• Published 8th Feb 2012
  • 15,576 Views, 1,265 Comments

My Little Denarians - Chengar Qordath



Harry Dresden must go to Equestria to stop an evil plot by the Order of the Blackened Denarius

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But Thou Must!

"THOU MUST RECOVER THE ELEMENTS OF HARMONY AND FREE OUR SISTER FROM DISCORD'S FOUL CLUTCHES!"

Oh god, I think my ears were bleeding.

I hadn't known what to expect when the other Princess of Equestria arrived on the scene. I mean, in the cartoon I'd only seen about five seconds of what she was like when she wasn't hopped up on a bunch of Dark Side crack. Sane Luna was definitely ... louder.

"Um, Princess Luna?" Twilight Sparkle seemed to be the only person or pony capable of coherent speech; my ears were still ringing from Luna's first verbal assault. I guess being Celestia's protégé made Twilight a bit more used to dealing with eccentric royalty. "Do you know of any way to find the Princess or the Elements? Right now, we have no idea where she might be, so..."

"THOU MUST FIND THE ELEMENTS AND AID MY SISTER!" The Princess didn't seem to be in the mood to hear any objections. I guess I can't really blame her, considering my track record of going a little crazy when my family is threatened. She didn't want to hear that we had not idea what to do or where to look and needed more information; she wanted to hear that her sister was going to be alright.

"But-" Twilight began.

"THOU MUST!" Somehow, Luna's voice managed to get louder. Seriously, I'm going to be lucky to end up deaf by the time we finish this conversation.

"Okay." Fluttershy was flat on the ground and had both forelegs crossed over her head. The poor thing looked like she was trying to find a way to sink down into the ground and get away from the scary yelling pony. I would've tried to find some way to un-scare her, but I'm pretty sure nothing I could manage would do any good as long Luna kept talking.

Seriously, what's with all the yelling? The outdated language made sense considering the fact that she'd been out of touch with the world for a thousand years, but back when thee and thou were the new hip lingo people still used normal volume levels to say them. Wait ... maybe she had a hearing problem? Heck, Celestia's throwdown with Discord had been loud enough that I still had a bit of ringing in my ears.

On the other hand, maybe that was from Luna's voice.

"PRINCESS. LUNA." I enunciated each word slowly and carefully, to make help the hearing-impaired princess out. "DO. YOU. KNOW. WHERE. DISCORD. MIGHT. HAVE. HIDDEN. THE. ELEMENTS. OF. HARMONY?"

Twilight seemed to have caught on to what I was thinking, and added. "DID. DISCORD. HAVE. A. PALACE. OR. SOME. OTHER. HOME. BEFORE. YOU. AND. PRINCESS. CELESTIA. SEALED. HIM. AWAY? THAT. MIGHT. BE. WHERE. HE'S. WORKING. FROM."

"WHY ART THOU SPEAKING SO STRANGELY TO US?" The Princess demanded.

"Please stop shouting." Fluttershy whimpered.

"WHAT IS EVERYPONY HOLLERIN' FOR?" Applejack asked.

"I HAVE NO IDEA." Rarity shouted back.

"YELLING! WOO!" Pinkie Pie screamed. "I LOVE THE YELLING GAME!"

"Please stop everypony." Fluttershy begged.

"HEY! STOP SHOUTING! IT'S SCARING FLUTTERSHY!" Rainbow Dash shouted louder than everyone else did.

"WHAT?" Twilight yelled back. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER EVERYPONY ELSE."

"I SAID -"

"SILENCE!" Luna's voice was loud enough to make the ground shake, and a dramatic bolt of lightning shot down out of the cloudless sky to emphasize her words. I have to admit, that's a pretty neat trick.

Five ponies and one wizard-turned-pony promptly obeyed, and the ponies all dropped down into the pony equivalent of bows (well, in Fluttershy's case she just kept cowering from all the yelling, but that was close enough to a bow).

Pinkie Pie was the exception. "Ooo, you're good at the yelling game!" The peppy pink party pony pounced playfully upward.

Wait... Why am I thinking in alliteration? Being in cartoon-land is really starting to mess with my brain.

Unaware or uncaring of my continuing descent into toonification, Pinkie Pie continued gleefully bouncing around the princess. "My turn to yell now!"

Pinkie Pie took a deep breath, but before she could deliver another shout Luna slammed a hoof onto the ground hard enough to crack the paving stones, and more lightning bolts shot down from the sky. I guess one of the perks of being an immortal with close to godlike abilities is being able to make sure there's always a dramatic lightning strike to emphasize your points.

Pinkie Pie wilted under the Princess death glare. "On second thought, you win the yelling game."

A long, awkward silence followed, the Princess still looking rather put out with the lot of us, and all the other ponies not exactly sure how to handle just how badly that whole conversation had gone off track.

Lash came to the rescue. "I pray thee, Your Highness, excuse mine companions for their most unacceptable behavior." Lash shot at an acidic look back at the rest of this. "I am sure they meant no deliberate offense, they are simply a collection of prattling addlepated varlets, and cannot help their occasional lapses in decorum, especially in such troubled times as we find ourselves in."

"IN CONSIDERATION OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE SHALL OVERLOOK THE MATTER." Luna was still quite loud, but at least she'd toned the volume down a bit now that she was just speaking to Lash.

I guess being around for as long as Lash had does give one the advantage of having a solid grasp of antiquated linguistics. Compared to ancient Sumerian, Shakespearean English was child's play.

"Hey," Rainbow Dash whispered to the rest of us. "What'd she call us? I never heard of a prattling addlepated varlet before. I don't like it when ponies call me things I don't know the meaning of." Rainbow paused in thought for a moment, and amended. "Well, I guess it's alright if it's cool. Is it something cool?"

"Not now, Rainbow." Twilight whispered back. From the look on the scholar's face, I figured she had stuck her nose into enough old books to know Lash had basically called us a bunch of idiots, and the last thing we needed was for Rainbow Dash to cause another scene with the Princess while Lash was still cleaning up the fallout from our first goof-up.

"Nay, fair Lash." Luna actually had her voice down to an almost normal volume now, at least in comparison to the deafening bellow she'd been using a couple minutes ago. "Discord ne'er established a permanent residence or held any great care for a single location, and we and our sister removed what signs of his reign he left behind after we unleashed power of Harmony upon him."

"Wouldst you have any suggestions on where we might seek the blackguard out, Your Highness?"

"Nay, we fear not." Luna reluctantly answered. "Discord's thoughts are ever unknowable. Thou must seek him out to the best of thine ability. We wouldst take the field at thy side, save that in our sister's absence it falls to us to maintain order. We must act to curb Discord's influence and lessen the damage he might inflict upon our subjects."

"But how are we supposed to find Discord and the Elements of Harmony when we have no idea where to look?" Twilight asked. "They could be anywhere in Equestria, or in the Everfree Forest, or even further away than that!"

"I guess we could always try asking him nicely to tell us where the Elements of Harmony are hidden." The words were out of my mouth before I realized that maybe this wasn't the best time to break out the smartassery. The look Lash shot my way was positively withering.

Before the liberated demon shadow could apologize for my behavior and slip in one or two more Elizabethan insults about my general lack of intelligence and manners, someone spoke up from behind us.

"'Scuse me." The lot of us turned around, and discovered a wall-eyed grey pegasus with a yellow mane that looked vaguely familiar to me. "I brought you a letter." The pegasus declared cheerfully, before shoving her head into her mailbag. A couple seconds later the pegasus's head emerged, a letter clamped firmly in her mouth. "You're Harry Dresden, right?" The letter in her mouth rendered her speech a bit muffled, but I could still understand her without too much trouble.

"Yeah, that's me." By pure instinct, I had a hoof halfway up to take the letter before it clicked in my brain that I didn't have fingers any more. I suppose I could've tried using unicorn mojo to grab the letter telekinetically, but I had no idea how that would work, or even if it would. After a moment's consideration, I followed the pegasus's example and took the letter with my mouth.

A second later, I dropped the letter on the ground at my hooves, and was vaguely annoyed to discover that one of the corners was now a bit slobbery. I guess that's one of the downsides of using your mouth instead of hands. At least it was my own slobber; presumably the mail-pegasus and most of the other ponies had enough experience to avoid covering everything they carried in their mouths with a bunch of drool.

I politely thanked the pegasus for the letter, and with her task completed the mailmare flapped off into the sky. "Derpy!" Rainbow Dash called out after her. Derpy paused in midair, looking at Rainbow inquisitively. "That's the wrong way to go to get back to Ponyville."

"Oh yeah." The wall-eyed pegasus commented absently. "Thanks."

Considering the fact that I'd only been in Equestria for a few hours, I admit I was rather curious about just who had written a letter to me. I was about to open it up and find out when I discovered that I had no idea how the hay was I supposed to open a sealed letter without hands.

I really miss hands. They're so handy. God that was a terrible pun.

For that matter, I'm still a bit annoyed about the loss of Harry Jr.

Lucky for me, after I'd spent a second or two staring at my letter in confusion Rarity caught on to my dilemma. "Allow me." The unicorn broke out her telekinesis, and a second later Rarity had the letter open and floating in front of my face.

"Thank you, Rarity."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all." The designer assured me.

The letter itself was short and to the point:

The Elements of Harmony are at the Ponyville Library, hidden within a book called "The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide."

Discord

Huh. How about that? "It's from Discord. He just told me where the Elements of Harmony are." Everyone stared in shock.

"Well," I said to nobody in particular. "It's not like Discord would just give us back the Elements and Princess Celestia if we asked him to nicely."

"I think there's something written on the back." Rarity spoke up, and flipped the letter around for me.

Afraid not. Good try though.

It's probably a bad sign for the state of my mental health that this particularly turn of events didn't surprised or disturb me all that much.

"Well what're we waiting for?" Rainbow Dash demanded. "Let's go get the Elements back and rescue the princess!"

That got an annoyed groan out of Lash. "Think, little pony. Why would Discord willingly reveal the location of the Elements to us after all the trouble he went to stealing them?"

"Maybe he feels really bad about stealing them, and wants to give them back and apologize." Fluttershy offered. Every other pony turned to face her, various degrees of skepticism clear on their faces. "It - it could happen." The gentle-natured pegasus sounded just a touch defensive.

I broke out my best Admiral Ackbar voice. "It's a trap."

"'Tis." Luna agreed. "However, 'tis also likely that the Elements are present. If it were Discord's intent to deceive and befuddle, his methods would be less obvious."

"And if the Elements are actually there we have to take the bait, even though we know it's a trap." The Elements of Harmony were our only hope of beating Discord. Well, if I went back to my dimension and pulled off the Darkhallow, the boost I got from that combined with all the power I'd gotten from Mab and whatever dirty tricks I could come up with might be enough to make me capable of punching in Discord's weight class. Of course, doing the Darkhallow would also mean killing tens of thousands of people to get that power boost, so it wasn't really an option.

"Pray tell, Your Highness, what trickery might we expect from Discord?" Lash asked the princess.

"We fear we can offer thee little advice, fair Lash." The princess sighed regretfully. "As befits a being of chaos, Discord is difficult to anticipate. All we can say is that thou must beware his skullduggery, and trust no word that leaves his mouth."

"Don't believe anything the evil god of lies and disharmony tells us, check." Despite how basic and common sense that sounds, you'd be surprised how many people fall for that one.

Another thought occurred to me. "If I had to take a guess, the Denarians might be involved in whatever trap Discord's planning. Makes sense to use them for an ambush, especially if he doesn't know I've warned you about them."

Rainbow Dash offered a confident scoff. "How tough can they be? We handled Nightmare Moon." Rainbow shot a sheepish glance at Luna, and mumbled, "Um, no offense, princess."

"None taken. We owe thou our thanks for unleashing the powers of Harmony upon us and stripping us of our dark powers."

"Awesome. Anyway, I figure after that, a couple of chumps who need some coin thingy to be any good in a fight shouldn't be so tough."

"Yeah, but this time you don't have the Elements of Harmony." I pointed out.

"Yeah, well we handled a dragon just find without them."

"You mean Fluttershy handled the dragon." Twilight Sparkle stole another snark line from me. There will be a reckoning for this one day, purple pony.

"It was a group effort." Rainbow Dash shot back a bit weakly. We all shot looks laced with varying degrees of annoyance at the pegasus. "Well, alright, Fluttershy did most of it, but that's beside the point. What's important is that we're all awesome, and if these Nicklehead guys try to stop us from rescuing the Princess, we'll kick their tails in ten seconds flat. Now let's stop wasting time standing around talking, and get down to business!" The other ponies let out a little cheer at the end of Rainbow's short little speech.

I could hardly share Rainbow's confidence in an easy victory, but telling them that the Denarians could probably take them down pretty easily wouldn't exactly be much of a morale booster. Besides, maybe I wasn't giving them enough credit; they might be from a cartoon for little girls, but these ponies did have a pretty good flank-kicking track record.

Princess Luna made arrangements to get us another chariot, and even loaned a few of her royal guard to fly said chariot and offer us some extra muscle, and then we were off to Ponyville. The flight was long enough to give me some time to work over our options and try to come up with some kind of gameplan for the upcoming battle.

Things weren't quite as grim as I'd initially feared. Twilight Sparkle was a magical prodigy with enough raw power to make me wary of throwing down with her, even after the boost I'd gotten from my bargain with Mab. From what I'd seen of the show Rainbow Dash and Applejack should be able to handle themselves in fight; they might not have magic, but they were both really fast and strong. Considering the fact that most of the 'tardbeast Denarians relied of physical combat, having a brawler or two on our side would be a big help. The royal guards we'd gotten from Luna should help there too.

Even the other three ponies that at first glance didn't seem like they'd be able to help much in a fight were looking a bit better now that I thought about it. There'd been an entire episode of the cartoon dedicated to pointing out that Rarity could handle herself in a sticky situation, and Pinkie Pie was just full of surprises. As for Fluttershy - well, I knew from Sanya that you could talk one of the Nickleheads into giving up their coin, and if anyone could pull off a repeat of that, it would be Fluttershy.

Then again, the Denarians fight a heck of a lot dirtier than any of the baddies they're allowed to show in a children's cartoon.

My tactical ruminations came to an abrupt halt when our chariot took a hit from another one of those cotton candy clouds. Rainbow Dash let out a resigned sigh when Pinkie immediately started munching on her again, while all the other ponies cleansed themselves of any sugar as quickly as possible, lest they share Rainbow Dash's fate.

Or at least, all the ponies with decent coordination or a grasp of unicorn magic did so; I just ended up kind of smearing the chocolate-filled cotton candy around my body. I noticed Pinkie Pie watching me out of corner of her eye while she continued to munch on Rainbow Dash.

Pinkie's eating her. And then she's going to eat me. Oh my god.

Lucky for me, Twilight came to the rescue and used her magic to de-sugar me before the crazy pink pony could indulge her cannibalistic urges any further.

The chariot finally got to Ponyville a few minutes later. There'd been a decent amount of activity on the streets when Pinkie brought me in, but now there wasn't a single other pony sight.

"It's quiet." I observed. "Too quiet."

Lash shot an acidic look. "That line was a cliché thousands of years before you were born, Harry." The former Fallen grumbled.

The chariot landed outside the library, and four guard ponies unharnessed themselves. True to form, Rainbow Dash immediately tried to rush right into the Library to kick evil the face. Fortunately, Rainbow Dash's friends knew her quiet well, and before the impulsive pony could rush into battle Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie were all holding her back, while Fluttershy offered a very soft, "Wait."

One of the guards spoke up. "We'll take the lead, ladies." The four ponies stepped up to the door, and one slowly tapped his hoof against the ground three times, and then rushed in, with the other three following quickly behind him.

For the next few seconds, the lot of us dimly heard the guards announcing various rooms were clear, until they'd done a quick search of the entire building. "We're clear ladies, you can come in." I vaguely resented the guard's lumping me in with the ladies, since even if I lacked certain necessary parts to prove my gender; I was still a very clearly male pony. I suppose that given the gender imbalance of our group I could overlook it though.

Sure enough, the Ponyville library looked exactly like it had been when we left it. So, if Discord wasn't going for the old 'casually greet you while sitting on the couch.' trick, I guess that means we were due for an overdramatic entrance in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Just as I'd expected it would, the door suddenly slammed shut behind us, and the entire library echoed with the sound of villainous laughter. There was a bright flash of light, and Discord appeared in his full mismatched glory, accompanied by several dramatic bolts of lightning as his evil laugh hit its crescendo.

God, I love cartoon villains.

The four royal guards swooped in and formed a wall of pony flesh between Discord and us. The Draconequus looked down at the guards, and let out a low chuckle. "Touching, but really now, you can't think that's going to stop me."

Despite how obviously outmatched they were the guards stood their ground. Gotta give them credit, those guys have got some brass balls. Well, they would if they actually had balls.

"Now then," Discord crooned. "I believe you came here looking for this?" Discord snapped the fingers on his lion's paw, and there was a flash of light accompanied by a cartoonish spring sound effect. When the light faded, the book we'd come all the way back to Ponyville to get was in his resting in the talons of his birdlike hand.

"That's my book! Give it back!" Twilight demanded. A purple glow surrounded the book, and it gave a slight twitch in Discord's talons, but Twilight couldn't manage to wrest it out of his grip.

"Now now," Discord chided. "I've already been generous enough to let you know where your precious Elements of Harmony were. Surely you didn't expect me to just give them back to you too."

Oh goody, I bet now it was time for the old 'play my sadistic game where the deck is incredibly stacked against you, and if you win I'll give them back.'

"Here's an idea." Discord announced musingly. "I've just been so bored being trapped in stone for over a thousand years, so we can play a little game, and if you win, I'll give back the Elements of Harmony. I promise." You could practically hear the false sincerity dripping off Discord's words.

Man, I'm good at predicting bad guy clichés. All he needed now was an evil cat to stroke while in the midst of his diabolical plotting. Maybe he could grab Opal for that?

"Now, the first rule of our little game, no interference." Discord snapped his fingers again, and the four royal guards just disappeared. "Those military types just have no sense of humor."

"Yeah, Captain Picard never thought you were funny." Pinkie chirped in randomly.

Everyone else looked confused by that latest Pinkieism, but Lash and I exchanged a quick look. I've always been more of a Star Wars fan, but I knew enough Trek to recognize that name. Now that I thought about it, Discord's voice did sound kind of familiar...

After a second of general confusion, the rest of the ponies just ignored the latest random Pinkieism. "What did you do with those guards?" Twilight demanded.

"Oh, they're still around somewhere." Discord answered casually. "Maybe several different places, I wasn't really keeping track. I'm sure they'll turn up eventually. Or not. In any case, we have far more important things to talk about, like the wonderful little game we're about to play."

"Don't seem like a very fair game if you take away four of the ponies on our side." Applejack snapped.

Discord just stared at Applejack for a moment, and then fell down to the floor laughing like mad. I was halfway tempted to take a shot at him while he was distracted, but if the kind of power Celestia tossed at him couldn't make leave a scratch I doubt any sucker punch I could land would even tickle. Once Discord got over his laughing fit, he finally answered the farmer. "Really now Applejack, what on Equestria ever gave you the idea that I was going to make it a fair game? Perhaps we haven't met. I'm Discord, spirit of chaos and disharmony.

"Now, if you want the Elements and your precious little princess back, you have to play my game, and since it's my game, that means I get to make the rules. If you don't like my rules, you're welcome to drop out and let me keep the Elements. I'm sure after a few years you'll learn to appreciate just how wonderful a bit of chaos really is."

"Fine." Twilight growled. "We'll play your game Discord."

"Glorious." Discord chuckled. "I knew I could count on you, Twilight Sparkle. Always so proper and dutiful, and so very, very devoted to your precious mentor. Do you ever wonder what would happen if you failed her? Are you ever afraid that you're just one late Friendship Report away from no longer being her 'Faithful Student?'"

From the way Twilight flinched, Discord must have hit a nerve. I wasn't about to let him start playing his mind games on the ponies. "Hey, plot-face!" Hah! Take that, cartoon swearing filter! Sure, it wasn't my best insult but I've used worse. "How about you quit wasting our time and just get to down to business already?"

As I'd hoped, I'd gotten Discord's attention and distracted him from psyching out the ponies. "Ah, yes, Harry Dresden, the wizard from Earth." Discord let out a low chuckle. "Oh, I have no idea where I should even start with you. You're quite right though, pleasure before business, and all that. Now, on to the rules of the game.

"I'm sure you already know the first rule of our little game; no outside interference. The eight of you -" Discord paused, and shot a deliberate glance at Lash. "Ah, I mean, the seven-and-a-half of you are the only ones allowed to play, aside from my little helpers, of course. You bring in anyone else, and the game is over and I win.

"The second rule is that everyone has to play. I know some of you, like poor, helpless little Fluttershy can't actually pull their weight, but the game just wouldn't be any fun if I let one of two ponies steal all the glory. Everyone needs to do their fair share and keep playing until the game is over.

"Oh yes, and one final rule, no attacking the audience. That would be me; you'll be playing against some new friends of mine. I'm sure Harry and Lash have told you all about them."

Discord gave one final snap of his fingers, and a bunch of new ponies warped into the library, accompanied by a few more dramatic bolts of lightning. At the head of this little group was a pony with a midnight black coat and a grey mane. For a second I thought the pony didn't have any cutie mark, but then noticed the cluster of writhing shadows on the pony's flank, which someone how managed to be an even darker shade of light-extinguishing black than the rest of his coat.

"Harry Dresden." That all-too-familiar cultured British voice issued from the pony's mouth. "Despite the rather irregular circumstances, it's such a pleasure to see you again."

Looks like Nicky and the Nickleheads had finally come out to play.