• Published 9th Aug 2012
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Horn and Hammer - Lancer

Warhammer meets MLP. Two forces for good, two opposite ways of life, forced to stand together.

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Chapter Five- A Fledgling Alliance

Chapter Five

A Fledgling Alliance

Everfree Forest, Equestria

The Empire army’s officers paused in contemplative silence. The revelation that they were responsible for the Chaos Gods influence on this new world sat badly with them. Each of the veterans had fought the forces of Chaos many times; each had lost something dear to them in some form to the unending war.

Willhelm staggered backwards under the weight of his actions, attempting to speak the words caught in his mouth. “This . . . This is my fault. I have brought the Chaos Gods to a peaceful world” said Willhelm, largely to himself but within earshot of all.

“You could not have known old friend. Rest assured though we will do everything we can to right our wrongs” replied Markus, striding up to the White Wizard and resting a gauntleted hand on the wizard’s shoulder.

“I agree father, but the question remains how can we right this when our presence must remain here?” asked Pieter.

“That shall be something we discuss with the other princess, she should be here within the hour. Apparently the princess will be bringing soldiers so it will be good to get the measure of the warriors of Equestria” Markus declared.

Sergeant Kemper’s eyes narrowed at his general’s decision. “With all respect father, these ponies are little more than tiny horses. Can they really be a match for Norse savages? Not to mention Warriors of Tzeentch?”

“Do not forget Sergeant, many view the dwarfs as smaller, more stalwart humans. That said we have all seen dwarfs in action and we know better, humanity knows no greater ally than our dwarven friends.” Markus looked around at those words seeing each man nodding their heads in agreement. “Besides they are intelligent creatures some of whom are capable of flight, some magic and all we can assume will kick like a horse.” Markus concluded with a smile, the brief chuckle by the majority of his officers reaffirmed his position.

“For now my retinue will work on strengthening defences while the other regiments stand guard. Dismissed”

The assembled bearers of the Elements of Harmony minus Pinkie Pie and along with Mayor Mare were returning to the Everfree Forest when Princess Luna and her selection of Royal Guards arrived in Ponyville. Greetings were brief between the princess and the bearers, the princess was evidently filled with concern over her missing sister and besides Twilight the other ponies discussed recent events in hushed tones, the fearsome and faceless Royal Guard highlighting the gravity of the situation.

Twilight did her best to act as an intermediary between Luna and her subjects, but increasingly found herself engaging Mayor Mare as the concerned mare quizzed Twilight continuously. Overall the atmosphere remained subdued for the majority of the thirty minute walk from Ponyville to the human camp.

“They’re just beyond these trees princess, you can hear them now” said Twilight dropping into line with the midnight blue alicorn.

“Thank you Twilight Sparkle, I must say from the brief description you gave me they sound like very imposing figures, and you say each of them are the equal of my sister in height?”

“Oh yes, their leader is a priest of some kind and he is easily another head taller than Celestia and he must be three times her width”

“They sound very much like a warrior race from the way you have described them, are you certain we can trust them?” questioned Luna, her face curiously expressionless.

Her question however went unanswered as the group of Equestrians entered the small clearing created by Willhelm Rekthofen earlier that day. The clearing had grown much larger in that time, the shield and hammer bearing soldiers from before had since stripped off their armour and were busy hacking away at the surrounding trees for use as barricades. Many of them had removed their tunics and hacked at the trees bare chested giving the new arrivals a better view of the human anatomy compared to their usual armour clad appearance.

A number of the men turned to face the new arrivals, regarding the Royal Guard in their war barding with suspicion as soldiers do when unsure of their counterpart’s intentions. Shouts rippled from the group as news of the Equestrian newcomers was relayed to their commanding officers.

With neither party making any attempt to converse they stood still. The burly bare chested humans with axes nearly as tall as a pony clutched in both ands and the Equestrian guardsponies adopting their customary statuesque pose.

The human’s harsh sounding shouts brought their officers to the fore, Willhelm Rekthofen and Pieter von Grunberg leading the way, behind them was Gerhart and Markus. Willhelm scanned the group of ponies before him searching for one of them, upon finding his target he immediately advanced on the group. The ever present guards did nothing to dissuade him.

“Ah Twilight Sparkle, I see you have returned, with who I can presume is the other princess and a fair number of soldiers too. I think it would be good to recast that translation spell of yours, I fear my fellows have been too close to the gateway since last we met”

“Yeh sure thing” Twilight replied. Turning to Princess Luna she continued, “Oh I forgot to mention princess, the gateway he mentioned nullifies magic within a certain distance, my translation spell wears off if they get too close to it”

With a nod of understanding Luna cleared her throat before replying, “Thank you Twilight, and allow me to cast the spell. I was there when Archasia Sunchaser discovered it after all.” With that a blue glow emanated from her horn, sweeping outwards much like Twilight’s spell had previously.

Twilight gasped at this revelation looking up to the dark blue alicorn with curiosity and a twinkle in her eyes. “But I read his account of the spell’s creation before I came here. Surely you would receive a mention of some sort princess?”

“We, I, am afraid to admit that it is likely that I will not be found in any books or tomes written within recent times. My sister saw fit to remove much of the record of my existence from history following my descent into the Nightmare.”

“That’s horrible, why would Celestia do that to you?”

“It was necessary, and I agree with the steps she took. She did it for the safety of everypony at great personal cost. For now though we have more important matters at hoof, could you do me the honour of introducing these humans please Twilight Sparkle?” finished Luna in a curt fashion, while gesturing with a hoof towards the men before them.

“Of course Luna” replied Twilight eager to do as her princess asked.

While the exchange between Luna and Twilight had gone on, the Empire officers had moved up to talk to the new arrivals and begin discussing the two species next move. The conversation between the graceful, starry maned princess and the much smaller lavender unicorn, while interesting to the more inquisitive of the officers, was grating on the more direct minds of Arch Lector Markus Holstein and the Greatsworder Gerhart Manhelm. The two warrior’s stoic posture and body language belying their dwindling impatience at the two ponies side conversation interrupting proceedings.

“Right well, Princess Luna, Mayor Mare, allow me to introduce Captain Pieter von Grunberg, Willhelm Rekthofen, erm, General Markus and, sorry but you were never introduced to us” said the nervous looking Twilight at the realisation that she was not overly sure of the steel clad figure on the end with the exquisitely twirled moustache and intricately ornate plate armour. She had been pointing to each human in turn with her hoof but the final, giant sword bearing soldier had always just stood in the background with a scowl on his face and armoured arms crossed.

“Perhaps I should introduce my fellows” provided Pieter stepping forward, with a sweeping movement of his arm he indicated each officer in turn. “This is Arch Lector Markus Holstein, leader of the expedition. Willhelm Rekthofen, Magister of the Light Order. Gerhart Manhelm, Count’s Champion of the Altdorf Greatswords, and I am Captain Pieter von Grunberg. We represent the officers of the Emperor Karl Franz in this world minus Engineer Otto Erholt who is currently indisposed, as well as Captain Conrad Dietrich, however he did not survive our journey here” concluded Pieter with a sigh.

“I am deeply saddened to hear that, you have our sympathies. I am Princess Luna, co-ruler of Equestria. This here is Mayor Mare of Ponyville, mayor of the closest Equestrian settlement to this location. To my left is Captain Forlorn Wind of the Trottingham Royal Guard. The other mares here are the majority of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony of which I am given to understand the final bearer is somewhere within your encampment?” replied Luna in her measured and regal voice.

Forlorn stepped forward at the mention of his name, his head held high, wings flaring to show off his impressive wing span to the warriors from another world. He surveyed these humans with a critical eye, taking in their purposeful poise, immense stature and fine quality equipment. In particular the giant bald one who appeared to project an aura of power. Arch Lector Markus caught Forlorn’s eye and they stared at each other briefly, sizing each other up. Forlorn couldn’t help but look away first, those eyes, however much smaller they were they reminded him of his father, that same steely expression, that same underlying sadness.

“Ah yes Pinkie Pie is her name I believe, she is with the baby dragon somewhere within our supply train. I shall send someone for her immediately” with a wave one of the hairy chested, stripped down Sigmarites ran off into the mass of soldiers behind. Pieter’s hand remained raised however; he swept it upwards to shield his eyes from the foreign sun, a lone airborne figure had caught his attention.

Within moments others looked, the unmistakeable porcelain coat, the wings, the horn, all pointed to one potential being and yet, something about the figure was wrong and the Equestrians had noticed.

Gasps of shock rippled through the ranks of the guardsponies. Some maintained their statuesque appearance; others broke rank and stared in horror alongside the seven mares at the head of their formation.

“Celestia!” cried Twilight, running forward as the princess of Equestria landed haphazardly in the clearing. The exhausted alicorn fell to her knees, pain written across her usually composed face. Princess Celestia had changed, her usual flowing, pastel rainbow mane and tail hung limp and had become a plain pink colour similar to Fluttershy’s. Celestia appeared shorter too; as Twilight hugged her mentor fiercely she noticed that the princess on her knees was the same height as Twilight herself when standing. Twilight felt her friends gather around her to comfort the stricken princess and their friend.

“It’s ok my little ponies, I am just tired” Celestia declared, tentatively raising herself onto her hooves and holding her head high before the human soldiers. Her sister however was not in the mood to maintain appearances.

Luna galloped up to her sister, looking down on Celestia’s diminished form, shock and fear in her eyes. Any attempt at retaining composure gone as the two alicorns embraced briefly, their eyes locked upon each other’s, oblivious to their surroundings.

Luna was the first to break the silence between them, “Oh sister, what happened to you. What happened to your power?”

“I tried to stop the humans, one of them exploded horrifically and my magic went with it. I tried to talk to them but they attacked me on sight. We cannot stay here, Canterbury lies in their path and their leader is so powerful.”

“Then perhaps we can help” offered Markus gesturing to the small army behind him. “We cannot spare a large number of our forces, but I am sure a coalition of our best troops with appropriate magical support could track down and eliminate our shared enemy.”

“Shared enemy? We know nothing about either party; you could just as easily be an even greater foe than these Tzeentch worshippers” Luna retorted, venom lacing her words.

“We are the Old World’s first defence against the forces of Chaos, for over two thousand years we have fought an unending war with them. Millions have died fighting the disciples of the dark gods and you would question our motives?” spat Markus in return.

“Princess Luna, these humans are good. Their world might not be, but I trust them. They don’t know us either but they still offered to help. That has to count for something doesn’t it?” Twilight pleaded.

Luna pondered Twilights words, looking around at the pleading expressions of the other Element bearers her gaze finally rested on her subdued sister. Celestia smiled in return, bowing her head almost imperceptivity. That was all the reassurance Luna needed.

Turning back to the priest Luna decided on her course of action. “Very well, I apologise if I have offended you. Recent events have been most trying on us”

“There is no need to apologise princess. Honestly, in your position I can understand your misgivings with an army that happens to turn up within your nation’s borders. Pleasantries aside however there are several important matters that require our immediate attention. First off as I am sure you are aware there is an army on the other side of the gateway we came through which has forced us to enter into a kind of siege situation. The other much smaller band that came through first as I understand it, is heading towards one of your settlements as we speak and there is little we can do to stop that yes?”

“Yes we understand, carry on please” said Luna sitting down next to her sister who had sunk to her knees again from exhaustion as a result of the physical, mental and magical strain she had gone through. Luna laid a reassuring hoof on her older sister’s back.

“Right, well for the moment we cannot spare the troops to hunt the loose band down and indeed will require a lot of support from your mayor here and whatever soldiers you can spare to make this area defensible. In return we put together a small task force to hunt down and defeat the Chaos worshippers in your world. Is that satisfactory?”

“I am afraid these are all the guards I could spare, Equestria’s Royal Guard are a small force. They number around three thousand and mostly serve garrison duties or are currently occupied pursuing the remnants of the changeling menace. We have no ponies to spare Markus Holstein” replied Luna with a heavy sigh.

“Then there is nothing we can do?” asked Markus.

“Luna, we do have one possible action” Celestia began.

“I know what you mean sister, but it is not fair to fall back on them like this, let me go after the interlopers I can do this.”

“And risk yourself the same reckless way I did? No, who will control the sun and moon? What if you don’t come back? The Elements are ready. They have already done so much for Equestria sister, besides you are needed back in Canterlot”

“To Tartarus with the nobles” Luna bit back. Pinkie Pie giggled from in the midst of her friends causing them to jump back in surprise at her sudden arrival.

“Excuse me” interrupted Pieter, “What are these Elements you speak of? How will they help?”

Luna was first to reply to the captains question. “The Elements of Harmony are the most powerful magical artefacts in Equestria. The six Elements represent the six values of friendship; together they can purge any evil. It just so happens that these six mares are the Bearers.”

Pieter turned to address his fellow officers, his decision made. “Father, I would like to request that I accompany these ponies, they will need an escort and while we cannot spare a large number of troops we can spare me.”

“Permission granted captain, I wish I could provide you with a detachment but we will need every soldier we can here” replied Markus. Walking forward both warriors clasped arms before turning to the two princesses. “Princesses, my captain here is an excellent swordsman, one of the best I have seen. He has a vast amount of experience for his age and is the equal of ten men in a fight, more than that he is a good man. He will protect these Elements with his life if need be.”

“We gladly accept your offer Markus Holstein, and thank you captain” was Celestia’s magnanimous reply.

From the head of the Royal Guard formation Captain Forlorn Wind approached the group, not wanting to be outdone by his human counterpart. “Princess, I would like to offer my services as an escort as well. My sergeant can cover things here, but they will need a figure of authority from within the guard if they come across any of our citizenry on their mission”

“Very well, it is decided then. I shall fetch the Elements and meet your group somewhere on the road to Canterbury once you are free of the Everfree” concluded Luna.

“Well I suppose we best prepare then. Captain Forlorn if you would like to accompany me there is much we need to discuss” said Pieter, directing the guard captain out of earshot of the bearers.

Celestia stood up, taking charge of the discussion and addressing the six friends. “Likewise I and Arch Lector Holstein here need to discuss the situation with the gateway in more depth, for now I suggest you prepare yourselves. You may have a long journey ahead of you and Canterbury needs your help.”

With that the meeting between the two new allies ended, and preparation for what was to come began.