The Root of my Pain, the Core of my Growth

by Falx_of_Lume

First published

[Displaced Story] What happens when a creator of a new show gets displaced to Equestria before he gets the chance to create it?

[Displaced Story & Dragon OC]

So I went to my first Comic Con in Chicago. All in all, it was a fun experience. But the entire time, I had my thoughts on the idea that a merchant might be selling his wares somewhere around here. And what do you know, there’s a guy dressed as the Merchant from Resident Evil. I avoided him like the plague.

Then something in one of the other stalls caught my eye. It was just a simple pendant on a thin chain that looked similar to how I envisioned something from a story I hoped to one-day write. After contemplating it for a bit, I bought it.

And wake up in Equestria.

As a dragon.

That looks like it's from a story idea I had.

After waking up in the woods, I went on a long journey that probably went in large circles most of the times just trying to find some kind of purpose in such a primitive world as Equestria before Nightmare Moon.

Long story short, met the locals, befriended the princesses (kinda), got the hang of my elemental powers (kinda), and did it without freaking out or crying (this one is 100% false).

Oh, and now I’m trapped on the moon with an insane moon pony that wants to kill me. But hey, now I have something to take my mind off the fact that all my dreams for the future are gone.

Silver lining.

Featured: 06/11/17 (Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!)

Crossovers With:
The Equestrian Omni-Knight by Azure5555
In My Blood by Timeless Celestial

MLP Characters and beings belong to Hasbro Studios

Chapter I: Prelude to a Nightmare (Rewrite)

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Chapter I: Prelude to a Nightmare

Celestia flaps her wings frantically as she flies through the dark sky, unable to draw upon the power of the sun with the moon eclipsing it. Of all the things that had to happen, why this? Why now? What’s gotten into-

A blast of dark blue energy scrapes along the back of her neck and Celestia recoils downwards in flight to avoid the hazardous magic before flaring a bright gold magical shield around herself to block the follow-up blast. Her defense holds, but it dramatically depletes a large chunk of her bodily magic stores. And without the sun she has no way to regain that magic in the midst of this fight. Her opponent, unfortunately, does not posses that disadvantage.

Celestia can’t think of that right now though. All she can do is to continue to try to evade the magic attacks while trying to reason with her-

An invisible blast of wind strikes Celestia’s wing with enough force to make her cry out in pain as she tumbles through the air downwards, her wing stunned from the impact. Celestia struggles to correct her flight to prevent a painful collision with the ground. Which she manages to do.

…until after she hits a wall… and another blast of wind slams into her barrel and punches her through said wall… THEN she hits the ground.

Celestia groans in pain from all the abuse she’s suffered within just a few seconds. It doesn’t feel like anything’s broken though. (Praise Faust for alicorn durability) She doesn’t get a chance to inspect herself further before she yelps and is forced to jerk her body out of the way from a bolt of magic from above. She scrambles to her hooves and springs away from the flurry of magical blasts that cause small explosions of dust and marble fragments on the castle floor.

“WHERE ART THOU GOING CELESTIA? SCURRYING BACK TO THY ROYAL BATHS BECAUSE YOUR PERFECT WHITE COAT GOT STAINED?” A spiteful voice taunts as Celestia gallops through an arch leading into a hallway.

Celestia flinches at the sheer level of wrath put into those words. Is there any way to stop her like this?

‘NAY! There MUST to be a way! Come on…think!’ Celestia berates herself.

A side room in the castle catches her eye and she skids to a halt on the marble floor.

‘The Reliquary? The Elements!’ Celestia bursts into a sprint at her epiphany and makes a beeline immediately towards the stone stand holding the sextet of harmonic crystals.

Before she can reach them though, she hears the telltale sound of magic being charged. Celestia throws up another shield and is slammed through another wall, landing outside this time. She regains her footing underneath her, but another magic beam is thrown at her and she’s forced to defend herself again.

And again.

And again.

And ag-

A sharp pain in her horn is the only warning she gets before the magical attack shatters her shield and impacts her side. Celestia cries out in pain from the searing mana washing over her, and is thrown bodily even farther from the castle structure, landing and rolling to just on the edge of the cliff leading down to the cave of the Tree of Harmony.

Celestia struggles to lift herself up from the ground, pain wracking her body and mind from both the magical backlash from her failed spell, as well as the damage she sustained from the magical attack piercing through her shield.

A shadow moves over her, and an armor-clad hoof places itself over her neck and shoves her back down onto the ground and holds her there. Celestia chokes from the pressure, but manages to look up at the warped face of the monster that used to be her sister, her turquois-slit eyes glaring furiously down at her with cold malice.

“And so doth end the day. Have a pleasant final rest, sister.” Nightmare Moon sneers down at her. Her dark horn glows an ever-increasingly intense blue even as her hoof grinds down harder into Celestia’s neck, robbing her of her breath.

As Celestia starts to lose consciousness, a dark shape slams into Nightmare Moon’s side and sends them careening over the side of the cliff.

“Get the Elements!” A voice calls out to her.

Celestia’s eyes fly open and she gasps for breath, having forgotten to breath due to the events in her dream. She sits up in her bed, filled with adrenaline from the memory-turned night terror.

Upon looking around her room though, her heart rate steadily declines as she reacquaints herself with her grasp on reality once again.

And upon grasping that reality, she realizes that she’s grasping something else in her magic. A sword hilt halfway pulled from out of thin air glows yellow from her magic to illuminate the darkness of her room. Celestia lets out a sigh and pushes the half-drawn weapon back into the pocket in space she uses to store it. Not even that blade will be able to fend off the dark thoughts her mind conjures up while asleep. The only one with the tools to do that is not in Equestria, and hasn’t been for over a millennium.

A fact that will, admittedly, change by the conclusion of the today.

One thousand years of observation.

One thousand years of preparation.

One thousand years of determination.

All for the events that will take place in the course of a single night.

‘A single night that could be her last...’ Celestia’s mind says to her, grim as the original versions of fairy tails told to foals at night.

But if that is the price she must pay to ensure harmony prevails, and her subjects can continue to live in peace, then she will make that sacrifice without hesitation.

Celestia will make that sacrifice… both because of the oaths she swore to the former owner of her sword, as well as out of respect for the one that gave her these thousand years to prepare.

These thousand years that he’s lost.

Celestia takes a deep, steadying breath, and then gazes forward with a steel tempered from a millennia of effort and practice.

It’s time to begin.

Chapter II: Lunar Battle

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Chapter II

‘I think this is the most tired and exhausted I have ever felt in my life.’ I think to myself for probably the hundred thousandth time since I got sent on a vacation to the moon.

I can see Nightmare Moon struggling to stay standing a little away from me. She looks even more spent than I feel, but she’s still giving me that same old death glare that she’s shot my way ever since I first clawed her cheek so long ago.

I feel a twinge in my chest, alerting me to her next imminent attack, and I strafe to the left when she launches a powerful magical beam past where I was. I leap backwards over the next beam that comes my way while I gather and compact fear energy into my palm, before firing off a small but bullet-fast energy projectile.

Nightmare learned long ago how to predict the flight path of these blasts, and is already out of the way of the magic equivalent of a tank shell compacted into a sniper round, which detonates far behind her, spraying moon dust up. She growls and creates five magic spheres around her that fly away from her and then immediately home in on me. I quickly shoot down three, avoid the fourth, and then block the last one with a hardened ice shield. The sphere continues to push and spin against the ice on my arm, but I sidestep and let it take my newly made protection with it, where it promptly explodes into small slivers of frost.

The twinge in my chest happens again and I spin while dipping down low as Nightmare Moon swoops over me with wings charged with lightning. A stray bolt hits my back but I channel it through my neck and then roll forward and blast it back at her from my mouth while I’m rolling.

Moon flips around to catch the bolt with her wingtips and then flips over again to flap them in my direction, sending dozens of arching electrical currents my way, I raise a glowing ice wall to block the ones that would have hit me.

I know better than to stay there and I shoot straight up and create a liquid-like energy current and latch onto Nightmare by her horn, stopping her spell temporarily. I fling her up, then around and throw her into a nearby crater.

She recovers from the momentum of my throw, but isn’t able to dodge a fireball that I’d tossed at her.

“Ahhhh!!!” She roars in pain and anger. She recovers immediately and fires off a large beam of magic in my direction.

I manage to dodge its initial blast but get pushed back farther into the air when she continues to follow me with it.

I spasm in pain as energy washes over me, burning more holes in my wings and also doing a number on my chest and underbelly. When the beam ceases, I fall a little, but I manage to keep myself up with a little channeling through my wings, or at least what’s left of them.

I push myself out of the path of another beam and unleash a torrent of fire from my palm in Nightmare Moon’s direction. She erects a barrier right before it hits her.

I slowly drift to the ground while still keeping the torrent going.

‘We’re getting close to our limits. Time to set the orb.’ I stand upright to raise my foreleg that’s not blasting fire, and pool as much energy as I can into a red orb of fear energy, and then slam it deep into the ground.

With the orb hidden and my strength spent with using two different elements at once, I cut the flow to the fire stream and fall back to all four legs, gasping from the exertion.

The fire clears to show that Nightmare’s barrier still stands strong, but when she drops it, I can see her gasping just like I am.

Still, despite my tiredness and pain of my new injuries, I can’t help but snark to the Nightmare. “Heh, *huff* You’re getting *huff* tired… aren’t you Moon *huff*.” I say between breaths. “A few hundred *huff* years ago an attack like *huff* that would’ve blasted a hole through me.” I say with what I think was a smirk, I’m not sure if my jaw has any tissue still on it or not to enable me to smirk.

She narrows her eyes at me from her place in the air above me. “And you would have *huff* been able to dodge *huff* that attack a few centuries prior *huff* as well.” She counters.

‘She’s not wrong about that.’ I think to myself.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re both reaching *huff* our limits again. What do you say we call it a night and just rest for a bit?” I ask hopefully.

She stares at me for a moment, actually considering my offer, before her eyes widen in surprise. She grins at me unsettlingly with her sharp teeth. “I believe you will find that I have more energy left than you give me credit for.” She says standing up straight.

‘Something’s not right’ I think to myself.

“It has been a long wait, but one thousand years have finally passed. And now the stars shall grant me the power to leave this wretched prison our sister sealed us in… as well as the power to destroy you, once and for all.” She declares with a malevolent grin.

I feel a pressure tighten in my chest in response to her statement. I strafe out of the path of a massive magic blast.

“I commend thee for lasting as long as you have, Baelor, but your time is up. I assure you though, that you will forever be remembered as my greatest victory, just above that of defeating my sister. Goodbye.” Nightmare says. A massive rush of magic power collects around her. I feel a sense of imminent danger.

‘Crap! It’s now or never… I really hope this doesn’t kill us both.’

I reach out to similar energy points to the one I just hid that are scattered all across the moon, take a deep breath, and bring my palms together with an audible clap.

“Fillies and gentlecolts. It is my great pleasure to announce the beginning of the Summer Sun Celebration.” The mayor of Ponyville announces.

The ponies gathered in the room all cheer.

‘This really isn’t the time to be cheering. Nightmare Moon could arrive at any second.’ Twilight thinks worriedly.

“In just a few minutes, our town will witness the magic of the sunrise, and celebrate this. The longest day of the year!”

Twilight looks up at the moon and sees four stars get sucked into the moon, before the image of the Mare in the moon disappears. ‘Oh no.’

“And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce the ruler of our land, the very pony that gives us the sun and the moon each and every day. The good, the wise, and the bringer of harmony to all of Equestria…” The mayor pauses dramatically. “Princess Cel-.”

The room flashes red suddenly, before a roaring boom shakes the air all around Twilight and the other ponies gathered in the Town Hall.

Twilight shakes off her disorientation and looks around her to check that everypony is all right. From what she can see, everypony looks surprised and frightened, but otherwise unharmed. ‘What the Tartarus was that?!’ She asks herself, looking around for the source of the thundering noise.

“Uh… Twilight?” Spike says fearfully, getting her attention.

“What Spike?” She asks him.

“The moon…” He almost whispers.

Twilight’s eyes widen. ‘Oh no. Did Nightmare Moon do… some…thing… to…’ Twilight’s thought process trails off as she stares up.

The night sky is speckled with hundreds of shooting stars, glowing brightly in a brilliant shower of sparkles. But what holds Twilight’s attention is the moon itself. And it’s not holding her attention because of its brilliance.

It’s holding her gaze because it’s no longer in one piece.

Chapter III: Buried

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Chapter III

Twilight continues to stare disbelievingly up at the remains of the moon with a gaping mouth. ‘This shouldn’t be possible! The book never said anything about the moon getting destroyed!’ She thinks with growing horror.

“What happened?! Why is the moon in so many pieces?” Spike asks Twilight fearfully.

“I… I don’t know…” Twilight mumbles numbly.

Something catches her eye though. Two shooting stars seem to be getting closer as they fall, instead of burning out like the rest.

The first one seems to be falling in the direction of somewhere far outside of town, while the second one is falling-.

“EVERYPONY GET YOUR HEADS DOWN!!!!” Twilight shouts in panic, before activating her magic to form a magic barrier over herself and Spike.

The ponies gathered in the Town Hall follow her gaze up and see the shooting star heading right for them. Some scream, some gasp, and others head her command and dive for the ground.

The shooting star crashes heavily through the ceiling of the building and then through the podium that Princess Celestia was supposed to appear on, bringing it down to the ground floor in a shower of splinters.

Everypony slowly lift their heads up after the crashing ceases. They stare at the mass of splintered wood and broken beams, unsure about what to do.

The wood shifts a little.

Twilight’s heart jumps from the thrum of magic power that she can feel coming from the pile of wood. Slowly, a jet black pony crawls out of the wreckage.

“Ahhh! It’s an alien!” Pinkie screams.

Twilight makes a boggled face and then glares at the pink Earth Pony. “No it’s not! It’s-.”

“Where… is… Celestia…” The alicorn asks. Her voice makes Twilight shiver.

“Why do you want to know?” Rainbow Dash asks recklessly.

The black alicorn struggles with her legs a bit until she’s standing up straight and proud. She glares at Rainbow Dash. “I would think you would have more sense than to question your Princess, little pony. I will forgive your disrespect this one time since I’m in a good mood from being freed from my prison. But I want an answer to my question. So I’ll ask again. Where. Is. Celestia?” She says coldly.

“You think we’d tell you anything after what you just did to the moon you crazy-Heeeeey!” Rainbow exclaims from Applejack pulling her tail.

“You insolent little, I warned y-wait… what do you mean by what I did to the…” Nightmare Moon looks up at the night sky to where the shattered form of the moon rests in the sky.

Twilight scrunches her brow in confusion at Nightmare Moon’s odd behavior, before she feels her heart stop from how cold the air suddenly got. Nightmare Moon’s ethereal mane is picking up speed in its flow speed, the stars in it growing brighter every second. She’s gritting her teeth and breathing in and out shakily from anger, her eyes burning with unfiltered fury. The magic in the air around Twilight is so thick and potent that she can taste it, and her head is swirling so much inside that she feels like she’s going to pass out.


Nightmare Moon gives a single flap of her wings and jettisons herself from the Town hall through the hole she made, shrieking her fury through the air above Ponyville and probably all across Equestria too.

Once Nightmare Moon leaves though, Twilight gasps, finally able to breath with the stifling magical aura of the alicorn gone.

“Ugh…” Spike passes out on her back.

The ponies around Twilight start to talk all at once, trying to figure out what’s going on.

‘Nightmare Moon is back… but… why did she look so ragged? What happened to her?’ Twilight shakes these thoughts out of her mind. ‘It doesn’t matter. I still need to stop her from bringing eternal night.’ She looks for the door. ‘I need find out more about the Elements of Harmony.’ She turns around to push through the throng of ponies and then out of the Town Hall. She gallops to the Ponyville Library.

When I wake up, the first thing I become conscious of is the fact that I can’t breath, or at least, not very well. There’s broken stone piled on top of me if this rock stuck in my mouth is anything to go by.

The initial panic from suffocating charges my core with a little energy. I gather the energy in my throat and force as much air out in a breath attack as I can manage, blasting the rocks covering my face out of the pile. I choke on the dust and finally take my first breath of fresh air in a long time. Then I croak in pain from my injuries, which are now registering the feeling of pain to my brain.

I squirm a bit from all the burning and throbbing that I can feel from various areas across my body… which I’m not certain is in one piece from the lack of feeling past my right thigh and parts of my wings.

‘Ow… ow ow ow ow ow. Damn it! It didn’t hurt this much back on the moon. Why is pain so intense back here?’ I ask the heavens with my mind. ‘Also, not only am I buried, I’m also crippled. Thanks a lot Moony, this is your fault.’ I think with annoyance past the pain.

I can feel my core using the element of fear to try to heal my injuries, but it’s doing it at a snails pace. It must be burning the energy I regain right as I get it.

‘Well… I’m not really sure how to get out of this right now… so I guess I better just focus on letting my body mend itself… how boring.' I think to myself.

Before I can focus on just letting my mind roam however, I hear something.

I take a moment to still my breathing to listen and try to get an idea of what I’m hearing, and where it’s coming from.






‘Those sound like… hoofsteps. Somepony’s coming… Should I let them know I’m here, or let them pass? It might be Nightmare Moon… but it also might not be… You know what, screw it. I really want to get some actual fresh air, so whoever it is, they can probably get me out of here.’ I decide in my mind.

“Hey! Here! Help!” I choke out.

The hoof steps abruptly stop, and then start again, this time growing louder with each step.

“Under the rocks. I’m stuck.” I rasp, trying to give whoever’s coming an idea of where I am.

The hoof steps stop just a few feet short of me. Then I can feel the hum of magic right in front of my face before the weight of the rocks covering my head are lifted away gently by a golden levitation field.

“… Baelor?” A familiar voice says.

I crack open my eyes and blink at my returned sight. “Hey Celestia. It’s been a while.” I say wearily to the white alicorn.

Chapter IV: Loyalty

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Chapter IV

“Hey Celestia. It’s been a while.” I say up to the white alicorn.

She cracks a small smile at my comment. “Heh, yes. It certainly has been,” She says with relief. “Are you alright?” She asks.

“I could be better. Especially if somepony were to free the rest of my body so I can breath easier.” I answer.

“Oh, yes, of course. Hold still.” She activates her horn and lifts the rest of the rocks carefully, but swiftly off of me.

“Thanks-Hssshhh!!” I let out a hiss of pain from the open air hitting my body.

“Oh my Faust.” Celestia says upon seeing my body.

I bring my head up shakily to look at my stomach. ‘Well that’s gruesome.’ I think as I look at the flayed and slightly burned looking flesh that makes up my torso. I give another hiss of pain as I try to sit up.

“Gah! Ah, why does this hurt so much?” I ask, I manage to almost pull myself up into a sitting position before I slump back down, hitting my back on the rocks. “AHH!! Ow!” Apparently my back is just as chopped up as my chest.

I feel Celestia gently envelope me with her magic before lifting me out of the rocks. “AH! Damn it!” I hiss out as my wings and tail come free.

“I’m sorry.” Celestia says with a wince.

“Ugh, don’t be. Thanks for pulling me out,” I say with another grunt of pain. “I’m just confused and a little ticked off that everything seems to hurt a lot more now for some reason. It never hurt this much before.” I try to explain. I idly notice that we seem to be in a weathered room made from stone. Probably her old castle in the Everfree.

“Hmmm…” She gently sets me down on my belly lying down. I hiss again, but I think I’m getting used to the heightened pain I’m experiencing. “I’m not sure, but maybe being trapped on the moon had something to do with it not hurting as much before.” She suggests, then starts to walk around me while inspecting my wounds without touching them.

“Why would being on the moon have something to do with it?” I ask her.

Celestia’s currently out of my range of sight with where she’s at, I think she’s looking at my tail or some other part of me that is most likely covered in my dried blood. “My guess is that while you were trapped on the moon with her, you were not actually in a physical form, but an astral projection that was simulating your two life-forces and minds clashing time and again while trapped within it. Or perhaps the Elements’ seal made it so that your sense of pain was dulled while also keeping you both from fully dying.” She says. “What did she do to you to leave you in this state Baelor?” She says with sympathy.

“She did a lot of things to me while we fought. But the last thing that happened before I remember waking up was detonating some fear bombs that I concealed across the moon over the course of… about a few hundred years I think.” I say to her.

She’s silent for a second. “… Well that explains why the moon is as it is now, but… do you think that… from that last blast that you… that she’s…” Her voice trails off.

I close my eyes. “I really hope she isn’t Celestia. And she also absorbed a lot of power from the stars that she would have used to escape, so maybe she was able to protect herself from the blast at the last second. But she was also about to try to kill me with that power before trying to escape the moon. I’m sorry but I ran out of options by that point.” I tell her.

“You don’t have to apologize to me Baelor. I’m mostly worried about what she’ll do to you after what you did.” She says, still out of my line of sight. She sighs sadly. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I’ll be able to fix your hind leg or your wings, they’re just gone. And I’m not sure about your ear or eye, but I can try to close the wounds that are all over your body right now. Part of your tail is gone as well. I’m afraid you are most likely going to be severely disabled from now on.” She says.

‘Leg, wings, tail, eye and ear… huh, I thought something felt off. I guess that was it, I’m missing some stuff.’ I think, now noticing that my width of vision actually is less, and I can only see one side of my snout with my remaining eye.

“Heh, I discovered a few more tricks to my elements while stuck on the moon with Luna. You don’t need to grieve for my lost parts Celestia. Once my energy recharges a bit, I’ll be able to regrow them.” I say with a wry grin, then frown. “But why would Nightmare Moon be more inclined to kill me than before? I just blew a few more craters into the moon, and I feel like I’ve earned at least a little bit of respect from her for lasting as long as I did. She even said that I’ll be ‘remembered as her greatest victory’.” I shift my head a little.

I see the soft golden glow of her aura out of the corner of my sight before I feel my skin tingle as the tissue starts to rapidly regenerate. “Blow a few more craters into the moon?” She asks disbelievingly. “Baelor, the moon is only just barely considered there anymore. You nearly destroyed it completely.” She chides.

I blink. Then blink again. “… Shit. She’s going to straight up murder me when she finds me.” I say tiredly.

“I think Luna would straight up try to murder you, if she gets reverted.” Celestia says seriously. “Nightmare is going to work herself into a frothing at the mouth, murderous creature of absolute rage in just the search for you. Then she’s going to rip you apart, put you back together, rip you apart again, put you back together again, and then rip you apart a third time, and then raise the sun for the sole purpose of hurling your remains into the sun… and possibly try to blow the sun up as well.” She lists off.

I stare at her for a second and then give a quick laugh. “Heh heh-ow. Wow, you’ve definitely gotten the hang of dark humor while we were gone.” I say with a pained grin.

She smiles at my comment, then turns serious again. “I’ve managed to heal you a bit. But you’re still going to be missing your leg, wings, tail, and your eye until you can heal them yourself. But I think your ear might actually still work, despite it just being a hole in your head at the moment.” She informs me.

I can tell that she’s right, I don’t feel like I’ve been thrown through twenty piles of broken glass anymore. “Thanks, Tia. You have no idea… how… great….. that….. feels……..” I start to doze off from sheer exhaustion.

“Baelor? Baelor, stop! We need to get you somewhere else in the castle. Nightmare Moon might find where you crashed through.” Celestia urges.

That wakes me up. The rush of fear of being found by Moon actually restores my right thigh.

“... Well… that was an interesting display. And you’re awake again, so now all that needs to be known is whether you can walk in your present state.” Celestia says.

I put my three feet on the ground and struggle to lift myself. I shakily manage to stand up straight on my three remaining legs, thigh hanging from my hip where my fourth used to be. I catch myself with a foreleg as I start to tilt to the side a bit.

*huff* *huff* I think I might need some help walking, but I can stand now that you’ve healed me a bit.” I tell her.

Celestia walks up next to me and extends her wing under my barrel to help support my weight. “Thank you.” I tell her.

“You’re welcome. Now let’s get you somewhere more concealed.” She responds. We slowly make our way deeper into the weathered castle.

Twilight and the other four mares watch as Rainbow Dash flies down into the chasm and grabs the end of the fallen rope bridge. She flies back up to the other end of the gap and swiftly ties one side of the bridge. Twilight sees her about to tie off the other side when she perks up as if she’s heard something. Rainbow looks around quickly before looking up and behind her. Twilight follows her gaze curiously and gapes at what she sees.

Nightmare Moon is casually flying overhead and landing at the front gates to the old castle.

‘What?! No! She must be after the Elements! We have to find them before she does!’

“Rainbow! The bridge!” Twilight frantically calls out to the pegasus.

But Rainbow either doesn’t hear, or ignores her, because she flies straight at Nightmare Moon, hooves outstretched to hit her.

Nightmare Moon doesn’t even turn around as she flicks a wing and sends a strong gust of wind that stops Rainbow dead in the air.

“I can see that you all don’t know how to take a hint. Go back home before I lose my temper on you all.” Nightmare Moon says dispassionately.

“Not until I kick your sorry flank back into the moon where it belongs.” Rainbow says aggressively.

‘WHAT THE BUCK ARE YOU DOING RAINBOW!?’ Twilight mentally screams.

Nightmare Moon just snorts. “I must truly be furious at Baelor if all I can muster to feel for you is annoyance. I am quite serious, you are all better off going somewhere where you can all hope and pray that all my fury gets used up on the one that destroyed the centerpiece of my beautiful night. Because none of you would have lasted past the cliffs if I had actually cared about stopping you. Leave. Now.” She orders with only a glance at the cyan pegasus.

Rainbow’s response, to Twilight’s dismay, is to charge Nightmare Moon

Nightmare Moon flicks her wings out again like before. But this time, Rainbow narrows her body and flaps rapidly and manages to push through the blast of air and continue towards the night alicorn. However, Nightmare Moon merely gives a lazy flap of her wings and completely avoids Rainbow’s charge. Twilight can see she has a brow raised.

“Argh! Quit moving and let me hit you!” Rainbow screams at Nightmare.

“That would defeat the purpose of a fight.” She responds dryly.

Rainbow charges her again, and Nightmare flicks her wing at her again. But this time, instead of wind, lightning shoots out towards Rainbow. And unlike air, lightning is not as easy to fly through.

The lightning hits Rainbow and she spasms for a second before dropping to the ground, smoking.

“RAINBOW!!!!” Twilight and the others scream in horror. Did Nightmare Moon just kill her?!

Rainbow coughs and shakily gets back on her hooves to face the black alicorn.

“You survived? Impressive. You’ve obviously never trained to use your pegasus magic beyond flying and basic weather manipulation, yet you have enough magic within your body to actually survive a bolt of lightning strong enough to kill a pony three times your size. And with nothing but singed wings no less.” Nightmare Moon says, mildly impressed.

“Heck yeah! I’m just that awesome. Now get ready to feel the hurt.” Rainbow leaps off the ground to try to charge her again, but she falls to the ground on her stomach, letting out a single ‘oof’ from the fall.

“It seems that you have been grounded for the time being. That, is not surprising.” Nightmare comments.

“Argh! I don’t need my wings to kick your flank! C’mon! Put em’ up.” Rainbow commands while moving into a bipedal stance with her hooves up into a boxing guard.

“Your tenacity is another impressive aspect about you.” Nightmare Moon compliments. “Tell me, pegasus, what is your current occupation?” She asks/orders.

“Why do ya’ wanna know?” Rainbow asks suspiciously.

“I find it surprising that one with so much potential is lingering in a small town next to one of the most dangerous places in Equestria. Now I would appreciate it if you could tell me your occupation like I asked.” Nightmare Moon says with narrowed eyes.

*Hmph*, I’m the Captain of the Ponyville weather team. But I’m also going to join the Wonderbolts once I show them how great of a flier I am, just so you know.” Rainbow tells Nightmare.

“Hmm. Wonderbolts you say? I have not heard of them. What do these ‘Wonderbolts’ do?” Nightmare Moon asks with a raised brow.

“They’re the greatest fliers in all of Equestria, and I’m going to be the best flier out of all of them someday.” Rainbow announces.

“Well, that would explain your high level of pegasus magic. You have obviously trained hard to become faster at flying.” Nightmare compliments again. Rainbow puffs up her chest in pride. “But it takes more than mere speed to become the master of the skies.” Nightmare Moon adds with a frown.

“That’s what you think.”

“That is what I know. How else do you think I so effortlessly defeated you?” Nightmare asks harshly.

“You didn’t beat me! I’m just getting-.“

Nightmare Moon flairs her tattered wings and twists the air around Rainbow into a miniature tornado, before slamming her down into the ground so fast that Twilight could swear she heard some of Rainbow’s bones break from where she’s standing across the bridge. Twilight and the others gasp in fear for the rainbow-maned pegasus as Nightmare Moon stalks over to where Rainbow Dash is still being pinned to the ground by the force of the wind hammering into her back.

“To master the skies… you must be as powerful and unrelenting as the gale, as swift as a flash of lightning, as destructive as a twister. Right now, your abillities are nothing compared to what I can do. Do your best to remember that.” She tells Rainbow coldly over the force of the wind.

Just as quickly as it started, the wind dies, and Rainbow is able to move again from what Twilight can see. Nightmare Moon turns away.

“You are one of the most foalish, disrespectful, and undisciplined ponies I have ever met, young Rainbow Dash. However, you show much promise in possibly wielding the power of the storm, and I am thus willing to teach you how.” Nightmare Moon says, turning her head halfway around to look at Rainbow.

Rainbow’s head shoots up. “What!?”

“WHAT?!” Twilight and the others exclaim in shock.

“Why would I agree to let you teach me?” Rainbow asks in disbelief.

“You seek to be the greatest flier among the greatest fliers. But in order to do that, you must first be able to bend the forces of the sky to your will, and then use them to amplify your own flight capabilities.” Nightmare Moon opens her wings and suddenly, with a gust of air, she’s right behind Rainbow. “You know how to bank and turn, I know how to make the wind do it for me. And it does it far faster and efficiently than any pegasus’s wings alone could ever hope to achieve.” She says next to Rainbow’s ear.

She then steps around the stunned mare and walks towards the castle again. “Everything I know, I can teach you, young pegasus. And all it will take, is for you to take your companions, and go back to your little town so I can finish my business with Celestia and Baelor. You or anypony else getting caught in the crossfire between gods would be… unfavorable.” Nightmare Moon says after a moment of thought.

Rainbow Dash is looking down, deep in thought. Twilight has a pang of worry. ‘No, Rainbow, you can’t…’

Rainbow Dash looks up, straight into Nightmare Moon’s expectant gaze. “No. Sorry, but we’ve still got to stop you from causing eternal night. They won’t give up on that and I refuse to give up on them. So sorry, but you’re not getting a dark apprentice tonight.” Rainbow says determinedly.

Twilight sighs in relief.

Nightmare turns away to walk steadily towards the doors of the castle. “Hmph… eternal night? There is no point to it now. After what he did to my moon, I can never again claim the night as my own, so long as that stain he left up in the remains of my canvas.” Nightmare spits venomously, glaring up at the shattered moon.

“My offer shall remain standing after the conflict is over… should you change your mind.” She says over her shoulder to Rainbow, before opening the castle doors and stepping inside.

Twilight stares at the spot where Nightmare Moon’s tail last whisked through the doorway for a few seconds before she notices that Rainbow’s already tied down the other side of the bridge on her end. She and the others trot across to meet the cyan pegasus on the other side.

“Rainbow… thank you.” Twilight says gratefully to Rainbow.

She waves a hoof dismissively. “Eh, don’t worry about it Twilight. I’d never leave my friends hanging.”

“Whoa, your hoof’s shaking really quickly! Can you show me how to do that?” Pinkie asks perkily.

Twilight sees Rainbow Dash notice it, then quickly puts it on the ground to stop it. “Heheh, what are you talking about Pinkie? My hoof’s not shaking. I wasn’t afraid of her, she only left because she knew she wouldn’t be a match for my t-totally awesome hoof to hoof combat.” Rainbow says a little too quickly.

“Rainbow Dash? Are you okay?” Twilight asks her in concern.

“Of course I am. I’m… uh… just… adrenaline, yeah that’s it. I’m just still hyped up from the fight I just finished. TOTALLY fine. Yep.” She says with a nod.

“Are ya’ sure? You did get hit by lightning and then slammed pretty hard into the ground.” Applejack says.

Rainbow takes a deep breath. “Yeah, I’m fine. It was a little intense, but I’m okay. So let’s go get to finding those elementals or whatever they’re called.” Rainbow says with a more confident tone.

The other ponies nod in response, but Twilight can only stare at Rainbow Dash. The brave pegasus mare that stood up to what amounted to a demi-goddess, was clearly outmatched, and yet somehow came out alive. She feels like Rainbow might be more rattled than she’s letting on, but Twilight decides to save it for another time and focus on getting to the Elements of Harmony first.

Twilight leads the other five mares inside the weathered castle through the same doors that Nightmare Moon had taken but a few minutes ago.

Chapter V: Cleansing

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Chapter V

“Come on Baelor. We need to keep moving.” Celestia says to me.

“Why don’t you fight your sister for a thousand years straight and see how fast you can walk with only three legs?” I mumble, trying to stay awake. My body’s practically shutting down from how tired I am. I’m pretty sure the threat of being found by Nightmare while unconscious is the only thing keeping me awake by this point.

“If you’ve got energy to snark, you’ve got energy to walk.” She replies with a smirk.

We trudge silently through the castle for a few more minutes. Then I break the silence again.

“Do you mind if I pass out for three weeks after all this is over? Cause I’m pretty sure I’m going to whether I want to or not.” I ask.

Celestia chuckles. “Yes, I’m fine with you sleeping for as long as you need to once this is all over.”

“Thaaaannnkss...” I almost nod off completely at that point. Thankfully, I trip a little and skid my stump of a leg on the ground. And experience all the joys that come with having stone ground into an open wound.

“GAH! DAMNIT! Ow. Okay, that woke me up.” I cry out. Pain never seems to just go away.

Celestia looks at me with concern in her eyes.. “Maybe it would be best to find you someplace for you to rest, and wait this all out. No offense, but I don’t think you’d be much help in the state you’re in.” She says.

I take a moment to think up her suggestion, and honestly, I have to agree with her. I open my mouth to let her know, but something reaches my ear that stops me.

“Did you hear that?” I ask Celestia.

“Yes. It came from up ahead… I can hear Nightmare Moon’s voice and… Twilight?!” She says with alarm. She looks between me and the hallway with indecision.

“Go on ahead. I’ll catch up.” I tell her. Knowing that Nightmare is at the end of the hallway is already charging enough fear and adrenaline through my blood to more than keep me awake.


“Go. Twilight won’t stand a chance against Nightmare if she ticks her off enough. You’re the only one who can stall her long enough.” I tell her with more force.

She looks down the hall again, and then gives me a nod. She slips her wing out from under me and then takes off sprinting down the hallway. She draws a sword that I didn’t even notice she had on her as she runs.

I don’t start walking on my own until after she rounds a corner at the end of the hallway.

Internally, as I limp, I can feel the energy of my fear charging my missing limbs and eye, working to heal them faster. But I can already tell that it’s not going to be enough to regrow them before the fight that’s quickly approaching.

‘Unless the Elements just blast Nightmare before I see her again.’ I think to myself hopefully. After considering that thought for a second, I dismiss it. ‘My presence here has already altered too many things for any kind of quick ending like that to occur.’

Before I know it, I’m rounding the same corner that Celestia passed just a few minutes ago. I’m also glad that the amount of fear coursing through me is enough for me to actually walk instead of the pitiful limping I was doing before. I mean, sure, I still have three legs, but now I actually have the strength to take long steps.

“For you see, Nightmare Moon, the Elements of Harmony… are right HERE!”

‘Why does that voice sound famil- oh yeah. Twilight Sparkle. Been a while since I heard Tara Strong’s voice. Cause’, you know, it’s hard to watch a show when you’re stuck in it before the first season.’ I note internally to myself.

Twilight was just finishing up her monologue while I made that thought. Each of the five elements floating around each of their respective bearers.

“And now you’re the final Element.” Nightmare Moon says, off script. “It seems that you have everything you need to defeat me now.” She notes, oddly calm despite the fact that she just stated.

And that is the exact reason why I bolt out towards Twilight and her friends before anything else can be said. The energy being used to heal me changes course and immediately starts fueling my three legs into overdrive, as well as numbing me to the pain I was previously in. I leap in front of Twilight and the others.

Nightmare Moon lashes her wings forward and an incredibly strong blast of lightning arcs through the air and hits my chest.

Then next thing I know, I’m face-first on the ground, and once again in a crap ton of pain. My legs briefly spasm from lingering traces of electrical current.

I struggle to breath for a few seconds, letting out small little wheezes that taste like charred barbeque, before I notice that everything is coming in as a dull ringing noise.

‘Ugh… I guess we took each other down again. I’ll just sleep this off until I regain the strength to move.’ I think dumbly, my mind not registering what just happened.

And then it does. ‘She took me down but I didn’t take her down! SHIT!!!’ The amount of fear that one thought inspires in me is unable to be conveyed through words.

Which is basically enough for me to roll over onto my back and groan.

I can’t feel the energy from that fear surging through me, or, at least not in the way that my core does it. It just feels like regular fear spurring me to move, but not empowering me.

It then occurs to me that she hit me in the chest with the lightning.

I struggle with everything I have to just raise my head up enough to try and see if my suspicions are correct, and they are. There is a blackened hole in my chest, and it very obviously got through to my core. Which means no more elemental assistance for a while.

My neck then gives out, and I cough up blood, as well as feel a spurt of more from my new chest hole.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I see Nightmare Moon stalking towards me. Unsurprisingly, she’s grinning at my pain. She moves her lips, but I can’t hear any sound come out. When I don’t respond to her words, her face morphs into one of anger. Instead of trying to speak again though, she just slams her front hooves down into my upturned stomach. Causing another round of coughing up blood. She then proceeds to slam her weight down onto my right foreleg. I cry out in pain, unable to hear it myself.

And then Nightmare Moon is pushed away by a white blur. I let out a whimper as my limb throbs, likely very much broken.

I honestly have nothing left inside me to push me forward anymore. Fear is a powerful tool when one needs to fight or run. But what happens when someone is too physically broken to do either? In nature, this is when a creature just rolls over and accepts their fate, allows the predator to finish them off and become another part in the circle of life. I am essentially at this point right now.

I close my one eye, tears leaking out from level of pain I feel all across my body. I feel my throat make some kind of whimper, but I can’t even hear it through my own ears.

I am helpless.

I am powerless.

I am afraid.

I feel a hoof gently touch my unbroken foreleg. I open my eye and shift a little to see Fluttershy looking down at me with tears in her own eyes. Behind her stands Twilight and the others, all looking at me with either shock or horror, but I have the strange impression that it’s not at me, but more at my state.

Twilight tries to say something to me, but I still can’t hear anything. Fluttershy also says something to me, rubbing my leg comfortingly as she does.

I feel lulled into a sense of peace as they stand near me. And I close my eye and rest.

Twilight freezes when she sees the flash and hears the boom. Before she could summon the power of the sixth element, Nightmare Moon had lashed out, and then there was suddenly a black and yellow dragon right in front of her, being electrocuted. She, very belatedly, scrambles back as his convulsing body thumps to the ground.

For a moment everything is still.

And then Nightmare Moon begins laughing.

“Ah-hahahahahahahahaha! Oh! Baelor! What a surprise! Thank you ever so much for finding me. It would have been an annoyance to track you down.” Nightmare Moon walks towards the downed dragon. Twilight and her friends move further away from the black alicorn, but her focus had shifted from them.

“And you also leapt right into my attack too. That is also a very kind gesture. I thank you.” She continues, coming to stand over him as he stirs and hacks up blood. “It almost makes me wish to make your end quick.” She says to him with a smirk. He only looks up at her, incomprehension in his one eye, the other shut tightly.

Nightmare Moon’s expression shifts to anger. She lifts her front hooves up and slams them into his stomach, making the dragon retch up more blood from both the hole in his chest and his mouth. “But I’m afraid that isn’t an option considering how durable you are. SO I SUPPOSE I WILL JUST HAVE TO MAKE YOU EXPERIENCE ALL THE PAIN YOU DESERVE FOR DESTROYING MY BEAUTIFUL MOON!!!” Nightmare Moon brings her hooves down on one of his legs next. Baelor lets out a heart wrenching cry of pain.

“STOP IT!!!” A voice cries out.

A white blur slams into Nightmare Moon’s side, sending both it and the black alicorn tumbling across the ground. When they stop rolling, Nightmare Moon throws it off and stands to face her new opponent. Twilight blinks when she realizes that the white attacker is her mentor, Princess Celestia.

“Princess?!” Twilight exclaims.

“Celestia.” Nightmare Moon snarls.

“Just stop this, Nightmare Moon. Your fight is with me. Leave all of them out of this.” Celestia says, a sword in her magical grasp.

Nightmare flares her wings out. “Very well. Have at thee!” Faster than Twilight can see, Nightmare Moon slams her hooves against the sword that Celestia blocks her with, and then kicks the white mare across the room and through the wall. And then their battle commences outside the castle.

“Twilight.” Rainbow Dash says, grabbing Twilight’s attention.

Twilight looks at the rainbow-maned pegasus, but she’s looking at something else. Twilight follows her line of sight to the downed dragon a little bit away from them.

“She… she hit him with a lot stronger lightning than she hit me with.” Rainbow tells Twilight while staring on the almost still form of the dragon. “He saved you.” She says with a subdued tone.

Twilight turns to stare at the dragon herself, remembering the brightness of the flash and the thrum of power she felt almost hit her. ‘That dragon… he… saved my life?’ She asks herself.

It takes her a moment to imagine his form on the ground replaced by hers, and she covers her mouth with her hoof when she finally registers the enormity of his action.

“Oh my… oh my gosh.” Twilight trembles in fear from the realization of how close a call it was. ‘I… I almost died. With no warning.’

Twilight hears a sniff from next to her, and she turns to see Fluttershy walking up to the dragon, tears leaking out of her eyes. Twilight gets to her hooves to follow a little behind her.

As Twilight gets closer the dragon, she can hear him gurgling out choked breaths, blood leaking out of the edges of his mouth. Twilight stops at the smell of burned flesh, almost gagging at the odor. But Fluttershy just moves closer and sits down next to him, and places a hoof on one of his forelegs. One of his eyes opens and he slowly turns to stare at her. His gaze moves over the rest of her friends, and then stops on her.

Twilight stares into his slitted amber eye, the eye of her savior, and she realizes, that she feels just as strongly about him as she does her other friends, despite never speaking to him before. And she also thinks that it would hurt as much inside her if this happened to any of the others.

“Thank you. Thank you so much.” Twilight tells him. She doesn’t feel like it’s enough to express how she feels.

He uncomprehendingly stares at her, before he looks back over to Fluttershy. She rubs his foreleg comfortingly. “Shhh, shhh. It’s alright. We’re not going to let anything else happen to you. You can rest now.” Fluttershy tells him softly.

Very slowly, his eye closes, his breath slows, and his head quietly drops down to the side.

Twilight gasps, but then sighs in relief when she sees that he’s still breathing, albeit weakly.

“Twilight? What should we do?” Rainbow asks her.

“Don’t we still need that sixth element that you were talkin’ about before things got crazy?” Applejack adds.

“How can you two be focusing on things like that when this brave soul just got so gravely hurt just now?” Rarity asks.

“Cause it’s still not over yet. We need to finish this before we can focus on grieving, Rarity. Twilight we still need to find that sixth element before Nightmare Moon hurts somepony else.” Applejack tells her.

Twilight stays silent for a moment. “We already have it, Applejack. I have it.” Twilight says.

“What do you mean, darling?” Rarity asks, confused.

Twilight looks up at the five mares around her. “The sixth element will present itself when a spark ignites between the other five. I thought it meant a literal spark of magic. But I understood what it really meant when I heard all of you coming to find me after my spell misfired and teleported me right to the room Nightmare Moon was in.” Twilight smiles at all of them. “It ignited a spark within myself when I realized how much I cared about you all. When I realized you were all my friends.”

Twilight’s smile lessens. “And now I feel that I want to share this feeling with others. That I want to make more friends in the future, and become even closer to all of you and every other future friend as well.” Twilight sadly looks back at the injured dragon . “I don’t know exactly what I thought this quest for the Elements of Harmony would have been like before. What it would mean.” Twilight pauses. “But now I know that this is what we have to do… no matter what.” Twilight says with finality.

And then a warm light blazes into existence above Twilight’s head. The warmth encompasses Twilight all around her and her friends, and a warmer feeling builds up inside her, and a light weight deposits itself atop her head.

After that, the warmth fades a bit, but Twilight can still feel it hovering inside her, just within hoofs reach. She looks around to her friends and sees them all glowing with a light that gives her the same feeling of warmth.

“Hey! Look!” Pinkie says happily while pointing at the dragon.

Twilight follows Pinkie’s hoof and stares at the dragon in confusion, not understanding what she wants them to see. Then her heart jumps. ‘His wounds. They’re… healing.’ Twilight realizes. The glow of the Elements are surrounding him a little, and she can see the blackened skin around the hole in his chest slowly growing healthier looking.

“Let’s help him out some more. C’mon, these things might help him faster if we get closer.” Rainbow tells them. Twilight and the others nod in agreement, then take positions around him. And sure enough, the Element’s power seems to heal him even faster. His weak breathing starts to grow more slow and steady.

‘Yes! It’s working! Don’t worry. You’re going to be okay.’ Twilight thinks, hoping to project her relief and support to the unconscious dragon.

Suddenly, part of the ceiling gets punched through across the room as Celestia is blasted through, her sword blocking a magic beam from Nightmare Moon as she falls. Nightmare keeps pushing her down until Celestia hits the ground, knocking her sword out of her grasp from the impact. Nightmare sends down one last blast of magic at Celestia to finish her off, but Celestia manages to roll so that it hits the stone floor instead. The blast still sends the white alicorn careening into a wall, but at least she didn’t get blown to pieces. Twilight watches her mentor struggle to stand up after the heavy damage she suffered, while Nightmare lands several hoof-lengths away.

The black mare then seems to take notice of Twilight and her friends and their new glowing state, but more than anything, Twilight sees her eyes focus directly onto the dragon that they’re healing.

“NO! Get away from him! He needs to DIE!” She roars furiously at them.

Strangely enough though, Twilight doesn’t feel afraid of her, not anymore. All she feels is defiance of the one who wishes to hurt the one she and her friends are healing. Twilight turns towards Nightmare Moon and steps protectively in front of the dragon, glaring defiantly at the dark alicorn. Her friends all step to stand in front of him as well, just as determined to keep him safe.

“Get out of my way.” Nightmare commands.

“You’re not getting past us.” Twilight tells her.

Nightmare Moon’s face twists even further into anger and she pushes power into her horn. Twilight in response, reaches for the power she can feel within herself and grabs it, her friends do the same. The power builds up to a climax until it explodes out of all of them and weaves together to form a six-colored rainbow that collides with Nightmare Moon’s power. There is no power struggle, the rainbow pushes right past the mare’s magic like it isn’t even there, and then swirls around her in a tornado of color and light, Nightmare Moon screaming in rage.

The swirling lights accelerate and then burst out to envelope the entirety of the castle, and Twilight feels herself fall unconscious, unable to contain her smile.

‘We did it.’ She thinks with tired joy.

‘She did it.’ Celestia thinks with pride and relief. Twilight unlocked the full power of the Elements.

Celestia looks up from under her wing, which she used to shield her eyes when she saw what was coming, and looks over to where her student and her friends are lying on the ground, unconscious. They are quickly stirring and coming too, so Celestia walks over to them and gives her student a warm hug once she sits up.

“Wha-Princess? What-?”

“Well done, my faithful student. I am so proud of you.” Celestia tells her, pulling away to stand up.

Twilight blushes in embarrassment, while her friends all bow down in front of Celestia. “Rise, my little ponies. This is your victory today, not mine.” Celestia tells them with a smile.

*GASP* Hey! Mister Dragon is okay again!” Pinkie exclaims from the back of the group.

Everypony turns to look. Celestia smiles in relief upon seeing the sleeping form of her old friend, completely healed by the Elements. ‘Rest well Bael. You’ve more than earned that three week’s rest that you requested.’

“Oh my, that is certainly a relief. It would have been terrible if he didn’t make it after saving Twilight like he did.” Rarity says.

“No kidding. That guy’s all kinds of awesome for taking that hit. Not as awesome as me, but still pretty awesome.” Rainbow says with a smirk.

“Oh! Rainbow, he’s not the only one to get healed. You’re wings look better too.” Fluttershy comments.

Rainbow whips her head around to look at her wings and gives a whoop of joy and leaps up and starts hovering in place.

*gasp* My beautiful tail is back as well. Oh I’ll never part with it again.” Rarity says happily while flaunting her restored tail.

“Wait, what happened to Nightmare Moon?” Twilight asks Celestia.

Celestia keeps her face in check, but her heart jumps in anticipation as she turns her head around to look at the last place Nightmare Moon was standing.

Nightmare Moon’s armor lays shattered and strewn across the floor. And in the center of the remains lies the still form of a smaller blue alicorn.

Celestia walks over to stand over the mare, casting a spell to check her vitals as she does so. Celestia lets out a small sigh of relief when she finds that she’s only sleeping, like Baelor.

“She’s still alive? But I thought…” Twilight says with worry.

“You don’t have to worry Twilight. The Elements cleansed her of the dark influence that had taken over her. My sister just needs to rest and recuperate from the millennia of fighting Baelor on the moon.” Celestia tells her student gently.

“SISTER?!” Twilight and the other five mares behind her exclaim in surprise.

Celestia chuckles. “Yes. This is my younger sister, Princess Luna. She moved the moon before I had to banish her with the Elements. And Baelor is an old friend of both of ours that gave me the chance to use them on her a thousand years ago when she first transformed into Nightmare Moon. Unfortunately, it left him in the way of the Element’s blast as well, and he was banished to the moon alongside her.” Celestia explains to them.

Celestia looks out the hole in the wall of the castle. “Now, I believe it is meant to be daytime by this point in time. So what do you all say to me raising the sun and then we can enjoy the Summer Sun Celebration?” She says to the six mares.

Twilight giggles. “I think that sounds like a great idea Princess.” She answers.

“WOO HOO! PARTY TIME!!!” Pinkie shouts energetically, popping up from Celestia’s mane.

Twilight looks horrified at Pinkie’s antics, but Celestia doesn’t even flinch. She’s already read up on all of the Element Bearers and their little quirks, Pinkie’s ability to break the laws of physics included.

“Excellent.” Celestia simply says. She turns and picks up Luna in her magic, and then gently places her onto her back. She then walks over to Baelor and picks him up in her magic aura and walks, bearing the weight of her two closest companions. The six Element Bearers following her. Celestia absentmindedly grabs her sword off the ground and sheaths it.

“And Twilight, would it be any trouble for me to leave Baelor and Luna in your library to rest some more?” Celestia asks her student.

Twilight looks up at her mentor. “Of course not Princess. They look like they need all the rest they can get.” She answers with a smile.

“Thank you.” Celestia says. And with a small flair of additional magic, Celestia pulls the sun up from the horizon to begin the new day.

Chapter VI: Beginning

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Chapter VI

I give a yawn as I wait for my dad to come out of the bathroom. We’ve been at Comic Con for about three hours now.

Absentmindedly I look around at people that are cosplaying as one character or another from different franchises. Honestly, there are a lot of people dressing as either Deadpool or Kirito from what I can see. But there’s also a lot more people dressed in really good costumes other than that. The ones I like the most are the complex costumes with lots of mock plate armor, like that one generic knight standing over by the Merchant that I am not going within twenty feet of.

I know I’m probably being paranoid, I just don’t feel like taking the chance that something similar happens to me like what happens to those Displaced characters in the fan fictions I read. No matter how interesting going to Equestria sounds, I wouldn’t want to suddenly be yanked away from my life here and never be able to return. I also just can’t bear to think about what that would do to my family if I up and disappeared.

Besides, the stuff that guy’s selling may look cool, but they’re also way outside my price range.

My dad’s been in the bathroom for a while now, and I’m getting a little impatient waiting. I notice that there’s a small shop set up next to the bathroom and decide to just browse what they’ve got while I wait. If my dad comes out, I should be easy to spot if he emerges before I notice him.

I walk around to the front of the stall to take a look at some of the things on display.

‘Whoever made these knows what they’re doing.’ I think to myself. There are a bunch of glass blown animals, creatures, landscapes and other small ceramic pieces that I can’t help but be impressed that someone figured out how to make things like these.

And it’s not just glass figurines being sold here either, there are metal crafted pieces of jewelry and ornaments resting inside display cases, and hanging on rotating hooks.

“Find anything you like?” The young woman behind the desk asks me.

“Honestly, I like it all. This stuff is amazing.” I answer.

“Why thank you. I put a lot of time into my crafts, and I sometimes feel a little sad that not everyone appreciates the time and patience I put into them. Most of these convention people tend to only care about the stuff that you would find in comics or movies, or weapons that look cool.” The woman says.

“Don’t get me wrong, the weapons are pretty cool too, I just don’t have anywhere at home to actually put it if I got one of them. I’m more of a guy to just grab a souvenir to remember an experience. But I know how it feels to enjoy creating something with your own hands, so I know that this stuff is impressive.” I tell her.

“So you’re an artist as well?” She asks with interest.

I shrug. “Sorta. I’m a college student.” I answer.

“Oh, a student. What’s your major?” She asks.

“Animation.” I say simply.

“Like, for games?”

“Eh, more along the lines for Television.” I correct.

“Hmmm. Any kind of ideas bouncing around in your head for a project you might want to do in the future?” She asks.

I bring a hand up to stroke my chin in thought. “I may have an idea or two. But I’m not really sure how to go about it yet. Whether to write it out, animate some stuff, or just take a crack at making it into a comic or something. Why do you ask?” I reply.

“Eh, just trying to pass the time a bit with a little conversation. That and it keeps you here longer to possibly buy something.” She says with a smirk.

I chuckle. “Well, it’s working to keep me here longer, that’s for sure.” I say, my eyes roaming over the different pieces. I silently give my personal mark of approval due to the large number of dragons I see among them.

“Do you like dragons?” She asks again, turning around to open a box on the floor.

“I love them. They’re the ultimate symbol of both majesty and power. That and they’re just really cool.” I reply honestly. Why am I telling her so much?

“Yeah, they definitely are. Catch!” She tosses something at my face. I reflexively jerk my head back and catch it in my right hand. I glance down to what’s resting in my hand and see that it’s some kind of necklace with two metal pendants attached. “What was that for?” I ask her, irritated that she threw something at me.

“You have good reflexes.” She notes, ignoring my question.

“Yeah, that’s what twelve years of martial arts will do to you. Now would you mind telling me why you threw a necklace at my face?” I ask her sternly.

“And disciplined too. Twelve years dedicated to training your body, mind, and spirit. Good.” She says, ignoring me still.

“Are you listening to me at all?” I ask her, getting really irritated.

This snaps her out of her thought. “Hm? Oh, I’m sorry. I get these weird urges to test people’s reflexes, and if they can catch what I throw at them, I let them keep it, free of charge. So congrats, you just won a necklace.” She says with a smile.

I raise a confused brow to this. “Really? You’re just giving this to me? This still looks like you could sell it for… what are you selling this other stuff for… twenty or thirty dollars? Why would you just give it to me?” I ask disbelievingly.

“Eh, I would have ended up putting it on sale if you didn’t end up catching it. I’m basically just trying to get rid of it by this point.” She says with a dismissive hand wave. “You’d be doing me a favor by taking it.”

“Well… okay then. Thanks, I guess.” I say reluctantly. This woman is really weird.

I take a closer look at the pendants on the necklace, and raise a brow. Both of them are in the shape of a diamond with one of them hollowed out and more stylized around the edges. ‘ Wait, these look kind of how I envisioned-.’

“Soooo, did you design this based off of something?” I ask her curiously.

“Mmmmm… nah, not really. I just kind of punched a hole through one of those two little pieces of metal and scratched designs into them.” She answers. She’s back to pulling things out of the box she got the necklace out of.

“Huh. Then is it okay if I use these as a little inspiration in what I’m trying to make? They kind of look like fleshed out versions of what I envisioned for that idea I mentioned earlier.” I say.

She sets down another necklace on the ground, casually stands up, and then claps her hands together. “Okay, that settles it. You’re the one.” She says, turning to me with a smirk.

I get a bad feeling in my gut. “I’m the one? What are you…” My voice trails off as I notice something very, very wrong around me.

It’s completely silent.

I turn away from the stall to look around me, and I see, to my shock, that everything and everyone in the convention hall is frozen in place. My eyes widen in fear.

“You’re creative, disciplined, understand the existence of the spiritual plane, and you are sensitive to dimensional wavelengths. You’re the one that’s getting sent to that version of that world.” My heart stops. I whip around to look at the woman.

She pushes her palm out towards me and I get suspended in the air, my limbs locked in place. That doesn’t mean I don’t attempt to struggle. “What are you doing?!” I yell at her in terror.

“Don’t worry. I’m just creating a branch in this timeline. The other you will go about his life as if this didn’t happen, because it didn’t. You, however, are going on a little trip. It’s nothing personal, it’s just something that has to happen every now and then. Have fun.” And then she flips her palm downward, and I fall screaming into nothingness.

I give a snort as I jerk awake, and then exhale tiredly. ‘Ugh… where am I?’ I ask myself. I blearily open my eyes and take a look around me.

I see books, books, and more books. ‘Oh, a library. Haven’t been to one of these for… when did I last go to one?’ I ask myself.

As I turn my head to look around more, I feel something shift a little on my back. I turn my head to look behind me and I see a blanket resting on my back. I look a little downward and I see that I’m lying on a couch.

‘I’m on a couch, under a blanket, in a library. I don’t remember falling asleep under any of those conditions. What the hell happened?’ I wonder in my head.

While I’m pondering how I ended up on a couch, I don’t hear hoof steps getting closer from the nearby staircase. I do, however, hear someone let out a light gasp from there. I look up and see a violet unicorn mare staring at me with a slightly opened mouth.

“Uh… hi?” I say in an awkward greeting.

“You’re awake!” She exclaims.

“Yes that’s generally what someone has to be in order to say hello to another.” I say wryly.

She tilts her head to the side a bit. “Huh?” She says, confused.

Then I realize that might have sounded a bit rude to say that to a complete stranger. “Sorry, my mouth says things before I think it through sometimes.” I apologize sheepishly.

She shakes her head. “Oh! No, I’m sorry. I just didn’t expect your first sentence after sleeping for three days straight to be that, is all.” She says.

An awkward silence descends on us for a few seconds.

“Sooooo… I’m a bit lost on how I ended up here. Do you know how I ended up on your couch?” I ask her.

Twilight’s eyes widen and she slumps in relief to a question she can answer. “Well, for starters, you saved my life when Nightmare Moon tried to kill me with lightning.” She says. “Thank you for that, by the way.” She adds.

My eyes light up in remembrance. “Oh yeah. I used my body as a shield.” I say as some of the pieces start to reassemble themselves in my head.

She winces. “Er, yes. You did do that. After that, you kind of passed out. Then my friends and I healed you and cleansed Nightmare Moon with the Elements of Harmony. After that, Princess Celestia carried you both here and asked me if it would be okay to leave you and her sister Luna here during the Summer Sun Festival. During the festival, I told her about how I don’t want to leave my new friends now that I’d learned about how great friendship really is. She told me that I could stay here so long as I sent her friendship reports and to let you rest here as well. Then she just left with her sister for Canterlot. Three days later, you woke up here.” Twilight explains to me.

I raise a brow. ‘Well, that’s an explanation. But I would have thought Celestia would have wanted to take me back to the castle with her.’ I think to myself. I smile at Twilight. “Thank you, Twilight Sparkle, for letting me rest in your home.” I say formally to her.

“Oh, you’re welc- wait! How did you know my name?” She asks me, surprised.

“Celestia mentioned you while we were in the castle, before sprinting off to make sure Nightmare Moon didn’t blast your head off. I also know the names of your other five friends. That one’s mostly due to your little speech of which elements belonged to which pony.” I say with a small chuckle.

Twilight awkwardly laughs with me. “Uh, yeah. I guess I did do that. I didn’t know you heard that.” She says.

“My name’s Baelor. It’s nice to meet you Twilight.” I say sincerely.

“It’s nice to meet you Baelor.” She says with a smile.

The awkward silence descends again.

‘I’ve never been good at starting a conversation.’ I think to myself. I look around to look for something to break the silence. All I see are books on every shelf. ‘Well, when life gives you lemons…’

“So you’re living in a library now? That’s pretty nice of Celestia.” I say casually.

Her eyes brighten again. “Yes, it was. I like to research things often so it’s great to have all the information I need just within hoof’s reach. Do you like reading?” She asks.

A trollish idea enters my mind. I act on it. “No.” I answer monotonously.

Her ears wilt in disappointment.

“I love reading.” I say with just as much monotone.

She stares at me for a second before my words actually register after my conflicting tone. Her small head-shake-spasm makes me snicker.

She shakes it off and looks at me questioningly. “Really?”

I give her a sincere smile. “Yes, really. I grew up reading, and I love how stories can take someone’s mind to new worlds and realities. I grew up inspired by them.” I answer with a chuckle.

And in that one moment, I witness the one thing all bronies from every corner of the planet Earth call the most defining action of cuteness of ponies.

The squee.

I raise brow in amusement at Twilight for the baby doll sound that came out of her.

“I think we’re going to be great friends Baelor.” Twilight says with a large grin.

“Just call me Bael.” I tell her with a closed eye smile.

“Heh, okay Bael. So, how do you feel?” She asks me, remembering that I just woke up from a very long nap.

“I’m doing well enough, thanks for asking. I still feel pretty tired, but more in the way that I need to eat and drink than anything. I think I’ve slept enough for now.” I say moving to step onto the floor with my left foreleg.
When I manage to get both my front legs on the floor, I slide forward until my hind legs are able to touch the floor. After that, I stretch backwards and then forwards like a cat, groaning as I hear several pops from my aching joints. My muscles cry out in ecstatic pain and joy from the much-needed stretch.

I give a long yawn to stretch my jaw before I stand up straight in front of Twilight. I stand a head and a third taller than her… horn included.

“So, what’s the plan for today?” I ask her, rolling my wings before flexing them. Damn I want to fly again, but I don’t think I have enough energy for it yet.

My question snaps her out of staring at me crack my joints. “Well, Spike was supposed to help me practice my spell-casting today, but we’re not doing that until nine o-clock hits.” She says, rubbing her chin with a hoof.

“What time is it now?” I ask.

She glances at a clock. “Eight-thirty.” She answers.

I crick my neck sideways. “Ghm,” I grunt. “do you mind if I join you for breakfast and your spell-practice?” I ask her. I want to see how low my energy is.

“Oh, not at all. I can introduce you to Spike when he gets up. Speaking of which, I should probably go get him now.” Twilight says, trotting towards the stairs already. “You can just head into the kitchen to wait for us.” She says over her shoulder.

“Okay. And thank you Twilight.” I say.

“You’re welcome.” She says as she trots up the stairs.

Chapter VII: Foot-Race

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Chapter VII

“Twenty-five, Twilight. Twenty-five different tricks, and counting!” Spike praises Twilight as we walk through Ponyville.

Twilight smiles proudly at his praise.

“I’m a little curious about where you learned some of those spells though Twilight. Some of them looked a little familiar.” I say to her from her other side, my wings folded at my side as I walk.

“Really? Which ones?” Twilight asks.

“Eh, not that many, the breeze spell and the ice forming spell are the main one’s I’m talking about.” I answer.

“Oh! Princess Celestia taught me the basic concepts for them a while ago, but I haven’t really practiced them until today.” Twilight tells us.

“How come?” I ask.

“They just seemed a little redundant. They’re almost exactly like some regular unicorn spells that are pretty common. Such as with the breeze spell, it almost feels like I’m just pushing the air around with my levitation. And the ice spell is just like pushing the air together and then removing the heat. It didn’t feel like I was forming an actual spell designed for those purposes. But they sure as heck required a lot more magic to cast, that’s for sure.” Twilight explains.

“Oh, then that makes a little more sense.” I say.

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Wind, and Ice. They’re basic elemental forces, so they’re simple in application, but challenging to control. Celestia probably got the idea of those spells from watching me use my magic, way back when.” I say.

Twilight and Spike stop. I look back at them. “You have magic?” Twilight asks me in surprise.

I smirk, then hold up my right foreleg and create a diamond of ice with a small flash of blue in my upturned palm.

“Whoa! That’s so cool!” Spike exclaims.

“Make waaaaay!” “Coming through!” Two voices shout out from in front of me.
I turn my neck back around in time to see a dull yellow and green pair of shapes run around me. I whip my head around again and wrap my tail under Snips and Snails’ barrels before they can run into Spike.

‘Oh yeah, Boast Busters. I probably should have remembered it from Twilight doing her magic tests.’ I think as I recollect the MLP episode.

“Whoa there! What’s the hurry?” I ask them, setting them on the ground. They turn to me and widen their eyes.

“DRAGON!!!!” They shout in fear before jetting off again.

Spike, Twilight and I just stare after them as they run off. “Well that was rude. Do parents even teach foals basic manners in this day and age?” I ask Twilight jokingly.

“Hey, maybe that new unicorn in town can save us from that dragon!” I hear Snips say loudly in the distance.

“There’s a new unicorn in town?” Twilight says questioningly.

“I wonder why they think some random unicorn can take on a dragon.” Spike says with a frown.

I shrug. “I don’t know. But do you guys want to go see where they’re heading? I’m a little interested in meeting this new unicorn.” I say to them.

“Okay. I’m a little curious too. Let’s go.” Twilight says.

We walk in the same direction that Snips and Snails went for a few minutes until we come to a gathering of ponies. Twilight starts forward and moves through the crowd with Spike on her back. I follow closely behind, but from the way ponies look at me once they see my larger form pass them, I have a feeling that I might have a while to go before I’m as accepted as Twilight and Spike. Twilight stops next to Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash at the front of the crowd.

“Hi girls. What’s going on?” Twilight greets them.

Rarity turns to Twilight with a smile. “Oh, hello darling.” Then she notices me. “Oh my.”

“Hey, the big guy’s finally awake. Took you long enough.” Rainbow says with a smirk.

“Well whaddyuknow. How you feelin?” Applejack asks me.

“I’m feeling fine, but between being awake and asleep, I think I prefer asleep. I might need to take another nap later today.” I say. Then I yawn.

“Hah! I can agree with that!” Rainbow exclaims with a grin.

“Fillies and colts!” A familiar voice calls from behind stage. “Get ready to watch in awe and amazement! For this day you are about to witness magic unseen and unused by anypony until this day! Get ready to bear witness to the amazing magical power, of the Great and Powerful Trrrrrixie!!!!!” A blitz of fireworks and pyrotechnics erupt from behind stage in a dazzling display of flaming coordination, before Trixie in her hat and cape appear on stage from a blast of smoke.

“My my, what boasting.” Rarity comments on queue.

“What’s wrong with boasting?” Twilight asks.

“Nothin’. Except when some filly starts flauntin’ their magic around like they just won the blue ribbon from a rodeo.” Applejack answers with a frown at the blue unicorn on stage.

“Just because somepony has more magic than others, does not mean that they’re better than everypony else.” Rarity adds.

“Yeah, especially when you have me being better than everypony else,” Rainbow says cockily. “Er, I mean, boo. Magic smagick.” She says awkwardly after a glare from Applejack.

I try to cut in to give the argument that most bronies would argue for Trixie’s case. “Hey, uh, not to say you’re wrong or anything but-.”

“Well, it seems that we have some nei-ei-ei-ei-eighsayers in the crowd.”

But I end up groaning in pain from how bad that pun is when I hear it in person.

“Um, Bael. Are you alright?” Twilgiht asks me in concern.

“No. No I am not. For that pun was frickin’ terrible.” I say, my face down in my palm.

“Hey! Language, there are children in the crowd.” Trixie yells at me from the stage, to my surprise.

I look up at her, consider her words, and nod in agreement. “Okay, I admit, that was a poor choice of words on my part. And I’m sorry about that. But you have to admit that pun was horrible.” I say.

“It was kinda bad.” Rainbow says in agreement with me.

“Borderline shameful now that I think about it.” Applejack says.

“I want a refund!” Somepony in the back of the crowd shouts.

“This show is free to view.” Trixie deadpans.

“I am satisfied with my refund!” The same pony shouts.

“Ugh, fine. I’ll concede that the pun was bad. Now can I continue with my show?” Trixie asks with irritation.

“Only if you quit your boasting!” Rainbow says.

“She’s a stage performer, Rainbow. It’s her job to boast in order to make the show more entertaining.” I tell her.

“YES! FINALLY somepony who gets it. Thank you, random dragon in the crowd! Now can I get back to my show without anypony interrupting, please?!” Trixie asks loudly.

“Sure. Go right ahead.” I answer for the rest of the crowd.

“Thank you. Now where wa-.” Her voice catches and she slowly looks back at me.

I blink at her. “What?” I ask.

“Dr-dr-dr-DRAGON?!” She exclaims in shock, her eyes bugging out.

‘It’s only happened twice and it’s already old. Yes, I’m a dragon, can we move on?…Hmmm. Maybe I can have some fun with this.’ I think with a growing smile.

“Dragon!? Where?” I ask in mock surprise. I’m grinning though so I think it’s pretty clear I’m trying to screw with her. I actually hear a couple chuckles from other ponies besides members of the main six.

Trixie snaps out of her shock and then re-assumes her confident bravado. “So, it would seem that this town has a dragon holding the inhabitants hostage. This presents an opportunity for the Great and Powerful Trixie to prove to the ones who doubt that Trixie is truly the best.” She says with a smirk. “I shall give you one chance to leave dragon, before I bring my full power to bear against you.” She says to me.

I we stare at each other in silence. “Psst. Spike. I think you ought to surrender like she’s asking. She looks like she means business.” I whisper loudly to the purple dragon next to me. He jerks his head up and shoots me a glare.

Some more ponies laugh at my badly hidden secret message to the smaller dragon. Trixie looks at me indignantly. “Are you mocking me dragon?!”

“Hmmmm. You know what, I think he is. Spike, that’s not very nice, you should take what someone’s saying to you more seriously.” I say to him sternly.

Spike deadpans, the crowd laughs, and Trixie’s eye twitches.

I crack up. I could never keep a straight face if everyone else is laughing. “Heh, yeah, but in all seriousness, I have a name, so I would appreciate it if you could use it. My name is Baelor, oh Great and Powerful Trixie.” I say with a casual bow.

Trixie snorts angrily. “Well then Baelor. It seems that you have foolishly chosen to ignore Trixie’s mercy. In that case, it is my duty as an Equestrian citizen to defeat you and send you back into the wilderness where you belong.” Trixie says arrogantly.

I shrug. “Okay. Hit me with your best shot then.” I say, amused.

Trixie’s horn glows and she brings a rope out from behind the stage, which then wraps around my legs tightly, bringing them together. But I manage to stay upright, despite the sudden narrowing of my body’s supports radius.

I blink. ‘Huh, I guess she’s sticking with what she did in the show.’ I conclude while contemplating which method I should take to get out of the ropes.

“Have you had enough yet? Trixie can see that your situation is quite dire now that she’s prevented you from being able to move. She will permit you to leave if you so choose, now that Trixie has displayed her superiority to a measly lizard like you.” Trixie says mockingly.

I give her a bemused look. “… Yeah, I think I’m good. Let’s keep this going.” I say before puffing a small blast of fire at the ropes. They catch and disintegrate at a ridiculous rate like all things flammable in cartoons. “So does Trixie have any more Trickseys to show before I take my turn?” I ask her, stepping up to the stage.

She scowls at me. “Now who’s making horrible puns? Let’s see how you handle this.” Her horn glows again and a dark cloud floats over to me.

Knowing what’s coming, I decide to take a page out of Natsu Dragneel’s book. When the cloud shoots out a bolt of lightning at me, I turn to it, and take it to the face.

And take a moment to chew the electric current before swallowing it loud enough for everyone in the audience to hear.

“Hm. Not bad. Could use a little bit more agitation to give it a little more kick, but overall that’s some pretty tasty lightning. My compliments to the chef.” I say to the gob-smacked unicorn facing me on stage. I glance at Twilight and the others and see that they’re equally stunned.

“Did you just eat lightning?” Rainbow asks me incredulously.

I open my mouth to answer, but a feeling builds first in my stomach and then up to my throat. My eyes widen and I aim my mouth into the sky and let loose the lightning that I just ate out into the sky.

“Correction. I just ate, and then belched out lightning.” I say to Rainbow without missing a beat.

It is surprisingly easy to get a crowd of ponies to laugh… so long as you’re on a stage.

“Argh! Let’s see how much you can joke around when I hit you with this!” Trixie shoots a spell at me that I can’t feel any threat from, so I let it hit me.

Boy was that a mistake.

“Oh the horror! Green is most definitely not your color darling.” Rarity says with disgust.

I stare at Trixie with an impassive face, a pile of garbage balanced atop my head and over my back.

“… Okay, I’ll admit that you got me with that one.” I say to her. She smirks triumphantly. “So, how’s about I give you a hug as a prize for your flawless victory.” I add with an evil smile.

Her face morphs into one of horror as I start walking towards her. “Agh! No! Get away from me you disgusting reptile!” She shouts as she backs up rapidly.

“I am what you made me!” I crow with sadistic glee.

She steps back and falls off the stage onto her back with a yelp. I see my moment and I pounce, cackling like a madman.

She screams and bolts away. I land and give chase with grime streaming off of me like a disgusting scarf of filth.

She runs around the perimeter of the crowd, and I keep after her, but due to my recent awakening, I’m not really in the mood to channel energy into my limbs to catch up to her.

That isn’t to say that I would need to, I’m a four legged predator with longer legs than her, so I could catch up to her almost instantly if I felt like it. Then it happens…

She trips.

I don’t know what she tripped on, and I don’t care, I just take another flying leap at her, ready to rub the garbage dripping off me into her face.

Trixie turns around just in time to see me almost on her and she screams.

And screams.

And screams.

And screams…

And by that point I’m wondering why I’m no longer descending upon her to enact filth-coated vengeance upon her.

Trixie actually stops screaming by this point as well and stares at me floating in the air. I then notice that there’s a light blue magical aura around me, holding me up.

“Huh. Good reflexes with your magic there Trix.” I say to her, taking it in stride.

“Actually, that was me.” Rarity says while stepping towards us from the crowd.

I stare at her in surprise. “Why?”

“Because nopony deserves to have their carefully groomed mane infected by such filth.” Rarity replies while carefully moving me away from Trixie, who seems just as surprised that she’s being saved by Rarity as I am.

“Aw come on Rarity! She had it coming!” Rainbow protests, hovering up to us.

“It’s only a bit-a dirt. It’ll come out.” Applejack adds. I hear a few ponies in the crowd grumbling about the missed comedy as well.

I frown a bit, but not at Rarity. The town’s unanimous shift towards my side doesn’t really sit right with me. ‘They’re too quick to laugh at others.’

“Up you go darling. Let’s get you back up on stage where you belong.” Rarity says while offering a hoof to Trixie.

“Er… Thank you?” Trixie accepts her help up. She then slowly walks back on stage, seemingly devoid of the superior attitude she used to be using earlier.

Rarity sets me on the ground.

“So, I will be continuing my performance before it was interrupted. Can… anypony remember where I left off?” Trixie asks the audience.

“You were at the part where we say BOOOOOOOO!!!!” Rainbow says hotly.

I feel a flash of anger.


But not as much as I just felt from Rarity.

“Whaaaaaat?” Rainbow’s scratchy voice whines. “She’s just going to keep bragging about how good at magic she is. And she covered Baelor in trash.”

“I am upset that she did that as well. But be that as it may, I have a feeling Baelor does not hold a grudge against her. And he did make a valid point. Trixie is a showmare, and boasting of her power and exploits are likely just a part of her act.” Rarity explains to Rainbow.

“She still didn’t have to be such a jerk. “ Rainbow mutters, glaring over her shoulder at Trixie. She’s telling the Ursa Major story, but I think she’s putting the spin on it that it was her ancestor that defeated it instead of herself.

“To be fair, she kind of did me a favor with the garbage. The moon was really dry and uncomfortable, so having all this slimy and wet garbage covering me is actually kind of soothing.” I say.

I am not lying about it either, it’s honestly nice feeling simply because it’s a change from a thousand years of dryness.

“Ewwwww. Baelor, how could you possibly think that having garbage covering you feels good?” Rarity asks in horror.

“Ugh, dude, that’s nasty. Go take a shower.” Rainbow says, her nose wrinkled in disgust as well.

“Oh my gosh, a shower sounds like su-huh-huch a good idea right now.” My body shuddering from the thought of having hot water lightly pounding on the back of my neck, coursing down my body, and the bathroom filling with hot steam.

“Oh no, you are not tracking in that garbage into Twilight’s library. Go and wash yourself off with a hose, or jump into the lake, or something. But do not track all that disgusting waste inside of Twilight’s home.” Rarity in no uncertain terms, tells me.

I take a moment to think of that and I nod in agreement. “I’m okay with that, which way’s the lake?” I ask.

“I can show you where it is.” Rainbow offers, looking a little too happy to have an excuse to leave.

“And before you go, allow me to remove the bulk of this rubbish.” Rarity says, her horn lighting up again and lifts the majority of the garbage off me.

“Thanks.” I tell her.

“C’mon, let’s get you cleaned up big guy.” Rainbow says before darting off past the fountain in the center of town.

“Tell Twilight and Spike that I’ll be back in a bit.” I say to Rarity as I start running after Rainbow.

“I will be sure to let them know.” Rarity calls out to me.

I turn my attention to following Rainbow’s polychromatic tail. She’s pulling ahead a little bit, but she’s also obviously not trying very hard to outpace me from the low frequency of her wing flaps.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a good run and I’m actually feeling pretty good right now, so I decide to start lengthening my strides to catch up to her.

She looks back and sees me gaining on her slowly, and smirks. “You’re pretty fast for a big bulky dragon. Bet’chyou can’t keep up with me when I’m actually trying though.” She says challengingly.

I smile in response and suddenly double my speed, passing her up for a second before she effortlessly matches my speed, flipping over onto her back in flight so she can stare at me.

“Nice try, but no.” She says, still flying in a way that makes it seem easy. “Maybe you’ll stand a chance if you start using those wings of yours.”

‘Alright, you asked for it.’ I think, accepting her implied challenge.

I shift my momentum so that I’m firmly planting my front feet on the ground, followed up with my back feet planting almost right behind them. This sudden momentary stop causes Rainbow to instantly pass me up, but now I’m able to do one of my favorite things when it comes to running.

Using the little amount of power in my core at the moment, I send all of it down through my legs and into the earth to as deep as I can.

And then it comes back a hundredfold.

The power stored deep down in the planet’s mantle surges up through my legs, and up between my lungs into my core. And then bounces again back down into my hind legs.

And then I launch myself forwards, halving the distance between Rainbow and I with a single bound. After a second stride, I’m right next to her as she flies. The look on her face at seeing me disappear one, moment, then reappear the next is priceless.

“Try to keep up!” I taunt with a grin. I take a third stride and rocket ahead, now able to absorb enough power to make these massive leaps as soon as I touch the ground, rather than the pause like with the first one.

“You’re not getting away that easily!” Rainbow shouts after me. I glance back and see her steadily gaining. Pretty soon she’s managed to catch up to me again. This time though, to my satisfaction, she looks much more serious about the race.

“Do you still think I can’t keep up?” I ask her smugly once she pulls up parallel to me.

She glares at me sourly for a moment before breaking into a grin. She abruptly turns right into an alley.

I stumble a bit before twisting around mid stride and slam my front left foot on the ground. The energy of the earth keeps my foot firmly stable, despite my momentum carrying me at an upward angle from the ground. Using this link, I redirect my energy into pulling myself back to the ground and then launching myself around and into the same alley that Rainbow shot down.

I see Rainbow up ahead and I chase after her, using more controlled and faster strides in the narrow alleyway. Rainbow turns right as she leaves the alley, and I leap onto the right wall of the alley to launch myself out of it as well, allowing me to gain some ground on her again since I didn’t have to slow down to turn.

After the turn, we rush through the open street. I have to leap over a box in my path, and Rainbow pulls ahead even farther. I push myself, sucking in even more energy from the ground with each stride and leaping farther with each bound.

We rocket out of the town proper and into an open field. I can see the lake fast approaching, and I push myself even harder to try and beat Rainbow.

But she takes a quick glance back and pushes harder as well. We’re both giving it our all and we seem to be staying at the same speed. Neither of us can move faster than the other.

Of course that just means I can’t close the distance between us and pass her to win. I know I haven’t done this in a while, but I was kind of hopeful that I could beat Rainbow in a race if I could catch her off guard with my foot-speed. ‘Oh well, maybe I’ll stand a chance while flying, once I get the energy.’ I think to myself.

But as we rapidly approach the lake, I get an idea to claim a personal victory.

Rainbow gives off one last burst of speed and blasts over the surface of the lake and loops up in a victory pose. “Ha HAH!!! Yeah!!!” She crows in victory.

She doesn’t get a chance to do much else though, because I launch myself at her with an earth-powered leap and catch her in a gliding embrace from the edge of the water. We then plunge down into the cold water, with Rainbow crying out in surprise from my spur-of-the-moment glomp.

I let go of her once we’re both submerged. No need to make her panic and think I’m trying to drown her. We both swim up to the surface, with me emerging first, and Rainbow popping up a second later.

“What the hay was that for!” Rainbow asks me angrily.

I chuckle as move to float on my back. “Heh heh, sorry. Some ideas are just too irresistible when you have them.” I say with a wide grin at her. She just glares at me.

“Oh lighten up, you probably needed to wash the sweat off you after that race.” I tell her.

She continues to glare at me for a few seconds, before letting out an annoyed grunt.

“On the bright side, you still won.” I point out, hoping to cheer her up.

That does indeed perk her up. “Heh, yeah. You’re pretty fast though. I never expected somepo-er, somedragon to be able to keep up with me in a race, let alone while running. Are you as fast a flier as you are a runner?” She asks while also leaning to float on her back like me.

“Yeah, but not by much.” I answer. “The ground gives me more of a boost and can let me go longer running while drawing on its power. I have to rely on my own internal energy to fly though, and that can run out pretty quickly if I try to push myself to go as fast as I can while in the air.” I answer.

“The ground gives you a boost? What do you mean?” Rainbow asks.

“The entire planet is like one giant energy source. It has roiling magma and heat only a dozen or two miles down, and even more concentrated energy even further down. I’m able to send some of my energy down to that layer, suck up the energy, and then pull that energy back up to me. Then I just use that to run, or hit something really hard if I need to.” I answer.

“That kind of sounds like cheating.” Rainbow says with a frown.

“It’s not cheating any more than you using your pegasus magic to fly.” I retort.

“Pegasi don’t have magic.” Rainbow says.

“Sure you do. You wouldn’t be able to get off the ground with those tiny wings if you didn’t. You may not realize you’re using it, but you are.” I say.

Rainbow is silent for a moment as she mulls over my reasoning. “…Then I guess she was telling the truth.” She mutters.

“Hm? Who was telling the truth?” I ask her.

“Nightmare Moon.” I tense at the name. Rainbow doesn’t notice my reaction and continues. “She tried to get me to join her side or something back at the front of the castle. She said she could ‘teach me to master the sky’ but I thought she was just lying to get us all to leave. She used her wings to do the things she did, but I just thought she was trying to be flashy with her magic or something. I guess she really was using pegasus magic though. She really could have taught me some pretty cool stuff.” Rainbow says the last part quieter.

We then float in the water on our backs in silence for a bit.

I’m trying to shake myself out of the feeling of cold fear her name just inspired in me. ‘Why?’ I ask myself. ‘I know that I don’t have to worry about her anymore. So why am I so terrified by just her name? Why?’

“You okay there?” Rainbow asks, drawing my attention.

“… Yeah. I’m just thinking that I’m nice and clean now.” I lie.

We float in the water for a little bit more.

“I’m gonna get out.” I say while turning to swim for the nearby shore.

“Oh, okay. I’m going to do that too. We should hang out again sometime Baelor. You’re pretty fast and I’d love to beat you again in a race.” She says with the same enthusiasm she had while we were racing.

“Same here.” I say while walking onto the shore. “But I’m not going to let you win that easily. If you slip up, I’m going to beat you, so you better push as hard as you can.” I reply with a smile.

“Hah! You better believe I’m not going easy on you next time. You almost passed me a couple times cause I was taking it easy at the beginning. You won’t stand a chance when I go full out from the start.” Rainbow boasts.

We continue to just chat and banter with each other as we walk away from the Ponyville lake, the finish line of a race, and the starting line of a friendship.

In Canterlot

Princess Celestia sips some tea while sitting on her large pillow in her private study. Suddenly, a whorl of smoke flashes in front of her and manifests as a scroll in the air before falling to the ground. Celestia picks up the scroll to read it.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that sometimes, when somepony is acting in a way that irks you or others, that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Not everypony is as they seem at first glance. Sometimes they cover themselves behind a mask for one reason or another, and while they may seem boastful or arrogant at first, if you take the time to get to know them, you may actually like who you see behind their mask when they take it off. My friends and I met a new pony today named Trixie, and she’s actually very enjoyable to be around once you look at her boasting in a different light. She’s both an entertainer and storyteller, and her sense of imagination is amazing to listen to and watch when she illustrates it with her illusions. I feel like we’re all going to be great friends in the future, and I hope Rainbow comes around and grows to like her as well, since she kind of got rubbed the wrong way when they met.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

P.S. Baelor woke up today. He helped us understand that Trixie’s boasting is a part of her performance, and that we shouldn’t take offense from it, and instead try to just enjoy her stories. I don’t think things would have worked out the way they did without him.

Celestia smiles upon reading her student’s friendship report. ‘Oh Twilight, I’m so glad that I left Bael with you. He’s going to help you so much, and I hope you can help him as well.’

Princess Celestia rolls up the friendship report and stores it away before returning to her tea.

Chapter VIII: Back into Practice

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Chapter VIII

Arcs of electricity strike my opened palm, I point my claws on my other hand back at Luna and the lightning shoots back out at her. She catches the lightning on one of her wingtips and shoots it at the ground with the other.

“Thou art getting better at redirecting the current.” She says, building up another charge in her wings.

“And you’re getting faster at generating it.” I respond back at her, standing upright to get ready for another bolt.

“Your observations about how it feels when it travels from thee’s core through thee’s limbs are most helpful. Tis helping us to search for the same feelings within our self as we generate the energy.” Luna says before launching another bolt at me. I catch it, and send it back at her again. We play catch with the lightning for a couple rounds before she sends the electricity into the ground again.

“Do you feel tired at all? I remember draining myself dry of energy when I first launched a bolt of lightning. It’s a really powerful element that takes a lot for me to use.” I ask in concern.

Luna shakes her head. “No. We feel fine. The lightning does not require so much energy as it does concentration for us. Tis almost like the air around us creates the energy while we only need bring it together and direct it.” Luna answers.

“It could just be your unfair levels of magic as an alicorn though.” I quip.

Luna rolls her eyes. “Tis not unfair if we have to use most of it to raise and lower the moon every night. Thou hath no excuse for losing to us so often.” She retorts with an amused smile.

“And yet, you’re still flinging lightning around like it’s nothing.” I say.

Luna sighs. “We still do not understand why thou speaks in that strange dialect. Thou hath been around us long enough to imitate how we speak.” Luna says.

I shrug. “It’s how we talked back on my world, and I’m pretty sure it’s how ponies will talk a thousand or so years from now. Ye Olde speak happened during the dark ages of our history after all.” I tell her.

“We still do not believe thee over that issue. Why canst thou simply tell us from whence thou came?” Luna asks me.

I sigh. “Luna, it’s the truth. I am telling the truth. I don’t know how to prove it to you or Celestia, but I’m not going to come up with a lie to appease your sense of curiosity. Besides, it doesn’t really matter either way. I can’t go back, things are too complicated in the world for things back home. If I went back today, I would essentially be popping back into existence after five years. All the things I was engaged in, college, my job, my family. It would cause turmoil with all of those things because; I’ve pretty much lost five years of my life for nothing. It’s better for everyone if I just stay gone after so long.” I say somberly. Then I perk up a bit. “Not to mention that this body is awesome. Not only can I fly, but I can run faster and longer than I could ever possibly do as a human.”

“Do not forget the, how thou put it, flaming, destructive death burps.” Luna quips, quoting me.

“Hah, yeah. Can’t forget those.” I say with a laugh. We then continue with our game of ‘catch the lightning.’

I open my eyes groggily. I give a yawn from just waking up, then move to get up off of Twilight’s couch.

My leg muscles ache and cause me to groan from the soreness in them. ‘Damn, guess I overdid it with the Earth element yesterday.’ I think with a wince.

Using the energy from the ground is almost three times as strenuous than the other elements because it rushes through my limbs more often. Once from my core into the ground, then back into my core, and then back through my limbs to be used.

I stretch myself out to relieve some of the soreness. I look around the library to figure out what to do now that I’m awake for the day.


‘…Maybe I could go out and practice a bit?’ I think to myself.

I shrug to myself. “Might as well.” I say to no one. I then walk out of the library.

I decide to head over to the same lake that Rainbow brought me to yesterday. I walk back towards it with a relaxed stride.

Ponyville doesn’t seem to be all that awake yet, with the only ponies that seem to be out and about during the early morning being the mailmare (Derpy/Ditzy) making her rounds, and a few other ponies that look surprisingly chipper at this time of day.

‘Morning people. Hard to imagine I’m one of them now. I used to hate getting up in the morning. Hell, I even slept past noon most of the time back on Earth. And now it’s like 8 AM is the latest I’m capable of sleeping in.’ I idly note as I walk through the town.

At some point, I think I started to just go into autopilot while walking, because I’m back at the lake in what seems like no time at all.

I take a closer look at the surrounding area, since I didn’t really do it yesterday. The surface of the lake is calm, with only the smallest of waves moving across its surface from the wind. Reeds and other plant life cover sections of the shore, with dragonflies and other insects flying around. The grass around the lake is a bit long, but not by much.

I take a deep, calming breath through my nose, and then exhale through my mouth. ‘It’s peaceful out here. Calm… Perfect.’ I think with a smile. Then I look around for an open area with some kind of noticeable landmark.

Over to my right is a pretty open space with a split maple tree maybe a dozen yards from the edge of the shore. I move over near the tree, etch the position and angle of the tree into my memory, and then stand facing the lake.

My front and back legs are slightly spread and straight, but not hyper-extended. My tail is relaxed, but straight behind me, with only a slight upward curve. My wings are at my sides, but relaxed enough to hang just a bit, with the claw on each slightly flexed. My eyes stare straight ahead, with my neck held straight, and my head still.

I focus on my breathing, the calm intake and release of the air from my lungs. The one difference between this breathing, and the breathing I was doing before, being that now I am not releasing more than half of what is in my lungs at any point. Always having extra for any breath attacks I may need.

For the next five minutes, the sounds of the morning and my breathing are the only things I hear.

‘First Four Legged Form.’ I think to myself.

And then I move.

I step left and make an upward strike with my left wing, the membrane folded, and the claw extended. That strike flows into a tail swipe, followed by stepping into a reverse claw strike with my right foreleg, and another tail swipe and then a straight whipping strike with my tail again. Then I turn to the right from where I started and repeat the actions again on that side.

Wing strike, to tail sweep, to front slash, to back kick, and back to another wing strike. On I go, my strikes flowing into each other more cohesively, and becoming sharper and quicker as I get back into the long neglected practice with each step into the strikes around the open grass. Until finally, I return to the same spot that I began in, in the same position, focusing on my breathing.

I push myself up onto my two back legs, my held above the ground, and my wings unfurl slightly behind me. My stance widens a little and my feet turn outwards a bit.

‘First Two Legged Form.’

And then I launch myself into another sequence of strikes and blocks. Once I finish I stay upright on two legs.

Before I can start on the next form though, I feel a tiny thump on my left leg. I look down and am slightly surprised to see a scowling white bunny glaring up at me. We stare at each other for a moment before he hops off behind me. I follow his progress and I see that he’s hopping over to Fluttershy, who’s staring at me a couple yards behind me.

“Eep.” She squeaks in fear when I notice her.

I blink. “Um…”

“I’msorryIdidn’tmeantostareI’lljustbegoingnow!” She rambles off rapidly before taking off running away from me, Angel in tow.

‘I… didn’t even manage to get a word in.’ I think, a little sad that she ran off.

I know I should have expected this kind of reaction from Fluttershy, what with being a dragon and all. But it still hurts to see somepony as sweet as her being afraid of just the sight of me. I try to shake my sadness off.

‘This is nothing compared to the worst you’ve felt. Get over it.’ I tell myself.

I turn back to the lake and focus on my breathing again to resume my practice.

Fluttershy gallops as quickly as her legs allow her. She doesn’t stop until she reaches the nearby park at the outside edge of Ponyville. She gasps for breath after her flight reaches its end.

‘Oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness.’ Fluttershy’s heart beats frantically as she struggles to calm down.

She had been on her way to the park for a walk with Angel bunny when she saw the dragon from the Summer Sun Celebration doing something by the lake.

Fluttershy normally isn’t one to pry into somepony else’s business, but his movements were just so strange that she couldn’t help herself. So she just stood off to the side and watched.

And then the unthinkable happened.

He caught her staring.

Fluttershy had never been more embarrassed in her life… well maybe failing the obstacle course in flight school had been embarrassing as well… and the time when she was flying slow on the racetrack… and probably the time she accidentally bumped into Roseluck one the way to Sugarcube Corner for one of Pinkie’s parties- the point is, she was embarrassed, so she ran away, and now he’ll probably think that she’s weird, or awkward, or rude!

Fluttershy looks down in shame from her revelation. ‘Oh, I’m such a horrible pony. How could I just run away from him like that?’ Then Fluttershy notices Angel looking at her strangely. His brow is raised and his mouth slightly open. When he sees her looking at him he shakes his head slightly and raises his front paws upwards questioningly.

‘Oh, even Angel is confused with what I just did. He must be wondering what’s wrong.’ Fluttershy concludes with a wince.

Angel’s POV

“Damn it yellow b#$%^ what the hell was that?!?!? I went to the trouble of getting scale-ass’s attention for you and you don’t even talk to him!!! What the F#$%?!?!?!”

“Hi Fluttershy!”

Fluttershy squeaks in terror and falls on her back in surprise. Fluttershy looks up at Pinkie Pie as the pink earth pony mare grins down at her, her nose almost touching Fluttershy’s.

“Oh, um, hi Pinkie.” Fluttershy murmurs, her heart hammering in her chest again.

“Whatcha doin’?” Pinkie asks her with a grin.

“Um, I wasn’t… really doing anything until you said hi. I suppose I’m lying in the grass right now though.” Fluttershy quietly answers.

“Does it feel nice?” Pinkie asks.

Fluttershy blinks. “… Maybe, a little?” She says hesitantly, hoping it’s the right answer.

“Can I do it too?” Pinkie asks.

“Um, if that’s what you want to do…”

“Woohoo!!!” Pinkie shouts and leaps up, backflips, and the flops onto the ground right next to Fluttershy. “This is gonna be great!” She says looking over to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy blinks at Pinkie, unsure how to react to her friend’s enthusiasm.

The two ponies lie in the grass for a few minutes before Fluttershy hears quiet snores coming from Pinkie.

Fluttershy fidgets in place. ‘I… suppose I can leave now. She’s fallen asleep. But what if she expects me to keep doing this with her till she wakes up? I don’t want to disappoint her. But my I still need to do some chores around the house.’ As Fluttershy tries to come up with an idea of what to do, she’s broken out of her thoughts by a shadow covering her.

Fluttershy moves her head slightly on the ground to look for what’s blocking the sun.

“Is that… smoke?” Fluttershy wonders with growing fear at the implications.

I run back towards the Golden Oaks Library at a moderate pace. As soon as I saw the large cloud of black smoke filling the sky, I knew what was going on. It’s time for Dragonshy.

Right as I reach the door, it opens and I collide with something purple.

“Ugh… Bael? There you are! I was wondering where you went.” Says the pony that is purple and on top of me. How did she manage to knock me over? I’m almost twice her size.

“Enough napping. We’ve got work to do. C’mon!” She says while leaping off me and lifting me up to carry me in her magic. She starts galloping to the park with me in her grasp and Spike (whom I now notice) riding on her back.

Now, I’ll admit that being carried in a unicorn’s magical aura is a little bit unnerving for me. It mostly stems from a very bad experience with being held by… somepony specific during a… very bad time in my life on Equis (I’m pretty sure anyone can guess who, and where). However, my current discomfort with being held doesn’t lie with being held.

It lies with rolling uncontrollably in the air as I’m held. Twilight is not putting enough focus to keeping me stable in the air.

Frankly, I’m getting a bit dizzy. Oh wait, is Twilight saying something?

“-It’s coming from a dragon.” Twilight says to a crowd of ponies that I catch a glimpse of before rolling end over end again.

“Pinkie Pie, I need you to go get the girls and meet us back at the library. Fluttershy, come on, let’s go wait for the others.” Twilight says before grabbing Fluttershy in her magical grasp as well and taking off running again. Man, Twilight is really grabby today. Is it considered rude for a unicorn to pick another individual up in their magic without their input? I think it should be considered rude. Someone needs to put that into the book of rude things to do-and I am apparently very aimless with my thoughts when I’m dizzy.

Before I can delve further into the wondrous thought process of a dizzinessian (accept the spiral as your lord and savior!), I’m let go from Twilight’s magic field.

Unfortunately, I am upside-down when this happens.

*Bonk* “Ow!” I cry out after falling headfirst on the ground.

“Bael? Are you alright? What happened?” Twilight asks in concern, finally turning around.

“Ugh. I’m fine, just a small bump. Did you have to drop me on my head though?” I ask her, not really annoyed so much as disoriented.

“What do you mean? Weren’t you right-side up? Why didn’t you just land on your feet?” She asks.

I stare at her for a moment. “…You know what, I guess I’m just that clumsy.” I answer. Spike snickers while Twilight just nods, not acknowledging the sarcasm.

The other five, yes five, Trixie included, girls enter the library at that moment.

“Twilight, what’s this ah hear about a dragon causin’ all that smoke? What’s a full-grown dragon doin’ here in Equestria?” Applejack asks Twilight when they all gather around.

I shoot her a bemused look. “I crash landed here.” I say. When everyone looks at me strange, I quirk a brow. “What? I’m standing right next to her and she’s talking as if I’m not a full-grown dragon.” I say to the confused ponies.

“You know what ah mean.” She says with a face-hoof. I chuckle.

“According to Princess Celestia. He’s sleeping… the dragon up on the mountain, not Bael.” Twilight clarifies. “His snoring is what’s causing all the smoke in the air. And if we don’t convince him to take his nap somewhere else, Equestria will be covered in smoke for the next one hundred years.” She finishes.

“Whoofe, talk about getting your beauty sleep.” Rarity says.

“Wait wait wait. What do you mean, if we don’t convince him?” Trixie asks Twilight.

“Just as I said, Princess Celestia has tasked us with this duty. We must not fail, or all of Equestira could suffer.” Twilight says determinedly.

“… So Princess Celestia is asking… a baker, a farmer, a showmare, a woodsmare, a seamstress, a weatherpony, and a librarian… to move a fully grown dragon?” Trixie asks incredulously. Twilight nods.

“… Trixie finds this plan extremely risky and impractical.” Trixie says.

“I think I’m supposed to be included in that mix, but I doubt that would reassure you.” I say with a chuckle.

“Hardly. You’re barely bigger than a full-grown pony. You’d be at just as much risk as any of us.” Trixie says dryly.

I shrug. “Maybe.” I reply. I think I’m going to like her. She understands sarcasm.

“Well, if everyone understands what we need to do, then it’s time to gather supplies, it’s going to be a long journey. Let’s meet back here in less than an hour.” Twilight says to everyone.

“Alright girls, you heard her!” Rainbow Dash says to everyone.

“I’m a guy.” I state flatly.

“The fate of Equestria is in our hooves!” Dash continues, ignoring me.

“I also don’t have hooves, I’m a dragon.”

“Do we have what it takes?” Rainbow challenges the group.

“YEAH!” Rarity, Pinkie and Applejack exclaim. They all cheer and head out of the library to gather their things.

Trixie groans. “We’re all going to die.”

“At least we’ll all have each other in the end.” I say in the sappiest and cutesiest voice I can manage. Trixie face hoofs and I cackle from her annoyance.

“Why is Trixie going through with this?” Trixie says in exasperation she walks out the door.

I chuckle again before settling on Twilight’s couch to wait for the others to get their stuff for the trip. ‘It’s not like I need anything that I don’t already have within me.’ I think with a smirk, feeling the pulse from my chest as my core thrums with its elemental power stored inside.

Chapter IX: Not Enough Power

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Chapter IX

Twilight Sparkle, Bearer of the Element of Magic, marches in front of six other mares and one dragon standing at attention. “Alright girls, and Bael,” I nod at my name. “-Listen up! I’m currently mapping out the fastest route. But we’ve got a lot of ground to cover if we expect to make it to the top of the mountain by nightfall.” Twilight says to us while walking in front of us.

“M-mountain?” I hear the quiet stutter come from where Fluttershy is standing in our line-up. I glance at her in sympathy, I can feel her fear almost constantly right now, and I’ve been feeling it every time I’m near her, or even just within hearing distance.

“The dragon is in that cave, at the very top.” Twilight points a hoof at the mountain she’s facing.

“Looks pretty cold up there.” Applejack comments.

“You bet it is. The higher you go, the chillier it gets.” Rainbow replies to her with a grin.

“Good thing I brought my scarf.” Rarity says, before pulling out and putting on said scarf.

“Oooh, pretty!” Pinkie compliments.

“Heh, yeah. That’ll keep you nice and cozy.” Rainbow says sarcastically.

“Trixie could comment on the fact that a scarf is better than nothing, but instead she’ll simply say that she still believes that this entire quest is completely harebrained!!!” Trixie exclaims to the others.

‘There’s a certain white bunny that would take offense to that if he were here.’ I think with a quiet chuff of laughter as I think about Angel braining Trixie with a carrot. Then I frown, remembering that I just met him today, albeit briefly, and that his arrival initiated a specific yellow pegasus mare to flee from me in fear. I look over to where Fluttershy is timidly trying to talk to an absorbed-in-map-reading-Twilight.

‘I’m going to have to try to talk to her eventually. But I think it might be better to wait for the right moment for it. Which most likely will be after this snoring dragon thing is done. She might have more confidence when dealing with dragons when this is over.’ I resolve in my head. I turn my own focus to the conversation the girls around me are having.

“Fighting a grown dragon is suicide. There’s no possible way for a single pony besides Princess Celestia herself to be able to beat one like you’re suggesting.” I catch from the tail end of Trixie’s argument.

“Nopony but the Princess, or me! I’d be moving too fast for him to hit, and then it’d just be a matter of time before I beat him into submission.” Rainbow boasts with a puffed out chest.

I flick the side of her head.

“Ow! What the hay?” She exclaims.

“You weren’t moving very fast there. I figured I should take advantage of it while I could.” I say with a mischievous grin.

Rainbow rolls her eyes. “Yeah, you’re right. And you’re lucky I’m planning on whooping another dragon’s butt today instead of yours. So don’t think you can get away with that from now on, I’m just letting this one time slide, alright?” Rainbow replies, the corners of her mouth slightly upturned.

“You see! You can’t even avoid a teasing flick on the head! What makes you think you can avoid anything a dragon can throw at you?” Trixie asks hotly.

“I’m sorry to interject, but if you’re so against us going up a dragon, then why are you coming along? You don’t have to come with us if you don’t want to Trixie.” Rarity asks.

“Hmph. Somepony needs to be the voice of reason to make sure that everypony comes back alive. And since none of you but Fluttershy seem worried about trekking off to move a fully-grown and, very likely, cranky dragon. That means that Trixie is the only one here with any ounce of sanity within her to keep us alive.” Trixie says with an arrogant flip of her hair.

I quirk a brow, surprised. I didn’t expect Trixie to care enough about the girls so quickly after becoming friends with them. Color me impressed with her strength of character so early in the show’s timeframe.

“Alright everypony!” Twilight calls out, grabbing our attention. I roll my eyes, I’m not a pony. “Move out!” She shouts. And we all charge off towards the smoking mountain.

We arrive at the mountain just in time to hear the deafening snore of the dragon at the top, which causes Fluttershy to dart behind Applejack in fear.

“Whoa, what was that?” Rainbow asks from her position above us.

“What do you think that was?” Trixie snipes.

“Hey! I was only asking. No need to bite my head off.” Rainbow protests.

“You’re right, I don’t, cause the dragon will do it for me.” Trixie says dryly.

“Enough! Both of you, stop arguing!” Twilight snaps at both of them.

“She started it!” Rainbow complains.

“I don’t care, I’m ending it. We haven’t even set hoof on the mountain yet, so stop bickering so we can.” Twilight says sternly.

“Fffffiiiiine…” Trixie and Rainbow groan out reluctantly.

We all start trekking up the side of the mountain single-file. Racking my brain for a bit about what happened in the episode, I realize that Applejack didn’t have to hold Rainbow back from flying off solo to scout out the area. So that means that the next thing to happen will be…

I pull up short and look over my shoulder to see that Fluttershy is still down where we started at the bottom of the cliff, hiding behind a bush.

“Hey, guys. Fluttershy’s still at the bottom.” I point out to the others. They all stop as well and look back to see that I’m right.

“Hey? What are you waiting for, an invitation?” Rainbow calls down to her.

“Oooh! I think I have one in my bag!” *PHTWOOHOO!!!* We all jump from the sudden confetti and celebratory noise that bursts out of Pinkie’s “invitation.”

“Oh, it’s just so… so… steep.” Fluttershy notes fearfully from behind her bush.

“Well it is a cliff. You could just, I don’t know… fly up here.” Rainbow points out impatiently.

“C’mon Fluttershy! You can do it! Flap those wings!” Pinkie cheers.

“Oh.. okay.” Fluttershy nervously opens her wings up and flaps gently and rises up to the same level as us.

Then I remember what’s going to happen. The dragon lets out another snore, Fluttershy’s wings lock up from fear, and she plummets to the ground.

I react and shoot down the cliff and catch her on my back. “Got you.” I huff when I catch her. Fluttershy just frantically wraps her hooves around my neck just a smidgen too tightly. But that’s all right as long as she doesn’t hurt herself.

I know that in the show she was all right when she fell, but the height looks far more daunting in real life than in the show, and I’m not so sure she would have been alright from the fall this time.

I decide to forgo needing to sidetrack to get her up the mountain, so I just fly up while she’s still firmly on my back, saying a brief “see you at the top” to the others as I fly past them.

I land at the top of the cliff, but Fluttershy doesn’t let go. I’m about to ask her to when the dragon snores again.

“Eep!” My eyes bug out from the increased pressure around my neck. Holy shit Fluttershy is strong!

I struggle to try and grab Fluttershy’s attention. But I can’t talk, and when I try to tap her with my claws she just strengthens her grip.

Eventually, the others reach the top and see my predicament. I silently mouth “Help me.” to them, all the while Fluttershy unknowingly continues to cut off my air supply. Twilight gasps and swiftly trots over to nudge Fluttershy a bit.

“Fluttershy! Fluttershy, you need to let go. Bael can’t breath.” She urges the pegasus mare on my back. I hear a quiet gasp on my back and then the pressure releases, and I can breathe again.


Oh thank God. AIR!!!

“I’m sorry!” Fluttershy apologizes, horrified at what she did.

I take a few more breath-fulls of air before responding. “It’s okay. I forgive you.” I reply between breaths.

We all stand there for a moment.

“Soooooo, are you going to get off, or do you want me to carry you for the rest of the way?” I ask Fluttershy, a small smile showing at the corners of my mouth.

She lets out another “eep” before a little awkwardly getting off me.

“Oh! Can I ride on your back the rest of the way? I’ve never ridden a dragon before.” Pinkie asks while bouncing over to me.

I stare into her sky blue eyes before replying. “Uh… Sure?” I answer cautiously.

“Woohoo!” She cheers, now on my back.

I look back at her blankly. Then at the others. Then back at her. Then I shrug and we start walking. I make sure to bring up the back to make sure no one falls behind again.

Which means that I’m right behind Fluttershy, and all the fear and nervousness that she’s been radiating since we started.

‘Well, if any time is going to be a good time to talk to her, now might be it.’ I reason, opening my mouth say something.

“Hey, Bael. What’s your favorite dessert?” Pinkie asks me from my back before I can say anything.

“Huh, favorite dessert?” I say turning my neck so I can look over my shoulder at her. “Why do you want to know?” I ask her.

“For your ‘Welcome to Ponyville and Equestria Party’. I didn’t get to throw you one when we first met you, and I couldn’t find you yesterday, so I still need to throw you one. I’m going to throw it for you after we get back to Ponyville.” She states.

I quirk a brow. “I’m not so sure there’s going to be enough time in the day for a party after we’re done handling the dragon.” I say uncertainly.

“There’s always time for a party, because I’m always sure to make time.” Pinkie says seriously with a determined smile.

I chuckle. “Okay then, I don’t think I can argue with you about that… Hm, favorite dessert…I’m… not really sure. It’s kind of hard to choose from them all. Not to mention that it’s actually been a while since I’ve tried anything sweet except Spike’s pancakes. But I guess it’s kind of hard to go wrong with chocolate chip cookies… unless it’s a party with a lot of dogs attending.” I add.

“Yes, chocolate tends to be very bad for most dogs.” Fluttershy agrees with me. Then shrinks down when we look at her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She says quietly.

“You don’t have to be sorry Fluttershy. You were just speaking your mind.” I tell her gently.

“Yeah! And it’s a really good point. It’s a good thing I’ve got alternative forms of chocolate stashed away for just such an occasion. I’ve also got several non-dairy milk varieties for lactose-intolerant ponies and peanut butter made from sunflower seeds, coconuts, soynuts, and anything else that’s not peanuts for ponies with peanut allergies.” Pinkie chirps cheerfully.

Flutttershy’s fear lessens significantly at our supportive words, and she actually smiles a bit. But halts when she bumps into Trixie, who has stopped for some reason. It becomes apparent why almost immediately. There’s a large gap in the path, with the ground dropping out from below.

And I also spot yet another difference from the show as well, because instead of a pony only needing to give a dinky little hop to get across, like it was revealed in the show, the gap is much wider, and a pony could very well fall to their death if they cringe mid jump like Fluttershy did.

‘Or still might end up doing.’ I think with growing concern for the shivering yellow pegasus in front of me.

The others leap over one by one until it’s only Fluttershy, Trixie and I on the far side of the gap. (Pinkie climbed off me to leap across with the others)

“Well… that’s uh… quite a large divide.” Trixie notes, fearfully looking down the side.

I jerk slightly from the sharp jab of fear coming off of Trixie now. It’s a lot stronger than what Fluttershy’s radiating. I look at her with worry for her safety as well.

“Come on you guys. Fluttershy, your turn.” Twilight calls out from the other side.

“I… I don’t know.” Fluttershy says hesitantly.

“You can just leap right over. Not even a lot of strength needed for that big a jump.” Applejack encourages.

They all seem much more patient than in the show… probably due to not having to wait for Applejack to bring Fluttershy around the long way up.

The dragon snores again, and I suddenly have two tightly-latching mounds of fur wedging themselves under both of my wings. Fluttershy and Trixie shiver in fear.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of! It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump!” Pinkie says, leaping back over to us. She nudges Fluttershy’s side with her nose, grabbing her attention. “See?” She says with a grin, then starts singing.

“It’s not very far, just move your little rump!”
“You can make it if you try, with a hop, skip, and a jump!”

“We don’t have time for this.” Twilight says.

“A hop, skip and a jump, just move your little rump,”
“a hop, skip and a jump, a hop, skip and a jump,”
“a hip, skip and a jump, a hop-skip-and a jump,”
“A hop-skip-and a jump!”
Pinkie finishes on the other side after leaping back and forth repeatedly.

Fluttershy’s fear has lessened again and she’s moved away from my side.

“Oh-kay… here I go.” Fluttershy says. She sets herself up at the edge.

“Yeah, you can do it Fluttershy!” The others cheer from the other side.

“A hop, skip, and a jump.” She says while leaping across.

“Just don’t look down.” Twilight calls out.

‘Goddamnit Twilight!!!’ I mentally shout. I leap and catch Fluttershy right as she panics halfway across and starts to fall. I land on the other side and let Fluttershy shakily climb off me.

I just glare pointedly at Twilight. She notices.

“What?” She asks me.

“Just don’t look down?” I ask scathingly.

“Wh-it’s good advice! Looking down will make you think about how much danger you’re in!” Twilight defends.

I just face-claw with a long-suffering sigh. I turn around to see that Trixie is huddled on the ground on the other side of the gap.

And her fear is escalating.

“I’ll be right back.” I tell the others before leaping back over.

Trixie’s hyperventilating, very pointedly looking away from the cliff, and literally hugging the wall.

“Trixie? Are you alright?” I ask her.

“U-uh, yes Trixie is fine! I’m j-just stretching to get ready to jump over the wide and high up gap that I could slip and fall off of down far below and-OH CELESTIA’S CAKE FETISH I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!!!!” She shouts in terror.

“Hey hey hey… hey. Trixie, you’re not going to fall, and you’re not going to die. It’s not that big of a jump, and even if you did fall, me or Rainbow would catch you long before you got anywhere close to the ground.” I tell her, trying to calm her down.

Trixie looks at you and then slowly towards the cliff, but her pupils turn to pinpricks with fear from just looking at the edge and she shoves her face back against the wall. “I-I just can’t.” She stammers.

“Alright, that’s fine, if you don’t think you can make the jump, you don’t have to jump. Are you okay with me carrying you across on my back? I promise you’ll be safe.” I offer her.

She turns her head away from the wall slightly to look into my eyes and, after a moment, hesitantly nods. I crouch down and she climbs onto my back. I feel her bury her face into the back of my neck and I can only imagine she’s clenching her eyes shut. I stand up, turn to the gap, bunch up my hind legs, and leap across. Trixie yelps from the sudden motion and tightens her grip around my neck, but thankfully loosens in relief once I hit the ground on the other side a moment later. She climbs off me and walks stiffly up the path past the others without a word.

“What’s with her?” Applejack asks.

“She’s probably embarrassed Bael had to carry her over.” Rainbow comments.

Or,” I speak up. “she has problems with heights. It’s not that uncommon a fear. But regardless, we are not going to talk about it, nor ask Trixie about it unless she wants to. Understand.” I say to Rainbow, but meaning it for everyone listening.

“Fine, sure. Let’s just go already.” Rainbow says impatiently.

We all move to catch up with Trixie.

The incident with the avalanche was averted easily enough. I just caught the leaf that drifted down towards Fluttershy and we all made it through the area without a problem. And soon after that, we reach the dragon’s cave.

I resign myself to listening to Twilight’s bad contingency plan if diplomacy fails.

Twilight goes into commander mode. “Rainbow Dash. You’ll use your wings to clear the smoke.” She tells Dash.

Rainbow stands at attention and then shoots off into the smoke with an affirmative “Mh-hm!”

“Rarity and Pinkie Pie, you’ll create a distraction in case things get a little hairy in there.” Twilight says to the aforementioned mares. Pinkie then does her thing with the rubber chicken to the confusion of all present.

Twilight pulls herself out of her confusion to move on. “Applejack, you’re ready with the apples in case he decides to attack.” Twilight instructs the farm mare.

“Trixie says we should run if he attacks.” Trixie voices, she doesn’t look like she expects her advice to be heeded.

“That’s actually the main plan if that happens, but we need to have some form of counterattack to give us a chance to run.” Twilight replies.

I furrow my brow in thought. If Twilight’s plan is to run if things go south, then that’s good. I’ll still need to hold him off while they get clear though.

“…in that case, go for his eyes Applejack. His scales are too hard for apples to hurt him, and he’s too big to be slowed down even if they could. Blinding him is the only chance you have to actually do something to him.” I add in. Applejack nods in acknowledgement.

“Trixie,” I say, grabbing her attention. “think you can do the same with your fireworks spell?” I ask her. After a moment of thought she nods.

“That’s all well and good, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. Fluttershy will be coming in with me to try and convince the dragon about why he needs to go. Is everypony ready?” Twilight asks.

*cough* Not a pony *cough-cough*.” I say while covering my mouth with my leg.

“Ugh, fine, is everypony and dragon ready?” Twilight asks in exasperation.

At our round of affirmatives, she nods.

“Alright then, we’re going in.” She walks into the cave. Fluttershy just buries her face in the ground.

We silently wait for a moment. “Twilight, I think you forgot something!” Trixie calls into the cave.

“What? Wait. Where’s Flutter… ugh, come ON!” Twilight walks out of the cave and over to Fluttershy in a huff.

Twilight nudges Fluttershy with a hoof. Fluttershy looks up, startled at the touch.

“Fluttershy, come on, we have to do this now. Every second that dragon sleeps is another acre of Equestria covered in smoke.” Twilight says.

“I… I can’t go in the cave.” Fluttershy says quietly.

“Why not? Are you afraid of caves now?” Rainbow asks irritably.

“No, I’m scared of drgnnns.” Fluttershy trails off.

“What was that sugarcube?” Applejack asks Fluttershy.

I sigh. “She said she’s scared of dragons.” I say. “I’ve got good hearing.” I add at their surprised looks.

“But Fluttershy, you’ve got a wonderful talent with dealing with all kinds of animals.” Twilight points out to Fluttershy.

“Eh-HEM! I’d like to point out that dragons aren’t animals. We can talk and understand higher thinking patterns just like you guys.” I point out, annoyed.

“Which makes them scarier.” Fluttershy adds with a shiver.

“Oh come on! We’ve seen you walk up to a horrible manticore like it was nothing!” Rainbow says in exasperation.

“Yes, because he wasn’t a dragon.” Fluttershy responds.

“Spike and Bael are dragons, and you’re not scared of them.” Pinkie says.

“Yes, because they’re not huge, gigantic, terrifying, enormous, teeth-gnashing, sharp scale-having, horn-wearing, smoke-snoring, could-eat-a-pony-in-one-bite, totally all-grown-up dragon.” Fluttershy lists off rapidly before another snore from the dragon causes her to drop to the floor, shivering in fear.

I give a small sigh at the sight. I want to tell her she doesn’t have to face the dragon. In fact, I want to tell all of them that they don’t have to worry about it, and just handle the dragon myself. But this is one of the defining moments of Fluttershy in the show. A moment that shows her ferocity and true inner strength to the others in the most obvious way possible. As much as I’ve helped her so far, if she’s going to show that side of her, she has to do it on her own, in the way the show made it happen.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try move it along a bit.

“Fluttershy, that just sounds like your determining how scary that dragon is just based on what he can do.” I say.

“But… he’s so big, and could do so many terrible things to me. I’m not brave like you or Rainbow, or anypony else here. I can’t face him.” Fluttershy says shamefully.

A dry laugh escapes me. “Fluttershy, bravery isn’t determined by not being afraid of something. It’s about being afraid, and doing what needs to be done anyway despite your fear. Out of all of us, I think you’re the bravest one here. Do you want to know why?” I ask.

She looks up at me and gives a small nod.

“Because you are terrified of almost everything. You’re afraid of your own shadow, you’re afraid of steep cliffs, you’re afraid of wide gaps, you’re afraid of avalanches, and you’re terrified of the dragon at the top of the mountain that you knew you would have to face at the end.” She slowly shrinks down into the ground at each of my examples.

“And despite all that… you just kept walking up the mountain with us.” I finish, smiling down at her in pride.

She looks back up at me, mouth slightly agape.

I lean my neck down so my face is right in front of hers. “You are brave Fluttershy. Don’t ever doubt that. And whether you can be just a little bit braver today or not, we will still be your friends.” I say sincerely.

She continues to look at me with wide eyes for a few moments, before looking around her to see all of her friends smiling at her warmly, Twilight gives her an encouraging nod.

“I… I… alright. I-I’ll try. I’ll try to talk to the dragon.” Fluttershy finally relents.

I smile wider. “Atta girl.” I praise her. I’m a little surprised she agreed. I actually was just going to suggest she sit outside for moral support if she couldn’t work up the courage to go into the cave.

Twilight offers her a hoof to help her up. “And don’t worry, I’m coming in with you two to make sure you’re safe.” I reassure Fluttershy.

She nods shakily, smiling. Twilight smiles at me thankfully, likely glad that Fluttershy’s finally cooperating.

We walk into the cave, Twilight and I on either side of Fluttershy, who’s trotting forward with us, but radiating fear again. It’s a lot stronger than before. I’m not surprised, walking into a larger predator’s home, however briefly they’ve occupied it, is unnerving me even. Something about the cave is setting me on edge, but I’m not sure what.

Something on the floor glitters. I look at it and see it’s a gold coin, and not far from it are many more stacked into a pile on the floor, with gems and other valuable objects.

‘The dragon’s hoard.’ I guess. My sense of unease grows at the sight for some reason.

And then we reach an area with a wall of red resting on top of the piles of gold, slowly rising and falling with the sound of deep breathing coming from it. We’ve found the dragon.

Twilight clears her throat. “Eh-hem. Excuse me? Mister dragon?” She says hesitantly.

Two amber eyes open slowly and focus in on her.

“Oh, good, you’re awake. Um, hello. My name is Twilight Sparkle, and these are my friends Fluttershy and Baelor. You see, we-.” Everything else she’s saying gets shut out for me when the dragon’s eyes suddenly lock onto mine, and I stiffen from a sudden sense of potential danger.

My instincts are screaming at me to not move, keep my feet where they are, and my eyes away from the other dragon’s eyes. I scan around my feet, and suddenly, the coins scattered across the floor seem much too close to me for comfort, especially when the other much larger dragon is still watching me very carefully, as if daring me to make a single move to remove even the smallest piece from his hoard.

‘Aaaaaaand this seems like a really bad plan now.’ I think nervously. I glance quickly up at the dragon’s face. He’s still looking at me. I glance at the coins and back up at him. His eyes have narrowed.

I very carefully, and slowly, step back away from his hoard two steps. He gives a light snort and relaxes slightly. The sense of danger lessens, and I let out a breath I was holding.

“-and so you see, Equestria simply can’t survive under such a massive cloud of smoke for so long. You understand, right?” I hear Twilight finish.

The dragon lazily shifts his gaze from me, back to Twilight. “Yes.” He answers in a reverberating growl.

“So, you’ll find another place to sleep?” Twilight asks with hope.


“What? But-.” Twilight starts to protest, but the dragon leans in closer to her.

“No. Now leave.” He says with what sounds like an edge to his voice, before he leans back and rests his head on his hoard to go back to sleep.

I glance at Twilight. She looks at a loss of what to do, so I open a wing around her to lead Twilight and Fluttershy out. As we walk out though, I look back and see that the dragon’s glaring at me past his barely open eyelids.

I just keep an eye on him until he’s out of sight. ‘Why do I feel like it’s my fault things just went that badly?’

Once we’re out of the cave, the others crowd around us.

“So, is he goin’ ta leave?” Applejack asks.

“No. He just turned us away. He didn’t even care that his snoring is causing problems.” Twilight says dejectedly.

“Well, how did he respond to Fluttershy? I find it hard to believe that he refused her.” Rarity says.

“N-no. I… didn’t say anything.” Fluttershy says quietly, a bit of shame tingeing her voice.

“Why not?! You said you’d try.” Rainbow asks loudly.

Fluttershy shrinks away. “I-I just, didn’t think it would do any good. T-the dragon he… he wasn’t focusing on Twilight or me. He wasn’t listening. I don’t know if it’s the same with dragons, but he almost acted like some of my animal friends when they’re trying to keep others away from their food.” Fluttershy replies.

I let out a groan. “He was territorial. And he was watching me to make sure I didn’t touch his hoard. *sigh* Dang it. I’m sorry guys. I think I might have just ruined our chances of convincing him to leave just by being here.” I say, putting together why the dragon was so hostile right off the bat.

“Twilight? What should we do now?” Applejack asks.

“I don’t know. I didn’t think he would just not care about our troubles.” Twilight says, face scrunched in thought.

“Well, then. If diplomacy and appealing to his sense of morality won’t work, perhaps charm will.” Rarity says, strutting towards the cave confidently.

I remember this part of the episode well. I stretch my tail in front of her chest, halting her. “No, Rarity. Going in there to compliment him and then offer to watch his jewels right after he’s kicked us out for fear of me taking his jewels, is not a good idea right now.” I tell her.

“Wha-but how did you-I wasn’t going to-.” Rarity protests.

“Trixie agrees with Baelor, that will only make him more angry. Also, yes, you definitely were. You wouldn’t stop yammering on the way up about how the ‘sparkling jewels from a dragon’s hoard are more radiant than any other.’ Trixie would like it very much if you could abstain from bad ideas while the massive dragon is within reach of us.” Trixie adds.

Rarity looks like she’s going to argue, but slumps down with a sigh when she processes our reasoning. “ *hrm* I suppose you’re right. But still. What should we do to try and get him to leave?” Rarity asks.

“I’ll tell you what we can do. We can go in there and make him leave.” Rainbow emphasizes with a hoof-pound.

“Rainbow. No. We are not going to attempt to force him out.” I tell her sternly.

She throws her hooves up. “Then what else can we do?” She yells in frustration.

A moment of silence descends after her question.

“Um… give up?” Fluttershy suggests quietly.

I look at her for a second, before taking a deep breath and answering. “Yeah. I think we might have to.” I say.

Everypony snaps their eyes onto me in shock.

“WHAT?!” They shout.

“No-way!!!” Rainbow Dash refuses.

“But Princess Celestia asked us to handle this. We can’t just let her down.” Twilight protests.

I look Twilight in the eyes. “Twilight, has Celestia ever tasked you to do something like this before?” I ask her.

She looks taken aback. “Well, no. Not exactly, but…” She trails off.

“Do you think she would send you out to do something this dangerous without reason? If she felt you couldn’t handle it?” I say, asking her another question.

“Of course not. She’s taught me that she would never send me out to do something she felt I couldn’t handle.” Twilight declares.

After a moment of thinking. “And why does she send you only on tasks she knows you have the capability to complete, and not ones she knows you can’t fail at, or one’s you can’t succeed in?” I ask.

Twilight frowns. “Because a pony can’t learn if they aren’t challenged, and it would just be cruel to give a test that can’t be solved. Celestia wouldn’t do that.” Twilight answers.

“And that’s what makes her such a wonderful teacher. She wants you to learn and grow through every experience you have.” I say with a smile.

But I walk over and place a clawed hand on her shoulder. “But she also wants you to use your own judgment Twilight. I know for certain that if it was the difference between your lives or success, she would rather us all stay alive. She wants you to know when a situation is no longer safe enough to continue. There’s no harm in admitting defeat here Twilight. We can write Celestia a letter explaining what happened, and I’m sure she’ll understand.” I say to her.

She mulls over my words for a bit, before sighing in defeat. “Okay. You’re right. And Fluttershy’s right when she said the dragon was being territorial. I… don’t think we can keep trying without things getting dangerous.” Twilight admits.

I smile apologetically. “Yeah, I’m really sorry about that. I didn’t think about how he’d react to me, I just thought you would need a lifeline to get you out. Things might have actually worked out if I stayed outside the cave with the others.” I tell her, slightly angry with myself for my oversight.

She smiles. “Don’t worry about it. I didn’t think of that possibility either, so it’s both our faults.” She says, forgiving me. She turns to the others. “We’re going home. I’ll *sigh*… write a letter to Princess Celestia when we get back.” She says, slumping down in self-disappointment. I give her a sympathetic pat on the back.

“But Equestria can’t survive under that much smoke, you said so yourself Twilight. We can’t stop now!” Rainbow protests.

We all turn to look at her. “I know Rainbow. But it’s just too dangerous to keep trying here. Celestia will sort this out once we let her know.” Twilight tells her.

“Maybe too dangerous for you guys. But I can handle that dragon, I know it!” She argues.

“Rainbow. It’s not worth it. Don’t risk your life when it’s not necessary.” I advise her.

She rounds on me. “I’m not going to be risking my life because I can handle it.” She says with certainty.

“How can you be certain?” I ask her.

“Because I’m just that awesome.”

“That doesn’t inspire me with nearly as much confidence as you seem to think it does Rainbow.”

“Well, so what? He’s just a big dumb dragon that’s as slow as molasses.”

“You don’t know that! For all you know he could be a genius and have catlike reflexes.”

“Why are you being so difficult?!”

“Because I don’t want you to die Rainbow!”

I can only imagine that the others are watching the two of us argue back and forth like it’s a tennis match. I can’t focus on that though because of the pair of magenta eyes glaring down at me.

“I’m not going to die! I’d literally kick that dragon’s butt out of the cave in ten seconds flat!” She shouts at me.

“And I’m telling you Rainbow. If you go into that cave with the intent to force that dragon out, you’re not going to be coming out!!!” I shout back.

We glare at each other, eyes unblinking, for several tense moments. Then she’s gone, causing me to blink in surprise.

‘Wait, what? Where did she…’ I see a cyan blur disappear into the cave. ‘Oh, no.’ I think with a sinking realization.

“Rainbow!” I shout, jettisoning off the ground, and making a beeline to follow her in. The others realize what happened and start calling her name as well but I’m already in the cave pursuing her.

“HEY!” I hear Rainbow yell, I see the dragon raising his head in annoyance, and I see Rainbow Dash hovering in front of his face.

“RAINBOW DON’T-!” I yell, but I’m too slow.

“GET. OUT!!!” And Rainbow Dash bucks the dragon in the face.

I freeze. The dragon freezes. And Rainbow Dash just hovers in place. The dragon sneezes, then glares down at Rainbow.

“Eh heh heh…” Rainbow Dash laughs nervously. Suddenly feeling a bit afraid.

‘Shit.’ Is all I have time to think.

I fly forward and pull Rainbow back from the dragon’s face, but not fast enough. His roar sends us both tumbling through the air out of the cave. I pull her close and shield her with my wings as we fall and skid on the ground. Once stopped, I uncurl from around her and let her stand back up.

“Get out of here!” I yell at her and the other girls.

“But-“ Rainbow tries to protest.

“GO!” I shout at Rainbow while shooting off at the dragon as he comes out of the cave.

I see him inhaling for a breath attack, but I don’t let him, I fire off a bolt of electricity at him from both my arms, and he convulses from the shock.

‘He’s too big for water whips, the impacts might sting him a lot where I hit him, but they don’t hit a wide enough area to actually be more than small bruises. Ice isn’t a good idea against fire or massive limbs. Earth is out, I can’t let him blast fire at the ground, it might splash out and hit the girls. Fire won’t burn him, but compressing it into explosive blasts might work. Air will slam into him pretty hard too, and might be able to cut him. Lightning is definitely effective. And if it comes down to it, Fear is always a way to debilitate him.’ I process mentally while he’s stunned. He’s coming out of it. Time to act. I launch myself right at him while channeling through my wings for speed.

One thing is for certain about this fight; I can’t afford to go on the defensive. This guy is too big, and his attacks could hurt the others if he starts going wild with the fire. I need to end this quickly.

The red dragon shoots a furious look at me, and opens his maw to attempt to spew fire again, but I fire off another burst of lightning at him, and then slam him in the chest with a massive blast of wind. It sends him skidding back on his hind legs.

I chase after him, and am met with a gaping tooth-filled mouth as he tries to snap me out of the air. I roll to the left, as his jaws slam shut where I would have been, and hit him with another blast of air in the side of the face. His head whips back from the force of the blow… but only just barely more so than Rainbow’s kick managed to do. He growls angrily.

‘What? That barely did anything! Am I still that drained?’ I wonder in surprise. I avoid the dragon’s tail swipe as I fly behind him and unleash another surge of lightning at him. I’m panting from magic fatigue already, and the dragon is only getting more and more annoyed by what I’m hitting him with.

The dragon recovers from getting struck by lightning much faster this time and takes advantage of my moment of distraction. He manages to draw in a deep breath and lets out a massive storm of fire at me from his jaws before I can try to stop him.

I grit my teeth and place both my hands out in front of me in mid-air, licks of flame flowing over my own claws.

The thing about my powers is, I don’t actually control all of the elements I wield completely. Fire still burns me, water still drowns me, and lightning still shocks me. I’m not immune. The only way for me to use them is to infuse them with the energy from my body. So using another being’s elemental attacks means I have to be touching it, or mixing it with my own elemental energy to allow myself to influence them. And in the split seconds of combat, that is incredibly risky and difficult to accomplish.

With how much fire is coming at me, and at my low energy levels right now, I can’t possibly influence all of the fire the dragon is blasting at me. Luckily, I’ve had some practice with redirection over the past thousand years.

When the torrent of fire reaches me, I push back with my own fire. And as the fire rushes over my flames, it allows me to take over the flames that first hit my own fire, and pull it around me in a defensive cone, letting the vast majority of the dragon’s fire wash right past me.

When the fire passes, I rip through my flame curtain and pull it behind me, using it to thrust me forward. The dragon gets ready to intercept me.

Except that I don’t meet it. The fire trailing behind me gets pulled in through my backward-extended arms and into my core. The mass of fire travels up my neck, and I belt out a compressed fire-missile from my jaws.

The explosion blows the dragon back a step, and leaves him dazed from taking the impact in his face. I spark a whip of electricity in my claws.

I take a deep, centering breath, and launch myself at the red dragon again, whip crackling behind me.

And then I dance. Five years of training, and a thousand years of experience cause the lightning to swing, and strike, and thrust repeatedly across the dragon’s scales as I spin it around my body with my wrist. He swings his claws at me, but I evade and continue to strike him in his neck, head, and body with the lightning whip, every flick of my wrist brings the whip cracking into his scales three times each.

But despite this, the dragon is only further aggravated with my attacks. Bee stings only turn lethal when their numbers reach the thousands. I’m barely able to generate a few dozen before the drain of lightning becomes too much and the whip sparks out.

And that’s when the dragon swipes at me with his claw, which I manage to dodge over with a flap of my wings, but his tail lashes out and slams into my stomach and sends me into the side of the mountain.

I cough from the blow, and fall down the wall. My legs take the fall damage, and I slump over onto my side, clutching my stomach in pain. I sense the dragon’s intent and roll, his massive clawed hand crashes down on the spot where I used to be, barely missing me. He rakes his claw over the ground to pursue me, I plant my back legs on the wall and draw in the power of the earth and launch myself skidding across the ground under his hind legs. I manage to roll over and open my wings to take flight again using my momentum on the ground. But the dragon whips his tail up and then down right between my shoulder blades, slapping me into the ground. I bounce and roll until I slam into a large rock.

I groan in pain with my eyes shut, my head throbbing from the impact. Then they fly open to see the dragon’s foot descending on me.

Red energy surges through my blood, bones, and eyes. And my four legs whip upwards in time to catch the foot and pain explodes in my limbs from the sheer force I put into stopping it from slamming down on me, but it was enough. The middle claw is just inches away from my face.

Unfortunately, the dragon decides to try to force it down the rest of the way. I struggle to keep it from crushing me but the claw gets closer and closer to my face even as I tap into the earth to get more power.

‘No.’ I gnash my teeth and snarl. ‘I…’

My core burns inside my chest as it forces out more red fear energy. ‘will not…’

My legs throb from the amount of fear being pushed through them. ‘be CRUSHED!!!’

“RRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” I scream out through clenched teeth.

The foot only lifts a little bit.

Fluttershy huddles with the other mares behind a rock. They didn’t have time to run like Baelor told them to do when the fighting started. But Twilight had managed to place a cloaking spell on all of them so that they could all hide. Fluttershy shivers in terror from the vengeful bellows of the dragons fighting each other.

‘Ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodne-‘ Her inner panicking is interrupted from a large crack as something slams into the boulder they’re all hiding behind.

Fluttershy eeps when everypony else around her gasps. They’re all just as terrified as Fluttershy is.

“RRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” A familiar voice peels out in what almost sounds like a dying scream.

‘Baelor!’ Fluttershy jerks up from the pony pile. A thousand thoughts rush through her head at once, most of them horrifying ends to the dragon that’s been nothing but comforting and encouraging to her despite all the times she’s burdened them all. The kind, black and yellow-striped dragon fighting the other larger dragon to keep them all safe. Her friend that’s a dragon.

Her friend that’s losing.

Something sparks and ignites inside Fluttershy, something familiar. An urge to stand in front of her injured friend and keep everything else at bay that dares to try to hurt him further, like the time with Nightmare Moon. However, this urge to protect, to guard, is intermixed with her own terror of what will happen to her as well her friends, and even her terror of what is happening to Baelor right now.

It all mixes together to form a fire within that has Fluttershy leaping out of the pile of her huddled friends and flying straight up to the face of the massive red dragon.

Fluttershy remembers the words that Baelor told her before they all went into the dragon’s cave. ‘Fluttershy, bravery isn’t determined by not being afraid of something. It’s about being afraid, and doing what needs to be done anyway despite your fear. Out of all of us, I think you’re the bravest one here.’

Fluttershy is afraid, but she’s also brave. This fire is what bravery feels like.

“LIFT YOUR FOOT AND GET OFF OF MY FRIEND RIGHT. THIS. INSTANT!!!” Fluttershy orders out at the shocked dragon, the intensity of her command causing him to do just that, stepping back in surprise from the canary yellow pegasus suddenly right up in his face.

“SIT DOWN!” The dragon sits on his haunches. Fluttershy lands on the dragon’s snout and walks right up to stare into his eyes. “I don’t know why you think that this kind of behavior is okay, and I don’t care. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. Do you hear me?! UNACCEPTABLE! We do not snore smoke where it can cause problems for others. We do not ignore their pleas for you to stop. And we DO NOT TRY TO CRUSH MY FRIENDS!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!” Fluttershy asks, tearing into the dragon with her words. She sees him flinch at every one of her points.

“But… the rainbow one kicked me.” The dragon timidly points out.

“And I’m very sorry about that. But you’re far bigger than her and you should know better.” Fluttershy admits, her tone softening a bit.

The dragon seems emboldened by this softening of her tone and seems to sit up straighter. “And that little whelp did a lot more than kick me. His shocks hurt.” He growls.

“HOW DARE YOU!!!” Fluttershy snaps, the dragon flinches, just as submissive as before. “Baelor has done nothing that requires your forgiveness or apology! If anything, you owe him an apology for how you treated him when all he was doing was making sure me and Twilight were safe. And don’t even get me started on what you did after Rainbow Dash kicked you. His shocks ‘hurt’ you? YOU ALMOST KILLED HIM!!!” Fluttershy almost roars at the end.

A tense silence follows for a few moments. “Apologize.” Fluttershy orders.


Now.” Fluttershy adds, intensifying her stare.

The dragon whimpers and turns his head downward and leans down to Baelor. Fluttershy takes flight to avoid sliding off

Baelor is splayed out on his back, catching his breath in the same spot where the dragon was trying to crush him before. And apart from looking utterly exhausted, he looks no worse for wear.

“S-sorry.” The red dragon rumbles out hesitantly to Bael.

Bael shakily raises an arm and gives a thumbs up, still catching his breath and unable to respond with words.

The dragon looks to Fluttershy questioningly, and Fluttershy nods. That apology was acceptable.

“Good. Now go pack your things. It’s time for you to find a new place to take your nap.” Fluttershy tells the red dragon.

“Yes mam.” The dragon says quickly before darting back into his cave to gather his hoard. Fluttershy watches the cave for a moment before floating down to Baelor.

“Baelor. Are you alright?” Fluttershy asks him in concern.

The yellow-striped dragon lets out a weak, rasping laugh. “Heh… heh… I *huff* told you *huff* you were… brave.” He gets out with a smile, his eyes still closed.

“Oh… um. Yes, you did.” Fluttershy replies, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

“Fluttershy, that was simply amazing!”

“Three cheers for Fluttershy!”

“You were so awesome!”

Fluttershy’s suddenly surrounded by her friends, all of them congratulating her. Fluttershy’s mind goes blank, a little overwhelmed. Was it really that great to them?

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Applejack and Twilight helping Baelor shakily stand back up. All three of them flash her proud grins. Fluttershy walks over to them.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” She asks him.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Little bruising to my body and my ego but I feel fi-*blegh*” Blood pours out of his mouth.

The great red dragon, named Smoug XXIII, hastily scoops his gold and jewels into his carrying sack, attempting to gather his hoard quickly so as to not incur the wrath of the yellow pegasus pony again.


Smoug jerks his head up at the scream. ‘What the- did she go and murder one of the other ponies? That would certainly get the rest to scream like that.’







Smoug sticks his head out of his cave and sees the ponies galloping very quickly back down the mountain the same way they likely came up.

‘…Ponies are so strange.’ Smoug concludes in his mind.

Smoug heads back into his cave to continue storing his hoard, but at a slightly more sedate pace now that the crazy yellow pegasus is gone. He’s not going to take his chances that she won’t come back though.

Suddenly, a fierce burning sensation sparks in his forearm. He hisses and turns his gaze down to see what could possibly cause that much pain, and his eyes widen in shock.

A blackend, charred line goes maybe a fifth of the way along his forearm, the scales shattered and the burned flesh exposed and going fairly deep, but not quite all the way through the arm.

‘What?’ Smoug looks at the wound and notices that it’s not the only place with shattered scales on his body. There are jagged lines and cross-sections of scales missing or just damaged to the point where they can’t protect the muscle tissue underneath. And every single broken scale has one thing in common.

They were shattered from extreme heat exposure.

Smoug knows this because he’s had scales on his arm shatter before. From getting blasted by a little too much fire from another dragon he fought in the past. But that was only three to five scales that shattered from a solid five minutes of dragon fire hitting them. This is easily hundreds of scales that are shattered on his arm alone, let alone all along his torso and other arm.

‘How did…When did I-.' And then it hits him.

The dragon whelp.

Strikes of pain all over his body.

Lightning hitting him everywhere.

Smoug sits there staring at his only wound from the fight with the other, smaller dragon, for several hours, unmoving. Simply contemplating how the wound only occurred because two lightning strikes hit him in the same place.

And about how many streaks of cracked scales go across his heart and throat.

Chapter X: Nightmare

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Chapter X

I sink into the hospital bed with a sigh. Why don’t they ever listen?

“What do you mean ‘you can’t find anything wrong with him?’ he spewed blood out his mouth! That means he’s got internal bleeding!!!”

“Miss Trixie, while I’m sure you’re telling the truth about what you saw, I cannot find any damage, either internal or external, that requires my assistance to heal. There is no damage.”

“Now I’m not a medical expert like you are, doctor, but I’m pretty sure injuries like that don’t just heal themselves that quick.”

“Can I say something?” I speak up.

“Not now Bael, we’re trying to get the doctor to fix you.” Rainbow says.

I frown. “I don’t need ‘fixing’ because everything that’s wrong with me has already healed.” I say.

“Yes, it actually has. The only thing even remotely out of place in Baelor is a place in his stomach that almost looks like it’s bruised. And…” The doctor’s horn glows, and a magical aura encompasses me for a second. “even that is nearly gone now, despite internal bruising usually taking two to three weeks to heal in that time. It’s actually rather remarkable.” He says in wonder.

“Wait, so you’re saying… Bael’s going to be okay?” Twilight asks.

“YES!” I say in exasperation. “Part of my magic heals injuries rapidly, even most ones that would be fatal.” I explain.

“What?! Since when have you had that trick?” Rainbow asks.

I glare at her, deadpan. “Since before the moment you met me.” I answer.

“Well why didn’t you say so! Woulda’ saved us all heart attacks from worryin’ about you.” Applejack says in irritation.

“I was trying to tell you the entire time you were going down the mountain, panicking! None of you listened!” I hiss, much more annoyed than Applejack.

“You know, I think he was.” Pinkie says with a contemplative hoof on her chin.

“Well why didn’t you say anything if you noticed?” Trixie asks her.

“Cause I wasn’t sure he was. He was also gurgling and spewing more blood as he was spinning around and around and around and around-.”

“We get it. Twilight’s horrible at carrying things in her magic.” Trixie interrupts Pinkie.

“I am not! Bael just slides around way too much whenever I try to lift him!” Twilight protests, then looks at me questioningly.

I shrug. “Don’t look at me. I’ve got no clue why it happens either.”

“Well, regardless, you’re perfectly fine and good to go. Nothing you need to be concerned about, health-wise.” The doctor says to me.

“Alright then, let me... just…” I shakily put my weight on my front legs to try to step off the gurney onto the floor.

“Do you need help?” Fluttershy asks me.

“No, I’ve got i-.” My claw slips on the side rail.


Seven mares and one stallion stare at Bael’s unconscious form in shock.

After several moments of just standing there, the doctor’s horn glows and his magic field encompasses Baelor again. “… Huh. Even brain-damage heals itself.” He notes. His magic vanishes.

“Okay, so, your friend is fine, mild concussion aside, and should only need to sleep off whatever fatigue he’s feeling. He’s still free to go.” He announces to the still shocked mares.

The mane six plus Trixie share stupefied looks with each other. “I suppose we can just carry him back to the library, since he’s going to be alright with just sleeping for now.” Rarity says.



“And Twilight shouldn’t be the one to carry him.”


They all chuckle at Twilight’s light razzing. Things like her inability to hold Baelor seem a lot funnier now that they’re not worried about the black dragon bleeding out.

“On the bright side, he picked a great time to be conked out. We’ve got a big storm scheduled tomorrow, so he should be able to sleep right through that if he stays out for the rest of the day.” Rainbow Dash announces to the others.

“How big are we talkin’ here?” Applejack asks her.

“Big enough that the mayor’s busy working on assigning different ponies to handle taking down loose branches in all the trees around town. The storm’s not gonna happen until late at night, but you guys should have your hooves full handling the trees tomorrow if you get assigned to that. Bael sure skipped out on some work tomorrow.” Rainbow tells them.

“No he didn’t, he slipped. His head made a big “Clang!” sound when it hit the metal table when he fell off the bed. Remember?” Pinkie corrects.

Twilight facehooves. “Pinkie…” She sighs. “Let’s just… get Bael home.” She says tiredly.

I groan in pain, fatigue plaguing my body. ‘Ugh, weak. Need breakfast.’ I think tiredly.

Then I’m hit by something hard, fast, and unrelenting, right in my side.

I feel the wind knocked out of me as I go sailing away and bounce on the ground until I slide in the dust on my front.

I struggle to get up, and clutch my side in pain. I breathe in and out shakily as I plant my three legs into the grey dust under me.

Grey dust?

Grey dust?!

I snap my head up with wide eyes and see stars shining above me in the night sky.

‘No.’ I think with dread.

Around me, stretching for miles in every direction are hills and plains of nothing but grey dust and rocks.

‘No.’ I repeat in my mind. This can’t be real.

Above me, glowing a brilliant blue, floats a large planet that resembles Earth in a lot of ways, but the continents are all different.

‘NO!’ I mentally shout. This can’t happen again!

My instincts scream at me to move, and I dart to the side just as several powerful arcs of lightning crash and rend the ground where I was standing. I whirl around, but get brought down by more lightning impacting me, searing holes in my wings, and making me convulse as the charge disperses through my body and into the ground. I fall heavily on my side, smoking.

“Got you.” A familiar and terrifying voice hisses. I force my eyes open. Nightmare Moon stalks slowly towards me, electricity flowing over the feathers of her half-extended wings.

‘No…’ I whisper, numb.

I’m back on the moon...with her.

“I hope you enjoyed that dream I sent you. It’s the last nice thing you’re going to experience in this life.” She tells me coldly.

I blast out a stream of fire from my mouth at her and roll back and take to the air. Nightmare just puts up a shield to block the fire and then takes flight after me.

Fear surges through me and out through my membranes to propel me forward without flapping. ‘What the hell is going on?! I was just in the hospital with the others, and then I fall and I’m on the moon again! What is this?!’ But I already know the answer.

Opening my senses to my element Fear, I feel a burning sensation course from my tail to my head and I roll, avoiding Nightmare’s beam attack. I dive down close to the ground while taking evasive maneuvers to avoid Nightmare Moon’s attacks.

Nightmare Moon’s pulled this trick on me before multiple times. She sent me nightmares while we’re both unconscious from our fights to demoralize me. But this time, she sent me a regular dream. A dream of what I most wanted, to get out of this nightmare.

And I fell for the trick, hook, line, and sinker.

Right as I evade another blast, I feel a jerking tug on my tail from Nightmare grabbing me in her magic and my momentum is reversed. I twist around in time to take a hoof to the face, sending me in the direction I was going a moment prior, I reorient myself and skid on all fours across the ground. I sidestep the instant she cracks into the earth next to me with her hind legs raised at me. My body switches to bipedal and my forearms slam together with ice over them, but Nightmare’s buck shatters right through it and I feel painful snaps in both my forearms.

I skid backwards until I stabilize the ground beneath me and feel my bones mend from the rush of fear surging through me.

A sharp slicing pain going from my shoulder to my hip causes me to spring up and twist over a flying diagonal air blade from Nightmare.

“I was surprised about the amount of foresight you had in your mind Baelor. It allowed us to construct a convincing dream for you to frolic in while we waited for our real bodies to mend.” Nightmare Moon says slinging gusts and slices from her wings.

I’m too preoccupied with dealing with everything she’s throwing at me to reply. I haven’t found anything that can’t be cut by those blades yet, so blocking them isn’t an option.

“And we do believe we owe you an apology Baelor, we did not believe you when you told we and our sister about where you came from. Your memories of our “cartoon” are very detailed about future events.” Nightmare eyes narrow. “Including your foreknowledge of our fall into madness.” She hisses out hatefully.

I gasp from her words. She found out about that?

My lapse in focus gave her the opportunity to slam me in the gut with an air blast with the force of a train.

“YOU KNEW! SINCE THE MOMENT YOU MET US YOU KNEW! YOU KNEW I WOULD TRANSFORM INTO NIGHTMARE MOON!” She roars at me, closing the distance between us with a single stride.

I avoid a punch to the face only to get slammed by a roundhouse in the shoulder, shattering the bones there. I tumble end over end and spin in order to snap my tail across her face, sending her flying to the side. I stand on three legs, letting my shoulder heal.

“I tried to stop it Luna! I tried being your friend! I thought you were going to be okay when I left!” I call to her desperately, her words driving in a long-time fear that I’ve had.

Lightning cracks into the spot I was standing a second before, and then I get struck right in my back, breaking it. I choke out a cry of pain before Luna blasts me into the ground with a magic beam.


I can’t see, I can’t hear, I can’t move, I can barely feel. My fear causes my ears and eyes to heal just enough to hear her land by me.

“You are pathetic. How did you think this would end, trying to befriend a broken mare when you cannot even care about getting back to your own family?” She asks, leaning down to speak quieter. My heart stops from her words.

“Now die.”

A long time ago, I would have gotten angry, probably raged and raved and thrown everything I had at her without rhyme or reason. And a long time ago, that probably would have worked on her. But we’ve been fighting for a thousand years, and passion eventually becomes a noose when fighting an opponent as experienced as her.

I let it go. All I feel is intent.

My fear solidifies and sharpens within, and flash-heals my muscles and body just enough to allow me to move at full speed.

My tail whips out and wraps around her barrel, but instead of pulling her down, I pull myself up and behind her.

Her horn glows right as she rears up, ready to throw me and slam me back down with her magic, but my head snaps out and my jaws slam down at the base of her horn.

She screams in pain and rage and her wings snap up and slam into my sides again and again. But the pain just makes me clench my teeth further down on the boney appendage.

Then it cracks.

A small splash of blood hits my tongue before I’m thrown forwards. Instead of holding my grip on her, I let go and take to the air with a forward roll. She’s glaring at me past the blood dripping down her face. Lightning cascades across her wings and then the world fills with light.

Any other creature caught in this would have been vaporized within an instant, but fear is my ally and savior, as time seems to slow down around me. I can tell where the web of electrical current travel out from, and I know where to place my claw tips.

Seven bolts of lightning hit my right fingertips, and then a single concentrated bolt lets loose directly at Nightmare Moon from my other claw. She catches the bolt on her wing, and makes ready to counter-attack.

I fire off the rest of the charge I didn’t use from her seven bolts, and Nightmare manages to block the bolt, but the awkward angle causes it to vaporize her wing, and she drops from the lack of the two appendages keeping her aloft. I rush forward and close in on her before she even hits the ground.

But she brings her head around and gores me in the stomach with her horn. I gag but the pain doesn’t stop me, and I push her onto her back, bring my hind leg up and drive it into her throat, my hind foot’s claws encased in dark crimson fear.

Time seems to freeze for a moment, but then with a shuddering effort, she throws me off her horn.

I slam into the ground heavily, and cough up a mass of blood, but I can already feel the wound healing.

But looking over at Nightmare Moon, she’s done for, if the gurgling coming out of her mouth is any indication. Amazingly and horrifyingly though, she manages to roll over, and shakily stand up, staring daggers at me, all the while blood spills out of her throat and mouth.

Seeing this, I’m spurred to my feet as well, much quicker than the dying alicorn.

Nightmare Moon takes a single step forward… and gurgles out a few words that take the fight right out of me and make me lock up in shock.

“Now…you are… alone…

And then she shudders, and falls forward into the dust, unmoving.

I stare at her. She doesn’t move.

I continue to stare. She still doesn’t move.

And then her words set in.

‘I’m… alone?’ repeat mentally.

She… she wouldn’t… she isn’t… coming back this time?

With dawning horror, I realize what I’ve just done. I sit down.

I… I killed her…

She lays facedown in the gray dirt, one side missing a wing, horn cracked down the middle, and her right eye still visible, blankly staring into her own growing pool of blood.

I just killed her.

Around us stretches the barren grayness of the moon that’s been our battlefield for the past millennia, silent now that the fight is at long last over.

I just killed Nightmare Moon.


I just killed Luna.


Oh my God I just killed Luna.

~You’re alone.~

… No, there’s no way she’s dead… she can’t be dead…

~She’s dead.~


~You’re a murderer!~

NO! She… she’s… I…

~You killed her. And now you’re stuck here alone.~

Please Luna, I’m sorry. Please come back.

~…And now you’ll always be alone.~

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

~Celestia will never forgive you.~

I’m sorry.

~No one will accept a dragon.~

I’m sorry.


~Not even other dragons accept their own kind Baelor.~


~You’re going to be alone for the rest of eternity Baelor.~







~Alone for Eternity.~


I jerk awake to the worried faces of Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity.

“Bael, are you alright?” Twilight asks me, worry in her eyes.

My eyes dart around quickly, taking in everything. I realize I just woke up from a nightmare.

“Y-yeah. I’m fine. Just a little bit of a scary dream is all.” I say shakily. Fuck, that wasn’t convincing at all. “I’m fine.” I repeat, trying to sound more convincing.

“... No, ah don’t think you are Bael. Yer crying.” Applejack states.

Once she points it out to me, I realize that she’s right, I am crying. I must have been crying in my sleep. “It might have been… have been… just…” I struggle to try and come up with an excuse for why I’m crying.

“Baelor, please tell us what’s wrong dear.” Rarity asks me quietly.

“You girls don’t have to worry about it. I’m… just trying to work something out on my own is all.” I say, calming my heartbeat down. I wipe my face on my foreleg to clear away the tears.

“Problems that you can solve on yer own don’t usually leave you crying in yer sleep.” Applejack points out almost dryly. She still looks concerned though.

“It’s fine Applejack. I’ve got it. I’m going to go shake it off with a run. Cool my head a bit.” I say, getting up off the couch and moving to do walk out the door and do just that.

“It’s raining out Bael.” Applejack points out.

Huh. So it is. “All the better.” I say over my shoulder.

“Baelor, please. I know we haven’t known each other long, and I’m still new to friendship. But you shouldn’t keep things inside you where they can hurt you. Please, can you just… talk to us about it?” Twilight asks me before I can walk out the door.

I stop. I consider her words, and I do something I haven’t done in a long time: I consider telling them that I’m a human.

In my head I know that they probably won’t believe me, just like Luna and Celestia didn’t. No one I’ve told that to has ever believed me. Why should they? Sure, I’m a dragon with magic, and I haven’t grown to the normally gargantuan size of the other dragons. And I may have strange habits and morals compared to them. But I’m still a dragon. There’s nothing that screams alien about me. They’ll just think I’m a little different like everyone else does.

But, looking at their faces…a part of me just wants to tell them anyway… to be believed… to be understood…

“I… had a nightmare… about the moon… and my time there.” I finally say after a long time of thinking.

I can see that they’re a little surprised about my quick confession. But now that I’ve started, I keep going.

“Nightmare Moon… she was saying that everything that happened, was all a dream… that I was still stuck on the moon… and she was using things I’d told her as Luna against me… things that hurt… and I got angry, and vengeful.” I tell them.

“What did she say to you?” Rarity prompts.

“… Do you know where I came from… who and what I am? Did Celestia ever tell you Twilight?” I ask, looking into Twilight’s eyes.

She shakes her head no.

Here it goes. “… I… wasn’t born… as a dragon… on this world.” I say quietly.

“Wasn’t born a… wait, on this world? What are you saying? That you’re an alien?” Twilight asks, completely blindsided.

“Yeah. I guess.” I admit.

Rarity looks ready to comment, but Applejack just holds a hoof to her mouth, stopping her from speaking. They wait for me to elaborate.

I sigh. “I got sent here by someone, or something, I don’t really know anymore. One minute I’m talking to her, then next I’m falling into a black hole, and then I wake up in the Everfree as a dragon.” I summarize.

“Not that I’m saying this isn’t important Bael, but how does this tie into that nightmare you had?” Twilight asks.

I glance at her. “Because I told Luna about this.” I say. “And she used it to hurt me while we were on the moon.” I tell her.

They look at each other, worried about where I’m going with this.

“I came back to Equestria after a while training in Quina with Ki-rin monks to find Luna transformed into Nightmare Moon. She was about to kill Celestia, and I reacted and attacked her. I held her down so Celestia could use the Elements on her.” I unconsciously curl my claws into the wood of the floor. “She was furious when she realized what happened to us both. She attacked me as soon as I stood up, and I did my best to defend myself and avoid her attacks but she overwhelmed me.” I get up and start pacing. “She started to hurt me, and berate me and hurt me and berate, and irritate, and hurt me and hurt me and hurt me and hurt me-“ I repeat again and again, words just flowing out of me without thought. “and she was saying that she was never my friend, and that I was a liar and like all liars that I deserved pain for it despite the fact that I was telling the truth about being an alien and she was saying how if I really was an alien I would be trying to get back to my family back on my planet. Then she kept hurting me again and again and again and again and again!

I’m full on ranting by this point, not even paying attention to the three ponies listening to me.

“And then, I just got angry. SURE, I did help her sister to stop her, but if she succeeded, Celestia would be dead and then everyone else would be dead from the moon being locked in the sky and how STUPID is Luna that she didn’t realize that. She was hurting me just for the sake of something to do, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Just pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, PAIN, PAIN, PAIN, AND PAIN FOR ME, AND JUST A BUNCH OF LAUGHIN FROM HER!!! And then the next thing I know, I’m fighting with everything I’ve got, with all of my anger. And I was fighting her to hurt her. I didn’t care about what she did to me because she’d kept making me hurt for a long time! SO I IGNORED THE PAIN AND KEPT ON HURTING HER!!! And you know what? I finally brought her down!!! And I started hurting HER INSTEAD!!!” I’m lashing my tail, baring my teeth, and boring my claws into the wood floor as I pace back and forth, back and forth.

“I ripped her flesh, I broke her bones, I went for her wings, I stopped her from using her horn. I burned her, froze her, electrocuted her, blasted her, beat her, cut her, bit her, clawed her, threw her, and I don’t even remember what else. But she eventually got away from me herself. And then we got serious, and started fighting for real. Every hour, every breath, we just kept on fighting and blasting each other with our magic, our wills, our bodies, and killing intent. And I hated her. I hated her hated herhatedherhated HATED HER!!!! And I used that hate to my advantage. I absorbed it and used its power. And I could feel her hate for me and I absorbed and used that too.” I stop pacing, panting.

“I wanted her to die… one of the first friends I made in Equestria. I wanted to kill her so badly…” I slump down, feeling weak from the admission.

“I wanted to kill her because she just kept reminding me… that I betrayed her… and that I just completely gave up on going home. Of trying to get back to my family… Of never thinking about them… and that they’re all dead of old age now while I’m still alive. She just kept shoving all my faults and mistakes in my face again and again. And I lashed out at her again and again. And then after hundreds of years of fighting… I just got… tired.” My voice gets tight. “I got so, so tired of it all. But I kept fighting. I kept getting back up. The things I’d been doing were just habit by that point. I kept fighting.”

My whole body starts to shake. “And then, once I’m finally free, and the whole nightmare is over, and I feel like I can move on and rest finally… I wake up on the moon again. And she’s there taunting me again. And it seems like it was all just a dream and I have to keep on fighting her.” I get out shakily. “Realizing that everything is just a dream, and waking up to the nightmare again. I’ve never been more terrified in my life. And I lashed out. I hurt her again, but this time it actually was a nightmare, and I woke up to see you three worrying about me.” I look up at Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity, panting. We just stay that way for a minute, with me watching them, and them watching me.

Then Applejack slowly walks up right in front of me. She looks up into my eyes for a moment, before leaning in and wrapping her forelegs around my neck in a hug, causing me to freeze in shock.

“You’ve been alone fer a while, haven’t you. All that time on the moon with somepony that wants to kill you… and all that time without yer family. This mustave’ been buildin’ up inside you for a long time.” Applejack says comfortingly while rubbing my back.

I’m hardly breathing. The soft contact feels… familiar. How long has it been since someone’s just given me a comforting hug?

I can feel a stinging feeling building up behind my eyes. My breath starts to shudder. “Go right ahead. Let it out. Let all the pressure relieve itself.” Applejack tells me, patting me on the back.

And that’s all it took for me to slowly bend my neck down over Applejack’s back and start quietly sobbing. All the remaining pain that I couldn’t get out with words coming out in tears.

Celestia yawns as she makes her way through the castle’s hallways towards her sister’s room. It has been a long day, and now it’s time to lower the sun and allow Luna to raise the moon. Celestia smiles, glad for the umpteenth time to have her little sister back after so long.

As she draws near Luna’s doors, she notices a worrying sight. The guards posted outside Luna’s room look unsure of themselves, looking back and forth between each other and Luna’s door. But that’s not what’s worrying.

It’s the sound of crying coming from behind the doors.

Celestia quickens her pace and passes by the two guards without a word and knocks on her sister’s bedroom doors. “Luna? Luna, I’m coming in.” She announces to her in a slightly louder than usual voice, before opening the door and stepping into Luna’s room.

Inside, Celestia sees a sight that breaks her heart. Luna sobbing quietly into her pillow.

Celestia moves quickly but quietly, reaching her sister’s side in a few steps. She lies down next to Luna in her bed and drapes a white wing gently over her sister’s back. Luna turns to her sister and wraps her up into a tight embrace, sobbing into her Celestia’s neck and mane.

“Shhhh, shhhh. You’re fine. You’re okay Luna. I’m here.” Celestia tells her, rubbing her back as Luna cries into her coat.

“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Luna whispers through her sobs.

“It’s okay, I forgive you. You’re okay Luna. You’re okay.” Celestia tells her, continuing to comfort Luna.

“I’m sorry Baelor. I’m sorry. Please don’t leave me alone. Don’t let me be alone.” Luna says, not acknowledging she heard Celestia.

Celestia just continues to rub Luna’s back and embrace her. “Shhh, shhh. You’re okay. You’re okay.” She continues to comfort.

They stay like this for several hours, Celestia sets the sun and raises the moon when she notices that Luna is unable to for tonight.

Eventually though, Luna falls back asleep. Before Celestia can follow suit though, having decided to stay with her sister for the night, a scroll appears in the air from a wisp of green smoke. Celestia unrolls it to read it, interested in a letter from her student but also a bit troubled and distracted by her worries for her sister. She quickly grows interested though when she starts reading:

Dear Princess Celestia,

I’m sorry about this, but I’m not really writing about a friendship report this time. Well I mean I am, sort of, but I suppose I sort of am not. Oh, this is confusing trying to explain, so I will just skip to some events that transpired over the course of this evening.

Today, there was a major storm scheduled to happen all across town by the weather team, and several ponies from the town were conscripted into pulling down loose branches from many of the trees around Ponyville to prevent them from accidentally falling and hitting somepony during the storm. Applejack and Rarity were caught out in the storm, and so I let them take shelter in my home. We had actually decided to turn in into a slumber party when all of a sudden, Baelor, who was sleeping on my couch, starts to squirm and make worrying sounds in his sleep. It wasn’t long before he was full on crying while we observed, so we decided to wake him from whatever nightmare he was having. Upon waking, he was obviously distraught about his dream, but was resistant to telling us about it. We eventually managed to convince him to talk to us about it.

I’m… feeling conflicted about what he told us, and what happened next. Baelor had a nightmare about being stuck back on the moon. And the things he told us that happened there… I’m… I’m afraid and horrified at both the things that happened to Baelor as well as the things he told us he did. The things He did to Princess Luna while she was Nightmare Moon. He also revealed to us something hard to believe about himself. He said he was from another world and that he got sent to Equestria and turned into a dragon.

What happened next was a little… surprising to me at the time. Applejack just walked right up to Bael, and hugged him. And he just broke down crying. Rarity and I joined in on the hug after that and we all just did our best to help him back to sleep.

Anyway, the reason I wrote this letter is to ask you a question Princess. Did we do the right thing? After all the horrible things he told us, should we have helped him? Did I do the right thing by comforting someone who’s hurting even when they revealed that they did so many horrible things to another living being?

Your Most Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

Celestia quietly summons a quill and scroll and begins penning a response letter.

Dear Twilight,

You absolutely did the right thing at the time, don’t ever doubt that. Don’t ever think that aiding someone while they are in pain or grief is a bad thing. I would also like to commend your friend Applejack on her decisive judgment, since she is the one that was the quickest to react to Baelor’s pain.

Sometimes, Twilight, ponies or other beings go through hardship and anguish for no other reason than that they were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. And more often than not, those ponies succumb to the pain that they undergo. It is our duty as living beings to help and attempt to heal the wounds caused to these individuals who have experienced great pain.

I know that I left Baelor in your care on the night after the thousandth Summer Celebration because it was convenient at the time, myself simply wishing to have time to reconnect with my sister. But I know for certain, especially now, that leaving him in you and your friend’s care was the right decision. From the sound of things, Baelor has quite a bit of pain hidden away, and I would not be fooled into thinking tonight’s incident will resolve all of it. He is going to need your support Twilight. You and the other Bearers will need to be there for him if he is to have any hope of working through this. But I am confident that you are all up to this task, if for no other reason other than the fact that I know you would have done so even without me tasking or even mentioning it.



P.S. Don’t become too overzealous with this task my faithful student. Though this may be a request from me, all I’m truly asking for you to do is to continue doing exactly what you’ve been doing until now. Being Baelor’s friends. It will help to heal his wounds far better than some of the best therapy sessions could ever hope to manage.

Celestia checks over her letter once before sending it on its way to Spike. Then she turns her gaze to look down at the sleeping form of Luna.

‘Oh Bael, Luna. How much did I truly fail you two? All this could have been avoided if I were able to see the signs… if I were strong enough to handle the burden on my own, neither of you would have had to be sent to the moon.’ She thinks with a sad frown. She lays her head to rest next to her sister’s.

‘Please help him Twilight. Help him, and I shall work on helping my sister, and then maybe they’ll be able to put this all to rest for good.’ She begs silently all the way to Ponyville before drifting off to sleep.

Chapter XI: Azure

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Warning: The following content contains Displaced Crossover content. Viewer discretion is advised.

"What are you doing?"


Chapter XI

I pull the chord tight and then wrap it five times around the end of my traveling sack. Thanks to Luna and Celestia, the local shopkeepers were begrudgingly willing to make me one. It’s difficult to find any kind of backpack or other kinds of mobile storage devices other than saddlebags in the land of ponies. It’s especially hard to find anypony willing to help a dragon, no matter how friendly they are. To be fair though, I’m the probably the only friendly dragon around in this age. Most others are the kinds that would burn down villages for shits and giggles.

I finish tying the top of my back and sling it over my neck and left foreleg, with the bag between my wings and the strap over my right shoulder going down to the left of my midsection.

I turn to walk out of the room that I’ve been graciously leant by my two royal friends for the past three months, but pull up short when I notice that Luna’s standing just outside my doorway.

“Greetings…” Luna says, her voice guarded.

I tilt my head sadly. “Come on Luna, don’t act all aloof when I’m about to set off for who knows how long.” I say.

She flinches, and then dips her head in sadness. “Do you truly have to go?” She asks, letting a little of her depression into her voice.

I look down into my open palm. “This isn’t a power I want to risk taking guesses at how it works and how to control it… I need to figure out how to keep it reigned in before some kind of accident happens and I hurt someone. And as helpful as training with you and running through the forest have been… they’re not going to be enough. I need someone to teach me, even if it’s not to control the power. But I need someone with the same instincts and body structure as me, and who’s trained to use it, like you have with Gale. I need a dragon to teach me.” I say with finality.

“I doubt that there are any dragons that have exercised any kind of discipline in anything.” Luna mumbles.

“Then I’ll find someone else. The world is vast Luna, if there aren’t any dragons that can teach me what I need, then I’ll find the next best thing. I’ll find another race that has draconic properties, or abilities, or both and I’ll learn from them. But I can’t just sit here, waiting for something to cause me to hurt someone with a power I barely understand.” I take a deep breath.

“Believe me Luna, I don’t want to go either. I don’t want to leave the only friends in the whole world that I’ve got to go searching for knowledge that I don’t even know exists. But I don’t want to hurt you or Celestia either.” I say despondently.

Luna stares at me for a moment before slowly stepping close to me. She wraps her hooves around my neck and pulls me into a hug. I hesitate for a moment before returning it.

“Remain safe Bael.” Luna whispers over my shoulder.

I give her a gentle squeeze. “I will. Thank you Luna.” I reply, pulling away.

And then I walk away through the castle corridors.

My eyes crack open, crust flaking away from their edges. I lie on the couch for several minutes, not willing to move yet.

My ear twitches from the sound of soft hoof-steps approaching.

I look to my right and see Twilight standing a couple pony-lengths away. “Hey Bael. Good morning.” Twilight greets me with a small smile.

I give a small smile back. “Morning.” I reply.

She stands there in thought for a moment. “Do you… feel alright?” She asks hesitantly.

I turn my head to look my claws on my chest. I think for a moment before answering. Am I alright?

“…Yeah. I’m alright.” I answer finally. I turn my head again to look at her. “Thanks.”

“Good… good.” Twilight says, relieved but seeming at a loss of what to say next.

I take a deep breath and then let it out as a long sigh. And then I slide off the couch to stand up.

“Do you want to get anything to eat?” Twilight asks me after I’m up.

I take a moment to answer. “No, I… think I’m just going to go practice for a bit… think about some things.” I answer, walking towards the door.

“Oh, alright.” Twilight says. She turns to head up the stairs.

I come to a stop at the door. “Hey, Twilight?” I say, turning to look back at her.

“Yeah?” She answers, stopping to look back at me.

“… Thank you.” I tell her.

She looks at me for a moment before smiling and nodding. I smile back, then step outside.

I close the door behind me and turn to start walking to the same spot I was in last time.

“Hiya!” I jump and whip around.

“Good morning Bael!” Pinkie chirps.

I take a calming breath. It’s just Pinkie.

“Good morning Pinkie Pie. What are you doing over here this earl-.” I get interrupted by Pinkie wrapping me up in a big hug. Then she quickly pulls away and holds out her hoof to me. There’s a chocolate chip muffin resting in it.

“What was that for?” I ask her, curious.

“My Pinkie sense told me that one of my friends needed a hug and was going to skip breakfast to go do something constructive to mope for a bit. So I gave you a hug and now I’m giving you a muffin for breakfast. You really shouldn’t skip breakfast Bael. It’s the most important meal of the day!” She answers with a smile.

I blink. “Oh… thanks.” I gently take the muffin from her hoof. “You’re not going to try and throw me a party to get me to feel better or anything?” I ask her.

“Nope!” She replies, and then hops away to go do… Pinkie… Pie… stuff.

I look down at the muffin in my hand. ‘Well… I might as well…’ I reason. I take a bite off the top of it, and then relax my tense muscles at the delicious flavor.

I’m… actually feeling a bit better now.

I smile and start walking to my practice spot, munching on the muffin as I go.

‘One, two. One, two. Oooo-ne, two-three.’ I count mentally, keeping pace with the beat as I run through one of the four-legged forms.

‘One. Two. Three. Fouuu-r, five-six-seven.’ I lash out with a front claw on one through three, sweep with my tail on four, then follow through with a swipe to the left with my left wing talon, left front claws, and right front claws one after the other on the five-six-seven.

Funny thing about dragon martial arts compared to pegasus styles. We use our wings to strike at our opponents. The spots on our wings that can withstand impact the best are called striking points, and there are a lot of them. The inside of our wing’s elbows, both the outside and inside of the wing talon, the middle of the outside finger of our wings, they’re all used for striking at something. And this means that we can keep all four legs on the ground and still have two appendages to block and fight with.

And it also means that I can have four limbs to fight with when I rear up on my hind legs. Dual wielding? Pu-lease. I’m a quad-wielder! And my weapons are attached to me.

I finish up the form on a “three”, and then take a moment to catch my breath.

‘Pinkie Pie really knows how to cheer someone up. I feel great!’ I think as I lean my head up and back a bit as I calm my breathing. I just stand there enjoying the bright day for a few moments.

‘Okay, time to get back to-.’

Something stabs itself into my right eye.

“AAAAAHHH!!!” I reach up and gingerly pull the object out of my eye. It’s a feather. ‘Gah! Damn it. I can’t even practice in peace without a harmless feather trying to mutilate me.’ I think as stare at the object in-between my claws, my stabbed eye squinting in pain.

“Heroes, villains, everyone or thing in between! May these items help guide you through your journeys. I don't know who's gonna get what but if the power they grant just isn't enough or if you just need a friend, raise the item and say these words: I beseech thee, Heroic Analog of Lore, aid me this day Azure Darksoul!"

I jerk from the sudden voice. “Uh, what?”

“-Good enough. I’m so flipping bored I’ll take anything.”

“What?” I ask again in confusion.

“Look, whatever you do, don't say override, you only get three of those and-”

Whatever he was going to say gets cut off by a rift opening above me and dropping someone on my back. Which wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t a bulky and fully armored man that weighs five times what I do diving headfirst out of it.

Suffice to say, my back doesn’t exactly hold up that well from the impact. And that in turn leads to me getting my torso slammed into the ground, which also causes the wind to get knocked out of me.

This has not been a good five seconds in my life.

“HAH! Told her I wouldn’t get hurt from diving in!” The armored figure exclaims aloud after standing up.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…” I wheeze out, feeling kind of dizzy from having no air in my lungs.

“Summoner? Summoner! Oh...I uh...let me get off of you.” The armored dude says before climbing off me as gently as he can manage. And by that I mean his armor digs into my back in several places as he steps off of me.

Once he’s off me, I roll over onto my sore back and struggle to get air back into my lungs.

“Oh jeez. You alright Summoner?” He asks me, concerned.

*gasp* Just-ugh. Just let me catch my breath.” I rasp out.

“Let me get that,” he says as a warm golden glow washes over me. Suddenly, the strain on my breathing is gone. “Healing Wings, for all your damaged needs!”

He extends his arm with a smile. “Business or pleasure?” He asks.

I reach up and grasp his arm, and he helps pull me up onto all fours again. “Uh, not exactly sure what you mean by that, could you elaborate a little?” I ask him. “Actually, could you elaborate on what just happened too? I’m a little lost, and I don’t get how another human is here in Equestria.” I add.

“Any odd job or a moment of my time. Seeing your confusion however...maybe we should be sitting down for this? How’s Sugarcube Corner sound?” Asked the man.

I frown. ‘How does he know about Sugarcube Corner?’ I think, suspicious. “I think Sugarcube Corner is an enjoyable place to sit down and talk… but I also think it’s too casual and open for the questions I’m going to be asking. If you don’t mind, could you please explain to me how you got here? Last time I checked, humans don’t exist on Equis.” I say to the armored man. I don’t feel any kind of malice or ill-intent emanating from him, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good at masking it. I need at least a few answers before I’m willing to let him anywhere near the ponies in town.

“Right must be new to the multiverse. Well, for the first question...I got here by locking on to the miscellaneous item in your possession. Those like me, and I guess after today, you, refer to items such as these as tokens,” the being then plops onto the ground, cross-legged with his hands on his ankles.

“I just sorta...ripped into your world because I was bored? I should probably close that door. Luna! Get Oracle and Lyra to close the portal!” He shouts at a rift above us that I completely forgot about.

Three different heads pop out of the portal, a feline humanoid, a ridiculously longhaired zebra and a blindfolded pony.

“I no longer have a-oh right…” “Luna” pulls the other two back and the portal seals itself smoothly.

“ about how I’m here...did someone at a Con sell you an item of some sort that, once activated, stripped you of your humanity, turned you into a monster, and loosed you upon an unsuspecting….shit am I rambling?” He asks me, cutting off his own train of thought.

“Just a bit.” I reply to his last question. Then some of the things he said register in my mind. “Wait, wait… tokens, multiverse, merchant… Ah damn it!!! It all makes sense now! And I’m a fucking idiot for not realizing it until you straight up told me. I got DISPLACED!!!” I face palm.

“Watch your language! There are foals out playing!” Somepony randomly shouts out loud off in the distance. Was that Trixie?

The man cocks his head to the side. “Huh…the last and first guy I met knew about that too. How’d you know?” He asks me.

I let my paw drop back to the ground and I sigh. “Have you ever heard a part of the multiverse theory that says that the ideas we get for creating things, like for comics and stories and other things, are actually just feedback from other worlds that make their way inside our heads?” I ask him.

“Not specifically in those words, no and I've read up on a lot of chaos theory.” He says.

“Well, back on my version of Earth, the Displaced are a collection of fanfictions on the MLP fanfiction site. I enjoyed reading them back then.” I tell him.

His eyes widen slightly in surprise. “Huh… well I guess that falls within the parameters of ‘endless possibilities.” He says after a pause. “So does that mean you know about me?” He asks me with hope in his eyes.

“Um… no, sorry. I didn’t read most of them, just some of the more popular ones, like the one’s about Gilgamesh or Auric Fulcrum. I don’t even think I know your name or what you’re from. Sorry.” I apologize. I decide to lie down on my stomach. This guy doesn’t seem bad. He’s being completely open and friendly, and I can’t sense any deceit in his intentions.

“Oh, jeez I was kinda hoping you had any info on me...I cant quite remember my old name...oh well Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we won’t get anywhere in life with just sitting around.” He says standing up. I stand up with him.

“So, since we kind of never introduced ourselves before, my name, is Azure Darksoul, champion of Ponyville, Lord of Chaos, and part time grim reaper.” He says, sticking out his hand to me.

I chuckle at his titles and shake his hand with my claw. “Baelor. But my friends just call me Bael. Sorry for being suspicious earlier, but I’ve read more than just the heroic Displaced stories. Some of the darker-intentioned Displaced are scarily psychotic, or worse, sane after going insane. I didn’t want to bring anyone like that into Ponyville without trying to get a better feel of them first.” I apologize to him.

He nods with what I say. “Definitely a smart strategy to have when dealing with new beings of that caliber.” He says with appreciation.

“So do you want to head to Sugarcube Corner now that, you know, I’ve deemed you not a threat to Equestria as a whole?” I ask sheepishly.

“Hah! Yeah, sounds great. Let’s go!” He says with a wide grin. We start walking back into town.

“So where were you when you got displaced?” Asks Azure.

“I was at a convention with my dad.” I answer. “Wasn’t really dressed as anything because it was my first Comic Con, and I just wanted to get a feel for what it was like. A woman in one of the stalls threw a random necklace at me, and then stopped time and sent me to Equestria. But she did say something about making a split in the timeline. Looking back, I can only assume that there are two versions of my Earth now, one with me, and one where I disappeared at the Con.” I explain as we pass through the park. Strangely, nopony seems to be outside at this time.

“Yep, that seems to be the recurring theme. By the way, I’m a little curious...what would you have done if you deemed me a threat?” Asks Azure with a sly grin.

“I would have tried to steer you away from town and then tried to figure out how to send you back to your world. I don’t like starting fights, it’s stupid to instigate something when so many more alternative solutions are possible.” I answer.

“A strategist! Always take the road with the least amount of casualties!” He exclaims.

I chuckle at his energeticness. “I may not like starting fights, but I will end them. If you tried to start something, I would have thrown everything I have at you.” I tell him, half-serious.

“How bout a spar then, show me you won't need help to defend those you care about the most?” He proceeds to hop in place and shadow box.

I quirk a brow with a smirk. His upbeat personality is practically infectious. “How about we head off to Sugarcube Corner to introduce you to everypony first. I don’t think either of us wants one of them stumbling upon us and jumping to conclusions about you attacking me.” I offer in compromise.

“I'm surprised Rainbow hasn't tried anything yet! A five foot seven dude in spiked black and red armor screams “Edgelord McWrecks-A lot”,” He waves his arms up and down, which causes me to laugh. He looks down at his armor. “Honestly, I should have worn something less menacing...hold that thought.” He taps the skull motif on his chest and the armor folds back and away, with a quick tug and pull, a new set adorns him. Blue robes now flow in the wind, iron gray pauldrons lined with cobalt metal sit upon his shoulders.

“Something tells me that they’re going to be intimidated by you even without any armor… but that’s definitely a lot better than before.” I say. I look around town. “Though, apparently not good enough. Wow, this town really can become deserted at any moment. I just came out to practice barely five minutes ago, and there were ponies everywhere getting up to go do their daily routines.”

The streets of Ponyville are completely devoid of life besides Azure and myself. I try to wrack my brain for why this seems so familiar, probably another episode, but I can’t for the life of me remember.

Suddenly, I’m yanked off my feet and then set down, I’m standing in the dark for some reason. “Wha-?”

“Shhhhhhhh!!! She might hear you!” A voice whispers loudly from next to me.

“... Pinkie?” I guess.

“Yes?” She responds in her normal voice.

“Okay, so it is you. Why are we standing all alone, in the dark?” I ask her.

“Ah, but we’re not alone, for you see, we have our friends.” She says. My eyes adjust to the darkness and see that all of the mane six except Twilight and Spike are here in the building with us.

“Okay… so why are we in the dark?” I ask.

“We’re trying to hide from… Zecora.” Applejack says to me, Applebloom standing impatiently near her.

“Psssssst! Twilight, Spike! Hurry up and get in here!” Pinkie whispers loudly out the top half of the door, before yanking the two aforementioned beings inside with us.

“Gah! Pinkie? What’s going on?” Twilight asks her.

“We’re trying to hide from… Zecora.” Applejack repeats exactly the same as she just said to me.

“You don’t have to say it like that every time AJ.” I deadpan.

“Who’s Zecora?” Twilight asks, her eyes having adjusted to the darkness now.

“She’s an evil witch that comes out of the Everfree Forest every now and again to perform some sort ritual in Ponyville. Luckily, we Ponyvillians are able to hide away from her before she can cast some nefarious curse on us.” Rarity explains to Twilight.

Twilight frowns at Rarity, then opens her mouth to say something.

*GASP*!!! We forgot about Trixie!!! And now she’s talking to Zecora!!!” Pinkie interrupts.

Everyone rushes to the door to look outside. Everyone but me. I just stare at the lot of them.

“Welp. You guys have fun with this. I’m going to go find Azure since I was so rudely pulled away from him.” I tell them while leaping out the conveniently open window.

I walk over to, and then past Trixie and Zecora. “Hi Trixie, hi Zecora.” I say to them as I pass.

“Hello Baelor. Trixie can see that you’re not hiding away like everypony else in this strange town.” Trixie notes.

“Eh, I’m not really feeling up for going along with the flow. I made a new friend today before Pinkie yanked me into…” I check back at the building. “...huh...Sugarcube Corner… and I want to find him again before ponies panic at the sight of him.” I say.

“Why would they panic?” Trixie asks.

“He’s not exactly… a pony. And he’s actually a bit more intimidating looking than I am, sooooooo yeah. I’m gonna go find him now. And Trixie, be the sarcastic voice of reason for them like always Trixie. Some ponies, I’m not going to say who, think that Zecora is an “evil enchantress” so be prepared to be as scathing with your snark as possible when the universe proves them wrong.” I tell her. She nods in understanding while rolling her eyes.

“Later!” I tell her before walking off. Now to find Azure.

If only I could remember where Pinkie plucked from.

Fuck… Oh well, I guess I’ll get to wandering. This is going to be annoying.

That’s when the music starts.

Looking for the source of the song I find Azure...wielding a long, thin guitar?

I just stand there watching him, idly noticing that there are one or two ponies doing the same.

Finally, Azure finishes playing the song with a flourish, smirking at me and the others.

“... I have so many questions right now, but I have a feeling most of the answers will be boiled down to “cartoon logic”, so I’m just going to not ask them.” I finally say.

“Good on you! Now what’s say we kick it up a notch!?” He exclaims as a pillar of fire harmlessly erupts behind him. Azure starts playing a frantic and aggressive tone on his guitar.

“Or,” I say, unplugging his guitar and cutting off his next guitar solo. “We could do something quieter and less intense to avoid noise complaints.” I say, pointing out the ponies behind me, varying degrees of shock adorn their faces from the sudden pyrotechnics.

“Right right…” He nods his and breathes rather heavily. “How bout this one?” Small winds begin to encircle him as the sound seems to travel despite being unplugged. I glance down at the plug in my hand, and then back to him, confused, and then shrug while tossing the plug on the ground. Magic, what else.

Azure continues to play the soft tune and eventually adds his own voice to the piece, and the ponies in the crowd actually relax and start to close their eyes and enjoy the soft melody, more townsponies actually start trickling in to listen over the course of the song. I decide to move and sit off to the side to enjoy the show.

As the song hits its crescendo, the winds slow down and disperse as his hands become blurs. I almost don’t notice them turning sharp and unnaturally beastial...only for them to revert to more normal human hands.

‘Wait, what?’ I think in surprise.

“Well folks,” He manages to say through his panting. “ I have business with my friend here. Thank you very much for your attention. See ya!” His guitar poofs out of existence and he walks off his impromptu stage. I stand up to walk beside him.

“Very nice. I’d say that’s enough to get the town at least willing to give you a chance. Anyways, sorry about disappearing on you like that. Pinkie kind of grabbed me out of nowhere.” I apologize to him.

He waves it off and shrugs. “It’s cool. So why’d she pull you away? Seems like she would have tried to surprise me with a party since I’m technically new to town.” He looks at me conspiratively. “Unless you’re just here to stall me until they’re ready for me.” He says with a wide smile.

I sigh. “No, sorry. That’s… not actually what’s going on right now. Turns out Zecora’s making her “first” appearance in the show today.” I say, giving yet another apologetic smile.

Azure makes an “o” in understanding. He rubs his hands together. “So does that mean we’re running intervention duty?” He asks.

I take a moment to consider. “Mmmm… no. That’s… probably not the best thing to do right now.” I answer.

He blinks. “How come?”

“The best reason I can give is that this is an important lesson that they need to learn and if we interfere, it could disrupt things enough that they learn a different lesson than the one they need to learn.” I explain. “Sorry dude, I’m not trying to rob you of all the fun stuff, I just think that some lessons need to be learned the hard way. Poison Joke is annoying, but harmless, and they really need to learn this lesson, considering they should already know it at their age.” I explain, apologetic for the third time in a row.

“No one should know what Poison Joke feels like…” He shivers as if a chill went up his spine. “I couldn't swear for a day! A DAY MAN!!!”

“Like, not at all, or did it make you say something else in their place?” I ask, taking a guess.

“It replaced my words with other words...oh and it made me a pony but that’s totally unrelated!” He says, flipping a hand dismissively at the last part.

“Heh, did it replace every curse with “BUY SOME APPLES!” or “yay!” or anything like that?” I ask between snickers.

“I definitely hit a yay.” He says in annoyance. He pulls a flask of liquid from seemingly nowhere and eyes it in contempt.

“It’s annoying that it's such a good tool for blending in. I have to keep transforming into a kid-friendly version of these guys instead of one that I can just express myself as.” He says to the flask.

“Is… that Poison Joke?” I ask, raising a brow.

“Liquid Joke to be more precise. Had my stunt failed I would have used it to hide. Might have even stopped the voices…” I prick my ears at this.

“Voices? That doesn’t sound good. Are you hearing voices in your head or something?” I ask him.

He shakes his head and motions to his ear. “The moment I fell through the rift I was surrounded by tiny whispers all saying the same thing. “Evil Enchantress”. It was getting annoying so when no pony was looking I brought out the guitar and tapped into Heartsong.” He explains. I take a moment to think about this.

“... Give me one second.” I tell him, turning away.

I take a big breath of air into my lungs. “PINKIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!!!!” I shout out, my voice reverberating across town. Several passing ponies jump and look at me in surprise.

“Yes?” Pinkie says from behind Azure. I’m guessing he’s so used to Pinkie’s antics on his world that he isn’t surprised in the least to see her appear right behind him.

“Could you please stop teaching your song to everypony you meet? It’s causing everyone to start whispering it really creepily to ponies when Zecora isn’t anywhere near them. Also, this is Azure, he’s from another dimension. Throw him a party if you feel like it.” I say.

“Yo.” Azure greets.

“Hi! Nice to meet you Azure. I’ll have your party ready once this episode’s moral is over. And as for not teaching my song to everyone…” Pinkie leans in right up in my face. “Nevar!” She says defiantly before whipping back around Azure. I blink, then lean to look around him. She’s gone.

“Literal chaos engine that one…” Azure says in a whisper.

“Would she be Pinkie if she wasn’t?” I ask him rhetorically with a smirk.

He shivers as he shakes his head. “The only comfort I have is that she doesn't have contact with the Pinkie’s of the multiverse...if she did…” He shivers once again. I just laugh.

“After some of the things I’ve gone through, a little absurdity is really, really welcome. I wouldn’t have Pinkie any other way than how she is now.” I say with a smile.

“Not unless she found out I ski-” Azure stops himself mid sentence to look around in paranoia.

“If it’s something you’d rather Pinkie not find out about… the best course of action is to just not say it… or write it… or think it… Do that and you’re good!” I say to him with a cheerful clap on the shoulder. Had to stand up to do that one.

However I pull my claw back as he starts to... growl? He seems to catch himself and looks at me with an apologetic smile.

“Sorry, I haven't eaten yet...this’ll just take a second.” He pulls out a slab of strange star-filled blue meat and starts eating it raw. I just stare as he eats. What… the hell would be made of blue meat?

‘Just don’t ask Bael.’ I tell myself, deciding I neither need nor want to know what he just ate.

He finishes the couple mouthfuls of meat after a minute. “Ah, that hits the spot. So what’s next?” He asks me. It takes me a moment to snap out of it.

I rub my chin in thought. “Hmm… let’s see… the girls are probably going to be busy for the rest of the day, and I don’t want to introduce you till they’ve learned their lesson about judging a book by its cover-”

*cough* racism *cough*” Azure says into his fist.

I snort a chuckle. “So really we could just hang out for the rest of today, maybe do… random Displaced stuff?” my eyes widen with inspiration. “Hey, wait. You said this feather was your token, right?” I ask, bringing out the feather from behind my ear, where I stored it earlier.

Azure leans down to take a look, his eyes light up in recognition. “Ah, The Feather of the Roc. That should come in handy for you. It gives its user extra agility and speed.” He says.

I look at the feather with interest. “Really? Huh, cool. But anyway, so from what I remember, Displaced use tokens to summon others and be summoned by others. But they have to make theirs first. Do you think you could help me out with that? I’m not positive I can send it out into the void with the abilities I have.” I ask.

“Right right...anything you own that can act as an anchor? Maybe a piece of yourself or something with a strong emotional attachment of some sort?”

I stare at him for a moment. Then I look at the ground and around me. “... This rock looks kind of interesting?” I say awkwardly, holding up a small rugged rock that was just lying there.

He deadpans. “Really?” He asks.

“What? I’m a dragon that’s been stuck on the moon for the past thousand years. I’d say gray rocks have pretty much been a defining feature of the landscape I’ve been on for most of my life.” I defend.

He sighs in defeat, shaking his head. But then straightens himself. “Okay then, now is there any defining trait about you?” He asks. “Something you can do that no other being living or dead can?”

“Yes.” I answer.

He stands there waiting. “Well?” He asks.

“Well what?” I ask.

“Are you going to tell me what this defining feature is?” He clarifies.

I smirk. “No. Not until we have our little sparring session. I’m not giving you any early advantages.” I answer.

“Aw come on! Info for info?” He tries to compromise.

My smirk turns wide-toothed. “Nope. I remember playing Dark Souls back before getting Displaced. Part of the fun is figuring it out on your own.” I answer.

“Ooh, catching the inspiration for the name I chose! Okay. We’ll save the good stuff for later. For now, I want you to cup the stone in both hands. Reach deep inside yourself...and open your heart to the item. That should charge it with your essence, allowing others to call upon you if you choose to heed their calls.”

He sits down and plops his back on the floor. “You know what you want your message to be?” He asks while lazily waving an arm.

I think for a moment. What do I want my message to be? I look down at the rock in my hand. I know I said that rocks have been a part of my existence for most of my life, but this is still going to be my token. What do I feel about it?

From the stories I remember reading, most of the tokens are from the media that they got transformed into, or things that they made. This rock… it’s not anything like that. It’s just a rock. You can find them anywhere and a person could easily lose it if they’re not careful.

Thinking about this for a moment, I actually smile at this. Something average would actually stand out among a flock of amazing and flamboyant tokens. But the energy within to hold the message is anything but.

“I’m not really much for giving speeches.” I state, red fear energy pooling in my hand. “I don’t like stating absolutes. Things can change, people can change, and those changes can make it so that anything I state now may be completely wrong in the future. So I’ll just say this. I am the dragon known as Baelor. Should you need my help, ask, and I’ll hear it. Should you like to visit though,” The energy lifts the stone up in my palm and slowly turns and sinks into the stone. “toss this stone into the air, gather your courage, and catch it. I look forward to seeing those that catch the stone.” The stone soaks up the last of the energy and then lands back in my clawed hand.

“May I?” Azure holds his hand out, reaching for the stone.

I toss it to him and he catches it, though he jumps a bit just before doing so. I smirk. ‘Good, it works.’ I think, satisfied that the fear infused into it works like it should.

“Okay so that's an element that exists here…” He notes, blinking from the brief effect.

He shakily gets himself up and dusts himself off.

“I’d step back if I were you.” He tells me.

I do so.

He gently puts the stone in his mouth...closes his eyes...and violently rips a hole through the fabric of reality with a large emerald claw. “ all I have to do is…” As he holds the stone, he plunges it straight into the void for a few seconds, pulls it out, and seals the rift.

As he does so, a smaller rift opens up above him and deposits an exact replica of the stone he’s holding, which he catches with his other hand. He hands me the original with a smile.

“Thanks.” I say.

“No problem. So, what now?” He asks me.

“Now… we just do whatever until tomorrow when the girls are cured.” I answer.

“Ah.” Azure says, nodding in understanding.

We stand there in the middle of town for a moment, contemplating what to do.

“Soooooo… want to go camping tonight?” He asks me.

I think it over. “... Sure. Just let me leave a note at the library for Twilight and Spike to let them know where I’ll be. You good with just a campfire and sleeping under the stars?” I ask him in return.

“Sounds great!” He says.

~The Next Day~








“For the hundredth time! No! I’ll tell you when it’s time!” I snap at Azure. He’s been asking that for the past twenty minutes!

“Well So-rry! I’ve been bored off my ass for the past half hour, waiting for you to do something already. Why were we even watching them if we were just going to wait until the whole problem was already solved?” He asks me grumpily.

“Because we needed to know if they would need our help. Even though we want them to learn the specific lesson, and everything seems to go like it does in the show, I’ve noticed that things are actually much more dangerous here.” I answer.

Azure blinks. “How so?” He queries.

“During the time that can be classified as “Dragonshy” there were several parts of the mountain that are actually much more dangerous than in the show: Fluttershy fell from a greater height when the dragon caused her wings to lock up. The gap they had to cross was much wider and dangerous to leap over. And the dragon was really territorial and aggressive.” I explain to him while waiting outside the spa, listening in to the mane six’s conversation.

“How’d you handle the dragon?” He asks me, curious.

I sigh. “I… got my ass handed to me and then Fluttershy scolded him into submission like in the show.” I reluctantly admit.

“You can’t even handle a single dragon? Dude, I’m going to wreck you when we spar!” He exclaims.

“Under normal circumstances I could have handled him. But there were a lot of things stacked against me at the time. I had to keep the fight away from the ground so that the dragon’s fire doesn’t splash over the girls, the dragon’s massive size meant I had to use a lot of energy to deal damage in large enough areas, and I was also still weakened without knowing about it, so I didn’t realize how dire my situation was until after I was already in it.” I defend myself.

”You have a mage with a barrier...and you were worried about splash damage?” He says as he glares at me. “But at least the badass of the group saved the day right?”

I feel a little affronted at his glare, so I glare right back. “Yes. I was worried about splash damage.” I answer him. Then I smirk. “And yes, Fluttershy is a badass, and she did save the day. I’m glad you agree.” I say with a smirk.

“To Fluttershy! For being the only voice of reason!” Azure cheers. I quickly clap a hand over his mouth in alarm, then stay still to check that the girls inside didn’t hear. They’re still talking, good. And Fluttershy still has a deep voice from the sound of things, so it’s not time yet.

“Yep.” I quietly agree with him. “Fluttershy is awesome. But she wasn’t the only voice of reason. We were all ready to head back down and let Celestia know about the dragon’s uncooperative nature, when Rainbow decided to go in and give the dragon a buck to the face… things did not go well from there, as you already know.” I say.

He nods his head in understanding. “That girl’s gonna get herself killed someday.” He says.

I roll my eyes. “Probably sometime after she gets me killed first.” I add.

“Either that or she pulls a Trunks.” He retorts.

I look at him. “Okay, one, I didn’t watch much of Dragonball back then, so I don’t fully understand that reference. And two, did you remember something from your past?” I ask him.

“Hm? Oh no, I used to have a sword that kept a lot of videos from before...this happened. It's a long story.” He explains awkwardly.

My ears prick from hearing something.

“Applejack! Hey, where’s Applejack?!” Applebloom asks with alarm from inside. This is immediately followed by several gasps and frantic splashes.

“I’m righ’ here lil’ sis. I ain’t tiny no more.” Applejack replies, calming everypony down.

“Aaaaaand that’s my cue. Un momento mi amigo.” I say to Azure before stepping inside the spa.

“Ahh. I have never felt more lovely in all my life.” Rarity says to the others.

Pinkie pops out from under the surface of the tub. “Oh-my-GOSH!-I-never-realized-how-horrible-it-is-to-not-be-able-to-talk. I-mean-I-LOVE-talking-and-I-couldn’t-because-my-tongue-was-all-AAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!! It was the worst! Don’t you agree Fluttershy?” Pinkie asks.

Fluttershy stays silent for a second before saying a simple and somehow emphisizedly-quiet. “Yes.”

Everypony gathered around the spa tub start laughing.

“It sounds like you guys had quite an adventure today.” I note aloud, catching all of their attention.

“Bael?!” Twilight and the others all exclaim in surprise.

“Where’ve you been?! We haven’t seen you since you jumped out the window yesterday!” Rainbow Dash asks, throwing her hooves up.

“Well I did tell Trixie that I was going to hang out with a new friend I made. I kind of figured she’d let you all know.” I answer, looking to the blue unicorn questioningly.

“Eh heh heheh… Trixie… may have forgotten to mention it.” Trixie says sheepishly.

I level an even stare at her. “Did you at least remember to be scathing with your snark to the others when they figured out Zecora wasn’t evil?” I ask her.

“Yes, she did.” Twilight answers with a groan.

“Good job Trixie.”

“Why thank you Baelor.”

“So who’s this ‘new friend’ that you were hanging out with while we were all trying to get cured of Poison Joke?” Rainbow asks.

“His name’s Azure. He’s actually standing outside. I just wanted to introduce you guys to him before we sparred together so one of you doesn’t stumble on us and freak out. But we kind of couldn’t find you guys after I left you all to go find him again. So we just camped out last night to try again today.” I explain.

Applejack tilts her head. “Why’re ya waitin’ to spar until after you introduce him?” She asks me.

I shrug. “Cause Azure isn’t a pony and I kind of had a worst case scenario in my head where Rainbow flies over us, sees Azure fighting me, and then decides to dive out of the sky to “back me up”.” I say, making air quotes with my fingers.

Rainbow opens her mouth to protest, stops, then slowly nods in agreement with my words. Pinkie, Applejack, and Trixie chuckle.

“Anyway… Hey, Azure, you can come in now!” I call outside.

The doors open in slow motion as heavenly light literally pours off of Azure as he walks. He sings a gentle song, more than likely using it to get on everypony’s good side.

I lightly flick him on the forehead. “Cut that out dude. You don’t need to appeal to their love of music every time.” I tell him.

He smiles sheepishly, obviously embarrassed. “Too much?”

“Little bit, yeah.” I reply. I look back at the girls to see that they’re all staring wide-eyed at Azure.

“Everypony, this is Azure. Azure, meet everypony.” I think for a second. “And no, he’s not an ape, he’s something called a human. So now that that’s out of the way, wanna go spar Azure?” I ask him.

He blinks. “Wait, that’s it? We’re just popping in, saying “Hi, don’t be surprised at what I look like”, and just leaving immediately after?” He says in confusion.

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“... Okay then. Later everypony!” He says waving to the girls before turning around and walking out of the spa. I follow him out without another word.

“You shouldn't have lied to them...we both know I'm not human,” Azure said once we’re out of earshot. “But then again...what could you have said?”

I raise a brow at his statement. “You’re not human?” I shake my head. “You know what, never mind. If you’re not human right now, it doesn’t matter. As far as I know, you’ve got the mindset of a human and that’s good enough.” I say, dismissing the issue. If Azure wants to talk about his issues, he can bring it up. I’m not going to pry into it.

“So, just to give me an idea of where to head for our sparring match, on a scale of one to Canterlot’s gone, how much collateral damage do you usually do in a fight? ” I ask him.

“There once was a used to be a mountain,” He laughs a little at himself and sighs.

“But no seriously we should move this to the badlands. I don't want to blow anyone or thing up that doesn't need to get blown up...and I’d rather avoid interference from the royalty,” He then jumps up in glee. “This is gonna be HYPE!”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If they come down to check what’s happening, I’ll just explain what’s going on to them. As long as we’re a safe distance away from everyone they should be fine with it. They’re pretty chill in this world… I think… Celestia could have changed a bit from a thousand years ago.” I trail off uncertainly. An idea pops into my head. “And can we actually make that the frozen north? I’d prefer to not alert Chrysalis to any of my abilities before Season 1 is even over.” I ask him.

“Of course, let us be off!!!” He announces, hunching down and putting an arm over my shoulder. Then with a twisting sensation, we’re in the middle of a raging blizzard.

Azure pulls away and leaps back several paces. “Before we begin, we must first set the mood.” He says, preparing to summon more music.

I hold up a halting claw. “No no, allow me.” Red fear flows over my claw, forming a deep red orb that floats away from me and up above us.

“Remember, this is only a sparring match. We’re not trying to seriously hurt each other.” I tell him seriously. Then I smile and raise my left arm, claws turned towards me.

“But that doesn’t mean don’t give it your all.” I add. I clench my claws and ice encases and interlocks all along my arm up to and over my body until I’m completely encased in a frozen chain mail of ice scales.

And then the orb in the air thumps three times before sound starts playing in a tune familiar to me.

“Aw I can DIG IT!” Azure tosses away his robes and in the blink of an eye he changes into a tall dark green beast with long crimson hair and a strange turquoise and purple light shining over where his heart should be. He’s carrying a large, sword-like tuning fork in his right claw.

“BURNING!” With a loud cry he rushes at me, fist outstretched in blazing cobalt energy.

I shift my weight slightly and the punch blows right past me. With a flick of my wing, Azure gets blasted to the side by a gust of air. I shake my head. “Too slow.” Three chunks of ice form above me at my words and then blast towards Azure, one after the other.

He shatters the ice one after the other, swinging the unorthodox weapon like it was a piece of plastic.

“Dodge this!” Energy sparks as an ethereal boar charges at me.

I flick my wing again and blast the boar away. I just raise a brow while smirking. Three more ice chunks fly at him.

“Hey batta batta hey batta SWING!” Azure swings his sword again.

Without so much as making contact, the ice shatters as a blast of high frequency sound whistles past my ear. I flinch from the sound.

I furrow my brow. ‘So he does have ranged abilities. Sound based, I should have figured.’ I note. In response, I start walking towards him in precise, measured steps, keeping an eye on him for any movement.

Azure moves his tuning fork-shaped sword back for another swing, and I snap out another air blast from my wings, but this time at the snow covered ground at my feet, covering us both with a wide cloud of snow.

Azure follows through with his swing and blasts the snow out of the way in the area that I was standing, but I’m already moving through and around his side using my wings, all while staying inside the snow cloud.

I rush in towards him from an angle at his right side, five ice chunks forming around me as I close in. He doesn’t react until I’m almost on top of him.

“The raging....STORM!” Slamming his hands into the ground, a vortex of violet energy rises from the ground surrounding him. All I can do is clench down, and take the hit. The energy batters me, but my body is protected by my ice scales, which I hardened after Azure blasted through my ice chunks.

With a flap of my wings, I’m out of the vortex, and flying above Azure. I hear a tinkling as some ice shards of my armor fall off me. Below me, Azure is smirking up at me, his violet energy storm still swirling around him.

I smirk right back and snap my fingers.

The ice slivers that came loose or got broken off inside the storm all simultaneously converge onto Azure, hitting him like frozen bullets from all sides and raising up more snow from the ground when they ricochet off his armor. Azure isn’t fazed from it though.

“Hey! What's your lightning resistance like!? Wait no, I'll find out!” He exclaims from the cloud as he fires off blasts of plasma from his mouth.

His exclamation sends a jolt through me, a flashback of a pitch-black alicorn snarling while thousands of volts of electricity surge off of the ends of her feathered wings directly at me.

My hands move on their own, my left catches the bolts, and my right takes aim with two extended claws, the combined voltage spins thousands of rotations per second within my core before I release it all in one massive lightning bolt, amped up even further than what Azure sent at me.

The bolt of lightning impacts Azure right in the shoulder.

Azure spasms and then slumps down into the snow with a groan, foul smelling smoke wafting from the impact point.

“AZURE!!!” I exclaim in shock and terror. I drop my ice scales and dive down to him as fast as I can. I barely notice the music coming from the sky stopping.

“Eck! Grk! Frazzle grizzle...ugh...oh what hit me...and why can't I feel my- oh that's why,” Azure gazes at his arm, or in this case the lack thereof. Still holding the tuning fork, the arm dissolves, leaving behind a mound of scale and bone.

“Doc’s gonna kill me. Wow I am a broken record…” He murmurs, still out of it.

“Azure, oh my god, I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry. I-I didn’t mean to… Shit! I’m such of fucking moron!” I berate myself. “Hold on Azure. Do you think you can teleport us back to Ponyville? We need to get you help.” I ask him, frantic.

“Dude, you’re freaking out. Take a breather, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve lost a limb,” He shakily grabs his sword and puts it away...somehow, and starts to breathe in long rhythmic breaths. His current form begins to pull itself into him until what was left was Azure at his normal height and covered head to toe in scales and fur.

With his one good arm he taps his chest and crimson armor folds over him.

“There! Now it’s like it never happened!” He flexes the arm, testing it. “Except for the fact that it totally just happened and this piece of armor is empty.” He adds, waggling around said empty armor.

I slump down into the snow in relief. “Oh thank God.” I say.

“Sometimes you get into a fight and you lose a limb! It's no big deal.” Azure says casually.

I snap my head up to look at him. “Most people can’t regrow limbs like us when they lose them Azure, and I didn’t know you could do that before now. I was worried you would go into shock and die! There are sooooo many dangers from losing a limb Azure.” I tell him pointedly. I sigh. “I’m just… I think we should just head back now Azure. I don’t think I have it in me to finish our spar. The terror of nearly mutilating a new friend kind of just took it out of me.” I say tiredly.

It probably doesn’t help that the lightning bolt took a lot of energy out of me, regardless of how little of the total energy was mine to begin with.

“Regrow? Oh I'm not getting my arm back till I get back from my next death! That's neither here nor there though, as for getting back…” Azure pulls a green ocarina from seemingly nowhere and begins to inch it closer to his lips, only to stop.

“Nah, I'll just hit the button.” With a click of said button, a large, mechanical green dragon forms out of the air and begins to circle around us. Giving a salute to the machine, Azure climbs atop it's back.

I stare up at Azure atop the machine, the red of his armor and the green of the dragon reminding me of Christmas to the point that it causes an image of a battle-ready Santa Claus riding a roaring Christmas tree to pop into my head. I shake my head to clear away the thought. Azure is just plain weird with how much stuff he’s able to conjure up, including his abilities. I wordlessly stand up and climb up behind him atop the green mecha-drake.

“Next stop, PONYVILLE!” The drake gives jerk and shoots upward like a round from a gauss rifle, the force threatening to rip us off. I dig my claws into the metal hide of the dragon while Azure whoops in glee.

Then, a moment later, we’ve stopped moving.

“We’re here!” Azure exclaims with a crazed grin on his face.

I look around us, we’re just outside of Ponyville. ‘Was that teleportation or just sheer speed?’ I wonder to myself. I climb down off of the metal dragon.

“Well my friend, I believe this is where we part ways for now.” Azure states, still on his dragon.

I look up at him in surprise. “You’re leaving?” I ask him.

“Fraid so Baelor. It’s been fun, and I really enjoyed our spar,” I wince slightly. “but it’s time I head home. Keep your world safe Baelor.” He holds his hand down to me from atop his mount.

I nod and grasp his hand with my claw. “Same to you Azure. And feel free to call me Bael.” I tell him.

A thought occurs to me. “May your experiences help you learn and grow, Azure Darksoul.” I tell him, making up a farewell statement.

Azure grins down at me. “If you ever feel the need to talk, just focus on the item.” He says to me in response.

We let go of each other, and I step back and say, “Azure Darksoul, our contract is complete.” I recite, remembering the phrase used to send other Displaced home.

“We never started one! Maybe next time though!” Biting my token, Azure rips a portal from my world to his.

I blink, I… don’t think he understands what I mean.

Azure turns his dragon to the portal. “~I’m coming home, I’m coming home. Tell the world I’m coming home.~” Azure sings as his dragon lazily flies through the portal back to his world.

After the portal closes, it turns quiet. The birds are singing their songs, the sun is setting, and it’s just peaceful.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath through my nostrils, and then let it out. Azure was fun to hang out with, and I finally have a little bit of an idea of why everything that’s happened so far has happened, but I’ve never really been a people person. Sure, I get lonely, but I’m still never going to be a social butterfly. And for now, I just enjoy my alone time.

‘Well, time to head back to the library.’ I think.

And so I walk back into town.

Night is falling by the time I reach the library. The first stars are just starting to come out, and the horizon has only the barest traces of red from the previously setting sun.

And the shattered moon just starts to rise from the opposite side.

I turn my gaze away from that direction. My craftsmanship isn’t exactly a good image to have before heading to bed.

I open the door in the tree and step into the dark library.


I jerk back a step and blink rapidly as my eyes adjust to the suddenly very well-lit library. Many large eyes attached to colorful ponies are all staring at me with large smiles.

“Bael! Were you surprised? Were you? Were you?” Pinkie says, bounding to look slightly up at me expectantly.

I blink again. “Very.” I reply simply, still processing the fact that a party was apparently waiting for me. “What’s all this for?” I ask her, confusion evident in my voice.

“Um, hel-lo!” Rainbow says, pointing up above her with her wingtip.

I follow where she’s pointing to see a banner hung up:


“I never got the chance to throw you one yesterday! So I set this up while you were off sparring with Azure. Speaking of, where is he?” Pinkie asks me, leaning to the side to see if he’s somehow hiding behind me.

“He, uh, left already. Wait, this is way more ponies than just the girls. Who else is here?” I ask her, noticing that the current number of ponies exceeds just the mane six and Trixie.

“Oh, I sent an invite to everypony in Ponyville!” Pinkie responds.

My eyes shoot wide open at that. “And they all came?!” I ask in surprise.

Pinkie shakes her head, hair drooping slightly. “No, not everypony could make it. They’re either busy or just not in the mood to party after the one I threw for Zecora earlier. Sorry Bael.” She apologizes.

“Are you kidding? You don’t have to be sorry for anything! This is way more ponies than I ever imagined that would want to welcome me at a party! Thank you Pinkie!” I tell her with a grin.

Pinkie grins back, a glint in her eyes. “So, now that you’re here, let’s get this party started everypony!!!” She cries. Everypony in the room cheers alongside her.

I chuckle at her exuberance. These couple days have had their ups and downs, but this is a good way to end them.

Chapter XII: A Lot to Think About

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Chapter XII

I struggle to keep my breathing quiet, I can’t afford to make that mistake again, not now. I step carefully towards my target, belly almost touching the ground, tail sliding forward in the exact path my body’s moved, and my claws carefully placed to not hit the ground too hard.

A deer grazes in the middle of the field, its ears flick back and forth, and it’s eating slowly, obviously keeping alert while it eats. Several gashes mark its flanks, still red and not quite healed from my failed attempt to catch it.

How long has it been since I first woke up? A week? It feels like a week. I have water and shelter, but I still haven’t managed to eat anything. I don’t know what plants are safe to eat, and I apparently suck at hunting. I don’t think my new body needs to eat as often my human one, because I don’t feel too hungry yet. But I don’t want to find out exactly how long I can last the hard way. I’m sorry Bambi, but I need to make this kill… no matter how much I don’t want to.

I take another silent step towards the deer. But then the birds and other forest sounds go silent. The deer looks up in alarm, and slowly begins walking away from me, the silence of the forest a sign of imminent danger.

‘No!’ I spring from my hiding place and dash straight for the deer.

The deer, hearing the noise behind it, makes a more earnest break for it.

Time seems to slow down as I take a wild leap for the deer’s back, trying to get on top of it to weigh it down and hopefully go for its neck.

The deer makes a juke to the right, and my leap looks like it will end up with me missing, but I reach out one arm and manage to snag my claws into its hide and I attempt to pull myself onto its back from there.

But the deer, in an act of pure, adrenaline-fueled instinct, bucks its hind legs out and nails me in my underbelly, winding me and knocking me backwards off of it.

I hit the dirt and slide for a few feet, and the deer runs off into the forest.

I failed.

I curl up on the ground nursing my bruised stomach. I don’t know why I thought I could hunt. I don’t know why I’m trying to play the part of some kind of survivor. What? I’m a dragon now? So what! That doesn’t mean I’m invincible. If anything, I’m doing worse than I would have done if I were still human. I’m still figuring out how to use this flipping body! I wouldn’t have that problem if I were still human.

I’m so caught up in my frustrations that I don’t hear the rapid galloping approaching until I sit up and then get knocked back over by something furry.

In the single moment when we’re pressed together from the thing’s momentum, I both hear and feel two different things. The first is the creature’s lungs deflating from its breath getting knocked out. The second is a sickening pop from where one of its limbs got tangled up in mine, the bad angle not mixing well with the momentum.

And then I fall over my side, and the creature rolls off me.

I hear a cry of pain next to me. I sit up again and look to where whatever hit me rolled off. I gape in shock and surprise.

Lying on her side, clutching her foreleg in pain, is a gray unicorn mare with a darker gray mane.

A unicorn pony, from My Little Pony. There’s no way I’d mistake those massive eyes on that tiny body.

Those massive eyes that are looking directly at me… in fear… crap.

Her eyes dart to look behind me at the sound of heavy footfalls approach rapidly, and her pupils contract with even more fear at what she sees. I stand and turn to face whatever is coming, and large griffin lopes from the trees, but pulls up short when it catches sight of me.

The griffin backs up a few steps, staring me in mild alarm. And then we stay like that for several moments, just standing, staring at each other.

Our attention is drawn back to the mare as she tries to slide herself away from us, legs scrambling over the dirt as she struggles to find purchase.

I glance back at the griffin and see that he’s tracking the mare’s progress intently with his eyes. He glances back at me, and cautiously, moves away, but very clearly around me.

‘He’s afraid of me.’ I realize with surprise. Then I note the hunger in his eyes as he tries to circle around towards the unicorn.

‘He’s afraid of me but still going after the mare.’ I think, narrowing my eyes.

I’ve been through a lot this past week. I’ve woken up to discover I’m no longer human. I’ve been stuck in a forest with no prior knowledge on survival techniques other than “find shelter, find water, don’t eat any plants you don’t know are food.” And I’ve had to force myself to try to kill things to survive time and time again, regardless of the fact that I haven’t managed to actually do it. But this is a sentient being with dreams, hopes, and feelings. And I’m not going to sit by and let them die when I’m literally standing in front of the predator that’s trying to kill them.

So I move directly in between the mare and the griffin, planting my feet firmly with my claws curling into the dirt, head lowered in resolve as I glare at him.

The griffin stops and stares at me in shock. I hear the mare stop moving behind me as well, but I don’t take my gaze off the griffin.

The griffin’s face morphs into one of anger, but he still holds himself back from coming any closer to me. He tries circling around me the other way, I keep myself between him and his target. He dips his head down in frustration before facing me directly, looking like he’s going to try a more head-on approach. I can almost feel his anger.

I harden my glare, snout scrunching upwards slightly to show just the barest hint of my new dragon teeth. ‘You want to try that? Go right ahead.’ I tell him in my mind, putting my own anger and frustration into the snarl.

This somehow causes all of fight the griffin was building up in himself to leave him with a shudder. He’s now looking at me as if I’m the devil-incarnate, and rapidly backs up. After five quick back-steps he turns all the way around and runs back into the trees of the forest.

I blink twice in surprise. That was easy.

I then remember that the mare hurt herself when she ran into me, and I turn around to check on her.

The unicorn is looking down at my front claws, mesmerized, for some reason.

‘What, did I step in something weird?’ I ask myself. I glance down to my claws as well, and I do a double-take.

For a brief moment, my claws are encased in a dim, reddish color, some strange substance seeming to undulate and flow over their surface. And then it dissipates, with no trace of the crimson material. I lift my right fore-claw cautiously, wondering what the hell I just saw.

“How didst thou do that?” A voice asks me in a near whisper.

“I don’t know.” I answer automatically. Then I blink and look back down at the mare. She realizes she just drew my attention back to herself and she shrinks back, fear overtaking her features again.

“I’m not going to eat you if that’s what you’re thinking.” I tell her, bemused. “Are you alright?” I ask her, my tone changing to one of concern.

“S-stay away! I-I know a spell that can turn somepony into… wait. What? Couldst thou repeat that?” She asks in confusion.

I arch a brow. “It’s not that hard of a question to answer. Are you alright?” I ask her again.

“I, well, other than my hoof, I believe so. I think I can stand.” She tries to stand up on her three legs. I notice something red drip down the front of her face. Looking more closely, I can tell where the blood is coming from. She has a small gash in her horn, a small amount of white showing through the blood to reveal the bone of her horn.

“You’re bleeding.” I tell her once she manages to stand.

“What?” She says, but then staggers sideways into me dizzily.

“Whoa there! I’ve got you.” I tell her, stopping her from falling over with a foreleg.

“Ugh, ow. My horn aches.” The mare says, raising a hoof to gingerly touch where the gash is.

“I’m by no means an expert on unicorn biology. But I’m going to say it’s not a good idea for you to be moving around like this.” I tell her.

“But, I need to get back to-agh!” She cringes from the pain in her horn.

“Okay, yeah, now I’m certain you’re not supposed to be walking around like this.” I say to her. I wrack my brain for an idea of how to help her.

‘Well… I may not have the hang of this new body yet… but she doesn’t look that heavy…’ I think, scanning her over.

“Alright, up you go.” I say to her.

She lets out a confused “Huh?” right before I dip my body down and slide under her. She lets out a startled yelp when I stand up with her draped over my back, her back hooves hanging over my right flanks and her forelegs wrapped around my neck.

I stumble to the side a step before regaining my footing. Then I stand up tall. “Okay then, just point me in the direction you want to go, and I’ll do my best to keep a steady pace for as long as I can.” I tell her, smiling.

She stares at me for a moment before looking off to our left. She points a hoof out. “I… I believe tis that way.” She finally answers.

“Alright then!” I say cheerfully. Then I start walking in the direction she pointed.

For a few minutes, it’s just us and the songs of nature around us. Then the mare speaks up. “Why art thou helping me?” She asks.

I think about her question. “That griffin looked hungry. I stopped him because it’s not right for something that talks to eat something else that can talk back. And after saving you from one thing, it feels like a waste to just leave you there to die from something else. So here I am, helping you get back home.” I explain to her.

I glance back to see her astonished face. After a long moment of silence, she finally speaks up. “Thank you.” She whispers.

I smile. “You’re welcome.” I answer before turning my head forward again.

I just keep walking forward with her on my back for a few more minutes.

“My name is Sky Trotter.” She tells me after a while.

“Nice to meet you. My name’s…” I hesitate. My name? It’s not exactly dragon-ish. I need something different. Come on, think… dragon name, dragon name… Bahamut? No, I’m not a legendary dragon with incredible strength. I’ve always liked that “a-e” kind of lettering in things like “aether” though. Let’s see…

B…A… E…

“…Baelor.” I tell her. “Call me Baelor.”

I look at a book blankly as I try to work out in my brain where it goes.

*sigh* Here, I’ve got it.” Spike says, taking the book from my grasp and placing it on the shelf it apparently belongs.

I sag my head down, disappointed in myself. “I’m sorry Spike. I’m still reeling from Twilight’s impromptu Dewhoof Decimal System lecture. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought.” I apologize. Seriously, she got almost as rapid-fire as Pinkie with how fast the words came out of her mouth.

Spike waves it off. “Eh, don’t worry about it. I’m just annoyed Twilight bailed on us when she’s the one that made this mess.” Spike says.

“Maybe it’d go faster if you sorted the books into the order they go into piles, and I put them away in the order you put them in. Streamline the process a bit so you don’t have to keep climbing up and down that step-ladder all the time.” I suggest.

“Sounds like a plan, let’s get to it.” Spike says with a grin.

He walks over to a pile of books to start sorting, and then chuckles. “Ha… baeled.” He mutters.

I snort in laughter. Damn-it Baelor! You’re supposed to have standards!

Let it never be said Spike isn’t efficient. He’s already made three different stacks of books for me to put away, and it’s barely been a minute since we started. I take about ten books off of the first stack and look for the place they go.

“That shelf right there, put them in left to right.” Spike instructs and points at one of the top shelves without even looking up.

And we just go like that for a while, with Spike sorting and pointing and me carrying and shelving. We’ve actually gotten through almost all of them by the time Twilight gets back.

“I’m back! How’s the cleaning going?” She asks. Then she notices how far we’ve gotten. “Wow! You guys have been busy.” She comments.

“I couldn’t handle that info-dump you gave me, so I figured I’d handle the carrying part of re-shelving all the books. Spike’s been an absolute beast at sorting them into the right order. Put those two together and you get a pretty good two-person assembly line.” I tell her, flipping the stack of books in my arms sideways while pressing them together with my forelegs. I slide the whole stack into their shelf.

Spike straightens out the last stack for me to grab. “Thanks for helping me out Bael. I might just consider making you deputy-assistant after today.” Spike says as I grab the stack.

I chuckle. “You sure that’s a smart move there? Considering I have a size and strength advantage over you, I can both reach the higher shelves that you can’t reach, and carry more books as I put them away. If you make me an assistant, I might just usurp you as Twilight’s Number One Assistant.” I tell him teasingly. I put the last books on the last remaining shelf. We’re done.

Spike barks out a laugh. “Fat chance! You can’t even remember the Dewhoof Decimal System. You can’t re-shelve books that you have no clue where they go!” Spike replies with a grin.

Twilight laughs at our co-worker banter. “Good job you two. Now all we have to do for Princess Celestia’s visit is make sure everypony else finishes their jobs.” She says.

A cute little warble comes out of Twilight’s mane.

I blink. “Gesundheit?” I tell her questioningly. What the heck?

“Oh, that wasn’t me. That was this cute little guy that Fluttershy let me have.” Twilight answers, and then a parasprite flutters out of her mane.


“Heh, hey little guy. How’s it going?” Spike greets the sprite.

I give them both an blank look. “… You guys do know that thing will eat Equestria into a famine if given the chance, right?” I ask them.

Twilight looks up at me strangely. “What? This little thing? Don’ t be silly Bael, look at this little face. He’s harmless.” She tells me, levitating the parasprite over to me to look at. I am not impressed.

“Twilight. I’m not kidding. That thing is called a parasprite. It will eat any food it finds, asexually reproduce seconds after that, and then both of them will continually keep eating until there’s a whole lot of parasprites, and a whole lot less food. These things are the dictionary-definition of “pest”. They need to be thrown with your magic as far into the Everfree Forest as you can. If you don’t believe me, look it up yourself, or ask Zecora since they come from the Everfree. But in the mean time, I’m going to go help Pinkie get all the stuff she needs to lead them out of Ponyville.” I tell her. And then I walk out of the library to find Pinkie.

Which doesn’t take long because she’s right outside the door.

“Did somepony say they were going to help me?!” She asks happily.

“No. Somedragon said I’m going to help you. What should I look for?” I ask Pinkie, not phased in the least.

“No time! I’ll tell you as we work!” And then she grabs me and closes the library door behind her.

“And that’s pretty much how I helped Pinkie Pie save the entire town from getting eaten and overrun by adorable, magical, flying termites that eat anything.” I conclude to a befuddled Princess Celestia.

Celestia stares at me for a moment, before glancing back at the procession of parasprites that are bouncing into the Everfree to the beat of Pinkie’s solo orchestra.

“… That still leaves quite a bit between then and now Baelor.” Celestia finally says.

“Eh, there’s not much to tell after that. Pinkie told me what she needed and I ran around Ponyville looking for them. The parasprites didn’t really get out of hand… er sorry, hoof, until today, since they spent all night duplicating themselves in five different ponies’ homes. After that, I just did more collecting until Pinkie ended up doing that.” I jab thumb over my shoulder at Pinkie playing her instruments.

“I… see.” She says hesitantly. “How exactly did they start eating the buildings though? I thought you said that they only ate things classified as food.” Celestia queries.

I shrug my shoulders. “Beats me.” I answer. Which is a lie. I totally know why that happened. But I wasn’t present to witness Twilight’s spell backfiring, so I need to feign ignorance.

Why do I need to feign ignorance? Because I told Celestia I’m from another world, but I didn’t tell her I know things that could happen in the future. I’ll get to it eventually, but not right now.

Celestia takes a deep breath. “Are there any casualties?” She asks me seriously.

“Don’t worry, the only living things the parasprites ate were the flower ponies’ gardens. Everypony’s fine.” I reassure her. She sighs in relief.

“Anything else you’d like to add Twilight?” I ask cheekily, turning to look behind me.

Twilight has a look of utter mortification on her face. Probably because I just told her teacher everything about what happened today, and how the welcome celebration she planned for Celestia has been completely decimated. To be completely honest, it’s pretty hilarious. Celestia seems to agree if her giggle is anything to go by.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that nopony was hurt by this incident. But it sounds as if the town took a bit of damage. I’ll see what I can do before I have to head back to Canterlot.” Celestia says, walking towards Ponyville.

I tilt my head with interest. She’s not heading off to handle Fillydelphia’s “pest problem” like in the show? Interesting. I wonder what caused that change.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that your highness. You shouldn’t have to clean up our mess when you are meant to be visiting our quaint town.” Rarity says hurriedly to Celestia. The others look a little flummoxed that the Princess wants to help them in something as menial as repairing the town.

“Nonsense. A little bit of hard work never hurt anypony, and I’ve been cooped up in the castle for far too long. Getting through the paperwork for a visit like this is so tedious and I intend to enjoy every second of it, regardless of what I’m doing during the duration.” Celestia replies cheerfully, trotting into the town proper.

“And besides, this gives me plenty of time to catch up with Baelor, as well as get to know the five mares that managed to become Twilight’s friends.” Celestia adds.

The others follow Celestia hesitantly, but I hang back to check on Twilight, who’s still staring blankly off into space. Pinkie is just finishing off leading the last of the parasprites into the Everfree.

“Twilight?” I say to her. She doesn’t respond. I snap my claws next to her ear. “Hey, Twilight.” Her ear twitches away from the snap and she looks at me dolefully.

“Bael… why?” She asks sadly. “Why did you tell Celestia about how badly I messed up?”

“Messed up? Twilight, it was a simple mistake. And everything worked out in the end. Nopony got hurt, the town’s still standing, and Celestia’s still happy to be here.” I tell her.

“But I didn’t listen to you when you warned me about the parasprites, I dismissed Pinkie’s idea because it seemed crazy, and then I made the whole thing worse by casting the spell that made them start eating things that aren’t food. And then you just told Celestia everything. I’ve probably just lost all of her faith in me today.” She says despondently.

I snort. “Twilight, it was just a mistake. Everyone makes them. And as for the spell that you cast on the parastprites, Celestia still doesn’t know about that… and I won’t tell her if you don’t.” I say to her conspiringly.

Twilight blinks. “But what if-?”

I point behind her. “*gasp!* Princess Celestia is giving out extra credit for helping her fix the town!” I exclaim.

“Really?!” Twilight gasps, whipping around.

I smirk. ‘Baelor used Distraction. It was super effective!’

Twilight shakes her head and glares at me.

I poke her on her snout. “Stop. Worrying. The crisis is over, and everypony’s alright. That’s what Celestia was worried about, so that’s why she’s relieved. Everything else is a minor issue that she isn’t too concerned about, so you shouldn’t be either.” I tell her clearly.

Twilight sighs. “Okay, fine, I’ll stop worrying.” She relents.

“Good, now lets go see what we can do to help repair the town.” I say cheerfully, walking to catch up with the others.

Twilight groans. “Ugh, today’s been exhausting, and we still have to clean up.” She complains tiredly.

I shrug. “C’est la vie.” I say in response.

I’m honestly astounded that I still remember that saying, but I don’t let it show on my face.

Twilight rolls her eyes away from me. I chuckle.

A sudden flash startles us. “Well, I’ve done what I can, but I’m afraid anything else that’s missing has simply been eaten, and therefore not able to be mended from that spell. I’ll send you some relief funds from the reserve once I get back to Canterlot.” I overhear Celestia say. I look over and see she’s talking to the mayor.

Oh, and the town is repaired… more or less. There are still tiny bite marks everywhere.

“Huh… well I guess that’s alicorn magic for you. Fixing things before you even get the chance to offer to help.” I note aloud. Twilight nods, still looking stunned from the flash of Celestia’s magic.

“Well then, now that the town is taken care of we can continue the day.” Celestia says while trotting over to us. “Since whatever you were planning for my visit got interrupted by the parasprites, would it be alright if we simply talk at your library Twilight?” Celestia asks Twilight.

Twilight’s ears flick straight up. “Of course! But-er… I think it might be a little… messy still. Some books fell off the shelves from all the chaos that happened. Not to mention how many are shredded from getting eaten.” Twilight mutters.

Celestia smiles understandingly. “That’s fine. It doesn’t need to be perfect. We’re only going to be talking. But if you would like some time to tidy up a bit, I can keep myself occupied catching up with Baelor.” She says.

Celestia turns her head to me. “Would you like to go for a flight Baelor? It’s been a while since I’ve flown, and I like to stay in practice.” She asks me.

I blink. “Alright.” I answer.

“Wonderful.” And she spreads her white wings and takes off with surprising force. I just shrug at Twilight and the other’s confused looks before taking off after her.

Celestia’s acting a little… different, from how I remember her, but I brush it aside. You can’t expect anyone to stay the same over the course of their life, especially when they’ve got a lifespan measured in millennia.

Celestia smiles at me when I catch up to her. “You know, for somepony who hasn’t flown in a while, you sure do know how to take off quickly.” I note wryly.

She just keeps smiling. “I haven’t gotten the chance to say it yet, but I’m glad to see you’ve recovered from what happened on the Summer Sun Celebration Bael.” She tells me.

“Yeah, so am I. And it’s good to see you too.” I answer while flying next to her.

A companionable silence falls between us, with the two of us simply enjoying a leisurely flight together. “I was a little surprised from Twilight’s letter involving the sleeping dragon.” Celestia finally says.

“Oh?” I answer, prompting an elaboration.

“I was surprised that she managed to fit three different lessons into a single letter. But then again, she’s always strived for excellence and perfection in everything she does.” Celestia chuckles at her recollection.

“Yeah, she’s definitely thorough. You picked a good pony for your student. I can tell she’s going to go far.” I compliment her.

“Thank you. I went to a lot of effort to teach her, and it would be a waste if she didn’t meet your approval.” She replies cheekily.

“Well if that’s your reaction to praise, maybe I’ll just insult you from now on Sunbutt.” I retort, using the classic nickname.

Celestia snorts in laughter. “Sunbutt?” She asks me with a wide grin.

I chuckle. “Yeah, that’s right. You’ve got a sun stuck to your butt. Hence the name, Sunbutt. Now imagine somepony calling you that in the middle of day court with a bunch of stuffy nobles watching and it’ll instantly become ten times funnier from their reactions.” Celestia titters from the thought.

“Well, in any case, I’m glad that you weren’t too badly hurt from losing to that dragon. But to be honest, I thought you would be able to handle him. Considering your capabilities with fighting… Luna.” She says after a pause.

My claws give a small twitch at the mention of her name, but I ignore it. “Yeah… not my best moment. Turns out I’m not fully recovered from the moon. My magic’s still recovering, and I accidentally burned through the magic I had at the time too quickly while I was facing the dragon… So how is Luna?” I ask her, deciding to broach the subject since Celestia brought her up.

Her smile turns a bit melancholy. “She’s recovering, just like you. Her magic hasn’t quite returned to full strength either. But she’s not… “ She trails off, closing her eyes in contemplation of something. “Do you think you could come to Canterlot to talk to her?” She asks me.

My eyes widen in surprise and a little bit of fear hits me.

“Not now, of course! I simply mean, in the near future, do you think you can take some time to just… talk it out with her. Speak to each other about your troubles a bit?” She reiterates.

I relax slightly. “Yeah… yeah I think I can do that.” I reply.

“Thank you Bael.” We fall back into silence as we fly.

I speak up. “Don’t take my hesitance as a sign that I don’t want to talk to her. I do. I know I need to. It’s just…” My claws twitch nervously. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I’m afraid.” I admit.

Celestia looks at me. “Then that’s all the more reason to do it.” She says solemnly.

I let out a deep breath. “Yeah.” I agree.

“In my experience, it’s better to set a date to commit to when preparing to perform a difficult task.” She tells me.

“Do you have one in mind?” I ask her.

“How do you feel about doing it on the night of the Grand Galloping Gala in a few months, a little after winter?” She asks.

I take a deep breath and let it out. “Alright.” I agree.

The silence returns again, comfortable this time.

“So… on an unrelated note. I brought you something I’ve been storing for a while.” Celestia tells me.

“Really? What is it?” I ask her, curious.

“Something that belongs to you.” She replies. Her horn glows and then a brown sack pops into existence between us.

“My bag!” I exclaim in surprise. She levitates it over to me.

“I had to go through it and apply preservation spells on each item every now and again to make sure it lasted until today, but everything is still as good as the day you left.” She tells me.

“Celestia… thank you. Thank you so much.” I tell her with extreme gratitude as I take the bag from her magic. I want to look through it to see all of my possessions, but I hold myself back and just sling it over my neck.

“So, do you want to keep enjoying the weather up here for a bit, or do you want to go hang out with Twilight and the others now?” I ask her with a grin.

“Yes, that would be a good idea. But… there is one last thing I wish to discuss with you.” She says.

I chuckle. “Okay, what is it?” I ask her. But then I blink in surprise.

Celestia is no longer smiling. In fact, she looks very, very serious. And making direct eye contact with me in a way that I can’t find myself able to look away.

“Baelor. What I’m about to talk with you about. You cannot tell anyone. This is a very closely guarded secret that cannot leave this conversation except with those that already know about it. I need you to swear on your life that you will not repeat what I am about to tell you.” Celestia tells me.

“Wh-wait. Celestia, what is this about?” I ask her, concerned.

“I need you to swear Baelor.” She repeats.

“I… I swear.” I answer hesitantly. What is this about?

She relaxes slightly. “I’m sorry if I seem a little intense right now. But I need you to understand just how serious this conversation is.” She explains to me.

“Okay, consider me one that understands. Now what’s this about?” I ask her.

Celestia looks me directly in the eyes, and opens her mouth.

Chapter XIII: Back into the Swing of Things

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Chapter XIII


If you are reading this letter, then that means that you yet live, and if that is the case, then there are no words to describe how truly relieved I am to know that. However, if you are reading this, then that also means that I have passed from this world. A millennium is, unfortunately, many times much too long for any mortal, even for a longma like myself, to survive for.

I know that you have already figured this out. You have always been able to put the pieces of almost any situation together. But I write you now so as to be able to fully express to you some final words of mine, since the ones I shared with you when you left were said in the hope that you would return one day.

When you first set foot at the base of our mountain, I saw an aimless wanderer, looking for something that he was losing hope of ever finding. You stated that it was a way to control an unstable power of yours. You wished to find a teacher so that you may learn to control it so that you do not hurt others with this power. I found no deceit in your words, and felt your intentions both humble, and commendable, and so I accepted you as an acolyte of our temple to learn our ways. You learned well the style of Zhan-long-yishu, and I am glad to state that you discovered how to control your power. But you never found what you sought.

Yes, you discovered what you believed was necessary for you to obtain, but you did not find what you truly needed. You arrived here aimless, and you left here aimless. Your steps carried you for the sole purpose to keep moving. To continue existing.

I wish for you to know that you must live.

Not survive. Not continue existing, but live your life. Find a purpose for yourself, and excel, and rejoice in your purpose.

The seeds of a cottonwood tree can drift across the winds for a very long time, but they must eventually drift to the ground to take root and grow.

Without a purpose, your life will eventually seem meaningless to you. Without fulfillment, your purpose will weather you down until there is nothing left. You must find a way to obtain both. Only then, will your true strength show.

Before you start thinking it, no, I do not believe your purpose is to return to the temple, and I dare to say I may even come back from the great beyond to scold you should you do so. We of the temple live our lives to train, and prepare for a conflict that it is unknown to us whether it will come in our lifetimes. And so, we start as students, train to become masters, and then die either of old age, or because our talents are needed to protect our country and we fall. That is our purpose and our fulfillment. Through our loyalty to our home, we strive to give our power to its protection. And as harsh as this will sound, we do not need your strength.

It is true that you have forged friendships and comrades here that you no doubt would give anything to protect. But you were pulled away from us because of your own loyalty to the ones that needed you elsewhere. You knew that we would get along fine, and would continue to do so without you. But the silence from your friends in Equestria bade you to go to them, and so you did.

You have traveled long, and you have traveled far, and you have no doubt suffered a great deal. I only hope that this last lesson helps you should you ever read it. But regardless of where you travel, and where you end up, I want you to know that I am, and will always be, proud to have taught you.

Goodbye my young student. I will be waiting for you in the life beyond.


I close my eyes with a bowed head. My hand slowly lowers itself into the grass while still holding the letter.

He’s right. I did figure it out on my own. I already know that he’s gone.

But still… it hurts. It hurts so much to read it. To read a goodbye I thought I never would get the chance to hear. A goodbye that I’ll never be able to return.

I hate this! I hate that I’ve been ripped from everything I’ve known not once, but twice now! First I was sent to Equestria. Now I’m a thousand years ahead of when I got here. Everyone I know is gone, and I’m never going to see them again!

My claws gouge into the ground to make a fist with my hand that’s not holding the letter.

‘Why Luna?! Why did you do this to me?!’ I think angrily. But then it turns to regret. ‘Why did you do this to us?’ I ask within my mind. That’s right. She’s probably going through this too. She has only Celestia and I as the only ones that she has any connection to now.

I don’t know why I’m sympathizing with her. Maybe my mind is broken. Maybe I’m just stupid. It’s definitely her fault that we both got stuck on the moon for a thousand years.

But everything after? Regardless of the fact that she started it, I continued it. I escalated it. She pushed, and I pushed back harder. When she stumbled, I took advantage of her weakness. And she did the same right back.

This has to stop. We may no longer on the moon, but this isn’t over, not yet. I have to make this right.

Which brings me to the other item besides the letter that wasn’t in my bag when I got sent to the moon.

A golden ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala.

I was initially confused by the letter addressed to me when I first opened my bag before training, but that ticket filled in the gaps for me. Celestia must have put them both inside.

I snort in amusement. No matter the universe, she always seems to be some kind of schemer. She knew I’d agree to meet with Luna at the Gala.

I’m not angry at her. If anything, I’m grateful. This is something that I have to do, and I know I’ve procrastinated in the past, so her setting this up from the beginning just makes things easier.

I let out a deep sigh of melancholy. And then there’s the last thing Celestia wanted to discuss with me yesterday.

I’m… honestly surprised by it. I never imagined that she would do something like this in the thousand years gap between Nightmare Moon and the start of the show. It’s all just so hard to grasp. And she wants me to be a part of it?

Her reasoning for telling me now makes sense though.

~The day before~

“This isn’t a decision to be made lightly Bael. And I completely understand if you need time to think about it. I encourage it even. This is something that everypony involved needs to think long and hard about.” Celestia tells me.

“I… I don’t know yet. You’re right. I need some time to think about this. Do you want a response at the Gala, or some other time?” I ask her.

She shakes her head in the negative. “No, I will not set a time frame for this, nor press you to make any decision, one way or another. The choice is yours and yours alone. But believe me when I say it’s one that you must be absolutely sure about. If you make the decision to accept, it needs to be with complete certainty and conviction. You won’t be able to fulfill your role otherwise.” She answers.

I shake my head slowly. “This all is just… I don’t know what to say.” I respond, feeling lightheaded.

Celestia sighs. “It was necessary, at the time. And very well just might still be necessary. The risk is just too great without it.” She says.

“And you really think this would be right for me?” I ask her.

“That is for you to figure out for yourself.” She answers.

“How will I know? How can I possibly know if I should do this?” I ask her, a little frustrated.

Celestia gives me an understanding look. “You have all of the physical abilities needed for you to fulfill the more common responsibilities of this position. The only thing you need to ask yourself is whether you would be able to go through with it.” She answers me patiently. She then turns her head to look downwards, and then drops in altitude. I fumble with my wings a bit to follow her down.

We come to a landing near the library. “However, today is simply the day I pose the question to you. Now that I have, I expect you to relax, and enjoy the time we have together for the rest of the day. No need to rush your choice. This is a time of enjoyment, so no more depressing thoughts!” She says with more cheer in her voice.


‘Yeah, kinda hard to do that after all the bombs you just dropped on me Celestia.’ I mentally scoff. I’m just glad the girls didn’t question how quiet I was when we got back inside.

I let out a frustrated sigh. With everything that’s cropped up recently, it almost makes me want to be back on the moon again.

I lift up the letter again to look at it in contemplation. Could Celestia’s offer be the purpose that Master Weiyu wanted me to find?

After several minutes of thinking, I still can’t answer my own question. This is all going to take a lot of soul-searching. Maybe it’s best to just put it aside for now.

‘Yeah… that sounds like a good idea right now. Let’s move onto doing something to get my head back on straight.’ I tell myself. I gently roll the letter back up into its scroll state and place it carefully into my bag.

And then I pull out two things from my bag that cause a grin to grow on my face. My dual chain-whips.

Each whip consists of a leather-wrapped handle at one end, nine metal rods joined by links in the middle, and a small but heavy metal dart at the other end.

The Ki-rin monks I trained under undergo rigorous training of the body, mind, and spirit, and are required to learn how to use their natural magics, unarmed combat of the Zhan-long-yishu martial arts style, and choose one of several weapons to train to use. I chose to train using the paired chain-whips.

I take the bunched up rods in each clawed hand, and move to stand in my usual spot for practicing my forms.

I take a deep breath to calm my excitement.

The darts drop down from inside my fists, and then my chains whirl into movement.

It’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Chapter XIV: First Summoning

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Chapter XIV

The air around me whistles as the ends of my whips whirl around, over, and back around me. I twist my body as I step, the chains folding, wrapping, and unwrapping themselves around my waist, shoulders, and forelegs to allow them to slash and whip from a myriad of angles in any direction.

And despite this, I’m still not spinning them even a quarter as fast as I can. I’m trying to both adjust to their weight again, as well as spot any flaws in technique with how I’m striking with them.

I give a flap with my wings and flip forward at an angle, the whips converge inwards and slash at an invisible enemy from both sides, top and bottom, and then I land and they rapidly strike half a dozen times in a circular whirl from my right, then left, then I finish with an overhead circular spin of the whips that ends with them striking straight out like twin javelins. And then they retract back into my waiting palms as bundles of rods.

“Okay, where’d you get those, and how are you so good at using them?” Someone asks.

I turn to the voice and see Trixie standing over by the tree where I left my bag.

“Oh, hey Trixie.” I greet her. I lift one of the bundles up for her to see a little better. “These were in my bag. And I’m just practicing to get used to, well, using these again.” I tell her, answering her question.

I tilt back down onto all fours, whips clinking while still under my palms, and walk over to her.

“So what brings you out here this early?” I ask her. I sit on my haunches to put my whips back into my bag.

“Oh, no real reason. Just trying to get some fresh air while taking a walk.” She replies.

I blink, perplexed. I felt a miniscule jolt of fear from her when she said that.

“Are you alright?” I ask her. What was that little spike for? Did I do something to scare her?

“Yes, of course.” She answers.

There it is again. It was tiny, almost unperceivable, but it was also sudden, and recognizable. Like seeing a firefly flash in the dark from your peripheral, and then seeing it happen again while you’re looking straight at it.

“Are you sure?” I prod with concern.

“Yes I’m… well, I suppose I’m just taking this time to think as well.” She admits.

There’s no flash of fear this time. What is this about?

“What are you thinking about?” I ask her. I pick up my bag and sling it over my back.

“I’m… *sigh*… thinking about moving on from Ponyville.” She answers.

This takes me aback. “What?” I exclaim in surprise.

“Not right now!” She says, backpedalling. “I’m just… I’m a traveling performer. I need to keep moving from town to town to make a living.” She says. That explains everything.

It still doesn’t keep me from wilting down in sadness at her announcement. “So I’m guessing you’re going to leave soon though, since you’re telling me.” I say.

“I’m sorry Bael. I didn’t want to tell you this way.” She apologizes.

I let out a breath and recompose myself. “No, I understand, it’s fine. I was just in a sad mood before you told me this anyway, so I’m just twice as bummed now. I’ll get better.” I tell her.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’m not really sure when I’m going to leave yet. I’m still trying to figure out how long my current funds will last. I can make time to spend more time with you and the others until I do leave.” She offers.

I smile at her thankfully. “Oh Great and Powerful Trixie. I think making a dragon sad counts as defeating him. How’s about I give you a hug for your flawless victory?” I say, quoting myself from when she dumped garbage on me at her first show in Ponyville.

She rolls her eyes and smirks. “I suppose that is a suitable reward you disgusting reptile.” She replies, quoting herself as well. But she walks over and accepts my hug with a smile.

We part after a few seconds. “So, now that all this sappy stuff’s out of the way, want to go see what the other girls are doing?” I ask.

“I suppose. I’m going to have to tell them about my leaving eventually, so now’s as good a time as any.” She answers, sagging down a bit. “I haven’t done this a lot before, but I’m starting to think I hate goodbyes.” She adds.

“It’s not goodbye yet, and I’m pretty sure there aren’t a lot of ponies out there that like them either. C’mon. Something tells me something weird is happening that’s going to need your scathing sarcasm.” I tell her. I get up and start walking back to the library.

“What makes you say that?” She asks me.

“Because this town has gone through Nightmare Moon, a sleeping dragon, terror of a nonexistent curse from a friendly evil enchantress, and a parasprite infestation all within two weeks. I think it’s safe to say weirdness is attracted to this town.” I answer with a roll of my eyes.

Trixie stops in her tracks. “When did Nightmare Moon happen?” She sputters out.

I stop and blink. Then I slap my forehead in realization. She wasn’t around for that. Duh.

“Oh, yeah. Well, so you know how during the day of the Summer Sun Celebration-.” I say, beginning to recount the events to her.

Rarity slips the needle and thread into the fabric and pulls it through, brows furrowed in concentration as she focuses on her work.

Knocking at her door partially draws, but doesn’t completely break, her concentration.

*knock-knock-knock* Howdy Rarity!” Applejack greets, opening and entering the boutique.

Rarity continues focusing on her dress. She’ll just finish this little line of stitching and then pull away from it to greet her friend properly.

“Shh! Can’t you see Rarity’s trying to concentrate?” Twilight from the sound of things, whispers to Applejack.

‘Thank you Twilight, I’ll try to finish up shortly.’ Rarity thinks while still trying to focus.

“Whado-you think she’s making?” Applejack whispers back.

‘A dress, Applejack. This is a dress shop, so it stands to reason I’m making a dress.’ Rarity mentally deadpans.

“Looks like a dress.” Twilight observes in a still very much audible whisper.

‘Thank you for that astute observation Twilight.’ Rarity thinks with more sarcasm than she would ever say aloud. Do they honestly think she can’t hear them?

“Well that makes sense. Since this is a dress maker’s shop and all.” Applejack reasons.

‘Oh for Celestia’s sake!’ She thinks in exasperation.

“Is there something I can help you with?” Rarity asks them, twisting her neck around and putting effort to smile and keep her voice upbeat.

“Oh, so very sorry to trouble you right now Rarity. But I need a quick favor.” Twilight pulls out a grungy looking red and yellow dress from her bags and places it on a free table. “Could you please fix a button for me? It’s my dress for the Grand Galloping Gala.” Twilight explains.

Rarity gasps when she lays her eyes on the dress. “Oh no no no! You can’t wear this, ugh… old thing.” She gestures in disgust at the old dress. “You need a glamorous new gown for the Gala. I’ll make it for you, with no cost to you. It will be my pleasure!” Rarity tells Twilight with a smile, ideas of creating a gown for her friend already circulating in her mind’s eye.

“Oh, that’s really sweet of you to offer Rarity, but I can’t let you do that. It’d be so much work! This dress is fine.” Twilight says, declining her offer with a touched smile.

Rarity isn’t having any of it though. “Twilight Sparkle. I insist on making you a new dress.” Rarity responds determinedly.


“Not another word!” Rarity interrupts Twilight’s protest with an outward-waving hoof. “I won’t take no for an answer.” She tells Twilight with finality.

“Weeeeell in that case… Thank you for your generosity Rarity. I’m sure with your handiwork, I’m sure it will be absolutely beautiful.” Twilight compliments, finally accepting Rarity’s offer.

Rarity nods with satisfaction, but then her eyes are drawn to her left to Applejack.

“Let me guess Applejack. You don’t want a new gown either.” Rarity states, knowing the farm pony well enough to guess.

“Gown? Shoot, I was just gonna wear my work duds.” Applejack replies.

“You can’t possibly be serious Applejack! You must wear formal attire!” Rarity tells her half-pleadingly.

“Hmmm… nah.” Applejack responds after a moment of thought.

“You know, the Gala is a formal party Applejack. I think it just makes logical sense to wear formal clothes to it.” A new voice says from the doorway.

Rarity, Twilight and Applejack look and see Baelor and Trixie stepping into the boutique through the open door.

“Oh, hello, good evening you two. What brings you over?” Rarity greets warmly.

“Eh, nothing in particular. I was just wondering where Twilight went, and Spike pointed us here, so we just came from the library. Now what’s this I hear about Applejack not wanting to wear clothes for the Gala?” Baelor asks.

Baelor!” Rarity exclaims, surprised at the scandalous wording of his question.

He looks at her for a moment, looking confused, but then his face changes to that of a smirk and he chuckles. “Not really what I meant when I said that, but if you want to see it that way I won’t stop you.” He says to her with a knowing smirk.

Rarity’s brain comes to an abrupt halt at what he’s implying. ‘Why that-that-how DARE he!’ She internally rages. She is a lady. She does not have filthy thoughts like such as that.

“Don’t get so worked up about it Rarity. You did kind of leave yourself open to that with how you reacted.” Trixie says while smiling in amusement. Applejack snickering behind her while Twilight looks confused and not quite following what’s not being said.

Rarity feels annoyed that her friends seem to be taking Baelor’s side, but she takes a deep breath to calm herself. A lady shouldn’t get so worked up about such things. A second later, she’s back to her calm and refined self.

“Anyway, to get back on topic, Applejack doesn’t wish for me to make her a new dress for the Gala, and seems intent on wearing her “work duds” instead.” Rarity says, answering Baelor’s inappropriate (regardless of what the others say) question.

“Ah’m a farmer Rarity. That kind of stuff like fashion and makeup aren’t what I’m used to.” Applejack argues.

Rarity gives a long-suffering sigh. “What if, instead of a new gown, I just spruce up your, uh… duds for you a little bit.” Rarity offers.

“Erm… sure, okay, why not. I guess Bael there did have a point when he said a formal party needs formal clothes’n stuff.” Applejack concedes. “Just don’t make them too… fru-fru, alright?” She adds.

“Deal!” Rarity agrees, glad that Applejack’s seen reason.

‘And I suppose Baelor’s somewhat logical observation helped a bit.’ Rarity thinks, mentally deciding to go a bit easier on him in her little revenge for the future.

“Look out below!” Somepony calls from outside.

Rainbow Dash then crashes through Rarity’s ceiling, hits her floor, and finally bounces into a group of mannequins in the back of the store.

“Safe!” Baelor calls out, shooting his arms out to both sides like an umpire.

Trixie face-hooves.

Rainbow pops up from the mess she landed. “Eheheh… sorry. New trick. Didn’t quite work.” She says somewhat sheepishly with a bucket on her head and several swathes of fabric hanging off of her.

Rarity looks at Rainbow in contemplation. “Hmmmm…” She says, with a hoof on her chin. “*GASP* I-DEAAAAAAA!” She exclaims in inspiration.

“I’ll make you an outfit for the Gala too Rainbow Dash!” She tells Rainbow.

Rainbow looks at her in confusion. “Outfit for the what-now?” She asks.

“I’ll make one for you, and you, and you-and-you.” Rarity says pointing to Rainbow, AJ, Twilight, and Trixie. Then she gets a sense of mischief when she sees Baelor’s look of nervousness from the corner of her eye. “And you.” She says with a wicked grin at his look of being caught.

‘Revenge is mine!’ Rarity thinks viciously.

Then she perks back up to giddy. “Ooh! And Fluttershy and Pinkie too!” She says with a little hop in place. “And when I’m done. We can do our very own fashion show!” Rarity says with excitement.

“Um… not to rain on your parade or anything Rarity… but, I’m not really going need a new dress…” Trixie says carefully.

“What?! Why ever not Trixie?” Rarity asks her in surprise.

“Well, I’m…” Trixie starts.

“If you’re worried about the cost, then have no fear, these will be my gift to all of you. No need to fret about money.” Rarity says, trying to assuage her friend.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just…” Trixie says, seeming to have difficulty getting the words out.

“What? What is it?” Rarity prompts.

“… I’m going to be leaving Ponyville soon.” She finally says.

WHAT?!” The loud shout makes everyone in the room jump in fear. Rarity looks to the right and sees Pinkie Pie sitting up inside one of her fabric drawers with her hooves hanging out.


“Wha-Pinkie?! When did you-.” Trixie says.

“Pinkie, you like making ponies happy, right?” Bealor suddenly asks Pinkie.

“Of course! I throw every new pony that comes to Ponyville a Welcome to Ponyville party just for that!” Pinkie answers.

“And you do a great job of that. But Trixie likes making ponies happy and smile too. It’s just that she does it by putting on magic shows for them and telling stories. But besides that, she also enjoys traveling to new places to spread that happiness to as far as she can. She’s not leaving Ponyville because she doesn’t like it here. She’s leaving because she wants to make other places besides Ponyville happy too. It’s how she chooses to live her life.” Baelor explains to the pink Earth pony.

Pinkie Pie thinks on his words for a moment before her eyes widen. “Ooooooooh.” She says in understanding. Then they she droops down in sadness. “So does that mean we’re not going to see her again?” She asks.

“Of course not!” Trixie speaks up. She trots over to Pinkie Pie. “You’re all my friends, and I’ve had a great time being here with all of you… despite all of you being completely insane sometimes.” She says with a bit of irritation.

“Hah! Who’s more insane though? The crazies, or the one that follows the crazies?” Baelor quips.

Trixie glares at him. “In any case.” She continues. “You’ve all given me something to come back too. So it’s definitely not goodbye forever. If anything, I’ll probably revisit Ponyville sooner rather than later now because of all of you… Maybe Baelor and Rainbow a little less so.” She jabs.


“Ouch. Right through the heart, huh Trix.”

Rarity decides to speak up after this exchange. “Well, though it is saddening to hear that you’re leaving, it still does not change the fact that I will still be making you a dress.” Rarity tells her.

“But, I’m-.”

“Ap-up-up! I will hear no more arguments about it. If it helps, just consider it a farewell gift. And you are going to need it if you are to meet us at the Gala.” Rarity says, casting a look at Twilight, she nods in understanding.

“The Gala? I… wait, I don’t even have a ticket-.” Trixie starts to argue again.

“I can just ask Princess Celestia for two more. She seemed okay with giving up extras the last time I asked for enough for all the girls. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sending another two for you and Bael.” Twilight interjects.

“No need for that. Celestia already slipped one in my bag for me when she was here yesterday. I’m covered.” Baelor says, lifting up his ticket in his claws as proof.

“There, you see. There isn’t really any reason for you to worry.” Rarity says.

Trixie opens her mouth to give another argument, but from the sound of nothing coming out, she obviously can’t think of another point to argue. “*sigh* Okay. You can make me a dress.” Trixie agrees and slumps in defeat.

“Wonderful! Then it’s settled. I’ll make everypony here a new outfit for the Gala, and then we’ll have a fashion show starring us.” Rarity concludes.

“Yay!” The other girls, sans Bael, cheer in glee at the idea. Rarity trots over to her drawing board to begin thinking up ideas. Applejack steps up next to her.

“So all you have to do is make a different, stunnin’, original, amazin’ outfit for one, two-three-four-five-six, plus yourself, seven ponies, and a dragon, lickety-split?” Applejack asks her, becoming increasingly concerned as she summarizes what Rarity plans to do.

“Oh-ho-ho Applejack. You make it sound as if it’s going to be hard.” Rarity titters, unconcerned with her new workload.

“You two do realize that the Gala’s somewhere like five months away, right? There’s really no reason to rush through this in a week.” Baelor points out from behind them.

“Oh yes, I’m quite well aware of that Baelor. But since this isn’t a commission, I do still need to get it done quickly. Actual orders will need to come first so getting these out of the way sooner rather than later is better right now.” Rarity explains.

“Well okay. So long as you’ve got a plan. But I’d like to point out that I… already kind of have something I was planning to wear to the Gala before I came here. So if you find out later that you bit off more than you can chew, you can go ahead and just not make me something.” Baelor tells her.

Rarity narrows her eyes at him. “Oh really? Where, pray tell, is this outfit you already were planning on wearing?” She asks him, suspicious.

“Same as the Gala ticket. My bag.” He answers. “Celestia kept everything in it preserved with a spell for a thousand years, and one of the things I have in it is my old uniform from the temple I trained at.” He explains.

“Hmm… well, a uniform does sound somewhat acceptable for the Gala... but I would like to see it myself before I allow it.” Rarity tells him.

Baelor rolls his eyes at her. “Yes mom.” He says sarcastically.

Rarity narrows her eyes into a look, and he shrinks back uncomfortably from it. “Okay, sorry. Just give me a sec to pull it out.” Baelor hurries to unsling his bag from his back.

Rarity’s look changes to a satisfied smile. “Excellent. You can go change into it in the bathroom, through that hallway to the right.” Rarity instructs and points with her hoof.

Baelor sighs in resignation and slings his bag back over himself and walks to the bathroom to do so.

“Why’re you makin’ him change into it? Couldn’t you just look at it and make something from what you see.” Applejack asks her curiously.

“Well, while I admit that might not be outside the realm of possibility, I’d actually prefer to see how it looks on him. I’ve made innumerable outfits and accessories for ponies both mare and stallion, and even quite a few for some foals. But I’m not so confident in my ability to make something for a dragon.” Rarity admits.

“What’s the problem? He walks on four legs and has wings. Just make something you’d make for a pegasus stallion but a little bigger.” Rainbow comments.

Rarity tuts disapprovingly. “That is both incredibly lazy and disrespectful Rainbow Dash. You may not understand the finer points of clothes making, but even you should have noticed that Baelor’s physique is completely different from a pony’s. His legs do not end in whooves, the joints in his legs are different as well, and his midsection and upper torso are longer than ours. His neck and tail are also things I will have to take into account as well when designing his attire. Not to mention his wings don’t look like they will fit through any kind of hole unless they take up most of the ensemble.” Rarity lists off.

“You have to do all that just for Baelor’s suit?” Trixie asks in surprise.

“Well, possibly… if it turns out Baelor’s uniform isn’t compatible with an environment such as the Grand Galloping Gala. But I am hoping that whatever he has will give me an idea of how to start figuring out how to design his suit. It is something made by dragons, for dragons after all. Even if it was done so a thousand years ago, it still should hold some form of function or trick within its folds that ponies haven’t figured out yet.” Rarity reasons.

“Now then, I’ve kept you all long enough from your day, and I’d very much like to get started on these outfits immediately, and once I’ve seen Baelor in his uniform, I’ll be sending him on his way as well. Go on, shoo, shoo. Go on about your days again.” Rarity shoos the others away with a good-natured smile.

I stare at myself in Rarity’s bathroom mirror, lost in thought. ‘How long has it been since I wore this?’ I ask myself.

The uniform is an orange, silk gi, with a bright yellow strip of fabric wrapped around my waist and tied at the side to act as a belt. The sleaves go all the way down to my claws, and the pants hang loose and free until they reach my second knees on my back legs, where tan wrappings cover the rest of my hind legs. Five strings tie off the front of the gi going down its length.

I know it’s not really the fanciest clothing ever, but it’s all I’ve got and also one of the last things I have to remember my time at the temple. Plus, I’m hoping the exotic appeal of it is enough to satisfy Rarity that she doesn’t have to make me a whole new outfit for the Gala. She’s got enough on her plate with having to deal with the other girls and their inevitable criticism of their dresses.

I take a deep breath before stepping out of the bathroom and walking back out to where Rarity and the other girls last were. Surprisingly, Rarity’s the only one there anymore. She turns and sees as I approach.

“Is this your uniform?” She asks me with a tilt of her head.

“Yeah… this is it.” I tell her with a shrug. Not really sure why she wanted me to change into it.

Rarity looks at me with a scrutinizing eye, humming in contemplation as she circles around me, looking at my uniform from all angles.

Finally, she stops, once again in front of me. “Well, it’s not terrible…” She decides, giving me hope that my plan worked. “-but it is still not good enough for the Gala.” She adds with a frown.

I sigh in disappointment. Rarity chuckles. “Fear not darling. If anything, this is giving me several ideas of what to do. And that should cut my work time by a significant amount. I was actually having trouble figuring out what to make for you.” She tells me. Well that’s a relief. At least this made things a little easier for her.

“I’ve never actually made clothing for a dragon before, so would you mind leaving your uniform here for me to reference?” Rarity asks me.

“Sure.” I answer. I go back into the bathroom to change out of it, and I bring it back out folded to her.

“Thank you Baelor. Have a good day!” She says to me.

“You too Rarity. And don’t overwork yourself. Take some time to rest every now and again.” I tell her.

“Don’t worry darling, I will. Applejack’s not the only one that learned that lesson that day.” Rarity responds as I walk out of her boutique.

“Alright then.” I say, walking back to the library.

My walk is in silence, since I have no one to talk to. And the one thing I'm really worrying about is how I'm going to try to steer the girls away from completely reenacting the episode. But my thoughts are interrupted before I get all the way to the library.

“Hey, Baller-or-whatever, mind telling me why your rock just spoke to me? Maybe come here like a man and explain face to face?” A voice resounds in my head.

I blink in surprise. Then look around for the source of the voice, but no one’s around.

But then I feel a pulse of energy from my bag. I reach into it and pull out my token to see that it’s blinking red from my energy. ‘What?’ I think in confusion.

A rift suddenly opens up in front of me. Making me freeze in surprise.

‘A portal? What, why is a portal… am I being summoned?’ I contemplate in surprise.

I glance down at my token once again, then look back up at the portal. I take a deep breath of preparation. ‘Alright then. Let’s see who’s calling me.’ I think to myself before stepping through the rift.

Chapter XV: Luna

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Chapter XV

Nightmare Moon backwings away from horizontal slash of red energy, then desperately lashes out with her wings to send out multiple bolts of lightning in front of her.

A black and yellow blur has already moved out of the way. A wave of ice rushes over the ground towards her, and she barely manages to blast an opening down the center of it with magic before the spikes of ice impale her.

Then she feels it on her back. That gaze. Those empty eyes that promise oblivion.

She reacts without looking. She blasts upward with a beat of her wings and barely manages to escape the explosion of fire that erupts beneath her. She maneuvers herself up higher while turning to look down and look for the monster that she’s fighting.

Slit-pupil amber eyes meet her turquoise ones and she freezes in terror.

A fatal mistake.

A clawed hand clenches over her horn right as she starts to cast a spell, and then she’s overcome by pain as lightning courses through her body from his iron grip. She falls down to the gray landscape, barely conscious.

She recovers her senses just enough to lighten her impact with the ground by shooting a gust of wind downward, but she still gasps in pain when she crashes.

Nightmare struggles to stand up from her impact point, but then a powerful force slamming into her back puts her back in the dirt with a deafening Boom.

As soon as the impact’s force is gone, Nightmare immediately notices that the weight remains at four points on her back, and then the two near her shoulders dig into her flesh, right through the tendons to her wings, and grip her tight.

“Aaauuughh!!” She cries out in pain from the claws digging into her, and then screams in agony as the thing’s hind claws rake themselves down her back again and again, shredding her muscles and carving her bones.

And then, right as she tries to throw it off, she hears it inhale and it breathes an intense stream of flame over her back, incinerating her fur and feathers where the flames hit.

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!” She screeches from the pain and heaves upwards and mercifully the creature is thrown from her back. She rolls in the dust of her moon to extinguish the flames still burning on her wings. But that’s also what the monster wanted, as she feels a fluid wrap itself around her front legs, clenching them painfully together. Before she can react, she feels a sudden jerk and her legs let out several sickening snaps as they’re twisted around each other and broken with one quick pull from him.

“AAAAAUUUAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!” She cries out, nearly blacking out from the pain. She lays still, panting from the agony scorching across her back, and the throbbing from her legs. Her head pounds from the earlier electric shock, but she can’t feel anything in her horn.

She’s powerless. Her horn’s numb, her wings burned, and legs are broken. She can’t fight back. She shakily breathes in gasps through the pain, but manages to squint open her eyes and she fearfully looks up to the eyes of the approaching creature.

The eyes that hold the hundred years of pain she inflicted on him. The eyes that promise to rend her into nothing.

“NO!” Luna jerks awake with a gasp, panting in terror. She looks around her room.

‘What? But where is… a dream… it was a dream… he’s not here.’ Luna tells herself, chest heaving from frantic breathing. She needs to calm down. She keeps breathing, steadying both her thoughts as well as her heart rate for several minutes until she’s just sitting upright in her bed, staring down at her bed sheets in thought.

Luna looks to her left to the alarm clock on her bedside desk that her sister explained to her was developed as an improvement of a sundial several centuries ago. Luna herself didn’t quite understand the point at first, seeing as she and her sister moved the sun and moon themselves, and thus technically controlled the time, but she has grown to like being able to know how close it is to the time to lower the moon without needing to ask somepony else. She doesn’t feel comfortable interacting with other ponies at the present moment.

Luna lets out a small breath through her nostrils when she sees that the clock reads 5:55 AM. It’s only a few minutes before she needs to lower the moon.

‘Might as well get up.’ She reasons to herself.

She slowly rises from her bed.

Why is she currently getting up with the sun? Because her power hasn’t come back, and she is taking the time to educate herself on the workings of modern Equestria.

Or, that’s what’s told to those that ask. In reality, Luna is just in a funk.

Upon waking up after the Summer Sun Festival in Ponyville, Luna panicked from realizing she had lost consciousness. But after the first few seconds of the ground around her not exploding, (That happened far too many times to her in the past) she calmed down enough to observe her surroundings.

To say that she was surprised to be lying in an incredibly comfortable bed in a night-themed room would be an understatement.

It was not long after waking that Luna finally got to reunite with her sister, and apologize profusely with tears rolling down both their faces in relief that their separation from each other was finally over.

And then came the knowledge that Luna needed to learn about how things have changed while she was gone.

She caught up within three weeks.

That isn’t to say that she knows everything that’s changed. There is still quite a bit of history she needs to catch up on, and many technological and magical advances still throw her for a loop. But for the most part, Luna doesn’t really have much to do other than wait for her magic to recover to the point where she can re-commence her duty of protecting the dreams of the ponies sleeping through the night.

The one thing that surprised Celestia that Luna didn’t have to adjust to was the fact that Luna was already able to speak in the more modern version of Equish, rather than the ancient dialect that they both spoke in a millennium ago. This was mostly due to the fact that Luna got tired of being so formal in her speech while clashing with Baelor on the moon, and eventually just started cussing him out just as much as he was doing to her.

Not exactly the best way to gain an insight into changes in a language, but considering she had a thousand years to do so, it got the job done.

And thus, this leaves Princess Luna with very few things to do other than try to kill time. And she hates it.

Luna lets out another breath through her nostrils while walking over to her balcony to lower the moon. She ignites her magic to grab ahold of the pieces of her celestial body (she consoles herself about it's new state by considering it a part of her punishment), and slowly lowers it below the horizon.

Luna breathes a bit heavier than would be normal, as if she’d just lifted something heavy and walked it over to the other side of the room and gently set it down, but isn’t very concerned by the strain. It was a heavy exertion, but a quick one, and she’ll be back to normal in a few minutes.

The sun begins to peak over the edge of the opposite horizon that Luna sent her moon over, and she turns to look at the balcony of the tower that Celestia is raising the sun from. Luna gently smiles upon seeing the white form of her sister, even at the distance they’re at. The small comfort allows her to keep her mind occupied long enough for Celestia to finish, and then look over to her. Luna can’t see it from where she’s at, but she knows that Celestia’s smiling right back at her.

And then her sister turns to step back into the castle to begin her daily duties. Luna sighs in resignation of needing to do the same, and moves to walk back inside as well. But then she pauses. ‘What duties am I going to be doing?’ She thinks.

It’s true that she still needs to catch up on things, but that’s more or less covered by this point. And there isn’t really much for her to do other than read or get stared at by the castle staff behind her back.

Her ear flicks in annoyance upon remembering that. And then she looks back outside her balcony, into the slowly brightening sky and the rest of Equestria.

A stray breeze blows into her room and gently caresses the feathers of her folded wings, sending a shiver of want shooting through her suddenly. ‘How long has it been since I’ve flown?’ Luna asks herself.

In that moment, Luna makes a snap decision. She takes a breath and her mane flows and envelops herself, rendering her as a mass of starry magical energy. The mass floats for a second, before splitting in half and reforming into two separate Lunas.

This is a spell that she learned just prior to her transformation into Nightmare Moon. She’s able to split her magical power in order to create a magical clone of herself, one with all her knowledge and thought processes, and it is then able to act on its own, until Luna decides to merge back together with it.

Granted, this spell is also somewhat draining, especially now in her weakened state, but Luna does not need much magical power for what she’s planning on doing. And she highly doubts anything dangerous will occur to the clone over the course of the day. And even if something did, it is made of magic. The worst that will happen is that a few ponies will panic for a bit while the deceased clone’s magical energy dissipates into the air. Luna will feel an annoying loss of magic, but she will still be alive and well enough to return to Canterlot and reassure everypony that she is alright.

“Please attend to whatever duties I must perform for today.” Luna instructs the clone. It nods in affirmation.

Luna then closes her eyes and her mane swirls around her body again, and then reforms to reveal herself as a sky blue pegasus mare with a dark navy blue mane and tail. Her cutie mark has changed from a white crescent moon to a curving white feather with several stars wafting off the edges.

And then Luna leaps off her balcony and takes flight.

So as to not alarm the guards around the castle, Luna banks away from the castle, and then commences to fly even further away from Canterlot. Within a few moments, the city is out of Luna’s view and behind one of the mountains that surround Mt. Canterhorn, upon which the city is built on the edge of.

Luna takes a deep breath of the morning air, a growing sense of exhilaration filling her as the wind whips past her face, under her wings, and through her mane and tail. She grins and with a powerful flap of her wings, she soars up high into the sky past the clouds, and then allows herself to stall, tilting backward and then diving down headfirst into a free-fall. She rockets down to the ground ever faster, the excitement and thrill of the high speeds making her grin grow, until she pulls up, wings flaring out wide bellows of winds beneath her to allow her to transfer her momentum from vertical into horizontal, and she’s soaring through the sky again, the cool morning air growing warmer as the sun rises higher as time passes.

Luna briefly wonders why she ever wanted to get rid of the day. While it is true that she wanted to bring about eternal night as Nightmare Moon, a part of her ruefully admits that… she missed the warmth of the sun.

While she definitely experienced the heat of the sun while on the moon, it was only just that, heat. And it only came from the sun. The rest of the space around her, it was just the same frigid cold of space where the sun’s light didn’t touch. And where it did touch, it wasn’t comforting or relaxing in the least, just oppressive.

Back here on the planet though, the sun’s light warms the air around her, and its light infuses everything it touches.

Luna takes another deep breath and lets it out with a large grin, relishing the adrenaline rushing through her veins. This is the first time in a long while that she’s felt this good, and she plans on making it last as long as possible today.

Luna breathes deeply while lying on a cloud, the sun warming her underside as she rests from the several hours of flying. ‘It feels like I haven’t done this since I was a filly.’ Luna thinks to herself, content to melt into the fluff of the cloud and allow her wing muscles relax from their workout.

Unfortunately, the world seems to have decided she’s not allowed to do that for the moment, because the cloud suddenly disappears from under her with an audible *poomf*, and Luna falls towards the ground.

She lets out a startled yelp and manages to flip around and hover back up after only falling four or five hoof-lengths.

“That’ll teach you to-wait you’re not… Oh my Celestia, I am so sorry!” Luna turns around to see a lavender pegasus mare with a two-toned blue mane flying close by, her rear legs curled upwards near her belly from having recently bucked a cloud away.

Luna opens her mouth, but can’t come up with any words to respond with. Why is this pony not afraid of-oh wait, disguise.

“Are you okay? I’m sorry, I thought you were Rainbow Dash and I thought she’d overslept on a cloud she was supposed to clear. I bucked it out from under you without looking.” The mare says to Luna when she doesn’t say anything, worry etched on her face.

Luna mentally shakes herself out of her thoughts to answer. “It is alright. There was no harm done. And I do believe it was my fault for deciding to rest on a cloud that was supposed to be cleared away.” Luna answers, feeling a bit abashed about getting in the way of clearing the skies.

“Are you sure?” The mare asks.

Luna nods. “Yes I’m sure. Thank you for the concern though.” Luna tells her with a small smile.

The other pegasus sighs in relief. “Oh, good.”

They hover in the air for a moment.

“Um… yeah, I kind of need to get back to work. There’s more than just cloud kicking to do today, and I got a little sidetracked here.” She says sheepishly.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get in your way.” Luna apologizes.

The other mare chuckles. “Heh, don’t worry about it. It’s really not that big of an obstacle when you compare it to some of the other stuff that happens to Ponyville.” She answers, turning away to finish her other work.

Luna blinks. “Ponyville?” She asks in surprise.

“Yep. Disasters every other week, and everypony here is still crazy enough to stick around. Other than that, it’s one of the most welcoming places in Equestria. Anyway, I need to get back to work. I’ll see you later!” The mare calls back before flying off.

Luna stares off into space where the mare used to be, lost in thought. ‘Ponyville. Why does that name sound familiar?’ She thinks to herself.

To perhaps get an idea of where she’s heard of Ponyville before, Luna looks around for the town, and sees it off in the direction that the mare flew off to, only really a minute’s flight away. Luna decides to get a closer look.

As she draws closer, she notices a few familiar buildings, but can’t fully recall where she’s seen them before. Until she sees the forest the town is practically right up against.

‘The Everfree Forest? Then that means this is the town that I crashed landed into while I was Nightmare Moon.’ Luna realizes, remembering flying over said forest after blasting out of the town hall on that night.

This realization causes her to halt in her flight towards the town. She feels reluctant to enter the town that witnessed her while transformed into her darker form.

However, that reluctance almost immediately gives way to an instinct. And instinct that was ingrained into her for a long time: Do not run. Face your fear head on.

This instinct may or may not have been inspired by the fact that, in the past, turning her back on something terrifying usually ended up with her shot in the back by one elemental blast or another.

Regardless, Luna arcs her wings and swoops downwards into the town proper for a landing.

Upon landing, there are no gasps of shock or fear like Luna was dreading, and upon looking around, a few ponies are just glancing away or giving a small friendly wave upon making eye contact with her.

Luna remembers again that she’s in disguise, and realizes that all they or anypony is likely to see in her is a new face, but not an alicorn princess and certainly not a terrible monster that they were accosted by several weeks prior.

Luna lets out a small sigh of relief at this. It seems that she doesn’t have anything to worry about after all.

But… there is still something that she thinks she might be forgetting.

“WOOOOOOOO!!!” Luna’s broken out of her thoughts by the energetic cry of some pony above

An orange pegasus filly soars high above Luna’s head, her shadow briefly passing over her back as she observes the filly with widening eyes.

The filly, despite her height in the air, is not flying though. She twists her body around while holding onto the handlebars of some kind of “T” stick attached to a board with wheels. She deftly rotates and adjusts her wing positions to spin around over the top of the handles even as she spins end over end. Performing one of the most excessively acrobatic maneuvers Luna has ever seen.

But the thing that catches Luna’s attention the most is the fact that the filly is doing it with her pegasus magic.

She can tell from how fast the filly spins in proportion to how little she moves and adjusts her wings, and even the small twitches of individual feathers. She herself does those same things when she flies, and when she fights. The filly is moving and bending the air around her to lend to her mobility.

Luna’s awe at such a young pony managing to perform an ancient pegasus art at such a young age abruptly changes to panic when she realizes the filly is still falling while corkscrewing headfirst directly at the ground.

With a swift, but controlled sweep of her right wing, Luna flings a twisting zephyr of wind at the filly moments before she hits the ground.

The gust catches her, slows her a bit, and rights her up and places her forward. The filly sticks the landing and then rides off on her contraption with rapidly buzzing wings, whooping in exultation while unawares of the fact that Luna more than likely just saved her from getting a concussion.

Luna sighs in relief, not bothered in the slightest that her good deed went unnoticed.

Or at least she thought it did.

“Whoa. That was so neat!” A nearby voice exclaims.

Surprised, Luna turns to see two bright, yellow eyes looking at her.

Or… wait. One yellow eye looking at her, and another looking at a paperclip lying on the road a few hoof-lengths to her left?

“How’d you do that?” The pegasus mare the eyes belong to asks Luna, grinning widely.

“Er-huh? Do what?” Luna asks back, surprised again.

“That thing with the wing-swish that flipped Scootaloo around and stopped her from hurting herself! Duh!” The gray mare says in clarification.

“Oh, um, that was something that I learned to do a long time ago… wait a moment. Who are you?” Luna asks her in confusion.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t introduce myself. My name’s Ditzy, Ditzy Doo. But everypony just calls me Ditzy. Nice to meet you!” Ditzy says cheerfully, holding out her hoof to Luna.

Luna accepts her ‘hoof shake’ from what she remembers from her lessons, and takes Ditzy’s hoof with her own and shakes it, albeit a little awkwardly. “It is a pleasure to meet you Ditzy Doo.” Luna says in reply with a small smile of her own.

“Soooo… what’s your name?” Ditzy asks, blinking and causing her eyes to both align to look directly at Luna.

“My name?” Luna asks, a little distracted by Ditzy’s eyes.

“Yeah. Your name. Do you have one?” Ditzy asks with a cocked brow.

Luna’s eyes widen .“Oh, um… my name is-,” She panics inside. ‘Buck! Quickly, remember your cutie mark! What is it? What is it? Feather with stars?’ “Star-Fea-FLIGHT!” Luna stammers out a little loudly.

At Ditzy’s confused look Luna speaks again. “Starflight. My name is Starflight.” Luna lies in a much more calm and collected manner.

Ditzy continues to stare at her for a minute. Luna thinks she should be a little nervous that she might be seeing through her lie, but she can’t seem to focus on anything else other than the fact that Ditzy’s right eye is drifting up and to the right.

“Well it’s great to meet you Starflight! Welcome to Ponyville!” Ditzy tells her happily, blinking again to bring her eyes forward.

Luna blinks. “How did you know that I’m new?” She asks.

“Well, for one, you’re staring at my eyes and how they’re misaligned sometimes. Most everypony else that lives here already know about them. And they don’t really pay them much mind unless I do something like this.” She then proceeds to roll one eye around while the other drifts off to look up into the sky.

Luna boggles in astonishment (and a slight amount of disgust) at Ditzy’s eye movements.

Ditzy giggles. “Yep, it’s kind of hard to not stare when somepony does something weird like that.” She states.

“Indeed.” Luna replies, still reeling from seeing that.

“Anyway, besides my eyes. I don’t really remembering seeing you before. And I deliver the mail for Ponyville, so I know a lot of different names and faces that live here. So are you just passing through?” Ditzy asks her.

“It… is more like I wound up here while taking a day off. I will have to return home before nightfall.” Luna answers.

“Hmmmm… you sound all refined and proper when you talk. Are you from Manehattan?” Ditzy asks.

“Canterlot, actually. And… ugh, I’m sorry about staring. Normally I am able to conduct myself much more politely when meeting others.” Luna apologizes.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I know ponies like to stare at strange things they don’t see everyday. I sure as heck do when I see something.” Ditzy pauses in thought. “Or at least… I half stare at weird things.” Her left eye moves in to look at her nose. Honestly, that one didn’t look quite as strange as the other ones Ditzy’s done and why is she thinking this-stop staring!!!!!

Luna shakes her head lightly.

“Anyway, I don’t really mind ponies staring at my eyes that much. If anything, I’m glad that they almost always give me a great conversation to talk to new ponies about!” Ditzy says with a tilted-head smile.

Luna giggles. “Well, it certainly worked with me.” Luna tells her.

Ditzy titters. “Yep. That was the plan!” She says.

Before Luna can say something else though, her stomach lets out a rumble. Luna chuckles sheepishly.

“Sounds like somepony’s hungry.” Ditzy notes with a smirk.

Luna smiles back. “Yes, so it would seem. I forgot to bring any food or money with me, so I will have to return to Canterlot to eat. I suppose this is where I say goodb-.”

“Nope!” Ditzy cuts her off, wrapping a forelimb around Luna’s and dragging her off.

“Wh-what? Ditzy, what are you doing?” Luna asks her in surprise.

“I know the perfect place to have lunch! We can eat together! My treat!” Ditzy tells her.

Luna blinks in befuddlement as the other pegasai drags her away. ‘This mare is very strange… and for some reason I feel as if she would be doing this to me even without my disguise.’ Luna thinks to herself.

“So then Pinkie Pie, a funny filly that lives here in Ponyville, pops out of the potted plant right next to us with a mound of dirt and a daisy on her head and shouts out “Oatmeal?! Are you Crazy?!” and then just sucks herself back into the pot.” Ditzy says with a bewildered expression on her face.

Luna can’t help but snort in amusement from the tale, what’s left of her grilled tulip sandwich held in her fore-hooves.

Ditzy chuckles. “The funniest part is that while I was busy trying to figure out how the hecky she did that, Carrot Top jumped in fright and sent her box of oatmeal, that she just bought, flying. She stormed off screaming some not too foal-friendly things when she saw that it was opened and that dried oatmeal was scattered everywhere in the street.” Luna giggles with a sympathetic ‘aww’ of sympathy for the wasted food.

“I think she mentioned something about putting them both in the hospital one of these days, most likely from backhooving Pinkie while having a heart attack.” Ditzy says with a hoof-tip to her chin.

Luna shakes her head in amusement from Ditzy’s story. Then she takes the last few bites of her sandwich. While she may be a princess, table etiquette, while something she knew, was not something she took much time to adhere to a thousand years back. (It helped that most ponies were so afraid of her that nopony wanted to correct her on it.) And she’s elated to discover an actual dish that is designed to be eaten with hooves only!

Luna lets out a sigh of contentment from the finished meal. “Thank you very much for lunch Ditzy. I’ll be sure to pay you back once I have some bits on hoof to do so.” Luna thanks the blonde pegasus.

“Pfft. Don’t worry about it. That’s what friends are for!” Ditzy replies.

This takes Luna aback. “… Friends?” She says quietly.

“Uh, yeah. We are friends right?” Ditzy asks her.

“I am certainly not against the idea, I’ve just… never made a friend quite this quickly before.” Luna admits.

“Well now you have! One friend in one hour is your new personal record time for friend-making! Until somepony else becomes friends with you in less time, I’ll be sitting pretty on the 1st place pedestal in your head.” Ditzy says with a lopsided grin.

Luna giggles. “I suppose you will. But I still plan on paying you back.” Luna tells her.

“Seriously, don’t worry about it. It’s fine.” Ditzy protests lightly.

“I don’t feel comfortable with just never paying you back though.” Luna responds.

“Really Starflight, I may be a mailmare, but I’m not that bad off. You don’t have to pay me back.” Ditzy responds back.

Luna takes a calming breath to think. How can she pay Ditzy back when she isn’t willing to accept bits? Perhaps a compromise?

“How about… next time we eat together, I pay for our meal instead? Does that work for you?” Luna suggests. Then blinks. ‘Wait, what? Next time? What am I saying?’ Luna thinks.

Ditzy blinks herself, before putting a hoof to her chin in thought. “Hmmm… alright, I’m okay with that. How does same time tomorrow sound?” Ditzy asks.

“That sounds wonderful. I shall see you then.” Luna answers. ‘Why am I making so many snap decisions today? Can I even manage to meet her here tomorrow?’

“See me then? Does that mean you’re leaving?” Ditzy asks her curiously.

Luna sighs. “Yes, I am afraid so. I do need to get back to Canterlot before the day ends. I have duties I must still perform.” She tells Ditzy.

“Awwwww. Okay… I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Ditzy says to Luna, her ears drooping down… along with one of her eyes… again.

Luna chuckles in amusement at the grown mare’s near foal-like behavior. “Yes, until tomorrow my friend.” She says, smiling just a little bit wider upon saying the word “friend.”

“Starflight” turns towards in the direction of Canterlot in the distance and takes to the air.

“Bye!” Ditzy calls out, waving goodbye to her from the ground.

Luna waves back before turning her gaze to the city ahead of her. Her mind tries to focus on the things she will have to do to be able to meet again with the gray pegasus mare again.

But despite this, Luna can’t help but feel as if she can soar straight into the stars of her night from how the day went.



Now if she could only figure out what it is she feels like she's forgetting about the town she just visited.

Chapter XVI: Messages

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Chapter XVI

Nightmare Moon awakens, and then springs upwards from where she lays. Two ice spikes slam into the ground where she used to be. She sparks electricity through her wings and spins upwards while sending lightning cascading downwards around her.

Baelor pulls up short from his charge and slides over the ground on his flank, hurling more spears of ice upwards, only for them to be obliterated by the lightning. Lightning slams into the ground around him but he manages to erect a roof of ice over himself before he’s struck.

Nightmare slashes her wing and a blade of air sails down towards the ice. The dragon underneath dashes out from underneath his shelter right before it’s cut in half by the wind-blade.

Nightmare Moon sparks her wings again for another lightning strike, and Baelor launches himself into the air up after her with a booming kick off the ground. She lashes out with her wings in the same instant that Baelor stretches out his pointed claw, and the air ignites with the boom of a bolt of concentrated plasma.

Baelor’s body sparks from being hit with her attack, but he stretches out his other clawed hand behind him, and the lightning surges out from it in blinding a strip of electrical current.

Nightmare Moon’s eyes widen, and she hastily concentrates a constant current of voltage over the surface of her feathers and blocks a strike from Baelor’s lightning-whip, the plasma instead transferring to her wings instead of dealing damage.

Baelor swings the whip around his body, the lightning crackling as it whirls blindingly around his body, and halfway through Nightmare notices that he’s created a second whip in his other claw.

She backwings away from his whips’ reach, and blocks his strikes with her wings when they manage to extend out farther from his swinging pattern.

Nightmare narrows her eyes, there is a pattern. Suddenly, she darts in past Baelor’s whips and brings her burning wings to bear against him.

Baelor’s arms snap out to his sides, and Nightmare’s wings follow suit, flying away from his neck and arresting her forward movement. Nightmare snarls and swings her hind legs forward and slam them into his stomach. He grunts as he’s knocked away from her, his whips disappearing and freeing her wings.

Nightmare flares her wings and regains her flight, but then feels a wet tendril wrap around her hind leg before Baelor pulls her down with him.

Nightmare flaps her wings and manages to fly back upwards, throwing Baelor off balance in mid-dive, and then slashes through the water-whip that’s wrapped around her leg.

A blue shard hits her wing, and then suddenly, her wing is frozen in a thick block of ice.

Nightmare’s eyes widen in surprise, then flinches when Baelor darts back up at her. Acting on reflex, Nightmare twists her body around as she falls and fires off a bolt of lightning in his direction.

Baelor caught the lightning on the tips of his claws and redirected it to fire off at the ground beneath them all the while he closes the distance between them.

In a single fluid motion, Nightmare flips her wing upward, and then down from the motion she struck out with her lightning, and slams Baelor with a blast of air that catches him in the face, and sends him crashing into the ground below them in less than a second, causing the dust of the moon to erupt from where he crashed.

Nightmare, meanwhile, falls down to the moon’s surface while struggling to slow her fall with one wing. She manages to turn her body around and slams into the ground on all four hooves, straining her legs from the impact.

Nightmare Moon takes the single moment of reprieve to bash the ice encasing her wing, and manages to free it from its cold confines after the third blow.

And then Baelor tears through the cloud of dust with a snarl, red energy encasing his claws.

Nightmare ignites her horn with magic and encases her wings with lightning and meets Baelor halfway, locking together with claws to wings, and wing-talons to horn.

Nightmare Moon grunts from the force of their clash. “I… am no longer… afraid of you.” She strains to say through clenched teeth.

Baelor takes a breath through his nose, and then exhales.“… Liar.”

They break apart and then rush back. Nightmare slashes with her wings and horn, lightning and magic both slashing out at the dark dragon, and Baelor meets each slash with one of his own.

“Oh, so the beast finally speaks after all this time! I was beginning to think you’d gone feral after so long without words!” Nightmare spits out between attacks. She sidesteps, and backs away from a spinning attack of claws as Baelor flips forward and strikes out with his feet and talons on all six limbs.

Baelor blocks with his right claw and talon combine from a wing-slash with sparks flying off from their collision. “You’re one to talk about being a feral beast. Have you already forgotten which one of us tried to kill her sister and practically killed her cellmate over and over again for shits and giggles?” Baelor growls back. He gets kicked back and rolls with his momentum and deflects a stab of magical energy from her horn.

“I’m not the only one who did the latter of those two! You’ve turned into a monster! One that would be hated and feared infinitely more than I if those down on the world below knew of what you’ve done!” Nightmare Moon hisses angrily at him. She lunges in with her horn.

Her attack gets deflected upwards from an kick from Baelor’s glowing hind foot, and she is blasted back from Baelor when he flows into a palm strike that unleashes a pulse of fear through her soul.

“I am what you made me!” Baelor roars at her. The red energy of fear encompasses his entire body, his eyes glow red, and his crimson-glowing claws warp and distort the air around them.

Nightmare Moon skids to a stop on her hooves, and she focuses her magic into its most intense form. Lightning surges up past her wings over her entire body, and the magic of her horn does the same, the lightning coursing over her body transforming into an intense dark-blue glow over her entire being.

They launch themselves at each other with pure, hate-filled screams.

Luna jerks awake with a gasp. She breaths heavily as her heart beats furiously in her chest. Eventually though, she manages to calm down. Or at least as calm as she’s going to get until the memories of the nightmare fade from her mind.

‘I am what you made me!’ Baelor’s roar reverberates through her mind.

Luna slowly drops her head into her fore hooves, and simply sits there in her bed as she waits for the end of the night.

Celestia takes a deep breath before re-reading the letter she just received from her student.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Baelor is missing!!!

I don’t know what happened! Rarity said that yesterday she wanted to get a look at his uniform that he kept in his bag, and then once he left it with her to reference for his Gala outfit, he walked out of her boutique. And that’s the last time anypony’s seen any sign of him! He didn’t come back to the library after that, and none of the girls have seen him around town. It’s like he just up and vanished!

I’m so sorry that I have to trouble you with this, but I’m really worried about him and so is everypony else. We don’t know where he’s gone and we don’t know where to look! Please, can you help us at all with the search?

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

Celestia furrows her brows in thought, then picks up a quill in her magic. She brings out a scroll and begins writing.

Dear Twilight,

Don’t panic. While I understand that you are worried about Baelor, he is also more than capable of handling himself. I’m sure that he is fine. One thousand years ago, he was prone to wandering off into the wilderness in order to run, fly, and generally stay active, so I believe he may have simply slept outside yesterday. He tended to stay out anywhere between a few hours to a few days, so I would recommend you simply sit tight and wait to see if he returns.

If it helps you to understand how to think about this situation, think of Baelor as a sort of puppy (Please don’t tell him I made that comparison of him) that you found in the woods.

Don’t fret. He’ll come back home when he’s run himself out.

Your Teacher,


Celestia rolls up her scroll and sends it off to her student. However, her face doesn’t reflect the reassurance that she wrote to Twilight about. Instead, she’s thinking.

‘It isn’t like Baelor to leave without letting anypony know though. Perhaps she’s right to be worried…’ Celestia thinks to herself.

Taking a deep breath, Celestia grabs another scroll, but this one is darker and looks much more worn down. Unrolling it, she picks up her quill again and begins writing another letter.


I would like to request that you head to the town of Ponyville at your earliest convenience. While I am uncertain whether it is serious, a Prospective has gone missing. I would like for you to search for him, and if he is imperiled, please aid him.

His name is Baelor and he is a black dragon with yellow stripes, and yellow eyes, and is roughly the same height as yourself to give you a general description.

Seek the aid of the local townsfolk if you must but be discreet. And should you find him and he is well and returning to the town, or simply spending time away from the town, then alert me to it. You may remain inconspicuous or reveal yourself to him if you so choose. I know how you tend to be with Prospectives.


After finishing her letter, Celestia picks up a candle from her nightstand and lights it with a small spark. Instead of fire burning at the tip of the wick, a black, ghostly wisp erupts into being at the tip of the candle.

Celestia holds the candle to the parchment, and the words written on it are engulfed in black flame. After a moment of the black fire burning on the surface of the parchment, it goes out, and the words are nowhere to be seen on the scroll.

Princess Celestia blows out the candle, and then rolls up the scroll again before setting them both in their original places. Then she sighs.

‘I wonder what Luna is doing?’ She wonders, standing up to raise the sun.

“Please take care of my duties for today.”

Luna’s clone nods before turning to walk out of her room to do just that.

Luna, disguised as Starflight, then leaps off her balcony and flies towards Ponyville. It only takes her a few minutes to reach the town this time, since she’s not flying around erratically doing stunts of whim and fancy.

Luna lands in the quaint town and begins walking towards the restaurant she and Ditzy ate at yesterday.

*clang* “Oof!”

Luna stops in puzzlement from the voice. Looking up, she’s met with a face-full of gray, and then is flattened to the ground.

“Ugh. Dang it! Every day that same pole!” Luna hears a voice on top of her say.

“Urmph. Ditzy?” Luna guesses as to who’s on top of her.

“Eep!” Ditzy hops off of her. “Oh, I’m so sorry Star! I didn’t mean to crash into you!” Ditzy exclaims. She helps Luna up.

“What happened?” Luna asks her, accepting her helping hoof.

Ditzy groans. “What usually happens. My eyes drifted while I was flying and I didn’t see that pole til’ I crashed into it.” She answers, annoyed.

Luna looks up and sees the light pole Ditzy is talking about. “Are you alright?” Luna asks her, concerned.

Ditzy snorts in amusement. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that since, you know, I landed on you?” She asks back.

“But you crashed headfirst into a metal beam while flying. So are you alright?” Luna repeats her question.

“Yeah, I’m fine. This happens a lot so I’m used to bumps and scrapes every now and then. It only turns into a bad day when I end up hurting somepony else with my accidents.” Ditzy murmurs the last part.

Luna winces in sympathy. “Regardless, that does not sound enjoyable. Have you attempted to find help of some kind?” Luna asks.

Ditzy shakes her head. “I’ve gotten myself examined a couple times to figure out what the problem is. But the doctors just say that it’s the muscles in my eyes falling asleep every now and then. It’s just a quirk of my body that would cost way too much to fix a really minor but hard-to-reach problem. It wouldn’t really have that big of a payoff after they’re fixed anyways.” Ditzy explains.

At Luna’s look of concern Ditzy waves a hoof dismissively. “Seriously, it’s fine. It’s not that bad, all things considered.” She tells her.

“If you are sure…” Luna concedes.

“So, now that you’re here. Let’s go get lunch!” Ditzy says happily.

Luna chuckles. “Very well. Let’s.” She agrees.

Twilight lets out a small sigh, still lost in thought over Celestia’s letter.

“Well? What do you all think?” Rarity asks them.

“Hm? Oh, it looks fantastic Rarity. I love it.” Twilight answers automatically, only really glancing at her dress.

The silence that encompasses the room is enough to snap her out of her thoughts, and she looks around her to see all the girls staring at her.

“Is something wrong?” Twilight asks them.

“Twilight dear, are you sure you like your dress? That answer was a little… lackluster.” Rarity asks her. “If you don’t like it, I can tweak it or even do it over to get it to how you want.” She offers.

“What? No, Rarity it’s not- *sigh*, I’m sorry. I’m just not really able to focus right now. I’m just worried about where Bael is.” Twilight explains.

“Why? Didn’t the princess say that he did this often?” Rainbow Dash asks her.

“Well, yeah but… I’m still worried about him. What if he runs into danger wherever he’s at?” Twilight asks the others.

“Sugarcube, I know you’re worried about the big fella. But he’s also been through his fair share of scrapes, and he’s got a level enough head on his neck to steer clear of unnecessary risks. He can take care of himself just fine.” Applejack reassures her.

“Unlike others.” Trixie says, shooting a pointed look at Rainbow.

“Hey!” Rainbow exclaims.

“Not to mention that his one weakness is still here in Ponyville!” Pinkie exclaims.

Everypony looks at Pinkie strangely. “Um, his weakness?” Flutter shy asks

“Twilight’s magic!” Pinkie chirps.

Twilight face-hooves while everypony giggles at Twilight’s expense, but she smiles with them regardless.

Twilight sighs. “Alright. I guess you’re all right. Baelor’s a grown dragon, and can make his own decisions. I shouldn’t be stressing myself out with worry as if he’s a baby dragon like Spike.” Twilight admits.

“We’re not saying not to worry about him, darling.” Rarity says, putting a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “It’s only natural to be worried for your friends when you aren’t sure what is going on with them. But yes, he is grown and capable. He took on another grown dragon to keep us all safe for Celestia’s sake.” She says.

“Wasn’t he, like, five seconds away from getting flattened like a pancake by the time Fluttershy stopped it?” Rainbow points out.

“Trixie, would you mind?” Rarity asks.

Trixie salutes, grabs a nearby ball of yarn in her magic, and shoves it into Rainbow’s mouth.

“Thank you darling.” Rarity tells Trixie.

“My pleasure.” Trixie answers with an evil grin.

“Anyway, as I was saying. Worrying about him is fine, but as his friends we need to acknowledge his capability to take care of himself.” Rarity says to Twilight.

“And who knows, he might be on a crazy awesome adventure saving a distant kingdom from a dark overlord right now as we speak and will pop out of nowhere from shenanigans with time travel and an awesome story!” Pinkie says enthusiastically.

“Pinkie Pie, ah’m pretty sure he’s not just going to pop up out of nowhere-.” Applejack begins.

A wide, black, pulsating hole in the air appears in the middle of the room and Baelor falls forward out of it and lands on his chin with a grunt of pain. The portal closes behind him.

Everypony stares.

“…But ah’ve been wrong before.” Applejack adds with wide eyes.

“Bael?!” Twilight exclaims in surprise.

“Ugh, hey girls. Sorry for being gone so long.” Bael says while standing up.

“What the buck was that?!” Twilight asks, pointing a hoof at where the portal was.

“That… is an explanation that will take a while.” He answers, glancing at the spot the portal was in.

*Pteh* well we’ve got time. We weren’t in the middle of anything important when you dropped in.” Rainbow tells him, spitting the ball of yarn into her hooves.

“Rainbow, I brought you all over here to look at your dresses.” Rarity reminds her.

“Like I said. Nothing important.” Rainbow smirks at Rarity.

Rarity lets out a gasp of offense, and then angrily shoves the yarn back into Rainbow’s mouth with her magic.

Baelor chuckles in amusement. “Well, if you’re all sure you’ve got time, then I guess it’s story time.” Bael says with a grin.

“Whee! Yay! Story time!” Pinkie cheers.

“Heh, yeah. Anyway, to start things off, do you all remember that guy named Azure I brought over to meet all of you after that stuff with Zecora happened?” Baelor asks them.

“Thank you again Ditzy, I enjoyed the meal once again, and I’m glad we took the time to do this.” Luna thanks the gray pegasus mare.

“Heh, no problem Starflight. This place always sells great food, but it’s a bit depressing to eat at a restaurant alone so I don’t come here that often. But with you here it makes it perfect. It also helped that I didn’t have to pay for it.” Ditzy remarks with a smirk.

Luna chuckles. “Yes, and thank you for letting me pay you back in this way. It didn’t feel right to make you pay for everything yesterday.” Luna says.

“Well, that’s what friends do. We pay for stuff for our friends and they do it right back to us. We should do this again sometime Star.” Ditzy says.

“Indeed we should. Perhaps tomorrow, same time?” Luna asks.

“Heck yeah! We might even be able to make this a regular thing!” Ditzy suggests, smiling wider from the thought.

“Perhaps we shall. But I believe it will be your turn to pay tomorrow, just as a reminder.” Luna points out.

“Aw, darn! What-ever shall I do to be able to afford two whole sandwiches!” Ditzy says with an exaggerated and off-key voice on every other word for a very comedic effect. Luna arches a brow and chuckles at her friend’s antics.

“Well, I had better get going. Goodbye Ditzy, see you tomorrow.” Luna says, taking to the air and waving.

“Goodbye Starflight!” Ditzy warbles, sticking her tongue out to the side.

Luna laughs and flies off in the direction of Canterlot.

But she hasn’t even been flying for a minute before she’s startled by an orange pegasus filly on a scooter colliding with her wing, which sends them both plummeting down towards a grass-covered hill.

“WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” The filly screams.

Luna reacts immediately and corkscrews downward, grabbing the filly in a gust that brings her into Luna’s waiting hooves and then, with a quick burst of wind, brings their rapid descent to a soft halt inches from the ground. The filly’s scooter clatters to the ground a few feet away.

Luna let’s out a sigh of relief and gently sets the orange pegasus onto the ground. “Are you alright?” She asks her. Luna idly notes it’s the same filly from yesterday, but she pushes past that thought to focus on the filly.

“That. Was. AWESOME!!! Let’s do it again!” The filly cheers, a massive grin on her face.

“What?” Luna asks in surprise from the request/demand/exclamation at the end.


Luna twists around and sees an orange Earth Pony stallion galloping towards them. The orange filly, apparently named Scootaloo, rushes past Luna and runs up towards the approaching pony.

“Scootaloo! Oh my Celestia, are you okay?! Any cuts or bruises? Any broken bones?” The stallion asks when he reaches Scootaloo, scanning her over for injuries.

“I’m fine dad! But Dad! Dad! Did you see me! I got so much air with that last jump!” Scootaloo tells the stallion enthusiastically.

“Yes, I saw, and you crashed into that heroic mare over there and she just managed to save the both of you. You need to be more careful when playing around with your scooter. Keep an eye on the sky and maybe not go for such high jumps.” The stallion admonishes sternly.

Scootaloo shrinks down from his words, and Luna sees his eyes soften. Then he leans down and gives his daughter a hug. “I’m just glad you’re alright. You scared me when you made that jump.” He says to her gently.

“Sorry dad.” Luna hears Scootaloo say to him.

“Just promise me to be more careful from now on. Okay?” The stallion tells her.

“Okay, I promise.” She answers.

The stallion lets out a breath of relief, and then turns to Luna. “And you, thank you so much for keeping Scoots from getting hurt. I don’t know how I could repay you.” He thanks Luna sincerely.

“Oh, erm, it was nothing. I am used to thinking quickly while in the air, so it was not really much trouble to simply reach out and grab the filly while I was falling.” Luna replies modestly.

The stallion sags a little. “I’m also really sorry about my daughter crashing into you and putting the both of you in danger in the first place.” He tells her.

“Like I said, it was not much trouble, and I am used to thinking quickly in the air. So no harm was done.” Luna placates understandingly.

“Right, well, thank you once again. We need to get going though. Say ‘thank you’ to the nice mare Scootaloo.” The stallion tells Scootaloo.

“Oh. Thank’s for the save miss! You’re really awesome!” Scootaloo tells Luna.

Luna smiles down to her. “You’re very welcome. And thank you.” Luna replies. She doesn’t let it show, but the compliment actually feels very good to her.

Scootaloo runs past Luna to grab her scooter on the ground, and then promptly climbs right back on it. The two orange ponies then walk off, leaving Luna to stare after them in thought.

‘It felt… nice, to be complimented by the filly but… something about it is just, saddening to me. Why? Why am I drawing a blank on so many things lately?’ Luna asks herself with a deep frown.

Eventually, Luna simply turns back towards Canterlot and takes off again, still lost in thought.

Celestia casually sips her tea, reading one of the latest Daring Do books, when suddenly a scroll manifests from a plume of green fire above her.

She catches the letter in her magic, and unrolls it to read it, slightly curious about its contents.


Through some strange magic that is unknown to me, the Prospective you instructed me to find has returned to Ponyville and is unharmed. He appeared from some strange portal in front of the Element Bearers so I imagine your student will be sending you this same notification-

Celestia just barely manages to read that far before yet another scroll appears above her in another plume of dragonfire, and she nods in affirmation when it lands next to her. She returns to reading the first letter.

-notification relatively soon after mine.

In addition, you are correct to assume that I will attempt to interact with the Prospective, but not immediately. I have no knowledge of who he is or what he can do, and I intend to rectify that soon enough. But I need to take some time to gauge his intentions. Afterwards, I shall see how promising of a prospective Knight he is.


‘Oh dear. I hope Proditor doesn’t go too far with Bael. I’m trying to give him some space to think right now, but if he pushes him, he may end up making things worse…’ Celestia thinks with a hint of worry. She sips her tea some more, which calms her down a bit.

‘But then again… it is Proditor. I’ve always known him to have excellent restraint and sharp judgment. Perhaps he will see what Bael needs most.’

Celestia sits in silence for a moment.

‘Very well. I shall defer to your judgment Proditor. Do what you feel is needed.’ Celestia thinks.

She hums after another sip of her tea. .

Chapter XVII: Confrontation

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Chapter XVII

“Keep holding on to that feeling. Feel the air with thine feathers. Reach for it. Not too quickly, and not too slowly. Flow and roll with the currents. Thou art not bound by anything, be it gravity, nor any urging to move faster than thou choose to.” Luna says, reciting the words spoken to her by her own teacher in the use of pegasus magic.

A young pegasus colt stands a little away from her. His indigo mane hangs over his eyes a bit, and he stands with his emerald-green wings that match his coat outstretched and reaching out as far as they can go while slowly moving his wings up and down, his face is scrunched in concentration.

For several moments, nothing happens. But then, the grass around the colt’s hooves stirs from a slight breeze.

“That is it. Feel the air around thee and coax it under thine wings.” Luna tells him gently.

The breeze seems to wane a bit. “Not too forcefully. The air is fickle, and will simply slip through thine grasp should thou move too quickly. Coax it, guide it, but do not push it.” Luna tells the colt when it seems as if he is losing the wind.

After a few more moments, the grass stirs from the breeze again.

“Yes. That is it. Coax it. Guide it. And it shall lend thee its power of flight.” Luna tells the colt with growing anticipation.

The breeze grows into a stronger wind, and then the wind into a downward gust that pushes the grass down, and lifts the colt upwards. Luna holds her breath in growing joy and pride as the colt rises one hoof-length, two, and finally three before he opens his eyes. His eyes widen in surprise, and then glee before a burst of wind pushes him up another inch… and then he promptly falls flat on his stomach with his little legs and wings splayed out on the grass.

“Awwwwww!” The colt groans out in dismayed disappointment that his flight was already over.

Luna lets out a mirthful laugh. “Marvelous young Aurorus. Extremely marvelous! Thou managed to get off of the ground.” Luna congratulates him with a wide grin.

Aurorus stands up. “But… I was not able to stay in the air.” He points out, his ears drooping, showing his sadness at his perceived failure. Luna leans down and nuzzles the side of his face.

“Thou performed exceptionally well for one so young. Being able to reach out to the air is no easy feat on the first attempt, let alone managing to lift thyself up three whole hoof-lengths. Thou will be soaring through the skies in no time if thou keep up this level of progress.” Luna tells him encouragingly.

“Truly?” He asks with wide, hopeful eyes.

“Truly.” Luna answers with certainty.

“Okay! What is it that I must do then next, your highness?” He asks her, eager for the next lesson.

Luna giggles at his enthusiasm. She can see why her sister insisted she take up a student. This foal is absolutely adorable!

Luna blinks in surprise. “You have a daughter?” She queries.

Ditzy scratches the back of her head with a hoof. “Yeah. I’m sorry that I need to leave so soon, but it’s a weekday, and I need to pick up my little girl. And I’m probably going to have to leave early most other weekdays too, cause school doesn’t happen only one day a week and… yeah.” She explains awkwardly.

“O-kayyy. And?” Luna asks with a raised brow.

Ditzy blinks this time. “And, that’s it. I’m sorry. I probably should have told you about it sooner than just the last second.” She apologizes.

Luna waves a hoof. “It is fine Ditzy. I am simply surprised to hear you have a daughter. I did not expect it. If you need to leave early from lunch that is fine, it is unlikely I would be able to stop you from doing so regardless.” Luna replies with a shrug.

“Yeah, that’s true. Again, sorry about needing to ditch you right now, but I’ll see you tomorrow! Bye!” Ditzy says, placing some bits on top of the “check”, as Luna learned after their first meal together, to pay for their food. Then she takes to the air in the direction of the Ponyville schoolhouse… hopefully. Luna hopes that she doesn’t slam into any poles on the way like Ditzy said was a common occurrence.

Luna looks back down to her plate and begins finishing her sandwich, eating faster now that she isn’t focusing half of her attention on conversing with Ditzy.

Once she’s done, she sits back to allow her stomach to digest the recent meal, and also to simply observe the village around her and the ponies that live in it.

Luna smiles contentedly from watching the townsfolk of Ponyville go about their day. Weather ponies push clouds around in the sky. Merchants and famers are selling their wares and produce. And then there’s just the ponies walking around at sedate and comfortable speeds, some looking like they’re heading somewhere, and others in nowhere in particular. Some walk alone, such as a brown Earth Pony with a darker brown and spiked mane, and others walk with friends, like that purple unicorn with that black and yellow-striped drago-.

Luna’s head snaps back to where she was looking, eyes widened in shock. What she sees turns her blood to ice.

It’s Baelor. And he’s here.

Right. In. Front. Of. Her.

“Twilight,” Baelor says, grabbing the purple unicorn’s attention. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea to be asking Rarity to change your dress for the Gala like you are. She put a lot of work in to get it finished as fast as she did and it seems a little-.”

*Thoom* Both Twilight and Baelor jump in surprise from the hollow boom that came far to their right. They look to where they heard it and see a restaurant with several tables and chairs set up outside. One of the chairs looks to have been tipped over. A disgruntled waiter walks up to the chair, sets it back up, and grabs the bits that are lying on the table.

“What the hay was that?” Twilight asks.

“Uh… I don’t know.” Baelor responds.

After a moment, they both shrug. Another day in Ponyville.

The wind whips past Luna as she takes evasive action and banks hard in the air, changing her upwards flight into a downward one. ‘No no no no no no no no no no no no no.’

She hits the ground running and bursts into a full-pelt sprinting gallop down the streets of Ponyville. ‘No no no no no no no no no no no no no.’

She throws her body to the side through one alleyway between buildings. ‘No no no no no no no no no no.’

She slides under carts and vaults over tables. ‘No no no nono no no no no no no.’

She kicks off the ground taking to the air only to hit an overhanging sign and go tumbling through the air. She crashes into the grass-covered ground. Luna grunts in pain and scrambles to her hooves and whips around to face the threat behind her.

A few ponies in the streets stare at her with surprised eyes, but there’s no sign of anyone pursuing her.

Luna pants hard, staring at the town with confusion, not comprehending that she isn’t in danger.

‘Wait, what am I… doing?’ She asks herself.

The townsponies continue to stare at her, waiting for her to move or say something. And it’s at this point that Luna realizes she just stampeded through an entire town of ponies as if the demons of Tartarus were right on her tail. Luna blushes in embarrassment and shakily walks away, rounding the edge of a building and separating her from the many gazes of the other equines.

Luna walks across the grass-covered ground. She idly guesses that it’s the beginning of some kind of park that ponies can visit for picnics within the limits of the town, but she’s not in the mood to think too much on it. Mostly because she just realized how stupid she is.

‘I knew I was forgetting something about this town. Tia told me it’s where her personal student decided to live after she and the other Elements cleansed me. Why didn’t I realize that this is where he was living as well?’ She numbly thinks. She stops to sit under the shade of a tree. She stares at the grass, unmoving.

‘Damn it!’ She curses mentally. Why does a place that’s so perfect, so full of joy, be so perfect for her to finally be happy again, have the one thing she fears more than anything else hiding in its depths?!

Her thoughts are interrupted by an orange blur streaking past her.

“Hi!” Scootaloo says happily to her.

“Oh… hello little one,” Luna says quietly to the orange filly. Luna takes a breath to compose herself. “Scootaloo, correct?” Luna asks.

“Yep, that’s me.” Scootaloo tilts her head. “I never learned your name though.” She says to Luna.

“My name is Starflight. It is nice to meet you.” Luna tells her politely.

Scootaloo grins. “Hi Starflight. So watcha’ doin’?” She asks Luna.

“Um… I am sitting… and thinking.” Luna tells her, taking a breath to focus her mind.

“What are you thinking about?” Scootaloo asks.

“You’re certainly inquisitive. Do you always go out and question strangers about their inner thoughts?” Luna asks with an amused smile.

“Nah, not really. But you just did a major wipeout and then kinda walked it off, so I’m thinking whatever you’re thinking about might be cool.” The filly says.

Luna arches a brow. “Cool?” She asks, unfamiliar with that specific lingo.

“Yeah, like, are you thinking about new types of tricks or something? Is that why you crashed earlier, because you were trying a new trick? Or were you trying to wing it?” Scootaloo asks excitedly.

Luna listens to the filly in amusement. Her energy and interest in Luna does not seem invasive. On the contrary, it feels downright endearing. And Luna feels herself drifting back in time to when she first felt like this. In all honesty, the only way this could match it completely would be if the filly asked-.

“Can you show me?”

This breaks Luna out of her reverie. “I beg your pardon?” She asks in startled surprise.

“I was wondering if you can show me some of the tricks you were thinking about.” Scootaloo answers with an eager grin.

Luna tilts her head to the side slightly. “Well, I was not actually thinking about tricks,” Luna tells her.

Scootaloo’s expression drops a little.

“But I see no reason why I could not show you some things.” Luna adds with a smile.

“Really?!” Scootaloo exclaims in excitement.

“Yes, really.” Luna answers. “Now step back please. I need some room for this.” Scootaloo practically leaps backwards and plants her flank onto the ground at her instruction. Luna nods and then closes her eyes.

In all honesty, Luna has no idea what she is going to do. But she promised this filly a show, and she does not plan on becoming known as a liar this day.

Luna suddenly flares her wings out and rockets into the sky with a single flap, spinning as she ascends upwards. She lets herself fall back and falls back down in a nosedive and pulls up several meters from the ground.

What follows isn’t exactly spectacular by any means in Luna’s mind, simply several random dips, rises, rolls and loops thrown together without much thought put into what to do next. However, upon glancing down at Scootaloo, Luna can see that the filly’s enjoying it greatly, and this gives Luna a feeling of joy.

Luna contemplates a thought in her head. ‘Hm… perhaps she’d like this as well?’ She thinks.

Luna pulls up short in her forward flight to hover for a moment with her wings flared outward and her body arched forward.

And then she disappears from view to appear in mid-flight further to her right, then left, and then continues to blur in and out of sight at random points in the sky, using the wind to move from different points at blinding speeds and only stopping briefly enough to be seen by Scootaloo on the ground for barely an instant.

Finally, Luna vanishes one final time only to appear in a burst of wind a few hoof-lengths off the ground in front of the orange filly. And then Luna gently touches down to the grass.

“Woah!” Scootaloo exclaims in surprise from Luna’s sudden appearance.

Luna chuckles at this. “Did you enjoy that little one?” She asks.

Scootaloo beams up at her. “Yeah! That was cool… but,” Scootaloo tilts her head in puzzlement. “how did you do that thing at the end? You were poofing from one spot to the next and it kinda looked like something a unicorn might do with their magic.” She asks.

“Well, that was me moving very fast from one place in the sky, to the next. It took me a large amount of practice with both my physical skills, as well as magical ones to be able to manage it.” Luna explains simply to the filly.

“Magic? But you’re a pegasus.” Scootaloo points out. Then she leans sideways to check that Luna has wings, and when she sees that she does, looks back up at Luna questioningly.

Luna giggles in amusement. “All creatures posses magic Scootaloo. And while unicorns have an easier time accessing theirs, any pony can cast their own magic if they know how. Most pegasi and earth ponies use their own brand of magic unconsciously without even realizing it most of the time. Earth ponies’ strength and pegasus flight are the most common forms that they do so. But it is not the only way for them to use it. Not by any stretch of the imagination.” Luna explains to Scootaloo.

“Huh… cool.” Scootaloo replies.

“Yes, it is very ‘cool’, young Scootaloo.” Luna replies with a smile, trying out the new use for the word.

“Well, I think I should head home now,” Scootaloo says after a second of thought. Then she sighs. “I’ve gotta get my homework done for tomorrow.” She says with a complete lack of enthusiasm.

Luna titters. “We all must heed our responsibilities,” She states, feeling only a twinge of guilt for putting off her own work of becoming acclimated to the modern world.

“Bye Miss Starflight! See ya around!” Scootaloo tells her while speeding away on her scooter.

“Goodbye!” Luna calls back while waving her wing.

But then again, her excursions to this town can still technically be considered learning. ‘Cool… certainly an interesting way to be used in modern day slang.’ Luna thinks to herself with a smile.

Which then fades when she remembers who she’d encountered before Scootaloo distracted her.

Luna shivers.

What is she going to do?

Bealor’s presence in Ponyville changes everything about the warm and accepting village that Luna’s come to appreciate greatly in only a few short days. No matter how hard Luna might try to hide and avoid him, in such a small location, he’s bound to discover her. Not to mention his ability to sense fear around him. He’s capable of feeling the subtlest waves of killing intent to the point that he can evade even the trickiest of attacks and feints in the midst of combat. He can perceive exactly when his opponent’s focus wavers and strike out against their weakest point in their defense at the drop of a bit. Picking out Luna’s fear of him in a crowd would be foals-play when it comes to his sensitivity built up over the centuries of combat he’s fought against her.

And he is relentless. Luna attempted to flee from him once while on the moon. She didn’t even manage to take one step away from him before he’d hit her with a nearly overwhelming amount of lightning. His sensitivity to fear also means that as soon as Luna’s intent switches from ‘fight’ to ‘flight’ there is no opposing force of intent to hold his back. Even when Baelor’s over a dozen meters away, he’s engaged with you. The only way to keep him back is to exert your own killing intent against his. Running is not an option when dealing with him.

In hindsight of this deep-rooted fact that Luna concluded long ago, she feels exceedingly foolish for attempting to do just that when she first saw him in the market a few minutes prior.

Luna sighs in reluctance. There is only one thing she can do. She will meet him in the same way she’s always met him in the past.

Head on. With equally relentless force.

I’m sitting at a picnic bench with my face planted onto the table in front of me.

‘Ugh… this isn’t working. The only one who’s actually going with Rarity’s original design is Trixie. Thank God for small miracles. But at this rate, the events of the show are going to play out exactly the same as in the show.’ Baelor ruminates to himself.

I exhale a deep breath in a sigh. Sometimes, having this knowledge of the future is a blessing… and other times like this, it’s absolutely no help whatsoever.

I mean, sure, I know how things will go if left unchecked. And sometimes it feels as if there’s a better way things could go. But that doesn’t mean I know how to change it without upsetting the final conclusion too much. And like now, as an example, it also doesn’t mean my attempts to change things will be successful.

I close my eyes. With everything that’s happened recently, what with returning from the moon, the dragon, Trixie getting ready to leave, and my excursion to Morrigan’s world, I feel the need to rest my eyes.

‘Just for a few minutes…’ I resolve to myself.

Before I can drift off though, I feel a spike of fear in the distance approach from the air. I blink my eyes open and look up in time to see a light blue pegasus mare with a darker blue mane land, and walk up to me.

I furrow my brow in confusion. Who is she? I can understand why she’d be nervous of me; I’m a dragon. Who wouldn’t be jittery approaching one? But that just begs the question of why she’s gathering up her courage to come over to me in the first place.

Finally, she stops a few steps away from the bench I’m sitting at.

“Can I help you?” I ask her after a few seconds of her not doing anything.

She looks at me for another second before taking a breath through her nostrils and then opens her mouth to speak. “Baelor, we need to talk.” She says.

One second passes. Two seconds. Three. And then her familiar voice registers in my mind and my eyes shoot wide open.

Luna can see it in his eyes. He knows it’s her. He recognizes her voice and now it is the time of reckoning, whether it be for Baelor or Luna herself is still unclear to her. But Luna steels herself to be ready for whatever comes next.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Baelor screams and takes off running away from her as fast as his long legs can go.

Luna blinks. She was not ready for that.

“H-HEY!” She calls out indignantly. Luna takes off of the ground and begins pursuing the fleeing dragon.

Luna manages to catch up to him fairly quickly, her wings carrying her forward faster than his legs are carrying him…


Luna sputters and coughs out the dirt that was flung into her face from Baelor kicking off of the ground just in front of her.

She regains her bearings and flies to catch back up to him again. This time, it is much more difficult to catch up to the fleeing dragon, with each of his strides pushing him forward in a blur that she can barely follow with her eyes. Nevertheless, Luna pushes on, wings flapping to generate powerful winds behind her to aid in her pursuit. She follows Baelor even as he jukes and strafes to the sides in an attempt to shake her off.

“Hey! What the heck is going on?!” A female voice calls out to Luna from her side.

Luna looks to her right and sees another sky blue pegasus mare, but with a rainbow mane, keeping pace with Luna with her own flapping wings.

“What’re you doing to Bael? Huh?” She asks crossly.

“Nothing! I just wanted to talk! He then started screaming and running away and I’m trying to catch him!” Luna defends herself. Then curses under her breath when she realizes she took her eyes off her target. She looks back to see that he’s not in front of her anymore and she pulls up short in the air to try to locate him.

‘There!’ Luna finds him off to her left, sprinting for all he’s worth to get away. She blasts off after him with another burst of wind.

“You sure that’s all that you did?” The other mare asks her with suspicion as Luna pursues Baelor, still managing to keep pace with Luna through her own flight efforts.

“Yes!” Luna answers in exasperation of the mare almost distracting her again.

“Okay then, I’ll see what I can do to hold him up. Just hang tight for a few secs. Kay?” The rainbow-maned pegasus tells her.

“What?” Luna exclaims. But the other mare is already breaking away from Luna’s side in the air.

Luna shakes her head and keeps up her pursuit of Baelor, idly contemplating and then discarding the idea to push him into the air with a measured air blast.

Five seconds later, Luna hears a surprising sound up ahead.

“HaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” The rainbow-headed pegasus plows into Baelor’s side and sends them both skipping across the surface of a lake to Luna’s left

Luna halts in mid-air and hovers over the water, waiting for one of them to emerge. And she’s rewarded with a face-full of lake water when Baelor bursts upwards out of the lake in an explosive geyser of liquid.

“GYAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” The pegasus mare holds onto Baelor’s waist for dear life as he rockets away once again.

Luna shakes out the water from her mane, and then sets her gaze on Baelor with irritation. ‘Okay, that is enough!’ She thinks.

Luna gathers energy in her wings and focuses on the path she thinks Baelor is taking in the air. She starts up the energy flow in front of her and then shoots forward like a bullet from the force of her created slipstream.

Luna slams into Baelor’s side mid-air and sends all three of them careening down into the forested canopy of the woods below them.

Several painful collisions with tree branches and other foliage later, and Luna lands heavily on top of Baelor, who then began struggling from underneath her and violently pushes both mares off of him with a yell. Luna corrects herself in the air and notices he’s about to start running again.

THAT IS ENOUGH!” Luna shouts out in the Royal Canterlot Voice. She un-transforms herself back into her alicorn self and then grabs Baelor in her magic to stop him.

Luna feels it an instant after that. The wave of fear slams into her soul and Luna realizes her mistake when Baelor rips through her magic hold with a blast of red energy. Baelor’s switched tactics from “flight” to “fight.”

Luna’s eyes widen in fear of this. “Baelor wai-.” She skids on her hooves after a wind-powered dodge with her wings just barely in time to avoid a bolt of lightning. She has to back-step rapidly because Baelor’s on her in an instant with lightning surging off of the talons on his wings.

“Ba-.” Luna avoids a close call with one wing slash. “I’m sor-.” She can barely get out as she retreats from Baelor’s wild swings. “Plea-.” She trips over a root and her back slams into a tree.Two blinding white talons fall on her like guillotines. “AAAAAHHHHH!!!” Luna screams, closing her eyes in terror.

The blow never comes.

Luna slowly opens her eyes to see Baelor’s talons shakily hovering over her head, no longer charged with electricity. Baelor is breathing heavily, with eyes staring straight into hers with what Luna can only assume is wild panic still lingering within, but fading quickly.

Baelor slowly pulls his wing-talons away from her face and takes several trembling steps away from her. After he’s put some distance between them, he hesitantly sits down and looks at his feet, his eyes still wide and unfocused.

Once he does Luna gasps out loud and takes several lungfuls of air. She forgot to breath!

The silence that descends on them, as they try to regain their breath, is thick.

“Faust’s fat flanks in a funhouse! That was freakin’ intense!” Luna jerks her head to the voice and sees the rainbow-maned pegasus mare sitting off to the side with a look of intimidated awe at the two of them.

Luna furrows her brow at that exclamation. She’s never heard that one before.

“Rainbow… why’d you tackle me into a lake?” Baelor murmurs out, drawing Luna’s attention back to him.

Rainbow tilts her head at him. “Uh, cause you weren’t stopping? I needed a way to slow you down and get you to talk to,” Rainbow points a hoof at Luna. “-Night…mare… Moon? Huh, that actually explains why you were running.” Rainbow says with a contemplative hoof to her chin. Luna frowns at being called her alternate form.

“Her name is Luna.” Baelor says.

“Hm? What?” Rainbow hums.

“Her name. Is Luna. Not Nightmare Moon. Don’t call her Nightmare Moon.” Baelor tells her with a blank voice. Luna blinks in surprise at this. It almost seems as if Baelor’s defending her.

“Why?” Rainbow questions.

“Just don’t, alright? She’s Luna, and the nightmare is over now. So just let it go.” Baelor tells her, now looking more stable with his breathing.

Rainbow frowns at Baelor. “Do you remember when she blasted a hole in you with lightning?” She asks.

“Rainbow Dash!” Baelor snaps at her.

“Okay! Okay. Fine, I won’t call her Nightmare Moon.” Rainbow Dash relents. She ruffles her wings in irritation. “So now what?” She asks.

Luna sees Baelor let out a patient sigh. “Rainbow… would you mind leaving us alone for a bit, please?” He asks Rainbow.

Rainbow Dash stares at Baelor for a moment. “You’re not going to try to run away again, are you?” She asks him suspiciously.

He rubs his brow-ridges with the claws on his front foot. “No, Rainbow, I’m not going to run away again. I just panicked is all that happened. I’m calm now, so I’m not going to run. Now can you please give us some privacy?” He asks her again.

Rainbow stares hard at Baelor for a bit more. “…Alright. I guess I could stand to take a nap after that quick workout. But I’ll be sleeping lightly till Bael comes back.” Rainbow says while looking pointedly at Luna, to her surprise.

“Rainbow. Leave.” Baelor tells her.

“Alright. See you later Bael.” Rainbow says.

“See you.” Baelor responds. Rainbow Dash takes off and flies out past the forest canopy and into the sky above. And then Luna is left in the forest alone with Baelor.

“Element of Loyalty should be called the Element of Mistrust.” Luna overhears Baelor mutter under his breath.

“It is… natural… for her to be suspicious I would harm you in some way. Considering what happened to you the last time we were together.” Luna points out.

“And yet I’m the one that almost carved an “X” in your skull.” Baelor says self-loathingly.

Luna winces. “That was not-.”

“Don’t!” Baelor interrupts her. “Don’t defend me. I could have killed you. Again. I almost killed you. Again. It isn’t okay. So don’t try to convince me it is.” Baelor tells her with slumped shoulders.

Luna stays silent. And that silence is met with Baelor’s silence. And their silence melds with the forest’s silence. Everything is silent.

“So I’m guessing Celestia told you where I was, and you’ve only just now managed to work up the courage to come confront me. Am I right?” Baelor asks her after several seconds.

Luna blinks at his deduction. “No, actually. She did not specifically tell me where you resided. I just noticed you in town while I was disguised.” She answers.

Baelor stares at her for a moment before answering. “…And why were you in town?” He asks her, surprisingly not questioning whether she was lying or not.

“I… stumbled upon this town while flying a couple days ago and found a reason to return several times after.” Luna answers, choosing to not mention Ditzy.

“…Okay then.” Baelor says simply.

The silence returns again. However, Luna can hear some bird song in the distance being started up again, the avian critters apparently deciding that disturbance caused by Baelor and Luna earlier is not an immediate danger to them.

Luna decides that she needs to break the silence between them this time. “I believe… we both have something to say to each other.” She states.

Baelor looks up at her. “Yeah. I think we do.” He replies.

More silence. Then Baelor takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” He tells her, voice soaked with regret.

Luna mimics his long breath. “I as well.” She answers with equal regret.

The both of them simply sit there contemplating each other’s apology as the birds sing their songs of the forest around them.

“That did not feel anywhere near enough.” Luna states.

“No, it didn’t. And I doubt we’ll be able to say anything that will feel like enough.” Baelor surmises.

“… So what do we do?” Luna asks him hesitantly.

Baelor looks to his feet in thought. “Keep on living our lives, I suppose.” He guesses. Baelor stands up slowly. “If you ever feel like talking, I guess, just find me. You seem to know where I live.” He says before walking in the direction of town.

Luna feels as if there are a thousand different things she wishes to talk with him about right now, but she has no idea how to vocalize them. So she can do nothing except listen to Baelor’s retreating steps.

But she does manage to think of one question that started niggling in her mind. “Baelor.” She says. He stops and turns to look at her. “Why did you tell your friend, Rainbow Dash, to not call me Nightmare Moon?” She asks.

Baelor looks away and looks as if he’s thinking. “Because I know being called that hurts you.” He answers. Luna’s eyes shoot wide open in shock. He was defending her?

“That… makes it sound as if you were defending me.” Baelor says nothing to this. “Why?” Luna asks.

“Because you were sent to the moon for a thousand years for trying to cause eternal night. That was your punishment, stacked on top of dealing with me for the entire time. You’ve paid for your crimes a thousand times over already.” Baelor says.

“Why does that have to do with why you defended me?” Luna asks him.

“You are not Nightmare Moon anymore. That part of your life is over now. And since it’s over and you’ve paid the price for it, you shouldn’t have to keep paying for it every time someone new comes across you.” He tells her.

“Baelor. Why?” She asks him, growing frustrated at him not answering the question she’s asking.

He turns to look away from her. “You have as much right to be happy in life as anyone else,” He answers. “What’s going on between us is just that. Between us. I’m not going to let others be dragged into our problem. And I’m also not going to let them waltz in like Dash almost did either.” His answer makes her numb with its profoundness.

And in her numbness, Baelor takes his leave. Luna only just manages to come out of her thoughts in time to see his tail disappearing behind a distant tree before he’s completely out of sight.

She sits there for a few more moments before taking flight up through the trees and turning in the air to head back to Canterlot, her thoughts going over Baelor’s parting words. ‘A right to be happy… as much right as anypony else?’

Chapter XVIII: Proditor

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Chapter XVIII: Proditor

Three days have passed since Luna confronted me in the Whitetail Woods. Well, technically she confronted me in the park, but I unintentionally moved it into the woods. Regardless, things stayed relatively quiet after that. Due to what happened though, I was a little too reserved and withdrawn to try to steer things in a better direction in terms of the fashion show Rarity wanted to put on. Rarity finished the girls’ dresses after they asked for their changes, the whole fashion show debacle happened, they made Rarity’s dress and then the whole thing resolved itself like it did in the show. And I was nowhere to be seen for the entire thing.

The outfit Rarity made for me looks pretty close to my uniform, but instead of orange, it’s uniformly black with golden accents and a yellow sash to wrap around my waist, and also yellow foot wraps. I also found out from feeling it that the silk quality is much higher than my original uniform. I thanked her for spending the time to make it, but I wasn’t really feeling up to the show itself when it came around. I tried to look happy, and enthused, but I’m not sure how convincing my smile was. It all just kind of passed by too quickly.

Trixie also had to move on to continue her show in other places a few days later. This only worsened my mood, but I did give her a heartfelt hug before she left. I’ll miss her.

Which brings us to now, with me lying down on the grass, underneath the shade of my tree, next to the lake, in the spot I usually train at. Thinking. Brooding. And other things in my head that end in “-ing”. Mostly thinking though. Mostly about how none of the horrible things that have happened so far would have happened if I wasn’t here. If I was never ripped from my world and sent to Equestria.

For one thing, I’d have never been sent to the moon and hurt Luna over and over again. And for another, she’d have never hurt me, and I’d still be home with my family, safe. And… I’ll admit, that’s not exactly a long list. But does it really have to be? I can say with absolute certainty that the counter-list is even shorter on reasons why my being here is a good thing. I’m helping the Mane Six out? No, not really. As the Gala dress problem showed, they don’t need me. None of them need me because things will just work out fine like they usually do for them. If anything, it seems like things get more complicated or dangerous when I get involved. Like with the dragon napping on the mountain. Or with my sparring match with Azure. Or with trying to teach Morrigan. I’m not helping anyone with my actions. All I’m doing is hurting them.

I slowly raise my clawed hand up to look at my palm. With a small amount of focus, a spark of electricity jolts between one of my claw tips to my palm. ‘Yeah… can’t cause anything but pain with these claws.’ I think morosely. I close my eyes and lower my claw back down in front of me.

“Well, you definitely look like someone troubled.” A male voice says from behind me.

My eyes snap open and I turn my head around to see a gray pegasus stallion with a long and tied-off darker gray mane standing a few steps behind me. “Afternoon.” He greets me.

I blink in confusion. “Er… hi.” I respond quietly.

The stallion looks around the area we’re in. “Very peaceful place you’ve chosen to rest in.” He notes in a gravely low voice. I raise a brow at his comment.

He doesn’t seem to notice it. “Do you mind if I join you?” He asks.

“… No, go right ahead.” I answer. He nods and walks on over to, like me, sit facing the lake.

I’ve always thought of myself as an easygoing guy. I don’t usually go out of my way to interact with people, and it surprises me when they try to interact with me. But once it happens, I don’t mind too much and sometimes I even enjoy it. If anyone else had asked to sit near me like he just did, I’d only really think about why they think they need my permission.

But this time, with this stallion, I’m focusing on something else. Most other ponies I’m near almost always have this feeling of fear around them that I’ve quickly attributed to being around a predator species. But with him… it’s different. I can feel the difference. He’s not afraid of me in the same way every other pony is. The best way I can describe it is that most other ponies feel… flighty, with their fear. It’s a really small amount, fear is too strong a word for it even, they’re just nervous really.

This stallion doesn’t feel flighty… he feels as if he’s sizing me up.

“You’ve got quite an ability there.” He suddenly says.

‘Wait, what?’ I think in surprise. If my focus wasn’t completely on him before, it is now.

The stallion lets out a small chuckle. “And it’s only more interesting now that you’re focused.” He adds. How does he know about my fear element?

“Who are you?” I ask him.

“Not your enemy, for one thing. And a possible future ally for another.” He answers cryptically. I furrow my brow. That didn’t answer my question.

“While… that’s reassuring to hear… I would appreciate a little bit more frankness until I have a better idea of who I’m dealing with.” I say neutrally, guarding my emotions. I’m starting to think I may need to defend myself.

The stallion nods. “Very well. In that case, my name is Proditor. And you’ve very recently been offered an important position from Celestia. I’m here to get a measure of you for it.” He tells me, looking into my eyes with his green ones.

An important position? Wait, is he talking about-

“How do you know about that?” I ask him.

He looks sideways at me. “How do you think I know about it?” He rebounds the question back at me.

How do I think you know about it? I think I’m a little miffed that you’re going back to being cryptic. I level a half-lidded glare of annoyance.

Prodtitor just closes his eyes and lets out a small huff. “If you can’t use your mind to get the answers you need then you may wish to consider refusing Celestia’s offer. It’ll take more than just physical skills to fulfill your responsibilities.” He says.

I frown at his words, but don’t otherwise react. It’s annoying, but his words do have an amount of truth to them. Using my mind to get the answers I need… He knew about Celestia’s offer to me. So that probably means either he’s someone Celestia trusts, or he’s been watching me very closely for some time now. For some reason, neither of those seem too outrageous, as far as guesses go.

I tap a claw on the back of my fist. But there is something else about him that’s nagging at me. The way his presence feels. It’s familiar, but I know for a fact I’ve never met him before. But why does it seem important?

I glance to my left at Proditor. He’s still got his eyes closed, and he’s sitting in the same position. But my eyes drop to his wing closest to me. The tips of his feathers are twitching slightly. We’re both twitchy. And then I have a thought: If one thing’s similar about us, why not another?

“You’re a Knight.” I say aloud.

He opens his eyes and looks at me questioningly. “And how do you figure that?” He asks me, curious.

“Maybe you should use your mind to get the answers you need.” I reply. I think he smiles slightly at that, but it’s gone before I can say for sure.

“Well, this is definitely a first. You’re the first one to guess that on the first try. Yes, you are correct, I am a Knight.” He confirms with a nod.

At his affirmation, some of the things I noticed before start to make sense. His presence seems familiar to me because, like me, he’s a warrior. He’s probably had his will tested as he risked his life in combat against others. He’s experienced pain, and had to endure suffering. And most importantly he’s not afraid of me anymore, because I’mnot afraid of him anymore. My caution around him was reflected by his caution of me. And since I’m relaxing now, he’s relaxing as well.

“You’re certainly perceptive when it comes to reading someone.” Proditor notes, seeing me relax finally.

“Is this part of you “getting a measure” of me?” I ask him, letting the tips of my wing-talons rest on the ground next to me.

“It’s a part of it. But I’ve been doing that since I was sent to look for you five days ago.” He answers.

“For that long? Why reveal yourself now?” I question.

“Because there is much more I could learn about you from talking to you myself, rather than listening in on conversations with others. I’m sure you can agree that people act differently depending on how others interact with them. From observing you at a distance, I learned that you care about the Element Bearers, and the young dragon with the Bearer of Magic, enough that you will be polite with them, and also will attempt to guide them in the right direction in their exploits.” I quirk a brow-ridge. That’s fairly accurate.

“But I also learned,” Proditor continues. “that when interacting with those that are wary of you, such as with the other townsponies, that you tend to leave them be, and do not do anything that could cause a panic. You understand other’s fears of you and so you respect them, but do not forcibly try to correct them.”

“And when confronted with one you have been dramatically hurt by, you will run. And should that fail, you will fight. Viciously. With barely enough restraint to realize you should not try to kill a Princess of Equestria.” He says with a studying look in his eyes. I look away from him, shame flooding my mind at his reminder of yesterday.

“What have you learned from talking with me personally?” I ask him quietly.

“That you are confused.” He answers with what sounds like sympathy. “You are so confused about what you feel, about which emotion rings true within the swirling whirlpool of emotions in your heart, that you don’t feel anything at all.” Proditor tells me.

I look over to him. He hit the nail on the head. Damn it. I close my eyes and shake my head at it all.

“You deserve to be happy as much as anypony else.”

My eyelids shoot open. “What?” I say.

“Why did you tell Princess Luna that? What reason did you have to give her such kind words when by all common sense you should hate her?” He asks me.

“Because… because… I don’t know.” I answer, unsure.

“Why didn’t you kill her when you had the chance to make sure she could never hurt you again?” He presses.

I curl my claws into the dirt at this. “I don’t know.” I answer, hardness in my voice.

“What do your instincts say?” He asks louder than the other questions.

“I don’t know!” I snap back.

“Yes you do! You’re just refusing to listen to them.” He tells me fiercely.

A surge of anger sprouts up within me, but I snuff it out before I can do anything about it. Then I’m sent sprawling from a swift blow to my side. I round on Proditor, his hind leg retracted. He kicked me!

Proditor’s provocations build up and agitate the white fury that I’ve been keeping contained and I feel it’s pressure building up in my core.

“Don’t keep it contained! Let it out! What do your instincts say?!” Predator demands.

“RRRRAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!” I scream in frustration, my voice screeches out in a shrill cry of primal force. Red energy of fear in the form of anger tears its way across the lake in front of us. Water gets pushed violently out of the way and the energy slams into the opposite shore in an explosion of sand and dirt. Droplets rain down back into the lake as mist forms miniature rainbows over the lake. It would have been beautiful if I weren’t so angry and frustrated. I breathe out hot breath from between my tightly clenched teeth, my face screwed tightly into a fierce snarling visage.

I stand there with a heaving chest, slowly recovering my composure. When I do, I answer Proditor. “My instincts tell me to rend the ground to nothing. To tear those that hurt me to pieces. And to rip my enemies apart before they have a chance to do it to me. They tell me to strike first, strike fast, strike hard, and make sure they don’t get a chance to strike back. They tell me not to trust anyone, and that I should just leave and stay to myself.” I hiss out at Proditor. “They tell me to fight, and they tell me to run, and to forsake everyone for my own safety. So I hope you can forgive me, for deciding that my instincts don’t know jack, about what I should do with my life.” I spit out.

“…Are you done?” Proditor asks me, unfazed.

I glare at him before snorting and turning to walk away. Doesn’t help though, considering I hear him following me.

“So what do you plan on doing? Just keep snuffing out your feelings for the rest of your long life?” Proditor, well, prods, at me.

“Why does it matter to you?” I ask him irrately.

“It doesn’t. But I’m asking you because you’re not asking it yourself. You need to get these thoughts and emotions hashed out before…” He trails off.

“Before what?” I question him.

“… Letting yourself stew in them isn’t a good idea.” Is all he says.

I slow my walk down to a stop. My eyes slowly close as I contemplate that. And once again, he’s right. It doesn’t make sorting it out any easier though.

I let out a sigh to calm myself. “You sure seem to know a lot from just watching me for a few days.” I comment to him.

“I’ve been alive long enough to know how to read others.” He responds.

“Pretty sure not as long as me.” I mutter under my breath.

“That, I don’t doubt.” Proditor responds. I roll my eyes. Of course he heard that.

“So what now?” I ask him. “Are you going to pass judgment on me or something like that? Is knighthood not the right path for me?”

“Only you can answer that question for yourself,” Proditor tells me. “But if I were to give my opinion, I’d say you should work out your other problem first, before focusing on whether you should become a Knight or not. Too many problems at once will just make things harder to figure out.”

So I just have to figure it out myself. Typical.

Proditor smiles slightly, as if reading my thoughts. “Of the many trials of a Knight, getting our heads back on straight is the one that we all go through regularly. It’s best you figure out if you can manage to do that repeatedly.” He instructs.

I sigh in resignation, and then look at him to give him a nod. Once again, his words carry truth to them. “So,” I say, quirking a brow at him. “How long can I expect for you to keep creeping around?” I ask him.

“As of now, I need to move on. I have my own tasks that I need to return to, but you can expect for me to drop by now and then to check up on you. I will say that you’ve caught my interest a bit. Drama and personal problems aside, you have the potential to become one of the best of us. I shall see you in the future, Baelor.” Proditor tells me. Then he turns to walk away.

I frown at his parting statement. One of the best of them? How can he make that kind of conclusion?


I look up and see Rainbow Dash flying down. Curiosity of Proditor’s reaction causes me to glance to him, but he’s gone. I don’t have time to dwell on it before Rainbow stops in a hover near me. “What’s taking you so long? It’s almost time to go!” She tells me.

I blink in confusion. “Time to go?” I ask, not knowing what she’s talking about.

“Seriously? You don’t remember? We’re going out to one of Applejack’s relatives’ towns to deliver a tree. We talked about it, like, two days ago.” She informs me with crossed forehooves.

I try to think back to two days ago, but I can’t really remember anything specific other than that it was the last day Trixie was with us before heading out. Crap, did I zone that conversation out?

“Ugh, you seriously weren’t paying attention? You know what, never mind. You gotta grab what you need for the trip quick or Twilight might have an aneurism if we miss the train. She doesn’t like it when we go off her scheduling.” Rainbow informed me.

I grimace at the thought of Twilight falling on the ground in a twitchy heap. “Yeah, no arguments here. I’ll just head on down to the station now, I don’t need anything other than what I’ve got on me.” I tell her. What I have on me equates to just my whips around my wrists.

“Alright, that’s actually pretty good. C’mon then, last one there gets bottom bunk!” Rainbow declares before zooming off in what equates to a sprint for a flier.

I double take at her departure. “Hey! What happened to “Ready, Set, Go?” I shout ahead to her while taking flight with a burst of wind from my wings to catch up.

“Ya snooze, ya lose! And when I win, I’ll be snoozing up high and pretty in the top bunk Baelor!” Rainbow calls back.

Despite Rainbow’s obvious cheating though, I’m actually grinning for real for the first time since encountering Luna again. ‘Getting my head back on straight… I think I can manage that.’ I think to myself while chasing after Rainbow.

Chapter XIX: Appaloosa

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Chapter XIX

“Ya’ know, I expected more from you Bael. After seeing you in action while just running, I thought for sure I’d have to go all out to beat you in the air, but you’re kind of a pushover in a wing-race.” Rainbow comments idly from the bed above mine in the train car.

“Yeah yeah, live it up Rainbow. You still cheated at the very beginning.” I retort good-naturedly. I’m honestly not too picky about where I sleep. If it’s an actual bed, it’s practically heaven for me considering all the times I’ve had to sleep on the ground in the past. Besides, I totally let her win.

“No need to be a sore loser buddy!” Rainbow says smugly.

“You will rue the day you didn’t destroy me Rainbow Dash.” I respond with a comically deep villain voice. She laughs.

“I’m glad to see you’re feeling better Bael. You’ve been kind of… distant, since Trixie left.” Twilight says from her own bed across and to the side of ours.

“I get why he was sad though, she’s only been gone for, like two days but it feels like years. I was so disappointed she didn’t want me to throw her a going-away party.” Pinkie says.

I feel a twinge of guilt. I guess I didn’t hide my depression as well as I thought. “Sorry. I’ve had a lot on my mind recently. Kind of needed some time to think.” I tell them.

“Yeah, I figured. Kinda hard to be cheery when you’ve got as much baggage as you do. You’ve been doing one heck of a job trying though.” Rainbow comments, suddenly sounding a little more serious. She’s probably thinking about our run in with Luna.

I wonder if she’s told the other girls about that?

I smile up at her, even though she can’t see it. “Thanks for understanding. And also for giving me some space.” I thank her and the other girls in the car.

“While we’re on the topic of giving, could you all please give me some quiet so I can sleep?” Spike asks us irritably from his bed.

“Sorry Spike. We’ll be quiet.” Twilight tells him. Spike grumbles at this, but doesn’t say anything else and he curls back up under his blankets.

“And we should all probably go to sleep too. We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.” Twilight adds to the rest of us. She then turns the light off in the train car with her hoof. This act is met with several “awwwww”s from the other girls in the car. I chuckle at this, and pull my sheets up over my body and rest my head on the pillow behind me.

Not that I’m trying to fall asleep just yet. After all, there’s still one more thing that’s going to happen before everyone actually falls asleep.

“Pssst!” Speaking of which… “Pinkie Pie. Are you asleep yet?” Rainbow’s voice whispers out from on top of her bunk. I see the glow from Rainbow carrying a lit candle near Spike’s bunk.

“No. Are you asleep yet?” Pinkie whispers back.

“If I was sleeping, how could I have asked if you were asleep yet?” Rainbow asks in annoyance.

“Oh yeah!” Pinkie giggles quietly.

“When we get to Appaloosa, do you think we’re going to have to carry that heavy tree all the way to the orchard?” Rainbow continues in a whisper that everyone in the car can hear.

“What tree? Do you mean Bloomberg?” Pinkie asks in confusion.

“No, Fluttershy.” Rainbow sarcastically replies.

“Fluttershy’s not a tree, silly.” Pinkie tells Rainbow in amusement.

“What’s going on?” Twilight asks with interest, jumping into the whispered conversation.

“Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy’s a tree!” Pinkie informs Twilight.

“I do not think she’s a tree! I was just-.”

“Did you say she was a tree?” Twilight interrupts Rainbow’s hasty defense.

“No! Well… yes… but-.” Rainbow stumbles with her speech.

“Ya know, she’s not a tree, right?” Twilight asks in confusion.

“She’s not a tree, Dashie.” Pinkie backs Twilight up.

“I’d like to be a tree.” Fluttershy jumps in.

“Trees have a pretty impressive life span. Probably as long as the Princesses.” I add with a grin while still in my bunk. I’ve been struggling to not burst out into laughter from the entire conversation.

*gasp* Does that mean Fluttershy could be a Princess if she was a tree?” Pinkie asks excitedly. Oh my god Pinkie you’ve made this infinitely more hilarious!

“No Pinkie. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.” Twilight informs us.

“Twilight Sparkle! How dare you! If Fluttershy wants to be a Tree Princess, then by golly she can be a Tree Princess. All she has to do is believe!” I say with a serious voice if not a serious face. I have no idea how my voice didn’t crack into full-blown laughter while saying that.

“All hail Princess Fluttershy!” Pinkie cheer-whispers.

“Oh for Pete’s sake!” Spike exclaims in exasperation before getting up, stomping to the door of the train car, and leaving for the next one.

The car is silent for a moment. “Well that was kind of huffy.” Twilight notes.

“Huffy the magic dragon.” Fluttershy adds, and everyone chuckles at the joke.

“Would you all be quiet! NOW!” Rarity snaps aggressively. The candle glow on her mud-covered face definitely giving her words a much more fierce quality to the command. The girls gasp and blow out the light.

It still takes me a minute or two to stop laughing though.

The next morning, I’m woken up by the rumbling of a buffalo stampede. Upon looking around, I notice that the other girls are as well, and they all crowd around the same window to look outside.

I however, don’t. Instead of joining the girls, I rush to the train car door that leads to the rear.

I enter the one passenger car between the sleeping car and the caboose and I step as quickly as I can to the next door. I know what happens next, and I can prevent it. All it’ll take is a quick icing of the joint between the cars and Little Strongheart won’t be able to unhook the caboose and kidnap Spike and Bloomberg.

The train car lurches heavily to the side and I get sent crashing into one of the passenger seats with a grunt of pain from the impact. I grip the seat with my claws to prevent myself from flying to the other end of the car from the rebound. Once I’m sure the buffalo outside aren’t going to slam into the train again, I get back up, run to the back door, and wrench it open.

I thrust my claw down towards the car link, but then pull up short before I can coat it with ice.

The ice will definitely stop them from unhooking the caboose. I’ve worked out how to form it into the equivalent hardness of blue ice, which rivals steel in its density. But what if this is a bad idea? The last time I took action to protect the girls ended up making it worse. What if this turns into the dragon on the mountain all over again? Little Stronheart in the show said they weren’t seeking to harm anyone, but how far are they really willing to go to get the tree? If they get desperate, they might try tipping the train over to get Bloomberg.

But I can’t just sit by and do nothing!

Over the roar of the moving train and the wind, I can hear Rainbow trying and failing to talk to Strongheart up top, and I have to make a decision before my window closes.

Instead of freezing the links with my outstretched claws, I reach for the side of the doors instead. I swing myself out from between the two train cars and take flight and climb up into the air with several swift wing flaps.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to do nothing and let things sort things out. But I’m also not going to stop the buffalo from taking the caboose with Spike and Applejack’s tree in it either. Instead, I’m going to wait. Wait for the right moment to step in to minimize the amount of conflict. And to do that, I need to disappear and just keep an eye on everyone for a bit.

I climb higher, and higher into the desert sky, until I can feel a very brisk chill around me from the altitude. Only when I feel this, do I look downward, When I do, I see Rainbow Dash slam into the inconveniently timed sign. And then Little Strongheart disconnects the back train car from the rest, and the buffalo roll it back down the tracks in the opposite direction of the train’s destination.

I let out a sigh. ‘No turning back now.’ I think. I follow the buffalo from the air.

A few miles down the rails, the buffalo stop pushing the caboose to retrieve their ill-gotten gains. When they open the car’s door, they discover Spike, who looks frightened at first, but quickly calms down when all of the buffalo bow their heads in respect to him once their surprise wears off. They then proceed to place Spike and Bloomberg on their backs and travel away from the tracks towards their camp.

The flight to the buffalo camp doesn’t take very long. The buffalo travel fairly quickly over the ground so all I really need to do is glide and occasionally flap my wings to gain more height.

Once they arrive, I make my descent down to the outer edge of their camp.

Some buffalo see me land a little away and drop into aggressive crouches, but pull up short when they realize I’m another dragon.

“Another one!” One of them exclaims in surprise.

A different buffalo approaches me with his head lowered in respect. “Mighty dragon. To what do we owe to your powerful presence?” He asks me.

Fear is wafting off of him. So their respect for dragons is born from fear. I’m not surprised. It seems to be a common occurrence. “You’ve taken one of my friends into your camp. I’d like him back.” I answer him neutrally.

He cringes from hearing this. “Ah, I am deeply sorry about that. We were not aware he was in the train car we had taken from the ponies. I assure you, he is unharmed, and we can take you to him now if you would like.” He offers in an effort to placate me.

“Very well. Take me to him.” I answer evenly. Normally, I don’t like others being afraid of me for no reason. But for now, I’ll deal with it. I might be able to use this uneasiness around me later if things proceed similarly as in the show.

The buffalo nods, and then turns around to lead me into his camp. I follow him into the circling of teepees, several other buffalo staring at me with various amounts of nervousness. Once again, I’m not surprised. A young dragon like Spike would obviously not inspire this, he’s a baby, and can’t do much to cause mass destruction like grown dragons. But I’m obviously not a baby, and more than likely they might be thinking I’m some kind of adolescent like the ones Spike will meet on the migration months away.

It’s not a bad guess, considering my size, but it’s also not a correct guess either. I’m so much older than those teens that if I actually grew with that age I just might be bigger than Dragon Lord Torch. Fortunately, I’m perfectly alright with my size, and I’ll be perfectly fine with it for the rest of my life if I don’t grow at all either.

Getting back on topic, the buffalo leads me to Spike, who’s standing next to the campfire talking to Little Strongheart. He turns his head to look at us at our approach. “Bael! What are you doing here?” He asks me in surprise.

I give him a half-smile. “Just making sure my favorite little buddy’s alright. You doing okay?” I ask him back.

“I’m fine. And get this! These guys totally respect dragons and stuff. So I’m like, an honored guest. And now I guess you are now too.” He informs me with a grin.

“So I figured out.” I say, looking around at the many gazes on me. The fear is lessoning, but not by much. “So, do you have any idea why they went to so much trouble for an apple tree?” I ask Spike.

“Oh, uh, no. But Little Strongheart here was actually just about to tell me.” Spike says, gesturing to said female buffalo.

She steps forward a bit and gives her own little bow to me. “Welcome, mighty dragon, to our camp. I’m very sorry we took your friend. We didn’t know he was in the train car at the time. We were only after the tree.” She explains to me timidly.

“Yes, that is what I was told by one of the other buffalo outside the camp. It’s fine. Mistakes were made, but I don’t hold it against you. Now how about you start telling us why you all felt the need to steal a train car in the first place.” I recommend. I already know why, but I need to keep up appearances around Spike. I can’t just spontaneously already know why the buffalo stole Bloomberg without arousing suspicion.

She nods. “The settler ponies of Appaloosa are fairly new to this area of the desert. And they’ve ended up planting their massive orchard of apple trees right on the path of our stampeding grounds without our permission. With the trees blocking the way, we cannot get through, and so we are stuck here, unable to proceed with the ceremony to reach another part of the desert with more food. And the ponies refuse to move their trees somewhere else.” She explains to me, thankfully becoming more confident speaking to me from the frustration of describing her people’s problem.

I give a hum of thought. “An entire town and orchard is a lot to build. Why didn’t you ask them to stop before they were finished planting the orchard?” I ask her. I have a feeling why that might be, but I’d like to know for sure.

“Our tribe is always on the move from one part of the desert, to another. It has taken us until now to reach this part of our stampeding route, and by then, the orchard was already fully planted. We did not know about the settlers until it was already too late.” She answers.

“Well, that’s definitely a problem,” I state. “And I’m assuming that the reason you stole the tree is because you don’t want any more being added to the orchard. Am I correct?” I ask her. She nods.

I look down. “If you’re all really willing to go to so much trouble for just one tree, things must be pretty tense right now.” I say, not really expecting an answer.

“Yes, that is right.” She answers.

“… One last question… how close do you think it’s getting to where the rest of your tribe will decide to take action against the townsfolk?” I ask her seriously.

She looks surprised at this, and then saddened, before she sighs and answers me. “Tempers have been rising a lot lately. I do not know if Chief Thunderhooves will manage to stay idle for more than two more days. It may even happen sooner.” She answers.

I close my eyes in thought. So things are proceeding pretty close to the show. Hmmm. “Alright, I have an idea, but I’m going to have to leave Spike here for a bit. You alright with staying here Spike?” I ask him.

“Huh? Well, I guess. But where are you going?” He asks me.

“I, am going to head to Appaloosa to let Twilight and the others know that you’re alright. And I’m also going to see what I can do about that orchard problem. What I need you to do, until then, is wait for Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie to get here, and then update them on the buffalo’s plight. I saw them briefly on the ground tracking the tribe as I followed them from above. Think you can do that Spike?” I ask him. I didn’t actually see them, but I know they’re coming. Might as well alert him about it.

“You can count on me!” Spike declares with a salute.

I nod at him. Then I turn to look at Little Strongheart. “We’ll get this whole mess sorted out. Don’t worry. Just try to keep your tribe mates from doing anything too hotheaded before giving diplomacy a try please.” I tell her before taking to the air.

“So let me see if ah’ve got this straight,” Applejack says with a raised hoof. “You left Spike with the ones that ponynapped him, and let them know that RD and Pinkie were headed their way?” She asks me incredulously.

“You have a very selective memory,” I answer dryly. “Yes, that is indeed what I did. But as I told you already, they didn’t know they took Spike, and when they learned they did, they treated him like a guest and are taking good care of him. And I told them Pinkie and Rainbow were heading their way so that the buffalo know that they’re our friends and don’t immediately try to kick them out. They’re not prisoners, and they should be along back here by morning if I’m guessing right.” I tell her and the others.

Twilight lets out a sigh of relief. “Thank Celestia Spike’s okay.” She says.

“But the buffalo still seem to expect a lot from the settler ponies.” Rarity notes with worry.

“They’re expectin’ too much if ya ask me.” AJ declares with a huff.

“But the land did belong to the buffalo first. They didn’t ever say that the ponies here could plant their orchard where they did.” Fluttershy points out.

“But Appaloosa still needs their orchard to be able to survive out here. Without it, everypony will starve!” Applejack argues.

“Applejack, no one’s going to force Appaloosa to get rid of all their food. That’d be like asking them to roll over and die. But that doesn’t mean it puts them in the right either. The orchard is still smack dab in the middle of their stampeding grounds. It’s a sacred tradition to them that they’ve practiced for literally centuries. Making them change their minds about where they need to run is going to be nearly impossible.” I point out to them.

“Ta’ be honest, I’m actually glad ta’ know the reason for why they want our trees gone. Ah’ll admit that I don’t like the idea of gettin’ rid of the orchard still, but at least I know it’s cause’ of a longstanding tradition of theirs. Ah know fer’ a fact us Apples have got some family traditions of our own that we wouldn’t ever consider losin’. Ain’t that right cous’?” Braeburn nudges Applejack with an elbow.

Applejack stubbornly holds onto her breath for a moment before letting it out as a sigh of acceptance. “Alright, fine. Ah’ suppose that’s true, and Ah’ can’t really begrudge them wantin’ to stick to tradition. But that still leaves us with a right mess to clean up that Ah have no clue how to solve.” Applejack points out.

“I have an idea that will probably work, provided the buffalo and townsponies are willing to listen.” I say.

Everypony looks to me at this. “Really! What is it?” Applejack asks me.

“Just make a path through the orchard wide enough room for the buffalo to stampede through. That way, you’ll only have to move a few of the trees instead of all of them.” I tell them the solution provided by the show.

They look to each other in astonishment. “Huh. Seems simple enough.” Rarity comments.

I shrug. “Sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones that are needed.” I answer.

“Well, Ah’m glad we have that figured out, now we just need to go tell the sheriff.” Braeburn says with relief.

“Tell me whut?”

I glance behind Braeburn and see Sheriff Silverstar approaching us.As soon as he catches sight of me, he raises a brow and starts scrutinizing me. “What’s with the big ol’ lizard? It givin’ any of you folks trouble?” He asks the others.

Heh, lizard. I wouldn’t say it’s original but it’s still better than outright fear at the sight of me. This guy doesn’t scare easily. He’s good in my book.

But from the feelings of irritation sparking from the other girls, they don’t seem to share my opinion on that. “No, he is not. And he’s not a lizard, he’s our friend.” Rarity says in my defense to Silverstar.

“Oh, beggin’ yer pardon then. So what is it ya’ need to tell me Braeburn?” He asks, turning his attention to said Apple stallion.

“Sheriff. Baelor here just came back from the buffalo camp and told us what he learned from them. And he’s got an idea to end the trouble they’ve been causin’ us.” I quirk a brow at Braeburn’s phrasing of that.

“Really now? Well then, spit it out boy! What is it?” The sheriff says with interest.

“Well, the buffalo are angry at us because we built our town and orchard here without their permission. And the orchard is in the way of their traditional stampedin’ ground. Baelor suggested we clear a path through the orchard to let them go through it without getting’ rid of all of our trees.” Braeburn explains.

The sheriff looks at Braeburn and nods. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t seem enthused by it. “That sounds like a plan. But while it’s relieving to know there’s a way to make them stop their actions, Ah’ve got bad news. Peach Heart is missing.” Silverstar says seriously.

Wait, what?

“Wait, what?” Braeburn exclaims in surprise.

“If this idea of yours works though, the buffalo will probably give her back. She’ll be safe and that’s what matters. It still steams me that they resorted to ponynapping to try to get what they want though.” Silverstar continues on, scowling in displeasure.

I don’t know what’s going on. This isn’t right. This wasn’t in the show. Not even remotely close.

“What are you talking about? You think the buffalo took her?” I ask him incredulously.

“Yes, Ah thought it was fairly obvious. Who else would take her?” Silverstar asks me.

“What makes you think she was taken? How did you reach that conclusion?” I ask him.

He levels a deadpan look at me. “Her neighbor got worried when she didn’t come back from a walk. Said she normally only takes about five minutes on her walks, and she hasn’t been seen for a little over a half hour. He searched town and then started looking out near the edge of the town limits. He found pony tracks out where she usually walks, and there were signs of somepony being dragged far out of town in the direction of the buffalo camp. He came to me at that point.” He informs me.

I lean back a bit, perturbed from this development. I shake my head slightly. “Did you send out a search party yet?” Applejack asks.

“That’s why Ah came lookin’ for Braeburn. Need one of mah’ best stallions before we can all head out to look for her. Ah have a feelin’ Ah know exactly where the trail will end though.” He says, pointedly looking in the direction of the buffalo camp.

I shake my head, trying to find a logical reason for where Peach Heart could actually be, but all I keep coming back to is the fact that I have no idea what’s actually going on. The buffalo don’t have her, I never saw her in the camp, and there’s no way they would have been able to beat me to Appaloosa while I was flying. And she’s been gone for two hours? Who, or what, would kidnap a mare all the way out here?

“But what about the buffalo? Somepony needs to be here to talk to them when Rainbow, Pinkie, and Spike get here.” Twilight points out.

“Hmmm… you do have a point. And if the buffalo have her, we can just ask them to let her go as well. Alright, we’ll stay here to negotiate.” The sheriff decides.

But the buffalo don’t have her! If no one’s going to go out looking for her because they think they’ll get her back from the buffalo, then wherever she is, it might be too late once they realize they need to go out to look for her.

I need to find out where she’s been taken. “I’m going to go searching for Peach Heart myself. Can you show me to the place you found where she was dragged off?” I ask Silverstar.

He looks at me with a raised brow. “That really ain’t necessary. You’d just be wastin’ yer time lookin’.” He responds.

“Well, it’s my time to waste. So can you show me or not?” I ask him, deciding I need the info more urgently than I need to point out his lack of concern for the missing mare’s safety.

He sighs. “Fine. Follow me.” He says to me before trotting back towards town.

I huff out breaths through my snout as I run across the desert, eyes glancing downwards every once in a while to make sure I’m on the right track. I’ve been running at a near-sprint for about twenty minutes now, and the marks are still going.

I wouldn’t say the drag marks in the dirt are obvious, but they can be seen if you’re looking for them.

What concerns me most is the fact that they’ve been arching more towards the sun the farther I follow them. While on one hand it means I was right and it wasn’t the buffalo that took Peach Heart, it also means that whatever took her is going to a lot of trouble to get her away from town this far. Why though? What’s taken her?

I glance up at the sight of some looming rock faces, their shadows stretching out to protect the space between them from the glare of the afternoon sun. I look down again and see that the marks lead into them. I press on into the opening between the cliffs, not stopping or slowing my pace.

I don’t know a lot of things about this situation. But I do know that a mare getting dragged off by something in the middle of the day isn’t anywhere remotely close to good. The townsfolk think the buffalo took her, and so they’re not making any efforts to search for her. The girls wanted to come help me, but… I’m going to sound like Rainbow for thinking this, they’re too slow for me. And besides that, they’re probably the only thing that will keep things relatively peaceful between the buffalo and townsponies. Or at the very least, things will resolve themselves as the show went.

I pull up short and my claws grind through the dirt as I stop. The drag marks make a sharp right turn into an alcove. I narrow my eyes at this; this looks like some kind of lair. Peach Heart might be through here… along with whatever dragged her here. I feel a twinge of foreboding but I shove it aside, there’s no time for hesitation.

I step swiftly into through the archway and walk through the shade of the tunnel, the slitted pupils of my eyes don’t have any trouble seeing, especially since there’s sunlight starting to shine through from the other end of the passageway.

I squint at the bright light, my eyes having dilated a little from the brief darkness. I walk out of the tunnel and into a bright clearing between the rocks.

And lying in the center with the sun beating down on her, is an earth pony mare.

My eyes widen in concern and I take a step to check her.

I feel the killing intent, but I don’t have time to react before I feel something rip downwards across my back, swiftly tearing through my scales and flesh. I hiss in surprise and pain and dive forward to turn around to face my aggressor.

I sense the intent on my throat and shift my weight to the side to avoid the stabbing atta-

Pain erupts in my neck as a sharp claw punctures my jugular, stunning me just as easily as choking me. The claw is ripped out of my throat and I stumble backwards, and get my first look at my attacker.

It’s a skinny stallion with a brown coat and black mane. However, this is where the normality ends. His eyes have slits for pupils, he has sharp teeth with fang-like incisors, and he has bat wings, one seemingly mangled, and the other covered in blood, my blood.

And then I collapse, my legs not able to support my weight between the blood-loss and asphyxiation.

As I lie on my side, choking on my own blood, I see him looking down at me with what looks like confusion, and it’s also slowly morphing into panic.

“What? You’re not him. Why aren’t you him? Where is he? It was supposed to be him!” He says aloud, jerking his head to look around and above him in every direction. His breathing is growing increasingly rapid from fear.

The lack of air is starting to cause me to see darkness on the edges of my vision, and my hearing is starting to go. But I can also feel my core sending fear-energy up to my throat, rapidly healing the damage to my airway and major arteries.

“Damn it!” The… bat-stallion says in frustration, but he takes a deep-calming breath. “Okay… I can’t stay here. And with my wing like this, I can’t outfly him… but…” He looks down at me again. “since it’s already here. I can restore my energy to, hopefully, heal myself before he finds me.” He says aloud. And then I notice something in his eyes that I haven’t seen directed at me before: Hunger.

My eyes widen in fear at the assumption that he’s going to eat me if I don’t move to protect myself right now. He takes a step towards me and that’s as far as he gets before I belt out a blast of fear from my jaws at him.

He manages to evade it by diving to the side at the last second, and he charges at me with fangs bared but I’m on my feet again, fear lending my limbs movement despite the lack of oxygen.

My throat still has a gaping hole in it, but I can feel that my airway has been sealed now. Breathing is difficult, but not impossible with lungs halfway-filled with fluids. But I don’t have time to cough it all out right now, so I hack up some more blood out of my lungs alongside another blast of fear at him instead.

He dodges again and then lunges at me with his uninjured wing. I see it coming at me, but the feeling of his killing intent doesn’t actually hit me until it’s just an inch away from my face. I manage to dodge it this time, and when he goes to strike again, I instead block it with my own wing, relying on my eyes and reflexes instead of my ability to sense fear.

Of course, the more he attacks, the easier it becomes for me to avoid or block him as more fear is pumped through me. He’s definitely experienced, but nowhere near enough to get the upper hand the longer the fight goes on. He may be able to conceal his intent, but he’s nowhere near as fast or strong as Luna, nor does he know how to physically conceal his attacks. Now that I’m fighting him head on, I don’t have much trouble countering him.

This doesn’t make any sense though. Not even Luna transformed into Nightmare Moon was able to conceal the intent behind her attacks this thoroughly, and I’m fairly certain she figured out how to do it a little bit from fighting me, but definitely not to this extent. I’ve always been able to feel where and how she planned on attacking me, even when she managed to misdirect her intent. But this guy’s holding his back to a point just before his attacks land. Even though I’ve been on the moon for most of my long life, I’ve still never encountered an opponent capable of this before.

I catch and hold his wing’s claw between both of my wing-talons, and in response, he lunges forward for my throat again with his teeth. His jaw locks down on my raised forearm, the chains blocking his teeth from puncturing too deep. I wince, but I decide to go on the offensive now. My other forearm comes up, the whip around it unwinding from my wrist, and I flick the metal weight around my midsection. The whip flashes around me and cracks into the side of the stallion’s jaw, the crunch of breaking bone audible. I slam my forehead into his in a head-butt and he stumbles back in a daze.

My other whip comes unwound from my arm and then my assault begins. Whips whirl around me nearly invisible, and the stallion gets staggered from the rapid-fire impacts to his head, wing and body, jerking left and right as his body accumulates bruises and fractures in equal measure until I finally slam him in the chest with a finishing palm strike, sending him sprawling back.

He lies on the ground, obviously in pain, and I’m finally allowed a moment of respite to drop back down on all fours to go into a coughing fit, blood spattering the dirt below me as I empty my respiratory system of the red bodily fluid that had flooded my lungs a minute prior. However, this moment of rest doesn’t last long, as he’s struggling to stand back up. I stand up with my legs spread, ready to move. I keep my gaze on him as he manages to regain his legs under him. He wheezes, his sides and legs trembling in pain from the exertion. The wing that was uninjured before now hangs limply at this side, and his mouth hangs open crookedly. Both of them are clearly broken. Despite his struggle though, he manages to glare at me through his pain, his pupils thin as needles against the light of the sun.

The stallion takes a shaking step towards me again-

And then something strikes him in the back, several somethings actually from the sound of it. And they didn’t just strike him, they penetrated into him. He chokes in pain, eyes suddenly wide with terror, and seems to struggle a bit. But then his face becomes gaunt, and wrinkled, as if something is sucking the life out of him. He weakly gasps, and the unceremoniously slumps forward. Whatever stabbed him holds him up for a moment longer, before letting him lifelessly drop to the ground to reveal...

Another batpony, this one with a dark gray coat and a black mane and tail. His wings, devoid of the membrane between their fingers, retracting from the other batpony’s back. An inky blackness morphs over the wings and forms said missing membranes.

I jerk back in surprise from this. However, seeing as how this new stallion is scarily similar to the old one, I don’t relax my stance. I won’t be caught off guard again against one of these things. Especially now that I’ve witnessed what I can only assume was this new one drink the other one like a cannibalistic smoothie.

The new batpony, however, doesn’t move as he stares at me impassively. Then he closes his eyes.

More blackness moves over his wings, I get ready to move. But instead of attacking me, the blackness just seems to change the appearance of his wings into that of feathered pegasus wings. Then the new stallion opens his eyes.

“You can relax Baelor. As I’ve said before. I am not your enemy.” Proditor tells me, his eyes no longer looking like a cat’s and his teeth no longer sharp.

“Proditor?!” I exclaim. “What the- how did- what-?” I stutter out in complete shock and disbelief.

Hmmmm… choices choices… I could make this another cliffhanger…

"Don’t you fucking dare!"

HAHAHAHA Alright alright. I won’t leave you guys hanging in suspense this time.

Proditor chuckles dryly. “What’s wrong? Thestral got your tongue?” He jokes taking a step forward.

“STAY BACK!” I snap at him, dropping lower in my stance.

He freezes at my words. Then Proditor gives a resigned sigh. “Baelor… I know I may seem dangerous to you. But the reason I’m here now was to find and stop him.” He says with a head jerk to the motionless stallion. “I do not mean you harm.” He says with a sincere inflection to his voice.

I narrow my eyes at him. “Why? Why were you after him? What are you? Why did you kill him and why did he try to kill me? And why did he kidnap one of the Appaloosan townsponies?” I ask him one question after the other. I’m now seriously considering that he might not be a Knight at all. I’m not even sure what he is. I mean, yeah, he looks like the batponies/thestrals from the Nightmare Night episode, but the last time I checked, they also didn’t have wings that can suck the life out of other ponies.

He glances down at the dead stallion at his hooves. “The first thing you should know before I tell you why, is that he and I… are creatures called thestrals. And we aren’t exactly… ponies, as you know them. The main reason being because we’re both carnivorous.” He says carefully.

“No shit. And that isn’t exactly comforting to know so you better start giving me a reason to not take you down and drag you all the way to the Princesses.” I tell him with a growl. I am not happy. I am not happy with any of this.

“Calm down. I told you that to let you know that the reason I was hunting him is because he’d developed a taste for sapient flesh, and so I needed to put him down because of that. All thestrals are capable of surviving off of non-sapient meat, including myself.” He explains to me calmly.

I mull this over in my head for a second before moving on to my next question. “Why kill him though? Why not just imprison him?” I ask, still on edge.

“There are a lot of small complicated reasons for that. The main reason though, is because he wasn’t willing to come quietly.” Proditor says.

I quirk a brow. “That sounds pretty harsh for resisting arrest.” I state.

“We don’t have much choice. Thestrals are dangerous to other ponies, plain and simple. And this isn’t bigotry against carnivorous species either. Thestrals are, quite literally, built to hunt, kill, and consume other sapient creatures. We are dangerous to every single thing that breathes on this world.” Proditor states seriously.

“I find that hard to believe.” I say disbelievingly.

I really do. Every living creature? How would they go about taking down a fully grown dragon?

Not me of course, that would be manageable for them because I’m so small, as this instance clearly demonstrated. I’m talking about those massive ones that are as big as the one that completely wrecked me when I fought it.

“I notice that you’re covered in blood. Did you perhaps get caught by surprise by him, despite your ability to sense his intent?” Proditor asks me.

I blink. How did he know?

“Thestrals are partial empaths. We can sense negative emotions such as anger, hate, and fear, the same as you. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say you have similar abilities to a thestral. Suffice to say, this gives us a very sharp edge against other living creatures.” Proditor explains.

Looking back, that might just explain how the other thestral was able to do… whatever he did during the fight. If he’s able to sense fear and killing intent in the same way as me, then he might have figured out how to manipulate his intent through some method I don’t know how to do. But Proditor’s explanation does trigger another question from me. “If you’re all so dangerous, why would Celestia allow you anywhere near her ponies?” I ask him.

“… I actually don’t know. By all logic she should be doing everything in her power to keep us out of Equestria. But instead, she’s doing what she can to allow us to live among other ponies. This kindness and acceptance is… the main reason I act as one of her Knights. And I refuse to allow a few selfish and uncaring monsters among my kind to go unpunished for crimes against the country that took me in.” Proditor states, staring down at the corpse of the other thestral.

I stare at him long and hard, but I can’t sense any kind of deception from him. The inflection in his tone is sincere.

I sigh in acceptance. “Okay… okay. I believe you Proditor. I’ll believe you for now,” I tell him, relaxing my stance to stand upright. I let out another sigh. “But I hope you realize that I am going to be asking Celestia about all of this at the first chance I get.” I add seriously.

“As you should. But I believe, for the moment, there is somepony else you should give your attention to. I’m guessing she’s the reason you came out here in the first place?” Proditor queries, looking past me.

‘Somepony else? Peach Heart!’ I look around and see that she’s still lying on her side in the center of the chamber. Stepping swiftly over to her, I put the back of my hand in front of her muzzle. Thankfully, she’s breathing. And looking over her body, she doesn’t seem too much worse for wear.


“She seems fine. You said that thestral was interested in eating other ponies. But why did he just drag her out here and leave her like this?” I ask Proditor.

“It is likely because he knew I was searching for him. And outright killing her himself would have revealed his position to me. He likely brought her here to die of dehydration or heat stroke.” Proditor responds, walking up to stand next to me.

I look at him. “How? He seems pretty well hidden here, but the reason it was easy for me to find him was because I followed the drag marks from Appaloosa. If he was hiding from you he should have been fine.” I reason, slightly confused.

“That was a physical path that you followed. For thestrals, there is an emotional path we can track if we’ve trained to do so. Even if he ended her life as quickly as possible, it would still trigger a special, subconscious fear response from her: one of mortal terror and self-preservation. And I was looking for just that kind of feeling in order to find him. Dying from the natural elements while unconscious, however, would cause a different response. One which I was not looking for, nor would have thought to look for under the circumstances, so when she would have died, I would have ignored it and kept searching. And the thestral would then have had a meal to restore himself with, and then moved on to a different area.” Proditor explains.

“That’s horrible.” I say, looking over to the corpse of the thestral with distain. Another thought occurs. “But he also attacked me and seemed completely ready to start chowing down on me when I arrived.” I say.

“Which is what alerted me and drew me to this location. If it weren’t for you arriving and delaying him, I would never have found him, and this young mare would most likely be dead in under an hour.” Proditor points out to me.

I look back down at Peach Heart. She came so close to dying and being eaten and none of her family or friends would have had any idea what happened to her. She was lucky. I was lucky. And the only reason I was even out here to do something was because this incident happened during one specific episode of the show. My thoughts are interrupted when Peach Heart lets out a weak cough.

“She’s waking up. I’ll bring her out of the chamber, you should get that blood off of yourself to avoid alarming her.” Proditor tells me, shifting one of his wings under her barrel and lifting her onto his back.

I blink. He’s got some seriously sturdy wings for a pegas-oh wait. He’s got bat wings, they’re probably as strong as mine. Looking at myself, I see that Proditor’s right. I’m covered in my own blood across my neck and dripping down my back. I can feel that my wounds are mostly healed, but this much blood will make it look a lot worse than it is. I form a globe of “water” with an outstretched claw and I run it over me, washing the blood off of my scales and turning the globe red with my blood. Once I’m clean, I drop the globe on the ground, and stain the dirt red. Since it’s just energy, the water dissipates away into the air once I release my hold on it. It’s actually pretty good for showers all things considered.

I step outside to hear Proditor speaking to Peach Heart. “Your friends in Appaloosa sent him out looking for you. He managed to reach you before the cougar that ambushed you could finish you off. It managed to get a couple blows on him, but he managed to take it down in the end. It’s kind of messy in there, so he’s washing u- oh here he is now. Miss Peach Heart, I present to you Baelor the dragon. Your savior for the evening.” Proditor says in an uncharacteristically bright voice for him.

I look at him strangely, contemplating the story he seems to be spinning. “Why are you hamming it up so much?” I ask him.

“Whatever do you mean? I’m simply regaling this scared and confused mare about the heroic dragon that saved her life.” Proditor responds, putting subtle emphasis on certain words.

I glance at Peach Heart, who seems to be looking at us in a daze. Her emotions though, reflect what Proditor said. She’s scared and confused at how she got here, and also seems to still be woozy from the blow that knocked her out. And then it clicks in my mind when she looks at me. She’s nervous about me like everypony else, but Proditor’s words seem to have mitigated it significantly. He’s trying to put her at ease around me.

“… O-kay… well regardless, we need to get her home. Help me get her on my back.” I tell him.

“Yes sir!” He answers, slipping a wing under her to lift her up onto me.

“Oh, no, I can walk.” She squirms a bit but Proditor just sets her on my back.

I look back at her. “That doesn’t mean you should. Whatever that… cougar,” I glance at Proditor.”did to you, it managed to knock you out for nearly a half hour. You shouldn’t try to stand until we can get a doctor to take a look at you. You’re also probably dehydrated. In fact, do you have any water on you?” I direct my question at Proditor.

He hoofs me a canteen. I’m not sure where he got it, but I hang around Pinkie Pie on a daily basis so I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I uncap it and hold it up to Peach Heart on my back. “Okay, now just take small-” She sips from the canteen in restrained doses. “sips… huh.” I say in mild surprise.

She stops drinking for a moment to give me a semi-smirk. “I do live out here you know. I know not to drink too quickly while dehydrated.” She informs me tiredly.

I chuckle. “Well, it’s not exactly common knowledge to everypony. Better safe than sorry. Am I right Proditor?” I ask him, looking over to him.

Or… where he used to be. I blink. “Proditor?” I question. I feel Peach Heart looking around the crevice from my back. There’s no sign of the disguised thestral knight anywhere.

‘Oh-hohoho, dick move Proditor. Dick. Move.’ I think with a scowl on my face. I sling the canteen’s strap over my neck. I’m keeping it, nyeh!

I take a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. “Okay, so he’s gone. I guess it’s just you and me.” I say back to her.

“I… suppose so.” She responds, growing slightly nervous of me again.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get you back to Appaloosa. I’ve actually got some friends of mine waiting for me to get back. And I’m sure yours will be ecstatic to see you’re alright.” I say comfortingly.

Her fear lessons, but then changes to worry at the mention of her friends. “From what I heard, things aren’t going well with the buffalo.” She says.

I smile, walking to the exit of the rock formations and back towards town. “Don’t worry. My friends are working on settling things between you two. I bet things will be right as rain by the time we get back.” I tell her cheerfully.

‘Hello Murphy, this is Baelor. I’d like to cash in my stamps on my card for the NUMBER OF TIMES YOU’VE SLAPPED ME ACROSS THE FACE!’ I think in utter contempt as I watch from a hill as the buffalo and Appaloosan ponies exchange blows and pies. Off to the side, I spot Pinkie Pie in her western saloon style dress looking on despairingly.

I let out a sigh of resignation. Of course. How could I have possibly expected anything different?

“Wh-what’s going on?” Peach Heart asks me in horror.

Idiocy and stubbornness.” I mutter sarcastically. It’s times like this where I miss Trixie.

“My friends. My neighbors, we have to help them!” Peach says shaking my head with her hooves from behind.

“You sure about that? It look like they’re handling themselves pretty well, considering all they’re doing is throwing pies at the two ton buffalos charging at them.” I point out to them.

She stops shaking me long enough to take a more careful look at the fight. “… Oh.” She says, realizing her fellow townsfolk aren’t really in any serious danger.

“The stupidest part of all of this is that someone came up with a compromise before I left. I’m pretty sure it would have prevented this fight altogether if both sides took the time to actually think about it.” I tell her dryly.

“Really? Oh.” She says sullenly.

I glance back at her. “Something wrong?” I ask her.

“… I dunno. I feel like I should still support my friends. But, knowing this could have been prevented just makes this all feel…” She trails off.

“Pointless. Stupid. A waste of time and perfectly delicious apple pies?” I suggest drolly.

“Yeah…” She says, sounding lost in thought. I can feel her becoming agitated slightly, but it’s not directed at anything. I’m not sure what it’s about.

“… Is it wrong to resent them for being so petty, while I almost… almost…” She shudders.

My brows crease in sympathy. “Facing death puts your thoughts into perspective,” I say. I feel her gaze on my neck. “it can get you to focus on the important things in life more easily, and could also help you to appreciate every moment you’re alive more.” I say. Peach Heart mulls over my words. She seems to be calming down.

‘But if you face it too often you might just become numb to it and really mess yourself up.’ I silently add. It’s unlikely she’ll ever need to know that, given her lifestyle.

Regardless though, my words seem to have calmed her and gotten her mind off of how things could have gone differently for her.

I silently plod towards the scuffle with Peach Heart resting on my back. I’m fairly confident that the two sides will be done “fighting” by the time I reach the town proper. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s even worth it to keep trying to change how things go in the show.

I sigh again. I’m either making things worse by interfering too much or I’m making no difference whatsoever by not interfering enough. Maybe I shouldn’t even bother.

I feel Peach Heart shift around on my back, reminding me she’s here.

She’s here…

Proditor did say he probably wouldn’t have found her if I didn’t find her first. She’s still here, alive, partly because of me.

It… feels good to know that not all of my efforts were pointless.

And it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t get involved in the first place. Maybe I should just… refocus on where I should help out? Instead of trying to make things that I know work out in the end get there more smoothly, maybe I should instead focus on places that the show turned a blind eye to?

I guess it’s just one more thing for me to think about in my spare time.

Chapter IV-I: Teridax (April Fools!)

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I let out a sigh as I glide on a thermal, wondering about how I'm going to breach the subject of Proditor with Celestia.

Before I can start thinking about the first thing to speak to her about though, I feel myself tumbling down through darkness.

"Augh!" I exclaim in surprise, before bouncing off the ground and rolling across a stone floor. I slide to a stop after a second.

I groan in discomfort and sit up. "Ow... what the hell?" I ask aloud.

"So it worked... excellent." A metallic voice says.

I look in the direction of the voice and I freeze.

Of all of the displaced that exist that I've heard about from reading other stories, this one is the one that fills me with the most dread.

Makuta Teridax. The one displaced out there most worthy of the title "The Bad Guy" when it comes to displaced. The nemesis of Auric Fulcrum and one of the most powerful and dangerous beings to exist short of a void dweller.

And that's as far as I'm able to comprehend before the ground beneath me lurches and I'm suddenly somewhere else that inspires terror in my heart. The moon.

"There you are." A voice rasps. I whip around to face Nightmare Moon. "I've been waiting for you." She says with a glare promising death.

No, it's not real, it's just a... an illusion?... where am I... what's happen-move! I have to fight... I have to keep fighting. Don't stop! Don't let her bring you down. Don't let her get you vulnerable again.

The moon is lit up by the flashes of lightning and spellfire.

Teridax stares at the dazed and comatose form of the displaced he'd dragged to his world as an experiment with his powers.With a bit more fine tuning of the void, he's able to remove the memories of how Baelor wound up back on the moon, as well as his glimpse of Teridax, from the forefront of the dragon's mind.

"Mmmm... an intense and interesting fear. He could be of use with the level of darkness within him." He contemplates aloud while looking into the vision he's put the dragon, named Baelor apparently, into.

"But how did this situation develop?" He ponders, mildly curious. Was this displaced of villainous descent? He does not recognize from where his form is derived.

Teridax looks through the memories of Baelor and finds an instance that occurred in the past. His curiosity turns to displeasure upon seeing the dragon "heroically" throwing himself onto the back of Nightmare Moon, wrapping his hind legs and tail around her barrel to restrain her wings, and gripping her horn and pulling her head back. The blast of the Elements of Harmony from Celestia soon sends them both careening towards the moon of his world.

"Disappointing. He will be of no use. Though the darkness and fear within him is strong, the risk of him breaking from my hold is too great of a risk. Now... how to dispose of him..." He muses. He searches through Baelor's memories again for the answer. Surprisingly enough, Baelor would be harder to kill than most, but by no means impossible or even difficult for one such as Teridax. He just has to take out what Baelor has dubbed his "core" and then kill him as any other mortal creature.

So Teridax does just that. He strides over to the still-standing drake, shoves his metallic hand into Baelor's chest, and rips out a glowing yellow organ that looks like a symmetrical version of a heart, and crushes it in his grip. Baelor seems to sag slightly in his stance, but otherwise is still alive, though bleeding profusely from the hole in his chest.

"Goodbye, displaced." Teridax says emotionlessly.

With a flick of his finger a tendril of shadow shoots out, and punctures through Baelor's skull, and the dragon slumps lifelessly to the ground.

Chapter XX: A Little Bit Answered

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So to those of you who for some reason didn't realize it, last chapter was just an April Fools joke that I whipped up in like twenty minutes and isn't canon. That's what those kinds of chapters are for right?


Right. So no complaining and just enjoy this chapter, which is canon! Happy April 28th!

"April 28th isn't a holiday."

*blows raspberry* Oh whatever.

Chapter XX: A Little Bit Answered

I keep my breathing even as I fly, wind flowing out of my wings as I channel some of my air element through them to propel me forward through the air. It’s always been the easiest element to send through my wings, in that it’s the most comfortable to do so in that way.

When the girls and I got back from Appaloosa, I took some time to think about what happened when I rescued Peach Heart. And I realized that everything is getting just a little too big for just myself.

I need answers, and there’s only one pony that I know of that has them. Or at least only one that I know I can trust. And so, I wrote a letter, and asked Spike to send it. Celestia sent a response asking if I could come speak with her personally.

Naturally, I left before Twilight could find out and freak out about me meeting with the princess.

It’ll probably be nice to see Tia again. But I have a feeling I’m going to be cringing every time I walk around a corner when I get inside the palace. Dreading that I’ll run into Luna while I’m there.

I glance down and see the rail-line underneath me. It leads into a large hill, and so I fly around it. Upon banking around the last edge, Canterlot comes into my view from around the incline. At the speed I’m traveling at, it doesn’t take long for me to reach the front entrance of the castle gates, in front of two white pegasus guard stallions

Upon landing the guards’ eyes widen in surprise before their spears are pointed at me, ready for a fight. I internally sigh at this, but remain calm and say aloud to them. “My name is Baelor. I believe that Princess Celestia is expecting me by this time.” I state clearly before they can say or do anything.

The guards hesitate, and look at each other in surprise. Then the one on the right speaks up. “You are Baelor?” He asks me, suspicious.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. “Yes, I am. May I pass?” I ask him.

They share a look with each other again before looking back to me. “… yes. Go right ahead.” The same guard answers slowly.

I nod in thanks to them both and carefully walk in between them, keeping my wings to my side, and keeping my path as straight as possible. No need to agitate them further. I have an appointment with a friend to keep after all.

Right as I’m almost out of hearing distance, I hear the second guard murmur quietly “Dragon is a guest. But keep an eye on him.”

I glance back at them and see they’re standing at attention again, spears upright between their fetlocks. Maybe they have some kind of magical communication device?

I turn my gaze back forward, intent on finding Celestia and getting some answers. I can’t get too distracted by other things right now. I walk in through the opened doors to the royal castle.

‘Wait, where am I going again?’ I think stupidly when I step inside and see three different directions I could go. I look between the three indecisively, silently berating myself for not asking somepony for directions. Then I internally slap myself when I realize that besides those two guards at the gate, nopony else save Celestia and Luna probably know who I am, and are likely to panic at the sight of a dragon in the castle.

“Hey!” A voice calls out at me. I look in the direction of the voice to see another guard pony, this one in purple armor, marching directly towards me. “What are you doing here?” He demands. And so it begins.

I decide to act exactly as I am; lost. “Oh, uh, I’m kind of not sure where to go. This castle doesn’t have a map out front here and I’m worried I’ll get lost and-.”

“I don’t care why you’re here, and I don’t know how you got inside past the front guards, but you need to leave before I’m forced to make you leave, dragon.” The pony tells me firmly. I feel like I should know him or something, but I can’t for the life of me remember why or who he is.

I take a deep breath before responding. “I’m not here to cause trouble, I just need to speak with Princess Celestia. If you could point me in the right direction, I’d really appreciate it.” I say calmly.

He narrows his eyes at me. “The Princess has cancelled all court functions this afternoon. She’s awaiting a special guest and has asked me to wait at the front entrance to escort him to her. I don’t have time to deal with you right now. So I’m giving you another chance to leave.” He tells me, horn starting to glow.

I sigh in exasperation. “Is the “special guest” named Baelor, by any chance?” I ask him.

I’m lifted up by a magenta telekinetic grip and brought face to face with the guard. “How do you know…” He trails off in his question when he notices that I’ve kind of rolled around in his grip into an upside down position.

I blink dumbly. “I’m getting a sense of dèja vu.” I say as I lazily roll back upright, and then backwards uncontrollably.

The guard shakes off his confusion and turns stern again. “How do you know the name of- Would you stop that!” He snaps at me as I continue to roll around.

“Hey, don’t look at me. This has only happened to me one other time and I still don’t know why it happens whenever I’m in Twilight’s magical grip.” I respond, still rolling, and starting to get a little dizzy. WAIT! Is this the return of the spiral god! All hail the spiral!

“How do you know my sister’s name? Who are-oh for pete’s sake!” The guard drops me in frustration and then a magenta magical bubble forms around me. I shake the dizziness off, and then I have an epiphany.

“Shining Armor!” I exclaim in realization. Wait…

“How do you know my name?!” He asks, starting to look a little freaked out. Whoops, probably shouldn’t have said that aloud. “Who are you?!” He demands.

You know, maybe whatever causes the thing to happen is genetic. It would explain why it happens when Twilight, and now her brother can do this rolly-polly thing to me.

“Answer me dragon!” Shining Armor demands. Oh yeah, that’s right, he’s freaking out.

“Hi, my name is Baelor. I’m a dragon. Celestia obviously didn’t tell you that.” I droll. His reaction is actually pretty funny, all things considered.

This catches him off guard. And no, that wasn’t intended as a pun. “You’re Baelor?” He asks disbelievingly.

“You’re the second pony to ask me that today.” I say with a grin, highly amused by this.

He squints at me. “You, are Baelor? The one Celestia cancelled an entire afternoon’s session of petitioners for?” He asks again, trying to clarify things for himself.

“Yep. That’s me. Can you let me out of this bubble thing now?” I ask, poking the shield with one claw.

He just keeps looking at me in silence, lips slightly parted as he processes information. “… Only if you answer one more question.” He finally says after a few seconds.

“Alright then. Shoot.” I tell him.

“How do you know my sister?” He asks.

“Celestia asked her to let me crash at her place. I’m kind of just helping her out here and there in the library alongside Spike.” I tell him.

Shining Armor looks at me for a second more before sucking in a breath through his teeth and letting it out in a sigh. Then he drops his shield. “Well, alright. Follow me, and I’ll take you to the Princess.” He tells me.

I nod at him. “Lead the way.” I say to him.

He turns around and starts walking down the hallway to my right from where I entered, and I follow him.

And… that’s pretty much all that happened. I followed him. He didn’t say a word to me the entire way there, and I didn’t say a word either. We just walked in silence.

Eventually we reach a door that he stops at, and knocks on it.

“Come in.” I hear Celestia’s voice say from beyond the door.

Shining opens the door with his magic and steps inside and says. “Your highness, your… guest, is here.” He tells her, standing at attention.

“Thank you Captain. Let him in please.” She answers.

I see him nod and he steps aside to let me into the room. I walk past him with a nod of thanks. He doesn’t acknowledge it, but I think I see one of his brows raise slightly in response.

“Baelor! It’s good to see you again.” Celestia greets me warmly from her place on a large pillow on the ground.

I smile. “Yeah. It’s good to see you too Celestia.” I feel a small jolt of shock from the direction of Shining Armor. Guess he didn’t know we were friends.

“I’m also glad to see you haven’t been injured since the last time we met. You seem to have a bad habit of getting into situations where you get hurt.” She says with a titter.

I wince slightly but try to just grin to hide it.

Celestia blinks at me. “What happened this time?” She asks me in bemusement.

Shoot! “Ehehehe,” I chuckle in embarrassment. “it kind of happened out in the desert, out by Appaloosa.” I say to her.

Celestia gives a hum of thought. “And how exactly did it happen again?” She asks me, curious.

I look down in thought, aware of Shining Armor’s presence in the room. Celestia swore me to secrecy when she told me about the Knights. Is it right to talk about it in front of him? “I got ambushed by a cougar out in the desert while searching for a mare that went missing.” I tell Celestia the lie that Proditor told Peach Heart.

Celestia tilts her head. “That must have been quite a cougar to manage to land a strike on you.” She comments.

I glance pointedly back at Shining Armor behind me before answering. “It had a few tricks up its metaphorical sleeves. I couldn’t feel its intent until its claws had almost pierced my body. Because of that, it got a few good blows in before I could react.” I tell her, hoping that she knows about that ability of thestrals.

“My my, that’s certainly an interesting trick.” Celestia says. Then she looks at Shining Armor. “Thank you Captain, for being so diligent. You are dismissed.” She tells him.

Shining hesitates before speaking up. “Your highness, do you believe it’s wise to remain in the same room alone with this… with Baelor?” He questions her. Huh… he used my name instead of calling me a dragon.

Celestia smiles serenely. “Your loyalty and devotion know no bounds Captain Armor, but in this case, you do not need to worry for my safety. Baelor would not harm me, nor anypony else in this castle. And I personally believe Baelor is safer in my presence than anything else.” She says with a confident wink. I chuckle humorously. She’s probably right.

Shining Armor takes a subtle breath. “Very well. If you need me, I’ll be outside.” He says and walks out of Celestia’s room, closing the door behind him.

I hear the sound of magic and I turn and see Celestia’s horn glowing a golden yellow color. A pulse from her horn silently billows outwards and covers the walls of the room.

“There. That should keep prying ears from listening in, should somepony get a little curious.” She says. She looks directly at me. “So what was the true story that happened out in the desert?” She asks me.

I sigh. “It was some kind of pony called a thestral that ambushed me, not a cougar. And then another thestral came out of nowhere and took the first one out. He transformed into a pony I’d only just met named Proditor. He said he was a Knight?” I say to her questioningly.

“Hmmm. So he did contact you.” She hums in contemplation.

“So Proditor is a Knight? And you already knew he’s a thestral?” I ask her.

“Yes, he is both. And a very dear friend.” She answers.

I take a long, calming breath, trying to think of what to say next.

“Is that a problem for you?” Celestia asks upon noticing that I’m unsure about something.

I look at her inquisitively before answering. “I don’t think it is. Mostly I was worried he was lying to me just to get away with killing another thestral.” I answer.

Celestia nods morosely. “It’s unfortunate that ponies sometimes cannot overcome their more base desires. Punishment of crimes committed in such ways, are needed to deter the more foolhardy and selfish among my little ponies from doing so on a whim.” She says.

“Except that no lesson is learned when the one being punished is killed.” I say sourly.

Celestia looks at me with sadness in her eyes. “Sometimes, it isn’t about punishment though. Sometimes, it’s simply the fact that we cannot take the time to fix every problem with the world around us. We have to pick and choose, and then move on to the next one. Oftentimes swiftly. Rogue thestrals are both too big, and too small of a problem for imprisonment.” She responds.

I’m confused about that. “Too big, and too small?” I echo.

“Thestrals are too dangerous for regular law enforcement officials and officers, or even the royal guard, to safely restrain and keep contained. But at the same time, they are also not a force of great enough evil to be locked away by powerful spells, or even the Elements of Harmony. I cannot ask Twilight and the other Bearers to simply traipse off from their lives every time a thestral decides it wants to kill another pony for a meal, no matter how much I wish to.” Celestia explains in more detail.

I sigh in acceptance of her words. It makes sense. I’m not sure why I’m questioning the reasons for killing murderers that eat their victims. Maybe I’m just sick of pointless violence.

For some strange reason, I think of myself being the one to kill that thestral instead of Proditor. And then I cringe when the thestral is replaced with Luna for a moment.

I shove those images out of my mind.

“Is that all you wanted to discuss Baelor?” Celestia asks me.

I look up at her, silent for a moment. “What does it mean to be a Knight?” I ask her, changing both the subject and my train of thought to a different problem.

Celestia looks thoughtful for a few seconds before she answers. “It can mean many different things, depending on who you ask. What it could mean to one pony could mean something completely different from another.” She tells me solemnly.

I close my eyes, “Celestia, if you’d be so kind, please stop with the cryptically symbolic explanations. I’m confused, I’m conflicted, I want an actual answer.” I say with annoyance.

Celestia giggles softly. “Alright, I suppose I can do that for you Baelor. But before I do, I’d like to say that I do mean it when I say that Knighthood means something different to everyone. But I suppose I can tell you what it means to me.” She answers.

She settles herself on her pillow to sit more upright. “To put it simply, it means being my friend.” She says with a smile.

I level a deadpan expression at her. Seriously? Is she going to go into a lecture about friendship being magic?

“I’m being serious about this Baelor, I promise. To me, being a Knight of the Order of Awen-.”

“The order of what?” I interrupt her.

“Oh, yes that is the name of the order of knights, I forgot I didn’t actually tell you it’s full name. Anyway, being a Knight means being my friend.” Celestia tells me.

I sigh. “Okay, can you explain to me why?” I ask her.

She nods. “Yes, I can. When I say that being a Knight means being my friend, I mean it in the sense that friends are there for each other, they look out for each other, they support each other, and they pick each other up when they fall. And I am… very afraid of falling.” She says in a low tone. I blink in surprise at this admission, but I stay silent to allow her to continue.

“And not just in the sense of failing. I mean that… I fear what would happen to my little ponies should something similar to what happened to Luna happen to me as well.” Celestia says with wilted ears.

“What does this have to do with friendship?” I ask her, concerned.

She takes a deep breath. “Baelor. The Knights of Awen were originally formed to be a force that is capable of defeating and killing me should I ever turn into a monster like Nightmare Moon. Because without my sister, and with the Elements of Harmony rendered inert after I used them to banish Luna to the moon, there was nothing and nopony stopping me from using my power over the sun to completely destroy not just Equestria, but all life on this world. There just was no counterbalance to my power and influence back then.” Celestia explains.

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I quote aloud from my thoughts in response.

She nods in agreement. “I’m afraid of myself Baelor. I fully believe that I was, and still am, the greatest threat to Equestria’s safety.” She says quietly.

I shake my head in disbelief. “So you’re saying, that my entire purpose, should I become a Knight, would be to kill you if you went Nightmare? Celestia, do you really think I could live my life knowing that I might have to kill one of my oldest friends?... Again?” I add on last-second.

Celestia shakes her head. “No, as a Knight, your duty would be to protect Equestria and all of its citizens from any harm that you are able to. I am simply saying that I see myself potentially as one of the greatest threats to all of Equestria, and that should the worst happen, your duty would entail making sure that threat is neutralized.” She pauses for a moment. “But I would also hope that, as my friend you would do anything in your power to make sure I don’t reach that point: Emotionally, or through any other circumstance.” She finishes.

I mull that over in my head, and for a moment, it doesn’t fully make sense to me. But then I think about a time I haven’t thought of in a while. A time before the moon. A time when I was sitting in silence in a room, reading a letter from Luna from halfway around the world. And then time moves forward, and at some point, I realized that she isn’t sending me any more letters for some reason I don’t know.

‘As my friend, you would do anything in your power to make sure I don’t reach that point.’ Celestia’s words echo with purpose in my mind.

Like I couldn’t do with Luna.

‘I fully believe that I was, and still am, the greatest threat to Equestria’s safety.’

Like Luna was.

‘Friends are there for each other, they look out for each other, they support each other, and they pick each other up when they fall.’

I wasn’t there for Luna when she needed a friend most.

But that’s one mistake I will never make again.

A quick three-tap knocking interrupts my thoughts; Celestia and I turn to the door to her room. Three more knocks sound from beyond Celestia’s soundproofing spell. “Your highness, your three-o’clock session with the elementary level students of your school is in five minutes.” A female voice announces from the other side.

A gasp from behind me makes me turn back around to see Celestia scrambling to her hooves. “Oh my goodness, I completely forgot that that was today!” She exclaims in surprise. She trots quickly over to a desk in one corner of the room.

I get up from my seat slower than her. “Well, I think I should be going anyway. This is obviously important, so anything else we might need to talk about can probably wait till another time. Thank you for your time Celestia.” I thank her. I’m in no hurry, and Celestia’s already helped me to sort out at least one of the problems I’ve been mulling over in my head for a while. Might as well take some time to try and figure out the next one on my own before I bother her again.

Celestia glances at me and suddenly begins smirking. “Actually, I’d like to bring you along to this event if you wouldn’t mind.” She says. She levitates her crown off her head and sets it on the desk, then does the same with the golden peytral around her neck.

I blink. “…What is it you’re bringing me with to?” I ask her, wary that she might be trying to get me to sit through some kind of… political meeting or something. But I’m not sure why she’s removing her jewelry.

“Oh, nothing much, but it should be fun. I wouldn’t be this worried about being late if it wasn’t.” She answers with her smirk still adorning her face, stepping out of her shoes and leaving them near her desk. “Please follow me, if you would.” She says striding past me while opening the door with her magic. “Come along Captain Armor.” She adds as she passes him standing outside her door.

“Yes, your highness.” He answers without question. I glance back around the room once more before reluctantly following them.

I lope to catch up to Celestia and Shining Armor. “So what are we doing again?” I ask when I reach her side.

“Just a little activity with the younger students attending my school, nothing to be worried about. In all honesty, this is one of my favorite traditions that I’ve put into place since you and Luna… went away.” Celestia answers with only a small hesitation in her wording.

I tilt my head to look up at her slightly. “Okay, but that doesn’t answer my question of what we’re doing.” I point out.

Celestia giggles in amusement. “Just be patient, you’ll find out soon enough.” She answers.

I frown and look to Shining Armor on her other side for any possible answers, but he just keeps walking with his gaze forward, giving no indication to what’s going on. I internally sigh and do the same, figuring I’ll find out when we get to wherever we’re going.

The walk isn’t long, and pretty soon we find ourselves outside on a field of grass next to a guard building. I figure it’s a guard building because there’s a large gathering of guard-ponies standing just outside of it, and strangely enough, just as many young unicorn fillies and colts as well.

“Hello everypony!” Celestia greets them with a bright smile.

“Hello Princess Celestia.” The children call back.

“So, who here knows why you are all here today?” Celestia asks them.

A filly near the back raises her hoof. “You’re going to teach us something?” She suggests.

“While I’m always hoping you learn things from your day to day lives, that isn’t quite the main reason. Anypony else?” Celestia asks again.

A blue colt speaks up this time. “Are we going to watch the royal guards use spells in fights?” He asks in a high pitched voice. I’m starting to notice something about all these fillies and colts. They seem to be younger than the CMC and the rest of the foals in Cheerilee’s class in Ponyville.

Celestia giggles. “Not quite. Well… actually, a little bit yes as well.” She says. “You’re all here to play a little game with the Royal Guard and myself.” She tells them.

“Really?” A filly near the front exclaims in surprise. The other children around her start talking around each other at the prospect of playing a game instead of learning a lesson.

Celestia clops her bare hoof on the dirt ground to gain their attention again. “Now I’m sure you’re all excited to have some fun, but there is one small but very important lesson I would like to teach you all before we begin.” She says. One or two foals groan aloud but they all stay quiet so Celestia can begin.

“So who can tell me what the most important spell any unicorn can learn is?” Celestia asks them.

The foals are quiet for a moment before the colt that spoke up before does so again. “Plasma beams?” He questions.

Shining Armor grunts slightly, and when I glance at him, I think I see just the barest trace of a grin tugging at the edges of his mouth.

Turning back, I see Celestia shaking her head. “No, while that is a certainly useful combat spell, that is not the most important one.” She answers. Another filly raises her hoof. “Yes?” Celestia points at her.

“Um… transfirg, trunsfagir…,” She seems to be struggling to pronounce the word. “uh, making stuff change into other things?” She offers, settling on the definition instead.

“Transfiguration,” Celestia corrects. “but no, while it is a very advanced type of magic, it is also not the most important.” Another colt raises his hoof. “Yes?” Celestia asks.

“Picking stuff up and throwing it?” He offers, picking a pebble up off the ground with his magic to demonstrate.

Celestia smiles brightly at him. “Yes! Excellent! That is correct!” She praises him. She picks up some dust from the ground in her own magic field. “Levitation, Telekinesis, or Arcanokinesis are all names used to describe the magic of “picking things up and/or throwing it” and it is by far the most important and useful spell any unicorn can learn in their lifetime.” She explains to them. She lets the dust drop. “The main reason for this is because it is the simplest spell for any unicorn to learn, so practically all unicorns are able to use it, regardless of how powerful their magic is. And even when they’re exceptionally powerful, they still resort to using the levitation spell in their day-to-day lives,” Celestia explains. “and it is the spell we will mainly be using today in our little game.” She finishes with a warm smile.

“Now you all may be wondering what we will be playing that will require levitation to play. Well, can you all see the guardsponies gathered near us?” The foals look at the guards in curiosity, though none seem to have taken much notice of me yet, strangely enough. “They will be participating as well, since this game is most aptly named by them as simply Battlefield,” The foals look back to Celestia with wide-eyed confusion. “Every one of you will be given a “sword” to hold in your magic,” Celestia grabs a foam sword from one of the racks off near building and brings it over for all of them to see. “and use them to do epic battle against the other team! After you all break off into teams, the objective is fairly simple: Defeat the other team. If you get hit in a leg, you must hold that leg up off the ground since it has been “cut off” and you will have to fight on. Please try to avoid hitting others in the head too hard, and getting hit in the horn means you have to stop using your magic and use your hooves or mouth to hold your weapon. Again, be very careful and gentle when trying to aim for the horn since it does hurt if you hit it hard enough while casting. And finally, getting hit in the head or the body means that you are out for the round, and must then sit down with your weapon on the ground next to you. Are there any questions?” Celestia asks.

A colt raises his hoof. Celestia nods at him in acknowledgement. “Yes?” Celestia prompts the young colt.

“How come the guards are playing with us?” He asks.

“This game is similar to how the guards train, by sparring against each other to hone their skills against each other. They also need to be able to use their weapons with their magic, and without it if they are a unicorn. The reason for this is because anything can happen on the battlefield. This also happens to be a very good way to train both your magical strength as well as finesse with your magic, and so they will be joining in to both teach you all how to better your technique as well as to swoop in and save some young fillies in distress on occasion.” Celestia answers slyly with a wink. “Anypony else?” She asks again.

Another foal raises their hoof, but at this point I turn look at Shining Armor. “Has she done this before?” I whisper to him.

Shining looks at me for a moment before answering. “Yes. She does this every other month for the children at her school among this age group. From what I can remember, she’s been doing this since before I was even a Private in the guard.” He answers in a whisper back.

I look back at Celestia, who is now going over some basic attacks to make with a foam sword if the children are so inclined. From what I know about kids though, they’re all probably going to just run around whacking each other silly while having a blast. But I will admit, some of them look to be legitimately interested in following along with the Princess’s instruction. “Huh.” I say in response.

Shining apparently took that as a sign to go on. “There are a lot of guards that started out exactly the same as all of those foals. Some were exceptional mages and swordsmares, with some even having been previous personal students of the Princess. Becoming a guard is obviously not for everypony, but this one simple game has given rise to some of the most decorated and skilled soldiers in Equestrian history.” He says.

By this point, the chaos has begun, and numerous foals and even some of the guards are enthusiastically bludgeoning each other with the equivalent of pillows impaled on sticks. And Celestia is right in the thick of it with them. Laughter fills the air as Shining and I watch.

“It’s also a great way for the guards to relax, have fun, and be reminded of what we stand to protect.” Shining Armor finishes.

“What we stand to protect…” I echo with a murmur thoughtfully.

Shining quirks a brow under his helmet at my words. “Thinking about joining the guard?” He asks me.

I let out a small huff of laughter. “Something like that.” I answer. I watch thoughtfully, ruminating on the information Shining Armor’s given me. “So does that mean Twilight knows how to use a sword?” I ask him in curiosity.

Shining is quiet for a few moments, and I sense a momentary spark of suspicion in him, but he answers me. “Celestia has told me that she only trains her personal students in how to use a weapon if they show an interest in it. Twilight was more interested in books and spells than anything else. So, according to Celestia, no, Twilight doesn’t know how to fight.” He answers.

“Hm…” Is all I say in answer before we both go back to watching the children play their game. It looks like the first round is over, and Celestia let a bunch of the foals take her down in the most comical way possible: Hopping on one front leg with a foam sword sticking out the side of her mouth before the remaining colts and fillies rush and overwhelm her. She gets back up with a smile big and bright enough to rival Pinkie Pie’s best ones.

I take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. “Thanks, I hope you have fun.” I tell Shining while turning around.

He looks at me in mild surprise. “You’re leaving? Not going to join in?” He asks me curiously.

I stop, a memory flashes into my mind of a disintegrating arm, then of sparking wing talons descending on a blue head, and finally of a battered and broken thestral stallion looking up in defiance, and I tiredly give Shining Armor my answer. “It’s been a while since I’ve last had to hold back in a fight. I’d really hate to accidentally hurt somepony from overenthusiasm. Maybe next time. And please tell Princess Celestia thanks for the talk. It was really… illuminating.” I answer before taking flight to head back to Ponyville.

I glide listlessly through the air down the mountain, Ponyville in the distance.

Something’s wrong with me. Every time I seem to be getting better, something comes up and I react too quickly. I’m on a hair trigger and I’m not fighting an alicorn anymore. I need to fix this. I need to get myself under control again before someone else gets hurt or worse. I’m wound up far too tightly.

Looking up from the ground, the wide blue, cloud-filled sky fills my view, and I feel myself stroking my wings. I blink as I’m hit by an impulse to fly faster.

Maybe I should… let loose for a little bit.

Once I have that thought, I feel wind being pushed out through my wing membranes, and I’m accelerating forward through the air ever faster, until I’m racing across the sky using my magic.

If I’m feeling wound up right now, then I guess I’ll just have to unwind.

The wind trailing from my wings become sparks of electricity and I’m rocketing through the clouds, imagining myself as a bolt of lightning, unbound and free from all of my problems for a little bit..

Chapter XXI: Sonic Rainboom

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Chapter XXI: The Sonic Rainboom

I steady my breathing and concentrate on the flow of energy flowing through my weapons. Then I fling the weight at the end of my whip outwards like a bullet at a tree. The whip impacts the trunk with both a spark of electricity as well as a heavy crack from the actual impact of metal on wood. I flick my wrist and catch the segments of the whip in a bundle again. Then I slowly walk over to the tree to check it.

I run my claw over the spot my whip hit on the tree’s trunk. It’s hot to the touch, and has a very clear indent with several cracks spider-webbing outwards from the contact point. I frown at this, and then sigh in disappointment with myself.

‘Too fast, too strong of a current.’ I note down in my mind. After looking at the new mark on the wood, I scan over the seven other marks of various levels of damage on its trunk. Three of the indents are singed, and four are several inches deep. I turn my gaze to several other trees around me, or what’s left of them. Fun fact, the sap within living trees expands with heat, so if a tree suddenly turns really hot, like say, from getting struck by lightning, it explodes and falls over. Like with at least ten of the jagged, and charred stumps scattered around me in the forest.

All the fallen trees themselves I’ve just kind of piled together off to the side of where I’m training. No need to leave Whitetail Woods in a complete mess wherever I go.

I sigh again, my frustration contained within me rather than shown outwardly. Each of those fallen trees represents different moments when I lost control of how much power I was putting into my strikes. I shake my head.

This isn’t acceptable. I need to train more to regain some level of self-restraint and control. Using lethal levels of power has become too second nature to me, and I need to change that.

I walk back to my previous position and turn to face the tree again. I roll my shoulders. The last hit might have hit a little bit harder than I intended, but I think I’m ready to try consecutive strikes again. Both my whips drop and start spinning ever faster until they’re blurs of steel. I take another steadying breath before I step… and then back-step while turning around.

*thud-a-thud, thud-a-thud.* The first three hit barrage from my right whip is mirrored by the immediate three hit follow-up from my left one when I step and turn. I keep my breathing level, whips still in motion, and I take a step back and then a turning step back.

*thud-a-thud, thud-a-thud.*

A small sense of satisfaction infects me when I see that none of the twelve strikes managed to leave any new burn marks on the bark of the tree. I step forward and step while turning.

*thud-a-thud, thud-a-thud.*

I calm my breathing, but I’m starting to feel very elated at the apparent progress of my training, and so I take another step back, flowing into the motion.

*thud-a-thud, thu-CRUCRUNCH!*

I stop and pull back my whips, grimacing at the sight of the two black gouges in the tree caused by the last two strikes that were too powerful. It didn’t cause it to explode this time, but it still caused too much damage.

I suck in a sharp breath through my nostrils and let it out through my teeth in frustration, the air streaming through with a hiss of air.

Two weeks. Two weeks of diligent training and I’m nowhere near the level of restraint I want to be at. I can’t afford to keep slipping up in my focus like this. It might cost someone their life.

I walk over to the tree and inspect the wounds to its flesh. They’re deep. With a shake of my head I move to the opposite side of the tree and lean my weight on it. I feel the tree move slightly under my weight, then creak, and then groan as the full weight of the mass of wood tilts to it’s weakened side and cracks. I pull my weight off it, and it falls the rest of the way on its own. I sigh again, if it can’t support my weight leaning against it, then it’s better it fall now rather than later when somepony might be near it. Another tree to add to the pile.

I walk back to my whips lying on the ground and pick them up, wrapping them back around my wrists. I look to the open air for a bit before taking flight, deciding to take a break from training for now.

Off to the edge of my vision I see a streak of multicolored hues, and I look to see Rainbow Dash flying around a set of three clouds. I decide to fly closer to see what’s going on.

Upon reaching the area, I notice Fluttershy looking on at Rainbow from a clearing of grass on the ground. I glide down to her, idly noticing Rainbow swerving in between the gaps of trees lined up. Fluttershy notices my approach with a jump of surprise, but calms down when she notices it’s me. I nod at her with a small smile, and then look back up at Rainbow.

She’s climbing up through the sky at a rapid pace now. It’s at this point that I realize that she’s probably climbing to try a very specific trick, and so my eyes widen with surprise and expectation when she dives back downward and a cone of air starts to form around her outstretched, front hooves. ‘Is she… going to do a Rainboom?’

But… wait, shouldn’t she be unable to do that until after the-

Rainbow Dash comes to a dead halt, mid-air, before being flung backwards by the air cone she was just about to break.

‘Ah. So that’s what’s going on now.’ I think in belated realization.

Rainbow falls from the sky and skids across the ground, burrowing a furrow in the grass and dirt with a grunt of aggravation.

“Go Rainbow Dash! Woo Hoo!” A soft voice next to me whispers/shouts. I chuckle.

“Ugh, that was pathetic.” Rainbow Dash groans out into the ground.

“In all honesty, not really. Any wipe-out that leaves a crater is bound to be greater than “fantastic.” I say to her.

“Bael?” Rainbow says in surprise, her head popping out of the groove in the ground.

“Yep.” I answer simply with a slightly wider grin.

“Oh thank Celestia. I was worried there for a bit.” She says in relief.

“About what?” I ask her.

“That I’d have to go to Cloudsdale with nopony but Fluttershy to cheer me on. I mean, come on Fluttershy, is that really the loudest cheer you can do?” Rainbow questions the yellow mare.

Fluttershy blushes in embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I honestly thought it was pretty loud.” She answers quietly.

Rainbow sighs, then looks back at me with a grin. “But at least I know you won’t fail to give out a wild cheer when I compete in the Best Young Fliers Competition.” She says in excitement. Then frowns in thought, “But just to be sure, why don’t’cha give me your best cheer for when I do something amazing.” She suggests.

I quirk a brow at this. A wild cheer? “… Alright then. Here goes.” I reply with a grin.

I take a deep breath and stand on my hind legs with my front legs pulled back, ready to shoot into the air in excitement. Fluttershy “eeps” and ducks down with her hooves over her ears.

“Howdy Lyra! Ya here to buy a bushel?” Applejack asks the mint green unicorn walking up.

“Yep, same as always.” Lyra responds with a peppy smile.

“Alright then, that’ll be twelve bi-“

“WOOOOOOOOOOO-Eughch-ah!” A crazed cry in the distance shrieks out, only to cut off suddenly.

“What the hay was that?” Lyra asks with wide eyes, looking around for a clue to the strange noise.

“Mmf… Sounded a bit like some critter just got caught by a predator of some type. It proll’y happened out in the Everfree. It happens a lot near the orchard so ah’m a little bit familiar with it.” Applejack answers.

“Awwwwww. The poor thing…” Lyra says with sad eyes and drooped ears.

Applejack nods sagely in agreement.

*cough-cough-cough-cough* *cough-cough-cough* *cough-cough-cough-cough*” I hack out on the ground as my body attempts to expel my lungs, heart, and other various internal organs from my body through my throat.

“There there, just let it run its course.” Fluttershy consoles me while patting me on the back.

*cough-cough-cough-cough* *cough-cough-cough*” Oh god, it feels like someone shoved a spinning blender blade attached to a toilet plunger down my throat and started plunging it.

“I take it back, I’m doomed. That was just sad.” Rainbow deadpans next to me.

*cough-cough-cough* *cough-cough-cough-cough*” Oh sweet, merciful, stars above! Why won’t it end?!

“So you have a great cheer… but you’re too wimpy to use it without going into a coughing fit… how does that make sense?” Rainbow asks me, completely unmoved by my suffering.

*cough-cough* I- *cough* I haven’t had to scream like that in a long time. *cough-cough* I guess my throat just couldn’t take it.” I say, finally getting my breath back.

Rainbow sighs before shrugging. “Alright, well, at least you’ll be able to be there, since, you know, you have wings. You are going to come watch me compete, right?” She asks me with a slightly pleading expression.

“Yeah, wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I hoarsely answer, standing back up.

“Awesome. Then that means all that’s left for me to do is… actually manage to do the Sonic Rainboom.” She says with slumped wings. She takes to the air to begin practicing again.

“Are you having trouble training?” I ask her before she can start.

“She hasn’t been able to manage to do a single Rainboom. And she’s been practicing for weeks.” Fluttershy supplies with a slightly worried tone.

“It’s not like I’ve never done a Rainboom before! I did one when I was just a filly!” Rainbow Dash tells me hurriedly. “But I just can’t seem to do it now!” She adds in frustration.

I tilt my head in thought for a moment. “Well, you are bigger now than you were as a foal. Wind resistance is probably a bigger factor now than it was before.” I point out.

I know. But still! You’d think I’d be able to get it once or twice every now and again as I got stronger at flying. But I’m still no closer to doing it than I was two months ago!” Rainbow snorts with her front hooves crossed in front of her chest as she hovers.

I stare up at Rainbow, contemplating her words and situation, and I feel like I understand it, considering I’m having problems training as well. “You might need a break.” I tell her.

“Bael… The competition is tomorrow. I can’t afford to laze around and rest right now.” Rainbow says in annoyance.

“Nah, I’m not talking about that kind of break. You’re focusing too hard right now on doing something specific. So let’s have a race to take your mind off it.” I suggest to her, sitting on my hind legs to pull one arm across my chest to stretch.

One of Rainbow’s brow arch upwards. “A race? Right now? Bael, how is flying fast going to take my mind off the fact that I can’t fly fast enough to do a Sonic Rainboom?” She asks me.

I point a wing talon at her. “You see! Right there! You’re thinking too hard about it. If I’d suggested that at any other time, you would have jumped at the chance to race me, or, anyone really. But you’re too focused on this one thing you can’t seem to get a handle on, and suddenly flying, the thing you live for, isn’t enjoyable any more.” I point out to her. “You and I both know that flying is something that requires passion to perform. You have to feel it as you do it instead of just thinking about every little thing that could happen or go wrong! And right now, you’re not feeling it, so therefore, you can’t do the Rainboom.” I state.

Rainbow opens her mouth to argue, but then blinks in surprise. “That… makes sense, I guess. But I still don’t think racing against a slowpoke like you will do much of anything.” She points out with a frown. She turns back around to go try to practice again.

Oh, so that’s how you want to play it. “Chicken.” I say.

She halts and whips around. “What’d you say?!” She asks in disbelief.

“You heard me! Come on! One race won’t hurt your odds any more than anything else you can manage to think to do. Race me Rainbow!” I goad with a smirk.

“Alright then FINE! You asked for this!” Rainbow spits angrily, flying back down to us. “What’s the route?” She asks, coming to land next to me.

“Let’s say… three times around Ponyville, and then finish back here after a vertical climb and dive.” I suggest.

“Alright fine. Fluttershy, you mind calling it for us?” Rainbow asks the yellow mare.

“Oh, um, okay.” Fluttershy says quietly. She trots up to stand in front of and in between Rainbow and I, and after a moment of uncertainty, extends her wings upwards behind her back. “Um, on your marks…” She says.

Rainbow crouches down at the point she’s going to start at. I lower myself down to match her.

“Get set…” Fluttershy says the next phrase after a short pause.

Rainbow’s extends her wings out from her sides, ready to push herself forward the second Fluttershy says. I extend my own wings out as well, but not quite in the same position as hers. ‘This time, full out from the start.’ I resolve in myself. My core beats in tune with my heart under my chest.

Yellow wings drop. “…go.” Fluttershy says in the quietest and least enthusiastic voice to start a race, ever.

Rainbow shoots off ahead, taking an early lead. But my wings only take a moment to surge with wind before I rocket off after her.

Flying ahead of me, Rainbow beats her wings rapidly, but not showing much emotion on her face. She’s clearly not straining herself. I smirk to myself; neither am I.

I pump more energy out from my wings and I steadily catch up to the prismatic pegasus pony without flapping my wings once. She looks at me in surprise as I pass her. “I’m not making it easy this time!” I shout behind myself to her, banking to the left to turn around the edge of town.

I hear wing beats behind me and Rainbow pulls up on my left side. “What do you mean this time?” She asks.

I smirk. “I didn’t channel magic through my wings in our last race. Try to keep up!” I answer, and push more out to rocket past her again.

“Oh no you don’t!” She calls out. I hear her speeding up to catch up to me. We pass over the spot Fluttershy is waiting at, so that means our first lap is done. Two more to go.

Right as Rainbow starts to pull up next to me again, I do something within my core to give myself a boost: I switch from air to electricity, and I shoot ahead again with lightning roaring off my wings, a very noticeable change that manages to startle Rainbow in her pursuit of me, allowing me to gain a very sizable lead.

A yellow dot passes beneath me. One more lap.

Rainbow’s catching up again, and I pour everything I can at once into my wings, and I manage to start putting more distance between us again. Eventually, I see Fluttershy on the ground ahead of us again, and I realize it’s time to start climbing. I pull my wings up, and I go into a straight vertical climb, Rainbow coming up rapidly behind me. I reach the crest of my ascent in moments, tilt my body back, and begin diving back down again, Rainbow passing me in the opposite direction.

The wind hammers my face, and my eyes squint to block the force of air. The sheer speed of my flight filling me with a specific feeling of joy I haven’t taken the time to enjoy in a while. In my peripheral, a cyan form starts to pull ahead from my left side. Rainbow’s pulling ahead of me, pushing past me in the last leg of the race.

‘Damn, even going all out, she’s still faster than I am.’ I think in resignation, unable to push more energy out of my wings to overtake her this time. She pulls ahead, and a cone of wind begins to form in front of her. My eyes light up at this, and I silently root for her to finally push past the barrier.

The cone narrows, and then colors start to shine and ripple across the tip. And finally…

Rainbow suddenly halts and I rocket past her. My gaze, having been on her at the time, follows her and I’m looking behind me.

She didn’t do it… Le sigh.

Wait, wasn’t I in the middle of-.

I slam headfirst into the ground, hard.


My body tips over and I land on my stomach… in pain. I close my eyes to cut off the light from making my developing concussion worse.

“aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHH-!” *Thud*

I’m just going to assume Rainbow Dash slammed into the ground a little ways away from me.

“… Um yay?” Fluttershy cheers hesitantly from where she is.

“Well that was fun.” I sarcastically mumble.

Rainbow groans in response.

“Oh dear…” Fluttershy says.

Celestia looks at Luna with a bit of concern. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to come with me to the Best Young Flyer’s Competition?” She asks her younger sister. “You’ve been working very hard lately to get caught up with how modern Equestria works. Don’t you think you could use a break?”

Luna rolls her eyes at Celestia’s remark. “No, Tia, I am fine. And I have been taking breaks every now and again. But with more of my power returning to me every day, I need to start adjusting my sleep schedule to be able to patrol the dreams of our subjects again, since I believe I will be capable of doing so again soon.” She politely declines.

Celestia sighs in disappointment. “Alright, I suppose that’s fine. But the invitation still stands if you change your mind.” Celestia tells her.

“Yes sister, I will be sure to remember that.” Luna says with a nod. Then she lets out a long exaggerated yawn. “Now if you will excuse me, I believe I shall attempt to retire now. Enjoy the competition.” She says to Celestia with a tired smile.

“Alright, sweet dreams Luna.” Celestia replies. She turns to step into the sky chariot, and gives one last parting wave to Luna, who returns it. Then the chariot pulls away and is lifted into the air by the pegasus guards pulling it. Luna waits a few moments, watching the chariot fade into the distance before she turns to walk back to the castle and eventually her room. Instead of getting into bed though, she instead morphs into smoke and then splits in half, forming a clone.

“Please pretend to be asleep until I return.” Luna instructs the clone, which nods and trots over to the bed to do just that. Luna transforms into her guise of Starflight and kicks off in flight out her balcony window. With an extra burst of pegasus magic, she’s soaring rapidly through the air in the direction that Celestia’s chariot was heading in.

While it pains Luna to have shunned her sister’s invitation to join her, she already promised to go to the competition to cheer on Ditzy as she performs. She can’t show up as anypony other than Starflight for that, and she hasn’t quite gotten around to telling Celestia about her excursions to spend time with her new friend. So she must keep her deceptions up for now.

‘Besides,’ Luna takes a deep breath of fresh air as she rapidly closes in on the pegasus cloud city of Cloudsdale, ‘it is rather nice to be treated as just another pony instead of royalty, every now and then.’ She admits to herself with a smile, remembering the conversations she’s shared with her odd new friend.

This thought though, inevitably reminds her of her other friend that treated her as someone other than a royal… and everything else involving him.

Luna sighs, slowing down in her flight right as she approaches Cloudsdale.

Ever since the last time Baelor and her spoke, she’s been conflicted on her thoughts of him. Is she afraid of him, or angry? Resentful, or remorseful? All of her feelings seem to be in direct conflict with each other whenever her thoughts turn to him, especially since his thoughts of her apparently reflect hers, if where their last conversation went is any indication.

She doesn’t know what to do. When he gave his apology, she could feel his sincerity, and she wanted to be able to forgive him. But at the same time, she couldn’t, because some small part of her was suspicious, disbelieving. It’s the same part of her that thinks he has nothing to apologize for, that the one that needs to give the apology is her, and only her. She was the one who transformed into Nightmare Moon, and she’s the one that put Baelor through the torment of being trapped for a thousand years, and she’s the one that tortured him for a small part of it.

And then there’s the time where that torture was reversed.

She’s still afraid… afraid of going back to that time of anguish. To that time of death without dying. Of her body failing without her soul being released. The Elements of Harmony may have kept them both alive while on the moon, but they did little else past that. Being put into a state of dying without being able to actually die is one of the worst agonies Luna has ever experienced, or likely will ever experience in her ageless life.

In the first few decades of their banishment, Luna injured, inflicted pain upon, and killed Baelor many, many times. At the time, she thought that the injuries and pain were the worst things she put him through. But once he managed to kill her for the first time, she realized just how horrifically wrong she was.

In those first few decades, Luna had her turn to inflict her ideas of sadistic perversions upon Baelor. But when he managed to turn it around on her, he did not “play” with his victim. The majority of the next decade for Luna was spent in a state of undying limbo between life and death, because Baelor did everything in his power to make sure she stayed there for as long as possible, likely to prevent Luna the chance to return him into that state.

But Luna did manage to break free from him, and when she did, the true battles began. The only good thing about the times of torture they both suffered from is that it convinced the both of them that they never, ever, want to fall to the mercy of the other ever again. And that was the main driving force behind their conflicts on the surface of the moon. To avoid being dominated by the other.

Luna shakes her head. It honestly surprises her at how clearly she can see the order of events in the past, now that she is looking back at it from the present. Luna turned into the Nightmare, and then Baelor restrained her so the Elements could be used. Baelor defended himself against the Nightmare, but was overwhelmed. He suffered, he broke, and then turned into a greater monster to avoid more suffering. This in turn increased the Nightmare’s desperation, and when they were finally equal, they clashed… for centuries. It follows such a logical and easy to read order that Luna can find no fault with anypony but herself for the entire course of events.

And yet despite this, her emotions still prevent her from doing exactly what she knows must be done and just move past her issues.

Luna is shaken out of her thoughts when she sees the familiar gray form of Ditzy Doo below her. And so she shoves all of her darker thoughts to the back of her mind before banking downward towards her friend. They can wait until another day, because today Luna is resolved to support her friend.

“Well well well. Wha’ do we have here?”

“It’s our old friend Rainbow Crash.”

I tap my one of my claws on the cloud under me in irritation. My memory of how some things happened in the show may be spotty, but I definitely remember these three chucklefucks.

“Get kicked out of any flight schools lately?” The brown pegasus mocks before him and the other two start laughing derisively at Rainbow.

While it aggravates me that they’re mocking my friend right in front of me, I also know that attempting to defend her will just draw more taunts towards her. And that’s not even counting the fact that Rainbow wouldn’t appreciate the act either.

So I sit back in silence to allow them to get their laughs in before leaving.

“-You don’t have the skills to do something like that!”

I clench my jaw and glower darkly at the colt’s back at that comment though. I will never be okay with anyone dismissing anyone else’s level of training or dedication. To spit on all of the time and sweat another’s poured into improving themselves is one of the greatest offenses someone can commit in my mind. But I hold my tongue, and soon after, Fluttershy stands up to them (somewhat) and they leave.

Fluttershy looks to Rainbow and I with no small amount of giddy joy. “Did you see that? I was so assertive!” She says with a grin.

I let out a small chuff of laughter and shake my head in amusement at her. But Rainbow lets out a despondent sigh. “Those guys are right, I’ll never be able to do it.” Rainbow says.

So I promptly flick the back of her head. “If you start listening to what a couple guys that have nothing better to do than try to tear others down to their level say, then no, you won’t.” I tell her.

“Ow, Bael, that hurt!” Rainbow exclaims, rubbing the back of her head.

“Over a hundred failed Rainboom crashes and that’s what finally manages to get you to say ‘ouch’? You really are slipping.” I say with a quirked brow.

“Gee, thanks for reminding me.” Rainbow says sarcastically, her eyes betray her worry though. “How am I going to do a Rainboom in front of a crowd? If I completely wipeout in front of the Wonderbolts, I’ll never get in. My life will be over. I’m going to completely-“

“Rainbow, stop.” I command sternly, interrupting her. “If you don’t manage to do it, you don’t’ manage to do it. Your life won’t be over. Do you want to know why?” I ask her.

She’s looking at me nervously. I draw her in close with one arm, and point at her chest with a wing talon. “Because even though you failed hundreds of times, you’ve also gotten back up hundreds of times. And if you crash again, you’ll get back up again, and keep trying. That’s how you do things. And as far as I know, there’s no reason you won’t keep doing it that way in the near future.” I tell her while looking directly into her eyes.

I pull away from her, and she blinks at me, calmer… at first at least. Then she clutches her head in panic. “AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! EVERYONE’S GOING TO SEE ME FAIL OVER AND OVER AND I’LL JUST KEEP GETTING BACK UP TO SHOW THEM AGAIN!!!” She cries, freaking out hard.

I develop a deadpan expression. That wasn’t even close to the message I was trying to tell her.

Why do I try to go against the flow of the show again?

“R-Rare…” Fluttershy says in wondrous disbelief.

“Rare? The Sonic Rainboom is way more than rare!” Rainbow tells Fluttershy.

“Rarity?” Fluttershy continues, pointing a hoof up behind us.

And sure enough, there’s Rarity, flying on her butterfly wings created by Twilight.

I’m not as surprised by this as Fluttershy and Rainbow are, but I still take the time to admire the wings in person. I have to say, not bad. I still don’t get why everypony was (and is still likely to be) so enamored with them in the show.

“Rarity, are you flying?!” Rainbow asks in astonishment.

“I most certainly a-am!” Rarity sings in response.

“Let me guess… a spell from Twilight?” I feign a guess.

“Why yes! Aren’t they beautiful? I absolutely adore them.” Rarity responds, flying down to us.

“They’re definitely something.” I agree, Fluttershy and Rainbow still getting over their shock, “so are Twilight and the others going to be along soon? Since I highly doubt you came alone.” I ask, and sure enough, the balloon carrying the other three floats up through the cloud layer.

“My my, you’re certainly hitting the nail on the head often today, aren’t you Baelor.” Rarity notes aloud with a smile.

I shrug. “After Rainbow crashed into the library, I figured Twi would work something out once she learned about the competition. It was just a matter of how long you girls would take to get up here.” I respond nonchalantly.

“This... this is so cool! You guys made it!” Rainbow speaks up, recovering from her shock. A grin forms on her face at seeing the rest of her friends being here.

“Sure did!” Pinkie chirps, before hopping out of the balloon.

“WAIT!” Rainbow calls, reaching out a hoof.

Pinkie lands on the cloud with a small bounce. Twilight and Applejack do the same.

“How’d you do that?” Rainbow asks in confusion at them not falling through he clouds.

“Magic.” I respond for them.

Twilight shoots me a disapproving look. “I managed to find a spell that grants a non-pegasus pony wings. But it’s too difficult to cast more than once, so I found another spell that lets ponies walk on clouds.” Twilight explains more fully.

“Yep! Magic.” I say with a grin.

“Bael, you can’t just say “magic” and expect that to explain things. Ponies won’t-“

“Was it a type of magic spell that lets you stand on clouds?” I interrupt.

“Well, yes, but it’s a very specific spell that-“

“Then I’d say “magic” works just fine for an explanation.” I interrupt again with slightly trollish grin.

“No, it does not!” Twilight argues.

“Sure it does! It’s short, it’s simple, it’s true, and it saves so much time!” I argue back happily.

“He’s not wrong.” Applejack agrees with a chuckle.

“You know, if you think about it, you could actually use that to explain a whole bunch of things that happen! Like how ponies can grip things with our hooves, or the moon still works while in a bazillion pieces, or how Twilight’s magic always makes Bael roll around and around and around and around-.” Pinkie rambles in her regular giddy way.

“Heh, Bael even pointed out to me once that magic is the whole reason why pegasi can fly in the first place.” Rainbow adds.

“BUT IT’S STILL WRO-wait, really?” Twilight asks with a surprised expression.

“Yeah, I think he said something about our wingspan not being big enough to support our weight in flight without magic.” Rainbow tells Twilight.

Twilight blinks, and then looks at me strangely.

“…What’s with that weird look, Twilight?” I ask her.

“H-oh, sorry. It’s just that… I didn’t think you would know about something like that.” Twilight admits.

“I’m not entirely blockheaded.” I tell her with amusement.

She puffs out her cheeks in indignation. “I wasn’t saying you are!” She protests.

“Suuuuuuure…” I drone with a knowing smirk, turning and walking away.

Only to be picked up in a magenta magical glow. “Where are you going Bael?” Twilight asks me.

“I-eyyyyyyyyyyyy, don’t know actually.” I admit in puzzlement, drifting sideways with a confused look on my face. Why was I walking away again?

“Maybe we should show you all around Cloudsdale before the competition starts. You know, so nopony else wanders off in a random direction and gets lost.” Rainbow suggests with a chuckle.

“That seems like a good idea!” I say cheerfully while I happen to be facing her. This thing wastes no time in getting my momentum going, doesn’t it.

The others nod in agreement and follow Dash and Flutters across the cloudscape.

Wait, Twilight’s still holding on to me with her magic. I should get her to put me down before-


@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@PRAISE THE SPIRAL!@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@


I land on my back with a *poomph* from the cloud under me, not that it registers too clearly through the dizziness I’m still experiencing. What the heck happened?

Wait… is that screaming I can hea-

From the upper corner of my peripheral I see a white and purple, flailing, screaming blur rush past and behind me. Which basically equates to the direction of down if my rapidly returning sense of equilibrium is right.

Somepony is falling!

This quick realization gets my sluggish limbs into gear, but my limbs feel as if they’re made of Jell-O, and I can’t seem to get them to work properly. I roll myself off the edge of the cloud, not wishing to waste any time with working past any lingering dizziness to stand up.

Thankfully, the wind resistance from falling gets my body to arc down head-first, so I’m already diving after the falling pony by the time my head is fully cleared of the last of the fog within it.

With my returned cognitive functions I’m able to realize a few things. A) There is more than just one falling pony down ahead of me. B) They are still very much farther down than me. And C) one of the ponies is Rarity and the other three are the Wonderbolts.

There is a thought at the back of my mind that realizes that I might be stealing away Rainbow’s one chance to perform the Sonic Rainboom with saving these ponies. But at this point there’s no more room for analysis. I’m running on pure desire, and that desire states that I need to speed up. NOW!

My wings part from my sides slightly and ignite with electrical energy before I rocket downward at the falling equines.

One second passes. Two, and though I’m drawing nearer to them, the ground is approaching much faster.

My heart sinks for a moment. I’m not going fast enough. Then I clench my teeth together in defiance of the distance. I need to go faster!

I take my eyes off of Rarity and the other ponies. They’re my objective, but they’re also distracting me from reaching them. I turn my attention to a spot between, and past the four, towards the ground. I accelerate farther, electricity surging off of my wings and climbing up to my neck as well.

Then. Everything slows down to a crawl just barely above halted. There’s ten meters between the ponies and myself, but for some reason my thoughts turn more inwards. I feel as if I can feel my mind making the subconscious effort to blink my eyes. I feel as if the signal from my brain to the nerves in my eyelids has already been sent. It’s a strange feeling, and there shouldn’t be a way for me to be able to feel it, but somehow, I do. Regardless of the feeling though, there should technically be no way to stop my eyes from blinking.

And yet, I still try. I feel like I can try. It just seems like something difficult to do, but not impossible. Like catching a fly in a pair of chopsticks.

Why am I trying to stop myself from blinking? Will it stop me from moving faster? Will it cause me to fail? Maybe. Or maybe not. But can I take that risk?

I search for the signal. The current within me. I find where I think it is. And I pinch it.

And my world becomes white.

As Rainbow Dash climbs straight upwards into the sky, she idly notes in her mind that she has been having an absolutely horrible day.

No, scratch that, she’s been having a horrible month. But today is just the climax at the end. The worst part of it after it’s gotten progressively worse over time.

First she fails to manage the Rainboom on her last practice session for the day before heading to Cloudsdale. Then she runs into those three jerks from flight school that proceed to remind her that she can’t do the Rainboom. And after that she learns that the competition is going to be even more difficult with Rarity participating with her “fabulous” new wings that she just got that day! And finally, now, she, Rainbow Dash, has managed to flump every single stage of her performance that she’s managed to actually get right in the past. So now, if she wants to have even the slimmest chance of not getting dead last in the competition, she has to miraculously succeed in performing the Sonic Rainboom. The one thing she hasn’t managed to do since she was a filly.

Can things get any worse?!

Her self-loathing thoughts are interrupted by the loudest crash of thunder she’s ever heard, with the flash of the preceding lighting filling her peripheral vision from behind her.

Rainbow looks behind her in bewilderment, wondering what in the name of Celestia Rarity just did to cause that kind of effect.

“RARITY?!” Rainbow exclaims in shock. She was not expecting to see her unicorn friend and what looks like the Wonderbolts plummeting to their deaths far below her.

Rainbow halts her ascent. “DON’T WORRY! I’M COMING!” She declares with determination, before rocketing downward to save her friend and her idols.

“Oh Celestia, that was nerve-wracking.” Ditzy exclaims, sitting down on a cloud bench in the waiting area with wide, surprisingly aligned, eyes.

“You did fantastically my friend. You held yourself in check and kept your reservations inside until you were finished with your performance.” Luna compliments with a smile. Ditzy was a little bit nervous to perform in front of everypony in Cloudsdale, but she managed to muster up enough courage to perform without any incident from what Luna could see.

“Heh… heheheheheh… Oh boy was that a close call at those rapid aileron rolls though. My eyes decided to split off for just long enough for my heart to jump before they went back to normal. I didn’t have enough time to actually mess up my flight from that but phwoooooo was that a hard moment of internal panic. Of all the days for me to have a good day with my eyes, I guess this is the best one I could have hoped for, huh?” Ditzy notes aloud, “I did it though. I competed in the Best Young Flyers Competition.” A wide smile of pride starting to form on her face.

A large flash followed by a crack and roll of thunder from outside startles them from their conversation: Ditzy because it was a loud noise, and Luna because of bad memories associated with said loud noise.

“Whoa, do you think that was one of the other competitors doing their performance?” Ditzy asks Luna.

“I-I am not sure.” Luna answers, shaken up a bit.

“Let’s go look.” Ditzy suggests.

Luna silently follows her to a viewing area in the room to see what’s going on outside in the stadium. But when they look outside, Luna can’t see anypony in the performing area.

“… Did they finish the last of the competitors or did-no wait, everpony’s looking down. I wonder what-.” Ditzy doesn’t get to finish her sentence because the area below the Cloudstadium suddenly explodes with sound and color.

A rapidly expanding ring of polychromatic magical energy travels across the sky below them in a spectacle that Luna has never seen before. Though, she has heard of such a technique being performed far in the past by unnamed pegasi of legend. An Aurorial Breach. When a pegasus uses an absurd amount of their magic to break through the wind’s own natural web of magical energy and allow themselves the ability to fly without any natural restraints.

A way to allow themselves to truly soar to heights unattainable with normal flight.

“Whoa! A Sonic Rainboom!” Ditzy exclaims in utter amazement.

Luna turns her head to look at her friend. ‘Is that… truly what ponies call it nowadays?’ She wonders with no small amount of disappointment in modern day vernacular patterns.

Luna shakes her head slowly and puts it out of her mind before turning her attention back to admiring the effect caused by the ‘Sonic Rainboom.’ She sees an arcing contrail of rainbow light streak upwards from the initial blast far below and realizes that it was the Bearer of Loyalty, Rainbow Dash, that must have created the Rainboom. While carrying four other ponies in her grasp no less.

With a flicker of regret, Luna remembers a time while she was under the influence of the Nightmare, from when she offered to teach Rainbow Dash the secrets of the ancient pegasus arts of magic. Though she was not herself at the time, this Aurorial Breach proves that Rainbow would have most assuredly made an exceptional student with incredible potential.

But… though the mystery of who caused the Rainboom is clearly solved, Luna still wonders what caused the clap of lighting just before it.

Luna looks downward again to where the Rainboom occurred. If it was directed downwards, then it’s possible that it struck the ground.

“Hey, Star? You alright?” Ditzy asks Luna, concerned about how quiet she’s being.

“Hm? Oh, my apologies Ditzy. I was… thinking about something.” Luna says, looking back to her friend.

“It’s fine. I think I might have lost the competition though. Heh, considering what Rainbow Dash managed to do.” Ditzy says with a good-natured giggle.

Luna offers an apologetic smile in return. “Yes, I do believe that is very likely. I’m sorry Ditzy.” Luna says.

“Eh, don’t worry about it. I didn’t have much hope of getting the gold anyway. Cause’, you know, eyes.” Ditzy says with a dismissive shrug.

“Oh, none of that now my friend. You performed spectacularly out there. If it weren’t for Rainbow Dash performing that technique, I believe you would have stood a good chance of winning yourself.” Luna argues, hoping to inspire some more confidence within her friend.

“Eh, maybe. I guess we’ll see when they distribute awards.” Ditzy replies.

“Yes, I suppose we will.” Luna says with a nod.

“Iiiin the mean time… I kinda need to use the little filly’s room, so, uh, I’ll be back soon.” Ditzy says shifting her weight back and forth, obviously feeling the call of nature very suddenly.

Luna nods. “Go ahead. I will wait here.” Luna answers.

“Okay! Let me know if I win anything!” Ditzy calls behind her while trotting swiftly away.

“Alright…” Luna replies. Then she turns to stare out the window of the waiting area to see the Element of Loyalty just now banking in towards the stadium. However, there seems to be a commotion going on in the stands from where Luna is looking.

Following many of the gazes of the worried ponies, Luna sees her sister flying downwards very hurriedly with her guards close behind. Two other ponies adorned with red crosses on their saddlebags follow them close behind while carrying a medical stretcher.

‘What… happened?’ Luna wonders in concern. She noticed a large amount of worry in Celestia’s gaze as she flew past. Even at the distance she was at from Luna, she can still tell that whatever happened, it is serious.

Chapter XXII: The List

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Chapter XXII: The List

Why am I trying to stop myself from blinking? Will it stop me from moving faster? Will it cause me to fail? Maybe. Or maybe not. But can I take that risk?

I search for the signal. The current within me. I find where I think it is. And I pinch it.

And my world becomes white.

And the greatest rush of energy EVER causes my heart to jump.

And stay jumping. And I don’t mean my heart jumps over and over again. I mean that the feeling of my heart starting to jump streeeeetching on and on FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE HOURS!

Holy shit this feels incredible!

Holy shit. Holy Shit! Holy Shit! HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-

A crack of pain splits across my skull and then all I know is blackness.




My head hurts...


My chest hurts…


My arms-argh everything hurts!


Ugh.. what’s making that noise? It’s super annoying.


Oh, what?


Is it getting faster? Why?!

*Beep… Beep... Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…*

Ooooooohhhhhhh. Come oooooonnnnn…

“Uggghhhhhhh…” I groan out aloud.

When I try to open my eyes I clench them shut immediately afterwards from a harsh, white light glaring into them. This increases the pain in my skull by a significant margin.

Argh, if this is what a hangover feels like, then I’m glad I don’t drink alcohol. This frickin’ suuuuuuucks.

Even as I’m thinking this though, the pain is rapidly fading away from many of the places I was feeling it in before. A quick inward check confirms to me my suspicion that my core is healing me faster now that I’m conscious. Although it’s taking it’s sweet time.

“Baelor?” A voice says my name, causing me to blink rapidly to get used to the light.

“Baelor, how are you feeling?” The familiar voice asks from my right. I turn my sore neck to the right to look at Celestia, who’s sitting down next to the bed I’m laying in.

“Like an Ursa Minor sat on me.” I mumble out an answer.

She lets out a dry chuckle. “So, nothing life-threatening then.” She responds.

“Nope.” I say with a smile. Then I drop it to look back up at the ceiling. “Where… am I right now?” I ask her.

“Cloudsdale General Hospital. You… were in quite a state when you were brought back up.” She answers.

“Brought back up? What-ergh,” I clench my eyes from a throb of pain though my skull. “ugh, what happened?” I ask her.

“You don’t remember?” She says in puzzlement.

“No. The last thing I remember is…” A shrill scream of terror rings through my head. “RARITY! She was falling! She and three other ponies!” I exclaim while sitting up abruptly. I turn to Celestia with wide eyes. “Are they-?”

“They’re all fine. Rainbow Dash managed to save them in time. Right after performing a fantastic Sonic Rainboom in fact.” Celestia answers with smile.

I let out a sigh of relief and slouch back down in the hospital bed.

But… wait. Something doesn’t quite add up.

“So, how did I end up in the hospital again? Now that I know they’re all right, I remember actually diving after Rarity and those other three. But… after that, I’m drawing a blank.” I wonder aloud in puzzlement, looking to Celestia for answers.

She tilts her head to the side slightly contemplatively. “Well… if that’s really all you remember, then I suppose that’s the point when you turned into lightning.” She says.

“Oh, yeah, that does make se-“ I blink. Then look to her in confusion. “Could you repeat that?” I ask her politely.

She smirks mirthfully. “I said, that the moment you’re drawing a blank on is likely when you turned into lightning.” She says to me.

Turned into…

brain.exe has stopped working.

My mouth opens to respond, but no sound comes out. Then closes again. Then proceeds to open and close repeatedly in as I’m left dumbfounded.

“It was actually quite startling to be honest.” Celestia continues on, as I'm busy trying and failing to process my apparent actions. “And nopony quite understood what had happened at first. One moment you were there, far below the stadium, about to catch up to the ponies in need, and then the next; flash, boom, you’re gone. Just like that.”

“I… turned into… lightning?” I ask slowly.

“Yes, you did. And also managed to completely obliterate every bone in your body when you hit the ground.” Celestia responds calmly.

“I turned into lightning.” I state to clarify.

“Yes Baelor, you turned into lightning. Something that I can honestly say is fairly impressive. I did not see that coming.” She says.

As she’s saying that though, something clicks in my head as I remember something else.

That… feeling was what it felt like to turn into lightning.

That rush… was the most indescribably fantastic feeling I’ve ever felt.

I need to try that again.

I look down to my arm and raise it up to flex my claws a bit. Not too painful.

I sit up. “Baelor? What are you doing?” Celestia asks me.

“I’m going out to try and turn into lightning again.” I answer while sliding off the side of my bed to stand.

“Come again?” Celestia says in surprise.

“I’m going to try and turn into lightning again.” I answer with a slightly manic smile growing on my face. I get stopped from leaving by a golden glow of magic lifting me off the ground.

“Baelor, doing that is what landed you here in the first place.” Celestia turns me around to face her. “I know I seemed enthused by the fact that you did it once already, but that doesn’t mean I think you should try that again.” Celestia says with a serious look.

I’m not really listening fully because I’m just kind of trying to run in place within her magic to see if I can somehow get out. “Baelor…” Celestia says to grab my attention again. “Honestly, it’s times like these when I feel like the comparison of you to a dog is accurate. You’re taking things a little too lightly right now.” She says in exasperation.

“I haven’t taken my own bodily safety seriously since I got off the moon. Not much reason to when I can just heal myself from anything else besides a spear through my core.” I say flippantly. Maybe if I try rolling around like in Twilight’s magic?

“Baelor, that’s not a good mindset to have. What would Twilight and your other friends think if they heard you say that?” Celestia asks me with a frown.

I sigh. “They wouldn’t like it.” I answer, resigning to drop trying to escape. “But… I think it’s pretty apparent to both of us by now that I’m more than willing to give up my own life to save the lives of others. And I wouldn’t regret it for a second if it ever came to that. Especially if it’s one of my friends I’m saving.” I state.

“Giving your life up for another is completely different from slamming into the ground at impossible speeds just for a small thrill, Baelor.” Celestia says sternly.

“It’s not about the thrill, Celestia. It’s about trying to better myself. To get a new ability under control. And then using that ability to protect others, and do my job as a Knight better.” I explain to her.

This takes Celestia aback. “As a… do you mean that you’ve decided to…?” Celestia asks me in surprise.

“Well, I don’t see a reason to put it off any longer. And… I’ve come to realize that there are types of evil out in the world, even inside Equestria, that I don’t ever want Twilight and the others to ever encounter.” I tell her, looking down. My mind flashes to the feeling of a thestral’s wing talon punching through my throat. I look up to Celestia again. “So yeah, I’m willing to accept your offer Celestia.”

Celestia gently sets me down on my feet and releases me from her magic’s hold. She’s smiling at me, obviously glad to hear my answer. Before she can say anything though, a knock at the hospital door causes us both to look over.

“Your highness? There’s a message from Captain Shining Armor that he says needs your personal attention at your earliest convenience.” A gruff voice says on the other side of the door.

“Well, a Princess’s work is never done. I guess you better go see what he needs.” I say to Celestia.

She shrugs. “And I suppose you should go and see my student and her friends to let them know you’re alright. They are probably starting to wonder where you’ve been for the past half-hour.” She says.

I blink. “All of my bones were shattered and I was only out for half an hour? Really? And they don’t know where I’m at?” I have so many questions suddenly.

“Yes to both. Most everypony was, from what I could tell, too preoccupied with observing Rainbow Dash’s Rainboom to really wonder what that bolt of lightning was or where you went.” Celestia answers me.

“And you weren’t?” I ask her in curiosity.

She gives me a knowing smile. “Let’s just say that multitasking is one skill I’ve learned to master in you and my sister’s absence. I’m not about to forget in such a short time that my friend is missing, even if many other miraculous things happen in that short time.” Celestia says to me. Then she turns to the door and leaves my hospital room.

After the door closes, I sigh.

That’s it… I’m doing it... I’m a Knight of the Order of Awen.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, more than anything else I’ve thought about, but making the decision now, right after I landed myself in the hospital again still seems a little impulsive to me.

Maybe I’m just being too critical of myself. After all, every word I said to Celestia was true.

I sigh again before shaking my head. I really need to stop moping around when I’m alone. Solution: find somepony in order to not be alone.

Time to go look for the girls like Celestia suggested.

Twilight apprehensively trots forward with the rest of the girls through the gates of the Cloudstadium. Though the events leading up to Rainbow’s Sonic Rainboom have been over for a little over a half-hour now, they are just now getting out of the stadium due to the state in which Rarity was in.

-In that she had fainted at some point while she was falling, and had only just recently woken up. Because of this, Twilight had almost instantly switched from worrying about Rarity to worry about Baelor. Who has not shown back up since he dove down after Rarity and then disappeared with no warning whatsoever.

“So, you don’t actually remember what happened after that flash ah lightnin’ missed you?” Applejack asks Rarity, who has had a new cloudwalking spell cast on her since waking up.

“N-no, I’m afraid not Applejack. The feeling of a bolt of lightning missing me by mere inches was… rather startling to say the least. My next memory was that of waking up surrounded by all of you. I… believe that may have been when I lost consciousness.” Rarity answers.

“You don’t think Bael tried to hit Rarity with that lightning, do you?” Rainbow asks from above, having decided to put the day with the Wonderbolts off temporarily while trying to make sure all her friends are alright.

“Of course not! Baelor would never do something like that.” Fluttershy protests in shock at Rainbow’s suggestion.

“I’m just saying it as a possibility! I wasn’t even looking at him when he did it, so all I have to go on is what you’ve all told me. I do know that I’ve seen him use lightning a couple times so that’s really all I have to go on.” Rainbow says defensively.

“Wait, you’ve seen Baelor use lightning? When?” Twilight ask in surprise.

“Oh, yeah, it was when Nightma-WHOA!” Rainbow cries out in surprise from Pinkie grabbing her suddenly and putting her irritated face right up in front of hers.

“Princess. Luna.” Pinkie says sternly to Dash.

“W-what? Pinkie-?”

“BAELSAIDCALLHERLUNA! It makes her sad, so stop.” Pinkie tells her with narrowed eyes.

Rainbow blinks. “Oh. Yeah, right. Sorry. Can you let me go now?” She pleads, slightly creeped out. Pinkie lets Rainbow go.

“Thanks Pinkie.” Dash says in relief.

“No problemo!” Pinkie chirps happily.

“So… what was that about Princess Luna?” Twilight asks in confusion from the rather intense de-railing of the conversation Pinkie provided.

Dash looks up. “Oh, right. So anyway, this one day, like, a little after we got back from Appaloosa, I’m practicing my tricks when I see a mare flying really fast through the air. Not as fast as me, of course, but still pretty fast compared to others-“

“Rainbow, how is this relevant to when you saw Bael use lightning?” Twilight asks in irritation.

“I’m getting there! So pretty much, the mare was chasing Bael, who was flying from her, I asked her what was going on, she said she was just trying to talk to Bael but he ran away. So I decided to help her out a little and try to get Bael to stop. I tackle him from the side into the lake near the edge of White Tail Woods, but he just pops right out of the water and suddenly I’m holding onto him for dear life as he rockets away again. But I guess I weighed him down enough for the other girl to catch up because then she tackles him in mid-air and sends us all crashing through the branches of the trees in the woods.” Rainbow explains.

“Dear, while this is very fascinating, it still isn’t telling us about when you saw Baelor create lightning like you said you did.” Rarity points out.

“Alright, alright. So to make a long story short, basically the mare turned out to actually be N-Princess Luna in disguise, she un-disguised herself after we all hit the ground and then grabbed him in her magic. Bael went a little crazy after that. Some really bright sparks flared up on those big claw-things on the ends of his wings and he started swinging them at Princess Luna. She panicked, backed up, tripped, and fell on her butt. Bael managed to stop right before actually hitting her though. After that, uh, Bael kinda asked me to leave for a bit, so I didn’t actually hear what they talked about after that.” Rainbow concludes her story.

The other five mares stare with varying degrees of concern from what Rainbow just told them… with the exception of Pinkie Pie, she’s just as unconcerned with it as she is with everything.

“So… what yer sayin’, is that Baelor can make lightnin’ shoot out of his hoof-tips?” Applejack asks.

“I don’t have hooves.” Baelor says casually from behind Twilight.

“Well, that goes without sayin’. But what I’m trying to figure out is if he can throw it around like a lasso in a rodeo with no real effort.” Applejack answers, not realizing who answered her question.

“Well, I mean, yeah I can do that, but only if I actually make the current of energy flow in the shape of a rope. I’m not an infinite supply of energy, so I need to be efficient with how I use it.” He answers back.

“Now that’s a style I can get behind. Solid, practical, and straightforward. Thanks for lettin’ me know Baelor.” Applejack says.

“No problem Applejack.”

It is at this point that everypony gasps in realization.

“BAELOR?!” Everypony exclaims in surprise.

“Yo.” He says with a two-clawed salute.

“I heard that you have an urgent matter for me, Captain Armor.” Princess Celestia says calmly, walking through Shining Armor’s office doors. Shining stands up abruptly from his desk at-attention. While he knew that he’d sent a message to her via their crystal communications array, her prompt and sudden response has managed to catch him slightly off guard.

“Er, yes, your highness, that’s correct. But, if you’ll forgive my curiosity, I thought you were in Cloudsdale at this moment. How did you manage to get back here so quickly?” He asks her.

“Well, I heard that this was urgent, and upon listening to the report from the message crystal, I felt it was best that I return post-haste to oversee the operation myself. So I teleported back using my own magic power.” Celestia says, answering his question. “So, what exactly is the situation, Captain?” She prompts.

He nods. “For the past two months, there have been some… confusing reports, to say the least, from the mayor of the city of Clipago about the police force of the city.” He tells her.

Celestia tilts her head slightly. “Confusing how? Is there some kind of problem with the police force?” She asks.

“Not according to the reports sent. Actually… the reports indicate a near-flawless record from the force, and the crime rate is said to be almost completely zero within Clipago.” Shining Armor says.

Celestia frowns slightly. “Low crime-rates? Isn’t that a good thing? I’m fairly certain that there are several towns and cities with low crime-rates as well. So why would these reports raise concerns?” She asks him.

“Because of the size of the city population versus the size of the police force.” Shining Armor answers, looking down slightly in thought. “Normally, low crime rates within settlements are due to lower populations with close-knit communities, such as with Ponyville or Appaloosa. Or, in the case of larger cities, large and well trained law enforcement proportionate to the overall population within the city. Usually this means one officer to every one thousand residents in the city, with sometimes more or less that amount depending on which city.”

Shining looks up to look at Princess Celestia in the eyes. “But Clipago has a total population of slightly above 27,000 and they only have eight police stallions and mares, including the police chief. That’s one officer to over three-thousand of the ponies living there. The city with the closest population to crime-rate ratio is Baltimare, and they have such a large force stationed there that they have one officer to every three-hundred residents. Not even coming close to what the mayor’s reports say the Clipago force is managing to do. And going in the opposite direction, the Equestrian city with the closest officer to population ratio is Pennsilmania, with around two officers to every 2,500 residents, and they have nearly the highest yearly crime-rate in Equestria.” He explains to her.

Celestia nods. “I believe I can see where you’re going with this.” She says.

“That kind of efficiency is unheard of anywhere else in Equestria, and it’s very suspicious that it’s managing to have such levels of peace within the city limits without more enforcement.” Shining Armor states.

“What do you plan to do about it?” Celestia asks him.

“I… felt that you should have the final call on that your highness. But I believe the best course of action would be to go to the city myself for an inspection of their police force. While the circumstances themselves seem fishy, if this report is legitimate and true, then that would mean the force deserves a large raise for their ability to accomplish their jobs under such strenuous circumstances. And after that I believe perhaps giving them some guardstallions to give them some relief would also be prudent, until they can get their numbers up. It’s possible that the only reason they’re so low on numbers for the size of the city, is because Clipago is currently one of the fastest growing cities in Equestria, and they just haven’t managed to have time to train more ponies for the job themselves.” Shining Armor says.

“That sounds like an excellent course of action Captain. But, if I may, I would like you to take someone else with you when you are ready to go.” Celestia says.

Shining blinks. “Who, exactly would you like me to take?” He asks her, perplexed.

“Baelor. Provided he agrees when I ask him.” She says.

Shining Armor feels himself furrow his brows but schools his expression back to neutral. “Permission to speak freely, your highness?” He asks.

“Of course, permission granted.” Celestia answers.

“I believe that isn’t the wisest choice, your highness. While I’m sure a dragon, in certain circumstances, could be very useful, I don’t think bringing him along on a mere inspection of a city’s police force is a good idea. As far as I know, he has no training in combat or knowledge of the law to aid himself if things turn out far worse than we’re expecting.” Shining says frankly.

“Your opinion is noted Captain. However, I disagree, and I can assure you that should any combat situation arise, he would be as prepared for any threat as you and your ponies would be. Perhaps even more so.” Celestia states with a serene smile.
“It’s possible that there’s no need for violence at all. Things could be just as the mayor wrote they are.” Shining Armor points out.

“Then he will simply sit and observe. He needs experience to handle situations with violence being a last resort.” Celestia says.

“And… why is that?” Shining asks her.

“Because he’s going on The List.” Celestia states.

Shining Armor’s eyes widen in surprise at that.

Every single guard knows about The List. They were inducted on the rules involving The List along with being given a copy of it upon becoming a full-fledged guard.

The List, is basically just a list of names.

A list of names, that have full knowledge of what it means to be on The List.

But in terms of what every guard knows about the list, they only know about the rules. The rules are as follows:

1. Do not talk about The List.
2. Do not think about The List.
3. If someone asks about The List, there is no list.
4. Do not, under any circumstances, engage in combat, or interfere in the business, of anyone on The List. Behavior or activities that seem suspicious or strange from List members are only to be brought to the attention of others that are on The List.
5. If somepony knows more than these rules about the The List and their name is not on it, detain them immediately and inform the Princess(-es).

These five rules are drilled with increasing frequency into every guard’s brain the higher on the chain of command a pony climbs. And as Captain of the Royal Guard, Shining Armor is acutely aware of just how serious and important the list and it’s rules are.

Because there is an unspoken sixth rule/observation about The List:

6. Princess Celestia is on The List.

Many stallions and mares in the guard have different opinions about the significance of this last fact, but every single one, including Shining Armor, agree that if Princess Celestia is on the list, and she doesn’t want anyone not on the list to know what it means, then it’s for a good reason.

That doesn’t change the ominousness of The List though. It is after all, in a nutshell, a list of ponies both outside of, and above, the chain of command. Ponies that, though they don’t actually outrank anypony in the guard, they can’t be stopped by the guard either, even if they’re breaking the law.

Thankfully, to Shining Armor’s knowledge, there hasn’t ever been an instance of somepony on The List abusing that fact.

But still, Shining Armor has met Baelor before. And learning that he’s going to have his name on The List, is shocking to say the least. And the worst part is that he doesn’t know whether to be relieved that Baelor is (apparently) trustworthy enough to be put on it, or scared of how little he knows of Baelor to properly judge whether he’s worthy to be put on it.

Actually, that just might be his general unease from not knowing what it takes to get on The List in the first place.

“Captain Armor? Captain? Captain Armor, are you alright?”

Shining Armor blinks in surprise, realizing that the Princess had asked him a question he didn’t hear. “I’m so sorry your highness, I lost myself in thought for a moment there. What was that you said before?” He asks her.

“I didn’t ask you anything, I simply told you that Baelor will be on the List and then you started staring off somewhere for about a minute. Is everything alright?” Princess Celestia asks him.

“Right, right. He’s going on the List, and you want me to bring him with me to Clipago. I’m sorry for doubting your judgment, Princess.” Shining apologizes promptly.

Celestia looks at him strangely for a moment before uttering her next query. “How soon will you be able to have everything ready for your inspection?” She asks him.

Shining Armor sighs. “It’s customary to send a notice ahead with a week’s advance-“

“Forgo that custom and turn it into a… surprise inspection. I’m starting to get the impression that catching the Clipago police force off-guard is the main purpose of this operation, so you might as well go all the way and give them no warning before you’re upon them. I have a… gut-feeling that it will work out best that way.” Celestia tells Shining Armor.

“In that case, I can have everything ready in two days.” He answers, resisting the urge to smirk.

“Good. Make it so Captain.”

Shining Armor gives a slight bow of his head. “It will be done, your highness.” He answers.

Celestia nods, and then walks out of his office. Shining Armor sits down to go over which stallions and mares to bring, among other things that need preparation.

As the doors to Captain Armor’s doors close behind her, Celestia lets out a sigh of mild disappointment.

He still fears her, just like every pony else

Even after all this time, are her Knights still the only true friends she has?


Celestia looks up and sees a mass of starry mane coalesce to take the form of her younger sister.

“Oh, good evening Luna.” Celestia greets warmly.

“Good evening. I did not expect you back from Cloudsdale so soon. Did something happen?” Luna asks her.

“Well, something certainly happened at the competition. But I am back because of a more… work-related problem that was brought to my attention.” Celestia answers.

“I see…” Luna says thoughtfully. Before Celestia can ask her if there is anything wrong though, Luna speaks again. “What exactly is this List, that you spoke to the Captain of the Guard about, and why will Baelor be going on it?” She asks suddenly.

Celestia blinks in mild surprise. Then she gives a dry chuckle. She should have figured Luna was listening in. “I was intending to tell you about it at some point. I suppose now is as good a time as ever.” She decides.

Luna frowns and opens her mouth to ask another question, “-but not here. Let us go somewhere with fewer ears nearby… and several anti-eavesdropping charms inlaid into the room.” Celestia interrupts, turning to the right to lead the way.

Celestia hears Luna hesitate for a moment before taking a confident step to follow her.

It seems Baelor’s name isn’t going to be the only new name added to the list. .

XXIII: What I Miss Most

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Chapter XXIII: What I Miss Most

As I lay on the ground with my eyes closed, I faintly make out the sound of Nightmare Moon breathing somewhere off in the distance. Sound somehow works out here in space, but only when one of us causes it. I numbly open my eyes to see a gray expanse on a star-speckled, black background of the surface of the moon, stretching out into the distance with barely any disturbance.

I lay on my side, motionless: Trying to allow myself to be absorbed in the empty, cold, thoughtlessness of the world around me. Because if I move, I will be acknowledging my physical form, as well as the conflict I’m still in.

For a time, I manage to do just that. But eventually, my body brings that to an end with just a small twitch of one of my hind claws. A small scrape of my claw across gray dust practically echoes out all across the moon for all present to hear.

I hear Nightmare Moon slowly rolling herself over to get her legs beneath herself. I do the same myself to get up. When I manage to stand, I turn to look at her, my face an impassive mask.

A hundred meters away, on the other side of an equally wide crater, stands the black alicorn mare that I’ve been trapped on the moon with for the past several centuries. I can tell her own face is equally impassive as she stares at me from across the expanse.

And then I’m flying straight at her, with Nightmare responding in kind, our wings blasting air behind us to send us both careening towards the space above the center of the crater. We collide with our forelimbs cracking against each other, a burst of wind billows out from our impact and disturbs the dust at the bottom of the crater.

We break apart from each other and rapidly start flying in a tight circle around each other. I feel turbulence under my wings and so I tuck my wings in and dive downward before a hollow boom echoes out from where I was. I angle myself to pull up and bank to the side before throwing my own blast of air upwards at Nightmare. She rolls out of the way, I’m thrown to the side from another explosion of wind catching me off guard, and then another blasts me towards her and I see the air distorting in a horizontal line along the length of her extended wing. I use my wings to vault myself over the blade of air at the last second.

This leaves me in a prime position to be hit by a blast of wind, I manage to erect a shield of ice in front of myself, but the attack throws me away from Nightmare Moon.

I slash an “X” into the chunk, and it shatters into thousands of shards, which then swiftly interlock over my body to form a coat of ice scales over my skin. Cold wind whirls around me as more ice shards form and fly in an increasingly wide radius around me.

Nightmare Moon’s mane and tail expand and encompass her body, and then splits into three, then nine, then eighty-one clouds of blackness and stars. The clouds solidify into copies of Nightmare Moon, and they start rushing at me with their horns glowing with magic.

The ice shards fly into them. Some of them are hit in the horn, disrupting their spells, which is then followed by them being eviscerated by the blizzard of flying ice, others shift back into dark clouds to avoid damage, still others manage to erect barriers, and some are just flat out killed from dozens of ice shards embedding themselves into their skulls, throats, and other parts of their bodies. I continue expanding my blizzard while forming more ice to send flying in every direction. The shielded clones keep their barriers up, but I can see cracks forming from the onslaught, tipping me off that Nightmare didn’t put much magic into each individual. The clones that reverted to smoke retreat outside the extent of my blizzard to re-form themselves away from the flying shards.

A shock of killing-intent spikes from my back and I erect an ice barrier behind me while simultaneously shifting my weight away from my previous place in the air. A bolt of lightning shatters the hovering shield and grazes my side underneath my left wing, ripping away the ice-scales from my side and catalyzing a chain-reaction with the ones left that causes them to explode into powdery snow. But I avoided all damage from the attack. That’s what matters.

I twist around and catch another bolt of lightning on the tips of my claws, and fire it back in the direction it came from. It kills a Nightmare Clone, causing it to burst into magic. But the distraction caused by it is enough to get my blizzard of blades to disappear, the energy used to create the ice disappearing into the air.

The remaining clones converge on me, their wings and horns crackling with electricity. I close my eyes for a moment to draw in a breath, before my eyes snap open, and lightning sparks across my claws. Whips of lightning spark into life in my grips, and with a flick from each hand, the whips flash into motion, causing the air around me hums as I focus. The electrical currents wrap themselves around me, stray bolts bleeding off of the whips as they spin. Almost a second later, my entire body is covered in white, flashing, spastic electrical energy. Another pair of whips flash into being in my claws and I charge through the air at the nearest clone.

One of the constructed alicorns flies at me from my side, hoping to cleave through me with her lightning-coated wings. But as soon as it gets within five meters of me, the lightning coursing over my body strikes out without warning and blasts a hole through the clone without giving it a chance to react. Two more attempt to pull out of similar flanking maneuvers, but they too get too close and meet the same fate. The rest that manage to pull out of their reckless charge are cut in twain by my flying whips.

The electricity that covers my body covers a much wider area than just the few centimeters of brightness that is visible over my skin. I have an invisible field of charged lightning flowing in a wide sphere around me to prevent anything living from getting too close.

I fly into the fray, throwing lighting out at the clones that are skirting the edge of my field’s edge and killing them as I see them. Several charge in at me with lighting surging off of their wings again, as if they didn’t learn their lesson from the others that were killed by my field. They meet the same fate and dissolve back into magic. Several others launch bolts of lightning at me from a range, but my field absorbs them and fires them back automatically. Lightning doesn’t work on me while I’m like this.

A jerking motion courses from my chest up and I gasp, waking up from the nightmare of my past.

Except… I still hear the sounds of that battle raging. Lightning arcs and crackles through the air alongside blazing magic.

I open my eyes and I blink in surprise.

Dozens of Nightmare Moon clones engaged in intense combat with… me...

And I’m watching it from outside myself.

I look down at my claws and notice that I still can feel myself, yet I’m also observing the nightmare I was having from a sort of… outside perspective.

A beam of magic scorches the ground in front of me, kicking up rocks and dust and sending it flying at me. I cover my face with a wing but… I don’t feel anything touch me. Pulling my wing back slightly, rocks still fall down around me, and gray dust is still floating around me, but I can’t feel any of it, and I think a rock just fell through my slightly outstretched wing like it isn’t there.

Or like… I’m not really here.

I’m pulled out of my musings by the sound of wings and a soft landing on the dirt near me. I turn to my right and see a very familiar face.

“Hello… Baelor.” Princess Luna says to me with a slightly saddened inflection to her voice.

I take a deep breath and let it out. “Hey Luna.” I respond.

I don’t panic. Actually, I don’t really feel anything in particular. I just feel… curious. Why is she here?

“I believe you are… wondering what is going on right now.” Luna says hesitantly.

I shrug. “Not really. I’m dreaming and you’re just manipulating it so that we can talk.” I state.

Luna just nods. “Yes.”

I tilt my head slightly, thinking. Then I right my head again when I decide on my response. “Alright then. What do you want to talk about?” I ask her.

She looks at me in confusion. “That is it? No anger? No fear? You are just willing to talk, just like that?” She asks me.

“It’s better than the alternative.” I say.

“And that is…?” She prompts, not understanding.

I sit down on my haunches. “We both just sleep and are stuck feeling what those two are feeling for the rest of the night.” I say, pointing up at the battling figures of Luna and I.

Luna looks up to where I’m pointing and winces. “I suppose that is true.” She admits. Then she quietly sits down next to me.

We sit quietly for a few moments before I speak again.

“Do you have them too?” I ask her. “These nightmares… memories…”

“Yes… they always seem to happen on the worst nights.” Luna murmurs.

“The ones right after the best days… the ones where you feel like things are finally getting better?” I offer sadly.

“Exactly those kinds.”

The quiet returns. The battle above seems close, but its noise doesn’t seem to impede on the quietness unless one of us wants it to.

Luna speaks first this time. “It is not quite as bad to watch it happening from this perspective.” She says, looking up at our battling forms. The dream-me has managed to carve his way through all of the clones and is assaulting a shielded dream-Luna with whips of lightning.

I snort. “No kidding.” I answer.

More silence.

“It’s… rather surprising actually.” Luna says with a thoughtful inflection.

“What is?” I ask.

“There are parts of our battles that stand out the clearest in my memory, and they’re almost always the ones where we both moved the slowest. Yet, watching it like this… those moments seem to be the fastest occurring.” She says.

I blink as I scour my memories of this particular battle, and when it comes up I discover… she’s right. I remember this part of the fight as having crawled its way along.

My fore claw came up, pointed at her, and I caught an arcing bolt of lightning fired from Nightmare Moon. Then my wings rocketed me towards her as I twisted the energy into another whip, which I twirled the grip in my fingers to build up its momentum without a wrist movement, and I slashed her across the chest as I passed her.

But watching it happen, watching my dream-self, I barely caught my wings flick backwards before I was already past Nightmare Moon in the air. And not only that, but I noticed that Nightmare managed to successfully block the length of the lightning whip on the very tip of her lightning charged wing-tip. I always thought she just managed to shrug the attack off, but she actually managed to counter the attack before it hit her. Imagine that.

“We were processing things in the heat of the moment that we aren’t right now.” I mutter with understanding.

“It would seem so.” Luna answers.

“We’ve both come a long way from just playing catch with thunderheads.” I comment.

“Yes… we have.”

And we continue to watch ourselves fight each other.

I give a mirthless chuckle. “This reminds me of an old saying that I once heard.” I say.

“What is it?” Luna asks.

“Iron sharpens iron.” I say. “That entire time we were on the moon, we were sharpening ourselves… growing stronger off of each other. It’s weird that I’m only just realizing this now, but if either of us went up against the people we were before we were banished, we would utterly crush them.” I say ruefully.

“I suppose we would. It is a strange thought.” Luna admits.

“Well, this is a strange dream.” I respond.


The silence between us returns again.

For some reason, my mind decides to remember my decision about becoming a Knight yesterday. I didn’t think about it, I just decided to accept it and save myself the worry of thinking about it some more. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like to me at the time. But…

I turn my gaze to Luna beside me. I remember Celestia’s words on what being a Knight means. She said it meant being her friend. To keep her from falling and succumbing to darkness. But no one is restricted to having just one friend. If I’m going to be Celestia’s friend and keep her head above water, then that means I’ll be keeping my other friends above it as well.

If I can make one impulsive decision without thought, I can make another.

“I’m kinda sick of this, to be honest.” I say aloud, looking back up at the battle.

Luna looks at me. “What?” She asks, not understanding.

I sigh. “I’m sick of all this brooding and procrastinating we’ve both been doing. Can we just forget all that and be friends again Luna?” I ask her.

Luna looks at me as if I’d just said the moon is made of cheese. “I-Baelor, it’s just not that simple.” She says sadly.

“I think the only reason it’s not that simple is because we’re not letting it be. We’re letting our fear get the better of us when instead we should be spending time with each other and helping each other get over our issues as they crop up.” I say.

“What makes you think that that’s how we should be handling it?” She asks me with a frown.

I look her in the eyes. “Because that’s what friends do. We help each other when we need it.” I say.

For a moment, she looks at me in bewilderment. Then she turns her gaze away from mine to look down at the ground. “You would be better off with getting help from your other friends. They did manage to save you from myself, after all.” She murmurs.

“But they can’t help me with this. No one but you can.” I tell her.

Luna looks up sharply. “How? How can I, the one who put you through so much, be the only one who can help you?!” Luna demands.

“Because you’re the only one that truly understands how much you put me through.” I say with certainty. Then I slump downwards in depression. “And how much I put you through as well.” I add.

Luna doesn’t respond so I continue. “No one around me gets it. They hear me say that I fought you for a thousand years, but they don’t seem to understand that I don’t hate you for it. They don’t know why I can be afraid of you, yet want to set things right. They don’t understand just how horrible what I did to you was. They listen to what I say and think that what we did was bad, but they don’t have any frame of reference for what we felt, what we experienced, or even how unbelievable it is that either one of us is still sane after everything is said and done.”

“And more than anything else… I miss you Luna. I miss our friendship.” I finish a sorrowful expression directed at Luna.

Those words seem to strike Luna through the heart. Her lips close together tightly, her ears fold back, and her eyes waver from moisture building up behind them. “I… I miss it too.” She croaks out.

My expression turns sympathetic and I smile slightly at the sight. Luna’s always been prideful. Even after she learned to real it in, the fact that she’s almost on the verge of tears right now makes me realize just how much she’s been hurting from everything. Probably even more than I was.

“So… does that mean you’re willing to give it a chance again?” I ask her with a comforting smile.

Luna sniffs and, to my surprise, allows her head droop down to rest her face on my side, her horn resting along the back of my neck.


Luna… is crying on my shoulder.

… this is new.

I mean, I know this is a big emotional moment for her, and for me too, but her positioning is just plain awkward and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react. I’ve never had a girl cry on me before!

Wait, this is sounding like one of those clichéd, comforting someone sad, shipping moments from bad fanfics. Is she falling for me? Am I falling for her?!

Nope, definitely not that. I don’t feel anything different. No fluttering in my chest or anything like that. No butterflies in my stomach or any of those sappy “budding romance” signs I’m expecting. I’m just caught off guard at the situation is all.

So… I guess I’ll just act as normal then.

And act as normal I do, and I sit there next to Luna, allowing her to let out what she’s been building up inside herself.

She’s not sobbing or anything. She’s just sort of… resting her head on me with tears flowing down my shoulder scales. But even so, I remain quiet, and let her let it all out for as long as she wants. I even sort of half-embrace her with my wing.

I can tell she needs it; some kind of gesture to say I’m okay with her, I mean.

After a bit, she lifts herself back off of me, looking down at her hooves. “I’m sorry.” She apologizes, having cried herself out.

I smile comfortingly. “Don’t be. We all need to let it out at some point. Friends are good substitutes for pillows when there aren’t any around.” I joke.

Luna smiles at and looks up to the horizon ahead of her. “I… didn’t think that I would be doing and saying these things when I came into your dream tonight.” She says.

“Do you regret coming in here since you have though?” I ask.

Luna sighs. “No, but I did come in here to talk to you about something specific. But it seems that the moment stole my attention away from it temporarily.” She says.

I nod. “Yeah, that’s definitely one thing that happened, at the very least.” I comment. “So what did you come in here to talk to me about?” I ask.

“I thought it prudent to tell you that Tia plans on asking you to accompany Captain Shining Armor on a sort of mission in a few days time.” Luna says.

I blink. “Oh-kaaaaaay… why?” I ask her, mildly confused.

Luna tilts her head. “Why am I telling you this, or why is my sister asking you to go on this mission?” She asks me back.

I shrug. “Both, I guess.” I answer.

Luna sighs again. “I suppose they are fairly closely linked. I recently learned about a special… group, and Tia has told me that you are joining the group as well.” She says.

I perk upwards, now more alert. “You mean the Awen Knights?” I ask.

“Yes, that sounds like the name she told me. Anyways, I believe she wants you to go with the Captain on his rather mundane mission as some sort of test. I am not quite sure of the exact reason though, I did not ask her.” Luna admits.

I take a moment to think before responding. “Is the mission going to be dangerous?” I ask her.

“I do not know. Neither does Celestia nor the Captain.” Luna answers.

I frown at this. “That doesn’t seem encouraging. Shouldn’t they know what they’re getting into before getting into it?” I wonder aloud.

“That seems to be the main purpose of the mission. To investigate and gather information.” Luna says.

I shake my head slightly. “Sorry, I’m having a hard time piecing this together in my head. I need the bigger picture explained to me. What exactly is the mission that Celestia wants me to go on?” I finally ask.

And so, Luna relays the conversation she heard Celestia and Shining Armor have. The report given by the mayor, the statistics Shining listed that gave rise to his suspicions, Celestia’s approval of his plan of action, and her own hope that I will be participating in the operation.

After she finishes telling me everything, I lean backwards to look slightly upwards in thought. “Huh…” I say simply.

“What is it?” Luna asks me.

“The city that Celestia wants me to go to, Clipago. It sounds a lot like my old home. A large city called Chicago.” I tell her.

Luna looks surprised. “Truly? That is very strange. What are the chances that two different worlds would have similar names for similar cities?” She wonders aloud.

“A lot bigger than you’d think. I’ve heard that nowadays, Equestria has cities named Manehattan and Fillydelphia. And back on my world we had cities named Manhattan and Philadelphia. If you take out the equine puns in the names, we’d have cities named exactly the same as each other.” I tell her.

“But,” I pause to relax my weight forward a bit. “That’s not exactly relevant to what we were talking about.” I say.

“It was definitely an interesting observation though.” Luna says with a smirk.

I smile right back at her. “Thanks.” I reply. Then I think a little more deeply. “Alright then. I’m in. When should I be ready to leave and from where?” I ask her.

Luna blinks. “You mean for the mission to Clipago? I have no idea. I merely wished to alert you to what my sister wished to tell you. Tia should send you all the necessary information within a day or two though.” She answers.

“So you basically just wanted to beat her to the bit then.” I state dryly.

She shrugs. “I suppose that is one way to put it.” She answers with no shame whatsoever. I roll my eyes. I guess sisterly rivalries never die, even after a thousand years.

“Speaking of my sister, would you mind helping me with something?” Luna asks me suddenly.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Since she hasn’t informed you of the mission yet, and since she does not know I have told you. Would you mind telling her, before she gets the chance to ask, that you accept? I believe her reaction will be very humorous.” Luna says with a smile.

I shrug. “Sure.” I say.

Then… I slowly grin as her plan sparks some inspiration in me. “Although, I don’t think it’ll be quite enough to get a reaction out of her. And she might just assume you told me anyway, since the timing is a little too convenient.” I tell her.

She blinks in confusion. “Then what else should we do?” She asks me.

My grin widens. “Dear Luna, how well do you think you know your sister, and do you think you could predict her bad habits during the day?” I ask her sweetly.

And then Luna’s devious grin matches mine.

The Next Day

The day after the Best Young Flyer’s Competition, Princess Celestia has just managed to raise the sun for the day. And already her mind is contemplating how to word her letter to Baelor to ask him if he would be able to go to Clipago for a brief period of time.

‘Let’s see…” Celestia muses in her thoughts. “obviously, I’m going to have to decide on a way to ask Twilight and Spike to not read it. But should I leave Baelor’s letter separate, with a label saying ‘To Baelor’ or should I include a letter to Twilight as well?”

Celestia walks to her desk, and smirks as a mischievous thought enters her mind. “Or perhaps I should just start a single letter with ‘Dear Baelor, Twilight, if you are reading this letter past this point, then I will be sorely disappointed in you. You should know better than to read another pony’s, or in this case dragon’s, mail without permission. Since you have obviously never learned this lesson before, then I hereby assign you a one-thousand word research essay detailing the implementation of-‘

Celestia’s thoughts are interrupted by a whoosh of dragonflame delivering some mail for herself, to her surprise. She spares only a curious tilt of her head before picking it up and opening it up to read its contents.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I wanted to let you know that you should be ashamed of yourself! It is improper manners to scratch the undersides of your wings with a fork during mealtimes. I fully understand that sometimes, it’s just too much to bear, and I don’t begrudge you your ingenuity in how you handle the problem. And I’m fine with you using an illusion charm to conceal when you do it. No one has a problem if they don’t see it happen. But what I’m not okay with is the fact that you put the fork back on the table when you’re done with it. If it was your fork it’d still be fine, but nope, you use other ponies’ forks. I know that there’s a saying “for the love of Celestia” but nopony wants your feather dander in their mouths for the love of you!

Another thing is, you need to stop eating so many cakes, they’re going straight to your flanks, and they leave you in food comas for so long that I’m surprised the nobility hasn’t managed to catch on to this fact for one thousand years and tried to take your entire kingdom out from under you while you’re in these legendary food comas.


Celestia continues to read the extensive list of her smallest faults with a growing sense of bamboozlement. For all its offensive qualities though, she can’t seem to find herself able to feel insulted by being critiqued on her bad habits.

Well… actually, make that only mildly insulted.

After reading the letter for a solid ten minutes, she comes to the final line in the letter:

-And finally, I would like to say that I humbly accept your offer to go on that mission to Clipago with Captain Shining Armor of the Royal Guard. And I hope you have a pleasant day your Highness.

Sincerely, Baelor

Princess Celestia stares at the letter, not quite sure what to think at first.

Then she feels disappointed that she wouldn’t get to prank her student with her letter to Baelor.

Is it bad that she can’t get her mind off of pranks at the moment?

That line of thought is promptly ignored and replaced with a new idea for mischief. Celestia smiles with a barely restrained giggle at the idea this letter has just provided her.

The first thing she does, is to use a quick ink-cleansing spell to erase the last line on Baelor’s letter about his acceptance of the mission.

Then, after that, she pulls out some old grading supplies from a drawer in her desk. With a quick dab of a quill into her inkwell, Celestia then quickly scribes a small “10/10” at the top of the letter, circles it, and then pulls out a golden star sticker to stick on it, and right next to it, she scrawls the grade of “A+” onto the paper.

Celestia takes a moment to admire her work, before she rolls the letter back up again, and sends it back the way it came through Spike’s dragonflame delivery spell.

‘I’ll admit, you may have put me in check with that Baelor, and I don’t know how you did it. But with this, I call, “check-mate”. She thinks giddily while imagining her student reading his letter in horrific shock.

Oh, if only she could be there to see it herself.