• 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 #8: The Gauntlet is Thrown: Passion of the Beautiful Warrior

Twilight gingerly adjusted the wrist brace of the steely grey loaned school issued duel disk on her forearm. With the prospect, or hoped prospect in the very least, of a spectated gauntlet of duels on the horizon, by mere hours nonetheless, she figured she try to look the part by wearing a duel disk like everyone else, even if hers lacked the color co-ordination.

“Nervous, Twilight?” asked Spike, the two of them seated side-by-side on the bottom row of the soccer field’s bleachers.

“Like you wouldn’t believe…” Twilight emphasized with a sigh, finally content with the wearing adjustments of the arguably cumbersome device. Flexing her fingers in assurance that the clasp wasn’t too tight, Twilight topped off the look by fastening her, or rather, Sunset’s old deck, in place at the front of the device. “Apple Bloom and the girls’ training and teaching did wonders, but now, I’m just concerned if I’ll screw up like I did during my duel with Flash. That is to say, if Pinkie’s plan works, in drawing a crowd. And a crowd is what we will need, but also the thought of said crowd looking down on me and judging me…”

“Twilight,” Spike patted a paw against Twilight’s side, “you can do this. Remember; you’ve done so much more than any of these people could ever imagine: You uncovered Nightmare Moon’s return, united the Elements of Harmony, saved Princess Luna, saved your friends from being Discord-ed, rescued Cadence, fought an army of changelings, found the Crystal Heart, and most of all, you inverted destiny! What more do you need? Like the fact so many of those entailed certain doom if you’d screwed up?” He swept back a paw in the direction of the soccer field, “You’re playing a game…”

A game that is essentially a recreation of dark magic ritualized combat…

“and not just against anyone, but against people who have all the cause to respect you for what you’ve done for them. Twilight, you trained for this, you’ll figure it out, and you will pull through. I just know it.”

Twilight put a hand around Spike and held him close, affectionately scratching at the front of his fluffy chest, “Thanks Spike. You always know the right things to say when I’m anxious.”

“Just gladly doing my job,” Spike chuckled proudly, resting his head against Twilight.

-

Sunset groaned in disgust as she peered into the gymnasium. Against all her wishes for a more presentable field of battle, as far as one could get in such an average educational facility as Canterlot High, the sickeningly saccharine party decorations for the mid-term duel and fall formal dance were still here. And all the more abundant from what she’d seen earlier. The rolled up banner was still up over the stage, bushels of balloons and lengths of streamers tied around the bleachers… And a strange odor seemed to pervade the gymnasium… It smelled distinctly of… gunpowder?

Snorting at the reek of fire with a hint of sulfur, she closed the door of the gymnasium. “Those morons had one job. I swear, when I catch those two there’s going to be hell to pay…” she muttered in irritation.

Her less than amicable mood being further dampened, on top of just wishing the day to be over and done with in anticipation for the big night tomorrow. The night where she could finally put an end to the charade of the past three years, and where everyone would know the burn of all her anger. Just the anticipation made her fingers feel like trembling in excitement. How would this pathetic world react when she would finally bring them all screaming back into the reality they systematically sought to suppress for so long?

She took notice of a quartet of students bunched around at the end of one of the locker alcoves. From the distance she couldn’t make out what exactly had caught their attention. A poster? A flier. She walked close enough to be within earshot, recognizing them as part of the techies. Smart, if not outright brilliant when it came to the most academic pursuits, barring her, of course. But also meek, flimsy, so easily pushed around.

“So what do you think?” asked one of the two girls in the group; petite, light-purple skin and long unimaginative long hair of two tones of brown.

“Wasn’t that the girl who didn’t even know how to turn on a duel disk?” asked one Sunset knew on the basis of being an easy extortion target: Lanky, purple skin, bluish purple hair, yellow dress shirt, complete with suspenders and thick glasses; Micro Chip.

“Maybe she’s just not used to proper duel gear?” suggest the second female of the group, another petite girl with yellow skin and orange curly hair with thick round glasses. “I mean if four of the top brass are accepting her challenge, maybe there’s more to her?”

“And hey, free cupcakes. If this is Pinkie Pie we’re talking about, it’s worth it just for those,” said the last of the bunch; another lanky, shorter boy with light orangish-brown skin and a most unimaginative brown bowl cut.

“What is worth it?” asked Sunset, her voice at a deliberate raised volume for sheer intimidation.

The four techies turned around in startlement, Micro Chip almost screaming as Sunset approached.

“S-S-Sunset Shimmer?!” Micro Chip exclaimed, quivering against the wall, the rest of his clique mates frozen in place under Sunset’s ireful gaze. “I-I-I don’t have anything today, I swear!”

Sunset ignored the cowering student as she brusquely made her way to whatever the four were looking at, not even bothering to address them backing away. It was a flier adhered to the wall, printed on an A4 sheet. At the top were lined mugshots of four of her most likely contenders:

Rarity, the pretentious drama queen of a fashionista, blowing at kiss at whomever took the photo. Always flaunting herself as if she were some blue-blooded Canterlot snot. She was perfectly aware that many boys in school found her desirable. With the drive and willingness, she could have had most of the school under her thumb, but instead she would deny the path to power in lieu of her pretentious open-handedness. And the fact that she was once girlfriend to Applejack.

Speaking of, Applejack: The knuckle dragging hick with that cowgirl penchant of hers and the habit of being actively forward to a detriment. Maybe that’s why she was so easy to manipulate into thinking Rarity, her girlfriend, was cheating on her with that loudmouth Rainbow Dash. Their bouts of vindictive competition were quite amusing, given how neither were wise to how they, and Rarity, had been fooled.

Fluttershy, a girl so timid and unassertive that pushing her around lost most of the point behind it when she’d never fight back. Still, her pathetic habit of having only animals as friends had its uses. Over time Sunset simply got bored of how much of a doormat she was and paid her next to no mind. Until she unwittingly took what was rightfully hers and prolonged the inevitable. And To think such a coward was regarded as one of the school’s top duelists.

And Pinkie Pie. Oh, if there was anything so saccharinely vomitous it was Pinkie Pie. A self-declared comedian and party professional; a girl who seemed like every day of the year, even that time of the month, were just mirth and joy nonstop. And yet Sunset was genuinely fascinated how this human was seemingly able to defy this world’s even more static laws of causality and physics, like some sugary spawn of Discord. And the fact how great of a duelist she was, despite lacking the raw drive and determination to dominate. That’s why she could never have defeated Sunset during the last mid-term. Nor this year.

“Epic Duel Monsters Boss Rush. Underdog new girl Twilight Sparkle versus school pros. Location: CHS soccer field, 3pm sharp,” it read on the amateurish flier. An equally unassuming photo of a girl with purple skin, radiant violet eyes and dark blue hair with a purple and magenta streak going down her front bangs, the back of her hair flared out so that it almost looked as if she had wings…

Twilight… Sparkle?! Sunset jolted in realization. That girl yesterday… It’s her!

Sunset glared at the image of the girl… No, alicorn. The newest alicorn princess of Equestria.

They did send someone after me. And it was the element bearer herself. And all alone? She snorted. Typical Celestia, always with the pointless subtlety. She could have sent her with a contingent of soldiers, or even a few specialists and they could have had the Element back in no time.

A condescending grin emerged on her lips. Her performance yesterday against Flash? Pathetic. So, she had the gall to challenge these four when she’s not even a novice. She…

“‘Attention: Free Cupcakes?’”

She pinched the ridge of her nose in frustration. Of course, she had something to do with this. Well then. I might as well see what Celestia’s latest pet is capable of-

Sunset gasped as another throbbing wave of pain sprung in her head. This one agonizing enough that it sent her toppling onto her knees, and almost on her face hadn’t she managed to catch herself from toppling over.

Why?! What is this?! Why now?!

She whined as a particularly strong pang erupted inside of her, sending her falling onto her side, caressing her head, crumpling into a fetal position. She could not tell how long she lay there, but eventually the pain faded, as abruptly as it had come…

Why was she cowering on the floor? Why was she on the floor? Sunset clambered back onto her booted feet, shaking her head. She was on her way towards the soccer field because of…

Twilight Sparkle. Yes. There was no way in Tartarus that she could even hope to contend with four of the best duelists at CHS, let alone us. No-one could defeat us. Not when we are so close now...

Sunset walked down the corridor wiping the back of her hand against something she’d felt on her face. She went on, unaware of the black stain marring her hand.

-

Twilight continued to sit at the end of the bleachers, watching as an ever-increasing number of students began to congregate further up and around, idly chatting away in groups of one to three at most. Even upon the bleachers she could clearly make out that all of the pocketed groups composed solely of their respective cliques.

A contemplative hum sounded, “You seem to be moving up; what with four of the best allowing you to take them on.”

Twilight turned her head in surprise, “Flash?”

“Yo,” Flash casually raised a hand in greeting. “How’s CHS been treating ya so far?”

Twilight smiled up at her definitely-not-love-interest as Pinkie had seemed to misread their relations, “It’s been… Interesting, to say the least. I’ve been learning, and believe I’ve gotten the hang of things now.”

“That’s good to hear. We should definitely have a rematch sometime,” Flash replied, taking a seat next to her.

“You know, you could always join in,” Twilight remarked. “Pinkie never said anything about this not being an open invite.”

“Truth be told; I did consider it. But I don’t think I’d qualify that much as top tier,” he smiled dourly. “Turns out being the current champion’s ex, and getting your ass kicked by her first time around doesn’t get you much in terms of representative merit, so to speak.”

“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that…” said Twilight apologetically.

Flash simply wave it off, “It’s cool. If you ask me; I think this little impromptu ‘boss rush’ is just what everyone needs before tomorrow.”

Twilight chuckled, “And free cupcakes.”

“And free cupcakes,” Flash reciprocated. “Speaking of cupcakes…”

Twilight looked to see Maud walking up to her, one such discussed confectionery in one hand, which she presented to Twilight.

“Pinkie asked me to bring you this specific one. Because it’s colored exactly like your hair,” she stated, ever deadpanned. True enough, as she frosting atop the white sponge cake did very much match Twilight’s hair. “If you permit me, from this angle, it looks like you have wings.”

Twilight chuckled awkwardly at the remark almost everyone had made about her hair, as she accepted the cupcake, “Uh, thanks, Maud. Are you going to be watching the ‘boss rush’ too?”

Maud blinked, “I like rocks…” A small smile formed on her lips, “But I do like to see my sister play. Also, I rather like Rarity’s deck.”

“Because they’re gems?” Twilight inquired, redundant as it was.

“Yes. I have a deck too. It’s rocks,” Maud added. “So underappreciated. So underestimated…” she said with a hint of foreboding before walking off.

“… I can never read that girl,” Flash remarked as he, Twilight and Spike watched her walk away.

Twilight shrugged before taking a bite out of the cupcake.

… Reminds me… Of home… Twilight thought, a stray tear of utter joy rolling down her cheek.

True enough, Pinkie soon arrived on the soccer field, followed by Applejack, followed by Maud, each pushing a large serving cart jam packed with veritable rainbows of different colored cupcakes, rowing them back-to-back in front of the bleachers. This seemed to peak more than a few student’s attentions. Pinkie gave Maud another hug in thanks, before producing a megaphone, again from her hair. Pinkie spoke, but her voice came out as inaudible. She shook the device and said some incomprehensible vocalization. Again, she went mostly unheard. She turned the horn in her direction, eyeing it in confusion. She held a hand to the intake side and snapped her fingers, her hair billowing upwards in a burst of sound.

“There we go…” she unintentionally said towards the crowd. “Gooood afternoon all you wonderful people of CHS and thank you so much for coming to this epic boss rush where our new up-and-coming school heartthrob Tw-i-light Sparkle…”

“What?!” Twilight retorted.

“Oh! And there she is right now!” Pinkie declared, peering at Twilight, feigning to shield her eyes. “Come on up, Twilight, and say hello to everyone!” she called, beckoning Twilight.

Taking a deep, steady breath, Twilight gingerly stood up, Flash giving her a supportive thumbs-up as she went, with Spike following close behind. She approached Pinkie standing before the rafters around their centermost portion, surreptitiously glancing at the scores of students watching as she went. As she went, she spotted certain individuals among the crowd whom she recognized as counterparts to other ponies she knew back home.

There was a Lyra Hearstrings and Bon Bon, side-by-side, indicating these two were also a couple. A fiery-haired yellow girl dressed in a blue jersey; definitely Spitfire, and she though she could spot other Wonderbolts including Soarin and Fleetfoot. Up on the top row she spotted a yellowish-white skinned girl with wild blue and cyan hair donning a pair of purple shades while wearing a large headset, her head incessantly nodding no doubt to some beat. A wide berth had been given for a pair of sound speakers set some distance away from her left and right, a compact mixer set next to her while one of those small portable computers sat on her lap. Would Vinyl still be called DJ-Pon3 in this reality? Further down she spotted a gray-skinned girl with a brownish head of hair dressed in a somewhat formal pink dress over a white shirt who looked much like Octavia Melody.

The further she went the more she realized how many counterparts there were, not only to those closest to her in life. The fact there hadn’t been a counterpart to her, while fortuitous in lieu of the potential of multidimensional disharmonic theory, even if its ramifications had yet to be wholly proven, and being able to blend in, still felt oddly specific. Thinking about it, could there also be an original Sunset Shimmer to this world?

“Twilight Sparkle everybody! And before you even ask; yes, good friend of mine. Believe it or not, folks, but our latest addition to our student community, from what I’ve been told, is lookin’ out for the coveted crown of the Duel Queen of CHS!”

An abrupt, “Ha!” emanated from somewhere within the crowd. Twilight pursed her lips in shame, whilst Pinkie, through her toothy smile, was visibly displeased as hinted by a noticeable twitch in her right eye.

“Sure, she may have suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the-” she cut off to make a clicking sound, followed by a wolf whistle “dashing Flash Sentry. But… can she rebound and take on the best, most amazing duelists CHS has to offer on the path to a rematch against her rival and love-interest?!”

“Pinkie!”

“Just let me have this one, Twilight!” Pinkie said, failing to realize on turning the megaphone towards Twilight, blasting her with an ear-piercing noise. “Got anything to say to everyone?” she asked, blinking ever so sweetly as if nothing potentially out of place had been said or done, passing the megaphone to Twilight.

Shaking off the disorientation and adjusting to another bout of Pinkie induced tinnitus, Twilight took the megaphone and looked to the stands, most of the eyes turned towards her. Some seemed focused on their phones, some seemed to be training the in-built cameras in them towards her. After a moment of contemplative silence, Twilight raised the electronic device to her mouth.

“I’ll not deny, my first ever public performance was… beyond satisfactory. But, for the sake of my opponents slash new friends, I hope I will prove a worthy enough challenger, and that you will be entertained.”

“I doubt it!” called a random voice from somewhere in the crowd.

Pinkie snatched the megaphone back. “No cupcake for you!” she shouted, pointing out exactly the one who’d jeered.

“Aww…”

Pinkie proceeded to clear her throat. “With that outta the way, who’s ready for a boss rush?!!” she cried, raising an enthusiastic fist into the air.

A pitiable, half-hearted cheer emanated from the crowd.

Pinkie frowned, “And yes, the cupcakes are still involved.”

The crowd erupted with greater enthusiasm.

Pinkie rolled her eyes in irritation. She leaned towards Twilight, covering the mouth of the megaphone, “Just take your position at that end, I’ll do the rest,” she said, pointing a thumb at the end of the field, left from the spectator’s view.

“Alright,” Twilight complied.

“Well, guess cheering for the cupcakes is good enough. And now, without further ado- No touching!” Pinkie snapped when one of the students on the bottom row was already reaching out for one of the confectioneries. Pinkie glared daggers at him until he meekly sat back down, doing a gesture of indicating her eyes with her index and middle fingers and pointing at him. “… Without further further ado, here’s Canterlot High’s own Rarity!” She snapped a finger towards Vinyl Scratch, “Take it away, DJ!”

Vinyl gestured a thumbs up to Pinkie, her head still nodding in rhythm as she did something on the laptop computer, made adjustments on the compact mixer and with the push of a key, music began to emanate from the speakers for added mood.

“Oh! And as a bonus bit of news: Did you know she and AJ are back together?” Pinkie asked the crowd, eliciting a chorus of endearment from the audience.

Twilight saw from across the field as Rarity’s two-toned duel disk activated, eliciting her to do the same. As always, the two halves of the blade-like tray slid forward, combined into one and swung along her arm, the screen blaring to life with the grid of the playing field.

Opponent detected. Streaming data.” the familiar feminine synthetic voice spoke as Twilight’s desk was automatically shuffled. Once finished, the device prompted her, “Duel start?

Upon tapping the ‘yes’ icon, the virtual coin spun in the midst of the screen, stopping abruptly on the blue side with a star gold star reminiscent of a pentacle within it. “Your start.

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: 4000

Rarity Life Points: 4000

“Good luck, Twilight,” said Rarity through the in-built communicator.

“You too, Rarity. No matter what you do, don’t hold back.”

Turn 1: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 5)

Twilight’s hand was ejected from the disk, which she fanned out, having attained enough finger flexibility from last night’s repetitions. She shut her eyes and breathed in, holding it in for a moment, the sighed, steeling her resolve and her focus.

She took a card from her hand and slid it into a spell slot, “I start with the spell card ‘Spellbook Library of the Crescent’,” on cue a hologram of a darkened moon appeared on the field. Her duel disk prompted her to her touch screen, “This card lets me take three different ‘Spellbook’ spell cards from my deck, reveal them…”

As she made her choices, the disk pre-emptively once more shuffling Twilight’s deck before the moon faded, revealing three holograms of cards that materialized spinning over the field, their images pointed at Rarity’s side upon stopping.

“and you must then choose one of them at random, adding it to my hand. The rest return to my deck.”

The cards span in place once more, too fast to be able to make them out with the naked eye. They stopped with the images pointing at Twilight, their placements changed through the imaging.

Rarity eyed the three holograms in contemplation. There was really no physical means for her to have even the remotest means to have followed their placement.

“I choose… The one to your right,” Rarity said with finality, to which the left and middle cards faded, leaving the third, ‘Spellbook of Fate’ in place, to which the card itself was ejected from Twilight’s deck.

“Now I summon ‘Temperance of Prophecy’ in attack mode,” Twilight slapped a card into the cleft of her tray.

On the field materialized a woman covered head to toe in an orangish-brown robe with silver rims and flowing white cloth talismans wafting from he waist. A hint of a cyan braid hung out from her face obscuring hood, while in her hands she held a small golden goblet each, connected with a string of cyan pearls with a crest attached to the middle link. (Level 3, 1000/1000)

“Due to having played a ‘Spellbook’ card this turn, I can sacrifice Temperance to Special Summon one level 5 light or dark spellcaster from my deck,” Temperance’s chalices expelled smoke, one white, one a swirl of dark violet and black, the two swathes swirling together over Temperance’s form, making her vanish from sight.

“Come forth; ‘Emperor of Prophecy’!” slapping the freshly ejected card onto her disk, to which a pillar of darkness erupted on her field.

From within the pillar emerged another human spellcaster, male, garbed in a violet robe of black and intricate silver inlays and golds rims, six cloth talismans hanging off his shoulders back and waist. His head framed by a high collar and adorned in an intricate silver and gold helm. In his right hand he brandished a golden wand with six horizontal prongs beneath a rounded silver and purple crest. (Level 5 2300/2000)

So far so good. “I then activate ‘Spellbook of Secrets’. This lets me add one other ‘Spellbook’ card to my hand.” A card was once again ejected after a quick shuffle, “I choose ‘Spellbook of Power’ to be added. I then place a card facedown. I end my turn.”

(Hand: 3)

The crowd did not seem to respond much. All Twilight could hear aside from her duel disk was the sound of Vinyl’s music emanating from the speakers… The thought suddenly occurred to her that Vinyl’s inclusion in the stands may have been intentional, to block out any potential jeering from the audience to better Twilight’s focus. Looking over at Pinkie Pie who was busy handing out the promised cupcakes (save one), Twilight noted herself to hug that ever-lovable pink oddity. Strictly out of endearment, of course.

Turn 2: Rarity (Hand: 5)

In a rather flourished manner, Rarity drew her first card. Opening her eyes with a mysterious seeming smile formed on her lips, her purple coiffure seeming to sway in a non-existent breeze, she deftly flicked her first card onto the field.

“I summon ‘Box of Friends’ in defense mode.”

Appearing on her field was what looked very much like a yellow box marked with varying colors of polka dots and tied with a red silk ribbon. (Level 1 0/0)

Zero attack and defense points? Twilight wondered eyeing between her disk and field. It must have some form of effect if she’s bringing that out so openly…

“And now,” Rarity began as she held delicately a single card between her index and middle finger, “I active the heart and core of my radiant arsenal.”

“Gem-Knight Fusion!” a portion of the students shouted out in adoration.

Rarity smiled sweetly as she slapped the card onto her disk. True enough, the image of Gem-Knight Fusion emerged onto the field, presented by a glistening image of a red and blue distended knightly figures spiraling within a field of brilliant gemstones.

“I fuse together Gem-Knight Lazuli and Gem-Knight Iolite from my hand.”

The sparkling variant of the Fusion vortex emerged, the copper-colored Lazuli from before and Iolite with its cannon arm arising and swirling together into a shimmering light.

“My valiant gems: Right hand of the Lady. The stone blue like oceans’ depths. Unite in your splendor, and create a new jewel, that the world may bask in its light…”

Rarity’s hands came together, fingers intertwined, “Fusion Summon! Arise, my champion! Knight of Balance, ‘Gem-Knight Zirconia’!”

From the vortex emerged a knight larger and heftier than the three Twilight had witnessed during the duel between Rarity and Applejack. Standing at an astounding ten feet tall, its body was encased in a bulbous, rounded silvery armor with light blue inlays. In place of hands, its arms were composed solely of hefty battering rams with facets made of smoothed, glistening zircon. Like its other Fusion kin, a cape, one of muted purple, wafted behind its hefty form. (Level 8 2900/2500)

2900 attacks points, and a defender. Now I just need to worry about any potential effects this knight has…

“When Lazuli is sent to the graveyard by an effect, like Fusion Summoning, she lets me add one normal monster from my graveyard to my hand. Iolite is treated as a normal monster while in the graveyard, so he returns to my hand.” Rarity then gestured towards Twilights field in a graceful motion, “My champion Zirconia, attack Emperor! Zircon Hammer!”

Zirconia, seemingly levitating off the ground, slid across the field, one of its battering rams reared back in preparation to strike.

Now! “I play my facedown card; ‘Spellbook of Fate’!” Twilight swung her arm, her facedown arising to reveal itself. “… Its effect if determined by banishing one-to-three ‘Spellbook’ cards from my graveyard. By banishing ‘Spellbook Library of the Crescent’ and ‘Spellbook of Secrets’, I change Zirconia to facedown defense position, thus negating your attack!”

Zirconia was instantly warped back to Rarity’s side, the hefty knight vanishing underneath a sideward image of a facedown card.

“I place one card facedown. My turn has concluded,” Rarity declared.

(Hand: 2)

Turn 3: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 4)

Twilight performed her draw. Rarity used up almost her entire hand that turn. I have a nearly full hand, rearing to go, while she’s down to just one. I do not know what she has hidden under that facedown though, so I should be cautious. Zirconia has no effects it seems, but its attack strength is something I’d rather not take to the face… She looked at her hand, a plan formulating in her mind.

“I summon ‘Amores of Prophecy’ in attack mode.”

A lanky human male with green hair tied in a tail emerged onto the field. Clad in a light blue tunic, like all the other Prophecy spellcasters so far, cloth talismans were hung from his clothing, two over his shoulders, two at his waist. A thick blindfold covered his eyes and he brandished a stringless bow bearing the crest shared by his kin. (Level 3 600/2000)

“Amores allows me to Special Summon one level four or below spellcaster from my hand by revealing one ‘Spellbook’ from my hand,” To which Twilight flashed ‘Spellbook of Power’ from her last turn. “With Amores I Special Summon Strength of Prophecy in attack mode.”

A red-haired woman emerged onto the field, with determined eyes matching the radiance of her hair, clad in a predominately red and dark grey outfit with silver linings and studded with citrines on her chest, sleeves and matching crest hairpins. She too bore the same cloth talismans, two at her shoulders, two at her waist. Resting against the ground in her grip was a hefty stone axe, the blunt of it fashioned into a snarling beast’s head. (Level 4 1500/1400)

“I activate Strength’s effect: By shuffling a ‘Spellbook’ from my graveyard back into my deck…” Spellbook of Fate slid out of her graveyard slot, “I can increase the attack of one spellcaster on my field by 500 and its level by one.”

Strength pointed an open palm at Emperor, the citrines in her clothing emanating a fiery glow, which transferred into a matching out around Emperor (Level 5 -> 6 ATK: 2300 -> 2800).

Now Emperor is strong enough. “I attack Zirconia with Emperor!”

Emperor (ATK: 2800) raised his wand towards the heavens, the crest at its tip forming a sphere of power at its end, which he then proceeded to fling at the obscured Zirconia. The sphere struck home, unveiling Zirconia's hulking form, a crackling surge permeating his body, the knight grunting in pain before exploding.

“Next I attack Box of Friends with Amores!”

An arrow of blue light materialized beside Amores’ bow, which he pulled back with a seemingly invisible string before launching it at the unassuming box on Rarity’s field. The arrow pierced through the container, causing it to erupt in blue flames, burning to nothing in the blink of an eye.

She’s open, now I can-

“When Box of Friends is destroyed, its effect triggers,” Rarity interjected. “It allows me to Special Summon two normal monsters from my deck in defense, as long as either their attack or defense points are zero.”

I digress…

“I summon ‘Gem-Knights Garnet’ and ‘Sapphire’ in defense mode.”

Two knights emerged onto the field, one in a brilliant garnet red suit of armor, a respective gem studded in his chestplate, with his right arm adorned in a hefty gauntlet. (Level 4 1900/0) The other a gleaming sapphire blue, sleek suit of armor that proceeded to kneel, holding out its hands to which a wall of ice formed before them. (Level 4 0/2100)

Alright, slight goof-up. I can still destroy Garnet. “I continue my battle phase by attacking Gem-Knight Garnet with Strength.”

“Trap card, activate!” Rarity interjected again. “‘Gem-Enhancement’! By sacrificing one Gem-Knight on my field, I can Special Summon one Gem-Knight from my graveyard. Revive, my champion: Gem-Knight Zirconia!”

Garnet’s armor erupted in an intense blue glow around its seams, swelling into a familiar shape that coalesced and dimmed to reveal the revived Zirconia. (Level 8 2900/2500)

“Sorry, Twilight, but you cannot extinguish my champions’ luster so easily,” said Rarity with a graceful sway of her hair.

Twilight, despite the predicament, couldn’t help but smile. Rarity was not dueling out of anger now, like she was before with Applejack. “It’s good to see you’re having fun.”

“Oh indubitably, darling,” Rarity chuckled. “Make no mistake, I shall duel to win. But whatever may come of this, Twilight, I want you to know that I will be forever grateful, and I will always be here if you need me.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Rarity. I hope I will be a worthy opponent in either case.”

“We shall see. I hope you are prepared, for my dueling passion starts here,” Rarity bowed daringly.

Twilight chuckled in the shared merriment, “I end my battle phase. I will then play ‘Spellbook of Knowledge’. I send Amores to the graveyard in order to draw two cards.”

Twilight looked at her current hand; so far, she had gone down from five at the start to a sizeable four. She looked up towards Zirconia, another one of Rarity’s formidable Fusion Monster knights. Realizing that most of these fusions, barring Zirconia so far, would be capable of some form of devastating effect as she demonstrated during her duel with Applejack. The ordinary Gem-Knights, while formidable, were more lacking in strength and based on Obsidian performed a more utilitarian elements instead of aiding in combat.

What’s more, with Gem-Knight Fusion in Rarity’s graveyard, she would simply use its latent effect to bring it back and use it to summon another, stronger knight. If only she had a means of stopping Rarity from fusing altogether…

Wait… This card… Twilight noticed a certain trap she’d drawn with Spellbook of Knowledge.

“Maybe you can use ‘em if ya find yourself in a pickle,” Apple Bloom’s words echoed in her mind.

“I set two cards facedown. I end my turn.”

(Hand: 2)

Turn 4: Rarity (Hand 2)

Rarity drew, to which she slid the card directly into her disk, “I activate ‘Graceful Charity.’ This card lets me draw three cards, as long as I discard two from my hand.”

Rarity drew thrice, going over her hand of four, before selecting her two discards and feeding them into her graveyard slot. A ghostly image of a black knight with a halo of black orbs appeared behind Rarity.

“When ‘Gem-Knight Obsidian’ is discarded to the graveyard, he lets me add one level 4 or lower ‘Gem-Knight’ normal monster from my graveyard to my hand,” a card slid back out of the slot. “I choose Gem-Knight Garnet from last turn. I then activate Gem-Knight Fusion’s graveyard effect: By banishing a Gem-Knight, like Obsidian, I can add it to my hand.”

Here we go…

“I then activate Gem-Knight Fusion once more. I fuse Gem-Knights Garnet, Sapphire and Zirconia-”

“Trap card, activate!” Twilight declared, one of her two facedowns emerging. “‘Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell’!”

A gasp emanated from among the fashionista students. Rarity eyed the risen trap warily, her expression hinting she was aware of the ramifications.

“By discarding a spell card from my hand,” Twilight slid Spellbook of Power into the graveyard, “I negate your Gem-Knight Fusion. Also, you are unable to use that spell card for the rest of the duel.”

Rarity said nothing as she was forced to send not only her fusion card, but also her entire field, and part of her hand to the graveyard.

“You think you may have gone a little overboard?” Spike whispered; no doubt due to his feelings for both Rarities.

“Well played, Twilight,” Rarity spoke over her disk in a genuinely complimentary tone. “I will say, either your defeat at the hands of Flash were grossly exaggerated, or training with Sweetie Belle did wonders.”

“You don’t mean you’re going to…?”

Rarity laughed haughtily, “Oh ho-ho no~. It’s like Applejack said; when you start a duel, you see it to the end. And besides; what kind of fashion extraordinaire would I be if I could not improvise?” She took the second last card in her hand and slid it into her spell slot, “I play the spell card, ‘Absorb Fusion’.”

What?! Another Fusion card?!

“Absorb Fusion adds one Gem-Knight card to my hand, which is then used as one of the Fusion components, along with any other components in my hand or on my field by banishing them.” She chose a card off her duel disk screen, her deck being shuffled and her chosen card ejected from her deck, flashing it at Twilight, “I choose ‘Gem-Knight Lapis’ to be added into my hand, and I fuse her with Gem-Knight Iolite.”

The sparkling fusion vortex emerged, along with the images of Lapis, a lighter colored twin of Lazuli and Iolite. A black aura surrounded them as they were sucked into the vortex.

“My valiant gems: Left hand of the Lady. The stone blue like oceans’ depths. Unite in your splendor, and bring forth the Lustrous Lady…”

Rarity’s hands came together once more, “Fusion Summon! Her excellence: Level 5, ‘Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli!”

A new gem emerged from the vortex. As befitting her name, she was a female monster as opposed to the predominately male Gem-Knights. Her shimmering metallic body was covered in a combination of cloth and armor in a vague likeness to a deep blue kimono, the metallic hems studded with two large stones of her namesake. She landed gracefully before Rarity, arms held out, leaving her wide sleeves hanging elegantly at her sides. (Level 5, 2400/1000)

Before now I thought she could only use Gem-Knight Fusion or a slightly delayed trap card. So, Rarity has back-up plans in case her main fusion card is compromised. Still, Lapis Lazuli is much weaker compared to Zirconia. I should be able to handle her…

“I activate Lady Lapis Lazuli’s effect. Once per turn, I can send a Gem-Knight from either my deck or extra deck to the graveyard…” One of her Fusion Monsters slid out of her extra deck port on the side opposite her deck. “I choose one of my champions, ‘Gem-Knight Topaz’. This lets Lapis Lazuli deal 500 damage to you multiplied by the number of Special Summoned monsters on the field.”

Special Summoned…?! All three monsters out were Special Summoned!

Lapis Lazuli held aloft her hands, three jagged lances of gemstones appearing above her. Swinging forth one arm, the three lances launched at Twilight, each striking the segmented forcefield before her, causing her duel disk to vibrate in feedback.

Twilight Sparkle Life points: (500 x 3 = 1500) 4000 – 1500 = 2500

Rarity swept back her hair extravagantly, “I end my turn.”

(Hand: 0)

She just shaved off one third of my life points, and all without attacking. She must have misconstrued my facedown card, ‘Magician’s Circle’ which would have given me another spellcaster to summon if she’d attacked. But now with that lady Gem-Knight, I’m not certain if I should even special summon any more monsters unless I can take it out.

Turn 5: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 2)

Twilight drew her next card… ‘Spellbook of Judgement’. Tempting, but she was not looking to Special Summon just yet, and the only remaining monsters in her hand would not help against Lapis Lazuli.

“Sorry about this, Rarity. I activate the effect of Emperor. By banishing a spellcaster monster on my field, and a Spellbook from by graveyard, I can take control of one of your monsters until the end of this turn. I banish Strength,” the red-haired warrior mage vanished from her field, “And Spellbook of Power from my graveyard, to take control of Lapis Lazuli.”

Emperor held out one hand, and pulled it back whilst clenching it into a fist. Lapis Lazuli vanished from Rarity’s field and appeared on Twilight’s side, one of her monster zones marked as occupied with Lapis Lazuli’s card image present on her screen.

“I attack you directly with Lapis Lazuli!”

Lapis Lazuli held forth both hands, scores of small gems materializing before her, which were then launched towards Rarity in a rapid flurry against her forcefield. Rarity’s arm was jerked by the system feedback, but she retained a neutral impression.

Rarity Life Points: 4000 – 2400 = 1600

“Emperor of Prophecy can’t attack the turn I used this effect, so I will end my turn. During my end phase, Lapis Lazuli returns to your field.”

Lapis Lazuli vanished from Twilight’s side of the field and remerged onto her rightful place at Rarity’s side.

(Hand: 3)

Hopefully that bought me enough breathing room until I draw the right card.

Turn 6: Rarity (Hand: 0)

-

Right… She really put me in a tight spot with that Cursed Seal trick. Unless I can somehow keep Lapis Lazuli alive to shave her life points down before she summons something stronger or destroys her with a card. She’s lucky to happened to have had that specific card just like… Sweetie Belle!

Rarity glanced towards the bleachers, specifically, towards her end of it where her fellow ‘bosses’ as Pinkie had insisted on calling them, sat, sans Pinkie who was adamantly ensuring an equal distribution of cupcakes (minus one). True enough, seated next to Applejack she could see Apple Bloom, between whom and Scootaloo sat her little sister spectating.

You gave her that card, didn’t you? Rarity inexplicably found herself smiling at sister. Of course. You told Twilight everything about what’s been going on. My relationship with Applejack, the school, everything. Like how you and your friends’ sisters were acting so foolish.

She diverted her line of sight towards the girl whom was wrongfully duped into breaking her heart, proudly observing her duel once more. For the past two years dueling, or rather, everything at CHS had felt so lonesome. Sure, she had her place among the fellow fashionably inclined, but that wasn’t the same. Sure, she’d praise their styles, commend them for something they did, or have them downright idolize her exploits. And while she may know many of their names, that was about it.

I… we will always be indebted to Twilight for bringing us back together in so many ways. Twilight, you gave me back my heart, and with it, reignited my passion. No matter what happens now, she will always have a friend in me.

-

Twilight blinked hard when she saw Rarity reaching for her next draw. It was hard to make out, but for a moment, she thought she’d seen Rarity’s form envelop in a soft violet aura. The mental echoes she’d come to recognize as an indicator of Priestess’ presence filled her thoughts, when an astral projection of the woman appeared hovering beside her.

Priestess? Could you see it too?

Indeed, Twilight. I am not certain, but it would seem she’s evoked some internalized power. But it feels different from anything else I’ve seen before.

Is this something to do with the Game of Darkness?!” Twilight surreptitiously glanced at the Priestess.

Rarity drew her next and only card in her hand at that point. Mathematically, unless she was very lucky, the odds of it being something to solidify her field further was minimal at best, yet the uncanny aura she’d witnessed just then… Could it have something to do with…?

“I play ‘Pot of Dichotomy,’” Rarity declared, the hologram of a pot bearing two distinct facets emerged onto the field: One side purple, gluttonous visage with a long tongue lulling out, exposing teeth studded with gems under thick lips. The other, a smiling white visage with what looked to be spindly hands held together as if in prayer or meditation.

“This turn I cannot conduct my battle phase. I return three monsters of different types from my graveyard to my deck…” three cards of her choice were ejected, “Box of Friends – machine. Gem-Knight Lazuli – rock. And Gem-Knight Garnet – pyro.” She placed the cards atop her deck, which was shuffled, “I then draw two cards.”

A facedown materialized on her field, “I set one card facedown. And activate Lapis Lazuli’s effect. I send Lazuli from my deck back to the graveyard.”

Lapis Lazuli raised spread her arms once more, this time materializing two gem lances, which were then launched towards Twilight, shattering violently onto the forcefield.

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: (500 x 2 = 1000) 2500 – 1000 = 1500

“When Gem-Knight Lazuli is sent to the graveyard, she adds one normal monster from my graveyard to my hand,” another card slid out of her graveyard slot. “I choose Gem-Knight Sapphire. Whom I will play in defense mode.”

The sapphire ice knight emerged once more, spreading out his arms to form the barrier before him. (Level 4 0/2100)

“I end my turn,” Rarity said, her eyes steeled in determination.

(Hand: 1)

Turn 7: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 2)

Twilight looked across from the field at Rarity as she drew her next card. What was that just now? Was it just luck that she drew that Pot of Dichotomy? It’s not out of the realms of possibility, but at the same time as that aura just now. I know I’ve seen it before…

She looked at the latest card she drew. This should help… “I summon ‘Spellbook Magcian of Prophecy’ in defense mode.”

The young light blue-robed magician emerged onto the field, grasping the dark blue tome under his arm as he knelt on the ground. (Level 2 500/400)

“When normal summoned, Spellbook Magician adds one ‘Spellbook’ to my hand,” her selected card ejected, revealing it as a second Spellbook of Power. It’s now or never; I need to get rid of Lapis Lazuli before Rarity can special summon and use her effect to finish this. “I activate ‘Spellbook of Power’!”

A fiery red tome appeared and opened before Emperor of Prophecy, whom reached out for it. A fiery aura began to surround him, coalescing into a crackling sphere over his hand. (ATK: 2300 -> 3300)

“Spellbook of Power increases the attack points of one spellcaster on my field by 1000. And when it destroys a monster in battle, it allows me to add a 'Spellbook' spell card to my hand.” Risky as it was with Rarity’s facedown, she had to act now, “I attack Lapis Lazuli with Emperor!”

Emperor, instead of using his wand, vigorously flung the energy sphere at Lapis Lazuli. In what felt like a moment of slowed time, Twilight grit her teeth anxiously in the event that Rarity’s facedown would reveal itself as something harmful…

The attack struck home, the impact eliciting a haunting, pained scream from Lapis Lazuli before her form exploded, inflicting sizable damage to Rarity’s life points in the process.

Rarity Life Points: 1600 – 900 = 700

Alright! Breathing room achieved! Twilight added a card as per the Spellbook’s effect. Priestess! “I end my turn. During my end phase Emperor’s attack points return to normal. (ATK: 3300 –> 2300)

(Hand: 3)

Turn 8: Rarity (Hand 1)

Rarity drew her next card, “I now activate my facedown; ‘Common Charity’.”

That’s a trap she used against Applejack. She can draw twice, so long as she banishes a normal monster from her hand…

Rarity drew twice in her overtly flourished style, making her hand count four. She folded one of the newly drawn cards against her palm whilst the one remaining betwixt her fore and middle fingers was slid it into the banished slot.

Still, she will have a hard time when she’s still unable to use Gem-Knight Fusion.

Rarity slapped a card onto her tray, “I summon ‘Gem-Knight Emerald’ in attack mode!”

A new knight arose onto her field. This one adorned in a sleek, brilliant green suit of armor with golden accents. On each gauntlet it brandished what looked to be green circular saws. (Level 4 1800/800)

“Defeating my champions or depriving me of my core card will not stop me. Just as I strive to make the world even just a little more beautiful, with my passion ignited; I will always find a way!” she swung her hand sideways in flourish. “‘Gem-Knight Emerald’s effect! By sacrificing him and one normal monster on my field, I can special summon one Gem-Knight fusion monster from my graveyard! Emerald Resurrection!”

Emerald crossed its arms over its chest as Sapphire vanished from the field. The emeralds embedded in its chest and saws erupted in a radiant green glow.

“Return, my Lady: Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli!”

From the glow emerged a contrastingly darker silhouette. When the light finally faded; Lapis Lazuli stepped elegantly forth onto the field of battle, back from the dead. (Level 5 2400/1000)

“I activate Lapis Lazuli’s effect once more, by sending ‘Gem-Knight Amber’ from my deck to the graveyard, you take another one thousand points of damage.”

Lapis Lazulie conjured two more jewel lances and psionically flung them at Twilight, unable to keep herself from instinctively raising her arms due to the sheer realism of the holograms.

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: (500 x 2 = 1000) 1500 – 1000 = 500

One more hit from her and I’m finished!

“Lapis Lazuli, attack Twilight’s Emperor!”

Just as the lady Gem-Knight (ATK: 2400) held forth her arms, conjuring a flurry of gems, Twilight pressed an icon on her duel disc, “I play the trap card ‘Magician’s Circle’! When you attack, we can both special summon one spellcaster-type monster from our decks with 2000 or less attack points!” A card slid out from Twilight’s deck, “I summon ‘Reaper of Prophecy’!”

From a burst of dark smog emerged a human of indeterminate gender, garbed in a black and dark purple robe with silver trimmings. The hems and sleeves of the robe were tattered, and on their waist was set a massive buckle in the likeness of a fanged skull. As the other Prophecy casters, cloth talismans hung from their waist, only these were black instead of white. Underneath the hood, the left side of their face was covered in a silver half of a human skull. Brandished in their hands was a large black, jagged scythe, with the crest of Prophecy embedded on its sides where the blade met the shaft. (Level 6 2000/1000)

Lapis Lazuli sent the conjured flurry of gems pummeling at Emperor (ATK: 2300), his form being torn apart.

Twilight Sparkle Life Points: 500 – 100 = 400

“I set one card. My turn concludes.”

(Hand: 1)

Turn 9: Twilight Sparkle (Hand: 3)

Right, I can now sacrifice Magician and Reaper to summon Priestess to take out Lapis Lazuli, but Rarity has yet another facedown. Priestess can destroy one card once per turn by banishing a Spellbook from my graveyard, but the questions boils down to which one do I destroy? Lapis Lazuli will take out my remaining life points, so she is the urgent target. But then I could be possibly leaving a dangerous facedown for Rarity to trigger. If I destroy her facedown and then attack Lapis Lazuli, I’ll leave Rarity’s field open. But should I risk it even if she has only one card left in her hand.

Twilight swallowed hard as she drew her next card. ‘Double Spell’…!

“I sacrifice Spellbook Magician and Reaper of Prophecy,” Twilight’s monsters faded from the field in swirls of light, “to summon the mistress of timeless wisdom; High Priestess of Prophecy!”

Priestess true form emerged onto the field, her cloth talismans swaying from the burst of power granted from her comrades’ sacrifice. Grasping her emerald tome over her right forearm, she took an assertive step forth on her long, slender legs. (Level 7 2500/2100)

-

Rarity eyed Twilight’s newly summoned white clad spellcaster warily. Graceful and, frankly, adorning just the most gorgeous garb of white and silver, she thought she recognized the card from somewhere else.

High Priestess of Prophecy has an effect that lets her destroy a card on the field by banishing a spell, I believe, once per turn. The card I set is Brilliant Spark; if Twilight destroys Lapis Lazuli with High Priestess I can inflict damage to Twilight equal to Lapis Lazuli’s attack points. If she destroys Brilliant Spark and destroys Lapis Lazuli in battle, I’ll only lose 100 life points. The card in my hand is Dark Factory of Mass Production; with it I can bring back two of my knights and discard one to bring Brilliant Spark back into my hand. If I can just hold off a little longer, I should be able to draw a fusion trap…

-

“I discard Spellbook of Judgement from my hand to activate ‘Double Spell,’” Twilight inserted said spell into her disk.

“Double Spell?” Rarity muttered.

“This lets me choose one spell from my opponent’s graveyard and this card’s effect becomes that of the taken spell.” Twilight pointed at Rarity in defiance, “The spell I choose is your ‘Graceful Charity’.”

On the field the image of Double Spells card revolved, the flipside being the image of Graceful Charity.

“I draw three cards, then discard two of them…” One; ‘The Fool of Prophecy’. Two: ‘Spellbook of the Master’, three ‘Dark Renewal’.

Twilight slid the Fool and Stoic of Prophecy from her hand into the graveyard, before inserting Spellbook of Eternity into her disk, “I play ‘Spellbook of the Eternity’. This card lets me add one banished Spellbook to my hand,” her choice was ejected from the banished slot, “and I choose the first Spellbook of Power I banished by Emperor’s effect.”

-

Increases her monster’s power by a thousand and lets her draw a card by destroying a monster in battle… If she uses that along with High Priestess’ effect to get rid of my facedown…!

-

“I now activate Priestess’ effect; once per turn, by banishing a Spellbook from by graveyard,” Twilight had Spellbook of Eternity ejected, “she can destroy one card on the field!”

Priestess levitated her tome before her, the deceivingly small book fluttering through what looked like dimensionally transcendental numbers of pages. Seeming to pick out something from the tome, it then closed and she uttered some arcane language even Twilight could not recognize. An emerald burst of light erupted from underneath Rarity’s facedown, the card burning away into nothing.

“Now I activate Spellbook of Power, increasing Priestess’ attack points by a thousand.”

Priestess’ tome spun rapidly in place, its emerald shine turning radiant orange. Upon halting the cover flung itself open, Priestess reaching out with both gloved hands that drew in crackling bolts of power from the tome, coalescing into a crackling fiery orb between her palms. (ATK 2500 -> 3500)

-

Rarity watched as the High Priestess siphoned power from the fiery tome before her, making her a total of 1100 points stronger than Lapis Lazuli, and herself with no trap card to defend herself with. There was nothing she could do at this point; all being left in her hand a spell card she couldn’t even use. Rarity closed her eyes, her lips curving into a smile of contentment.

Much as her drive as a duelist wished for victory, she did not mind it. Twilight Sparkle, this strange, yet so helpful girl had already done so much for her in the one day she’d known her. It was a well-deserved victory for the girl with hair like wings.

-

“High Priestess attacks Lapis Lazuli!”

Priestess thrust out her hands, sending the ball of energy careening towards Lapis Lazuli, the lady knight covering her front in vain with her arms until she fell victim to a second bolt from the Spellbook of Power, her form being eradicated in a haunting wail.

Rarity Life Points: 700 – 1000 = -300

Twilight Sparkle Victory!

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