• Published 6th Nov 2020
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Son of the Howlite Howler - JNKing

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Chapter 7: Battle of Claw and Hoof

Celestia led the charge. Though her eyes shined with a reluctant light, she lowered her horn and galloped towards Kodo as he raced towards her.

Seconds before the two could clash, Kodo stopped. Dark magic flared through his being and into the ground, and Celestia barely managed to avoid crashing face first into a giant wall of obsidian.

“Pegasi!” she boomed, as Luna and a legion of pegasus and thestral warriors flew over the obsidian. As one, they tucked their wings and dove towards the dogs. However, the dogs countered with spells and spears, knocking several of the pegasi out of the sky.

However, Luna deflected any shots towards her, and Kodo had to jump to avoid being crushed. Luke leaped to his defense, but Luna bucked him out of the way. Across the battlefield, the pegasi rained down on the dogs like meteors. Kodo winced as link after link faded, dogs being crushed under the pegasus’ relentless hooves. Yet as each pegasi crushed a single dog, other dogs lunged onto them, burying the pegasi before they could take off again. Luna turned to her soldiers with worry in her eyes, but Kodo took the opportunity to carve a slash across her cheek. Luna backed up, her glower returning as her injury healed with a flash of darkness.

“Thou should have listened to thy sister,” Luna noted, a scythe forming before her. “We would have spared thy life.”

“I don’t need your pity, Princess,” Kodo snarled, before lunging forward and beginning to duel with her. "Or your advice!"

Yet, before either of them could get too many strikes in, the obsidian was blasted apart. Earth ponies withdrew behind shields and began to force their way forward, unicorn snipers popping up behind the earth pony’s phalanx and firing spells. Kodo quickly withdrew behind a wall of Shield Dogs, but Luna followed after him, bulldozing through the dogs before they could re-seal their own wall of shields.

Snarling, Kodo pushed back at her, their magic clashing in a burst of darkness that sent the diamond dogs scurrying back and even caused the earth ponies to falter.

“Have courage,” Celestia said, already depositing a battered Twilight on her back. “Equestria has stood tall against all opposition before. This will be no different.”

Emboldened by her words, the pony phalanx moved to close the distance with the diamond dogs, who were still being scattered by the pegasi and Luna. The rest of the Mane Six were pulled behind the phalanx, but Celine dodged the ponies magic auras and raced to Kodo’s side.

“Kodo, stop this!” she pleaded, before glowering at Luna as she forced her brother back. With a reluctant whine, Celine summoned up her own magic, and seized Luna with a tendril.

“Beta Celine!” Luna cried out in horror, but Celine hurled her away from her brother before linking to the dog army.

Throw the pegasi at them,” she offered. “Use their own soldiers to keep them back.”

Kodo smiled at his sister before adding his own order. “And fall back. Let them come at us.”

Celine shared a relieved look with Kodo before going to his side. Though her relief faded as she noticed several of the thrown pegasi tumbling through the air like rag dolls. A few of them weren’t screaming, and blood flowed from their necks like waterfalls. But, with Luna struggling to stand back up and the earth ponies trying to catch the pegasi being flung at them, the Shield Dogs were able to reform their phalanx, even adding an additional covering of shields to protect from the unicorn snipers.

“Celine,” Celestia whispered sadly. “Why?"

“I don’t agree with him, Celestia,” Celine assured her. “But he’s my family. Surely you can understand.”

Celestia and Luna gazed at each other, a painful memory making both of them wince, before Celestia turned to the concealed Celine with a sad look.

“I do understand,” she admitted. “But I have the safety of my people to consider.” She turned to her earth ponies. “Push them back to the Crystal Empire.”

The earth ponies marched forward, passing by their princesses as they closed the gap. Kodo motioned, and the dogs began to move backwards.

Steady…” he whispered through the link, drawing Celine’s concerned look.

Kodo, what are you doing?” she asked.

Trust me, little sister,” Kodo assured her, turning to her with a soft smile. A smile that held no trace of Sombra.

Despite the fluttering in her heart, Celine gripped her brother’s arm, and moved back with him as the earth ponies pushed them back.

“That’s it,” one earth pony soothed. “Go back to where you belong.”

“Heh, this is kinda easy,” another noted. “Why didn’t we just do this instead?”

As Kodo grinned through the shields at them, Celine noticed a flicker of Sombra in his eyes. Her eyes turned to the ponies in horror.

Kodo, wait…” she tried to say.

But at that moment, Kodo’s claw hit the ground. “Now!” he and Sombra boomed.

Instantly, the ground opened up under the earth pony’s hooves. They disappeared with a scream into the pit. Yet, as Kodo charged forward, small little stone shields popped up, allowing him to rush straight into the stunned and now unprotected Princesses.

Celine gaped down at the wild diamond dogs making short work of the ponies underneath. “Kodo!” she screamed. “How could you…?”

But her protests were cut off as the diamond dogs surged past her, slamming into the pegasi and unicorns like a tidal wave of fur and spears.

Luna was the first to pull herself from the carnage. Though blood soaked her fur, none of it appeared to be hers. Fluttershy clung to her side, whimpering with fear. Celestia appeared a moment later, ichor streaming from several wounds, and an angry light in her eyes as she looked at Kodo with betrayal.

“That was a dirty trick,” she seethed, before gazing down in sorrow at her overwhelmed ponies. “Fall back!” she yelled, turning from the battlefield. “Fall back!”

Despite her order, the few ponies that turned their backs on the dogs were quickly cut down or pulled into the earth. The unicorns went into overdrive, teleportation spells flashing as they retreated with as many pegasi and earth ponies as they could carry.

An hour later, the dogs reached track-less ground. Behind them, the few ponies who still lived were being clapped in irons. Celine winced as she saw Applejack and Rainbow Dash among them. Though both fought like wild horses, the diamond dogs had numbers. And all they could do was stare at Celine in betrayal as they were tugged down into the tunnels.

Celine turned to Kodo, who was staring ahead with a grin.

“Kodo,” she said. “Mother hated the idea of work horses.” She indicated where Applejack and Rainbow Dash had been taken. “What would she say if she knew what you did with these ponies?”

Kodo’s grin faltered. He looked down, horror briefly flashing across his eyes, before Sombra took over.

We’ll release them before her return,” he assured him. “After they’ve accepted that our rule is better.” he added with an ominous smile.

Kodo didn’t protest his words, yet Celine was not comforted. And as Kodo continued towards Canterlot, every dog and wolf fell in line behind him.

Celine feared that they wouldn’t listen to her. She needed help.

Her ears perked. Kodo disappeared behind a wall of his followers, but there was one dog who was watching her with concern.

“Dad,” Celine called, racing to his side. “What happened to Skippy? And Princess Scorpia?”

Her father’s smile faltered, replaced by bitterness. “They sided with the ponies,” he grumbled. “Raced off with Shining Armor into the snow.”

Celine winced, fear shooting through her heart at the thought of Scorpia and Skippy all on their own. Then… a new idea came to her.

“What about Vespin Hive?” she asked. “Any word from them?”

Luke shook his head. “None so far,” he admitted, glancing at a few diamond dogs that had the scent of disguised changelings to them. “Some of them chose to join us, thankfully.”

Celine smiled, an idea forming in her mind. “What if we could convince the rest of their Hive to join as well?” She stepped forward. “I’d be willing to talk to them.”

Luke gazed at her brightly, her coy tone completely going over his head. “You would?” he noted.

“It’d keep me out of the main fighting,” she tempted. “And if they agree…”

#

“This is the worst possible thing!” Rarity bemoaned, pacing as a fuming Celestia and Luna pored over a battle map, Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Spike and Fluttershy grouped around each other for comfort.

“Five hundred… thousand soldiers,” Celestia whispered. “All either dead or captured.”

“An entire third of our army,” Luna bemoaned.

“And a third of the Elements of Harmony,” Twilight whispered, lowering her head. “Not that it did us any good.”

“That was so unfair!” Pinkie grumbled. “Why do the bad guys get to use the power of friendship? That’s our thing!”

“Because Kodo doesn’t think he’s a bad guy,” Spike realized. “He’s just a kid looking for his mother.”

Luna turned to him. “That ‘child,’ just destroyed our army,” she growled. “Given the chance, he will destroy Canterlot, and take Equestria for Sombra. All under the delusional belief that Sombra will give him what he wants at the end of it all.” She turned to Celestia. “We have to stop him. Any way we can.”

“Agreed,” Celestia said. “Send a message out across Canterlot and the surrounding territories. Any stallion, mare or strong foal who can bear arms, be ready to take on these Iron Wolves.”

Spike winced. “And Celine?” he asked. “Celine was just trying to stop the fighting.”

“She failed,” Celestia hissed. “It seems I was wrong to think we could count on her.”

“Maybe not,” Spike offered. “Remember; all they want at the end of the day is Shiva. So… what if we could go find her?”

“But where do we start looking?” Twilight asked. “Kodo no doubt has his own Iron Wolves tearing apart any place they’ve conquered.”

Spike pondered it for a moment. “He hasn’t taken Ponyville yet, has he?”

Luna and Celestia consulted the battle map. Celestia breathed a small sigh of relief.

“He hasn’t,” she said.

“For now,” Luna added.

“Then let’s start there,” Spike said, hopping up and checking the map himself. “The Ever-Free Forest is always chocked full of dark magic.”

Luna flinched. “An unfortunate side effect from our battle at the Castle of Two Sisters,” she muttered, not meeting Celestia’s eye.

Celestia’s angry expression changed to concern, and she brushed Luna’s back with her wing.

“But think about it,” Spike prompted. “Sombra uses dark magic too. Who’s to say he didn’t transport the mirror somewhere in there.”

“Spike, no,” Twilight said. “The Ever-Free is too dangerous.”

“Surely, we have to try,” Spike insisted. “If the mirror is in there; and it’s the only way to get to where Shiva’s being held…” Spike shrugged. “Shiva was a hard-head, but she wasn’t stupid. And, at the end of the day, Kodo’s her son. She has authority over him, just like Celestia has authority over Equestria.” He gripped Twilight’s hoof. “We need her back. It’s the only way we’ll be able to stop Kodo.”

Twilight winced, before Fluttershy spoke up.

“He won’t be going alone, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she offered. “I know the animals of the Ever Free. I can protect him.”

Twilight winced. “I should go too,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Twilight,” Celestia replied. “But I will need you here. I will need every able body I can get.”

“I’m not much for fighting,” Fluttershy admitted. “But if I can get Shiva back, and stop this from ending violently…” she held herself up. “Then I want to try.”

Spike turned to the princesses. “We need to move now,” he insisted. “I have no idea how long it’ll be before Kodo’s forces reach Ponyville.”

Celestia sighed, before nodding in consent. Hopping on Fluttershy’s back, Twilight and Spike shared a final glance.

“Stay safe out there,” Twilight said.

“You too,” Spike said, resting his head against hers. Pinkie and Rarity hugged Fluttershy tight, shortly followed by Twilight.

“Bring Shiva back,” Pinkie said. “So, we can end this the way we always did before.”

“I will,” Fluttershy assured them. Then, with a soft flap of her wings, she and Spike took off for Ponyville, even as the saw the army, like a dark spot on the horizon.

“Let’s hurry,” Spike noted. Fluttershy didn’t speak, merely nodding and speeding for Ponyville.

Author's Note:

Once again, I want to thank Rikithemonk for giving me the idea of utilizing diamond dog digging skills. You were right in that diamond dogs are way more powerful than most people give them credit for. And it's going to help them get Kodo and Sombra to the Canterlot throne.

Thanks as always for reading, and I look forward to sharing the next chapter soon.

Until then. :twilightsmile: