• 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.

  • ...

Part 1 - Chapter 4: A Lapse in Judgment

In the throne room of Canterlot Castle, the Royal Guard tried it's hardest to fight the zombie and monster horde, but the strength of the beasts was greater, even with the Royal Sisters assisting with their creative magical attacks. The chimera came out of the crowd and targeted Applejack, specifically, grabbing her in it's claws.

"Remember us, earth pony?!" the tiger head of the chimera snarled.

"Oh, howdy, y'all." said Applejack, nervously recalling when she tangled with the three-headed beast back in the Flame Geyser Swamp years ago.

"There's one thing we can all agree on. You must fry!" the goat head said harshly.

"And to ssshare your meat with Emperor Grogar." the snake head added.

The goat head breathed a stream of fire at Applejack's head, but it was blocked by a shield conjured up by Twilight. The flames bounced backwards and charred the monster's three faces, forcing it to release the farm mare. Celestia and Luna wrapped magical tethers around it and teleported the beast out of the room. With that, they and the guards had the squadron's full attention. Twilight and her friends faced Cozy, who was making herself comfortable on the throne.

"Hey, that's Twilight's throne!" Spike yelled at the filly.

"I like the foam." Cozy commented with a shrug.

"If you do know the secret to defeating Grogar, tell us now." Twilight demanded.

"You see, he has found a spell that protects his Bell from all hooves." Cozy explained. "But there's one thing that can cancel it. Petrification."

"Like what a cockatrice can do." Fluttershy pointed out.

"Speaking of which..." said Pinkie, setting her eyes on some incoming cockatrices. They surrounded the throne with terrible scowls.

"Right. If we collect these, we can weaponize their gaze and turn Grogar to stone." Cozy assessed. "It's the kind of monster he always had to be careful with. His collar will chip right off."

"Are you ready to help us with this task and save our land, wondrous ones?" Fluttershy politely asked the chicken and cobra hybrids.

They all responded by giving hard, glowing glares at each of the ponies, and their dragon friend. The group gasped in horror, for the intensity of so many cockatrice stares made their petrification power all the more potent. The ponies' minds revisited that moment when they confronted a cockatrice right on the other side of Tartarus' front door, but with the magic restored, they were in true danger now. Cozy looked on in what seemed to be fright, yet was making sure to look away from the beasts.

"Oh no! Wrong targets!" Cozy yelped with her fore hooves on her face. She watched them turn into statues. Twilight had a spell ready and was just about to cast it, until at the very last second, Cozy kicked her horn, cancelling it out. It was done. Cozy looked at the petrified ponies and dragon, dropping her facade, and remarked "Whatever, a demonstration was in order."

"TWILIGHT!" Celestia yelled, noticing what had happened. Flying with Luna to Cozy's position, they used magic to blind the cockatrices and teleport all of them away.

"What are you doing?!" Cozy rebuked. "We need them to beat Grogar!"

"Twilight and her friends are the best hope we have! We need to undo what those fiends did!" Celestia retorted.

"How did they even get past our city-wide barrier?" Luna queried.

"Hmph! You know, this is the problem with you magic-types." Cozy began stating as two giant, outstretched claws of darkness snuck behind the sisters. "You're so reliant on all your special power..." Her frown of vexation shifted into a cocky smile. "You forget to use your brains!" Without another word, she vanished into thin air. The copy was gone.

With the sisters left in confusion, the darkness claws went in for the kill. Before impact, however, they were ceased by two surprise attacks: one delivered by a flying rainbow streak, and the other by a diamond-shaped magical shield. From the ground where the claws protruded, Cozy Glow popped out, looking agitated.

"Keep telling yourself that!" the voice of Twilight called out. She appeared on the throne, having used an invisibility spell. Her face wore an unimpressed expression.

Cozy looked at her in bewilderment, then turned to the statues. They dissolved to dust, revealing them to have been magical copies, just like what Cozy had produced. Her eyes bugged out.

"Told you i'd be ready." said Twilight with a wide, toothy grin of confidence. Raising a fore hoof, she gave the attack order to her friends, "NOW!", signaling all six of them to come out from behind the throne and charge forward.

Rainbow Dash, with her trademark speed, flew around Cozy in a rainbow twister, spinning her like a top. With a fore hoof, she abruptly stopped Cozy's spinning to set her sights on Pinkie Pie, whom was levitated by Rarity's telekinesis and holding her Party Bazooka.

Pinkie blasted the filly with a round of confetti and cake frosting, proceeding to yell "SURPRISE ATTACK!". She and Rainbow had a laugh afterwards.

Cozy coughed loudly, and was too busy with trying to wipe off the cake frosting that she didn't notice Fluttershy behind her, summoning the throne's room security geese with a call of "Now fly! Fly!", which the geese followed. They charged Cozy and bit at her viciously, which prompted her shadow to form a protective field around her. The geese were shooed away, but this left an opening for Spike to fly up and blast Cozy with his green fire. Even with her shadow's defense, the little prodigy could feel the unpleasant sensation of the heat.

Applejack grabbed Cozy with her lasso and pulled her to the ground, slamming her against the carpet. Celestia and Luna stood her up with telekinesis and locked her in place with luminescent chains attached to balls. They surrounded her, Pinkie holding her at party bazooka-point, Fluttershy carrying a goose up to her face, Spike preparing for another breath of fire, and Twilight pointing a magical horn blade at the child's muzzle.

"You barbarians." Cozy moaned. "Locking me in Tartarus, then hurting me, even trying to set me on fire. Will you be proud of this?"

"I know where wrongdoers belong. Stand down." said Twilight menacingly.

"I wanted to do this the diplomatic way." Cozy hissed.

"So did I." Twilight remarked, prepping up her horn for a new spell.

Cozy's shadow broke her bonds and completely enveloped her body, transforming into the dark equine form. She posed like a magical girl and floated high in the air while flapping her dark wings. Everyone in the throne room was left in awe.

"Cozy Glow?! You're a Pony of Shadows?!" Twilight shrieked.

"That sorcery, and that copy, they should've been picked up." Luna pointed out, then growled "So much for the security upgrades."

"We're gonna have a blast!" said Cozy maliciously. She clapped her wings, getting the attention of the zombies and monsters, who had overwhelmed most of the Royal Guard. "Beasties, reanimated boys and girls, party's over here!"

As the order was made, Discord appeared and shouted "Girls, Spike, Grogar is targeting the Tree of Harmony! He knows an unsealing spell and has what he needs to do it!", but he was drowned out by the action happening before him. Twilight once again joined with the sisters to fire a powered up energy beam, this time at the shadow Cozy.

Starlight scored a good energy beam hit on Chrysalis, who changed back from a flock of four geese. The former queen wiped her muzzle and snarled like a dog.

"You'll pay for this impudence!" Chrysalis hissed.

"Put it on my tab." Starlight quipped. She teleported to the top of another plateau and used telekinesis to pull Chrysalis from behind and slam her down. Even with this much damage done to her body, Chrysalis kept climbing back on to her hooves, and she laughed.

"Very well, once i'm done with you and the usurper, i'll make sure to pay an intimate visit to your pathetic boyfriend!" said Chrysalis, drooling and licking her lips. Something in Starlight snapped.

The unicorn fired an enormous energy beam from her horn, one that shook the earth on which she stood. It hit Chrysalis head-on, whom received the impact with a banshee-like scream as it drifted her away into the biggest rock face in the entire area. The power put into the beam made the plateau under Starlight crumble, sending her plummeting to the ground. Before impact, she used teleportation to soften her landing. The beam hit the rock face and exploded, turning a chunk of it into a rock slide, certain to bury the shocked rogue changeling.

The fight had finished. Whether or not the beam, or the rock slide, or both killed Chrysalis, Starlight didn't care. She walked away contently, her mane and tail catching the strong breeze.

Then a strong wave of magical energy sent rocks raining down on Starlight, tripping her. Chrysalis had not been beaten. She dove down really fast and spat some slime at Starlight's hooves. The slime glued the unicorn to the rocky ground and burned her like two steaming hot rods. She screamed, brought to tears.

Chrysalis laughed evilly, but was now badly bruised and fatigued. She wrapped a changeling cocoon around her archenemy, making sure it wasn't acidic to savour this dish, and placed her fore hooves on top, panting heavily.

"This... is only Part.... 1... of my... vengeance." Chrysalis uttered between breaths. She defeated Starlight, now it was a matter of how she was going to regroup with her partners.

Cadance and Shining Armor had managed to trap Eclipse in a crystal prison. The ground opened wide beneath her. She struggled to break free as her cage was lowered into the hole. The royal couple put all of their energy into this ultimate technique. With one last push, they had successfully shoved the dark alicorn into the abyss, and then closed it up. The two's love had pulled through, but left them exhausted to the point of stumbling. They took a moment to catch their breath.

"A thousand years... ought to discipline her... whoever she was." Cadance panted.

"She sure learned... the hard way... that the power of harmony... runs in the family." Shining Armor breathed.

Before they could celebrate for too long, the brainwashed guards jabbed them both in their backs with spears. Then to make things worse, the ground began to shake and glow. A tremendous amount of turquoise energy erupted out, blowing the couple into the sky. Cadance and Shining Armor fell back down, but couldn't reach the ground again before they were caught in an electric tether. After a literal shock, they dangled in the air, twitching with pained grimaces.

"I won't lie, your power of love sure came in handy." Eclipse noted. "Too bad the power of hatred could easily bounce back."

"Who... are... you?" Cadance moaned feebly in questioning.

"An echo... a reborn shadow of one whom Princess Twilight cursed to embrace friendship." Eclipse answered.

"Aurora Eclipse, rendezvous at Canterlot Castle. Bring your prisoners, too." Grogar ordered the wicked pony through telepathic communication.

"Yes, my emperor. Just got a bit more cleanup left to do." Eclipse responded respectfully.

Eclipse went inside the castle and used her brainwashing spell to convert the rest of the Crystal Guard into her servants. They saw enemies where allies were, and allies where enemies were. She reached the bedroom of baby Flurry Heart, and the poor thing could only watch as her remaining protectors were forcefully stripped of their Cutie Marks and turned into evil henchponies. Even at this young age, unable to speak a single Ponish word yet, this moment would surely stick with the little princess for the rest of her life.

Eclipse got a good look at the frightened alicorn child, and had only one cold thing to say to her. "Hush little one, i'll get you a blanket. May it cover you well, for all eternity." Then she flung her fore hooves down and vanished into a portal she opened up over herself, carrying the half-dead bodies of the baby's parents tauntingly and taking the brainwashed guards with her. Everything went dark and cold, and Flurry Heart was powerless to stop it. All she could do was cry and wail as her entire world faded under a pitch black veil.

The Crystal Empire was covered in ice and snow, lost again to the winds of time.

Tirek threw boulders at Star Swirl, which he skillfully jumped through, despite his old age. Then he sucker punched his bull-like foe with a powerful, point-blank energy beam to the face; powerful enough to topple Tirek and knock out one of his lower teeth. He rubbed his jaw, but found that his healing magic couldn't grow a new tooth.

During the centaur's vulnerable moment, Star Swirl used magic to open up a dimensional portal. Rockhoof came up from underneath and scooped Tirek up into the air with his prized shovel. Tirek flew right into the magical vortex, but hung on by the edges and growled with extreme anger.

"You've grown too dangerous, Tirek. Begone; to a realm where your magic will be lost forever!" Star Swirl declared emphatically. With a stroke, he fired a bladed beam at Tirek's left hand, releasing half of his grip on the portal and getting a guttural sound of pain out of him.

Following up, Flash Magnus wielded a bow and fired an arrow with a heated head at Tirek's right hand. Tirek was sent falling into the vortex, but he managed to telekinetically grab Rockhoof and quickly pull the earth pony in, planning to take another down with him.

"ROCKHOOF!" Star Swirl, Flash Magnus and Stygian yelled at the same time. The wizard hurriedly used telekinesis to pull his ally back out.

The portal was slowly closing, and on top of that, Tirek was clinging on to his victim for dear life. He twisted around as they reached the opening, and Rockhoof was brought out, but the portal only closed enough for Tirek to poke out from the top of his chest. With quick thinking, he shot an energy beam in the direction opposite to the Pillars and got himself out completely, using the force of his blast for propulsion. The heroic ponies were knocked off balance by this crafty maneuver, and the centaur stood tall.

Tirek focused magical energy into a fore hoof and prepared to stomp the ground, grinning with malevolent delight. He took a few steps and kicked the ground severely, creating a tectonic shock wave, crying out five words:

"Don't mess with this centaur!"

The entire area shook, and the Pillars were blown away. Star Swirl rolled across the ground, coming to a stop only to be lifted into the air by a rising stalagmite, holding him up by his cape. Tirek approached the defeated wizard and put a pinky finger around his horn, failing to notice a thin, crystalline object falling into the stallion's mane. Flash Magnus tried to attack with a long-ranged flail, but Tirek grabbed the chain and pulled the knight into his free hand. With a nasty crunch, the centaur squeezed Star Swirl's horn like a grape, and that did it. The anti-magic drain spell was nullified, and the absorption field drew Star Swirl and Flash Magnus' vitality out of their bodies and into Tirek's.

"NO!" Rockhoof cried, picking up his shovel to strike, but he only ran an inch before his vitality was drained as well. He and his friends, even Stygian, were now weak and bordering on the brink of unconsciousness.

"Mmmm, magic seasoned with age. Delicious." Tirek sighed with pleasure, smacking his lips.

Nearby, Somnambula was flying down with Mistmane and Mage Meadowbrook following on the magically conjured dragon, escaping the flying monsters and the zombie pegasi. When they caught sight of their defeated stallion allies, they gasped. Somnambula did an aerial somersault, and Mistmane teleported herself and Mage Meadowbrook away, which caused some of the army to collide with each other.

Mistmane and Mage Meadowbrook popped up next to Rockhoof's large, muscular body, finding out too late that Star Swirl's protective spell was cancelled out. Somnambula, flying out of range of Tirek's power, watched in alarm as her allies were turned into energy-deprived shells, and the towering fiend took notice.

"Ooh, seconds." Tirek yipped.

I've got to warn the princesses! Somnambula thought, turning to fly in the direction of the Everfree Forest. Tirek turned his head fast enough to see her go.

Monsters and zombies caught up with Somnambula, a lightning bird stopping her in her tracks with thunderbolts, a zombie unicorn shooting a heat beam, which she tried to dodge but got part of her mane burned, the Hydra slapping her with it's tail. She was slammed into Tirek's rock-hard body. He picked her up and watched her vitality magic flow into him, then sighed again before tossing her into the chasm with Stygian and the other Pillars.

"Thank you." he said mockingly, jumping into the chasm and rubbing his stomach victoriously. "The perfect dessert to a legendary meal." Just to rub one final grain of salt in the wound, he went over to Rockhoof and stomped on his shovel.

"Just what I expected from the rightful Midnight Kingdom heir." Grogar complimented, having just come in through a portal.

"I was hoping to crush them way faster, but they were ultimately outclassed." confirmed Tirek.

"I need you to rendezvous with Miss Glow, Eclipse and Chrysalis at Canterlot Castle. Bring your prisoners there with you." Grogar ordered. "But first..."

Star Swirl, with only a little bit of will to move and speak, gazed upon the ram sorcerer and instantly recognized him. "Grogar... sweet Celestia..." He coughed for a second. "It's really you. The Father.... of Monsters... the architect... of Malice."

"So the famous Star Swirl the Bearded is an avid historian." said Grogar happily, before switching to a remorseful expression. "A pity that this sacrifice needs to be made. Schoolchildren don't know what they're missing." His golden Bell rung with that ghastly sound and pointed at the unicorn sorcerer. The stream of yellow and black magic connected to Star Swirl and mixed with his white essence, violently sucking it out. A small orb of white light also swam through the stream into the Bell; the core of Star Swirl's being.

As the assimilation happened, Star Swirl screamed with whatever breath he could muster up at this moment, before he was reduced to a shriveled, desaturated husk. Stygian and the others helplessly watched, only able to weakly squeal the old stallion's name.

Once it was over, Grogar felt his newly-acquired power surge through him like a powerful sensation of warmth after much exposure to cold air. He then levitated the remaining artifacts to himself; he acquired Flash Magnus' Shield, Mage Meadowbrook's Mask and Rockhoof's Shovel, the latter's broken state not bothering him at all.

"Oh. Forgive me, boss!" said Tirek, feeling that Grogar might be mad at him for his actions.

"It'll do in any shape, your highness." the ram sorcerer assured him warmly. "Now, you have your orders."

"Right!" said Tirek, wiping his brow in relief. He put Stygian and the Pillars in magical bubbles and did his mighty kangaroo jumps into the Everfree Forest, carrying them along.

Grogar made his way to the Tree of Harmony's old cave, the 14 relics held over his head. The bottom part of it's Treehouse form now made up the entirety of it, but it was all the same to the old tyrant. He cast the spell, the relics spun in the air, faster and faster, until they became a glowing ring of Malice Magic. Grogar levitated into the air, his Bell pointed through the circle made by the spinning relics, and together they acted like a cannon, firing a spiral beam at the Tree. Yellow veins appeared on the crystal material, and all of it's light was drawn to the roots from which it had grown. The ground in front of Grogar was about to split open.

Trixie, Sandbar, Yona, Gallus, Ocellus, Smolder, Silverstream and all of the School of Friendship schoolchildren felt the effects from the caverns. The brilliant light was fading, and drifting away as if drawn to another position. In the darkness, many screamed in terror.

"Everycreature stay calm!" Trixie called out. "Princess Twilight will figure this out!"

Sandbar and his group weren't freaking out. They were doing as the magician would've wanted, but got a little spooked when a voice was heard in each of their heads.

"Listen!" the voice, sounding like Twilight Sparkle's, demanded.

"AH! Yona hear ghost!" the young yak yelped with a jump.

"Easy, easy, it's just the Tree!" said Gallus, pressing his talons on Yona's back. "Are you in our heads?"

"Grogar has breached the heart of the world with a forbidden unsealing spell. My time may be short." the Tree's voice explained. "Five of you must return to your homelands and bring the creatures outside of Equestria to a full alliance. They may have become peaceful with the ponies, but with each other, their hearts have yet to be opened."

"Will do, Tree! We won't let you down!" said Sandbar with determination.

"Yak want piece of Grogar! No villain hurt Tree!" Yona yelled.

"We can't do anything about that now." Smolder stated. "There's no time to lose."

"Who were you talking to?" Trixie asked, providing a light with her horn.

"The Tree of Harmony's in trouble, and we need to get back to our lands!" Silverstream replied.

"It said to align our clans." Ocellus explained.

"Ah, you and that tree are close." Trixie said with a warm smile. "Who would I be to doubt a great and powerful friend? Onward!"

The opening of the world's core was like the Tree of Harmony opening up a gigantic maw that it secretly had. The hole exuded an unbelievable amount of Harmony Magic. This was it, the very lifeblood of everything that existed, from Equestria to the farthest reaches of the outer lands. Grogar couldn't help but shed a little tear at it's pure, untainted beauty. Before he made his next move, the spirit of the Tree, shaped like Twilight Sparkle, appeared.

"You can't win, Grogar." the spirit said. "Even with all the studying of Harmony's power you may have done, it will prove to be far more powerful than you, or even any other living thing, could possibly comprehend."

"Maybe it will, maybe it won't. You know as well as I do, spirit, that the best teller... is time." Grogar replied. "A mistress that has it's increasingly surprising methods of cruelty." He levitated into the hole, feeling the tingle of the Harmony Magic very hard, and positioned himself in the center. His Bell rung once again, releasing the yellow and black Malice Magic down into the heart. The ram sorcerer groaned with what seemed like pain as the two polar opposite forces collided. Suddenly, the Tree stuck out it's ghostly tendrils, wrapping them around him.

The Tree tried it's hardest to depower and dissolve Grogar through the many tendrils, as it did to some fake ponies a while back. It didn't work, and they soon faded away. The Twilight-shaped spirit closed it's eyes in defeat, whispering "Good luck, my friends." before disappearing into nothingness.

The Tree pulsated with sickening yellow and black veins and electricity. The corruption spread to the sky, gradually turning it crimson, and the earth, poisoning the Everfree Forest.

Twilight, her friends, the sisters and the last of the Royal Guard had their hooves tied with Cozy and her squadron. Unicorn guards repeatedly fired beams at her, but her shadow form devoured all of them, before she also swallowed the guards and fired them out like spitballs through a stained glass window, shattering it.

Celestia and Luna blasted Cozy with a loud sound wave generated by their combined Royal Canterlot Voices. It disturbed her shadow and caused it to flee, leaving her regular body uncovered. They telekinetically grabbed her, but she disappeared, revealed to be another copy, left by the actual Cozy still covered in her shadow. Fluttershy sicced the geese on her again, but all of their biting efforts were repelled by Cozy's darkness wings clamping together and dunking them down on the ground. Rainbow tried a sneak attack, but was swatted away.

Twilight cast a reverse gravity spell on Cozy, which got her into a confusing predicament as the ceiling attracted her weight. The sisters went in for another attack, but they were struck from behind by heat beams from the zombie unicorns. The pain had them hurdling towards the ground, and their wings were strapped down by Timberwolves. Spike breathed a stream of fire at Cozy, but a shadow wing easily blocked it. The distracted little dragon was grabbed and thrown by the Roc, crashing into Applejack.

Shards of the stained glass window were thrown at Cozy, the effort of which was put in by Rarity. This cut the shadow form up, sending the filly prodigy tumbling out. Pinkie sprang up and blasted her with the Party Bazooka again, covering her in confetti and, this time, balloons that popped shortly after coming out, causing disorientation. The shadow shortly rejoined her.

Twilight blasted nearly the whole room with a heavily charged up lightning spell. It scared away the shadow and forced most of the monsters and zombies back, even lighting some like the Timberwolves on fire. She approached Cozy, but alas, another copy. Twilight groaned with exasperation, then turned to Discord, who was just watching in the corner.

"Hey Discord, reformed villain! You want to actually help a little bit instead of twiddling your thumbs?!" Twilight yelled at him.

"It's not my battle, princess." Discord replied dismissively.

"Please, this filly's trickery is starting to get old!" Fluttershy pleaded. "I'm so peeved I could..."

"Alright alright, Fluttershy. No need for the language." said Discord, giving in. Then he warningly raised a claw. "But just this once." Finally, he snapped his lion claws.

"Gee, I guess I have to admit we're at an impasse." Cozy considered. "But... i'm having too much fun!" The second that last syllable came out, her shadow was tightly wrapped around her, covering everything but her head, and a giant shoe was dropped on her, weighing her down completely. Also, the zombie and monster squadron poofed out of reality.

"HEEEY!!! NOOO FAAAIR!!!" She screeched so hard, her voice should've given out and the stained glass should've broke. In a huff, she materialized a new copy in front of Discord. "There really should be a moratorium on Chaos Magic!"

"Exactly. It's not my place to show you your place." said Discord, flicking the Cozy copy into the opposite wall, dispelling it.

"You were kind of right, Cozy. Friendship is power, but it's decency and trust that forms that power." said Twilight.

"Where'd you get that, a daily affirmations calendar? Yeesh!" Cozy dismissively joked.

"By the way..." Discord started before going emphatic. "Grogar has been gathering relics to unseal the Tree of Harmony! He might already be there!"

"Well, why didn't you say so?!" Twilight scolded with utter disbelief.

"I tried!" Discord stressed.

Twilight's face burned with intense fury, and she turned back to Cozy, preparing a scary-looking spell. 'So this has been your game?"

Right behind her, the giant stained glass window above the throne was blasted open by a powerful magical blast, and everyone and everything was pushed by it, including the giant shoe. As they all got back up, the heroic ponies began to lose their vitality magic. Cozy, returning to her shadow form and floating up with a smug smile, was unaffected.

"Distract!" she shrilled.

Tirek jumped through the open, ruined window and landed on the throne, destroying it, just as he absorbed the vitality. His seven bubbled captives were dropped to the ground.

"Surprise!" he sang with his arms raised.

Eclipse flew into the room, carrying the royal couple of the Crystal Empire and setting them down on the floor to be drained of magic. With a flick of her horn, she increased the gravity around Twilight and company, keeping them from even crawling from the spot, and all of her brainwashed soldiers came in through portals.

"And trap!" she hollered, laughing.

Discord vanished, not wanting to interfere with this fight anymore. Twilight groaned with disgust.

"Looks like we all had fun cleaning their clocks." Cozy laughed. Then she noticed that one creature was oddly missing. "Uh, where's Chrysalis?" As if on cue, the rogue changeling was whisked into the room by Malice Magic, and the cocooned Starlight with her. She was growling like a mistreated pet.

Tirek, seeing how beaten up she was, held out his hand and replenished her strength. She roared with fury upon her full recovery, but then turned her head and mumbled "Thank you". Starlight was drained by the absorption field, just like the rest of the present defenders of Equestria.

"The Pillars have been defeated." said Tirek.

"Your School is abandoned." said Chrysalis.

"Every line of defense you set up has been deconstructed." said Eclipse, showing the tainted Crystal Heart.

"Best of all, your adoring future subjects are one little push away from going past the threshold." said Cozy. "And when they pray for guidance, you might not be here to listen."

"We and the boss have been busy." Tirek noted.

"So... you creeps... have been putting... the ponies... on edge!" Twilight puffed.

"As I said long ago, Twilight, everypony believes they are better than others, no matter how they grow or what they claim." Eclipsed lectured the young alicorn. "They fight a losing battle against their egos, like animals."

Twilight gasped, quickly realizing the dark alicorn's identity. It had to be some kind of illusionary sorcery, but she couldn't deny who this was. "Starlight Glimmer?" The others reacted with a collective "What?!"

"That name from my father is nothing but a mark of shame to me now." Eclipse clarified disdainfully. "I am Aurora Eclipse."

"How... dare you." Starlight, still conscious, panted with hatred, offended that the villainous echo was using the name that her mother wanted for her.

"The icing on the cake is when the petty ponies are consumed by pride, they won't pay attention to details anyway." Chrysalis added. "They probably won't even care who rules them, just as long as they can live without each other."

"You think your backup friends in the outer lands will find you worth fighting for after that?" Tirek rhetorically asked.

"Face it, you've lost! The perfect just desserts for the infection of my hive!" Chrysalis hissed.

"For the dishonor to my family!" Tirek growled.

"For the destruction of my equal community!" Eclipse snarled.

"And for throwing me in Tartarus!" Cozy barked. "Seriously, what's wrong with you?!"

Chrysalis, Tirek and Eclipse opened portals, sending the defeated defenders besides Twilight, her friends and the sisters to the crystal caverns underneath Canterlot for their imprisonment. That same crystalline object in Star Swirl's mane fell out and attached itself to Twilight's, avoiding everyone's attention. The remaining heroes struggled to reach out to one another, knowing what they could do here.

"I'm afraid... you've made... your last mistake!" said Twilight, getting back from the gravitational pull. Her five pony friends followed suit, held hooves and floated into the air, surrounded by a lustrous energy field. The power of the Elements of Harmony ignited in their cores, just like they did before Sombra. Twilight declared "You're all here, right where we want you!"

"UGH!" Tirek grunted, feeling a shock that returned the heroes' stolen vitality magic. "Not again!" He groaned.

"Frankly, it's embarrassing that we need to remind y'all how it always ends for varmints." said Applejack, sighing.

"This is bad, isn't it?" Cozy murmured, shivering.

"No beating around the bush! Blast them, girls!" Spike hollered with excitement.

The six ponies unleashed their great power, but out of nowhere it was slowed down to a crawl. The villains looked on in surprise, and Spike in confusion.

"Hey, what happened to the blasting?!" Spike asked.

Realizing the chance they had, Eclipse, Chrysalis and Tirek shot five of the six Elements out of the air, leaving Twilight for Cozy to flick on to the ground with a darkness wing. The friendship power was cancelled.

"Girls, no!" Celestia and Luna yelped. Then they looked to their left and caught sight of... him. Instant dread pounded their nerves. They jumped to Spike and the young ponies, forming a spherical barrier.

"Oh my gosh, Grogar's right there!" Spike shrieked.

"No wonder Star Swirl has his own wing." the ram sorcerer mused, the unicorn wizard's white magic glowing around his collar. He zipped right up to the barrier and eyed the night princess. "Dearest Luna, you were always the most ambitious of the two. That's why I helped you escape the moon when the Elements' seal was at it's weakest. But, you live and learn." Twilight and her friends stared in bewilderment.

"Those stars were you?" Luna gasped.

"So, I have more than Twilight to thank for bringing my sister back." Celestia remarked.

"Sad to say you must be torn apart again." Grogar said back.

"Here's a good key entity, your majesty." Eclipse called, giving him the Crystal Heart.

"Behold, an informative demonstration." said Grogar with a bow. His Bell rung and assimilated the Crystal Heart, sucking out it's light blue energy and core. Afterwards, the artifact shattered into countless, barely visible pieces.

"You can take whatever you want, but you'll never be even a fourth as powerful as the Tree of Harmony." said Luna.

"And mark my words, you'll have to face defeat eventually, regardless of how many you take down." Twilight asserted, rubbing her shoulder.

"No matter. I've already poisoned Equestria to it's core." Grogar confirmed, shaking his head sideways.

At that moment, the corruption of the sky was now reaching Canterlot, showering it in a harsh, crimson light.

"You think that pathetic shield can stop us?" Chrysalis laughed.

Grogar was happy to show how futile this defense was by breaking it with a simple tap. This left the sisters whimpering in distress.

"How about we start redecorating, huh?" Cozy suggested.

"Indeed." Grogar agreed, forming shields around the brainwashed guards. "Time for the past to die." He charged his magic and combined it with that of Chrysalis, Tirek and Eclipse. Cozy ducked into a shadow-y blob for cover.

BOOM! A tremendous geyser of Malice Magic mixed with green, orange and turquoise energy blew up all over Canterlot, like a volcano went off beneath the city. Everything was demolished in the devastating wave. The explosion could be seen and felt from everywhere. Sunburst and the Cutie Mark Crusaders noticed it from a train, Trixie and the students experienced the aftershock, and the creatures from the outer lands picked up the horrible sound it made.

Canterlot was now a vast pile of ash and debris. Nothing could've been left untouched by the blast. The villains stood on the platform that was once the throne room. The heroes were gone.

"I think you overdid it." Cozy opined.

"No, Discord saved them." Grogar corrected her. "It was inevitable."

"Well don't just stand there, go deal with him!" Chrysalis yelled.

"Patience. I will take no further chances with him." said Grogar with a raised hoof. "If he hasn't gone too far, my senses will easily track his location. You make sure the prisoners are comfortably locked up, i'll let you know when the deed's done." His next move was to close his eyes and feel for a Malice Magic signature. He whispered "Now things look favorable."

Discord had teleported Twilight and company to the far borders of the ruined city, and hid themselves behind thick, dying trees.

"Close call." Pinkie commented.

"Oh, those poor ponies." Fluttershy weeped.

"No worries, every citizen was evacuated, and I snapped all the guards away to safety." Discord assured her.

"Thank... me." said Celestia.

"Now, performance review: you girls can do better than that!" Discord reprimanded the group.

"Excuse me?! We did the best we could!" Twilight said back indignantly.

"Like you could've seen that time spell coming!" Spike argued.

"And that was a perfectly good giant shoe I wasted at your request!" Discord scolded. "This was meant to be your moment! The moment of truth, where you make friendship fireworks and kick their butts!"

"Do you take this for a movie, Discord?" Celestia inquired with a raised eyebrow.

"I take this for the culmination of Twilight's character growth! The climax we've been waiting for! What Equestria's been waiting for! What i've been waiting for!" Discord ranted.

Those last words got a clock ticking in Twilight's head. It went back to the cryptic things Discord had been saying earlier that day. All the weird stuff she had overheard him talking about. The way he had been acting, and the convenience of his behavior at the time of this crisis. All this put together made the clock ring with an ear-piercing sound. Her face contorted with rage as she pointed a hoof at the draconequus.

"You knew! You knew they were coming, and you didn't tell us!" Twilight called him out. The others gasped in shock and disgust.

"Who, me? Come now, you know I wouldn't do that!" Discord lied, immediately recognizing that he would do something of the sort. "Oh okay." He laughed cheekily. "You got me."

"You've known the whole time that Grogar, Chrysalis, Cozy Glow, Tirek and that Aurora Eclipse character were planning to attack?" Luna reprimanded.

"Don't forget Sombra." Discord added shamelessly.

"You've seriously been teasing and testing us from the start." Twilight assessed.

"It was a serendipitous opportunity, my friend." Discord justified. He snapped his eagle claws and displayed footage of events from the past, starting with the chaotic spirit pacing in his dimension. He began narrating:

"When I went home the day the princesses announced your rise to power, I got thinking. Twilight just can't see the fact that she is everything Equestria needs. If only there was another bad guy to battle; that always makes her feel awesome. I considered creating an apocalyptic threat myself, but decided nah! Then... I sensed an imbalance of magic. A kind I hadn't felt in eons. By an anti-miracle, my father, Grogar, had come back."

"That monster created even you?" Fluttershy interrupted.

"Correct. But I was a special specimen, unlike the others." Discord affirmed. "Chaos Magic is a great safeguard against Malice." He resumed.

"I investigated - from a distance to avoid being tracked - and saw that he already gathered the villains. This Legion of Doom. My reaction was one of great anxiety, and naturally, I thought this. Is. Perfect! If Twilight can beat this, she'll never doubt herself again! So I spent the next moons monitoring their activities, from Sombra striking out on his own, to the acquirement of the Bewitching Bell, to Aurora Eclipse's conjuration, to their attempted sabotage of the final Summer Sun Celebration."

"Where did that mare come from, anyway?" Celestia questioned.

"Grogar brought her to life from a piece of wood with pony life signs in it, which Chrysalis apparently had an attachment to. Now let me finish." Discord replied impatiently.

"Whoa, I think we really missed something." said Pinkie, mystified.

"After our up-and-coming ruler gained a confidence boost from destroying that revenant despot, I kept an eye on her progress, and by that fateful sunrise of her own doing, I knew that she was now ready for anything. That her journey was almost complete." After this, the footage ended with television static.

"And how was this last part supposed to help her again?" Spike queried angrily.

"By making sure she had fully overcome her weaknesses, showing how defended Equestria truly is under her leadership, and proving how little you really need me to provide a safety net, as good-looking as I am." Discord answered. "It was so simple: five times the baddies, five times the assurance. But I did remain cautious. If they had mobilized a little too early, I would've snapped my claws... to delay them."

"You beastly beast!" Rarity snarled with a pull of the draconequus' beard. "You literally could've stopped this at any point before it began, and you sat back and let it begin; on this important occasion of all times! What, did you have popcorn and soda, too?!"

"You don't take the final exam on the first day." Discord retorted.

"I understand." said Twilight, which made the chaotic spirit smile. "Knowing all that, giving it some thought. It all... makes me want your help even more!" On the young alicorn's face was a fury unlike any she had shown before.

"Oh, come on!" Discord whined.

"I never asked for another battle!" Twilight snapped. "I don't need another battle because I had everything I wanted, and I have it all because of friendship, and I have friendship because i'm a diplomat, and that's how I want to rule Equestria because I. HATE. FIGHTING!"

"WHAT?!" Discord yelped. He couldn't believe, even for a second, what he just heard. He had to clean out his ears, checking to see whether or not they were playing tricks on him. Did Twilight Sparkle, Equestria's champion, after all the victories she has won for her country, just say that? It was as if, for example, Applejack, after all the years of apple bucking, admitted that she despised striking trees. It didn't make sense to him. What did he miss? After several seconds of stupefaction, he brought up "But... you rose up to fight the bad guys every time."

"They didn't give me a choice!" Twilight stressed, teeth gritted. "You think I got a kick out of that?! I studied magic for knowledge, for how it could benefit ponykind, not for superhero training!"

"You know we need a strong leader." Discord pointed out.

"I already was, through love, decency, trust and reason. I never liked using magic for force, and when we beat Sombra, I wanted that to be the end of us resorting to violence." Twilight explained, tearings starting to roll down her cheeks. "I didn't need adversaries to defeat anymore. I just wanted to relax and enjoy the next phase of my life with my friends."

"And here I thought you weren't cowardly." Discord grumbled.

"For all the time you've spent with us, you really haven't picked up as much in the way of friendship lessons as you should've by now." said Applejack.

"Well, you should know by now that I let this all happen because I care." Discord said back.

"Yeah, for the boost to your ego you were gonna get." cracked Spike.

"Tch, at least one of you gets how I work." said Discord, rolling his eyes. He ducked down to directly face his kind pegasus friend. "Fluttershy, you always backed me up. Remind them how well-intentioned I am, and what a great job you've been doing, and the confidence I helped grow in everypony. Remember the cheering? The hoof-bumps?"

"NO, Discord!" Fluttershy snapped, swatting the spirit away. Discord backed off in shock and put his lion paw up to his chest, like his heart was poisoned. The pegasus never looked so disappointed in him. "This time, you were just carelessly putting everypony in danger and loading a bunch of unnecessary trouble and stress onto Twilight! Onto all of us!"

Discord had to take a moment to process that his biggest defender, his best friend, couldn't make any excuses for his deceptive actions this time. That moment ended with him shifting to feelings of utter indignation.

"How is that any different from what she's done?!" he asked crossly, pointing to Celestia. "That's right, I challenge you to justify yourself, sun-flank!"

"I'll admit to being far from a perfect planner, but for your information..." Celestia began, flying up to Discord with an icy sneer. "I never spent moons just watching a threat come to fruition, I never let it come marching to Twilight, and I never aimed to gain a shred of the benefits from her victories. My teaching methods were in service to her education. For things that she needs, and enjoys."

"Don't pretend you didn't throw her into perilous situations." Discord scoffed.

"I made efforts to keep her out of harm's way whenever I could." Celestia said matter-of-factly. "She has too much to live for to risk her entire future of spreading friendship on world-threatening conflicts. That's why I tried to send Luna to find the Hippogriffs when the Storm King invaded, and sent you after Tirek, back when he first broke out of Tartarus. I put my faith in my oldest and most powerful allies... to protect my faithful student."

"And besides that, the times when things went south were more my fault than anything." Twilight chimed in, addressing the draconequus. "I was green, and I made mistakes thinking I was more qualified to do what to be done than anypony else. I came close to failing the tests, because I had much to learn about embracing the help of my friends. You opened my eyes to that, you know."

"Darn tootin'." said Applejack.

"She's got you there." said Pinkie.

"Quite accurate, i'd say." said Rarity.

"They have a point." said Fluttershy.

"Pretty hard to dispute, actually." said Rainbow Dash.

"You should pay more attention." said Spike.

"It's indubitable, you're a fool." said Luna.

Discord raised a claw, but no words came out of his mouth. He puzzled for a second before uttering "Huh."

"You have made a grave misjudgment, Discord." Celestia stated venomously.

"Oh, yes I have." Discord mumbled. "So... my bad." He shrugged and smiled nervously, getting nothing but glares from everyone. It felt like every mistake he ever made came crashing down on him and left him a flaming wreck, his ego receiving permanent damage in the aftermath.

"Do you have anything else you would like to tell us, your lordship?" Celestia inquired with a sarcastic hint at the end.

"Well, my old ram acquired something called... the Alicorn Amulet." Discord responded meekly. Twilight and her friends gasped.

"The same Alicorn Amulet that Trixie used way back when?!" Fluttershy guessed, that dark day in Ponyville still fresh in her mind like it was only last week.

"Are you kidding me?! It was supposed to be locked up and hidden away forever!" Twilight shrilled. "What would he even want with it?! It only enchants ponies, and he's already-" Then a thought that should've been so obvious came up, enough so that she slapped her head before saying it out loud. "The lock! He has found a way to protect his bell! With the Alicorn Amulet's magical lock applied, the thing will never come off!"

"I guess even Cozy Glow can be kind of right twice a day." said Pinkie.

"Oh, so that's why I couldn't snap it into my grasp?" Discord pondered.

The group looked at him with disdainful - sorrowful in Fluttershy's case - looks of disbelief. Rainbow snarkily said "Knowing you, I find that hard to believe."

"I'm sorry, everypony. I'll make it up to you the best I can. I'll give them a Triple Pandemonium Snap Overdrive, your highness." Discord said remorsefully, bowing to Twilight.

"Whatever that means... do it." Twilight ordered darkly.

"Oh no." Discord murmured with dread. "Grogar's here, hide!" The dead trees were destroyed by a wave of Malice Magic. Discord took the blast, trying not to tumble, while Twilight and the others ducked down and hid under the invisibility spell. The Lord of Chaos, a fire stoked in his asymmetrical eyes, once again faced his sorcerer father.

"I love a game of cat and mouse." Grogar chortled fondly.

"This mouse has a hammer." Discord boasted. On the last word, he tried to snap both his lion and eagle claws, and materialize something from his thoughts. He couldn't. Grogar, from his glowing horns, appeared to be stopping him with his power. The spirit struggled, gritted his teeth, sweating from the strain. "Come on..." He growled. "No, he's got me..." At first, Twilight looked worried for him and was about to gasp, but then she blinked with a near-immediate realization that left her glowering in frustration.

"Seriously, Discord? This again? We know nocreature can ever beat you, so cut it out and end this already!" Twilight scolded, trying not to raise her voice too much.

"Argh! Girls, help me! He's too strong!" Discord exclaimed in pain. "Quit gawking and use your rainbow laser, hurry!" He was now inhaling and exhaling heavily, reaching out to his allies in desperation.

"Yeah yeah, our friendship is awesome and super strong, got it, we're not falling for that twice!" Rainbow growled quietly. Nobody was buying that Discord was actually being hurt or needed help of any kind. No way this was for real after all the convincing ruses he has already pulled.

"Girls... I'm serious! I can't control my body... or my thoughts!" Discord wheezed. He fell to his goat and lizard knees, receiving shocks from electricity running all over him. "This really hurts!" The tone of his voice was genuine, but the ponies and dragon still believed this was another one of his acts.

"Discord, you're scaring me!" Fluttershy admonished the draconequus. "This isn't funny, stop it!"

"Save me..." Discord pleaded with his breath running out and tears rolling out of his reddened eyes. The Bewitching Bell made it's eerie ringing sound and pointed at him. He squealed "Please!" before the assimilation spell hit him, making him scream so loud it echoed throughout the valley. Twilight and the others, previously exasperated, were now horrified by what they were seeing. Their chaotic friend was stripped of his magic and his core, both of which were coloured blue and purple, and made unique, cartoon-y sounds.

Grogar briefly glowed like a neon sign from taking Discord's power. Discord became desaturated, and flopped to the ground. He instantly got back up, and felt around his own body. He didn't seem that damaged.

"Oh. Well, fancy that. I guess your Bell isn't what it used to be." Discord laughed with relief.

The heroes behind him were stupefied. Was Discord just so powerful that Grogar's spell didn't affect him as much as it did others? It may have been possible. Grogar, however, didn't look worried at all. He patiently stared at his son, smiling with confidence.

"Now then." said Discord. At last, he thought up something and did a double snap. The "Triple Pandemonium Snap Overdrive" was performed.

But nothing happened. So he tried again. And again. And again and again.

POOF! His lion paw magically came off and turned into a full lion. Then his eagle claw reverted to a full eagle. His pegasus and bat wings were next, then his deer antler and goat horn. He lost his goat leg, causing him to fall over backwards. As his lizard leg came off, he rolled over and looked at the ponies in true, unquestionable distress.

"FLY, YOU FOALS!" He bellowed to his figuratively petrified friends as his tail poofed into a snake, still with the fluffy tuft on the back end of it. The last look he gave was specifically to Fluttershy, who looked back at him, more devastated than the rest.

Twilight and the sisters knew what to do. Having to cancel the invisibility spell, they joined their horns to prepare an amped up teleportation spell. Their former-foe-turned-friend finished breaking up, his remaining parts turning into animals, until he was reduced to his core component: a grey earth pony. Grogar pulled his now near-lifeless body over, only noticing his other targets making their escape when Fluttershy stretched out a fore hoof, her face scrunched up from tears and grief, and screamed out to the fallen spirit. The pitch of her voice was raised the highest it had ever been in her entire life.


And with that, Twilight's whole group disappeared in a very bright burst of magic. Grogar wasn't bothered. Just dealing this great blow to them, taking out their greatest safety measure, felt sufficient for now. He gave the unconscious pony Discord one more glare and opened a portal leading to the crystal caverns under what was once Canterlot.

"You've earned a big time-out, little renegade has-been." said Grogar before using his breath to forcefully blow his depowered child into the portal, landing him in an area of the caverns where Chrysalis, Tirek, Cozy Glow and Aurora Eclipse were settling the royal couple, Starlight and the Pillars into cocoons on the ceiling.

Though the last official defenders of Equestria standing had made it out of a tight squeeze, they wouldn't be forgetting this turn of events anytime soon. None of them could've seen what they just saw coming, and on top of it all, they ended up looking like hypocrites in the process. Their latest enemy now possessed phenomenal, world-moving magic for this deed.

Something other than the friendship-triggered Elements of Harmony actually overpowered and soundly defeated the nigh-omnipotent Discord. And they all just stood by and watched.

To be continued...

Author's Note:

And so, Part 1 of The End of an Era ends with two wham moments for the price of one. So, i'll make some notes about them first.

My decision to utterly destroy all of Canterlot, rather than just the castle like in the original episode, is to not only show off just what insane amounts of power Grogar and the evolved spellcasting villains have together, but to eventually make way for another G1 element related to the ram sorcerer. I reckon some of you will guess within a minute or two, but I won't spoil what it is. On a minor note: I just love Cozy Glow being the odd one out, only having defense and support spells and ducking for cover when the big boys and girls flex their city-busting magic muscles.

Now, Discord's defeat, and the reason for this chapter's title. I was really looking forward to writing this whole sequence, and I think i'm proud of how it came out. I'm part of the crowd who disliked what they did with Discord in the original episode, but I thought there was an good, obvious alternative to it, which I went with here. If the idea was for the Trickster Mentor trope to be deconstructed, I would've liked to have seen Discord actually make a terrible, but genuine (and Discord-y) mistake from going too far with it, doing what he thought were the complex methods that Celestia used to teach Twilight. As for his downfall, the scenario, besides being karma for his endangerment of Equestria, is meant to be his "faking mortal injuries from Sombra's blast" stunt from the Season 9 premiere coming back to bite him in the worst way possible. It was a follow-up waiting to be written.

The part where Cozy Glow gets immobilized by Discord's Chaos Magic is easily the biggest comedy bit i've written for the rewrite at this point. I thought about how to make it play out, but It was only as I was just making the sequence that I decided to include a giant shoe for the little demon to get stuck under, as it was the funniest thing I could think of.

Besides the wham moments, the most fun thing about writing this chapter was the continuing action. I gave Twilight invisibility and lightning spells because I think she should've nailed the former by now, and for latter, I like to believe she may have taken a page from Tempest Shadow's book, just for emergencies.

Starlight's giant beam attack on Chrysalis is a callback to Season 8, Episode 14, only here it's done with the intent of squashing the enemy like the bug she is. I loved making it so that Chrysalis actually came the closest, out of all the villains, to being totally defeated this early on. She's... going to be kicked pretty often in the future.

The scene where Aurora Eclipse leaves Flurry Heart to be covered by the snowstorm may be the darkest scene i've written for this part of the rewrite (besides Grogar's mass pony zombification two chapters ago). Don't worry, the little gal is fine, but she won't be appearing again for some time. Meanwhile, yes, more than just monsters and zombies will make up the villains' army as the story goes along.

That thin, crystalline object the story mentioned a few times, which jumps from Star Swirl to Twilight will be a key item in future chapters. Count on it. By the way, yes, that one line from Star Swirl in the previous chapter, and two lines that Tirek had during his showdown with the male Pillars as a whole, you'll find pretty familiar from online and video game culture. Sorry if they made you cringe, I couldn't help myself. I mean, the word centaur sounds pretty close to the pronunciation of a certain 's' word.

The concept of the world having a heart made of Harmony magic is one I invented for this rewrite. I figured that even with the magic from the Pillars, there had to be a greater, world-spanning source within the earth that gave the Tree of Harmony's seed it's omnipotent power, and it's root connected to the heart, inadvertently creating a doorway for someone of amazing power to open up. It felt like a cool way to raise the tension even more and show the damage Grogar and his Malice Magic could do.

Yes, the Tree of Harmony did try to fight back and kill Grogar, just like it did to the Mean 6. Just another way to show how monstrous this guy is.

The moment where the Tree telepathically communicates with the Student 6 is a prelude to the expanded part they'll play later down the line. There'll be much work to do if they want to form a complete alliance of the clans and help them win ponykind's greatest battle against evil. Now, for a detailed explanation: while the Tree has never been shown speaking to the students this way, exactly, it was able to reach them through their dreams, so we can rationalize that this is pretty simple for it.

One last thing: the term "Mane 6" will never be used in-universe in any shape or form in this rewrite, because I don't care for that. Plain and simple. Sorry.