• Published 23rd Feb 2013
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Friendship is SHOWTIME!! - MangaKamen



A Kamen Rider Crossover Magic – a mysterious force in this world, and each creature possess magic within itself. A gift to many, but to a few, it is nothing but a curse. And when Twilight sees a new form of magic, she'll learn that life is

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Spell 28 - A Life for Tomorrow

Spell 28

A Life For Tomorrow

TTT – TTT

It didn’t take long for Twilight to figure out where Garuda was leading her – Sweet Apple Acres, but her mind was on other matters. Everything that Dryad was weighing down on her, and certain thoughts that crept into her thoughts…

‘What if the other Phantoms were coerced into doing this? They’re victims as well. What about Haru? Is what he doing wrong?’

Twilight shook her head – while it was true that Wizard had to defeat the Phantoms and destroy them, he never actively hunted the Phantoms. He did it to protect others, and it’s not like he took pleasure in destroying the Phantoms…

Still, she had to be careful: She had no idea how Haru would react to Dryad, but this was a chance to learn more about the Phantoms and possibly even finding a way for…

“GAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGH!”

That loud scream echoed through the air which made Twilight snap out of her thoughts. She just realized that she was already at Sweet Apple Acres, and the scream sounded real close. Garuda chirped a few times and flew ahead with Twilight right behind him. ‘I hope nothing’s wrong! I hope that…’

“Now hold still, Mistah Souma!”

“A-AJ! Not so hard! It hurts!”

“Ah quit yer bellyaching, and get down where Ah can get at it!”

“J-Just try to be gentle…”

Twilight stopped and stared at the sight before her…

“OW!”

Applejack pulled back from Haru with a pair of tweezers in her mouth that had a few splinters of wood between them. Haru had a few tears in the corners of his eyes and his jacket was off.

“Uh, what happened here?” Twilight questioned as Garuda landed atop of his master’s head and chuckled at the dragon’s misfortune.

Applejack spat the tweezers out and smiled at her magically gifted friend, “Howdy there Twilight, as fer what happened – Well, Ah figure you’d be more than willing to help figure out what the hay happened a little bit ago.”

“Well, I’d have to know what happened,” Twilight stated with a slightly flat look in her eyes.

Haru sighed as he lifted up a broken glider up with his claws, “Apparently these things were given sentience and attacked us – Although, it was just Mayonnaise and I who got the brunt of the splinters…”

Twilight used her magic to lift the glider from Haru’s claws, and observed the glider, “There doesn’t seem to be a spell on this, but…This wood is rather weird. Where did you get it?”

“Don’t look at me,” Haru sighed with his head slumped. “It was Mayonnaise in the house who brought the things.”

“I’m guessing you’re talking about Kosuke, right?” Twilight mused with a slight smile on her face. “We’ll just have to…”

“NO! NONONONONONONONONO!”

Just as the three turned towards the Apple Family house, the door flew open to show Kosuke staggering out of the house, his jacket being pulled upon by Big Mac, “G-Get off of me! I… I’m fine!”

“Nope,” Big Mac replied as he slammed his hoof into the jacket, which then got pinned to the ground when Big Mac stomped the ground. Kosuke slipped and landed on his back, which made him wince.

“Look, just point me towards the bathroom, a separate mirror and a pair of those tweezers and I can get it myself,” Kosuke sighed as struggled to get free from Big Mac, while trying to keep his jacket on. “I’m sure it would be better for a guy with talons to do this than with your mouth.”

Big Mac narrowed his eyes before he shook his head. With a snort, he lifted his hoof up – Unfortunately for Kosuke who was tugging with all his might, he was unprepared and pulled too hard to have him roll over the ground and into a tree…

With his jacket now flung off of his body.

WHAM!

Everyone winced as they saw an upside down griffon with his eyes spinning and his left wing sprung out. “Agh…”

“Uh, Kosuke? Are you alright? That must’ve…” Twilight trotted over to see if the griffon was alright, but when she got to his right side, she stopped and staggered back, “W-Wait… What the?”

Now it was Haru and Applejack who walked to Kosuke’s side… And reeled back at the large scar where his right wing should’ve been…

TTT – TTT

“You’re both a pair of idiots.”

Both Minotaur and Hellhound flinched at Harpie’s words, it had only been a few minutes since the two Phantoms had retreated back into the Everfree Forest, and while the two were still in their Phantom forms, that didn’t stop Harpie from scolding them in her pony form.

“Don’t you think this would’ve been better if we had an idea?” Harpie snarled as she stamped a hoof into the ground, making both Minotaur and Hellhound shiver. “This is our last chance – And with two mages running around, we can’t afford to be reckless!”

“Yes, Harpie.”

“Yes, Harpie.”

“Now, where is Dryad?” Harpie barked as she looked about the clearing in the Everfree Forest. “If we’re going to deal with these mages and awaken the gate, we’ll need all four of us to do this! With my brains, Minotaur’s muscles, Hellhound’s craftiness, and Dryad’s powers over plant life, we’ll be able to…”

“Oh my, then this won’t be good at all for you,” a rather playful voice called out from above.

All three Phantoms craned their heads up to see Sora seated atop of a rather low cloud, a large smirk on his face, “Hello!”

Sora fell from the cloud and gently landed right atop of Minotaur’s head, “Good afternoon, Phantoms of the Damned.”

Sora tapped his chin and shook his head, “No, no, that won’t work. Now, what haven’t I riffed or parodied yet? Hmm…”

“OI! GET OFF!” Minotaur barked as he reached at Sora.

The green pegasus flew up into the air to dodge Minotaur’s grasp, and then he slowly landed on the ground behind Harpie. “So, what would be good here? Perhaps a reference to…”

“Gremlin!” Harpie growled loudly as she pointed a hoof at the disguised Phantom. “What are you going on about?”

“Oh?” Sora replied with his head slightly tilted. “I was just trying to lighten the mood before I drop the bomb like Major Kong – Then again, I’m not out to steal your precious bodily fluids. Hehehehehehe…”

“If there’s a point, get on with it,” Harpie hissed as she trotted up towards the green pegasus. “I’m not in the mood to deal with your usual plop, Gremlin.”

Sora sighed as he turned his gaze to Harpie, his eyes rather misty, “I… I really hate to be the one to tell you all this, but unfortunately, Dyrad is no more.”

Harpie’s eyes widened, while Hellhound and Minotaur looked to each other in shock. Harpie galloped up to Sora and hooked her hoof under the green pegasus’ scarf, “Listen you lousy, little sneak! I’m in no mood for your stupid jokes and…”

That’s when a green armored hand wrapped around her hoof and lifted her up, it was then that she saw the diabolic, masked face with red eyes looming right in hers instead of the goofy mint green pegasus she knew. “I assure you Harpie, I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”

‘He… He transformed so quickly!’ Harpie thought to herself as she looked deeper into the red eyes.

What now held onto Harpie’s neck was a rather tall and gaunt Phantom, his upper body covered with green armor that had two beak-like, silver shoulder pads and his lower body was covered with black armor. But what was odder was that there was a large scissor-like reverse blade that he held in his other hand. “Death is something that I never joke about – If you don’t believe me…”

And then, Gremlin dropped Harpie back down to the ground, and in the place of the green Phantom was the fun-loving pegasus with his fedora lowered over his eyes. “After all, she was slain by the Ring Mages, but I can understand why you wouldn’t believe me… But I do have some evidence.”

With his wings, Sora removed his hat and dumped a bunch of red hair onto the ground before the three fellow Phantoms. Harpie’s eyes widened when she recognized the hair color, “T-That’s…!”

“Quite the shame, really,” Sora sighed as he placed his hat back atop of his head, a tear at the corner of his eye. “If I was just a few moments earlier… Well, I don’t think that really would’ve done any difference in the long run. I’m a prankster, not a fighter. And I’m more of a troll than gremlin.”

“Which one?”

“Hmm?” Sora mused as he looked at Harpie.

“Which one killed her?!” Harpie snarled back as a green aura wrapped around her. Slowly her pony form slowly faded away to her winged Phantom form. “WHICH MAGE?!”

Sora merely shrugged, “Well, both of them were there, so they could’ve tag teamed her. But Harpie, you need to remember, you’ve got Medusa on your tail – So, you can’t really afford to be reckless here…”

“I DON’T CARE!” Harpie screeched as she threw a feathered wing towards Sora’s nose. “This entire town will burn if I have to!”

A wily smirk slowly appeared on Sora’s face, “Well, you know something? I think I’ll give you three a hoof with this – I’m not a fighter, but I’m not just a prankster. I’m a schemer as well, and I happen to have something that might just be able to help you out…”

TTT – TTT

There was an air of silence in the Apple Family household, save for the occasional…

“OW!”

Since Haru had the opposable claws, he was given the task of getting the splinters out of Kosuke’s hide while Twilight and Applejack had a discussion about the latest Phantom attack and what to do about Applebloom who was the target…

It certainly left the two mages to deal with an awkward situation.

Haru tossed the most recent splinter into the trash and looked back down at the griffon’s bare back. And he couldn’t help but have his eyes fall down to the scar where Kosuke’s right wing should’ve been. The magical dragon opened his mouth, but immediately closed it.

“You wanna ask about it, don’t ya?”

Haru blinked a few times when he realized that Kosuke was looking back at him, his beak still curled up into a rather goofy looking grin. “Whenever somepony sees it, they always ask two things…

“One, what happened? And two, did it hurt?”

Haru looked away slightly, only to have his face turned back by Kosuke’s tail, “It’s alright! To answer the second question – It hurt like Tartarus!”

“You seem rather chipper,” Haru stated as he looked at the large nasty scar. “You were trying to hide that thing pretty hard.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t want that filly to see that,” Kosuke answered back with a little bit of pink on his face. “I… I don’t want to make her uncomfortable, especially if what you said is true.”

“I find it odd that you’re able to act like this,” Haru pointed out. “One point you’re acting goofy with your obsession with mayonnaise, another you’re getting ready to smack me upside the head, and then you’re acting sweet to a little filly. You got multiple personalities or something?”

“Haha, very funny,” Kosuke spat back with his tongue stuck out at the dragon. “Everyone’s got different parts to them, Dragon. You’re not just some snobby, doughnut eater, are you?”

Haru’s eyes dulled slightly.

“Of course you’re not,” Kosuke answered with a smirk. “Everyone is made up of different parts – Our likes, our dislikes and of course our experiences, that’s what makes us ourselves. My love of mayonnaise, my magical abilities and even the loss of my wing… That’s what makes me, well, me.

“And the me of myself doesn’t think it’s acceptable to let an innocent die just so I can survive another day – That’s not life, that’s just despicable.”

Haru didn’t know what to say as he pulled out the next splinter, there was more to this griffon that met the eye. And the magical dragon had to admit that he was blind-sighted by the odd entrance, then again, he probably did the same thing when he first appeared in Ponyville to save Twilight…

“So,” Kosuke chuckled as he gestured towards his scar. “Ya curious?”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Haru admitted before he tossed another sliver to the trash. “But I’m not one to pry – You wanna tell me, I’ll listen, but everyone’s got their secrets. I got a few under my sleeve and I know that sometimes it can be very difficult to tell others.”

“Well, there are only two ponies who I don’t wanna tell about this,” Kosuke answered back with his head lowered. “Otherwise, it doesn’t matter to me, just promise me that you won’t tell Flutters and Dashie about my scar.”

With his brow raised, Haru reached for another splinter, “And why’s that?”

“I thought you didn’t pry?” Kosuke questioned as he winced as the dragon pulled another splinter from the griffon’s hide.

“I don’t like to do so,” Haru answered. “But you’re the one who put it out there, and I don’t really have much of a choice but to ask.”

“Well, I… I don’t want them to worry,” Kosuke stated as he lifted his right talon up to his shoulder. “It happened on a day I’m sure they both remember, a day I don’t want to sully with the loss of my wing…”

With that, Haru nodded and continued his task, “Alright, I’ll give you my word – I won’t speak of it. Consider it a promise, Kosuke.”

“I see you’re finally calling me my name, Dragon,” Kosuke chuckled with a large smirk on his face. “Not mayonnaise.”

“Would it kill you to learn my name?” Haru requested with a flat look in his eyes.

“But Dragon’s much easier to remember,” Kosuke replied with a large smile on his face.

Haru lifted the tweezers up…

“OW!”

With the splinters now removed from his body, Kosuke slipped his hooded jacket back on his form and had a large smile on his beak. “Most excellent!”

“Yes, it was most lovely to remove splinters from you,” Haru stated bluntly, his mouth dripping with sarcasm.

“Consider it an honor to view my glorious form!” Kosuke replied as he wagged a talon at the dragon. “After all, not many males can say they saw me with nothing on my back.”

Haru slapped his forehead.

“Everything good here?”

Both mages turned slightly to see Twilight and Applejack come down from the stairs. Kosuke smiled as he lowered his head towards the two mares, “Indubitably! Splinter free griffon at your service!”

“So, what’d you two decide to do?” Haru asked as he walked past the griffon.

“Ah’m not too thrilled about this situation,” Applejack answered back with a loud sigh. “But nuthin’ Ah can do ‘bout that. Still, Ah don’t wanna scare mah sister, so we’re still gonna have her go to that cute-ceañera tomorrow.”

“Hmm, I see,” Haru replied with a nod. “So, do you want me to stay here for a while to keep an…”

“Actually, Kosuke would be a better choice,” Twilight stated.

“Wait… What?” Haru questioned as he reeled back.

With his signature goofy grin back on his face, Kosuke playfully walked over to the two mares and threw his talons around the two mares’ backs, “Ah, it’s good to be popular with the mares!”

Both Twilight and Applejack stepped forward, and had the griffon fall flat on his face as the two mares slipped from under the griffon’s arms. “URK!”

“It’s nothing personal, Haru,” Twilight answered to the dragon. “It’s just that there’s something that needs your attention back at the library that’s really important. We’ll meet with Applejack and Kosuke tomorrow to talk.”

“Uh, sure,” Haru muttered as he looked towards the ceiling. “At least I’ll have Kraken…”

“Kenny,” Twilight, Applejack and even Kosuke corrected at the same time.

Haru looked at the two mares and griffon with a dulled look in his eyes, “Whatever… He’ll be here to at least keep an eye on things as well.”

“So, I’m gonna be here all night?” Kosuke asked with a bright smile as he walked alongside Applejack. “Well, should I go gather my things and wash up for dinner?”

Applejack sighed at the griffon’s words.

A few minutes later, both Twilight and Haru had left the Apple Family ranch, the dragon with his arms thrown over his head, “So, what’s so important about me getting back to the library? We get another odd magic stone from this supposed weird pegasus?”

Twilight sighed under her breath, “Not, it’s something more important, Haru. But, I need to ask you something before we get there…”

“Well, ask away,” Haru replied.

The studious mare looked to the side as she trotted ahead of the dragon, “Haru, what’s your opinion on the Phantoms?”

“My opinion?” Haru questioned as his right brow raised slightly. “What do you mean? What to do about them? Or…”

“Do you think that they’re all evil?” Twilight corrected as she looked at the blue eyed dragon next to her. “Do you believe that they are only capable of hurting others?”

Haru rubbed his chin with his claws, “Well, I… I’m not really sure. But, it’s not like I actively hunt the Phantoms, unless they attack somepony, I won’t hurt them.”

“So, you don’t believe that they’re all bad?” Twilight suggested with a warm smile on her face.

“I learned that no one is born evil, Twilight,” Haru sighed as he pocketed his claws in his jacket. “And I learned a little bit ago that no-one is exactly what they seem…”

“You mean you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Twilight answered back.

“I guess,” Haru admitted. “But, what’s with all the questions, Twilight? I’m used to you asking me them, but you usually keep them to what my magic can do.”

Twilight took a deep breath before she turned to the magically gifted dragon. “Haru, there’s a Phantom waiting for us back at the library.”

Haru stopped in his tracks. After slapping the side of his head a few times, Haru blinked at the mare as if she had suddenly exploded into flames, “I’m sorry, what did you just say?”

“Haru, just stop and listen,” Twilight huffed as she lifted a hoof up to the dragon’s chest. “She had a chance to attack me, but she didn’t! She came to the library to get your help!”

The red dragon closed his eyes.

“You just said that no one was born evil,” Twilight continued onwards. “Doesn’t that mean you should give her at least the benefit of the doubt?”

“I… Twilight I just…” Haru stammered as he lifted his claws up. But with a loud sigh, the dragon’s arms fell to his sides. “… You’re right… But that still doesn’t mean that it was dangerous for you to do something like that! What if…”

“Haru, despite what you may think,” Twilight interrupted the dragon. “I’m more than capable of taking care of myself – And I seem to recall a couple of times when I helped save your flank.”

A small streak of pink appeared on Haru’s face as he pocketed his claws, “Alright, alright, you got me there.”

“Good, besides, Phantoms aren’t as scary as Nightmare Moon,” Twilight replied as she trotted ahead of Haru.

“Yeah… Wait, what?” Haru sputtered as he tried catch up with the mare. “Since when were you afraid of an old mare’s tale?”

“When I learned that it wasn’t an old mare’s tale,” Twilight answered back.

“Wait, what?” Haru questioned.

TTT – TTT

♪♪Go! Be like the wind! Swordsman of fate… Slip into darkness! ♪♪

“Are you going to tell us what we’re doing here, Gremlin?”

The fedora adorned, mint green Pegasus continued his song, practically ignoring the disguised Harpie, Minotaur and Hellhound behind him. It was almost as if he was just playing around the riverside area and the three just happened upon him practicing his song. ♪♪For what reason do you fight? Ask your sword! ♪♪

♪♪Things like justice and love always elude me! ♪♪

“…Harpie,” Hellhound spoke up, drawing the yellow mare’s attention. “Are you sure this is wise? I mean, we all know that Gremlin isn’t really the most trusting pony around…”

♪♪Born in the darkness… Hiding in the darkness… Cutting the darkness apart! ♪♪

“I understand what you’re saying, Hellhound,” Harpie replied as she lifted a hoof up to her fellow disguised Phantom. “But among the Greater Phantoms, he’s the only one who would be willing to show leniency and even help out others – If what he said is true, then we’d need his aid to defeat these two mages.”

♪♪Because it is a mission inherited from distant, ancient times!♪♪

“But we don’t even know if he’s telling the truth,” Minotaur pointed out. “For all we know, that piece of mane could’ve come from any pony… There’s another option, but I’d rather not mention it…”

♪♪Go! Be like the wind! Makai Swordsman!♪♪

Harpie turned her head away from her two fellow Phantoms, “T-That may be true, but still, what seems more likely? Gremlin killing her for no reason? Or the two mages doing her in because she’s a Phantom?

“Gremlin may be… Well, Gremlin, but even he isn’t crazy enough to attack a comrade with no reason…”

“I might be cray-cray enough to listen to your conversation though,” laughed a jovial voice, which surprised the three Phantoms.

As it turned out, Sora had led the three other Phantoms to a large rocky cave that was near the riverside, the same one that the Cerberus PlaMonster had led Twilight and Fluttershy to earlier. “And it’s rude to talk about somepony like that, especially if they’re right in front of you. Yeesh, and I go out of the way to help you three and this is how I get treated?”

Sora took a deep breath and puffed his cheeks slightly, “If this is how you show gratitude, maybe I should just tell Feenie and Beautiful Bloom about this, since it technically counts as a failure…”

The other three Phantoms’ eyes widened when Sora said that… But when he laughed loudly, the three breathed a sigh of relief, “Nah! I ain’t gonna do something like that! After all, where’s the fun in that?”

“Uh, who’s Beautiful Bloom?” Hellhound asked with his head tilted.

“I think that’s actually…” Minotaur muttered out loud.

“No time!” Sora laughed as he spun around to trot into the cave. “We’ve got so much to do, and the author is losing patience with us wasting so much time in the chapter.”

Meanwhile, across the river in Ponyville…

Pinkie Pie hummed a cheerful tune as she placed a tray of uncooked muffins in the oven – She had a big, big, BIG party to get ready for tomorrow, and she was helping the Cakes with their orders of sweets and baked goods for the party.

But just as she was about to fully place the tray into the oven…

“Hmm?”

The pink mare’s entire body crouched and then bounced into the air, her body almost made of rubber as she bounced against the kitchen’s floor and ceiling, the tray of muffins unfortunately fell to the ground with the mixture being splattered all over the floor.

And just as violently and quickly started bouncing about, she stop and stood in the exact same spot she was a few seconds ago. Her face twisted slightly in confusion before she smiled, “Oooh, somepony’s having fun poking at the fourth wall! I wish I could be there to see how they’re doing it!”

Back at the cave, the group of Phantoms slowly descended into the cave, Sora leading the group. “In case anyone of you are wondering, this cave has a very, very interesting background to us Phantoms…”

“What do you mean, Gremlin?” Harpie questioned.

“Well, you see,” Sora chuckled as he spun around and trotted backwards. “We usually have a Phantom stationed here – Lizardman if I remember. But he wanted a vacation to go on a fishing expedition, so I volunteered to watch the cave for a while.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Harpie sighed loudly with a shake of her head.

“Well, we need to have a guard here,” Sora answered back, leaping up into the air to land on a platform that was behind him. “Don’t want just anypony waltzing into the resting place of the Akumaizer!”

Harpie, Minotaur and Hellhound had to stop for a few moments to look at each other. However, before they could speak, Sora piped up once more with a large grin on his face. “For those of you who don’t know, about thousands of years ago, there was a clan who called themselves the Akuma Clan.

“They were a strong clan, a powerful clan that was once said to traverse the lands of Tartarus and leave without so much as a scratch, and they were known for their magic. However, other ponies and races of this world saw them as monsters, and rightly so: They kinda looked like us Phantoms, but more devilish.

“This cave houses the last three remnants of that very clan – And what we’re gonna do is instill some of their power into you three so you can easily overpower the mages.”

“Why was something like this near Ponyville?” Minotaur questioned.

But Sora never answered, he just turned around and playfully trotted through the cave without answering any more questions that the three other Phantoms had – He just ignored them.

However, it didn’t take long for Sora to lead the crew to a large, stone-cut room that was decorated with ragged curtains and rugs around a large alter.

But what really garnered their attention were the three coffins that were on the ground before the large altar – and Sora simply leapt onto the middle coffin and then onto the altar. “We’re here!!”

“That’s really disrespectful,” Hellhound pointed out.

“Ah, they’re nothing but dust by now,” Sora chuckled as he waved his hoof. “They sure as Tartarus ain’t gonna care. But that dust still contains their magical essence, and with a little patchwork, you’ll all be a lot stronger!”

“And what do you want us to do?” Minotaur questioned as he tapped his hoof on the far left coffin. “If you’re going to suggest us eating that dust…”

“EW!” Sora gagged as he retched with his tongue stuck out. “No! No! That’s just icky! Why would you ever wanna do that?!”

“W-Well… I just thought…” Minotaur muttered out loud.

“Look, it’s just simple to do,” Sora sighed loudly as he pointed towards the coffins. “Just sit on the coffins for a while. That’s all you need to do.”

“For how long?” Harpie asked as she quickly leapt atop of the central coffin and sat down to look at Sora.

“Oh, let’s see…” Sora muttered as he used his right wing to tap the fedora atop his head. From the hat, a rather old pocket watch fell into his hooves. When he looked at the watch for a few moments, Sora lifted his head up. “Shouldn’t take more than a single night for you to get the energy from these old fogies.”

“ALL NIGHT!?!” Hellhound and Minotaur yelled out their complaints.

However, before the two earth stallions could say a word, Harpie leered at the two and they slowly crept onto the other coffins.

“Well, good luck you three!” Sora laughed loudly as he flew through the air and landed at the entrance.

“Wait, you’re not going to stay here?” Harpie questioned with her head tilted.

Sora spun about and shrugged his shoulders. “Are you kidding? Hay no! I got me a life to live, the afternoon’s young and I’m practically immortal! I think I might actually go to that Sugarcube Corner place and eat my body weight in cake! Or I could go moon somepony, nothing like having your flank pressed up against the glass of a boutique or school to hear a bunch of yells and screams.”

“You do realize that most ponies’ flanks are on display most of the time, right?” Minotaur pointed out.

“Details, details, not that I need any,” Sora replied as he waved his hoof a few times at the three. “See you three later! I might just bring you some cup ramen if you still haven’t… I’ll just bring you the cup ramen later. Bye bye!”

And with that, Sora playfully trotted out of the room, leaving the three Phantoms to sit on the coffins – All three of them with a quizzical look on their faces. Harpie sighed loudly as she shook her head, “Gremlin just keeps getting weirder by the day…”

Neither of the three Phantoms noticed that the shadows around the coffins began to warp and form into nefarious forms with glowing red eyes at their heads.

Outside the room, Sora stopped and slowly his face curled up into a smile as – A dark smile that would only appear on those of the most hardened sociopaths, his eyes devoid of the life that most ponies had, ‘Life is so much fun, so much to do and so many ponies to have fun with! Soon, very soon!’

TTT – TTT

It didn’t take long for Twilight and Haru to get back to the library – Although, Haru was a bit frazzled after Twilight explained a few things about what happened before Haru came to Ponyville…

“So, wait, I’m still processing this,” Haru moaned as he rubbed the temples of his head. “How in the world is Nightmare Moon real?”

“Was real,” Twilight corrected as she stopped in front of the door to the library. “As I said, Princess Luna was Nightmare Moon and…”

“NO! STOP! DON’T DO THAT!”

Both Twilight and Haru jumped when they heard that familiar voice – And the two quickly slammed the door just in time to see Spike…

“And that’s Yahtzee,” Dryad announced quietly with a small smile on her muzzle.

Spike sighed loudly and slammed his face into the table with his claws lifted up, “Gagh! That’s fifteen games straight! How do you do that?!”

“Um, s-sorry about that,” Dryad chuckled sheepishly. “I… I never knew that I was good with d-dice…”

“Spike?” Twilight called out, surprising both the baby dragon and disguised Phantom in the library foyer.

With a shifty look, Spike spun about and knocked the materials of the game off of the table with his table and whistled innocently, “O-Oh! Twilight! You found Haru! That’s great!”

When Dryad’s eyes landed on the red dragon at the door, the green mare shrunk slightly and hid behind the table that she was at. This didn’t go unnoticed by Haru as he rubbed the back of his head, “Yeah, uh, hi?”

The disguised mare shrunk back even further, Haru shook his head, “I feel like this I did this before when I first met Fluttershy…”

“Well, to be fair, Fluttershy was afraid of dragons in general,” Twilight explained as she trotted over to the Phantom. “Dryad here is more afraid of both you and a couple of other Phantoms, so she’s nervous of who to trust.”

“Alright, alright, I get the point,” Haru admitted as he stepped towards Dryad, but stopped a few feet from her to keep her distance from her. “So, Twilight tells me that you need help?”

Dryad nodded, but kept her distance from the dragon.

“This feels really awkward,” Haru sighed loudly as he scratched the back of his head. “Well, let’s try this... Hello, my name is Haruto Souma – Haru for short – And I’m, um, well, I’m a mage.”

“I… I know that,” Dryad replied as she lowered her head. “I… I need your… Your help…”

“I know, Twilight told me about your predicament,” Haru stated as he knelt down to be eye level with the mare-disguised Phantom. “I’m a little surprised that you didn’t attack her or Spike, but Twilight’s word make it sound like you wouldn’t want to do that…”

“Y-Yes, I… I don’t want to hurt anypony,” Dryad answered with her head lifted up and a sad look on her face. “M-My family, they… They’ve done so much to hurt you, b-but, I want to help them a-anyway I can. They… They’re all I have l-left… I don’t want them to be killed!”

Haru placed his claws at Dryad’s shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes, surprising the mare, “When I became a Wizard, I made a promise to become the hope of any and everypony I could – If I can’t extend that to a Phantom who needs help, then I’m not worthy of this power I was given.”

“Y… You’ll help?” Dryad asked with tears in the corners of her eyes.

“Of course we’ll help,” Twilight added as Spike and she stepped alongside with Haru. “This is what ponies do for each other – Even if you’re a Phantom, you’ve still got a heart of a pony.”

“I don’t really have much to add,” Spike pointed out with a smile. “But I sent that letter to Princess Celestia, and we should be able to get some response soon…”

“Wait, why’d you do that?” Haru asked with a question mark appearing over his head.

“I hope that we can have Dryad and her family put into protective custody,” Twilight answered back with a smile. “Think about this Haru, if a few of the Phantoms are not eager to attack innocent ponies, then there must be others as well – In addition, who knows that information Dryad and her family has.”

“Um… W-Well, we know what a number of the Phantoms look like,” Dryad answered as she rubbed a hoof against her chin. “And… And there’s one thing I know for sure, but m-mom… Er… I… I mean… H-Harpie would k-know more…”

“Harpie?” Haru questioned with a raised brow. ‘Mom?’

“W-Well, she wants me to refer to it like that,” Dryad answered back. “I-In fact, M-Minotaur and H-Hellhound do too and…”

“Waitwaitwaitwait,” Haru sputtered out. “I recognize those two! Those two are the ones who attacked Applebloom earlier! Minotaur was also the one that attack you Twilight, and he grew to bigger size, and Hellhound’s that one who attacked during the time Gilda was here!”

Twilight bit her lip – That did make her a little nervous to learn that. But what made her more nervous was the narrowed look that Haru was shooting towards Dryad – And his claws were still on her!

“I… I’m sorry!” Dryad cried out, the tears starting to flow from her eyes. “B-But… T-The Greater Phantoms, t-they threatened to d-destroy them and…”

Before she could continue, Haru wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in. This surprised everypony and Spike, and Haru kept his eyes closed.

Twilight watched for a few moments as Haru just embraced Dryad and then she spoke up, “Haru…”

“I have no intention of going back on what I said,” Haru stated. “I will be a light of hope for any and everypony that I can – Even those who have tried to hurt others: So long as they stop trying to hurt others, then I shall do what I can to help.”

Twilight smiled brightly as she watched Haru pull back from Dryad, the shoulder of his jacket stained from the tears. “Still, this will complicate things – I doubt those three would want to talk to me about this, and I don’t want to put anypony at risk for this…”

“T-Then how about you come with to the Everfree Forest?” Dryad offered. “Y-You can be in your funny costume and hide nearby while I speak to them…”

“… Funny costume?” Haru stated flatly with a dulled off look in his eyes.

“T-Then, we can talk about this,” Dryad offered.

“Would they even listen?” Haru muttered as he rubbed his chin.

“It wouldn’t hurt to try,” Twilight offered. “Besdies, if they care for Dryad then…”

“URP!” Spike yelped before he burped loudly with a green flame that erupted from his mouth. The green flame swirled around and transformed into a single rolled up scroll that fell to his claws. “Well, whatever you guys decide, at least we got a reply from the Princess.”

“Well, don’t just stand there, what did she say?” Twilight asked as Spike unfurled the letter.

“I have to open it first, Twilight,” Spike stated. When he finally unrolled the scroll, the baby dragon cleared his voice. “To my precious student, Twilight Sparkle…

Spike has informed me of the situation, and after some careful deliberation, I agree that having these Phantoms in protective custody is probably best.

However, there are a few conditions that must be met for this to happen.

Condition number one: They must not harm any pony in anyway while they are protected, if this is broken, then we will have no choice but to retaliate.

Condition number two: Any information regarding the plots of other Phantoms is to be offered without hesitation.

Condition number three: If the previous two conditions are accepted, then a day after a response to this letter has been sent to me, I shall arrange an escort for them.

From what I read, I feel as though there is more to the Phantoms, and I would appreciate the chance to learn more from them.

“Signed, Princess Celestia,” Spike concluded before he lifted the letter to Twilight.

Twilight looked at the letter to confirm that was indeed what was written on the paper, and with a nod she turned towards Dryad, “Do you think that the other Phantoms would be able to accept these conditions?”

“I… My f-family would,” Dryad answered with a warm smile. “E-Especially if it’s the alternative to b-being… W-Well…”

“Family, eh?” Haru muttered. “You said mom before you corrected yourself to say Harpie – Is it okay for me to assume that…”

“Y-Yes,” Dryad mumbled with a slightly warm smile on her face. “H-Harpie is my mother, Minotaur is my p-papa, and Hellhound is my uncle. It… It’s thanks to Harpie t-that we’re all together… Even after the… The…”

‘The Sabbath,’ Twilight thought to herself, recalling the words that White Wizard had said to her a long time ago.

“An entire family turned into Phantoms…” Haru growled under his breath. “I… I don’t know what to say to that…”

“It… It was bad luck,” Dryad answered, her ears drooped down slightly. But then, her head perked up and she smiled at both Twilight and Haru. “But, t-this is really good luck! We… We can finally be a real family again without having to worry about the other Phantoms!”

“Indeed it is good,” Haru stated as he crossed his arms. “But I’m a little curious about something – Well, a lot of things, but they can wait. You mentioned before Greater Phantoms… Can you explain what exactly they are?”

Dryad shifted slightly and looked around, “W-Well, s-sure. L-Like the name suggests, they… They kind of are the bosses of other Phantoms. T-There are supposed to be three of them, but there are rumors that some Phantoms who c-c-complete their goals can ascend to become a G-Greater Phantom…”

“Three of them?” Twilight asked with a raised brow. “And do you know exactly who they are?”

“Um… Y-Yes?” Dryad answered back nervously. “T-There’s Medusa, she… She’s said to be the strongest of the three, but s-she’s not much for fighting – She… She’s r-really scary…”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Haru muttered as he rubbed the back of his head. ‘So, she was one of the big bosses…’

“T-Then there’s G-Gremlin,” Dryad added with a puzzled look on her face. “He… Um, well, he’s just odd…”

“Gremlin,” Twilight muttered. ‘That reminds me – That file I had on a Gremlin, didn’t I get that from that one time Sora visited the library? But, I’ve never seen a Phantom like that… Could it be possible that maybe Sora knows something about the Phantoms? Or could it be possible that…’

“And… And then there’s P-Phoenix,” Dryad shivered visibly at the thoughts of that fiery Phantom. “W-While he’s not as strong as M-Medusa… He… He’s much crueler and… And…”

“He’s gone,” Haru interrupted with his chest puffed out. “That means that there’s one less Greater Phantom out there.”

“That is true,” Twilight added. “My friends and I watched Haru defeat Phoenix – Still, he was an odd Phantom: He kept cracking jokes and made weird comments…”

“Um… I… I don’t mean to be rude,” Dryad coughed. “But… But… Phoenix is alive. I… I saw him j-just a couple days ago…”

It took a moment for that to sink in for the two. “WHAT!?!?”

The conversation was way over Spike’s head and had gathered the spilled dice and cup from the floor. With the materials back on the table, he looked towards Garuda, “Alright, I’m pretty sure I can beat you.”

Garuda lifted his wings up and pretended to crack his neck.

TTT – TTT

Later that evening, just as the sun was beginning to set, a familiar mint green pegasus carefully trotted down to the room where the remnants of the Akumizer and where the three Phantoms were. Balanced among his wings were three cups of instant noodles that he carefully held up. “Yoohooo! Sora’s back! And I brought you all food!”

There wasn’t a response, and yet still, Sora continued his descent to the room, a large smile plastered on his face. “I hope you don’t mind, but I got the cheap stuff – Oh, and I didn’t bring any hot water, but I figure that Hellhound there could…”

A soft snarl echoed through the air as the shadows from the room ahead of him flickered about. This caused the pegasus to stop in his tracks, and smile nervously, “I can see you’re busy right now, I’ll come back later.”

Slowly, Sora backed up the path before he spun about and dropped the cupped noodles to the ground as the snarls grew more intense. “Running, running, RUNNING!”

‘AT LEAST IT’S WORKING!!!’

TTT – TTT

There seemed to be an air of uncertainty about Ponyville during the night –Especially when Haru (dressed in his Wizard garb) followed Dryad into the Everfree Forest to find Dyrad’s family… Which was unsuccessful, since the clearing that the Phantoms were at was completely devoid of any sort of Phantoms. Much to the chagrin of both Wizard and Dryad, and as such, Dryad was offered to stay at Golden Oaks Library for the evening.

It would be a sleepless night for Haru.

Golden Oaks Library wasn’t the only place where there would be a night of restlessness for some, back at Sweet Apple Acres…

“… And after I saved the village,” Kosuke laughed as he lifted up a fork of apple pie at Applebloom. “They were so grateful that they all decided to make me their chief!”

“Wow!” Applebloom gasped loudly as she watched Kosuke gulp down the large piece of pie into his beak, Kenny the Kraken squeaked a few times that resembled that of laughter. “That’s amazing Mistah Neato! Yer just as neat as Mistah Souma!”

Kosuke nearly coughed up the pie he was eating, but with a few whaps of his chest, the Griffon swallowed the large piece with a loud sigh. “Just as? What makes him superior?!”

“Well, fer one thing,” Applejack commented with a roll of her eyes as she trotted over to the table that Kosuke and Applebloom were seated at. “He doesn’t put mayonnaise on apple pie.”

“Oh, what’s the diff between mayonnaise and whipped cream?” Kosuke retorted with a large grin on his face.

“How they taste, and what they’re made of,” Applejack replied before she turned towards Applebloom. “But that’s not why Ah’m here, Applebloom, its ‘bout yer bed time, so off ya git. I’ll be up in a sec ta make sure yer in bed.”

Applebloom’s ears drooped a little bit as she heard that from her sister, “Ah… Alright…”

And with that, the small filly slowly ushered herself from the table and headed to the stairs. Kosuke shrugged his shoulders and turned towards Applejack, “Aw, c’mon, not like staying up late one night is gunna hurt the filly. Sides, she seems to like my stories…”

“Yes, but Ah’m nnot so sure that Ah like ya telling her them stories,” Applejack replied as she leered at the griffon. “Sounds like yer stretching the truth there, Mistah Nitoh. That’s something Ah don’t want little Applebloom to do.”

“Ah, I get ya,” Kosuke replied as he cut himself another piece of pie. “I’ll tone it down on the stories, but a lot of that stuff did really happen to me: I mean, I kinda got proof, after all, I bet you wouldn’t believe that I could use magic unless you saw it first hoof, ya know?”

Applejack rolled her eyes, “Yeah, but yer magic certainly ain’t like Mistah Souma’s… But in any case, Ah owe ya some thanks.”

“Hmm?” Kosuke replied with his mouth full of pie that he chewed a little bit.

“Mistah Souma told me that ya stopped that Phantom from hurting Applebloom,” Applejack stated as she pulled her Stetson hat from mane and held in front of her. “And fer that, thank ya kindly.”

A small blush crept on Kosuke’s feathered face before he swallowed whatever pie was in his mouth. “Heh, there’s no need to thank me – I… I mean, it was just coincidence that I was there. Tartarus, I didn’t know she was even your little sister…”

He conveniently left out the fact that he was more interested in eating the Phantom…

“But, if you really want to thank me,” Kosuke chuckled as he stepped away from the table and drew close to Applejack. “How about you let me treat you dinner some time?”

“And how exactly would that let me thank ya?” Applejack questioned with a raised brow as she stepped away from the griffon – He was a little too close for comfort.

“Weeeeelllllll…” Kosuke chuckled as he threw an arm around Applejack’s neck and drew her close. “A candlelit dinner, lovely music, and of course, a beautiful mare to spend the evening with is something that any guy would love to do! Well, any normal guy…”

Applejack sighed as she pulled away from the flirty griffon, “How ‘bout a fresh apple pie fer ya?”

“… That works too,” Kosuke chuckled.

“Good, now, if ya’ll be kind enough,” Applejack stated as she trotted away from the griffon. “Ah’ll be showing ya where ya’ll will be sleeping fer the night. Ah got an earlier mornin’ tomorrow, and Ah have to git Applebloom to that cute-ceañera tomorrow too.”

“Cute-ceañera?” Kosuke muttered under his breath, his memory clicking on once more. “Oh! Hmm… Well, that’s something that’s got the old belfry a thinking. Are you sure that’s a wise idea?”

“Excuse me?” Applejack questioned as she fitted her hat atop of her head. “What in tarnation are ya talkin’ about?”

“I’m no expert in filly psychology,” Kosuke muttered out loud as he ran a talon on the ground a little bit. “I’m more into archeology, of course. But even then, I’m not dull-witted enough to ignore when somepony is in tough times, and I even I know that the time when others in a pony’s age bracket start getting their cutie marks often can be the toughest of times.”

“Ah know that, everypony knows that,” Applejack countered back. “Ah was the last pony in my class to get her cutie mark – Ah know that others can pick on those who don’t have their cutie mark.”

“Then you know what she’s probably going through,” Kosuke replied as he narrowed his eyes at the mare. Then with a loud sigh, Kosuke rubbed the back of his head. “Wait, hold on… Let me try this a different way…”

Applejack watched as the odd griffon in front of her mouthed a few words, possibly in an attempt to make sure that he had everything all set before he spoke up. Then with a snap of his talons, Kosuke had a large smirk on his face, “Alright! I’m all set to present my case! The defense is ready!”

“Ya’ll do realize that isn’t a courtroom, right?” Applejack pointed out as she lowered her eyelids slightly.

The griffon cleared his throat and took a deep breath, “While that is true, allow me to point something out to you dear Applejack – When I was with Applebloom earlier today, making Gliders that would attack us, she shared a little bit of information with me. Her friend, Twist I believe, recently got her cutie mark, making her the last in her class without one.

“She also told me that she had been bullied constantly by two certain fillies – Dunno why she told me though, but whatever. And from what I can gather, one of those fillies, well, that’s the one who’s holding the cute-ceañera that you want Applebloom to go.”

Kosuke sat back on his haunches and crossed his talons over his feathered chest and rubbed his chin in deep thought, ignoring the look that Applejack was giving him. “Now, as it’s plainly obvious, griffons don’t get cutie marks – But we do go through a time period where our bodies change drastically, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, so I do have a point of reference here.

“I guess what I’m trying to get at is she’s probably not eager to go to a party of a filly who’s been treating her with less than respectable means – She probably might even think that it’s just a means to rub salt in the wounds and that might make things even worse for her in this state.”

Applejack narrowed her eyes and slammed her hoof into the ground a few times. “Dang it!”

Kosuke reeled back slightly. “Um… Yeah, sorry, I don’t mean to sound presumptuous here… Like I said, I’m no psychology major…”

“Ah’m not mad at ya,” Applejack growled before she lowered her head. With a sigh she shook her head, “Ah’m mad at mahself, mah sister didn’t want to tell me ‘bout this…”

“Don’t be like that,” Kosuke replied. “I’m sure she was gonna tell ya, but I was just the griffon who found her – And after having a day like today, I wouldn’t be surprised that she’d spill into anypony or anygriffon that found her.”

“Hmm, then what should Ah do?” Applejack questioned as she lifted a hoof to Kosuke’s feathered chest. “Should Ah keep her from the cute-ceañera tomorrow? From the way yer saying it, she wouldn’t want to go…”

“I’m not saying that at all,” Kosuke answered with a shrug. “She should still go to the party, after all, it’s still something most everypony her age will be attending, and she shouldn’t be left out. But, my advice is to keep an eye on her while there, there’s nothing wrong with a little hazing here and there, but bullying is another matter.

“If she looks like she’s not having a good time and such, then you should step in… That’s your call.”

Applejack sighed. “Yer right… But what ‘bout the Phantoms? Ah really don’t wanna risk…”

That’s when Kosuke puffed out his chest with a large grin on his face, “Well, that’s why ya got me and Dragon on the case! We’ll make sure that not a single Phantom will crash that party!”

A small smile crept on Applejack’s face before she turned around, “Alright, good to hear. Now, how ‘bout ya let me show ya where ya’ll be sleeping?”

TTT – TTT

The night quickly melted into the morning, the sun lit up Ponyville with three figures slowly walking from Sweet Apple Acres – Well, two were walking, Applebloom was on Kosuke’s back, something that the griffon suggested so that she would listen to his stories while Applejack trotted alongside the two…

“And I swear to you, that colorful group protects the railway from bandits!” Kosuke chuckled as he wagged his tail in front of Applebloom. “They could even swap colors! And even though they were made up of different walks of life, it was still confusing to see who was who…”

“Still, Ah can’t believe there are ponies out there that can do that,” Applebloom stated playfully. “Think Ah could get my cutie mark in something like that?”

“Maybe, but Ah think Mistah Neato is makin’ that up,” Applejack said as she changed her gaze from Applebloom to Kosuke. “Ah mean, who ever heard of five ponies that could do that?”

“But Mistah Souma changes his clothes’ colors all the time,” Applebloom pointed out as she waved her hoof at her sister. “And Mistah Neato can do the same too!”

“Yeah, but it’s still an odd tale,” Applejack interjected.

“But it’s true!” Kosuke yelped out. “They fought against these steampunk gangster ponies and they kicked flank! Although, I’m sure there was something about IMAGINATION that made the whole thing goofy…”

“Well, ya certainly have a wild imagination, Mistah Neato,” Applejack sighed as she trotted ahead. “Now let’s hurry, we gotta meet up with Twilight and…”

“Ooh! There’s Mistah Souma!” Applebloom announced as she pointed a hoof ahead at the trail.

And indeed, Haru was a few yards ahead on the path, but he was actually laying the ground with his jacket balled up behind his head. It was easy to see that the dragon was asleep as a small cloud of smoke billowed out from his mouth every time he exhaled. The two mares and griffon reached the dragon, who was sound asleep.

Applebloom leapt off of Kosuke as he stepped closer to the dragon, “Heh, and this is my rival mage? Yeesh, how can he sleep out here like this?” The griffon brought his talon to Haru’s right should and began to shake the dragon awake. “Oi, get up! What are you doing here? And why the hay are you sleeping here?”

A small smile appeared on Haru’s face as he sat up, but his eyes were closed. The dragon licked his chops as he grabbed the griffon’s talon, “M… Mmmm, breakfast time?”

*KER-RUNCH!!*

“YEEE-OOOW!”

Two minutes later, Haru was wide awake with his tongue stuck out and Kosuke now nursing the new bite mark he had on his arm with tears in his eyes. The Apple sisters tried to cover up their snickers, but failed quite miserably.

“Why would you bite?!” Kosuke barked as he waved his talon a few times.

Haru ran his claws over his tongue a few times before he shook his head, “Wasn’t a joy for me either, you taste horrible! Bleh! I’m gonna need a couple of plain sugar donuts to get that horrible taste out.”

“Mistah, *snrk*, Souma, what are ya’ll doing out here?” Applejack questioned, getting the last of her snickers out of her system. “Ah thought Twilight told ya that we’d meet you and her at Sugarcube Corner…”

“Yeah, well, I really couldn’t sleep last night,” Haru answered as he slipped his jacket over his form. “So, when it was a little earlier, I thought I’d stay here for a while… I must’ve dozed off.”

Haru yawned and stretched his arms over his head, “I didn’t mean to fall asleep… But in any case, shall we be off?”

Applebloom’s ears drooped slightly, “A-Alright.”

Applejack sighed as she turned towards Haru and Kosuke, “Would ya two mind hanging back fer a little bit? Ah need to talk to mah sister fer a little.”

Both Haru and Kosuke nodded and watched as Applejack follow her sister. The two mages then turned to each other, with Haru kicking up some dirt with his claws, “So, yeah, I’m sorry that I bit ya…”

“Heh, if that’s enough to make you sorry,” Kosuke laughed with a wave of his talon. “Then I should be groveling for forgiveness for trying to smack ya upside the head yesterday. I mean, I’m not gonna, but I’m still sorry – After our little talk yesterday, I think we can come to an understanding, just so long as I can do a little hunting and quell Khimera’s hunger, I think we can work together to stop them Phantoms!”

The dragon rubbed the back of his head, this wasn’t going to be easy to explain to the griffon, but he had no other choice. “Yeah, about that – Kosuke, there’s something that I need to talk to you about. Last night, a Phantom came to me, and she asked for help.”

“Help? Help with what?” Kosuke inquired as he lifted a talon up to his beak. “Why would a Phantom want to get help from a mage – Especially when we’re practically the natural enemies to Phantoms…”

“Well, she actually doesn’t want to hurt anypony,” Haru stated as he rubbed his chin. “Hmm…”

“But you don’t trust her?” Kosuke commented.

“Maybe,” Haru answered back as he looked towards the sky. “But she didn’t attack Twilight when she was alone, and Twilight’s a Gate as well…”

“Twilight? Oh! That fine librarian!” Kosuke chuckled loudly with a snap of his talons.

Haru didn’t know if he liked how Kosuke referred to Twilight as that…

“Whoa, she’s one of those gates?” Kosuke muttered out loud. “Huh, think it was wise to leave her with the Phantom?”

“Twilight’s not one to be taken lightly,” Haru replied after he wagged a claw at the griffon. “But I gotta ask a favor from ya – Those Phantoms we saw yesterday? Don’t defeat them, or eat them in your case.”

Kosuke’s eyes widened and the griffon immediately narrowed at the dragon before him, “What?! Why?!”

“It’s part of the deal we made with her,” Haru answered back. “These Phantoms are being threaten with destruction by other Phantoms, and they’ll offer information about the Phantoms’ goals and movements. If other Phantoms don’t want to stop, then you can help stop them and eat them.”

“Hmm, I dunno,” Kosuke replied as he used his tail to whap a rock against a tree. “This doesn’t sit right with me – Can you even trust this Phantom? I’ve had to eat a couple, and they aren’t really the most trustworthy and honorable. I was always curious why they kept trying to get after someponies, but I was more preoccupied with getting Khimera filled up.”

“I get what you’re saying,” Haru admitted as he looked down at the ring on his left claw. “But I wanna hope that there’s some portion of good in the Phantoms. It certainly would make things easier.”

With his shoulders slumped and head lowered, Kosuke sighed loudly. After a moment, he lifted his head up with a disgruntled look on his beak, “If what you told me yesterday was true, then I’m still not so sure we can trust these Phantoms – Especially since I kinda need them to keep alive…

“But, so long as they don’t cause trouble, I guess I can go hungry for a little bit – I got used to it when I was coming here.”

“I’m glad you can see that way,” Haru sighed with a look of relief.

“However, ya know if they do try something,” Kosuke pointed out as he jabbed a talon onto Haru’s chest. “All bets are off – I get to do my hunting.”

“Of course,” Haru answered back. “While I hope that we don’t have to do that, I know that it’s a possibility.”

“By the way, I think it’s a possibility that the mares left us behind,” Kosuke pointed out as the gestured to the path to see that Applejack and Applebloom had trotted quite a bit ahead of them.

“Ah plop,” Haru sighed.

TTT – TTT

“Hello? You three still alive?”

Sora quietly crept through the caves, his breath now stilled when he heard the growls that emanated from the Akumizer’s resting place. Even as a Phantom, the mint green pegasus couldn’t help but take pause whenever he saw the shadows that danced from the room, not helped with the fact that the sound of steel against steel echoed through the caves. And it seemed the closer he got to the room, the more savage the sounds became, even with the occasional wet smacking sound that was less scrupulous…

The sound of steel that ripped through flesh.

It sent shivers down Sora’s spine, and yet there was a smile on his face that grew larger every passing second.

And when he reached the room, Sora had to stifle his snickering at the sight before him in the room…

“Oh… So majestic…” He cooed at the sight in tomb of the Akumizer.

Within the tomb, the three Phantoms that he brought were still in the room, but there was a definite change to them – Their armor had changed color now: Mintoaur’s bluish green armor was now gun metal gray, and the black to Hellhound’s armor was now a pure white with blue trim to it. The two had drawn their weapons, a halberd for Minotaur and a sword with Hellhound, and attacked each other, sparks erupted whenever they crossed blows.

The two Phantoms were fast, their attacks were almost a blur and every once in a while, the two occasionally struck the other with their weapons, and yet they continued as if nothing had hit them. What was odd was that both their eyes glowed a deep crimson, and with each set of blows that exchanged, the fire in their eyes grew more intense.

“Hmm? I thought there were three?” Sora mused as he stepped into the room.

That’s when several black feathers began to fall from the air which caused Sora to blink a few times and he looked up into the higher parts of the cavern. Perched at the rocks near the ceiling of the room was Harpie herself – Her white feathers now a pitch black and her green armor now a deep blood red. She watched as the other two Phantoms continued their sparing match, until her eyes landed Sora himself.

The green pegasus smirked wildly, his eyebrows raised, and he brought a hoof to his mouth, “Ooh, this is perfect! They’ve been corrupted by the Akumizer… So it wasn’t just a theory, ooh, I wonder what this means…”

With a snarl, Harpie leapt from her perch and immediately landed in front of Sora, her eyes piercing into his. However, she didn’t say a word as she leered at the pegasus, and soon, the other two Phantoms turned their attention towards Sora and slowly walked alongside their winged companion.

Sora rubbed his front hooves together as he smiled brightly, “Hel~lo! Good to see you’re all up and ready! And with a spiffy new paint job to boot! Looking classy!”

The three Phantoms didn’t say a word as they leered at Sora. The green pegasus smiled brightly, “OOOH! Looks like you’re not anything like your previous selves! You’re almost complete monsters! Amazing!”

Both Minotaur and Hellhound lifted their weapons up towards Sora, ceasing his laughter immediately. “Uh… uh oh…”

TTT – TTT

“Yeesh, you put a little dollop of mayonnaise on a cupcake, and you’re ostracized.”

“You do realize that we were party-crashing, right?”

"She was just jealous that Mayonnaise was better than frosting!”

“That’s not what that little filly said..." Haru sighed loudly to himself. Both he and Kosuke stood outside Sugarcube Corner, making sure to keep their distance from the building as requested. Even with the plate of donuts that Pinkie Pie provided wasn’t enough to quell Haru’s boredom or Kosuke’s complaints.

Although, when Kosuke had spread Mayonnaise on a few of the donuts…

“You see, this is why you got kicked out,” Haru stated as he lifted up one of the only three donuts that managed to escape the onslaught of mayonnaise. “Who puts mayonnaise on a donut?”

“Who doesn’t put mayonnaise on a donut?” Kosuke replied before he tossed a donut into his beak.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Haru pointed out with a flat look on his eyes.

“Or it makes perfect sense,” Kosuke countered.

With a second sigh, Haru turned his attention back towards the party in the building. When the small group met up with Twilight and Dryad, they immediately made their way into the party – Which consisted mostly colts and fillies, which made sense since it was a cute-ceañera. So, a grown up griffon and a dragon at the party would probably raise a few alarms amongst the parents and guardians.

“I swear, youngsters have no respect for their elders,” Kosuke spat with a few bits of donut from his mouth.

“I doubt that they hold respect for griffons who talk with their mouth full,” Haru pointed out with his brow raised. “That reminds me, how old exactly are you?”

“Me? Turning twenty-two this year,” the griffon answered with his chest puffed out. “And I’ve already made a name for myself!”

“Hmm, well, I’m younger than you at the very least,” Haru chuckled under his breath.

“Wait, what?” Kosuke grumbled as he looked Haru up and down a few times. “I knew dragons grew faster, but, aren’t dragons supposed to be a little bit taller in their teens?”

“You’re thinking of western dragons,” Haru answered with a shrug. “For an Eastern dragon, I’m a bit taller…”

“So, are you a blend?” Kosuke questioned with a rub of his beak. “You’re not serpentine and from what I can guess, you don’t have wings…”

“GAHHH! H-HELP!”

Both Haru and Kosuke blinked when they heard that cry for help, both of the mages looked about to see where it came from. However, when a second yell echoed through the air, their eyes locked onto a green blur that had another black blur following it while two bursts of flames flew from the ground below.

“Huh, that’s something you don’t see every day,” Kosuke muttered as he turned to the side. “Think that’s…”

Kosuke blinked a few times when he saw that Haru was already running forward, and the griffon sighed at the sight of the donuts, “Gah, such a waste. Oh well, I might be able to have something else to eat!”

Unbeknownst to the two mages, Twilight watched the two from Sugarcube corner, and saw them as they ran off.

Meanwhile…

“GAH! Is this about the time I stole your food?!” Sora yelled out before Harpie swooped down on him, the green pegasus barely dodged the attack. “The time I accidentally put red dye in your mane?! Or did you want something more suitable than cup-o-noodles?!”

Harpie flew about and attempted to strike the pegasus with her talons once more, meanwhile, Minotaur and Hellhound were on hot pursuit on the ground, occasionally used their abilities over fire to launch projectiles through the air towards him.

Normally, the Pegasus would’ve been able to outfly any of them – But his right wing filled with bloodied feathers, he wasn’t flying at top condition.

WHAM!

And there goes the other wing, the green feathers now dyed with blood, which unfortunately meant one thing – Gravity would soon take effect.

Sora turned and said, “Oh, you’re despicable.”

And then, just like that, he plummeted towards the ground.

With his hooves atop of his hat (he’d rather die than lose the Windscale fedora), Sora yelled out as the ground below quickly drew ever closer. Still, he closed his eyes and waited for said impact that would eventually turn him into green pony/Phantom paste…

“EXTEND – PLEASE!”

And yet, that moment never came.

Sora opened his eyes and realized that an insanely long, red dragon arm was wrapped around his waist and had caught him. His eyes trailed down to see Haru with a red magic circle that his right arm had shot through and was connected to the claws that saved him.

Immediately, Haru brought Sora down to the ground and had his arm return to its normal length, “You okay to run?”

Sora’s face curled up into a bright smile. “Why… Yes I am!”

Harpie immediately landed on the ground, with the air being pushed away from where she landed before the dragon and stallion. From behind Harpy, the corrupted Minotaur and Hellhound walked up.

Haru raised an eyebrow, “What the? They’re… They’re different…”

“Yes, well, they just started trying to kill me!” Sora pleaded out as he leapt behind Haru, hiding behind the dragon. “They’re crazy!”

‘Is this stallion a gate?’ Haru thought as he kept his gaze locked on the three Phantoms. ‘But… Something’s not right here. These three, I’ve seen these Phantoms before, but they’re completely different from before – And not just with their coloring scheme.

‘I… I can feel a darkness from them that’s different…’

“OI!”

Haru’s gaze turned slightly just in time to see Kosuke skid to a stop right next to him, “Heh, looks like three tasty morsels just appeared! Let’s see if my attacks are super effective!”

“Not so fast,” Haru stated with his claws lifted up. “First we need to get this stallion some…”

But when Haru turned back, Sora was gone. “Uh… Okay…”

Meanwhile, in a nearby tree…

“Ooh, this’ll be a fun little thing to watch,” Sora chuckled as he aimlessly kicked his legs about from the tree branch. Oddly enough, the blood that was on his wings had disappeared and he was back to complete normalcy… Well, as normal as a Phantom could be.

Back at the confrontation…

“Alright, he must’ve run off,” Haru replied as he lifted his claws up defensively towards the three Phantoms who stared down both mages. “Listen, you’re the three who Dryad considers family, right?”

The three Phantoms didn’t answer.

“She’s worried about you three,” Haru continued. “So worried that she came to me to ask for help – And I can do so, everything can…”

Kosuke immediately tackled into Haru, just in time to make sure that the two weren’t struck by two fiery blasts. The flames flew up into the air as the two mages stood up to see that Minotaur and Hellhound had their free hands lifted up with smoke smoldering from them.

“Looks like they’re not interested in listening,” Kosuke stated as he stood up on his hind legs.

Haru closed his eyes and pushed himself off of the ground as he slipped a ring on, “… I didn’t want it to come to this…”

“DRIVER ON! PLEASE!”

“DRIVER – ON!”

“I’m not gonna go all out,” Kosuke replied as with a wild smirk. “If they’re not willing to listen, then we’ll smack them around for a little till they do! Nothing lethal though.”

Haru smiled back as he lifted his ring up. “Thanks Kosuke… I don’t… I don’t know what to say to this.”

“I’m sure you got one thing to say…” Kosuke replied as he struck his pose.

FLAME! PLEASE!

Hii-hii! Hii-Hii-Hii!

SET – OPEN!

L – I – O – N! LION!

The two red and golden mythical runes appeared before Haru and Kosuke, and engulfed them to have their bodies covered in their oval-cut, ruby armor and beastly golden armor, respectively. All the while, the three Phantoms watched the transformation.

With the embers of his transformation fading away, Wizard lifted his left claws up to show off the Flame Style Ring. “It’s… showtime!”

“It’s lunctime!” Beast announced as he drew his rapier from his belt.

“I’m not sure if I like you parodying my catchphrase,” Wizard stated as he slipped a new ring on his left claw and threw it over his belt.

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

“Meh, don’t worry about the little stuff!” Beast roared out before he charged forward as Wizard drew his own sword from the rune that appeared.

Wizard quickly followed after the golden mage, all the while the three Phantoms stood still, however, just when Beast was about to slash his rapier down on Hellhound, the corrupted Phantom quickly brought his sword up to block the attack. Then, with Beast’s attack halted, Hellhound tackled into Beast and drove him away from the other two Phantoms.

It was then that Minotaur and Harpie charged towards Wizard, the former with his halberd with a low sweep and Harpie bringing her wings up to get the dragon from above. However, Wizard leapt over the attacks, all the while changing his sword into its gun form. When he landed behind the two, he quickly spun around and fired a couple of rounds into the two Phantoms as they turned around, which made them stagger back slightly…

But then Minotaur charged towards Wizard quickly.

With barely enough time, Wizard unfolded the gun portion into the sword and caught Minotaur’s wild charge, but the force that Minotaur had behind his charge forced the masked dragon back, his boots actually skidded through the grassy ground. “Gagh!”

Meanwhile, Beast was dealing with Hellhound, both of them exchanging slashes that the other blocked with their individual swords. However, every time Beast saw an opening…

“DAMN IT! STOP SLIPPING INTO THOSE SHADOWS!”

When Beast took a slash at Hellhound, the white armored Phantom dove into nearby shadows and leapt out from Beast’s to continue his onslaught. However, while Hellhound had the agility, Beast was able to block the assaults. And when he caught the current attack, Beast spun around and slammed his hind paw into Hellhound’s stomach and sent the Phantom through the air.

“You wanna do disappearing tricks?” Beast stated as he changed the ring on his right talon. “You got it!”

Beast threw the ring into the slot on his belt.

“CHAMELEO! Go, Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Chameleo!”

Beast threw his right hand over to the side and the green Runic Symbols flew over his arm and the chameleon head mantle appeared over his shoulder, the tongue flowed along with the fabric hiding his arm. “Now you see me…”

Beast crossed his arms and slowly faded away. “Now you don’t!”

Hellhound staggered about, trying to figure out where Beast would strike… But he wouldn’t wait long, as a long silver streak of metal appeared out of nowhere and wrapped around his body. The fiery Phantom shuffled about trying to break out, but Beast reappeared a yard or so away with the tongue of the Chameleo mantle the source of the metal streak.

With a slight laugh, Beast wrapped his left talon around the tongue and pulled immediately, which forced Hellhound through the air. “GET OVER HERE!”

Before Hellhound could react, Beast pulled his left talon back and slammed his fist into Hellhound’s face. With the Chameleo Mantle’s tongue now uncoiled around Hellhound’s body, the Phantom went flying through the air, right towards…

“GAH! HEY DRAGON!” Beast called out. “HEADS UP!”

Wizard lifted his head up and used his tail to flip propel himself over Minotaur, which caused the Phantom to stagger a little bit. But as Minotaur turned around, Hellhound crashed into the horned Phantom.

“Boo-ya!” Beast cheered out with a pump of his arm. “We’re awesome! We’re kicking flank! We’re…”

“Not paying attention!” Wizard shouted.

The armored griffon tilted his head slightly and shrugged his shoulders, “What? Can’t I gloat a little bit? We got these two on the… Wait… Two?”

At that very moment, Harpie swooped down and wrapped her talons at Beast’s shoulders. The Phantom lifted Beast off of the ground. The golden mage yelled out as he was immediately brought up high into the air. “WWAAAAH!”

Wizard shook his head before he turned back to see that Minotaur and Hellhound were back on their feet and had their weapons drawn. “Kosuke can handle himself, I guess that leaves you two for me…”

Wizard swapped rings on his left claw and threw it before his belt. “WATER DRAGON!”

A large blue circle appeared before Wizard, and a dragon made completely out of water erupted from the runic circle. As the dragon flew around Wizard’s body, his black cloak turned a bright blue with the rubies turning into demimonde-cut sapphires. “Jabajaba, Bashan! Zabun, Zabun!”

Wizard waved his arms before he circled them in front of his chest.

Neither Minotaur or Hellhound were impressed and lifted their weapons up before they charged towards Wizard. The masked dragon slipped another ring on his right hand and threw it in front of his belt. “BIND – PLEASE!”

Just as the two Phantoms were about the strike the blue clothed Wizard, several chains of ice wrapped around the two Phantoms’ limbs and bound the two where they stood. Wizard tilted his head towards the two, but kept his distance, “I don’t know what the Tartarus has gotten into you two, but you’re going to listen!”

The two Phantoms continued to struggle to break free from their bindings, but the ice wasn’t even cracking. Wizard continued, “Dryad came to me and my friend, one whom both of you had attacked! So, when she told me that she wanted help with you two, I’ll admit that I didn’t really want to help her or you…

“But she cried, she told me she didn’t want to lose her family again! So, stop this senseless fighting, and let me help you!”

Minotaur and Hellhound breathed deeply, with Minotaur snorting flames.

Ker-RACK!

Wizard stepped back when a large crack appeared in the ice. “If you continue, then I won’t have any choice! Don’t do this!”

Both Phantoms roared and shattered the ice, which allowed Wizard to flip backwards and grab his sword that he had thrown on the grass earlier. Both Phantoms lifted their weapons up and focused in on the dragon before them.

“HARU!”

Wizard turned slightly to the side just in time to see Twilight and Dryad gallop alongside the blue clothed dragon. “You two, no! You need to get out of here!”

“N-No!” Dryad replied with a shake of her head. “Please! You said that you’d help!”

“I am!” Wizard answered back. “But you can clearly see they’re acting strange and…”

“WAAAAH!”

Beast landed face first into the ground, with a loud smack that made the two mares and Wizard reel back slightly. And then Harpie gently flew from the sky and landed before Minotaur and Hellhound, her wings now crossed.

“Are you alright, Kosuke?” Twilight asked as the armored griffon began to push himself up.

“Ugh, after this is over, I’ll need some mayonnaise on fried potatoes,” Beast spat out.

Dryad galloped past Kosuke to get to her family, “Please! Stop! We don’t have to do this anymore! The R-Ring mage promised that we could be safe as long as we…”

WHAM!

Harpie slammed her wing into Dryad’s face, and knocked the mare to the side with a large bruise on her face. Minotaur then lifted his halberd over his head with his eyes narrowed down on Dryad.

Wizard reached for his ring of belts, “NO!”

However, before Wizard was able to reach his rings, Minotaur brought the axe down…

CLANK!

The halberd collided against a large, purple runic circle that had appeared over Dryad’s form, the circle had a familiar mark in the center of it. And Wizard turned to see Twilight’s horn glowed with her magical energy, “Uh, Twilight? That… That kinda looks familiar…”

“We’ll talk about it later!” Twilight replied as the magical runes wrapped around Dryad and pulled her away.

Wizard nodded as he pulled a different ring from his belt as Twilight pulled Dryad away with her magic.

“I guess this means that we can’t hold back any more?” Beast asked as he swapped rings on his right talon.

Wizard sighed and nodded. When the three Phantoms began to stalk forward, Wizard lifted his head towards them, “I’m sorry.”

Both mages threw the new rings to their belts, and the MUSIC began to sound out from their belts.

“DOPLHI! GO!”

“Nice Choice – SPECIAL!”

Beast threw his right talon to the side as a blue runic circle crawled over his arm, transforming the Chameleo Mantle dark blue with the dolphin armor piece over it. “Do-Do-Do-Do-DOLPHI!”

Meanwhile, the same watery dragon flowed over Wizard’s body before it crashed into his back, “THE BEST!”

Wizard looked about, “No dragon head on my chest, no wings? What’s this one supposed to do?”

Beast chuckled as he tapped Wizard’s shoulder, “Heh, I didn’t know you got tail extensions.”

“Huh?” Wizard muttered as he turned back to see that his normally clothed tail had been replaced by an extremely large silver tail that ended with golden spikes on it. “Heh, well, this’ll be interesting to say the least.”

The three Phantoms charged again, Hellhound and Minotaur on the ground with their weapons while Harpie took to the air.

“High or low?” Beast asked as he drew his rapier.

“High,” Wizard replied before his steel covered tail slammed into the ground. The force of the tail was enough to propel him high into the air and faster than Harpie could fly.

Wizard twisted his body about and slammed his mighty tail into Harpie’s back, which flung her back to the ground right in front of Minotaur and Hellhound, which forced the two other Phantoms to stop to make sure that they didn’t get hit by the fallen Phantom.

However, that left them wide open as Beast had quickly leapt up into the air as well and slammed both of his boot covered paws into both of the Phantom’s chests which forced them back.

Both Mages landed back on the ground, the two of them looked to each other with Wizard gesturing towards the mantle. “So, does that just give you healing capabilities?”

“Not just that, but it makes me at my fastest,” Beast chuckled with his arms crossed. “It’s also handy when I need to go swimming and sometimes even get water when I’m not near a stream or something…”

“Hmm…” Wizard mused as he turned to the side. “Think you can keep them busy for a minute?”

“HUH!?” Beast yelped as he pointed towards himself. “I know I’m a tough guy, but even I can tell when I’d be overrun!”

“It’ll only be for a minute,” Wizard replied before he ran off to the side.

“Oi, oi!” Beast growled as he shook his fist at Wiard. However before he could further his complaints, he jumped to the side just in time to dodge a thrown halberd. “WHOA!”

Beast ducked at the last second as Hellhound had leapt from the shadows to slash at him. “GAH! JUST HURRY UP!”

Wizard dashed as quickly as he could to where Twilight was helping Dryad recover, her horn aglow to heal the bruise that was on Dryad’s face.

“Haru,” Twilight stated as she watched Beast fend off Hellhound and Minotaur. “What’s going on? Why did they attack Dryad?”

“Something’s not right here,” Wizard answered. “From what I can recall, Minotaur and Hellhound there weren’t the most eloquent with their words, but they still spoke – And yet I… I’m not getting anything from these three…”

“I… I don’t know what’s going on,” Dryad sniffled as she brought a hoof to her bruised face. “They… They never struck me, even after we were turned into Phantoms…”

“Dryad, what do you want us to do?” Twilight asked as she garnered the attention of the Phantom. “We both saw that when Haru tried to bind them, it didn’t last long… And if they’re like this, who knows what they’ll do to Ponyville.

Dryad’s ears drooped slightly, “I… I don’t know… I…”

Wizard sighed and stood up. “I’m sorry…”

And with that, Wizard dashed back towards the fight as Twilight and Dryad watched with their eyes widened.

“NO!”

Beast slipped past Minotaur’s wide punches and Hellhound’s slashes with everything he had, so much so that he couldn’t counter attack. However, when a powerful tail slammed into Hellhound’s body, Beast spun about and sent a powerful kick right to the side of Minotaur’s head.

Both Phantoms were flung to the side and both mages stood with their backs to each other. Beast looked over his shoulder, “So, I take it we’re ending this?”

“Unfortunately,” Wizard stated as he slipped another ring over his claws on his right hand.

Kosuke nodded and jammed the ring on his right talon into the slot on his belt. “Well then… I guess we should do this. It’s time for the main dish!

“But I know it’s gonna leave a sour taste in my mouth.”

As Kosuke turned the ring, a loud squeak of a dolphin sounded out and his blue mantle began to glow brightly. “GO! BEAST MAGIC! DOLPHI MIX!”

Hellhound got back to his feet and charged towards Beast, his sword now ignited with a black flame over it. The corrupted Phantom closed the gap as a large amount of water appeared in Beast’s right talon.

“VERY NICE – BLIZZARD!”

As Minotaur snorted loudly and ran towards Wizard, a small runic circle that appeared in front of Wizard’s right claw, several snowflakes flew from the circle. “THE BEST!”

Both Phantoms continued their assault towards the two mages, who in turn dashed forward as well – Minotaur kept his horns locked on Wizard, while Hellhound had leapt through the air. Wizard threw his right arm up towards the oncoming Minotaur while beast dipped to the side as Hellhound’s attack and threw his right talon at the Hellhound’s side.

The surge of water from Beast’s talon slammed into Hellhound and propelled the Phantom high into the air, all the while a powerful blizzard flew from Wizard’s runic ring with snow and ice crashed into Minotaur, which immediately froze the Phantom in place with a fine layer of frost covering it.

With a loud smack, Hellhound landed on the ground a few yards away and squirmed in pain while Minotaur was a brand new icy statue in the grassy plains.

Beast sighed before he felt a tap on his shoulder, when he turned he was greeted with the sight of Wizard’s magically imbued tail now rested on his shoulder. “EH?!”

“You held back, didn’t you?” Wizard stated, not even looking back at the surprised mage behind him.

“Look who’s talking,” Beast growled as he pushed the tail off. “I told ya, it’d leave a bad taste in my mouth. Besides, I’ll be fine: Khimera’s still rather full from the last time he ate, so it’s no big deal.”

“Heh,” Wizard chuckled.

From far away, Twilight smiled as she watched the two mages walk away from the downed Phantoms. She then turned to see that Dryad had tears in her eyes, but had a smile on her face nonetheless. ‘Haru, you kept your word and… Wait…’

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Haru! Kosuke! What about Harpie?!”

Both mages turned towards each other silently.

That’s when a large shadow flew over them towards Twilight and Dryad, Wizard and Beast shook their heads and ran towards the two mares when they realized that Harpie dove towards the two.

Twilight’s horn lit up and the same barrier that she had called upon earlier appeared around her and Dryad. And yet, Harpie continued her deadly divebomb towards the two with a loud screech. The two mages raced as fast as their legs could carry them, but they weren’t going to be able to make it in time to stop the corrupted Phantom’s assault…

WHAM!

However, before Harpie reached the barrier around the two mares, to jet black armored feet crashed into her face and sent her spiraling through the air at the two mages. Wizard and Beast stepped to the side as Harpie crashed into the ground past them. “What the?”

The two armored feet that struck Harpie landed on the ground before Twilight and Dryad, both of the mares looked up to see the green armored back of the one who attacked Harpie. The figure sighed under his breath, “Yeesh, this is such a pain… Then again, I might be able to have some fun…”

“N-No…” Dryad gasped as she slunk behind Twilight. “It’s... It’s…”

“Gremlin,” Twilight finished as the green armored Phantom craned his head around.

Gremlin tilted his head slightly, “Oh my, at least these two are admirers – Well, that’ll make this fun.”

Harpie quickly got back to her talons and leapt through the air, flying past the two mages and towards Gremlin… Who was looking at the claws on his hand. With a loud screech Harpie spun about to have her talons ready to stab into Gremlin…

WOOSH!

Twilight blinked and saw that Harpie flew over her head, several glowing cuts now covered her body. She turned towards Gremlin to see that now he held onto two giant, scissor-like reverse blades in his claws, both of them glowed with the same energy that covered Harpie.

With a loud clank, Gremlin slammed his blades together and then the green energy over Harpie’s body grew over her body before she exploded into a surge of energy that flowed through the air. Everyone at the scene watched as the energy flowed away, scattered through the air.

“Hehehehe… Well, that was boring.” In a puff of smoke, the blades in Gremlin’s hands disappeared and he threw his arms behind his head. That’s when a certain rapier and steel covered dragon tail appeared around his neck. “Hmm? Oh my, what’s with this development?”

“Looks like the second course is tantalizing,” Beast stated as he kept his rapier up to Gremlin’s neck.

“Who exactly are you?” Wizard growled, making sure the sharp steel of his tail was kept at Gremlin’s neck as well. “And why did you kill… Huh?”

Gremlin disappeared from between the two mages.

“Oi, oi! Should you really be acting like that to the hero of this story?”

Everyone turned to see that Gremlin stood over Hellhound, his foot now atop of the fallen Phantom’s chest. Gremlin pushed harder with his foot and made Hellhound cry out in pain. “After all, aren’t these three the ones who you were just fighting? Weren’t they the ones who were a constant thorn in your side? Weren’t they the ones who have attacked you multiple times?

“I’m just doing what you two don’t have the guts to do – You hear a sob story, and it makes you want to spare your enemy? Despite how this world looks, you cannot ignore the black and white truth that you’ll be killed by enemies like this unless you kill them!”

Gremlin lifted his foot high up into the air, and delivered a powerful drop kick to Hellhound’s stomach, which made the Phantom cry out in pain before he shattered into countless sparks that glittered through the air.

“STOP IT!” Wizard roared loudly as he leapt through the air and spun around to have his steel covered tail slam into Gremlin. When Wizard landed on the ground, he saw that Gremlin was no long in front of him.

“Did you not want to dirty your hands with blood? Such a pointless endeavor.”

Wizard flinched and he turned to see that Gremlin was top of the tip of his steel covered tail, “How?”

“This is reality – Not some mare’s tale,” Gremlin stated with his head tilted forward slightly, as if he struggled to stave off slumber. “Nothing is as easy as you may think it is – Every action has a reaction: Do you think that by sparing these three Phantoms everything would be alright?

“No, they would just keep coming, destroying everything in their path, they’re almost like a natural disaster…”

“For a morsel, you sure like to talk!”

Gremlin didn’t even turn when Beast leapt behind him and brought his rapier down on the green armored Phantom. However, when the blade connected with Gremlin’s shoulder, the Phantom disappeared in a cloud of green smoke. “H-Huh!?”

“It’s rather sad when you think about it…”

Both mages turned to see that Gremlin was now leaned up against the frozen Minotaur, with a large cartoonish mallet now on the ground with his hands rested on the handle. “A Phantom is nothing more than the remains of the being who was destroyed – Mostly made up of hatred, spite, jealousy, and countless other emotions that would tarnish this world…”

Kicking the metallic part of the mallet up, Gremlin lifted the mallet over his shoulder. “Phantoms, we don’t belong in this world – we’re nothing more than stains on this world: And as such…”

Before anyone could move, Gremlin slammed the mallet into Minotaur and shattered the frozen Phantom into millions of pieces. With Minotaur destroyed, Gremlin fell to the ground and crossed his legs. “Whew! As such, someone needs to cleanse this world.”

Dryad fell to the ground, her face stained with tears while Twilight leered at Gremlin. “You… You’re a monster!”

“I won’t deny that,” Gremlin answered as he tilted his head. “I am a monster in your eyes, but perhaps in the eyes of others, I’m a hero. After all, I vanquished three dangerous monsters that would’ve burned this town to the ground without batting an eye. I just showed up to do what you two mages couldn’t, and I even helped out by saving those two mares.”

Gremlin stood up and dusted off his armored pants. “So, while this has been fun, I think I’ll go take a nap.”

“Hold it!”

Gremlin stopped and turned to see Wizard stand right behind him, his tail poised and ready to attack. “Hmm? Would you really attack me? I’ve done naught to deserve that – I’ve not attacked anypony, all I did was remove a few stains from this world…

“Made it a lot more cheery…”

“Why?”

“Huh? Why what?” Gremlin questioned.

Wizard pumped his fist towards Gremlin, “Why would you attack your fellow Phantoms? Why would you destroy them?”

“Is that all?” Gremlin asked as he gestured towards Dryad. “Why would she appear to you for help? After all, she herself is a Phantom. I’ll give you a reason right here and now…

“While it is true that a number of us Phantoms are nothing more than embodiments of sin and despair, there are a hoofful of exceptions to this rule. In fact, I’m one of the few that actually managed to retain their original selves after that one incident…”

Gremlin then rubbed his chin, “In fact – My little ring mage, you’ve caught my attention quite well. After all, you and I… Mage and Phantom… We’re alike…”

“We’re nothing alike,” Wizard growled before he spun around to whip his tail into Gremlin.

However, the green armored Phantom disappeared from sight. “Ohyohohohoho! Soon Wizard, very soon, you shall see the truth!”

Wizard slammed his tail into the ground and turned towards Twilight who was comforting Dryad. “Damn it!”

TTT – TTT

It was later in the evening at Golden Oaks Library, when both Haru and Kosuke sat outside with a box of donuts. Haru had barely even took a single bite out from one donut. Kosuke, however, was downing them like no tomorrow.

Well, after he doused them with mayonnaise of course.

“MMM! Delicious!” Kosuke cheered out after he gulped down another donut.

Haru didn’t say a word as he looked at the powder sugar donut in his claws.

The griffon next to Haru sighed loudly as he used his tail to lift up another donut from the box, “… Ya know, every creature in Equestria can produce their own mana. It’s a part of one of the energies we get from eating stuff, the calories we ingest can produce a small, steady stream of mana for those who aren’t born with horns in their foreheads.

“I can survive if I keep eating, cause Khimera can eat my own manga, but doing that can get a little tiresome so I need to beat Phantoms to quell his hunger.”

“… Neat,” Haru replied as he took a bite from his donut.

Kosuke narrowed his eyes, “Okay, look, I know you’re bummed… I know the cutie librarian is bummed, and I know that today was kind of a bust, but snap out it!”

“Hmm?” Haru questioned.

“We couldn’t save those Phantoms, yeah,” Kosuke continued as he placed a talon on Haru’s shoulder. “And I’m sure that one Phantom in there’s not feeling good, but that’s life… Sometimes there are times where you can’t do something about it – Losing someone you care about, not being able to help, or being caused great pain…

“That’s a part of life that I know all too well. I mean, you saw what I hide under this jacket, thing is, you gotta move on. I may not be able to fly without Beast Magic, but that doesn’t mean my life was over when I lost that wing – It just means that I have to work extra hard to make up what I lost!”

Haru smirked before he tossed the rest of the donut into his mouth and swallowed. “Aah… You know, you stink at giving pep talks.”

“Yeah, yeah, feel free to say that,” Kosuke laughed. “But still… We both just have to keep going on ahead, cause it wasn’t our fault that we couldn’t save those three – Sure, we can dwell on our loss, and have a few tears… But we also need to remember what we won…”

“Mistah Souma! Mistah Neato!”

Both mages looked up and smiled as Applebloom galloped towards them, but she wasn’t alone. Right behind her were a pair of fillies – A small white unicorn who had a curled mulberry mane and tail that had streaks of rose to them and a small, light orange pegasus with an unruly, purple mane and tail.

“See! See! Ah told ya Ah knew a dragon and griffon!” Applebloom stated as she jumped around a bunch.

“W-Wow, I’ve never seen a dragon up close before,” the small unicorn stated as she stepped back slightly.

“Yeah, they’re pretty cool looking,” The pegasus admitted, looking a touch bored at the situation. “But that’s not all that cool.”

“Oi,” Kosuke grumbled.

Haru smiled at the three fillies, “Well, hello there Applebloom – Who are your friends here?”

“Well, we met just a little bit ago,” Applebloom stated as she held a hoof towards the other two fillies. “This is Sweetie Belle…”

The small unicorn nodded towards the two mages. “Hello, Mister Souma and Mister Neato.”

“And this is Scootaloo,” Applebloom added.

“Sup?” The pegasus replied.

“Ya know, you don’t have to refer to me as Mister,” Kosuke chuckled as he scratched the side of his feathered face. “Kosuke or Neato will do…”

“But, you’re old, and its only proper respect,” Sweetie Belle pointed out.

The color drained from Kosuke’s face and lowered his head in defeat. “Gah… I feel so old!”

Haru chuckled before he turned back to the three fillies, “So, what can we do for you girls?”

Applebloom nodded to her friends and they quickly ran to one side of the dragon, much to his confusion. “Hmm?”

“Hey! You were right Applebloom!” Scootaloo stated as she placed a hoof on Haru’s leg. “This dragon does have a cutie mark! How’d he get one? I thought only ponies could get these?”

“That’s cause Mistah Souma’s talent is in magic!” Applebloom explained with a large smile.

“That doesn’t really answer the question, you know,” Sweetie Belle stated as she tilted her head.

“What Ah’m getting at is that if he can get a Cutie Mark,” Applebloom replied. “Then we’ll get ours too! We just gotta find what we’re good at! Just like Mistah Souma here!”

“Yeah!” Scootaloo added.

“That’s right!” Sweetie Belle chimed in.

“Because we are,” Applebloom stated.

“THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!”

Both Haru and Kosuke looked at each other with odd looks and then at the fillies that were now striking an odd pose.

“Ya know, these three remind me of that one group I once saw on a train,” Kosuke chuckled. “They’ve got a lot of imagination like these three…”

Haru just chuckled under his breath before he looked at the three fillies, ‘We may have lost a few things, but we’ve save things that are just as important – I’ll have to work harder to protect what is important.’

TBC

Author's Note:

HELLO EVERYBODY!

After a couple of weeks of dealing with... Stuff, We're back with the story! I wanted to get an image for this chapter, but you'll all have to wait till the next chapter to get an image! Cause next time we'll be using IMAGINATION to the fullest!

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