• Published 19th Jan 2013
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Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars - Radiant Dawn

Ancient beings of long since past are returning, but for good or ill?

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Chapter 30: "It's not Goodbye."

Chapter 30: “It’s not Goodbye.”

It was quiet, but not too quiet. The only way I could truly portray the mass of soldiers gathered around me was a calm before the storm. They were subdued enough for me to know they were resting, but alert enough that I knew they were as anxious as I was. They weren’t just anxious, they were ready ‒ ready to end all this, once and for all.

Once again, I found myself resting at Night and Celestia’s sides, with my brother looking over the soldiers. I was pleased with how readily he’d taken to leading, and while it was clear he preferred not to, it was also obvious that he could do so when the occasion called for it. I would have to keep that in mind for the future.

Venn and Moonfang were speaking excitedly to one another, and while I couldn’t hear their words, their expressions spoke of excitement instead of fear. This made me smile, knowing that it was determination that drove them instead of worry. The soldiers near them also held smiles as they watched the two wolves converse, and it just further raised my spirits.

Suddenly, a loud explosion rocked the mountain, and bits of rock and dirt chipped off of the ceiling of the small chamber. I tapped my hoof on the nearby wall and allowed ice to reinforce the area so that we would hopefully not be crushed, but that still left me to question exactly what had just happened.

My answer was provided to me as the blocked passage behind us was blasted open by another explosion, and when the smoke cleared, Spike was standing with Applejack, Big Macintosh, and an entire legion of troops as reinforcement.

My brother bounded over to the fellow dragon and greeted him with a smile, asking, “What took you?”

Spike grinned and tapped the wall. “I had to find a way to get us here without the mountain collapsing. Everything outside seems to be stable enough for us to come here,” he then gestured toward the chamber he had just come from, which held the bones of the undead monstrosity we had fought, “and it seems like you guys have been busy as well. So what’s next?”

“Final chamber.” I answered loudly, making sure that all present heard me as I stood. “We just have to find Death now, and we can end this.”

“I know exactly where he is.” Spike answered smugly. He tapped his foot on the ground and said, “He’s about a hundred feet underneath us, surrounded by a small army, and he’s probably trying to figure out how he’s going to get out of this.”

Night shook her head. “A cornered beast will resort to anything it can to get away. I don’t think he would be above bringing the entire mountain down on top of us if he feels he has no other choice. I recommend we find a way to draw him out.”

I thought on Night’s prediction before nodding. “That makes sense. The only problem is if he gets outside, he can fly.” I hummed in thought to myself before looking to Celestia. “Do we have any magic dampeners at camp?”

Celestia tilted her head curiously at me. “I believe so, but how would you get it on his horn before he casts a spell?”

Spike pointed his claw at me. “The fire that I breathed to keep conventional magic from being cast is ‘sticky’. Only a white flame can remove it immediately, otherwise he’ll have to fly away. The trick will be to separate him from his forces without killing him. Cadence said she wants him alive.”

I nodded, mulling over our options. “Hmm. Well, what worries me the most is his avatar magic. We know he can raise the dead to fight for him, but what else can it do? None of us really knows. I mean, for all we know, he could have the power to instantly kill anyone he wants.”

Celestia shook her head. “No, I don’t believe so. Even for his cunning, it would make no sense to allow himself to be forced into a siege if he had that kind of power at his disposal.”

“Unless he wants to draw us in to do it all at once.” I mused darkly. Pushing the negative thoughts away, I grumbled and straightened my posture. “Either way, sitting here worrying about everything isn’t going to get this over and done with. We need to end this as soon as possible, and taking him out is the easiest way to do that. Without someone to feed them magic, the undead will cease to be. The world will once again be at peace, and we can then focus on rebuilding.” The troops that surrounded me nodded resolutely in agreement as I stood, fluttering my wings. “Alright then, let’s get ready. We move out in ten minutes. Take the wounded out of the mountain, and form ranks.” I then pointed to my brother. “Mace, you’re the fastest flier we’ve got down here. I need you to head to camp and get me one of those magic dampeners. When you get back, get in here as fast as you can and join up with the main unit. Find Dash if you can, and let her know how things are going.”

“I gotcha, Drew.” my brother replied before dashing off down the passageway, gently running his hand along Applejack’s side as he passed.

“Frost,” Night whispered into my ear, “how do you want to handle this?”

I worked my jaw for a few moments as I thought. “Normally I’d say that I was going alone, but I know you both wouldn’t be having that. So instead, it’s just going to be the three of us and Spike going in. I want to minimize our forces to keep our movement unrestricted, and three alicorns and a gem dragon should be more than enough to handle whatever he has down there. The rest of the troops are going to cover these tunnels, and everyone outside is going to keep the surface of the mountain on lockdown.”

“Most of Equestria’s royalty into the fray…” Celestia mumbled under her breath. She then shot a glance to me and asked, “What if anything should happen to us? There will be no pony to raise the sun or moon, and no pony to govern our people.”

As if a voice was telling me it was so, I knew we would be fine. I couldn’t explain how I knew, but I did. With that in mind, I shook my head with a smile. “We’ll be fine. We’ve come too far to fail, and it’s up to us to see this through.”

Night shook her head. “Winter, I don’t-”

I placed a hoof on the night guardian’s lips and smiled lovingly. “Trust me, Night. We’ll be fine.”

Her catlike cyan eyes locked onto my own, and she nodded as she pushed my hoof away. “I do trust you. Together we will end this.”

I nodded before standing, shaking off the numbness in my flanks. With a clear of the throat I announced, “Alright troops, here’s the plan: we three alicorns are going with Spike to engage the target. The rest of you are-”

“Oh HAY no!” Applejack shouted as she stomped over to me, a scowl on her face. She poked me in the chest with a hoof as she growled, “You ain’t doin’ this ‘go it alone’ nonsense. We came in here together, and we’re leavin’ together. No pony gets left behind!”

I shook my head and smiled gently at the furious farmpony. “AJ, this isn’t something the rest of you can do. We need a smaller force to be able to reduce or eliminate friendly fire, so the rest of you will just be in the way.” I then smirked. “Besides, you and my brother have to take field command and lock down these tunnels. We need somepony to cover our rear so we can focus on Death and whatever is waiting for us.”

Applejack grit her teeth and looked away, her lip quivering. “And what happens if y’all can’t do it, huh?” Her voice broke as she muttered, “It’ll be me explainin’ to yer family and tha rest of Equestria why Ah let tha four of ya go in alone.” Applejack’s eyes shot back to me as she glared. “Ya can’t ask me ta do that...ya can’t!”

I stretched my neck down to nuzzle the side of Applejack’s face as I whispered, “Which is why I’m not. Instead, I’m asking you to hold things together until we get back.”

I felt a single drop of moisture sink into the fur on my face as she sniffed and asked, “B-but what if-”

I pulled back and shook my head. “We’re coming back alive, AJ. That’s a promise.” I then pushed my forehead against hers and challenged, “Tell me I’m lying.”

For a few tense moments she held my gaze before looking away, taking a few breaths to compose herself. After doing so, Applejack backed away and nodded to me with a determined glint in her eyes. “Alright then. Seems that y’all are aimin’ ta earn a mighty special Apple family dinner.”

I nodded with a smile. “If nothing else, I can look forward to some great food after this.” I turned to the rest of the troops and shouted, “As of now, Corporal Applejack is receiving a field promotion to lieutenant for services rendered and valiance on the battlefield. All those present are now under her command, along with that of Commander Darkflight when he returns. Your orders are to establish a secure area, and let no enemies through. You are now our rear guard, and your job is to protect our flanks so we can focus on ending this. Is that understood?”

With a chorus of “YES SIR” the order was immediately implemented, which left me to prepare with Night, Celestia and Spike for the battle to come.

As the violet and green dragon sidled up beside me, he whispered, “Twi’s gonna kill you for making her worry. You know that, right?” I nodded with a chuckle, which just caused him to sigh. “Well, I’m with you all the way. You haven’t let me down yet, and I have no reason not to trust you.”

“And as always, we are by your side.” Night chimed in, taking her place beside Spike as Celestia leaned against my shoulder.

With a hopeful smile, I nodded to them before glancing once more to our troops. Sparing one last smile to them all I said, “Wish us luck. When we meet again, it’ll be in a world of peace.”

Without another word, the four of us made our way further into the mountain, toward whatever hell awaited us.

Perspective change ‒ Rainbow Dash

“I don’t like this, Ditz.” I grumbled as we wheeled in the sky above the mountain, making sure the skies were clear and under our control.

The gray pegasus by my side shook her head. “I don’t either, but we have our orders. In case that coward tries to make a run for it, we need to be ready to take him down. That’s our job, and we have to stay sharp if we want to do it right.”

I sighed and nodded. “I know, but what about-” I trailed off and narrowed my eyes as a large dark shape blasted out of the mountain, taking flight toward the main camp. “Hold on...is that Darkflight? What’s he doing outside?”

Ditzy turned her gaze toward the dragon and chewed on her cheek nervously. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. Hold down the fort until I get back.” She didn’t wait as she began a shallow dive, speeding away to assess the situation.

I sighed to myself as I continued patrolling the air, but was glad things on the outside had calmed down. The area was finally secure, though it took quite a few lives to do so. Some of the ponies in Ditzy’s unit had fallen to our enemy, as had a few of mine. While I wanted to just collapse and mourn them, I knew I couldn’t afford to at the moment. Death could be waiting for a moment of weakness in us, so I had to remain strong.

“Chin up, Rainbow Dash.” said an unfamiliar voice from beside me.

I looked to my left to see a two-toned blue and green pegasus flying beside me, her orange mane whipping about in the breeze. I raised my eyebrow and asked, “And who are you, soldier?” The mare’s eyes flashed green for just a second, and I rolled my eyes. “Hi, Queen Chrysalis. Something to report?”

She shook her head and smiled. “Not at the moment. Can’t a comrade simply say hello to a friend?”

I snorted in annoyance. “We’re hardly friends, Queen.” I shot a glare her way and added, “We’re allies, but that doesn’t make me forget about how you tried to take over my home.”

“We all make mistakes, Rainbow Dash.” she shot back, her smile melding into a half-frown. “Mine was to attempt to take what I needed instead of asking for it. It wasn’t the first mistake I have made in such a long lifetime, and it certainly won’t be the last; your husband trusts me, so why can’t you?”

I hardened my glare and replied, “I do trust you from a military standpoint. You have proven your worth and trustworthiness on the battlefield, so I know without a doubt that you will work toward our mutual benefit here, but I can’t trust you personally. If you want my trust beyond that of an ally, you’ll have to earn it.”

The queen’s usual playful demeanor fell away, leaving a very determined expression. With a firm nod she said, “I understand. If it allows my people to live in peace with your own, I will earn your trust and perhaps friendship.” She gently tapped me on the shoulder with a hoof and added, “Perhaps with time, you will come to understand that anything can be condoned if it allows your people to live. Farewell for now, Rainbow Dash. May your eyes be sharp, and your mind sharper.”

I cocked my head to the side as the disguised changeling queen flew away, curious as to her strange farewell. Instead of thinking too long on it, I decided to just chalk it up to one of the strange things changelings said and did, along with so many other things. I mean, there was no getting around it: changelings were weird. That being said though, they had proven more than useful on quite a few occasions. If I was honest with myself, I knew we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we had without their help.

That didn’t mean I would want a changeling staying the night at my place anytime soon, though.

A few seconds later, I caught sight of Ditzy speeding back toward me, her bright armor glinting in the sun as she raced through the crowded sky. Seeing as how she was one of the only pegasi that could keep up with me, it only took her a few seconds to arrive at my spot in the air.

She panted for a few moments before shouting, “Frost ordered the rest of the troops to hold position in the caves! He’s going in with only Night, Celestia, and Spike!”

While I was happy he wasn’t going after Death alone, I couldn’t help but be confused as to why he chose to keep the rest of the soldiers out of the fight. After all, more ponies meant more power, right?

“Look beyond the obvious, Rainbow Dash.” Spring’s voice spoke from within.

I squinted as I thought and voiced, “Less ponies means less of a target. Spike’s immune to magic, and the might of an alert alicorn can resist all but the most potent of spells.” I sighed and looked to Ditzy with a slump of defeat. “I hate to admit it, but they’re our best chance. Any more ponies in there will just restrict their abilities, and bring the body count higher.”

Ditzy looked like she wanted to argue for a moment, but then dipped her head and groaned. “I don’t like this, Dash. Why does Frost always have to do stuff like this?”

I smiled gently, looking to the mountain underneath us. “Because that’s who he is. He’ll take a hundred cuts to his own body before he willingly allows a death he could have prevented. He can be a little reckless sometimes, but that’s what Celestia is there for. They’ll take good care of him, and when this is all over, you can yell at him.” I then hardened my gaze and said, “But for now, we need to make sure that this area is secure. It’s no use to Frost and the others to battle it out inside if the outside is in chaos. Fly to the Cervidas and minotaur camps to the north and get a set of sitreps; I’ll do the same for our other allies. Meet me back in the main command tent in twenty minutes and we’ll compare notes.”

Ditzy nodded once before speeding away, and with a grin I turned my own heading toward the dragon camp and took off.

Perspective change ‒ Twilight Sparkle

A few hours had passed since Frost had entered the mountain, and while Luna’s moon was shining its bright light upon the battlefield, things still looked dark and dreary. Regardless of what I had been told or where I was stationed on the field, Frost’s plan had me worried.

I once again glanced down to the stack of documents at my hooves, and furrowed my brow. Upon the first page was a large bold title that read “Operation Blizzard”, and the rest outlined exactly what that entailed. The plan was fairly straightforward for all the units involved, but Rainbow Dash, Celestia and I were singled out on the last page.

Under our names was a simple message that read, “Combined multi-tiered barrier; be ready.”

With such an ominous message, I predicted that the time to execute the orders given would be rather obvious, but for the life of me I couldn’t imagine when that would be or how I would know. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to mess things up, or else a lot of ponies could die. Frost had confidence in my abilities, but I wasn’t so sure if I did. Regardless, I promised myself that I would be ready.

I pushed myself away from the table and rubbed my eyes, yawning as I did so. While I was glad I wasn’t on the battlefield with the rest of the girls, administrative work in the military was mind-numbingly boring. It didn’t help that I hadn’t slept in almost an entire day, and the nervous jitters of my stomach had prevented me from keeping down any decent amount of food.

I hopped out of the suddenly-uncomfortable chair I sat in and headed toward the entrance of the tent, stepping through the tent flap and taking a deep breath of the cool night air. Here, so far away from the action, it almost seemed like a regular night in Equestria. However, in order to shatter that illusion, all I had to do was look over the cliff that was a few feet away, and see the roiling sea of soldiers on the battlefield. Their armor glinted in the moonlight, and they moved as one massive beast of war. In the sky, thousands of gryphons, dragons, and pegasi wheeled in the air, ready to defend their ground-bound comrades if needed. It was a symphony of war, and it was as beautiful as it was terrifying.

My observations were stopped when a flare shot into the air, bursting into five cyan sparks.

“Oh no...five sparks.” I mumbled to myself.

It was Rainbow Dash’s job to use her flare spell to advise me when something was happening, and we had developed a scale from one to five sparks that detailed the urgency and importance of her flare. Five sparks was either very good or very, very bad. Without another thought on the matter, I levitated my scaled robe and shimmied into it before lighting my horn and teleporting to the base of the mountain.

I reappeared with an electric pop at Equestria’s FOB (Forward Operating Base), and began to scan the skies for the cyan princess.

“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called from the sky, and I spotted her diving toward me, flaring her wings at the last second to kill her speed and safely land. After gulping down a few breaths of air she said, “Frost is going in with Night, Celestia and Spike to lure Death out. We need to get ready!”

I sputtered. “W-wait, what? What happened to the rest of the troops in the mountain’s interior?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head, leading me to the front of the camp. “They’re fine; Frost just has them securing the inside of the mountain while he and the other three go in to handle the big baddie.” She then snorted in frustration. “I don’t like this though.”

I sighed and glared at her from the corner of my eye. “What’s to like? The stallion we love, the sun, the moon, and my younger brother are all going in to battle it out with Death himself, alone. I downright despise the situation, but we still have jobs to do. Don’t fall apart on me, Rainbow.”

Contrary to my expectations, Rainbow Dash didn’t retort with a snappy remark. Instead, she took a few deep breaths and nodded. “I’m okay. I’m just…”

“Scared.” I finished for her with a nod. “I am too, but we need to be strong for our friends. If we do our jobs right, this can be over, today. Then, we can finally focus on fixing Equestria and helping its ponies; we can make our home safe and happy again.”

Rainbow Dash sighed wistfully, looking up at the sky. “I’m not sure I even remember what a normal life is like, Twi. How do we go back after all this?”

“Carefully, and with the love and support of our friends and family. From what I understand, that’s why Frost planned for us to go to Earth together.” I answered brightly. “We need to get away from all this after we finish this thing and clean up, so a vacation is in order.”

I noticed Rainbow Dash biting her lip nervously. “I’m still not sure how that’s gonna work out, Twi. I mean, Celestia and Luna still need to raise the moon and sun, so how can we all go? That’s besides the fact that someone needs to rule for the six months we’re supposedly going to be gone.”

I shook my head with a small smile. “Already taken care of. Celestia’s cabinet is filled with ponies she trusts, and most don’t know this, but they’re actually the ones that do the day-to-day ruling of the kingdom. Also, Celestia and Luna are directly connected to the sphere of reality that is Terra. What this means is that they can raise and lower the sun and moon no matter where they are, regardless of distance or even unconsciousness. It’s a subconscious action on their parts; they only make a big deal out of it when they’re trying to impress somepony.”

Rainbow Dash nodded slowly. “Okay, so that takes care of two of the issues. Still, it’s six months, and right after this whole thing is over. Won’t ponies be a little upset if the Elements of Harmony, the Equestrian royals and three of the military’s greatest weapons decide to all leave at the same time?”

Again I shook my head, my smile growing. “We’re not leaving right away, Rainbow. We’re going to spend time getting Equestria and our allies up and running again, which is going to take a few months at least. Then, Celestia and Luna will be writing new policies and laws that will allow them to leave Equestria in the hooves of the royal cabinet; I’ve met them all, and they can be trusted to do their job fairly.” I then turned my head and smirked at Rainbow Dash. “And in case you haven’t heard, word of our little planned vacation has leaked out somehow.”

Rainbow Dash nearly tripped over her legs as she stumbled, and coughed nervously. “A-and?”

I smiled warmly to comfort my friend. “They’re actually all for it. They think that by taking active roles in this conflict ‒ with most of us fighting side by side with the ‘common’ soldiers ‒ we’ve earned a reprieve. Honestly, with how much steam the idea’s gaining throughout the civilians of Equestria, I think they’d be offended if we didn’t go. You have to remember that even though you’re trying your best to blend in with the ponies, you’re still royalty by marriage, and are looked up to by every pony around you.” Rainbow Dash’s face twisted into a frown. “They feel that if their prince and princesses love them so much as to fight with them ‒ on the front line, no less ‒ on the field of battle, those royals deserve to enjoy themselves when it’s all over.”

Rainbow Dash grumbled with uncertainty. “And what about the ‘regular’ ponies, hm? Don’t they deserve to enjoy themselves?”

I nodded. “They will. This is something you’ll have to get used to being a princess, Rainbow: ponies will want to please you and make you smile as much as possible, whatever the cost. By being happy, you make them happy. Beyond that, even though you don’t think about it, it’s a phenomenal honor for a pony to be able to fight side-by-side with the rulers of the realm.” I then shrugged. “Ponies know you’ll outlive them, so they want to do whatever they can to make you happy while they’re here. Eternity has its perks, or so Celestia would say.”

Rainbow Dash sighed through her nose, shaking her head. “I’m not used to being ‘Princess Rainbow Dash’. This just feels weird.”

Leaned in close to her as I whispered conspiratorially, “Celestia’s told me even she feels weird about it sometimes. She doesn’t particularly like it when ponies bow to her in public, but puts on a smile anyway.” I then bumped my flank against her hind leg and smiled. “So you’re not the only one, Rainbow.”

After a moment of surprised silence, Rainbow Dash smiled warmly and tapped my side with her wing. “That actually does make me feel better, Twi. Thanks. Now,” she began, pointing a wingtip toward the towering mountain in front of us, “how are we gonna do this?”

I stared at her blankly for a minute before gasping and smiling sheepishly. “O-oh, right. Well, first of all to get the best magic resonation while we’re casting, we need to be within a mile of each other. Frost told me that he taught you some rudimentary barrier spells.”

Rainbow Dash nodded firmly. “Yeah. He taught me a strong one, a weak one, and one made specifically to protect against magic.”

I felt my jaw drop open in surprised. “Wow. That’s...actually just about it, really. Can you expand and shrink your barriers yet?” She shook her head. “Alright, we’ll leave that for later, but for now, I’ll teach you the proper way to build a lasting barrier.” I cleared my throat and assumed what Spike referred to as my “lecture tone”. “When it comes to barrier spells, they are as complex as they are old, seeing as how they were some of the first spells to be created. Most ponies think that to form a barrier that will stand up to repeated hits, you need to pour as much magic into the spell as you can. This is untrue, and has caused hundreds of misinformed ponies to lose their lives.” As Rainbow Dash waited patiently for me to teach, I took a seat in front of her. “The best barriers are malleable, meaning that they can bend and move easily without breaking. For example:” I began, charging a powerful spell in my horn, “bring up the strongest barrier you can.”

Rainbow Dash nodded, and I watched as her horn began to glow with a bright cyan aura. A moment later, a rigid cyan barrier formed around her, and she nodded to me. I fired the spell off at the barrier, instantly shattering it with a sound like breaking glass. Her face was one of surprise before realizing this was what was supposed to happen, so she waited for me to explain.

“Barriers like the one you just erected are good for a quick defense.” I lectured. “It’s quick to deploy and doesn’t cost you much magic to make, but it’s fragile. One good hit will take it out, and then you’re defenseless. Don’t make the mistake of simply trying to overpower your opponent by pouring massive amounts of magic into your barrier; on the off-chance that they overpower it and burst your barrier, you’ll be left defenseless and weakened because of all the magic you put into it.” Rainbow Dash nodded, waiting for me to continue. “As you’ve likely found, weaker barriers tend to be more flexible, and bend with an impact until they pop like a balloon.”

Rainbow Dash nodded as her mind began to work out where I was headed. “So I should just use a whole bunch of weak barriers woven together, right?”

I nodded with a smile. “Very good, Rainbow Dash. That’s exactly what you do, and at your current expertise, you could easily bring a dozen of them into form in only a few seconds. Give it a try.”

Rainbow Dash nodded and lit her horn with magic once more. Slowly, a faint outline of a cyan barrier began to form around her, rounded instead of polygonal. As I watched, the opacity of the barrier began to increase until Rainbow Dash’s mane could only be discerned as shades of blue. She then opened her eyes and nodded at me, and I fired the same spell as before at her barrier. Unlike previously, the barrier wobbled a bit in a way that reminded me of a soap bubble disturbed by a breeze, but it held firm. Rainbow Dash smirked triumphantly at me before dropping the barrier and trotting over to me.

“How was that?” she asked with a wide grin.

I nodded. “Very good. As you can see it takes a little longer to create a barrier that way, but it increases its durability. While more durable, you have to take into account the amount of time it will take you to weave the layered spells together. The more you practice, the more natural the spell will become, and the faster you’ll be able to cast it.” I then closed my eyes and released a breath through my nose. “Now, the reason I taught you to create a barrier that way is because of Frost’s plan. You, me and Celestia will need to combine our magic and create a massive barrier with thousands of layers, all within a few seconds.”

Rainbow Dash’s mouth dropped open. “Th-thousands?”

I nodded gravely. “Thousands. It’s why we need all three of us, as Night is going to be too tired and Frost is going to be holding Death’s attention.” I sat down next to my friend and she followed shortly after, while we both gazed blankly over the dreary battlefield. “I have faith in you Rainbow, and so does Frost; you can do this. He wouldn’t have included you in the plan if he didn’t think you could do it.” It was odd seeing Rainbow Dash unsure of herself, but I had to remind myself that our recent experiences had changed us all by varying degrees. Her arrogance had bled away to simple confidence, and her longing for adventure had been traded for a strong desire for peace and quiet. I could understand the latter sentiment, as could the rest of Equestria, I’d wager.

Rainbow Dash nodded firmly after a few seconds, straightening her posture. “I won’t let you down, Twi.”

I nodded with a supportive smile. “I know you won’t. So,” I continued, snapping back to my explanation, “when we have the primary barrier ready, I’ll cast a nullifying sheet over the entire thing to keep whatever magic is cast inside from getting out. That will prevent Death from teleporting away, even after Spike’s flame dies off.”

Rainbow Dash nodded dumbly, looking rather impressed. “Wow. Frost really has thought of everything.”

I nodded. “Don’t give him all the credit though. This idea was created by both him and Celestia; it’s clear both of them want this to end today, and I have to agree with that sentiment. No more foul-ups and no more oversights: we’re finishing this.”

I felt a wing wrap around me, and looked to see Rainbow Dash smiling at me. “You know, you turned out a lot cooler than I thought you would, Twilight.” I smiled in response and nodded gratefully as we sat together. “You’re still an egghead though.”

We burst into a fit of giggles, and for a few moments, we were no longer soldiers in the midst of a deadly war; we were best friends, enjoying each other’s company as we forgot about the troubles around us.

For the first time in a long time, I truly believed we would be alright.

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