• Published 16th Jun 2021
  • 923 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 2 - Chapter 4 (8): Perfect Storm

When the Windigos manifested in the sky, their wind began evolving slowly, but surely, into a frosty hurricane capable of blowing small creatures off their hooves. Their nightmarish presence wasn't helped by Grogar's glowing, red, worldwide Malice infection, nor by the unstable clouds blasting the likely related bolts of lightning. Plain and simply: they looked even more scary, even more sinister, than they were ever described to be in stories.

From where Twilight, her friends and the villainous tetrad stood, it's almost as if they could be easily touched. In another part of Equestria, the earth ponies, now having managed to find a spot where they could build homes away from their perceived enemies, were getting worse in mood from the decreasing temperature. Here, within an empty village in the middle of nowhere, they had inaudible exchanges, until Mayor Mare spoke up.

"Please, stay calm!" the mayor hollered, getting the entire chattering crowd's attention. "I know everything seems bad, but this is no time to panic!'

"GIVE US ONE GOOD REASON NOT TO!" a mare, one of those who spoke to Twilight and the others back at the trainwreck near Ponyville, screamed in disagreement. The others, minus a handful, joined in the rowdy yelling, much to the mayor's discontent.

"Because Equestria's own heroes are on the job!" Mayor Mare answered, trying to sound as assuring as she could. "Twilight Sparkle and her friends? They're out there, seeking the solution! When have they ever let us down?"

"They're letting us down now by not protecting us from the threat of termination looming over our heads!" an earth pony stallion argued.

"Speaking of "over our heads", the Windigos!" another earth pony mare yelled, having noticed the ghostly pony spirits in the sky, rotating endlessly around the thundering clouds and neighing monstrously. Almost everyone present saw too, and gasped like they were literally struck.

The skeptical one scoffed and said "That's just a Hearth's Warming story! Enough with the bad jokes, ponies!"

"These are creatures made of wind who destroy the land by burying it in endless ice and snow, to punish ponies, and they're descending before us right now!" Cheerilee objected incredulously. "You call that a joke?!"

With the realization that the Windigos were real, and that they all now stood among their tempest of cold and misery, the earth ponies ran around in a panic. They felt more powerless than they ever had before.

"Let the pegasi deal with this!" the especially frightened earth pony mare said. "There's nothing we can do except hide!"

"I think this may have been what they and the unicorns have been waiting for!" an earth pony stallion surmised. "We're gonna live in dread forever!'

Among the crowd of running earth ponies, Big MacIntosh was remaining calm, so as not to worry either his grandma, Granny Smith, or his new wife, the unicorn Sugar Belle, anymore than they already had been for the past hours. Even more fortuitous for him was that the one unicorn close by wasn't chased out. Yet.

"Them Windigos will go away in no time with a little magical friendship, won't they?" Granny Smith guessed.

"Eeyup." said Big Mac to her in his usual laconic manner. His thoughts, on the other hand (or hoof), formed a full sentence of what deeply troubled him most. Applejack, Apple Bloom, wherever you are, come back in one piece, before Granny loses it.

Up in some mountains, the pegasi had found a new settlement within a series of caverns. They already saw the winter spirits enter their vicinity. Some made the valiant effort to trying to ward off the violent wind, but to no avail. The force of it was troubling enough, but the uncontrolled lightning cemented the futility of the attempts.

"That's enchanted wind!" a pegasus mare stated to a crowd of her people. "We can't control it! And we certainly can't rely on those snooty unicorns or those earth ponies for help!"

"Well that's great!" Zephyr Breeze complained. "This'll add more fuel to their "pegasi are dangerous blunderers" fire!"

"Build up the cloudbank! We'll try to block it!" the pegasus mare ordered. In acknowledgement of the stallion's concerns, she added. "Keep your eyes out for intruders!" The pegasi flew off, leaving only the leading mare and a single colt.

"But, the earth ponies, unicorns, Princess Twilight, Rainbow Dash and the others down below. They're-" the colt, Rumble, said.

"On their own? Yes." the mare interrupted him with certainty. "We all are." Then she lifted herself into the air to join her brethren.

The unicorns settled into the depths of a withered forest. Chancellor Neighsay of the Equestria Education Association spotted the Windigos through a telescope he carried with him, and whispered into the ear of another unicorn stallion. The same unicorn stallion who was by himself when he conversed with Twilight's group not too long ago. That stallion approached the rest of his clan.

"Everypony, get those shelters up and fortify the shields around them!" he ordered the other unicorns. "We need to protect ourselves from the imminent storm, and the other clans! It's all we can do for now!" The other unicorns murmured worriedly, uncertain about their futures coming up. Not all of them were skilled spellcasters, so how well would a good number be able to keep themselves safe?

"Those brutes will likely use those Windigos to their advantage, but we're unicorns!" Prince Blueblood declared. "The most powerful of all ponies! We will be safe, we will get our resources back, and we won't let them win!" His speech gave his fellow unicorns an extra bit of drive to get down to business. If this royal figure was confident, they had to be too.

"Everything should be getting better any moment now." said unicorn colt Snails hopefully, as the others walked towards their chosen shelter spots around him. He turned to his friend and fellow unicorn colt, Snips, who just shrugged.

Back at Tambelon, Sunburst and the CMC managed to stealthily navigate the monster-infested streets with the help of the cockatrices. The chicken-snakes also had the decency to grab some pouches of food for the four ponies, like they were faithful pets.

"Make it last, girls." Sunburst advised the filly trio, holding up their grub.

"You know, I think you guys are actually very good at heart." Sweetie Belle opined at the helpful cockatrices. "You don't have to follow that Grogar guy. Do you?" They just blankly stared at each other without giving a certain reply to her.

Their sneaking around led them behind a statue, and within view from their current spot was the Chimera, on their guard in front of what looked like a door sealed up with a brick wall.

"Not that thing again." Apple Bloom moaned, all the bad memories of confronting this particular monster by her lonesome rushing back.

"What is it standing guard for?" Scootaloo whispered in pondering. "Doesn't look like there's a way to get in."

"Starlight's in there, right?" Sunburst asked the cockatrices, who nodded in response. "Are there any other entrances, maybe less guarded?" He asked further. This time, they shook their heads back and forth.

"Okay, ya'll. Perhaps one of ya can petrify that beastie?" Apple Bloom requested. The cockatrices clucked in surprised, then backed away disapprovingly. The farm filly peaked back at the Chimera and figured "Make that three of you."

"Please?" Sweetie Belle begged. No signs of them budging. "Oh, if only Fluttershy was here with her Stare."

"Would you perhaps do it for... some nuts?" Apple Bloom suggested, pulling the mentioned type of food out of her pouch. "Not a fan of these." But the cockatrices looked at the crunchy morsels with intense interest. Their craving expressions instantly gave her an idea. She threw the nuts out where the Chimera was standing and watched them split apart, but land close to the same spot. The big creature's three heads looked around in confusion.

The cockatrices repeatedly clucked and ran for the nuts to peck at them, appetites wet. Their fellow monster noticed the four little ones come from the statue on it's right. From back there, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Sunburst threw their own sets of nuts out. Some managed to get on the beastly hybrid, and bother it. Growling, it began to approach the ponies' hiding spot, much to their terror, but it was blocked by the hungry chicken-snakes pursuing their snack.

Briefly, a fight broke out. The chimera spewed fire that came too close for comfort. It chased one of the cockatrices off, and grabbed the other three whichever way it could. In retaliation, the three avian reptiles gave the three-headed beast their crimson stares, resulting in it quickly turning into a stone sculpture of itself. Quiet took hold on the situation.

"Thank you!" said Sweetie Belle.

"And there, fillies, is another way to treat a cockatrice." Sunburst noted. Before any form of celebrating could take place for this small victory, the cries of the Windigos were heard by him. He immediately turned up to see them. The CMC, too, bore witness to this event.

"What in the..?" Apple Bloom muttered in befuddlement.

"Oh no... it can't be." Sunburst breathed out in fright. "The Windigos. The legends were true." The filly trio gasped at the mention of the creatures' names, before he raised his volume to say "We've got to get inside, now!"

"But, what do we do about the door?" Scootaloo reminded them. Beside her, Apple Bloom's face scowled with determination.

By giving the brick barricade on the door several hard kicks, Apple Bloom was able to bust a hole open in it; the labyrinthine lower levels could be seen on the other end, and it was just big enough for her and the other three to squeeze through.

"You buck apple trees for a living, you get muscles like these." Apple Bloom boasted, but trying to hold back a grimace from how sore her back hooves had become from the kicking impacts.

In any case, their exploration of the caverns below Tambelon began.

"I should've known the Windigos were stirring this up!" Twilight exclaimed, angry at herself. "That they were more than characters!" She had been fending off Cozy Glow to her best of her ability with Luna. They didn't know where the rest of the group flew off to, just that they were alone with a psychotic child coated in solid darkness.

"Just goes to show: where there's a legend, there's a lesson." said Luna. With their combined alicorn magic, they produced a magical wave that was potent enough to phase the little shadow pony.

"Not a bad day for a blizzard, I say!" Cozy laughed. "Now it's time for you and your magic of friendship's complete destruction! Soon, power will redefine it all!" Her magical clone popped up in front of the two princesses and grinned wickedly - as far as her cheekbones could stretch, her irises and pupils shrunken to dots - to end with "Won't that be fun?"

You are so infuriating, you know that?!" Twilight spat in aggrevation. "I mean, "Power" this, "destroy" that; is that the way you want to live your life? I don't know what you learned before you attended the School, but it must've been pretty bad for you to walk this path!" She felt two shadow wing lift her off the group after speaking. The true, Malice-powered Cozy stared at her.

"No, it was fine." said Cozy. "Just very lonely, and unsafe." The wing was sliced off by Luna's horn blade, allowing the younger alicorn the chance to escape.

"You had friends at the School, Cozy, who would've had your back - if you hadn't stabbed them in theirs!" Twilight stressed as she descended gently. "True friendship is worth fighting for, no matter how much there is to learn about it! Why take the lessons we taught for granted, and make it about being more powerful than everypony else?! WHY?!"

"Because it's a preachy, backhanded, six-way street!" Cozy screeched wrathfully. Twilight flinched with shock.

She didn't just say that about friendship, Twilight thought in silent rage.

"You're a lot more by the book than you think you are, Princess!" Cozy explained, approaching while raising her shadow forms shoulders to look extra imposing. "It's always gotta be about your specific virtues, no room for any deviation, or actual evolution of who creatures are! The blind followers are rewarded, and the ambitious rebels get punished!"

"Well, sorry, I don't remember any other "rebels" LYING TO PONIES AND TAKING ALL OF EQUESTRIA'S MAGIC AWAY!" Twilight scathingly remarked.

"Earth ponies and unicorns could adapt!" Cozy argued. "And hey, it's not like I removed pegasus flight, you know! You don't trust anypony, anycreature, with their own ability to become stronger in body and character! I just did my methods, to become the most secure and assured I could be in this rough world! Friendship's a weapon, and it's gotta be used!" She pounded her shadow wings like fists on the ground, sending Twilight, Luna and much snow flying. When they landed, Cozy detached the wings from her shadow form's body and molded them into cages to ensnare the two ponies.

"You're delusional, Cozy Glow!" Luna chided.

"Honesty, Laughter, Generosity, Kindness, Loyalty, Magic, those are a farce built on a misplaced sense of superiority." said Cozy. "Even if I have to play some mind games and engineer things, it's better to build relationships for strength, to rise up to those above me, than to kowtow to your patronizing ideals."

Twilight, having had enough of this crazy child's tirade, teleported out of the shadow cage to get behind her and dash off. Luna wasn't worried about being left behind, thanks to a wind manipulation spell she demonstrated to her insane little foe.

Applejack and Pinkie were trying to hide from Aurora Eclipse so they could wait for the most opportune moment of attack, but the dark alicorn made a joke out of the whole game of hide-and-seek.

"My magic sees all, lesser ones!" Eclipse called, using her x-ray spell on the trees and rocks. "At least look me in the eyes like real mares!" Her telekinesis removed the two earth ponies from where they took cover. They were frightened, but knew this wouldn't be easy.

"I'm sure glad the Starlight we know saw the error of her ways, because I always hated to imagine what she'd turn out to be if she didn't." said Applejack. "And now..."

"Now you know how much better, how much more beautiful, and how much more bold she was supposed to be!" Eclipse stated proudly. "We learned magic and gained power from the best, but only I am tapping into it's potential!" Without another word, without a warning, she shot a beam spell at the heroic mares before her.

Applejack and Pinkie tried to yell, but were cut off by the beam spell. It began to simultaneously scramble their brains. Their cutie marks were trying to leave their flanks, but struggled, as if it was possible, but not quite.

"Aw, geez!" Applejack groaned, holding her head. "Everything's getting fuzzy!" Right beside her, Pinkie was whistling while rocking back and forth from the same sensation.

"Well, this is interesting." said Eclipse at this new effect. "Applejack, let's get to our friends right away!" That sentence sounded like the voice of Twilight from the farm pony's point of view.

"Er-, right." Applejack responded in her dizzy state. It looked like the senses alteration spell worked just enough for Eclipse to render her enemy vulnerable, and easy to direct.

The evil pony gave the "lesser ones" boosts into the open with telekinesis, Applejack blissfully unaware of what was going to happen thanks to her currently susceptible mind. Pinkie, however...

"Step right up, evil fillies and gentlevillains!" the party pony announced, suddenly dressed in showman's garb. "I'll be your target for this evening! Try your luck!"

"What the..?" Eclipse muttered, baffled by this behaviour uncharacteristic of a brainwashing victim. She fired an energy beam at Pinkie, who dodged and rolled away on a pinwheel she pulled out of nowhere. Eclipse pulled it back with her telekinesis and sliced it in two with a magical horn blade. The earth pony had inexplicably slipped away and vanished at the very moment the strike was thrown.

"Haha!" Pinkie laughed at the alicorn's attempts atop a dead tree. A focued lightning bolt quickly came down on her spot, seemingly making contact and frying her. Not even a full second later, she popped out from under a rock completely untouched. "Missed me!" She chirped. Roots sprung viciously out of the hole she poked out of, intending to impale her from below. Once again, she appeared unharmed, and this time from a wilted bush. "Close, but no cherrychimichang-AAH!"

Eclipse grabbed telekinetic hold of Pinkie and wrapped her in the electric tether. Pinkie, within her oddball nature, resisted the shocks to make one more declaration.

"Hey, no cheating! Oh well, thanks for playing!" she shouted in the dark alicorn's ear, holding up a randomly materialized prize: a small, crudely-woven Grogar doll.

"How is your brain not scrambled?!" Eclipse growled, vaporizing the doll with an energy beam.

"Silly you..." Pinkie said before throwing a lemon pie in the echo's face and dropping out of her telekinetic grasp. "My brain's always scrambled!" She then took Applejack and got out of there.

Rarity and Spike desperately defended themselves from Chrysalis' assault. She spat a salvo of acid at them that they had jump for their lives from. Seeing them separated, the changeling aimed her crosshair at Spike. Rarity, on instinct, telekinetically lifted up a rock nearly her size and chucked it at Chrysalis before her beam hit the young dragon. The impact stung, but did little more than tick her off.

"We should've taken you prisoner while we had the chance!" said Spike, recalling when the former changeling queen was at her most helpless: the moment she was defeated by Thorax and Starlight.

"Yes, you should've!" Chrysalis mockingly agreed. "You practically gave me the opportunity to beat you!" She breathed out acid at Rarity in revenge for the rock throw.

Rarity blocked the stream of acidic fluid with her magical shield, but in just a second, it shattered from the force and sent her sliding back, leaving her sweating. Next, Chrysalis, in an expression of gleeful derision, shapeshifted into four Twilight Sparkles. Rarity and Spike both gasped in disgust at the sight of this act. The four fake Twilights laughed and fired energy beams down at both the unicorn and dragon. In a rage worthy of a fiery reptile, Spike exhaled his most ferocious and powerful wave of fire to hold the four beams back, but the struggle was darn-near one-sided.

Rarity saw a new window of opportunity here. Before the beams could hit her small dragon friend, she quickly dashed up to the fake Twilight's, jumped with all the strength her hooves could muster and poked one of them in the belly with her sharp horn. Chrysalis yelped from the sudden pain on her underside and changed back to normal immediately, cancelling her quadruple attack. Worse for her, Spike's fire breath rocketed right to her face and burned it, forcing an even more agonized sound out of her.

"MY FACE! MY ROYAL FACE!" Chrysalis howled in her literally blind rage, descending to the ground to bury her head in the snow. "You little... pony!"

"Do you know how much this day meant to Twilight?!" Rarity asked angrily.

"I'm well aware, I just don't give a rat's-" Chrysalis snarled in frustration.

"Do you know how much this day meant... to me?!" Rarity asked additionally through gritted teeth, her glare intensifying until it was colder than the Windigos' frost. Spike felt the fury. Chrysalis' response for this one was an energy beam to the face. Rarity waved her horn and deflected the shot at a rock upon the cliff. Following the hit, it looked like it could chip off any second.

Chrysalis charged head-on like a bull, only following where she could hear the fashionista. Rarity pressed forward herself and punctuated her every attack.

"I!" She punched Chrysalis with a fore hoof, causing her to twirl around and stagger back. "MADE!" Her shield spell returned and shoved the disoriented changeling into the cliff wall, threatening to squish her like the bug she was against it. "HER!" She telekinetically pulled the rock above downwards, sending it plummeting onto Chrysalis before any recovery could be made. "DRESS!" That last yell shook the snowy mountain to the point a snowball rolled down and fell onto the spot where Chrysalis was crushed. Finally, Rarity grabbed Spike and jumped down the cliff area before the ball crashed.

After they were gone, a pack of worms crawled out from the snow. Regrouping in that green fire, they were actually Chrysalis, damaged, but still on her hooves, and getting her sight back.

"Fools! I've taken worse today!" the changeling bellowed, then cackled.

Tirek lost sight of Rainbow Dash in the thick Windigo blizzard, but he managed to keep track of Fluttershy. She was not having any of the centaur's attitude, like a mouse standing up to a cat despite the circumstances.

"You think just because you have so much magic, so much power, so much... muscle, you're that tough?!" Fluttershy inquired indignantly. "Well, last time you were this big, you had to play with my friend's feelings to get his energy, and this time you hid behind someone stronger, because without others, you have nothing to back you up! Isn't that right?" The magic eater grabbed her with his hand and stared her down.

"I care not about surpassing that pony errand boy's ridiculous Chaos Magic." Tirek asserted. "Even the boss can't use it the way he could. I just want closure on the shame you ponies have made me live with, so I can fulfill my destiny with renewed warrior's glory!"

"There's no glory in preying on those smaller and weaker than you." Fluttershy argued.

"I alone was smaller and weaker than you and your pals combined." Tirek mentioned. "My associates and I have only leveled the playing field." He did not allow Fluttershy to reply again, slowly squeezing her like a stress ball. The rising pain in the kind pegasus' rose higher and higher. She was a moment away from shrieking, when something caught the centaur off-guard.

Rainbow flew into Tirek at her remarkable speed and, with the hit being so unexpected, shoved him into the frozen lake and loosened his grip on Fluttershy. Fluttershy evaded the drops of the giant splash to grab onto her fellow pegasus' hooves.

"Hope I didn't keep you waiting long." said Rainbow.

"Right on time, actually." Fluttershy said back.

"Okay, stay close, and we'll reconvene with the others in 10 seconds flat!" Rainbow claimed, starting her flight back with Fluttershy.

The lake split apart and steamed from the potency of Tirek's searing hot energy generation. He let out a bestial battle cry, followed by a kangaroo jump out.

The villainous tetrad had been gathering back together without noticing it. Cozy chased down Twilight, binding her down by conjuring her magic clone, hooves wrapped tightly, on top of her. Then, as if swatting a fly, she slammed her shadow wing on to the seemingly defenseless alicorn. A moment to grin victoriously was ruined by Luna digging her horn into the shadow form and telekinetically yanking Cozy's true body out.

"I'd stand down if I were you, child." Luna said to the pegasus filly, wrapping her in a tight magical bubble.

Chrysalis pursued Rarity and Spike down the mountain. The duo had an idea on how to lose her. The young dragon flapped his wings in unison with the unicorn jumping, for extra height, just at the moment the rogue changeling fired an energy beam. She flew under them and didn't catch when a ball of fire was spat out to strike her right in the tail. Chrysalis screamed over the burn all the down to her crash landing. Tirek just so happened to land nearby and send her rolling a few feet.

Pinkie sped onto the scene with Applejack, whom was beginning to regain her natural composure.

"Whoa, what in tarnation?!" Applejack cried out in confusion.

"Tell you later!" said Pinkie. A turquoise blur sped by to the front of the party pony's path. Eclipse had caught up with the Accelero spell, and her horn flaring up for a fiery spell. All of a sudden, Pinkie's tail twitched. Her Pinkie Senses were going off.

"Oh, is your tail cold?" Eclipse sarcastically asked with a faux sisterly voice. "Good!" She raised up her head, which was then hit by a falling rock. It seemed that rock she launched into orbit earlier trying to hit Pinkie came back for revenge. She fell on the ground, growling in pain.

Pinkie ran past all of the villains, getting lucky enough that Tirek took a moment to heal up Chrysalis (again) and Eclipse, and Cozy was breaking out of Luna's bubble. The filly, teeth gnashing, popped her prison using protruding shadow spikes, plus much effort. Luna didn't take this sitting down, nor did Spike give them a moment of reprieve. Energy and fire surrounded the tetrad.

"I hate these guys! Do they have to be so annoying?!" Cozy growled at the inconvenience they suffered.

"Not annoying!" Chrysalis corrected, catching something more concerning in the corner of her eye. "Distracting!" Her hooves pointed to Twilight and her five friends hastily gathering in one spot. She wasted no time in firing an energy beam their way, thus their attempt to light up friendship's all-powerful magic was prevented.

Eclipse teleported around them and blew them apart again with a magical shock wave. Twilight quickly got back up on her feet to come face-to-face with Tirek.

"Nice try..." Tirek snarked. Smiling wickedly, he cracked his neck and channeled his orange magic into shooting waves of spiked rocks at Twilight. She flew with grace past them, picking up a few with her telekinesis in the hopes of throwing them at the centaur, but didn't expect him to pound the ground with a magically-charged fist. BOOM! A flaming, earthly burst blew her away.

Applejack released her lasso at Rarity from a good distance, hoping to pull each other close. Eclipse sliced the rope and telekinetically threw the farm pony like a ball before any progress could be made. Chrysalis shapeshifted into two adult dragons and breathed explosive blasts of fire to easily keep Pinkie, Rainbow and Luna at bay. Fluttershy, panicked, flied the fastest she ever had before to get to her friends, but she was met halfway by Cozy.

"Now now, professor." said Cozy, all snakelike. "You know as well as we all do that you're not the fast one." The quick diversion distracted Fluttershy enough that she could not see Cozy's shadow form before bumping into it. The good pegasus could only feebly yell at the filly's next action: absorbing her into the darkness construct, ultimately ejecting her with a deafening belch. Rainbow was quick to catch the poor kind one.

"ENOUGH!" Chrysalis yelled impatiently. The ponies faced her with a mixture of worry and annoyance. "No more grief..." She took out a hostage, Spike, holding him by his wings. "Or the baby dragon's wings get plucked!" He grunted at his back appendages getting yanked.

Twilight ran up and looked on in horror, only having one plea to spare. "NO! Please, don't hurt him!"

"Spike!" Rarity cried in distress.

"Don't worry about me!" Spike hollered, tears dripping down his eyes. "Just defeat them, n-" Chrysalis sadistically pulled harder on his wings. "OW!" was the only semblance of a word that could leave his mouth.

"Personally, i'd prefer a part that rolls." said Tirek, pointing down at the suffering little reptile.

"You cowards!" Luna chided the tetrad. She wanted to do something, but she knew that she couldn't. The powerlessness overcame her judgment.

"Put him down! We'll surrender!" Twilight begged.

"Oh no, smartyboots! He's too good an incentive!" Chrysalis chortled horrifically, no compliance.

Twilight and the others couldn't risk igniting their Elements of Harmony power here. It wouldn't be worth taking these four malefactors down if it meant Spike, their dear friend and the Princess of Friendship's beloved brother, would end up in a worse ordeal. In hope for his well-being, they ceased their attack and stayed apart.

"So all it takes for the Magic of Friendship to relent is the endangerment of a loved one." Eclipse mused. "How predictable. But I can't complain."

"All's fair in war, Twilight." Tirek commented smugly. "If only you hardened your heart a long time ago, like a soldier."

"And so, you're right where we want you." Cozy said delightedly. "Equestria's a diseased and incorrigible mess, you have no protection left, and best of all: friendship has been turned against you."

"Don't worry, though. We'll leave enough of you for our dear emperor." Eclipse proclaimed.

Tirek and Eclipse charged up their offensive energy, Cozy prepared to throw a drilling shadow wing strike, and Chrysalis' mouth bubbled with acid. They were triumphant... or so they thought for a moment, until Twilight casted a spell. It was just like her former mentor's, an instant, bright flash of light. The villains were blinded and groaning. Spike, his eyes too shut tight from his pulled wings to be affected the same, was dropped.

"You rotten..!" Tirek growled.

"My face! Stop! Hurting! My face!" Chrysalis roared like an animal.

Right behind the hurting tetrad, a yellow and black Malice portal opened up on a nearby crag, overlooking the scene. Streams of magical energy jetted out of it and hit the ground between the heroic ponies, just before they could regroup yet again. The marks of the attack made fields of that ghastly magic between them and the tetrad. Tirek instantly healed up himself and the others, muttering "I'm running out of healing force." Their restored sight saw the Malice Magic, and then they turned to see the portal, out of which came Grogar, for all to see.

"It seems I arrived early." Grogar surmised, stroking his beard.

"We were just on the precipice of victory!" Chrysalis called up to him, teeth bared. "The job's almost done!"

"About time you stopped hiding, Grogar!" Twilight derided after teleporting herself and her friends past the Malice barriers. "Your underlings fought hard, but they can't win if we never give up! Whatever's going on in Equestria, as long as I have my friends by my side, i'll put my faith in friendship and crush all who oppose-" Abruptly putting an end to her speech was the sight of Fluttershy flying up to Grogar with the intention of attacking him. "Wha- Fluttershy, wait!"

"Fluttershy!" Rainbow, also noticing, cried.

"GIVE HIM BACK!" the otherwise sweet and soft pegasus bellowed at the ram sorcerer, not just in rage, but in deep, impassioned hatred. Her means of hitting him was throwing a snowball, then delivering a flying kick. The snowy projectile didn't even make him flinch, and whatever the kick might've done, it was negated by Grogar effortlessly stopping her with a loud, horrible sound from his Bell. She backed off while holding her ears, unable to take it.

"Let's be businesslike for a minute, everypony." he suggested calmly. "I'm here to return this to the sender." What he referred to was an unconscious, shriveled up, desaturated, rather tall unicorn with a pink mane, levitated by him on full display.

Twilight, Luna and their allies looked at this pony for half a second before realizing who it was. This was Celestia. Luna remembered this as her original form, from the life she left behind a millenia ago. Looking at her in such a miserable state, her worry-born anger over her sister's departure waned. Twilight, though she knew Celestia was taking a losing gamble, still thought she would somehow come back, perfectly well. The Princess of the Sun lived for so long, she had to be too tough to go down. Right? What wishful thinking from a young mortal.

"It was just how she lived; dreaming, but not thinking." said Grogar in lament. He dropped Celestia's body on the ground from his greater height, making sure it landed with an audible thud. All of the heroes reacted in shock, but Twilight and Luna were in extreme anguish. The once-proud Princess was rushed to by her former student, who promptly wailed for her.


"The sister goes next, now that her purpose has been served." Grogar stated, lifting Luna up to himself with his Malice telekinesis. His expression shaped into something mournful, almost like it emotionally hurt to do what he was about to do.

"Purpose?" Luna said under her breath, too lost in trauma. The Bewitching Bell rang for the assimilation of her core. The spell was just about to happen, but what went unnoticed was the small sparkles of Harmony energy protecting her body from the Malice. In reaction to it's opposite force, the magic spiked up around Luna, and Twilight too. A beam was forced out of the younger alicorn's horn, a beam that made for Luna. Then the Night Princess was gone.

"What's this?" Grogar gasped.

"Argh, it's that irritating spark again!" Tirek grumbled.

"Harmony Magic has made it out here?" Grogar guessed. He felt the power surge from Twilight and presumed "Why, the Tree has given you a gift.' His telekinetic power quickly picked at the young alicorn's mane, plucked the branch out and drew it towards his face.

Twilight and her friends looked up at the tiny object. She realized "That's what been saving us. Must've fallen off before..."

Grogar clasped his fore hooves together, crushing the branch into microscopic pieces. The ponies winced at their inanimate saviour being reduced to dust.

"I see. The Tree may have gotten resistant since Sombra shattered it, but an individual piece is easily broken." Grogar affirmed.

"Enough t-talk, let's g-get on with it!" Cozy complained in a state of shivering.

"Who the hay do you think you are?!" Applejack vehemently questioned the ram sorcerer. She and the others watched him jump down the crag and hit the group's level with a powerful landing.

Grogar used Star Swirl's magic to stop time around him, the six ponies and the little dragon. Strangely, he casually sat down as if he wanted to engage in a casual conversation. He also used Cadance's magic to keep each of them stuck away from one another, before he provided a reply.

"Where were my manners back there?" he asked himself. "It's good to properly see you face-to-face, Princess Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkamena Diane Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash."

"What is this?!" Rarity snarled in angered confusion. "You hurt Celestia, and you want to chat?! Don't insult us!"

"It'll be a minute." said Grogar patiently. He was silent for a few seconds, inquisitive. "I've been here before. You remind me so much... of her." His mind changed the sight of Twilight in his eyes to a distant memory - one of the unicorn who defeated him millennia ago: Gusty the Great, a snow white mare with a loose, green and red mane and tail, and a Cutie Mark of leaves blowing over a wind current. The flashback ended when Grogar finally said "When Gusty defeated me, I thought that I may as well have ceased to exist. But she actually gave me a wonderful gift."

"Gift? What kind of gift would a legendary hero beloved by foals have to give to you?!" Twilight queried.

"Here's a hint: i've known you, every last one of you, since you were born." Grogar implied. The ponies and Spike's irises shrunk in surprise over their immediate realization of his words. "In the stars, i've watched you, studied you, learned your strengths and weaknesses, and helped craft challenges for you and your allies, by which I could research the key to breaking the cycle."

"What are you talking about, Groangar?" Rainbow asked insultingly.

"Despite my imprisonment, I had a little power both in the sky and through small avatars on the surface." Grogar explained. "Before they, the Horses of the Apocalypse, could run, I gave them the means to walk. The magic-disspelling stone, the disturbance that removed my son Cerberus from his post, a secret mail service between Tartarus and Ponyville, and lessons in magic no school of Celestia's could offer, for one's mission to eliminate Cutie Marks."

"Wait, Horses? Only two of them are ponies." Pinkie pointed out.

"Quite." said Grogar without looking at her.

"You're telling me, you gave Chrysalis... you helped Tirek... you allowed Cozy... and you taught magic to... to..." Twilight stammered. Her mind felt like it was going off like a fireworks finale.

"Like you, they and I grew in failure followed by success." Grogar continued. "Speaking of which, the cracks in this harmonious epoch have been exposed, as they should've been generations ago. Your pony kin are already beginning to notice as well. This is their country. They won't wait for a higher power before they're advancing forward with the most important, but most unsung, partner."

"Their country? You mean yours, don't ya?" Applejack corrected disdainfully. All she got in return was a hearty laugh from the old blue creature.

"Laugh it up while you can, and spout whatever wannabe world changer claptrap you want! Friendship knows no rival!" Twilight retorted fiercely. The end of her sentence also marked the end of the time stopping spell.

"You know what's stronger than friendship, Twilight?" Grogar asked. His voice raised from 0 to 100 at the single word he shouted next. "FEAR!" The force of his voice broke Twilight and her friends from their crystal bonds and sent them flying back to the tetrad.

"That's right, because when you have to protect yourself, you have no time for anycreature else!" said Tirek. As his partners grabbed the rest of Twilight's group, by means of telekinesis and shadow wings, he lifted up the Friendship Princess by her wings with only his fingers and meaty thumb. His magic drain also worked again, absorbing the vitality out of the six victims.

"The moment doubt takes over, it comes to light how "different" and "unique" you small folk can be really be!" Eclipse remarked, adding thrillingly sarcastic hints to her tone.

"And you don't even need a pinch of dark magic to know it!" Chrysalis gladly mentioned, knowing she was taking a certain late king's name in vain.

"Too bad you never taught that in school, ex-Headmare!" Cozy laughed. On that note, she and her teammates initiated the finishing moves on their restricted targets.

They were sure they had won right here and now, but something delayed their victory again. Tirek's body vigorously rejected something. He coughed at a surprising volume, and his mouth released balls of life force. Seven were released. Six went back into the ponies, one flew off into the distance. The four villains lost their grips and stumbled around.

"Whoa, T! Take a cough drop!" Cozy scolded.

"Not.." Tirek coughed more quietly. "My fault." He looked at the re-energized heroes and narrowed his eyes in disappointment. "Argh, what good is draining life force if this happens?!" He and his three comrades prepared their attacks once again, but the heat of the moment didn't help them notice Twilight's team teleport away.

"Don't you get it?!" Twilight shouted, now behind the tetrad with her friends. Flying several feet off the ground with her wings, she fired a rather powerful beam from her horn as a warning sign. "Inside us is the very power of the Elements of Harmony themselves! As long as it's bound to our essence, we're unstoppable!"

Chrysalis blasted Twilight with acid, it was blocked. Cozy tried a combo of her clone and her wings attacking at once, still nothing. Tirek fired an energy, no effect. Eclipse used her senses reversal spell, and all that happened was a brief lightshow. The young princess wasn't giving in.

"As long as the likes of you are evil and friendless, you will always fail!" said Twilight, crackling with raw power that warded off the four enemies. "Your numbers mean nothing! Your shortcuts to power mean nothing! We built what we have through years of effort, love and reason, and we earned it, together!" Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew up to join hooves with her. "It's been said before, and i'll say it until the memo sticks!" Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie rose on their hind hooves to take hold as well.

During the lengthy speech, Tirek looked at Grogar, silently praying for assistance in this troublesome predicament. Grogar recognized this, lit up his horns, threw his head forward and launched a Malice energy beam forward. It zipped past the towering centaur, and just before friendship's ultimate power could illuminate the blizzard-covered land...

"Friendship. IS-!" Twilight announced, her last syllable rising to a cracking pitch before she was silenced. The blazing hot, high-power Malice beam hit her right in the face and burst like inflamed gas all over her.

Everything around the princess went silent. The world seemed to go into slow motion as she flew back from her friends at the rate of a jet, covered in Malice's glow. With a hard bang, her body smacked into a wall covered in snow and fell to the ground with a blanket of the crystallized water above and below. No grunts came from her. The rest of the friend circle just registered what happened and looked at her lying in defeat.

"TWILIGHT!" all of them simultaneously screamed in frightful worry, soon making a mad dash to her aid.

"You know what to do!" said Grogar to the tetrad.

At long last, without any further delays, nothing left to get in their way, the Horses of the Apocalypse dealt the ending blows. Cozy squeezed the ponies and dragon forcefully in her shadow feather, and Chrysalis, Tirek and Eclipse joined their magical charges to blast them with an amplified beam of green, orange and turquoise. Snow and dust were kicked, and a long crater had been formed. But something else came up before it all cleared. A whirlwind of purple and blue magic came out of nowhere around where their shots landed. It expanded for a few seconds before it zipped off into the distance and cleared the snow and dust cover.

"Oh, what now?!" Chrysalis groaned loudly.

"I don't know, but... we got them, didn't we?" said Cozy, rolling her eyes at the grouchy changeling.

"The stain has been cleaned." Tirek commented.

"Who's tornado was that?" Eclipse asked. "Because i'm telling you, that isn't my colour."

"Luna." Grogar stated, approaching the front of the tetrad's spot. "She made a last-ditch effort to help them escape."

"So, where does that fit into your master plan, old-timer?" Chrysalis sarcastically inquired.

"I shall not deny, this is a setback. The Tree of Harmony made a good play." Grogar admitted, grunting in annoyance. "If they got away, Arimaspi's Eye will track them down."

"Well, in that case, get it out and whisk them back over here!" Cozy implored.

Grogar focused his Malice Magic, and within seconds, his crystal ball was sitting right before him. His fore hoof orbited the orb with expectation.

"Arimaspi's Eye, show me Twilight Sparkle and her champions of friendship." Grogar chanted. An image came on the Eye. It looked vaguely like ponies arriving somewhere, but to the surprise of the ram sorcerer, it was highly obstructed by a bright, white and blue light. "Hmm? It can't be! Arimaspi's Eye is blinded!"

"Blinded, your majesty?" Eclipse questioned.

"Show me the source of this problem!" Grogar ordered to the Eye. It image changed to a dark abyss, where a light of the same shade and hue was taking the form of a heart. "Ah, how interesting. This isn't the Tree's work."

"Come on, teleport it!" Chrysalis demanded.

"I do not know where this is coming from, nor if it is an object I can bring over, Chrysalis." Grogar patiently answered. He sent Arimaspi's Eye away, done with it for the time being. "I'll get to the bottom of this. As for Twilight's bunch, they still walk, but not on Equestrian soil anymore."

"I doubt that they'll get far." said Tirek. "That blast you threw really took it all out of that goody-goody."

"Yes, that is my play." Grogar remarked. "No force besides hearts of pure darkness can truly fight back the poison of my Malice. Not only may Twilight feel her magic fade, and her sanity slip away, but a disconnect from the Elements is now in effect, and before long, the pain will take it's toll on any hope or courage she ever wanted to hold on to. In the end, they will not last as friends if their synergy, their shared belief, is broken."

"Sounds like the perfect test, that they'll never pass." said Eclipse. "A hostile fallout; not a bad ending to their childish story."

"No friendship, no magic.' Cozy chortled. "That's good enough for me."

"I feel your pain, little ponies." Chrysalis spoke under her breath. "Running away in disgrace, lost in the woods, no home, no power, nothing to eat, nocreature to turn to, wasting away waiting for either the end of it all or the dumbest stroke of luck to pick you up. For that... we are even."

"Then I suppose this is where we go our separate ways." Tirek presumed. "I'm ready to go."

"First thing's first." Cozy reminded. "Tirek, you are the strongest and most lionhearted creature i've ever had the good fortune of being the protégé to. Your warrior spirit is fit for a king, and I hope it inspires more hardened fighters to come."

"Oh, you're just saying that, kid." Tirek scoffed, but unable to hide the signs of appreciation in his eyes.

"I can see you winning a good queen and a lot of fans with your pragmatism, musculature and healing technique." Eclipse added. Then she and Cozy tilted their heads from him to Chrysalis.

"If you say so..." Tirek began. "Chrysalis, your skills of deception and changing form are most impressive, and truthfully, you are a creature who's never part of a dull moment. You deserve your kingdom."

"I know. But do you think i'm..?" Chrysalis hissed. She eyed her associates, who all just stared at her in anticipation. Even Grogar gave the impression of do not delay the inevitable, and finally, the changeling sighed in resignation. "Among all the ponies who've occupied my space, you two... have proven to be the least intolerable. Thank you for your usefulness. THERE, HAPPY?!" In embarrassment, she turned her now bright red muzzle.

"Eh, i'll take what I can get." Cozy accepted with a shrug.

"Last thing before you go: while I uncover the mystery of the light in Arimaspi's Eye, i'll send a monster squad after Princess Twilight's team and Luna." Grogar informed. "I've already ordered your squads to march on to the unguarded dragon lands, changeling hive, Yakyakistan and Mount Aris. Choose your destination."

"The rightful queen is coming home!" Chrysalis yelled, immediately flying off into the cold, windy evening.

"I'll take the Hippogriff land. There's a been a vacancy since that Storm King guy fell." Eclipse decided before she left as well.

"The dragons are made of stern stuff. Perfect spot for the throne... of King Tirek." Tirek thought out loud. "Boss, Cozy, farewell." And he sprung out of there with a final kangaroo jump.

"I guess Yakyakistan's a nice, remote place for my new, better School of Friendship." said Cozy.

"Consider it a free gift. Look forward to a bonus that'll go out to all of you, for a destiny fulfillment well done." Grogar kindly proposed.

"Cool!" Cozy cooed.

"A return of the favour for setting me free from my millennia-long prison." Grogar thanked. Cozy's eyes widened in correlation with the thought Oh my gosh, those hero ponies were right!

"Thank you, Mr. Grogar!" Cozy, in her natural form, cheered, hugging the ram in an uncharacteristically loving fashion. "You're great in my book. Mmm." She realized the way she was acting and backed away in shock. "N-no, no fuzzy feelings! I'm evil! Rar! Mwahaha!" Then silently, awkwardly, she covered back up in her shadow and flew away as the ram sorcerer disappeared into a portal.

After they were gone, Rusty Bucket returned, sensing the coast was clear, and picked up the life-deprived Celestia with all of his strength.

Thorax and his changeling army made haste for Equestria, but halfway there, they were intercepted by a squad of Grogar's monsters and zombies, led by the Maulwurf and the Ophiotaurus. They all shapeshifted into the strongest creatures they could think of to fight back, but the numbers and strength of the beasts were more than a match for them. Not one changeling could slip past.

"Where did they all these guys come from?" Pharynx, the elder broodmate of Thorax, wondered, strained from the fighting.

"They must've known we were coming!" Thorax guessed. "I don't know how, but..." He then noticed something else. Many of the monsters were running, jumping and flying past his forces and heading where he and the others just came from. This brought a dreadful expectation to mind. "The hive! A Team, back to the hive! B-Team, hold them off!" He flew back to his home with Pharynx and a bunch of his subjects.

When he and his squad returned to the lavish, highly vegetated place he called home, the monsters and zombies were tearing it down. As peace-loving as he was, Thorax wasn't going to let this stand. However, this wasn't his only obstacle.

"Thorax, my insubordinate subordinate!" Chrysalis venomously called from above.

"Chrysalis!" Thorax shouted, most unpleased to see his old leader back in his territory.

"It's been a while since we last spoke, for my liking!" Chrysalis reminisced, oozing with hatred. "You've kept the royal seat warm long enough!"

"This will be your only warning!" Thorax threatened. He transformed into a giant mantis-spider hybrid, same colour scheme as his regular self, and flew up to Chrysalis viciously.

The evil changeling one-upped him by turning into four giant, flying snakes. An advancement of changeling shapeshifting took Thorax by surprise, only making a wide opening for Chrysalis to catch him in her multitude of coils, painfully squeezing his body. He changed into a hummingbird to swiftly get away, but then the rogue turned into a swarm of bees, catching him in a ramming attack that dragged his tiny form down. His next move was to become a black bear and climb to the top of the hive. He made it, and was ready to deal a claw swipe to Chrysalis. He witnessed her coming in fast and transforming into two battering ram timbers, both of which smashed into him like missiles and sent him across the floor.

Chrysalis changed back and spat her sticky, acidic slime at the downed (also back to normal) changeling leader, then listened to his tortured screams, followed by telekinetically pulling on the usurper's antlers to proclaim "For your crimes against your queen, you will feed her for all eternity." She noticed Pharynx trying to pull a sneak attack on her, but he couldn't get past the Maulwarf or a Twittermite swarm, no matter what he changed into.

"You're back." said one of the changelings across from Thorax. "And Thorax is defeated."

"Run!" Thorax desperately ordered. "She's too strong, get out of here!"

"No, we won't run." another of the changelings said. "We stand our ground here and now, to say something."

"What would that be?" Chrysalis asked with a raised eyebrow.

The changelings before her, seemingly wearing faces of courage despite all fear, cracked smiles paired with their glaring eyes to convey feelings more... devious. They spoke what was on their mind. "Long live Queen Chrysalis!"

"WHAT?!" Thorax shrieked, now mentally harmed.

"We don't have to humor this softie's lame-o traditions anymore!" one of the rogue changelings declared happily, and genuinely. "We are changelings: deceivers, takers of love! Nothing mushy!"

Queen Chrysalis, now possessing the knowledge that loyalists remained in her hive, waiting for her return, smiled more joyfully than she ever had since she lost her throne. Her eyes shed tears, and out of her mouth came laughter both euphoric and maniacal in how it sounded. Her day was getting better in a way that she definitely considered a pleasant surprise. Around the land, the monsters were gathering up the other traitors. The sky darkened on cue with this turn of events.

In the distance, there was an exception, and it met another. Pharynx got away and happened to bump into young Ocellus.

The dragon lands were hardly faring better. As strong and sturdy as the fire-spewing, barbed-tailed dragons were, the oncoming assault by creatures such as the Hydra and the Sphinx gave them a run for their bits. Within minutes, the majority of them were rounded up, and their volcanic region was under siege by Tirek and his squad. Ember, the only one who could break away, realized she couldn't challenge the centaur's might alone.

"As of today, dragons, you are subjects of my kingdom!" Tirek declared. "The New Midnight Kingdom, where you serve me, either as lowly servants or elite warriors!"

Some other creatures across the dragon lands heard his words. They came flying in from a mountain in a vast herd, roaring triumphantly. These were seemingly dragons, but unlike the more commonly seen species, they had no arms or fore legs, only long and broad wings. They looked quite malicious.

"Wyverns, today's the day we rise up in the ranks!" said one of the armless lizards. His wyvern brothers and sisters helped the monsters and zombies with subduing their dragon neighbours, much to Tirek's delight.

Ember had long since resumed her trek to Equestria. She heard a 'Psst!" behind some rocks, and thought it wise to follow that sound. Whom she had to thank for this was Smolder.

The hippogriffs fought their hardest against the monstrous squad of Eclipse, but the ferocity outmatched them by a long shot, especially from the Bugbear and Tatzlwurm. Deep in the chaotic battle, Queen Novo and General Seaspray were coming to an agreement. He would need to quietly escape and look for help, while the queen needed to stay with her people for the sake of their spirits. She'd be the one to take the storm the dark alicorn was cooking up.

"As promised, my equal reign begins anew!" Eclipse announced. She laughed crazily as her magic darkened the sky, kicked up the wind and covered the ocean, the home of the seaponies, in lowered storm clouds. The sight of her made the helpless hippogriffs flash back to the face, and the laughter, of the fallen satyr tyrant they feared for so long. That dark time was coming back, full swing.

"Charge!" a brainwashed Crystal Royal Guardsstallion yelled, trotting with his fellow soldiers onto Mount Aris. To see ponies attacking like this added to the newfound terror.

Seaspray looked back at his home, hurting inside from the familiarity of this horrible situation. Halfway to Equestria, around Klugetown, he encountered Silverstream.

The big and seemingly unstoppable yaks were stopped in their tracks by Cozy's determined squad. For every beast or zombie they could smash, yaks would be blown away and burned en mass by the Roc and the unpetrified Chimera. Prince Rutherford tried to attack the wicked filly head on, to no effect against her shadow form. He picked up on the futility of his efforts and reluctantly ran away to Equestria alone, bulldozing whatever came in his path.

"School's in session, friends!" Cozy stated to the crowd within Yakyakistan. Above a spot lined with yak huts, a massive portal opened, and magic poured out of it. This power began constructing a building, multiple stories, covered in crystals and labeled with the prodigy's Chess rook Cutie Mark.

"Ms. Glow, Emperor Grogar's informed us that your secondary unit has hunted down and collected the School of Friendship students." the chimera's tiger head reported. "Also this annoying unicorn in a hat." Cozy clapped her fore hooves repeatedly in excitement.

Rutherford left Yakyakistan behind, running through the snow with every ounce of energy he could muster. On the way, he met Yona, who joined him in his rush.

Gallus, on his way back to Griffonstone, took a good look at the white winter spirits of wind swimming around Equestria's sky. He couldn't believe what he was looking at, not even for a millisecond.

"The Windigos... but how?!" Gallus yelped. He thought he was having a bad dream, or he was unwittingly teleported into a storybook. No, he knew where he was, and they came. "What's going on?!" His flight continued, trepidation boosting him forward.

The corrupted Treehouse of Harmony suddenly surged with new light. A magical heart shape formed around it's branches, and the faint sound, one of a tiny child, could be heard from it's trunk. It wasn't enough to wipe away the Malice cracks and lightning, but the Tree was able to do something slightly beneficial. Harmony Magic spread all over Equestria's ground, reaching as far as the borders, to form a force field. It was enough to keep the Windigo's blizzard from going out of the country, but no way was it stopping what they were doing inside.

The Windigos, feasting off the pony clans hiding from, hating, conspiring against and violently defying one another for their survival and places in Equestria, increased their blizzard to heights never before seen in all of history. Cities like Las Pegasus, Manehattan and Cloudsdale were ravaged by the pressure of icy tornados. Frozen tsunamis occurred at every bay in the land. Rapid lightning strikes pelted the open plains and tallest peaks. On top of this, the Malice within the world's core was causing earthquakes. It was a disaster zone.

Grogar watched the storm with a good view, and the eerily majestic wind creatures up close, from a balcony atop the protected Tambelon Castle's keep. As he enjoyed the culmination of his plan, the thought struck him. There's the name of my new child.

"This new beast will be my new masterpiece! They shall be the emblem of this monumental day; the fateful deconstruction, the wake-up call, the foundation of a nation free from instruction, unfair weaknesses and writing in stone!" he said. "Havoc!" Finally, his Bewitching Bell rung and ripped open a swirling portal of smokey darkness. "Now Phantom Zone, accept these offerings! Doom this tainted magic to eternal intermixture!" The cores of Star Swirl, Cadance, Discord, the Crystal Heart, and the fiery orange one of Celestia drifted out of the Bell and into the portal. It closed shortly after.

Though the cores he assimilated were now gone, the ram sorcerer could still feel the knowledge of the owners' magic in his brain. He couldn't perform Chaos Magic anymore without Discord's, but he had a certain insight of it's workings, substantial and processed without any instability issues. Back to the comforting interior of his castle he walked, certain he had a new, perfect recipe at the ready.

The Windigos raged on, the Treehouse of Harmony was getting by with what little power it had, Grogar and the Horses of the Apocalypse had fulfilled what they considered their final destinies, the last of the School of Friendship's free students were yearning more than ever to gather the world's leaders, the Cutie Mark Crusaders had nowhere to go but down into the basement of the scariest city, and wherever Twilight and the gang were, they were far out of reach. Their home fell to pieces around them, and now they may have nothing to return to.

As unity gave birth to Equestria in ancient days, division has begotten it's demise. Replacing it? A bitter wasteland, and equines at war.

To be continued...

Author's Note:

And with that, i've already established a new word benchmark, though by such a small margin. More importantly though, Part 2 of The End of an Era comes to a dire conclusion. This isn't simply a case of the heroes getting knocked down and villains almost winning, the heroes have (for the most part) been defeated, and the villains have gotten just about everything they wanted. Ladies and gentlemen, we've hit the critical low points of the heroes' journey.

While still on that matter, we speak once again about the Windigos. I remember when I saw that trailer for FiM's series finale and saw that the Windigos were going to appear, and being very interested. Besides a G1 villain as popular as Grogar (seemingly) coming back, to see the evil spirits of Equestrian legend play a role at the end of the show, returning as the land regressed to it's coldest time was a really big deal. It made the wait exciting, to see what they (along with the villain alliance) were going to do when the time for this prime time special finally arrived. After all was said and I done, i'm like... you know what would've been great to see them do? Anything! So I grabbed my golden gauntlet, snapped my fingers and voila! The Windigos do some serious damage, as expected! By the way, if you're wondering why their snowfall doesn't seem to be threatening to freeze the central characters or make them sick, I just didn't want to break the story flow with a bunch of sneezing or cold stuttering.

When I was typing down where the pony clans were making their safe settlements away from harm, particularly from each other, I had just noticed the allusion I was making to A New Generation. The earth pony and unicorn places were swapped when I first wrote down that part of the chapter, which led to me, in the end, deciding to go full-on intentional and obvious with the shout-out.

Now, here's a bit of information I want to make crystal clear about Cozy Glow. What she says, what she feels, is meant to be in the wrong. It's just how the definitions and values of friendship in this world, as taught by Twilight Sparkle and her Council on their many adventures and in their various School classes, are perceived by her psycho kid mind. I'm clearly not writing her with the expectation that readers could understand and empathize with her point of view, because the dialogue is written for the purpose of illustrating the immature and out-of-touch villain she is.

The consequence of Twilight getting hit by Grogar's Malice Magic beam is a note for next chapter. But what I want to say about Malice is that for months, I debated with myself whether to make it so his telekinesis would have the potential to poison his victims, or not. Ultimately, I decided yes, it's as poisonous as his blasts and other spells he can do with it. Also, it's about time I mentioned that, as you may or may not have noticed, although the tetrad have Malice in their cores, and the zombies are animated by the stuff, they still use their natural magic, which can still be negated, because it's acting as just a battery. Simply a choice for the sake of balancing things out.

Now, you might think the whole revelation that some of the reformed changelings were actually complete Chrysalis loyalists kind of came out of nowhere. Well, besides me sort of hinting at this in a brief line from the previous chapter, the idea didn't seem too out of the realm of possibility within the show. Thorax mentioned renegade changelings, which he later converted to the hive's new ways, but.. what if (besides Pharynx) they never truly let go of what they once were, and were only humouring Thorax's demands until he was deposed by either a new, more ruthless leader, or their insanely evil old one?

The wyverns are an addition I made to slightly expand on the dragon lands and provide supporters of Tirek besides the monsters and zombies. Basically, they're cousins of the dragons that have always been ignored and treated as second-class because of them being smaller and weaker. With what they do here, and Tirek's comment about a part of Spike that "rolls", yeah, if Grogar gets a G1 incarnation callback, so does this big guy.

More details about Grogar's Phantom Zone will be revealed in later chapters, but I owe you folks an explanation as to why it's even a thing. Fellower MLP rewriter SuperPinkBrony12 heard from somewhere, I don't know where (nor am I certain how to search for the original source of information) that the early draft for Season 9's premiere two-parter, The Beginning of the End, introduced an unused concept going by the name "the Phantom Zone". It was meant to be a pocket dimension that the Student 6 would get trapped in. I thought it sounded like a fun concept that would help a story go bigger, go harder in presenting the ultimate challenge to the heroes. So, this is my implementation of that element. I just made it a pocket dimension housing a magic hodgepodge instead.

Okay, it's about time I talked about a fun hypothetical. Back in the first chapter of Part 2 (Chapter 5), I replaced the Friendship is Magic theme song with a shortened version of Better Way to Be Bad. I imagine that if this were on television, that would be the case after Part 1 to show who are currently the dominant players. Yes, the "I will rule this triad" part is less relevant thanks to the addition of Aurora Eclipse (and Grogar being real), but that's a minor detail, I think. Now, for the end credits, I envision them playing not to the shortened FiM theme, but to Grogar's leitmotif for every part except the last.

And yes, in the universe of the rewrite, Grogar has been behind most of the battles that Twilight and company had fought throughout the series. This was inspired by a rumour of an idea FiM's original showrunner, Lauren Faust, had in mind for a future story arc before she left. One where a mysterious entity was responsible for the creation of Nightmare Moon and Discord's freedom. Well, my interpretation of Grogar has done the opposite, and much more to be the catalyst of so many two-parters. That whole idea may have never actually been officially said or even thought of by Faust at all, but I still thought it was worth putting to text.