• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 3,753 Views, 136 Comments

Unity at Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17



Book III. With the lord of chaos released from stone and being the only none-Element, Dusk is left behind by the others. But he will soon discover that there is much more to him than he could have ever known...

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Unity Destiny

They left the library seconds later right after leaving some indignant Cutie Mark Crusaders in relative safety there. The three little fillies weren't exactly happy about it, but they weren't willing to put them in further danger than they already had been. Applejack and Rarity at least were a lot more relaxed afterwards, convinced in the knowledge that their younger siblings would be safe and, while she hid it well, Rainbow also looked relived that Scootaloo would also be safe.

Of all the times since this whole incident began, Twilight had never felt more confident as she did now. Her friends were back to normal, they had the Elements of Harmony with them again, they had additional support from more of their friends that she hadn't even expected to see and, best of all, she had Dusk back with her, his very presence enough to calm all of her fears. This time they were going to defeat Discord and he would be here to witness it.

Even if he was with them though, Twilight couldn't help but feel disappointed or perhaps that was an understatement. She wasn't even completely sure as to how or why she did it, whether it had been to give him luck or a way of additional support, but she had actually gathered up the courage to kiss him in that moment in the last battle. He wasn't even aware of her doing it at the time. Did this make her wrong then? Was it truly foolish to even think of pursuing something along the lines of romance with him?

It seemed that way, just a silly waste of time. But thinking that didn't make her feel any better. She did her best to hide her tears and keep her head low as they galloped through Ponyville.

Discord certainly wasn't difficult to find. They had only been searching for a few minutes, trailing silently behind a pair of Paraserpents that took them towards the centre of town. There, they bowed to pay homage to their lord and master and report on the chaos they were helping to spread and keep in check. He sat upon a red and black throne, in the shape of an elongated skull, two deer antlers sprouting out of the top and supported by plush cushions. Four more Paraserpents stood guard, two on either side of their master.

"Alright, he doesn't even know we're here!" whispered Rainbow from the hay bale they were hiding behind.

"Think them fellers are gonna be a problem?" Applejack asked, referring to his guards.

"We'll take care of them, have no fear," assured Strongheart. "You all focus on Discord."

"A good plan," said Rarity. "Well, shall we… Dusk, are you all right darling?"

Twilight looked to their stallion friend, who appeared to be staring at something in disbelief. She followed his gaze and soon she was sure that her expression mirrored his perfectly. At the foot of Discord's throne, suffering signs of debasement and indignity were two statues of alicorns, one smaller than the other but both with defiant expressions fixed on their faces. They were both covered in graffiti, streamers, cotton candy, chocolate and had white pointed caps on their heads, one reading 'bore' and the other 'pushover.'

Twilight felt her blood boil and she growled low in her throat. She had expected as much from when they went to distract him but seeing their two fair rulers reduced to such mockery as this actually here, right in front of her… if she felt that Discord deserved everything he was about to get, she was now utterly convinced that he did deserve that and so much more for such a crime against Equestria. She looked at Dusk again and knew he must feel the same, glaring at him and shaking.

Though it was against her better judgement. "We'll make him regret everything he's done."

Dusk looked back at her and gently squeezed her hoof in return. "Make sure you do." She knew that he meant for far more than turning their rulers to stone.

"Okay, here's the plan," she said turning to the others. "I'll lead the Wielders, Dusk the non-Wielders. We get as close as we can to Discord and the rest of you spread out. If the Paraserpents start to attack, you come in and take care of them."

The people she was addressing, Dusk, Spike, Zecora and Strongheart all nodded in affirmation, as did all the others. If Dusk looked nervous at her suggestion, he hid it and kept a blank but determined look. It wasn't the most elaborate plan, but it didn't need to be. They had the Elements back now, all they needed was the time to use them on Discord and revert him back to being a statue. Even he wouldn't be able to counter the full power of the magic of friendship against him. He wasn't able to last time.

She was about to wish them all luck and start to lead them off, when she realised something else and it made her stop and smile.

"What is it?" asked Fluttershy.

"I was just thinking," she replied. "When all this started and Discord gave us that riddle, he said we'd need more than the Elements of Harmony to stop him this time."

"So what? We found the Elements, we beat his stupid little game," Rainbow said impatiently. "Now come on, let's go already!"

"I know, I know, I just realised that, well, he was right." She passed her gaze over the attack group. "None of you are Elements and you could have just stayed out of the way, yet you still came to fight the battle to restore harmony. I suppose that was what he meant, because if it wasn't for you, the Paraserpents would have overwhelmed us."

"Oh yeah… I never thought about that." Spike gave a small chuckle. "Heh, cool, you couldn't have managed without me. I knew it."

"I could think of nothing else I would rather be doing in this dark time." Strongheart bowed her head. "It was my honour to lend a hoof to you all."

"I too am most glad indeed to have helped in your hour of need," added Zecora. "Now it's time for Discord to be disposed and bring this chaos to close."

Twilight nodded in agreement and looked to Dusk to see if he had anything to add. In contrast to the others however, he didn't seem so convinced. He had that look of concentration on his face that she knew he only ever got when he was thinking hard about a particular issue, focusing particularly on the now glowing stones around his neck and his hoof pressed to his chin. He always looked kind of… cute in her opinion when he did that.

Brushing aside this random thought, she had to say his name three times to snap him out of it and even then she could tell his mind still was focused on whatever it was that he had been thinking about.

"Oh um, nothing. Just that the uh Crusaders. Because… they helped too and… I don't want them to feel like they were left out."

Twilight knew that wasn't what he was actually thinking about, as he usually stammered or paused when he was either unsure or not telling the truth, but she also knew there was no time to press the issue. They'd just have to talk about it later.

"I'll make sure they won't be," she promised. "Now, spread out and get into position. It's time to finish this."

"Yes Miss Sparkle." Within seconds, they'd all galloped off into established hiding places and were nowhere to be seen.

Twilight let that warm enriching feeling she got when she was with Dusk flow through her from his words. She always liked it when he called her 'Miss Sparkle.' Anypony else would think it would sound too formal and Twilight herself knew that the only ponies who called her that had been her examiners. Coming from Dusk though, it just sounded… sweet, just right in a way.

Letting her thoughts and feelings for him give her strength, she led the others towards the spirit of chaos, who had just thrown a flying apple pie at Princess Celestia and sprayed party streamers all over Princess Luna, guffawing and laughing all the while. He paused in his mischief and conjured a glass under a torrent of chocolate rain, allowing it fill up from the brim to the bottom.

He rose the glass in the manner of performing a toast. "Chaos is a wonderful, wonderful thing."

"Not as wonderful as friendship!" she declared, his head whipping up to look at them.

"Ugh, this again?" he asked mockingly.

Following this, he promptly drank the glass rather than the contents, then threw the remaining chocolate behind him. This was followed by an explosion and a screech from a Paraserpent in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everypony, remarkably, managed to ignore this.

"That's right. You couldn't break apart our friendship fer long!" followed up Applejack.

"Oh, Applejack, don't lie to me. I'm the one who made you a liar." Discord raised a glowing finger as he said this, grabbing Applejack by her necklace and levitating her up to him. Clenching his fist, he did the same with the others, all struggling to remove their Elements. "Will you ever learn? Oh boys, who's hungry?"

This last part was addressed to his guards, who slithered forward eagerly. "Food from Lord Disssssscord."

Quickly deciding what to do, Twilight tapped into her magic and ordered, "Dusk, now!"

She heard three battle cries as she teleported up to her friends and surrounded them in a protective spell, lowering them gently back to the ground. As she descended, she watched Zecora catch two with a split kick to the head, Strongheart ram right into one and Dusk slam two rocks into the jaw of one, followed by his hooves down on its head. Spike who rode on his back finished it off by torching it with his fire.

Touching the ground, she suddenly felt grass around her hooves when she landed, like their presence had destroyed that little patch of chaos. Zecora and Strongheart galloped over to join them, Dusk sliding off the back of a Paraserpent as it fell, stumbling a bit when he jumped off. But he rounded on Discord with the others and Spike jumped off his back and raised his little claws like a champion boxer.

Bolstered by the presence of her friends, Twilight faced the lord of chaos defiantly. "I'll tell you what we've learned Discord. We've learned that friendship isn't always easy. But there's no doubt it's worth fighting for!"

"Oh come on now Twilight Sparkle." Discord slapped his face, apparently unfazed by the loss of his guards. "We both know how this is going to end, friendship or none."

"We know how this will end and it will be with your demise," spoke up Dusk. "Separate we're easy targets, but together we're more than a match for you!"

"Ugh, gag." He teleported in front of them and frowned impatiently. "Fine, go ahead, try and use your little Elements, "frenemies". Just make it quick." In the blink of an eye, he was back on his throne. "I'm missing some excellent chaos here." Some flying pigs flapped by as he said this.

Dusk bowed to them and stood back. "Ladies first, Miss Sparkle."

"Thank you, Dusk," she nodded to him. "All right, ladies, let's show him what friendship can do!"

"Wait-wait-wait!" Pinkie had become distracted by some chocolate rain and was gulping it down in bucket loads. After a few seconds she rejoined them, snarling like a wolverine.

It was time. Reaching deep into her magic, she surrounded them in a magical aura, awakening the power of each Element and blocking out everything else that might distract her. Together with her friends, she felt the power build stronger and stronger with every passing moment, finally letting it reach its peak and letting it all out in on magical burst, in the form of a rainbow. She could see it consume Discord, smiling to herself as she knew that it would now be doing what she had commanded it to do: turn him back to stone. This wouldn't take very long…

Wait, something was wrong.

She frowned when she saw the rainbow was losing its colour, turning grey as they had once done. She tried to increase the power, but it was already at maximum and soon the whole rainbow had faded away, revealing a self-satisfied draconequus, holding up his eagle and lion hands, both of which were glowing and absorbing the energy. He then snapped his fingers, the light faded and Twilight and the others smacked back to the floor in a heap.

"Badda bing, badda zip." Discord grinned and descended into fits of laughter again. "You know something, I think it's even funnier the second time around!"

"What the-? What happened?" Pinkie asked, shooting back up and staring down at her Element. "Why is there still chocolate rain? Not that I'm complaining, but why is everything still topsy turvey?"

"Oh my, was I kind enough?" asked Fluttershy. "That's it isn't it? I wasn't kind enough to use my Element properly!"

"Calm down sugar," soothed Applejack. "Somethin' fishy's goin' on here an' it ain't nothin' ta do with you."

"The Elements didn't work!" shrieked Rarity. "Twilight, what's going on?"

She cringed as she felt a dozen eyes stare at her. "I… I don't know. They should be working. We're all here and we all have them, so they should work. Why aren't they working?!"

"Has this happened before?" asked Strongheart unsurely.

"Of course it hasn't!" Twilight yelled back. "The Elements of Harmony always work if their Wielders are together, in harmony! It's a powerful piece of group cast magic originating from several different vessels in order to cast the most powerful spells possible. Nothing should be able to counter their magic. But they're not, so why aren't they? Why aren't they?!"

"Perhaps they don't work when their Wielders are delusional." She whipped her head back to face Discord. "I think you might have bats in your belfry Twilight Sparkle, I know I certainly do." A few of the winged rodents promptly flew out of his ears.

"You have something to do with this, don't you Discord?" demanded Twilight. "You've been trying to stop us every step of the way."

"Except for the part where I told you how to find them," he corrected. "It's not my fault if you can't follow instructions properly."

"Shut up!" she shouted back. "Don't play games with us!"

"Yeah!" Rainbow smacked one hoof into the other and glared at him. "What did you do to the Elements of Harmony, punk?!"

He pointed to himself dramatically. "Moi? Et tut, Rainbow? How can you be so quick to judge? What happened to not judging a book by its cover?" He conjured up his own penned work, gestured to it and it vanished again. "Apart from prove once and for all that chaos is superior to harmony, I am guiltless in this."

While they were all panicking and losing their heads over the apparent failure of the Elements, Twilight's gaze shifted inextricably to Dusk. While he seemed as anxious as the rest of them, he also looked to be more thoughtful and puzzled rather than frightened and confused. Once again, his eyes moved from Discord to the stones around his neck, absently tapping them with his hoof. If she was standing right next to him, she would bet anything she would be able to hear the gears turning in his head.

Almost reflecting him, that got her thinking as well. What exactly was he so focused on that it could supposedly calm him in a sense? Why was he so intent on the necklace? Did he know something that he was keeping from them or, more likely, had he figured out something else that would help them right now?

Rainbow however, was being anything but calm. "Ooh, I've had it with you!"

"Rainbow, no!"

Before anypony could stop her, she shot straight at Discord. The spirit of chaos raised an eyebrow at her, suppressed a snigger and snapped his fingers and she vanished in a flash of light. When it lifted, she was struggling as she was trapped in a mass of sticky, sickly cotton candy and Discord was pointing and laughing at her state like a playground bully.

"Lemme go! Come on, lemme go!"

"Ha-ha-ha! Oh that's just brilliant!" He wiped a tear from his eye. "You actually thought you could beat me in a fight! Now, I don't suppose anypony else wants to try their luck?"

He soon stopped laughed and his horrible eyes turned to the others, still keeping that smile on his face and his hands glowing with chaotic magic. Twilight's thoughts were in a whirl as she tried desperately to formulate some kind of strategy against him, a countermeasure, a secondary attack, anything that might work.

"Enough." His voice was quiet, but it was enough that everything seemed to stop. Dusk stepped forward, calmly and slowly. "You've done enough damage Discord, enough pain and hurt. No more. It ends now."

"Oh really?" Discord leaned over to look at him. "Just like you to believe in an impossible goal. As I recall, I wasn't the only one who caused that pain."

"I know…" He seemed to flinch a little from this, but he still didn't move. "But was has happened has past and I intend to see that you never repeat what has happened here."

"History does have a habit of repeating itself, as you know," he countered. "Don't you see that your cause is lost and that I will now rule eternal?"

"No cause is lost, if there's but one fool left to fight for it." If he was scared, he hid it. If he was doubtful, he didn't let it show. He just stood there, immovable and strong, despite his size.

Discord frowned and shrugged. "Then let there be one less fool."

"Indeed." He closed his eyes and lowered his head.

Panic gripped Twilight, knowing what was coming. "DUSK NO!"

BANG!

Twilight heard herself scream as he snapped his fingers and Dusk cried out when a bolt of chaos magic hit him and sent him sprawling to the floor. She reached out with her hoof, knowing it was already too late. She glared back up at Discord and her rage spilled over. Rational thought was gone in that moment, logic was lost and all she wanted to do was do something, anything to hurt the cruel, sadistic monster that floated before her.

"GET HIM!" Though they knew it was foolish, suicidal even, at her command they all charged at the draconequus.

Discord just yawned and waited for each of them. Spike launched a fireball at him, which he turned into a volleyball and threw at him, knocking him into a wall with a loud pinging sound. Zecora jumped, spinning her staff, but he made it so it spun of its own accord, lifting her up into the sky and dropping her like a sack of bricks onto the ground, accompanied with a horn honking and the staff with a mind of its own beating her on the head. Applejack tried kicking him, but she dropped into a giant apple basket and Discord trapped her inside by turning it downward.

"We have beaten your minions, we shall defeat you!" Strongheart declared, charging at him.

"A nice dream, but even you have to wake up." Snapping his fingers, he made the ground swallow her up. "Looks like the ground wasn't strong beneath your hooves then."

Rarity galloped up but she was soon screaming and hiding behind a rock when Discord put her in a jester's outfit, wailing about crimes against fashion and clashing colour schemes. The streamers that shout out of Pinkie's cannon coiled around Discord's fingers, whirled back around and wrapped around the pink pony, leaving her helpless as he bobbed her up and down like a yo-yo. Fluttershy had lost what little bravery she had and had been reduced to a quivering wreck, whimpering and hiding behind her mane. She peeked out as Discord leaned in close to her.

"Boo." With a loud squeak, she joined Rarity in hiding.

The cloud of rage in Twilight's mind lifted in that instant as she beheld the sight around her. All of her friends had been taken down and the total time elapsed hadn't even been ten seconds. Now it was just her and Discord, who now faced her.

"Oh dear."

"Well, well, Twilight Sparkle, this seems to be quite a pickle you've gotten yourself into." His smile grew, his eyes burning with malice. "All on your own, nopony to help you."

"She's not alone." She looked to see Spike getting back up. "She's still got me!" He took in a deep breath and only ended up letting out a stream of black smoke. He tried again, but got the same result.

"A dragon without his fire? Oh my, how shocking!" Discord snapped his fingers again and trapped her assistant in a giant gemstone. "Now then, where were we?"

Twilight looked desperately around, knowing that she was now well and truly on her own. She knew she didn't stand much of a chance and that Discord was sure to beat her, but she wasn't going to just lie down and let him beat her. Fuelled by the diadem on her head, she tapped into its power and prepared to send a spell at him.

"If you insist then." He snapped his fingers and he was dressed in a baseball cap, uniform and had a leather glove in his hand. "Let's play ball!"

Twilight's response was to cast her magic right at his smug face, which he caught with the glove and threw back. "Strike one!" She only just dodged out of the way and picked herself up.

Another spell was met with the same result, feeling it whizz past her mane. "Strike two!"

And the third time, but at least she had tried. "Strike three! You're outta there!" She dodged the first spell, but didn't see that this time he sent two at her. No time to move-

CLANG!

She skidded across the floor from the impact, her face burning from the spell and her belly scraped from the ground. She heard the sound of the Element of Magic clattering across the ground and landing next to her. Weakened by the strike, she raised her head and saw Discord crossing towards her, smiling victoriously.

"Well, not that this hasn't been fun Twilight, but I'm afraid our little game must end here." His hand started to glow again. "I'm sure you'll look lovely next to your beloved Celestia."

Twilight just didn't have the energy to move or to cast a spell to defend herself. She still couldn't quite comprehend that, despite all they had been through, all they had suffered, they still failed. Discord was going to win and there would be nopony else to stop him. The Elements hadn't worked, all of their efforts had been for nothing and Dusk…

She wanted her last thought to be of him and her friends, of all the wonderful times that they had spent together, all of them flashing before her as Discord prepared his spell. The first day she'd arrived in Ponyville, learning about the magic of friendship, meeting Dusk for the first time… those were the moments that she focused on in her mind and everything since then. At least she'd had a good life…

The light of the spell was getting brighter, travelling towards her seemingly in slow motion. She could hear the cries of her friends, Discord's foul laughter, even Dusk calling out her name, this was it…

Until the light was blocked by a wall of duke blue and a brilliant flare that followed almost blinded her.

When it cleared and she could see again, she saw that she wasn't turned to stone, that Discord was staring in complete disbelief and that Dusk was stood between her and him. He looked completely unharmed, glaring at Discord and the stones around his neck shining more brightly than ever. He glanced behind her, his eyes baring some signs of damage but still shining with warmth that made her want to cry.

"I think this is yours," he said softly, levitating Magic back to her.

"Thank you," she whispered, putting on her head and accepting his hoof as he pulled her back up. "But… how?"

"Yes, yes, how?!" Discord's eye muscle was twitching. "Blocking me from your mind, fine. Resisting my influence, fair enough. But standing in the way of one of my spells, my spells, without even so much as a boo-boo that… that's just… impossible!"

Dusk smiled at her and turned back to Discord, speaking in a firm but almost casual tone of voice. "Impossible is a word thrown around far too much, I find."

"No, no, NO! This just isn't possible! It's unfathomable, inconceivable, and utterly preposterous!" She had never seen Discord lose control like this before. He almost looked scared. "How are you still even standing?! TELL ME!"

"Oh but I think you know, Discord," Dusk said calmly. "I know now too, though it took me a while to figure it out, to say the least."

"What?" If Discord didn't look scared before, he certainly did now. "What… what are you talking about?"

"Well, you gave me the answer Twilight." He gazed back at her again. "While our friends certainly did help, I think that part of the riddle was a little more specific."

"Specific? What do you mean by that?" she asked.

"We do need more than the Elements of Harmony. Specifically, one more."

Everything stopped at this statement and Twilight felt her jaw drop. Even the torments that Discord was causing to her friends seemed non-existent as everypony stared at him. Discord too looked like Dusk had walked up to him and slapped him in the face. When he laughed in his mocking way, it sounded insincere and forced.

"Do you know how ridiculous you sound? A seventh Element? Give me a break, really!"

"Dusk," Twilight began, "I hate to say, but he's right. There's no such thing as a seventh Element of Harmony, there never has been."

That didn't seem dishearten him. "But Twilight, don't you remember? You said yourself that, since I met you, I seem to have picked up a habit."

Twilight was about to say something against that, but she suddenly realised what he meant by that. When they'd first met, that Paraserpent had separated them in the forest and he'd helped bring them back together. When their master returned and broke them apart, he'd helped bring them back together there too, both when he had corrupted them and when the Paraserpents had separated them, as well as being something of a driving force for some additional support against them from their other friends.

Then there were other times too: when Rarity had been kidnapped by diamond dogs, he'd been there to help find her. When the town was arguing about Winter Wrap Up, he'd figured out what they needed to do, along with her and stopped a fight breaking out. When the buffalo and townsfolk were fighting, he'd rescued Pinkie and become part of a new friendship between the two peoples. When they were all panicking and stressed from the Gala, he'd helped her bring them back together there too. So many other times when their friendship was in danger of falling apart, he had been there to keep them together.

Now she knew what he meant when he said he'd been there from the beginning. She remembered seeing that mysterious pony with them in the castle before he'd suddenly vanished and that she'd heard how her friends had found her because of a magical light that was shaped like her, that none of them had been able to explain the presence of. It was because he really had been there, right at the start of it all, doing what he did best.

And those stones… they'd never really figured out what they were. Could it be…?

"Do you see now?" he asked her. "Do you believe?"

That question in particular made her smile back at him. "Yes, I do."

"What?! How can you possibly believe this crazy fantasy?" Discord demanded.

"Twilight?" Fluttershy was peeking out behind her hiding place. "Is it really true?"

"I don't know." She gazed into his emerald green eyes and saw only truth staring back. "Maybe I'm desperate, or crazy, or just hoping for something. But I do believe him."

"Oh ho! Now the truth comes out!" Discord shouted. "Anypony else says it you'd say they're crazy, but if he says it ooh, it's the greatest truth that was ever spoken."

"But it is true, isn't it?" She looked straight at Discord. "You know it is, you've always known. That was why you targeted Dusk. It wasn't just to get at me, it was to distract him too, like you did with all of us, prevent him from discovering what he truly is… who he truly is."

"Then… those stones…" Rarity whispered.

"These stones, if I'm right," said Dusk, "aren't just any pieces of random rock. They're something very important, the same how your Elements began. I didn't even fully know at first, but I still kept them when I found them. They're pieces of an Element of Harmony. My Element of Harmony!"

"No! No, you can't do this! It's not fair!" Discord insisted desperately.

"Yes we can!" Twilight stepped forward and knew exactly what to say. "Dusk Noir, who keeps our friendship together when it seems like it will fall apart, represents the spirit… of Unity!"

The instant she said that, the stones shone with the intensity of the rising sun, consuming Dusk in their brilliant glow. She saw tendrils of Dusk's colour magic shine both from them and his horn, connecting to the necklaces and crown they all wore. The other Elements also started to glow, including hers and the chaos holding down her friends was destroyed, freeing them all. Small colour outlines soared out of them and sped towards him, adding to the magic and lifting him into the air, along with the matching fragments they went to. They all gathered at the base of his neck and she could see his smile as he was swallowed up in the light.

Her eyes never left him the whole time, never caring how bright it was. When it eventually faded, Dusk stood tall and proud, ready for action. The small stones that had once been around his neck held in place with string had vanished and were replaced by a necklace of shimmering silver, with seven jewels at the centre. Six of them encircled a round jewel in the centre, which was the same colour as Dusk's fur. Though it was at the centre, it was the same size as the other jewels and shone just as brightly as they did.

"No, no,no, no you don't!" Discord pointed a shaky finger at him. "I'm still more powerful than you, I'm still top dog!"

Dusk looked up at Discord and shook his head. "You claim to be as constant as the northern star, but your heart is cramm'd with arrogancy, spleen, and pride. Now, your pride has fallen with your fortunes and so will you."

"Come on girls! Let's try this one more time!" Releived from their disbelieving stupor, they swiftly stood in formation again. "Dusk, you're in the middle!"

"As you wish, Miss Sparkle. Now, I just one thing left to say." Dusk kept his eyes on Discord, the Elements starting to glow once again. "Have at thee!"

She could hear Discord screaming in defiance and trying and failing to stop them using the Elements, the hisses of Paraserpents converging on them and fearing to approach the light, Zecora, Strongheart, Spike, surprisingly, the Cutie Mark Crusaders cheering for them. She felt her hooves leave the fall, the great burst of power that came from the power of friendship and Discord's final scream as he was consumed by the rainbow of magic that they emitted. Somehow, it seemed more focused than last time, like a beam more than a burst of energy.

The sound of birds, the trickling of the stream and the warm sun graced their skin when the magic was complete. The headache she had this time was nowhere near as bad as when she used them the first time. She had no idea how happy she was to feel the soft green grass under her hooves, see the clear blue sky above. Everything was back to normal, right down to the statue of the once living, moving spirit of chaos.

There was a moment of silence, stillness that seemed to last for hours. After all that had happened, it was strange to think that they had actually won, that what had happened was actually true and not some strange dream. They had won, they'd beaten Discord. Just like Nightmare Moon, they had won.

"So doth fall Discord," remarked Dusk. Like his words broke some kind of spell, now everypony cheered and celebrated their victory.

Twilight immediately rounded on Dusk and caught him in a loving embrace. She was soon followed by the others, to her disappointment. Soon, the non-Wielders were there as well, sharing in their triumph, even the Crusaders who came galloping out of hiding behind a rock.

"Ah thought we told y'all ta stay in the library." Applejack frowned at Apple Bloom.

"We made sure we stayed hidden sis, we really did!" insisted her younger sibling. "We only wanted ta see…"

"Well… ah suppose…" Applejack shook her head and beamed. "Oh, come here you!" She swooped up her sibling, Rarity doing the same with Sweetie, leaving Scootaloo glancing hopefully at Rainbow Dash, who didn't appear to have noticed.

"Now we have put this battle to bed, I think I need some ointment for my head," noted Zecora, rubbing where she had been sruck by her own staff.

"I could see about helping with that," Strongheart offered. "The medicine of my people is quite beneficial."

"Yes, so I have seen, you must tell me the remedy," suggested the zebra.

"Well, it's quite simple really, you see…" Twilight stopped listening and focused on showing Dusk everything she felt for him in her embrace.

"Yeah, we did it!" She looked to see Spike hugging her leg. "Although… I think that's kind of put me off gems for a while."

He'll be back to eating them by next week she thought, not responding to him and allowing Dusk to have all of her attention.

"Dusk, we did it! We won!" She pulled back and shook her head. "It's… it's kind of hard to believe really…"

"The feeling is mutual." Eventually, a grin was plastered over his face. "But it's true, we've really defeated him."

"Hay yeah we did!" Rainbow punched his arm and grinned. "And you… Look at you, I mean… just look at you! How awesome is that?!"

"I know…" He looked down at the Element called Unity, tracing his hoof over the facets. "It's… remarkable, me an Element of Harmony…"

"A seventh Element-a Harmony… who'da thought it huh?" Applejack noted in a similar tone.

"This is so great! Now we got two things to celebrate!" cried Pinkie happily. "Does that mean we're gonna need to have two parties? I hope so, cause I think this needs two parties, cause there's just so much celebrating to do! This is wonderfulous and spectaceriffic! See what I did there?"

"Oh that looks absolutely gorgeous darling!" Rarity's eyes were as big as the jewels in Dusk's Element. "The silver definitely works for you, I must say. Not quite as flashy as gold, but it works so well on you."

"It's lovely," agreed Fluttershy. "But… I don't understand. Why doesn't yours look like your cutie mark? All of ours do."

"I… I don't know. Why…?" He looked to his flank and his mouth fell open in shock.

When Twilight looked, she saw why. The necklace wasn't the only thing that had changed. The scroll that had once been his cutie mark had gone and was replaced with the image on Unity: seven coloured orbs, small white sparkles in their depths, arranged in a circle with the dark blue orb in the middle of it. Just like how Dusk's colour puppets looked.

"How… how is that even possible?" he asked.

"It seems that you've discovered more than just a hidden destiny." Celestia had arrived with Luna, her smile as warm as the sun and giving her sister a knowing look. "I think that your true special talent has surfaced at last."

"About time too, we should think." Luna returned her sister's look, then shook her head and frowned. "We can understand Discord's feelings. Being turned to stone is not a pleasant experience, it has to be said."

Though she was happy to see them both safe, those looks made Twilight start thinking again and she could tell Dusk was too. He'd been in the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters when all of this had started for some unknown reason and Luna had seemed rather interested in him for a while right now. She and Celestia had to know something about this. After all, she'd known about the Elements during the Summer Sun Celebration, why not this?

But there would be time for answering questions later and neither of them said anything on the matter. For now at least.

"I wouldn't think so." Twilight saw Dusk run towards Luna, as she did to Celestia and hug her. "I'm glad you're okay…"

"As I am, to see you alive and well, Dusk," she replied.

"I'm proud of you, my student." Celestia beamed down at Twilight. "You and your friends have shown how truly powerful the magic of friendship is. I knew you wouldn't let us down."

"Never." She looked up at her with concern. "Are you alright, Princess?"

"Quite fine, Twilight, I assure you. Discord has been vanquished once more and harmony is restored to Equestria. I couldn't be better." She looked up around at them all. "You have all played your parts in saving our home land and I'll see to it that is acknowledged. For now though, on behalf of us all, thank you, all of you."

Everypony returned her gratitude with low bows and adoring smiles. Twilight in particular saw Strongheart staring with awe at Princess Luna, who stepped up to speak with her Royal Canterlot voice.

"Yes, we thank thee all! Now, our sister and we must return to Canterlot, for a celebration must be organized and we must also inform the keeper of the gardens." She looked over at Discord. "He will find the gardens are missing a sculpture."

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