On Shimmering Steel

by Clay Pigeon

First published

Eight long years of conflict & war, all spent a þousand years in ðe past – all brought to æn end by ðe combat-obsessed warlord Apollyon. Now, the Warden has returned to her own time & must reacquaint herself with the life she left behind…

Eight years.

Eight years full of conflict & war – eight long years she hæs spent living a þousand years in ðe past. Eight years of fighting for various lords & ladies, all leading up to a final duel against ðe warlord Apollyon.

Now, the Warden has returned to her own time and must reacquaint herself with the culture of the twenty-first century and the life she left behind. However, she is not the only one who remembers the conflicts of Ashfeld…

Crossover with For Honor. This takes place just after Rainbow Rocks, so the events of Friendship Games have yet to happen. Concept is inspired by the story Springtime for a Drake. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Chapter I – War

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Chapter I – War

Her hand gripped her stomach as the Warden stumbled to her knees, blood flowing freely between her armored fingers. Her stomach felt like it was on fire. She couldn’t breathe! Why couldn’t she breathe‽ Gasping for breath, the knight’s hand flew to her chin, the blood on her gauntlets slipping against the warm steel of her helm. Thankfully, she managed to pull open the visor, allowing the silvery helm to slip to the ground with a metallic clang! Vivid red hair framed amber skin as it fell into its natural shape, its brilliant yellow streaks barely visible through the blood seeping from a gash in her head.

She fell to the ground. She felt dizzy.

Ðe Warden struggled to get up, reaching for her longsword; in her disorientation, however, she couldn’t reach the hilt. Miroiter’s blue leather grip seemed to be in six different places at once. She thrust her gauntlet out to grasp a different hilt. No luck. Again and again, she tried, desperately seeking the feeling of her fingers clasping the grip, but to no avail. No matter where she lay her hand, she could not feel Miroiter’s grip in her hand. ‘Twas no use; the longsword she had proudly wielded for so long was now useless to her, in her hour of need. Whether she liked it or not, she was at her enemy’s mercy.

Thankfully, her enemy wasn’t faring much better.

Ðe Warden lifted her head. Apollyon was leaning against the stone railing, her black armor dented and cut in several places. She was barely keeping on her feet, stumbling every few seconds. Her longsword, its serrated edge long used to slice open the weak, was now little more than a metal walking stick; the black-iron suit that once made her seem a devil, now only made her look faded and empty. Rust surrounded every eye-hole, and the wicked spikes that decorated her shoulder now bent at unnatural angles.

Desperate to take advantage of this opportunity, the Warden shook her head, ridding herself of the dizziness. She reached for her longsword, and at long last, felt her armored hand wrap around the leather grip of Miroiter. Struggling to her feet, the Warden raised the weapon above her head as staggered toward Apollyon. Shining steel glinted in the morning sun as she swung the blade downward, Apollyon stumbling out of the way at the last moment. Thinking quickly, she pivoted on her heel and swung her leg outward, her armored shin kicking the warlord back into the stone railing.

“It’s over,” the Warden said at last. Drawing upon the last of her strength, the knight straightened into a poise of courage and honor as she managed to stand upright. “We will have peace,” she said with finality as she sheathed Miroiter, the red gemstone gleaming in its shining crossguard. She turned to leave before her strength failed her. Already her knees were threatening to-

“Peace?”

Ðe Warden turned back to see Apollyon leaning against the railing, her black armor seeming to regain some of its former sheen as she looked out toward the rising sun. Ðe warlord shuddered, a humorless laugh escaping from the breathing holes that dotted the helm’s face.

“So,” Apollyon began, turning back to face the Warden. “What happens now?” Her armored hand gripped its pommel, her longsword aiding the warlord to her feet. “You all just–” she stumbled forward, causing the Warden to step back. “–go home?” she finished as she straightened, finally standing level with her adversary.

Before the Warden could respond, Apollyon turned back to the cliff, and with a grunt, hurled her loŋsword over the edge. Ðe Warden staggered to the railing beside her adversary as the jagged weapon sailed over the edge, finally landing in the weathered wood of the drawbridge far below.

On either side of the blade stood two armies: Ðe left, the Warden recognized as the Iron Legion, their shining metal making it nigh-impossible to see the yellow & green the Legion was so famous for.

On the right of the sword stood the Asahi clan, the red sun on their banners contrasting sharply with the blue and white paint that adorned their armor. The Warden watched in horror, her cyan eyes threatening to well with tears as she saw the commanders drop into fighting stances.

“You came into my home,” Apollyon said, her voice hollow. Ðe Warden looked back at the warlord she had once served. Ðough she couldn’t see through the black-iron helm, she knew Apollyon was smiling. “And you brought your armies.” But there was no humor to be found in her voice – only emptiness and sorrow. Ðe voice that had once cowed armies had loŋ lost its threatening aura. Now, only a bitter laugh escaped the warlord’s lips as she removed her helm.

Ðe Warden had never seen Apollyon’s face before. She didn’t think anyone had. Surely, such beauty would’ve been talked about.

Silvery grey streaked through braids of pale blonde hair, not unlike the Warden’s own gold-streaked mane. Her face looked like it had once belonged to an angel, the loŋ hair and pale skin bringing forth memories of a seraph the Warden had once seen in the colored glass of a church. Now, her face belied the warlord’s true age – much more than the Warden had ever supposed it would. Apollyon’s angelic grey eyes were hollow and empty, and the scarred amber visage around them was faded and subtle like mayhaps her skin had once been awash with color that now lay dormant.

Apollyon slowly turned to face the Warden, her mouth upturned in an emotionless smile. “What did you think would happen?” She asked, her blank grey eyes meeting the cyan gaze of the knight beside her. “Peace?” She scoffed. The Warden didn’t have an answer.

A war horn thundered down below, drawing the two knights’ attention back to the battle that was about to erupt. Ðe two sides had been standing down, ready to find peace between knight and samurai – then the Vikings stormed the gates, roaring and bellowing in their quest to ravage and plunder. Ðe Warden watched in horror as the two sides charged, tears of pain welling in her eyes as the two commanders tried in vain to call off the assault.

Apollyon laughed beside her. “Ðat isn’t how the world works,” Apollyon said between chuckles, her armored hand flying to her stomach in pain as she spectated the raging battle below. Blood flowed freely between her fingers, and the warlord’s face quickly turned to a mask of anger. “Don’t speak to me of your virtue,” she spat, venom dripping from her voice like the blood from her stomach.

“Duty.” A samurai fell to the ground, gutted by the loŋsword of a Warden.

“Kinship.” A Raider’s axe cleaved through the steel helm of a knight.

“Honor.” A Kensei ducked under a Viking’s skjǫldr shield, his ōdachi slicing cleanly through the raider’s exposed gut.

Apollyon’s expression was impossible to read as she witnessed the carnage – whether it was from the warlord’s expression or her own vision blurring from pain, the Warden didn’t know. “You’ve forgotten what you are.” Ðough Apollyon’s voice was even, the Warden could hear an underlying air of condescension she knew too well. She had sounded like that once, so long ago, when she had believed herself to be so much better than anyone else. It was as if Apollyon believed that mankind’s natural state was one of conflict and it was up to her to show them…

“You want war,” the Warden said, realization dawning on her face as she stared in bewilderment at the once-feared warlord. “Only war.”

Apollyon smiled as the color slowly drained from her face. With considerable effort, she pushed herself up from the railing. “All I want,” she said, her voice ragged as her breaths slowed. “Is for you to admit,” She thrust her hand out toward the Warden, a single finger raised accusingly.

“What. You. Are.” Every word was punctuated by a thrust of her finger, blood dripping steadily from the soaked red metal. The light was fading from her eyes, and the Warden knew the same was happening to her as well. Apollyon threw her arms outward in an embracing gesture, blood splattering her face as she fell back against the railing. “All of you,” she rasped, struggling back to an upright position. Once again, the warlord extended her hand. Ðis time, however, the hand was turned upside down, the blackened steel almost disappearing under blood-soaked cloth. Ðough the Warden’s vision was quickly failing her, there was no mistaking the sign Apollyon had offered to the knight who’d bested her.

A universal gesture of friendship.

“My… wolves…” Ðe light finally faded from the warlord’s eyes, and she collapsed to the floor.

Apollyon was dead.

In spite of her own impending demise, the Warden couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction. Not two years ago, she had served under this madwoman. How fitting that the one obsessed with combat would die by her former ally.

Ðe Warden pondered this for a moment, then pushed herself up from the railing and turned to leave. She dropped to a kneel as she retrieved her helm, not daring to descend any lower for fear of never rising again.

Having long since been drained of the adrenaline of battle, the Warden found the pain of her wounds returning in full force, and even staying conscious soon became a pantagruelian task. Every few steps, she staggered, forced to fall against a pillar for support. Her vision was darkening. She knew this was it.

She was going to die.

Just as the Warden pushed herself up for another few steps, the door to the balcony crashed open, giving way to the unmistakable form of Holden Cross. “She’s here!” She thought she heard him say. From behind the massive Lawbringer, two smaller figures dashed into the room: Hikaru Ayu and Aria Blaze.

Standing still at the sight öf her friends, the Warden felt the last of her strength finally fell away and she dropped to her knees. Had Ayu and Aria not surged forward and caught her, she would’ve likely joined Apollyon on the cold stone floor.

“It’s… this i-is it,” the Warden coughed out as she lay her head back. “It’s… it’s o-over.”

Ðe wörried faces of her friends stared down at her, Aria’s eyes welling up with tears. “No,” she cried, her hands forsaking her hatchet and dagger in favor of the dying knight’s collar. “You can’t die,” she begged, shaking the Warden in desperation. Ðe Warden’s vision darkened further as her head rocked back and forth before she looked up as the shaking stopped to see Holden Cross place his hand on Aria’s shoulder.

“D-don’t be sad,” she thought she said, reaching a shaking hand up to sooth her weeping friend. Unfortunately, all this did was smear blood across the siren’s face. “It’ll b-be okay.”

“No! It won’t!” Aria cried, burying her face in her hands. “You can’t leave us!” She took Cross’s hand off öf her shoulder and buried herself in his armored chest. Ðe Warden thought she saw Ayu reach up to place a hand on the siren’s shoulder, only for Aria to throw the daimyō to the floor.

Ðe Warden tried to get up to stop her, only for her hand to slip in the blood pooling underneath her, and she fell back to the floor, her head slamming against the stone. Ðis caught everyone’s attention, and they turned to look at their dying companion. “H-hey now,” the Warden rasped, giving a weak smile. “D-don’t… don’t fight.” She lay her head back against the stone, feeling her hair soaked through with blood.

“I-I think we’ve done e-enough fighting… don’t you?”

Holden and Ayu lowered their heads in shame, while Aria dropped to her knees, clutching her shaman’s stone in her hands. “D-don’t worry,” the Warden whispered, having lacked the strength to speak any louder at this point. “You’ll… see me again someday.” At this, Aria looked up from the stone, wiping away the tears from her eyes. Her mouth moved, and the Warden assumed she was asking some form of “How?”

“J-just… just trust me,” she said, her voice barely audible. “I’ll… come back someday.” With the last öf her strength and the light fading fröm her eyes, the Warden clasped Aria’s hand in her own. Ðe knight’s blood-covered gauntlet threatened to slip out of Aria’s hand, but the siren held firm, pushing her shaman’s stone into the dying Warden’s hand.

“Ðat’s… what f-friends do…”

Chapter II – Return

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Chapter II – Return

The Warden’s mind was floatiŋ through a primordial expanse of nothiŋness. There was no sight, no smell, no sense of touch.

Is this what beiŋ dead is like? She felt a bit bemused. Yet my senses fail me. Why? Should I not be ascendiŋ the stairway to heaven, fated to forever siŋ amongst the choir invisible?

“ Sunset… ”

There was a noise.

Why is there noise? The girl thought. This existence had been in silence so far – why the sudden change?

“Sunset…”

A voice. Yes, she could tell it was a voice now; so familiar to her, and at the same time so utterly strange, as if she had heard it loŋ ago. It was calliŋ her birth name; a name she had not used in many years.

A flicker of amusement flared within the Warden’s mind. The spirits of Heaven were tryiŋ to briŋ her over to the next life if she had to guess. Heariŋ her nearly-forgotten birth name beiŋ so carelessly thrown about was such a curious feeliŋ though, for no one had spoken that name in a loŋ time, only calliŋ her by her title: the Warden.

And yet, as the Warden lamented, the voice was becomiŋ louder.

“Sunset, wake up! It’s morniŋ!”

What?

All at once, the Warden’s senses came floodiŋ back like waves filliŋ up holes in the sand. For a moment, the knight did nothiŋ. Rather, she simply allowed her eyes to remain at rest, content to simply feel her surroundiŋs. She was in a bed, that much was clear – admittedly, it was a much more comfortable bed than what she was used to. She’d likely be sleepiŋ on the floor for a while.

Surprisiŋly, it was Sunset’s body that felt the strangest to the former knight. She still felt the aches and tiredness of battle, yet at the same time, inexplicably rejuvenated. She still felt the streŋgth and resilience of her muscular form, a forced adaptation to the harsh world of the eleventh century. However, she almost felt too stroŋ, as if she was not meant to be as physically capable as she was.

Finally exposiŋ her cyan eyes to the open air, Sunset saw that she was draped in a soft linen blanket. Pulliŋ it aside to reveal her nude body, she saw that she still bore the same scars she had carried for many years; a new one screamed a bright red down her left shoulder, a painful reminder of a blade as jagged and cruel as the warlord who’d wielded it.

Confused beyond belief, Sunset tore her eyes away from her scarred and muscled body and looked around the room, and her jaw nearly hit the floor.

No… this cannot be, she thought in disbelief.

She was in her old room in Celestia’s house. Her walls were colored a brilliant teal, her Rainbooms poster plastered right next to her closet. Her closet door stood ajar, revealiŋ her wardrobe of magenta and teal, directly opposite to the door on the wall to her right. “Sunset, I know today’s a late start,” the voice called again, “but that still means you have to actually get up.” She heard footsteps comiŋ up the stairs, the floorboards creakiŋ against the person’s shoes. The door opened a crack and an off-white face peeked through, framed by glimmeriŋ rainbow hair. Her magenta gaze met Sunset’s own cyan eyes, and Sunset was stunned still.

Her mother, on the other hand, was glariŋ at her with light-hearted sternness. “Come on Sunset. I’ve got breakfast on the table and it’s gettiŋ cold.”

Celestia waited a moment before she noticed her daughter’s stunned expression and the absolute stillness of the room. “Sunset?” she asked, her voice now laced with concern. “Is everythiŋ alright?”

Rather than answer, Sunset could not help but see if this scenario she found herself in was real with her own two hands. She stood up, grabbiŋ the sheets to cover her scarred body, and slowly walked over to the door. Her hand reachiŋ out to rest on her mother’s forearm, Sunset Shimmer finally spoke aloud the siŋgle word she had so loŋed to say for many years.

“Mom.”

Celestia opened her mouth to repeat her question when she found her waist enveloped in the most heartfelt hug Sunset had ever given. She was surprised at first, and her body went rigid; she soon softened, however, and returned the gesture.

“Sunset,” Celestia’s voice came again, breakiŋ the silence. “Did you not sleep well last night?” The fiery-haired teen looked up at Celestia in confusion. Her mother’s face bore no expression of relief at her return, only a look of concern as if Sunset had indeed slept poorly the previous night. In fact, it seemed that Celestia did not realize Sunset had ever been absent in the first place. If I must hazard a guess, she thought, I’d be inclined to believe that the Lord has returned me to my time in the same night as my departure from it. Sunset gave an internal sigh, a mental smirk blanketiŋ her mind in sarcasm. How kind and considerate for the Lord above to do so.

Estimatiŋ that she indeed had never been absent from the rest of the world's’ perspective, Sunset quickly backed away from her adopted mother, realiziŋ that such a profound relief at seeiŋ Celestia again would seem strange. “Never mind,” she said, hopiŋ to brush it aside. “Just a weird dream.”

Celestia gave her a disbelieviŋ look but smiled and nodded. “If you’re sure,” she said, soundiŋ entirely unconvinced as she went back downstairs. “Breakfast is ready, by the way. We’re haviŋ French toast.” At the mentioniŋ of those words, Sunset’s face lit up in a smile.

“Sounds good,” she responded, walkiŋ over to her closet in order to put on somethiŋ a bit more normal for once. However, as she discarded her bed sheet, a glint caught her eye, and she knew that this demanded her immediate attention.

At the foot of her bed, glintiŋ in the morniŋ sun, lay her armor in a pile of padded cloth and dented steel.

Sunset’s mind started raciŋ. Why was her armor here‽ This didn’t make any sense! She’d thought that her spirit had been sent back in time, not her physical form! How could her armor possibly be here, literally a thousand years after it had protected her last‽

She took a deep breath to calm herself. Calm down, Sunset thought, attemptiŋ to clear her mind. Whether it made sense or not, her body had been sent back aloŋ with her spirit, and her armor was here; these facts, she could not change. However, she could definitely do somethiŋ about it now. But what to do?

Decidiŋ the simplest solution was probably the best, Sunset grabbed the pile of cloth and armor and shoved as far under her bed as she could. It wasn’t much, and it definitely wouldn’t last forever, but it would buy her enough time to figure out somethiŋ better. Turniŋ back to her closet, she grabbed one of her more normal outfits and threw it on. It didn’t feel quite right, but she ignored the chill runniŋ down her spine and made for the kitchen, intent on enjoyiŋ her breakfast before it had an opportunity to cool further. Her boots clacked against the hardwood floor as she ran into the kitchen, attractiŋ the attention of her aunt.

“Mixiŋ it up today?” Luna inquired, her cocked head exhibitiŋ her intrigue as she paused from her own breakfast. Suppressiŋ her immense joy from seeiŋ her aunt again at the last possible second, Sunset examined her choice of attire, which she admittedly hadn’t paid much attention to when she’d thrown it on a moment before. Her trademark leather jacket fell over a magenta top with her cutie mark emblazoned on the front. Combined with her yellow-streaked orange skirt, she realized she donned an outfit nearly identical to the one she wore prior to her reformation.

Whoops.

“Looks good on you,” Luna said, haltiŋ her niece’s thoughts. Now that Sunset thought about it, she no loŋger felt any attachment to this outfit; it was no loŋger a painful reminder of who she used to be. Now, it was just a set of clothes: a magenta top and orange skirt, nothiŋ more.

However, as she began to think about it, that fact began to unnerve her, makiŋ her feel slightly on edge. So familiar was she with gambeson tunics, with chainmail hauberks and plates of fitted steel, that haviŋ naught but simple cloth and thin leather as protection left Sunset feeliŋ… exposed, naked even.

Yet another thiŋ the former Warden would have to re-familiarize herself with.

Sunset pushed that thought aside, certain that she would simply get used to it. For now, she had much more important thiŋs to worry about.

Thiŋs which could wait until after breakfast. Sunset thought as she saw the plate of french toast placed in front of her, her mouth beginniŋ to water. “Gratias pro caveris me,” she muttered under her breath as she tore into the delicacy, cuttiŋ up several pieces to be consumed.

It was the most delicious thiŋ Sunset had ever eaten. Syrup dripped down her chin as she shoved piece after piece into her mouth, savoriŋ the taste of egg as butter slid down her throat. Oh, how she had missed the taste of French toast.

“Sunset, come on!” Celestia’s voice from down the hall, pulliŋ her out of her euphoria. “I know you love French toast, but we’re goiŋ to be late for school!”

Uh oh. In her delight, Sunset had completely forgotten about Canterlot High. Her shoulder slumped under her leather jacket. She felt completely unprepared. Stormiŋ onto the battlefield with a significant risk of pain or death, that she could handle. She wasn’t ready to go back to Canterlot High.

Then again, had she been ready when she first defeated Ademar and been recruited into the Blackstone Legion? Had she been ready when she faced down Jarl Guðmundr? Had she been ready when she stormed the Blackstone castle and slew Apollyon herself?

No… she hadn’t.

Shruggiŋ, she got up from the table, grabbiŋ her backpack on the way out the door. She would have to deal with thiŋs as they were dealt to her. She had done so in Ashfeld, and she would do so here.

She slid into the car, swiŋiŋ her backpack around to rest on her lap. It was time to return to Canterlot High.

Chapter III – High School

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Chapter III – High School

“Deus malum sit!” Sunset muttered under her breath, slipping into Latin as she fiddled with her locker. She’d spent eight years fighting for lords and ladies living a thousand years in the past; why in God’s name would she be expected to remember something as minute and insignificant as a locker combination‽ Of all the things to get hung up on…

“Sunset!” A ladylike voice called out, bringing the former Warden’s attention over to… wait a minute. That was Rarity waving at her from the main entrance… Sunset’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes fell upon a sight she had so longed to see for such a long time.

Her friends.

Sunset bolted down the hall to them, putting her years of physical training to good use. She attempted to skid to a halt right in front of them, only to crash straight into Pinkie Pie, who embraced the former knight in a rib-crushing hug – at least, it would’ve been rib-crushing had Sunset not been used to being crushed. She knew why the Shugoki were so feared on the battlefield; she’d been the target of a few of their backbreaking embraces herself. Needless to say, Sunset was not at all fazed by Pinkie’s hug, and gladly returned it with equal enthusiasm and greater strength.

Naturally, this came as a surprise to the pink-skinned party-planner; Pinkie dropped her friend in shock and Sunset fell to the floor. “Whoa, Sunset!” Pinkie exclaimed, clutching her sides to ease the slight ache. “When did you get so strong‽”

Deus malum sit.

Sunset gave a mental facepalm as she picked herself up off the floor. With how used to her increased physique she was, she hadn’t considered that her friends may find it strange! Stultus!

“M-my sincerest apologies Pinkie,” she stammered out, seeing her friend clutching her ribs. Had she hurt her? “Art thou alright?”

She hadn’t even finished inquiring as to her friend’s well-being before Pinkie had bounced back into her usual joyful state, her poofy rose hair bouncing around in all its brilliance. “Yep!” she replied with a smile, any indication of pain vanishing. “I was just surprised is all.” Pinkie paused all of a sudden, cupping her hand over her mouth in an expression of thought. “Huh. I wonder if Granny Surprise would like to meet you.”

The not-so-discreet snicker of Rainbow Dash interrupted the party planner’s train of thought. “Pinkie, you’re so random sometimes.” The group shared a brief laugh before Rainbow remembered what Pinkie had just said. “Sooo,” she began, drawing the word out, “What did Pinkie mean about you being strong?”

Before Sunset had a chance to respond, Pinkie popped back into the frame with a gasp. “Did I mean that Sunset Shimmer just got back from spending who knows how loŋ a thousand years in the future as a super space soldier who had to save the last city in space from an evil army of space aliens in SPACE‽

To her infinite astonishment, Sunset was the only one to sport a completely dumbfounded expression. Maybe she just wasn’t as used to Pinkie Pie’s absurd antics as she used to be. Applejack was the first to speak. “Pinkie, how did ya know that?”

“Just a hunch.”

Sunset gave Applejack a strange look. Sure, Pinkie’s hunches had often been unnervingly accurate from what she could remember, but that seemed to be a little too ludicrous, even for Pinkie Pie. “I’m sorry to say this Pinkie,” she said, resting a hand on the party planner’s shoulder. “But for once, you couldn’t be farther off.”

Cue another round of jaws hitting the floor.

“Wait, what‽” Rainbow exclaimed, jumping back in shock. “Pinkie’s hunch is wrong‽” A look of complete and utter shock was plastered across her face, and judging from the identical look worn by everyone else, she had said what everyone was thinking. Are they serious? Sunset thought, almost unaware of her fingers wrapping around the bridge of her nose.

“Yes,” she said, slowly shaking her head. “Pinkie Pie is wrong.”

The instant the words left her mouth, Sunset wished she could take back the unintentional insult. She immediately paid close attention to her piŋk playful partner, her eyes shrinking to pinpricks as she saw the rosy poof deflate slightly. “N-not that that’s a sin!” Sunset stammered in a desperate attempt to save face. “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes!”

Thankfully, the save seemed to work on Pinkie, as the playful pink party planner popped back to her default state of delight, earning a sigh of relief from everyone.

…Awkward silence, round III.

“So…” Fluttershy began, willing to brave the spotlight to bring the silence to a close. “If Pinkie’s explanation of, um… space, isn’t it, then what is?”

“I wouldn’t worry about it at the moment,” Sunset said, not quite sure if she should tell them. After all, she had slaughtered many in the names of lords and ladies, for the Blackstone and Iron Legions alike. “So,” she started, quick to change the subject. “Is there anything new happening with you all?”

“Ya don’t have to say anythin’,” Applejack said, seeing right through Sunset’s feeble attempt to divert their attention. “Ya don’t have ta tell us nothin’ if you’re not comfortable with it yet.”

Sunset looked into the green-eyed gaze of Applejack, “You have my thanks,” Sunset replied, wincing slightly as she brushed the farmer’s hand off her shoulder – and off the still-aching scar from Apollyon’s blade.

BBBRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG!!!!

Sunset jumped back slightly as the bell rang, signifying the beginning of class. “Zounds!” Sunset exclaimed, extracting herself from the group. “We’re late for our studies!” The group nodded in understanding, quickly separating as they ran for their respective classes. Instinctively, Sunset’s left hand flew to her hip as she took off, before slowly pulling away as she was reminded of her scabbard’s absence.

“Something in your pocket?” Sunset jumped, whirling around to see the unmistakable multicolored mane of Rainbow Dash. Once again, Sunset’s hand flew to her hip seeking the familiar grip of Miroiter. To no one’s surprise, no luck.

“What art thou doing here?” Sunset cried, cursing herself for her battle reflex. “You’re supposed to be getting to class!”

“Uh, yeah,” Rainbow replied, crossing her arms. “I’ve got gym class first, same as you.” She reached up and wrapped an arm around Sunset’s shoulders. Sunset winced; Apollyon’s blade had left quite the scar, and it still hurt to touch. Thinkiŋ quickly, she pulled away from Rainbow’s arm. “So let us be off,” she said, preparing to once again sprint down the hallway – only for Rainbow’s hand to come down again on her shoulder. She winced again. Always on the God-forsaken scar!

“Uh, Sunset,” Rainbow said, pulling Sunset back around. “The locker room is that way,” she said, throwing a thumb over her shoulder. Sunset leaned over, glancing behind Rainbow to see the sign to the gym.

Sunset blushed, giving a sheepish smile. “My apologies,” she said, bowing in shame. “I’ve been a bit…” She paused, trying to find the right word. “Disoriented as of late.” Her hand unconsciously came to grasp her left bicep, feeling the reminder of her duel with Ademar under her jacket.

Looking back at Rainbow, the athlete was staring at her with a face practically screaming ‘I don’t buy it’. “Oookay,” she said, her voice laden with suspicion. “Well, we’ve gotta get to class. Coach Spitfire will have our hides if we’re any later.” Without another word, Rainbow grabbed Sunset by the arm – her right arm this time, thank God – and dragged her across the hallway and into the changing room.


Sunset sighed in frustration as she removed her top, letting out a hiss of pain as her top brushed against her shoulder – a harsh reminder of the cruel warlord who gave it to her. This scar was going to be the end of her, Sunset just knew it.

Sighiŋ, Sunset pulled her gym shirt over her head and turned to leave – only to come face-to-face with the shell-shocked expression of Rainbow Dash. “Yes?” She asked, attempting to play dumb even though she knew it wouldn’t work. She knew what exactly what Rainbow had been staring at.

“What do you mean ‘What’‽” Rainbow demanded, shattering the silence that had passed over the room. Before Sunset had a chance to respond, the athlete stormed over and pulled up Sunset’s shirt. “Where did these come from‽” she demanded, thrusting a finger at the scars that strung themselves across Sunset’s body.

“What’s wrong with them?” Sunset said, defaulting to her usual response whenever a peasant had asked her about her scars. “They’re nothing to worry about. They’ve long since healed over.”

“And that one‽” Rainbow accused, pointing directly at the large red gash that streaked through her left shoulder.

Sunset’s expression turned grim. “You should see my opponent,” she said darkly. “Trust me – I gave as well as I got.”

Rainbow’s expression turned from accusing to shocked and a little scared. She opened her mouth to retort, but couldn’t seem to find the words. Sighing, Sunset snatched her gym shirt back from Rainbow. “I will explain it to you all later,” she promised, pulling the shirt back over her head. “For now, we have physical education and Coach Spitfire to worry about.”

Rainbow glared at her, clearly wanting to press the subject further. “Fine,” she relented, throwing her arms up in exasperation. “But you’re hiding something,” she said, giving Fluttershy’s famous Stare a run for its money. “And you’re going to tell us.”

“As I said.”

Sooner rather than later.”

Sunset sighed again as she walked toward the door. “Come,” she said, her voice laced with irritation. “We must face the wrath of Coach Spitfire.” Rainbow gave one last glare of suspicion, then reluctantly followed Sunset out the door into the gym.


To Sunset’s surprise, Coach Spitfire wasn’t the least bit irate with the two of them for their tardiness. “What took you two so long?” She called, a cocky smirk planted firmly across her face. “Couldn’t find the changing room?”

“Yes, my lady,” Sunset said as she walked to her place on the floor, accidentally delving back into her default chivalry. “I will not let it happen again.”

“I’ll hold ya to that,” the coach responded, bringing her whistle up to her lips in an unspoken threat. “Just because you’re the principa’s daughter now doesn’t mean you can get off scot-free.”

“Understood, my lady,” Sunset called back, once again speaking to her teacher as if she were noble.

Spitfire’s smirk grew into a lighthearted grin. “‘Lady’, eh?” She asked, raising one eyebrow behind her aviator sunglasses. “When did you get so polite, Shimmer?”

Too late, Sunset realized her mistake. “Ah,” she stuttered, scrambling for an answer. “Sh-should not my attempts to better myself include my speech?”

Thankfully, Spitfire seemed to find this answer acceptable. “Eh,” she shrugged. “Your speech is your business.” Turning back to the rest of the class. “Alright maggots,” she shouted, her voice raising to drill-sergeant levels. “Hope you’ve been brushing up on your throwing arm.” She kicked the trash can beside her, which toppled over as a multitude of colored balls came spilling out. “‘Cause it’s dodge-ball time!”