• Published 16th Jun 2021
  • 928 Views, 41 Comments

The End of an Era (Series Finale Rewritten) - StacheHand

Twilight Sparkle is about to be crowned ruler of Equestria, but on this day of all days, the peace is disturbed by the ultimate threat: Emperor Grogar and the Horses of the Apocalypse.

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Prologue: Seasonal Recap

Equestria had entered what everyone thought was it's biggest period of harmony. But under their noses, a plot brewed to bring the equine-dominated country into a new, fear-soaked epoch of evil.

The long-time Alicorn rulers of Equestria, Princesses Celestia and Luna, announced their plans to soon retire and leave it's champion of friendship, Twilight Sparkle, and her friends in charge of the responsibilities they've had for over a thousand years. It came so fast, Twilight was left in a state of anxiety unlike any she'd been in before, but her best friends, Spike the Dragon, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash knew how to calm her down and make her think about how qualified as a leader she is. A big way to illustrate that, however, was on it's way to give their world a cold welcome.

The rogue former queen of the changelings Chrysalis, left wandering the wilderness since she was booted from her throne by Starlight Glimmer and Thorax, was teleported by a sinister, yellow and black magic. The same also freed the magic-eating centaur Tirek, alongside his recent protégé, the wicked pegasus filly prodigy Cozy Glow, from their cages within the dark prison of Equestria's deadliest villains, Tartarus. Elsewhere, necromancy was performed to bring Sombra, the tyrannical former king of the beautiful Crystal Empire, back from the ether as a lively, though no less ghastly revenant. They were gathered in a murky cavern by an ancient dark sorcerer of legend.

Their benefactor was Grogar, the "First Emperor of Equestria", the "Father of Monsters", whom claimed all that he saw many ages ago, before he was defeated and banished by the unicorn heroine Gusty of Great. Everyone besides Cozy was familiar with him, and they were all astounded to see him in the flesh. He brought them together in the hopes of creating a team. They believed Twilight and her friends only won because they "cheated", or got "lucky", but Grogar saw the true reason: they worked together, and that gave them the power to protect the world time and time again. Sombra wasn't interested, so he struck out on his own. Grogar allowed this with the agreement that when the dark unicorn failed, he would submit to the ram sorcerer.

Sombra's return as a revenant had some unforeseen side effects, like warping his ego to cartoonish levels and changing his once demonic-sounding voice into something more operatic, but he remained a force to be reckoned with, brainwashing ponies with illusions of their greatest fears. Twilight and her friends grabbed the Elements of Harmony as he reclaimed his throne in his former kingdom, and they seemingly defeated him pretty easily, but it was merely a trick to destroy the Tree of Harmony, along with the Elements. He pulled it off and went on to conquer Ponyville and Canterlot. Twilight wanted so badly for Discord to snap his claws and end the threat immediately, but he insisted they handle it themselves. How could they, though, without the Elements? Celestia, Luna and the ancient unicorn Pillar Star Swirl the Bearded helped keep the Everfree Forest under control in the meantime.

When they confronted Sombra in Celestia and Luna's throne room, Discord took what was apparently mortal damage from one of Sombra's blasts. Hope seemed completely lost, but the weakened draconequus reminded the ponies that they didn't need the Elements. They gave the Elements power in the first place by representing the virtues of friendship: Honesty, Laughter, Generosity, Kindness, Loyalty, and most important of all, Magic. They were technically Elements of Harmony themselves, it just didn't occur to them until Discord gave his heartfelt, motivational speech. With renewed resolve, they faced Sombra and awakened a new colourful, evil-dispelling power from their cores, much like what they had used against Tirek after unlocking the late Tree of Harmony's crystal box, but without any transformations.

In his final stand, the fallen Crystal Empire monarch looked on with disbelief that the girls were able to use the Elements' power, despite the Tree of Harmony's destruction. He screamed in terror and pain, his own fears realized, as his body evaporated into the light. But deep in his mind there was a dying thought of defiance: Grogar, this changes nothing!

Sombra was returned to the eternal darkness from which Grogar resurrected him and everything was returned to normal. The road to Twilight becoming more confident had begun in earnest, but Celestia and Luna decided to give her more time and rule over Equestria for a while longer. It turned out Discord had actually faked his mortal injuries as part of a plan to motivate the heroines and shape Twilight into the leader he knows that she can be. He wasn't happy that the young alicorn's coronation wouldn't be taking place quite yet, and most of the ponies didn't appreciate this trick, but his dearest friend Fluttershy could say in good faith that he only pulled that stunt because he has their best interest at heart.

Despite the deal he made, Grogar didn't bring Sombra back again to serve him. In fact, he saw his final downfall as the ponies saving him the trouble of showing this upstart his place. Instead he used the dark unicorn's gruesome end to illustrate what fates await his remaining cohorts, Chrysalis, Tirek and Cozy Glow, if they defy him and refuse to join forces. They reluctantly agreed, because none of them wanted to be blown to dust by friendship.

Not long after these events, six students of the School of Friendship, Smolder the Dragon, Gallus the Griffon, Ocellus the Changeling, Yona the Yak, Silverstream the Hippogriff and an Earth Pony named Sandbar, unintentionally resurrected the Tree of Harmony when they built a monument in it's memory. It's now a crystalline treehouse, standing in the ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters and serving as a gathering place for these promising young friends.

Sombra's attack left enough of an impact that Twilight Sparkle's big brother, Shining Armor, at Celestia's suggestion and with help from the Canterlot Royal Guard, and Star Swirl, fortified Canterlot Castle with heightened security measures, such as remnants of Chrysalis' throne, which nullfied non-changeling magic, powerful giant fans, brick walls over the underground entryways, doors that require Royal Guard medals to open and a lot of geese. It was a lengthy, complex process, but all it took was a conspiracy between Spike and Luna to bring the holes in the system to light. With that blow to her pride, Celestia begrudgingly agreed to discuss patching them with Luna, to account for threats on the inside and the outside.

Weeks later, Grogar was busy, but he wasn't telling the terrible trio anything about a plan against the heroes, or how they can build their team. Chrysalis' already unstable state got worse by the day with all her bottled up rage, and Tirek has just been passing the time building muscle, often forgetting that he was broken out of Tartarus and summoned to this cavern for the purpose of working with two criminals that he didn't want anything to do with. Chrysalis expressed her frustrations to a small, violet-coloured piece of wood, a reminder of a failed plan where she made twisted clones, and while Tirek was in his 2nd form thanks to a small sample of the ram sorcerer's magic, he yearned for the size and power of his final form.

Cozy, having devoted time to learning about friendship (or at least her own twisted perception of the concept) in the School of Friendship, was the one creature genuinely enthusiastic about following Grogar's plans and establishing a powerful team dynamic between her and these bigger, stronger creatures. As things were, though, they were unmanageable, even for the great mind she was gifted with. Then things looked up when Grogar came back from one of his oddly frequent, confidential excursions to give them "the perfect test". He sent them to Mount Everhoof to reach it's peak, hopefully becoming an effective and stable combined force in the process, and obtain his wicked talisman of power, the Bewitching Bell, which was taken away from him long ago by Gusty the Great.

Through many arguments, failed attempts to reach the peak on their own, unexpected saves, friendly fantasizing over the wonders of world domination, a long climb and eventual creative teamwork born from putting trust in one another, they got the Bewitching Bell, and for a moment, they were beginning to see the light. The beauty of real friendship. But thanks to Chrysalis' strong hatred, they fended off the temptation.

Recognizing how powerful Grogar is, they decided that they would hatch a plan to double-cross him and keep the Bewitching Bell to themselves until they figured out how to use it's great powers. When they returned to the ram sorcerer's lair, they hid the Bell completely from his line of sight behind a rock and feigned subservience, easily convincing him that they failed to retrieve it. He was livid, though grateful that they managed to work together like he demanded. As he walked away, the trio smiled with utmost confidence that from then on, things would be going their way. But they had to get back into their "loyal servant" characters when he collected himself and turned back around to make an announcement.

"I hope you're ready for another teammate, because you may still have work to do before our attack." the ram sorcerer grumpily said.

"Huh? Another... teammate?" Cozy inquired. It felt rather soon.

"Though I only have a fraction of my magic, I have been able to deliver a most useful asset." Grogar remarked. "Something you three couldn't." His eyes glowed with more tranquil, but still very real fury.

"Did you bring back Sombra again?" Tirek asked worriedly.

"No. That proud fool has served his purpose." Grogar growled. "I don't tolerate unruly failures."

"The Storm King?" Chrysalis presumed with a raised eyebrow.

"That childish worm would be of no use to us!" Grogar suddenly yelled with a raging fire in his tone.

"Flim & Flam?" Cozy guessed wildly after pondering for a second. Grogar didn't dignify this with a response, preferring to roll his eyes over the pegasus filly's attempt at a deduction.

"Well, who's left?!" Tirek queried with an expression of confusion.

"The only ones whom came to mind that I want were three in particular; a trio of my most terrifying and powerful monsters. But alas, they're completely out of reach." Grogar responded, reminiscing and shaking one of his fore hooves in anger and regret. "Then I recently found something here, which I imagine has much sentimental value to one of you."

"I had a friendship statue, but that was left behind in Tartarus." Cozy mentioned.

"I found what looks like a mere miscolored branch, but actually contains, to my surprise, a scintilla of pony life signs." Grogar explained in detail.

"Branch... pony..." Chrysalis whispered. Then her eyes widened with disbelief. "No... you. Did. Not!" she exclaimed her last word, displaying utter discontent with the ram sorcerer's snooping and what his words were implying.

"And on one of my trips, I collected a sample of pony DNA to mix with the branch, restoring life to a most promising enchantress. I have not constructed a mere copy, but an echo of a time long past." Grogar continued with the details. "She has been caught up on everything, and it's most regrettable that she will not see me at my peak, with my prize. Now, i'm off to get more work done. I expect that if there's anything besides embracing your new alliance that you can do competently, it's giving her a warm welcome." With that, he snorted irritably and walked through the hole in the wall he made with one of his beams.

Once Grogar had completely disappeared into the darkness, a shadow walked in from the corner of the room. It had the shape of a pony. One could make out the silhouette of a horn, indicating a new magical being had entered the room. Chrysalis stared at the pony with hatred in her eyes and bared her teeth like a territorial animal.

"I can't believe Grogar brought you back." Chrysalis snarled. "Come out of there so I can clip your wings, you insubordinate scum!"

"Wings? I don't remember being a princess." The pony in the shadows replied, and not in the voice that the rogue changeling was expecting to hear. It was a voice that actually caused her fury to somewhat flare up. Then the mysterious equine stepped out of the shadows, revealing herself, and she was not the malevolent copy of Twilight Sparkle that Chrysalis created quite some time ago in the hopes of controlling the Elements of Harmony.

Instead, she had no wings, her coat was a lighter purple, her mane was closer to violet than blue with bright, toothpaste-like streaks, and her irises were closer to blue than violet. Her mane style was even like two equals signs surrounding her horn. Tirek and Cozy looked on in shock and perplexion, while Chrysalis recognized this entity instantly as her rage reached a feral breaking point.


Chrysalis flapped her wings lightning-fast and launched herself at the Starlight copy with a gutteral sound most bestial. The distance between them was great enough that the unicorn could react fast and ignite her horn with magic, performing a spell on the fuming rogue changeling that altered her trajectory against her will. This unexpected counter left her falling to the ground on the unicorn's left. Tirek and Cozy struck fighting poses.

"Slow down, everycreature!" the Starlight copy exclaimed. "I'm not here for a fight amongst ourselves." Her attempts at diplomacy left her wide open for a beam attack from Chrysalis. Soon after she was in the grip of her telekinetic spell, the centaur and pegasus filly gathering around with looks of animosity.

"Is that old goat playing some kind of joke?" Chrysalis growled with a fiery passion in her tone. "You mock me by wearing her colours! Give me one reason why I shouldn't feed you to the Ophiotaurus!" Quickly before she knew it, the copy extended a blade of light from her horn that pricked the changeling's, cancelling her magical grip.

"Because I have more know-how and creativity in magic than all of you put together." the copy answered confidently.

"Please, you wouldn't be here if I didn't master the art of duplication." Chrysalis snorted. The copy chuckled, as if told a decent joke.

"You were created from that purple log queenie here used to carry?" said Cozy, fascinated. "And here I thought she was just venting to a lifeless object." This got her a sneer from Chrysalis.

"So you're this... Starlight those ponies mentioned when I was in Tartarus?" Tirek asked.

"I am what Starlight used to be. What she was meant to be, before friendship changed her into a pity lab rat and rendered me a distant memory." the copy explained in a vindictive manner.

"She looks like Starlight, but the mane is off." Cozy pointed out.

"It makes no difference, her presence is not welcome." Chrysalis grumbled.

The Starlight copy turned a little to show off her flank to the three evil-doers, and another apparent difference from her template was displayed. It looked like Starlight's cutie mark with the two streams of magic, but there was no star on the bottom. Instead, there was an equals sign piercing through them like two long, sharp javelins.

"Hey, Counselor Starlight, the real Starlight, was known to have a sign like that on her flank a long time ago." Cozy stated.

"I've been imprisoned too long, what is this about?" Tirek wondered, lost and scratching his head.

"My ambition was to create a society of equality, and I succeeded for a time, until it was destroyed by Twilight Sparkle and her meddling friends." the copy answered in detail. "I tried to take revenge by altering the course of history, but my template was consumed by the princess' influence and swayed away from rebuilding my utopia when shown a grim outcome of such temporal vandalism. After that, I remained in the very back of her mind... until today."

"Equality?" Chrysalis scoffed. "There's no equality, only might making right!"

"I agree." the copy said with a smile. The rogue changeling's response was nothing more than a dumbfounded expression. "What i've learned is that utopia doesn't come from fairness, it can only be achieved through burning passion. And i've just found some creatures who can share in that passion. If all who live in Equestria, in this whole world, need ruthlessness to get in line, so be it! The only utopia is in a dystopia! Let me into your alliance and your plans."

"NEVER!" Chrysalis snapped.

"OK, i'll demonstrate what I can do and we'll put it to a vote." the copy stated. She lit up her horn again and used a few magical abilities. First, she used an invisibility spell that not only made her vanish from sight, but also covered the other three like a ghostly blanket. Second, she teleported herself, Chrysalis, Tirek and Cozy back and forth across the room. Third and finally, she changed the world around herself to look like a gigantic x-ray. It was when she used this particular spell that she saw through the rock the Bewitching Bell was hidden behind. This took the copy by surprise, causing her spell to shut off.

"Well, that wasn't bad." Tirek judged.

"Grogar said you didn't get that Bell." said the copy.

"Ha! Like we were going to just give it to him." Chrysalis laughed. She pulled the artifact out of it's hiding place for the copy to see, certain that Grogar wasn't nearby to hear or see anything. "This talisman is the key to our victory against Twilight Sparkle's little crew."

"We got all the way up Mount Everhoof and applied a genius strategy to claim it." Tirek boasted. "Grogar has been fooled, so we have all the time in the world to master it's magic."

"Planning to double-cross him with his own weapon, huh? How poetic." the copy said gleefully. "It's just what I need. Grogar is powerful, but also barbaric and too tight-lipped, and that won't do. Count me in."

"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I say the more, the merrier. Plus, she's got the moves." Cozy noted. "Welcome to the team... Mean Starlight Glimmer..?"

"I suppose she'll be of use. Not like we know those tricks." said Tirek, raising a hand. He and Cozy looked expectantly at Chrysalis, but she spat on the ground without saying a word.

"Now, for your convenience, Queen Chrysalis, don't think of me as your hated enemy, because you needn't address me as you would her." the copy urged. "Starlight Glimmer is a shameful shell, brainwashed into believing Twilight's philosophy. I will use the name my mother would've wanted. From here on out, call me... Aurora Eclipse."

Though the new name would be easier for Chrysalis to say, the malevolent Aurora Eclipse bearing the same appearance as the benevolent Starlight Glimmer would continue to remind the rogue changeling of what she lost and all the rage that she desperately desired to let out on her for playing a part in taking away her position of power. Those feelings had to be set aside, for Eclipse could straighten her out easily. Besides, they had an old Bell to figure out.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders, earth pony Apple Bloom, unicorn Sweetie Belle and pegasus Scootaloo were almost torn apart when the latter's parents came for a visit. They wanted their daughter to live with them, but were convinced to let her remain in Ponyville when it was made clear what a difference the CMC have made in society in their own way.

Much time had passed with many developments for Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Most importantly, Celestia and Luna decided to spend some adventure and vacation time and leave Twilight and the others in charge of the Swanifying ceremony. After all the arguments and trouble on both ends, the Royal Sisters came to an understanding on how empty their lives really are without each other, while the young alicorn learned the importance of delegating tasks, thanks to the Royal Swanifying Committee. However, she lost control of herself when trying to work an amulet imbued with the sisters' sun and moon-moving magic. The next step in this journey to the throne was keeping her "Twilighting" in check.

Without his Bewitching Bell to use against the heroes of Equestria, unaware that it was being hidden within his own lair by the villainous tetrad, Grogar felt it necessary to find another source of great magical power to replace it, even if nothing he could find would ever compare to his mighty talisman. When he left for yet another excursion, Chrysalis, Tirek, Cozy and Eclipse were left alone with the Bell, but unable to tap into it's power. They didn't trust the ram sorcerer to find anything of use, or honour the alliance he had formed. Luckily, as they hid his most prized possession, he didn't suspect a thing, despite their histories of deceptive deeds.

Cozy remembered hearing Twilight mention a restricted section in the Canterlot Library Archives. It only made sense that any clue to unlocking the potential of this ancient, long-forgotten item of dark magic would have to be buried within a vast collection of forbidden knowledge. It was time for a road trip.

The four of them put the Bell in a safe hiding place and teleported to a new area, far away from the lair, with Eclipse's magic. Chrysalis, Tirek and Cozy wouldn't say it out loud, but they had to admit to themselves that this was refreshing after the walking and flying they had to do to get back from Mount Everhoof. They looked around and saw that Grogar was nowhere in sight. Not even his scent or the faint sound of hoofsteps from him could be picked up. As they prepared for their visit to Canterlot, Cozy thought about the sorcerer's line of thinking.

"If he needs a source of power that bad, why look for an alternative instead of, I don't know, climbing Mount Everhoof to get the stinking Bell himself?" she honestly puzzled.

"Isn't it obvious?" said Tirek, as if nothing had to be spelled out. "He wasn't testing us with that quest, he's just too weak to do what we managed to pull off with our combined skills. He's a withered sorcerer under a mask of bravado, and he only orders us around now because our current states are even weaker."

"The more I look at him, the less I can wait for that to change." Chrysalis growled. "He should be the one filled with fear. He should be the one standing helplessly. That way, he won't stand in the way of my vengeance."

"Our vengeance." Eclipse corrected.

"I've got the biggest chip on the shoulder out of all of us, echo." Chrysalis stressed.

"And that's why we're here now: carrying the burden as one." Cozy remarked.

"More importantly, we're on the verge of golden opportunities." said Eclipse. "Though he has unwittingly sealed a grim fate for his whole agenda because of it, solidarity is the very reason Grogar motivated us to see value in teamwork. But we, the four of us, have the vision to lead. Not to mention we're devious and vigorous."

"Don't get used to it. We're going to violently oppose each other again when it's all said and done, anyway." Cozy mentioned.

"Hmph. I don't know about you, but I believe we need a more... pragmatic solution." Eclipse opined with a low chuckle.

"Like what?" Tirek asked.

"We'll discuss it later. We should be arriving in Canterlot in a couple more bursts." Eclipse replied. With that, the villains gathered around the unicorn, disappearing with her in a turquoise discharge of magic.

The Summer Sun Celebration approached once again. Twilight Sparkle made a long, intricate list of plans to make sure it went swimmingly, but she had to make some last minute changes when Celestia and Luna announced this being the very last time the celebration would take place, now that they were stepping down as Equestria's rulers. Ever since the Swanifying ceremony, Twilight had been making a lot of progress in keeping herself calm and focused in her work. All she required now was to pass along her new plans to her friends and make this final Summer Sun Celebration extra special. Discord stuck around in the event she did lose her head from everything going south.

Upon arriving in Canterlot that night, the villainous tetrad discovered the increased security around the castle grounds. An attempt from Chrysalis to sneak into the castle by disguising herself as a Royal Guardsmare failed due to the new way of unlocking doors, and an attempt by Eclipse to teleport them all inside failed due to the rogue changelings' throne's effects inside the walls and roofs. This would require them to use their heads more than ever, and thankfully, for them, the extra jobs Twilight's friends were assigned to provided a good distraction. Eclipse and Chrysalis discussed their next plan of action to take advantage of these circumstances.

With his magic-draining powers, Tirek stripped several earth ponies of their energy and left them looking sick on the ground. He even absorbed enough to buff up to his 3rd form. Despite the increase in size, he was able to sneak around the castle gardens and not be seen. The incident he caused lead others to believe something was terribly wrong with the food.

Cozy, using not any magical powers, but her own cunning and unassuming appearance, tricked a neurotic pegasus managing the weather for the celebration and stirred up a terrible lightning storm. It helped that her target, conveniently, was ignorant of who she was. The end result made a chaotic scene across the castle grounds, sending ponies running in fear.

Chrysalis shapeshifted into a unicorn named Crackle Cosette to manipulate some unicorns performing for the celebration. With only a few, select words, she was able to stoke up the pride they held in, convincing them that their unparalleled control over magic had far more potential than making flashy effects at parties. They all agreed to cancel their whole show.

Eclipse stayed hidden with her invisibility spell and targeted a lone Royal Guardsmare. Turning off the high-level spell, she hid behind a shrub and struck her with a Cutie Mark removal spell. It made the Guardsmare's colours dull and left her in a trance, allowing the unicorn echo to use a gradual, but effective, memory collecting spell, before returning the Cutie Mark to it's rightful place. From this, she got a mental map of the castle's interior and obtained some other information, all of which were vital to the tetrad's goals.

When they found out, all of Twilight's friends tried to hide the fact that everything was going wrong from her, except for Applejack, whom insisted that they tell the truth. But there was little doubt among them that for all of the young alicorn's talk of improving on her freak-outs, she would inevitably spiral into a panicked state. To the best of their ability, they tried to fix the issue before Twilight found out.

Meanwhile, the villains made their move. Tirek sapped a Royal Guardsstallion of his energy while Cozy distracted him, allowing Chrysalis to use his medal to open the castle doorway. As they headed inside, Eclipse froze him, put a magical tether over his muzzle, and then used her invisibility spell to cloak herself along with Tirek and Cozy. Chrysalis put her Royal Guardsmare disguise back on so she could speak to other Guardsmares and Guardsstallions to allow her access into other rooms. They employed a new security measure: passwords. With Eclipse's invisibility in effect, Chrysalis could listen to her suggestions while making it look like she was pondering the answers. She got them right, but it would take a few doors to find the Archives. The Royal Guard was everywhere, patrolling the hallways restlessly. The tetrad even had to shake off some geese and dodge multiple magic-sensing searchlights.

Eventually, Twilight saw for herself that the festivities didn't go the way she envisioned them, and that her friends were lying to her. They braced for more "Twilighting", but were taken by surprise at her actual response. She genuinely had grown up, realizing that freaking out only exacerbates problems. With the leadership worthy of a future queen, she devised a a new plan to resolve the fiasco. Earth ponies' health was tended to, pegasi were assisted with weather control, and the unicorns were reminded that their performance for this last day of this important celebration in honour of their longtime rulers was worth their talents.

In the Canterlot Archives' restricted section, the evil tetrad searched the darkened, abandoned bookshelves for anything that looked like what they sought. Cozy managed to discover something behind a bookshelf planted into a wall. It was a tunnel just big enough to fit her tiny filly body. She crawled through, and on the other side found a stone door. She called to her partners; Eclipse responded by teleporting to her position. She tried moving the door, but found that it had properties which negated her magic, even teleportation. Chrysalis crawled in by shapeshifting into a small creature, but her power couldn't move it, either. She couldn't even change her form around it. Then finally, Tirek was teleported over, and when his magic also failed, he got physical. Using the muscle he gained from absorbing some life force earlier, he lifted the heavy door, revealing a downward staircase into darkness.

Chrysalis, Cozy and Eclipse went down the stairs, the two horned creatures lighting the way while Tirek held up the door behind them, and eventually came to the last step. In front of them was nothing but a giant pit. Eclipse used her x-ray spell to reveal a wide, hidden platform across from the stairs' bottom. On the other side of the platform, the rogue changeling and filly prodigy came across a statue that resembled the Sphinx, a monster that once came face-to-face with the ancient pegasus Pillar Somnambula. They looked at the stone structure, not knowing what to make of it. Cozy tapped it, and it suddenly lit up and spoke in a riddle, characteristic of it's inspiration.

"I am created from the inside, yet already there on the outside! I am untamable, but acquiescent! When currently present, I enforce dominance! In my absence, there is no freedom!" the Sphinx statue sung in a ghostly voice.

The remaining two villains thought long and hard about the answer. Chrysalis was growing frustrated and couldn't think straight. Cozy contemplated for a few more seconds, until she thought of Grogar. She remembered when the ram sorcerer first brought the villains together, and he was referred to by a certain "Father of..." title by the late Sombra. Then it clicked into place. Cozy responded to the riddle with "a Monster."

The statue accepted this with a shout of "Correct!" It slowly opened up to reveal a wall covered in chains. In the middle of these binds was a brown and yellow tome with a bell on it's front cover. Cozy flew up to try and get the tome out, but the chains electrocuted her upon contact. She fell and landed on Chrysalis' back, something that she immediately told the child not to look too deep into. When the chains proved too strong for telekinesis and blasts, Chrysalis shapeshifted; this time into a Maulwurf. With a few giant claw swipes, she broke the chains with only minor difficulties from the electrocution hex, releasing the tome. The four villains exited the Canterlot Archives with their hard-earned prize, eager to read it.

Thanks to the efforts of Twilight and her friends, the last Summer Sun Celebration was saved. The ponies' tensions were relieved. With a graceful turn of the sun and moon amulet, she brought the sunrise of a new day. With Celestia and Luna leaving after this, Twilight declared that going forward, they would celebrate them for the watchful eye they've had over Equestria for over 1,000 years, and the good they've accomplished before passing the torch. This new holiday was given the name 'The Festival of the Two Sisters'. The young future ruler never felt more confident, composed and happy. Even Discord, though saying so out loud only to himself, couldn't deny it.

The evil tetrad soon returned to Grogar's lair after sneaking out of the castle and teleporting with Eclipse's magic once they were back outside. Eclipse rested in a corner, tired from so much magic usage. Before they could get a look at Grogar's tome, the big boss himself appeared in the room. When Cozy asked if he found what he was searching for, he told the tetrad "Once again, i've found success where you all find failure." He announced that he located something of value, but didn't specify to any of them what it was. Tomorrow, he would go out yet again, hoping to retrieve it and use it to officially begin their takeover.

Tirek had returned all of his absorbed magic to it's owners to cover his tracks and avoid suspicion from Grogar, reverting him back to his 2nd form, much to his chagrin. With Grogar in another room, Chrysalis reminded them of the tome and the knowledge they could now study and utilize. They knew that they needed to take advantage of the ram sorcerer's absence and master the secrets and spells of Grogar and the Bewitching Bell written in it's countless pages. So far, they were many steps ahead of everybody.

"And if we're going to keep it that way, we need to discuss what we're going to do whenever we manage to defeat them." Eclipse said.

"What would that be, echo?" Chrysalis asked skeptically.

"We can't just use our kingdoms as a means to usurp each other. Like Cozy here said, the more, the merrier." Eclipse explained.

"Yeah, that's right." said Cozy with a nod.

"We can rule as we want, but if we leave each other in peace, there'll be more minds managing every corner of the world." Eclipse continued. "We can keep it all organized with our combined influence and separate nations. Uprisings will be discouraged, servants will submit more easily, we'll dominate wars and any friendship-worshipping fools will be driven mad trying to pick us off. This is a chance to make our alliance grow into a superpower."

"I find it hard to trust you." Chrysalis bluntly snorted.

"You'd better, because as a former leader of a village full of loyal followers, I want as much as any of you to have an empire again; authority, tributes, strength and affluence. The seed is planted, and the tree to grow from it is my new definition of living equal: equality in dominance." Eclipse stated with a look of certainty in her icy, blue eyes.

"Eh, i've heard crazier ideas. Honestly, i'm bored of the whole world domination thing and relieved that we have the keys to unlimited power." Tirek admitted. "I want to finish the job soon so I can relax and focus on some... personal projects."

"An interesting sentiment, but even detailed discourse like that rings hollow if you can't act upon it." Chrysalis venomously grumbled. With a sigh, she then thought out loud "I tire of betrayals, and i'll know if anycreature pulls a fast one."

"That sounds good to me. Wise pony say: a clock only works if every little cog meshes together." Cozy said in agreement, exchanging sincere smiles with Eclipse. "Our team dynamic's really grown, if I do say so myself. Also, speaking of planted seeds..."

Cozy then pointed out how easily the earth ponies, pegasi and unicorns fell into total strife when they messed up the Summer Sun Celebration preparations. Chrysalis acknowledged this as a subject worth thinking about. Their secret plot was reaching it's final stage.

Following the Summer Sun Celebration, Twilight retired from her position as the School of Friendship's headmare, and gave it to Starlight Glimmer. After many mishaps, she wound up making her childhood friend, the unicorn magic scholar Sunburst, the Vice Headstallion, and her more recent best friend, the unicorn stage magician Trixie, the new Student Counselor. Everything seemed to be right with Equestria and the lands beyond, and love was in the air. They had gotten so comfortable, nobody was even the slightest bit paranoid that another horrible threat was on the horizon. Before too long, everyone found themselves making lengthy and hard preparations for the most important day of Twilight Sparkle's life.

The ultimate battle for the fate of Equestria, and the entire world, is drawing near. Everything the heroes and villains have been through has led up to this grand event. What item of great power does Grogar seek, and will Twilight really get the happy ending she earned? Whomever stands victorious when the dust settles, it will mark...

The End of an Era!

Author's Note:

I thought it best to begin this rewrite with a big recap of the past events of Season 9. However, as I said in the story's main description, I made some alterations to the villains' journey, mainly to show the origin of what I wanted to add. A little something to raise the stakes a little bit more.

Since these notes are at the bottom, after the chapter has been read, meet Aurora Eclipse, an "echo", which is a clone of a creature based on what they were when they had a different personality. I know you expected Mean Twilight Sparkle, but I wanted to do a Starlight Glimmer copy for something different. It was to bring the character's villainous persona back, showing how much worse she could've become if she never reformed, add a very powerful, intelligent and skilled unicorn to the villains' team to replace Sombra, and, for those who felt she got off the hook way too easy, provide the comforting knowledge that there'll eventually be a punishment for a version of Starlight Glimmer.

Why the name 'Aurora Eclipse'? 'Aurora' comes from 'Aurora Glimmer', the name that Starlight was initially supposed to go by before the premiere of Season 5. 'Eclipse' is just a word I picked out to match with her evil, vengeful nature and a big upgrade she gets in the proper first chapter.

The other purpose for the tweaks was to change some things I find odd about The Summer Sun Setback. First, how did Chrysalis, Tirek and Cozy Glow get through Canterlot Castle, reach the restricted library and get out without being seen? I know the final Summer Sun Celebration was pretty important, but was literally every guard just outside for the final Summer Sun Setback, leaving the interior completely unmonitored? So much for the supposed security upgrade, Luna. Also, I wanted to make their acquisition of Grogar's Tome more of a journey that made good use of their unique abilities. Why, in the original episode, was it just strapped to a bookshelf by chains that seemed to have gotten easily breakable with age? Considering it's for a dangerous artifact, whoever put it there should've burned the darn thing instead of taking any chances.

A later chapter of this rewrite will explain a bit why it hasn't been incinerated here either, and how it even exists in the first place, don't you worry.

I wanted to make the Sphinx statue's riddle monster-related, and i'm not exactly sure if I nailed the crypticness, or if it makes that much sense. I'm not a riddle aficionado, so I think it's a little rough.

Finally, I have provided some form of explanation as to why Grogar wouldn't bring back Sombra again, or why he didn't think to resurrect and recruit the Storm King, or why he never gathered those three wanted monsters, who i'm sure you can easily guess the identity of if you've watched enough Equestria Girls.

If you can't, here's a hint: curly and poofy hair, never named on-screen and Mexican tortilla dish obsession.

And to anyone who wants to bring it up, or already has, I know it's been officially stated that the reason for Sombra's voice difference in the Season 9 premiere is that it's meant to be his actual voice when he's fully formed, and the more demonic one he had back in the Season 3 premiere was just a result of his incomplete state at the time. However, he seemed to be fully formed in his brief Season 5 finale appearance, and his laugh there didn't sound even close to the Season 9 voice. So, I recognize that the creators have provided an explanation, but given that it's a questionable explanation, i've elected to ignore it and go with my revenant side effect headcanon.

What did you think of this recap thing? Tell me honestly.