• Member Since 21st Nov, 2019
  • offline last seen 4 hours ago

StacheHand


I am a longtime fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic who loves Pinkie Pie, drawing, typing stories and having a good laugh.

E

The day of Princess Twilight Sparkle's coronation, her ascension to ruler of all Equestria, has arrived! But what was meant to be a beautiful day of celebration turns into the greatest disaster in Equestrian history. Chrysalis, Tirek, Cozy Glow and the shadow of a past enemy have been hard at work turning pony against pony and studying the ultimate power of Grogar's Bewitching Bell. Grogar himself has acquired an artifact once thought to be kept away from the wrong hands (or hooves) forever, hoping to use it for an important purpose, but is blissfully unaware of the evil tetrad's deception. Or so they think...

With the Horses of the Apocalypse attacking everywhere, the world's mightiest defenders, including the Council of Friendship, will have to step up and protect the people. Will their rainbow lasers light the sky and win the battle like they always have, or will the diplomacy of their non-combatant allies be the key to restoring unity to the broken equine societies and saving all creaturekind?

Author's note: I know this has been done before, and i'm super late to doing it, but it took me a while to realize what I actually thought of the final two-part episode, and you can probably tell the conclusion I drew by the fact this rewrite exists. This envisions what the 24th and 25th episodes of Season 9 (The Ending of the End) would be if they were instead a four-part, feature-length, apocalyptic epic. Imagine an alternate universe where Season 9 was still 26 episodes long, but two episodes had to go (i'd personally axe 15 and 16, sorry fans of those) to make room for extra parts of the finale. It also takes everything that has happened in the season as canon, but with two differences.

1: I treat Grogar as if he was the genuine article, because in my opinion, if they were going to put him in G4 at all, they really should've made the effort to utilize the guy somehow beyond a powerful item. It was his first appearance in 3 decades, he was a popular G1 villain among fans, and the Season 9 premiere introduced him as an interesting expansion on one of the show's longest established elements. Also, with the way the show was written, changing him to the real thing feels quite easy.

2: I have slightly rewritten the past events involving the villains to add my own little touch to the story. Something that gives a little retroactive significance to both the events of the 13th episode of Season 8 and a fanservice-y thing they did in the 8th episode of Season 9. Before you get started, let me tell you that it's not going to be what you're expecting.

Just to be clear, despite my opinion on the official version, this has not been made with any ill will towards Big Jim Miller, Nicole Dubuc, Michael Vogel or any of the storyboard artists and animators that put the finale together over at WildBrain (formerly DHX Media). This is just something I did to pay tribute to a series i've loved for a long time, do a little writing exercise, show what I personally would've liked to see in the finale, and of course, have some fun. I know a lot of people love the original episode, and I don't intend for this rewrite to replace it. It can never be replaced, or erased, or redone. However, I do hope it can be a fine alternative for both fans and non-fans of the version we got on television. I'd even like to respect what the creators were going for, but tweak their ideas a bit (because there are things I enjoy).

One last thing: I want to highlight StarlightisVERYcute and SuperPinkBrony12 for inspiring me to do this. They've done exceptional rewrite jobs that I highly recommend you give a look.

Chapters (11)
Comments ( 41 )

Impressive story arc. I can't wait for part 2. Also I agree with Cozy I mean, who sends a child to prison, especially one where Tirek was place for a 1000 years? Also I did had a theory where Grogar did created Discord. I mean after when Twilight used the magic of the hybrid creatures of Tartarus; they were turned into 2 or 3 separate animals. So I thought that Discord was created by many different creatures. Also I wish that Twilight and her friends refuse to listen to Discord during that episode. I mean who the hell forgives one for recruiting all the major villains and planned to use them for Twilight to defeat to gain confidence. That's a piece of corruption in Harmony; you forgive your friends. no matter what they commit. Even global destruction (For Discord).

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Cozy Glow may be a child, but she's a child who committed high treason, tricked her teachers into getting trapped in Tartarus, used what they taught her to manipulate others and try to take over Equestria, framed the Young Six for her actions, and had no problem letting them and Starlight get dragged into an empty void. She deserved her punishment.

As for Discord, he never intended for "global destruction". His plan was for the villains to launch an attack on Canterlot, which Twilight and the others would repel. And he still had to earn their forgiveness, via risking his very life.

Are you gonna continue? It's just getting interesting

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Of course. I'm just taking a break from writing MLP stuff for a while, and i'll eventually return to The End of an Era with the Part 2 chapters. It was months before I finished the Part 1 chapters.

I'm glad you've taken an interest in the rewrite.

I added your story to a group here.

"You need to extract the magical cores from the "key entities", including Twilight and her friends, then expel that power to this "Phantom Zone" and finally, acquire their talents permanently through memorization." Cozy continued.

DC Comics reference?

"Come on out, children!" Grogar called in a high volume. On cue, a bunch of creatures, big and small, emerged from the water, walls and ceiling. These were ones that the folks of Equestria were all too familiar with, the monsters of the ram sorcerer's creation. The Bugbear, the Roc, the Chimera, the Hydra, the Tatzlwurm, the Maulwurf, the Sphinx, even the Ophiotaurus from Mount Everhoof. Alongside them were a gaggle of fantastic species, such as Timberwolves, Cragadiles, Ursa Majors, Manticores, Cockatrices, Yetis, Pukwudgies, Whirling Mungteeth, Sea Serpents, Slingtails, amphibian demons and Cyclopes, giant, one-eyed humanoids with goat heads, just like Arimaspi. Even tiny critters like Twittermites, Fly-ders and Parasprites could be seen. Some were new, like shadow dogs, birds with lightning powers, multi-legged sea monsters, lava lizards and water ponies with ghastly appearances.

"I feel like a queen again already." Chrysalis said with glee.

"It's fine! This is a bad dream! I'll be back with my bro! It's fine! This is a bad dream! I'll be back with my bro!" a pegasus mare in one of the bubbles repeated to herself.

"What are you going to do to me? Can I at least tell my friend i'm sorry?" a unicorn mare asked of the villains.

"Please let me go, Grogar! I have a wife and foal, and they're worried sick!" pleaded an earth pony stallion in tears.

A clock ticked in Cozy's head. After a few seconds, it rung. "Oh my gosh! You were behind the pony disappearances!" she yelled in astonishment. Then she scanned the room and thought back even further. "All this must've been why you've been vanishing so much!"

"Well deduced, Miss Glow." Grogar commended. "I rescued these magnificent, deadly beasts from Tartarus quite some time ago. As for my captives, we needed something to ensure the dismantling of the ponies' harmony, and make our forces even stronger." With a wicked smile, he blasted swirling clouds of Malice Magic up at all of the bubbled ponies. Each of the poor ponies screamed in anguished fear as they were consumed by the dreadful dark magic.

Soon, the screaming stopped, the frightened equines now wholly covered. The Bewitching Bell shot energy bolts at the bubbles, popping them to reveal the ponies undergoing grotesque changes. Their teeth were sharpened, their manes and coats were turned to shades of black, and they gained glowing yellow eyes. The wings of the pegasi became bat-like with feather-esque needles, the unicorns' horns split open to look like two-pronged forks, and the earth ponies grew claws on each of their hooves. They lowered to the ground and made demonic moaning sounds. They were hideous, mindless zombies now.

"Gross." Cozy muttered, feeling her stomach churn.

"Children, zombies, listen!" Grogar hollered authoritatively.

"Alright, beasties and reanimated ponies, we've got a job to do!" Eclipse called out to her new army. "Follow us in crushing our suppressors, and we'll soon live in a world where we rule equal!" She and her three partners displayed overwhelming surges of magical power which left the monsters and zombies in awe, kneeling reverently before their new mistresses and master. Grogar nodded approvingly.

"With hatred as our armor and teamwork as our power, we'll get what we deserve." he announced. "Queen Chrysalis, Lord Tirek, Cozy Glow, Aurora Eclipse, my children and these ponies are yours and mine to command; they deserve to relish in the joys of freedom with us." He stepped towards the side entrance of the lair and held up a hoof. "The moment of truth is here." His allies, his monster children and the zombies followed.

"Not to sound ungrateful, but... permission to settle some grudges on our terms, boss?" Tirek requested.

"Permission granted." Grogar approved forbearingly. "Now go, my Horses of the Apocalypse! Today: Equestria! Tomorrow: all of the world!"

Grogar opened five large, circular, yellow and black portals for him and his minions to enter. They jumped into them immediately. Whatever patience they still had was about to be rewarded. Very soon, they would be spread across Equestria with the most powerful army of darkness it will ever see. But first, a few of them had personal vendettas to take care of.

I only just stumbled onto this, but I'm so excited to read it. It always makes me grin seeing how people handle rewriting the finale themselves!

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Hey there. I'm honoured to see you here, commenting on my rewrite. Thank you for checking it out. I hope you'll stick around and look forward to the next chapters, however long it takes me to write and publish them, because the story's going to get pretty heavy from here.

Rewriting the finale myself has been pretty fun, especially in making my own answers to the several "What Ifs" Season 9 left me with by the show's end.

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Of course! It's always a joy to see someone else wanting to fix the finale in their own way.

It does make me a little sad to see Sombra not coming back. I like the guy. Mean Starlight Glimmer is a neat idea though.

I was a bit scared that they would lose their powers, but this twist was better than expected. Grogar is a force to be reckoned with, and the "friendship"/teamwork of the four will be stronger than ever.

Discord is very confident that things will work out. Too confident. Now this feels like true endgame, and Grogar already had everything prepared for war. Nice touch on having Cozy's action have more consequences.

"We've lost too many earth ponies already for our complacency!" an earth pony mare argued. "We have to stick together, and your majesties... you can only choose one of us!" Twilight, Celestia and Luna flinched with apprehension. Applejack, Rainbow, Rarity and Spike smacked their foreheads with her hooves at the incorrigible attitude they were witnessing. "It's either us, the unicorns, or the pegasi! If you're not with us, you're against us!"
"You used to be a unicorn, Princess Twilight!" a unicorn mare pointed out. "I think you know the only choice here."
"It's either us or them, Princesses! Decide!" that same earth pony mare cried out impatiently.

Methinks later the three pony tribes will believe that the Alicorn princesses have betrayed them during the darkest hour of Equestria and make up their own accusations about them being useless and uncaring.

"Hey, what are you doing with that earth pony and pegasus?!" a unicorn stallion from the crowd shouted and queried, having caught the group leaving.
"You help a unicorn and one of ours?! Make up your mind!" an earth pony mare screamed."
All ponies!" Twilight yelled back in frustration, not wanting to hear these quarreling lunatics anymore, before resuming her exit.
"That's friendship, something you don't care to remember!" Rainbow bellowed one last time back to the earth ponies and unicorns, not caring if she touched any nerves with these final words.

Half of them might actually think more on what they've said, while the other half will probably toss it aside and lose their respect for the Mane Six and Alicorns.

"I'll spread the word of your sacrifice, princess." Grogar declared. "Call it a gut feeling, but you may not be seen in the same light ever again." He pointed his Bell at the beaten up alicorn, it rang, and it's assimilating beam of Malice Magic was the last thing Celestia, the leader of Equestria, saw before everything went black. This may have been her final defeat.

I wonder if he means that the three pony tribes, in their bias-filled paranoia, will begin seeing Alicorns as “frauds” and “sell-outs”?

Another thing I'm wondering is since Grogar is now all-powerful, does that mean he will take command of the Windigoes?

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who sends a child to prison, especially one where Tirek was place for a 1000 years?

Exactly! What is wrong with those ponies? They didn't even bothered trying to find out about her past! They didn't tried finding out her reasoning for doing the things she did! They just throw her into Tartarus to rot with Tirek and caged like a wild animal and had no shame for it! And later they turned the poor little filly into stone with Tirek and Chryssie without any remorse whatsoever!

She deserved her punishment.

No she didn't! No one deserves to be locked away in a place like Tartarus, not even Tirek! At least not for eternally. And again, the ponies could have sent Cozy to a hospital for rehabilitation, and find out what motivated her into trying to erase the magic in the first place and offer her a chance for redemption. The poor filly might have been mentally sick and needed treatment, but no, they decided to imprison her and punish her like an adult instead and sentence her to life imprisonment without even bothering trying to help her!

who the hell forgives one for recruiting all the major villains and planned to use them for Twilight to defeat to gain confidence. That's a piece of corruption in Harmony; you forgive your friends. no matter what they commit.

Yeah, who in their right mind would forgive someone like Discord after he have endangered the entire world by bringing back some of the dangerous enemies of Equestria and have Twilight and the others defeat them, just so she can gain confidence? Yeah, that was corrupting Harmony! It seems like they're okay with their friends committing high treason of the crown as long as it 'helps them'. Discord did not deserve any forgiveness or a chance of redemption for what he did! I mean, he was given so many chances, and he still screws up everytime! They were more than willing to have a child like Cozy locked away for trying to delete magic but had no problem forgiving an abomination like Discord for bringing back villains to attack Equestria with an dangerous, forbidden artifact like Grogar's bell and putting the lives of many innocent ponies in great danger!

His plan was for the villains to launch an attack on Canterlot, which Twilight and the others would repel. And he still had to earn their forgiveness, via risking his very life.

Those three could have wanted to go after the rest of Equestria, the other nations and eventually the entire world have they conquered Canterlot and succeeded, and Twilight and her friends could have been killed by them if everypony and creature didn't arrived in time to save them. It doesn't matter why Discord committed those acts, he still should have been not only stripped of his magic permanently, but he also should have been thrown away into Tartarus for life, turned back into stone for eternally, or even executed for what he did, and helping Twilight's friends and Spike escape the cavern wasn't enough to make up for what he caused!

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And again, the ponies could have sent Cozy to a hospital for rehabilitation, and find out what motivated her into trying to erase the magic in the first place and offer her a chance for redemption.

Really now, "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" showed off an Old-West style jail - there's no excuse for there not to be some place where Cozy could have been kept under control while she gets proper psychiatric help.

Though there's also no excuse for a super-maximum-security prison to allow prisoners to exchange mail with random children with no monitoring whatsoever.

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there's no excuse for there not to be some place where Cozy could have been kept under control while she gets proper psychiatric help.

Yeah, they could have given her help, they could have cared and treated for her while keeping her monitored, but instead they chosen to punish her like an adult and sent to Tartarus with no shame whatsoever! Discord did eventually sprung her (and Tirek) out, but only to have her turned into stone (along with Chrysalis and Tirek) in the end after letting her (and the other two) nearly destroy and conquer Equestria with Grogar's bell! :flutterrage:

Though there's also no excuse for a super-maximum-security prison to allow prisoners to exchange mail with random children with no monitoring whatsoever.

Yeah, I don't know why would a prison like Tartarus would let it's prisoners get mail from little children unsupervised. :rainbowhuh:

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Yeah, I don't know why would a prison like Tartarus would let it's prisoners get mail from little children unsupervised.

You just might be in for a surprise.

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You know, letting a small filly like Cozy Glow sending letters to a power hungry, magic sucking creature like Tirek like that without anyone knowing was possibly how Cozy have attempted to take the magic away from Equestria to begin with. Tartarus isn't so secure, there is no real guards, all it has is a three headed dog that exactly isn't the brightest. :facehoof: No wonder Tirek have managed to escape in the first place.

I would not like the final but I didn’t like it anyway! Tirek in season 4 and Tirek in season 9 are different characters, all his charisma is gone, he is now not a great villain but just a Clown, the story of his brother Scorpan has not been revealed in any way! .Chrysalis has no motivation at all, it is not clear why she needs all this what she is trying to achieve! Sombra is simply an Idiot Grogar is not in the final at all! And Cozy Glow is the worst villain.

Sunburst, without looking at them, instinctively rubbed the one on top of him on the spot beneath it's beak. This triggered a pacifying reaction from the creature. "Girls, massage their breasts!" he ordered.

MWAH! Goodnight everybody!

The wind picked up even more, the quantity of falling snow increased, and the thunder was accompanied by rapid bolts of lightning. The heroes and the villains stared, slackjawed, at the beings making those haunting cries. Three blue spirits, shaped like ponies, glowing with icy auras, circling around the very eye of the storm, their faces as chillingly devoid of life as the frozen Equestrian plains.

"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.

So is Daffy Duck’s.

"Using a persona, I let you get this far with your own preparations to improve your chances of success through crushing failure.” Grogar explained. “See how overbearing pride always comes before a devastating fall? It wasn't only Twilight Sparkle and her allies' teamwork that have won them every battle, you always grew complacent when you thought they were at your mercy; then you made that same mistake in underestimating me , never suspecting that I could throw a wrench in the works any minute. There's a word for that: insanity." He then gently set his fore hooves on Arimaspi's Eye's table. "If you're going to use the gift of Malice Magic, it's vitally important to let nothing get to your head. Remember this wake-up call, expect the worst from this world’s protectors, and approach every maneuver you pull wisely while putting your faith in one another’s capabilities. Let the knowledge of your failures strengthen your judgment! Only then can you reach your full potential and finally win!"

Damn boy! They got schooled!

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.

♫ My Little Pony, My Little Pony Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahhh...

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.

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

Grogar possibly would have freed her anyways. :duck: Discord did sprung Cozy and Tirek out of Tartarus in cannon. :ajbemused:

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

Does he mean the sirens (Dazzlings)?

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Correct. It's a reference to them that's just subtle enough, it'd work in the actual show.

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Yes, and I'm surprised that Discord didn't recruit them too as part of his Grogar stunt which was obviously meant to get Twilight to defeat a bunch of evil ones to help her gain confidence in canon. His chaotic magic does seem so powerful that just about anything is possible, including bringing three dragon-hippogriffs-like mind-control singing hybrids back from exile in another dimension. :moustache:

And the journey begins anew. Seriously, this is like an entirely different story (but with a the same continuity) now, with the 1 week gap and all. Call it a sequel.

Their original roles, coming much, much later down the road, will go to, let's just say, more historically important characters

Huh. I kinda of liked the idea that some of Twilight's students were inspired by the School of Friendship, and went on to do important things.

I thought it worked pretty well to show how the school could have been a asset in a better developed season.

Oh well. It will be interesting to see how you develop the characters down the road.

He waved his hoof and teleported four fragments of Chrysalis's old throne into the throne room, hovering before his muzzle.

"Near your position is a tree where they can get a reprieve. Don't attack them yet, because I plan to imbue the tree with magic neutralizing stone."

But when they popped not outside the tree, but into the wall next to the alternate exit. They tumbled and could only grunt in shock.

Free of the attack, she, Twilight and Luna all telekinetically grabbed the zombie ponies and left the monsters to the others.

I thought the rock fragments from Chrysalis's throne drained active magic.

This seems more like the rocks in Starlight's cave, blocking magical energies from passing through it.

Back at the swampy forest in which they all gathered, Luna and Twilight's friends approached a small glade, where the young princess had her alone time. All of them were unnerved by how she spent it. All over the surrounding dirt, wilted tree trunks and rocks were scribblings of stars, stick figures seemingly meant to be ponies, bells, and unidentifiable monsters. Over on the left, she sat ominously quiet, facing away from everyone.

"Not good." Luna solemnly attested. But still, the rest walked over, ready for more talking.

"What do you want?" Twilight coldly asked, noticing their presence, but refusing to shift.

"We want to get out of here and find a way to fix this mess." Spike answered, taking none of his sister's stony tone.

"Yeah, we've spent too long escaping! I wanna go home, and take it back!" Pinkie proclaimed.

"That would be a mistake." Twilight said, all gravelly. "We've already lost, and you know it. All of you."

"Don't be silly, Twilight." Spike rebuked.

"You know us better than that, darling." Rarity chimed in. "As long as we walk, we are not admitting defeat. Here, we'll help you think of something."

"After all, we can't save Equestria without you." Spike added.

"Save it? We can't. I can't. Never could, never was." Twilight scoffed.

"Listen, we know things look bad, but we've been in tough spots before, and we always toughed them out." Rainbow stated.

"Did any of them involve worldwide poisoning, a blizzard eating our home alive, an invincible warlock leading a monstrous invasion, or me losing my horn and wings forever, and soon the rest of myself?!" Twilight asked rhetorically, her rough pitch now rising ever so slightly, her head finally turning, and a scowl from her one-eyed face entering everyone's line of sight.

"Well, n-no..." Rainbow stammered.

"I understand, you're not in good health, so you're not thinking clearly." said Applejack.

"Are you kidding? I've never thought more clearly in my life." Twilight replied with a sarcastic laugh.

"If only there was a book or scroll you could look through. That always got your-" Fluttershy thought out loud in longing.

"Look around! Didn't you notice?" Twilight angrily interrupted the kind pegasus, stretching her hooves out. She had her attention on all of the ponies, and the small dragon. "Let me spell it out: nothing we've ever done has mattered!" After that, she decided to walk around, wincing more from the painful steps.

"Say what?!" Rainbow gasped.

"Okay, I know that's the Malice talking!" Applejack remarked.

"Ugh, you don't get it!" Twilight growled. "It was one thing when we couldn't stop Grogar and his forces from destroying Canterlot! It was another thing when we tried to get the clans to stop fighting, and all they wanted to do was fight, whine and make Celestia, Luna and I play favourites! It was yet another thing when we were cornered on Mount Everhoof before we could get some sleep! But then... well, you heard that demon!"

"You mean what he said about, uh, knowing us?" Rainbow guessed. She, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Fluttershy remembered Grogar's words pretty well, as if they heard it yesterday. None of the opposition they faced in the wilderness could jumble their memories on such a revelation.

"He's been setting up trials for us the whole time, even though he was supposed to be cut off from the surface!" Twilight explained. "All of our successes were manufactured! Nothing we did was really amounting to anything, just leading us into a trap!" Finished, she planted her head into a scribble-covered rock in defeat, and hard enough to feel a spike of pain that made her squeal like a pig.

"Twilight, that's enough crazy talk!" Rarity yelled. "Just because an old savage might have planned out almost everything we've been through to destroy us, that doesn't mean our victories were fake! And I know fake!"

"Also, we're all here, free, together, looking out for one another." Pinkie noted. "Doesn't that matter?"

"I think our friendship has done enough. If what it's "accomplished" is any indication, it can only make things even worse." Twilight disdainfully commented, burying her face in her hooves, shedding more tears from her single, undamaged and uncovered eye. Pinkie looked on, offended by the choice of words.

"So what's the alternative? Sit around, mope and wait for the end like a quitter?" Rainbow scathingly inquired. "We have to do something!"

"Knock yourself out!" Twilight snarled. "This fiasco is more than we ever should've been forced to suffer!" She gritted her teeth and grumbled "Friendship is magic? What a lie." Applejack heard her spoken complaint and grunted with annoyance, stomping reflexively before taking steps closer.

"You want the truth, Twilight?" the farm pony began. "Bad things happen! No matter what you do, there's never going to be a time where everything's perfect! But that don't mean you quit trying!" Twilight lifted up slightly. On her obscured face, she made a sideways glare at Applejack, gnashing her teeth in frustration. As much as the Malice poison stung, another feeling willed her into ignoring it. She felt her intelligence was insulted.

"What do you think i've been learning?!" Twilight snapped in a sharp turn, which made the farmer jump back in fright. The way she glowered at her looked particularly hateful. "By the way, didn't you mention that if things were a little different, none of this horror show would've happened? None of this had to happen! I would've had the happiest day of my life otherwise! That's the truth!"

"So, if it could've been easily prevented, and the coronation was going fine before this all started, then our achievements were real." Spike argued.

"They sure didn't seem important to... him." Twilight growled at the thought of that mischeivous and destructively secretive draconequus.

"Well, this wasn't his fault... entirely." Fluttershy pointed out in defense.

"Excuses, excuses." Twilight muttered, having grown more than weary of Fluttershy's bottomless optimism over Discord, seeing the pegasus as a hopeless wishful thinker. "Give them a rest, will you?" She added, at which her kind friend frowned and groaned indignantly.

Luna, standing in the shadows of the trees, was finding it hard to watch someone like Twilight Sparkle, the champion of all that was friendly and magical, speaking to her closest companions like they were never actually people she held dear, either as friends or an extended family, but as if they were a bunch of idiots kids she babysat for the better part of her life and all treated their nanny like trash.

"But you know what? The more i've thought about it, the more I realize he wasn't the only one I can blame." said Twilight in a spell of clarity. "Luna?"

"Yes, Twilight?" Luna answered, walking into view.

"Yeah, don't think I didn't notice you. Come here." Twilight urged the night princess darkly.

"If there's anything you need, i'll provide it the best I can." said Luna.

"Just one thing. You and Celestia. You both knew the story, correct?" Twilight asked. "What Gusty the Great achieved, what Grogar's reign was like, what happened at the end, and what Malice Magic was capable of?"

"Yes, but why do you ask?" Luna queried, confused.

"Because. You kept that from us." Twilight replied, shaking with anger. "That would've been nice to talk about earlier. Maybe even to write down and send to me in a scroll. Just saying, something that important is worth touching upon, preferably centuries ahead."

"We couldn't do that, Twilight." Luna stressed. "It was a vow passed on through generations. None of us knew he would break free, so why would we ever need to bring it up?"

"Oh, I don't know, perhaps so we could make preparations?" Twilight suggested in a snarl. "Study Malice Magic to develop a cure? Learn how to tame all the monsters? Find some way to banish that bell from existence for good? Something?"

"Absolutely not! It's too dangerous!" Luna affirmed, losing some of her patience.

"And you were too cowardly to take the risk despite that!" Twilight bellowed. "You know what you and so many before us have done for the past millenia? You let fear control your actions and decisions! You looked out for yourselves before everypony else, and for no reason! Guess that's one unified collective! What a history lesson!" Then, like lightning, her hooves smacked against her bandaged forehead.

Luna stood as still as a statue in stunned silence.

"Stop it, stop it, stop it!" Pinkie complained, coming between the two princesses. "The mood's sour enough, nopony wants more of this negativity!"

"Well, too bad. We'd all be better off if more creatures just paid attention to details." Twilight hissed.

"Pardon me, but about "fear controlling actions and decision", what do you call this then?" Applejack mentioned at the implications of hypocrisy the younger alicorn was giving off.

"Being realistic." Twilight robotically responded. "It's been seven days, and we don't know where we are, other than really, really far away from where we started, running for our lives. I'm one eye short, and yet only I clearly see the problem here?"

"I'm sorry, Twilight." Luna, now out of her silent stupor, murmured. "I see your point, and I understand if you think my sister and I have failed you miserably in our duties."

"I know you did. Ever since I first discovered the value of friendship, I had grown and changed the world, one baby step at a time." Twilight described her long life's journey. "I was just gaining confidence that I would lead Equestria into a better future when I took over. Then I find out that it was all a series of twisted games. The kicker? It proved that the concept I represent, what destiny chose for me, is an enormous struggle for little reward, because it's so stinking fragile. What kind of princess does that make me?" She sobbed uncontrollably when she was done.

"Huh. Not my idea of going out." Rainbow snarked.

"You said it." Spike agreed.

"As it stands, the position of royalty is completely worthless." Twilight assessed. "One thing's for certain, and it's that i'm lost... i'm tired... i'm hurting to no end... i'm terrified out of my mind... everything is broken, and we have no advantage, no matter how you slice it." The demoralization in her voice couldn't be more palpable, and after hearing it for this length of time, her friends almost didn't recognize her as Twilight any longer. Choking up, face scrunched and glowing red from the sorrow, she put a question forth: "What am I supposed to do?"

Applejack and the other ponies stared at Twilight like they had seen a most shockingly horrifying ghost. None of them had seen her destroyed before, not just physically, but mentally. Their group's leader always managed to rebound from the brink of utter failure. Each time, she'd get back up when she was knocked down, knowing how much Equestria depended on the success of her plans and their teamwork. It seemed like a day such as this, where she threw in the towel and wrote off friendship as a farce, would never come. Who knew basic faith in love and trust would be wishful thinking?

Spike, however, was more familiar with this defeatist attitude. The image of his sister planted on a rock, nothing left on her mind to set things right, reminded him all too well of the Storm King's invasion, and the wasted trek they made to Mount Aris just to find any hope of turning the tide in their favour. The anger she felt when her friends called her out on trying to steal the Hippogriffs' Pearl of Transformation while they were distracting Queen Novo, and then the shame when she alienated her friends and realized that she made a terrible mistake that doomed their world to an eternity of servitude and ruin, topped by her kidnapping at the hooves of the then-wicked Commander Tempest, an event that crippled the little dragon with the fear that he had lost a member of his family forever, and the proceeding argument would be the last talk Twilight ever had with her loved ones.

But that ordeal was like stubbing a toe in comparison to the nightmare in which he and the others lived at this very moment. Heck, putting the late Storm King next to Grogar was like matching up an angry baby bunny with a rabid dog.

Amidst the quiet contemplation, Fluttershy stepped towards Twilight, uncertain if she could alleviate the emotional damage, fearful of how the young princess would react, but at least sure that she needed to say something. Just give what she was about to do one try. Slowly, she lifted her hoof onto her royal friend's slumped shoulder.

"I've known for the longest time how hard it is to find hope in the darkness." said Fluttershy warmly. "But thanks to all of you, i've learned that it's always a lot easier when i'm with my friends."

"I know, Fluttershy." Twilight dryly responded, sounding rather dismissive.

"If we're facing impossible odds, we're facing them to-" Rainbow added.

"Together, I know. Togetherness is great, woohoo..." Twilight finished for the pegasus, adding a tinge of sarcasm.

"It's what we always-" said Rarity.

"BUT. We're all alone, and up a creek." Twilight interrupted, sounding more and more irritated.

"That's true pretty much every time something terrible-" Pinkie affirmed with a smooth slide underneath the alicorn.

"Oh no, i'm just Twilighting again, aren't I?" Twilight venomously sang in pretend self-deprecation. "You're thinking it: "Twilight, stop freaking out!", and "Oh Twilight, let me roll my eyes and smack my muzzle at how you're blowing this out of proportion!", and all that junk!" Her cherry on top of that word sundae was a gagging sound. "Seriously, how aren't any of you Twilighting?"

"Because even if you don't think you can do this, we do." Spike answered, wrapping his arm around his big sister comfortably. "We-"

"You believe in me and yourselves, cool, tell me something I don't know." Twilight grumbled in increasing vexation.

"The truth is, all our lives wouldn't be the same if we hadn't met." Applejack continued the string of assurance patiently.

"I know I know I know." Twilight growled.

"We're better off because of our friendship-"

"With me, yes." Twilight finished for Applejack, and then argued.

"So when you say you haven't made a difference-"

"No relevance." Twilight hissed in questioning.

"You've made-"

"I don't want to hear anymore!" Twilight barked.

"Look, Twi, we're just-" Rainbow, infuriated, tried to explain.

"Trying to make me feel better, I. KNOW!" Twilight lashed out. "Do you think i'm stupid?!" Everyone, even Luna, apprehensively stepped back.

"Well, sorry for helping." Fluttershy bitterly uttered.

"I haven't forgotten what i've done, okay? It was a lot. The ponies and creatures i've helped to make happy, including you, how beneficial it's been to the world, the bonds that have gotten stronger, and the powerful team we've made. I realize I have a positive track record, hence me being chosen to rule Equestria." Twilight announced in a sharp glare. "But what good is it to remember the things i've done then?"

"EVERY BIT OF GOOD!" Spike and the other ponies exclaimed.

"You can pepper your pep talks wih my laundry list of goodwill, best plans and happiest moments all you want, that was the past." Twilight criticized. "It's not going to help us now. You want to find a way, and take a shot at stopping those jerks, think in the moment! I can't believe I have to tell you that, but somepony has to knock you out of this juvenile nostalgia!"

Nobody present could believe it for even an instant. To hear their longtime friend call their well-intentioned speeches and reminders "juvenile nostalgia" and brush it all off like they were patronizing her, it didn't feel fair to them at all. In fact, she started to sound like the Horses of the Apocalypse; like a villain in the making. By this point, they had run out of things to say to her. They spoke from the bottoms of their hearts, and Twilight didn't appreciate it.

"You're no fun." Pinkie whispered, slowly moving her head back and forth.

"Perhaps this is a case where friendship is indeed fragile." said Applejack to the rest of her allies.

"So. Rude." Rarity emphasized spitefully.

"Who is this sad pony?" Rainbow questioned to herself.

"Alright, if you don't want to figure out anything to save the day, fine, because the seven of us know how to take initiative anyway." said Spike authoritively. "The team needs to a leader, and a leader needs a team who will press on to the very end."

Twilight stared at her dragon brother through reddened, glaring eyes. She had no visible faith in his commanding assertion. But without a hint of figurative malice, she simply asked him "Then tell me. What can do we right now?"

"We don't know." Spike answered honestly and immediately. He got a scoff from his equine sister for that, but ignored it. "We'll never find out if we stop, so buck up and have faith in the light among the darkness, for as long as your body allows. We refuse to be deterred, and if we fail while giving it our all, then at least we'll fall in a blaze of glory."

"You said it." Rainbow complimented.

"What pluck." Twilight moaned. "How do you take charge when I can't?"

"Hey, that's just what siblings are for." Spike asserted, lightly pounding his chest. "Furthermore, that's what royal advisors are for." Those two words describing his title, on him which the Princess of Friendship bestowed last week before doomsday went down, got a bit of a chuckle out of Twilight. She didn't feel better, but at least found humor in this all-too-familiar "noble dragon" behaviour.

"I don't mean to break up the moment, but we've been camping here long enough." Luna opined. To make sure Twilight wouldn't be left behind, or think of staying, she telekinetically lifted the poor crippled alicorn onto her back to give her a ride. "The monsters and zombies have been on our trail for all these miles, I doubt they'll stop for anything." Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow and Spike nodded in agreement, like soldiers working as a singular mind.

Which works better? This:

Or this:

"I await reports of the end results." said Grogar. "Good day, your worships." Without another word, the Horses of the Apocalypse were dismissed, the communication flames dying out to signify the end of the conversation. Content, he looked up at Havoc, and told him "Help your brothers and sisters find Twilight Sparkle and her team, however you can. The sooner their cores are in the Phantom Zone, the better for Equestria's evolution." Though the ghastly draconequus seemed feral, he understood his father's wish and disappeared in a literal flash.

11371820
Oh yes they did. Needless to say, the road to recovery won't be short.

Back in the earth pony bunker, Princess Celestia, in her weakened, devolved state, was reawakening.

"Uh... uh..." she moaned, slowly lifting her heavy eyelids and taking a little breath.

"Oh my stars!" Rusty Bucket, still watching over her, exclaimed.

"Oh!" Celestia yipped, quickly opening her eyes in surprise.

"Ma'am, you're awake!" Rusty Bucket cried out. "I knew I didn't drag you out of that blizzard for nothing!"

"What?" Celestia uttered quietly in confusion. "I'm... not... but how? Where... am I? Who... are you?"

"Ah, where are my manners?" Rusty Bucket sheepishly took note of. "Rusty Bucket, guardian of Mount Everhoof, at your service."

Celestia, cracking a smile, assured him "You.. have my... thanks."

"I was hiding from all these crazy creatures that were fighting Princess Twilight, Princess Luna and their friends, when I saw you laying in the snow." Rusty elaborated. "After they all left, I picked you up, but my humble abode was destroyed, so I looked for shelter to save you from the Windigo storm until I found some other earth ponies, and followed them to this place."

"Twilight? What... happened... to her?" Celestia asked worriedly.

"I don't know, it was hard to follow." Rusty replied. "But she and the other nice visitors were out of there before the nasty ones were."

Celestia quietly took in the rest of the information, before she murmured "I was afraid of this. That was no ordinary blizzard; the legends were true all along." Suddenly, she had regainined her speaking strength. She rose from her resting spot. "The Windigos appearing means that the ponies are completely divided, and their icy magic will devour Equestria."

"Hate to break it to you, but they already have for the past week." Rusty declared solemnly.

"Oh Luna, my dear sister. Be safe, and take care of our friends." Celestia prayed.

"Don't know what became of her. She just up and-" said Rusty, only to stop at what was implied before him. "Wait a minute. Luna, your sister?" He gasped, and exclaimed "You're Princess Celestia!?" At this surprise, he felt as if he made a mistake. His means to correct it was to bow and plant his face in the bunker floor, a classic I am not worthy gesture.

"Hey, corner pony, what did you say?" a stallion inquired a small distance away.

"It sounded like he said "Celestia" over there." Cheerilee thought out loud.

"Earth ponies, i'm glad you've been holding up well." Celestia sighed in relief. The rest of the ponies looking at her changed from interested to perplexed.

"You're Celestia?" the cynical mare from before said in disbelief.

"Why are you a unicorn?" Mrs. Cake asked.

"A unicorn?" Celestia questioned. She looked at the sides of her body on instinct, then it all made sense. "So, i've been reverted to my past self by Grogar's spell."

"There is no Grogar!" the cynical mare abruptly cried.

"But I have no core. What rejuvenated me? Is this... an illusion?" Celestia puzzled.

"See, until now, you were out the whole time." Rusty clarified. "Just minutes ago, this phoenix broke in and flew onto you, as if you attracted it. It laid down, looking pretty sad, radiated this blinding light, cried this haunting song, and next thing you know - it's gone. If I had to guess, you've made good friends with a phoenix or two, and it brought you back to consciousness?"

Hearing this explanation, and knowing the cause of her revival, brought a name out of Celestia's lips she hadn't said in ages. "Philomena..."

"I heard from one of those unicorns that you gave yourself up!" Mrs. Cake brought up. The depowered Sun Princess paid attention.

"Did you really abandon everypony?" Mr. Cake asked.

"What?" Celestia gasped.

"Where were you when we had to escape from this terrible snowstorm?" Cheerilee queried.

"I bet she didn't want to bear the weight of ruling us anymore, so she left us to do all the painful work." the cynical mare opined.

"It's not like that!" Celestia retorted.

"You had the choice to protect us from this disaster, and from them, and you chose yourself!" the stallion from earlier accused.

"I was helping Twilight and her friends!" Celestia shouted.

"Then why did you run along home to Canterlot, and put on a fireworks show?" Mayor Mare wondered.

"What was so important about your date with this "Grogar" we've heard about?" Mrs. Cake grilled.

"I only tried to protect my friends from my own worst self, and light up a sign of hope." Celestia explained.

"Ha! Ain't that just typical of you, Princess." Granny Smith laughed derisively. "Sitting idly by and only doing what makes you feel like you're helping."

"Oh yeah, that's actually true. She's never been as helpful as we thought." the farmer stallion.

"Come to think of it, we've faced so many great crises, and she never lifted a hoof to take care of them." Mayor Mare commented. "It's always another's job."

"You and Princess Luna were supposed to run this country, but you never understood the struggle of the common pony!" Cheerilee scolded.

"She's a fraud, and her sister too!" Mr. Cake exclaimed.

"You're as bad as all the other horned mares and stallions!” Mrs. Cake seethed.

“ENOUGH!” Rusty yawped. Nobody objected to him, they just backed off and grew silent.

“Listen, I have faced Grogar, and what he did to me, he’s doing to all that you love.” Celestia detailed. “Whatever you do, you cannot go near him. We need Twilight and the-”

“Argh! Fine, say he does exist: he didn’t make you run away from your responsibilities, did he?” that same mare of highly cynical, skeptical nature mused.

“And we’re done waiting for Princess Twilight to resolve this.” Mayor Mare chimed back in. “It’s us against those with wings, the horned ones, and the Windigos. None of this is friendship versus dark powers anymore. This... is war.”

“You darn tootin’ it is.” Granny Smith agreed.

Celestia’s face contorted with anger and disappointment in the earth ponies. She immediately buried it in her hooves as if to hide a dangerous fire it was lighting up. Rusty consoled her, feeling similar disappointment, seeing as he wasn’t too familiar with having so many to interact with. If it’s this bad with the pegasi and unicorns as well, the soul is truly gone, she thought grimly.

At this moment, I'm glad that Rusty Bucket is one of the few ponies who still believes and has hope. But having the other Earth ponies outright blame Celestia and Luna for not doing a better job at ruling Equestria while refusing to acknowledge how quick they themselves were to give in to paranoia? I wouldn't be surprised if Grogar outright told his associates and/or his enemies that the brain of a pony was comparatively the size of a stress ball.

This is my opinion, but I picture either Patrick Stewart or Jay Baruchel voicing Scorpan if he made an appearance in FiM.

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.

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