felt an unexpectedly firm grab. Definitely Applejack, “Twilight Sparkle. I’m new here.”

“Pleasure to meet ‘cha!” Applejack emphasized with a tip of her hat, “Though Ah’m ‘fraid Ah can’t chat right now, unless I seek to be spendin’ the whole night in the library,” she added as she looked at one of the books, inspecting its placement serial, “Ah swear, for every one Ah need to go halfway ‘round the place just to find the correct shelf.”

“The Complete Works of Neightsche?” Twilight looked at the book with interest, “You’re in the wrong section altogether. This is history,” Twilight felt a sudden eagerness swell up inside her, “If going by- that is I assume you go by the Dooey Decimal Classification?”

Applejack’s expression belied her overall knowledge on the matter being discussed, “Uh… Yea?”

Twilight took the book from Applejack and walked forth, motioning her friend’s counterpart to follow, “Neightsche goes in the philosophy section so if going by D.D.C., it should go to the one-hundred class,” she explained as she went on, finding the correct shelf (meaning they really did use the same categorization as in Equestria), to which she started running her finger along the spines of the books as she walked down it, “So this should go riiiight here,” and she slid the book in its proper place.

“Ooh. Well, thanks for that, at least now Ah-” but before she could finish, Twilight already had another book in hand.

“Now botany is classified as a pure science, so for this one you’re looking for the five-hundreds…” and she would repeat the process like a well-oiled machine. While certain books might have gone over her head, but her intuition and all the time she’d spent in libraries allowed her to adjust quickly with categories like computer sciences (something she’d genuinely been fascinated to indulge in with her newfound discoveries of this world’s technology, but regretted the little time she had to spend in that world).

It did not take too long when she lastly slid the Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft into its proper place in the history section, the book cart emptied of its cargo, “And that’s the last one,” Twilight beamed, pleased with herself.

Applejack looked at a small device, allegedly known as a “phone”, with an expression of amazement on her features, “Ya did all of that in thirty minutes?!” she gawked.

Twilight crossed her arms, smiling ever so sweetly, “What can I say? I love books, spent much of my time in the library.”

Applejack looked down at the empty cart, rubbing at the back of her hay blonde head with a chortle, “And this was supposed to be my punishment…”

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” Twilight whispered with a wink, bringing a finger to her lips, “I was glad to help.”

“Mighty kind of ya, Twi,” Applejack replied, calling her by what her Applejack would back home, “Guess I should call up my brother to pick me up.”

“Alright, you do that…” Twilight chuckled, not sure what to make of what the dimensional counterpart was saying, “Well I’ll just be hanging back here and-”

“Wait, hold on,” Applejack looked up from the device, “The school’s gonna be closin’ soon. They don’t let people loiter around afterhours.”

-

Twilight was not quite certain what to make of her new predicament. She was frankly quite amazed she’d managed to spin a believable tale about living far away from the school, being unable to commute due to losing her wallet and being basically stuck in town for the time being. Applejack had been quite insistent about making up for helping her with her punishment. As such Twilight found herself seated in the cabin of what she could only describe as a poniless carriage being pulled by a loud, somewhat sputtering machine. She believed Applejack had referred to it as a ‘jalopy’.

“So let me see if Ah got this straight…” said Applejack, seated in the middle of the cabin, “You’ve never been in a car, ya don’t have a phone and you learned all by just readin’?”

Twilight gulped, the sensation of sitting in the jalopy making her feel strangely queasy. The machine was dreadfully outdated compared to the ones she could see outside all around, many of them smaller, with shinier chasses, and seemed to made much less noise compared to the one they were in. Although she could have sworn one blaring music so loud, she could actually hear it perfectly over the revving of whatever form of engine this vehicle used.

“I’ve used computers a bit,” she replied, hugging her backpack, and by extension, Spike, whose revealed existence would have been inevitable regardless, closer to her body.

Applejack let out an amused laugh, thought not in any condescending or demeaning tone, “And Ah thought our family was the rustic kind. This has gotta be the first time meeting a downright luddite, right, Bag Mac?”

“Eeyup,” came the short, simple and to the point response of the human Big Macintosh. As was expected, he was big and burly even in this universe, though with a paler coloration of his skin and the white shirt underneath the red and green checkered jacket seemed to be strained against his sheer physique. He was controlling the vehicle though a series of pedals at his feet and a wheel his hands rested on.

I seriously need to appeal the princess for the possibility of further analysis into inter-dimensional surveying. There seem to be constants for nearly everypony it seems…

“Uh, yea. My family’s difficult that way,” Twilight chuckled awkwardly.

“Well Ah can assure you, you’ll get used to it out here,” Applejack affirmed, putting an arm around Twilight’s shoulder and giving her a reassuring pat, “Ah bet my butt you’d make it as a librarian or the like well enough, what with how fast you went through with that decimal system.”

Twilight saw Big Macintosh roll his eyes, though said nothing to add to the conversation (not that it was expected, given how soft-spoken Big Mac was to begin with). Twilight tried her best so smile casually, to be undone by the feeling of slight nausea.

“Oh… car sickness…” Applejack murmured, reaching past Twilight to roll down the side window.

After some time on the road, the fresh air, some effluents notwithstanding, having made the trip bearable for Twilight, coupled with Spike having the sudden urge to hold hid head out, his lopped ears and tongue flapping in the draft, the vehicle pulled up onto a larger property than most Twilight had seen. A sizable house took up the central space with a very small building reminding Twilight of the Sweet Apple Acres barn rose up beside it, before which Big Mac stopped the vehicle. She even spotted a little red barn-style doghouse to the side, making Twilight assume Winona also existed in this reality.

The buildings were a familiar hearty red, much like Applejack’s family farm in Equestria. There was more to the property past the barn-looking building compared to the predominately closed-off properties they’d passed: An orchard. Though less than half the size of the overall one encompassing Sweet Apple Acres. There were also some fenced areas in the distance where Twilight thought she could make out from quadruped animals, but wasn’t quite certain what kind.

Upon disembarking, Twilight’s legs felt slightly wobbly on part of the alleged ‘car sickness’ as Applejack had referred to it as. She was just glad to be on her legs again, even just the two of them currently. A deep breath and she felt none the worse, finally letting Spike out of her backpack, though surreptitiously motioned him to remain quiet for the time being.

“It’s very gracious of you to invite me to your home, Applejack,” Twilight meant that in the utmost sincerity. Though the notion of her living on the opposite side of town from them was furthest from the truth, feeling guilty about having to lie to someone who back home embodied honesty, having a roof to sleep under, plus the prospect of finally having something to eat was just too welcoming.

“It’s no problem whatsoever, Twilight,” the now confirmed farmgirl affirmed warmly, “You helped me, sure as hell won’t leave you lyin’ in the gutter!”

Hell? “Hopefully someone found my wallet and turned it in to the administration.”

“And said someone who found it wasn’t a friggin’ rat, like certain someones Ah know…” added Applejack, a hint of resentment in her voice as she walked past towards the house.

Twilight’s gaze followed the farmgirl in trepidation; just the tone that the usually positive Applejack she knew would never use. She then saw as Big Macintosh walked up, him too looking on after his sister, to which he glumly shook his head and sighed.

That’s when Twilight thought back to when she first saw this Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the school gymnasium. While she couldn’t recall the exact details, the boasting banter between the two… Was it less about boasts and more as genuine attempts at insults?

“Umm…” she looked at Big Mac, “Is there something going on between her and Rainbow Dash?”

Big Mac pocketed his hands, as he nodded, “Eeyup.”

“Do you know why?”

“Nope.”

“I’m guessing she hasn’t told you.”

“Eeyup.”

Typical stubborn Applejack, “Sorry for being nosy. I hope it’s not a problem.”

“Nope.”

Twilight went to follow Applejack to the house, when she heard a commotion out back. Going around the apple red house to the capacious side-yard, more familiar faces, quite literally regarding today, unveiled.

It was the Cutie Mark Crusaders, or whatever they called themselves, if anything, in this world, with Applebloom and Scootaloo in the middle of a duel. Applebloom, wearing a red and green duel disk matching her sister’s. Currently on her field were what looked like a bamboo shoot with stubby legs and face and a strangely colorful, giant mosquito with cartoony, cutesy eyes and a facedown.

Opposite of her stood Scootaloo, wearing a duel disk matching the colors of Rainbow’s, her side being taken up by a facedown card and what looked to be some form of four-wheeled vehicle much like the cars Twilight had seen on the road on the ride there; white with a red streak going horizontally across its entire form, and in place of headlights it had cartoony eyes and its wheels seemed to be extending out on bendy tubes. Its overall body looked hunched over.

“I summon ‘Steamroid’ in attack mode,” proclaimed Scootaloo as she placed a monster card onto her tray.

Before her emerged what looked to be a train caboose with similar frowning cartoony eyes at the front, with is frontmost wheels extended out on tube-like arms, looking like raised fists in its bendy posture. (Level 4, 1800/1800)

“Since your Bamboo Shoot stops me from using spell and trap cards, I’ll cut to the chase and attack it with Steamroid,” Scootaloo pointed out her target, “When attacking, Steamroid gains 500 attack points!”

Steamroid laid down on its front, its ‘arms’ reeling back into its body before rushing forth with a resounding honk of its train horn. (ATK 2300). It came upon the eponymous Bamboo Shoot (Level 5, 2000/2000) and rammed into it, causing it to erupt into bits before backing away to Scootaloo’s side once more.

Twilight continued to observe the two. Any duel now would serve as a vital lesson if she had any hopes of defeating Sunset Shimmer.

“Hey, aren’t you the one who bumped into the school door this morning?” Sweetie Belle’s dimensional counterpart asked, also observing the duel between her friends. So at least something in this world had remained constant from Equestria fortunately.

Twilight blushed in embarrassment, “Uh, yea… I was kind of out of it then…” she chuckled awkwardly, “So uh… You’re friends with the Apples?”

Sweetie Belle looked at Twilight, like she was appraising her, “Just with Apple Bloom really, Scootaloo and me.”

“Now that my spells and traps are usable again, I play my facedown: ‘Call of the Haunted’!” Scootaloo went on, her facedown revealing itself as some form of trap, “This lets me special summon a monster from my Graveyard in attack mode: So I’ll bring back ‘Expressroid’.”

The ground before Scootaloo seemed to shift, when from the ground arose another vehicle, this being something Twilight couldn’t quite recognize, looking like a train with one car, but without a caboose, the front end looking closer to a car’s, once again with the cartoony eyes. (Level 4, 400/1600)

“Expressroid’s effect lets me bring two “roid” monsters back into my hand; I choose to return Drillroid and Submarineroid,” he proclaimed cards of choice slid out of her graveyard slot and were added to her hand, “Then I attack Naturia Mosquito with Expressroid. So I only take 200 damage in total from its effect!”

“And that’s when Ah activate my trap card; ‘Naturia Sacred Tree’!” Apple Bloom responded, her facedown flipping up, “With this I sacrifice my Mosquito to summon one plant monster from my deck; and Ah pick ‘Naturia Rose Whip’, in defense mode,” Apple Bloom’s mosquito erupted into bits, to which her disk ejected her chosen card that she promptly placed on the tray.

From the ground arose a small, almost unassuming looking shut rose, the outside of its bloom bearing a grinning face, which seemed to titter in a comically high pitch, a plant tendril arising near it from the ground afterwards. (Level 3 400/1700)

“Okay, I take it back!” Scootaloo blurted, her Expressroid stopping its attempted ramming, “In that case I’ll end my battle phase. Then I’ll play-” when suddenly Rose Whip lashed with its tendril like the namesake weapon.

“Uh-uh,” called Apple Bloom wagging a playful finger, “You forget, Scoot. Naturia Rose Whip prevents you from playing more than one spell or trap per turn.”

Scootaloo looked flummoxed, then smacked her forehead, “Aw dang! I forgot about that…” she pouted, “I guess I’ll end my turn then.”

“Alright, my go!” Apple Bloom drew her card, “Ah summon ‘Naturia Marron’ in attack mode!”

From the summoning portal wafted out an oversized, fluffy yellow burr, a pair of comically large eyes somehow adhered to its surface. (Level 3, 1200/700)

“When ‘Naturia Marron’ is normal summoned, Ah can send one ‘Naturia’ monster from my deck to the Graveyard,” she chose a card which then went straight to the Graveyard, “Ah can then take two ‘Naturias’ from my Graveyard, shuffle ‘em back in and draw a card,” after two quick taps, two cards came out of the her graveyard, which she placed atop her deck and the duel disk shuffled it. She then drew a card.

“Then ah activate ‘Naturia Sacred Tree’s’ effect again,” Apple Bloom’s continuous trap’s image flashed, “By sacrificing a plant-type monster, like my Marron, Ah can special summon an insect-type monster from my deck. Ah summon ‘Naturia Mantis’, in attack mode!”

After Naturia Marron exploded into pixels, its place was immediately taken up by a cartoonishly adorable looking mantis, with expressive, adorable eyes, tiny pink flowers at the ends of its feelers and its sickle limbs looking similar to leaves. (Level 4 1700/1500)

“Ooh, I know where this is gonna go…” said Sweetie Belle with an excited expression.

“Ah tune my level three Naturia Rose Whip with my level four Naturia Mantis!” Apple Bloom declared with an overly theatrical throw of her hand towards the sky.

On cue, Naturia Rose Whip, with a final titter, burst into three, expanding green rings, whilst Naturia Mantis’s form glowed bright gold. Four orbs of light emerged from within it into a row, the rings settling around them in a straight line. A light erupted from within the rings.

“Nature’s denizens, take heart. The life-giving light shall awaken your ancient protector.”

“Synchro summon! Come on down! Level 7! ‘Naturia Landoise’!”

From within the light emerged a gargantuan sized creature composed of a sandy-brown stone. It craned its long neck, yawning profusely, revealing its shape as those of a tortoise, with the top of its domed shell being a veritable verdant green garden of colorful flowers, a single tree growing at the very top. (Level 7 2350/1600)

“And Ah use him to attack Expressroid for game!” Apple Bloom pointed with the same manner of theatrics.

The giant tortoise seemed to slowly step forth, looking about its surroundings with sleepy eyes. Down at its feet, Expressroid’s cartoony eyes distended out in a comedic manner when Landoise simply stepped on it, stomping the machine creature flat to the ground, to which the tortoise only looked around once more, seemingly oblivious to its actions before stepping back to Apple Bloom’s side of the field.

Scootaloo Life Points: (1700 – 1950) 0

Scootaloo simply pouted in defeat as both players emptied their graveyards, which, to Twilight’s amazement must have been filled with almost half their respective decks.

“Apple Bloom is really good, what with her basically locking down everything. Most of the time me and Scoots just try to see who can last the longest. This has got to be a new record with twelve turns at least,” Sweetie Belle elaborated.

“That was a good game, Scoots. So sorry that Ah just keep stoppin’ ya from summoning all the time,” Apple Bloom remarked as her duel disk finished disengaging.

“Eh,” Scootaloo brought her hands up behind her head leisurely, “Point is to win the way you see wanna. I’ll figure something out. Maybe.”

That’s when Apple Bloom and Scootaloo took notice of Twilight standing beside Sweetie Belle. Twilight waved at the two, trying to look as casual as she could, despite the awkward first time they met.

“Uh, hi?” Apple Bloom spoke up, looking unsure of the weird stranger from before standing on her lawn.

“Sorry, I was just watching you duel,” Twilight replied, “I’m Twilight Sparkle. Your sister invited me over after I helped her with a… problem.”

“Ah,” Apple Bloom seemed to feel at ease more, “Well, Ah’m Apple Bloom.”

“Scootaloo,” the purple-haired girl said casually, retaining her leisurely hands behind her head pose.

“Sweetie Belle,” the curly haired girl said brightly.

Now with introductions out of the way, it felt more natural to ask some crucial questions, “So I take it you saw the duel this morning?”

“Saw it? More like trying to stop it,” Apple Bloom crossed her arms, looking slightly resentful.

“It was all fine and good when Applejack and Rainbow Dash dueled for fun,” Scootaloo added, her arms slumping down to her sides, “It’s been this way ever since they were freshmen. Now all they do is fight.”

“Fight?” Twilight asked, internally flabbergasted.

“Yea. We all used to hang out together with our sisters at times,” Sweetie Belle added.

“Well, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle’s,” Scootaloo interjected, “Rainbow’s not my actual sister.”

“So, like an honorary?” Twilight asked, albeit already knowing the answer to it.

“Uh-huh,” Scootaloo confirmed, “But before we came to CHS, something just happened and now everyone’s distant or hates each other.”

“Distant…?” Twilight wondered. Granted, most of her time was spent in the school library, so she hadn’t exactly mingled with anyone. Overall, the only human outside all the dimensional counterparts she’d interacted with was Flash Sentry, who seemed nice enough. All the other students during her duel did come off as more standoffish, if not rude, “I’m new to the school. Could you tell me what you mean by that?”

The three girls looked among one another, a subtle sadness shared between them.

“Well, it looks like everyone’s just stickin’ with whoever is most similar,” Apple Bloom began.

“Like you’ve got tecchies, drama, the jocks,” Sweetie Belle counted down on her fingers, “And everyone’s completely at odds with everyone else.”

“I think we three are the only ones we know who remain together just because we’re friends…” Scootaloo looked down at her duel disk, “Even in dueling when it’s between someone different, there’s no fun to be had.”

“Especially with the fall formal mid-term match comin’ up; everyone seems even more on edge than usual,” Apple Bloom remarked.

That’s right, the duel for the position of Duel Queen or King, “Principal Celestia told me about it. So then how is it decided who faces the current champion?”

“Ah’m not entirely sure,” Apple Bloom shrugged, “But Ah think it’s based on rank an’ popular vote if needed.”

“Vote?”

“Yea. Every group has their own best duelist to represent them, but seeing as almost everyone only backs their own, it’s usually sudden death,” Scootaloo added, “At least that’s what Rainbow told me.”

“Hence the duel earlier today; Applejack and Rainbow are both representin’ the jock side, so-”

“Alright, hope everyone’s hungry, ‘cuz food’s on!” came the voice of Applejack, peering out a window. She looked over at the gathered group, looking much less enthused, “So, uh… You two stayin’ too or-?”

“Granny says it’s fine, Applejack!” Apple Bloom curtly interjected, Twilight noting the hint of frustration in the youngest Apple’s tone.

Applejack glanced to the side, her face unreadable, “Alright, alright. Just come on in ya’ll.”

“Hold that thought! I need to get Spike,” Twilight said, looking around, only now realizing him missing.

“Don’t ya’ll worry none; he’s inside, chattin’ it up with Winona,” Applejack chuckled, “Gotta say, she’s bein’ awful calm with a new friend an’ everythin’…”

-

Inside the human Apple household Twilight was given a pleasantly warm welcome from the family matriarch Granny Smith. Though she appeared slightly rotund compared to the wirier old mare in Equestria, Twilight could not help imagining that over half of the old woman’s girth must have been pure muscle, given the sheer force behind her handshake. Even Winona rushed over from somewhere in the house to greet the newcomer, hopping up against Twilight’s legs to no end until she was content with her sniffing and getting a desired petting.

At the table, Twilight was seated on one side along with Applejack and Big Macintosh, while Apple Bloom and her friends took to the other side, Apple Bloom being directly opposite of Twilight while Granny Smith took a place at the end adjacent to Twilight and her youngest grandchild.

Twilight, near starving as she had been through most of the day, made sure to stick to the vegetarian parts of the selection Granny Smith had prepared, knowing full well from her little research into humans that they, unlike ponies, were an omnivorous species that consumed the… cooked flesh of other animals. Thankfully Granny Smith did not seem to mind. Likely given that she was the head of the school cafeteria at CHS.

“So Applejack says yer family is some of them luddite folks,” Granny Smith commented in between.

Twilight smiled awkwardly, “You could say that.”

“Honestly, Ah don’t think the family farm would be doin’ good at all without the ol’ tractor if you ask me,” Granny Smith stated, “Though Ah have to admit, what with ya young’ns today with yer cellular phones and yer duel disks and yer Donny PlayMakers and yer…”

Twilight watched in awe as the old woman prattled on, adding increasingly confusing objects with seemingly no end abound. She leaned towards Applejack with a strong look of concern in her eyes.

“Should we be concerned about this?”

Applejack, after swallowing a mouthful only smiled wryly, “Nah. Granny does this every now an’ again. She’ll run out of steam sooner rather than later, Ah assure ya.”

“Eeyup.”

After eating her fill, and Spike being seemingly content with having dog food, Applejack bid Twilight to sit and relax while she and Big Mac helped Granny with the dishes. Just like back in Equestria, the overall house felt rather rustic. Settling in the quite homey living room, furnished with a large sofa with a coffee table in front, with a rocking chair to the side and the walls lined with a shelving unit, a hefty bookcase and most of the walls being covered in framed photos. In one corner left in perfect view from the couch was a large screen atop a low cabinet.

Twilight sighed from just being able to just sit back and relax for a spell, splaying her legs out just enough to not look like she was slouching, this being the first time that day where she could remove her shoes (which Granny Smith had been very adamant about). As she rested, she took the time to go over her deck anew. Her first duel with Flash played out in her mind, mentally chastising herself for such a simple error of failing to realize the opportunity to play ‘Spellbook Library of the Crescent’.

Apple Bloom suddenly appeared and seated herself next to Twilight to her left, while Sweetie Belle did the same to her right. Lastly Scootaloo simply leaned over the backrest, all of them seeming quite interested in Twilight and the deck she held.

“So you’re a luddite and a duelist?” Apple Bloom asked with a hint of confusion.

Twilight cleared her throat, not particularly fond of the current label she had to bear as part of her identity, “Well, my parents, more or less.”

“You do seem awfully keen about it,” Sweetie Belle remarked.

“Oh, I am,” Twilight said with much more enthusiasm than she originally intended, “I love learning about new things, so now that I’m out on my own, I figured it be time I learned it as well.”

“How many matches have you had?” asked Scootaloo, looking down at Twilight’s deck with interest.

Twilight inhaled sharply, “One, so far…”

The three girls looked at her with varying expressions of disbelief, Sweetie’s naturally being the least forthcoming of the trio, whereas Scootaloo’s jaw almost hung agape. Twilight tugged at the collar of her shirt, trying to come up with something to say to change the subject.

Of course! “We were talking about the fall formal match! The representation of all the cliques in school?”

Apple Bloom shook herself out of her bamboozled state, “Uh, yea. Applejack and Rainbow have been fightin’ over representation of the jock side, seein’ as Applejack doesn’t really belong to any of ‘em.”

I swear, it sounds like a dominance display more than anything, “So then, if Applejack and Rainbow Dash are the jock representatives, who are the rest?”

“There’s my sister, Rarity, for the fashionistas,” Sweetie Belle spoke up.

“Ah’m not entirely sure, but Ah think Fluttershy is representin’ the eco-kids,” Apple Bloom added, “Though Ah reckon she don’t like it none.”

That is very surprising to say the least…

“I think this year it’s Pinkie Pie representing the drama crowd,” Scootaloo looked up contemplatively, “Come to think of it; I think she was last year’s finalist against Sunset Shimmer.”

“Ya sure? Ah thought it was Flash Sentry from the rockers’ side,” asked Apple Bloom, though she did not sound entirely convinced of her own assumptions.

Great, so I dueled one of the figurative big fish for my first duel. I guess that’s somewhat of a comfort… I guess.

“So, figuratively speaking…” Twilight began, getting all three’s attentions, “If I were to defeat all the top contenders in this… dominance display they seem to have going on, I would have the chance of facing off against Sunset Shimmer… perhaps?”

A silence fell over the living room, broken only by Granny Smith’s chatter over from the kitchen.

“You’re actually trying to do that, aren’t you?” asked Scootaloo bluntly.

“… I am, yes,” Twilight admitted.

“I don’t know…” Sweetie Belle chimed in, “If you’ve only dueled once, I don’t see you having much of a chance.”

Regardless, it’s what I have to do. “I know,” Twilight nodded dejectedly.

“If you don’t mind me askin’, Twilight. Why are ya’ll so keen when you just got here?” Apple Bloom asked.

Twilight looked back, hearing Applejack talk back to Granny Smith about something. Based on the tone audible, it would seem Granny Smith might not have been too happy about a certain occurrence earlier that morning.

“I may not be much of a duelist,” Twilight began, “And I might not know next to anyone around here… yet. But…”

She thought back to what she’d beheld that very day. The hostility between Applejack and Rainbow Dash, the overall spiteful attitude of many of the students over her first performance as a duelist. And now with the added insight into the internal conflicts within CHS. Twilight wasn’t certain over the finer details as to how and why it’s all happened, and while she desperately needed to get her crown back, she could not just sit back idly in such a matter. When she first arrived in Ponyville, she was not so different from the students of CHS. Until she learned something that made life ultimately better.

“But I feel it only right that I remedy this dilemma at CHS. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like spending my time there dealing with animosity, and I doubt neither do you.”

To this she was met with unanimous nods.

“So how’s this for a fun afternoon activity?” she held up her deck, “You showing this novice more of the ropes?

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