Friendship is SHOWTIME!!

by MangaKamen

First published

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

A Kamen Rider Crossover

Magic – a mysterious force in this world, capable of bending reality. At the beginning, magic was considered to be a form of science, with as many kinds of magic as there are stars in the night’s sky. As civilization advanced, many forms of magic were forgotten.

As time passed, only a few forms became common place in Equestria.

But when an ancient magic surfaces from the pages of a lost legend, Twilight learns that there's more to magic than what she's learned in her studies. A new world of magic and wonder is revealed...

And remember: Life is Showtime!

This is an Alternate Universe story that starts after the episode - The Ticket Master.

UPDATED: Featured on October 2, 2014!
Featured again: November 13, 2014

TVTropes Page! : Friendship is Showtime

Spell One - The Tale and Rings

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Please…

Allow me to tell you a tale.

Thousands of years ago, when the land, sea and sky were still at its foundations, and the cities were still young - There were once two powerful beings of the mystic arts, known throughout the lands as the two wizards.

They were considered to be the best of the best when it came to magic - And although they were rivals, they were also the best of friends. It was their very competition that drove them to be the masters of the arts. Their skills in the mystic arts were used to right any wrongs, aided those who were in need of their powers, and became teachers to many.

One day, however, the leader of one of the villages the two wizards traveled to could only afford one of their services to help their village. Seeking the best, the leader requested both prove which one was truly the one who could aid the leader and his village.

The two wizards worked hard to prove themselves, but ultimately the one that was chosen was given the title as the White Wizard – Given said title for curing many villagers from countless injuries and illnesses.

The other wizard, known as the Wise One, was happy with his friend's success - but time drew on, and while his friend the White Wizard gained more and more jobs due to his talent and reputation. That happiness grew to envy, and then grew to jealously

The Wise One eventually decided to show that his skills were the best, and decided to perform a spell that was not done before, and even his companion the White Wizard dared not to attempt.

To return life to where it was lost.

Countless hours were poured into his research, pushed his capabilities to the limit in order to draw upon the very essence of origin… When the time came, the Wise One put his magic to the ultimate test.

His magic and skill, while impressive and his resolve as strong as steel, the Wise One aimed to revive one who was close to him. It was not enough and tragedy struck, and the life he tried to save was lost. But was all was not in vain, for a new kind of creature had life breathed into it.

The Wise One dubbed the new entity with a name that fitted it’s origin…
Phantom.

The Wise One saw the potential in his creation, devoting his studies into creating more Phantoms, even using the magic for leaders of the villages across the land to protect their homes.

Word reached the White Wizard, and he became happy with his friend’s success. But, when he discovered the process of how his friend was crafting the Phantoms, the White Wizard knew that his comrade had truly become, and confronted the Wise One.

The two’s friendship was broken at that very instant.

The skies darkened as the two masters of magic battled each other, the fight lasted for ages – Light VS Dark, the land shook with each blow that was struck.

The two fought for years upon years, and the two slowly faded to the pages of history... The traces of the two crumbled with dust as a new world order was being created.

For the result of this mighty battle…

TTTTTT

Friendship is Showtime

Spell One

The Tale and Rings

TTTTTTTT

Before the rest of the story could be finished, a purple hoof closed the book that held the story within its pages. “Hmmmmm, the Two Wizards. It certainly was an interesting story… I wonder if there’s any truth to this story. I don’t remember there being any mention of these two Wizards before in my studies.

“Maybe I should do some more research? This could be the start of a new form of magic!”

“But Twilight, isn’t this story just a fairy tale?”

“Well, yes, but remember, you said the same thing about Nightmare Moon. There’s always a hint of truth behind any tale.”

“But doesn’t that stop you from enjoying the story, trying to overthink things?”

“Yes, but…”

“And didn’t we come here to see if there were new books to add to the library?”

“I suppose so…”

“And it’s not like you read this story before and…”

“Spike!”

Twilight Sparkle sighed as she rolled her eyes at her small, dragon assistant. He was helpful alright, but every once in a while things she didn’t see eye to eye with him. Unlike her assistant, Twilight was a unicorn.

She was a young, lavender mare with an indigo mane that had a streaks of purple and pink going down her mane. Poking out from the moderately and well groomed mane was a short horn, signifying that she was no regular pony – Rather, she was a unicorn. Thanks to that horn, Twilight was able to use magic and it explained how she was making the book she was just reading to float around her and Spike.

Spike on the other hand was a dragon, a baby dragon, but a fire-breather non-the-less with purple scales, green rounded spines that ran down his head, back and short tail, and a green underbelly.

The two were the newest residents of a town known to one and all as Ponyville, a prosperous town filled with earth ponies, pegasai and unicorns all living their lives normally. With the occasional, rare, near-catastrophic events that could possibly ruin the lives of many.

But those were rare occurrences.

Currently, the young unicorn prodigy and her number one assistant were going through the wares at a traveling shop called ‘Harietta Hoofdini’s Traveling Books and Show’ – As the name suggested, it was large carriage that had a number of bookshelves placed outside, each lined with a good number of books. The shop itself was set up just near the outskirts of Ponyville, and the store itself only had Twilight and Spike as the only customers.

“Find anything good, Miss?”

Both Twilight and Spike turned to see one of the only two employees at the traveling shop trot up to them – A young mare with a warm smile on her face. The mare in question was a bright yellow earth pony with short feathered white mane that waved with every trot she took. The mark on her flank was rather weird, a pair of purple feathered wings that were stretched out prepared to take flight. “If you need anything, please feel to ask me.”

“Thanks,” Twilight replied as she levitated the book that she and Spike were looking through atop of some other books. “I’m really surprised that you have books that our library doesn’t have.”

“That shouldn’t be a surprise,” the mare laughed slightly as she trotted around the unicorn and dragon. “We travel a lot and get our hands on various goods – Books from across the sea, books from long ago, even books that are in some dead language. I think some people called it French.”

“It must be nice to travel around,” Twilight stated watching as Spike was looking through a few other books that were on the shelves. “Seeing the places that most of these books are written about must be exciting.”

“Yes, but it gets tiresome sometimes,” the mare sighed as she leered over to the edge of the movable store’s area. “Especially when the rest of the help is either lazing about or ditching on their chores.

Twilight followed the mare’s gaze – seeing that near the bookshelves was another pony in the immediate area, a colt from the size of the pony. The colt was a rather large, sea-green earth pony who had a short, curly black mane, who seemed to just be lazing about in the warm, late afternoon sun. His mark was rather unusual just like the mare’s, on his back legs there seemed to be an outline of a bull’s head with the horns having more focus on them. “Family?”

“No, just someone who’s a friend,” the mare sighed again with her head lowered. “At least he’s here. The other two just disappear when the sun raises.”

Feeling a little uncomfortable with the conversation, Twilight turned back to the book that she was reading, “So, where’d you get this book? I’ve never even heard of this tale before.”

“Which one?” The mare questioned before she looked at the book in question. “Ah, the Lost Tales of the Phantoms, I remember reading this a long time ago. Hard to believe that this could’ve been a true story.”

“Phantoms, and two great wizards?” Twilight giggled slightly. “While it sounds like a fairy tale, this world is full of things we don’t understand. You never know in this world, and there are a lot of different opinions on what could’ve happened so long ago in this land.”

“I suppose so, but the ideas are rather hard to swallow,” the mare admitted with a slight blush on her face. “Still hard to believe there are other forms of magic in the world than what those fancy horns you unicorns have can do.”

Twilight had to agree there, but being a student of royalty and having practically read every book in the best of libraries of the kingdom – Learning of other powerful users of magic, such as Star Swirl the Bearded and their contributions in the world of magic were astounding. Still, nothing about the White Wizard or the Wise One came to her mind than what she had just read.

“So, anything you’re looking for in particular?” The mare asked again, getting Twilight away from her thoughts.

“Well, there are a few things here that would be great additions to the library here,” Twilight admitted with a sheepish smile on her face. “But, I just came across your store without many bits to use.”

“Well, don’t worry about that,” the mare cheerfully said with a nod. “We’ll have our little shop here for a while. We almost didn’t come here with that whole eternal night fiasco my crew and I heard about a few weeks ago.

“Huh, thinking about it, I guess that was a fairy tale that turned out to be true as well.”

Twilight smiled innocently, as the memories of the legendary Nightmare Moon encounter popped up back into her head, although, the Mare in the Moon was now Princess Luna. “Yeah, it was a little bit of an… Experience.”

“I would guess so,” The mare stated. “But anyway, if you’re interested, a couple of days from now, we’re going to be putting on a show for the little ones at the school. Feel free to come by and watch, its sure to be nice for the kids. And I’m sure your little friend will enjoy it too.”

Twilight smiled back, “Thanks, we’ll keep that in mind. Um, do you think you can hold onto some books for me? Like some of the same nature as the one I was reading.”

“The Lost Tales of the Phantoms? Of course! Anything for a fellow literature lover!”

“Thanks,” Twilight added before she turned. “Ready to go, Spike?”

“Spike?”

With a twist, Twilight saw that Spike was near the end of the row of shelves, his eyes drawn to the top of the shelves. “Spike? Are you okay?”

The baby dragon didn’t answer, so instead Twilight followed her young scribe’s line of sight to the air above the bookshelves – And she immediately saw what had attracted her (foster) brother’s attention. Flying small circles over the bookshelves was what appeared to be a small bird, but the bird itself seemed to be made up of ruby with silver metallic trim around it’s main body.

The ruby bird chirped a few times, as if taunting the little dragon before it flew off. Spike slumped his shoulders and sighed loudly, “Aw, it got scared away.”

“That was a weird creature,” Twilight stated looking down at Spike. “I never saw a bird like that before… I wonder if it’s a legendary creature or something.”

“It was made of ruby,” Spike said with a lick of his chops. “I could tell that it was real good quality too! Oh, Twilight! Can you get it with your magic?!”

“Spike, I’m not going to catch an innocent creature for you to just eat it up,” Twilight replied as she walked past the young dragon. “Now come on, we’ve got to get back home and…”

“But come on Twilight, I wasn’t gonna eat the little guy,” Spike begged with large puppy dog eyes. “I just wanted to see if it was really made outta ruby.”

“And what would you do if it was?” Twilight asked raising her brow slightly.

“Um, keep it as a pet?” Spike replied, not looking Twilight in the eyes. “I’d take real good care of it!”

Twilight kept her gaze focused on the small dragon. “Spike…”

“Oh, but come on Twilight!” Spike moaned with a sad look plastered all over his face. “I can’t even remember the last time I got my claws on jewels that well! It was so… So… Shiny and… And…”

Twilight sighed as she looked up into the air, trying to look for the bird in question, but it must’ve obviously flown away. The bird itself was something that the unicorn had never seen before, not even in her studies… Maybe she just skipped something while reading her books.

With the story about the two Wizards and even this weird creature that she saw, the urge for research began to swell up within the young mare’s mind.

This gave her an excuse to go through her literature once more!

“Spike, we’ll have to get you some jewels when we get back home,” Twilight said as she trotted off with Spike following her. “I promise.”

“Really?! Yes! Can we get some rubies? Just like that bird’s?”

“We’ll have to see if we’ve got some lying about when we get home.”

The clerk of the outdoors store smiled as she watched the two customers walk away, a little sullen that she didn’t make a sale at that moment, but smiled nonetheless. When the young mare and her dragon scribe were out of sight, the mare clerk walked up to her sleeping co-worker and tapped him a few times with her hoof. “Hey, get up.”

The large colt yawned loudly as he lifted his head up slightly, a little annoyed that his mid-afternoon nap was just interrupted.

The mare smiled, “It’s time for you to get your flank in gear and get to work.”

With a slight grumble, the colt got to his hooves, “Imma going. Sometimes I wonder why I do this.”

TTTTTTT

The sun had almost set, the sky above a rich and lovely amber when both Twilight and Spike got back to their home – Which was the local library of Ponyville, the Golden Oaks Library… An odd thought that the library was being used as residential home, and that the town didn’t see the problem with such an arrangement.

Twilight herself was already getting absorbed into her studies, having gotten into one of the books in the library that focused on odd creatures – After all, a bird made up of rubies was an actual oddity that would garner anyone’s attention, not just a dragon’s.

Speaking of dragons, Spike was just getting comfortable on the second floor of the library-turned-home, a little disappointed. Sure, Twilight did have a few jewels in the building for the young dragon to feast on, but the thoughts of the practically living jewel danced around in Spike’s head.

Such a fine color.

The shine.

And it was within claws reach of the young dragon…

Just even thinking about the living jewel was enough to make Spike lick his lips. He could almost even sense that the jeweled bird was nearby… But that was impossible.

What were the odds that Spike would see such a magnificent… Tantalizing… Shiny creature like that again?

TINK!

“Huh?”

TINK TINK!

Spike’s attention was drawn to the nearby window – Where his eyes widen in pure bliss.

Tapping against the window was the very creature that was haunting Spike’s mind – The living ruby bird!

It was if the small creature was trying to call out to Spike, to tell him something.

Quickly opening the window, Spike was practically drooling at this point at the beautiful bird, “Hey there little guy! What’s the saying – You’re just cute enough to eat.”

The bird chirped louder with its wings flapping wildly, almost as if he was trying to get Spike’s attention.

Too bad Spike could only just admire the ruby-like texture of the flying creature before him, “Ah, almost as beautiful as Rarity… Almost though.”

The ruby bird rolled its eyes before it used its beak to point down… Too bad its beauty was completely distracting Spike from its action. “Ya know, how about you come on in here? You must be tired from flapping those…”

Spike had to take a moment to wipe his mouth, those ruby wings were really starting to make his mouth water, “Wings… Come on in and I’ll give you a tour! We’ll start with the kitchen!”

If it’s wings weren’t the only thing keeping the ruby bird from falling to the ground, it would’ve slapped its forehead. So using its wings to fly up a little higher, the bird used its weight to make Spike look down out of the window. “Huh?”

Now that his line of sight was brought down to outside the hallowed out tree he called home, Spike saw a small group of… Well, he didn’t know what they were.

There were four of the ‘creatures’ that were stationed outside the house seemingly conversing through grunts and such. The ‘creatures’ were over twice Spike’s height and seemed to be made out of cracked stone that had small streams of gold veins racing across their bodies. Atop of the ‘creatures’ heads were a pair of red horns, and they stood on their hind legs like he did. And they had hands!

Hands with five fingers.

That’s just weird.

“Uh, Twi?” Spike called out as he slowly pulled his head back inside…

However, one of the ‘creatures’ had heard Spike, and signaled the other ‘creatures’ of the dragon’s presence. Without a second thought, one of the creatures jumped up to the window, surprising the young dragon, “AAAH!”

Spike’s yelp echoed throughout the library, breaking even Twilight’s focus on her studies. Normally, when Spike cried out like that, it was usually due to the fact that he had taken too many books and slipped over something to have the books fall atop of him. “Spike? Are you okay?”

Once Twilight had reached where Spike was, she realized there was no mess of books (save for the pile of books that she had pulled out for herself) and no baby dragon in sight. “Spike? Spike!? Where are you?”

A few loud chirps are what caught the young unicorn’s attention towards the second floor window, seeing the very same ruby bird that the two saw a bit earlier – Trying to get its balance as it was flying just outside of the home. Quickly getting to the window, Twilight watched as the bird flew away and saw the four strange creatures walking away into the plains outside Ponyville, with one of them carrying Spike by the tail as he struggled to get away.

“What the?” Twilight gasped at the group of weird creatures. “Spike!”

While Twilight rushed to her scribe’s aid, the little ruby bird that tried to warn Spike flew off at top speed.

TTTTTTT

Yards away from the Golden Oaks Library, in a random tree in the town, a rather curious figure sat atop one of the branches – Holding up what appeared to be a doughnut up in his clawed hands to the setting sun in the distance, admiring both of them before he took a large bite from the doughnut, “Hmm, I’ll give this place one thing, the donuts here are top notch.”

Just as the mysterious figure was about to take a second bite out from the powder sugared treat, something landed on his shoulders. A small, tired smile popped on his face, “Oh, Garuda, you’re back pretty quick. I take it that means you found them?”

The small ruby bird chirped happily as the shadowed figure sighed loudly, “Oh well.”

Fitting the partially eaten doughnut into a bag that was placed on the same branch he sat on, the mysterious figure lifted up his right hand – Allowing the light to gleam off a mysterious right that was on his middle finger. “Guess I’ll have to hold off on these. Time to get to work…”

Hovering his hand over his waist, the ring on his finger and the rather odd belt buckle that was at his waist glowed brightly, “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Beneath the shadowed figure’s feet, a large red circle materialized in the middle of the air, with several runic symbols spinning through the mysterious rune. The mysterious figure nodded towards Garuda, “Mind leading the way?”

The ruby bird dove into the red runic circle, with the shadowed figure dropping into the circle immediately after.

As soon as he was fully enveloped into circle, the runes disappeared as quickly as they came.

TTTTTT

Normally, in a situation like this, Twilight knew that she should’ve gotten other ponies to help her – But there wasn’t time to get help. Especially if she could easily follow Spike and those…

Those things that had taken him. Whatever those things were, they seemed to be quick on their feet, even though the young unicorn could see them in the distance, they had lead her pretty far from Ponyville, to the point where there was barely anything around save for a few trees around the near flat stretch of land.

‘Just what are those things?’ Twilight thought to herself as she galloped quickly, trying to close the gap between her and the stone-like creatures. ‘First that weird bird and then these things – Is there a connection? No, I can’t think about that right now, I need to save Spike!’

That’s when Twilight realized that the group of ‘things’ had stopped moving not too far ahead – just standing near some trees. With her determination to save her friend, Twilight moved faster with her horn charging with magic.

When she got closer, Twilight saw that one of the four… Things held Spike by the tail, the young dragon struggling to break free, but the stone-like creature was holding the young dragon far enough from its jagged body so that he couldn’t make even a scratch.

“Spike!” Twilight called out as she stopped a couple of feet away from the small group of stone beings.

Spike and his captors looked to see Twilight standing not too far from them, Spike waved his arms wildly, “Twilight! Help! These guys are creeping me out!”

“Don’t worry Spike!” Twilight replied confidently as she pointed her horn at the four. “A simple teleportation spell will do the trick!”

“Then don’t talk about it, do it!” Spike yelped out.

The light covering Twilight’s horn grew brighter before the energy from it warped from her and flew towards the captive dragon. But before the light could even reach her young scribe, it just dwindled into nothing, and even the light that was emanating from her horn was dwindling as well. “W-What? What happened to my magic?!”

“Anything you try will be useless, my fair little mare,” A ragged voice sounded out from behind Twilight.

That very voice seemed to send chills down Twilight’s spine, accompanied by many diabolic groans… And the large shadow that eclipsed her form only added to the cold grip of fear that was engulfing her, and with the sun slowly setting, it made the shadow longer and more intimidating.

The young unicorn slowly craned her neck back to see the very owner of that shadow tower over her. The being in question was similar to the creature known as a minotaur, and while she had never seen a minotaur with her own eyes, she knew enough that those imposing creatures didn’t have skin that looked similar to armor, a bright sea-blue color with pale, jagged shoulder pads, gold streaks over its muscles, and even its daunting face was fully armored. Even its two long horns that stuck out from its head were covered in segmented armor.

And it was a huge monster, almost as tall as some of the nearby trees and it was a mass of hulking muscle. But the worst thing about the creature was that it wasn’t alone.

More of the mysterious creatures, the same ones that had taken Spike, were standing behind the minotaur. The only difference was that these creatures were wielding odd, rusty spears, each of them seemingly prepared for a battle, or worse.

The minotaur growled as he (from what Twilight could gather, the monster’s voice sounded male) took another step forward. “Go right ahead, little mare. Why not try another spell? Test the futility of your situation.”

Instinctively, Twilight took a step back from the large minotaur, which didn’t go unnoticed by the monster. “What’s wrong? I would’ve expected more from an elite unicorn. Or are you ready to surrender to despair?”

The Minotaur slowly began to reach out for the scared pony.

BANG!

A high pitched whistling shattered the tension in the air, and before several red forces of light crashed into the Minotaur’s horn and a number of the stone-like creatures, including the one that was holding Spike hostage. Simultaneously, the stone creatures fell to the ground with the one that held onto Spike dropped the dragon – While the Minotaur’s left horn broke off of his body and the broken off piece flew into one of the nearby trees. “ARRGGH!!!”

“Here’s a little tip,” A calm voice called out. “Now’s the chance to run.”

Not even hesitating for a second, Twilight quickly galloped to Spike, threw the baby dragon on her back and immediately turned tail, dashing as fast as she could. Some of the stone-like creatures that were knocked over tried to grab the two as they dashed by. However, whenever they got close to grabbing them, another red burst of energy crashed into the stone monsters, allowing Twilight and Spike to get past the monsters.

Once they got past the monsters, there was another on the scene, one who merely stood far away, with the setting sun to his back and his own shadow covering his features. When the two got closer, the glare from the sun wasn’t as harsh and the two could see the individual in question...

“DAMN YOU!”

But with the Minotaur getting back to his feet, along with the stone creatures, Twilight turned back to see the leader of the monsters holding up its right hand – Calling forth several flames over its hand, “BURN!!”

The Minotaur threw the flames, and Twilight used whatever strength she had to gallop faster, aware that the flames were drawing closer.

“FLAME! PLEASE!”

But the flames never reached Twilight or Spike, with a loud crash followed by a loud chime, Twilight skidded to a halt and turned to see that the flames themselves were being drawn into a large, red, runic circle.

Next to the flame absorbing circle was the one who had saved the studious unicorn and her young scribe – A weird individual dressed in in a black suit with coat tails and silver trim. The weird individual stood on his hind legs, with a fully covered tail sticking out from between the coattails. He had a pair of metallic black and silver shoulder pads that had what appeared to be a dragon-like symbols embedded in the silver. His head was covered with a silver helmet that had a ring like design to it. In the mysterious masked person’s right hand was a weird silver device, one that Twilight had never seen before while his left hand was before the large circle.

As the last of the flames were drawn into the circle, the mysterious masked individual turned around to Twilight, revealing that his mask, chest and the bands at his wrists and ankles were covered with glossy, jewel-like armor that gleamed in the setting sun’s light. His mask had silver around the red jewel, even signifying where his eyes were and had a pair of small fin-like/antennae protrusions with a yellow jewel at the forehead. And around the individual’s waist was a large bulky silver belt that had a hand (with five fingers no-less) embroidered on it.

The masked individual sighed and turned back to see the Minotaur and the stone creatures seemed to hesitate. The minotaur growled as he slammed his fist into his hand, “You! It can’t be. You’re Wizard?!”

‘Wizard?’ Twilight thought.

“It’s…” The masked individual stated as he lifted his left hand up, showing off the large red ring that was on his middle finger. “Showtime.”

Casually, the mysteriously dressed character walked forward, spinning the odd silver object in his hand.

The damaged Minotaur lifted its hands up and pointed towards the odd stranger, “GHULS! Destroy that Wizard! Then we’ll get the Gate!”

The Ghuls, as they were called, dashed forward, the ones with the spears leading the charge. All of the stone monsters headed towards the calm Wizard. The first three Ghuls leapt towards the masked individual, but with a calm and swift lift of his arm, the Wizard pointed the weird device in his hand. Immediately, he fired three concentrated blasts of red energy, sending the monsters flying back with sparks erupting from their bodies.

One of the other Ghuls took a swipe at the Wizard with its spear, but with a quick duck and spin, the Wizard dodged and leapt up into the air as another Ghul swept its spear low to get him, missing by a hair. While in the air, the Wizard spun around and flung his foot into that very same Ghul, slamming it into the ground.

Other Ghuls began to enclose around the Wizard, when he landed on the ground one of the unarmed Ghuls rushed him, only to receive a roundhouse kick to the chest. Using the momentum from the kick he delivered, the Wizard propelled himself through the air to send the heel of his foot into the shoulder of another Ghul, forcing the stone creature to the ground.

When he landed on the ground once more, five of the spear armed Ghuls began to charge once more, but with the same calm demeanor he had throughout this fight, the Wizard merely pointed the weird device at the closest three and fired three more rounds that forced the stony creatures back.

One of the remaining five Ghuls took a swipe at Wizard, only to miss as the black clothed hero spun alongside the monster, while the fifth Ghul took the opportunity to slam the side of its spear at the side of the Wizard’s head… Only to have the spear caught by the Wizard’s free hand. Then, quickly, the Wizard pointed the weird silver device up and unleashed a volley of red blasts to the Ghul’s stomach, sending the creature flying through the air.

All the while, Twilight and Spike watched the sight before them, with mixed reactions.

“WOW! THAT’S SO COOL!” Spike yelled out, his eyes gleaming brightly.

‘What… What in the world is this guy?’ Twilight thought to herself as the Wizard sighed loudly.

Aware of their fallen comrades, the recovered Ghuls rushed towards the Wizard, their spears raised up and their monstrous cries echoing through the air.

With a snap and unlock, the weird device in the Wizard’s hand began to unfold until it straightened and took on the qualities of a sword. Now with his weapon transformed, the Wizard dashed towards the recovered Ghuls, and with several clean swipes of his blade, followed up with a spin, mowed through the stone monsters, sending them off to the side.

“ARGGGH!!”

The Wizard lifted his head up to see that the Minotaur, now armed with an axe, was dropping from the sky. Sidestepping to dodge, the Wizard jumped over the wildly charging Minotaur in order to dodge the wild attacks. The Wizard landed amongst the Ghuls, slashing and defending with the weird sword he used, even using one of the Ghuls as a makeshift shield to block the wide swipe of the Minotaur’s axe.

More of the Ghuls stepped in front of the Minotaur who growled loudly in annoyance, the Ghuls then charged forward while the Minotaur rested its axe on its armored shoulder and began to walk away. “This is far from over.”

As much as he wanted to chase after the fleeing Minotaur, the Wizard still had the small army of Ghuls surrounding him and trying to end him. “Please don’t get in the way.”

With a quick low sweep kick, the Wizard knocked over a number of the Ghuls down, forcing the remaining Ghuls to stagger back so they wouldn’t fall over either.

This was the opening that the Wizard needed, and folding up his sword back into the original form, the Wizard revealed the closed hand symbol on the side of the item. With his left hand he quickly moved the thumb on the device, opening the hand. “C’mon Shooting! Shake Hands!”

And even when the Ghuls were back on their feet and began to charge the Wizard, he simply grabbed the device’s hand with a large flame appearing at the end of it. “FLAME! Shooting Strike!

“Hii Hii Hii! Hii Hii Hii!”

And with a quick spin, the Wizard unleashed several flames from the device, all of them crashing into the Ghuls. The same red runic circle appeared in front of each of the Ghuls before they erupted into several fiery explosions, with the flames completely covering the Wizard.

As the flames died down, the Wizard stood there, spinning the gun as the fire began to fully disappear. “And with that, the curtain falls.”

Twilight and Spike looked at the weird character as he turned his attention towards the two, holding up his left hand to show off the red jeweled ring on his finger. Twilight stepped forward, being a little cautious about the Wizard, “Who… Who are you?”

The masked Wizard tilted his head slightly at the question…

TBC

Spell Two - Questions and Hope

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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

-Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

TTTTTT

Spell 2

Questions And Hope

TTTTTTT

As the flames died down, the Wizard stood there, spinning the gun as the fire began to full disappear. “And with that, the curtain falls.”

Twilight and Spike looked at the weird character as he turned his attention towards the two, holding up his left hand to show off the red jeweled ring on his finger. Twilight stepped forward, being a little cautious about the Wizard, “Who… Who are you?”

The masked Wizard tilted his head slightly at the question…

Time seemed to slow down as the masked individual stared back at Twilight and Spike, although, with the mask, it was hard to see if he was even looking at him.

However, instead of answering the young unicorn’s question, the masked Wizard sighed loudly, “Looks like the big lug got away…”

A familiar chirping sounded through the air, and soon, the ruby bird – Garuda – landed on the masked Wizard’s shoulder, “Hmm…”

“Ah! That bird!!” Spike sounded out as the Garuda chirped in response.

The masked Wizard reached for the left side of his belt, where a chain of rings were connected to the bulky silver piece. Pulling two of the rings off of the chain, the masked Wizard fitted one of them on his right hand while his other hand messed with the belt around his waist. The hand symbol on the front of the belt flipped around, “No way around it I guess…”

The belt began to glow and chime in a rather catchy melody from it, “LEPARCH MAGIC! TOUCH GO! LEPARCH MAGIC! TOUCH GO!”

Then with his right hand now donning one of the rings, the masked Wizard slid his hand in front of his glowing belt buckle, “UNICORN! PLEASE!”

That’s when Twilight’s eyes widened, watching as a weird rectangular mass of sapphire popped in front of the masked Wizard, floating down as pieces of it popped from the mass. “KRAKEN! PLEASE!”

And just like that, a rectangular mass of topaz materialized alongside the mass of sapphire, pieces of the jewel floating up and connecting. When the pieces came together, the sapphire parts formed into a very small, toy-like unicorn while the topaz parts combined into a small horned octopus-like creature.

The masked Wizard took both of the rings he used and snapped them into place – The unicorn’s ring in its chest and the kraken’s on its forehead. The Unicorn fell to the ground as the jewel remains began to fade away while the Kraken floated around the Wizard’s shoulders, trying to push the Garuda off from its master’s shoulder.

Garuda responded by slamming right back into the Kraken. The masked Wizard sighed, “Oi, oi, don’t act all childish.”

A little ashamed, both of the flying familiars lowered their heads while the Unicorn shook his head in disappointment.

“Now then,” the masked Wizard chuckled with a wave of his hand. “If you guys wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate if you could find that Phantom – He should still be around here somewhere.”

All three of the jewel creatures chimed out in response before the Garuda and Kraken flew off while the Unicorn galloped away.

With his familiars on the trail, the masked Wizard stretched his arms over his head, “Well, I guess it’s back to the waiting game.”

Another one of the red rings appeared over Wizard’s head before it dropped down over his body, making the black suit fade away into flames. As the flames began to flicker away, the wizard revealed who he was underneath the stylish suit…

“What the!?” Twilight gasped with her eyes widening. “How is that even possible?”

“No way!” Spike yelped with a large smile on his face. “He’s a dragon!”

Indeed, the very same Wizard who had just helped the two was a dragon, a rather small one in comparison to others, but still, with the red scales and reptilian appearance, it was obvious that he was a dragon. He was twice as tall as Spike, but had features similar to the younger dragon but was sleeker and his features seemed a touch more mature. A slightly longer tail that ended with a spade, coiled slightly around his black clawed feet. The spines he had on his back were a rich onyx color and the ones atop of his head were laid out, trying to resemble that of hair that was brushed to the sides. His slim body was covered in a black, denim jacket, which had its share of scuffs on it.

Around his waist was a belt that had a buckler that had the same five-fingered hand emblem on it, which was an odd thing to wear, since he wasn’t wearing pants, or a shirt for that matter. But it was because of that fact that Twilight saw something on the dragon’s legs – There were the same runic circles that had appeared whenever he used one of his spells, a black version of it, but still the same in design.

‘I can’t believe this,’ Twilight thought to herself as she watched the unmasked dragon slowly walk towards her and Spike. ‘This guy’s a dragon, but he’s capable of using magic? And magic that I’ve never seen before too! Just what is going on here!?

‘Well, at the very least, he owes us an explanation and it looks like he’s about to…’

The mysterious dragon just walked past Twilight and Spike, eliciting a puzzled look on Twilight’s face while Spike just looked at his fellow dragon, star struck with the amazing abilities that the dragon just showed off and for the fact that there was another dragon around!

“Hey!” Twilight called out as she galloped quickly to catch up with the mysterious dragon, Spike tailing her. When the lavender unicorn was alongside the casually walking dragon, she slowed her pace to match his. “Just where do you think you’re going?”

The dragon turned his head to face her and smiled, “I’m going to get donuts.”

“Huh?” Twilight questioned, having to stop for a moment to process the answer that the magic-using dragon just gave her. “What kind of answer is that supposed to be?!”

“That was amazing!” Spike gushed, rushing alongside the dragon. “I didn’t know that dragons like us could do stuff like that! Was that stuff magic?”

The mysterious dragon chuckled as he threw his arms behind his head. “Curious little guy, aren’t ya?”

“Isn’t that natural?” Twilight chimed in, getting back to alongside the weird dragon. “You just defied three or four basic precepts of academic magic! It took me ten years to -muddle- one! Like how unicorns are the only ones capable of using magic! Who are you exactly?! How are you able to use magic? And those monsters! What were those things and…”

“Can you summon more of those jewel creatures?!” Spike interrupted with a lick of his chops. “Those last two were looked just as tasty as that bird!”

“Spike, aren’t you concerned about those things that attacked us?” Twilight asked giving her scribe a narrowed gaze.

“Yeah… But I’m hungry too,” Spike replied looking down at his feet.

The mysterious dragon stopped in his tracks, and then just chuckled, “Look, I’m flattered that you wanna learn more about me… After all, I know that some can see me as the coolest thing around, but it’s better if you don’t get involved with this.

“That’s it. Bye!”

And with that, the mysterious dragon began to run off towards Ponyville, leaving Twilight and Spike in the dust. Twilight shook her head before she began to give chase, “After him Spike!”

“Right! He’s gotta have more of those jewel animals with him!” Spike added trying to keep up with his four legged friend.

TTTTTT

Even at night, Ponyville was a colorful place; it just had a blue hue to the buildings and such. Still, even though it was dark, there were still signs of life going around the town – For example the rainbow colored blur that flew air, pushing many of the clouds away from the sky over the town.

The blur came to a stop in the sky, revealing a young, sky blue Pegasus mare sighing loudly. “Man, sometimes this job can be a real pain.”

With her strong sky blue wings keeping her afloat in the air, the young Pegasus gently floated through the cool evening sky above Ponyville, her long rainbow colored mane and matching tail billowed slightly as she went through the air. This particular mare was currently setting up a number of the clouds in the sky, trying to make sure that the weather of the town was completely set up as the weather schedule dictated.

Partly cloudy for tonight.

‘Sometimes I wish these clouds would move on their own,’ the Pegasus thought to herself as she flew towards another cloud, using her hooves to push it slightly. ‘Especially when I get stuck with night duty, I should be catching some Z’s so I can get some training in tomorrow.’

At the very least she was almost done with her job with the evening, but it was still a pain in the flank to do. Just a few more clouds to put in place and she’d just zoom right back to her home.

But before she could finish her work, something on the ground caught the attention of the sky blue pegasus. Galloping through the grassy roads of Ponyville, a familiar lavender unicorn was chasing what appeared to be a sleek yet short, red dragon that was running through the emptied roads. And far behind the two, was an all too familiar purple baby dragon who was struggling trying to keep up with the mare.

“A chase scene, eh?” the pegasus chuckled with a smirk on her face. “Good enough for me!”

On the ground itself, no matter how fast and how far he ran, the mysterious dragon knew he had a pair of extra shadows following him through Ponyville. “Oi! How long are you going to stalk me like this?!”

“Not until I get some answers from you!” Twilight shouted back. “Hurry up Spike! He’s going to get away!”

“I… I’ll catch up,” Spike panted, stopping to catch his breath.

A rainbow colored blur zoomed past Spike, making the baby dragon spin around with a slight yelp. The blur slowed down enough when it reached Twilight’s side, making the unicorn turn to see the very same rainbow maned pegasus speedily trotting next to her, “Hey there Twilight, getting some late night exercise?”

“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight exclaimed. “Perfect timing! Do you think you can help me here?”

“I got a few minutes to kill,” Rainbow replied with a smirk. “So, what’s with this dragon here? He lift something off you?”

“I’ll tell you when we catch this guy,” Twilight answered turning back to watch the mysterious dragon turn a corner.

“That’s a little lame,” Rainbow sighed as both ponies turned the corner. “Fine. What’s the plan?”

“Simple, we corner him,” Twilight answered. “Cut him off until we get him to a dead-end!”

“Ha! Piece of cake!” Rainbow Dash laugh as she took off from the ground and flew into the air.

Meanwhile, the mysterious red dragon turned another corner to try to elude his pursuers, but as he was about to continue down the same path, a rainbow blur landed right in front of him, and forced him to make a sharp right turn. However, he didn’t get too far when the rainbow blur landed in front of him again, making him turn once more.

This continued until the sleek dragon skidded to a stop in front of a wall, with the sky blue pegasus and lavender unicorn now blocking his only means of escape. A few seconds later, a winded Spike managed to join the two mares, using one of the nearby walls to prop himself up. "We-We finally caught him...”

“And now that we have you,” Twilight stated as she slowly began to walk towards the sleek red dragon. “I think it’s about time you answered a few of my questions.”

“Not a bad plan,” the mysterious dragon answered as he lifted up his right hand, admiring one the ring he had on the middle finger. “You even had back up, I didn’t expect that. Totally caught me off guard.”

“Well duh!” Rainbow Dash pointed out as she crossed her front legs. “You got nothing on us!”

“Really?” The red dragon mused as he lowered his right hand towards his belt buckles. “Cause I think I’ve got a trick or two that might just work.”

“CONNECT! PLEASE!”

Pulling his hand from the belt buckle, the red dragon threw his right hand behind him and a large runic circle appeared on the wall behind him. With a smile and wave, the dragon leapt back, “Have a good evening, mares!”

“Rainbow!” Twilight called out to her winged friend.

But Rainbow Dash was already flying towards the dragon as he began to sink into the runic symbol. Before she could reach the rune, it disappeared which resulted in…

WHAM!

“WAAAH!”

“Ooh,” Both Twilight and Spike winced at the sight of Rainbow Dash now mashed up against the wall, her legs stretched out in a cartoonish comedic style.

As the pegasus began to slide down to the ground, Twilight trotted over to friend, “I guess it’d be redundant to ask if you’re okay, but…”

With a slight pop, Rainbow Dash pushed herself from the wall and shook her head a few times, “What in Tartarus just happened?! Twilight, who in the world was that jerk?”

“That’s what we were trying to find out,” Twilight explained as she closed her eyes in thought. “Like you just saw, he did some things that blew my mind.”

“Yeah, but he was real cool!” Spike chimed in with a large smile on his face. “You should’ve seen him in action Dash!”

“Yeah right,” Rainbow Dash scoffed, rolling her eyes. “I guarantee I'm at least twenty percent- nah, FIVE HUNDRED and twenty percent cooler than that guy!”

‘Oh boy,’ Twilight thought to herself. “Dash, I don’t think math even – Never mind, let me explain-”

TTTTTT

Meanwhile, at the same grassy area where the action took place not too long ago, the damaged Minotaur was searching through every bush, branch and even some of the gopher holes. “Tartarus damn it! Where is it?! Where could it have gone?!”

Standing up from the current gopher hole, the Minotaur gingerly touched the jagged broken horn that was sticking out of his head. “I can’t face the others… Not when I’m half a minotaur! I already failed this simple mission, but if I show up looking like this, I don’t wanna even think about it!!”

“Oh my, so is that why you haven’t returned?” A chilling voice sounded out from the darkness, making the Minotaur stand up straight with a shiver running down his spine.

Looking up into one of the many nearby trees, the Minotaur staggered back slightly at the large shadow that was resting in one of the thicker branches. The shade from the leafs cloaked the figure’s details, but with the pair of large wings that casually hung from the shaded figure’s body and the chilling, yet feminine voice, he knew exactly who it was. “I-I can explain!”

“Oh?” The winged figure mused as she leapt from the branch and gracefully landed in front of the Minotaur. “Then indulge me, Minotaur. Tell me what I should say to Madame Medusa when she asks how we are doing in this town.”

Minotaur rubbed the back of his head, turning his gaze away from the winged figure, “There – There was a complication. Someone stopped me.”

The winged figure walked up closer to the Minotaur, placing one of her wings on the Minotaur’s chest, “And who, pray tell, could stop you? You’re more than three times the size of the gate, you’ve got your special ability, and you had about twelve Ghuls with you. Who the Tartarus could stop you!?”

At first, Minotaur cleared his throat, then rubbed his neck nervously. He knew what was going to happen when he spoke the one word that would make the winged figure freak out, and possibly hurt him in the process. “… Wizard.”

For a moment, the entire world went silent. The winged figure shook her head before she looked up at her larger companion. “I’m sorry, I think I misheard you Minotaur. Do you mind repeating what you said?”

“I said it was the ‘Wizard’,” Minotaur repeated trying to get away from his winged companion, with little success.

Once again, silence filled the night’s air. The winged figure took a few steps away from Minotaur. Hesitantly, Minotaur reached out to his winged companion, in hopes of comforting her, “Uh, are you okay?”

Okay? OKAY!?” The winged figure growled loudly as she turned towards Minotaur. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?! THIS IS A GRAND OPPORTUNITY FOR US!!”

Minotaur staggered backwards as his winged companion began to scare him, “Huh!? But, isn’t this bad?”

“Only for those who can’t see what this can do for us!” The winged individual laughed out loud. “Don’t you see? If there’s a Wizard wandering around here, then that means if we can get this guy in our grasp and hand him over to the higher ups, then we can seem like we quelled down an opposing force!

“Tartarus! If we play our cards right, then not only will we get on the big man’s good side, but we can finally shut up those stuck up minions of his!”

“You really don’t like Lady Medusa and Master Phoenix, do you?” Minotaur asked as he scratched the side of his head nervously.

“Are you blind or something?” The winged companion hissed as she pointed one of her wings accusingly at Minotaur. “Just because those were the strongest and the first ones to be awakened, they think that they’re royalty! But, if we do this right, we can be promoted and our little group won’t have to break up after this!”

“It would be nice to still have this kind of thing going on,” Minotaur admitted, rubbing his chin in agreement. “But you’re getting ahead of yourself. This guy was strong, so strong that he actually managed to break one of my horns!

“And that was before he… He transformed! My fire attack was just absorbed and he transformed! After he did, he just continued to smack the Ghuls down like they were nothing!”

“And here I was thinking you were doing something to make you look more intimidating, Minotaur,” The winged individual sighed with a wave of her wings. “But tell you what, you just focus on the gate, and leave the big bad Wizard to me – If he absorbed your fire attack, then his element is probably fire. He won’t be able to keep up with me, and you know it.

“But my orders still stand, Minotaur, you get to awakening that Gate as soon as possible.”

Minotaur sighed loudly as he threw his arms up into the air. “Fine! But at least let me find the rest of my horn before I do this. I don’t feel like the monster I was meant to be without it!”

With a roll of her eyes, the winged figure sighed again, “Fine, do what you want. When you do, I want you to give me all the information about this Wizard. I want to take him out as soon as possible, who knows what sort of strategies he’s trying to come up with at this very moment!”

TTTTTT

A loud grumble roared from a familiar red dragon’s stomach, forcing him to sigh loudly, “Damn, I really need to stop skipping out on my snacks.”

Currently, the weird red dragon was near the river in Ponyville, with a tent and campfire around him. With a sigh, the dragon tapped his sleek stomach a few times, “It doesn’t help that those mares chased me and even forced me to use magic. If I had known that a pegasus would’ve gotten into the fray, I’d just use connect sooner.”

With a snap of his fingers, the dragon lifted up his right hand again, “Oh right, I almost forgot! I wonder if those donuts are still there.”

“CONNECT! PLEASE!”

Moving his hand from his belt buckle, the same runic circle appeared to the dragon’s side and he reached into the circle. “Please be there, please be there.”

That’s when the dragon’s claws brushed up against something that crinkled in his black claws, a smile popped on his face as he lowered his claw down more, feeling up the bag and that smile grew even more. Not only was the bag of donuts he had left in that tree still there, it seemed that the donuts were safe!

Although, they seemed a tad bit heavier than he remembered them…

Licking his chops, the dragon pulled the bag through the portal – A little surprised that the paper bag was bulging a little bit when he placed it next to him. With a cocked brow, the red dragon poked the bag.

And it shook.

“Damn it, did a squirrel get into my donuts?” the dragon muttered to himself as he poked the bag again.

Once more, the bag quivered.

“Okay, now I’m afraid to open the bag,” the dragon admitted to no one in particular. ‘If this were a piece of horror literature, everyone reading would scream ‘DON’T OPEN THE BAG!!’.’

And so, the dragon slowly began to unfold the top of the bag, leaning back to make sure that if there was a squirrel or bird in the bag it wouldn’t leapt out and attack him.

BAM!

A large amount of confetti erupted from the paper bag, making the sleek dragon fall backwards out of surprise. But the confetti wasn’t the only thing to appear from the donut bag, rather a few colorful balloons floated out from the rather small bag, and after them…

“Ooh! I’ve been waiting to do this for a while!”

“Huh?” The sleek dragon questioned as he pushed himself up off of the ground, and blinked a few times at the odd sight that was before him.

Poking out of the bag was a hot pink earth pony mare with a rosy, light-ish red mane that was poofed out and curly. On her face was a large smile that seemed to border on the unsettling side, and her hind legs were still inside the bag.

‘Did I just open Pandora’s Donut Bag?’ the dragon thought to himself as the pink pony leapt from the bag.

Landing dramatically on her hind legs on the ground in front of the sleek dragon, the pink pony held out her right front hoof in front of her chest. “Ore…”

Then throwing her right front leg back and moving her left front leg forward, the pink mare struck a powerful and dramatic pose… Or it would’ve been dramatic if a noble warrior performed the pose, not a pony! “SANJOU!!”*

“What?” the red dragon questioned, blinking his eyes a few times at the pink mare landed on her front hooves.

The smile came back on her face, but seemed a little warmer than before, “Well, there’s my big entrance.”

“How in the world did you do that?” the red dragon asked getting to his feet.

“That’s how I do things,” the pink mare answered bouncing around the dragon. “Pinkie Pie style! The only style that I know!”

“That doesn’t really answer the question though,” the dragon retorted with a flat look on his face. ‘Although, I’m guessing her name’s Pinkie Pie… Why does that feel so ominous all of a sudden?

‘Maybe I shouldn’t push the issue, I feel as though I’d go insane if I knew the answer.’

“So, you must be camping out here!” Pinkie Pie stated as she peaked inside the open tent nearby, then she pulled her head from the tent and looked at the fire. “Ooh! Were you planning on making S’mores?! I love S’mores!”

“Actually, I was banking on these donuts,” the red dragon answered, using his tail to grab the donut bag. When the dragon looked into the opened bag, the red dragon sighed loudly before he slumped to the ground. “And there goes that idea.”

“Aww, I’m sorry,” Pinkie Pie stated as she looked into the emptied bag as well. “When I found the bag up in the tree, it was empty, well, except for a partially eaten, plain sugar donut, but I threw that one away since who wants to eat an already bitten donut?”

The dragon’s eyes widened before he smacked his forehead. “Great, there goes my dinner for the evening.”

Pinkie’s smile drooped slightly when she saw the dragon’s plight, but that smile immediately grew back to full life as she jumped around the red dragon. “OMYGOSH! I just had the greatest idea, ever!”

“Huh?” the dragon questioned before Pinkie Pie got behind him.

“C’mon! If we hurry, we can still get something yummy in your tummy!” Pinkie Pie announced as she began to push the dragon away from the camp site.

“H-Hey! Wait a second here! What about my camp and my tent!?”

Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie’s mind was practically overflowing with her greatest idea so his complaints couldn’t register with her mind. In fact, she was now pushing the dragon even faster. “You know, I only know one other dragon, so to see a dragon camping around here is just so amazing! And you like donuts? I didn’t know what dragons like donuts, I thought jewels were their favorite foods, so this is awesome! Well maybe donuts with jewels baked into them, personally I don’t get how dragons can enjoy eating jewels, I tried to eat one once and I had to go to the dentist to fix one of my teeth. But wait, you’re new here right?! We should throw you a party to welcome you to this town, it’d be great for you to meet other ponies and I’m sure they’d love to attend a party for a dragon! The last party I threw for was also for a dragon, and it was a hit, and most of the parties that I throw are top tens most of the time, so this was a top twelve for me! So I need to outdo myself for your party, oh, but it’s late for a party isn’t it? So we’ll just have to throw the party tomorrow, when everypony is awake! That’ll give me time to hand out invitations and get a cake ready for you! Oooh, maybe we can get donuts baked into the cake too! I’m sure you’d love that! What do you think?”

The dragon was dumbstruck with the insane amount of banter, and his brain was trying to register with all the information that the little chatterbox was pouring into his brain. ‘I think I heard something about teeth, a party and something about donuts.’

If you don’t say anything, you can’t say no. And that was the philosophy that Pinkie just adopted, “YAY! So what kind of theme should we go with your party? Lots of balloons and confetti? Royal theme? Prance theme? Ooh! Or maybe dragon themed! That’d be a big hit with Spike and you! Jewels around and a lotta fun stuff for dragons! Ooh, yeah! That reminds me what’s your name? I just realized that I haven’t asked for your name, and I haven’t really properly introduced myself! I’m Pinkie Pie, and it’s so good to meet you!”

TTTTTT

The next day came with the sun looming high in the sky, giving Ponyville rather sunny weather. Unfortunately for Twilight Sparkle, her attitude wasn’t as bright this morning. The reason being was that for a good chuck of last night, the unicorn and her two friends had wasted trying to find that mysterious red dragon. The only thing that they could really find was an abandoned campsite near the river, with only the smoldering remains of a campfire, an emptied tent and an equally emptied donut bag.

Eventually, it got too late for them to continue the search, and Rainbow Dash still had to finish her work for the evening – So, seeking the weird red dragon was called off.

Throughout the night, all of the questions of the previous day rolled around in Twilight’s head, preventing her from sleeping or even getting in some studying. The pure curiosity from the events puzzled her, the weird form of magic the dragon performed, and even her own magic failing was a troublesome fact. But, whatever the cause of her spell failing the previous day, it was gone since she was able to use her levitation spells to get her books in proper organizational order.

So, here she was, trotting through Ponyville, on her way back to that traveling bookshop. With her saddle bags placed on her back, she was prepared to find some more books, maybe even one that could explain the strange magic she saw yesterday.

She was on her own today, Spike was too tuckered out to really join her today, and Twilight had decided to let the young dragon sleep in for the day. Besides, he’d probably be safer at home, especially with a magic barrier protecting the library.

However, as Twilight trotted through the town, saying good morning to the ponies that she was familiar with – She didn’t notice of a certain ruby bird following behind her from a distance. The bird was rather quiet, taking any opportunity it could to land on any surface to blend in with the other birds in the area.

“Oh! Twilight! There you are!”

The lavender mare stopped and turned to her right to see a familiar mass of pink galloping towards her, many pieces of paper flying out from the saddles that she had resting on her back. With a slightly tired smile, Twilight greeted her friend, “Morning Pinkie, I see you’ve got your usual amount of energy this morning.”

“It looks like you could use some of that,” Pinkie stated as she craned her head back slightly to grab one of the remaining flyers from her saddle bags. “So here! This is something that’ll get your spirits into high gear! Might even get you to WAKE UP!”

Twilight was a little taken back, but was still glad that her friend was in high spirits. Using her magic, the unicorn brought the flyer a few inches away from her face. The flyer itself was really colorful with several cartoonish donuts, jewels and a picture of Pinkie Pie herself surrounding the words ‘Haru’s Welcome Extranaganza! Noon Today at Sugarcube Corner!’

Twilight looked at the picture with a tilted head, the pink mare was definitely no stranger to throwing welcome parties, or regular parties for that matter. But this was a little confusing, “It looks fun Pinkie, but who’s this ‘Haru’? I didn’t think any other ponies moved to Ponyville except for me.”

“And you’re right, Twilight!” Pinkie replied with a large smile on her face.

“Then, why are you throwing a party for ‘Haru’?” Twilight asked.

“That’s a surprise for everyone Twilight!” Pinkie answered as she began to trot away. “Normally, I like to throw a surprise party for the newest in town, but with Haru, having him appear will surprise the entire town! Just wait! Hope you show up too!”

Twilight smiled as she watched Pinkie Pie trot away, maybe a little harmless fun would help the unicorn figure out what was going on with Ponyville. ‘But who’s this Haru? And that’s a weird name for somepony.’

Brushing the thought off, Twilight knew she’d find out who this Haru was later, but for now she had another goal on her mind – Finding some good research materials to help her solve these mysteries.

It didn’t take long for the lavender mare to arrive at the outdoor store, the shelves of books still standing in front of the large wagon. The mare that helped her out yesterday was nowhere to be seen, but the large colt was – Although there was a big difference in his appearance from the day before.

“Good morning,” Twilight greeted as she approached the large colt, who was currently shelving a few new books.

The colt finished with the current book and turned towards Twilight, his size already making her a little nervous. “Oh, it’s you. You’re that unicorn from yesterday.”

“Yup,” Twilight replied with a nod. “Are you okay? What happened with your head?”

The colt used one of his front legs when he lowered his head to rub the large bandage that was wrapped around his head. “Oh, one of the other ponies I worked with was messing around with some stuff on the roof of our wagon – He wasn’t paying attention and he dropped some stuff atop of my head.

“Left a bruise I’m not too proud of.”

“Ouch,” Twilight winced with one of her eyes closed. “Sorry to hear that.”

“No need to apologize,” the colt chuckled as he stood up straight. “Not like you’re the, pardon my language, dumbflank who was messing around on the roof.”

Twilight didn’t know how to respond to that.

“So, can I help you with something?” The colt asked as he looked over some of the other books, making sure that they were in their proper places.

“Well, I don’t want to bother you,” Twilight replied, looking at the bandage once more. “Especially if it hurts you.”

“Not the first time I took a blow to the head,” the colt replied back. “I’m as clear headed as the day I realized I was clear headed.”

Twilight decided not to push the issue, “Well, the mare who was here yesterday said she’d save a book for me, and have a few other books that would be related to it.”

“Oh yeah, I remember that she told me about an order she made for a purple unicorn,” The large colt stated as he walked towards the large wagon. “Give me a few, she got the books wrapped up for ya somewhere. I just need to find them, feel free to have a look around while ya wait.”

“Thanks,” Twilight replied before the colt disappeared into the large wagon. Taking the colt’s advice, Twilight began to walk amongst the shelves, hoping to find a book that she could skim over while she waited for the books that were selected.

A few minutes passed and still the colt didn’t emerge from the wagon, and by this time, Twilight was already reading from another book, just passing the time. ‘I hope he didn’t hurt himself or strain something. Maybe I should check on him.’

Just as Twilight was thinking this however, a familiar and dreadful shadow began to tower over Twilight and the book she was reading, its horns signifying a familiar being behind her (although, one of the horns was obviously missing the top point of it), “Well now, I didn’t expect to see you so soon, little gate.”

Twilight may have been surprised, but as she turned around and faced the large Minotaur, her horn was glowing brightly. The same light appeared around Minotaur’s body and he slowly began to float off of the ground. “Not this time!”

However, Minotaur seemed to merely cross his arms in annoyance. “Brave little one, aren’t ya? Too bad you didn’t learn anything from the last time we met.”

The light around the minotaur seemed to seep into his body and he landed on the ground, shaking all of the nearby book shelves. “Petty little tricks like that don’t work on Phantoms.”

“Phantoms?” Twilight questioned, her memory ticking at that word. “What exactly…”

Before Twilight could answer, Minotaur grabbed her by the back of her neck and lifted her off of the ground. “I don’t have time to deal with idle chit-chat, little mare. You’ll soon know what a Phantom is, you’re about to become one!”

There were a number of times that Twilight was very afraid – When she was face to face with Nightmare Moon, her exam into Princess Celestia’s school, the time she accidentally turned her parents into plants (for the second time), and now this. The Minotaur had lifted her up so she could look him in the eyes, and those eyes were a murky red, almost devoid of any sort of soul of sorts.

Minotaur lifted his other hand up and slowly began to reach towards her, her eyes widening as he laughed, “Now, give into despair and give birth to a new Phantom!!”

BANG!

Before Minotaur’s free hand could even get closer to Twilight, a surge of red energy crashed into side of his head, the same side where his broken horn was. The force made him drop Twilight down to the ground and sent him staggering a few feet away from the young unicorn. “ARGH!!”

“Oomph!” Twilight yelped as she landed on the ground.

“I never understood why heroes waited till the last minute to save others,” a familiar suave voice sounded out. “I guess it just adds to the dramatics, but it seems a bit risky for my tastes.”

Both Twilight and Minotaur looked to see that standing a few yards away was none other than the same red scaled dragon, the silver device he had used the previous day held tightly and rested on his shoulder.

“You again!?!” Minotaur roared as he composed himself. “Stop getting in my way! This doesn’t concern you!!”

“Actually it does,” the red dragon replied took aim again with the silver device. “Although, I was a little confused, I couldn’t tell if you were after the dragon or the unicorn. Looks like having one of my familiars watch for each of them was a good idea.”

Twilight then noticed that the small Garuda was perched on one of the nearby shelves, pecking at one of its wings. “A familiar?”

“I don’t care about that!” Minotaur snarled as a flame appeared in his hand, the fire growing until it formed into the same sleek battle axe he was wielding yesterday. “You get in my way, destroy my horn, and try to act all cool about the whole thing – I don’t care if Harpie tears my head off for this! I’m gonna end you right now!”

“Miss! Move!” the red dragon called out.

“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Twilight yelped as the large minotaur began to charge towards the dragon, the young unicorn dodging out of the way at the last second.

Tossing the device up into the air, the dragon revealed a ring on his right hand that had the same symbol as his buckler on it. Quickly placing his clawed hand over the buckler, the buckler began to glow brightly. “DRIVER ON – PLEASE!!!”

In a flash of light, the belt morphed into the same bulky silver belt that was on the masked Wizard waist, but the Minotaur was quickly closing the gap. Not even flinching at the approaching enemy, the sleek dragon quickly slipped on another ring on his left hand and brought his hands to the belt, making the hand symbol on it flip. The moment he did that, the belt buckle began to glow brightly, “Sha Ba Do Be Touch Henshin! Sha Ba Do Be Touch Henshin!”

“Henshin,” the sleek dragon called out as he threw his left hand in front of the glowing belt.

“FLAME – PLEASE!!”

Only a few feet to go before the minotaur was right in front of the sleek dragon, still he maintained his cool as he brought his left hand up and to the left, creating a large fiery runic circle that quickly enveloped his body – As the circle passed over his body, the same black and ruby covered suit covered the dragon’s body. “Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

Just as the transformation was ending, Minotaur attacked – His battle axe swiping to cleave the Wizard’s head clean off. At the last second though, the masked Wizard ducked down and spun behind the larger enemy. “It’s… Showtime!”

Knowing that he missed, the Minotaur spun around and with a stab with the spear head that was atop of the axe, only to have the Wizard lean backwards and grabbed the pole of the axe. Using what strength he had, the Wizard pushed the axe away from his body and slammed his foot into the solar plexus of Minotaur, forcing whatever air was in his lungs and to make him stagger backwards a couple of feet.

It was then that the Wizard leapt up into the air and spun around to slam the bottom of his foot into the monstrous Minotaur’s face – Forcing the monster back a couple of feet. “ARGH! You lousy little sack of scales! Why is it always the head?!”

Holding his right hand out, the Wizard stood where he was as Minotaur charged once more, holding his axe high over his head. “JUST PERISH!!”

At that very moment, the silver device landed in the Wizard’s hand, and he immediately fired several bursts of red energy at point blank range at the Minotaur’s chest. With each shot fired, Minotaur cried out in pain before he was blown back by the sheer force.

Meanwhile, hiding behind a few of the bookcases, Twilight watched the fight play out in front of her, watching as the Wizard unfolded the device back into its odd sword form, ‘I don’t know what’s going on with these two, but I’m not going to let him get away this time.’

Minotaur then charged forward, aiming with a low sweep with his axe. The Wizard however leapt over the axe and spun through the air. The moment that the Wizard landed on the ground, the masked Wizard spun around just in time to parry with a forward stab by the axe’s spearhead. Both blades sparked, but Minotaur was quicker to recover from the backlash, and immediately began to bring the axe down on the Wizard’s head with a horizontal slice.

At the last second though, the Wizard leapt back just as the blade was about to strike him, his feet striking Minotaur directly at his chin in the process. “ARGGH!”

Getting back his bearings, Minotaur used his axe’s spearhead to once again stab at the Wizard, at the same time, the Wizard spun around and countered with own stab. The two blades connected, but Minotaur’s spear and axe shattered like glass, allowing the Wizard’s sword to make contact with the Minotaur’s armored skin. Sparks erupted from Minotaur’s chest as he was flung backwards several feet, crashing into several book cases.

Twilight galloped away from the fallen Minotaur as the large monster rolled past her. The Wizard twirled his blade in his hand before he rested the dull edge in his left hand.

Minotaur lifted his head up and immediately slammed his fists into the ground, shaking the immediate area. His fingers dug into the ground before he cried out and began to charge towards the Wizard, quickly standing up on his hind legs to improve his momentum. Even the Wizard was surprised with the Minotaur’s speed and quickly brought his sword up at the last second to have the blade catch the Minotaur’s remaining horn.

Although he was protected from being pierced by the horn, by the sheer speed and size of his opponent, the masked Wizard was easily pushed back, his feet cleaving the earth. “Whoa! Oi! Oi! Hey! Hey!”

Then reeling his head back quickly, the Minotaur sent the masked Wizard flying through the air behind him. While in the air, the Wizard flipped around until he landed safely on his feet. However something was wrong…

“Heh, that worked out better than I thought,” Minotaur laughed as he stood up straight and turned around, revealing that stuck in his remaining horn was the Wizard’s very sword. “I’ve got you figured out ‘Wizard’, you probably only got one or two spells in your little book of tricks. In both of our fights, you’ve relied on only this little weapon.”

Pulling the blade from his horn, the Minotaur stabbed the odd sword into the ground near his feet. “Let’s see how long you last without your precious weapon! With my size, I could crush four of you in a second!”

The Minotaur slammed his hands into the ground once more, preparing for a second charge, all the while the Wizard lifted his right hand up and fitted a different ring on it. “… An interesting theory.”

Charging once more, the Minotaur quickly closed the gap between him and the masked Wizard, who was holding his right hand in front of his glowing belt buckle once more. “BIG! PLEASE!”

Immediately, the same red runic circle appeared in front of the Wizard. Just as the Minotaur was only a few feet from the Wizard, the masked magic user threw his right fist through the runic circle.

Much to Twilight’s and the Minotaur’s surprise, what emerged from the other size of the circle was an extremely large version of the masked Wizard’s fist. And before the Minotaur could even think about slowing down, the fist crashed into him and sent him flying backwards. “GACK!”

“Who got crushed by whose size?” Pulling his arm back out from the circle, the Wizard revealed that it was back to normal size, and just as quickly he replaced the current ring he had on his right hand with another one. “Now for the build up.”

Hovering his right hand over the buckle once more, the Wizard’s belt glowed brightly, “COPY! PLEASE!”

Another red ring appeared over the Wizard’s head, immediately falling over his entire body. And in a flash of light, a second exact copy of the Wizard appeared to his left. Twilight blinked in surprise, “A duplication spell!?”

Both of the Wizards nodded before they messed with the belt for a second and held their right hands in front of the buckle again, “COPY! PLEASE!”

And just like before, two red runic circles appeared over the Wizards’ heads, covering them before two more exact copies of the Wizard appeared. All four of them laughed slightly before they reached for another ring and fitted them on their ring fingers.

Minotaur was still struggling to get to his feet when he lifted his head up to see the multiple copies of the Wizard. “W-WHAT?!”

All four of the Wizards brought their hands in front of their belts, as four of the same runic circles appeared at their feet. “VERY NICE! KICK STRIKE!”

“The finale!” All four Wizards announced as they brought their right legs forward, pulling back the coat tails.

“THE BEST!”

From the runic circles, flames began to surround all four of the Wizards’ right legs. Symmetrically, all four of the Wizards cartwheeled for one rotation before using their hands to push them up high into the air. The Minotaur tried to get back to his feet, and just as he was about to, all four of the Wizards spun through the air with their right legs extended, the flames instantly propelling them towards the armored monster.

However, just before all four of the Wizards were about to hit the mark, several feathers flew between the masked Wizards and the Minotaur. Still, the attack just went through the feathers, and all four of the Wizards slammed their feet into Mintoaur’s chest, the force making him fly through the air with flames coursing over his body.

When the Wizards’ feet landed on the ground, three of the four faded away into several embers that danced through the air, allowing the original one to turn back to see the Minotaur kneeling on the ground, the flames coursed over his body. “Hmm, tough little rampager, aren’t ya?”

More white feathers floated down from the sky, garnering both the Wizard’s and Twilight’s attentions. From the air, another odd creature landed on the ground before the Minotaur – A large, bird-like monster standing atop of a pair of golden armored talons with long white wings that had a tint of green to them. The creature’s figure suggested that of a female, with her torso covered with a golden armored vest with green jewels embedded on it. The creature’s head resembled that of a hawk’s, with the beak opened to show the porcelain mask that acted as the creature’s face with glowing green eyes.

“Oh?” the Wizard mused as he crossed his arms. “So, there were two Phantoms, odd to see you working with each other.”

The winged Phantom didn’t speak, instead she flapped one of her mighty wings, allowing a storm of feathers to completely envelope the two Phantoms. The Wizard dashed forward to stop the two, but when he reached the feathers, they floated away to show that the two Phantoms had disappeared.

With a shake of his head, the Wizard sighed loudly, “Damn, they got away.”

Throwing his arms behind his head and beginning to walk away, the black and ruby suit began to fade from his body, showing the red scaled dragon in the mystic Wizard’s place. “Looks like I’ll be stuck here for a while.”

The dragon continued to walk away, but then he realized something – He wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, he was actually being raised off of the ground, “What the?!”

Looking closer at his claws, the dragon realized that there was a dull aura that was actually lifting him off of the ground.

“Sorry, but I’m not going to let you get away this time,” Twilight announced, her horn glowing the same light that was levitating the sleek dragon off of the ground. “I’m going to definitely get my answers this time.”

The dragon sighed in defeat as the Garuda flew up next to him, chirping loudly a few times. “Don’t rub it in."

TBC



Translation and other things to Note (Because you should learn something every day!)
*Ore… Sanjou!! – Japanese phrase, a dynamic way of announcing “I have arrived!”

Relevance to the story: This is actually the catch phrase of Kamen Rider Den-O’s Sword Form/The Main Imajin – Momotarous.

Spell Three - It's... Showtime

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I don’t have a dream. But, you know, I can protect dreams.
- Inui Takumi: Kamen Rider Faiz

TTTTT

Spell 3

It’s …Showtime!

TTTTTTT

Magic – a mysterious force in this world, capable of bending reality. At the beginning, magic was studied as progressively as a science, with as many kinds of magic as there are stars in the night’s sky. But as civilizations advanced, many forms of magic were forgotten. Time passes and in modern day, there are at least three confirmed types of magic, one used by each of the three kinds of ponies.

Magic of the Earth – A magical connection to the land itself, earth ponies are the best at using the land to produce fertile crops and to be able to have a natural affinity to the creatures that roam the land.

Magic of the Sky – To be one with the blue sky above and the clouds itself. Pegasus ponies possess this form of magic – Allowing them to manipulate the weather and ride the clouds. Although, other creatures are able to walk on clouds – Winged creatures such as Griffons and other animals blessed by the sky are able to achieve this.

And finally – Magic of the Stars – The final, and strongest form of magic documented, used to move even the Sun and Moon, unicorns and alicorns. Telekinesis, levitation, teleportation and several other variations of the forms of the magic have been reported, but this type of magic has the greatest variation and potential to it.

Twilight closed the book she was reading from with her hoof and continued to speak with her eyes closed. “Of course, there are other forms of magic – One of which I know about first hand. The magic of friendship, and it too has the ability to even surpass even the Magic of the Stars. It was even strong enough to…”

“Yeah, this is all riveting, but how long are you going to keep me floating up in the air like this?”

“Until I get some answers from you,” Twilight replied as she leered at the red dragon she was keeping afloat midair in her home. By taking the right route, Twilight was able to get the sleek dragon back to the library without any pony seeing her or him.

The work was worth it to get the weird dragon to finally answer her. “So, let’s start with an obvious question – Who exactly are you?”

“A dragon who can use magic,” The dragon answered holding up his left hand to look at the large ruby ring he had on. “Next question, please.”

“That answer doesn’t count!” Twilight scolded as she stomped her front hoof into the floor. “I meant what’s your name?”

The dragon took a deep breath and was about to speak, when all of a sudden several loud raps against the front door to the library caught both Twilight’s and the dragon’s attentions. Twilight sighed as she looked at the dragon, “I’m still expecting an answer from you.”

“Right,” The dragon replied as he breathed a few times on the large ring on his right hand, before he used his jacket to clean said ring.

With her magic still levitating the dragon behind her, Twilight moved said dragon so he’d be hidden from view from anypony’s view from the front door. With that done, Twilight pushed the door open and…

“Twilight!”

The lavender mare staggered back slightly as a rush of pink rushed to the doorway, the rosy red mare bouncing with each trot. “Oh thank Celestia you’re home! I need your help!”

“Pinkie!” Twilight gasped, almost losing control of her magical hold. “What’s wrong?!”

“Oh, it’s just terrible!” Pinkie sighed with her head lowered down slightly. “Ever since I handed out those flyers for that party, I’ve been looking for Haru. He said he had to do a few things to do before the party, but he said he’d be back about an hour before the party started, but its only half an hour before and he still hasn’t shown up! I hope he’s okay, but I can’t help but think he just walked away from the party I was going to throw him. We were going to do this huge reveal to everyone who showed up and they’d be so surprised to see him! They’d be all like, ‘OOOH’ and ‘AHHH’, and an ‘Eeep!’ because that’s what I think some ponies would be afraid of him, but he’s really just a nice guy! Sure, he’s a little scary, but he’s really, really cool and awesome and nice and funny and he likes doughnuts! Really, really likes them! I even managed to get the Cakes to make some doughnuts for the party, I even got his favorite kind of doughnut that he told me about, plain sugar! Isn’t that a little strange how he only seems to like plain sugar? I like them too, but I think chocolate doughnuts are the best, just like cake and…”

“Pinkie!” Twilight interrupted by placing her hoof on Pinkie’s mouth to stop her overly active friend’s rant. “Now, calmly, what’s the problem?”

When Twilight lowered her hoof, Pinkie took a deep breath and calmly began to explain, “I need your help! I need to find Haru, and you’re the first pony I thought of who can help me out with this!”

“Calm down, Pinkie,” Twilight pleaded, trying to settle her friend down. Although, in the short time she knew Pinkie Pie, that almost seemed like an impossible task. “I have a few things I need to do, but maybe I’ve seen him. What does this pony look like?”

“Well, he’s not really a pony,” Pinkie explained as she lifted her front hooves up. “But he’s tall, kinda twice my height.”

A number of colts could easily be twice Pinkie’s height.

“He’s red.”

That narrowed the list down a little bit.

“He usually stands on his hind legs and has this cool, yet smug attitude.”

Part of that wasn’t a physical description, but still, there were only a few individuals who fit the descriptions that Pinkie provided. But she couldn’t be talking about who Twilight thought she was talking about.

“Ooh! And he wears this old black jacket with a weird, gaudy belt buckle, even though he doesn’t wear pants.”

Okay, there was a small chance that Pinkie couldn’t be talking about…

“Oh yeah! He’s also, and this is a surprise for the party, so don’t tell anyone, but he’s a Dragon!”

No way Twilight could deny it any more…

“Hey Pinkie Pie!”

Twilight’s eyes widened as a large smile appeared on Pinkie’s face, and with the speed rivaling that of a certain blue pegasus streaming through the sky, the pink land pony sped past Twilight. In the process, Pinkie accidentally bumped into Twilight, sending the young mare spinning about with a loud yelp.

This had the unfortunate side effect of making Twilight lose her concentration and break the levitation spell she was using. So, that made the red dragon fall face first into the floor with a loud smack. “Ow.”

“OH WOW!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed with stars in her eyes as she hovered over the red dragon. “Twilight! You didn’t tell me you knew Haru! I get it, you were just trying to help him practice for his entrance into his own party to add for dramatic effect! That’s amazing! And it was so perfect! You even got into acting like you didn’t know him, didn’t you? Such commitment to the act! Ooh! You know what would be an amazing idea?! We should have Haru’s welcome party here! That way he won’t be late for his own party and we can use that dramatic entrance that he just pulled off! Although, I think he should probably work on the ending, landing on your face looks like it would be painful, so you should stay here while I get the supplies and make a sign so that people know to come on over to Twilight’s so we can make this party the best EVER!”

And just like that, Pinkie rushed out of the library, bumping into Twilight again and making her spin further into her house until she came to a slow stop, her vision slightly blurred due to the insane spins she was forced to endure. Even when she stopped spinning, Twilight stumbled about until she was near the mysterious, red dragon – Whose name was apparently Haru. “W-What just happened here?”

“I think your friend just made your house the central,” The dragon named Haru answered as he peeled his face off of the ground. “Is she always this – compulsive?”

“You have no idea,” Twilight answered as she struggled to gain her balance. “But, don’t think we’re done with my questions!”

Having gathered her composure, Twilight was about to ask more questions about the dragon, when suddenly, a loud yelp echoed throughout the library, making Twilight jump.

“AAAH! TWILIGHT! HELP!”

“Spike!” Twilight yelped as she galloped away.

It didn’t take long for the mare to reach where the cries of help originated, but when she stood in the doorway, the young unicorn stopped in her tracks at the sight before her

Spike was currently being held up in the air by the end of his tail and the front spine atop of his head. The culprits were the Garuda and Kraken familiars that the mysterious dragon had summoned earlier, while beneath Spike was the small Unicorn familiar, which seemed to laugh as it dodged Spike’s flailing arms and legs.

“Twilight! Help!” Spike called out as the Garuda and Kraken flew him closer towards the mare. “These guys aren’t playing fair!”

Twilight sighed, realizing that Haru had followed her to investigate the cry of help, “Hmm, I was wondering where those three went. I guess they like your little friend.”

TTTTTT

The Everfree Forest was a mysterious patch of land of Equestria where nature has a mind of its own. With the plants growing on their own, animals roam and hunt to survive and the weather itself moves of its own accord, it could be said the woods were cursed. To many ponies, this place is the worst place to go, and was often used in the past as a means of punishment for crimes against Equestria, and while there were numerous occasions that somepony would venture into the dangerous woods, it was usually a place to avoid.

So, it made the best place to go when running away from masked Wizards.

WHAM!

“GAH! NOT SO ROUGH!”

“Tough luck, Minotaur! You’re lucky that it was me and not another Phantom who came by! They would’ve left you to get destroyed!”

Minotaur was on the ground, his armored body covered with burns and cracks, some of the cracks now a little bigger from being tossed onto the ground haphazardly by the winged Phantom that saved him. The winged Phantom landed on the ground with a loud sigh, “Minotaur, all you had to do was awaken the Gate’s Phantom. How bad is your luck that you keep running into the guy?”

Not getting a completely verbal response, the winged Phantom ran one of her wings over Minotaur’s shoulder. “I’m just glad that we don’t have one of the higher up generals hanging over us.”

HISSSSSSSS

A chill ran down the winged Phantom’s spine, making her straighten up and turn to see that she and Minotaur were surrounded by a large variety of snakes, all of them just leering at them with glowing yellow eyes. The snakes’ very presence made the already heavy atmosphere of the Everfree Forest intensify.

“I will never understand this ‘bond’ you have between your little group,” A cold, daunted voice echoed through the woods.

The winged Phantom turned around to see the snakes that were behind her had slithered to the side, allowing a shadowed slim figure to sway into the clearing, using the shade from the trees to keep herself hidden from sight. But the voice and figure were enough for the winged Phantom to know who was addressing her.

And with one of her knees brought to the ground, the winged Phantom bowed towards the shadowed figure, “L-Lady Medusa! W-What brings you to the Everfree Forest, let alone Ponyville?”

Holding one of her hands to one of the snakes near the ground, Medusa allowed the creature to coil around her arm, “I’ve never felt the need for small talk, Harpie. So don’t bother trying to waste my time with it. Instead, waste your breath to answer why Minotaur is barely clinging onto life.”

Harpie kept her head lowered towards Medusa, gulping audibly before she answered, “L-Lady Medusa, please, forgive us. We were only following your orders to locate the two Gates you informed us about here in Ponyville. But, we ran into a snag.

“A Wizard got in our way. Please! Show mercy, Lady Medusa!”

For a few seconds, only the natural sounds of the Everfree Forest chimed through the air, adding to the tension that was only building up in the air. Then, Medusa finally spoke, “So, he’s finally revealed himself. Interesting.”

Blinking a few times, Harpie lifted her head up to see Medusa gently coddling the snake in her arm. “I-I’m sorry Lady Medusa, but, what did you say?”

“While there are Gates in this town,” Medusa answered nonchalantly as the snake coiled up around her neck. “The intention of sending your little group here was only to be used as a means to draw out one of the beings that have been interfering with our plans.

"Canterlot, Cloudsdale, Manehatten, and even out here a number of our Phantoms were reported missing. We had suspicions that it was an alternate being of magical ability that was the cause of it… And thanks to Minotaur here, we have confirmation at least out here there is such a being.”

“S-So, we were bait?” Harpie questioned followed with heavy, angry breathing.

“If you want to be blunt,” Medusa chimed back before she crossed her arms under her chest. “Then yes. You were all bait.”

With a loud screech, Harpie flew into the air with her mighty wings, and immediately dove towards Medusa with her talons flung forward.

But her attack was halted in midair as two phantasmal serpents flew from Medusa’s body and coiled around Harpie’s wings, forcing her to stop in midair. Medusa shook her head, “Tsk, tsk, Harpie. I would’ve thought a Phantom like you would know that emotions are only useful to us by using to awaken Phantoms. We must discard any emotions we have if we are to fulfill the goals.

“But if you insist on having such useless baggage, then maybe it would be easier to make you no longer an issue at all.”

The chill rolled down Harpie’s spine as the phantasmal snakes curled tighter around her wings, now starting to rack pain through her appendages.

And then, all of a sudden, the pain was gone and she was dropped to the ground. “Omph!”

“Just consider yourself lucky that we need all the Phantoms we have right now,” Medusa sighed as the phantom-like snakes withdrew back into her body. “So, you and your little group are going to continue your mission, awaken the Phantoms within the Gates you’ve been assigned.

“However, since I stepped into this town, I’ve realized that there are more Gates than initially speculated. So, more Phantoms will be assigned to this area to help you. Until you receive such orders saying otherwise, you are to continue with your two targets until they are awakened. Other Phantoms will have their own individual missions, and you will provide support.

“I suppose Minotaur is in no shape to do said mission, so, what you do with him is up to your discretion. Allow him to heal, leave him where he stands, or remove him from the picture completely.”

Harpie lifted her head up but didn’t say a word as Medusa walked past her, and the shadowed Phantom loomed over the injured Minotaur. “Although, if Phoenix was here, you know what he’d do.”

Harpie turned her head back and quickly ran in between Minotaur and Medusa.

“Once again, I fail to see the reason why you value this group of yours,” Medusa sighed as she spun around and began to walk away. “I expect some results soon, Harpie. You don’t want me to come back to waste my valuable time.”

And, as quickly as she appeared, Medusa slipped back into the shadows of the Everfree Forest, leaving Harpie to tend to the now barely conscious Minotaur. “…Don’t worry, I won’t let that happen.”

TTTTTT

Thirty minutes, that’s all it took for the mass of balloons, streamers, confetti and several party foods (most of which being a multitude of doughnuts) to completely take over the library and make it the center of entertainment for the day in Ponyville. Twilight tried to question Haru, but between trying to get Spike free from the weird jewel creatures, and Pinkie Pie coming and going to bring the party props to the library, Haru seemed to have the perfect excuse to avoid answering any question that the unicorn had whether it was to help Pinkie or to get his crystal familiars to drop Spike.

And then there was the party, just like the first day that Twilight was in Ponyville, her residence was the epicenter of Pinkie’s positively popular parties. Many of the residents of Ponyville were crowded in the main lobby, some of them dancing to the music that Pinkie had selected (joyful tune that had a number of fun guitar rifts), others enjoying the snacks and some just curious who the party was actually for.

Twilight was near one of the walls, trying to stay away from the party so she wouldn’t get absorbed into the festivities. After all, what was stopping Haru from walking out from the party halfway through it and avoid her questions again?

Well, due to the fact that Haru was surrounded by many ponies, each of them asking him questions and seeing if he wasn’t just an elaborate costume. ‘He certainly doesn’t seem too shy about answering questions now.’

“Come on Twilight!” Pinkie Pie announced before she pulled the string of a party popper near her friend’s ear, followed up with a loud bang of noise and confetti that caused Twilight to slip slightly out of surprise. “It’s a party! Lighten up! Almost everypony’s here! You can’t have a frown at a party like this, it’s like rule number one of all parties!”

“Sorry Pinkie,” Twilight sighed as she used her hoof to massage the ear that took the noisy abuse. “It’s just that I was hoping to ask Haru a few questions.”

“Ooh, what kind of questions?” Pinkie asked as she leaned closer to Twilight. “He told me a lotta stuff when I met Haru last night! He’s a real fun guy!”

“Like what?” Twilight questioned.

“Well, he didn’t really tell me much,” Pinkie admitted with a bright smile on her face. “But you should’ve seen the tricks he did! He could float, he was able to transform, ooh! And those little creatures he summoned were so cute!”

‘I guess I was a little star struck when I saw him use those spells,’ Twilight thought to herself.

“Oh you have gotta be joshing me!”

Both Twilight and Pinkie looked up to see a familiar blue pegasus floating above them both, her hooves crossed over her chest in annoyance. “Pinkie! You didn’t tell me that the guy this party was for was that jerk!”

“He’s not a jerk, he’s a dragon, Rainbow Dash,” Pinkie corrected.

“Yeah, well, I think he’s both,” Rainbow countered with a roll of her eyes. “Besides, look at him, he acts like he’s the best of the best, everyone here knows that I’m the only one who gets to act like that!”

“Aw come on, it’s his welcome party!” Pinkie replied. “So it’s natural for him to be in the limelight!”

“I still don’t like him,” Rainbow muttered under her breath. “Just cause he’s a dragon and he’s got that freaky ability, he thinks he’s all that!”

“Can’t you both be awesome?” Pinkie asked before she hummed an energetic tune. “You’re a blue streak in the sky, too fast for the naked eye! Rainbow Dash, you can really move! Dash, you’ve got an attitude! Ponies look out when you storm through, and we don’t doubt what you can do.”

Rainbow Dash smirked as she landed on the ground next to her two friends. “Yeah! Take away that little trick of his and I doubt he’s as awesome as me! I’m positive I’m over a hundred times cooler than that bag of scales!”

“Yup, yup!” Pinkie Pie cheered before she wrapped one of her hooves around Twilight. “Now that we’ve got Rainbow in the party mood, it’s time for you to get into it as well!”

“As much as I would love to, Pinkie,” Twilight sighed looking at Haru who was munching on a plain sugar doughnut near the snack table. “I can’t enjoy the party with all the questions I’ve got in my head.”

Pinkie rubbed her chin before she trotted through the party’s crowd, leaving Rainbow Dash and Twilight to watch the pink earth pony head towards the doughnut munching dragon. When Pinkie approached the dragon, Haru pulled his doughnut from his mouth and the two seemed to chat for a few seconds before Pinkie trotted back to her two friends.

“Alrighty Twily! Haru says he’ll answer your questions right now outside,” Pinkie reported as she bounced a few times in place.

“Wait, what?” Twilight questioned.

A few minutes later outside the Golden Oaks Library, Haru was leaning up against the tree that the library was made out of while Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie were standing around him. “Not that I mind, but why are you two listening in on this?”

“It’s always good to learn about any competition,” Rainbow Dash explained as she pointed a hoof at Haru. “If I learn how you pulled that little teleportation scheme, then I can use that to prove how awesome I am.”

“And I just wanna hear some neat stories!” Pinkie Pie added.

Haru blinked a few times before he shrugged his shoulders. “That’s fine, any reason would’ve worked, even if you didn’t have a reason.”

“Alright, so who exactly are you?” Twilight asked. “Pinkie says your name’s Haru, but the name isn’t something I expected from a Dragon.”

“And you’re right,” Haru replied as he curled slightly to give himself a bit of a bow towards the young mares, “Souma, Haruto Souma is my real name. But, if you’d like, Haru, that’s how most ponies referred to me as.”

“That’s still a weird name,” Rainbow Dash pointed out.

Haru lowered his head slightly, “Yes well, I’m not exactly from this country, I was born in another country but my family moved over here afterwards. So, I was stuck with the name. So, what’s your next question? How did I get so handsome?”

“Alright, stop trying to change the subject,” Twilight scolded, stomping one of her hoofs against the hard wooden floor. “I want to know how you’re able to use magic!”

“All creatures possess the ability to use magic,” Haru answered with a shrug of his shoulders. “You explained that to me in that little lecture of yours a while ago. So, is it so hard to believe that dragons can use magic?”

“Not the kind of magic I saw you use!” Twilight retorted, waving her hoof at the cocky dragon. “Now you’re just dodging the question!”

Haru sighed as he reached into the jacket and held up one of the rings he had on his claws a few times. Holding the ring between his claws, Haru held it towards Twilight, “I can only access my magic by using specific rings. This is the ring I used before in order to escape from you and your hotheaded friend.”

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash barked.

Using her magic to take the ring from Haru’s claws, Twilight looked at the ring closely with Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash looking over her. Twilight noted that the silver ring had large orange jewel inside of the metal. Atop of the ring was a very noticeable carving in the jewel, showing a simple dragon head emerging from a circle. “This is the source of your magic?”

“Ooh! I love the design of it!” Pinkie Pie chimed in as she took the ring and held it in the sunlight above her.

Haru leaned back once more on the tree and lifted up his right claw, the red ring on his claws gleaming, “Like you said, every living creature has magic within them, these rings allow me to manifest said magic within me. Each ring allows me to use the magic within in a different manner.”

“So, they’re conductors to refine the magic,” Twilight muttered to herself as her horn glowed brightly, making a quill pen and notepad pop in front of her. Quickly, the quill pen furiously began to scribble down a lot of information. “That’s amazing! From what you’re saying, these very rings could change the very basis of magic studies!”

“And just like that, the bookworm has appeared,” Rainbow sighed.

“Before you get too excited,” Haru interrupted with a small bead of sweat rolling down the side of his head. “I should point out that unless the rings are used in conjunction with certain individuals, they won’t work for anyone.”

Haru tapped against his weird belt buckled a few times, “If someone wears the ring, I can transfer my magical energy to them and the spell will work. It just needs to be in close proximity.”

“Fascinating!” Twilight squealed as the quill moved even faster on the paper. “So far, I’ve seen spells for teleportation, duplication, even a spell that can make you into a giant! What other forms of magic do you have?”

“Wait, a giant?!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Duplication? Oooh! I wish I could do that!” Pinkie announced with a large smile. “If I could then I wouldn’t be able to miss out on any of the fun in Ponyville! I could even spread cheer to everyone too!”

“I think one Pinkie Pie is more than enough of Ponyville to handle,” Rainbow Dash pointed out with a roll of her eyes.

Haru chuckled, “You’ve got some nice friends here, Twilight. But in response to your question, that’s one I can’t answer.”

“And why’s that?” Twilight asked looking up from her notepad. “Are they the only spells you know? Or are there limited versions of these rings?”

“Nope to both,” Haru answered. “The reason I can’t answer is because I need to have a few aces up my sleeve.”

“I see,” Twilight sighed, not fully believing in that answer. “You mind telling me why that is?”

“Ya know,” Haru sighed as he pocketed his claws. “When most ponies get attacked by a large, weird monster with odd magic, they usually question what in the world just attacked them.”

Twilight blushed a little bit at Haru’s point. The magic using dragon did have a point, but the prospect of a foreign type of magic was too much for the young mare to focus. “Right, so those monsters, you called them Phantoms, right? I remember the term in a book I read, but…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Rainbow Dash interrupted as she stepped in between Haru and Twilight. “I think you may have forgotten to mention that when you were telling me what happened!”

“Are you alright Twilight?” Pinkie asked as she ran around her unicorn friend, looking all over Twilight’s body. “You didn’t get a scuff or bruise or cut or bump did you?! Or even worse - A wet willie!?”

“Girls! I’m fine!” Twilight croaked slightly as she waved her hooves in front of her. “I… I’m sorry for not telling you Rainbow Dash, but I didn’t want anyone to worry.

“Uh, you were saying Haru?”

“Beings with high levels are magic are what Phantoms call Gates,” Haru explained as he picked up the ring that Pinkie Pie dropped. “Phantoms use the Gates to create a mass of magic, from that mass, Phantoms are born.”

“I see,” Twilight mused with a slightly worried look on her face. She knew of her talents with magic, even if she didn’t want to admit it, the facts that she was a unicorn and Princess Celestia’s student would probably make her a perfect example of a Gate. “So, how is the mass of magic obtained? Is it extracted by Phantoms? I noticed that my magic was acting strange when that minotaur Phantom attacked.”

“Extracted?” Haru muttered with his eyes slightly narrowed. “… No, I wish it was.”

The dragon took a deep breath, for a few moments he remained silent before he lifted his head up and stared directly at the three mares. He opened his mouth, but hesitated.

“What’s wrong Haru?” Pinkie asked as she leaned towards the dragon.

“Phantoms are born,” Haru sighed with his clawed hand at his eyes. “At the expense of the Gate’s life.”

If it wasn’t for the lively music that was pumping out of the library, you could hear a pin bounce off of a wooden floor. All three of the mares just looked at Haru as he stood up straight.

“What?” Twilight gasped with her hooves brought up to her mouth. “You mean I was…”

“Phantoms have a unique, magical aura,” Haru continued, unfazed by the mare’s reactions. “If a Gate experiences true despair in the presence of a Phantom, that aura will awaken the Gate’s inner Phantom.

“Have you ever seen a butterfly emerge from a cocoon? It’s rather similar in the process – The Gate acts as the cocoon for a Phantom, and the Phantom destroys the Gate in the process of awakening, leaving only pieces of their former shell behind.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped when she heard that, if what Haru was saying was true, then that meant any unicorn with strong enough magical abilities would be targeted by these monsters just to create more monsters. ‘Does that mean that even Princess Celestia could be targeted?’

“Now wait just a minute here!” Rainbow Dash snapped as she stomped up to the magic-using dragon. “I haven’t heard of these Phantoms before! And if these sorts of monsters were going around Equestria, I think I would’ve at least heard of rumors about them!”

“Until six and a half months ago, I didn’t know about them either,” Haru admitted with his right hand fitting into his pocket. “But I learned the hard way that they do exist, and if you ask your friend Twilight, or even her dragon scribe, then you’ll learn that they do exist.”

“What are you do mean by ‘the hard way’?” Twilight asked. “Was someone close to you a Gate?”

Haru didn’t reply, instead he lifted his right hand from his pocket to reveal that the very same ring that he had shown the girls was back on his claws. “Miss Pinkie, I have to say, it was a nice party, and thank you for going through all the trouble for setting it up for me.”

Haru slid his right hand over his belt buckle, making the odd fashion accessory glow brightly, “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

The red runic energy popped behind Haru, and quickly he began to step through it, “But I think this is when I must bid you all adieu.”

Before the mares could react, Haru fully stepped through the circle, with the circle disappearing behind him.

“Wait Haru!” Twilight called out.

… But it was too late, Haru and his magical charms were gone.

TTTTTTT

Meanwhile, as the party in Ponyville was roaring on, outside the town was a large apple orchard, with a near countless trees that surrounded a large farm. On one of the hills that overlooked the mass of trees, two ponies gazed over the orchard.

One of the ponies was a young, orange earth mare with a blonde mane that ended with a red band to give it a tailed look, which matched her tail. Atop of her head was a well-worn cowboy hat which signified her southern roots. Her cutie mark was a trio of bright red apples. “Boy howdy, Ah got my work cut out fer me. That there is the biggest bump a crop of apples that Ah’ve ever laid eyes on.”

“Eeyup,” the other pony, a slightly large red stallion spoke calmly. He was a big earth pony colt with a mid-length orange mane, a cropped tail and a yoke around his neck. His mark was a sliced in half green apple, and the other thing to note about the colt was that around his torso were a few bandages. “Too big fer you to handle on yer own.”

“C’mon big brother!” the southern pony said as she leaned closer to her older brother. “Ya need to rest up and get yerself better! I haven’t met an apple orchard I haven’t met yet that I couldn’t handle!”

As she said that, the orange mare accidentally poked her front hoof into bandaged area on the colt. The colt’s eye widened as he brought up one of his hind legs to cover the bandages.

The mare chuckled sheepishly as she drew back slightly, “Oops, sorry.”

Trying to clear the air, the mare took a steps forward to look at all of the trees, “Ah’ll take a bite outta this job by day’s end.”

“Biting off more than ya can chew,” the colt pointed out. “Is just what I’m afraid of.”

“Are ya saying my mouth is making promises my legs can’t keep?” the mare asked as the colt rolled his eyes.

“Eeyup.”

“Why of all the…” The mare growled before she stomp a hoof into the ground. That’s when she got into the larger colt’s face, staring down the larger pony. “This is yer sister Applejack, remember?! The loyalist and most dependable of ponies!”

“But still only one pony,” the colt replied, his gaze turning away. “And one pony plus hundreds of apple trees just doesn’t add up.”

“Don’t be using yer fancy mathematics to muddle the issue!” Applejack retorted, stepping back to wave a hoof at her brother. “Ya’ll don’t think I can do this, don’t ya Big Macintosh?”

Big Macintosh blinked a few times, “Eeyup. I don’t question yer skills, but I’m just trying to make sure ya’ll don’t overwhelm yerself.”

“Well, what choice do we have?” Applejack questioned. “We can’t have Granny working like this with her hip, and Applebloom just ain’t strong enough to do this.”

“That’s why I took the liberty of hiring some part time help,” Big Macintosh stated.

Applejack’s jaw was dropped at the bomb that her older brother, “Ya did what?!”

“We don’t have much of a choice,” Big Macintosh replied as his attention was turned to the dirt road that ran between the orchard. “The colt himself isn’t working fer much, and I’d be able to rest easier if I knew somepony would be out here with you helping.”

Applejack just stood there with narrowed eyes at her older brother, who only kept his eyes out on the road. “In fact, here he comes right now.”

Turning her attention towards the dirt road, Applejack saw the hired help trotting towards the two. The pony in question was a slim, brown colt with a short fancy black mane. At his flank was a mark that depicted a vine of grapes.

All Applejack saw was a prissy pony trotting up to the two, what in the world was Big Mac thinking?!

When the colt finally reached the two siblings, he stopped and bowed slightly towards Applejack, “Bonne journée, madame. Je suis Pierre Escargot. Votre frère Big Macintosh m'a engagé pour vous aider dans votre entreprise au cours de pomme buck saison. ”

Applejack blinked a few times at the weird colt before she narrowed her gaze, “Dang it boy, don’t be talkin’ fancy to me! Ah don’t know where ya’ll come from, but here we speak Equish!”

“My apologies madame,” the colt coughed slightly. “Moi was simply introducing moi’s self. Pierre Escargot at your service. Moi hopes moi came at ze desired time, Mousier Macintosh.”

“Eeyup,” Big Macintosh replied as he began to turn around and trot away. “Now, I’ll be heading back in to get some rest. I hope I don’t need to tell you little sister that he’s here to help ya’ll. We are paying him.”

Applejack leered daggers at Pierre, making the French-speaking pony smile sheepishly. “Now ya’ll listen here, Mister Fancy Speak. Ah know mah Big Brother hired ya’ll to help, but Ah can do this job perfectly fine by myself! So, here’s what ya’ll be doing, Ah’ll be bucking them apples from the trees, and ya’ll can gather them apples.

“Hope yer ready to get yer hooves dirty.”

“Madame, moi worked on a vineyard during moi’s youz,” Pierre admitted. “Moi is no stranger to hard work wiz produce.”

“… Fine,” Applejack huffed as she trotted towards the orchard. “Then let’s get started then, no need to keep jawing it up around here.”

“Oui, oui!” Pierre chuckled as his eyes glowed slightly bright orange for a split second before he trotted after Applejack. “Moi shall get to work immediately.”

TTTTTTT

Outside Ponyville, hidden amongst a number of trees, Haru sighed as he began to set up his new campsite. As he fixed up his tent, Haru sighed with a roll of his eyes before he turned back to Ponyville that was in the distance.

There was a small twinge of guilt coursing through his mind, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have run from the mares. At least Twilight deserved some answers.’

Kicking his sleeping bag to the side, Haru sighed before he sat down on a hallowed out log. ‘No Haru, you did the right thing. They don’t need to be more involved in this any more than they have already.

‘… Everyone needs hope, and someone needs to protect that hope, even if that someone needs to sacrifice everything to protect that hope.’

TBC

Spell Four - Change

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Everyone is searching for a world where they belong. A place of light, free of falsehood. We are on a continuing journey to go there.
- Kadoya Tsukasa / Kamen Rider Decade

TTTTTTT

Spell 4

Change

TTTTT

After Haru’s disappearance from his very own party, Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie all went searching for the magic using dragon. However, even though they searched throughout Ponyville, and even following Pinkie Pie to where his campsite, the dragon and almost every trace of him had disappeared from the town. Even after all of the information Twilight received from Haru, her curiosity was hardly satisfied if anything, Haru left more questions than real answers. ‘I should send Princess Celestia a letter about this, but what would she say? About these other forms of magic? About the Phantoms? About Haru? Or would she request for me to leave Ponyville out of safety?’

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

The only thing left of Haru was the Garuda familiar that was currently following Twilight as she trotted through Ponyville. It had been here since Haru had literally disappeared, which was about a day ago. Of course, Spike was with her, but kept on trying to catch the ruby bird. “Hold still!”

Garuda chirped before it swooped past Spike, making the dragon run ahead of Twilight to chase the familiar. Twilight sighed before her horn began to glow brightly, making Spike lift off the ground, “Spike, please don’t mess with that.”

“He started it Twilight!” Spike pouted as he struggled through the air. “He’s been taunting me ever since the party!”

“I know Spike,” Twilight admitted as she placed Spike down on the ground near her. It was then that the Garuda landed atop of Twilight’s head. “But I’m sure he’s here for a reason.”

After the fruitless search, Twilight had returned home to see that Spike was being bullied by the very same jewel bird – The jeweled Unicorn and jeweled Kraken were nowhere to be seen. Why the Garuda was still around was a little bit of a mystery, but if Twilight had to guess, it was here to watch her. ‘I guess Haru must’ve left him here to keep an eye on me. Those Phantoms are still out there, so, I’m willing to wager that Haru’s still around here too.’

“Hey Twilight,” Spike stated, tapping Twilight’s back. “Does it feel like the ground’s moving?”

A little confused at what Spike was saying, Twilight was about to respond until she felt the unmistakable shake through her hooves.

The shaking was getting stronger too!

“What’s happening?!” Twilight yelped as the shaking grew stronger.

In the air over the town, Rainbow Dash flew overhead to see the plains, where a large dust cloud was coming closer towards Ponyville. Drawing a deep breath, Rainbow Dash yelled out with all her might, “STAMPEDE!!!!!!”

At those words, coupled with the massive amounts of quaking, many ponies in town ran about to take cover. Earth Ponies and Unicorns ran into their homes, taking their doormats and any young foals into the shelter, while Pegasai flew up high to dodge the damage that was sure to come.

Said stampede was a herd of cattle that galloped towards Ponyville, their faces racked with fear and their cries drowned out by their hooves slamming against the ground. With each second, the herd drew closer to destroying Ponyville in their path.

However, galloping alongside the herd was a familiar blonde maned mare with a rope around her neck and a cowboy hat atop her head. Applejack was accompanied with a cute brown and white furred dog following her. “YEEE-HAW!”

Applejack nodded back towards the dog, “Other side Winona!”

The small dog barked as she slowed her pace to get behind the herd, but soon Winona dashed back to the other side of the herd, barking all the while. “Herd ‘em up girl!”

With Applejack and Winona on either side of the charging herd of cows, the mass of cattle began to come together, gaining some order to the chaos charging towards Ponyville.

The herd grew closer as Applejack rammed into one of the cows, trying to prompt her and the rest of the herd to turn from Ponyville. When that didn’t work, Applejack whistled loudly, signaling Winona to rush in front of the herd. At the same time, Applejack leapt atop one of the cows, the end of her rope in her mouth while the rest was spun in the air to reveal a lasso. With a flick her head and dead-eye accuracy, Applejack made the lasso go through the air until it wrapped around the lead cow’s neck.

Leaping next to the lead cow, Applejack used all strength she had to pull the lead cow to the right, drawing the rest of the herd to turn right as well, just barely reaching the bridge and river that separated them from Ponyville. As the cows slowly came to a stop, Applejack dropped the rope to hear all the cheers coming from Ponyville.

Of course, she couldn’t get a swelled ego at this moment, so ignoring the cheers, Applejack trotted up to one of the cows. “Now what in tarnation was that about?”

“Moo,” replied the lead cow before she cleared her throat. “Ohh, my, begging yer pardon Applejack, but when we heading to our grazing patch for our afternoon, there was this big nasty red snake hanging about, and wouldn’t ya know it, it gave us all the willies.”

“Ah perfectly understand,” Applejack replied with a nod of her head. “But next time ya’ll get spooked, could ya’ll try not to trample over Ponyville.”

“Of course Applejack,” The cow replied with a sheepish smile on her face. “But do ya think ya could help us out? We can’t go back to our usual field with that nasty beast around there.”

“Ah’ll tell ya what,” Applejack said as Winona barked. “Lemme go see how the folks in Ponyville are, and Ah’ll see what Ah can do to help out.”

“Thank ya kindly Applejack,” the cow replied. “Do ya mind if we stay here till ya get rid of that nasty snake?”

“Ah don’t see why not,” Applejack stated before she trotted off with Winona. “Ah’ll head on over in a sec.”

TTTTTT

After checking on her friends, Applejack traveled to the plains where the cattle usually grazed at. With Winona by her side, Applejack searched the area for this ‘red snake’. “Ah don’t have much time fer this, Ah need to get back to the apple orchard ‘fore that fancy speaking scab gets ahead on that work.”

Before Applejack could really search, Winona growled. “What is it girl?”

Winona barked as she ran across the field, heading towards one of the few trees in the area. The small dog jumped up to place her front paws on the tree, continuing to bark. Applejack trotted to the tree and looked up at the branches. “What in tarnation? That ain’t a snake!”

Indeed, whatever was hanging out in the branches wasn’t a snake – What kind of snake munches on a doughnut? What Applejack was looking at was definitely a dragon, certainly had the same traits that another dragon that Applejack knew. Only this one was red, was wearing a black jacket, and was a little bit taller.

“Howdy pardner!” Applejack called out to the doughnut munching dragon.

Haru stopped mid-bite from his current plain sugar doughnut and looked down to see the barking dog and cowboy hat wearing mare beneath him. “Hello.”

“Ah hate to interrupt yer snack,” Applejack spoke as she placed a hoof on gently on Winona’s back, making her loyal canine cease her barking. “But do ya think ya could enjoy yer snacking somewhere else?”

“I don’t see why not,” Haru replied looking at his doughnut. “But I also don’t see why. What’s wrong with me eating doughnuts in this tree?”

“Well, ya see, some cows saw ya’ll up there,” Applejack began to explain. “And some of them got spooked, thinking that ya’ll were a snake.”

Haru almost dropped the doughnut he had in his claws. “A snake? How in the world do I look like a snake? I’ve got arms and legs!”

“Yer kinda missing the point,” Applejack sighed. “Point is, ya’ll being here kinda caused a bit of a stir with them cattle, and they almost turned Ponyville into a scrap lumber yard. So, Ah don’t mean to bother ya, but if ya could move from that tree, Ah’d be much appreciated.”

Turning his attention towards Applejack, Haru had to admit, what she brought up was a good point. But then again, when the dragon turned to the doughnut that he just finished, he shrugged his shoulders. “Nah. Sorry, but I just got cozy here, and after clearing out where I was before, I need a little bit of time to enjoy my…”

WHAM!

“HUH!?” Haru yelped at the sudden shaking of the tree, quickly regaining his composure.

“Ah ain’t got time fer this!” Applejack barked, having turned around and lifted both of her hind legs, and then slammed her hooves into the tree, making it quake again. “So if yer not gunna move on yer own, A’m gunna make ya move!”

With another powerful slam, Applejack’s powerful legs rocked the tree and forced Haru to fall face first into the ground. A little dizzy, Haru lifted his head up to reveal that his face was covered with powdered sugar and doughnut bits. “Ow.”

Too bad Haru didn’t get a chance to mourn his crushed doughnut, a lasso wrapped around his arms and immediately tightened, “What the?!”

More of the rope coiled around the dragon’s body, tightening as Applejack roped up Haru, “Sorry ‘bout this, but Ah just don’t have the time to deal with yer funny business. It’s just easier to drag ya off.”

Haru barely heard Applejack’s explanation, he was more concerned with the fact that Winona was eating the remains of his plain sugar doughnut. Applejack didn’t seem to notice this and continued on as she tightened the hold of the rope. “Now Ah’ll drag ya to Sweet Apple Acres, leave ya there for a little while, and when the cattle git back here Ah’ll be letting ya go. Ah’m sure ya’ll don’t have a problem with that, right pardner?”

The dragon didn’t get a chance to answer, since Winona had turned to lick up any powdered sugar that was on Haru. With no verbal response, Applejack tugged on the rope with her mouth and began to drag Haru across the ground, “Good!”

‘Not the weirdest thing that’s happened to me,’ Haru thought to himself with a roll of his eyes, moving his head around to try to scare the dog that was trying to make a snack out of him. ‘But definitely ranks up in the top ten.’

TTTTTT

It took a little bit of time, but eventually Applejack had dragged the troublemaking dragon back to Sweet Apple Acres, even though the Haru wasn’t causing any trouble while he was being dragged (aside from complaining about how Winona was trying to nip at his tail now and then). Just making it through the front gate and past some of the trees, Applejack released the rope and trotted around Haru to look him in the eyes, “Now listen here, Ah’ll be back in a few. Ah just gotta check on the fancy prance, then Ah’ll let the cows know they can get back to the field.

“When that’s done, Ah’ll be back to untie ya’ll.”

“Please, take your time,” Haru replied as Applejack trotted past the dragon. “I’ve gotten used to the rope straight jacket that you so generously gave me.”

“Don’t tempt me boy to leave ya’ll like that,” Applejack stated before she continued on her way. “Winona, be sure to keep an eye on our guest.”

Winona barked as the young pup ran in front of Haru.

With his back turned to the pony, Haru craned his head back to watch the southern mare disappear over the hill. A smirk appeared on his face as he stretched his black claws, and then using his pointer claw, Haru began to cut through the ropes that bound him. ‘I guess there are some ups with having these claws.’

He didn’t get too far with cutting through the ropes when all of a sudden…

“WHAT IN THE NAME OF CELESTIA!?!”

At her owner’s cry, Winona barked and ran off to follow her master’s path. Haru on the other hand sighed as he picked up the pace of trying to cut through the ropes with his claws.

Meanwhile, Applejack just stood in place as she looked at the orchard before her – A large number of apple trees were completely uprooted from the ground along the dirt road, a number of apples scattered along the way. “What in tarnation happened while Ah was gone!?”

It was then that another tree crashed a few yards in front of Applejack, making the southern mare jump slightly. But that wasn’t the only thing she saw, standing next to the tree that was just uprooted was a very odd creature.

The creature in question stood on its hind legs with its body covered in a rather bulky orange and black armor with curved feet, shoulder pads, gauntlets and even a curved head piece that had a masked fact just above its chest. The creature had a few blue jewels embedded on its thighs while there was a silver emblem under his lowered head. The creature’s green eyes turned towards Applejack and gleamed at her.

And then the creature lifted its right arm up and bowed slightly toward Applejack. Said mare narrowed her green eyes right back at the creature, “Ah dunno who are, but nopony messes with mah family’s trees!”

Applejack charged towards the odd creature, and was about to pounce on the armored creature – Only to miss as the odd creature sidestepped her charge. The creature cackled loudly before he began to spin around quickly. Dirt and rock flew around the creature’s body as it spun deep into the ground. Applejack looked at the large molehill that was left behind from the creature, “What in Granny Smith’s dentures?”

However, another tree nearby was quickly uprooted with the odd creature leaping up from the ground with it. Once again, the creature cackled loudly as it landed on the fallen tree, sitting down on it. Applejack didn’t care for how the creature was not only destroying her property but was also making fun of her! “Listen here ya… Whatever ya are, Ah’m gunna give ya one last chance to put these here trees back or else Ah gunna tan yer hide!”

The creature stopped laughing. Then pushing itself off of the tree, the armored creature snapped its fingers, forcing a tall pillar of gravel to erupt from the ground next to him. Slamming its right hand into the pillar, the dirt and gravel transformed into a large, gunmetal gray trident that the creature gripped.

“Is that supposed to scare me?” Applejack countered as she stomped a hoof into the dirt. “Boy, ya’ll have no idea what yer getting into.”

Waving one of its fingers, the odd creature egged on Applejack. This prompted the young mare to gallop towards the creature quickly. Once again, the odd creature sidestepped Applejack, however, when the Applejack noticed this, she immediately stopped and slammed both of her hind hooves into the creature’s side, forcing the creature to skid back a few feet.

“Ha! How do ya like them apples?” Applejack chuckled as she turned towards the weird creature.

However, the weird creature didn’t seem wounded at all, instead all it was doing was scratching the area where he was kicked. “Keekeekee!”

Holding up its trident, the weird creature now charged towards Applejack. But before the creature got close enough, several streams of red light crashed into its torso making it stagger backwards. Applejack blinked a few times at what just happened.

“Sorry about the rope,” A cocky voice sounded, making Applejack turn around to see Haru casually walking towards her with his weird silver gun aimed point blank at the weird creature. “But I can’t let a cry for help go unnoticed. Although, I didn’t expect to see a Phantom here.”

“A what?” Applejack questioned raising an eyebrow at the dragon.

The Phantom growled as it lifted its trident towards Haru.

In response, Haru tossed his gun into the air as he brought his right hand in front of his belt buckle. “DRIVER ON!!”

Then lifting his left claw up, Haru revealed the red ring on his claws and immediately brought it to the now bulkier belt. “FLAME! PLEASE!

“Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

The fiery runic circle appeared to Haru’s left and immediately covered his body, transforming him into his ruby and black clothed masked form, with the red mask gleaming in the light.

The creature’s green eyes widened at the sight of the Wizard, and Applejack’s mouth was slightly slacked as Wizard held his right hand out to catch the gun. Quickly unfolding the gun, Wizard held up the unique sword up, “It’s… Showtime.”

And with that, Wizard ran over the dirt road towards the surprised Phantom, the Phantom shook its head and began to lift up its trident to attack. However, Wizard was faster and brought down a quick slice down on the Phantom’s chest, sparks flying from the monster’s chest and sending it staggering back.

Before the Phantom could recover, Wizard spun around and slammed a powerful roundhouse kick to the Phantom’s side, sending it flying into one of the apple trees, breaking it in two by the powerful force.

Wizard was about to charge to continue his attack, when Applejack galloped in front of him, “Hold it! Just what do ya think yer doing?!”

Wizard tilted his head slightly before he tapped the dull side of his sword against his shoulder, “Uh, destroying the phantom?”

“No, yer destroying Apple Family Property!” Applejack yelled out, making Wizard take a step back from the enraged mare. “It mah family’s bread and butter! We’ll be taking this little squabble away from here and…”

“LOOK OUT!” Wizard shouted as he tackled into Applejack, just before several pillars of solid rock crashed into the area where both were at just at.

Near where the Phantom was recovering at, its hand was lifted up with the pillars on the ground where he was near. The Phantom picked himself up and snapped his fingers, making the towers crumble to dirt.

Picking himself up from forcibly pushing Applejack out of harm’s way, Wizard growled under his breath, “Damn, an Earth Phantom. Well, if that’s the case…”

Reaching for the chain of rings at his side, Wizard pulled off a large green ring and replaced the ring that was on his left hand. “I think it’s time for a change. Though to be honest, I wanted to see how far I could get with just Flame Style.”

Standing straight up, Wizard stabbed his sword into the ground as he messed with the belt, flipping the hand symbol twice. That’s when Wizard placed his right hand in front of the buckle, “HURRICANE – PLEASE!”

A green runic circle appeared before Wizard, and before he leapt through the circle, he grabbed his sword. When he dashed through the circle, a bright green light enveloped his entire figure. “Fuu Fuu Fuu! FuuFuuFuuFuu!”

When Wizard passed through the runic circle, all of the red jewels that covered his form were transformed into bright green emeralds with a triangular theme to them. Applejack blinked a few times as the Wizard flew over the ground, the wind around him completely visible and green. “What in Sam’s Hill am Ah watching here?!”

The Phantom was surprised as well, but not just at the change but for the fact that the Wizard was now directly in front of him. And with a powerful kick to his chin, Wizard sent the Phantom flying into the air. Using the twisting wind and his powerful legs, Wizard flew into the air after the surprised Phantom.

When Wizard reached the Phantom, he spun around to deliver several slashes to the Phantom’s chest, forcing the monster to fall towards the ground. However, before the Phantom could fully reach the ground, Wizard quickly flew beneath him and slammed both of his legs into the Phantom’s back, propelling the monster through the air once more.

Once again, Wizard used his newly acquired flying abilities to soar back above the Phantom, where using both of his hands, the magic user slammed his sword into the Phantom’s torso, forcing the Phantom towards the ground, and this time allowing the monster to crash into the dirt road away from the trees.

And as gentle as a as a leaf falling to the ground, Wizard landed next to Applejack, “There, Ah managed to fight the Phantom without damaging yer precious trees.”

“Ya’ll making fun of my accent?” Applejack asked giving Wizard a dirty look.

“What?” Wizard questioned, a little taken back. ‘Oh holy Tsuyoshi Kida!* It’s contagious!!’

Shaking his head free of that thought, Wizard stepped forward and opened the hand symbol on the sword, “Anyway, time for the finale.”

But before Wizard could place his left hand onto the hand symbol though, the Phantom was already back to its feet and began to spin around until it drilled into the ground, leaving nothing but a hole in its place. Wizard quickly ran over to the hole and sighed, “Damn, the guy got away. Great.”

‘Three phantoms, Two gates and only One me,’ Wizard thought to himself as he rubbed his masked chin. ‘This is gonna be a problem, especially if these Phantoms are working together, they could attack both of the Gates at once.’

“Hey, pardner…”

‘I’ve got Garuda to keep an eye on Twilight, but, if I use the familiars too casually here, I’ll just be wasting my mana and even if I fight the phantoms, I’d be unable to last long against them.’

“Excuse me!”

Wizard jumped slightly when he realized that Applejack was standing right next to him, yelling right into his ear. “Oh, I hope you’re alright Miss.”

“Alright?” Applejack growled at Wizard, leaning closer towards the suited up dragon. “Ya’ll have the nerve to ask me if Ah’m alright!? Look at this place!”

Wizard craned his head around a few times, realizing that the trees that were uprooted were… Well, still uprooted. Applejack slammed her hoof back into the ground loudly, garnering Wizard’s attention. “These here apple trees are the life blood for the Apple Family, we need them in order to put food on the table!

“And with Applebuck season here, Ah ain’t got the time to fix all this!”

Wizard sighed, he didn’t know what Applebuck season was, but he knew at least these trees were what probably gave Applejack here her hope. “This is what mah family needs! And Ah gotta do what I can to make sure mah family doesn’t get hurt.”

Family.

The term echoed in Wizard’s head. With a sigh, he drew a ring from the chain and replaced the ring he had on his right hand. “Give me five minutes.”

“BIG – PLEASE! BIG – PLEASE!”

Four and a half minutes later…

Applejack had never seen anything like it in her life, the dragon she had easily roped up less than an hour ago had called up two more of those green runic circles appeared before Wizard. And when he stuck his arms into the circles, they managed to make his arms incredibly huge! It didn’t take long for Wizard to re-plant the trees into the ground, and he even managed to repair the broken tree.

Granted, all he did was refit the two pieces of tree together, and tied it with the rope that had been used to tie him up, but the thought still counted.

When the work was done, and his arms were back to normal, the suit disappeared and allowed Haru to slump to the ground, exhausted. ‘Yeah… I’ve used too much mana today. Even just maintaining Garuda’s starting to get hard to do.’

“Well now, that was a purty neat trick,” Applejack admitted as she trotted alongside Haru, Winona following her. “Ya’ll alright?”

“Hey, don’t worry about me,” Haru chuckled sheepishly as he shakily stood up. “I just need some rest, I’ve just been real busy today and it’s tuckering me out. I didn’t even get a decent lunch.”

Applejack rubbed her chin with her hoof a few times before a smile popped on her face, “Well, tell ya what, Mistah Dragon, as thanks fer cleaning up this mess that jerk made here and even being a good sport with me tying ya up, why don’tcha come follow me to the house fer a few, and we’ll see if we can’t fix that last problem.”

Having skipped out on the party and all the free doughnuts that Pinkie had brought was a big mistake, but then again, he had to leave. There are just some things in this world that nopony should know, and having told Twilight what the Phantoms did to Gates was more heartbreaking than what Haru let on.

Besides, with Garuda, if there was a problem, Haru could easily use Connect to get to where she was. ‘Thank goodness that I had Unicorn hide out as well…’

With a curt smile, Haru turned towards Applejack, “It’s not really necessary, but if you’re insisting, then I don’t mind.”

“And Ah am,” Applejack replied as she trotted ahead of Haru, Winona following her.

With a tired shrug, Haru began to follow the mare and pup. “So, I know this is a little late, but my name’s…”

TTTTTTT

Back in the Everfree Forest, Harpie had moved Minotaur to a nearby patch of moss where he could relax in the shade of the Everfree. Currently, Minotaur was sleeping peacefully, but the cracks in his armor were still very visible. Harpie sighed as she shook her head. “Minotaur…”

“Mademoiselle Medusa was right, this little group of Phantoms do act like a family.”

Harpie craned her head around to see the exact same Phantom that Wizard had made run off, save for a few cracks in his armored body, the Phantom seemed to be doing rather well. Harpie lifted her wings up defensively and stood up to guard Minotaur. “You must be one of the Phantoms that Lady Medusa told me about.”

“Oui oui, madame,” The orange phantom replied with a slight bow. “You need not worry zough, moi has no interest in your petty little family. Moi only came here to grant you some information about ze Wizard.”

“You got your tail handed to you, didn’t you?”

The orange Phantom didn’t say a word, but rather cleared his throat. “Moi’s name is Gnome, and for zat comment, moi shall be keeping zat piece of information to moi’s self!”

“Let’s not get out of hand,” Harpie chuckled sheepishly. “Now, how about you tell little me about this information.”

“Non, non, non!” Gnome replied with a wag of his finger. “Moi only came here to recover and to see ze ozer Phantoms here. Oh, and moi has to tell you, madame, zat moi will not tread on your territory, moi needs only to complete moi’s own mission.”

“… What?” Harpie questioned with her head tilted slightly. “I can’t understand you with that accent.”

Gnome rolled his eyes with a sigh. “Stupid Equestian Phantoms, can’t understand zeir own language. Zat matters not.”

Harpie sighed loudly. ‘What is the point of this conversation?’

“Anyway,” Gnome said with a wave of his hand, making a large column appear to his side. With a snap of his fingers, the excess of the column fell off of it until a statue version of Wizard appeared next to him. “While moi has no interest in ze Gates you were all assigned. Even ze Wizard is of no concern of moi, but if zis fool dares to show his face to moi once more, moi will personally bring zis fool to his early grave!”

With a mighty spin, Gnome slammed the back of his fist into the head of the Wizard Statue, knocking the head off and into the air. “Moi came here to tell you zat your troubles wiz zis fool are over!”

The stone head bounced a few times until it rolled away from the clearing and deeper into the woods. The stone head of Wizard managed to even reach the dark dirt road that went through the Everfree Forest, stopping at the hooves of a mysteriously cloaked individual.

The cloaked individual turned their head towards the direction of where the statue head came from, then observed the well-crafted head. ‘This is a warrior with a mask, is this perhaps a new task?’

TBC


Things to Note

* - ‘Oh holy Tsuyoshi Kida!’ A joke parodying a theme I’ve noticed in some MLP fiction, where the characters refer to ‘Oh dear Faust’, considering that Faust was the main reason why MLP FiM took off so greatly. Tsuyoshi Kida is the series’ main screenwriter, and I thought it would be funny for characters from Kamen Rider Wizard to refer to it like this.

Spell Five - Apple Hunt Season

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Let me tell you from the start, I am strong enough!
- Yuto Sakurai / Kamen Rider Zeronos

TTTTTTTT

Spell 5

Apple Hunt Season

TTTTTTT

A week had passed since the Phantoms attacked Ponyville, and life seemed to have returned to normal for all the ponies in Ponyville. Although, looking at the town hall, with all of the decorations covering the large building, there seemed to be some sort of event going on. Balloons, confetti, and even banners that had apples embroidered on them.

Eventually though, with the stage finally set up almost every pony was drawn to the city hall. At the podium, a familiar lavender unicorn trotted up to the podium with a stack of notecards floating alongside her and a familiar ruby bird resting on her back. Taking a moment to straighten the notecards a few times, Twilight used her magic to lift up the top card and began to read from her speech, “Welcome everypony! Today we are here to honor a pony we can always count on.

“A pony whom we can always…”

Before Twilight could continue, Rainbow Dash flew gently into Twilight, pushing the mare and making Garuda fly over the pegasus. “Did you see Applejack’s slick moves out there?!”

Garuda landed on Rainbow Dash’s head and began to mimic the mare’s arm pumps with its wings, “What an athlete! Later today, she’s gonna help me with my new flying tricks, and I know it’s gonna be so AWESOME!”

Twilight pushed Rainbow Dash to the side, prompting Garuda to land on the podium where Twilight used her magic to gather her note cards once more. “Exactly! And…”

Too bad those notecards got scattered as Pinkie Pie popped up from behind the podium with her front legs pumped up into the air, while at the same time Garuda mimicked the pink mare’s actions. “This week I get to run Sugarcube Corner for the first time!”

“Uh, what does that have to do with Applejack?” Twilight asked as she poked her head out from behind Pinkie.

Both Pinkie and Garuda blinked a few times at the unicorn, but then Pinkie giggled, “Oh! Right! Applejack, being one of the best cooks ever, is gonna help me out! So free samples for everypony!”

The crowd seemed to love the fact of free food, but Garuda seemed to be a bit down. Pinkie rubbed the ruby bird’s head, “Aw, don’t worry Birdie, you can get a free sample too!”

Garuda chirped happily.

“Okay, that’s great.” However, with a push from Twilight, Pinkie Pie was pushed from the podium. Trotting back to the podium and using her magic to get her notecards once more, “Now if I could get on with my speech without getting inter…”

Before Twilight could continue however, a yellow hoof tapped her side and Twilight realized that there was another pony who had snuck up alongside her. This pony was a young bright yellow mare with a long pink mane, she also had a pair of wings folded against her sides, and her cutie mark was that of three pink butterflies. “Um, Twilight?”

“… Rupted,” Twilight sighed as she took a step to the side, allowing the soft spoken pegasus to take the podium for a few moments.

“Twilight,” the yellow pegasus stated. “I’m so sorry, but I just wanted to mention that Applejack is also helping me this week with the official bunny census, where we count up all the new baby bunnies that were born this season. She’s going to help gather them with her wonderful herding skills.”

The yellow pegasus backed off slightly when she realized that Twilight’s brow was narrowed and she obviously wasn’t too please with all the interruptions. So, slowly easing her way off stage, the yellow mare allowed Twilight to step back up to the podium. “Anyone else? Anyone?”

Garuda chirped a few times, before he as flung through the air via Twilight’s magic. “No?”

There was a single cough from the crowd, allowing Twilight to re-gather her notes again, “Good! Now, what I was trying to say…”

Twilight stopped when she realized that the mayor of Ponyville was standing on the stage with a large smile on her face. Twilight groaned loudly before she made all her notes fly into the air, the notes scattering about amongst the area. “Nevermind!”

Clearing her throat, the Mayor trotted towards the podium as the note cards joined the confetti and streamers that riddled the ground. “So, without further ado, it is my privilege to award the guest of honor with the Prized Pony of Ponyville Award…”

Pointing to the side, the Mayor revealed a rather extravagant golden trophy that was topped with a pony striking a dramatic pose, “To our beloved guest of honor, a pony at the upmost trustworthiness, reliability and integrity – Ponyville’s most capable and dependable friend, Applejack!”

All of the ponies cheered out as some of the curtains that were made onto the stage pulled back to reveal… Nothing. The cheering slowly stopped until a certain purple dragon was the only one cheering, “YEAH! APPLEJACK You… Uh…”

There was a moment of silence throughout the entire ceremony, save for another cough from the large group. Spike, despite his little bit of embarrassment, looked around and whispered, “Awkward.”

“Ah’m here!” A southern voice called out from the crowd. The crowd parted as a familiar blonde maned mare slowly trotted through the large group of ponies, strapped on her back was a saddle that had a pair of apple filled buckets that had a few apples falling from them with each step. “Whoops! Sorry ‘bout that, didn’t mean to step on yer tail there!”

After a few more apologies, Applejack got atop of the stage and slowly trotted towards the podium. But there was clearly something wrong with the mare, around her eyes were lines and her usual chipper demeanor seemed to be a bit dulled. Pushing the Mayor aside from the podium, Applejack staggered slightly before she stood behind said podium, “Miss Mayor, thank ya kindly fer this here award… Thingie.”

The gleaming light of the trophy caught Applejack’s attention before she became mesmerized by the glittering gold paint. “Heh, it’s so bright and shiny – Heh, Ah look real silly in it.”

The crowd got real quiet as Applejack seemed to play with her reflection in the award. Save for Pinkie Pie who was joining in the quite entertaining act of insanity.

For a few moments this lasted until Twilight stepped forward, “O-Kay, well, thank you Applejack for saving the town from that scary stampede last week, and always being there for everypony.”

“Y-yeah” Applejack yawned, trying to keep her eyes open. “Ah… Ah like helpin’ them pony folks and…”

It was then that Applejack just decided to fall asleep standing up, Twilight looked at her friend with concern before the Southern pony woke herself up. “Oh! Uh, yeah, um, thanks!”

Taking the trophy with her mouth, Applejack dragged the trophy off stage and through the crowd. Everypony watched as the southern mare just broke the dirt in the path of the large trophy, until she was gone.

Twilight blinked a few times at what just happened, and Garuda landed atop of her head, chirping a few times.

TTTTTT

An hour or so passed since the rather awkward award ceremony took place, Twilight was on her way to Sweet Apple Acres, with Garuda flying closely behind her. ‘Applejack wasn’t acting herself, and with all of the other weird stuff going on, I should really check up on her.’

Reaching the gate, Twilight nodded to herself as she trotted on the dirt path with Garuda landing on her back. Over the course of the week, Twilight had gotten used to Garuda hanging around the library. Spike on the other hand, was basically trying to chase down the ruby bird every chance he got, failing every single time as well.

Most of the time, the chases ended with Spike falling flat on his face, or getting locked out at night, or having a book dropped on his head. Twilight of course wasn’t a fan of seeing her scribe getting hurt, but she couldn’t just allow Spike to devour the ruby encrusted familiar. It was the only clue Twilight had to finding Haru. And besides, it was a perfect chance to study some new type of magic!

Of course, when Twilight sent her weekly report to Princess Celestia, she had neglected to mention Haru or the Phantoms in her writings. The reason for this was that Twilight needed to get more information about these Phantoms and Haru himself before sent a report to Celestia.

She had even returned to the same outdoor bookstore she was attacked at to get the same book. However, when Twilight had reached the store, there was no pony there. Sure, Twilight could’ve left some bits and taken the book, but she didn’t feel it was the right thing to do.

Back to the matter at hand, Twilight looked around at the trees, noting that a number of the trees near the path had freshly been replanted, the turned up dirt and uprooted grass was enough proof at that. ‘Did Applejack plant a few more trees?’

Twilight observed the trees, tilting her head slightly to see that further down the line was another tree, only this one had a large amount of rope tied around it. “And what happened here?”

“Where’d ya go? Come out, come out wherever ya’ll are!”

A cute voice rang out from the trees, garnering the attention of both Twilight and Garuda to see a small yellow mare trotting calmly out from the trees with a slightly curled red mane and tail with a bow in her mane. The foal seemed to be looking for something as she drew closer towards Twilight. “Well, howdy Miss Twilight!”

“Hello there Apple Bloom,” Twilight replied with a smile on her face. “And what are you up to today?”

Apple Bloom shifted her head left and right before she trotted up the lavender unicorn, “Ah’m trying to find mah new friend. We were playing hide ‘n go seek, but he’s cheating! Have ya seen him?”

“Sorry Apple Bloom,” Twilight replied with a curious smile on her face. “But I just got here, and I haven’t seen no pony since I got here.”

“Aw,” Apple Bloom sighed disappointedly as she lowered her head. “Ah’m never gunna find him.”

That’s when Apple Bloom looked up and noticed Garuda perched on Twilight’s back. “Say, Twilight, who’s this?”

“Oh, that’s right, you haven’t seen this little guy before,” Twilight giggled slightly as Garuda took a bow towards Apple Bloom. “This is Garuda, he’s staying with me and Spike for a while.”

“He sure is purty,” Apple Bloom complemented as Garuda seemed to puff out his chest in pride. “And he kinda looks a bit familiar. Hmm.”

“Apple Bloom,” Twilight stated getting back into Apple Bloom’s sight. “Do you know where your sister is? I need to talk to her.”

“Gee Miss Twilight,” Apple Bloom replied as she watched Garuda fly off of Twilight and fly around Apple Bloom a few times. “Ever since Applejack got back from that big award thingie, she just went back to work. Ah think ya might be able to find out where she is if ya head to the barn.

“Ah sure Mistah Escargot or… Or…”

“Apple Bloom?” Twilight questioned as she noticed that the younger mare was looking past Twilight. “Are you alright?”

“Sorry Twilight!” Apple Bloom replied before she sped past the unicorn. “But Ah just saw the little bugger! Ah got ya now!”

Twilight blinked a few times as Apple Bloom dashed into the apple orchard, quickly disappearing between the trees. Garuda chirped a few times before it landed back on Twilight’s back, “Huh, oh well, I guess we’ll just have to find this Mister Escargot or whoever. I’m sure we’ll find Apple Jack with their help.”

Garuda chirped a few times before Twilight trotted back on the dirt path. Just as she had reached the top of the hill however, a familiar topaz octopus-like creature flew past the trees that Twilight was observing. Kraken squeaked a few times before it flew off to the other side of the road with Apple Bloom chasing after it.

TTTTTTT

It didn’t take long for Twilight to reach the Apple Family household, a quaint large building in the midst of the large Apple Orchard with a barn not too far in the distance. The fresh air was mixed with the smell of apples was enough to brighten anypony’s spirits, Twilight was no different from the almost intoxicating peacefulness that swept through out the farmland.

When Twilight reached the front door of the house, the young mare had to stop and take a deep breath of fresh air. Garuda did the same thing before it chirped wildly. “Yes Garuda, I have to admit Ponyville has its real good charms – The air. The ponies. And even…”

“Hey there Twilight.”

“Hello Haru,” Twilight sighed with a warm smile.

A few seconds passed before it sunk in,” HARU!?!”

Indeed, standing near the corner of the building with a broom in his claws and a red apron over his black jacket that had a large apple symbol on the chest. The magic using dragon merely waved one of his clawed hands up, “How’s it going?”

“Haru!?” Twilight yelled as she stomped up to the still calm dragon. “What in the Equestria are you doing here?!”

Haru looked down at the broom in his hand and shrugged, “Sweeping?”

Twilight brought a hoof up to her forehead with a loud sigh, “That’s not what I meant, I mean why are you here at Sweet Apple Acres?”

“Oh, well,” Haru stated as he leaned on the broom, using it to prop himself up. “Last week, I kinda helped out around here, the little miss here offered me lunch as thanks. I got to talking to the family, and when they learned that I was camping out, they offered to allow me to sleep in the barn.

“But since I’m not really a free loader, I offered to do some of the house chores while the little miss is out doing her Applebuck Season.”

“Applebuck Season?” Twilight questioned with her head tilted slightly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s what the Apple Family here calls their harvesting season,” Haru explained with a wave of his claws. “They gather the apples that they need to sell to support themselves.”

“I see,” Twilight muttered out loud. ‘I guess this would explain why Applejack wasn’t herself at the Award Ceremony, but still, she looked like she skipped out on some sleep and such.’

Twilight was about to question Haru where Applejack was, but before she could, a loud crashing sound echoed through the air. Many birds flew from the orchard of apple trees, drawing Haru and Twilight’s focus to the orchard.

With a growl and tossing his apron into the air, Haru began to run towards the orchard. “Damn it! I was wondering when this guy would show his mug!”

Twilight saw that as Haru was running he already had donned a familiar ring, and when she heard the magic words…

“DRIVER ON!”

… Twilight instinctively ran after Haru, Garuda flying not too far behind.

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

“HARU!” Twilight called out as the large fiery circle appeared ahead of the red dragon, allowing the dragon to run through it. “IS THERE ANOTHER PHANTOM!?”

“Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

Although, Twilight knew that was the case, the moment she saw Haru’s form become that of Wizard, his black and ruby armor gleaming in the light that seeped through the leaf covered branches overhead. She had only see Haru dressed like that whenever he fought against these monsters, so as fast as her legs would allow her, Twilight galloped behind Haru.

TTTTTT

Deep in the hilly orchard, Gnome stood before another fallen tree that he had ripped out of the ground with his superb digging abilities. But, he wasn’t happy with the results he was getting. A week before, pulling the trees out or cutting them in two was enough to enrage the southern mare before him.

But since he was licking his wounds to get himself back to full strength during the week, something had changed in the behavior of the orange earth pony. She didn’t realize his presence when he had appeared, and even when he was delivering his threatening speech, all she did was yawn and trot over to another tree that had a few buckets surrounding it.

And so now he had pulled the tree out of the ground, “Now zis is getting ridiculous!”

Anyone would get annoyed with this, Applejack was at the very same tree, trying to knock the apples out of the branches with every kick she sent. Unfortunately, she was a few feet away from the tree, and only succeeded in hitting the air several times.

Gnome tapped his foot against the ground a few times with a growl, “If zis is not going to go according to moi’s magnificent plan, zen moi must go wiz ze direct approach.”

With a snap of his fingers, Gnome summoned a column of rocks from the earth next to him. Slamming his right fist through it, Gnome produced his trident from it and gripped the metallic weapon tightly. “Moi hates zis mezod against mares, but zere is no choice here.”

Before taking even one step, Gnome sniffed the air. Then he sniffed it a few more times as he closed his eyes. “Hmm, burnt charcoal, powdered sugar, and a touch of lilac – Zis smell…

“WIZARD!”

Gnome spun around, only to receive a volley of red bursts of energy to the chest and sent him flying. “URK!”

Crashing into the ground Gnome rolled around on the ground with smoke lofting off of his body. Leaning up against one of the trees was Wizard, spinning the gun on his finger. “Hark, the Phantom speaks, and here I thought it would be a change from the usual bad dialogue.”

“Burnt charcoal, powdered sugar, and a touch of lilac?” Twilight asked as she trotted next to Wizard. “Is that what you really smell like?”

“Hey, I’m a dragon,” Wizard retorted with a wag of his finger. “And I like to maintain my personal hygiene. I suspect your little scribe is like that too.”

“Yeah, but not lilac,” Twilight replied as Garuda chuckled happily.

“What I smell like isn’t important,” Wizard growled as he pushed himself from the tree, unfolding his gun into the sword in the process. “What is important is that you get Applejack away from here, I’ll deal with our Nosey Little Phantom here.”

“You still owe me some answers you know!” Twilight retorted before her horn glowed brightly, making her and Garuda pop into a large flash light. Moments later, Twilight appeared in front of the almost asleep Applejack.

“Hai, hai,” Haru replied as he charged towards the Phantom.

Gnome was back on his feet, and immediately brought his trident up to block Wizard’s downward slash. “Cheap tactic you used, Monsieur Wizard!”

“Like you Phantoms can really talk,” Haru stated as the Gnome used his full strength and pushed Wizard back.

With Wizard’s sword raised in the air, the Gnome spun around to slam the trident’s pole into the magical dragon’s torso. Before the metal could strike, Wizard dropped down to the ground, dodging the attack.

While Wizard was on the ground, using his tail to push himself, Wizard spun on the ground to deliver a dual footed donkey kick towards Gnome’s abdomen. However, Gnome quickly brought his trident in front of him and allowed the force of the kick to be absorbed by the metal staff of the weapon. Still, the force was enough to push Gnome back.

Smacking his tail against the ground, Wizard was back on his feet and charged once more towards Gnome. Gnome spun around to unleash a powerful swipe of his trident, with Wizard gracefully leaping over the attack.

Both combatants spun around, and stabbed both of their weapons towards each other. When the blades of both weapons crashed into each other, a large amount of dirt flew from their feet and two stood there deadlocked. Wizard chuckled slightly as he pushed forward with the blade, but the two weapons didn’t budge.

“Surprised?” Gnome questioned before both he and Wizards leapt back from each other. “Do not mistake moi for ze common Phantom! Zis shall be your last day on zis earz for moi is not some regular blue Phantom! Moi is ze…”

BANG!

“GARGH!” Gnome yelled as several sparks of red energy crashed into his torso.

“You talk too much,” Wizard stated with his sword reverted back into a gun, with which he promptly pointed at Gnome once more.

While Wizard and Gnome were locked in battle, Twilight was trying to convince Applejack to leave the area. Unfortunately, words seemed to be useless on the southern mare, “Applejack! You have to run!”

Applejack just yawned as she inched closer to the tree she was trying to harvest. With a powerful kick, most of the apples knocked into the baskets, “H-Howdy there Twilight, Ah can’t really talk, Ah got a lotta work to git done.”

And calmly, Applejack just trotted past Twilight towards another tree, unaware that Wizard had donned a familiar ring on his finger.

“BIG – PLEASE!”

Twilight turned just in time to see Wizard slam his hand atop of the unsuspecting Gnome, mashing him into the ground. The earth shook and caused a number of apples to fall from the trees. Applejack grumbled as she spun around, “Darn it Mistah Souma! What did Ah tell ya about helpin’ me out here?!”

“Not like I’m doing it on purpose!” Wizard called back as he drew back his large arm though the magical circle, returning it to normal size. “I’m kinda fighting a Phantom over here!”

“Well, try to fight it without helpin’ me!” Applejack ordered before she walked over to one of the trees that still had apples in it.

Twilight just had to blink in confusion as Wizard tossed his gun back into his right hand and took aim at Gnome. Shaking her head, Twilight galloped in front of her earth pony friend. “Applejack, we can’t stay here! We need to leave!”

“Unfortunately, Ah can’t,” Applejack replied trying to gather her senses before she walked past Twilight. “Ah gotta gather these here apples done ‘fore Applebuck season’s done. Ah can barely squeeze time in fer helpin’ the others – With Big Macintosh injured, Ah gotta get this done myself.”

“Applejack, normally I’d offer my help with this,” Twilight stated as she trotted in front of Applejack. “But there’s a monster over there! We need to run from here!”

“Rain or shine, alone or with mah family,” Applejack sighed as she smiled weakly. “Monster attack or evil apocalyptic plot, Applebuck season still rolls around, and so must Ah. So, if an ya’ll don’t mind, Ah kinda need to git back to work. Ah got some places Ah need to be real soon.

“Uh, hint, hint?”

Twilight rolled her eyes and was about to use her magic to just teleport her and Applejack away when all of a sudden Gnome landed a few inches from the two mares. Twilight yelped while Applejack just took the opportunity to walk past her friend. Gnome pushed himself off of the ground and was about to just attack Applejack with his bare hands…

“EXTEND – PLEASE!”

A familiar hand flew over the Gnome’s shoulder and soared around the Phantom, with an insanely long arm wrapping around the monster’s body. Gnome grunted as the extended limb bounded his limbs to his body.

“Is this a new spell?!” Twilight questioned as she quickly galloped out of the way.

Wizard’s body began to catch up to the elongated arm, and before the mystic dragon slammed both of his feet into the Gnome’s head, the arm uncoiled itself. At the moment of impact, Wizard slammed the Phantom’s head into the ground, leapt off of the monster and landed on the ground next to Twilight with his arms lifted up into the air. “What ya think? I think I stuck the landing.”

“This isn’t the time to be silly!” Twilight snapped with Garuda chirping loudly.

“I disagree,” Wizard replied as he spun around and lifted his left hand up, allowing the ring on his finger to gleam brightly. “But, I suppose I should get serious!”

At Wizard’s feet, small flames erupted around his ankles. With a great leap, Wizard delivered a powerful kick towards the now standing up Gnome, the foot slammed into Gnome’s chest and he skidded backwards. “URK!”

Landing on the ground, Wizard ran forward and unleashed another kick, but Gnome ducked down. With his initial kick missed, Wizard spun around to send another fiery kick towards Gnome, still the Phantom yelped and leapt back to dodge the kick. The process continued, with fiery attacks missing the Phantom, until Gnome snapped his fingers.

The ground rumbled and Wizard jumped back as several jagged spikes erupted from the ground where Wizard was only half a second ago. Gnome took this opportunity to cross his arms over his chest and spin around. Within seconds, Gnome had dug himself into the ground behind the spikes and disappeared.

Wizard clicked his tongue against the inside of his teeth before he turned towards the lavender unicorn behind him, “Twilight! You and Applejack need to get out of here right now! This guy can travel underground and I don’t know where he’s going to strike!”

Twilight nodded and turned to where Applejack was, but the mare was nowhere to be seen. “What? Where did she go?”

Even Wizard was confused where the southern pony had gone, but he had other problems, the ground beneath his feet shook and just as he looked down, the ground at his feet opened up with a rocky fist aimed right at him.

The fist collided with the bottom of Wizard’s masked jaw, the rest of Gnome leaping out from the dirt. Wizard flew from the impact and landed on the ground near Twilight as Gnome spun through the air.

While he was at the apex of his ascent, Gnome looked around the orchard and scoffed loudly, “Curse you Wizard! Zis is not over! Consider yourself lucky zat moi has his job to fulfill!”

Then with a spin, Gnome dove towards the ground, forcing Wizard to dodge the oncoming Phantom. From where Wizard was, Gnome spun into the ground, disappearing underground once more.

For a few moments, Wizard kept his hand to the ground, trying to feel where Gnome was going to strike. But after some time passed, no attack occurred.

Wizard rubbed his chin through his mask, “I think he’s gone. Are you alright Twilight?”

“I’m perfectly fine, thank you,” Twilight huffed as she trotted up to Wizard. “But that’s beside the point. WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT APPLEJACK WAS A GATE?!”

That yell was enough to have Wizard fall backwards onto his rump and tail, the costume disappearing to reveal a nervous looking Haru. And yet, Twilight just leaned closer at the slightly quivering dragon, “And you just left me and the girls hanging! There were so many questions that we had to ask you and you just up and left!”

Pulling himself away from the enraged mare, Haru stood up and cleared his throat, wincing at how his jaw as a little sore, “Look, I didn’t mean to do that to you mares, it’s just that it’s a touchy subject with me. Besides, I didn’t want to get you all involved any more than you were.”

“A little late for that!” Twilight yelled at the sleek dragon in front of her. “I was attacked, and now so has Applejack! That Phantom’s probably after her right now!”

“Right!” Haru stated as he rubbed his chin. “So don’t you think we should be trying to find her instead of bickering?”

Twilight was about to yell again, but sighed when she realized that Haru was right. “Right, but where did she go? I couldn’t tell where she went.”

“Well, that’s where this guy comes in,” Haru chuckled as Garuda flew down from the air and landed on Haru’s shoulder. “Garuda, you mind finding our friend? I’ll be keeping an eye on Miss Sparkle over here.”

The ruby encrusted bird chirped a few times before it flew up into the air, disappearing through the grove of trees.

“Look, Twilight,” Haru sighed as he slumped his shoulders. “I don’t really wanna talk about what happened with me and the Phantoms, it’s really, really, REALLY personal. And to be frank, I didn’t want to throw that onto with everything else that happened with you on those days.

“I promise you someday I’ll tell you everything, but not now.”

“I suppose I can understand that,” Twilight stated. She knew that there were a few things that anypony (or dragon) would want to keep secret from others – Even she had a secret or two hidden. “But why didn’t you tell me that Applejack was a Gate?”

“I had to confirm it for myself,” Haru answered as he looked over the damage that was done. “There are other ponies on this farm who depend on this farm – Big Macintosh, Apple Bloom, Granny Smith and of course, Applejack herself.

“Huh, the parents must’ve really wanted to insure that the family business would be still alive.”

Shaking that thought off of his head, “I mean, the Phantom only attacked once and that was a week ago. I didn’t have enough proof to conclude who the Gate was, so, I had to stick close with the family to make sure of it.

“I could’ve had my familiars watch them, but I had Garuda and Unicorn stick with you, so if you were attacked, they could signal me. Since Big Mac, Granny Smith and Applejack usually stay here most of the time during the day, I had Kraken follow Apple Bloom around.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Twilight admitted but lifted a hoof up to her chin. “But, I’m a little curious, how do the familiar signal you?”

“Well, since the familiars are made of my own magic,” Haru explained with a smirk on his face. “I can easily sense where they are – Eventually, though, the magic I transferred into them returns to me. How long it takes depends on how much I put into the rings, of course, the familiars can deactivate themselves automatically.

“When that happens, the magic that returns to me gives me a precise idea where the Ring is, and thus, I can easily use Connect to transport myself there.”

“That’s a pretty smart approach,” Twilight had to admit. “So, if I was in trouble…”

“Either Garuda or Unicorn would’ve sent the magic back to me,” Haru replied with a smile on his face. “And I’d be back as your meddling mage to help you. But we’ve got something else to worry about, do you know where Applejack would go? If that Phantom didn’t see her on the orchard, she must’ve left…

“And I just realized, she must be quick on her legs, cause it didn’t take her long to leave.”

“Well, Applejack is Ponyville’s best athletes,” Twilight answered as she closed her eyes. “She has a number of ponies who count on her…”

That’s when it hit her!

“Rainbow Dash!”

“Rainbow Dash?” Haru questioned with a raised brow. “Oh, that rude, blue pegasus friend of yours, right? What about her?”

While Twilight didn’t care for how Haru was describing her friend (even if it was slightly true), she easily remembered something from earlier, and quickly galloped through the trees. “I’ll explain on the way! Hurry up!”

Haru blinked a few times before he ran after Twilight, “Okay! But slow down! Two legs don’t exactly give the same amount of speed as four!”

TTTTTT

Midafternoon, just outside of Ponyville, Rainbow Dash sighed as she tapped her front hoof against the fence post in annoyance. It was about over half an hour past the desired time that Applejack was supposed to meet her in helping her with her tricks. Ever since she made plans with the earth pony a week ago, Rainbow Dash had spent the better part of the week building the contraptions she felt would help her in her quest to make new tricks.

She had even enlisted the help of another Pegasus to help her build them, although, admittedly, the only help she could get was that of one Ditzy Doo. Sure, the pegasus in question wasn’t the most reliable around, but she was the only one Rainbow Dash could get to help.

Besides, the wooden platform and catapult looked to be in top condition. Besides, they only needed to last for one day.

When the sound of skidding hooves echoed through the air, Rainbow Dash turned around to see Applejack yawning behind her. “There you are!”

“Ah a might sorry there Rainbow,” Applejack yawned as she rubbed the back of her head with her hoof. “It’s been crazy at Sweet Apple Acres, and Ah almost forgot about mah promise with ya.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Rainbow Dash replied as she leapt off of the fence post. “See this contraption?”

Applejack followed the direction that Rainbow Dash pointed at with her hoof, seeing the wooden tower and catapult. “Yeah?”

“Well, I’m going to stand on one end,” Rainbow explained as both ponies trotted towards the two wooden structures. “And you’re going to be atop of that platform, when you jump off and land on the other end of the catapult, it’ll send me flying into the air where I’ll be able to do some amazing tricks!”

“Ah see,” Applejack muttered. “But, ain’t this a might dangerous?”

“Not for a skilled flyer, like yours truly!” Rainbow laughed with her head held high.

“Pardonnez-moi, Mesdames,” a snooty voice called out to the two. “Mais cela ne sonne dangereux, peu importe le niveau de compétence.”

Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash turned to see Pierre Escargot standing a few feet from the two mares, with a saddle that had two bags strapped to both sides. “Bonjour.”

“Oh, if it ain’t Mistah Fancy Talk,” Applejack sighed. “Shouldn’t ya’ll be back at the farm gatherin’ them apples?”

“Oui, oui, zis is true,” Pierre chuckled as he waved a hoof towards Applejack. “But, Madame Smith request zat moi pick up some groceries. Moi was on ze way but, when moi’s eyes saw you Madame, moi just had to say hello. Moi assumes zat zis is one of your friends?”

“Yeah,” Applejack yawned. “Rainbow Dash, this here is Pierre Escargot, he’s a pony that Big Mac hired behind mah back.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Madame Dash,” Pierre greeted with a slight bow towards the Pegasus. “It is always an honor to meet a lovely pony such as yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Rainbow Dash sighed as she turned away from Pierre. “So come on Applejack! Let’s get this show on the road!”

“Right,” Applejack yawned once more.

Pierre only smirked as he leaned up against the very same fence that Rainbow Dash was atop of moments ago. ‘Moi knew zat moi would find her… But, zis could be entertaining, so moi will hold off on moi’s plan for now.

‘Zere will always be time to awaken ze Gate, but moi will take moi’s time wiz zis.’

TBC

Spell 6 - Gnome

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“There are two things a man must never do. One is to not make girls cry. The other is to not handle food so crudely!”
- Tendoh Souji / Kamen Rider Kabuto

TTTTTT

Spell 6

Gnome


Art by Lux-Nero/FlairNightz Thanks again Dood!

TTTTTTTT

“I’m a little confused on this,” Haru stated as he followed Twilight through the town, the dragon trying to hide the fact that he was a bit winded from following the galloping mare. “How is an Earth Pony supposed to help a Pegasus with aerial tricks?”

“You shouldn’t underestimate some ponies,” Twilight replied with her head lifted up slightly. “But this isn’t the time for us to be discussing this! We need to find Applejack and Rainbow Dash!”

“Y-Yes, of course,” Haru sighed as he wiped his brow. “But do you even know where the two were supposed to be meeting?”

Twilight stopped in her tracks, and chuckled sheepishly, “Um, well, it was the heat of the moment – I just kinda ran off without thinking.”

“Yeah, I know a few others who are like that,” Haru admitted with a roll of his eyes. “I think we may just have to wait for Garuda to… Huh.”

“What’s wrong?” Twilight asked noticing that Haru was looking up into the sky.

“There’s a rainbow in the clear blue sky,” Haru answered as he pointed towards the rainbow streak that was curving through the air. “What does it mean?”

“That someone’s watching us?” Twilight suggested.

“I dunno, I think we’d need two rainbows for that excuse to fly,” Haru replied with a shrug of his shoulders. “Anyway, doesn’t it look like it’s getting close?”

Twilight looked up to see that the rainbow that Haru was looking at, and after watching for a few seconds, she realized that Haru was right. The rainbow was getting closer, getting closer to the two of them, at top speed!

That’s when Twilight realized something about the oncoming rainbow. “Rainbow Dash!!”

“Huh?” Haru questioned as he looked around. “Where is she? Do you see Applejack?”

“No!” Twilight sounded as she used her hooves to move Haru’s head to make him look back at the oncoming rainbow. “That’s Rainbow Dash!”

“Look, I know she’s got Rainbow in her name,” Haru admitted as he pulled his head free from Twilight’s hooves. “But come on, there’s no way she makes a rainbow when she flies. Then again, the Wonderbolts do have that smoke coming from them when they do their shows, and that just makes me question how they do that. Rather odd now that I think about it…”

Before Haru could continue his musings, the rainbow crashed into Haru, sending the dragon and the rainbow rolling across the ground. Twilight blinked as the two came to a stop and showed that Rainbow Dash had crashed into the sleek red dragon and they both now were in a heap with Rainbow Dash atop of Haru.

Twilight sighed as she trotted to her friends, “Now do you believe me.”

“I’ll take your word from now on,” Haru replied with a roll of his eyes. “Now, how about a little help here?”

A few moments later, both Haru and Rainbow Dash were back on their feet and hooves respectively, a few scuffs covering their bodies. Rainbow Dash sighed loudly as she shook her head to get back her senses, “Dang it! That hurt!”

“Are you alright Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked.

“I think some pony else needs your concern,” Rainbow Dash replied as she stretched her wings. “I’ve had worse crashes, and at least this time I had something soft to land on.”

“Hey! I’ll have you know I’m rather trim for being a dragon!” Haru retorted with his arms crossed.

“Let me guess, Applejack,” Twilight sighed.

“Applejack,” Rainbow Dash answered back.

“Where is she?” Haru asked.

“I kinda lost track when I was flung into the sky,” Rainbow Dash replied with a sigh following. “Still, we were on the other side of town when Applejack ‘helped’ me with my flying tricks. She sent me flying when I wasn’t ready on that catapult.”

“A catapult?” Haru questioned with a raised brow. “Couldn’t you have just done any practicing in the air by taking off from the ground normally?”

“Yeah, like I’m really going to take advice from a flightless lizard,” Rainbow Dash retorted as she pointed a hoof at Haru.

“One, it’s WIZARD, not lizard,” Haru corrected as he pushed the hoof out of his face. “Second, I can fly, you just haven’t seen it.”

“Third, we’ve got bigger issues than that!” Twilight interrupted as she slammed a hoof into the ground. “We have to find Applejack!”

“What’s wrong?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Remember what I told you and Pinkie about when I was attacked?” Twilight explained before she began to gallop away, with Rainbow Dash flying after her. Haru threw his arms up into the air before he followed the two mares slowly. “Well…”

TTTTTTT

Applejack yawned as she stepped off of the catapult, stumbling somewhat. With a yawn, Applejack slowly leaned against the towered platform.

Pierre on the other hand smirked. It was rather comical for the pony from Prance to watch Applejack leap off the top of the tower, only to slam into the ground – multiple times. And when she had finally landed on the catapult, her pegasus friend wasn’t ready and was propelled into the air. ‘Moi did not know zat ze pegasus would make a wonderful rainbow zough.

‘But, enough of ze admiration of ponies getting hurt, it is time for ze Awakening!’

Quietly trotting towards the lightly snoozing Applejack, Pierre’s body slowly became engulfed with a mysterious orange dirt and dust that began to change his entire form. During the change, the colt began to stand on his hind legs as his skin began to morph into familiar curved armor. As the dust and dirt fell to the ground, Pierre’s transformation had finally been complete. “Zis shall not hurt but for a mere moment, madame.”

Applejack then woke up and used her front hoof to push herself from the platform, unaware that she had touched a weakened spot on the structure. As the southern mare slowly trotted away, Gnome began to reach the tower, unaware that the structure was now beginning to shake violently. “Zough zis is a rough mezod, it is necessary for moi to do. Zis shall be moi’s finest moment! And now for ze… GARGH!”

However, before Gnome could lay his claws on Applejack, the large platform had crumbled and fallen onto the Phantom. Applejack had managed to get enough distance to not get hurt by the confusing structure, and due to her exhaustion, Applejack didn’t seem to notice the sound that was made by Gnome or the clattering wood.

She just continued on her way as one of Gnome’s hands stuck out of the mass of wood, twitching slightly. The hand snapped its fingers, allowing a number of rocky pillars to erupt from the ground near the fallen Gnome to clear the wood off of him. When Gnome got to his feet, the Phantom roared loudly, “Zat is it! Moi cannot take zis no more! No more interruptions! No more dramatics! No more…”

Gnome took a couple of whiffs with his nose, and his eyes widened, “Zis smell! Zis is…”

That’s when two clawed feet slammed into Gnome’s side and the powerful attack sent Gnome flying into the catapult, breaking the contraption in two and sent the Phantom crashing into the ground several feet away.

Haru landed on his clawed feet, the dragon spun around towards Twilight and Rainbow Dash, and waved his hand a few times through the air. “This guy’s stubborn.”

“Ya know, if you didn’t break my catapult,” Rainbow Dash admitted as she landed next to Haru. “I’d say that was pretty cool.”

“Haru! Look!” Twilight called out. “There’s Applejack!”

Indeed, the southern mare didn’t get too far, and she seemed oblivious to everything that had just happened.

Meanwhile, Gnome slammed his hands into the ground and immediately spun into the ground, creating a large molehill behind him. Haru snapped his claws, “Damn it, he’s going underground again. Twilight! Rainbow! He might be running, but it’s a good idea that you two get Applejack outta here before…”

The ground beneath Applejack opened up and two familiar hands grabbed her. Even with the slightly dulled senses, Applejack jumped slightly before she was dragged underground.

“… That happens,” Haru sighed loudly. Fitting a familiar ring on his right claw, Haru brought his right hand to his belt buckle.

“DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

As the larger, bulkier belt appeared, Haru produced another ring and fitted on his left claw. However, Twilight noticed something different about this ring – It wasn’t the usual ruby circular ring that Haru normally used, instead, this ring was a square topaz. “Miss Sparkle, tell me something, is there anything underneath Ponyville? Mines or something?”

“Sha Ba Do Bi Touch Henshin! Sha Ba Do Bi Touch Henshin!”

“Well, there’s a large tunnel that’s used for irrigation water,” Twilight recalled, remembering that she read up on some of the history of Ponyville. “But, why do you ask?”

Haru didn’t answer, and instead brought his left claw to his belt. “LAND!”

Several small rocks emerged from the ground around Haru’s feet, and the wind around him began to shift and stir with dirt surrounding the dragon. “Henshin!”

“PLEASE!”

With his arms lifted up to his sides, the rocks and dirt transformed into a large yellow runic circle that appeared at the dragon’s waist before it spilt in two and covered his body. Instantly, Haru’s body was covered in his usual black Wizard attire, but there was a major difference than when Twilight last saw him. The jewels on his attire were now all topaz and were rectangular, including his mask. “Dododo dododon! Don Dododon!”

“Whoa,” Rainbow Dash was almost for a loss of words at what she was looking at. “When you said transform, I didn’t expect something like this.”

“Ah yes, this is the first time you’ve seen me transform,” Wizard replied as he reached for his chain of rings and fitted one on his right hand. “I apologize Miss Dash, but it appears that I will have to show you how I can fly at a later time. Right now, I need to be in this style to save your friend.”

Wizard messed with his belt for a second before he brought his right hand to it, making the large device chime out, “DRILL – PLEASE!”

“You two may want to stay back,” Wizard warned before he brought his feet together.

Before Twilight or Rainbow Dash could question the masked dragon, his entire body was surrounded with a conic yellow aura and began to spin wildly until he began to disappear into the ground. When he was gone, the only thing that was left was a large hole.

“Okay, even I have to admit that’s pretty cool,” Rainbow Dash stated as she trotted over to the hole. “If he’s not using his magic against me, that is.”

‘I guess this means he has other forms,’ Twilight thought to herself. ‘I wonder what else he can do.’

Meanwhile, down below in the dank irrigation tunnels, Gnome stood before the tired Applejack. Although the tunnels were rather dark, there was some light coming from the lanterns that were built into the rocky walls. A steady stream of water flowed behind Gnome as he lifted a clawed hand up, “Moi has had enough of zis. All zis week, moi has been subjected to beatings, horrible labor and ze indignity of searching for false teez. And once moi has delat wiz you, zen that accursed ringed mage shall be next!”

“Come again?” Applejack yawned, not fully aware of what was going on. “Ah can’t understand ya’ll at all with that there thick accent of yers. Ya’ll remind me of that lazy Pierre that Big Macintosh hired.”

Gnome blinked a few times before he tilted his head. “Are you serious? You really don’t know who moi is? Zis is unbelievable!

“Zen again, you are nozing more zan a souzern hick.”

“Now you listen here you nasty little varmint!” Applejack growled as she pointed a hoof at Gnome. “Ah’m the one who should be yelling at ya’ll! Ya’ll have been damaging mah family’s property and yer messing with mah schedule! Ah’m supposed to be gettin’ back to Applebucking!”

“Moi zinks you’re about to have a change in your schedule,” Gnome stated as he grabbed Applejack’s face with his clawed hands. “Now, tell moi, what will drive you to despair? Ze terror of ripping out your heart? Or should moi break ze very bones zat you use to support your family?”

Gnome pulled its hand back, and was about to thrust his claws forward.

The rocky ceiling above shook, making both Gnome and Applejack look up just in time to see a yellow and black blur bored through the ceiling with rocks and dirt falling along with it. With the sunlight pouring through the hole above, the blur came to a stop to reveal none other than Wizard standing in the makeshift spotlight. “It’s showtime.”

“Ah, ze ringed mage,” Gnome cackled as he stood up straight, his arms folded behind him. “Could you please stop interfering? Zis really does not concern you.”

That’s when Gnome immediately threw its right arm forward and tossed several stones that flew around Wizard. The stones glowed a dull purple before they transformed into several spear armed Ghuls, all of them growling at the ringed Wizard.

However, Wizard just calmly turned his body slightly, “When it comes to protecting others from despair, I make it concern me.”

One of the newly formed Ghuls slashed down with its spear, only to have Wizard step back and slam his bicep into the Ghul’s neck, sending it to the ground with a loud boom!

Using the momentum, Wizard spun around and kicked another Ghul in the chest, making the stone monster fly into the water nearby. Another Ghul took the chance and actually slammed the pole portion of its spear into Wizard’s side…

… But Wizard just stood there before he grabbed the spear, spun around and threw the Ghul into another two.

One of the stone grunts took a stab towards Wizard, who turn his body and lifted his arm up to grab the spear. Continuing the turn, Wizard brought his foot up to slam the bottom of his boot to the attacking Ghul’s abdomen, making the grunt drop his weapon.

More of the Ghuls closed in on Wizard who turned to the nearby wall, and using the wall for leverage, flipped over the Ghuls as they all stabbed at the Wizard. When he was over one of the Ghuls, Wizard grabbed the demonic monster’s head and pulled it down to the ground as the masked mage landed.

A disarmed Ghul threw a punch at Wizard, only to receive an elbow to the face and force it to stagger back. While Wizard was distracted, another Ghul took this chance to perform a thrusting jab with its spear, but Wizard caught the spear and pulled the Ghul towards him. Just as the Ghul was about to slam into Wizard, the masked mage released his grip and clotheslined the stony creature in the chest, sending the creature into the water with a large splash.

Another unarmed Ghul tried to kick Wizard, but missed when the masked mage ducked down. The attacked Ghul’s luck was about to get worse since Wizard immediately stood up with his right arm hooked up and actually lifted up the Ghul over his head and into the air. The air born Ghul crashed into three other Ghuls, sending them all into the water.

The remaining Ghuls shook slightly before one of them charged at the Wizard, only to have its weapon knocked away and have one of Wizard’s arms locked around its neck. Then using his body weight, Wizard used the Ghul to lift up into the air and slam his feet into the surrounding Ghuls’ heads, knocking them over.

And with a mighty swing, Wizard threw the remaining Ghul into the water with the others. With all of the Ghuls temporarily disposed, Wizard fitted a ring on his right hand and brought it to his belt. “CONNECT - PLEASE!”

A yellow runic circle appeared in front of Wizard and he threw his right hand into it to pull out his odd silver gun. And with his left hand he unfolded the hand charm on the weapon. “C’MON SHOOTING SHAKE THE HANDS!”

Wizard brought his left hand on the gun’s hand charm, instilling the energy into it, making the gun glow a bright yellow. “LAND! SHOOTING STRIKE!

“Dododo dododon!”

With a quick spin, Wizard fired a volley of yellow blasts that crashed into all of the Ghuls, exploding into several yellow stones that crashed around the irrigation tunnel. Wizard sighed before he heard Applejack yelp.

When Wizard turned, he saw that Gnome was holding Applejack with his arm at her throat, making the Southern mare kick her hind legs. “Moi suggests zat you drop ze weapon! Ozerwise, well, let’s just say zat zis mare won’t be able to wear zis poor excuse of a hat no more!”

Wizard remained silent, keeping his gun trained on Gnome.

The Phantom snarled as he used his free arm to clutch the cowboy hat atop of Applejack’s head and ripped it to shreds with his hand. “Hurry up and drop it!”

When Wizard didn’t lower his gun, Gnome lifted his free hand up into the air…

BANG!

A yellow burst of energy flew from the gun heading straight towards Applejack and the Phantom, and just as the attack was about to hit the southern mare, the yellow magical energy curved and struck Gnome in the shoulder. Gnome cried out as he released Applejack and was thrown backwards by the magical force that struck him.

Wizard dashed forward just in time to catch Applejack, while at the same time fired more rounds that crashed into Gnome’s body, propelling the Phantom deeper into the irrigation tunnels. When Wizard finally stopped shooting, Gnome’s body was smoking and had several cracks in the armored portions of his body. Gnome roared loudly as he slammed his fists into the ground, “Why?! Why is zis happening!?! Moi is superior! Moi is a Phantom! Why are you stronger zen moi!?”

“It’s not a matter of strength,” Wizard replied, keeping his gun trained on Gnome. “It’s a matter of why I fight!”

Gnome’s cry echoed through the tunnel before he dove both of his arms into the ground, disappearing even further into the earth. Wizard sighed as he kept his gun at the ready, but after a few minutes, Wizard sighed loudly before he lowered the gun. “Man that guy’s a coward.”

Wizard looked over at Applejack, seeing that she was actually asleep in his arm, “… I don’t blame her for being asleep - working almost all day, dealing with this Phantom’s attacks, and trying to keep her word. She really is one of the most dependable ponies of this town.”

TTTTTT

With some help from the Extend Ring, Wizard was able to pull himself and Applejack out from the irrigation tunnels through the hole he had made earlier. As expected, both Twilight and Rainbow Dash were standing near the hole. “Haru! You did it!”

Wizard sighed as he slumped down on the ground, Applejack soundly snoozing a few feet from him. “Yeah, but the Phantom escaped again.”

In a fade of yellow light, Wizard’s armor disappeared to allow Haru to fall backwards onto the ground. He sighed loudly as he closed his eyes, “I wanted to chase him… But, I used too much magic. I’m nearly drained here.”

“Well, what’s important is that you managed to save Applejack,” Twilight stated with a smile on her face. “Thanks Haru.”

“Hey, don’t mention it,” Haru chuckled opening his eyes slightly. “You can thank me by letting me rest here for a while.”

“Sure,” Twilight replied as her horn began to glow brightly, that same light appearing over Applejack’s form. “I’ll just take Applejack back to Sweet Apple Acres in the meantime.”

That’s when a familiar chirping filled the air, and Haru saw that Garuda was not resting on Twilight’s back. Haru narrowed his gaze, “Where in Equestria were you Garuda? We managed to find Applejack faster than you.”

Garuda seemed to slump his head slightly in disgrace.

“Just do me a favor and stick with Twilight and Applejack for a while, okay?” Haru requested, getting a winged salute from Garuda. “Good.”

“Are you coming Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked as her magic lifted the sleeping Applejack off of the ground.

“Nah, someone’s gotta keep an eye on this lazy dragon,” Rainbow Dash stated with a sly smirk on her face. “Who knows if this guy will ditch us again.”

Twilight giggled before she walked away with Applejack floating behind her and Garuda resting on her back. When Twilight was gone, Rainbow Dash sat down next to Haru. “Ya know, at first, I thought you were nothing more than a lame trickster.”

“Gee, thanks,” Haru sighed loudly as he kept his eyes closed.

“But what you did for Applejack and Twilight,” Rainbow Dash continued, ignoring Haru’s comment. “That was pretty awesome. And that suit of yours rocked too.”

“Thanks,” Haru yawned.

“But, you’re still not as awesome as me!” Rainbow Dash added with her chest puffed out slightly. “Or the Wonderbolts, or even the Skull Stallion!”

“Skull Stallion?” Haru questioned with his eyes opening. “What in Equestria is that?”

“Oh, right. Most ponies outside Cloudsdale don’t know about him,” Rainbow Dash admitted with a sheepish smirk. “You see, he’s kind of a living legend at my home city, or he was. He was a very awesome looking pegasus, covered with a black suit, white fedora and a skull-like helmet.

“He would always appear whenever there was trouble and beat up the bad guys and wouldn’t let them get away! And he even had an awesome catchphrase!”

“Oh?” Haru questioned raising a brow. “And what was that?”

The blue pegasus stood on her hind legs, shook her left front hoof, and then pointed it at nopony in particular. “Now… Count up your sins! It was so awesome!”

Haru chuckled before he folded his arms behind his head, “Sounds like my kinda pony, is he still around?”

“Actually,” Rainbow Dash sighed with her head lowered. “One day, he just disappeared. Nopony knew what happened to him, but one day, he was just gone. But, he’s still considered a legend, an inspiration to all the fillies and colts.”

With a smile on his face, Haru waved his hand slightly. “Sounds like somepony that would’ve been amazing to work with.”

“Yup,” Rainbow Dash answered with a smirk on her face. “So, how exactly can you fly?”

Haru sighed inside his head.

TTTTTTT

It took a little time, but Twilight was able to get Applejack back to Sweet Apple Acres. All throughout the trip, her friend was still asleep, which made Twilight glad to see her friend resting after the ordeal. When she reached the dirt road that lead past the opened gate to the Apple Family Orchard, Twilight decided to take a few moments to rest up and used her magic to easily place her friend on a grassy patch in the shade of the apple trees.

Twilight sighed as she took a seat next to Applejack, Garuda landing on the ground next to her, chirping gently. ‘I’m glad that Applejack’s alright, but this is getting out of hoof. If Phantoms show up here, then what’s stopping them from appearing all over Equestria? Haru’s a good wizard, but he’s only one dragon.

‘I have to write to Princess Celestia about this, there’s no other option. But, should I write about Haru in it? Maybe I should at least ask Haru about this.’

“Wha-What in tarnation is going on here?”

Twilight’s thoughts were interrupted when she realized that Applejack was now awake, stretching her limbs and was trying to stand up. “Applejack! Don’t push yourself! You were just attacked by a monster and…”

“And Ah appreciate yer concern,” Applejack sighed as she finally got to her hooves. “And Ah appreciate Mistah Souma helpin’ me as well, but Ah still need to get to work. So, if’an ya’ll excuse me, Ah need to get back to work. But first, Ah need to go get my spare hat.”

“But Applejack!” Twilight called out to her friend, but Applejack was just continuing her trek back to her family’s house. Twilight sighed with Garuda doing the same. “That pony’s as stubborn as a mule.”

Twilight realized something and chuckled sheepishly as she turned to the side, “Uh, no offense.”

Apparently, there was an old gray donkey standing a few feet from Twilight who just simply replied, “None taken.”

Garuda tilted his head and chirped a few times. If Twilight could understand the little ruby bird, she would’ve known that the familiar said, “Uh, where did he come from?”

TTTTTTT

The afternoon passed without any further incidents, well save for Applejack missing a few of the trees with her kicks, but the Phantom hadn’t returned to Sweet Apple Acres. The day turned to evening, evening turned to night, and eventually, the dawn signaled the new day.

After some early Applebucking, the stubborn southern mare was trotting her way through Ponyville, but something was a little off about the ‘most dependable pony in all of Ponyville’. For one thing, her mane was messier than usual, the lines under her eyes were more pronounced, and the usual cheery pony sported a rather grumpy frown on her face.

That frown was attributed to the fact that she had a sleek, red scaled shadow following her ever since she had left Sweet Apple Acres. “Ya know, Ah am old enough to look after myself, Mistah Souma. Ah don’t need a babysitter.”

“I’m not here to babysit you,” Haru replied, keeping his hands in his new navy blue jacket (a little gift that Granny Smith had given the dragon for helping out her granddaughter). “I’m just here to make sure that Phantom doesn’t strike.”

“Ah just said Ah’m not a tike!” Applejack growled as she used one of her front hooves to rub her ears.

“What?” Haru questioned with a raised brow. “No, I was saying that I’m just here to make sure that Phantom doesn’t attack!”

“No! Ah ain’t gonna go back!” Applejack barked back.

Haru had to shrug his shoulders in confusion. Unbeknownst to Haru, earlier while Applejack was harvesting some of the apples in her family’s orchard, she had accidentally knocked her head against a lowered branch, which subsequently had messed with her hearing.

But that still didn’t stop Haru from following Applejack to Sugarcube Corner, albeit, the dragon was a little confused with the conversation he was trying to have with the Southern mare.

When the two reached the rather delicious looking shop, they were immediately greeted by a familiar pink blur that appeared in between the two. “Applejack! Thank you so, so, SO much! We’ll make the bestest of the best muffins in all of Equestria! Ooh! And you even found Haru! I’m a little miffed at you just leaving your party, but you can make it up to me by being our official taste tester!”

Haru was a little taken back by the amount of energy that Pinkie was radiating, Applejack didn’t seemed fazed by the energetic pony, but that was probably due to the fact that she hardly understood every other word that came out of the pink mare’s mouth.

“So, while me and Applejack are working on these muffins, it’s gonna be super duper secret! So, no peaking!”

With a gentle tap with her front hoof, Pinkie pushed Haru out of the bakery, making the dragon blink a few times as he realized he was outside. With a shrug, Haru sat down on the ground near the door, ‘Huh, I don’t think she’s forgiven me for ditching her party. I guess I’ll have to make it up to her later.’

Throwing his arms behind his head, Haru sighed as he looked up into the slightly cloudy day. At the very least, if that Phantom does attack, Haru could try to intercept the cowardly Phantom – Hopefully.

“Hey! Haru!”

Tilting his head down, Haru smirked as a familiar baby dragon was running up to him. “Ah, hello Spike. Been a while since I’ve seen you.”

“That’s an understatement,” Spike replied as he stopped in front of his fellow dragon. “Yesterday, Twilight told me that you were still around – How come you left the party?”

“Meh, it’s kinda complicated,” Haru answered with a shrug of his shoulders. “But, I’m sorry I did that, I should’ve at least say goodbye.”

“Why? You apparently stayed in Ponyville,” Spike pointed out. “We probably would’ve seen each other eventually. I mean, we are the only two dragons here.”

“You got me there,” Haru admitted as he rubbed the back of his head. “You’re a smart little guy, aren’t ya?”

Spike smiled brightly, “Of course! I have to be since I’m Twilight’s number one assistant!”

Haru chuckled slightly, not wanting to point out that Spike was Twilight’s only assistant, although, that did make a thought come across the older dragon’s mind. “Speaking of her, where is Twilight? I figured she’d be trying to stick close to Applejack for a while.”

“Well…” Spike trailed off slightly. He knew that Twilight trusted Haru with Applejack’s safety, but the real reason why the lavender mare wasn’t around was actually because she was actually observing Garuda – Studying the familiar.

That in and of itself wasn’t enough to make Spike hesitant telling Haru why Twilight wasn’t here. The actual cause of that was because last night, in a stroke of luck, Spike managed to actually catch Garuda. By the time Twilight had noticed that, Spike had already taken a huge bite out of Garuda’s left wing!

Sure, Spike felt guilty, but the moment his tongue touched Garuda’s ruby wing, the dragon couldn’t help himself and took a large bite out of the jeweled bird! The ruby was nothing like other rubies that the baby dragon had eaten before in his short life! It was spicy, it was sweet, and, dare he say, Spike would’ve admitted that it was better than that one time Princess Celestia had given him that large diamond for his birthday! And that was nearly ten carets!

If it wasn’t for Twilight interfering and pulling the poor Garuda away from Spike, the small familiar probably wouldn’t have been able help himself and the familiar would’ve been inhaled into Spike’s maw.

Just thinking about it was starting to make Spike wish he had Garuda back in his claws.

“Spike!”

“Huh?” Spike sputtered, his fantasy suddenly broken.

“You’re drooling,” Haru pointed out flatly as his tail lifted up to reveal that Spike had been drooling on his fellow dragon’s tail.

“Oh, uh, sorry about that,” Spike chuckled nervously as he wiped his mouth. “What were we talking about again?”

“Twilight, and where she is,” Haru stated with his eyes slightly dulled.

“Right!” Spike yelped. “Well, she’s back at home doing some studying. And that leaves me to run some errands for her. What about you? Why are you outside Sugarcube Corner?”

“Well, I kinda got kicked out from there,” Haru chuckled. “I gotta keep an eye on Applejack, but Pinkie Pie kicked me out.”

“Yeah, Twilight told me about Applejack,” Spike stated as he rubbed his chin. “Do you think she’s okay to be in there?”

“Hey, if there’s a commotion, I’ll run in,” Haru replied with a smile on his face.

“Not what I was talking about,” Spike corrected with a nervous look on his face. “I mean, Twilight told me that Applejack wasn’t acting herself, and might be pushing herself a little too much.”

“I’m not worried,” Haru said. “Pinkie Pie’s in there, and they’re only making muffins. What’s the worst that could happen?”

– One Hour Later –

Twilight (with Garuda seated on the top of her head, its right wing covered with a temporary bandage) and Spike were awestruck at the sight before them, when they had heard the news, at first they didn’t believe what had happened. But looking at the makeshift medical center and all the occupants, it was like a nightmare come true. “Oh my goodness! We came as soon as we heard!”

“Oh thank you Twilight,” A nurse pony replied, her face tired and eyes full of worry. “This is awful, and we need all the help we can get.”

Twilight grimaced as she watch the other nurses work with all the ponies that were in the center, some of them on the floor with their faces a nasty shade of green. Those ponies that were bedridden had buckets close by, with a few of them with their heads stuck in them. “What in Equestria happened?”

“There was a mishap with some of the baked goods,” The nurse explained, neither her nor Twilight aware that Spike had just picked up some of said baked goods that were gathered for the hazardous waste disposal unit. “All these ponies were sickened after eating some free samples at Sugarcube Corner. It just some food poisoning, but I’ve never seen an epidemic of food poisoning of this caliber.”

“No…” moaned a familiar, if not sickly voice. Twilight turned to one of the beds to see Pinkie Pie bedridden, her face green and her mane a complete mess. “Not baked goods… Baked bads!”

Pinkie Pie would’ve continued, but she had to use the bucket that was set next to her bed.

Twilight turned back to the nurse, “I can’t believe these ponies would eat these ‘baked bads’. A few of them sure, but, why all of these?”

“Apparently, somepony ate one,” The nurse explained as she trotted over to another patient. “He was a taste tester of sorts and claimed it was delicious. I don’t know if that pony’s here or not, but, nopony could get by with eating these monstrosities.”

Twilight was about to ask if anyone had seen said pony, but was interrupted by a series of ‘Yums!’ and ‘Mmms!’. When Twilight turned to her scribe she was drawn back slightly when she saw that Spike was eating the baked bads. “Spike!!”

“Mmm, want one?” Spike offered, holding out one of the baked bads to the lavender unicorn.

“Well, now I think I know who the taste tester was,” Twilight stated with a roll of her eyes.

TTTTTTT

While a number of ponies were in the medical ward getting their stomachs pumped of the deadly muffins, one said muffin was being torn into by a certain red dragon. “Mmm, I’m more of a doughnut dragon, but I’ll admit these muffins are tasty.”

“Glad ya like ‘em,” Applejack sighed as she trotted on the path, Winona walking next to her and Haru following a few feet behind. “But ya’ll really didn’t need to come here either, ya know. Ah don’t really need a second shadow.”

“I completely understand your frustration,” Haru stated after polishing off the muffin he had brought with him. “And I’m respecting your wishes and not helping you with your business, but as long as that Phantom’s around, I can’t let you out of my sight.”

“Fine,” Applejack growled.

Haru tucked his claws into his jacket’s pocket, the sound of footsteps mixed in with the calming sounds of nature. Taking a quick breath, Haru looked towards Applejack, “So, why exactly are you so gung-ho about not letting anypony help you?”

Applejack sighed as she stopped and turned her head towards the sleek dragon, “Ah ain’t got anything against getting help – Tartarus, mah family helps me out a lotta the time. But Ah can do this stuff on mah own, Ah don’t need any help from nopony! Mah family, mah friends, even this whole town counts on me. Ah can’t let anypony down.”

“Applejack, you’re just one pony,” Haru pointed out with his arms crossed. “There’s just so much one pony can do on their own before they break.”

“Look, Ah appreciate the concern, but it’s not a matter of choice,” Applejack retorted with her tired eyes focused on the dragon before her. “On Sweet Apple Acres, most of the work falls on me and Big Macintosh. Mah little sister’s too small to pick them apples, and Granny’s too old to yelp with harvesting.

“And Ah gotta do this – Not fer myself, but fer everypony I care about. Ah gotta do it fer… Fer them too.”

“Them?” Haru asked.

“… Ma and Pa,” Applejack answered bitterly as she turned away. “Sweet Apple Acres was sacred to them, each tree they took care of, and Ah gotta make sure that it stays in mah family. Ah gotta fer their memory.”

Parents.

Haru sighed as he closed his eyes, “I can understand that.”

“Then ya’ll can understand that Ah gotta work hard,” Applejack continued as she began to trot away from Haru, Winona following her. “Now, if ya’ll excuse me, Ah gotta go help one of mah friends.”

With a shrug of his shoulders, Haru followed the southern earth pony, keeping a little bit of distance.

Applejack and Winona didn’t get too far when another pony soon came into view, a yellow pegasus mare with a bright pink mane. The pony smiled as she trotted up to Applejack, “Oh, Applejack, thank you so much for coming. I really appreciate you offering your herding skills to help me.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it Fluttershy,” Applejack yawned, noticing the little bunny rabbits hopping around. “Why are we doing this again?”

“Well, lots of new baby bunnies have been born,” Fluttershy explained with a bright smile on her face. “So, it’s up to me to… MEEP!”

“Meep?” Applejack questioned with her brow raised up.

Surprisingly, Fluttershy had practically frozen up on the spot, her eyes widened in pure absolute terror. Applejack blinked a few times at her friend’s odd behavior, “Uh, are ya’ll okay?”

“D-D-Drag…” Fluttershy whimpered slightly as she shook.

“Yeah, Ah know Ah’ve been draggin’ mah hooves a bit,” Applejack sighed with a roll of her eyes. “Ah’m a sorry fer being late.”

“N-No, n-not that,” Fluttershy staggered as she slowly stepped back. “It’s… It’s a…”

“So, who’s this?” Haru asked walking up alongside Applejack. “I’m guessing a friend of yours, right?”

“Eeyup,” Applejack sighed as she adjusted the cowboy hat atop of her head. “This here is Fluttershy, Ah guess she’s living up to her name now though.”

“Well, a pleasure to meet you Miss Fluttershy,” Haru introduced with a slight bow. “I am Haruto Souma, but you can call me Haru.”

Fluttershy didn’t reply. All she did was freeze up even further.

“Uh, is your friend alright?” Haru asked turning towards Applejack.

“Tartarus if Ah know,” Applejack replied with a wave of her hoof. “Now, if ya’ll don’t mind, could ya’ll step back? Ah’d like to git this over with.”

“Not a problem,” Haru replied as he shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I’ll just be resting in one of those trees for a while.”

The moment that Haru had disappeared from sight, Fluttershy relaxed and took a deep breath, “… Count all the brand new baby bunnies for the yearly census.”

“Uh, are ya’ll okay?” Applejack questioned. “Ya’ll just kinda froze up right there.”

“Um, y-yes, but,” Fluttershy stuttered before she cleared her throat. “Well shall we get started?”

“Yeah,” Applejack yawned loudly before she stepped in front of Fluttershy. “Let’s get on with this.”

“Certainly,” Fluttershy replied, back to her calm demeanor. “But remember, these are baby bunnies, not cows. They are a timid bunch and need to be treated gently.”

“Ah do not need any direction on corralling critters,” Applejack scoffed back gently before she turned to her trusty pet. “Ain’t that right Winona?”

Winona barked in agreement.

While the corralling was going on, Haru was pulling out a number of rings from his jacket pocket and looked them over. ‘Let’s see, what rings haven’t I used so far since I got into Ponyville? Looking at what I’ve got, I haven’t used Defend, Dress Up, Liquid, Smell and... It. I can’t use It though, so, I should probably do some hunting for some more Magic Stones when I get the chance.

‘But I need to think – How can I get an advantage against that Phantom. He keeps running away every chance he gets by going underground, and he’s also able to find Applejack so easily. Hmm…’

Before Haru could continue his train of thought, the ground began to rumble, making Haru quickly gather the rings he had pulled out and placed them back inside his jacket. “This shaking! Could it be that Phantom?!”

Getting back to his feet, Haru quickly fitted the Flame right on his left claw and was about to activate his driver when all of a sudden a veritable army of bunnies ran past him on the dirt path, creating a large dust cloud that followed them. Not too far behind them was Fluttershy, trying to calm down the racing rabbits.

The slim dragon just tilted his head slightly at the weird sight. ‘Well now, I don’t know what to say to that.’

A few moments later, Applejack and Winona trotted past Haru, both of them with their heads held up high. The dragon blinked a few times before he shrugged off, “That was quick. Didn’t you and your friend have to count up those bunnies?”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” Applejack called back. “Sides, this means Ah can get back to Applebucking.”

Once again, Haru shrugged his shoulders – What’s the worst that a bunch of baby bunnies can do?

Unbeknownst to Haru, a familiar fancy speaking colt was hiding in a nearby bush, and he had been camped out there ever since Applejack had answered Haru’s questions. And a smirk appeared on his face, ‘So, it is not just for ze apple trees, it is what zey represent, eh? Zhen zere is no choice.

‘It is uncouz, but it must be done.’

TTTTTTT

The next day at Sweet Apple Acres, Twilight was able to find Applejack rather quickly, the southern mare was atop one of the hills on the farm. AJ kept kicking the lone tree until the remaining few apples shook from their branches, landing in the baskets she had on her saddle.

Twilight trotted closer to her friend as Garuda chirped a few times, perched on the Unicorn’s head, “Alright Applejack, we really need to talk.”

Applejack had her head lowered and eyes closed, and still she kicked the tree as Twilight spoke to her friend, “You can’t keep doing this on your own, you’ve got a pursuing Phantom chasing you, and there’s the Applebucking itself! It’s not only causing problems for you, but it’s over propelled pegasus, practically poisoned plenty of ponies, and terrorized bushels of brand new bouncy baby bunnies.

“I don’t care what you say, you need help!”

With one final kick, the rest of the apples fell from the tree and into Applejack’s baskets, making the southern mare smile brightly, “Heh! No Ah don’t, cause Ah’m done! Ah managed to harvest the entire Sweet Apple Acres without any help!”

Twilight looked past Applejack and saw that the orchard behind Applejack was certainly harvested, not a single apple to be seen in the branches.

“How do ya like them apples?” Applejack asked with a large smirk on her face. “Ah didn’t even need that fancy speakin’ Pierre to help me neither!”

“Zat is most impressive,” a familiar thick accented voice sounded out, garnering the two mares’ attentions towards the other side of the hill. Trotting up the hill was none other than Pierre Escargot. “Très magnifique, ma belle. Zere is but one problem, however.”

Using his front hoof, Pierre Escargot pointed behind him. Both Twilight and Applejack looked past the Pranch Pony to see that there were countless trees with apples hanging from their branches. Applejack’s eyes widened and she slumped to the ground nearly fainting. “Ya’ll have gotta be pulling mah leg.”

“Well, madam,” Pierre chuckled. “If you so wish, zen zese apple trees shall not be a problem.”

At that very moment, a powerful explosion of flames erupted from the unpicked grove. Applejack’s eyes widened as she watched the fire grow and begin to consume the rest of the trees. “NO!”

Dropping the baskets of apples behind, the southern mare galloped towards the fire engulfed trees. Twilight gave chase after her friend, “Applejack! No!”

Pierre cackled as he casually trotted behind the two mares.

Applejack was just at the edge of the enflamed grove when a bright purple aura wrapped around her body, and lifted her up into the air. Twilight skidded next to her floating companion, the horn on the unicorn’s head glowing brightly, “Applejack stop! You’ll only hurt yourself!”

“But if this here fire spreads too far,” Applejack shouted back, her gaze turned towards her friend. “Then all of Sweet Apple Acres could be burned up too!”

“Then we’ll get Rainbow Dash and other Pegasai to get a storm over here to put out the fire!” Twilight retorted.

“Unfortunately, zat will not work.”

From out from behind one of the fiery trees, stepped out Pierre, a coy smirk on his face. “Zese flames are no average fire – Regular means cannot put zem out.”

“What are ya blabbering ‘bout?” Applejack questioned.

That’s when Pierre stood up on his hind legs, while a large amount of orange dirt and stones flew around his body. The stones emerged into the Pranch stallion’s body, transforming the stallion into the Phantom known as Gnome, his arms folded behind his back. “Magic from phantoms is different zan ze magic zat all you regular ponies can use. Blue Phantoms, for example, can absorb magic, but Orange Phantoms such as moi, our magic is different.

“Anyzing zat is produced by moi’s magic is much more durable. As such, the flint and combustible materials moi produce and ze flames that occurred will not be prevented by such mundane tactics.”

Applejack’s eyes watered as she watched the flames grow more intense. Twilight’s horn glowed as she let Applejack down to the ground, “Phantom… Why are you doing this!?”

Gnome laughed loudly as he lifted a clawed hand up. “Take a good look, Gate. Ze zing zat’s been bracing your heart is about to scatter to ze wind. When zat happens, you shall fall into despair!”

Applejack quivered as she slumped to the ground as Gnome’s laughter echoed through the air. ‘Ma… Pa… Ah… Ah’m sorry…’

“I will protect your hope.”

“DRVIER ON!”

Gnome’s laughter stopped as he turned around.

Twilight and Applejack looked into the blaze to see Haru standing amongst the flames, his large belt glowing brightly. “Haru!!”

The sleek red dragon lifted up his clawed hand to reveal that there was a new ring circled around them, a blue ring in the shape of diamond. “Sha ba do bi Touch Henshin! Sha ba do bi Touch Henshin!”

“Henshin.”

“WATER – PLEASE!”

Haru threw his left claw into the air as a large blue runic circle appeared over his head. As the circle lowered over the dragon’s form, a surge of water warped around his body, changing Haru’s form into Wizard – Only this one had blue sapphires in the shape of diamonds covering his body. “Sui Sui – Sui Sui!”

When the ring touched the ground, a torrent of water surged around Wizard’s body, and the ring mage spun around before he lifted his arms up. The water erupted from the runic circle to encompass the flames, crash into Gnome to send him flying and make both Applejack’s and Twilight’s jaws drop.

The flames were immediately put out, and amazingly enough, there was hardly any damage done to the trees or apples, save for a few singed branches and leafs. The blue Wizard slowly stepped over to the two mares and knelt down before them. “Sorry for being late.”

Admittedly, those muffins that Haru had tasted earlier had taken a nasty toll on his stomach, but he wasn’t going to let these two know that.

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack muttered as she looked at the masked dragon.

“Honoring those that have been lost,” Wizard stated as he turned his head towards the trees. “I know exactly how that is, AJ. But I learned a long time ago that if you dwell on those who are gone, you’ll lose the ones who are around you now. Twilight, me, your family, and all your friends, we depend on you, but you have to be able to depend on us.

“You need to put your pride on the side sometimes and let your friends help you.”

There was a moment of silence as Wizard pulled a ring off of his chain belt and fitted on his right hand.

“DAMN YOU, RING-BEARING MAGE!”

Both Applejack and Twilight turned to see a soaked Gnome standing a few feet from the group, waving his arms in annoyance. “Moi has had enough of zis! How long are you going to get in moi’s way!?”

“As long as I need to,” Wizard retorted as he stood up and fitted his right hand in front of his belt. “Obviously!”

“LIQUID – PLEASE!”

Wizard’s body shimmered a light blue before it transformed into large amount of blue water that flew through the air. Gnome yelped as the water crashed into him sent him flying over the ground.

“Every time I turn around,” Twilight sighed with a shake of her head. “It’s like he’s got a brand new trick up his sleeve.”

“Yeah, but he’s kinda got a point,” Applejack admitted with a slight chuckle.

“Wait, what?” Twilight questioned.

“Twilight,” Applejack stated as she got to her hooves. “Do ya’ll think ya could help me out with a few things?”

Twilight smiled brightly before the two mares began to gallop off.

TTTTT

Gnome crashed into the ground with a spin, landing in a clearing inside Sweet Apple Acres, nearly hitting some of the empty barrels in the process.

The shining liquid crashed into the ground a few feet away, reforming into Wizard. As soon as he was solid once more, Wizard replaced the ring on his right hand with another and fitted his hand in front his belt buckle. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

The blue runic circle appeared once more, allowing Haru to reach into it and draw his silver sword. At the same time however, Gnome had gotten to his feet and summoned another pillar, slamming his clawed hand into it to pull out the long trident from it. Both magical beings stared at each other for a moment before they charged at each other!

“This time, the curtain will fall!” Wizard yelled with his blade at the side.

“BUT ZE CURTAIN SHALL FALL FOR YOU!” Gnome roared out loud as he sent his trident forward with a thrust.

Wizard slammed the blade onto the trident’s blade, forcing Wizard to flip over Gnome, the Phantom was surprised and when Wizard landed on the ground behind the Phantom, he brought his blade down and slashed Gnome across the back.

As the sparks flew from the Phantom’s back, Gnome spun around to stab his trident into Wizard, but with a quick upward slash, Wizard pushed the attack back. And with the same momentum, the ring-bearing mage brought the blade down once more, mystical sparks erupting from Gnome’s chest.

With a twist of the blade, Wizard slashed his blade once more, running the blade at Gnome’s stomach allowing Wizard to pass the Phantom with the monstrous creature crying out loudly.

As Gnome was about to turn around, he was meet in the chest by Wizard’s foot, sending the phantom soaring backwards into the empty crates. Wood and dust flew up into the air as Gnome struggled to get up, using one of the barrels as leverage, “Moi curses your name! Moi will not stand for zis!!”

“You look like you’re barely standing at all,” Wizard stated as he spun his sword on his finger.

The phantom’s eyes flashed before he stood up straight and threw his arms out to the side. Several stones shot out from Gnome’s body, and faster than Wizard could respond, the stones crashed into his body and the ground around him, exploding into several small explosions that flew Wizard off of his feet. “GARGH!”

Gnome cackled as he picked up his trident.

“Gagh,” Wizard groaned as he got to his knees. “Since when could you do that?”

“Always,” Gnome answered as slowly stepped forward. “But showing every trick at ze beginning will only be a hindrance in future battles.”

Gnome charged forward just as Wizard got to his feet, and as the Phantom threw its weapon forward once more, the masked mage was barely able to block it in time. Gnome kept charging and throwing attacks, but when the Phantom brought its trident down on Wizard, the magical dragon stepped forward to allow the pole of the weapon slam into his shoulder.

Through the pain however, Wizard grabbed onto weapon and began to spin himself and the Phantom around a few times. Neither magical being released their grip on the trident, but when the spinning stopped, Wizard kneed Gnome in the stomach twice before grabbed the Phantom by the curved helmet.

That’s when Gnome’s feet left the ground and he was hefted on to Wizard’s shoulder, his legs dangling in the air, his head locked onto Wizard’s shoulder, and his left arm tightly gripped by Wizard. “W-WHAT IS ZIS!?! HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO DO ZIS TO MOI!?!”

“Showing every trick at the beginning,” Wizard growled as he began to spin around. “Will only be a hindrance in future battles!”

With one final spin, Wizard tossed Gnome as if he were ragdoll, and even got some good distance before the Phantom crashed face first onto the ground.

“Heh,” Wizard chuckled before he charged towards the phantom.

Gnome got to his feet before he brought his trident up in front of his face, “In zat case…”

The phantom spun around quickly before it dove into the ground, disappearing into tunnel it just created. Wizard couldn’t reach the Phantom in time before the digging sound subsided. “Damn it, he ran away again!”

However, the sound of parting earth made Wizard spin around just in time to block a stab from Gnome’s trident. Before Wizard could counter, Gnome and his trident spun back into the ground, “What the?”

Once again, the same sound echoed through the air making Wizard jump forward before he was stabbed in the back by the same trident. When Wizard got back to his feet, ground opened up right in front of him and a clawed fist slammed into his masked face. “URK!”

Wizard flew backwards, but gathered himself with a spin in the air and landed on his feet. “How in the world is he able to sense me from underground?”

“Moi remembers your scent quite well,” Gnome’s voice whispered into Wizard’s ear. “Moi’s nose is unmatched!”

Wizard spun around to cleave his sword into Gnome, only to hit nothing by air. Before Wizard was none other than another hole that the Phantom had escaped too. With a growl, Wizard stabbed his sword into the ground and reached for his chain of rings. “A good sense of smell, huh? In that case…”

Wizard lifted up the large yellow ring from his belt and was about to replace the rings on his left hand. But when he had slipped off the blue ring, Gnome erupted from the ground several feet away and unleashed another volley of stones that knocked the masked dragon off his claws and sent the yellow large ring bouncing a few feet away. “Damn it!”

However, before Wizard could go after the ring, Gnome leapt from the ground once and stood over Wizard, his trident held up high. Gnome cackled, “Wiz zis, ze tale of ze ring-bearing mage comes to an end. Fare zee well, you damn fool.”

Gnome began to bring down his trident, but before he could make it connect, a familiar rope flew around the Phantom’s head and tightened around his neck, pulling him backwards, “GARGH! WHAT IS ZIS!?!”

Wizard looked up and followed the rope to see Applejack several yards back with the rope gripped tightly in her mouth, “Applejack!”

With the rope in her mouth, Applejack couldn’t really reply but simply nodded towards the masked dragon. Taking this opportunity, Wizard slammed both of his feet into Gnome’s stomach, sending the Phantom to the ground.

“HARU!”

Wizard turned his head to the left to see his Land Ring floating towards him, and looking past it, Wizard saw Twilight a few yards away with her horn glowing brightly. Wizard grabbed the ring and fitted it on his left hand.

At the same time, Gnome was getting back to his feet and used his claws to cut the rope that was around his neck, “DAMN YOU, YOU STUPID EQUESTRIAN MARE!! ZIS SHALL NOT STAND!”

“LAND – PLEASE!”

Gnome turned around to see the yellow runic circle rise up around Wizard’s body, carrying several stones along with it. Soon, the sapphires turned into topazes, and Wizard slammed his right foot into the ground, making the earth shake slightly. “DODODO DODODON – DON DODODON!”

“Not zis again,” Gnome moaned before he spun around, disappearing into the earth.

Wizard spun around too, but had quickly replaced the ring on his right hand and threw it in front of his glowing belt. “BIG – PLEASE!”

The yellow runic circle appeared over Wizard’s head, and he casually lifted his right hand up through the ring, making his right arm incredibly large. And with a loud yell, Wizard slammed his hand into the ground, open palm, shaking the ground incredibly.

The shockwave shot Gnome up through the ground near Wizard’s hand, forcing the phantom up into the air, screaming like a mad pony. When Gnome began to fall to the ground, Wizard still used his giant arm and slapped the Phantom several yards away.

When Wizard pulled his hand back through the ring, he chuckled to himself, “Heh, I was always a fan of Whac-A-Mole.”

And within seconds, Wizard dashed forward and closed the gap between him and Gnome. The Phantom in turn took a stab with his trident, only to have the weapon kicked out of his clawed hands. With a loud growl, Gnome tried to strike Wizard with his claws, only to have his wrist grabbed by the masked dragon.

And with a quick spin, Wizard twisted the Gnome’s arm behind his back and threw the Phantom to the ground. With the monster still in his grip, Wizard lifted up one of his rings, fitted it on Gnome’s hand and brought the monster’s hand to his belt. “Here’s a little parting gift.”

“SMELL – PLEASE!”

Quickly releasing and jumping away from the Phantom, Wizard chuckled as the Phantom stood up. “W-What is zis accursed zing!?”

A yellow runic circle appeared in front of Gnome before it was drawn into the monster’s body, and from between its armor, a visible cloud of yellow smoke poured out from it, and the Phantom began to gag and cough. “Moi nose! Moi’s lovely nose! What is zis abhorrent smell!?!”

The cloud immediately covered the area, making Wizard grab one of his coattails to cover his mask and wave the air in front of him. “Nasty.”

Even Twilight and Applejack dashed away from the evil odor, but Gnome had the worst of it as he was gagging and had fallen to his knees. What was worse was that the ring was stuck on its claws, he couldn’t get it off. ‘If moi retreats into ze ground, moi will suffocate even worse!’

Wizard equipped a different ring on his right hand and slid it in front of his belt. “Finale!”

“VERY NICE! KICK STRIKE!”

“THE BEST! PLEASE!”

Wizard spun around and threw his coattail back as a yellow runic circle appeared at his feet. From the circle, several rocks floated around the mage’s right leg and charged up with yellow energy. Leaping forward into a frontward flip, and using his legs to backflip into the air, Wizard spun around until the energy propelled him towards Gnome who had just gotten on his feet.

And then Wizard’s magically charged foot connected with Gnome’s chest, yellow energy and stones flying off of the monster’s body. Then as the rune appeared behind Gnome’s body, Wizard passed through the Phantom’s body and landed on the other side.

Gnome’s body sparked and surged with yellow energy before a large yellow explosion covered the Gnome’s body.

When the yellow energy disappeared, Gnome just stood there, but there was something different. The Phantom wasn’t moving and all the color from its armored body was drained away. Gnome almost looked like a horrible statue.

With a loud cracking sound, Gnome’s body broke into a large heap of rubble.

Wizard sighed loudly before he walked to the pile of rubble and pulled the Smell Ring from it, “Heh, I never thought I’d have a use for this one.”

As the suit faded away, Haru turned towards the two mares that were trotting towards him, “I owe you mares a debt of thanks. But, that was kind of dangerous to follow me.”

“Ya’ll need to listen to yer own advice,” Applejack retorted before she slammed a hoof into Haru’s arm. “Ya’ll been fighting that there monster by yer lonesome each and every time, we’re friends and ya’ll need to learn to depend on us.”

“Ow,” Haru muttered as he rubbed his arm slightly. “I think that’s going to leave a bruise.”

“You really can’t take a punch?” Twilight asked with a roll of her eyes as Garuda chuckles. “You fight Phantoms, can use magic that can make you into a giant or turn you into a liquid, and yet you can’t take a punch.”

“Phantoms are easy to deal with,” Haru sighed as he drooped his arms slightly.

TTTTTT

It was about an hour since Gnome’s defeat, and Haru was standing in front of the Apple Family’s house, a backpack on his shoulder loaded to the brim. In front of him was the Apple Family, save for Applejack. “Once again, thanks for letting me stay here for a while. It was nice.”

“Do ya really hafta leave?” Apple Bloom asked, trying to give her best puppy dog eyes at the sleek dragon.

Haru knelt down as he messed up Apple Bloom’s mane with his claws, gently of course, “Don’t worry, I’m not leaving town or anything. I’ll stop by to visit whenever I can, I promise.”

“Okay,” Apple Bloom sighed still looking down.

Haru chuckled as he brought up his right claw and held it to his belt buckle, “KRAKEN – PLEASE!”

Within seconds, the topaz octopus appeared around Haru’s head, “As promise of that, I’m trusting you to take good care of Kraken. I’ll be visiting to make sure that you do and whenever I need to have him help me, okay?”

Instantly Apple Bloom smiled as Kraken landed on her head, squeaking a few times. “You bet’cha, Mistah Souma!”

Haru smiled as he turned to Big Macintosh and crossed his arms, “Big Mac, I hope you feel better, and I’ll miss our long discussions. I dare say we may have solved some of life’s greatest mysteries.”

“Eeyup,” Big Mac replied with a nod.

And finally, Haru turned to the last pony that was with him, an elder mare with a gray mane done in a bun with a pie on her flank. The elder pony smiled at the young dragon, “Ya’ll better keep them promises, sonny. Can’t have you setting a bad example for Apple Bloom.”

“O-Of course, Granny Smith,” Haru chuckled nervously with his free claws lifted up.

“Besides, after all you did for this family,” Granny Smith added. “Protecting our land, and helpin’ my hard headed granddaughter, you’re practically one of the family here.”

“Family, huh?” Haru stated as he looked up towards the blue sky. “I appreciate that Granny Smith.”

Fixing the backpack over shoulder, Haru walked backwards, waving to the Apple Family, watching them as they waved back.

A few minutes later, Haru was walking forward down the dirt path in between the trees, the shade covering his body. Although the dragon had a smile on his face, it was a slightly sullen smile, “Family, been a while since I’ve been considered to be in one of those.”

“There you are Haru!”

The sleek dragon stopped in his tracks when he saw a familiar unicorn trot towards him, Garuda still perched atop of her head. “Oh, hello there Twilight, I thought you and your friends were helping AJ with picking apples.”

“We finished a few minutes ago,” Twilight explained with a smile. “And I was hoping to catch you before you disappeared again.”

“Nice call,” Haru admitted with a wave of his hand. “So, what can I do for you?”

“What are you going to do now?” Twilight asked.

“Well, I was thinking about setting up camp somewhere,” Haru answered looking over his shoulder. “Maybe buy a dozen doughnuts for dinner.”

Twilight blinked a few times at what Haru was planning on doing, but then shook her head, “Actually Haru, I was wondering something.”

“Hmm?” Haru mused.

“You see, I’m still rather curious about your magic and the Phantoms,” Twilight explained as she trotted in front of Haru. “So, I’d like to ask if I could get a little more information from you.”

Haru rubbed his chin slightly, and then smiled slightly. “Tell you what Twilight. You got a couch at that library?”

“Yes, why?” Twilight questioned with her head tilted slightly.

“I’ll make you a deal,” Haru said with a large smile on his face. “You let me crash on your couch for a while, and I’ll give you all the answers you’d like.”

“Deal,” Twilight replied with a warm smile.

“Oh! Haru! Twilight!”

Both Twilight and Haru turned to see Spike running up to them, with a plate that had some pre-eaten muffins on it. The taller dragon blinked a few times, “Uh, hey there Spike, what you got there?”

“Muffins!” Spike cheered loudly as he lifted up the familiar deadly muffins up to Haru and Twilight. “You want some?”

Haru was a little on the edge of taking he muffins, especially since they already looked like somepony had already taken eat half of the muffins. “Uh…”

“Don’t do it,” Twilight whispered to Haru. “He got those out from the trash!”

The sleek dragon’s eyes widened before he turned to the unicorn, ‘Twilight, what are you teaching this kid?!’

TBC

Dear Princess Celestia,

My friend Applejack is the best friend a pony could have, and she’s always there to lend a hoof to anypony. The only trouble is that when she needs help, she has a hard time accepting it. So, while friendship is of giving of yourself to friends, it’s also accepting what our friends have to offer.

I also met someone new within the last couple weeks, and he’s a dragon like Spike! Well, he’s not completely like Spike, he’s a bit older and has this unique talent – He can use a weird form of magic that he’s agreed to let me study. But, the conditions on which we met were… Well, not the best situations. His name is Haruto Souma, and he actually saved me and Applejack from some weird monsters called Phantoms.

And I was hoping that if you knew anything about Phantoms, or the term Gates, I’d like to get any and all materials pertaining them, if there is any.

Your Loyal Student,

-Twilight Sparkle

Intermission 1 - Rare Testing

View Online

Without limits, there are no merits.
- Urataros / Kamen Rider Den-O Rod Form

TTTTTT

Intermission 1

Art by Lux-Nero/FlairNightz Thanks again dood!
Rare Testing

TTTTTTT

A few days had passed since Haru had defeated Gnome and the dragon had begun to live at Twilight’s house, sleeping on the unicorn’s couch in one of the spare rooms. During his short time at the library, Haru was subjected to numerous questions and had to do a few demonstrations with his magic for the unicorn.

Nothing too strenuous, a bit annoying since the questioning and testing often went late into the night. But with peace surrounding the quaint Ponyville, it wasn’t an issue for the magical dragon to sleep till noon almost every day.

Today wasn’t one of those days though. Twilight, with Spike seated on her back, was leading a rather tired Haru through Ponyville. With a yawn, Haru walked a little faster to catch up with the unicorn, “So, tell me again, why did I have to wake up this early?”

“We’re going to have you meet another one of my friend’s today,” Twilight explained with a smile on her face. “Applejack tells me you met Fluttershy, and I’d like you to meet my friend Rarity.”

“Rarity?” Haru questioned as he threw his arms up behind his head. “I’ve got nothing against meeting new ponies, but I thought you wanted me to show you how I made my ring today?”

“I do,” Twilight replied. “But, I figure since we’re going to be working with jewelry, I think it would be the perfect icebreaker for you to meet her.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Haru admitted as he rubbed the back of his head. “So, what’s this Rarity like?”

“Oh, she’s the most beautiful unicorn in all of Equestria,” Spike cooed as his eyes softened slightly, a warm smile growing on his face. “And she’s so regal! She’s so amazing!”

Haru was a little taken back with how Spike was getting all flustered talking about this mare, but smiled slightly. “Oh, does the little Spike have a crush on this Rarity?”

“It’s not a crush!” Spike retorted with his cheeks a bright red. “I’m in love with Miss Rarity!”

“Love, huh?” Haru laughed as he patted Spike on the head a few times. “That’s a strong word little dragon, not something you should use so easily.”

“I’m serious!” Spike retorted as he waved his arms, swatting Haru’s claws off of his head.

Twilight giggled at the two dragons squabbling, “Come on you guys, try to compose yourselves before we reach Carousel Boutique.”

“Alright Twilight,” Spike sighed.

“Not a problem,” Haru muttered as he rubbed the back of his head.

A few minutes later, the trio was now standing in front of the rather fancy looing building that did fit the name of Carousel Boutique. Haru craned his neck up slightly to take in all of the ornate designs and the height of the building, “Wow, that’s rather… Something.”

“Welcome to Carousel Boutique,” Twilight announced as she used her front hoof to push open the front door to the shop.

Haru watched as the unicorn and her scribe walked into the shop, but the sleeker dragon was a little hesitant from entering. This didn’t go from unnoticed by his two friends, with Twilight poking her head out of the door, “Are you coming Haru?”

The red dragon kicked a random stone near his clawed feet, “Yeah, I’m just bracing myself.”

“Bracing yourself? For what?” Spike asked.

“I don’t know,” Haru sighed as he walked towards the front door. “But I get the feeling something might happen.”

“You’re over exaggerating,” Twilight reassured as she allowed Haru to enter the shop. “I assure you, nothing bad is going to happen.”

Haru had to stop in order to take in everything inside the shop – Mirrors, mannequins, several violet purple curtains, with several jewel and heart symbols embroidered everywhere. The dragon blinked a few times before he rubbed his eyes, ‘This place seems kinda posh. This makes me wonder what the owner’s like.’

“Rarity!” Twilight called out as Spike slid off of her. “We’re here, are you busy?”

“Coming,” A calm and sophisticated voice sang out from the nearby stairs.

A few moments later trotting down the stairs was the very pony that Haru could guess was Rarity – A white unicorn with a beautifully groomed purple mane that curled slightly, just like her tail. The unicorn trotted down the stairs with a calm smile on her face. “Ah, Twilight, it is so nice to see you this morning.”

The white Unicorn then turned towards Spike and patted the dragon atop of his head, “And good morning to you as well Spikey-Wikey.”

Spike chuckled sheepishly before he fell to the ground with a large, goofy smile on his face.

That’s when Rarity turned towards Haru, and blinked a few times at the red dragon. Haru did the same in return as an awkward silence filled the boutique. ‘Uh, okay, why is the marshmallow pony looking at me weirdly?’

Sensing the tension in the air, Twilight cleared her throat slightly, “Uh, Rarity, this is Haruto Souma, he’s new to Ponyville. And as you can tell, he’s a dragon.”

“Oh my,” Rarity muttered as she turned her attention away from the magical dragon. “Hmm, how do I put this?”

“Huh?” Haru questioned with his head tilted.

“That jacket,” Rarity said with her hoof brought to her face.

Pulling on his worn out jacket’s sleeve, Haru eyed his jacket, “What about it?”

“Oh, I shouldn’t say any more,” Rarity replied as she waved her hoof a few times. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Souma.”

‘I get the feeling she was going to say something about my jacket,’ Haru thought to himself as he crossed his arms. ‘But I’ll let it go, don’t need to be rude here.’

“So, tell me, Twilight,” Rarity stated, before she turned to her fellow unicorn. “What brings you and your two dragon friends to my boutique this fine morning?”

“Haru’s the actual reason we’re here today,” Twilight replied as she turned towards the slightly annoyed dragon. “He was going to show Spike and I how he makes rings, and I thought that you’d be interested in that. Since you haven’t met him, I thought it would be a perfect chance to introduce you two to each other.”

“Oh my, Mister Souma, you’re a jeweler?” Rarity asked trotting a little closer towards the dragon. “I suppose that would make sense with that rather charming little buckle you’re wearing. It does make a testament of crafting skills to whoever made it.”

“Uh, thanks,” Haru replied as he rubbed the back of his head. “But I wouldn’t call myself a jeweler, I just collect the materials and refine them.”

“Is that how you made that awesome suit of yours?” Spike asked. “Cause that has a lot of jewels in it, right?”

“An ‘awesome suit’?” Rarity questioned before she trotted up to Haru. “Mister Souma, may I ask to see this ‘awesome suit’ of yours?”

“I don’t really see a reason to transform,” Haru replied as he inched back slightly. “It’s not something that I should really use for leisure.”

“Oh, but I must insist!” Rarity said as a caring smile appeared on her face. “My little Spikey-Wikey knows his jewels, and if they’re on this suit of yours, they must be of high quality! Please?”

The mystical dragon was a little conflicted and lifted his hands up slightly. “Well, I don’t think I should…”

“Haru, you don’t have qualms about using your other spells,” Twilight pointed out with a roll of her eyes. “You used that connect spell to get doughnuts without getting off the couch just yesterday.”

“Spells?” Rarity questioned.

“That’s different,” Haru retorted, wagging one of his claws at Twilight. “That was an emergency, I hadn’t had doughnuts in twenty-four hours. I needed that powdery sugary goodness!”

“Haru,” Twilight said, her eyes narrowed down at the dragon.

“Alright, alright,” Haru sighed as he waved his hands a few times. Then reaching into his jacket, Haru pulled out the bright red ring and fitted it on one of his left claws. “But just a basic transformation, you’re lucky I carry these with me all the… Hey!”

Before Haru could even finish putting the ring on his claw, his left claw was covered with a bright blue aura and pulled him closer towards Rarity. “Oh my! Such an exquisite ruby! It’s so finely cut and the metal is so finely crafted! You must tell me where you found a stone of this caliber!”

“This one was given to me by someone,” Haru answered as he gently pulled his hand back, making the aura disappear from claws. “Now, if you excuse me, I need some space.”

Taking a few steps from the two ponies and fellow dragon, Haru placed his right claw over his belt buckle. “DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

Haru’s belt buckle immediately flashed brightly before it transformed into its bulkier form. With a quick flick of the hand emblem on the belt, Haru lifted his left claw up. “Sha ba do be Touch Henshin! Sha ba do be Touch Henshin!”

With a loud sigh, Haru slipped his left hand in front of his glowing belt, “Henshin.”

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

Throwing his left arm to the side, Haru called forth the fiery red runic circle. Rarity’s eyes widened as she watched the circle engulf the dragon’s body. When the circle was finished, Wizard stood before the two mares and dragon, the large rubies on his suit and mask. Haru crossed his arms and sighed loudly as he waved his left hand through the air, “It’s showtime… yay.”

“You don’t sound too excited like you usually do,” Spike pointed out as he walked up to his masked dragon friend.

“Of course I’m not excited,” Wizard sighed back as he shook his helmeted head. “I usually don this armor when I’m about to save somepony or fight a Phantom, showing off like this isn’t my style. When I’m in action, that’s when I show off.”

“I must say!” Rarity exclaimed as she galloped up to Wizard, and circled him. “Such fine materials! Such a unique and bold design! The chain of rings on the side add a bit of beauty too! The way it seems to just scream high culture! I’ve never seen such a bold outfit before!”

Wizard tilted his head, “Well, thanks I guess. Glad you like it.”

“Mister Souma, I must know how you came across this sort of outfit!” Rarity continued on as she observed the bracelet that was clamped around Wizard’s tail. “And these jewels as well!”

“This suit is a physical manifestation of my magic,” Haru explained, his spirits lifting up slightly. “By using this ring, I can filter the magic and it’ll produce this suit. Depending on the ring, my raw magic can change, same thing with the suit.”

“You mean this suit can change?” Rarity inquired as she looked slyly at Wizard. “Do tell.”

“These are rubies,” Haru explained, motioning to the jewels on his chest and helmet. “The other forms turn these into sapphires, topazes, or emeralds.”

“I see!” Rarity exclaimed. “Mister Souma, if I may be so bold, would you mind allowing me to copy the design of your suit? It’s simply magnificent and so fancy! Why, I can already imagine a beautiful dress based off this!”

Now this was something that made Wizard chuckle as he scratched the side of his mask, “If you like this, I can even make this outfit be appropriate for formal occasions.”

“You can?” Twilight asked.

With slight chuckle, Wizard fitted a new ring on his right hand and immediately waved in front of his belt. “DRESS UP – PLEASE!”

A larger runic circle appeared in front of Wizard and as he stepped through it, both he and the circle spun around until the circle was absorbed into the suit. When Wizard stopped spinning, there was an obvious change to his outfit – Atop of his head was a pure white top hat with a black band around the base, a large glittering bowtie around his neck, his black pants were replaced with white dress pants with white dress shoes at the bottom, and in his right hand was a long white cane topped off with a ruby that he spun around before he clacked it against the floor.

Tipping his hat slightly, Wizard bowed towards the trio before him, “Ta-da! Fancy, no?”

“Uh, how’s that supposed to help you?” Twilight asked.

Wizard merely spun around to allow his coattails to flutter in the air, “Well, this is more for civilian mode – And as you’ll see, sometimes the rings I make often have some really weird results.

“This is one is a good example but the Smell Ring I used also worked. Besides, you never know what can be useful in the real world.”

“So, this is what your magic perceives to be fancy?” Spike asked as he took the cane from Wizard’s hand, smelling the ruby atop of it.

“In a word, yes,” Wizard answered as he ran a claw along the rim of his hat. “So Miss Rarity, does this fit your fancy?”

“The oversized bow is a little gaudy,” Rarity stated bluntly.

Wizard froze slightly, unaware that Spike had just taken a bite out of the ruby on the cane. “Excuse me?”

“I’m just saying, the rest of the outfit looks amazing,” Rarity stated as she used her magic to pull at the large bowtie at Wizard’s neck. “But this is just offsetting. It completely clashes with the classy nature of the suit! And something so well designed and crafted shouldn’t have that mark on it!”

If his eyes were visible, Wizard would’ve rolled them.

TTTTTT

After allowing Rarity to sketch the details of his suit (minus bowtie), Haru had dispelled his suit. The two mares and two dragons were circled around a table in Carousel Boutique, on the table were a number of the rings that Haru had stashed away in his jacket, including all four of the larger Style rings (that Haru had dubbed). Although, those four rings weren’t on the table for too long, all four of them were lifted up by Rarity’s magic so she could observe them closer.

“I must know how you craft these rings, Mister Souma,” Rarity exclaimed as the flame style floated down in front of her eyes. “Although, I must admit, I’m a little disappointed that you don’t have any in purple.”

“I don’t get to pick the colors,” Haru explained as he picked up a few of the rings off of the table. “And I don’t get to pick what the rings can do. It’s usually a shot in the dark, and so far, I like to think I’ve been kind of lucky with them.”

The rings floated back down into Haru’s claws before he pocketed them.

Twilight cleared her throat, “So, how exactly do you make the rings?”

Haru smirked as he lifted a ring up on his right hand and brought it to his belt buckle, “One second and I shall show you.”

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

A smaller runic circle appeared in the middle of the table, and Haru reached into it. A few seconds passed before Haru pulled out a small woven sack with the circle popping out of existence.

“Oh my, that’s a rather handy spell,” Rarity stated with a smile. “It could help with me sending my orders to my customers or getting materials faster! Mister Souma, would you be willing to help me with that?”

“As long as I know the exact location,” Haru stated as he began to open the sack. “It shouldn’t be a problem, even living beings can go through the Connect spell, so maybe later we can discuss business.”

“Excellent!” Rarity crooned as she clapped her hooves a few times.

Twilight sighed as Haru finally opened the woven sack, revealing about six different jagged stones that bounced about the table. “What are these? They don’t look like jewels.”

“These are magic stones,” Haru explained as he picked one up in his claws. “While they’re not as pretty as jewels, they have unique properties to them – They contain essence of magic, and like jewels, they can be found almost all over Equestria.”

“How do they taste?” Spike asked as he reached for one of the magic stones…

… Only to have his hand slapped by Twilight’s hoof. “Spike!”

“Nah, it’s alright Twilight,” Haru stated as he flicked one of the six magic stones towards Spike. The small dragon caught the stone and licked his chops. “These are only a handful that I’ve found around Ponyville, and I can always find more anyway.”

Spike tossed the magic stone up into the air before it landed in his mouth and he bit down. The young dragon chewed a few times before his eyes widened and he spat out the chewed up bits from his mouth. “BLEH!”

“Spike!? What’s wrong?!” Twilight asked as she galloped to her scribe’s side. “Did you choke or something?!”

“N-No! That magic stone,” Spike sputtered as he stuck out his tongue and used his claws to scrap off the remains of the magic stone. “TASTED AWFUL! It was like that one time you tried to make chocolate mouse without your magic!”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Twilight sighed as she rolled her eyes.

Haru shrugged his shoulders with a nervous grin on his face, “Sorry about that Spike, I didn’t expect it to taste bad. I never had the need to eat these things.”

“It’s okay,” Spike groaned, a little down trotted. “Let’s just call us even for me taking a bite out of Garuda.”

“You did what to Garuda?” Haru asked with a raised brow.

“Uh, so Haru!” Twilight interrupted. “How do you turn these into rings?”

For a moment, Haru just leered at Twilight and Spike, but kept his tongue still as he reached into his jacket and pulled out another ring. Holding it between his fingers, Haru showed the ring to the unicorns and fellow dragon, revealing that carved in the ring was a dragon symbol that had a ring held between its wings. “This is the Ring Ring. And I realize that’s a redundant name, it’s just what my buckle says what it is.”

To prove his point, Haru slipped the ring on and held his right claw over his buckler, “RING – NOW!”

Haru quickly held his hand over the remaining five magical stones, with a runic circle appearing over them. But instead of the red runes that usually appeared with Haru’s spells, the circle was a bright white with slightly different markings on it than, almost making it more regal and superior than the usual runic circle.

The stones flashed a bright golden light before they popped, revealing five silver rings with the orange jewels now expertly cut with symbols on them. Haru rubbed the bridge of his nose with a smile on his face, “Ta-da! And with that, five new rings and five new spells!”

“Tell me something Mister Souma,” Rarity poked one of the rings with her hoof. “Does that ring work on regular jewels? It would save me a lot of money to have customized jewelry for my own personal collection of accessories.”

“I suppose I could try it out, I don’t see the harm,” Haru answered blinking at the ring on his claw.

Rarity squealed as her eyes brightened, “You are simply divine, darling!”

Chuckling sheepishly, Haru rubbed the back of his head. He was about to say something back, when he felt an icy chill run down his spine making him shake slightly. ‘I sense a killer intent!’

Moving his eyes, Haru realized that Spike was glaring at him, and normally the younger dragon was calm and collected. But the look that Haru was getting was enough to scar anyone if they looked too long at it.

Haru coughed loudly as he lifted up one of the rings, “SO! Who wants to try one of these new spells out?! Hehe…”

“You mean others can use this sort of magic that you can do?” Rarity questioned as she used her own magic to levitate one of the rings from the table. “So, I can use that Ring Ring of yours?”

“Well, I gotta be around to activate the magic,” Haru explained as he removed the Ring Ring and pocketed it. “But whoever wears the ring gets the effects of the spell. So, if you had the Dress Up Ring, you’d be in a very fancy outfit that my magic would deem appropriate.”

“Haru, before that, I have to ask you a question,” Twilight interrupted.

This garnered the others’ attentions towards the inquisitive unicorn, “I noticed something with that Ring Ring. Normally when you use your spells, I usually hear the word ‘please’, but for that one, I heard the word ‘now’. What does that mean?”

Haru pulled out the ring once more and admired it for a few seconds, “… This ring was a gift from my master.”

It didn’t take long for that fact to sink into Twilight’s mind, “A master? You have a master?”

“Well, kind of,” Haru replied as he tossed the Ring Ring back into his jacket and quickly lifted up another ring from the table. “But hey, enough about that, let’s get back to these rings!”

Twilight frowned, but didn’t say anything. In the last few days that she was able to talk to Haru, she had learned a few things about him. Other than just his magical prowess, he had a talent for baking (as evidenced of how he was able to make fresh baked goods), and one little tick he had was that he wasn’t really interested in talking about certain subjects.

One such example was how he discovered how to use magic, he always changed the subject when that came up.

And not wanting to have the dragon run off again, Twilight decided to let him decide when the appropriate time was that he’d tell them this stuff.

“So, who wants to try one of these lovely rings first?” Haru asked as he looked at Rarity, Twilight and Spike.

Before anypony could say a word, Spike scooped up one of the rings – A ring that had a dragon flexing its wings with a flame atop of its head. “I’ll give it a go, I hope that’s okay with you Haru.”

‘I guess I owe the little guy a little bit,’ Haru thought to himself as he stood up. “Alright Spike, all you have to do is hold your hand in front of my belt.”

Spike casually did so, and the belt buckle lit up brightly.

“EXCITE – PLEASE!”

As the light from the belt disappeared, Spike lowered his arm. After a few seconds, the small dragon sighed loudly, “Haru, I think that this ring might be a…”

It was then a powerful red aura rushed over Spike’s body and the strangest thing happened to the baby dragon. At first, the purple dragon’s body began to become sleeker and he grew taller, rivaling the height of Haru. Then, just as Spike was about to say something, his muscles bulged out, his chin defined and even his spines looked sleeker.

Haru’s and the two mares’ jaws just dropped at the suddenly matured Spike.

The now muscular dragon lifted up his claws and blinked a few times, “WHOA! THIS FEELS… AWESOME! WHAT DO YOU THINK RARITY!? IS THIS MACHO OR WHAT?!”

Even his voice sounded more mature, and managed to send his three friends flying from the table with just his excited shouting. “Whoops, sorry!”

Luckily, Twilight and Rarity had landed on something soft and didn’t get hurt at all.

Unfortunately, they landed on Haru, who was bent at an irregular shape at the moment. “Ow… Spike, being so big and all, you think you could straighten out my spine?”

“Sure!”

Five minutes later, Spike was back to his normal self with the ring safely tucked into Haru’s jacket. The red dragon winced as he sat back down on the floor, “Well, that one looks like it’s promising for what I do.”

“I’m just glad that my Spikey-Wikey’s back to his cute little self,” Rarity stated as she patted Spike on the head gently with one of her hooves.

The young dragon smiled brightly as the blush returned to his cheeks.

“Okay, anyone else wanna volunteer?” Haru asked.

“I don’t know Mister Souma,” Rarity mused with a worried look on her face. “I’d rather not risk my shop or Spikey-Wikey again.”

“I’m sure the rest of the rings aren’t that dangerous, Rarity,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly as she used her magic to pick on up. “Look at this one, its got a picture of Haru’s suit on it with musical notes on it. I’ll even prove that this ring isn’t dangerous. I’m sure this ring isn’t dangerous at all, right Haru?”

Haru honestly didn’t know, but he nodded.

Twilight smiled nervously as she lifted up one of her front hoofs and had the ring slide on it, the ring actually resizing to fit her leg. Slightly hesitant, Twilight lifted the same hoof to Haru’s belt buckle, making the magical charm glow brightly.

“DANCE – PLEASE!”

“Did that thing just say dance?” Twilight asked before a purple aura began to overtake her entire body.

A bright purple light flashed in Twilight’s eyes before she leapt off of the ground and onto the floor a few feet away from the table. She stood up on her hind legs before she began to dance around the floor, falling to her side to allow one of her left front legs to support her weight.

With a single push, she flipped back on her hind hooves and spun around in place before she slipped to her back to continue her spin. When her spin ended, the purple mare got to all four of her hooves and pushed her hind legs up into the air. Twilight lifted up one of her front hooves and bounced a few times before she leapt backwards. The lavender mare continued her dancing, flipping and spinning through the boutique.

When the aura around Twilight was beginning to die down, she stood on her hind legs and threw her right front hoof into the air and shouted, “Kotae wa kiitenai!”

Haru just raised a brow while Rarity and Spike applauded the rather fancy, yet totally out-of-character, hip hop dancing that was just performed of their friend. “Twilight, dear, I had no idea you were so limber.”

“N-Neither did I!” Twilight admitted as she slumped to the ground, completely tired. “And… What was that?! It was like I was possessed by something!”

“I honestly have no clue,” Haru replied as he walked over to Twilight, offering a clawed hand to help her up. “Other than for a party, I can’t see the practical application for that ring. Still, it looked very fun to watch.”

“Yeah, fun,” Twilight sighed as she was helped to her hooves.

“So, three rings left,” Haru replied looking back at the table. “I guess I’ll try them out myself. I wouldn’t want anyone to get…”

“Actually, I would like to try one,” Rarity announced as she used her magic to make one of the fly up in front of her. “Mister Souma, if you could be so kind.”

Haru looked at Twilight, and the two just shrugged each other.

With her ring selected and snuggly around her hoof, Rarity trotted over to Haru and lifted up the ring towards his belt buckle. “PERFUME – PLEASE!”

“Perfume?” Haru, Twilight and Spike questioned as a lovely purple aura flowed over the white unicorn’s body.

That’s when a lovely fragrance filled the air, Haru’s licked his chops, while Twilight seemed to be reinvigorated by the scent. Spike still seemed to be swooned, but he sighed a lot more often, “My lovely Rarity, you smell like the greatest of fire rubies.”

“Rubies?” Haru questioned with a raised brow. “What are you smelling? I can smell fresh out of the oven powdered sugar doughnuts, I haven’t had fresh doughnuts that smelled like that since I was in Canterlot.”

“Hmm, I think this perfume ring creates an aroma that is different for everypony,” Twilight observed with a smile on her face. “I, myself, can clearly smell the scent of fresh ink on a new manuscript, with a dash of lilac.”

“I’m starting to fall in love with your magic, Mr. Souma,” Rarity admitted as she took a whiff of her own new magical scent. “Would you be so kind as to allow me to use this ring for the Gala?”

“Gala?” Haru questioned with his head tilted slightly. With a snap of his claws, Haru smiled sheepishly. “OH! You mean the Grand Galloping Gala, yeah sure, I don’t mind.”

“You know about the Grand Galloping Gala. Mr. Souma?” Rarity asked.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Haru retorted as he rubbed chin. “It is one of the greatest events in all of Equestria for anypony. Hosted by Princess Celestia in Canterlot every year, it is filled with nobles, amazing treats and classical music.”

“Wow, I didn’t think you’d know about that,” Twilight admitted. “Aside from Spike, I didn’t think dragons were interested in Pony Culture. Then again, I’ve only known two dragons, and they’re both in the room.”

“We’re probably just both special cases,” Haru suggested as he walked up to the table and picked up one of the remaining two rings. “Well, I guess it’s my turn then. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky too.”

“Does testing the rings usually end up with bad results?” Twilight mused.

“Sometimes at first,” Haru answered as he fitted a ring onto his claw. “But trust me on this, after I see the ring in action, I can usually work the bugs out of it. Now, let’s see what this one can do.”

Haru floated his hand in front of the hand emblem, and the buckler called out, “SMALL – PLEASE!”

Before anypony could say anything, three runic circles appeared around the dragon’s body. The circles then began to shrink down in size, with Haru shrinking down at the same time with the rings. When the runic circles disappeared, Haru was barely over two inches tall. Twilight had to crouch slightly to look at Haru, “Wow, you know, you actually look pretty cute at that size.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?!” Haru questioned in a voice that was a lot higher than normal.

Spike just laughed a few times at his now ‘smaller’ dragon counterpart, “HAHAHAHAHAHA! OH MAN! SAY SOMETHING ELSE!”

Haru just rolled his eyes when he saw a shadow lurking underneath the table, “Huh? What is that foul beast?”

Slowly inching out from the table was a rather large (to Haru’s current form) Persian cat with a purple ribbon atop her head and an opal-studded collar. The cat slowly lurked towards the shrunken dragon, making Haru step backwards slightly.

Rarity huffed as she leered at the smaller dragon, “How rude! That is no beast! That is my lovely Opalescence. She is a pristine Persian, one whom I love and groom all the time.”

“And I can see that she’s well groomed,” Haru admitted as he was lifted up by his tail, Opalescence lifting him up with her mouth. “But, I’m more concerned with the fact that she’s trying to EAT me!”

“Opal! No!” Rarity yelped as her horn glowed brightly, the same aura appearing around Haru. “You’ll spoil your dinner!”

Haru popped out of the Persian cat’s mouth and floated through the air, the dragon rolled his eyes. “Yes, Celestia Forbid that I cause your poor little kitten indigestion.”

After Haru had returned to his normal size, the dragon was pocketing the rings into his jacket, “Well, thanks for helping me test these rings, it’s been a pleasure to meet you Miss Rarity, and…”

“Wait!” Spike announced as he reached over the table. “There’s still one more ring left!”

Haru sighed as Spike held up the ring for all to see, the ring itself was different from the others and had silver covering most of the jewel, save for two parts that looked similar to a pair of eyes. The silver itself was shaped rather weird, a soft triangular shape with a pair of wing-like protrusions on its side. Over the ‘eyes’ atop of the ring were two large antennae that looked almost like narrowed eyebrows.

“Yeah, with the way this batch has been going, I’m not too sure about this one,” Haru explained as he took the ring from Spike. “I’ve never had a ring like this one before, and frankly, I’m a little scared of what this one can do.”

“It hasn’t been that bad of an experience,” Twilight said.

“You weren’t almost eaten,” Haru retorted with a flat look. “You got to boogie, Spike became a macho dragon, and Miss Rarity found herself a cost-effective way to save perfume. So, if I’m being a bit blunt here, I’m not going to test this one cause I don’t want anypony to get hurt.”

“Then Mr. Souma, we could test it outside?” Rarity suggested. “That way my shop will be spared of any damage, and there would be more room to dodge any collateral damage.”

“Come on Haru, aren’t you a little curious about the ring?” Twilight questioned.

“The ring does look real cool,” Spike chimed in.

Haru just sighed as he donned the ring.

TTTTTT

A few moments later, the small group was outside Carousel Boutique, with Haru standing a few yards away from the two unicorns and smaller dragon. Haru looked at the weird ring and squinted slightly, ‘Now that I get a closer look at this thing – It kinda reminds me something I saw when I was just starting to get used to my magic.

‘That was almost as weird as the week before. Almost.’

“You ready Haru?” Twilight called out.

Haru shook his head, before he gave a thumb claw up. Taking a deep breath, Haru hesitantly waved his hand in front of his belt buckle. For a second nothing happened, but that’s when the belt glowed a bright white. “FOURZE - Uchū kitā!”

“What the Tartarus?” Haru questioned as large white runic circle appeared overhead. But, besides the color, there was something different – The center of the runic circle was replaced with a flat version of the ring that Haru just used, and around the symbol were several numbers (one through forty).

The circle sparked before a single blur fell from the circle and crashed next to Haru, creating a large amount of dust to fly up from the ground near the surprised dragon.

Twilight and the others watched as Haru investigated the figure.

The blur was actually a rather trim and tall brown earth pony colt, with a short black mane that was gelled into the style known as a pompadour. The colt himself was dressed in a black, school uniform jacket with a chain around his neck that had a dog tag attached to it. The pony himself was rather strange with his choice of hair style and clothing, but Haru noticed that there was an odd symbol for his cutie mark – It looked to be a sky blue ‘40’ with several white, blue and teal stars around it.

‘Kinda looks Twilight’s symbol, only different in color and the forty,’ Haru thought to himself as he knelt down to the colt’s side, shaking the knocked out colt’s body slightly. “Hey, are you alive?”

The odd colt stirred before he shook his head, leering at Haru before he jumped to his hooves, “Oi! What just happened!? One minute I’m in class, next thing I know there’s this bright light and…”

The colt just stopped and looked at Haru, a more intrigued look on his face. “Hey, do I know you?”

Haru looked at the colt with a tilted head. “Hmm, I dunno. Your face I don’t recognize, but the voice does ring a bell.”

The colt puffed out his chest, rapped his hoof against his chest a few times before he pointed said hoof at Haru. “I’ll pay you back for pulling me from class, but for now my friend, allow me to burn my face and name into your mind! Kisaragi Gentarou! I’m the stallion who will befriend any and all ponies!”

“Haruto Souma,” the magical dragon replied looking at the hoof. The hoof didn’t lower, so Haru used his claw to grip the hoof, “That’s quite a claim, especially since I’m not a pony, I’m a dragon.”

“That doesn’t matter!” Gentarou replied as he began to shake Haru’s claw. “Dragon, pony, machines, I’ll befriend everyone! That includes jerks like you.”

“Uh, right, well I apologize,” Haru said as he lowered his head slightly. “I was testing something out, and it was just an accident that you got pulled out here.”

Gentarou smiled brightly as he pulled his hoof away, only to use his hoof to tap into Haru’s claw, then bump it from top and whap it from the bottom. The dragon blinked a few times as the weird colt smirked wildly. “And with that, we’re true buds Haruto!”

“I can’t believe that’s all it takes for you to consider me a friend,” Haru admitted with a roll of his eyes.

“Nah, that’s not all,” Gentarou chuckled as he tapped Haru’s shoulder a few times. The friend loving colt pointed towards the dragon’s belt. “Cause I just figured out who you are!”

“Oh?” Haru questioned with a claw to his chin.

“Yeah! You’re Wi…” Gentarou started to say until he stopped. “Wiz… Wii…Ah! I can’t pronounce it! We’re warriors who fight ponity’s enemies in secret!”

Haru’s eyes widened when he heard that, then with a sly look of his own, Haru lifted his arms up, “Well, I’m just a meddling mage, Wizard.”

“AH! Yes! That’s who you are!” Gentarou announced as he pumped one of his front legs in the air. “Although, I wasn’t expecting to see a dragon be behind the mask.”

“And I wasn’t expecting an Earth Pony in that kind of a suit,” Haru retorted with a shrug. “I see you managed to survive that ordeal.”

“Right back at ya!” Gentarou laughed as he threw a front leg around Haru’s neck. “And that’s why we’re friends! Only a true friend helps another in a pinch!”

“Haru, who is this?”

Both Haru and Gentarou turned to see that Twilight, Rarity and Spike had walked up to the two ‘friends’. When Gentarou’s eyes landed on the two mares, he gripped his chest and his eyes widened, “So pretty! This place isn’t half bad! Haruto! You are a true friend!”

Gentarou removed his arm and trotted up to the two mares, a friendly smile on his face, “I’m the trashiest of trash! The stallionest of stallions!”

The easily excited colt stood up on his hind legs and used one of his front hooves to beat against his chest before he held it in front of the two mares, “Kisaragi Gentarou! And I am the stallion who will befriend everypony here at… Uh, where am I?”

“Ponyville,” Haru stated with a loud sigh following. “And you do know what trash means, right?”

“It means the stallionest of stallions!” Gentarou proclaimed as he placed both of his front hooves at his hips. “And any friend of Haruto’s is a friend of mine!”

“My, Mister Kisaragi, you certainly have a ‘way’ with words,” Rarity pointed out with a nervous chuckle. “And such a ‘bold’ fashion sense.”

“Rarity!” Twilight hissed slightly.

Gentarou merely laughed loudly as he landed on his front hooves, “Not like I can match up in style like you. Besides, friends can be honest with friends! So, Haruto, who are these…”

Before Gentarou could even finish his sentence, he popped into the same runic circle that he appeared from and disappeared without a trace. Twilight, Rarity and Spike jumped in surprise at the quick disappearance of the mysterious colt. Even more concerning was that Haru was now on the ground, trying to catch his breath.

“Haru! Are you okay?” Twilight asked as she used her magic to help the red dragon sit up. “What just happened?”

“I ran out of magic,” Haru answered as he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “It’s kind of a side effect of using new rings – Since I haven’t gotten used to using them yet, my body uses a lot more magic in order to get used to them. And since I just summoned Gentarou, I can only assume that my magic pulled him from where he was, and my magic couldn’t sustain keeping him here, so he probably just popped back where he was before.”

“So, who exactly was that?” Spike asked. “You two seemed like you knew each other.”

“Well, I met the guy a little after I got my spells,” Haru explained as he took the ring from his claw and held it up. “I was still a newbie when I met him, but he was in trouble, so I helped him out. We’re kind of in the same business.”

“You mean he fought Phantoms?” Twilight inquired.

“Phantoms?” Rarity questioned with a slightly confused look. “You fight ghosts, Mister Souma?”

“Oh, right, you don’t know Rarity,” Twilight muttered sheepishly. “I’ll explain it in a little bit.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call them Phantoms,” Haru continued with a wave of his free hand. “But something like that. It’s kind of complicated, so let’s just say, I’m not alone in the cause.”

“Does that mean he has a suit similar to yours?” Rarity inquired as she trotted up closer to Haru. “Oh, if it’s even half as nice as yours Mister Souma, then I could get even more inspiration!”

“I’ve seen it, and it’s not what it’s called fashion savvy,” Haru sighed as he got to his legs, shakily standing up. “Anyway, I need to get some rest to recharge. Could someone help me back to the library?”

“Spike, if you could?” Twilight asked her scribe. “I still need to talk to Rarity about a few things.”

“Sure, I guess,” Spike sighed, not wanting to leave Rarity’s side. But if it got Haru away from his love, then he was all the more willing to do so.

The two dragons slowly made their way from Carousel Boutique, and when they were out of eyesight, Rarity lifted up one of her fine hooves to reveal a familiar ring. “Twilight, darling, you don’t think Mr. Souma would mind me keeping this one, do you?”

“Rarity!”

TBC

Spell 7 - The Pranks

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I’m the man that will make all students become my friends.
- Kisaragi Gentarou

TTTTTT

Spell 7

The Pranks

TTTTTT

My dearest student,

I am glad that you have been continuing your studies in friendship, and I am also happy that you are making new friends. This Haru sounds like an interesting character, and I would like to meet him sometime in the future.

That being said, Twilight, the next time that Spike is on official Canterlot Business, I would like to ask that you send this Haru with him. These Phantoms that you wrote about are rather troubling, but I would like to talk to your new dragon friend first hoof before I can confirm anything.

If he refuses to come on the pretense that he can’t leave Ponyville out of somepony’s safety, tell him not to worry. He is not the only one with unusual forms of magic in Equestria.

With Love,

Princess Celestia of Equestria

Twilight had to read the letter quietly to herself for a second time.

The letter had arrived early in the morning, Spike was barely awake when the letter arrived, and at least it woke up the little baby dragon from what little remains of sleep were in his system.

At the very least, Haru was still asleep when Twilight had received the letter. The sleeker dragon usually slept till noon most days, of course, that’s because he kept using his magic on the prior day, either to help around the house, run some errands or to use them to allow Twilight to observe the magic that was used.

And frankly, she was learning a lot about Haru’s magic! She also had to admit that using some of his spells were quite fun. Although, she skipped out on the Dance Spell (once was enough for her), but other spells were good.

A small neighing sound echoed through the air, making Twilight look at the nearby table to see the sapphire built Unicorn trying to get her attention with a note in its mouth. At first, seeing a small, toy-like unicorn move was rather unnerving, but Twilight got used to it.

“Thank you Unicorn,” Twilight used her magic to take the note from the smaller unicorn. “Although, I wish Haru would’ve come up with a much better name for you. Hmm, maybe I should come up with one sometime.”

Unicorn neighed loudly in agreement, which made Twilight smile as the note flew up to her eyes, “So, let’s see what this says.”

Dear Twilight,

Spike woke me up a few minutes ago, saying he had to run some errands this morning. I decided to go with him and see him to his first errand, after that, I’m going to try to find some work. I don’t like being a bum, so I’m at least going to try to chip in for groceries or something.

See you later this afternoon,

Haruto.

Twilight smiled at the small note. ‘I guess that explains why Unicorn’s here. Although, I’m rather surprised, Haru’s been really helpful. He saved Applejack and myself, but he doesn’t think that’s enough. I guess that’s good.’

Shaking that from her head, Twilight looked outside, seeing that it was a beautiful day. With a smile, Twilight used her magic to pull a nearby book from the shelves, “Might as well enjoy the day, care to join me… Hmm, how about Sapphire?”

Unicorn shook its head before it leapt onto the lavender mare’s back.

“We’ll work on that,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly before she began to trot through the library. ‘I wonder where Haru’s going to get work.’

TTTTTT

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

With the runic circle a few inches away, Haru reached into the circle with both of his arms and pulled out a few bags of sugar and flour. “Mr. Cake, where do you need these?”

“You can put them right atop of the shelves,” A tall, skinny yellow stallion replied as he reached into the runic circle. The stallion was sleek with a developed jaw, and a short carrot colored mane. “This feels rather weird to use, Haruto.”

“I know, I felt the same when I first reached into it,” Haru replied as he fitted the sacks of material onto the nearby shelves. “You should try going through it sometime, it’s kind of a trip when all of you goes through it.”

Mr. Cake chuckled as he pulled his front hoof out of the circle to reveal another sack of flour. “Well, I think I’ll just stick with using this spell to help with restocking.”

Haruto chuckled as he jumped through the circle and jumped right back out with a crate of materials in his claws. “You don’t know what you’re missing out on here Mr. Cake. Thanks for the work though, I really appreciate it.”

“I should be the one saying that,” Mr. Cake replied, a rather sheepish smile slipping on his face. “It usually takes me hours to get the restocking done by myself, but with you here and your magic, I think we might just get done within the hour.”

Haru stuck his head into the runic circle and immediately pulled back, dusting off his claws, “Actually, the cart outside is empty, we managed to get everything in here.”

Mr. Cake blinked a few times, “Wait, really?”

“You’re more than welcomed to see for yourself,” Haru offered as he gestured towards the connect portal.

“I’ll just look outside,” Mr. Cake replied as he trotted past the mythical dragon. “I’d be glad if you continue the stocking while I make sure we didn’t miss anything.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Cake,” Haru replied with a slight nod towards the older stallion who was trotting out of the room.

A few minutes later and with all of the shelves fully stocked with cooking materials, Haru was out in the main lobby of Sugarcube Corner, sipping on a cup of coffee with Mr. Cake. “Nothing like some coffee after hard work. Thanks again for the work, Mr. Cake.”

“Think nothing of it,” Mr. Cake replied with a wave of his hoof. “That magic of yours is rather handy.”

“It’s got its ups and downs,” Haru stated before taking a quick sip of coffee.

“Well, cutting down how long it takes to do stock is certainly an up,” Mr. Cake chuckled. “Especially since Pinkie’s taking a couple days off.”

“Oh right, I remember Pinkie works here,” Haru muttered to himself out loud. During his first night in Ponyville, Haru learned that fact when said pink mare had dragged him off to plan for his party. Subsequently, it was also during that time that Haru had met Mr. and Mrs. Cake of Sugarcube Corner and that Pinkie worked at the building and even lived in one of the spare rooms above.

The red dragon coughed as he rubbed the back of his head, “Yeah, uh, once again, I’m sorry for scaring your wife.”

“Don’t you worry, Mister Souma,” A charming, yet mature voice said, drawing Haru’s attention towards the doorway that led to the kitchen. Trotting carefully from the kitchen with a bag placed on her back was a mature blue mare with a slightly swirly, pink mane and tail. “I just wasn’t expecting to see a dragon so suddenly.”

Haru chuckled slightly before he placed his coffee mug on the table, “Uh, right, so, anyway I really appreciate you two giving me a temporary job, and if you ever need any extra help, I’d be glad to supply it.”

That’s when a rather loud growl echoed through the air, making Haru’s face light up a touch redder than usual, “Uh, sorry about that.”

“No need to apologize, dear,” Mrs. Cake replied with a warm smile on her face before she slid the bag onto the table. “It’s early, and from the sound of your stomach, you probably didn’t get a chance to eat, so here’s a little extra for coming by.”

Haru quickly peeked into the bag and licked his maw, “Plain sugar doughnuts, how much do I owe you?”

“They’re on the house dear,” Mrs. Cake replied with a warm smile. “After all, didn’t you come by just to get some breakfast in the first place?”

That was true, Haru was on his way to pick up a little something to tie him over during the morning, but, when he had come by Sugarcube Corner, the dragon had noticed that Mr. Cake was unloading materials from a cart. Hence, Haru offered to help the stallion with his work.

And rather to not break his back, Mr. Cake took the assistance happily.

“Yeah, but the few bits Mr. Cake gave me was enough,” Haru replied as he closed the bag.

Mr. Cake pushed the bag closer to Haru, “Nonsense, just think of it as a bonus for helping. There’s nothing wrong with accepting a gift every now and then.”

“Well, it would be a waste of good doughnuts,” Haru muttered as he inched one of his claws to the bag.

TTTTTT

Meanwhile in the Everfree Forest, Harpie looked over Minotaur – Though his armor was fully recovered, the larger Phantom hadn’t been able to move.

“How long are we going to wait for this?”

Harpie craned her head back to see another Phantom standing within the shadow of the trees, small sparks popping off its body. “Harpie, it’s been over a week since Minotaur failed. We need to get back to work and to Awaken the Gates!”

The Phantom stepped from the shadows to reveal a canine-like design with a slim body with crystalized flames that made up its armored body. The new Phantom’s face was overshadowed by a jaw-like helmet with the same flames that formed a bit of hound-like ears. “This reprieve is so boring.”

“Hellhound,” Harpie hissed as she lifted up a wing at the Phantom, Hellhound. “We can’t rush this, you know what we’re up against, and without half our muscle, we won’t be able to succeed. Especially with that Ring Bearing Mage around.”

“Then just send me out!” Hellhound laughed before he stomped one of his hind paws into the ground. “I can make this extremely showy! And I’ll get the job done! You know what I’m capable of!”

“Yes, and Gnome had the same mindset and a power similar to yours,” Harpie countered as she spun around, her back to Hellhound, which made the canine-like Phantom wince slightly. “And we both know what happened to him, even Minotaur, who’s physically stronger than both of you was defeated easily and almost got killed. If we’re not careful and pull all of our resources together, then we’re destined to only fail.

“And even if the Ring Bearing Mage doesn’t do us in, you know that either Master Phoenix or Madame Medusa will be the end of us.”

Hellhound sighed loudly as he kicked a nearby rock… Only to cry out as he lifted up his now bruised paw-like foot, “ARRGH! STUPID ROCK!”

Harpie rolled her eyes at her fellow Phantom, not even bothering to turn around at Hellhound’s pain. “You’re the one who kicked it, you know.”

“I KNOW!” Hellhound barked before he threw his arms up and down into the air. “But that still doesn’t change the fact that we’re stuck here and we’ve got two Gates just walking with targets on their backs!

“Com’on Harpie! You know what I can do! I can do this mission! I won’t fail like Gnome did! And we’ve got another Phantom nearby! We can’t let any other Phantoms make us look bad!”

“Hellhound!” Harpie roared back, turning around to glare at the complaining Phantom, her wings held up tall and her eyes narrowed down. “I am well aware of your abilities to sense Phantoms, but you won’t do anything unless I give the okay, is that clear?! We almost lost Minotaur, and I’ll be damned to Tartarus if we lose you or Dryad!

“Now, if you want to do something to quell your anxiousness, then you keep an eye on this other Phantom you sense. Hopefully if Minotaur recovers quick enough, then we might just be able to find another Gate that we can target.”

Hellhound growled before he jumped backwards and into the shadows, immediately disappearing into the darkness.

With a loud sigh, Harpie turned back to fallen Minotaur, “Minotaur, I don’t know what to do with that brother of yours… I don’t think I can keep him on leash for too much longer.”

TTTTTTTT

Haru took a whiff of the doughnuts from their bag. The sleek dragon had left Sugarcube Corner a few minutes ago, with a few bits in his black jacket’s pocket and a full bag of doughnuts in tow. He hadn’t eaten any of the doughnuts yet, mainly because he wanted to find a nice quiet place to eat his breakfast.

Although, he could’ve eaten at the pastry shop, that was interrupted when a real weird pegasus flew into the shop, yammering about all the muffins that the Cakes had put out for the morning rush. Normally, a grey pegasus with a yellow mane going gaga over muffins wouldn’t make Haru not eat his doughnuts.

But, those eyes. Dear Celestia those eyes!

That pegasus trotted up to Haru just as he was about to take a bite out of his first doughnut of the morning, and when he got a good look at her, he stopped in mid-bite when he looked into those yellow eyes of hers.

Those crossed eyes.

The dragon had fought against a couple of nasty creatures, could use magic and even acted cool and level headed under pressure. But, when he looked into the gaze of the wall-eyed pegasus before him, Haru was rendered speechless. Luckily, the mare seemed more preoccupied with her tirade of how muffins were superior to doughnuts (a point that he wanted to object to, but those eyes), so Haru couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Haru had slipped out from the business establishment when the pegasus’ order was ready and she turned to get said muffins.

Hence, that was why Haru was now walking the streets of Ponyville, reaching into the bag. ‘I guess I’ll enjoy some right now. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’

Pulling out the top doughnut from the bag, Haru stopped in his tracks and held the plain sugary treat in front of his maw. Taking a couple of whiffs of the baked good, Haru took simple bite from the doughnut and a large smile appeared on the mystical dragon’s face as he slowly chewed the delectable sweet. ‘With the name Cake, those two do know how to make a good doughnut!’

However, when Haru was about take a second taste, a blur of rainbow colors crashed into him, sending him and his bag of doughnuts flying through the air. The dragon, the bag of doughnuts, and even the blur crashed in the midst of Ponyville, yet, none of the walking ponies seemed to react to the devastating crash that just occurred.

When Haru regained his composure, he realized that a rainbow was blocking his line of sight, and the gears in his head began to turn. “Why the rush, Rainbow Dash?”

“OH RAINBOW DASH~!”

Half a second later, said pegasus had pushed herself off of Haru and landed on the ground in front of the downed dragon. “Can’t talk! Gotta fly!”

And just like that, in a speeding rainbow, the pegasus took off, leaving a confused Haru behind. Although, the pegasus simply flew up into the air and hid herself into one of the clouds overhead. The dragon shrugged his arms and began to push himself off of the ground, a loud crinkling and squishing sound made him wince with every move. ‘No… No no no!’

Using his tail, Haru peeled off the bag of doughnuts from his backside – the look of anguish plastered on his face was the stuff of legend. ‘My poor breakfast! You were so young, I only took one bite from one doughnut from the dozen! Rainbow Dash! I swear to you that my breakfast shall be avenged!’

Hunger can be very dangerous, turning a usually level headed character like Haru into a being of vengeance.

“Good morning Haru!”

With his thoughts of revenge popped away, Haru blinked to realize that Pinkie Pie was trotting towards him. Before Haru said anything, the dragon used his tail to pull the crushed bag and toss it into one of the nearby trashcans, “Oh, yes, morning to you too Pinkie – Enjoying your day off?”

Pinkie Pie stopped in her tracks and gasped, “How did you know that? AH! I get it! You’re not only a wizard, but you’re also a psychic! That’s amazing Haru! It’s like I learn something new about you every time I see you! Ooh! I bet that if I close my eyes, I’ll learn something else!”

The pink mare closed her eyes for a few seconds before she opened them, “So! What did I learn?”

“Uh, well, I’m not psychic,” Haru answered with a roll of his eyes. “I just helped out Mr. Cake this morning, and he told me it was your day off.”

“WOW! That’s still something that I learned!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she hopped around Haru. “But, its a bit of a bummer that you aren’t psychic, cause that would make finding Rainbow Dash so much easier!”

“Rainbow Dash?” Haru questioned as he looked up at the cloud overhead.

Rainbow Dash was still hiding in the cloud overhead, she even had her head poked out and shook her head while mouthing something to Haru.

An evil smirk crept on the dragon’s face as he nodded back to the pleading pegasus.

“So, why do you need to find Rainbow Dash?” Haru asked with his calm look back on his face.

“Oh, I just need a favor from her,” Pinkie explained with an equally innocent smile on her face, comparable to Haru’s. “But every time I try to talk to her, she’s busy. So, I learned that she’s got the next few days off, and I asked Mr. and Mrs. Cake to have the next few days off as well so I can get that favor!”

‘That’s kind of borderline stalker behavior,’ Haru thought to himself, but that evil smirk appeared back on his face. Simply pointing up with his right claw, the mystical dragon said, “Well, Pinkie, I may not be psychic but if you simply look up, then you’ll be able to find your rainbow.”

Pinkie’s smile brightened even more when she looked up at the cloud above the two to see a long rainbow-colored tail sticking out from cloud. “Oh Rainbow Dash~!”

With that slightly malicious call, Rainbow Dash rocketed out of the cloud, leaving a streaming rainbow behind the fleeing pegasus.

Pinkie Pie just giggled and began to hop calmly in pursuit.

Which left Haru with a small smirk on his face, soon his doughnuts would be avenged.

TTTTTTT

A little bit after setting Pinkie Pie to chase after the pegasus and snagging himself a piece of toast from a nearby café, Haru was aimlessly wandering around Ponyville. It was rather amazing that the populace had gotten used to seeing the red dragon walk around so quickly, then again, he wasn’t the first dragon that the town had seen before, and Spike was a real good first impression to the town’s folk on dragons.

Eventually, Haru’s wandering had brought him near the town square pavilion – Where Haru had found his fellow dragon running about the area trying to pick up a few loose scrolls that were strewn about. However, whenever Spike picked up one of the scrolls, the small dragon hiccupped a large green flame that made the scroll disappear in a magical burst.

In his time with Twilight and Spike, Haru learned that most of the time when the baby dragon used his green flame breath, the object that was engulfed in it wouldn’t get burnt. Rather, the item would be magically transported to Twilight’s teacher – Princess Celestia.

Although, it was rather odd to see his fellow dragon send random scrolls, he knew for a fact that Spike didn’t have them when the two left the library this morning.

With curiosity in his veins, Haru walked over to his fellow dragon who had just burned the last of the remaining scrolls accidentally, “Hey again Spike, what are you up to?”

The smaller dragon turned around, and was about to speak, only hiccup and unleash a green flame at the older dragon. Haru merely turned to the side to dodge the flames, “If you didn’t want to talk, you just had to say so.”

“N-No! I didn’t mean to do that,” Spike yelped as he waved his claws. “I just got scared into getting the hiccups!”

“I thought it was ‘get scared to get rid of the hiccups’,” Haru mused to himself with a shake of his head. “Nevermind. So, how’d that happen?”

“I was the target of a prank,” Spike explained, stifling a hiccup in the process. “Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie make a dynamic pranking team!”

A chill ran down Haru’s spine at that thought, ‘Holy Ishinomori! With the chaotic abilities of Pinkie and the fact that Rainbow might now have a grudge against me – This won’t end well.’

Haru shook his head, “So, they made you hiccup? That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“Well, not for me really,” Spike replied with a nervous smile on his face. “But, Princess Celestia, not so much. She must be buried in blank scrolls about now.”

“Spamming useless information, sounds like that can get annoying,” Haru muttered with a roll of his blue eyes. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, how can your dragon flames transport letters and such?”

“You mean other dragons can’t?” Spike questioned with a slight tilt of his head.

“I don’t know,” Haru replied with a shrug. “You’re technically the only other dragon I’ve met so far.”

Spike closed his eyes in deep thought, but after a few seconds he opened his eyes with an inquisitive gleam in his eyes, “Well, I’ll have to ask Twilight about that later. But Haru, I just thought of two things.”

“And what are those?” Haru asked as he took a seat at the pavilion’s stairs.

“Can’t you breathe fire?” Spike questioned. “I’ve never seen you do it, wouldn’t that be useful against Phantoms?”

“Actually, it wouldn’t,” Haru replied with a shrug. “I’m wearing a mask whenever I fight them, I’d probably just get the flames back in my face. And I suppose I should be able to breathe fire, I just haven’t seen a need to use it. My magic has it covered.”

“Could you at least try it?” Spike requested. “I wanna see what kind of flames you can breathe!”

With a roll of his eyes, Haru pushed him off of the steps and took a deep breath, “You know what? I’m curious too, but stand back.”

Both dragons took a few steps away from the pavilion, with Spike a little bit away from the older dragon. Haru shook his head before he took a deep breath and held it for a second. Then, calling forth the fire deep within his body, Haru opened his mouth…

… And a few medium sized clouds of smoke popped out as he wheezed between smoke clouds. After panting to get his breath back, Haru cleared his throat, “Okay, that was a bad idea.”

“Haru, do you know how to breathe fire?” Spike asked as he walked up to his fellow dragon.

Haru didn’t answer, instead he just turned his head and whistled a simple tune. Spike’s gaze didn’t waver, although it did dull slightly. The older dragon ceased his whistling and shrugged his shoulders, “Fine, I can admit it – I’ve never breathed fire before. But when I can use magic to control fire, water, earth and wind elements, as well as various spells, I think it’s a good trade off.”

“Yeah, but breathing fire’s just awesome,” Spike retorted.

“… Can’t deny that,” Haru admitted with a sigh following. “In any case, I need to get going Spike. See you back at the library later?”

Spike nodded, “After I get more scrolls, that’s where I’m heading next. It’s getting close to lunch anyway.”

At the mere mention of lunch, Haru’s stomach growled in protest, “Yeah, I’m hoping to get some lunch too. But this needs to take priority, so, just try to save me something, okay?”

“Sure thing!” Spike announced as he watched Haru walk off.

TTTTTT

Pranks in Ponyville were actually very well received by most of its citizens, especially if they were just harmless. And most of the pranks caused by the newly dynamic duo of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were just that. Sure, it made for a little bit of an annoyance for Spike, but still just harmless fun.

He wasn’t the only target of their pranks today though, especially when the two had just raided the local party and prank store.

With a lovely bouquet of flowers left at Carousel Boutique’s door, Rarity was given a rather charming gift from what she probably thought was from a secret admirer. Unfortunately for her, when she stopped and sniffed the flowers, Rarity had unknowingly sniffed up a large amount of sneezing powder. As anyone could imagine, this led to the fancy unicorn to have a sneezing fit.

The next victim of pranks was none other than Twilight, who was in the park jotting down notes in an empty scroll with Haru’s Unicorn in front of her. Unicorn was performing various tricks, including digging underground with its horn, which was interesting to the lavender unicorn. However, each time she turned away from her notes about Haru’s familiars, the ink that was written on the scroll faded away.

How Pinkie and Dash managed to swap out her usual bottle of ink with invisible ink would always be a mystery. Although, considering that Pinkie was capable of bending reality, anything was possible.

Back to the pranking, next on the list was Applejack – Or to be more general, Sweet Apple Acres. With the speed of a rainbow, the duo ponies had managed to pain a good portion of the apples on the farm into various colors and patterns. When Applejack had seen the result of the prank, and then the two other mares nearby snickering with paint palettes and berets, it didn’t take AJ long to realize what was going on.

Thankfully, when Applejack was throwing apples at Pinkie and Dash, one of the apples had landed in one of the many water barrels. This allowed AJ to realize that the apples were only painted in harmless water colors.

After getting chased off the apple orchard, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie found themselves at one of Ponyville’s lakes, setting up one of their pranks. With a fake squirting turtle toy, the two were laying in wait with a telescope to watch the other side of the lake where their trap laid.

Pinkie Pie jumped around their hiding place with the squirter pad in her mouth while Rainbow Dash was looking through the telescope to see whom would fall for their trap.

“Is anypony over there?” Pinkie asked excitedly, a slight squeak with each word. “Who’s getting squirt? Who’s getting squirt?!”

Without even looking away from the telescope, Dash snickered loudly, “Target in sight! Fluttershy!”

Pinkie’s eyes widened and she dropped the squirter, “What?! Nonononono! We can’t prank Fluttershy! She’s super sensitive! It’ll hurt her feelings! Even our most harmless prank!”

The rainbow maned pegasus sighed loudly as she pulled away from the telescope, “Yeah you’re right. What we need is another victim, one made out of tougher stuff.

“So, who’s it gonna be?”

Pinkie Pie snickered to herself as she looked at Rainbow Dash. Calming herself slightly, Pinkie spoke, “Oh, I’ve got somepony in mind… One of the toughest around!”

“Oh awesome!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, not realizing that there was black ink around her left eye. “Who? Who?! Wait! I know who you’re talking about!”

Pinkie snickered, realizing that she could keep her little prank on Rainbow Dash going on. “And who’s that?”

“Who else?” Rainbow asked with her nose held up. “He’s the only guy who can even come close to my awesomeness – He’s still about a hundred and fifty percent short of reaching my level, but he’s still closer than others in town!”

‘Besides, it’ll be fun to have a karma prank for him!’

“Who’s that?” Pinkie asked with her head tilted.

Rainbow Dash sighed again.

TTTT ~ 20 Minutes Later ~ TTTT

Haru didn’t know what he was looking at.

One minute he was looking for a few more magical stones (only finding one in his current search), and when he was on his way back to the town, the sleek dragon couldn’t help but blink at the weird sight before him.

In the middle of the road was a plain sugar doughnut that was on a fine little plate. Said plate was set upon a bunch of leafs that were expertly placed on the dirt road. “… Are you serious?”

Haru looked left and right, looking at the bushes and trees. His blue eyes looked around until he spotted a puffy patch of pink poking out of a nearby bush, and a slight stream of rainbow slipping from a branch.

The dragon shook his head, and was about to say something when his stomach growled loudly. ‘It’s an obvious trap, but it’s getting late for lunch – Luckily, I’ve got a way around this.’

“Sorry ladies,” Haru chuckled as he reached into his jacket, pulled out a ring and fitted it over his right hand. “But you’re going to have to do better than that.”

Haru slipped his hand over his belt buckle, “EXTEND – PLEASE!”

A runic circle appeared at the red dragon’s right, and he slipped his hand through it. His arm grew longer and slipped through the air until his claws reached the plate. “I was expecting something a little more creative than the old pitfall gag, especially from you Pinkie. Still, thanks for lunch.”

Haru’s claws gripped the plate and he quickly lifted it up from the leaves. However, there was a loud snapping sound as Haru pulled the plate far enough, and the dragon could see a rather large string attached to the plate.

The dragon’s eyes widened when suddenly the leafs pulled back and a white blur flew quickly the air. Before the dragon could react the white blur crashed into his face and made him stagger back a few feet.

Laughter filled the air as a silver pie tin fell from Haru’s face, revealing that what had just crashed into his face was a banana cream pie. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie popped out of their hiding places to laugh loudly at the dragon now.

“Lovely prank ladies,” Haru sighed as his arm retuned to normal, and he lifted the doughnut up to his banana cream-covered face. “But I still win in the end, because I have my doughnut.”

However, before the dragon could even place his other claw on the doughnut, the small pastry bulged and then exploded into a patch of confetti and streamers that flew around his body. The two mares just laughed even louder as Haru used his free claw to whip off some of the pie filling off of his face.

“That was *HAHAHAAHA* so awesome!” Rainbow Dash declared between laughs.

“A double whammy!” Pinkie Pie added through her own laughter.

“Yes, yes, a rather impressive joke,” Haru chuckled as he dropped the plate and began to clean his face. “But girls, let me warn you of something. Not everyone’s as good a sport at taking pranks.”

“Oh come on, Wizard,” Rainbow Dash laughed as she trotted up to the dragon and elbowed him. “Everypony likes a good prank.”

“Hey, I’m not saying anything bad about that,” Haru replied as he wiped off a dollop cream off of his nose. “I’m just saying that you have to pick carefully who and how you prank somepony, you never know how others will respond.”

“Aw, you’re just being a sore loser,” Rainbow Dash retorted.

Haru just sighed to himself.

While the trio was discussing the finer points of pranking, from one of the clouds that floated above them, a shadowed figure gazed down upon them. The figure sighed loudly as their legs kicked back and forth off of the cloud, “Well, that was boring. I thought it’d take longer to find Rainbow Dash… It’s kind of hard to miss a pony that encompasses a full spectrum of colors in just their mane.

“Oh well, I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining – compared to what I had to deal with beforehand, a little extra work shouldn’t be too hard to deal with.”

TBC

Spell 8 - The Brush Off

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Because there’s no one else but me who can do this.
- Godai Yuusuke / Kamen Rider Kuuga

TTTTTT

Spell 8

The Brush Off

TTTTT

The next day came quickly, the morning sun just over the horizon and lighting up Ponyville’s streets, with its citizens just barely waking up.

Oddly enough, Haru was up early and was walking through the town, holding up his latest ring up to gleam in the sun – The image on the ring a small dragon with its wings folded with more rings behind it. ‘A rather weird design, but then again, there isn’t much normal to my life.'

He had fashioned it last night with the Ring Ring, but instead of using the ring in Twilight’s house where it could potentially blow up the tree.

Hence the sleek dragon was on his way out of town to test it. Haru wanted to make sure that no one got hurt when he tested the ring out, and he hadn’t awoken Twilight or Spike this morning since it was only one ring – nothing to get too excited over. ‘I wonder what this thing can do.’

Haru would’ve continued on his trek out of town, but, that’s when the dragon heard a rather papery tweeting sound that was getting closer and coming up behind the sleek dragon. Haru turned around to see a familiar party-crazed pink pony, only he had to do a double take when he realized what accessories she had on today.

An arrow headband, a pair of goofy glasses with swirls on the lenses, a big rubber clown nose, a droopy mustache and a party kazoo in the pony’s mouth that she tweeted with every step the mare took.

And Haru just blinked a few times at the oddly accessorized mare, ‘Why is it that I’ve fought against a few Phantoms, including a Pranch Gnome, and yet I’m freaked out more by Pinkie Pie’s antics?’

“Morning Haru!” Pinkie Pie greeted as she trotted around the dragon. “Hope you’re still not sore about being pranked yesterday – It was all in the name of fun.”

“Well, with a face like that,” Haru chuckled as he pocketed his new ring. “I can’t help but smile. And I wasn’t really sore, I was just trying to warn you and Rainbow Dash about how pranks can backfire.”

“But it was funny, right?” Pinkie Pie inquired as she leaned closer towards the dragon.

With a sigh of defeat, Haru threw his claws up slightly, “Yes, it was.”

“Yay!” Pinkie cheered before she leapt up into the air a few feet. “OOOH! You know what would be amazing?! You should come with me and Dash today! I bet all three of us could come up with some super duper pranks! Especially with your magic.”

“I’m not much of a prankster…” Haru admitted as he rubbed the back his head’s spines.

Trailing off his little excuse, the dragon looked at Pinkie who had pulled down her goofy glasses to give Haru the biggest pair of puppy dog eyes that Haru had ever seen before in his life. ‘The cutesy… It’s too much!’

Two minutes later, Pinkie Pie was leading Haru out of town with the arrow headband now on his head. Apparently, Pinkie was on her way to wake up Rainbow Dash, who lived just outside of Ponyville.

When the two reached the place, Haru had to crane his head up and blink a few times at the floating mansion – With columns, rainbow decorations, fountains and even a miniature waterfall at the side. The dragon was awestruck at the cloudy home, ‘I guess it pays to be a pegasus, damn what a nice looking house.’

“Rise and shine Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie Pie called out to the floating house. “It’s a brand new day, and we’ve got a lot of pranking to do! I even managed to get a special guest to…”

That’s when an unfamiliar form popped out from the front door, and looking down at the earth pony and dragon was what appeared to be an eagle head with combed forward, white feathers. The eagle looked down at the two with her large, yellow eyes and observed the two.

“Ooh,” Pinkie stated.

“Huh,” Haru added.

Stirring conversation aside, from the higher level of the cloud mansion, Rainbow Dash flew off the clouds and head towards the ground. “Morning Pinks! Wizard!”

When the brash pegasus landed on the ground, the eagle flew from the house as well, revealing that it wasn’t an eagle, but rather a griffon!

“Gilda!” Rainbow called out to the descending griffon. “This is my gal pal Pinkie, this dragon over here is Haru.”

The griffon named Gilda took a good look at the two (during which Pinkie removed her gags, Haru however kept the arrow headband on) and turned slightly, “Hey, sup?”

“Guys, this is my griffon friend, Gilda,” Rainbow Dash introduced

“Cool! Uh, what’s a griffon?” Pinkie Pie asked.

“Griffons are rather interesting creatures,” Haru replied with a claw at his chin. “They’re part eagle and part lion, two beings that are considered kings of their dominions, and they are thought to be especially majestic creatures. They normally reside in the Griffon Kingdom to the south, but they’re not that common around these parts.”

“You forgot to mention that we’re a hundred percent awesome,” Gilda chimed in as she landed on the ground near the three. Gilda pulled Rainbow close before the two jumped from each other and exchanged a talon/hoof pump.

“Indeed,” Haru chimed back with a slightly flat look in his eyes.

“Gilda’s my best friend from my days at Junior Speedster Flight Camp,” Rainbow explained as a rather sly look appeared in her eyes. “Say, remember the chant?”

“Pswhay, who could forget that lame thing?” Gilda retorted raising an eyebrow at her pegasus friend. “They made us recite it every morning. I don’t think I’ll ever get that thing outta my head.”

“Sooooooo?” Rainbow Dash cooed as she leaned in closer to Gilda, and winked a few times at her griffon friend.

Gilda sighed and rolled her golden eyes, “Only for you Dash.”

Both Rainbow and Gilda flew up into the air, Rainbow Dash exuding energy while Gilda was less than enthusiastic as the two posed as they sang.

“Junior Speedsters are our lives,
Sky-bound soars and daring dives!
Junior Speedsters, it's our quest,
To some day be the very best!”

Both landed on the ground, Dash waving her front legs in the air while Gilda waved her talons. Pinkie was laughing loudly while Haru just stared blankly. ‘I think I need some brain bleach now.’

“That was awesome!” Pinkie announced as she quickly donned the wacky accessories on her face again. “And it gave me a great idea for a prank! You game, Gilda?”

“Huh, well, I groove on a good prank as much as the next griffon,” Gilda replied as she stretched her large wings. “Dash promised we get a flying session in this morning.”

Gilda flew into the air while Dash trotted over to Pinkie, “Yeah, uh, well, Pinkie Pie, you’ve still got Haru with you, but you don’t mind do you? Gilda just got here, so, we’ll catch up with you later.”

Although obviously disheartened, Pinkie Pie used her gag glasses to cover up her disappointed look, “Uh, sure, don’t worry about me! I’ll be fine! You two go and have some high-flying fun!”

Rainbow Dash looked back at Pinkie before she leapt up into the air, following Gilda as the two soared through the air.

With a sad tweet, Pinkie Pie slumped to the ground. Haru scratched the side of his head, “Uh, are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Pinkie sighed as she took off her goofy glasses.

“We could still pull some pranks,” Haru offered with a nervous smile on his face. “I’m not the best prankster, but, hey, I can learn.”

“That’s okay,” Pinkie sighed again. “I really appreciate that Haru, but, I a few of the pranks I had planned kind of need a winged companion.”

Haru smiled as he picked up the pranking gear that Pinkie had dropped to the ground, “Well, then how about I show you something amazing? I might not be able to fly, but we can still have some fun with some magic.”

Pinkie’s smile grew back on her face.

TTTTTT

Having reached a cleared out plain, Haru pulled off one of his rings and held it up to Pinkie Pie. “So, let’s have a little fun first. I believe you remember this spell.”

Slipping the ring on his claw, Haru brought his claw up to his belt buckle, “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Haru brought both of his hands up, and instantly two red runic circles materialized in front of the dragon. Pinkie nodded a few times. “Yup! Yup! You used that to ditch your party… We still need to finish that you know.”

“Uh, yeah,” Haru chuckled nervously as he cleared his throat. “Well cover that later, for right, watch and be amazed.”

Haru’s claws actually gripped both of the runic circles and he moved them about with his hands. With the circle in his left hand, Haru slipped it on one side of him on the ground, after which Haru placed the other runic circle a few feet away on the ground. “Now, here’s something I discovered when I first used this ring. Keep an eye on both connection portals.”

With a large smile on his face, Haru jumped up and landed atop of the ring. However, the red dragon sunk into the connection circle, while his clawed feet popped out of the other connection portal upside down. The rest of Haru disappeared into the ring while he fully appeared upside down from the other.

But that didn’t last since the dragon sunk back into the circle, with him appearing out of the original circle right side up. Haru began to sink again before his legs and tail popped out of the other one.

Pinkie’s eyes widened and a large, bright smile appeared on her face. “WOW! THAT’S AMAZING HARU!”

Haru laughed before he used his tail to pull him away from the two portals, “Care for a go?”

“DO I!?” Pinkie cheered before she leapt high into the air, and curled up. “Cannonball!”

Haru stepped back as Pinkie dropped through the portal, and popped up from the other one upside down, and thanks to gravity’s pull, she quickly fell once more. Haru watched with a warm smile on his scaly face, Pinkie Pie’s laughter echoing through the clear sky. “Haru – If you did this at your party, you would’ve been the coolest dragon around!”

“Well, it’s between me and Spike for that title,” Haru replied with a warm smile on his face as Pinkie Pie began to do extravagant poses whenever she popped out of the circles. “And he’s already gotten the ‘cutest dragon’ title to him. So, I’d like to think that I’d at least have the ‘coolest dragon around’ title.”

Using his tail to grab Pinkie’s waist, Haru stopped the young mare. “Aww, I was having so much fun.”

“I’m not stopping it,” Haru replied as his tail gently placed Pinkie Pie on the ground. “I’m just about to literally change it up.”

Using his claws to lift the magical circles up to be side by side, Haru clapped his claws and gestured to one of them. “Please step on through, but don’t go all the way through.”

Pinkie Pie raised an eyebrow, but trotted towards the circle on the right until she passed through it, her head and front legs poking out from the left circle. “Now what Haru?”

That’s when Haru’s head and front claws popped out of the right circle, a large smile on his face. “Now behold! You have become half dragon! And I have become half pony!”

Pinkie looked back and saw that on the other side of the runic circle, her flank was behind Haru while his red tail and legs were right behind her. Pinkie bit her lower lip before she exploded with laughter.

Even Haru laughed as he wagged his tail to match with Pinkie’s laughter.

A few minutes later, both Haru and Pinkie Pie were seated on the ground, the Connection Portals had faded away. Pinkie was still laughing while Haru just smiled, “Feeling better, I take it?”

Calming her laughter slightly, Pinkie grinned back at her dragon friend, “Yup! Thanks Haru! That was really fun! You should do that more often!”

The dragon cackled as he looked up into the sky, “Maybe I will in the future Pinkie, but anyway, I hope you’re not bummed about Rainbow not pranking with you today.”

“Nah, I’m just glad that I’ve found another friend!” Pinkie replied as she leapt to her hooves. “Gilda! Anypony who’s friends with Rainbow Dash has to be just as awesome, right?”

‘Well, then I guess that means you’re just as awesome in that regard,’ Haru thought to himself. Just as Haru was about to say this to Pinkie Pie, a familiar stream of colors flew through the sky overhead. “Hey, guess who?”

Pinkie looked up after following Haru’s claw to see that the rainbow above was descending towards them, “Rainbow Dash!”

Indeed, it was the sky blue pegasus that was quickly landing near the two, “Pinkie! Wizard! Glad to see you two!”

“Dash?” Haru asked as he pushed himself off of the ground and walked over to the mare. “Weren’t you with Gilda?”

“Yeah, well, we were having a race, but I kinda went extremely fast,” Rainbow explained with a slight blush on her face. “And I lost her. I was flying around trying to find her, but so far, no luck. You two didn’t see her, did you?”

Pinkie shrugged, “Nope! Sorry Dash!”

Haru was about to answer when something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. His eyes widened as he quickly slipped a ring over his claw and threw it over his belt. “DEFEND – PLEASE!”

Haru dashed past Rainbow Dash and threw his claw up into the air, creating a pure white, large version of his usual runic circle over the trio. One second later, a powerful burst of purple flames crashed into the barrier, shaking up both of the mare.

“Aw man, that’s whack!”

When the flames died down, Haru, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash looked towards the sky where a lowered cloud was floating in front of them. Seated on the cloud was a weird creature, a humanoid-like creature that had pure ebony skin with a sleek feminine build. The creature was dressed in a rather revealing, armored outfit similar to golden fitted top, a matching white hip belt, and a pair of red harem pants – All of which was used to show off her figure. The armor was adorned with several little coin-like charms, something you would see from Saddle Arabia. The creature’s face was completely blank save for the ebony skin and pair of yellow eyes, and atop of her head was a gold tiara that had a large tail of dark purple flames that looked to be her hair.

“Phantom,” Haru growled as he made his barrier disappear and reached into his jacket.

“Just my luck to run into a mage,” The phantom moaned as she shook her head, the flames following her. “And that’s totally lame to just call me Phantom! I’m Djinn! Not some common Ghul!”

Haru didn’t say a word as he looked back to Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, with a new ring donned on his right claw, Haru lifted his hand to his belt buckle. “DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

“Both of you, get out of here.”

With his left hand now with a new ring, Haru messed with his belt before he began to run forward. [i][b“Sha Ba Do Be Touch Henshin! Sha Ba Do Be Touch Henshin!”

“HURRICANE – PLEASE!

“Fuu Fuu Fuu Fuu Fuu Fuu!”

“Henshin!”

A green runic circle appeared in front of Haru, and as he leapt through it, the dragon was now covered in his triangular emerald themed Wizard garb. The air around Haru’s body dyed a bright green before he flew towards Djinn, leaving the two mares on the ground watching him charge the Phantom.

“He wasn’t kidding,” Rainbow muttered with her eyes widened. “He can fly!”

“Haru! Haru! He’s the dragon, if he can’t do it” Pinkie cheered with her hooves flapping in the air. “… Something that rhymes with dragon!”

Wizard shook his helmeted head as he spun around through the air before he unleashed a green twister covered kick towards the relaxed Djinn. “It’s showtime.”

“Puh-lease!” Djinn sighed before she leapt from the cloud, just as Wizard’s kick slammed into the cloud and dispersed the cloud. “No need to go postal, dweeb! I’m not after you, spaz!”

Using the wind to spin around, Wizard saw that the Phantom was diving towards the Rainbow and Pinkie, the two mares flying and galloping away, respectively. Fitting a familiar ring on his right hand, Wizard dove after the Phantom. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Djinn drew in a deep breath when she was near the two mares, the flame atop of her head growing more intense. “LATER LOSERS!”

Before the Phantom could attack, several streams of green light crashed into her back, forcing her head to look up and unleash several purple flames up into the air. Djinn turned around to see that Wizard was flying towards her with his gun aimed at her. “Oh that’s just whack!”

Wizard unfolded his gun into its blade form and continued his descent at Djinn. The phantom landed on the ground, her fiery hair warping until a good portion of the purple flames transformed into a crystallized scimitar that she swiped at the oncoming Wizard. Using the magical gale around his body, Haru flipped over the attack, and slammed his feet into Djinn’s back, sending her to the ground.

Quickly pushing herself off of the ground, Djinn looked around to see that the two mares had run out of sight. “You lousy dweeb! Don’t you know you’re not supposed to hit a lady?”

“Hard to see you as a lady when you attack other mares,” Haru replied as he charged, holding the blade downwards.

Djinn leapt into the air and brought down the scimitar at Wizard, who spun around and slammed his blade into the Phantom’s curved sword. Sparks and flames flew from where the two weapons clashed, and the two magical beings locked gazes.

Once again, the green gale wrapped around Haru’s legs, and propelled him, making the blade strong enough to break through Djinn’s scimitar. “WHAT!?!”

But Wizard’s sword continued along with the magical dragon, and he slashed his blade into Djinn’s side, sending her flying to the right with a flurry of purple sparks and flames exploding from her body. “GARGH!”

Wizard landed on his feet while Djinn crashed on the ground with a slight roll. The masked mage turned around casually and walked over to the Phantom. Djinn was trying to get to her feet, but slipped on the grass a few times.

“The finale,” Wizard announced before he dashed across the field, the green gale surging around his sword.

Wizard spun around when he was only a few feet from Djinn, but before the blade could connect, another blade shot out from Djinn’s shadow and blocked the attack. Both Wizard and Djinn were surprised as a dark and red blur leapt from the rest of the shadow and crashed into Wizard, sending him flying back with sparks flying from his body. “ARGH!”

The blur landed on the ground as Wizard spun through the air, using the green gale to make him correct himself through the air.

“Sorry, but the show has just begun,” cackled the blur, revealing a second Phantom – Hellhound – A crooked sword gripped tightly in his left hand. “Besides, ending this show so soon without a twist is just dull.”

“Another Phantom?” Djinn questioned as she struggled to get to her feet.

Hellhound spun around and wagged a finger, “Uh, uh, uh, remember your own words – ‘That’s totally lame to call me just Phantom’, I am Hellhound. A fellow Phantom, your ally, and most recently, your savior!”

Hellhound laughed loudly before several green shots crashed into his back and sent him flying over Djinn. The other Phantom blinked a few times before she turned to see Wizard had returned his sword into a gun that was smoking with green energy. “Here’s a tip, don’t show your back to the audience during a show.”

Tossing his gun into the air, Wizard reached for his chain of rings and grabbed the newest ring that he created earlier. ‘Might was well try this out right now.’

With the new ring on his finger, Wizard messed with his belt before he waved his right hand in front of his belt. “MULTI – ERROR!”

Wizard’s head lifted up in surprise at the words his belt chimed out, “What?”

Taking advantage of Wizard’s confusion, Hellhound got back to his feet and stood next to Djinn. “We’ll be back right after these intermissions!”

And like that, both Phantoms began to disappear into their very own shadows.

“Wait!” Wizard shouted.

Wizard jumped up to grab his gun and unleashed a volley of magical energy that flew towards the retreating Phantoms. However the onslaught of mystic onslaught crashed into the ground just after Hellhound and Djinn disappeared.

“Damn it,” Wizard growled as he lifted up his right hand to study the Multi Ring. “I should’ve tested this earlier… But, why didn’t anything happen?”

A loud sigh echoed from Wizard’s helmet as he looked around the vacant plains. ‘Two Phantoms though, this is just perfect – They’re starting to work together. And there’s also the fact that I don’t know who the Gate is.

‘It’s either Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash, but I can’t discredit the fact that they could both be Gates – It would make sense if they were, two Phantoms, one for each of them.’

Wizard shook his head as he called forth the green gale around his legs and tail, with a powerful leap, the masked mage flew across the plains with his coattails billowing behind him. ‘First things first, I need to find the two of them! I can sort out what to do when I get to them.’

TTTTTTT

~ Half an hour later… ~

Wizard flew through the sky gently, looking over Ponyville in desperation. When he started, the cloaked dragon had called out Garuda to help him out in finding either of the mares, but so far, nothing had turned up. ‘I’ll give them this much, they’re probably the fastest ponies around.’

Taking a moment to land on one of the random roofs in Ponyville, Wizard sighed loudly to take a break. With the Multi Ring still on his claw, Wizard looked at the ring. ‘If this thing actually worked, I might’ve been able to take both of those Phantoms out, then this wouldn’t be a problem.’

Removing the ring, Wizard placed it back into chain belt and was about to equip another ring when all of a sudden…

“TWEET! TWEET!”

Wind style Wizard looked up to see the familiar ruby red Garuda flying in front of him, “Ah, Garuda, good to see you’re here. Did you find one of them.”

Garuda whipped both of its wings up excitedly before it spun through the air and soared through the air. With a nod, Wizard leapt up with the green gale surging around his legs again. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

A few minutes, Garuda had led Wizard to a random cloud that was hovering a little bit outside Ponyville. Thanks to his wind style, Wizard was able to land gently on the cloud with Garuda on his shoulder, both of which were looking around, “I’m guessing since we’re up in the sky, you spotted Rainbow Dash around her.”

The ruby familiar nodded.

“Well, where is she?” Wizard questioned, unaware that a large amount of balloons were floating up behind him.

Garuda shrugged.

Wizard slapped his right claw on his helmets visor, “That’s no good, we gotta find them!”

“Hey Haru! What ya up to?”

Turning over his shoulder, Wizard saw all of the balloons that were tied around the pinker of the two mares’ stomach, lifting her up into the air. Wizard turned his attention away from her and waved his left hand through the air, “I’m trying to find you and Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie. And I’m having a hard time trying to…”

Both Garuda and Wizard jumped slightly see that Pinkie was floating higher into the air, only waving her front hoof at the costumed dragon. “What the!? Where did she get all those balloons?!”

Garuda shrugged again.

While Wizard was watching Pinkie ascend through the air, he say that one of the higher up clouds had Rainbow Dash and Gilda flying towards. “Well now, looks like I owe you a cola Garuda.”

The familiar chirped loudly.

“Do me a favor and keep an eye on Pinkie Pie,” Wizard ordered as Garuda saluted to his dragon master. Garuda flew off of the armored shoulder as Wizard leapt from the cloud and began to float up towards the cloud where Dash and Gilda were.

However, when the masked mage was ascending, several popping sounds echoed through the air. “Bye Haru!”

Wizard watched as Pinkie floated down past him, a number of her balloons already popped and she was safely descending towards the ground. ‘A nice mare, but she’s a bit of a free spirit.’

Shaking his head, Wizard reached his cloudy destination, only to realize that both of the two flyers had already soared through the air towards another cloud. Wizard threw his arms up into the air as he shook his head, “This is starting to get annoying.”

The gale returned to his legs, but before Wizard could take off, a loud jumble of noises caught the masked hero’s attention to see Pinkie fly by in a quad-pedaled flying machine that quickly flew past the magical dragon. It took a few moments for that to register in Wizard’s head before he slapped his masked forehead. ‘I turn away for not even a minute, and she’s already got something new. How in Equestria did she… It’s Pinkie Pie, don’t question it too much unless you want your head to explode, Haru.’

Garuda landed atop of Wizard’s helmet, looking just as confused as his master felt. “Yeah, I know Garuda. If you want, maybe you’d be better off keeping an eye on Rainbow Dash.”

With a loud sigh Garuda flew from Wizard and flew up towards the clouds, just as Rainbow Dash soared through the air away from the cloud.

Before Wizard could make a move however, the weird device that Pinkie was using begun to spin around wildly until the mare and her weird transportation flew through the air with Pinkie yelling out. Using the gale, Wizard chased after the out of control flying machine as it madly dashed through the air.

The flying machine haphazardly zigzagged through the air as it descended rapidly to the ground, and with a powerful burst of green twisted wind behind him, Wizard dived towards the contraption.

Wizard landed on the ground and slipped a familiar ring on his right hand, and slid his hand on the belt. “BIG – PLEASE!”

The circle emerged in front of Wizard before he threw his right hand into it, making it turn giant and grabbed the device, instantly making it stop spinning while Pinkie was stuck in the seat with her eyes spinning around. “Oooh.”

“Are you okay there, Pinkie?” Wizard asked as he gently used his enlarged hand to place the device on the ground.

After a few moments, Wizard dispelled his armor and enlarged arm, allowing Haru to help Pinkie Pie off of the slightly crushed transportation (he had to grip the darn thing so he couldn’t hurt Pinkie but also to stop the copter from spinning). Pinkie staggered a bit around until Haru used one of his claws to help support her a bit. “Whoo, what a ride! Can we go again?”

The dragon blinked a few times before realizing that he was questioning Pinkie Pie’s state of mind. “Uh, maybe later. But for right now, what happened?”

“Well, after you told us to run,” Pinkie Pie explained having gathered herself, well, as best she could. “Rainbow Dash ran into Gilda, although, I think the word flew would be much better to explain it, but that’s not the point! I suggested that we had to stick together, but Gilda was all like…”

Pinkie shook her head a few times before she stopped to make her mane stylized to resemble that of Gilda’s feathers, with her eyes mimicking Gilda’s. “‘Hey Dash, think you’ve got enough gas left to beat me in a race over to that cloud?”

‘That was a real good impression,’ Haru thought as Pinkie shook her head.

“And ‘Whoosh!’ they flew off!” Pinkie Pie continued waving her front legs as if they were wings. “I even had a trampoline in order to bounce up and be with them in the clouds! But when they flew away, I had the awesome idea of getting a bunch of balloons and that’s when I saw you when I was trying to get up to them! But then Gilda popped a lot of my balloons and made me go down to the ground, and that’s when I…”

Haru held up his claws up to Pinkie’s face, making her stop talking with him sighing, “Yes, yes, I think I can figure out what happened there. So, Rainbow Dash is hanging out Gilda, huh.”

“Yeah!” Pinkie exclaimed. “But Gilda’s really mean! She told me to get lost, called me a dweeb, and told me to buzz off before she caused me to spin out! I would’ve crashed!”

“I see,” Haru muttered under his breath as he rubbed his chin. His thoughts turned to the thought of the griffon. ‘I wonder… Could it be possible?’

“Thanks for catching me by the way!” Pinkie cheered with a large smile.

“Don’t worry about it,” Haru replied, closing his eyes in the process. ‘Now that I think about it, one of the Phantoms was talking like a 90’s punk reject. She even called me a dweeb… It can’t be though…’

“Haru?”

‘Anypony could talk like that,’ The dragon mused to his mind. ‘But, I can’t disregard this as coincidence, still…’

“Hey Haru,” Pinkie Pie stated finally drawing Haru from his thoughts.

“Huh? Yeah, Pinkie?” The dragon questioned with his eyes open.

“Can I have my headband back?” Pinkie questioned with a slight giggle.

Haru brought his claws up to realize that he still had the arrow headband on his head, a slight shade of pink propped up on the mystical dragon’s face as he took the gag item off of his head. “H-How long was that on my head? Was it visible when I was Wizard?”

“Yup!” Pinkie giggled as she swiped the gag headgear. “Now come on!”

“Huh?” Haru questioned, just now realizing that Pinkie had just wrapped her tail around his wrist.

“I’m sure Twilight can help provide an answer!” Pinkie announced as she trotted off, dragging Haru behind her. “I know you’re thinking how Gilda can be such a grouch! And I know that Twilight can shed some light on this mystery! So come on Haru!”

“W-Wait a second!” Haru yelped, unfortunately before he could get too far, Pinkie Pie began to bounce up and down, making the dragon wavier in sync with the party obsessed mare.

TBC

Spell 9 - Feathers Together

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Chase two birds, and catch two birds.
- Tendou Souji’s Grandmother

TTTTTT

Spell 9

Feathers Together

TTTTTT

It was a rather awkward scene for Haru to be dragged through Ponyville, Pinkie’s tail effectively keeping him locked behind the usually perky pony. However, it was obvious that Pinkie wasn’t in the best of moods, she stopped bouncing a few minutes after she managed to get the dragon cooperate and follow her.

‘I guess Gilda really got under her skin,’ Haru thought to himself as he saw the Golden Oaks library come into view. ‘Then again, if I was dropped from the sky, I’d probably not be so cheery.’

When the two reached the library, Pinkie had finally released the dragon from her surprising strong tail wrap. “Okay! Now that we’re here, Twilight will definitely know what to do!”

Haru shrugged his shoulders before he reached into his jacket’s pocket, “Actually, Pinkie, I need to go find Rainbow Dash.”

“What?” Pinkie gasped. “You’re going to ditch me now too?”

“Pinkie, it’s not like that,” Haru replied as he pulled out the Multi Ring from his pocket. “I need to find her to confirm something for me. Besides, if you’re going to be here with Twilight, that’ll put my mind at ease, since I’ve got one of my familiars here with her, so if the Phantom is after you, I can at least be alerted to your position.

“Trust me, I don’t want to leave you after what happened Pinkie, but I need to do this, for you and Rainbow Dash’s sake.”

Haru closed his eyes, ‘Especially if my suspicions are right. I don’t want to be right about this though, because if I am…’

With a shake of his head, Haru turned back to Pinkie, “So, please, I promise that when this is all said and done, we’ll finish that party I skipped out on, okay?”

“You promise?” Pinkie asked with the smile creeping back on her face.

Haru saluted slightly, “I swear on my dragon’s blood.”

“Okie-dokey-lokie!” Pinkie replied with a large smile back on her face.

“Oh yeah,” Haru continued as he held up the Multi Ring. “You mind taking this inside with you?”

“Ooh, that’s one of your rings, right?” Pinkie questioned as she leaned into the ring and eyed it. “Don’t you need to keep this with you though?”

“This Multi Ring kinda conked out on me,” Haru replied as he tossed the ring into the air, allowing Pinkie to catch the little trinket with one of her front hooves. “Until I get a chance to really experiment with it, I can’t really rely on it… It could make the difference in me defeating the Phantom or me being the one down for the count.”

Spinning on one of his heels, Haru began to walk away, waving one of his claws over his head to bid goodbye to Pinkie Pie.

The young mare looked at the creative ring before she shrugged and walked into the library.

TTTTTT

“You did what?!”

Hellhound winced as he hid behind one of the Everfree Forest’s many trees, trying to keep away from the scary Harpie who had her wings lifted up, using her feathers to make her look even more terrifying. “I… I, uh, fought against the Wizard.”

Harpie screeched loudly before she flew towards Hellhound and pinned the fellow Phantom to the ground with her talons at his arms. “Hellhound, did you think it was smart to test my patience? I told you can only observe, not get involved!”

“I was just trying to help another Phantom!” Hellhound barked back. “You keep going on about how we need to look over Minotaur, and just because I helped out a fellow Phantom, you’re getting mad? You’re a bleeding hypocrite!”

Harpie screeched once more, this time directly into Hellhound’s face, making the Phantom cry out loud, “If you hadn’t returned with those wounds and told me you retreated, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation! You got blasted because of your stupidity, I’ve got nothing against helping other Phantoms, but you let your ego get the better of you!

“You should’ve just escaped with the Phantom.”

With a mighty flap of her wings, Harpie leapt off of Hellhound, “So… Where is this other Phantom?”

Pushing himself off of the ground, Hellhound growled loudly before he threw his arms to the side, “Tartarus if I know. As soon as she got out of my shadow dive, she flew off.”

Harpie sighed loudly, she did not need this, not right now.

TTTTTT

Haru was in the midst of walking through the streets of Ponyville, carefully walking past a number of ponies as he tried to sense where his familiar was. Although, it was rather amazing that a number of the ponies had grown accustomed to the red dragon that stalked their streets in such a short time.

Tartarus, even some of them saw him in the background most times.

‘Maybe I should ask a pegasus,’ Haru thought to himself as he stopped in his tracks. ‘I can’t get a good beat on Garuda, besides most Pegasai here seem to work in weather control, so, maybe, one of them at least saw her.’

Looking around the square, Haru spotted only one nearby pegasus looking at a produce cart, a gray pegasus with a blonde mane and tail. ‘She looks familiar, but I don’t see any other pegasai, so. What’s the harm?’

“Excuse me! Miss Pegasus!” When Haru walked up and called to the pegasus, said pegasus turned around and the dragon stopped in his tracks. ‘THOSE EYES!!!’

“Hmm? Oh! You’re that dragon I saw yesterday!” the wall-eyed pegasus gleefully announced with a bright smile on her face. “Did you ditch those doughnuts and get some muffins?”

Haru didn’t respond to that question, he was too entranced with her golden, crossed eyes. ‘My Ishimori, this is weirder than that one show I watched about that evil lamp that cursed a bunch of ponies. And it was an EVIL LAMP!’

Shaking his head, Haru cleared his throat, “Well, uh, kinda. I didn’t eat too many of those doughnuts, wouldn’t mind a muffin right now though, but that’s not why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to ask, have you seen a blue pegasus with a rainbow colored mane and tail? Is probably hanging around with a griffon?”

“You mean Rainbow Dash, right?” the cross-eyed questioned with her head tilted.

“Uh, yeah,” Haru replied turning his eyes away from the pegasus’.

“Aw, no need to be shy,” the pegasus stated with a warm smile.

“I-I’m not shy,” Haru replied turning his attention back to the pegasus. ‘I just feel that I’d lose my mind if I looked into those eyes of yours for too long.’

“A-anyway, have you seen her?”

“Yup!” the blonde maned pegasus replied as she lifted a hoof up and to the right.

Haru followed the hoof to see that indeed, Rainbow Dash was flying through the air with Garuda trying to keep up with her. The sleek dragon slumped his shoulders before he sighed loudly, “… Thanks. I really appreciate it Miss…”

“Ditzy, Ditzy Doo!” The pegasus cheerfully answered.

“Well, I owe you a muffin, Ditzy Doo,” Haru replied before he ran off.

Ditzy tilted her head slightly, “Huh? How’d he get my name wrong? It’s Derpy Hooves!”

Now that he was able to see Rainbow and Garuda, Haru was able to follow the two of them, even though they were faster than the dragon. Eventually, just outside of Ponyville, Haru was able to see that Rainbow Dash was moving some of the clouds over Ponyville. Haru used one of his claws held over his eyes so he wouldn’t get blinded by the sun. ‘Did she get called into work or something?’

Shaking that thought from his head, Haru brought his claws to his mouth, “Oi! Rainbow Dash!”

The pegasus stopped pushing the cloud she was near and saw the mythical dragon on the ground waving towards her. Of course, Rainbow Dash had to finish pushing the cloud to where it needed to go (using a buck to send the cloud flying), but once that was done, the Pegasus glided down to the ground. “S’up Haru? I take it you schooled that Phantom?”

Haru rolled his eyes slightly before he rolled his eyes, “Uh, not exactly. I’m not too proud, but the Phantom got away.”

“What? That’s kinda lame,” Dash stated rather bluntly as Garuda floated next to her. “That would explain why this guy’s been following me.”

“Yeah, look, are you alright?” Haru asked with a serious look in his eyes.

Rainbow gave Haru a rather dull look.

“Right, force of habit,” Haru stated with a sigh. “Don’t worry though, I’ll take care of that Phantom when I see them again.”

“Heh, I doubt that Phantom can even catch up to me,” Rainbow Dash replied as she jumped slightly and flapped her wings to fly around Haru. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m a hundred and twenty percent of pure, high-flying awesomeness! There’s no pony around that out fly me! And I doubt there’s any Phantom that can either!”

Haru did have to admit that when he used his Wind Style neither of the Phantoms were fast enough, the only reason why Hellhound was able to propel Haru back was because of a sneak attack. And if it wasn’t for the Multi Ring not working, Haru would’ve been able to have wounded the Phantoms more before Hellhound had escaped. “I guess that’s true, but still…”

“Besides!” Rainbow Dash announced with her chest puffed out. “I’m not afraid of any Phantoms! Bring’em on!”

‘No one can accuse Rainbow Dash lacking confidence,’ Haru thought to himself as he rubbed his temples with his claws. After getting his headache down, Haru shrugged. “Fine, I’m sure you can take care of yourself, Rainbow.”

“Darn straight!” Rainbow laughed loudly as Garuda seemed to laugh as well.

The dragon rolled his eyes, “Just try to be careful. By the way, what happened to Gilda? Pinkie told me that she was still with you.”

“I had to do some weather work,” Dash replied as she leaned back, using her wings to keep her afloat. “So, Gilda’s getting something to eat in town right now. I’m meeting up with her later.”

“I’m rather curious, I know you said that met Gilda at, what was it?” Haru mused before he snapped his claws. “Oh yeah, flight camp.”

“Yeah? What about it?” Rainbow retorted with a raised brow.

“Curiosity,” Haru replied with a shrug. “I’ve only seen Griffons in the sky, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting any of them. I didn’t even know that they lived in this country.”

“Actually, I know two griffons,” Rainbow Dash stated with a smirk. “In fact, with another pegasus back in flight camp, we were an awesome group! I even send mail to them all whenever I get a chance. Not that hard since two of them still live in Cloudsdale, Gilda’s one of them.”

Haru nodded. “Must be nice.”

That’s when Rainbow Dash thought for a moment before she spoke up again, “Although, I didn’t really get a letter from Gilda for a while.”

“Really? How long since the last one?” Haru questioned.

“Think about half a year ago or so,” Rainbow answered.

With that answer, Haru’s eyes widened. ‘Six months!? The mannerisms, the fact she can be on clouds and the times match up, I didn’t want to think it was possible, but it would make sense.

‘Still, there’s something bugging me though…’

CLICK! CLACK!

Both Haru and Rainbow Dash turned as several small rocks bounced against the ground near them. A little curious, Rainbow swooped down to pick up one of the rocks, “What the? Who’s chucking rocks?”

Haru spun around and snapped the rock out of Dash’s hooves, just as the stones glowed brightly. It was then that the stones popped and transformed into several Ghuls, all of them unarmed and moaning loudly as their newly formed bodies began to loosen up. Haru slipped on a ring as he turned and stood in between Rainbow Dash and the stone creatures. “What the Tartarus?!”

“Ghuls,” Haru growled as he was about to slip his right hand over his belt buckle.

However, before Haru could activate his Driver, one of the Ghuls threw a punch right at the dragon’s face. Dipping backwards, Haru lifted his clawed foot and slammed it into the Ghul’s chin, sending it back into a couple of other Ghuls.

When Haru stood back up straight, he spun around to whip his tail into another Ghul’s chest, knocking it over. “Rainbow! You gotta…”

WHAM!

Haru looked behind him to see Rainbow Dash actually buck a pair of Ghuls in their faces, making them stagger back before she flew past them, making the two mindless drones spin until they fell over.

Rainbow smirked wildly as she flew higher into the air, “Yeah! These Phantoms got nothing on me!”

‘I don’t have the heart to tell her these technically aren’t Phantoms,’ Haru thought as he ducked to dodge a sloppily thrown punch.

Thankfully, when he spun around and knocked the Ghul off of its feet with his tail, Haru slipped his right claw over his buckle. “DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

With a bright light, Haru spun around to reveal that his belt had transformed and that on his left claw was a familiar large red ring. “SHA BA DO BI TOUCH HENSHIN! SHA BA DO BI TOUCH HENSHIN!”

Haru slipped his claw in front of his glowing belt, “Henshin.”

A large fiery red circle crashed into a trio of Ghuls who were trying to gang up on the transforming dragon. “FLAME – PLEASE!

“Hii Hii – Hii Hii Hii!”

With the embers from the circle still around, Wizard appeared and roundhouse kicked a Ghul with a fiery kick and sent it flying through the air. “It’s… Showtime.”

The Ghul crashed into two other Ghuls, who were about to be kicked by Rainbow Dash. When she kicked nothing but air, the pegasus scowled at the now garbed dragon, “Hey! I called dibs on those two!”

Wizard merely shrugged before he leaned back to grab another Ghul by its arm and force it to crash into another Ghul. “Then don’t be so slow.”

“What?!” Rainbow Dash growled before she flew up higher into the air to make a Ghul miss her.

The blue pegasus immediately flew back and dove down quickly, spinning as she did until she slammed both of her hind hooves into a Ghul’s back, and made it eat the earth as she smirked wildly. “Top that!”

“Well, if you insist,” Wizard chuckled as he spun behind another Ghul.

When Wizard was directly behind the Ghul, he threw his arms around the Ghul’s waist and lifted the stony monster off its feet. With a loud yell, Wizard bent backwards and slammed the Ghul’s head into the ground. The Ghul’s legs slumped as Wizard stood up straight and dusted off his gloved claws.

“No need to show off while I’m around!” Rainbow Dash scoffed as she spun around, prepared to unleash another powerful kick to one of the Ghuls…

Only to have all of the Ghuls jump back and make her miss. Both Haru and Rainbow Dash turned to see that all of the Ghuls were standing in line before them in two rows. Wizard and Dash looked at each other before a loud whistle made them all part and kneel down.

Standing behind the Ghuls was none other than Djinn, who was sitting on the shoulders of two more Ghuls, casually messing with her fiery purple hair between her two ebony fingers. The Phantom sighed loudly before her bright eyes leered at the two, “What’s your damage, Ring Mage? Can’t you take a chill pill and let me just do my job?”

‘Great, she’s devolved into 80’s slang,’ Wizard thought as he fitted a ring on his right claw.

The action didn’t go unnoticed by Djinn who brought up her hand up to her face and pulled it away with a loud smacking sound. From her hand, several purple, fiery hearts floated through the air until they crashed into all of the Ghuls save for the two that were her makeshift seat.

When the flames crashed into a majority of the Ghuls, making them all stand up straight with a line of pink on their faces. All of the blushing Ghuls groaned loudly as their gray rocky skin began to turn a bright red with steam rising up from them. Wizard tilted his head slightly, “What in the?”

“Jealous, much?” Djinn cooed before she laughed loudly. “Don’t worry though dweebs, they’re willing to be friendly though.”

“They just changed color, big deal!” Rainbow Dash pointed out as she flew up higher into the air. “If I can knock them down when they’re monochrome, I can take ‘em down now!”

Dash dove towards the red Ghuls, tumbled through the air to deliver the same hind legged kicks she had been before… But when the attacks connected on the chest of one of the Ghuls, the creature didn’t even flinch at the powerful impact. The Ghul that was struck merely looked down at the two hooves that were planted in its chest and growled loudly at Rainbow Dash.

The Ghul quickly lifted its arms up and reached for Rainbow Dash, but Wizard was quicker and yanked the pegasus away before the red Ghul could wrap its arms around her. With a quick turn, Wizard slammed a fiery foot directly into the Ghul’s stomach, flames and sparks erupted from the connection point, but the Ghul did not move either.

“What?” Wizard questioned before he jumped away from the line of Ghuls.

When the mythical dragon landed on the ground, Wizard released Dash to fly in the air. Without a word, Wizard slipped his right hand over his belt buckle with the belt glowing a bright red. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Reaching into the newly formed runic circle, Wizard drew out his weird sword and leapt into the air. With a spin, Wizard brought down the blade on the same Ghul, which didn’t move at all even though the sparks from where the steel landed on the rocky skin did signify damage. “What in Celestia’s mane?”

Before Wizard could pull back though, the same Red Ghul slammed its rocky fist into the mage’s stomach, flinging him from front line with his sword flying through the air as well. Wizard landed on the ground beneath Rainbow Dash, but used his tail to push himself back to his feet. “What in Equestria is going on?”

“Aw, what’s the matter, spaz?” Djinn called out as she waved her hand up in the air. “Can’t understand what I just did? Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter. With my wily charms, I can empower these lame Ghuls, so they’re stronger, faster, but certainly not smarter.

So dream on if you think you can beat them! Get’im boys!”

The front row of Red Ghuls charged forward, all of them snarling loudly as they quickly closed the gap between them and Wizard.

Calmly however, Wizard slipped on a new ring on his right hand, “Rainbow, I’m afraid that I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.”

“Are you kidding me?” Rainbow hissed at Wizard who messed with his belt slightly before he slid his right hand in front of the buckle. “I’m not leaving you to deal with this by yourself!”

Wizard sighed loudly as he threw his right hand forward, “Alright, but don’t get mad. I’m about to one up you.”

“EXCITE – PLEASE!”

At Wizard’s feet, an enlarged runic circle appeared and slowly, the circle began to climb his body. As it did, Wizard lifted his arms up and flexed the rather small muscles. Djinn laughed at the action, but just before the Red Ghuls reached Wizard… His body grew taller and massive muscles erupted from his body, his suit tailoring to his newly acquired, insanely macho physique.

Both Rainbow Dash and Djinn’s eyes widened at the extremely large Wizard before them, but the Red Ghuls only continued to charge.

However, the fastest of the Ghuls only received a powerful kick to the chest that sent it flying into the sky until it was nothing more than a gleaming star in the clear blue sky.

That didn’t deter the other Red Ghuls from attacking, but they simply encircled the muscular Wizard. One of the Ghuls charged from behind, only to have Wizard reel his leg back and caused the Red Ghul explode. Two Ghuls that charged forward, but Wizard slammed the bottoms of his fists into both of the Ghuls, flattening them into the ground.

One Ghul, the same Red Ghul that had struck Wizard in the stomach earlier, punched the enlarged mage. But just as when Wizard attacked it before, the Red Ghul’s attack didn’t have an effect. In fact, Wizard grabbed the Red Ghul by the head and spun around, slamming the struggling Red Ghul’s legs into the other Ghuls.

Oddly enough, when Wizard took that swing, the Red Ghul that was used as a makeshift bat, it didn’t break. The Ghuls that it was used against, were practically cleaved in half. And when Wizard was at full swing, he flung the remaining Red Ghul at Djinn!

The Phantom leapt from her two Ghuls as the Red Ghul crashed into them, exploding them into large flames.

Wizard sighed as his body popped back to normal and he crossed his arms, “I guess this means that I won.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Rainbow Dash grumbled. “Just one question, why did they all explode?”

“A wizard did it,” the dragon mage stated as he picked up his sword.

“You are a wizard though!” Rainbow Dash pointed out.

“Exactly,” Wizard replied before he dashed across the ground with his blade, sparks flying from where the metal touched the ground.

Djinn growled loudly as the purple flames of her hair flew into her hands, the flames solidified and transformed into a large spear that had a curved blade at the end of it. “Ugh! That’s completely whack! No one told me you could do that!!”

Wizard didn’t answer and immediately brought his blade up into an upward slice at the Phantom. Djinn brought her crystallized spear down, and the two weapons clashed with red and purple embers dancing through the air. However, it didn’t last long as Wizard used his tail to propel himself up into the air, and over Djinn, who stumbled forward.

While still in the air, Wizard slammed his tail into Djinn’s face and with his descent, pulled her to the ground as well with a loud bam following. Wizard spun around and brought his sword down on the Phantom, who quickly lifted her spear up to defend herself from the attack. At the same time, Djinn drew in a deep breath and then unleashed a powerful burst of purple flame from her ebony face.

Seeing the flames, Wizard flipped backwards, his covered tail getting slightly scorched by the flames. That moment of time allowed Djinn to jump back to her feet and spun around to bring her spear at Wizard’s back.

Instead of turning around, Wizard lifted his right arm back, brought his sword up near his back and blocked the attack. Once again using his tail once more, Wizard whipped his tail into Djinn’s stomach and forced the female Phantom to stagger to the side. At the same time, Wizard turned his body and slashed his sword across Djinn’s body with purple sparks flying off her ebony body. “ARGH!”

Wizard snapped his sword up and folded it into its gun form. With the Phantom nearby, the dragonic mage unleashed a flurry of red bursts of energy into her body and forced her to fly backwards. “Finale!”

The hand emblem on the gun unfolded and Wizard gripped it with his left hand. “COME ON SHOOTING – SHAKE THE HAND!

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

A powerful flame emerged at the barrel of the gun and Wizard quickly aimed the gun at the struggling Phantom. “Hii Hii Hii! Hii Hii Hii!”

The flames shot out gun and flew towards Djinn… None in the area noticed that the shadows around the Phantom’s feet warped until a black blur swept from the darkness.

When the flames crashed into the ground, a large amount of fire flew up into the air. Wizard tilted his head slightly at the charred ground. “Huh.”

“That was AWESOME!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she flew around the armored dragon, pumping her front legs a few times. “You gotta let me take that suit of yours on a test flight sometime. Especially that green one.”

Wizard chuckled as he spun the gun in his claws before he rested it against his shoulder. “Sorry, but this suit’s custom made. And frankly, you’re much faster than my Wind-style. One second…”

That’s when Wizard aimed gun to the right and fired a single burst towards a shadowed area near a tree. A familiar jagged black sword knocked the fiery shot to the side.

“What the?” Rainbow questioned as two familiar figures stepped from the shadows.

“I thought it was too easy,” Wizard sighed as he kept his gun trained on the two shadowed figures. “Normally when a Phantom is destroyed, my runic circle appears before they’re no more.”

Djinn propped herself up against the tree while Hellhound waved his sword slightly, “Good to know that little fact… Too bad we won’t be seeing that today.”

And with that, Hellhound and Djinn slipped into the shadows once more, with Wizard sighing loudly. “Well, that’s just perfect.”

The suit faded away from Haru’s body before he turned towards the still flying Rainbow Dash, “This is starting to get a little cliched.”

“What are you talking about?” the blue pegasus asked as she landed next to the red dragon.

“Don’t worry about it,” Haru stated with a wave of his claws. “Look, I’m sure that you’re more than capable of taking care of yourself, but could you at least let Garuda follow you around? I’d like to be able to keep an eye on you in case either of those Phantoms confront you.”

‘Especially since I’m ninety percent sure that Rainbow Dash is the target… And if that’s the case, then…’

“Sure, I don’t mind the little guy,” Rainbow Dash admitted watching as the small flying familiar landed atop of her head. “I saw him following me, and I figured he was one of yours. I saw Twilight earlier with that blue unicorn.”

“Yup, Unicorn, Kraken and Garuda are my familiars,” Haru explained with a nod.

Rainbow Dash just gave the dragon a rather flat look, which didn’t go unnoticed by Haru, “What?”

“Those names kinda stink,” Rainbow Dash stated flatly as Garuda nodded his head.

“W-What?” Haru questioned with a few blinks. “I didn’t choose their names! That’s what my rings call them!”

“Still, you could at least try to come up with some nicknames or something,” Rainbow Dash continued.

Haru rolled his eyes.

TTTTTT

Back at the Golden Oaks library, Twilight was seated on the floor, trying to read one of the many books she had. But, every time the violet unicorn got absorbed into the literature, her thoughts turned back to what had happened while Haru was fighting the Ghuls with Rainbow Dash…

~~~~

Twilight was looking at the Multi Ring, or was trying to at the very least, in order to figure out why Haru left the ring with Pinkie Pie. “So, Pinkie Pie, are you sure that this friend of Rainbow Dash is really all that mean?”

“Um, yeah!” Pinkie Pie retorted as she paced around Twilight and her book. “She keeps stealing Rainbow Dash away, popped my balloons, and told me buzz off! I never met a griffon this mean! Or actually, I never met a griffon at all before, but I’m sure the next one I meet won’t be as mean or grumpy as Gilda! I’m even willing to bet the next one is a joyful spirit! Someone who likes weird things, and is a little wonky themselves, but still a lot nicer then Gilda!”

“You know what I think, Pinkie Pie?” Twilight mused turning away from her book as her pink friend trotted up to her. “Well… I think you’re jealous.”

Pinkie Pie’s eyes widened in surprise, “Jealous?!”

“Green with envy,” Spike added as he walked down some of the nearby steps with a book in his claws. “Well, Pink with Envy in your case.”

“Well, yes, jealous,” Twilight continued as Pinkie looked back and forth between her two friends. “Listen Pinkie, I don’t want to upset you, but just because Rainbow Dash has another friend, doesn’t make Gilda a grump. I mean, it could be you who need to improve her attitude.”

The pink mare’s eyes watered slightly, “I-Improve my attitude? My attitude?! But, I, and, but, she, Gilda is… Are you serious?!”

With a loud hiss and stomping her hooves on the floor (which made some hilarious squeaking sounds, effectively making her angry huff less serious), Pinkie stormed towards the library’s front door and closed it behind her.

Hard and loud.

Both Twilight and Spike winced at the echoing slam and turned to each other.

~~~~~

Twilight sighed loudly as she used her magic to close the book she was trying to read, her mind too muddled about how she talked to her friend. ‘Did I really say the right thing to Pinkie? I don’t even know Gilda and I took her side over Pinkie’s.’

The young unicorn looked around – Spike had left to run his daily errands, and wanting to make sure that Pinkie was still okay, Twilight had asked Unicorn to follow her. So, that left the lavender unicorn all alone with her thoughts.

Trying to get her mind off of a possible mistake with one of her friends, Twilight turned her gaze towards the Wizard Ring that was placed on the table she was at. “Why did Haru leave this with Pinkie?”

With her magic lifting the ring, Twilight looked at the ring closer, “He usually keeps these hidden or even in his jacket. That actually brings up another question, how much room does he have in that jacket?”

Before Twilight could continue on her train of thought, several tweets sounded through the library. She had learned what that sound was a while ago, “Garuda? Haru? Are you here?”

Twilight turned around to follow the sound and indeed, at the window was a familiar bird-shaped creature perched on the sill. But when Twilight looked at the bejeweled familiar, she instantly saw that it wasn’t the same little red bird that had been teasing Spike over the past couple weeks. But it was a dead ringer for the red winged familiar, the only difference was that instead of rubies, this Garuda was made up of flawless diamonds.

“Did Haru have another familiar?” Twilight questioned as the diamond-studded bird flew from the window, taking its time before it landed on the table before the inquisitive unicorn.

When the bird landed, Twilight was able to see that the White Garuda had a pair of scrolls clenched within its talons. The White Garuda chirped before it tossed the scrolls in front of the unicorn. “Messages? Did Haru send them?”

White Garuda shook its head before it flew away from the table, Twilight blinked as the diamond encrusted bird flew up to a higher perch in the library. ‘It is possible that Haru could make another Familiar Ring, but, it’s just weird that he wouldn't tell us about a fourth familiar.’

Using her magic to lift up one of the scrolls up, Twilight unfurled the message and began to read it. All the while, the White Garuda watched her.

TBC

Spell 10 - Djinn

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Shh… Be careful. Behind each word is a hundred hooks. A thousand fabrications, ten thousand lies. If you’re okay with that… let me… String you along?
- Urataros

TTTTTT

Spell 10

Djinn

TTTTTT

It was early afternoon in Ponyville when Twilight trotted away from the library, her saddlebags slung over her back. The young unicorn had only read the two scrolls that the White Garuda had left for her, and was rather confused with the two messages. Even more confusing for the young mare was the fact that the White Garuda had disappeared from the library before she had a chance to observe the odd familiar.

‘The only one I know who would know about this is Haru,’ Twilight reasoned to herself as she looked around each street she trotted past. ‘He’s the only one I know who can summon those kinds of familiars, but why would he send me some weird messages? And if he had a copy of Garuda, he would’ve told me about it.’

Indeed, almost every time Haru would get a new ring to his name, the dragon would at least show Twilight. That included the ring that Haru had made earlier, albeit, it was only for a few moments, but still.

Twilight shook her head, and continued her search for the magically enriched dragon friend throughout the town. ‘He has to be somewhere, although, he can just magically disappear whenever he wants to. So that might make things a little more difficult – Still, those two messages are worrying me.’

However, the young unicorn was unaware that the White Garuda was on her trail, watching her from afar and keeping its distance perched atop one of the nearby buildings. It wasn’t that hard to spot a purple unicorn in Ponyville, not many ponies shared the same coloring.

Of course, also from its vantage point, the White Garuda was also able to see that on the other side of the buildings was the very same red dragon that Twilight was looking for, just casually walking through the streets, one of his claws at his scaled chin. ‘Rainbow Dash… Gilda… The pieces are lining up. But I can’t be sure about this, and if I don’t play this right, then things might just end up worse.’

Haru stopped for a few moments and looked into the sky. ‘I wonder if sometimes this is worth the trouble.’

The dragon closed his eyes as his mind drifted into thought, images that he had buried deep within his conscious slowly began to surface…

The sun being eclipsed by the moon.

Countless beings trapped on the ground with dark energy coursing through the earth and through those very same beings.

Screams echoing through the air as the energy began to crack those beings’ bodies.

Those horrible screams as their bodies were shattered to unleash monstrous forms that stalked the area.

The deafening beat of his heart, trying to rip itself out of his very chest.

The pain of his very body tearing itself apart.

“I…”

His eyesight failing, he lifted his head up, a sick laughter piercing through the horrid screams.

“I…!”

With his cracked limb lifted up towards the eclipsed sun, purple energy surging from between the cracks.

Haru’s eyes opened as he looked down at his right claw and clenched it tightly, ‘That’s right. This is the only path for me now. I cannot allow these Phantoms to do what they please, not after what they did, I can’t let there be another victim!’

With his spirit reignited, Haru turned away from his balled up claw and continued to walk through the streets.

A loud roar blasted through the air, drawing Haru’s attention towards the farmer’s market. But before he could even take a step, a familiar yellow pegasus flew through the air above Haru, the dragon easily noting that the pink maned mare was crying audibly. The red dragon watched as the pegasus fly off into the distance. ‘That was ‘Fluttershy, right?’

Looking to where the young pegasus had fled from, Haru looked past the crowd of ponies to see a unique figure amongst them. It wasn’t hard to distinguish a griffin from a town of ponies, the shear height and difference of body type was a dead giveaway. ‘Well, I found the needle in this haystack.’

Target in sight, Haru quickly but casually slipped through the crowds to follow Gilda, which incidentally became a tougher to do since she flew off right after Haru laid eyes on her. But, by some miracle, the red dragon was able to keep the griffon in sight as she flew to the outskirts of Ponyville.

Thankfully for the tired dragon, about that time, Gilda was finally descending from the sky heading for one of the many trees outside the town. Haru was quite a few yards away when he stopped to look at the now perched griffon from a distance. Taking a few moments to compose himself, Haru slowly walked towards the tree that Gilda was in.

“Afternoon Gilda.”

The griffon grimaced as she looked down at the oncoming dragon, “Great, someone else who wants to bug me. What do you want, Lizard?”

Something clicked inside Haru’s mind and he narrowed his eyes a bit at the griffon. Before he spoke though, Haru smiled brightly, although his right eye twitched slightly. “It’s Haru, but that’s not important right now. How are you doing Gilda?”

Gilda sighed loudly before she turned around on the branch with her back to the red dragon. "Is there a point to this boring conversation?"

‘This isn’t going to be easy,’ Haru thought to himself as he cleared his throat. “Well, if you’re going to be brash about this, then yes, there is a point. I’m here to talk to you about your attitude.”

Gilda rolled her eyes, “You got a problem, dweeb?”

“I make it my problem when someone makes ponies cry and drops them from the sky,” Haru retorted with his eyes narrowed. “Your attitude is one thing, but assaulting is a whole other matter. And frankly, if you hurt anypony here, I assure you it won’t end well for you.”

That got Gilda to shift around so she could leer at the dragon in front of her, taking note that he was placing a big red ring on his left claw. “Those are some big words for a little lizard like you.”

Ignoring that little comment, Haru kept his attention on the griffon, “So, I finally got your attention, huh? Good.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Gilda grumbled as she waved one of her talons in the air. “Look, if you’re just going to lecture me, you might as well just take your story walking, I heard that junk before.”

“Fine, fine,” Haru sighed. “I’ll get to the point then, why’d you make Pinkie Pie fall out of the sky? You could’ve gotten her badly hurt, or worse!”

Gilda sighed with a roll of her eyes. “Yeesh, you’re just as annoying as that pink headache. I was just trying to get rid of her, she couldn’t take a hint!”

“That doesn’t justify trying to hurt her,” Haru retorted with his eyes narrowed. “And I don’t think Rainbow Dash would appreciate that you’re trying to hurt one of her friends.”

“Friend? That’s a laugh!” Gilda scoffed. “She doesn’t need losers like you or that walkin’ headache now that I’m around!”

“Why are you around anyway?” Haru questioned, tilting his head slightly.

Gilda snarled slightly, “What the Tartarus are you talking about?”

“Dash told me that she kept word with a couple of her friends from Cloudsdale,” Haru explained as he crossed his arms, keeping his right claw near his belt buckle. “Of course, that includes you. Or at least, it did until six months ago. Then out of the blue, you just arrive here in Ponyville. If you think you’re Rainbow Dash’s best bud around, then why did you stop writing to her? Furthermore, why did you just show up without any word to Dash?”

“I… I don’t have to explain anything to you,” Gilda growled as she spread her wings. “I’m outta here!”

“Fine, you can fly away,” Haru stated as Gilda began to flap her wings. “But if you do, then I’ll just have to tell Rainbow Dash about what you did to Pinkie Pie. I doubt she’ll see eye to eye with your line of reasoning.”

Gilda stopped her wings and growled loudly, “You wouldn’t dare.”

“If it’s to protect my friends, I’ll do it,” Haru retorted with his eyes sharply aimed at Gilda. “Now, I suggest that you come down to the ground, and we’ll continue this little conversation.”

With a loud growl, the young griffon leapt from the branch and landed in front of Haru.

The red dragon nodded before he smiled slightly, “Rainbow Dash must mean a lot to you, huh?”

Gilda scoffed as she turned away, “Did you have a point in threatening me? Or did you just want to keep up with idle chat?”

“It’s relevant, I assure you,” Haru stated with his arms raised up. “You’re willing to do anything for Dash, she’s that important to you, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, what of it?” Gilda spat back, rolling her eyes at the dragon. “She’s just a friend.”

“Junior Speedsters are our lives,
Sky-bound soars and daring dives!
Junior Speedsters, it's our quest,
To some day be the very best!”

Gilda jumped slightly when that familiar chant was proclaimed to her by the red dragon in front of her. With a blush now adorning his face, Haru cleared his throat, “Ahem, I doubt I’ll ever get that out of my brain, it’s quite the embarrassing song, wouldn’t you agree? I can’t believe Dash got you to sing in front of two practical strangers.”

The feathers on Gilda’s face streaked slightly red, yet Haru continued on, “I think you also said ‘Only for you Dash’, if I can remember that right. Feel free to say I’m wrong, but if that’s the case, then Rainbow Dash must be a special case to you.”

Gilda didn’t say a word, but she did growl at Haru.

“Right! Then that just makes this all the more puzzling – Why would you consider Dash a real good friend, to the point that you’re willing to embarrass yourself for her, but not respond to any of the letters she’s sent you? Or even send a letter to her over the six month period?”

“Shut up!” Gilda snarled loudly, stomping one of her talons into the dirt.

“Something must’ve happened to make you leave a good friend hanging,” Haru stated bluntly as he lifted his right claw up to reveal the second ring on his claw to Gilda.

“What’s it matter to you?!” Gilda growled as she grabbed Haru’s jacket and pulled him closer to her. “So what if something did happen?! It’s got nothing to do with you, you scaled dork!”

“That’s where you’re wrong!” Haru barked back, grabbing ahold of Gilda’s wrist, making her let go of the dragon’s jacket. “You’re Dash’s friend, and she obviously cares about you! I’m her friend as well, and so is Pinkie, if there is something wrong concerning our friends, then it concerns us as well!”

Gilda pulled her talon away with a loud growl, “That is so stupid and lame! You don’t know what I’ve been through! You wouldn’t believe what I’ve had to deal with!”

Haru looked down at the rings on his claws, “I’ve seen my fair share of troubles in my life, stuff you wouldn’t believe either. So, try me.”

Keeping her narrowed gaze locked on the dragon, Gilda scoffed to the side, before she turned her narrowed eyes down at the dragon. The griffon took a deep breath before…

“LISTEN HERE YOU BLOODY TALKING LIZARD!! YOU BETTER NOT CROSS MY PATH AGAIN, CAUSE I’LL RIP YOU INTO A MILLION PIECES! I’LL MAKE YOU INTO A PAIR OF DRAGON SKINNED BOOTS!”

The force of all that rage forced the spines atop of Haru’s head stand up straight, although the rest of him was calm and collected. Gilda huffed and puffed as Haru fixed his spines atop of his till they were back in place. “… You done?”

Gilda slumped back with a loud sigh, her head drooping down. “Yeah…”

“Good, then let’s get this started,” Haru replied as he reached for another ring from his jacket.

A few moments later, and with a quick use of a Connect Spell, Haru and Gilda were seated underneath the same tree that she was perched in earlier with a small table with a couple of cups of water on it. Gilda was a little surprised at the magic that the dragon just performed in front of her. “Never saw a lizard use magic before, thought that just those horned ponies called dibs on that stuff.”

Haru took a sip from his cup, his eyes closed before he set the cup on the ground, “I’m a dragon, not a lizard. And what you’re referring to is a unicorn, but that’s not the point – We’re talking about you.”

Gilda sighed with her eyes narrowed at the rather snotty dragon, “Whatever dweeb. If you really want my life story, fine.

“You were kinda right, dork, something did happen six months ago.”

Haru opened his eyes and looked at Gilda. ‘Alright moment of truth…’

“I’ve been through a lot of lame stuff over the last few months,” Gilda sighed as she gripped the cup in front of her. “It started almost six months ago when I was working my job, I worked in the delivery business for the Cloudsdale Mail Express, and I was real good at my job too. Tartarus, I was on my way to getting another promotion.

“But, after I was done working a late night, there was a fire and a whole lot of packages and letters were burned to a crisp. There was an investigation, and somehow a lot of my feathers were found at the scene and it was thought that I caused the fire! I wouldn’t do something so stupid like that! Not when I was up for a promotion!”

‘So, you destroyed packages when you weren’t up for a promotion?’ Haru thought to himself.

“I didn’t do it!” Gilda snarled making Haru blink a few times in confusion. “Anyway, it just went downhill from there – I was lucky that I didn’t get locked up by the coppers since they thought it was an accident, but I got canned from my job and I was forced to take another that I hated. I hate the damn food industry, but when you got bills to pay, you can’t be choosey.

“To throw more fuel on the fire, I still owed a load of bits to the Mail Express to compensate those losers who lost those damn packages. I couldn’t pay them back with my current job, so after some thought, I had to sell some of my stuff to get out of that debt, either that or get locked up. But wouldn’t ya know it? My place got jacked! Everything valuable was broken in two and any bits I had locked up were gone!”

Haru remained silent (save for a sip from the cup of water) as he listened to Gilda’s rant. Gilda growled as she slammed a balled up talon onto the table. “What the Tartarus did I do to deserve this stuff!? I didn’t do anything to nobody! I had to sell my home to make sure I didn’t end up in the slammer, but the problems just kept piling up! My former co-workers kept getting assaulted, and a bunch of ponies who had a grudge against me did too!”

‘Gee, I wonder why they had grudges,’ Haru mused with a roll of his eyes

“The law kept getting on my case,” Gilda continued as she turned away from the dragon. “Nothing stuck thanks to some half-boiled pony that I knew kinda proved that I wasn’t guilty, but it just kept happening again and again! I had to get away from Cloudsdale otherwise I’d probably just get tossed in the slammer, no matter how many times I’d get cleared.”

“So you came here, cause you knew you had a real good friend who could help you,” Haru mused out loud.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” Gilda sighed.

“I take it Dash doesn’t know,” Haru guessed with his arms crossed. “There’s no way she’d be all chipper if she knew what was happening to her.”

“She doesn’t need to know,” Gilda growled with her gold eyes narrowed down at the dragon. “I made sure that half-boiled pony who helped didn’t tell her this in his letters, and I’ll make sure that you don’t tell her either. These are my problems, and I sure as Tartarus ain’t going to burden Dash with them!”

Haru lifted his hands up defensively, “Hey, it’s not my place to tell her. That’s up to you to decide Gilda. But keeping things from friends isn’t the best, especially if they can bring problems to the ones you care about.”

“You think I don’t know that?!” Gilda barked as she stabbed her talons into the table. “I just want things to go back to the way they were! I don’t know why the Tartarus this kind of plop is happening to me, but it doesn’t involve Dash! But I… I…”

“You really do treasure your friendship with Dash,” Haru interrupted with a smile on his face. “But, you can’t just look to the past Gilda, if you do that, you’ll just be trapped there, and lose those who continue to the future, unfortunately that includes Dash.

“She’s still your friend, but she has a life here outside of Cloudsdale. If you don’t open up to her and keep ostracizing her friends, then you’re going to end up regretting it.”

“GARGH!” Gilda snarled loudly as she threw the table to the side, making the dragon in front of her lean back slightly in surprise. “You loser! You don’t know what the Tartarus you’re talking about! I don’t know why I even opened up to you in the first place!”

“Well, that’s simple really,” Haru chuckled with a smile on his face. “Some ponies, and griffons too, bottle stuff up. Eventually, the pressure gets to be too much, and sometimes they explode, other times, they’re just waiting for someone to listen.

“I kind of pegged you as someone like that when you kept being way too unauthentic, putting on too much of a tough girl façade kinda made me realize that you’re just hiding beneath all that bravado.”

Gilda growled loudly.

TTTTTTT

A little while later, Twilight was at the small river inside Ponyville, looking at the water below the bridge she was at. She had looked all over Ponyville for the magical dragon, but her search turned out to be futile. ‘There has to be a spell that I can use to keep tabs on him, or at the very least find a way to communicate with him far away.’

Using her magic to pull the ring out from her saddlebags, Twilight floated the Multi-Ring in front of her. ‘I wonder, Haru’s able to use these rings by having them tap into his own source of magic – Couldn’t I do the same if I channel my magic into them?’

Twilight was about to do so, but stopped herself, “No, it wouldn’t work, at least not for this ring.”

‘Those scrolls said that this ring could only be used when…’

“Hey there, Twilight,” a familiar voice called out surprising the lavender unicorn, almost making her drop the ring.

The mare quickly used her magic to fit the ring into her saddle bags before she turned around, “Haru! There you are, I was looking for you and… What the!? Haru! Are you okay?”

Haru rubbed his bloody nose with a warm smile on his face, “Don’t worry Twilight, in the words of an infamous figure – ‘If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid.’

“I just kinda went a little too far with my ‘exploration’.”

“Who exactly said that?” Twilight asked trying to think about who could’ve said something like that.

“Some entity of chaos I once read about,” the dragon admitted as he stepped onto the bridge next to Twilight. “But that’s not important, you said you were looking for me?”

“Yeah, but when I found you, I wasn’t expecting to see you covered in blood,” Twilight pointed out blatantly. “What exactly happened to you?”

“Uh, better if you drop it,” Haru recommended with his claws held up defensively. “Now, what did you need from me?”

“Well, I was kinda curious about something,” Twilight stated, not wanting to push the issue with the dragon. “You only have three familiars right?”

“The PlaMonsters?” Haru questioned with his brow raising slightly. “Yeah, I’ve only got three – Yellow Kraken’s with the Apple Family, I have Red Garuda following Dash, and Blue Unicorn should be with you. Uh, speaking of, where is Unicorn?”

“Well, I asked him to keep an eye on Pinkie Pie,” Twilight stated. “But are you sure you don’t have another version of Garuda?”

“Another version of Garuda?” Haru questioned, blinking a few times at the lavender Unicorn. “What do you mean? I only have the Red Garuda.”

“So, who has the White Garuda?” Twilight asked.

Haru’s eyes widened in revelation when he heard that, “A White Garuda?!”

The dragon stomped closer to Twilight, his eyes narrowed and his claws held up, “Twilight, are you sure about that!?”

The unicorn was a little surprised at Haru losing his cool bravado over the second Garuda, but she nodded towards the dragon. “Yes, I’m sure. Its body wasn’t made out of rubies, it was pure diamond. And it even had a few scrolls with it…”

Twilight used her magic to pull out the two scrolls out from her saddle and used the same spell to unfurl them. “One just had a runic circle similar to the ones that you use with your magic, and the other was just a simple sentence.”

Haru looked at one of the scrolls and did note that it was a golden runic circle that had the basic principles as his, only this one with different phases of the moon surrounding the central symbol. The dragon then turned his attention to the other scroll, and read it out loud. “Two is better than one… What the?”

“Yeah, I don’t get it either,” Twilight sighed with her head lowered.

“I feel like I’m being trolled somehow,” Haru admitted with his head lowered.

“I know how that is,” Twilight added as her horn glowed once more, pulling out the same ring she was looking at earlier. “But, I got the messages when I was looking at this ring that you left with Pinkie. I’m sure that’s got something to do with it.”

Haru looked at the ring and gripped it with his tail, “Hmm…”

“Anyway, why do you have Garuda watching Dash?” Twilight questioned as she leaned at Haru, making him lean back. “Is Dash a Gate? Is there another Phantom in Ponyville?”

Haru lifted his claws up defensively, “Well, I’m pretty sure that Dash isn’t a Gate, but I’m keeping Garuda around her so that there won’t be a problem. As for the Phantom, well, I’m not going to lie, there are two Phantoms this time.”

Twilight bit her lower lip as she turned her attention away from the dragon, “How long did you know?”

“Since this morning,” Haru answered with his claws now in his pockets. “I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know who the Gate was and I had to find out before the Phantoms appeared again.”

“I understand that Haru,” Twilight replied as she turned her attention towards the dragon. “But I have to ask you, why are my friends and myself being targeted by these Phantoms? It can’t just be a coincidence!”

“It can’t, can it?” Haru mused as he rubbed his chin. “And I wish I had an answer to give you, all I know is that I have a duty. And that duty is to protect anypony from these Phantoms, and Twilight, as long as I’m here, I’ll make sure that you or your friends won’t be harmed by Phantoms.”

The unicorn smiled at the dragon before she giggled, “Odd, I seem to recall that AJ and I had to come to your rescue when you fought against that Pranch Phantom.”

Haru reeled back as if he was just socked again, “Hey! I wouldn’t start this kind of argument! Let’s not forget who saved who’s flank the first time!”

For a moment, both magical creatures leered at each other before they laughed for a little. When the laughter ceased, Twilight smiled brightly at the dragon, “So, any chance you’re going to tell me how your nose got like that?”

“I’m taking that secret to the grave,” Haru replied.

Before either of them could say another word, a small neighing sound caught their attention towards the bridge’s edge. At the ground was none other than the small Unicorn Familiar trotting towards the two with a basket filled with pink envelopes that had a familiar trio of balloons on it. The small familiar jumped to its dragon’s shoulder and neighed loudly as it bumped the basket against Haru’s cheek a few times.

Taking the hint, Haru grabbed one of the envelopes and the small familiar leapt down to Twilight and made a similar gesture towards Twilight. The lavender Unicorn used her own magic to pull one of the envelopes. Unicorn neighed happily before it galloped away.

Haru sighed as he looked at the envelope, “Ya know, I don’t mind if you ponies use my familiars to help you, I just wish I’d get a little forewarning.”

Twilight chuckled sheepishly as she used her magic to open the envelope, “Well, not like I asked him to do this. Pinkie probably did.”

Haru rolled his eyes as he used his claw to open up the envelope and pull out the small sheet of paper inside. “Let’s see… Huh, apparently I was just invited to a party. Gee, I wonder who’s throwing it.”

“Says here that the party’s for Gilda,” Twilight pointed out, ignoring the little bit of sarcasm that Haru spouted. “Haru, I don’t suppose you met this Gilda, have you?”

“Actually, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’,” Haru replied adding the air quotes with his claws.

“What’s she like?” Twilight inquired as she used her magic to slip the invitation into her saddlebag. “Pinkie told me a few things earlier, and I feel bad because of what I said to her. I was hoping to hear what you know about her in order to figure out if I was wrong or not.”

“Then I suggest you go to this party and meet Gilda yourself,” Haru replied with a nod to himself. “Trust me, it’s not a good idea to form an opinion on somepony you haven’t met unless you meet them yourself. I believe a good saying for you is ‘Don’t judge a book by the cover’.”

“Indeed, that is a good saying,” Twilight admitted with a bright grin on her face. “So, what are you going to do now?”

“Well, I’m thinking about going to this party,” The red dragon stated before he rubbed his nose. “But before that, I’m going to back to the library and clean myself up. I doubt that even Pinkie Pie would be thrilled to see a dragon covered in blood appear at her party.”

Twilight nodded before Haru began to walk off, his tail still wrapped around the Multi Ring. ‘That symbol on that scroll was the same when he used that Ring Ring, so it must be from his master. It wasn’t that hard to figure out, but it would make sense that his master would have similar magic.

‘I wonder, is Haru’s master a dragon too?’

Twilight mused her thoughts before she began to leave the bridge area as well, unaware that the White Garuda was watching her from the air. The diamond encrusted familiar chirped once before it dove down to keep a closer look on the lavender unicorn.

TTTTTT

Sugarcube Corner in the late afternoon was abuzz with life on this day, with several ponies entering the highly decorated bakery. Music, streamers and several balloons filled the air with the pink hostess of the party at the door greeting each and every one of her guests.

Twilight had arrived a little earlier and was surprised to see that most of her friends, save for Rainbow Dash and Haru, were there. Even Spike was amongst the ponies, although, he was keeping an eye on a certain stylish mare.

On the other hoof, Twilight was trotting up to a rather timid Fluttershy – even more so than the usual timidity that the mare showed – in the middle of the shop, “Are you alright Fluttershy? You’re looking a little nervous.”

“Oh, T-Twilight, hello,” the shy pegasus squeaked back. “It’s n-nothing.”

“Alright,” Twilight replied, thinking of a way to change the subject. “Have you met Gilda before, Fluttershy? What’s she like?”

“Oh, um, well,” Fluttershy stuttered, looking down at the ground. “I’ll tell you later Twilight.”

Said unicorn blinked a few times as she watch Fluttershy trot past her and head straight towards the hostess of the party. Twilight shook her head before she herself trotted to find her dragon scribe.

“Welcome! Welcome!” Pinkie cheered gleefully to a pair of mares who casually strolled in.

“Um, Pinkie Pie?” Fluttershy said, getting her pink friend’s attention. “Listen, about this party for Gilda, do you…”

However, before the young pegasus could finish voicing her concerns about this welcoming celebration, Fluttershy froze up completely with wide eyes. Pinkie tilted her head slightly, “Oooh! Are we playing a new game? Is it freeze tag?! No wait, that’s not much of an indoor party game, oh! How is it charades? I love charades! Lemme guess… Hmm, is it a statue? Is it the Statue of Miss Li-Bray-Ty? No wait! You’re one of those Ghuls that Haru fights!

“Nonononono! I know what you’re doing! You just saw a ghost didn’t you? Lucky! I’ve always wanted to meet a ghost - Especially a green one that when it goes through anything, it would leave a green slime trail!”

“Unless I just turned green and can float without magic,” A familiar voice chuckled behind Pinkie. “I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with a red, flightless dragon who can’t phase through walls.”

Pinkie Pie spun around with a large smile on her face as she saw Haru, who was now wearing a dark gray denim jacket that had a few pin buttons on it that had weird symbols on it. “Haru! I was almost, kinda, sorta, a teenie-weenie little bit worried that you wouldn’t show up!”

“Huh?” Haru questioned as he leaned up against the doorway. “Why wouldn’t I show up?”

“Uni told me that you got hurt,” Pinkie said with a slight grimace to her face before it melted away into a really warm smile. “But it must’ve just been a nose bleed since you’re here! I’m so glad!”

It was then that Pinkie lifted up her hoof to Haru, but the dragon just looked at the pink pony, “Uni? Who’s Uni?”

“Uni!” Pinkie called out gently.

Leaping from the air above was none other than the blue unicorn familiar, with a small pink party hat atop of its head. Haru just blinked a few times before he slapped his forehead, ‘Unicorn… Why are you… Forget it. I’m starting to think that Pinkie Pie’s free spirit insanity is contagious, at least when my familiars are concerned. But… How did Unicorn tell Pinkie Pie that I had a bloody nose?!’

Shaking the thought from his head least his head would explode, the red dragon turned his attention towards the still frozen stiff Fluttershy. “So, what’s up with her?”

“Dunno,” Pinkie replied as she lifted her hoof up once more to Haru. “Anyway, come on in Haru! We’ve got plenty of yummy food and plenty of fun games, in a little bit we’re gonna play one of my all time favorites! Pin the tail on the pony!”

The dragon looked down at the hoof with a raised brow, but shrugged before he used his right claw to grip the mare’s pink hoof…

BZZT!

The spines on his head and his tail shot up into the air as a jolt of electricity slipped through the dragon’s body. “GAGH!”

Snickers echoed through the air as Haru pulled his hand away from Pinkie’s hoof, his blue eyes wide. The pink mare laughed as well and revealed that strapped to her hoof was a joy buzzer. Haru shook his right claws while his left claws pulled his spines back down over his head. “A j-joy buzzer, nice one.”

Haru still shook his claws as he entered into the party, passing by Fluttershy. When he did, Fluttershy shook her head and finally continued to speak, “… Um, do you really think it’s a good idea? I mean…”

And just as if the conversation hadn’t been weirdly interrupted, Pinkie turned to her friend with a bright smile. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about mean old Gilda.”

Using her non-buzzer front leg, Pinkie lifted her hoof up and gently tapped her pegasus’ head a few times. “Your Auntie Pinkie Pie’s got it all taken care of!”

Fluttershy had a rather annoyed look on her face as Pinkie Pie turned away, “I’m a year older than you.”

Amongst the party guests, Haru had found himself near the table of snacks, looking over the confectionaries with a grimace on his face. ‘Cake, lemon drops, marshmallows, pudding… No doughnuts. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, not like everyone likes doughnuts.’

Haru reached for one of the lemon drops…

“Gilda!”

Before Haru could wrap his claws around one of the lemony treats, everypony (plus two dragons) in the shop turned towards the door to see Pinkie Pie greeting a familiar griffon at the door. From his vantage point, the red dragon was able to see that Rainbow Dash was also there, but was simply watching the two with Garuda perched on the pegasus’ back.

Haru realized that Pinkie held up hoof that had a familiar gag on it, and he watched as Gilda reluctantly lifted her talons up to grab the hoof…

BZZT!

It was a rather interesting sight to see Gilda react to the hoof buzzer, her wings and feathers forced to stand on end, her yellow eyes bugging out, and electricity sparking over her body. Haru could even swore that he saw the griffon’s skeleton a few times as the gag struck her. ‘Oh boy, I hope that I didn’t have the same reaction.’

After she released her talons from Pinkie, Gilda slumped to the ground with a number of the ponies in the shop laughing along with Pinkie’s. Haru didn’t laugh, but took notice that Gilda was glaring at the pink pony for a mere second before Dash got in her line of sight, the griffon put on a rather fake smile for her friend’s sake.

Haru grimaced slightly before he walked away from the snack table, heading towards where the drinks are, ‘Seeing as how the last time we interacted didn’t go so well, I think I’ll just make friendly conversation with the wall and watch what happens.’

Indeed, for most of the party, Haru did keep his back to the wall and watched as the antics of the party occur. After the initial prank with Pinkie Pie, Gilda kept getting struck with pranks – lemon drops with pepper in them which resulted in the griffon in breathing fire (which Spike had pointed out was better than the smoke that Haru had puffed out a day before, much to the taller dragon’s chagrin), a glass of punch that had a hole in it to have it spill on her crest of feathers, and even a classic gag of surprising snakes disguised as a present.

All the while, Gilda kept her cool, but the tension behind that forced smile that looked like it could break any moment.

During a small break between pranks, with Fluttershy having some of her bird friends singing some rather cute music, Pinkie Pie rolled out a rather large cake that had a number of candles atop it. “Cake-time everypony! It’s not a lie!”

All the ponies in the room gathered around the large cake, some licking their chops at the sight of the frosted confectionary treat. Amongst them was Spike, who was bouncing up and down on his toes. “Hey! Can I blow out the candles?”

Twilight smiled at her young dragon scribe, “Why don’t we let Gilda blow out the candles Spike? She is the guest of honor after all.”

Just like that, Gilda slid into the small dragon and knocked him over to the side, “Exactly!”

While Gilda drew in a deep breath, Haru was near Pinkie and whispered to her, “Hey Pinkie, I’m not much of a cake dragon, but do you know if there are any doughnuts here?”

The pink mare leaned back to Haru as Gilda blew out the flames on the candles, only for them to relight themselves. “Oh! You’re more than welcomed to see if there are any in the kitchen!”

Haru nodded, noting that Gilda kept trying to blow out the candles, failing each time. With a shrug, the red dragon slipped through the giggling crowds of ponies and went into the kitchen. Even when Haru stepped into the kitchen, he could hear the laughter that was echoing though out the shop. The sleek dragon shook his head before he looked through the room for some of the sugary treats.

While the sleek dragon was searching for his favorite treats, a familiar diamond encrusted bird flew in through the opened windows and landed atop of the cupboards. The White Garuda remained silent as it watched Haru look about, rolling its eyes at the sight of the dragon.

“TWEET!”

Haru’s head perked up when he heard that and turned his head about, “Garuda?”

The White Garuda sounded out once more, alerting Haru to crane his head. It didn’t take long for Haru to follow the noise, but when his eyes landed on the diamond studded familiar, they widened greatly, “Twilight was right. You are here, White Garuda. Does that mean he’s here?”

White Garuda lifted one of its wings and pecked at it a few times. Haru reached into his jacket and pulled out the two scrolls that Twilight had given him, the young dragon lifted the scrolls up towards the familiar, “He had you deliver these, right? Is he still around? Or is he somewhere else?”

Deep down, Haru knew he wasn’t going to get a verbal answer from the White Garuda, but this was something that the dragon had to do. Before Haru could continue his pointless questioning, a loud yelping echoed through the air, both Haru and the White Garuda turned towards the entrance of the kitchen to see a blindfolded Gilda slipping into the kitchen, having stepped on large dollop of icing.

Unfortunately for Haru, he didn’t react in time.

A loud cry of pain echoed through the shop before Haru ran out of the kitchen, a violet tail pinned on his backside next to his regular tail. Dashing past all of the ponies, Haru leapt out the front door, yelping in pain. The ponies couldn’t help but laugh, especially when Gilda stumbled out of the kitchen, covered with various kinds of mushed up pastries.

“Well, at least you pinned the tail on an end,” Pinkie snickered with a bright smile. “Although, we were playing pin the tail on the pony, not pin the tail on the dragon.”

Gilda snarled loudly with fire in her eyes.

TTTTTT

Haru winced as he gingerly pulled the colorful, toy pony-tail from his backside, stifling a yelp. With the toy tail between his claws, the dragon sighed before he tossed the tail over his shoulder. “I hope the local doctor knows how to give tetanus shots to a dragon.”

Now that he was just outside Sugarcube Corner, Haru rubbed his bruised behind, ‘I’m taking a lot more abuse than usual today. The two Phantoms, getting pranked, and even assault , I think when I get this day over with, I’m just going to crash on the couch with a box of doughnuts…’

The dragon’s tasty thoughts were immediately interrupted when a loud roar blasted out of the shop, nearly tripping over himself in surprise.

Worried that a Phantom was attacking, Haru ran to the door and looked back into the shop – There wasn’t a Phantom, but there was something much worse.

A very angry Gilda flying in the air, yelling at the top of her lungs, pointing a talon at Pinkie Pie, “This is your idea of a good time? I've never met a lamer bunch of dweebs in all my life! And Pinkie Pie, you! You are queen lame-o with your weak little party pranks! Did you really think you could make me lose my cool?”

‘What do you call this? You’re yelling at everypony,’ Haru thought to himself as Gilda landed on the floor near Rainbow Dash.

“Well, Dash and I have ten times as much cool as the rest of you put together!” Gilda exclaimed as she threw a talon around the blue pegasus, unaware that Dash narrowed her eyes slightly. “Come on Dash, we're bailing on this pathetic scene.”

Gilda took a few steps towards the door, but soon realized that she was walking alone. The griffon turned towards her pegasus friend, “Come on Rainbow Dash, I said, we’re leaving.”

However, Dash stood her ground and continued her leer at Gilda. “You know Gilda, I was the one who set up all those weak pranks at this party.”

‘What a twist,’ Haru thought while Gilda gasped in surprise.

“So, I guess I’m Queen Lame-o,” Dash continued back.

Gilda chuckled nervously, “C’mon Dash, you’re joshing me.”

“They weren’t all meant for you specifically,” Dash admitted looking a little ashamed. “It was just dumb luck that you set them all off.”

“I shoulda known,” Pinkie Pie stated with a smile. “That dribble cup had Rainbow Dash written all over it.”

“No way!” Gilda hissed as she leered at Pinkie. “It was Pinkie Pie! She set up this party to trip me up! To make a fool of me!”

“Me?” Pinkie questioned with a slightly hurt look in her eyes. “I threw this party to improve your attitude, I thought a good party might turn that frown upside down.”

“And you sure didn’t need any help making a fool of yourself,” Rainbow Dash continued. “You know, this isn’t how I thought my old friends would treat my new friends. If being cool is all you care about, maybe you should go find some new cool friends someplace else?”

Gilda growled loudly and was about to say something, but instead turned around and stomped out of the shop, almost knocking Haru out of the way to do so.

The sleek dragon turned back to the shop, and then towards Gilda who didn’t turn back at all. “Gilda…”

“Get bent, loser,” Gilda growled before her wings began to flap and pull her from the ground.

Haru sighed before he snapped his claws, getting the red Garuda to fly out of Sugarcube Corner. The sleek dragon gestured with his head and immediately, Garuda flew after the griffon. ‘This is not going to end well…’

TTTTTTT

Though Gilda had flown out of Ponyville, she didn’t go too far. She was back where she and Haru had their discussion, only difference this time instead of trying to nap in the tree previously, the griffon was slashing at the bark of the tree. “STUPID PONIES! STUPID DASH! STUPID… TREE!”

Gilda cried out as she dug her claws into the bark of the tree, and stopped with her head lowered. “Damn it… Why?”

Tears slowly welled up in the griffon’s eyes, “Dash… I…”

“Aw, little baby gonna cry?”

Gilda snapped her head up and stepped away from the tree as two shadowy figures stepped out from behind the very tree that the griffon was attacking. Although she had no idea who these two were, or for the matter of what they were, the fact that they were creatures that she had never seen before. “I… I wasn’t crying!”

“Sure you weren’t,” Djinn cackled with a wag of her finger towards the Griffon. “You’re just a sad little child aren’t you? A scared little child, all alone in this world – Everything you know is gone.”

“Shut the Tartarus up!” Gilda roared at the Phantom. “You don’t know a damn thing about me!”

“You drove the last pony who could help you away,” Djinn stated bluntly with her arms crossed. “Everything that happened to you – Nopony believed you when you declared your innocence in Cloudsdale, why do you think that is? Despite your cold demeanor, and your proclamations that you don’t care about what others think, you’ve isolated yourself from every single being from you.”

Gilda growled as she lifted up her talons. “Be quiet you… You… Whatever the Tartarus you are!”

But Djinn just continued as she leaned up against the tree, uncaring that Gilda was threatening her, “And just now – Thanks to that little attitude of yours – You’ve broken the only real friendship that you held dear. You could’ve salvaged it, but you had to burn any bridges that you could save it.”

Djinn lifted up her other hand to reveal an old photo that had younger versions of Gilda and Rainbow Dash flying through a clouded sky. That made even Gilda stop and her jaded eyes softened slightly. “That’s…”

“The only reminder of your time with your good friend,” Djinn chuckled before she tossed the picture into the air.

Gilda reached for the photo as it slowly floated down.

Only to pull her talon back as a several purple flames flew through the air and completely engulfed the picture. Gilda’s golden yellow eyes widened as the embers of the photo danced around her. “NO!”

BA-DUM!

Gilda’s pupils shrunk as she slumped to the ground, the sound of her heartbeat echoing loud enough for the two Phantoms to hear. Hellhound chuckled loudly as he lifted his arms up, “Subarashi! Most excellent work Djinn! Soon, a new Phantom shall be born into this world!”

“No need to tell me that,” Djinn replied with a shrug of her shoulders. “I know I’m just pure awesomeness – Still was a pain in the flank though. Having to follow this loser in Cloudsdale just gave me a headache, and ruining her life was just as annoying.

“Although, since we’re about to welcome a new Phantom, shouldn’t we get a birthday cake?”

Hellhound just looked at the female Phantom with his head tilted slightly. “What the? We’re not celebrating anything! Not like we got cake when we were brought into this world!”

Before Djinn could say another word, several beams of red light crashed into both Phantoms’ bodies, sparks flying from them as they flew away from the fallen Gilda.

“You sure know how to throw a party,” a familiar voice called out as the two Phantoms landed on the ground a couple of yards from Gilda. “No food, no drinks, and the way you treat girls is just in poor taste.”

Both Phantoms turned to see Haru walking towards Gilda, his gun trained on the two Phantoms. But the dragon wasn’t alone, behind him was a pair of ponies following the dragon – Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle.

“WIZARD!”

“RING MAGE!”

When the group reached Gilda, that’s when something strange began to happen to the griffon, a large purple crack of energy appeared on Gilda’s body. Rainbow Dash looked at the weird crack as smaller cracks appeared on her body, “Gilda! What’s wrong!?”

“Haru! What’s happening to her?” Twilight asked observing the cracks before she turned to Haru.

“DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

“The Phantom within her is awakening,” Haru answered as he lifted up his left claw, revealing the Flame Style ring on his claws.

“What does that mean?” Dash questioned as Gilda growled slightly in pain.

“Isn’t there something we can do?” Twilight asked.

“Nothing!” Djinn laughed loudly as her fiery purple hair flickered a little bit before the excess of it transformed into her scimitar. “Once a Phantom inside a Gate gets its wake up call, there is nothing that you dweebs can do to…”

“I can stop it,” Haru stated as he messed with his belt for a few seconds.

“Sha Ba Do Bi Touch Henshin!”

“What?”

“What?!”

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

“I just need to deal with these two first,” Haru replied as he lifted his left claw up, summoning the fiery runic circle. “Henshin.”

Haru ran through the runic circle, transforming him into Wizard with his gun snapping into his sword. “Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

“It’s Showtime,” Haru announced calmly as he charged at the two Phantoms.

Djinn already had her weapon ready and charged forward, while Hellhound reached into one of the shadows to pull out his own sword out and joined with the other fiery Phantom in their charge towards the ring mage.

It didn’t take long for the two Phantoms to reach the oncoming Wizard, both of which took a slash at the masked dragon. However, Wizard slipped and skidded below both of the attacks, but when he skidded past the two Phantoms, his tail hooked around Hellhound’s ankle which caused the Phantom to fall face first into the ground. “GARGH!”

Quickly getting back to his feet, Wizard spun around and immediately blocked an oncoming slash courtesy of Djinn. The two locked gazes as Djinn growled loudly, “Do you think you can really bluff your way out of saving that pathetic griffon? You can’t stop her Phantom from awakening!”

“I can, and will,” Wizard replied as he quickly stepped back, forcing Djinn to stumble forward and into a kick that slammed her into Hellhound, forcing them both back to the ground.

Taking this opportunity, Wizard stabbed his sword into the ground before he reached for his chain of rings and looked over to where Twilight and Dash were moving Gilda away from the fighting – Taking note that more aura-like cracks were appearing on the griffon’s body. Wizard nodded to himself as he lifted two rings from his chain. ‘Here’s hoping this works.’

Wizard fitted both rings on his right hand and grabbed the sword with his left hand. Using his right hand, Wizard held the sword up and waved his right hand over the closed hand emblem. “MULTI COPY – PLEASE!”

A powerful red aura surrounded Wizard’s sword before he threw it high into the air. Both of the Phantoms had gotten back to their feet, with Hellhound snarling loudly, “This is just getting embarrassing! There’s two of us! One of him!”

“Congratulations, you can do basic math,” Wizard stated with a wag of his finger. “You want a gold star or something?”

Hellhound growled loudly as he dashed across the field, Djinn slipping to get back to her feet, but managed to get her bearings quickly and joined her fellow Phantom in their attack.

Wizard just stood there as Hellhound brought his blade up into the air and prepared to bring its crooked sword down on the masked magician. “Feel the despair of death!”

A moment before the sword could connect with Wizard, several gleams of silver fell from the sky, some of them striking Hellhound, with sparks flying from his body. “GARGH!”

Djinn jumped back just in time to dodge more of the falling gleams of silver, but came to realize that the gleams were actually an almost countless supply of identical swords – The same that Wizard had just tossed up into the air, all of which stabbed into the ground where the three were fighting. “What in Equestira is this?”

Hellhound had just recovered when Wizard began his counterattack, grabbing one of the swords in the ground and quickly slashing it across the dark Phantom’s body, propelling the canine themed Phantom through the air once more with a mass of sparks flying from his body. “Steel is my body and fire is my blood.”

Undaunted, Djinn charged forward and quickly leapt over the earth-embedded blades, bringing down the blade on Wizard, using her full weight in the attack. In response, Wizard lifted his sword up to block the attack, blocking the attack easily with only one claw. “I have created over a thousand blades.”

Using his free hand, Wizard gripped onto a nearby sword and slashed the blade across Djinn’s stomach, purple flames pouring from the contact. “Unaware to death, nor aware to life.”

As Djinn was forced back, Wizard dashed forward with both blades in his hands, and leapt into the air, spun around and slammed both of the blades into the girlish Phantom’s body, knocking her to the ground with her crashing into several other swords. “Withstood despair to forge hope for all.”

A loud cry echoed through the air, and Wizard spun around to lift his left sword up to block Hellhound’s attack. But he quickly realized that he had to lift the right blade up as well, since Hellhound had grabbed one of the embedded swords to use against Wizard. The fiery phantom cackled loudly as he pulled back his own blade and brought it in for a close stab.

Wizard spun to the right to dodge the attack and delivered a swift swipe with his left sword, racing it across Hellhound’s back, embers flying from the Phantom’s body as he cried out in pain. “Lighting the flame of hope, this is the only path.”

Djinn ran quietly behind Wizard and was prepared to stab the magical dragon in the back, however his tail wrapped around another sword and stabbed the blade into her, forcing her back. “GARGH!”

“This is my showtime,” Wizard announced as he flicked open the hand symbol on one of the swords he held. When the original emblem opened, all of the emblems on the other swords opened up as well, all of them glowing a bright red.

“Come on a Slash, Shake Hands!”

Tossing the blade in his left hand away, Wizard raised his claws up to the emblem in his right hand. “And this is your finale.”

When Wizard brought his claws up to the emblem, all of the swords in the ground glowed a dull red. “FLAME – SLASH STRIKE!”

Djinn landed on the ground between a number of swords, taking not of how much heat was pouring off of the swords. “What in Tartarus is this supposed to be?”

“Hii…”

The female Phantom turned towards Wizard, shocked that the mage was right in front of her, and slashed his blade across Djinn’s right arm with flames erupting from her arm.

“Hii Hii…”

Wizard skidded to a stop for a moment, and grabbed another glowing blade while he dropped the blade he just used against the Phantom. In a red and black blur, Wizard slipped past Djinn’s left with a quick slice with the blade he just drew from the ground. More flames erupted from Djinn’s body

“Hii Hii Hii!”

Before the Phantom could react, Wizard had grabbed two of the glowing blades and leapt over her, bringing down both of the weapons down on Djinn’s shoulders, sparks and fire exploding from her body.

And this time with two more swords, with a third one that was coiled by his tail, Wizard charged once more, this time with a spin and brought all three of the blades across Djinn’s body. When the masked mage passed Djinn, he dropped all three swords and grabbed one more and flipped through the air with the blade completely covered with a fiery aura over it. “Hii Hii Hii HiiHiiHii!”

The blade connected with Djinn’s body, and the fiery energy slashed through Djinn’s body as she screamed loudly. The flames completely engulfed Djinn before she exploded into a familiar runic circle that absorbed the flames into it.

Wizard sighed as he turned to see Hellhound struggling on the ground, flames spurting from a crack on his armor. The masked dragon tilted his head slightly as he lifted his sword up, “Get lost.”

Hellhound breathed heavily before he staggered towards some of the shadows of a nearby tree and slipped into it. As he did, all of the swords that were on the ground disappeared, leaving only the remaining sword left in Wizard’s hand.

“Haru!”

Wizard turned back to where Twilight and Dash had brought Gilda away from the fighting, and quickly ran towards the group. When the masked dragon reached them, he noticed that the cracks in Gilda’s body were more prominent.

And despite the fact that Dash had told off Gilda a little earlier, the Pegasus was concerned for her ‘old’ friend’s well-being. “Just hold on Gilda!”

“D-Dash?” Gilda sputtered out as some of her cracked body.

Twilight saw that Wizard was nearby and was reaching for his chain belt of rings, pulling one off. “Haru! We need to get Gilda to a doctor or something! She’s practically falling apart!”

“Don’t worry Twilight,” Wizard stated as he held up a ring in the air. “Though a Phantom is about to be born – I will never let that happen before my eyes again.”

The masked dragon knelt down to look Gilda in the eyes as he held up a single ring, one that had the same symbol as his mask. “Gilda.”

The griffon wearily lifted her head up and leered at Wizard, “… What a lame suit.”

If his eyes were visible, Wizard would’ve rolled his eyes, but just settled for a sigh. “Insult me all you want, just don’t give into despair. I will be your hope.”

Wizard held up the ring to Gilda before he gently lifted up Gilda’s talon and slipped the ring onto one of her claws. Quickly reaching for his belt, Wizard lifted Gilda’s claw to the emblem on it. “ENGAGE – PLEASE!”

That’s when Gilda slowly lowered her head down to the ground, the large red runic circle appearing over her body. Twilight and Dash watched as Wizard slowly floated off of the ground and over the rune. “Do me a favor, and keep an eye on her, will you?”

Before Twilight could reply to the masked dragon, he quickly slipped into the rune with it disappearing into Gilda’s body. “Haru! Wait!”

“Yeesh, what the Tartarus was that?!” Dash growled as she propped Gilda up, being careful of not messing with the cracked areas of her friend. “He just ditched us!”

“I don’t think so Dash,” Twilight replied, taking note that Wizard had accidentally left a couple of rings behind when he teleported. “I think you’re confusing the Connect Spell he uses with this one… Although, I have no idea what this one can do.”

“Then how can you be sure he didn’t just run off?” Dash questioned.

“Because Gilda’s wearing the ring,” Twilight pointed out using her magic to lift up one of the rings. “Normally, he’d wear it, but…”

“Frankly, it doesn’t matter.”

Both ponies turned to see a slightly wounded Hellhound emerge from the same shadows he had disappeared into, clutching onto his wounded arm. “All that really does matter, is that the ring mage is gone, and now, I can finally get my own show on the road!”

Twilight’s horn glowed brighter, unaware that the ring she had floating was glowing bright as well.

TTTTTT

Wizard flew through a purple vortex, shards of glassy material flying past him as the runic circles around his body provided a path for him.

Within seconds, Wizard fell from the vortex and landed on a very cloudy area. The masked dragon stumbled slightly before he realized that he was able to stand on the cloud without falling. Wizard looked around to see that it wasn’t just one cloud he was standing on, but rather an entire city made out of clouds, with pegasai flying through the air, rainbows from the buildings and plenty of buildings.

Although he had never been, Wizard was easily able to figure out where he was – Even if it was completely devoid of color, “Cloudsdale? No, this is the world of her mind.”

Wizard walked across the clouds, carefully treading with each step. “Underworld.”

“SLOW POKE!”

The masked dragon’s head craned up to see two rather familiar figures flying low through the cloudy streets, the first figure a small little feathered filly with a grayscaled mane who was trying to outfly the second figure. The second figure was really different, it was a little griffon with a familiar style of feathers on her head.

“Dang it Dash! I’m not slow!”

The two flew past Wizard, and his suspicions were confirmed, “Dash and Gilda, huh, they really haven’t changed much, just a little smaller.”

However, when the two winged friends were about to ascend again, they suddenly stopped in midair. It was then that a familiar purple crack appeared over them, making Wizard step back slightly. The crack exploded as a loud screech echoed through the air, and from the purple void flew an incredibly large, monstrous bird with electricity surging from its body. Its rainbow colored feathers billowed through the air before it crashed into a random building, sending purple cracks through it.

“Thunderbird,” Wizard muttered under his breath as he watched the large Phantom fly through the air, creating damage. The ring mage reached for his chain of rings and held up a single ring that he hesitated to fit on his right hand. “I haven’t used this one before, but I made a promise. I have to do this.”

Fitting the ring on his claw, Wizard messed with his belt before he threw his hand in front of his belt. “DRAGO RISE – PLEASE!”

Once again, the runic circle appeared, only this time it appeared on Wizard’s ruby covered chest before it drew itself inside the magical dragon. The mage fell to his knees as he wrapped his arms around his chest, flames covering his entire body. “YARGH!”

The flames grew stronger around Wizard’s body until two wing shaped flames erupted from his back and another sleek stream of fire pulled itself from his head. The flame that originated from his head flew into the air, drawing most of the fire from his body and warped into a second runic circle.

The circle then flashed into an incredibly large dragon with steel like skin, small wings, silver and gold armor adorned with rubies that roared loudly before it flew off towards the Thunderbird. Wizard panted loudly in pain as he looked up, “D-Dragon…”

Dragon roared loudly before it slammed into the Thunderbird into another clouded building, making more purple cracks appear in Gilda’s Underworld. Wizard slammed his claw into the clouds as the flames from his back snapped from him, “Damn it! W-What are you?!”

The flames that erupted from Wizard’s back melded together until they too formed into a weird being – However, unlike the previous flames, these ones formed into a non-living being. Instead, they transformed into a weird silver vehicle that stood on two wheels, one in the front with a weird design to it that resembled that of Wizard’s mask. The ring mage stood up and strode towards the weird vehicle.

The moment that he rested his claws on one of the bars that was on it, his mask gleamed brightly, “Machine Winger.”

Throwing one of his legs over the seat of the Machine Winger, Haru revved the handle bar and it zoomed across the cloudy street.

Meanwhile, the Thunderbird slammed both of its electrified wings into Dragon’s body, forcing it to fall into the clouded streets with a pain filled roar. The dragon rolled on the clouds before it landed on its stomach, growling loudly in annoyance. Before the dragon could bring itself up, the Machine Winger flew over it, its main body transforming into a pair of wings that latched itself onto Dragon’s back, allowing Wizard to ride the steel covered dragon.

Dragon roared loudly before it took off from the ground, using its much more powerful wings to quickly reach back to the rainbow feathered Thunderbird. The large Phantom drew back in surprise at the quick speed of its armored foe, and screeched loudly as it charged forward.

With Wizard now at the control though, he managed to lead dragon to fly over the Thunderbird and slam its long tail into the Thunderbird’s head, nearly cracking its beak. The force of the strike made the Thunderbird struggle to keep its large body in the air, but it quickly regained its composure and flew around.

The Thunderbird screeched loudly before several streaks of rainbow colored electricity shot from its body towards the dragon riding masked mage. Dragon spun around through the air to dodge, its mouth opening to unleash a powerful flame that crashed into the Thunderbird’s chest, sending it plummeting to the clouded ground, crashing into the clouds with cracks following its body.

Taking this opportunity, Wizard made Dragon fly high into the air as he slipped a new ring on his right claw. “Finale!”

“VERY NICE – KICK STRIKE!

“THE BEST!”

Wizard actually leapt off of Dragon, as the armored covered dragon’s body began to shift, transforming into an extremely large, armored dragon claw with the Machine Winger at the back of the claw. Wizard’s body became engulfed in flames before he struck his right foot into the back of the Machine Winger, completely covering the armored dragon claw with flames. The flames that followed behind the falling attack formed into an incredibly large fiery version of Wizard himself.

Thunderbird screeched loudly in pain before it lifted its head up to see the fiery claw just an inch away from it. When the kick struck the Thunderbird, it exploded into a fiery explosion with Wizard’s runic circle appearing around its body before the claw landed behind the fiery aftermath.

As the flames died down and the claw landed on the clouds, Wizard and the Machine Winger flew from it and gently landed on the clouded streets. Wizard sighed as he watched the transformed Dragon fade away into embers. ‘Well, not as bad as I thought it would be. And hey, I got me a new toy!’

Wizard crossed his arms as he looked around the gray-scaled Cloudsdale, his gaze falling to where he originally saw where the younger versions of Dash and Gilda were. They weren’t but the damage was magically repaired and he casually walked over to the area.

When he did, he noticed that there was something on the clouds at his feet – A photo.

TTTTTT

Meanwhile, while Wizard was dealing with the Inner Phantom and his own Dragon inside Gilda’s Underworld, back in the real world, Hellhound had drawn his jagged blade once more from the shadows. His gaze set on the two ponies before him, “Relax, I’m just gonna expose you to the despair of death, get another Gate awakened. Gotta make up for your Mage friend destroying Djinn and Gnome after all.”

Dash gritted her teeth, “Twilight…”

“I know Dash,” Twilight replied, unaware that the ring she was levitating was glowing bright purple.

Hellhound roared as he leapt high into the air, his sword held over his head before he began to fall towards the two.

“DEFEND – PLEASE!”

Twilight’s and Dash’s eyes widened as a rather familiar runic circle appeared before them, almost the same as Wizard’s. However, it was clearly different since the circle was a bright shade of lavender and the runes on the circle were completely different, looking like a familiar star-symbol in the middle of it. Even the voice that called out the spell was different, instead of the masculine voice that occurred when Haru used the magic, but this voice was clearly feminine.

Hellhound yelped as he crashed into the rune and was forced backwards, until he landed on the ground, rolling backwards until he got to his feet. “What the?! Where is he?!”

Twilight watched as the circle faded away and looked at the ring that was floating near her, ‘Was I… Was I able to use Haru’s magic?’

“Whoa!” Dash exclaimed. “Twilight! That was amazing! How’d you do that?”

Twilight was a little awestruck, but before she could speak, she saw something. “Dash! Look at Gilda!”

The rainbow maned pony looked down at her Griffon friend to see that all of the purple cracks of energy were starting to fade away from her feathered and furred body. “Gilda! You’re alright!”

“BUT YOU TWO WON’T BE!”

Once again, Twilight and Dash turned to see Hellhound charge at the two of them, Twilight looked at the floating ring and tried to channel more magical energy into it…

However, before she could, a familiar red runic circle appeared without notice in front of them and a loud, rusty roar erupted from it. Flying from the circle was none other than Wizard, mounted on the Machine Winger and rode it through the air before the first wheel slammed into Hellhound’s chest and sent him flying once more.

The Machine Winger landed on the ground with Wizard sighing, “I thought I told you to get lost, unless you want to face the same fate as Djinn.”

Hellhound snarled loudly before he dove back into the shadows of the nearby trees. “I won’t forget this!!”

“That’s rather clichéd,” Wizard sighed as his ruby covered suit disappeared, leaving Haru atop of the Machine Winger.

“Where in Equestria did you get to?” Dash barked at Haru as she pointed a hoof at the red Dragon. “And… What exactly is that awesome thing you’re on?”

“Really long story,” Haru stated with a shrug as he looked at Gilda. “But it looks like we’ll have some time before Gilda wakes up. So, prepare yourself some exposition – Filled with dragons, magic, and whatever this thing is called that I’m on.”

TTTTTTT

It didn’t take too long for the knocked out griffon to awaken, thirty minutes top actually. And during those thirty minutes, Haru had explained what he did and that he had gone inside Gilda’s Underworld – A psyche of sorts that housed the Inner Phantoms, and thanks to the Engage Ring, Haru could enter the psyche and defeat the Inner Phantom.

Although, the magical dragon left out the fact that he hadn’t done that before, and was only told that he could do so. But, unbeknownst to him, Twilight and Dash had left out the fact that Twilight was able to use one of Haru’s magical rings.

“W-Wha? What’s going on?”

Gilda struggled to get to her talons and paws, but was held down gently by a familiar blue hoof, “Don’t strain yourself Gilda.”

“W-What happened?” the griffon asked as she looked down at her talons, realizing that she had a ring on one of her claws. “And what the Tartarus is that thing on me?!”

“Consider it a gift,” Haru answered with a coy smile on his face.

“What?!” Gilda hissed as she got back on all fours, glaring at the dragon with daggers. “You lousy scaly freak! Did you…”

“I didn’t tell them anything you told me,” Haru answered with a calm expression on his face as he reached into his jacket. “Although, I think it would be best if you talked to Dash in private, after all…”

Haru pulled his claw out of his jacket and produced a familiar photo from it, the same photo that Djinn had burned earlier, only completely intact. Gilda reached for the photo hesitantly before she took at it and looked at it, “How did you get this?”

“A wizard did it,” Haru answered as he walked off, gesturing to Twilight to follow him.

The unicorn nodded as she followed her red dragon friend, when the two were far enough from the two winged friends, Twilight trotted in front of the dragon. “Thank you Haru.”

“For what?” Haru replied with his head tilted.

“For, well, everything you’ve done so far,” Twilight answered with a slight blush on her face. “When you dragged me and Rainbow from the party, I was a little confused why. But you did it not only to help Gilda, but to help Dash from making a mistake.”

“Truth be told, I only grabbed Dash,” Haru admitted with a roll of his blue eyes. “You just kinda stalked us. But yeah, I had a chat with Gilda earlier and learned that there was more to her than that bad girl bravado she had going on. Although, I have to ask, why a prank party?”

“You’d have to ask Pinkie,” Twilight replied with a slight blush on her face. “Gilda probably saw those pranks as attacks and they threw fuel on the fire.”

Haru simply nodded, “I’m also surprised that nopony else followed us. I would’ve thought that Pinkie Pie would’ve at least done that.”

“Yeah,” Twilight added.

“Yup yup!” Pinkie Pie chimed in.

It took a moment for that to register with both magical beings that the pink mare was standing right next to them, both Haru and Twilight jumped into the air at being surprised by Pinkie Pie’s sudden appearance. Haru clutched his chest tightly while Twilight was trying to catch her own breath, and Pinkie just stood there with a smile on her face. “Boy, you’re both really active!”

“Pinkie Pie!” Twilight exclaimed with her eyes widened. “How did you find us out here?”

“Oh, the author was nice enough to lend me the outline for this chapter,” Pinkie Pie explained with the bright smile on her face. “It really helps out a lot when you can skip ahead. And being a beta for the story helps too.”

“Wait, what?” Haru questioned with a cocked up brow.

“Nothing!” Pinkie Pie sang as she looked past her two friends to look at Gilda and Rainbow Dash talking. “But anyway, I guess Gilda wasn’t really mean after all. After all, if Dash can make up with her after everything, she can’t be all bad.”

“Pinkie, you’re really confusing me,” Haru admitted as he rubbed his temples.

“Don’t worry about that,” Pinkie chuckled as she tapped her dragon friend’s back. “Your Auntie Pinkie is here to make things all better! Especially now that we can get the party back on track!”

“I’m pretty sure I’m older than you,” Haru sighed with a narrowed look in his eyes.

“Details, details,” Pinkie Pie replied with a wave of her hoof. “Besides, who can say no to a party? I just need to get everypony to help bring stuff out here!”

“Uh, Pinkie, I think I’m a little partied out,” Twilight sighed with her head lowered. “I don’t think anypony over here is up for it.”

“Oh,” Pinkie Pie sighed with her ears drooping slightly.

“But, uh, how about tomorrow, we throw the conclusion to my party?” Haru suggested with a weak smile on his face.

“REALLY!?” Pinkie Pie gasped with joy. “That’d be perfect! Ooh! But I’d have to get all the stuff we originally got for your party in the first place, so that won’t be a problem! So, we’ll need doughnuts, hot sauce, balloons, treats, juice…”

As Pinkie Pie listed off what she needed, both Dash and Gilda made their way to the trio. Haru and Twilight turned towards the two friends, with Gilda moving forward a little quicker. “Hey, lizard?”

“Yeah?” Haru questioned.

WHAM!

Haru fell backwards with blood streaming from his nose, a familiar symbol plastered on his sniffer. All three of the ponies jumped back slightly as Gilda lowered the ring adorned claw, “Heh, that felt good.”

“Gilda!” All three of the ponies snapped at the Griffon.

“It’s okay,” Haru moaned as he rubbed his bloody nose. ‘That’s gonna leave a mark for a while.’

Gilda held a talon to Haru, and the dragon grabbed it to pull himself off of the ground. “I probably deserved that.”

“You did,” Gilda replied. “But, that’s the last time I’ll hit ya. Thanks, dragon. Dash told me everything you did, that you brought her over here, how you ‘saved me’, and all that other junk too.”

Haru only shrugged as he kept one of his claws to his nose. “Don’t worry about it.”

“No, I have to,” Gilda growled back. “Even after I just slugged you again, you’re still treating me like I haven’t done a damn thing to you. Why?”

“I told you before,” Haru sighed with a wave of his free claw. “You’re Dash’s friend, I’m her friend – I make it a concern to help you. Not just for Rainbow Dash’s sake, but for yours as well.”

Haru smiled brightly, which would be heartwarming if he didn’t have blood dripping down from his snout, “I’d gladly do anything for a friend.”

“Friend, huh?” Gilda said with a flat look in her eyes. “That’s really corny. But I can dig it.”

“I still think punching Haru’s a little much,” Twilight stated with a slight leer towards Gilda. “But, he’s right, Gilda, we’re willing to help you in any way we can. Any friend of Dash’s is a friend of ours.”

“Yup, yup!” Pinkie Pie added. “So… How about we get back to that party for you Gilda? No more pranks, it’s a Pinkie Pie Promise!”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t have set up those pranks if they were going to get you all at once,” Dash admitted with a slight blush on her face. “I’m sorry about that.”

Gilda chuckled slightly, “Well, they were good pranks, but I need to get back to Cloudsdale. I have to deal with what I left there.”

The griffon pulled the ring off of her talon and held it up to Haru, “Here, Dash told me that you gave this to me, so here.”

“Keep it,” Haru replied as he turned to the side. “You can pawn it for a few bits, should help you out with your situation.”

Gilda clutched the ring. “Gee thanks.”

“Well, how about some cake for the road?” Pinkie offered.

Gilda sighed loudly.

Unbeknownst to the group, two different figures watched the group. One of the figures was the small White Garuda who flew off after watching the group.

The second figure was seated atop of a cloud in the distance with a pair of binoculars trained on the group. “Hm hehehehehee, oh my. This is so exciting and amazing! So that’s the magic-boy, hmm. Very curious, I’m sure I can have a little fun with the magic-boy and his little filly friends.

“Hehehehehe!”

TTTTTTT

Dearest Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that it's hard to accept when somepony you like wants to spend time with somepony who's not so nice. But there’s always more to anypony than what’s on the surface, there could be reasons why they act like that.

As a friend, you have to take the good and the bad, nopony is perfect and we need to learn to accept that.

Just continue to be a good friend. In the end, the difference between a false friend and the one who is true will surely come to light, especially if you can help your friends as well.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle

The scroll that this letter was on was quickly rolled up with a bright yellow aura. “My, my student is learning a lot.”

Inside a very regal and extravagant room was the owner of that very magic – A beautiful, and tall white Alicorn with a flowing mane and tail made up of various colors: light cerulean, light turquoise, light cobalt and a light magenta. Around her neck was a golden necklace with a matching crown atop her head. On her kind face was a bright smile as she placed the scroll gently into a small desk near her. “Hmm, I should write a reply to her.”

“You have an excellent student, Princess Celestia.”

Princess Celestia gently turned her head to the side, near one of the opened windows stood a tall, white cloaked figure. “And from what I’ve heard, I’m not the only one.”

The white cloaked figure knelt down slightly with his head lowered, “You honor me with your words, Princess Celestia.”

“There is no need for you to lower your head, my friend,” Princess Celestia replied with a bright smile. “And you do not need to address me with my title either, you are my elder after all.”

“However, I am not of royal blood,” The cloaked figure responded, keeping his head down. “That title is rightfully yours.”

Princess Celestia got to her hooves and trotted over to the still knelt down, white cloaked figure, “Then by royal decree, I order you to raise yourself from the floor and speak to me informally.”

The cloaked figure sighed slightly before he stood up, only on two legs. The figure in question was tall, even taller than Princess Celestia herself, and towered over her slightly. His cloak and robes were a bright white with a gold trim, the same was true for the hood he had over his head, which was slightly star-shaped around a bright orange colored mask with curved silver portions around it, similar to Haru’s mask as Wizard.

At his chest were two straps that had several rings clicked onto it, and at his waist was a silver belt that was adorned with a familiar hand symbol. The white robed being lowered his head slightly, “If that is what you wish, Celestia.”

“You were always formal, White Wizard,” Princess Celestia stated with a smile on her face. “There is no need to be so rigid, especially for someone you haven’t seen in ages.”

“Indeed, it has been a long time,” White Wizard replied lifting his head up. “I had heard that Princess Luna has returned, but, I apologize for not sending my congratulations sooner. How is the fair mare?”

Princess Celestia snickered slightly, “Oh you know, freaking out most of the staff with the ‘Traditional Canterlot Voice’, it’s rather entertaining to see her do so.”

“You’ll have to eventually inform her about today’s society and properly train her,” White Wizard stated bluntly.

“Oh, I know,” Princess Celesita replied turning slightly. “You should join us for dinner sometime, White Wizard. She would enjoy seeing your familiar face, or should I say mask?”

The White Wizard coughed out a slight laugh as he turned to the side, “Perhaps in the near future I shall do so. But, I am here for more serious matters, I trust that my letters have been reaching you?”

“It’s always a pleasure to see Garuda and Cerberus every now and then,” Celestia answered with a bright smile. “But you seemed to have neglected telling me in your letters that you yourself had taken on an apprentice.”

It was then that the White Wizard rubbed the back of his head nervously, his mask turning away from Celestia’s stare. “I was always curious how you learned of this foresight, but, this time it’s easy to deduce that your own apprentice informed you.”

“Yes, that is correct,” Celestia replied with her smile curling a little more. “Twilight did write about a certain magical dragon who appeared at Ponyville. Although, I must confess, I’m a little surprised that he would show up there. Is it just a coincidence?”

White Wizard recomposed himself and folded his arms behind his back. “No, it is not, Celestia. My apprentice needs to learn and grow by himself. I just pointed him in the right direction with the tools. How he uses the tools is up to him, and so far, he’s done well.

“And from what I’ve seen through Garuda’s eyes, your student has caught my attention as well.”

“I see,” Celestia stated with her smile settling slightly. “Then we have much to discuss, don’t we?”

“Yes we do,” White Wizard replied with a nod.

“Then we can discuss it over dinner,” Celestia stated with a bright smile as she trotted past the White Wizard and towards the door. “After all, it’s almost time for Luna to awaken, and she would enjoy seeing you for while she has her breakfast.”

White Wizard was about to say something, but lowered his arms in defeat when his stomach growled loudly. “Very well then, I suppose a decent meal would be best. It has been a while since I had a good, royal meal.”

TBC

Intermission 2 - Gear Shift

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“The evil pizzas were no match for a simple stoplight.”
- The Blue Centurion

TTTTT

Intermission 2

Gear Shift
(Art by FlairNightz)
TTTTTT

A few days had passed since Gilda was saved from the no longer around Djinn, and life in Ponyville had returned to a semblance of normality. Gilda had flown off early the next day. Well, as normal as it could be, especially with a familiar red dragon zooming around the outskirts of the city on his brand new Machine Winger. The roar of the vehicle echoed through the air as Haru tried to get the hang of the magically empowered motorcycle.

The first time that the magical dragon had revved the engine on the Machine Winger, which was a day or so earlier, most of the ponies in the town were scared that a weird beast had turned up outside Ponyville. It wasn’t long for a few of the ponies to figure out that Haru was the cause, with his weird machine.

Although some were annoyed with it, it didn’t take long for the town to get used to the dragon’s newest toy.

But that’s not where the story starts, rather it’s at the Golden Oaks Library, where it was the day that both Twilight and Spike organized the library.

“The Foal of the Rings?”

“Check!”

“Little Ponies?”

“Check.”

“Middletrot?”

“Yes.”

“A Tale of Two Fillies?”

“… Yup.”

Much to Spike’s chagrin that meant going through every single book in the library, checking off what books weren’t checked out and making sure that any books that were damaged would get reordered from publishers. Spike was checking off a double check for inventory list while Twilight was listing off the books that she floated past her with her magic. The young dragon sighed as the last of the books floated onto the shelves, “And with that, we’re done Twilight!”

The young mare smiled brightly as she looked at her young dragon scribe, “A job well done Spike.”

“Yeah, it didn’t take as long with these guys,” Spike admitted as he turned to the side, watching as Garuda and Unicorn were fitting another couple of books on the shelves. “For being so small, they really work hard.”

“They are made from Haru’s magic,” Twilight explained as she trotted up to her dragon scribe. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they had some of his tenacity in them.”

“Yeah, well, they seem to love teasing me,” Spike sighed as both of the jeweled familiars snickered slightly before Garuda flew off into the library while Unicorn leapt to the shelves, trying to get to the top.

“After what you did to Garuda, I’m not really surprised,” Twilight said with her eyes a little flat at her dragon scribe.

“It was just one little bite!” Spike retorted with his arms slumped. “A tasty bite, but still just one bite!”

‘I’m glad he didn’t see that White Garuda,’ Twilight thought to herself as she looked around the library. “We’ll drop that for right now, but are you ready Spike?”

“Huh? I thought we were done,” Spike gasped with fear appearing in the green of his eyes. “We just double checked everything!”

“Yes, and now we need to do our triple check!” Twilight announced with a bright smile on her face.

Spike just fell backwards with a loud grown, “But I have a claw cramp! And why couldn’t we get Haru to do this? He’s got good enough claws!”

“I asked him if he wanted to help,” Twilight answered as her horn began to glow brightly once more. “But he said that he wanted to get some practice on that weird vehicle, but he did say he’d pick up lunch for us. And he’s going to get something special for you Spike.”

Immediately the small dragon sat up with his eyes gleaming, “R-Really?! What’s he going to get?”

“Well, he told me he was going to get some doughnuts for himself,” Twilight answered as a few of the books flew off of the shelves. “But he’s going to pick up some pizza for us, and I told him that you like extra cheese and emeralds on yours.”

Spike licked his chops as he jumped back to his hind claws, quickly producing a second quill pin and scroll “I’ll work through the pain Twilight! Your number one assistant shall work hard!”

Twilight giggled at her dragon friend, and just as she was about being listing off the books she had floating towards her, but that’s when a knock on the door caught both librarians’ attentions.

“Ooh! Pizza time! Pizza time!” Spike cheered as he threw his quill pen and scroll through the air.

Twilight dodged the quill pen, which caused her to lose concentration and drop all the books she had floating. “Spike!”

But the little baby was simply crying out ‘Pizza Time!’ over and over before he opened the door with his eyes closed.

“So! Where’s the pizza?” Spike asked with a lick of his chops after he opened the door.

“Oooh! Pizza? I love pizza!”

Spike jumped from the door at the unfamiliar voice, with the door wide open, the owner of the voice joyfully hopped into the library.

Both Twilight and Spike reeled back as an unfamiliar colt bounced into the library – He was a sleek, light green pegasus with a brown mane of hair that was brushed to one side of his face. His face was adorned with a large grin while atop of his head was a black hat and around his neck was an ornate orange scarf that billowed up and down with every hop he provided. He also had a black saddle bag that was slung behind his folded wings. At his flanks was his cutie mark, a trio of clouds circling his thigh.

The joyful pegasus sang in rhythm with his hopes, “Pizza time, pizza time! I hope you’ve got extra, EXTRA cheese! It’s a time that I really love, so give me a big pizza pie PLEASE!”

Twilight stepped back as the pegasus continued to sing and bounce around the room, ‘It’s a flying, green, colt version of Pinkie Pie!’

The pegasus stopped singing, but kept bouncing about, when he saw all the books on the floor, “Wow, for a pizzeria, you sure got a lotta books around here. You should open a library here!”

“It is a library,” Twilight replied, a little afraid what this colt would do next.

The green pegasus stopped bouncing and looked around with a bright smile on his face, “Oooh, you unicorns sure are quick workers! Hehehehehe!”

‘That’s a rather marish laugh,’ Twilight thought to herself as the colt trotted up to her. “Uh, is there something I can help you with?”

“Is there?” the pegasus asked as he looked up with his dark green eyes. “Oh! Right! I was looking for a library! Good thing this place is a library! That’s what the sign outside said.”

“Then why did you think this was a pizzeria?” Twilight asked.

“Well,” the Pegasus stated. “You’ve got books all strew about, but the little dragon was singing about pizza, there’s a banner outside that says dry cleaners, ponies are leaving here talking about noodles and you’re thinking about pies! So… I was confused, but since there was more food references, I assumed it was a restaurant.”

“I guess I can see that,” Twilight muttered before something came to her mind. “Wait, how did you know I was thinking about…”

“Hehehehehehehe!” the pegasus cackled before he waved one of his front hooves. “I was just joshing ya! Seriously, how could I read minds? I’m not Psycho Mantis, it’s not like I need scissors sixty-one.”

“What in Equestria are you talking about?” Twilight asked as the pegasus reached into his saddlebags.

“Uh, Twilight,” Spike whispered as he leaned closer to Twilight. “I think this pony’s a little… out there.”

“Now Spike, don’t be rude,” Twilight whispered back, unaware that the weird pegasus was pulling out a lot of weird stuff from his saddlebags – a lunchbox, a deck of playing cards, an video game controller, a rubber chicken, a real chicken, an extremely long oar, a bouquet of wilted roses, a rubber bat mask, etc.

“Found it!” The pegasus announced as he pulled out a very large red book from his saddlebags and placed it gently on the floor, quickly slipping the rest of the stuff into the inter-dimensional pockets that were his saddlebags. When he had mysteriously stashed his items into the saddlebag, he smiled brightly. “You see, I was just a passing through this charming little town when I found this book in the streets. I’m not the kind of pony to pick up stuff and carry it away most of the time, so, I thought I’d donate this book to the local book depository.”

Twilight blinked a few times at the book on the ground and smiled sheepishly. “Well, thank you very much, but we don’t really accept books from random ponies.”

“Aww,” The pegasus sighed with his lower lip pouting a little bit as he lifted the book up with one of his hooves. “You’re not going to give this poor little book a home? You’ll deny him a chance to be with his paged brothers? His chaptered sisters?! How cruel! To deny a poor little thing with blood of words the one thing that he desires – A shelf to call a home?”

Much to Twilight’s surprise, Spike was wiping away a tear. With a roll of her eyes, Twilight smiled, “Fine, maybe it’s one of ours anyway – Maybe somepony dropped it.”

“YAY!” The pegasus cheered as he placed the book on one of the nearby tables. “Thank you Miss… Miss… Oh my! How could I be so rude?! I haven’t given my name and I haven’t even asked for yours! I’m Sora! A pleasure to meet you two!”

Sora held out the same hoof that held the book, a bright smile on his face. Twilight smiled back as she placed her hoof next to Sora’s, “I’m Twilight, and my little scaled scribe here is Spike. It’s nice to meet you Sora, interesting name. I believe it means cloud or sky, right?”

Sora’s face curled up into a very bright smile, “Wow! You must be really smart! Most ponies in this country don’t know that, and just think I’ve got a strange name.”

“Well, we kinda know a guy with a weird name,” Spike admitted, getting a jab to the side from Twilight’s free hoof. “Oof!”

“Hehehehe, oh, don’t worry about it,” Sora chuckled pulling his hoof back. “When you travel as much as I do, you get used to getting weird looks and weird comments. Anyway, as much as I’d like to stay, I need to get me some lunch. All this talk about pizza and books has me hankering for a slice of Za and some classic Alfred Hitchhoof. Thanks for taking that book off of my hooves!”

And just like that, Sora just trotted past Twilight and Spike, leaving the library as quickly as he came.

“That was weird,” Spike admitted. “He kinda reminded me of a slightly tamer Pinkie Pie.”

“I don’t think there’s ever been such a thing,” Twilight replied as she trotted over to the table that the book was at. “In any case, let’s have a look at this book. I’m actually rather curious about this book.”

Twilight looked over the book and raised a brow at the cover, “Well, that’s an odd title.”

“What do you mean, Twilight?” Spike asked as he walked to his friend’s side.

“Have you ever heard of the ‘Racing Squadron of Pegasus Garage’?” Twilight asked back as her horn glowed brightly, the same aura around appeared around the book, lifting it off of the table. “I’ve never heard of a title like this.”

“It sounds cool,” Spike chimed in as he looked at the book. “But, I think I’d remember a book like that, especially when we usually double check the listings.”

“I wonder what it’s about,” Twilight muttered as her magic slowly creaked open the book.

The book’s cover snapped open with the pages glowing brightly, making Twilight and Spike jump at the unexpected light. Before the two could do anything, the light from the book completely covered the unicorn and little dragon. While the two were blinded, six bright lights flew from the pages, four of them were different colors while two were crimson. The two crimson lights crashed into each other before all of the different lights shot out of the library’s open window.

When the bright light died down Twilight and Spike stumbled around

With a shake of her head, Twilight regained her composure as the red light that remained began to take shape behind the two of them. “Okay, that was something new.”

“Were we just pranked?” Spike asked as he rubbed his eyes.

“I… I guess so,” Twilight sighed taking note that the book she was still levitating with her magic. When Twilight looked at the book closer and had the pages flipping, she realized something. “But, how did the flash happen? There doesn’t seem to be anything in here to cause a flash…”

Meanwhile, outside the library, Sora smiled as he watched the six lights stream through the air, “Nothing like a little chaos to break the ice. Hehehehehehe.”

TTTTT

Meanwhile in Ponyville, Haru was walking through the streets with his claws on the Machine Winger to walk it through. The red dragon didn’t think it’d be a good idea to ride the machine through the town since he didn’t want to run over a pony or something, besides, it made it easier to carry the pair of pizzas and bag of doughnuts on the seat.

And although the dragon was a common sight to the ponies as he walked through the town, the motorcycle was another matter, garnering attention from many of them as he walked through the farmer’s market. ‘I think I need to find a place to put this thing, it’s way too eye-catching.’

“Mistah Souma! Mistah Souma!”

Haru’s head perked up as he turned to the right to see a familiar yellow filly galloping towards him from the side with an equally familiar topaz octopus flying over her. Haru smiled as he unfolded the kickstand to let the Machine Winger stand on its own, “Why hello there Apple Bloom.”

“What’cha got there?” Apple Bloom asked as she zipped around the Machine Winger, tapping one of her hooves against the motorcycle. “It sure looks neat!”

The red dragon chuckled as he watched Apple Bloom look at her reflection in the chrome. “Well, Apple Bloom, this is my newest little trinket. I call it Machine Winger.”

“What does it do?” Apple Bloom asked as she jumped atop of the seat near the pizza boxes and doughnut bag.

Haru patted Apple Bloom’s head a few times before he tapped the dashboard with his claws, “This thing is a vehicle, and I can ride it to go really, really fast!”

“And it gets loud, really, really, REALLY quick!”

Haru winced as he heard that voice and turned around with a nervous smile on his face, “G-Good day, Applejack.”

Indeed, it was the southern mare trotting up behind the dragon, a rather annoyed look on her face. Applejack trotted towards the Machine Winger and looked to her little sister, “Apple Bloom, ya’ll git off that darn thing this instant.”

“Awe,” the young filly groaned before she leapt off the motorcycle. “Ah was just curious ‘bout it.”

“Ah know,” Applejack replied as she smiled softly. “But Ah don’t want mah kin to be on this whatchamacallit doohickey, ya’ll might crack yer head open on this thing. Ain’t that right, Haru?”

“I take it that you’re still miffed about yesterday,” Haru chuckled nervously as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Ya think?” Applejack stated with a dulled look in her eyes. “Ya’ll come around outta nowhere and smash into mah favorite cart!”

“I didn’t mean to do it!” Haru barked back with his arms crossed. “I was driving along and when I turned, the cart was there! I’m just glad I had a helmet on.”

“Them apples weren’t cheap either ya know,” Applejack added with a nod of her head. “But, Ah can see an accident as plain as day, so don’t ya’ll worry too much about it. Just send a few bits to pay fer the repairs and we’ll call it even.”

“Sure,” Haru sighed with his arms slumped.

“Still, Ah’m surprise ya’ll still have this doohickey still,” Applejack stated looking past the dragon to look at the Machine Winger. “Ah’d of thought that ya’ll would ditch it.”

“Well, it’s not like this thing cost me anything,” Haru stated as he leaned back on the motorcycle. “And just imagine the applications – I can get around even faster thanks to this thing.”

The dragon smiled brightly as he snapped his claws, “In fact, if you ever need a delivery job, just let me know! With this thing, I can probably get anything anywhere in a flash!”

“Mighty kind offer, Mistah Souma,” the southern mare replied. “But the Apple Family still prefers to do things by tradition.”

“Still, it looks cool!” Apple Bloom proclaimed as she got closer to the motorbike. “C’mon Applejack! Just one little ride?”

The look that Haru got from the older Apple Sister was one that sent chills of terror through the dragon’s body and he couldn’t help but gulp loudly. ‘Oh Ishimori, if you’re up there, give me a distraction from this!’

Before Haru even opened his mouth, several lights slipped through the air, garnering the attention of most of the ponies in the farmer’s market. This was enough to get both of the Apple sisters to stop looking at the dragon, the six lights flew through the air before they quickly disappeared.

“Hmm, Dash must be practicing again,” Applejack mused as she adjusted her hat. “She’s cutting it a little close.”

“Uh, quick question though,” Haru stated with a claw lifted up. “Since when did Dash have two streaks of red and a line of pink to her hair?”

“Ain’t that beat all?” Applejack questioned as she rubbed the side of her head. “Then what were them colors then?”

Haru shrugged his shoulders and was about to speak, but stopped when a loud yelp echoed through the air. The two Apple sisters and their dragon friend turned to see that quite a few yards away a couple of fillies were staggering back from a large blue, bipedal creature dressed in blue retro rider attire with a large ghoulish head. The monster was holding up a large red ball and had its tongue stuck out at the two scared fillies. “ZOKU BLUE!”

“What in tarnation?” Applejack questioned as the two fillies ran off from the blue ghoul.

Before Haru could say a word, a loud shattering of glass sounded and from a window of a nearby shop, a sleek frog faced creature leapt with the broken glass. The creature spun around and struck a goofy pose, showing off the camouflage racing outfit. “ZOKU GREEN!”

Another yelp sounded through the town’s farmer market, at the far side, another weird, yellow racing outfit wearing being was stealing a popsicle from a unicorn filly. This one however had a roster head that had a pair of goggles atop of its head. “ZOKU YELLOW!”

A loud meow echoed, drawing attention towards a pink, cat-like creature dressed in a pink version of the rest of the ‘Zoku’ beings who was throwing dirt at random ponies and businesses. “ZOKU PINK!”

As the four being raced around the farmers’ market, causing mischief, a majority of the ponies galloped away from them. Haru, Applejack and Apple Bloom on the other hand were just staring at the weird sight before them. Applejack shook her head and whapped Haru on his back, “Hey! Mistah Souma! Are them more of those Phantoms?”

“I… I don’t know,” Haru sputtered with a few question marks popping around his head. “Out of the few I’ve seen, I’ve never seen a Phantom so… So…”

“Goofy?” Apple Bloom suggested.

“Yeah, that’s the word,” Haru stated as he reached into his jacket. “But, even if they’re not Phantoms, I’m not gonna let these guys pull these kinds of stunts while I’m around.”

The dragon pulled out a familiar ring, but just as he was about to slip it on…

“ZOKU RED!”

Several apples flew through the air, sailing from behind the three and getting their attention towards the Apple Family’s apple cart, where two red figures were rolling from the turned over remains of the cart. Haru’s eyes widened as he grabbed both Applejack and Applebloom before the two red figures almost rolled over the two of them.

When Haru got the two sisters out of the way, they all turned to see that the two red figures broke from each other and with a few feet from them. The red figure closer to Haru’s bike was a sleek stallion covered in a bright red suit with white boots on all of his legs. Sticking out from the stallion’s sides was a pair of red wings that stuck out of his suit. The stallion’s head was covered with a helmet that had a large black visor, silver mouth-piece and weird chrome bars around the top of his helmet. At his covered flank, there was a weird triangle mark that had a wrench head in the center of it.

The red being across from him was quite different – like the other weird creatures causing mischief, this one was a tall, bipedal being covered in rather goofy red armor with a tall helmet that had a black Mohawk-like charm on it. The weird being had a long red scarf, black gloves and boots and had a mask over his white face. The weird red being threw his arms up into the air and cried out, “ZOKU RED!”

“Okay, this is just weird,” Haru admitted as he slipped a ring back onto his claws.

“Yer telling me,” Applejack stated.

“Give it up Red Racer!” Zoku Red proclaimed as he pointed a gloved finger at the red covered pegasus. “You cannot defeat the Zoku Rangers!”

“Whatever you say, SS Paaman!” Red Racer countered as he crouched closer to the ground, his wings flared out. “I managed to defeat you before, and I can do it again!”

“Perhaps,” Zoku Red laughed loudly as he snapped his fingers. “ZOKU RANGERS!”

The four strange beings stopped their mischief and leapt through the air, spinning about before they landed on either side of Zoku Red. All five of the Zoku Rangers struck a whacky pose. Zoku Red laughed as he drew a gun from his holster, “And in case you didn’t notice…”

All of the other Zokus materializing similar guns and all of them aimed at Red Racer. “You’re all alone.”

Red Racer shifted his head left and right, and audibly gulped.

“FIRE!” Zoku Red roared loudly.

Just before all of the Zokus could pull the triggers, Red Racer leapt behind the Machine Winger, and Haru’s eyes widened. “NO!”

Several shots blasted through the air as multi-colored blasts crashed into the poor, defenseless motorcycle. Sparks, bits of pizza, and remains of doughnuts flew from the attacked bike from the onslaught of ammunition. Haru’s eyes widened as he fell to his knees, “No… NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Ah think ya’ll might be overreacting a little bit,” Applejack sighed.

Haru growled before he took a deep breath, “AJ, Apple Bloom, you may want to stand back.”

When the shots stopped, Red Racer poked his head out from behind the now hole-ridden motorbike, “Okay, that might be a problem.”

Zoku Red and the other Zoku Rangers holstered their guns before they produced other weapons from out of nowhere. Zoku Red pulled out a sleek sword that was welded out of junk.

A cleaver with a sickle attached with a chain was the Zoku Blue’s choice of weapon.

The green Zoku had an axe that was chipped in several places.

The rooster headed being had drawn… A stick. That’s just it, a simple stick.

Zoku Pink’s weapon wasn’t as dignified, it was a rake.

“Boso Sentai – Zokurangers! Charge!”

“FLAME – PLEASE!

“Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

All five of the Zoku Rangers turned to the side just to see Wizard sail through the air towards them with his sword gripped tightly in his gloved claws. The five monsters were stunned when the mage spun around, quickly slashed his sword clean across their chests with sparks erupting from them and sent them flying backwards with loud yelps.

Wizard took a few deep, angry breaths as Red Racer trotted up from behind, “Oooh! That was very impressive! You a new sentai leader or something?”

The masked dragon growled loudly before he turned his attention towards the red suited pegasus, “And you! Are you stupid or something?!”

“Huh?” Red Racer questioned as he reeled back.

“Why did you dive behind my bike when there was a perfectly good stonewall to use as cover?!” Wizard snapped as he gestured to first his bike, then the stonewall fence that was only a few feet away.

Red Racer chuckled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head with a covered hoof. “Whoops, my bad.”

“Mistah Souma! Look out behind ya!” Apple Bloom shouted from her and her sister’s hiding place.

Wizard craned his head around to see that Zoku Red was right behind him with his sword raised up, and unfortunately for the masked dragon, he couldn’t turn in time to block the attack with his own sword.

“FENDER SWORD!”

A sleek silver blade appeared and blocked Zoku Red’s attack, both the fiendish Zoku and confused Wizard followed the blade to see that Red Racer was on his hind legs with a goofy rapier being held up by his right front hoof. Taking advantage of the situation, Wizard spun around and slammed the bottom of his foot into Zoku Red’s stomach and forced him back.

Red Racer chuckled as he rested the blade against his shoulder, “Look who’s the idiot now.”

Wizard remained silent as he quickly folded his sword into its gun version and quickly lifted it up, making Red Racer yelp loudly. “WWHAAA! I TAKE IT BACK! DON’T SHOOT!”

Red Racer ducked just as Wizard tilted the gun and fired, sending a red energy crashing into an oncoming Zoku Blue, knocking the ghoulish creature back with sparks flying from its body. The red covered pegasus turned his head back and sighed with relief.

“I believe the word you’re looking for is,” Wizard stated as he lifted his gun up and turned his back to Red Racer. “Irony.”

Getting back to his hind legs, Red Racer turned to see that all five of the Zoku Rangers were surrounding the two of the red clad warriors. The pegasus lifted his sword up defensively before he turned his helmeted head slightly towards the mage, “Oh plop.”

“Hey! Watch yer language!” Applejack shouted with her hooves covering Apple Bloom’s ears.

Zoku Yellow ran forward and jabbed with the plain stick, however Red Racer and Wizard slipped to the sides. With a quick spin, Wizard lifted and shot several red shots into the rooster based monster.

With his back turned, Wizard didn’t see that Zoku Blue had thrown the sickle portion of his weapon towards the mage. But the weapon didn’t reach the mage since Red Racer blocked the attack with his Fender Sword and knocked it to the side.

Wizard unfolded his gun back into its sword form and spun to the side just before Zoku Green tried to cleave the dragon in two with its axe. The frog themed monster’s eyes widened when Red Racer bucked both of his hind legs into the monster’s chest, spinning the Zoku Ranger through the air.

Zoku Pink meowed loudly as she began to bring down her deadly rake on Red Racer’s head, only to have a familiar tail catch the gardening tool. With a fast turn, Wizard pulled the rake from her and slashed his blade across her stomach and made the feline themed ranger cry out in pain.

Apple Bloom’s eyes were sparkling at the sight before her, watching as both Wizard and Red Racer countered each goofy attack that the Zokurangers tried to deliver. ‘WOW! Since when did Mistah Souma get even cooler?!’

“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Zoku Red called loudly as he charged towards both of the red themed heroes, two swords now in his hands.

Zoku Red brought down one of his swords at Red Racer, only to have his attack blocked by the Fender Sword. Wizard delivered a powerful horizontal slash, but it was blocked by Zoku Red’s second sword. The red monster leapt back from the two as the other Zoku Rangers lined up behind him, “Sentai Hero number one finisher – Zokurangers! Ranger Ball!"

Zoku Red, Blue, Green and Yellow spun around towards Pink who nodded and posed her arms goofily. All four of the other Zokurangers turned and began to run, surrounding Wizard and Red Racer, both of which were too distracted to see that Zoku Pink spun around to produce a colorful soccer ball. “Yellow!”

The feline monster tossed the ball high into the air, allowing Zoku Yellow to jump high into the air, and kick the ball towards the ground, passing both Wizard’s and Red Racer’s heads. “Green!”

The soccer ball glowed a bright yellow as Zoku Green crouched down and smacked the ball with his arms, bouncing it back through the air, this time giving the ball a tint of green. “Blue!”

While the glowing soccer ball flew through the air, both Zoku Blue and Zoku Red jumped high into the air, with Zoku Blue bouncing the glowing ball higher into the air. “Red!”

And with a blue color to the ball now, Zoku Red spun through the air and slammed his foot into the energized weapon. “ENDBALL!”

The ball quickly shot from Zoku Red, energy peeling off of it as it headed towards both Wizard and Red Racer. Wizard tilted his head slightly, “… A soccer ball attack? Really?”

However, Red Racer’s wings fanned out before he dashed into Wizard’s back and propelled both of them from where they were standing. But before they could get too far, the Ranger Ball slammed into the ground and exploded into a flurry of multicolored energy that sent both of them falling face first into the ground.

Both Applejack and Applebloom watched in awe as the energy disappeared, leaving nothing more than a rather large patch of scorched ground… Well, that and a bunch of broken bike parts.

Wizard turned and threw his arms up into the air, “MACHINE WINGER!!! DOUGHNUTS!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Oy, oy,” Red Racer comforted as he nudged one of the wheels that had bounced near the two. “Don’t worry ‘bout it pal, we got bigger things to deal with!”

Although Red Racer was right, with all five of the Zokurangers now with their weapons drawn once more and slowly walking towards the two weaken red heroes, Wizard merely gripped onto the handle bars of the Machine Winger tightly. Then with a loud growl, Wizard slammed the handle bars into the ground. “THE FINALE!”

“That’s the spirit!” Red Racer announced as a bright red light surged from his body and flowed over his body. “The finisher!”

The next second, the red aura that was over Red Racer’s body washed over all of the broken motorcycle parts and even Wizard himself. The red light surged brightly, forcing the Zokurangers and the Apple sisters to turn away.

When the light died down…

“What in sweet Celesita’s mane?” Applejack questioned with her eyes dulled slightly.

“Wow! How’d they do that?” Apple Bloom asked with a bright smile on her face.

‘How DID this happen?’ Wizard thought to himself as he gripped onto the handle bars once more.

Right where Wizard and Red Racer were standing moments earlier, the two were now on a rather dated, red bike. With Wizard on the seat, pedaling and steering, while Red Racer was on the bars on the back wheel, waving his hoof over his head, “Two on a bike isn’t allowed! But I’ll let it slide for this one time!”

The Zokurangers weren’t impressed and simply charged towards the two as they shakily and slowly made their way towards the oncoming monsters. That’s when a familiar red aura shot around the two on the bike, the aura quickly transforming into a bright red flame that propelled the two across the grassy ground.

“WIZARD KURUMAGIC ATTACK – RED VERSION!” Both Wizard and Red Racer proclaimed loudly before they transformed into red streak of fiery energy that sped towards the surprised Zokurangers.

All five of the Zokurangers tried to dodge the fiery blaze, but the enflamed bicycle crashed into them! A powerful burst of fire erupted as both Wizard and Red Racer skidded to a halt behind the flames that flickered up into the air. The red covered pegasus hopped off the bicycle and pumped his front hoof towards him, “Ah, that brought back memories.”

When the flames disappeared, the Zokurangers were gone, and Wizard just tilted his head before he turned towards the two Apple Sisters, “Okay, what the Tartarus just happened?”

“We were victorious!” Red Racer laughed as he slammed his front hoof into Wizard’s back, nearly knocking Wizard off of the bicycle. “Now, you enjoy that bicycle, but remember to practice proper traffic safety! Only one on a bike at a time, always wear a helmet, and always be attentive. We don’t need some poor pony getting run over.”

Wizard gripped the handle bars even tighter before he snarled loudly as he turned his attention towards the red covered Pegasus.

This didn’t go unnoticed by Red Racer who coughed and slowly began to back away from the apparent bloodlust in the air. “Uh, well, now if you excuse me, I need to go spread the word of traffic safety!”

Kicking his back legs up into the air, Red Racer quickly lived up to his name and began to gallop away, creating a large cloud of red dust/smoke with each step that he took. Wizard was already on his tail, pedaling as quick as he could to follow the odd pegasus, “OI! GET BACK HERE! YOU OWE ME A NEW MACHINE WINGER AND THOSE DOUGHNUTS!!!”

Applejack sighed as she watched the two masked heroes dash away, “Ponyville’s certainly getting weirder by the day.”

“That, was, amazin’!” Apple Bloom exclaimed loudly as she bounced around her big sister. “Ah didn’t know that Mistah Souma could do all that! Ya think he could teach me how to do some of that stuff?!”

The southern mare sighed loudly.

Meanwhile, atop of some of the clouds, Sora was laughing loudly, “Hehehehehe, just as I thought, Mahou-kun is certainly a barrel of laughs.”

Sora sighed in relief as his laughter died down, “Although, I think I can make it even more hilarious next time.”

With a bright smile, Sora reached into his saddlebags and pulled out what appeared to be a large, red, fiery feather with his teeth. Steam slipped from his mouth as his smile grew, 'Mahou-kun maybe akin to fire, but this burn might just be more than what he can handle.’

TTTTTT

While the plague of insanity was going through Ponyville, back at Golden Oaks Library, the books were back on the shelves, Spike had his cramped up claw in a bowl of ice, and Twilight was going through the book that Sora had left. Ever since the triple check, her eyes were practically glued to the pages of the story.

‘Detrot,’ Twilight thought as she closed the book with her magic. ‘What an interesting thought! A city based around a new form of technology and transportation, and even with heroes that are based off of that technology, such a fun little tale.

‘But the heroes are kind of weird, especially that Red Racer. Who obsesses over traffic safety? I’m glad that this is just a story… Although, the Legend of Nightmare Moon was considered a story, but who knows? Maybe this will be a reality someday?’

Oh Twilight, if only you knew.

TBC

Spell 11 - It's MAGIC!

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Tada! Let’s make a dramatic entrance! Tension fortissimo!
- Tatsulot

TTTTTTTT

Spell 11

It’s MAGIC!

Art by FlairNightz!
TTTTTT

“Come on, Twilight! You can do it!”

The young unicorn took a deep breath as she focused her thoughts, calling forth the magic deep within her, her horn glowing brightly. Twilight kept her eyes focused on her dragon scribe in front of her.

Then, with a flash of light popping on his face, a thick, bushy mustache sprouted on Spike’s face, a large smile following suit! “HAHA! Ya did it! Growing magic, that’s number twenty-five! Twenty-five different tricks and still counting!”

Spike took the opportunity to check off a pad of paper that had a number of spells listed on it, Twilight blushed a little bit with Spike’s praise.

The baby dragon was looking at a nearby mirror, stroking the mustache on his face, “You know, I think this is your best spell! I bet with this spell and if Haru lets me use that Excite Ring of his, then…”

Taking a moment to cough and lift his arms up, Spike spoke in a deeper voice, “Hello, Lady Rarity! What’s that? Aw, it’s nothing, it’s just an awesome mustache and I’ve just been hitting the weights lately.”

Twilight giggled as her horn began to glow brightly once more, “Sorry Romeo, as enticing as you look, it’s just for practice. And it’s gotta go.”

“N-No! Wait!” Spike yelped as he waved his arms.

But, within a few seconds, the glorious mustache disappeared from the baby dragon’s face, with Spike slumping down close to the floor. “Aw rats.”

Twilight stifled a little bit of a snicker and trotted up to the list that Spike had crossed off. Within the last few weeks, Twilight was able to learn these new spells, it was actually a personal best in her track record to learn so many new spells within such a sort span of time. Before she came to Ponyville, it had taken her a few years to master some of the spells she’s used many times. ‘I guess with more real life experiences that I’ve had gone through, I suppose my growth and studies have matured quicker.

‘I owe that to my friends.

‘But there’s still something that’s bugging me – I was able to use Haru’s magic. From his explanation, it sounded like anypony who could channel magic into his rings would be able to use his spells. But, it’s still hard to imagine that I could use his own kind of spells, was it a fluke?’

Twilight shook her head and turned towards Spike, who was still slumped on the floor, ‘Hmm, maybe I should ask Haru if I could borrow a couple of his rings to test them out. I’m sure Spike wouldn’t mind if I could have him use Haru’s Excite Ring, outside of course.’

TTTTTTT

Speaking of the red dragon, his day wasn’t looking too good so far. Aside from the weird chaos he had to deal with the other day (including a red pegasus who shall not be named in order to protect the dragon’s mind), Haru was trying to get some work for the day. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going too well – Seemed like today was going well for the businesses of Ponyville, everypony was at work and everything was running smoothly.

Which wasn’t a good thing for the usual part-timing dragon, he wasn’t able to find work that morning like had usually done in his time in Ponyville. So, Haru was currently unemployed and traversed out of Ponyville, ‘If I can’t get a job today, I might as well go search for some magic stones. I need to catch up on my searches, practicing my riding and repairing the Machine Winger ate a bit too much of my time.’

When he was a good portion outside of the town, Haru stretched his arms through his black overcoat and lifted his head up high into the air. With his eyes closed, Haru whiffed the air a few times before he dropped to all fours and began to sniff at the ground. The red dragon whipped his head left and right, sniffing all the while, and after a certain whiff, Haru’s tail pointed straight up into the air. “I got your scent!”

Crawling along the ground, Haru began to follow the scent of the magic stone, his tail shaking wilder and wilder with every step he took. He had made good distance from the town before his tail slapped against the ground with a large grin on his face, “And here it is!”

Haru stood up for a second before he drove his claws into the ground, pulling the dirt away quickly. Quickly, the red dragon dug deeper and deeper into the ground until only his tail was sticking out from the hole he just made.

TINK!

“That sound is almost as sweet as a fresh plain sugar doughnut.”

Haru popped his head out of the hole and lifted up a jagged magic stone in his claws, the rest of his body and clothes covered with dirt. “Well, let’s see if I can get some more.”

TTTTTTT

A loud roar echoed through the Everfree Woods, birds flying from the branches and the weird wildlife running off. The roar was actually a booming yawn that emerged from a familiar clearing in the woods, “What a good nap! I haven’t one like that for ages!”

Harpie and Hellhound sighed loudly at the almost fully recovered Minotaur who was stretching his armored body. Minotaur stood up straight and took a deep breath, “I feel strong! I feel refreshed! I feel… Like I could defeat that Ring Mage!”

A feathered wing whapped the back of Minotaur’s head, making him stumble forward slightly, “URK!”

“Don’t pull those sorts of stunts yet,” Harpie scolded as she folded her wings. “We still need to work on our plan, and in case you hadn’t notice, you’re not back at a one hundred percent yet.”

Minotaur moaned as he brought his hand up to his still broken horn, and he fell down to his knees, “Damn it, why’d you remind me of my shame?!? I’m still half a Phantom!”

“You should just be glad that you’re still able to talk,” Hellhound sighed loudly as he shrugged his shoulders. “Just get better soon you big lug, we’ve gotta get back at that loser mage. He’s been nothing but a pain! Two phantoms gone! Three if you count Inner Phantoms!”

The largest of the three Phantoms stood tall and cracked his knuckles, “I see, then that means that we’ll have to pay him back threefold! Harpie! When can we start the fun?”

“We’ll start by the end of the week,” Harpie replied as she spun around on her talons. “Until then, you’re to remain here Minotaur and complete your recovery. We’d need you at tip top shape for our plan to work. Hellhound and myself will be dealing with some other matters before that.”

Minotaur nodded as he made his way towards a particular spot of moss and jumped onto the ground, “Great, I’ll just keep on catching up on my Z’s then again.”

Hellhound snarled loudly as he threw his arms up into the air, “Great, since when did he get so lazy?”

Harpie snickered slightly, “Jealous of your big brother?”

“TARTARUS YES!!”

Meanwhile, above the clearing in Everfree Woods, a familiar green pegasus watched as both Harpie and Hellhound walked away from the quickly dozing off Minotaur. “Hehehehehe, ooh, this is gonna be fun.”

TTTTTTTTT

The midmorning had dawned on Ponyville and with it, both Twilight and Spike were walking through the large town, and above them was none other than the ruby emblazoned Garuda, following the two.

“Twenty-five, Twilight!” Spike stated as he ran alongside the lavender mare. “That’s a lot more tricks than what Haru can do, and you’re learning more almost every day! And most unicorns only have a little magic that can match their special talents! That’s saying something!”

“Oh, Spike, stop,” Twilight replied with her face blushing red. “I’m sure there are lots of ponies right here in Ponyville that know just as much magic as me. Even Haru’s spells are unique, I’ve never seen them done by other ponies, or that they even existed before he showed up.”

“Yeah, but I bet that if you tried,” Spike stated with a bright smile on his face. “I bet you could learn magic like that in a snap!”

The student of Princess Celestia stopped in her tracks and looked up into the sky…

Hellhound roared as he leapt high into the air, his sword held over his head before he began to fall towards the two.

“DEFEND – PLEASE!”

Twilight’s and Dash’s eyes widened as a rather familiar runic circle appeared before them, almost the same as Wizard’s. However, it was clearly different since the circle was a bright shade of lavender and the runes on the circle were completely different, looking like a familiar star-symbol in the middle of it. Even the voice that called out the spell was different, instead of the masculine voice that occurred when Haru used the magic, but this voice was clearly feminine.

Hellhound yelped as he crashed into the rune and was forced backwards, until he landed on the ground, rolling backwards until he got to his feet. “What the?! Where is he?!”

Twilight watched as the circle faded away and looked at the ring that was floating near her, ‘Was I… Was I able to use Haru’s magic?’

Twilight shook her head, trying to make sense of that memory.

Spike on the other hand was trying to snap Twilight from her thoughts, “Besides Twilight, I don’t think there’s another unicorn in Equestria who could match you. A dragon maybe… But I’m sure you can top that!”

“Spike,” Twilight giggled sheepishly. Twilight was about to continue, but spotted something out of the corner of her eye. “Huh? Spike! Move!”

But before the baby dragon could react, two young unicorn colts crashed into him, Twilight winced as all three of them ended up in a slightly tangled pile before her. “Oooh, that’s gotta hurt. Are you three okay?”

After a few moments and using her magic to help untangle the three, Twilight looked over the two young unicorns, “Snips and Snails, right? Is everything okay? You two were kind of running fast.”

“Wha?” The taller, orange unicorn colt questioned, his green mane bobbing slightly as he turned his head. His eyes seemed a bit glazed over and he had a snail at his flank. “Haven’t you heard? There’s a new unicorn in town!”

“Yeah!” The shorter, teal unicorn colt chimed in, his buck tooth smile widening as he spoke. At his flank were a pair of scissors as his cutie mark. “They say that she’s got more magical powers than any other unicorn – EVAH!”

“They even say she’s got an assistant!” Snails added as he jumped up and down. “And they got a really, really, REALLY big shown about to go on!”

Twilight was a little surprised about that, “Really?”

“No way!” Spike retorted, gesturing towards Twilight. “There’s no way that unicorn could top Twilight! She’s the best unicorn in Equestria!”

That pesky crimson crept back on Twilight’s cheeks as she looked away for a moment. “Ahem, so, where is this unicorn’s show?”

Both Snips and Snails looked at each other before they smiled brightly at Twilight and her scribe.

TTTTTT

Even though they followed the two youths to the town square, it wasn’t hard to find where the show was taking place. After all, there was a large amount of ponies gathered in front of the town hall, where a large wagon was placed in front of it.

Pushing through the large crowd, the small group of ponies plus one dragon made their way to the front of the crowd just as a loud booming voice blasted from the wagon. “COME ONE, COME ALL! COME AND WITNESS THE AMAZING MAGIC OF THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE!”

The wagon began to unfold into a stage with many colorful sparks flying from all about it, even firing off a few fireworks through the air. A large cloud of blue and silver smoke erupted on the stage and standing on the stage was a rather suave looking blue mare with a silver mane poking out from underneath her star and moon adorned hat, with a matching cape and cowl that covered the rest of her frame. The unicorn smiled as the crowd was struck with surprise. “Watch and be amazed as the Great and Powerful Trixie performs the most spectacular feats of spell slinging ever witnessed by pony eyes!”

More fireworks fired into the air as a cheerful music began to play through the air, eliciting more ‘oohs’ and ‘awes’ from the ever growing crowd.

Even Twilight and Spike were mesmerized by the show that was before them, at least until…

“My, my, my! What boasting!”

That voice was able to pull the two of them from their trance, with Spike shaking his head, “Oh come on, no pony’s as magical as Twi— Twi—Twi– Oh!”

Spike froze when he turned his head and his eyes widened when he realized that a certain white unicorn was standing right next to him. And with a clearing of his throat and puffing out his chest, Spike rubbed his now-hairless upper lip. “H-Hey, Rarity, I, uh – MUSTACHE!”

And just like that, Spike dashed away from his crush, making Twilight realize that it wasn’t just Rarity who was here – Applejack and Rainbow Dash were there as well (she also thought that she saw Pinkie Pie in the crowd, but there was no way she’d be that quiet). “There’s nothing wrong with being talented, is there?”

“Nothin’ at all,” Applejack replied, keeping her eyes on the stage to see that Trixie just made a bouquet of roses pop in front of her. “‘cept in when someone goes around showin’ it off like a school filly with fancy ribbons.”

“Isn’t that the point of a show?” Twilight asked with her head tilted slightly. “After all, I doubt anypony would come to see the ‘Average and Boring Trixie’.”

“While that may be true,” Rarity stated. “However, just because one has the ability to perform a great deal of magic, it does not make them better than the rest of us.”

“Especially when ya got me around being better than the rest of us!” Rainbow Dash laughed loudly as she floated around. But when Applejack leered at the blue pegasus, Dash laughed nervously, “Eh, I mean, yeah, uh, magic shmagic. BOOO!”

The stupendous Trixie furrowed her brow at the front of the crowd, “Well, well, well, it seems we have some neighsayers in the audience. Who is so ignorant as to challenge the magical ability of the Great and Powerful Trixie? The Marvelous Trixie shall be glad to show you more of the Amazing Trixie’s mindboggling magic!”

A single, large slip of red paper slid out from under Trixie’s magician hat with a pale blue aura around it. With a smirk, the paper began to fold and crease for a few seconds until it floated in front of Trixie, revealing an origami dragon. The crowd wasn’t as mesmerized as the folded dragon floated down to the stage, but Trixie removed her cloak and draped it over the folded dragon.

Standing on her hind legs, Trixie threw her front hooves towards the cloak, as it slowly began to rise from the stage with a large bulge in the center of it. The cloak continued to ascend as the crowd leaned in closer to get a better look. Trixie smirked as a blue aura wrapped around the cloak and pulled it away, “And now the Breath-taking Trixie will now introduce the Super Trixie’s non-adjective-given assistant!”

When the cloak was fully off, a familiar red scaled figure stood on stage with his back turned. He was dressed in a black cloak that billowed in the wind with a matching black top hat and in his black claws was a simple brief case. The dragon figure spun around to reveal an absolutely familiar face with an equally familiar belt buckle. “Ta-da!”

“HARU!?!” The four mares questioned, completely surprised by the dragon’s appearance.

Haru didn’t say a word but rather pushed his top hat up slightly towards his friends, then with a spin, Haru revealed that there was a sitting stool behind him. And when he was behind it, Haru placed the briefcase on top of it and opened it. Reaching into the briefcase, Haru pulled out a large red bowling ball that he dropped to the stage and allowed it to roll of off it. “Figure that one out.”

Most of the crowd laughed at that little trick.

Trixie smirked as her cape wrapped around her neck once more before she trotted in front of Haru, “Gaze upon the Amazing Trixie and the Moderate Souma!”

“Why can’t Souma be the Spectacular Souma?” Haru whispered to the unicorn. “Also, Souma doesn’t know why we’re talking in the third pony, but okay.”

“Just go out there and do your job,” Trixie hissed back, trying to keep her smile on her face.

Haru sighed as he jumped off of the stage and pulled his top hat off, slowly walking through the crowd, holding his hat up towards some of the ponies. “Tips, donations, any sorts of bits are welcomed!”

“What in tarnation is that Souma doin’?” Applejack sighed with a roll of her eyes.

As Haru collected a few bits from some of the ponies, Twilight smiled, “I think he’s just doing his job.”

“That’s what he does all day?” Rarity questioned, watching as Haru continued to walk through the crowds as Trixie continued to perform tricks on the stage. “I never pictured Mr. Souma as a beggar.”

“Actually, he does odd jobs around Ponyville,” Twilight explained with a smile. “He’s usually working hard for anypony, but I guess this was the only job he could get today.”

“Tartarus, if the dragon needed a job, Ah’m sure Ah could’ve found ‘im somethin’,” Applejack sighed as she shook her head.

“Indeed, even I had a few errands that needed to be done,” Rarity chimed in. “His magic would’ve made them that much easier.”

“I think he has a little bit of pride to him, and doesn’t want to burden us to give him work,” Twilight answered as she watched Haru traverse the crowd, smiling brightly. ‘He does have a good heart though.’

“Behold!” Trixie called out to the crowd as several streamers popped around her. “Now you all know that you are in the presence of the most magical unicorn in all of Equestria!”

Rarity scoffed to the side when she was reminded that the boaster was still around, “Still, I can’t believe he’d take work from her. Just who does she think she is?”

“Yeah!” Spike added with his arms crossed. “Besides, everypony know that Twilight here is…”

“Spike! Shhh!”

Twilight was immediately pulled from the crowd via his tail until he was standing face to face with a nervous Twilight. “Twilight? What’s wrong?”

“Didn’t you see the way they reacted to Trixie?” Twilight replied, turning back to the stage to see said performer. “I don’t want anyone to think I’m a show-off. What’s stopping them from…”

“Twilight, you’re one of the most modest ponies that Souma knows.”

Both Twilight and Spiked turned to realize that Haru was standing right next to them, his claws barely able to hold up the top hat that was almost overflowing with little gold coins. “Besides, they’re you’re friends, if they can tolerate Rainbow Dash’s boasting, Souma thinks you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Twilight smiled slightly, but Spike was a little less than pleased with his fellow dragon, “Haru! What are you doing?”

“… Uh, working so Souma doesn’t become a bum?” Haru innocently said with his head tilted slightly.

“Not that, I mean why are you working for her?” Spike asked, gesturing towards the stage. “She’s so overbearing that I can’t stand it!”

“It’s either this or mooch off you two,” Haru replied as he waved his tail about behind him. “Besides, she’s not that bad, she’s just trying to make an honest day’s pay, and she has to sell herself.”

“Exactly,” Twilight added. “Besides, it’s not like she’s hurting anyone.”

“But Twilight, you’re obviously better than her!” Spike pouted with his tail and arms drooping. “You’ve already mastered over twenty-five spells! And Haru, you’ve got just as many spells too! They may be whacky sometimes, but still something amazing!”

“Whacky?” Haru questioned with a raised brow.

Whether Haru was about to continue the questioning about what Spike really thought of his magic he was never able to confirm since more several more fireworks erupted from the stage, drawing their attention back.

Twilight noticed that Rainbow Dash was flying towards Trixie before she floated over the stage, “What makes you think that you’re so much better than the rest of us?”

Trixie smiled as she lifted up her hoof, nearly hitting the pegasus in the process, “Very well commoner, the Magically Gifted Trixie will graciously bestow upon you all why the Amazingly Stupendous Trixie deserves your respect and admiration!”

Another firework shot off into the air, however, the sparks began to form into what appeared to be the outline of a large, neon bear in the sky with one of its paws waving in the air. “Many moons ago, the poor town of Hoofington was attacked by the dreaded Ursa Major! In their hour of desperation however, a hero appeared on the scene!”

One more firework exploded, this one forming into a small, neon version of Trixie, all dressed in her similar attire, “Yes! The Beautiful Trixie arrived and fought the terrible beast with her Amazingly Awesome magic, forcing it back into the dreaded Everfree Forest!”

The neon-like Trixie waved her front hooves, making the neon Ursa Major pop into many colorful sparks that danced through the air, eliciting the crowd to cheer out. Well, most of the crowd anyway.

“That settles it!” Snips announced as he and Snails galloped to the front of stage.

“Trixie really is the bestest unicorn in Ponyville!” Snails added with slightly dulled tone in his voice as he gestured towards the Prim Trixie.

“No! In all of Equestria!” Snips corrected before both of the young colts waved their front hooves about.

“How do you know?!?” Spike shouted as he stepped in front of the crowd once more. “You weren’t there! Besides, that title belongs to…”

One of the spells Twilight learned was a fancy little trick that allowed her to silence a pony or dragon. Oddly enough, when the spell was casted, the one who was afflicted the spell often had their lips shut and even had a zipper appear on their lips. A rather hilarious sight as Spike tried to unzip his mouth.

Trixie laughed out loud as Haru slowly made his way backstage, obviously to place the bits he collected into the wagon. “But it is true my enthusiastic admirers, Trixie is the most miraculous and amazing unicorn in all of Ponyville.”

The only response that time was the cricket that sounded out through the crowd.

That didn’t sit well with the stage pony, “Don’t believe the Great and Powerful Trixie? Very well, then Trixie challenges any pony to do anything! Anything you can do, Trixie can do better!”

The thing about that silence spell that Twilight used on Spike was that it didn’t last long, so when Spike was able to unzip the zipper on his mouth and fall to Twilight’s front hooves. “COME ON TWILIGHT! SHE’S UNBEARABLE! YOU GOTTA DO IT! PLEASE!”

“There’s no way I’m going to use my magic now Spike,” Twilight whispered looking down at her dragon scribe. “If I did…”

“Perhaps you think you can outdo Trixie?”

Twilight’s head snapped up when she realized that Trixie was looking at her, and even had her hoof pointed at the young unicorn. Twilight’s stomach was beginning to twist as she tried to speak up. “I… I…”

“Do you think that, little hayseed?” Trixie asked with her gazed turned slightly, not caring that Haru was going back into the crowd with an empty hat.

“That’s it!” Applejack growled before she jumped onto the stage. “Ah’s can takes no more of this!”

“Ah, our first volunteer,” Trixie chuckled as she took a few steps back from Applejack. “Go right ahead Southern Bell, but like Trixie said, anything you can do, Trixie can do better.”

“Fine, little missy,” Applejack scoffed as she trotted towards the side of the stage, heading for a spare rope that was on the side of it. “Ah don’t know who ya’ll think ya are, but ‘round here we don’t take kindly to show offs!”

‘So, you’re going beat the show-off by being a bigger show-off?’ Twilight thought to herself with a flat look in her eyes. ‘Logic at work.’

Within a few moments, Applejack had tied the rope around her tail and was whipping about a lasso for a few seconds before she jumped through the loop several times, wowing the crowd before she snapped her lasso through the air. The lasso flew over a branch and snapped tight over a single apple, and with a quick spin, the Southern mare pulled the apple from the branch.

And with the apple sailing through the air, Applejack opened her mouth and caught the apple, instantly eating it. The crowd was cheering loudly as Applejack whipped her tail once more through, making the lasso dance through the air once more, “And now fer the encore!”

With a quick turn, Applejack sent the lasso through the crowd, and with a quick turn once more, Applejack snapped the lasso back. It didn’t come back alone again, this time it returned with a familiar hand shaped belt buckle. “Tadah!”

“HEY!” Haru growled as he stood up straight in the crowd, showing that he was quite taller than most of the ponies. “I’d like that back, please!”

“Don’t worry yer little head off,” Applejack chuckled as she kicked the belt buckle back to the crowd, watching as Haru leapt into the air to catch it. But with a smirk, Applejack turned her attention towards Trixie with a smirk. “There, top that Showoff.”

“The Superb Trixie can easily do so,” Trixie chuckled as her hat floated off her head, revealing her unicorn horn now, which was glowing brightly.

The same aura that was around Trixie’s horn slipped over the very same rope that Applejack used a few moments ago, making the rope lift off the stage to wavier in front of the southern mare, almost hypnotizing her with its fluid movements. The other end of the rope however was coiling around the other end of her body, and before Applejack could notice, the rope constricted around her.

When the rope tightened around her body, Applejack disappeared in a flash of light while Trixie smiled. “She takes an apple from a tree, then the Great and Powerful Trixie shall replace the apple.”

With a flick of her hoof, Trixie gestured towards the same tree that Applejack had lassoed the apple from, and the crowd turned to see that Applejack was hanging from a branch with the rope tied around her hind legs with her strung upside down. “WHAT IN TARNATION!?! GIT ME DOWN!”

The crowd laughed at Applejack’s plight before the rope snapped in two and she fell to the ground with a number of apples falling from the very same tree.

Although the crowd’s eyes were drawn back to the stage, where Trixie was smiling brightly, “Once again, the Super Special Awesome Trixie prevails.”

“Hey!”

Trixie turned her head slightly to see that Rainbow Dash was flying over her stage in place, her hoof pointed down at the still smug Trixie. “There’s no need to go strutting off like that!”

“Oh?” Trixie mused with the same intrigued look on her face.

“That’s MY JOB!” Dash snapped before she blitzed through the air, leaving a sharp rainbow through the air behind her.

Dash sped through air, flying around a nearby windmill to make the propellers spin around quickly before she shot straight into the air, piercing through several clouds. The mass of ponies were in awe when they saw her stop right in front of the sun for a few seconds before she dove back through the clouds, pulling a lot of moisture with her as she quickly descended and followed the spin of the windmill.

With a large smirk on her face, Dash skidded to a landing on the stage, with the moisture she pulled behind her smacking her still fully extended wings creating a small rainbow overhead. “Touch the rainbow! Taste the rainbow! They don’t call me Rainbow and Dash for nothing!”

The crowd cheered loudly while Twilight blinked a few times at her flying friend’s ability. ‘That is impressive, but I’m not sure about that catchphrase…’

“When the Extremely Showy Trixie is done with you,” Trixie chuckled as her horn glowed brightly. “They’ll be calling you loser.”

The same aura appeared around the rainbow over Dash and caused the spectrum of light to wrap around Dash, creating rainbow twister around the blue pegasus before she flew off the stage in the magically created twister until she spun onto the ground with her eyes spinning as well. “I… I feel sick…”

‘Looks like Dash spun right round,’ Haru thought with a roll of his blue eyes. ‘Filly, right round, round, round… Dear Ishimori, Souma need to listen to some more modern music.’

“Seems like anypony with a dash of good sense would think twice before challenging the Dynamic Trixie,” the show unicorn chuckled before her magic conjured up a small storm cloud over the still recovering Rainbow Dash and shot out a loud boom of thunder that made the mare yelp loudly.

The crowd laughed at the fact that Dash’s tail and mane stood out straight. Spike grumbled before he turned towards Twilight, “What we need is some unicorn to challenge her! Somepony with some magic of her own!”

“Y-Yeah!” Dash exclaimed as she began to regain her suave style. “A unicorn to show this unicorn who’s boss!”

“A real unicorn to unicorn tussle!” Applejack added.

Twilight could feel her throat drying up as she felt the gazes of her friends fall onto her, but then she immediately realized something. “W-Well, how about a dragon? Haru’s talented at his sort of magic.”

“Sorry, but the Stupendous Souma can’t,” Haru stated as he casually walked past Twilight and the others, the top hat once again filled with many bits. “Souma get twenty percent of this, and with what we’re getting here, Souma can’t pass that up by out doing Souma’s boss.”

“Uh,” Twilight sputtered out.

“Enough,” Rarity cleared her voice as she began to trot away from the crowd. “I know what you’re all thinking, but Rarity is better than such nonsense. Rarity is a refined unicorn who has nothing to prove to somepony, especially somepony in an outfit as gaudy as hers.”

“Ooo, pretty little words,” Trixie replied with a devious smirk on her face. “Hard to believe that they’re coming from a narwhal with a rat’s nest atop of her head.”

Rarity stopped her tracks, her right eye twitching slightly, every pony who saw that stepped back slightly, while atop of one of the remaining clouds in the area, a certain green pegasus was jumping excitedly atop of it. “Hehehehehehee! Ooh! Catfight! Catfight! I love this unicorn!”

“IT. IS. ON!” Rarity snarled as she leapt atop of the stage and spun around to reveal a completely cool and calm demeanor. Rarity smiled brightly as her horn glowed brightly, and the bright blue curtain on Trixie’s stage flew off. “Little Miss Showoff, there’s more to a unicorn than your cheap little tricks, but magic isn’t simply brute force. Magic is used to improve this world, not just for flexing ‘muscles’.

“A unicorn needs style!”

The curtain spun around Rarity’s body with sparkles and several pieces of neatly cut out fabric billowing through the air. When the spinning fabric ceased, Rarity was now wearing a blue dress with yellow trim and a matching yellow saddle on her back. The young unicorn’s mane was also done up into a fancy Canterlot beehive style that glistened in the sunlight. “Grace and beauty are staples in what makes a unicorn truly a unicorn.

“And while your magic is impressive, it is only for mere parlor tricks. Unicorns are not unicorns unless they possess elegance and intelligence that are on par with the highest class of noble ponies.”

Trixie just looked to the crowd admiring the classily dressed unicorn then smiled brightly as an all too familiar aura appeared at her horn. The crowd gasped loudly as the same aura quickly popped around Rarity, and their eyes widened as the aura quickly disappeared.

This didn’t go unnoticed by Rarity who stood on the stage almost completely frozen like a statue. “… She did something to my hair.”

It wasn’t a question, Rarity knew that the showmare had done something to her mane. “Mirror. GIVE ME A MIRROR!”

“T-There’s nothing wrong!” Dash lied through her teeth.

“Still purty as evah,” Applejack coughed to the side.

“Y-Yes! Just as magnificent as always,” Twilight added with a nervous smile.

“What are you ponies talking about?” Spike stated with his head slightly cocked to one side. “Her hair’s…”

Before he could even finish his sentence, a red tail covered his mouth. Haru leaned close to Spike and whispered, “Trust me Spike, as one guy to another, you don’t want to finish that sentence. It won’t end well.”

Unfortunately, even with that advice silencing the little baby dragon, Rarity’s scream echoed through the air. “GREEN!?! NO! NOT GREEEEEEEEEEEEEN!”

As it turned out, there was a rather large mirror dangling right in front of the green maned pony, being held up by a single fine line from above. From one of the clouds over the stage, Sora was snickering loudly as he held onto a fancy looking fishing rod, ‘Ah, nothing like causing a little mischief, hehehehehehehe!’

Like a mad mare, Rarity galloped off of the stage, screaming at the top of her lungs! “SUCH AN AWFUL, AWFUL COLOR!!!”

Although, as the distraught unicorn dashed through the crowds, another mare with natural green hair turned up her nose and snorted slightly, “Well, I never!”

As the mirror was being reeled back to the cloud, Spike turned towards Twilight pulling Haru’s tail away from his mouth, “Looks like it’s up to you Twilight! Come on! Show her what you’re made of!”

“Spike, I’m nothing special,” Twilight sheepishly replied as Trixie wiped one of her hooves against her cape.

“Yes you are!” Spike shouted back as he pumped his arms. “You’re better than her!”

“Spike, I’m not better than any pony,” Twilight retorted. A little louder than she intended.

“Oh? So you think you’re better than the Mighty Powered Trixie?” the showmare questioned as she trotted to the edge of the stage, all eyes falling towards Twilight. “Do you think that your prowess in magical talent is greater? Then by all means, step onto the stage, show everypony what you can do.”

“M-Me?” Twilight squeaked slightly as she stepped backwards. “I’m no one special, just the same old same old citizen of Ponyville, nothing special or magically gifted here! Oh! Did you just hear that? I think I heard the laundry burning! BYE!”

And just like that, Twilight galloped away from the crowd as fast as she could, leaving a small cloud of dust in her wake. Spike’s arms slumped down as he watched his foster sister dash away, “Twilight?”

Trixie on the other hoof was laughing loudly as she turned slightly, “Another win for the Supremely Amazingly Magnificent Trixie! The Great and Powerful Trixie has proven to be the greatest and obviously most powerful unicorn in all of Equestria!

“Was there ever any doubt?”

TTTTTTT

After a few more tricks of the trade, the crowd had dispersed from the wagon and that left Trixie with a large mirror grooming her silver mane with a brush she was using with her magic. She was humming a tune to herself before a familiar red dragon stepped out from the wagon, now dressed in a black overcoat. “Miss Trixie?”

The mare in question didn’t stop grooming her mane, but rather just looked towards the dragon who was looking over a small notebook, “Right, well, I counted up all the bits I collected from the crowd, and you’ve doubled your initial quota for the day.”

“Excellent,” Trixie snickered as she put the brush down. “Then again, the Great and Powerful Trixie didn’t expect anything less.”

“Right,” Haru coughed out as he tossed the notepad over his shoulder. “Anyway, before we get to paying my services, I couldn’t help but notice something in your wagon. And I was wondering if you’re not using it, perhaps I could have it?”

Trixie tilted her head slightly, “That depends. What exactly caught your eye? The Beautiful Trixie knows she’s breathtaking, but to have a dragon enamored with her and to want her stuff is pushing it.”

“W-Well,” Haru coughed loudly as he rubbed the back of his head. “I was just talking about the steel guitar that you’ve got in the corner collecting dust.”

“Oh, that old thing,” Trixie sighed as she whipped her head to the right, showing off her silver mane once more. “Well, the Benevolent and Gracious Trixie is very generous – You can have that guitar…”

A large smile graced Haru’s scaly face.

“… But if you’re willing to take only fifteen percent of today’s profits,” Trixie continued.

That smile certainly disappeared from the red dragon. “… Fine.”

With a defeated sigh, Haru walked back into the wagon, “I’ll just be in here counting my fifteen percent.”

“Yes, yes, whatever,” Trixie chuckled as she turned back to the mirror, admiring the mare in the mirror before her. ‘Let’s see, the Great Trixie will stay here for the evening and head out in the morning after getting some supplies…’

Trixie’s thoughts were interrupted when a smoothie balanced on a flank was shoved right into her face, making the showmare reel back slightly. “I got you that smoothie you asked for! Extra hay!”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed slightly when she realized that the flank belonged to Snips, with Snails right next to him with a goofy look on his face. It was a look that Trixie knew all too well, it was a look of infatuation. “Hhmmm, hay…”

Well, either that or the colt really liked his hay.

Regardless, using her magic, Trixie took the smoothie and sipped from the straw – noting that the two colts were still there and still swooning over her. “Yes?”

“Ooo! Tell us another story oh Great and Powerful Trixie!” Snips pleaded as he jumped a few times.

“Yeah! Ooh! Ohh! How about the Ursa Major one again?” Snails asked with that same goofy smile on his face.

“Nonononono!” Another, cheerful voice sounded out from above. “Tell us about the Tardius! Ooooh! W-W-Wait! I know! Tell us about the Golden Wolf Knight from Tartarus who slays Horrors! That’s a real good one!”

All three of the unicorns looked up to see that Sora laying down atop of the wagon, a large cheerful smile on his face while his head was propped up by his two front hooves. “Tartarus, I’d be fine if you told me the story about those red and blue ponies that kept fighting each other over a little valley with nothing but grass in it. I just love the blue dumb one.”

“What are you babbling on about?” Trixie questioned with her brow narrowed. “Better question, why are you on my wagon?”

Sora’s wings folded out and he flapped them a couple times. “Well, being atop of clouds is fine and dandy and all, but sometimes, a stallion just needs to knock on wood.”

To illustrate his point, Sora knocked his front hoof against the wagon’s roof a few times before he leapt off of the mobile home. With a graceful land, Sora bowed slightly towards the showmare and the two colts, “I apologize for dropping in, but I just had to say hello, and thank you for the wonderful show! I rarely get to see such nice entertainment in first pony, and it’s just so fun!”

Trixie rolled her eyes at the three weird colts, having fans of her greatness was nothing new, but this was just getting annoying now. “Trixie is far too tired from performing feats beyond your imaginations. Begone with you all till the morrow!”

Sora drooped his head down with his lower lip pouting while Snips and Snails bowed slightly before they trotted backwards.

“Oh, of course, Great and Powerful Trixie!”

“We are at your beck and call!”

Sora sighed as he watched the two younger colts trot away, with a roll of his eyes the goofy pegasus followed the two colts as they backed up into a familiar purple, baby dragon, “What are you two… Wait, aren’t you Sora?”

“Yuppers!” Sora replied with a large smile on his face

“Well, what are you three doing?” Spike continued as Snips and Snails turned towards the baby dragon. “How can you fall for her lameness? She’s just a showoff! Unlike Twilight who…”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie vanquished an Ursa Major!” Snips interrupted as he tapped his hoof a few times into Spike’s chest. “Can your Twilight claim that?!”

“Oh really?” Spike inquired as he pushed Snips’ hoof away. “And were you guys actually there? Did you see her do that?”

“Really? You two saw it?” Sora asked with his head tilted. “What was it like?”

“Uh, w-well, I-I…” Snips stuttered looking a little nervous.

Spike rolled his eyes at the stuttering colt, “And there ya go! Look unless an Ursa Major comes waltzing up the street, I’m not going to believe that…”

“I like pudding,” Snails stated randomly, breaking up the conversation.

“Ooh! Me too!” Sora chimed in with a bright smile. “Chocolate or Vanilla?”

“Why choose?” Snails replied.

“Good point!” Sora laughed loudly.

Both Spike and Snips looked at the two pudding obsessed ponies before Spike cleared his throat, “Anyway, I’m not going to believe a word that Trixie says unless an Ursa Major comes waltzing down the street and she ‘smites’ it. And I suggest that you two, er, three don’t believe a word she says either!”

And with his two bits spoken, Spike walked away from the three colts, leaving Snips to tap his chin a few times. “Hmm, an Ursa in Ponyville? Snails! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I think so Snips,” Snails replied with a slightly dulled look in his eyes. “But wouldn’t going into the Everfree Forest in hopes of finding a creature that’s more than likely fifty times our size, angering it, and bringing it into Ponyville only end in disaster?”

Snips blinked a few times at his friend’s surprising reasoning. “Wait, what? Say that again.”

“That again,” Snails chuckled with that dulled look in his eyes appearing again.

Snips sighed loudly, “Oh come on! We got something to do!”

“Now hold on a minute you two,” Sora cleared his throat as he threw a hoof out in front of the two young colts. “I want you two to think for a second – Why bring an Ursa Major into town for Trixie to face off against, when there’s something much more amazing for her to defeat? After all, she’s already defeated an Ursa Major.

“So why not bring something that’s more of a challenge for a mare of her talents?”

Both Snips and Snails looked at the green pegasus, with the smaller of the two unicorns stepping forward, “And what’s that?”

Sora reached into saddlebag and pulled out a glowing red feather in between his teeth, and yet he was still able to talk perfectly fine. “Tell me something, you two ever hear of a creature called a Phantom?”

TBC

Spell 12 - Tunes and the Feather

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“There are times when I think life is enjoyable. Because… The sky is blue, for one.”
- Eiji Hino / Kamen Rider OOO

TTTTT

Spell 12

Tunes and the Feather

TTTTTT

It had been an hour or so since Twilight had run away from the stage and had holed herself up in the library to do some studying to clear her mind of her troubles. The thought of Spike egging her on to one up Trixie was still floating about in her head, weighing down on her. Her friends were all shown up by Trixie, and all she did was watch.

She could’ve stepped up and tried her hoof at outdoing Trixie at her own game, but with how her friends were reacting to the showmare…

Twilight shook her head, remembering Haru’s words about how her friends wouldn’t think any differently about her for doing so. ‘But I don’t want to take that chance... I don’t want to lose my friends.’

The young mare’s thoughts were interrupted when she heard the downstairs door open up, prompting Twilight to trot towards the main lobby of the library. As much as she wanted to stay upstairs with her own personal collection of literature, Twilight knew that she attend to her responsibilities as librarian of the Golden Oaks Library and had to help any pony who wandered into the building.

Of course, when Twilight was atop of the stairs that led into the main room of the library, she was a little taken back at two ponies in the room, “Applejack? Rainbow Dash? What are you two doing here?”

Indeed, the two mares were standing in the lobby of the library, their attention drawn towards the unicorn at the steps. Applejack tilted her hat towards Twilight, “Nuthin’ much, Twi. Just wanted to come check up on ya’ll. Ya ran off like yer tail was set ablaze.”

Twilight stopped her descent on the stairs and turned slightly away from her friends. “W-Well I…”

“Yeah! What’s up with that?” Dash asked as she flew up through the air and floated in front of Twilight. “You could’ve easily mopped the floor with that show off if you stuck around!”

Twilight bit her lower lip. This was part of the situation she wanted to avoid!

“Dash, that’s enough,” Applejack stated as she trotted closer towards the stairs. “Ah’m sure that Twilight here has a good reason that she didn’t get up on stage. And we certainly can’t force her to go against that reason.”

‘Well, that was easily resolved,’ Twilight thought as she stopped holding her breath. “Well, I’m fine, but you two didn’t have to come here.”

“It was no biggie,” Dash sighed with a shrug. “Sides, we had to go check on Rarity, and she’s much worse off than you.”

“Dash!” Twilight gasped slightly.

“Nah, she’s right, Twi,” Applejack added with a roll of her eyes. “She’s locked herself up in her boutique, and when we tried to get to her come out, she just screamed back at us. Somethin’ about gettin’ the horrible green out.”

“Don’t see what the problem is,” Dash scoffed to the side. “I got green in my hair and you don’t see me freaking out.”

“It’s a bit more complicated than that Dash,” Twilight sighed with a roll of her eyes.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Dash muttered as she landed on the floor, waving one of her front hooves in front of her. “I just don’t get why she freaked out about it. Hair is hair, it’ll grow back if you cut it.”

‘You’re missing the point Dash,’ Twilight thought to herself. The unicorn was about to speak out loud once more…

But that’s when a beautiful song echoed through the air, drawing the attention of all three of the mares to the guitar stringed beat. The song was close by and had a soothing rhythm that soothed through the normally quiet library’s walls. The music continued to play for a few moments before Applejack tilted her head and spoke out, “Where in tarnation is that coming from?”

“Wicked beat,” Dash admitted as she bobbed her head up and down a few times.

“It’s coming from outside,” Twilight stated.

TTTTTT

Following the music outside the library, the three mares trotted around the library to find the source of the music. Twilight, Applejack and Dash blinked a few times as black claws strummed on the strings of the guitar, creating the notes that graced the flowing breeze around the library.

“Haru?” All three of the mares questioned.

Indeed, seated on the grass next to the library was none other than the sleek red dragon, only this time he had a guitar placed on his lap. His eyes were closed and he continued to play the music from the guitar, yet he lifted his head up slightly, “Afternoon ladies.”

Still Haru continued to play his guitar as he looked up, his claws still strumming out the tune, “What’s going on?”

“Sweet! You know how to play the guitar?” Dash asked with a large smirk on her face. “Gotta say, that makes you about twenty percent cooler, Wizard.”

“Heh, thanks,” Haru chuckled, not missing a single beat.

“Still got a lot to get to a hundred though,” Dash added.

“Gee, thanks,” Haru muttered with a roll of his eyes. But with a final flick of his claws, Haru finished the song.

“I don’t mean to be rude Haru,” Twilight stated garnering the dragon’s attention. “But, since when could you play a guitar? And where in Equestria did you get that thing in the first place?”

“I’ve always had a thing for music,” Haru explained as he leaned the guitar gently on the tree behind him. “I’ve always enjoyed it whenever I get the chance, but I got out of practice when I got into my magic training – Kind of took priority. That and the fact I didn’t have a guitar to my name during that time, so practicing was impossible.

“As for where I got this stylish guitar, I got it from Trixie.”

That made small scowls appear on Applejack’s and Dash’s faces, which didn’t go unnoticed by Haru and Twilight. The dragon chuckled sheepishly as he pushed himself off of the ground with his tail. “Still a little sore about this morning?”

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack stated as she trotted up towards the dragon, making him reel back slightly. “Ah ain’t got nuthin’ against ya’ll working fer that showoff, since Ah know some ponies, and some dragons, need to get bits to live off of. But what Ah shocked at is that ya’ll didn’t come to me to get some work!”

Haru leaned back more as the Southern Mare’s leer continued to take effect on the dragon. “Ah thought Ah told ya’ll that if ya ever needed work, ya’ll were more than welcomed to come to Sweet Apple Acres! We’re always in need of help, and willing to lend a hoof to our friends!”

“Y-Yes well,” Haru coughed as he turned his blue eyes to the side…

… Only to realize that Rainbow Dash was just as close as Applejack and her violet eyes were leering at him. “And how come you didn’t show up that stuck up mare? Twilight or you could’ve easily out shined her! Twilight could’ve easily outdone her with her own unicorn magic!”

Twilight blushed as she turned her attention away slightly.

“Or you could’ve even done something!” Dash continued as she stood up on her hind legs and crossed her front hooves. “You got all that kooky magic of yours too! Couldn’t you have, oh, I don’t know, drilled right through her stage? Or fly through the air without wings? Or even just smash her with a large claw! That would’ve been awesome!”

Haru gulped slightly as he lowered his claws.

“SMALL – PLEASE!”

Both Dash and Applejack reeled back when suddenly Haru disappeared, leaving only a single red runic circle in his place before it faded away.

“What in tarnation?!”

“What the?!”

Twilight, having already seen the spell before, looked down past her friends’ legs to see that a mini Haru was running from in between them. With a small snicker, Twilight’s horn glowed brightly and lifted the miniature dragon off of the ground and through the air with a high pitch yelp. “I see you found a use for that spell.”

Both AJ and Dash turned back to see the miniature dragon being brought back to the ground. Applejack’s hat nearly flew off her head, “What in the name of Granny’s Dentures?! Since when could ya’ll pull that off?”

“Meh, it’s not as cool as those other spells you got,” Rainbow Dash sighed with a roll of her eyes.

When Haru was back on the ground, the same runic circle popped around his body and he returned to his normal size. “I’ve found it’s a lot more useful than it looks, like it’s good to get out of crowded or cramped spaces. But anyway, I wasn’t planning on helping Trixie out, it just sort of happened.”

“Care to elaborate on that?” Twilight inquired, tilting her head at the dragon. “How do you just suddenly get employed into something like that?”

“Well… You see,” Haru coughed as he looked up, trying to remember. “I wasn’t going to look for work this morning. Like a few ponies know, I tend to go out and search for some materials for my rings. I didn’t get much, only one Magic Stone for the day, and I already got my ring for it.

“But that’s not important, when I was done searching and on my way back, her wagon was stuck in a hole that I forgot to fi… I mean, it was stuck in a ditch.”

All three of the mares gave Haru a flat look.

“What?” Haru questioned, his face turning a little redder than usual.

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack stated flatly. “That was one of the worst lies Ah’ve ever heard in mah life.”

“Huh?” Haru muttered with his eyes wide.

“Not cool,” Dash added.

“Huh, huh?” Haru sputtered.

“Haru, just come clean,” Twilight requested.

“Gargh! Fine!” Haru sighed loudly as he hung his arms in defeat. “I forgot to fill in the hole that Trixie’s wagon got stuck in! I wasn’t expecting anypony’s wagon to get stuck in it! It wasn’t even on the road!”

All three of the mares sighed at the dragon.

After a moment, Haru continued on with his explanation, “Anyway, I did help her out of the hole, wasn’t too hard with my BIG ring. I did kinda owe her, and she didn’t know much about Ponyville, so, one thing led to another, and somehow I got hired to be her temporary assistant.

“Wasn’t too bad of a job actually, and it was definitely good pay. Even if it was just a guitar and fifteen percent of those donations.”

“That makes sense,” Rainbow Dash stated with a few nods. “I’m betting that you’d get right on stage though and show her up if you weren’t working for her!”

“Nope,” Haru answered with his arms crossed.

“Huh?” Dash questioned, blinking a few times. “Why not?!”

“Do you know what it’s like to live on the road?” Haru asked with his brow raised up slightly. Without waiting for an answer, the dragon walked past Applejack and Rainbow Dash to get to his guitar. “When you don’t have a permanent residence and need to live out on the road, you need to be able to do what you can to survive. For a performer, they need to do what they can with what they’re good at in order to provide for themselves.

“Could I have easily outdone Trixie? Who knows, but I’m not going to ruin a pony’s source of income just to prove that I’m better than them.”

Haru picked up the guitar and nodded at it, “Sides, it’d be unfair if I used my own magic against her.”

With a quick spin, Haru sat back down on the ground and strummed the guitar strings once more. “Still, I don’t approve of what she did to you two and Rarity, but then again, she was just trying to drum up some income from the crowd. Still, I’m sorry for not interfering.”

“Ah guess that makes sense,” Applejack admitted as she scratched the back of her head. “Still, Ah don’t have to like it. But I can see why she would do it.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever” Rainbow Dash grumbled with a roll of her eyes. “But how come you’re taking her side?”

Taking a moment to adjust the guitar strings, Haru looked up at Rainbow Dash with a smile on his scaly face. “I’m not taking her side, I don’t like how she humiliated you guys, but sometimes we need to do things that others don’t like. But enough about that, got any requests?”

“As much as Ah’d like to spend the afternoon listening to yer music Haru,” Applejack stated with a smile on her face. “Ah got some errands to run. Ah’ll be see ya’ll around Twilight, and Mistah Souma, next time ya’ll need work, ya’ll better get yer tail to Sweet Apple Acres, ya hear?”

Haru gulped audibly as he nodded a few times. Applejack smiled brightly before she trotted off.

“I gotta jet too,” Dash added as she leapt into the air with her wings flapping to keep her up into the air. “Got some cloud stuff to deal with, but you owe me a song Haru! You got that?”

Haru nodded before Dash flew off into the blue sky. The dragon then turned towards Twilight and smiled, “I hope you’re not going to ditch me too.”

Without a word, Twilight sat down and looked at Haru. “Actually, I’m kind of curious.”

“Oh? About what?” Haru asked as he plucked a few more notes.

“You talked real passionately when you were defending Trixie,” Twilight reasoned with her eyes closed. “Especially when it came to living on the road, it sounds like you have experience with it. You even know how to play music, I’ve never heard of a dragon that can play music.”

“Well, I did have a life before I started living among the books,” Haru stated with a smile.

“And that’s what got me curious,” Twilight continued, making Haru stop playing. “You never talk about your past – Aside from when you started living here in Ponyville. You know a lot about me and most of my friends, but you’re still practically a walking mystery. Why is that?”

“Well there’s a good reason for that,” Haru replied with his right claw at his chin. “And that reason is – Because it’s cool!”

Twilight looked at her dragon friend with a flat look in her eyes. “Yeah, I’m not buying that for a second.”

The red dragon snickered slightly as he rubbed the back of his scales. “… And you shouldn’t. I’ll tell you what Twilight, I will tell you about my past, but before I do, I need to mentally prepare myself. It’s not something I can talk about casually, so, let me practice with my music for a few hours so I can relax and gather my thoughts.

“But, you’re more than welcomed to stay and enjoy the music.”

And with that, Haru didn’t say another word, and began to play the same song that had caught Twilight’s attention in the first place. The unicorn smiled at her dragon friend before she got to her hooves and began to trot towards the front of the library, “Take your time Haru, I’ll be in the library doing some studying.”

The dragon didn’t answer as he slowly played the song once more…

TTTTTT

“Uh, Snips? Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Of course! We gotta do this to prove to everypony that the Great and Powerful Trixie is pure amazing!”

The two young unicorn colts slowly trotted through the thick Everfree Forest, a saddle bag on Snails back that had a familiar red feather sticking out of it. “I dunno… We really shouldn’t be in here. Especially when it’s getting dark…”

Indeed, the woods were creepy and dangerous during the day, but when sun set, the woods were a practical deathtrap. The wild beasts’ cries echoing through the trees with the wind shaking the bushes were enough to send shivers down any brave stallion’s spine.

Luckily, the two weren’t unsupervised.

“Oh don’t worry!” Sora giggled as he trotted behind the two young colts. “It’s not even close to midnight. And nothing evil will be lurking in the dark.”

“But, ma always said that under the moonlight,” Snails gulped as he inched closer to his friend. “That the Everfree Woods would have a sight that could stop a pony’s heart. Even if we try to scream, the terrors take the sound before we make it.”

“Hmm, I should’ve brought my red leather jacket and single white glove,” Sora giggled to himself as he took the lead. “But don’t worry little ones, we’re almost done!”

The goofy green Pegasus stopped near a bush and gestured with his head to the two young colts. Snips and Snails trotted quietly to the bush as the older stallion, used his front hooves to pull back the bush’s leafs. The two unicorn colts peered through and saw that what they were looking at was a moss covered clearing with the shadows of the nearby trees covering the edges. But what caught the attentions of the two colts was the large, turquoise armored minotaur sleeping in one of the shadier spots of the clearing, laying on its back with its horn covered head pointed towards them. A large, transparent bubble grew and shrank from the creature’s nose.

Sora lifted one of his hooves up to his mouth and shushed the two entranced colts, “Be very, very quiet. We’re hunting Phantoms. And there’s one there.”

“It doesn’t look mightier than an Ursa Major,” Snips pointed out, his eyes narrowing slightly at the goofy, green pegasus. “It just looks like a bad Nightmare Night costume.”

“It looks real to me,” Snails chuckled.

“Trust me you two,” Sora replied with an honest smile on his face. “All you gotta do is use that feather on that bully, and he’ll become something that would send any Ursa Major back into their cave for hibernation.”

“Uh, how do we use the feather?” Snips questioned before he took the feather from Snails’ saddlebag.

“Do we use it to pop that bubble?” Snails asked.

“Nope!” Sora quietly replied as he gestured with his free hoof. “All you have to do is use that Phoenix Dow… I mean, Feather of a Phoenix, don’t wanna get sued by Square Enix. You take that Feather of a Phoenix and place it on that bully’s broken horn. Once you do that, you’ll see what’ll happen.”

“Un, Snips?” the taller of the colts whispered to the shorter one, both of which inched from the weird Pegasus. “Are you sure we should do this? Didn’t Miss Cheerelee tell us something about strange ponies?”

“Oh come on, I think we can trust Mr. Sora,” Snips retorted, with the Feather of a Phoenix now on his back. “How can we not trust a pony with a face like that?”

Sora was smiling warmly at the two colts, waving with his free hoof.

“Well, alright,” Snails replied before both colts gently, and quietly trotted into the clearing.

With the two colts’ backs to him, Sora’s warm smile began to mutate into a much more diabolic smirk, his eyes growing darker with each step they took to get closer towards the sleeping Minotaur. ‘It’s best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes… But sometimes, a feather from Phoenix is just what is needed to make things…

‘Fun!’

Both of the young colts grew closer towards the snoring Minotaur, having stopped when the Phantom turned in his sleep slightly. When Minotaur stopped moving once more, the two colts got closer, Snips taking the feather from the back of Snails.

Time seemed to slow down as Snips leaned forward with the feather in his mouth, and quickly dropped the feather over Minotaur’s broken horn. Sora cackled under his breath the moment that the feather touched the Phantom’s broken horn.

The bubble from Minotaur’s nose popped as he roared out in pain, getting to his knees as his hands shot to his glowing, broken horn. The Phantom screeched loudly as the feather sunk into his horn, red energy surging from in between the Minotaur’s armored body. A powerful flame then erupted from his broken horn, and solidified to create a second horn. “IT… IT BURNS! WHY!??!”

Minotaur got to his feet and stumbled about the clearing, making the two young colts back away. The same flames that recreated his horn washed over the Phantom’s body and immediately melded to it, turning his turquoise armored skin into a bright red and yellow.

Then, Minotaur’s screech silenced and he slumped his arms to his sides.

There was a moment of silence before the transformed Phantom creaked his head towards the two colts, leering down at them with his now fiery eyes. Minotaur roared while the two young unicorns screamed loudly.

Sora laughed as he watched the two young colt gallop away in fear while the enraged Minotaur began to give chase. “OH! This is rich! So very, very…”

The goofy pegasus didn’t get a chance to finish that monologue, at that very moment, Minotaur charged past him and whapped his arm into Sora’s chest, sending the pegasus flying through the air before he crashed into a thorny bush. “Ow.”

TTTTT

The dusk was slowly overtaking Ponyville and most of the ponies in town were beginning to close up shop for the day. Stores closing, windows in many homes starting to light up, and only a handful of ponies were walking the streets.

And amongst them was a familiar purple dragon, sulking even more with each step he took until he was outside Ponyville. For the last few hours, Spike had been keeping his distance from the library – He didn’t feel like talking to either Twilight or Haru, part of him was annoyed that his two magically gifted friends didn’t stand up to Trixie’s boasting or even when she outdid their friends.

The young dragon stopped in his tracks and looked up at the sky, and sighed loudly as he watched the stars beginning to appear in darkness above.

“AAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Spike jumped when he saw two familiar colts galloping towards him, tears in their eyes and screaming like wild stallions. Spike was about to turn away from Snips and Snails when they just galloped right past him, confusing the dragon. “Guys? Where’s the fire?”

“CAN’T TALK! TOO BUSY SCREAMING!” Snips yelled out loud.

“STEER CLEAR!!” Snails added.

“THERE’S A BIG BULLY COMING!!!”

Spike scratched his head in confusion when a loud snorting sound caught his attention, the young dragon turned around to see the Red Minotaur stomping towards him, flames slipping from between the gaps of his armored skin. The horned phantom snarled as it picked up its pace, which made Spike run as fast as his tiny legs could take him, and miraculously, the young dragon was able to out run the two colts!

“TRIIIIIIIIIIIIIXIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEE!”

“TWILIGHT! HARU!”

Minotaur roared loudly as it slammed its shoulder into a tree, breaking it in two!

Snips and Snails galloped even faster to the town square, and when Trixie’s wagon was in sight, they made a beeline towards it. The moment the two reached the door to the wagon, they slammed their front hooves against the wood countless times while calling out to the mare insie. “TRIXIE! TRIXIE! C’MON OUT! SOMETHING SCARY’S COMIN’!”

The door flew open, nearly knocking the two colts away. “Who dares to break the Beautiful Trixie’s ten hour sleeping regiment? The One Hundred and Fifty-One Percent Amazing Trixie needs at least nine hours of sleep to perform her most amazing tricks.”

“GAAAAAH!” Both Snips and Snails screamed at the showmare in front of them.

“That’s even scarier!” Snips yelped out.

Anypony would be scared of the sight before the two young colts, Trixie had her silver mane done up with a single ironing curl, her face was covered with some sort of green goop, and she had cucumber slices over her eyes. Using her magic, the cucumbers over Trixie’s eyes floated off, “Oh, you two. Look, you two can continue to grovel at the Marvelous Trixie’s hooves in the morning.”

“But, we kinda have a bit of a little, teensy, weenie problem,” Snips chuckled sheepishly.

“Actually it’s a growing pain,” Snails corrected.

“Can’t this ‘problem’ wait till morning?” Trixie growled, looking up when an even louder growl echoed through the air.

A number of yards away, several broken trees that were outside Ponyville were flung through the air as the red Minotaur charged right towards the wagon with flames flicking from its body. “RARGHH!!”

At a blinding speed, the Minotaur quickly closed the distance between it and the wagon. Trixie screamed loudly as she leapt into the air, the hair curl and facial mud flew off her before she jumped from wagon, with Snips and Snails following suit. Half a second later, Minotaur slammed both of his horns into the wagon and sent it flying through the air.

The enraged phantom cackled as the wagon sailed through the air. “Going… Going… GONE!”

Minotaur pumped his muscular arms a few times as he snorted out some flames from his nose. The monstrous Phantom creaked his head, remembering why he was annoyed in the first place – The two little colts that ruined his nap!

The two brats that caused a pain throughout his entire body!

Who cares if there was another pony there!

Smash! Smash the two!

Crush that mare!

The whole town for that matter!

“BREAK IT ALL!!” Minotaur roared out loud, shaking the entire ground and causing a number of the houses to light their windows.

TTTTTT

Twilight was reading from a book in the second floor of the library, with the library now officially closed for the day, the young mare was able to enjoy her literature without any interruptions. The afternoon was actually rather quiet since Rainbow Dash and Applejack had left, save for the music that Haru kept playing.

For hours on end the dragon continued playing his music, playing different songs every so often. Twilight was a little annoyed that he needed so much time to prepare himself, but at least the music was comforting and creative.

‘One of those songs sounded familiar though,’ Twilight thought to herself as she used her magic to turn another page in the book she had. ‘But I can’t remember its name… Oh well, probably just has a familiar beat to it.’

“TWILIGHT!”

The young mare turned around just in time to see Spike stumbling into the room, barely standing and trying to catch his breath. “YOU! NEED! TO *pant* COME QUICK!”

“Spike? Are you okay?” Twilight asked as she trotted towards her tired dragon scribe.

“Big… Big… PROBLEM!” Spike panted as he fell to the floor. “T-Trixie…”

Twilight frowned at the baby dragon, “Spike, I thought I told you before, I don’t want to try to show up…”

The young unicorn didn’t get a chance to finish as a familiar wagon crashed through the wall of the library, getting stuck in the wall and surprising the two in the room. Twilight blinked a few times before she turned towards Spike, “Um, I’m guessing this is what you’re referring to.”

“Well, I wasn’t expecting that, but yeah,” Spike admitted.

“WHAT THE TARTARUS!?!”

“Looks like Haru noticed,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly. “So, what exactly is happening?”

TTTTTTT

Minotaur slowly walked towards Trixie and the two young colts, snorting loudly as flames shot from his nose. The enraged Phantom bellowed loudly at the three.

“C’mon Great and Powerful Trixie!” Snips yelped out. “You can beat this guy! You just gotta!”

“Yeah!” Snails added with a goofy smile appearing on his face. “Vanquish it so we can watch.”

“It took a lot of trouble to get this… Uh, what was this thing called again?” Snips asked as he turned to his friend.

“Ghost? Nah, Phantom!” Snails answered.

“Right! A Phantom!” Snips exclaimed as Trixie looked at the two colts. “Aren’t you glad we brought it here?”

“Are you two messed up in the head!?” Trixie yelled out, making the two colts reel backwards. “What would possess you to bring a monster like this here!?!”

“Aw c’mon!” Snips moaned. “You’re the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

“Yeah, remember?” Snails chimed in. “You beat up an Ursa Major! No way this thing’s as big as that!”

Minotaur tapped his foot against the ground a few times, waiting patiently for the three to start screaming in terror again. Trixie gulped audibly as she trotted forward slightly “S-Stand back! Watch and b-be amazed!”

Minotaur crossed his arms over his chest as he watched Trixie’s horn engulf itself in a bright aura, the same aura appeared over rope at a nearby stand and caused it to shoot through the air. The rope coiled around Minotaur’s body, tightening about its armored skin until his legs and arms were bound tightly to his body.

Trixie sighed with relief at the sight of the bound Phantom and smiled brightly, “Behold! The Phantom Buster Trixie has caught this terror!”

With a shake of his head in disappointment, Minotaur drew in a deep breath before he snorted out flames. The flames quickly burned through the rope and released his arms, which he promptly brought together and cracked his knuckles loudly. “Lame.”

“Uh, that was kinda lame,” Snips chuckled sheepishly.

“Stop goofing ‘round and vanquish it, eh?” Snails requested.

A bead of sweat rolled down the side of Trixie’s head as her horn glowed brightly. Using all of her concentration, Trixie summoned a large black storm cloud over Minotaur’s head. The red Phantom craned his head up to see what was happening just in time for a bolt of lightning to strike his left horn. Minotaur roared loudly as electricity surged through his body, and within a second, he fell face first into the ground before the three ponies, his body smoking.

For a few seconds, Trixie just stood there, letting what she just did sink in. With her chest puffed out and a large mile on her face, Trixie stood up on her hind legs. “BEHOLD! THE GREATEST UNICORN TRIXIE HAS SLAIN THE PHANTOM!”

Both Snips and Snails cheered loudly as Trixie rubbed one of her front hooves on her chest and smiled brightly, “YAY TRIXIE! YOU REALLY ARE THE GREATEST!!”

“But of course,” Trixie laughed as she got back on all fours.

Unfortunately, the three didn’t seem to notice that Minotaur’s left horn glowed a bright, fiery red before the same aura wrapped around his entire body. The Phantom’s already large body began to bulge with its muscles growing larger. Then, all of a sudden Minotaur snapped his upper body back up and roared extremely loud, which of course made a number of ponies flock out their doors or to their windows to see the red Minotaur get back to his feet.

Of course, this didn’t go unnoticed by Trixie or the two young colts. Minotaur snarled as he lifted his arms high into the air, brought his hands together and immediately began to bring them down on the three ponies.

Or would’ve if not two familiar black clawed feet slammed into the side of Minotaur’s face, knocking him off balance and stumble away.

“DRIVER ON!”

With a spin through the air, Haru landed directly in front of Trixie and the two colts, his belt glowing brightly at his waist. “Sorry to steal the spotlight from you, the Grandstanding Trixie. But this is the part of the show where the assistant gets to shine.”

Minotaur cracked his neck before he slammed his hoof into the ground, shaking the ground, turning his attention towards Haru who messed with his belt. “RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING MAGGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

“Looks like someone’s been doing his crunches,” Haru stated as his belt glowed brightly and began to sing its song. “Although, I think you’re taking it a little far turning red – Someponies might start thinking you’re a fan of mine instead of a foe.”

“RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING MAGGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

“And this is the point that I realize that something’s not right,” Haru muttered out loud as he lifted up his left claws up to reveal the large red ring on his claw. Minotaur roared loudly as he charged forward, making Haru wave his left claw in front of his belt.

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

The red dragon ran forward and leapt into the air as Minotaur threw a powerful punch towards the leaping dragon. Midair, the familiar fiery runic circle appeared before Haru flipped through it. “Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

And landing on the ground with embers around him was none other than Wizard who spun around to see the back of Minotaur. “It’s showtime.”

Minotaur spun around, trying to backhand Haru with his large muscular arm, however, Wizard just leapt over once more with a spin to slam his tail into Minotaur’s face, making the Phantom stagger back a few feet, shaking the ground with each step it took.

Snips and Snails watched without blinking, watching as the masked Wizard dodged each of the enlarged Minotaur’s attacks with ease and quickly whip his tail across the enraging Phantom’s face each time. “OOOOH! AWESOME!”

Trixie on the other hoof was standing there with shock, “W-What sort of magic is this? And the Amazed Trixie’s temporary assistant is doing this?”

With once more flip over an attack, Wizard spun around and waved one of his coat-tails up to wave the red fabric inside at the Minotaur. “Torro! Torro! Isn’t red supposed to miff you off?”

Minotaur snorted loudly with flames erupting from its armored face and slammed its fists into the ground. The masked dragon spun around and began to run off while he fitted another ring on his gloved claw and threw it in front of his hand-shaped belt buckle. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Several yards ahead of Wizard, the large red circle appeared with the Machine Winger slowly wheeling out of the circle. Minotaur roared loudly as he charged after Wizard, who in turn leapt over the circle and landed on the motorcycle, and immediately revved it up. “Right this way!”

As the Machine Winger raced off, the red Minotaur chased right after him, many ponies watched the large monster pursue the masked dragon out of the town.

“What in Equestria is going on here?”

Both Snips and Snails turned to see Twilight skidding to a halt next to them with Spike on her back. Snips smiled goofily before he proudly proclaimed, “We found a Phantom for the Great and Powerful Trixie to face off against!”

“WHAT?!” Twilight gasped loudly. “How do you two even know what a Phantom is? Wait, that’s not important…”

“Right! Don’t worry!” Snails added. “The Great and Powerful Trixie just summoned her Dragon Assistant to fight the bully! But she’ll vanquish it! Just like she did with that Ursa Major!”

Trixie bit her lower lip before she lowered her head in shame, “W-Well, you see the thing about that is…”

Meanwhile, atop of one of the many clouds in the sky…

“Ow… That big meanie hurt me!” Sora whimpered as he rubbed the bruise that was now on the side of his head. The green pegasus was also covered with thorns that stuck to his clothing and his wings. “I’m glad I’m using that big lug for my mission! Humph!”

“MADE IT UP!”

Sora looked down from his cloud to see that Trixie was confessing her lies to the ever growing group of ponies that came to see what the commotion was. A smile appeared on the pegasus’ face as he chuckled, “Heehehehehehehe! Oh how delightful! She’s on the brink of despair! I can see how some Phantoms can like this sort of job.”

That smile disappeared as Sora winced from the pain, “Owwie! I can’t laugh while I got these thorns! Humph! Too bad it’s a waste of despair.

“The Fake and Phony Trixie isn’t a Gate.”

Sora turned his head to watch Minotaur chase Wizard out of Ponyville, and with a lick of his lips, that smile appeared back on his face, “But maybe after I get done seeing if Magic-Boy is what he’s supposed to be or not, I’ll have Minotaur do a one-eighty and head back to Ponyville.”

Taking a moment, Sora spat his tongue out, “Bleh! Exposition! I feel like I just did the work for a lazy author in a somewhat popular story!”

TBC

Spell 13 - Dragon

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“One. I didn’t know about the darkness within the friend who was always by my side.”
- Narumi Soukichi / Kamen Rider Skull

TTTTTTTT

Spell 13

Dragon

TTTTTTTT

Wizard rode out of Ponyville on the Machine Winger, his tail and coat-tails billowing behind him. The masked dragon turned his head back to see that the enlarged and red armored Minotaur stomping a few yards behind him. ‘I don’t know what’s going on with this Phantom, but he’s just rampaging like a wild stallion!

‘If he’s chasing me, then I’m his target – But this is that same Phantom that I faced off against on the same day I met Twilight. I don’t know if this is the same Phantom or not, but I doubt there are two Minotaur Phantoms running about…’

“REVENGE! FOR… HORN!”

If his eyes were visible, Wizard would’ve rolled him. ‘It’s the same Phantom.’

With a quick turn of the Machine Winger, Wizard turned his full attention towards Minotaur who was now stopped outside Ponyville, a good distance from the town too. Minotaur snorted loudly with flames erupting from its nose, all the while, Wizard revved the engine loudly, “Well, well, well, looks like we’ve got a game of chicken here.”

“RING-MAGE!” Minotaur snarled loudly as he waved his muscular arm to the side. “ENDGAME!!”

For a moment the two stared each other down before Minotaur charged forward while Wizard drove the motorcycle. Both magical beings raced towards each other, neither one of moving their sights from the other as the gap between them began to shorten. With a loud yell, Wizard forced the Machine Winger into air, leapt from the vehicle and spun through the air.

Minotaur lifted one of his hands up as he aimed for the now airborn Wizard, unaware that Wizard had slipped another ring over his right claw and had brought it to his belt.

“BIG – PLEASE!”

Just before Minotaur’s hand could reach the Wizard, a runic circle appeared in front of the masked dragon who whipped his right leg through it, making the limb grow incredibly large and slam sole of his boot into Minotaur’s hand, knocking it back and allow the foot to continue right into the red Minotaur’s body. “GRAGH!!!!”

Minotaur was flung back by the massive foot, but dug his other hand into the ground to prevent himself from getting too far. With a loud roar, Minotaur quickly charged forward once more.

Having landed on the ground and his foot back to normal size, Wizard turned to the left for a second to see the Machine Winger now on its side. As he reached for his chain of rings, Wizard sighed loudly, ‘I just had that thing fixed! Now I gotta fix the paint job again!’

The Phantom was quickly closing the gap once more, making Wizard slip another ring on his right claws and waved it in front of his belt. “Focus!”

“DANCE – PLEASE!”

Wizard snapped his head up and looked at his right claw, “Aw plop! Wrong ring!”

Unfortunately for the masked dragon, he didn’t have time to swap rings since Minotaur was standing right over him and immediately brought down one of its mighty fists onto Wizard’s head. Just as the fist was about to connect, a pair bright purple lights flashed from the jeweled mask and Wizard spun on his feet, narrowly missing the attack.

Minotaur turned slightly to see Wizard pointing his finger right at the Phantom, “Mind if I defeat you? I can’t hear your answer!”

With a leapt, Wizard slammed the side of his foot right into the side of Minotaur’s face, making the Phantom reel back. When Minotaur snapped his head back, the enraged Phantom had to rub his eyes for a moment – Realizing that Wizard was now dancing right in front of him, waving his arms and spinning around.

There was also some sort of weird purple aura surrounding the masked mage, but Minotaur shook his head as he swept his large arm at Wizard’s upper body, only to miss as Wizard bent over backwards to have the attack miss him. “Hehe! Come on! You can do better than that!”

Steam rose up from Minotaur’s head before he quickly turned back, attempting to backhand Wizard, but before the attack could even hit, Wizard’s tail slammed into the ground and sent the masked dragon through the air. Wizard flipped through the air over Minotaur’s head and as he sailed over the Phantom, he grabbed onto both of the Phantom’s horns.

Using his body weight and momentum, Wizard managed to force Minotaur to fall backwards with a loud boom. Wizard quickly removed the ring as Minotaur tried to cope with what just happened, the purple aura around Wizard disappearing as he replaced the ring on his claw, ‘Dear Tsuyoshi Kida, that was weird! Yet strangely awesome.’

With a quick mess of his belt, Wizard threw his hand in front of the buckler, making it glow brightly. “NICE CHOICE – KICK STRIKE!!”

Flames began to erupt around Wizard’s right foot as Minotaur began to get to his feet, but the Phantom slipped on the grass and fell back to the ground. When the flames were now completely covering Wizard’s leg, the Dragon leapt high into the air with a spin. “FINALE!”

“THE BEST!!

Minotaur had gotten back to his feet just in time to see Wizard falling towards him, the flames propelling the masked mage’s foot right into the Minotaur’s chest. For a moment, the impact seemed to freeze time – Until Wizard leapt back as Minotaur exploded into a fiery blast with his runic crest appearing in front of it.

The masked dragon landed on the ground and watched as the flames danced in front of him, “Whew, well, that was easy.”

“Haru!”

Wizard tilted his head and turned around to see a pair of mares galloping towards him, Twilight and… Trixie? ‘Why’s she here?’

“Are you okay?” Twilight asked as she skidded to a stop in front of Wizard with Trixie following suit.

“But of course,” Wizard chuckled as he lifted his arms up. “Nothing I can’t handle. At the very least, we’ll never see that Phantom again.”

“That’s good,” Twilight sighed with relief. “When I saw that Phantom, I had Spike go get Dash and Applejack for help…”

“And I appreciate that,” Wizard answered with his head slightly bowed towards Twilight. “Though, there’s no need for that now – The Phantom’s gone.”

Wizard crouched down and sighed loudly. “I could really go for a late night doughnut run.”

“Now wait just a second!” Trixie yelled out, making the masked dragon reel back slightly. “You will explain to the Great and Powerful Trixie how you’re able to use that magic! Dragons shouldn’t be able to use magic like that!”

“A wizard did it,” Wizard replied with a shrug, unaware that the flames behind him were starting to grow more intense.

“That’s not an acceptable answer!” Trixie huffed as she stomped a hoof to the ground. “Trixie demands that you teach her how to use that sort of magic!”

Twilight coughed with a roll of her eyes.

“So, is that why you came?” Wizard asked with his head tilted as he stood up straight. “Look it’s not like I don’t wanna teach anypony my magic, it’s just that that I don’t know if anypony can learn it.”

Neither unicorn said a word, rather their eyes widened and their jaws dropped. “I’m actually flattered you want to learn but…”

“Haru,” Twilight sputtered out, not taking her eyes off of the sight behind Wizard.

“In a second Twilight, I have to explain this,” Wizard replied with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Turn around!” Twilight and Trixie shouted, making the masked dragon jump back slightly.

Turning his head first, Wizard spun around to see Minotaur standing amongst the flames, his left horn glowing brightly as the fire was drawn into growing body. The Phantom’s height doubled that of Wizard’s and his body grew to accommodate his new height as Minotaur roared loudly, shaking the ground with the shockwave.

Wizard just stood there as he looked at the enlarged Phantom, then turned his head back to the two mares behind him. “Huh… That’s new.”

TTTTTT

While Wizard fought against Minotaur, a pair of ponies calmly walked into the clearing of the Everfree Woods that Minotaur was sleeping in, one stallion and one mare.

“Any reason why we’re in pony form?” The stallion asked as he tugged on the saddlebags on his back. The lightish red stallion was skinny with a messy blonde mane rolled his eyes as he sat down the ground, showing off the wolf-like cutie mark on his flank. “I like it better when I had, you know, fingers! Makes things a Tartarus of a lot easier to do things!”

“And do you want to blow our cover?” the mare growled as she trotted past the stallion. The mare in question was the same mare that Twilight had met those many weeks ago at the traveling bookstore before she was attacked by Minotaur. “Hellhound, if you waltz to the stores in your Phantom form, then we’re just going to ask for that Ring Mage to find us. Not every day a monster walks down the street.”

“No, but that would make this boring flank town much more livable!” Hellhound barked back as he stuck his snout into the air. “C’mon Harpie! Being stuck in this tiny form is cramping my limbs! How can you stand it Harpie?!”

“It’s a psychological issue actually,” Harpie replied with a smile. “A few Phantoms complained about that too, turns out it’s just like wearing a tight suit or dress, only in your mind. Just takes a little bit of getting used to again, it’d be easier if you took that form more often than usual.”

“Oh yes, take this form more often than not,” Hellhound scoffed to the side. “The same form that was bullied in school – Shoved into lockers, beaten up for lunch money, and of course, my favorite form of torture that happened at the end of every class day – Getting a swirly.”

“It’s always good to talk about your issues, Hellhound,” Harpie sighed as she trotted further into the clearing. “But, we should get something to eat right now. That’s why we did all the shopping earlier. Minotaur! We’re back!”

No response.

“Huh, he’s not here,” Hellhound pointed out with a raised brow. “Where the Tartarus did he get off to?”

At that moment, a loud roar rocked the ground, making both of the disguised Phantoms brace themselves as the shaking intensified. Hellhound’s eyes widened before he fell to the ground, spilling all of the groceries from his saddlebag. “WHAT THE TARTARUS!?!”

Just then the shaking stopped, but the roar continued making Harpie’s pony form crack. With a screech, Harpie’s disguise shattered and her Phantom form flew up high into the air. Hellhound sighed as he watched Harpie soar higher and higher. “This is one of the times I wish I was a flying Phantom. Or even if I was a Pegasus, that would make this guise at least bearable.

“HEY HARPIE! WHAT DO YOU SEE?! SOME OF US DON’T HAVE WINGS, YA KNOW!”

Harpie didn’t say a word before she flew off through the sky.

“OY! WHAT THE TARTARUS!?!?” Hellhound snarled as he began to trot off slowly. “Damn it, there she goes again, sometimes I wonder why I’m even here following her stupid ideal of ‘family’.”

“Ya know, I gotta agree with ya.”

A chill ran down Hellhound’s spine when that voice called out to him, but when a bright light surged behind him, a large bead of sweat rolled down the side of his head.

“A strange little thing this group of Phantoms have got going on… Dunno why Medusa puts up with this plop.”

Hellhound gulped loudly.

“Ya gonna just keep pointing yer ugly flank at me? Or are you gonna look me in the eye?”

Hellhound slowly turned around, his eyes widening as he saw the tall, red being standing a few feet from him. “Ma… Ma….”

“I ain’t yer momma, ya idiot,” The fiery being sighed loudly as he took a step forward, the ground singed from where he was originally standing. “Now look, I’m in a very bad mood, and if you give me any plop, I won’t hesitate to give you a one-way ticket to Tartarus!”

Hellhound stepped backwards until he slipped on a random apple that fell from the bag and he fell backwards. The fiery being continued walking towards the stallion, the scorched trail following him. “I know what yer thinking – What’s an upper class Phantom doing here? Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself.”

Throwing his right arm to the side, the large enflamed being summoned a large number of flames form his hand which formed into a large gold and red sword with stylized wings at the hilt. The sword was immediately brought up to the frozen in place Hellhound’s neck, “But being this is the Catastrophe, one of the mightiest weapons that Phantoms can get and can cleave you in two with only one slash, you gotta ask yerself one question.

“Were you the punk who stole one of my feathers? Well, are ya, punk?”

The ground where Hellhound was laying on, suddenly just got wet.

TTTTTTT

“WATER – PLEASE!

“Sui Sui Sui Sui Sui!”

“LIQUID – PLEASE!”

Minotaur slammed his mighty fist into the ground just after the blast of mystical water carried both Twilight and Trixie away from the attack. The two mares yelped as the mystic liquid carefully dropped them to the ground several yards away and formed back into the now sapphire-donned Wizard. “Sorry about the rough ride, but I have to be conservative with my mana, and I can’t keep changing styles.”

“He… He just turned into water!” Trixie gasped loudly as she lifted up her still wet hooves. “Trixie feels… DISGUSTED!”

“Hey!” Wizard growled with his claws at his hips. “Is that what you say to someone who saved you not just once, but twice in the last half hour?”

“Uh, Haru?” Twilight cleared her throat. “I think you literally have bigger problems to deal with.”

Wizard lifted his right claw up, “R-Right! Sorry!”

“LIQUID – PLEASE!”

With his body shimmering brightly, Wizard transformed back into the brightly glowing blue water that flew through the air towards the towering Minotaur, the liquid whipping about its large, red armored body. The Phantom roared at it tried to swat at the magical water.

“How is this even possible?!” Trixie questioned as she watched the mystic liquid slam into the Minotaur’s chest, forcing the large Phantom staggering back. “When he got Trixie’s wagon out of that hole, Trixie just thought that he just pulled it out from the hole with his own strength!”

“Well, technically, he did,” Twilight snickered as the water crashed into the ground in front of the slightly dazed Minotaur and quickly replaced the ring on his right hand. “I know exactly what you’re going through, I never thought this sort of magic is possible, but as you can see, it is.”

Wizard slipped his right hand in front of his belt and immediately pumped his arms up as his belt chimed out. “It’s about to get wild!”

“EXCITE – PLEASE!”

A blue runic circle traveled up Wizard’s body, and his entire form became muscular and he was almost as tall and muscular as Minotaur, save for being short a few inches. Minotaur staggered back slightly surprised at the empowered masked dragon, which allowed Wizard to slam his right elbow right into the Minotaur’s face, a loud, sickening crack echoed through the air as the Minotaur roared in pain.

Minotaur threw a right jab in retaliation, only to have Wizard lift his left arm and block the attack. Wizard then grabbed Minotaur’s arm and pulled the Phantom past him, now behind the Phantom, Wizard spun around and lifted his right leg up into the air behind him. “Spin around behind, and then from below…

“BOOM!”

Wizard threw his leg right between Minotaur’s legs, with a delicate ding echoing through the air. For a moment, tears flew from Minotaur’s eyes as the two unicorns turned away from the sore sight, and with the same force, Wizard flipped the empowered Minotaur until it landed face first into the ground.

With his body returning to normal size, Wizard lifted up a familiar ring to his right claw, “Well, here’s a first, two finishers in the same day. But I don’t have a choice!”

Wizard slipped the ring on his right claw and threw it in front of his belt, “NICE CHOICE – KICK STRIKE!

“THE BEST!”

Wizard leapt into the air, and quickly slipped another ring on his right claw, messed with his belt mid-air and threw his right claw back over his belt. “LIQUID – PLEASE!”

With his body shimmering brightly, Wizard’s lower body transformed into water and propelled him higher into the air. When he reached the apex, Wizard’s lower body reformed while his upper body transformed into a torrent of water, shooting him towards the recovering Minotaur. “FINALE… AGAIN!”

Minotaur had pushed himself up before both of Wizard’s feet crashed into the Phantom’s back, with a blue runic circle completely covering Minotaur’s body. Wizard flew from the runic circle and skidded to a stop in front of both Twilight and Trixie, his coattails billowing as Minotaur’s entire body exploded into surge of water. “Now that was BRAVE!”

And then Wizard promptly fell to the ground. “Need… Need… Doughnuts.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Twilight asked as the masked dragon began to sit up. “I’ve never seen you use so many spells in rapid succession before, and fight at the same time.”

“I… I’m fine,” Wizard coughed as he got back to his feet. “At the very least, we’ll never see that Phantom again.”

A large burst of fire erupted several yards from behind Wizard, making the sapphire donned mage slap his mask while Twilight and Trixie watch as the flames flew high into the air. An all too familiar roar blasted through the air as the flames began to reform into the roaring Minotaur, his left horn glowing brightly as the Phantom’s body grew even taller than most of the buildings in Ponyville.

Wizard slumped forward and sighed loudly, “This one is tenacious!”

“Well, smashing it doesn’t seem to work,” Twilight stated as trotted next to her dragon friend. “It just seems to make things worse.”

“But I like smashing,” Wizard sighed as he stood up straight. “It’s a great stress reliever.”

“Are you seriously making a joke right now?” Trixie asked with a flat look in her eyes. “There’s a thirty foot tall monster that’s getting angrier every time it’s defeated! It got mad the first time, and it’s going to get madder each and every time!”

“First time?” Wizard and Twilight questioned as they turned towards the showmare.

Trixie puffed out her chest with a mighty smile on her face, “Grovel before Trixie! She was able to defeat the monster when it first came into the town! With a bolt of lightning to its horn, the beast fell!”

“And then it got back up, just like the last two times, right?” Twilight asked as Minotaur stretched his large arms over his horned head.

A slight blush appeared on Trixie’s face as she nodded in reply.

Twilight closed her eyes for a second before she spoke out loud, “Trixie, this is important! Did that Phantom’s left horn glow brightly?”

The showmare blinked a few times as she nodded in response, Twilight smiled as she turned towards Wizard. “Haru! Aim for his left horn!”

“Huh?” Wizard questioned, not taking his eyes off of the still recovering Minotaur. “Why?”

“Don’t you remember?” Twilight asked as she lifted a hoof towards Minotaur. “When you first fought him, you shot off his left horn! And unless Phantoms have the ability to heal armored tissue like that naturally, then that’s his weakness! Each time he gets bigger and stronger, his left horn glows brightly!”

Wizard turned his attention towards the left horn of the creature, seeing that the horn wasn’t glowing. ‘For some reason, that feels like a cliché - But at this point, I’m willing to try anything!’

Before Wizard even had a chance to reach for his chain of rings, a familiar rainbow-colored blur zipped overhead and soared right towards the Minotaur. The titanic Phantom waved its large hands, trying to swat the rainbow away, but failing each and every time. The rainbow even slammed into the side of Minotaur’s head a number of times, forcing the titanic Phantom back.

“Rainbow Dash?” Wizard questioned.

“Ya’ll didn’t think ya’ll were the only ones willing ta fight?”

Twilight, Wizard and Trixie turned to see Applejack galloping towards the three, a few ropes slung over her back. “C’mon! This is our town! Nopony’s gonna just let this bully wreck our town.”

“Good to hear,” Wizard sighed as he held up a ring and replaced it on his right claws. “Glad to see you and Dash here, think you two can keep him still for a few moments?”

“Mistah Souma, Ah’ve dealt with worse bulls when Ah was a filly at the rodeo,” Applejack replied with a smirk before she galloped off.

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

A familiar blue runic circle appeared next to Wizard, prompting him to reach into it and pull out his oddly ornate sword. With it in his grasp, Wizard reached for his chain of rings. “You think you all can distract him for about two minutes?”

“Absolutely,” Twilight replied as Wizard replaced the blue ring on his left claws with a familiar green ring. “What about you Haru? What are you going to do?”

“I’m gonna use gravity to my advantage,” Wizard answered as he messed with his belt and threw his hand in front of the buckler.

“HURRICANE – PLEASE! FUU FUU FUU FUU FUU!!”

The masked dragon jumped straight into the large rune over his head, turning the demimonde-cut sapphires on his suit into triangle-cut emeralds and propelled him into the air with the WizarSwordGun in his right claw. Wizard shot through the air with a green twister wrapped around his legs and tail.

Trixie stood there with her mouth agape before she turned towards Twilight, “Just how many forms of magic does he have under his belt? Ugh, ignore that pun…”

“I’ve kinda lost track myself,” Twilight replied before her horn began to glow brightly. “But, it doesn’t matter, what matters is why he’s using his magic even if it’s starting to drain him – To help anypony he can.”

Trixie huffed as she watched Twilight gallop after Applejack, and just like that Trixie sighed and trotted behind the studious unicorn. As the two unicorns made their way towards the still rampaging Minotaur, Rainbow Dash continued to fly around his head, easily dodging the Phantom’s swats.

Applejack on the other hand was preparing the rope she had when Twilight galloped up to her, “Alright Applejack, what’s the plan?”

“Mistah Souma needs him still,” AJ replied as she tossed the rope up into the air, nodding to Twilight who made the rope levitate in the air. “So all we gotta do is hogtie him. Ah just need ya’ll to tie this around one of his legs, then when ya’ll get that done, Ah’ll take over. After that, just keep ‘im occupied.”

Within the next few seconds, Twilight had managed to get the rope full bound around one of Minotaur’s legs. Applejack took the other end of the rope and began to gallop around Minotaur, the rope coiling around its large ankles.

It didn’t take long for Applejack to make her lap around the large Phantom, but the enlarged Minotaur managed to take notice of the small pony at its feet when it blocked one of Dash’s attacks with its massive arms with its head down. The Phantom snorted loudly as it began to reach for down towards the galloping mare.

However, Minotaur got a large rock pelted in its face, followed by a large patch of dirt, forcing its head back from the impact. Many yards away, both Twilight and Trixie were using their magic to levitate random objects to hurl at Minotaur while Rainbow Dash continued to assault as well.

Meanwhile, Wizard kept ascending higher and higher into the air as he swapped rings on his left claw. ‘I’m only going to get one shot at this… And it better work!’

Back on the ground, Applejack was making her third lap around Minotaur’s feet before she leapt over the rope and pulled it tight, trying to get the two large legs to come together, ‘C’mon! C’mon! C’mon Applejack! PULL HARDER!’

As the Southern Mare continued pull on the rope in between her teeth, a blue and purple aura wrapped around the rope and pulled along with her. Out of the corner of her eye, Applejack saw that Twilight and Trixie were helping her pull the rope with their magic. With the added boost, the rope tightened and pulled Minotaur’s legs together.

And when Applejack was out of the Phantom’s path, Twilight lifted her head up, “Rainbow! Knock him down!”

With a salute, the rainbow maned pegasus flew through the air until she was behind the large Minotaur and soared quickly right into the back of the Phantom’s head. Minotaur roared loudly as it fell forward landing face first into the ground, shaking the earth violently.

“Woo-wee!” Applejack laughed with a bright smile. “That’s gotta be a rodeo record right there! Hmm, too bad there’s no judge, we’d all make it in the record books fer that one!”

Minotaur slammed both of hands into the ground, and began to push itself up as Dash flew next to the three other mares, “Uh, did Wizard have a plan or something?”

A bright light exploded through high through the air, making all four of the ponies look up to see a huge, familiar blade wreathed in fire being held up by a familiar red jeweled adorned figure. All four mares’ eyes widened as the sword quickly dropped down towards the rising Minotaur.

“Okay, now that’s just awesome,” Dash stated with a large grin.

When Minotaur had gotten to his knees, Wizard brought the gigantic WizarSwordGun down on Minotaur’s left horn. Minotaur’s eyes widened as sparks and flames erupted from where the metals met and the Phantom roared loudly in pain.

Wizard himself roared as he forced the blade down even further on the horn. ‘BREAK! BREAK! C’MON! BREAK!’

A loud cracking sound echoed through the air, and a small, yet highly visible crack appeared on Minotaur’s horn. Wizard laughed slightly as the flames pushed down even further. “TIME FOR THE FINALE!”

“NOT TODAY!”

Wizard lifted his head up just in time to see Harpie slam into his torso. The masked dragon cried out as he was thrown from his sword, with the large sword flung through the air and shrinking as it spun through the air.

“Haru!” Twilight, Applejack and Dash shouted out.

Before Wizard could even get a chance to recover, Minotaur threw his hand forward and grabbed Wizard tightly in his grip. Minotaur seemed to chuckle as he got back to his feet and snapped the rope around his ankles to stand up tall once more. The Phantom tightened his grip around Wizard, making cracks appear in the red jeweled chest armor as Wizard cried out loudly.

“Haru!” Twilight shouted.

“I got this!” Rainbow Dash announced as she propelled herself through the air.

The pegasus quickly soared through the air, holding out one of her front hooves in front of her, prepared to slam it into Minotaur’s fist. However, before she reached the fist, Harpie flew in front of her and screeched loudly at the pegasus, the burst of nose making Dash flutter back slightly holding her ears. Dash began to descend as Harpie flew in front of Minotaur, “What are you doing?! This wasn’t part of the plan!”

Minotaur tilted his head slightly at the flying Phantom who continued to hiss, “But… We can improvise from here. Finish him!”

With a loud snort, Minotaur lifted his other hand up towards Harpie, confusing the feathered Phantom. Then with a quick flick of his finger, Minotaur sent the feathered Phantom streaming through the air with a loud screech.

All four of the mares watched as Minotaur roared loudly before flinging Wizard to the ground, creating a slight crater as the masked dragon’s body bounced off the ground slightly. However, he didn’t get too far off the ground before Minotaur slammed his fist into Wizard’s body, forcing him into earth.

And Minotaur threw another punch into Wizard, forcing him further into the earth.

And then another wild blow.

Followed by another massive strike.

And as Minotaur was raising his fist once more, a large boulder smashed into his large shoulder, forcing the Phantom to halt his attack and turn to the side to see Twilight standing away from her friends with her unicorn magic lifting up more debris from the ground, her eyes narrowed. “GET AWAY FROM HIM!”

Minotaur snorted loudly, flames erupting from its nose as it cracked its large knuckles.

“Are you mad?!” Trixie yelled with her mane standing on end. “That monster…”

“I’m not going to let him just kill Haru!” Twilight shouted as she used her magic to fling another large rock at Minotaur. “I’ll distract the Phantom! Applejack, get Haru!”

“Just be careful, Twi,” Applejack replied before she turned to Trixie. “And as fer ya’ll, yer gunna help me dig Mistah Souma out!”

Before Trixie could complain, Applejack galloped past her, grabbing the showmare’s tail and dragged her towards the crater. The lavender unicorn kept her eyes on the titanic Phantom before she used her magic to propel a large mass of dirt at the hulking monster.

Minotaur merely backhanded the dirt as he turned to come after the assaulting unicorn.

Meanwhile, Applejack dragged Trixie to the large crater and released the showmare’s tail when she reached the center of it. “Sweet mercy.”

Amongst the crushed earth was none other than Wizard, most of his body impacted into the ground with only his chest and head not buried within the earth. The rubies covering his mask and his chest armor were cracked, the metal bent and a few shards of the jeweled armor scattered about.

“Is… Is he alive?” Trixie asked as she messed with some of the scattered jewels on the ground with her hoof. ‘And I wonder if this stuff is worth anything.’

Applejack placed her ear to Wizard’s armored chest and nodded to herself, “He’s a breathing alright, but barely. Listen, Little Miss Showoff, use yer fancy magic to help me git this mess off a Mistah Souma! Unless of course if ya’ll wanna run interference instead of Twi and Dash?”

Trixie turned to see Minotaur wave its arms at a recovered Rainbow Dash, and the magical assaults that Twilight was throwing at it. “Trixie sees your point.”

As the two mares began to dig out the masked dragon, atop of some clouds in the sky, a rather disgruntled, green pegasus sighed loudly. “Well this is turning out to be a bust.”

Sora twisted and turned on the cloud, trying to add some sort of excitement to the massive battle that he had deemed boring. ‘I was hoping to see what the big boss had told me was true. There has to be something that I can do.’

The bored green pegasus looked around the scene and his eyes fell upon a certain purple unicorn, and his smile appeared on his face. ‘Now let’s see what I can do to exploit this.’

Reaching into his saddlebags, Sora shifted through it, “Anvil? Nah, too clichéd.

“Banana Cream Pie? Nope, that was used a few chapters ago.

“Pink Flamigo Animation symbol? I think I’d get sued if I threw that.”

After shifting a little bit more in his saddlebags, Sora pulled his head out and smiled brightly, “Ooh, this is gonna be perfect! This is what ponies call – IRONY!!!”

Back on the ground, Twilight kept using the same rocks and dirt against the large Minotaur, ‘I’m glad my magic isn’t being absorbed by this Phantom, but even if we do get manage to get Haru away, we still have no idea on how to stop this rampage!

‘Maybe if I could get my hooves on some of Haru’s rings maybe I could…’

Before Twilight could even finish her thought, something smacked her upside the head, breaking her concentration and forcing the magic she was using to fade off. The young unicorn stumbled about before she turned to the object that just smacked her and blinked a few times at it, “Is that… A doll version of me?”

On the ground a few feet away from Twilight was a small plastic toy that resembled her – Same mane style and coloring as her, but there were a number of differences. The doll was covered in a fancy, frilly dress, had a crown atop its head, and had WINGS on its back!?

“What am I looking at here?!” Twilight yelped at the weird doll before her. “And where did it come from? It came out of nowhere!”

While Twilight was a little confused with what had just hit her, Minotaur’s large hand appeared next to her and immediately wrapped around the unicorn. Twilight yelled as she was pulled from the ground and lifted up in the air.

“Let her go!” Rainbow Dash shouted as she flew towards Minotaur’s face once more.

This time however, Minotaur snorted flames from his nose and forced Rainbow Dash to fly back from the flames. But through the flames, Minotaur’s free hand shot through them and latched around the pegasus. “What the!? Lemme go! Let me go you lousy…”

Dash didn’t get a chance to finish when Minotaur tightened his grip slightly on the mare, and doing the same to Twilight, which in turn made both of the mares yell out in pain.

Applejack turned from digging out Wizard and narrowed her eyes, “What in tarnation!?! Twi! Dash!”

TTTTTT

In Haru’s mind, there was only darkness.

He couldn’t do anything.

His limbs as heavy as lead, his lungs burning, and he was pretty sure that his tail was broken.

“Hmm, this could be an issue.”

Out of the darkness, a large flame erupted and formed into the large steel skinned dragon with flames that slipped over its body as it flew through the darkness casually. “What a pathetic excuse of a dragon – defeated by a mere low level Phantom that was gifted with a taste of power.

“Not only that, but you’re on the brink of death! How a being like you managed to stop my awakening fully baffles me!”

“You want an answer?”

Dragon tilted his head slightly, the voice that sounded was Haru’s. “Hark! The mortal weakling speaks! But is what he saying the truth or pure blissful ignorance?”

“Dragon, we both know who the real weakling is!”

“I am not the one who lost this fight,” Dragon retorted as he blew a few flames from his armored mouth. “You may only have a small taste of my power and form, but that would be more than enough to defeat a false Greater Phantom.”

“Then there’s only one thing you can do.”

Dragon narrowed his eyes. “Oh? And is that?”

“A little more of your power… Give it to me. I need it to save them.”

A large smile popped on Dragon’s face, “My power? I can do better than that.”

Dragon’s entire body began to glow brightly before he transformed into flames that lit up the darkness.

“This isn’t a gift.”

TTTTTTT

“Hold on, ya’ll!” Applejack shouted. “Ah’ll be right there to…”

A powerful burst of fire erupted from the ground behind Applejack, making her and Trixie jump back as the flames sent the earth up into the air. Both mares turned to see a shadowed figure stand up amongst the flames, stepping from the rubble. The flames were immediately drawn into the figure as he reeled back his torso.

With the flames no longer around, both mares saw that it was Wizard who was standing up.

Applejack was about to say something, but Wizard roared loudly and snapped his head forward, unleashing a large blast of fire that had shattered remains of his mask flung from his face while the flame soared through the air. The roar caught the attention of Minotaur, causing him to turn his large head about just in time to get hit in the face with the flames.

The Phantom cried out in pain and released both Dash and Twilight, both of them plummeting to the ground, at least until Rainbow Dash fanned out her wings and flew to quickly catch Twilight. “You okay Twilight?”

“Yes, I’m alright for the most part,” Twilight sighed with a smile on her face. “But, did Haru do that?”

“Well, Wizard’s up and about,” Dash pointed out as she began to descend.

With his mask now broken, Wizard stood up straight and looked at Minotaur who snorted loudly, “I believe this is where I say – It’s showtime. The line does have its little charm.”

Applejack slowly trotted towards Wizard, but the magically gifted dragon dashed towards the empowered Minotaur. “Whoa, Mistah Souma must be a quick healer.”

As Wizard sped towards Minotaur, the large Phantom pulled his fist back and immediately threw his fist at the slightly masked dragon. Still, Wizard continued his charge, his arms held back as the large set of knuckles descended upon him.

“Haru!? What are you doing?!” Twilight called out as the fist was about to make contact.

However, Wizard snapped both of his arms up and actually managed to catch Minotaur’s fist – And actually stop it! The impact of the two powerful forces caused the air around them to burst away from the two.

Minotaur blinked a few times at his assault’s sudden halt.

With a smile on his face, Wizard dug his claws into the armor, actually managing to crack it. Then with a simple turn of his body, Wizard easily tossed Minotaur further away from Ponyville, flinging the Phantom into a large and empty field.

All four of the mares stared at Wizard’s latest feat, and watched as he ran towards the recovering Minotaur. A certain pegasus was laughing loudly as he jumped and down on the cloud, “Yay! So it is true! A change of demeanor and fighting style, and the intimidation I can feel from this guy is amazing!”

Wizard leapt through the air as Minotaur swatted down on the dragon – Only to have his pointer finger caught by the magical dragon. With a loud roar, Wizard twisted his body, dragging the large Phantom on the ground before he flung Minotaur high through the air, creating a large distance between Minotaur and the ground.

“Whoa,” Dash whistled as she lifted her hoof to point at it. “Wizard’s got quite an arm on him.”

After throwing Minotaur up into the air, Wizard landed on the ground and clenched his fist tightly as Minotaur spun through the air. Minotaur grabbed both of his fists and began to bring down fists on Wizard.

Using his legs and tail, Wizard propelled himself through the air with his right hand pulled back with flames around his claws. Minotaur’s fists and Wizard’s fiery fist collided against each other, with the fire around Wizard’s fist flaring away from where they connected. The two seemed to be at a standstill in mid-air, until Wizard began to push back Minotaur’s fists, and immediately parted them.

With the large fists no longer in his way, Wizard flew through the air and slammed his right claws into Minotaur’s left horn. For a mere second, the horn withstood the attack until the crack that was made earlier grew and snapped the horn from the red, giant Phantom’s head.

Minotaur screeched with pain as his body began to fall to the land, his body losing its red tint and slowly shrinking as he plummeted to the earth. When the no longer empowered Phantom crashed into the ground, a large surge of dirt flew from where he landed.

“Okay, now that was pretty awesome!” Dash exclaimed as a the dirt began to settle. “Why didn’t Wizard do that in the first place?”

“I… I don’t know,” Twilight muttered as she brought a hoof to her mouth. ‘Something’s not right here – I’ve seen Haru battle against Phantoms before, and he’s never actually punched them unless he used a spell to do so, like he does with Excite or Big. I can understand that this wasn’t a typical Phantom, but…

‘But he didn’t use any spells in that last exchange with that Phantom.’

Then gracefully landing a few yards in front of the four Mares, Wizard kept his back to them as he slowly walked towards the crater where Minotaur had created. His fists clenched tightly, his now tattered coattails billowing in the wind behind him, and his gaze dead set on Minotaur, who’s armor had lost all color to it, being only a simple conglomeration of various shades of gray.

When Wizard reached Minotaur, the Phantom turned its head towards the dragon who stood next to him, “You… You are not the same mage I fought before…”

“How insightful,” Wizard sighed as he crouched down and wrapped his claws around Minotaur’s neck. Without any effort, Wizard pulled the Phantom from the ground and easily lifted the wounded monster from the earth. “Then again, it doesn’t matter anymore. Without that little horn of yours giving you your revival powers, all you are is a clump of dust about to be scattered in the wind.”

“N-No! Please!” Minotaur gasped and wheezed as he tried to struggle free. “I… I wasn’t in control of myself! That power it… It was too much! The pain it caused me!”

“Hark, the monster speaks,” Wizard replied as he tightened his grip around Minotaur’s neck, creating a loud cracking sound, breaking the Phantom’s armor. “But what’s this? All he speaks is nonsense! A beast! A wild beast! One who’s barred his fangs at his better!

“Learn your place.”

A few sparks popped from Wizard’s claw before a powerful flame washed over Minotaur’s body, the Phantom roaring loudly in pain. When the flames disappeared, Minotaur’s body was visibly charred with smoke rising off of his body, “P-Please… I-I won’t hunt the G-Gates anymore! I-I’m sorry! I’ll d-disappear from your sight! J-Just please! Let me go!”

The response that Minotaur got was a laugh, “You’ll disappear from my sight? What a lovely idea. But letting you go is just so boring. I’ll still make you disappear from my sight, except, I’ll just burn you until nothing’s left!

“How does that sound?”

“Haru!”

Wizard sighed as he dropped Minotaur back into the crater, he didn’t have to turn around to know who was behind him. “Twilight Sparkle.”

“Haru, what are you doing?!” Twilight asked as she slowly trotted up behind the magical dragon.

The dragon shrugged his armored shoulders. “I’m destroying the very being that attacked not only you and Spike, but all of Ponyville. Why do you ask?”

“But you don’t need to destroy him!” Twilight shouted as Applejack and Rainbow Dash followed up to her. Trixie was keeping her distance from the rather intimidating dragon mage. “I heard him beg to be let go! He can’t fight back!”

“You didn’t have a problem when Haruto Souma destroyed those other two Phantoms,” Wizard replied with a wave of his claws. “Why start now?”

“Because they wouldn’t stop going after our friends!” Rainbow Dash answered as she pointed her hoof at Haru. “This guy may have attacked the town, but you got him beat! He’s not going to hurt anypony!”

“Sides, this ain’t like ya,” Applejack chimed in with a stomp of her hoof. “Ya’ll help folks who can’t fight, and clearly this Bull can’t fight anymore!”

Wizard sighed loudly with a shake of his head, “Ah, bleeding heart sentimentality – I will never understand why ponies possess it. It will be the downfall of this world when fools like this…”

The masked dragon jabbed his foot into Minotaur’s side, making the Phantom cry out in pain, “Get a small taste of power. And who knows how many Phantoms exist in this world, and this one is just a lower level Phantom, most are stronger! Most are more devious! And others are beings that appear in your nightmares!”

Slowly, Wizard turned around to face the ponies behind him, showing the broken mask that revealed his right eye and mouth, both which made the three stare at the slightly unmasked Wizard – Gone were the soft, calm features that Haru had on his face when the mask was off.

His features were sharpened, and Haru’s exposed eye wasn’t its normal soothing blue, but rather a rustic yellow that resembled that of a lizard’s – Only devoid of that spark that Haru usually had in his eyes.

“Whoa, were Haru’s eyes like that before?” Dash asked taking a step back.

“No way,” Applejack answered.

“You… You’re not Haru,” Twilight stated bluntly.

“As I said with the Phantom, how insightful,” ‘Wizard’ replied as he brought one of his gloved claws to his chin. “I am not that pathetic being you know as Haruto Souma, and yet, I am him at the same time. His body is my prison, and he uses the magic that my very being produces to protect you foals.

“How he’s managed to keep me suppressed all this time it is baffling, and yet at the same time, inspirational on how strong his will is.”

Twilight’s eyes widened when realization came to her, “You’re the Phantom in Haru’s body, aren’t you?”

“Say what now?” Applejack questioned. “Haru’s got one of them Phantoms in him?!”

“Oh right, we forgot to tell you about that,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly.

‘Wizard’ brought up his left hand up and looked to the ring that was on Haru’s claw. “Once again, very insightful. That’s something that Haruto Souma admires about you Twilight, as do I. Yes, I am the Phantom within Haruto Souma – Dragon.”

“Wait, Wizard’s a Dragon,” Dash pointed out looking up slightly. “And he’s got a Dragon Phantom in him? Isn’t that kind of… Uh, what’s that word?”

“Redundant,” Twilight answered.

Dragon chuckled slightly as he turned to the side, Haru’s right claws brought atop of his mask, “Oh yes! That’s right! How hilarious! Haruto Souma hasn’t informed any of you!”

“What in tarnation are ya’ll going on ‘bout?” Applejack questioned with her head tilted slightly.

“It matters not,” Dragon sighed as he took a step towards the three mares. “Haruto Souma’s past will soon be inconsequential. While this form of his is… Cute, it is too cramped for me to use for my own desires. I must shed this form.”

“Shed?” Twilight questioned before she narrowed her eyes. “Haru told me that when you Phantoms shed your forms, you…”

“We can spare the gory details,” Dragon answered as he stood over Twilight, overshadowing the mare. “But, in order for me to cast aside this horrid form, I must instill true despair into Haruto Souma. And as the fates would have it, my options for instilling said despair are right in front of me.”

Before the three mares could even blink, Dragon held Twilight up by the throat with Haru’s left hand, surprising Applejack and Rainbow Dash. “To have his claws spill the blood of those he calls friends – Truly that will instill despair in this wretched Haruto Souma. So, my apologies Miss Sparkle, it isn’t personal, but a necessity.”

“Get yer claws off her!” Applejack shouted as she turned around prepared to buck Dragon.

“Yeah you scaled freak!” Rainbow Dash yelled as she leapt towards Dragon.

Before the two could even reach Dragon, he used Haru’s tail to quickly slap the two ponies to the side without even batting his cruel eye. Dragon sighed as he tightened his grip on Twilight’s neck, “Don’t worry ladies, only one of you should suffice to fully awaken me. And I prefer to spill as little blood here as necessary.”

“H-Haru!” Twilight sputtered as she smacked her hooves against Dragon’s arm. “P-Please! Stop!”

“If it makes you feel better,” Dragon sighed with a grimace on his face. “Haruto Souma’s been knocked out since that lower level Phantom slammed his fist into him. Do not blame him for my actions.”

Meanwhile, in the crater, Minotaur was sweating with tears streaming down his eyes, ‘Oh dear Lord Hades, don’t let him know I’m still here!’

“You! Dragon!”

Dragon turned his attention slightly to see Trixie trotting towards him, now donning her usual magician’s outfit. “The Great and Powerful Trixie demands you get out of the body of Trixie’s assistant this instant.”

Dragon rolled his yellow eye as he lifted Twilight out of the way and quickly shot out a small blaze of fire from his mouth towards the showmare. Trixie’s eyes widened before a large cloud of light blue smoke popped in front of her just before the flames struck.

“Can’t you all just let me have a dramatic moment?” Dragon asked with a roll of his eyes. “Taking a life is not an easy endeavor, especially one that has so much potential!”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie still demands you stop this!”

Dragon blinked a few times when he realized that Trixie was now standing to his right, “How did you do that?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is the greatest Unicorn in all the land,” Trixie proclaimed with a large smile on her face. “A flame from an uncouth dragon is no match for her magic!”

Dragon narrowed his eye at Trixie as a blood vessel bulged on his exposed skin, “Ucouth?! You dare to insult me?! Your parlor tricks are not even a match for my vessel’s mundane magic!”

To illustrate his point, Dragon lifted his right claw up to reveal the ring, “I grow tired of these interruptions! I’ll use Haruto Souma’s own magic to end this!”

Dragon threw ‘Wizard’s’ right claw in front of the belt buckle – However, instead of glowing like it usually did, sparks flew from it. “Huh?”

“ERROR!”

A burst of fiery magical energy erupted from the belt, propelling Dragon through the air while releasing Twilight to the ground. The young unicorn was shaken up while taking a moment to feel the burning sensation that was at her throat. ‘T-That was too close.’

“Looks like you owe the Great and Powerful Trixie your life,” Trixie chuckled as she trotted up next to Twilight.. “You may grovel at any time you wish.”

With a flat look in her eyes, Twilight sighed, “Well, thank you Trixie. Although, how did you know that his magic would backfire on him?”

Trixie rubbed her front hoof against her chest with a smile on her face, “A truly skilled unicorn never reveals her secrets.”

Truth be told, Trixie didn’t know that would happen, she was just very lucky in that regard. Trixie was just trying to buy some time until Applejack or Rainbow Dash had gotten back to their senses.

“W-What… What was I doing!?”

The two unicorns turned back to see Wizard ripping the broken mask off of his face and throwing it to the side. With the mask no longer on his face, the dragon lifted his head up to reveal his tear stained face with his eye back to their regular shade of blue and his features returned to normal.

Haru looked down to his claws and then towards Twilight, “I… I…”

“Haru,” Twilight started as she stepped forward.

“STAY AWAY!”

Twilight reeled back at Haru roaring at her.

The magical dragon reached for his belt and swapped rings on his right claw, “I… I’m sorry…”

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Haru threw his right hand in front of him and jumped into the runic circle, the magical rune disappearing as he went through it. Twilight was galloping to where Haru had thrown the mask and tapped it with her front hoof. “Haru…”

TTTTTTT

Back in Ponyville, Mayor Mare was trying to keep the citizens calm throughout the monster attack, although most of them had watched the fight from a safe distance. Damage to the town was minimal, although, with a giant Minotaur rampaging through and near the town, the shock was enough to cause a disturbance amongst the ponies.

After making sure that Applejack and Rainbow Dash were okay and were headed back home, Twilight and Trixie were heading back to Golden Oaks Library – Mainly because they had to get Trixie’s wagon out of the tree. Although, throughout the trip, Twilight was quiet as she kept looking back at the broken Wizard helmet that she had on her back. ‘Haru…’

“Are you still sulking?” Trixie huffed. “For a mare whose life was saved, you certainly don’t act like you’re full of life.”

“… Haven’t you ever lost a friend?” Twilight replied solemnly, not even turning towards Trixie.

The showmare opened her mouth to speak, but closed her mouth immediately without a sound. Even she knew when not to boast or speak.

After that small exchange, the two unicorns reached the library – At which point Twilight noticed something strange with the whole scene. There was no damage done to the library and Trixie’s cart wasn’t stuck into the side of the tree, no damage to the cart either, in fact, it looked like it was brand new.

‘Wait, that’s not right,’ Twilight thought to herself blinking in confusion.

“Ah, marvelous!” Trixie laughed as she slowly trotted towards the wagon. “Not even a scratch! Now if you don’t mind, the Showy and Brave Trixie shall be going to sleep. It has been a long day.”

‘I get the feeling that my night’s just started,’ Twilight thought to herself before Trixie disappeared into her wagon.

“Twilight!”

The door to the library quickly opened up and Spike ran from the tree, “Are you okay?! What happened?”

“Spike, I’ll… I’ll tell you in the morning,” Twilight sighed as she trotted towards her home. “How about you? What happened?”

“Well, I tried to get Rarity to help,” Spike answered as he followed Twilight. “But she was still dealing with her green mane, but that’s not important! Someone’s here and…”

“I’ll have to send them home,” Twilight replied with her head fallen as she entered the building with Spike in tow. “We’re closed and this isn’t the best time.”

“Oh?” A regal voice sounded. “That’s a shame, your dragon scribe made tea and its quite good.”

The young unicorn lifted her head up and reeled backwards at the sight in the lobby before her. Seated on the couch with a cup of tea in his hands was a familiar, yet obviously different figure – The design was aesthetically the same to Wizard’s, but pure white with atop of his orange jeweled mask. His costume was a white robe with a familiar belt at his waist and two silver bands strapped on his chest with rings upon it.

The masked being lifted up the tea cup to his mask and actually drank it through his bejeweled mask, “Nothing like a spot of tea to soothe the nerves.”

“W-Who are you?” Twilight asked as Spike kept next to her.

The White Wizard placed his tea cup on the arm of the couch and placed his hands together. “Shiroi Mahotsukai – The White Wizard. And I am here to speak to you, Miss Twilight Sparkle.”

White Wizard waved his right hand up, revealing a familiar looking ring on his finger. “I am here to bestow my knowledge to you.”

TBC

Intermission 3 - Answers - PLEASE

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I just wanted to grant his wish. That’s all.
- Kintaros / Kamen Rider Den-O (Axe Form)

TTTTTT

Intermission 3

Answers – PLEASE

TTTTTT

The young unicorn lifted her head up and reeled backwards at the sight in the lobby before her. Seated on the couch with a cup of tea in his hands was a familiar, yet obviously different figure – The design was aesthetically the same to Wizard’s, but pure white with atop of his orange jeweled mask. His costume was a white robe with a familiar belt at his waist and two silver bands strapped on his chest with rings upon it.

The masked being lifted up the tea cup to his mask and actually drank it through his bejeweled mask, “Nothing like a spot of tea to soothe the nerves.”

“W-Who are you?” Twilight asked as Spike kept next to her.

The White Wizard placed his tea cup on the arm of the couch and placed his hands together. “Shiroi Mahotsukai – The White Wizard. And I am here to speak to you, Miss Twilight Sparkle.”

White Wizard waved his right hand up, revealing a familiar looking ring on his finger. “I am here to bestow my knowledge to you.”

Silence filled the library as Twilight and Spike stared down the White Wizard before them. The white mage tilted his head slightly as he waved his left hand. “PSYCHOKINSSIS – NOW!”

The broken remains of Haru’s Wizard helmet flew from Twilight’s back and immediately drew towards White Wizard’s open hand. “How intriguing – To think that his inner Phantom would be able to destroy a lesser Phantom imbued with a Greater Phantom’s mana. He has grown faster than I expected.”

Then with a roll of his wrist, White Wizard made the helmet float over to the horse head wood carving that Twilight had put up for decoration in the room. Twilight shook her head and trotted towards the white robed being, “Why here?”

“Hmm?” White Wizard questioned with his arms crossed. “Well, I would’ve crashed on Mary Marvel’s couch, but Darkseid already laid claim there.”

“Wait, what?” Twilight replied drawing her head back in confusion.

White Wizard cleared his throat and waved his right hand a few times, “Sorry, I thought that joke would be relevant and cheer you up after your ordeal.”

“I got the joke,” Spike replied with a bright smile on his face. “I didn’t think anypony else read the comics in here.”

Twilight sighed loudly as she rolled her eyes, comics weren’t something often read, but since Spike liked them she had ordered them and had them in a specific wing of the library. With a shake of her head, the unicorn trotted to White Wizard, “You said White Wizard, are you the same White Wizard in the Lost Tales of the Phantoms?”

The ring on White Wizard’s left hand flashed, changing the ring on his finger, then with a wave of his hand a golden runic circle popped in front of him. “CONNECT – NOW!”

The White Wizard reached into the circle and pulled his arm out to pull out a copy of the very book that Twilight had named. The rune disappeared, and Wizard held out the book towards Twilight, “Here, have a first edition, signed copy. I was informed that you enjoy reading.”

Blinking a few times, Twilight used her magic to take the book from the White Wizard, “Someone told you about me? Who?”

“Excellent questions,” White Wizard replied as he crossed his arms. “Inquisitive, I like that. However, I do not have too much time to stay here, and I must inform you of many things. Please, enjoy some tea that your young scribe made for me while I tell you the information.”

“Can I stay and listen?” Spike questioned as he held up a cup of tea to Twilight.

“Of course,” White Wizard answered as he held up his own teacup. “I wouldn’t have it any other way – As Twilight’s number one assistant, you deserve to know what I am about to tell.”

A moment passed as White Wizard took another sip of tea through his mask and gingerly placed the teacup on the decorative plate. “I’ll start this off with a simple question Miss Sparkle, what was one of the biggest signs that signified the return of Nightmare Moon?”

With the teacup on the floor, Twilight tilted her head at White Wizard. “There were a number of signs, the alignment of the stars was one, but one of the most major ones was the day of dark sun – A solar eclipse that blocked the sun for an hour. I remember when it happened, a number of ponies were shocked at it happening, and it was then that I devoted the time into studying the moon and why it occurred.

“During my studies I came across the tale and I figured that the Mare in the Moon was responsible as a Solar Eclipse was one of the signs of her return.”

“Really? I thought it was because you got obsessive over an old mare’s tale,” Spike pointed out with a little smirk on his face. That earned him a little leer from Twilight.

White Wizard chuckled slightly as he locked his fingers, “Quite so Twilight, I am impressed that you can remember an event that occurred over eight months ago. Yes, a solar eclipse was one of the major signs of Nightmare Moon.”

“But what does that have to do with anything?” Twilight questioned. “And are you the same White Wizard in the story?”

“The day of the solar eclipse,” White Wizard sighed as he turned his head. “That was the day that this nightmare was reawakened – That was the day that many Phantoms were born.”

Twilight reeled back slightly. “Wait, Haru mentioned that Phantoms were born from despair when another Phantom was present when a pony was exposed to despair – But how would those Phantoms be born from a solar eclipse?”

“As there are many forms of magic in this world,” White Wizard replied as the ring on his left finger glowed brightly, transforming the ring once more. “There are many ways for darkness to appear and take shape in this domain. In the Lost Tales of the Phantoms, it is written that the Wise One created the first Phantom… However, it neglected to tell the process of how the Phantom was brought into this world.

“This was before the Sun and Moon were guided by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, when the sun and moon were divined by a single being. But even then, the being needed to have the moon and sun coincide once in a great while in order to restore control over both celestial bodies.

“When the solar eclipse was performed, a surge of magic would be released and imbue the land with mana as well as empower the being who controlled both the sun and moon. However, on the day that the solar eclipse, the mana that was produced was used to create the very first Phantom many years ago. Unfortunately, that is all I know about how the first Phantom was born.

“However, when the signs of Nightmare Moon’s began to appear, a being saw its chance and prepared for the solar eclipse.”

With a wave of his hand, a window of light began to materialize to the White Wizard’s side. The window flashed with light until an image of a rocky waterfront appeared in the window. On the shore there were a number of ponies – Earth ponies, pegasai, and even unicorns – but there were other sentient creatures that Twilight read about in books or had seen. There were a few griffons, a diamond dog, a zebra or two, satyrs and even a regular minotaur.

“Whatever darkness was behind this,” White Wizard explained as he kept his hand up. “It gathered a great number of sentient beings to a secluded location. And when the eclipse occurred, it began the ritual what most of the Phantoms referred to as the Sabbath.”

On the window, the sun above the large group was beginning to be blocked by the moon itself, plunging the shore with darkness. Of course, that didn’t last long as dark purple energy erupted from the earth at their large groups’ feet.

The dark energy traveled up their bodies, causing them all to scream – Although, there was no noise generated by the window, but the looks of pure pain and terror that were drawn to their faces were enough to make Twilight and Spike assume the worst. White Wizard cleared his throat as the beings felled to the ground as the dark energy cracked even more of the creatures’ bodies. “You may turn away if you wish.”

Spike closed and covered his eyes, but Twilight kept her eyes on the magical window – Which now displayed a chestnut colored stallion with a messy coal black mane with multiple cracks over his body. The stallion threw his head up as his body shattered like glass with many purple flames cascading from the new being that stood up tall in the stallion’s place. The being’s body was overshadowed, but was tall with beak-like shoulder pads now on its humanoid-shaped body.

More of the beings’ bodies began to follow suit, transforming into various monstrous forms – A few looked familiar: Minotaur, Gnome and Djinn, all of which stretched their new bodies and sauntered off. Other Phantoms continued to shed their original forms and began to walk away from the ritual area.

White Wizard nodded his head, “The Sabbath – A day of rest, or in these poor souls’ cases, the final rest for them. I tried to find the location where the ritual was taking place, but nopony can be everywhere at all time. If it wasn’t for the mass of mana that surged through the air, I wouldn’t have found this scene.”

The window shifted once more to a higher shot, showing that most of the Phantoms had cast off their original forms, or were removing the remains. “At the same time, from this darkness of despair, I found a single spark of hope.”

There was but one remaining pony amongst the wandering away Phantoms, a stallion who’s body was cracking with a pair of large, dragonic wings ripping out of his back and a dragon-like tail had replaced his regular tail. The stallion struggled to lift his head up and tried reaching towards the blocked out sun, the magical cracks trailing up his front hoof. “This young stallion was able to control the Phantom within him with only his will. While the Phantom was awakened, he still contains the monster within.”

Twilight tilted her head slightly at the image, leaning closer towards the stallion in the window. “A Phantom within… But, if this stallion was the only one who was able to survive this ritual. A stallion who’s name was…”

TTTTTT

Harpie, worse for wear in even her regular pony form, had Minotaur’s charred and wounded form slung over her body. After the four ponies had left the wounded Phantom, Harpie had returned in her pony form to pull Minotaur from the impacted area, still having the strength to pull the large phantom from the ground. However, due to Minotaur’s rage and swatting her away, one of her wings as a Phantom was damaged enough that she couldn’t fly with Minotaur in tow.

So, dragging him back to the Everfree Woods was the best option she had, and after a long journey to keep the two Phantoms from being seen, she reached the clearing where this whole incident had begun. When she did, Harpie dropped her Phantom companion to the ground, “Hellhound! Where are you?”

“H-Harpie?” Hellhound gulped as he slowly emerged from the bushes nearby, his eyes wide and his body shaking slightly. “I… I see you’re back. Is, is Minotaur okay?”

The pony disguised Phantom blinked a few times at Hellhound’s odd behavior and trotted towards her fellow disguised Phantom. “Hellhound, what’s wrong? You didn’t follow me, you’re actually showing concern, and you’re shaking. What in Tartarus is wrong with you?”

“Fear…”

Harpie’s ears perked up when that voice sounded from behind her, and when a bright light surged from behind her and made her turn back to Minotaur, seeing a fiery figure stand next to the fallen Minotaur, even going so far as to have his foot atop of Minotaur’s chest. The being in question cackled as he lifted up one of his hands, a powerful flame erupting around his fist, “It resides in the hearts of all living creatures, dwelling deep within them silent, waiting like an unlit fuse to explosives.

“But all it takes is a single spark to make that fear absorb an entire being’s existence. The fear of death, the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure – It matters not what form it takes – Fear follows anybody like their shadow.”

The fiery being tossed the fire up and down in his hand a few times. “What do you call something that even monsters fear? What is a name that is tied to fear? What makes even the most diabolical of nightmares pale in comparison?”

Harpie trotted backwards, trying to put more distance between her and the fiery being “M-Master Phoenix!?!”

The being sighed loudly as he pulled his foot from Minotaur’s back and stepped into the moonlight, the flames from his body slowly disappearing to reveal himself. He was tall, sleek, covered in shiny red armor with gold trim and lines on it. At his broad shoulders were a pair of golden shoulder pads that were beak-shaped while at his helmeted head were red, wing-like protrusions that stuck out from both sides of his helmet. “Hehehahahaha, to see that look upon your face, it sends shivers down my own spine. And I’m glad you remember my name, you poor excuses of Phantoms.”

“W-Why are you here?” Harpie asked, gulping down her own fear at the same time.

“Why?” Phoenix asked as he lifted his arms up into the air. “Because somepony tasks me! He tasks me and I shall have him. Round the moon of Equestria, I chuckle at thee! Beyond the corpulent clouds, I chuckle more at thee! Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins!

“Kirk! Old friend I… Wait… What am I saying!?”

Both Hellhound and Harpie looked to each other before Phoenix cleared his throat, “Sorry about that, I tend to go overboard with those kinds of things. But that doesn’t mean that the first part of what I said isn’t relevant – A while back, some flank thought it was a good idea to anger me by stealing one of my special feathers.

“I don’t take kindly to flanks who think they can steal from me and get away with it!”

Several flames erupted from Phoenix’s back for a moment, making both of the other Phantoms lean closer to each other, trying to protect each other from the rage that Phoenix was displaying. Taking a deep breath, Phoenix turned his attention towards the knocked out Minotaur, “Originally, I tracked the thief here, and much to my surprise, I found this flank here with a very familiar ability when I was coming here. I should end his pathetic existence right here and now!”

To illustrate his point, Phoenix threw his right hand to the side, creating a large flame at his fingertips – the flames changing into a large wing-hilted broadsword. With a spin of his wrist, Phoenix held his broadsword at Minotaur’s neck. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out!”

“No! Stop!” Harpie cried out as he galloped towards Phoenix.

The fiery Phantom cackled loudly before he made his broadsword disappear in a flutter of sparks, making Harpie skid to a stop. “Oh, I wouldn’t do that – Not yet anyway. I’m not interested in this little thief anymore.

“Yes, my eyes are only drawn to the Mage that I saw beat this guy down! And damn it, I want a crack at him so badly!”

“Wait, what?” Harpie questioned tilting her head.

Phoenix laughed as he turned his back to Harpie and looked to the moon hanging in the night’s sky, slowly he lifted his hand up towards the moon and curled his fingers slightly. “Stronger than before. Powered up for more. Phantoms at the core! Higher I can soar! I’m fired up for more! This ring mage evens up the score!

“I can’t explain it, but ever since I took my first steps as a Phantom, there’s been a void in my very soul – A void that’s been filled temporarily whenever I fight against some of the deadliest of creatures that our master has me face off against – Hydras, Tartarus Hounds, Ursa Majors… Tartarus! I’ve even fought against full grown dragons!

“But this Mage… Ooh! This mage! I’ve never felt so excited! If he can defeat a lower classed Phantom who was given a mere taste of my power, just imagine the fight we could have if we ever clashed!”

Harpie shuddered at the thought.

Phoenix turned his head back towards the disguised Phantom and lifted his hand up towards her, “But in order for that fight to happen, I must give him a proper reason to fight, and from what I heard, he has a tendency to protect those he cares about… A bleeding heart, how appropriate.

“In order for me to make him give his all, I’ll push this entire land to the edge of despair if I have to! And your group is gonna help me pull this off! I may be one of the most feared Phantoms in all of Equestria, but that’s just it, I’m only one Phantom.

“So, I’m gonna say this, either your group helps me, or a certain member of your group will become dust in the wind. And looking at the poor sucker, he doesn’t seem to possess my feather anymore.”

Harpie turned back to Hellhound, who was still frozen in fear of the Phantom before the two of them. When she nodded towards him, Hellhound lowered his head, with Harpie doing the same a few moments later. Phoenix cackled as he clasped his hands together with flames erupting from between his fingertips. “Ah, soon, my blade shall soon taste blood!”

Above the clearing was a familiar, green pegasus seated atop of a cloud with a large smile planted on his face. “Oooh! I didn’t think that he’d actually follow me to Ponyville, but, I guess this’ll just double the fun! Hehehehehehehee!

“Let’s see, I’ve wrecked about ten percent of Ponyville, made the resident Phantoms paranoid, made the Ring Mage attack his friends, and I’ve even managed to bring one of the higher ups here! And all I did was pluck a single molting feather.

“Now that’s convenience!”

TTTTTTT

“Haruto Souma?” Twilight muttered as the magical window that White Wizard created flashed brightly, showing that after the solar eclipse had passed, the entire coast was devoid of almost any living being with several scraps of black ashes floating about the area. “But, there wasn’t a dragon there and…”

“How can a pony become a dragon?” Spike asked with his head tilted up.

“You’d be surprised what magic lays within this world,” White Wizard replied with his other hand lifted up. “I’ve seen a carp swim up a waterfall to a gate at the top, and when it did, it emerged as a serpentine dragon once it passed the gate. If a fish can become a marvelous being like that…”

The window’s image shifted, panning the coastline to reveal a familiar, sleek, red dragon laying on the ground. The dragon stirred a few times before he began to push himself off of the rocky shore. “Then a dragon can be born from within a pony. Anything is possible in this world – a princess trapped within the moon itself, a deity of chaos trapped within stone, monstrous beings escaping from within a living creature, and even more mysteries to this world – the possibilities are endless, Miss Sparkle.”

The dragon stood up straight, shakily trying to gather his balance as he realized that he was on his hind legs and had claws. The dragon stumbled back in surprise and fell back to the ground with a look of pure fear strew upon his face.

That face.

It was a face that Twilight and Spike knew all too well – After all, it was the same face they saw every morning over the past few weeks in the morning and at night. Those blue eyes and those black spines that resembled a hair style, the only thing that was different was the look of pure terror and surprise that was plastered on his scaly face.

Twilight sighed as she looked down at the ground, “So, Haru is… Or was…”

“Yes, a pony,” White Wizard answered with a nod of his head. “Please continue watching.”

The young unicorn lifted her head up and watched as another scaled figure slowly walked up from behind the still freaked out Haru. Slowly, the red dragon turned his head around to see that what stood behind him was a green and white scale-armored monster whose armor was similar to what some Ponympian warriors used to wear, Twilight had remembered seeing it in some of her text books. The monster’s face was fully armored save for a large red jewel in the middle of its upper forehead.

“A Phantom,” Twilight gasped with her hooves to her mouth.

The Haru on the screen reacted pretty much the same way as the scaled Phantom lifted up its hand and leapt from the rocks. However, before the Phantom got too close, a golden, runic circle appeared in front of it and propelled the Phantom through the air.

Haru turned his head, and the window panned to show that the White Wizard was standing a few yards away from where the young dragon was. With that, the window disappeared, with the White Wizard waving his free hand about, “I regret not showing up in time to stop the Sabbath. So many lives ended, so many monsters created, those lost lives I will bear for the rest of my days.

“But I am not here to drown you in my self-pity Miss Sparkle and Scribe Spike. I came to share my apprentice’s origin with you, when the Sabbath occurred, his life was taken from him in another manner. Now he walks Equestria in that form, quite possibly for the rest of his days.”

“Is being a dragon so bad?” Spike questioned with his eyes narrowed.

White Wizard chuckled as he stood up from the couch and walked past the two librarians, his arms folded behind him, “Of course it isn’t. But from Haruto Souma’s perspective, his life has forever changed – Even though he caged the Phantom within him by his own will, the damage was done to his body. The Phantom had awakened enough to transform his body into the Wizard that you know.”

“It’s just so unbelievable,” Twilight stated as she trotted behind the tall, mysterious mage. “I never heard of anypony being transformed into completely different species before.”

“Indeed, but you must have found it odd,” White Wizard replied, keeping his back to the unicorn and dragon. “Dragons do not possess cutie marks, yet Haruto Souma has one. Albeit, it changed the moment I trained him in the ways of magic, as his new talent had emerged.”

“Once again, you’re talking the impossible,” Twilight stated as she trotted in front of White Wizard. “Once a cutie mark has been discovered, nothing can change it!”

“And once again, I say that the impossible isn’t as impossible as one thinks,” White Wizard answered as he knelt down to look Twilight in the eyes. “You’ve seen creatures that should only exist in nightmares appear before you, even attack you and your friends. You just watched as many creatures become those very nightmares. However, I didn’t come here to argue the laws of nature with you.”

White Wizard lifted his right hand to his chest and lowered his head, “Rather, I came to ask that you forgive my student for his actions.”

“T-That’s not necessary,” Twilight replied, a little taken back by the regal wizard suddenly bowing down towards her. “I… I know that it wasn’t Haru who went berserk, it was the Phantom within him that did – Dragon.”

“Wait, what happened?” Spike asked as he walked up to Twilight.

“Spike, I’ll tell you later,” Twilight muttered under her breath, her throat was still burning slightly from where Haru… No, where Dragon had grabbed her.

“Twilight, please,” Spike pleaded. “If something bad happened, I have to know!”

Before Spike could continue pleading for an answer, a gloved hand was placed atop of his head, making the dragon to turn to the White Wizard who looked at him. “Please young scribe, Miss Sparkle will explain what happened immediately after I have finished my business here. I have nearly finished, so please trust in your foster sister.”

For some reason, Spike just looked into the orange jeweled mask and nodded towards the magical being. White Wizard stood up and pulled his hand back, “Thank you, noble dragon. Miss Sparkle, I hope that you understand a little more about your friend Haruto Souma.”

“Yes, but why did you tell us this?” Twilight questioned as she lifted a hoof up towards the White Wizard. “Haru already told me and a few of my friends that he had a Phantom inside of him, and I could’ve easily figured that it wasn’t him in control. So why tell us this?”

“Haruto Souma considers himself a light of hope,” White Wizard answered as he lifted his right hand up into the air once more, the ring glowing brightly. “And it is true that he is, but even a small flame such as his cannot withstand the mass of darkness that the Phantoms have unleashed. Even hope cannot stand alone.

“Truth, Compassion, Joy, Charity, Faithfulness and Mysticism – Hope may be necessary, but without those attributes, hope cannot survive in the face of true evil. Twilight Sparkle, you have witnessed the power that Hope can perform, and you have experienced what the other six attributes are capable of.

“I ask that you keep Haruto Souma on this path of hope, for when combined with the attributes, a miracle shall awaken.”

“CONNECT – NOW!”

The golden runic circle popped in front of White Wizard and he reached into it with both of his arms. When he pulled his arms out of the circle, the Wizard revealed that in his arms were three, rather nicely gift-wrapped boxes. White Wizard placed all three of them on the floor before Twilight and Spike, and then he bowed slightly, “Here, these are gifts for you, your scribe, and my apprentice – You may open them at your leisure.

“I must ask that you keep my apprentice’s gift with you, knowing how this world works, then your paths shall cross again. Open it if you wish.”

Before Twilight could question the White Wizard’s reasoning, Spike’s eyes gleamed brightly as he quickly found his gift, the largest amongst the three presents and quickly tore into it. Wrapping paper flew through the air and surprised Twilight. “Spike! We’ve got company!”

“It’s quite alright,” White Wizard replied with a wave of his hand. “Where I originate from, it’s tradition for a guest to give his hosts a present, it respects the home and the hosts. Normally, it’s just little trinkets or food, so I decided to get him a…”

“EMERALD!” Spike cried out with joy as he held up a large, shiny emerald in his claws, licking his chops.

“Well, yes,” White Wizard replied with a slight chuckle as he watched Spike lick the emerald. “I apologize for not giving them when I first appeared, but there were other details that needed to be taken care of immediately.”

“But, you’ve just made more questions than answers,” Twilight stated with her eyes narrowed slightly at the mysterious mage. “Like why did you showed up here out of the blue? Why didn’t you help Haru with the Phantom? And how do you know so much about me and Spike?”

“If all the answers to life were handed to us,” White Wizard replied as the ring on his finger glowed brightly. “Then no one would grow, life would be dull, and this world would grow smaller with every passing second. I cannot give you all the answers Miss Sparkle, rather, that is for you all to decipher and I can merely give you the tools necessary to find the right path.

“It is the same for my apprentice, what he does with this gift or curse is up to him. As a great mind once said – ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’ It is how my apprentice shall learn, it is how he shall grow, and with you and your friends, you all shall grow alongside him.”

“TELEPORT – NOW!”

A familiar runic circle appeared at the White Wizard’s feet, and began to slowly rise. As it did, the mage’s body slowly disappeared as the runic circle passed his body. The White Wizard bowed towards Twilight and Spike, “Well, it has been a pleasure Miss Sparkle, but I must be off. Spike, thank you for the tea, we must do it again sometime in the future.”

“Wait!” Twilight called out as the circle reached up to the White Wizard’s waist. “Why even bother telling me about Haru’s past if you’re not going to tell me everything?!”

“Because,” White Wizard replied with a finger brought up to the mouth of his mask. “I owe Lady Celestia a few favors, and I can cross this one off of the list.”

“Wait, what?!?” Both Twilight and Spike questioned as the rune quickly reached the top of White Wizard’s chest.

With a wave of his hand, the weird mage nodded towards the two before the rune completely engulfed him. “Ta ta! Cheerio! Pip pip!”

And with that, the White Wizard disappeared from the library’s lobby, leaving Twilight slightly dumbfounded and Spike a little confused, but shrugged it off and nibbled on the emerald he just got. Twilight blinked a few times before she rolled her eyes. “I… I don’t… It’s too late for this sort of thing.”

Spike didn’t say a word, rather just munched on the emerald. The young unicorn turned her attention to the gifts that the weird mage left behind.

Using her magic, Twilight brought the two remaining gifts to her and tilted her head slightly as she looked at them. The smaller of the two presents was placed on the nearby table as it was labeled ‘Haruto Souma’, still using her magic though, Twilight unwrapped the other present to reveal another book. This book was leather bound with a familiar symbol etched into the cover – The same symbol that the White Wizard’s magic created whenever he used it. ‘A tome? What is this?’

Twilight opened the book, with the pages turning revealing that most of the pages in the tome were blank – Save for the first page. ‘This is a spell! Could this be a spell book?’

However, before Twilight could even work with the spell, the unicorn shook her head – Fatigue was starting to rear its ugly head over her. Using her magic to place the book on the table, Twilight trotted over to Spike who had managed to finish off half of the emerald. “Spike, you may want to save the rest of that for tomorrow.”

Spike actually burped slightly as he licked his chops of the emerald dust at his mouth. “Awe… But it’s sooooooooooooo tasty! Can’t I have a little more?”

Twilight smiled at her dragon scribe, “It’s getting late, and I need to tell you a few things of my own Spike.”

TTTTTTT

Meanwhile, at one of the nearby mountains, still wearing the ragged Wizard outfit over his form, Haru leaned against one of the many trees with tears streaming from his eyes. The red dragon held up his gloved claws, taking note that they were shaking with every breath he took. “W-Why?”

‘Because I am awakening…’

Haru shook his head before he buried his face in his claws, “Shut up! Shut up!”

‘My voice shall not be silenced, Haruto Souma. I am your inner despair, and I shall be freed!’

“N-No!” Haru shouted into the night. “I’ve managed to keep you at bay so far and I…”

‘Your will is cracked… It is only a matter of time before you shall share the same fate.’

Then realization struck Haru as he lifted his head up, his eyes narrowed down, “… No, I won’t let you have your way, Dragon. I won’t let you hurt the friends I’ve made…”

‘Bold words, but that’s all they are. We’ll see how long you’ll last… Haruto Souma. Your hope will not last forever.’

Haru didn’t say another word as the Wizard suit slowly faded from his body, exposing his scaly body to the cold night’s air. ‘… I’ve gotten used to sleeping indoors. I need to change that again, I have to, for their sakes.’

TBC

Spell 14 - Burn

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“I could grow to like you. Amuse me. That’s a good scream.”
- Phoenix

TTTTTT

Spell 14

Burn

TTTTTT

It was a restless night for Twilight, after she had told Spike of the battle between Wizard and Minotaur; the young dragon was in a very upset mood until he had fallen asleep. Even when Spike had fallen to sleep with the half eaten emerald tucked in with him, Twilight tried to get to sleep, however, every time she closed her eyes, Haru’s teary eyes appeared at the front of her mind.

Essentially, it was a near sleepless night for the young scholar.

Even when the sun was beginning to rise, Twilight tried to get some sleep – But to no avail. It wasn’t the first time that Twilight wasn’t able to sleep, but most of the time she’d fill in the time by studying or practicing her magic. She didn’t feel like it though, she wanted to sleep, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Pulling herself from the bed, the young unicorn rubbed her throat with her front hoof, there wasn’t a mark from last night, but it still stung slightly. It wasn’t the only thing that stung Twilight, the words of the White Wizard also rung in her mind. ‘Haru, you didn’t need to hide that past of yours – We would’ve understood.’

Twilight shook her head, ‘I need to talk to somepony about this, and there’s only one pony I know who’s up at this hour.’

However, before Twilight began to leave, she managed to catch herself in the mirror and frown slightly, ‘Although, I should probably do something with that mess of a mane.’

TTTTTT

Twilight wasn’t the only one to not enjoy a good night’s sleep. Near the peak of one of the largest mountains near Ponyville, Phoenix was in a cave, seated atop of a large pile of jewels, coins and pieces of treasure that he kicked slightly. “In this world you gotta make the bits first. Then when you get the bits, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the mares! That’s why you gotta make your own moves.”

Holding up one a large ruby, Phoenix clenched the jewel tightly in his fingers as the ruby began to melt in his grasp. “Too bad I’m not interested in bits or mares, just more power.”

Phoenix tossed the ruby through the air as a large, dark shadow appeared in the middle of the large cave. From the shadow arose Hellhound in his Phantom form, surrounded by even more treasure, “M-Master Phoenix, this is the last of it.”

“Oi, kiddo, relax,” Phoenix chuckled as he pushed himself off of the large pile of treasure. “You look like I did after I mistakenly took a swig of Worcestershire sauce. You got the job done.”

The shadows at Hellhound’s feet slowly disappeared, and the Phantom gulped loudly as Phoenix walked around him. “I know that I’m pure awesome and looking at me can make you feel so small, but just relax. I’d say chill out kiddo, but we’re both born of the flames of Tartarus, so that’s asking a lot.

“But feel proud, for when this day is done, you will be a part of the second Sabbath! Darkness will spread over all of Equestria and it’ll only be a matter of time until Phantoms will walk this entire world!”

Phoenix walked towards the mouth of the cave, holding his arms up as the morning sun began to reach over the horizon. “Enjoy the sun while you can Hellhound, for once this plan is completed, it shall be the last we see of it for a while.”

Hellhound blinked a few times as he walked towards the Greater Phantom, “W-Wow, really Master Phoenix? That’s really impressive.”

“Yes, my brilliance impresses even me at times,” Phoenix cackled with his arms crossed as he lifted his head up in pride. “Of course, I could care less about this – You know what I’m after.”

With a nod, Hellhound looked towards the sunrise, “Y-You’re referring to the Ring Mage, r-right?”

“Ding-ding-ding!” Phoenix chimed out with his hands raised up over his head, waving them about. “Give the Phantom a prize! Yes, I don’t care if this plan works – It’s just bait to draw him to me, and it’ll give him a reason to go all out against me.”

A loud roar blasted through the air, shaking the cave’s basic foundations. Hellhound shuddered at the sound while Phoenix just lowered his arms. “Huh, faster than I thought, not bad for a living pair of scaled boots. Listen kiddo, you can get outta here for now, but you better get your flank back here outside the cave in a couple hours. I’ll need you to run recon for me.

“But when you come back, bring me something to eat.”

Hellhound tilted his head slightly at his superior’s request, Phoenix was scary, there was no doubt about that. But it was the shear unpredictability that the fiery Phantom displayed in the last few hours that really yanked on Hellhound’s fears – from the fact that when they first met Phoenix threatened to off Hellhound, to being nice to the canine Phantom and playfully call Hellhound ‘kiddo’, and then promptly punched Hellhound for trying to wuss out for messing with that treasure.

“W-Well, sure Master Phoenix,” Hellhound chirped out as a large shadow began to the cave a few times, making the smaller Phantom much more nervous. “Anything in particular?”

“A DLT – Daffodil, lettuce and tomato sandwich, extra tomato with a dill pickle on the side,” Phoenix listed off with his fingers, keeping his eyes on the large form that was flying towards the cave. “Hay fries, extra crispy. And a medium diet cola. But if its regular, Lord Hades help me, I’ll slice you in two and feed you to that living pair of boots!”

Tears welled up in Hellhound’s eyes before he sunk down into the shadows quickly. When the lesser Phantom disappeared from his sight, Phoenix laughed loudly as he walked out of the cave, “I never get tired of that. Feels good to get fear and respect.”

As soon as Phoenix stepped out of the cave, the large overshadowed being landed in front of the cave, a titanic being with large wings and red scales. The large shadowed creature snarled at Phoenix, who in turn playfully lifted up his hands in front of his chest, “Hello there big guy, looking for something? I think you’ll find what you’re looking right in there.”

Phoenix gestured with his hand and stepped off to the side, allowing the large being to stomp into the cave with the Phantom cackling loudly. ‘Just a little more to go, if this doesn’t work, I may have to take a page out of that Minotaur’s book and rampage that town myself. Oh well, I’ve got plenty of time.’

TTTTTT

After fixing up her mane and placing her saddlebags on her back, Twilight made her way through Ponyville. While she did, Twilight noticed that there wasn’t much damage to the town, save for a few trees that were strewn about through the streets. Most of the ponies who were awakened were actually taking care of the debris and clearing the streets.

Of course, Twilight was more concerned with getting to somepony she could talk to, fighting against fatigue. And while she dragged her hooves slightly against the ground while she trotted through Ponyville, Twilight soon found herself on the road towards Sweet Apple Acres – Applejack was the only pony that Twilight knew was awake at this time in the day.

The fresh scent of apples filled the air and reenergized Twilight slightly, making the unicorn sigh in relief when she reached the path near the apple orchard. The warming sun and cool crisp morning air was enough to at least allow Twilight to clear her head, even the calming sound of nature was able to allow the young mare to gather her thoughts and…

“Ride on right time! Ride on right time! Just run and run, like a cheetah! Emitting light! Ride on fate acting tough! Ooh-huh! If you wish it, don’t lose it, shut out the noise – Become strong like a lion! Ride on right time! Always have a target like a tiger!”

That loud screeching that could quite possibly be considered singing since there was a fast paced instrumental music that was obviously going faster than how the singer could keep up with the beat. Twilight winced as the poorly sung music was getting closer. “What in Equestria?”

When Twilight looked down the dirt path, the young mare was able to see the source of the horrid singing – Further down the road were two figures that were slowly getting closer. When they were close enough, Twilight was able to make the two travelers out in more detail.

One of the travelers was a stallion, but he wasn’t a pony stallion, it was a zebra. Twilight had seem a few of them in her books and even in real life a few times, but to see one so close was rather rare – Especially near Ponyville. This particular zebra had a messy black mane and had a large shirt that was made up of various shades of purple fabric and had a saddlebag on his back.

But what was odd about the zebra was that he had a stick attached to the side of his saddlebag that had a pair of colorful, floral boxer shorts that fluttered in the air.

The zebra had an exasperated look on his face, and for good reason. The other traveler was singing along with a portable radio that was sticking out of the zebra’s saddlebag, and was the cause for the bad singing.

The singing traveler was a tall, yet youthful looking male griffon, with the white feathers atop his head bobbing up and down a few times in rhythm with the tune as he sung. The griffon had a large, bulky red jersey on and had a large backpack that was even bigger than his whole body. How the griffon was able to carry something that looked really heavy was a little confusing to Twilight, but in the last few weeks, it wasn’t the weirdest thing she’s seen.

With a sigh, the zebra turned his head and switched off the radio with his teeth, this obviously made the griffon lift his neck up and narrow his green eyes at the zebra, “Oi! Eiji! What the Tartarus!? I was rockin’ out!”

The zebra, Eiji chuckled sheepishly as he turned his gaze away from his fellow traveler. “W-Well, it’s just we’re getting close to Ponyville, and considering it’s still early in the morning, we don’t wanna inconvenience anypony, do we?”

The griffon waved one of his talons in the air while the two continued down the path, “We’re near a farmland. I doubt anypony will be bothered with a little karaoke while we’re out here.”

It was at that moment that the two realized that they were only a few feet from Twilight Sparkle, and she was eyeing the rather odd pair for a second before she lifted up a hoof and waved it. “Uh, hello.”

Eiji bowed his head slightly while the Griffon tilted his head at the unicorn. The zebra lifted his head and smiled brightly at Twilight, “Good morning, how are you?”

“Good, I guess,” Twilight replied, still a little curious at the weird pair of travelers.

The griffon was still staring at Twilight though, at least until Eiji elbowed the feathered creature in the side with his leg, “Oi, it’s rude to stare.”

“Ow!” the griffon yelped as he rubbed his side. Then with a slight bow of his head, the griffon sighed, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, really,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly at the two’s odd behavior.

That’s when both of the travelers nodded towards Twilight before they walked past her, the studious unicorn blinking a few times as the griffon tried reaching for the radio once more, only for Eiji to shuffle to the side slightly to make the radio just out of the feathered traveler’s reach. Twilight shook her head as she continued her way to Sweet Apple Acres, ‘A lot of odd characters are coming to Ponyville as of late.’

Twilight didn’t notice that a ghostly, red armored hand flew about the air over her, the hand turned slightly to look at her before floating off to follow the two travelers.

After shaking the odd encounter from her head, Twilight managed to find Applejack at the farm, pulling an emptied wagon from the farm. When the Southern Mare saw her friend, Applejack trotted over to Twilight, “Morning Twi, how are ya’ll doing?”

“I’ve been worse,” Twilight answered, turning her eyes slightly. “Thanks for asking Applejack, but I need to talk to you about something.”

Shuffling away from the wagon, Applejack trotted a little closer to her friend, “Sure thing Twi, Ah’ve got time for a friend. Especially after yesterday, what’s on yer mind?”

‘Something that could probably fill up a book,’ Twilight thought as she looked around. “Any place where we can go in order to get comfortable? I’ve got a lot to tell you.”

TTTTTT

At a cottage outside of the Everfree Forest, a familiar yellow pegasus was flying about to feed quite a number of different animals. As Fluttershy did her usual morning work, she couldn’t help but turn her attention back to the Everfree Woods, her wings flapping faster than usual.

When she was finished with feeding the birds with a bucket of bird seed, Fluttershy had floated down to the ground and kept her eyes on the forest for a few minutes. She whimpered a little bit as she slowly back to her house.

Last night, while most of the town was shocked with a giant Minotaur rampaging out of the town with a little armored dragon completely demolishing said Minotaur, Fluttershy had seen something even scarier (or at least she didn’t seem to really see Minotaur’s rampage since she had to search for some of the animals who had gotten lost earlier in the evening and had returned after Minotaur chased after Snips and Snails).

When Fluttershy was handing out breakfast to more of the more nocturnal animals, a large, fiery light flew through the air and scared most of the animals. Fluttershy herself hid herself behind her chicken coop as the fiery light crashed into the ground outside the Everfree Forest. When the light began to die down, the young pegasus saw that what she was looking at was a tall, red armored being with large, bird wings composed of flames that slowly dissipated from the figure’s body.

The red armored figure had stretched his body before he looked around the area. When the creature’s soulless blue eyes turned at Fluttershy’s general direction, the young pegasus tucked her head behind the chicken coop with her long pink mane slipping right after her.

She didn’t know if the fiery monster had saw her, but her fears only increased when what she assumed was the monster’s voice sounded out through the night’s sky. “Now let’s see, I can sense where my feather was used, so that’s a good start. It shouldn’t take too long to find the flank who stole my feather.

“Maybe when I’m done, I’ll burn this entire town to the ground.”

Fluttershy held her breath as she heard the fiery monster laugh, his laughter drowning out over a short amount of time. Although everything in her mind told her to not to do so, but carefully, Fluttershy peeked around the corner to see only the scorched ground and the slightly burned forested area where the monster most likely walked through. Looking further, the monster didn’t seem to notice Fluttershy at all.

Although her heart was beating a mile a minute, Fluttershy was glad that the monster was gone.

But the night after that was practically sleepless for the pegasus as she kept her eyes on the forest almost all night. Fluttershy had hoped that the scary monster had disappeared because she was pretty sure her covers weren’t going to protect her this time.

With a slight yawn, Fluttershy slowly trotted towards a smaller house with a wooden carrot sign over the door where a cute little white rabbit was quickly munching on a rather large carrot. Fluttershy smiled at the rabbit, “Good morning Angel bunny. I’m glad you’re doing so well, but, um, you may want to slow down on eating that carrot. It wouldn’t be good if you got a tummy ache or choked.”

For some reason, this seemed to offend Angel. The rather cute bunny tossed his carrot to the ramp to his little house and turned his nose up and away from Fluttershy. Fluttershy reeled back slightly before she leaned closer to Angel’s little house and pushed the carrot back up with her hoof, “Oh, um, you really should eat more.”

Angel wouldn’t hear of it!

With a quick leap, the little bunny dashed past the pegasus mare and made a beeline towards the Everfree Woods. Fluttershy’s eyes widened before she gently picked up the carrot in her mouth and stretched out her wings before she flew off. “Oh n-no! Please wait!”

Despite being able to fly, Fluttershy wasn’t able to catch up with Angel, and the small bunny was almost at the edge of the forest. But before the little rabbit was able to get into the woods, the little critter skidded to a stop as an odd, mint green pegasus casually trotted in his path. “Hello! Aw, what a cute little critter.”

Fluttershy gently landed on the ground and placed the carrot near Angel, “Oh, t-thank goodness. Angel, you don’t w-want to go in there.”

“Ah, you must be the owner of this little cutie,” The familiar pegasus – Sora chuckled as he gestured towards the scowling Angel. “Such a precious little thing.”

“Oh, um, w-well, yes,” Fluttershy whispered as she kept her distance from the unknown pegasus in front of her. “Uh, t-thanks for stopping Angel…”

Sora pushed up his hat with a bright smile on his face. “Not a problem! I, as a gentlestallion, couldn’t let a pair of ladies wander in a dreadful place like these woods. Quite the nasty place there and…”

Sora didn’t finish as a partially eaten carrot whacked him in the face, the weird pegasus reeled his head back. His gave shifted down, Sora noticed that Angel had his front paws crossed with a nasty look shot at him. “Uh… Ow?”

“I’m s-sorry,” Fluttershy sheepishly stated as she lowered her head slightly so she’d be closer to Angel. “But Angel Bunny gets a little annoyed when ponies call him a girl.”

“Oh, well, do I look like a vet?” Sora countered raising a brow at the little bunny in front of him. “If anything, I’m more like a bum. Hehehehehee.”

Both Fluttershy and Angel seemed to stare at the ever stranger pegasus before them, and while Sora wasn’t a stranger to being stared at or being considered a freak, there was usually a reason for why he did – Even if it was just for fun. With a large smile on his face, Sora quickly turned on his hooves and threw one of his front legs up towards the sky. “Oh! Look over there!”

Oddly enough, both Fluttershy and Angel looked to where Sora was pointing, and oddly enough, there was an ever-growing cloud of thick, black smoke billowing through the blue sky. Fluttershy lifted her hooves up to her mouth, “Oh my goodness! S-Smoke!”

Sora blinked a few times in confusion before he looked at his hoof, “There was something actually there? By the heavens, I have the power!”

Quickly snapping that same hoof up into the air, Sora called out to the skies above, “Let the ice cream rain down from the sky!”

For a few moments, Sora just stood there with his mouth wide open, Fluttershy blinking a few times at the weird pegasus in front of her. When it was apparent that ice cream wasn’t going to fall from above sky, Sora rubbed the back of his head with the same hoof, “Worth a shot. Oh well, that’s all folks! Dah dadada daaah!”

And just like that, Sora flew off at top speed, leaving a few feathers behind. Fluttershy turned towards Angel, who just shrugged with a disappointed look on his face. “I… I think I should tell everypony about t-the smoke.”

TTTTTTT

“So, wait, let me see if Ah got this right,” Applejack questioned as she rubbed the side of her head in confusion.

Over the last half hour, Twilight had retold everything about the meeting with the White Wizard had told her the night before – How he was Haru’s master, about White Wizard apologizing for his student’s actions (or the Phantom’s), and the biggest one of all…

“Mistah Souma’s actually a stallion?” Applejack questioned with her eyes widened.

That was a point that Twilight had brought up at the very end, and while she kept telling Applejack what she saw and what she heard, for some reason it wasn’t sticking with the southern mare. So with a sigh, Twilight lowered her head, “Yes Applejack, he was once a stallion.”

“Ah just can’t wrap mah head around that,” Applejack replied as she pulled her hat down with her hoof. “How does something like that work?”

“Well,” Twilight muttered out loud with her hoof rubbing her chin. “If I had to guess, Phantoms create their own bodies after they, well, ‘awaken’. But Dragon wasn’t fully awakened, but the damage was done and Haru’s body was probably transformed partially into the Phantom’s. Then again, I haven’t studied any Phantoms, so I can only speculate.”

Applejack blinked a few times before she shifted her eyes slightly, “So, outta curiosity, what kinda pony was Mistah Souma?”

“What?” Twilight replied, reeling slightly. “Does that matter?”

“Nope,” Applejack answered with her hat falling down over her face. “Ah’m just a little curious ‘bout that, if he was an earth pony, then Ah could probably have ‘im work out in the fields sometime. Speakin’ of the scaly poke, Ah don’t suppose he showed up at yer place after a while?”

“Unfortunately, no he did not,” Twilight sighed under her breath. “I don’t know where he is, I’m worried he’s probably beating himself up over last night.”

“Can ya blame him?” Applejack questioned fixing her hat. “Even though it wasn’t him in control, he probably thinks that he tried to hurt ya.”

Twilight turned her head slightly, she didn’t want to admit it, but even now her neck was still sore from Haru’s… No, Dragon’s claws. ‘We need to find him, we need to talk to Haru, but, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid of what would happen if we found him.’

The unicorn was quiet for a few moments before Applejack got to her hooves and trotted to her friend, “Twi, Ah don’t know what’s going on in yer head right now, but when something like this happens, there are two things ponies can do. Either we can find Haru, or we can leave him to figure this out on his own.

“Ah don’t know which path is right, but as his friends, we need to try to find him. He’s been there to help us ever since day one, and we need to be there for him now. There were a few words that dragon gave me – ‘Yer just one pony, there’s just so much one pony can do before they break.’

“Ah think he just reached his breaking point.”

Twilight nodded, a smile reaching her face, “You’re right Applejack, but we don’t know where to start looking for him.”

“Oh? Ah don’t know ‘bout that,” Applejack replied with her own smile. “Tell me something Twi, did Haru leave those fancy familiars behind?”

The young student’s eyes widened as the gears in her head turned, “That’s right! Garuda, Uni, and Kraken…”

“Actually, Apple Bloom named Haru’s familiar Kenny,” Applejack stated out of the blue.

“Uh, okay,” Twilight sputtered before she shook her head. “Anyway, they all have their own minds and are connected to Haru’s magic, so if we can get them to help, they can lead us right to Haru!”

Applejack smiled, “Sounds like a plan!”

However, before the two mares could go off in search of one of the three familiars, the sky began to darken over them and made the two of them look up to see the very same mass of dark clouds that Fluttershy had seen as well. Applejack tilted her head slightly, “What in tarnation?”

Twilight sighed loudly, “When it rains, it pours.”

TTTTTT

Back on the mountain, atop of a fallen tree near the large cave’s mouth, Phoenix was relaxing on the brush with his arms thrown behind his head. A little bit of time had passed since his plan was finally taking effect, and he watched the large amount of smoke billow out of the cave. With a slight laugh, Phoenix pulled one of his hands out and held it towards the smoke. ‘Stallion, I am so smart to steal this plan from Medusa. Not only do I get to relax and have a few lower Phantoms at my beck and call, but if from what I’ve heard about this Ring Wizard, then there’s no way he won’t let a nasty Phantom like me pull a stunt like this.

‘Even if this doesn’t draw him to me, I can still awaken a number of Phantoms within Equestria – If I don’t get what I want, I can still come out on top. Damn, I’m awesome.’

“M-Master Phoenix?”

Phoenix didn’t even lift his head up when he heard that voice and waved his hand at the pony-disguised Hellhound. "Ah, good timing. I was starting to get the munchies. You get my order right?”

“Uh, well, y-yes,” Hellhound coughed as he slipped the saddlebags off of his back and onto the ground. “But I had to do some recon before I came back like you said to do, and I’ve got quite a bit of news.”

“Excellent, let’s hear the news.”

“To start off,” Hellhound listed off as he sat down on the rocky ground. “The smoke from the cave has already reached over Ponyville, and at the rate its going, it should reach Canterlot by nightfall.”

Phoenix rubbed his fingers together a few times before he chuckled, “That’s good.”

“Bad news is, there’s a task force being rounded up to investigate the smoke,” Hellhound continued with his head lowered slightly. “As it turns out, Princess Celestia seems to know that there’s a dragon causing the smoke.”

The Greater Phantom moaned loudly as he rolled his blue eyes, “That’s bad, and annoying.”

“But the task force is just made up of six ponies,” Hellhound added. “And said ponies are just a group of six, teenage mares.”

“Did Celestia recruit a team of teenagers with attitude?” Phoenix questioned as he sat up from the slightly singed tree. “That’s strangely awesome.”

“Yeah, but the six mares are kind of the wielders of the Elements,” Hellhound chimed in with a sigh following. “You know, the Elements of Harmony.”

Phoenix winced as he rubbed the back of his head, “Ooh, that’s bad, really bad if they got them shiny rocks with them.”

“I doubt that’s the case,” Hellhound pointed out as he pushed the saddlebags towards Phoenix, who was jumping down from the singed tree. “Besides, I should point out that for some reason, some of these mares who tended to be with the Ring Mage.”

While Phoenix was going through the saddlebags, the Phantom cackled loudly, “Good, good! I can use that, if they’re in danger, then I can get that Ring Mage to come quicker and fight me with everything he has! The only thing missing is how to find the guy and to get him to come.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem,” Hellhound chuckled sheepishly. “He tends to have eyes following some ponies. He loves to make dynamic entries by kicking or shooting us Phantoms before he kicks our tails afterwards.”

“A big time hero, huh?” Phoenix questioned as he pulled out a large brown paper bag from the saddlebags. “That’s good, real good – After I finish my meal, I need you to keep an eye on those six mares. Don’t attack them when they reach the mountain, just come to me and I’ll see what I can do.

“Now, while we’re on the subject of lunch – I hope you got everything I wanted.”

“Well, they were out of pickles,” Hellhound replied, noting that Phoenix was leering at him. “B-But! I… I managed to talk them into giving you a free frozen yogurt! Which I call frogurt!”

The look in Phoenix’s eyes softened slightly, “I love frogurt! That’s good!”

“Unfortunately, they said that the frogurt is cursed,” Hellhound replied with a shifty look in his eyes.

“Oooh, that’s bad,” Phoenix chimed in.

“But we got free toppings,” Hellhound countered

“Yay! That’s good!”

“The toppings contain potassium benzoate,” Hellhound replied.

Phoenix didn’t say a word, but rather tilted his head towards Hellhound, “… That’s bad.”

“Yes, yes, whatever,” Phoenix sighed as he pulled out the large sandwich from the brown paper bag. “Go make yourself useful and do recon around the mountain. If you see those mares or find the Wizard, let me know. Don’t engage any of them, if a single hair is out of place on their heads, I’ll break one of your limbs.”

A chill ran down Hellhound’s spine before a deep shadow appeared around his hooves and drew the Phantom pony into it. Phoenix pulled out his DLT and took a big whiff of the sandwich, “Hmm, too bad I have to change back to eat this – Fingers are useful for this sort of thing.”

TTTTT

It was early afternoon when Twilight looked upon the tall mountain before her, watching the smog from the top of the mountain flow from its hidden top. When Twilight had returned to the library, the young mare learned from Spike that a letter from Celestia had come, to which Twilight had learned that there were reports that a dragon had recently taken residence at the top of this very mountain.

Said dragon was also the cause of the smog, for when a fully grown dragon snores, it produces smoke. If nothing was done, then all of Equestria would be plunged into darkness for a hundred years, ‘That’s oddly specific and kind of sounds like something you’d read in an old story. What’s with darkness and evil taking specific times to last? Thousand years of darkness, a hundred years without the sun…

‘Seems too specific.’

Shaking that thought from her head, Twilight turned to see her friends behind her, all of them looking at the smog covered sky. When Twilight had explained to the town what was happening with the smoke (as per instruction by said letter), Twilight had gathered her friends in order to ask the dragon to leave.

Although, there were a few reservations about the plan, especially considering what had happen just the night before. But when the ground shook with a loud booming noise, those reservations started to grow.

“Whoa,” Rainbow Dash stated, using her wings to fly above the others. “What was that?”

“That is what a dragon sounds like when it snores,” Twilight answered with her eyes closed. “Trust me, when you’ve got two dragons sleeping under the same roof, you can tell. Albeit, they don’t snore as loud.”

“Ya’ll okay there, Fluttershy?” Applejack questioned, turning towards the young pegasus who had hidden behind her when the dragon snored.

“It’s j-just so… high,” Fluttershy yelped back.

“What?” Rainbow Dash scoffed with a roll of her eyes. “Okay, first off, of course it's high! It’s a mountain! Second, why are you afraid of a little altitude? We’re from Cloudsdale, that place is nothing but altitude!”

“Oh, um…” Fluttershy struggled to come up with an answer…

“Forget it,” Rainbow replied as she began to fly up higher. “I’m gonna fly up there and check it out!”

Rainbow Dash began to soar higher into the air, but however, she was quickly pulled back to the ground courtesy of Applejack pulling on her tail. A little surprised, Dash fell to the ground, with Applejack over her, “Now hold on! This ain’t a solo show, we need to stick together. Safety in numbers and all.”

Dash rolled her eyes and crossed her front legs in annoyance.

“Twilight,” Rarity stated as she trotted towards her fellow unicorn, garnering the lavender unicorn’s attention. “I’m a little curious, why didn’t we bring Spike or Mister Souma? Surely having a dragon come with us would make this dragon more compliant with our request.”

“Actually, dragons tend to be more territorial with other dragons,” Twilight explained as she looked at the mountain again. “Especially with their nests, more than likely this dragon set up a new nest for taking a nap. If we brought another dragon into the den, then the result wouldn’t be good.”

“Ooh, but I was so looking forward to seeing Haru!” Pinkie Pie sighed as she bounced around the two unicorns. “I bet his magic would’ve made this a breeze! That or maybe we could’ve had some more fun! A party only gets better with more party animals!”

“Indeed,” Rarity added. “Even if we couldn’t use Mister Souma as an ambassador in order to speak to this dragon, his magic would make this trip easier.”

“Well… You see,” Twilight tried to explain.

“After last night, Mistah Souma needed some time off,” Applejack replied as she trotted to the group. “Not every day a giant monster attacks a town.”

“Yeah, that only happens about once a week,” Pinkie stated with a bright smile.

Twilight was about to say, but then she blinked a few times, ‘Yeah, the Phantoms seem to only attack once a week. Weird.’

“So, how are we gonna get up there?” Applejack asked. “Not all of us have wings.”

“Yep! We’re not going to be able to climb up that mountain,” Pinkie Pie stated as she lifted her hoof up towards the mountain. “Ponies aren’t made to live in a mountainous ecosystem. With our strong legs, dangling head, and tall stature are for more of the grasslands – And don’t get me started on the hooves, that’s a different lesson entirely.”

All five of the other mares just stared at the pink earth pony as Pinkie reached into her saddlebags, and quickly pulled out a cute porcelain bunny. “Ooh! Maybe the dragon will leave if I give him the pretty bunny!”

Twilight was dumbfounded by her friend’s weird personality, but shook her head, “Well, you don’t have to worry. While you girls were preparing yourselves, I researched a spell that will allow us to traverse the mountain range. We’ll be able to climb the mountain terrain without having to worry about falling.”

A few moments later, with Twilight’s magic covering most of the mare’s hooves (Rainbow Dash was flying overhead), the ponies were traversing the mountainside, with Twilight behind them in order to keep up her magic and prevent any of her friends from falling off.

“I heard that dragons hoard a number of rare jewels and treasure,” Rarity muttered under her breath. “If Mister Souma’s any indication, then perhaps I can persuade this dragon to part with a few of his little trinkets.”

“Welcome to my cave Rarity!” Pinkie Pie joked with her voice a little deeper and scraggily. “Care for a diamond? Raaagh!”

Pinkie and Rarity giggled at that, however Dash, Applejack and Twilight didn’t laugh – Which didn’t go unnoticed by the two other mares. Pinkie Pie tilted her head slightly, “What? Wasn’t that a good impression of a dragon?”

“More than you know,” Applejack sighed.

“Yeah, it’s just been a long night,” Dash added as she floated overhead.

“Y-Yes, this is no laughing matter,” Twilight replied as she began to walk past her friends with a rolled up map floating next to her. “We need to do this, and not every dragon will be like the ones we know. Fluttershy, what do you think? You’re the expert on wild creatures, what do you think this dragon will be like?”

There was no answer.

“Fluttershy?” Twilight questioned as all of the ponies turned back to the ground to see the yellow pegasus hiding in a bush.

“Hey!” Dash called out to her fellow pegasus. “What are you waiting for? An invitation?”

“Ooh! I think I’ve got one in my bag!” Pinkie exclaimed before a large amount of confetti, streamers and party poppers shot from her saddlebags, scaring most of the mares. Rainbow Dash got the brunt of it though, with her mane standing on end.

“It’s… It’s just…” Fluttershy stated as she looked up to her friends…

And then looked past them when something red caught her eye, in contrast with the dark gray stones of the mountain, this red and yellow thing was easy to spot past her friends. It was even easier to recognize since Fluttershy saw the ‘thing’ just last night – It was the very same monster that had appeared outside the Everfree Forest!

The fiery monster was looking down at the group with his legs dangling over the ledge he was sitting on. The monster seemed to have seen Fluttershy, since it was waving one of its hands towards her.

The young pegasus whimpered loudly before she dove back into the bush, shaking the leafs and branches within it.

Applejack sighed before she trotted next to Twilight, “Looks like there’s no two ways about it, Ah’ll just have to take her around the mountain. Poor dear looks like she’s about topple over. It’ll take a while…”

The southern mare leaned closer to Twilight, “Twi, Ah’m gonna take that map and we’ll meet ya’ll up at that cliff up there. But while Ah take there, Ah’d like ya to tell the others what ya told me.”

“Applejack,” Twilight replied.

“Twi, they need to know too,” Applejack stated with her eyes narrowed at her unicorn friend. “They’re all Mistah Souma’s friends too, and should know what’s going on with him.”

Twilight nodded slowly before Applejack took the map and skidded down to the ground near Fluttershy. Twilight turned to her other three friends and sighed, “Well, come on girls, let’s hurry up there. While we wait, I need to tell you all something important.”

Rarity, Pinkie and Dash looked to each other in confusion. Meanwhile, Phoenix, the fiery monster had disappeared from the ledge.

TTTTTT

“Ya know, this would go a lot faster if ya’ll actually use yer legs.”

A little bit of time passed when Applejack volunteered to help Fluttershy up the mountain, and while they were taking a much easier path. But it didn’t help that Applejack had to pull on Fluttershy’s tail, and literally drag the pegasus up the mountain.

Fluttershy turned her eyes away from her friend, “I… I’m s-sorry Applejack.”

When the two reached a side of the mountain that had a few bushes and trees around it, Applejack pulled her head from Fluttershy’s tail and fell to the ground. “D-Don’t worry ‘bout it. Just try to walk from now please. We’ll continue in a few minutes.”

The yellow pegasus got to her hooves and shook the dirt from her before she lowered her gaze, “Applejack, c-can you keep a secret?”

“Of course,” Applejack replied as she sighed loudly and stretched her legs. “Anything for a friend.”

“I can’t d-do this,” Fluttershy stated bluntly. “I… I don’t want to be here.”

“And why’s that?” Applejack questioned, taking her hat off and using it to fan herself.

“W-Well, you see…” Fluttershy muttered as she looked up at one of the nearby trees. Unfortunately, when she did, the young pegasus froze up when she looked at the branches, her eyes widened and she whimpered.

That didn’t go unnoticed by Applejack, who in turned looked at the same tree that Fluttershy was looking at and her eyes widened when she saw a familiar red tail and navy blue jacket hanging off of the branch. “What the?! Mistah Souma?!”

Atop of a nearby ledge however…

“Hmm… Didn’t expect to see the mage on the mountain so soon. Maybe I’ll go down and have my fun.”

TBC

Spell 15 - Burn, Burn!

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So you’re finally here! Damn, I was getting tired of waiting!
- Phoenix

TTTTTTT

Spell 15

Burn, Burn

TTTTTTT

“I can’t d-do this,” Fluttershy stated bluntly. “I… I don’t want to be here.”

“And why’s that?” Applejack questioned, taking her hat off and using it to fan herself.

“W-Well, you see…” Fluttershy muttered as she looked up at one of the nearby trees. Unfortunately, when she did, the young pegasus froze up when she looked at the branches, her eyes widened and she whimpered.

That didn’t go unnoticed by Applejack, who in turned looked at the same tree that Fluttershy was looking at and her eyes widened when she saw a familiar red tail and navy blue jacket hanging off of the branch. “What the?! Mistah Souma?!”

Atop of a nearby ledge however…

“Hmm… Didn’t expect to see the mage on the mountain so soon. Maybe I’ll go down and have my fun.”

Haru didn’t have the best night, like most of the ponies in Ponyville who saw the Minotaur attack, of course his mostly sleepless night was due to the fact that Dragon never shut his yap for two bloody seconds!

Every single time he closed his eyes, the inner Phantom would spout off some sort of drivel that was disguised as something that philosopher would say. The only reason why Haru was finally able to get some sleep in the early morning was only due to the fact that he drowned out Dragon’s rambling by thinking about nothing but show-tunes.

This unfortunately led him to sleep throughout most of the day, Dragon’s voice no longer keeping him awake. He was unaware of the smoke that was billowing overhead, or for the fact that Applejack was trotting over to the tree that Haru was sleeping in. “Mistah Souma!”

The young dragon didn’t seem to hear the Southern mare.

Applejack snorted slightly before she turned around and slammed both of her hind hooves into the tree, effectively shaking the red dragon out of the tree and land on the ground before the earth pony. “Ow…”

“Good, yer awake,” Applejack stated as the groggy dragon pushed himself off of the ground.

“Hard to not be when you fall out of a tree,” Haru replied as he rubbed the back of his bruised head. “This is the second time you kicked me out of a tree, AJ, are we going to make this a habit?”

“It is if ya’ll keep running off,” Applejack retorted as she pointed a hoof at the dragon. “What in tarnation are ya doing up here?”

“Trying to get some sleep,” Haru answered as his tail wrapped around the fallen jacket. With his eyes closed, Haru spun around and dug his claws into the tree trunk. “Now if you excuse me, I’ll be going back to sleep.”

Before Haru could even get his feet off the ground, Applejack stomped on the sleek dragon’s tail and caused him to fall back to the ground. “Now hold on there! Ya’ll just ran off last night, and now yer trying to run again? Haru, just hold on for a second!”

The dragon sighed loudly as he lowered his head, “Just leave me alone AJ, it’s for everypony’s own good.”

“Ya’ll know that ain’t true!” Applejack scolded as she trotted around to look the sleek dragon in the eyes, only to see that he was turning his head away from her with his eyes closed. “Mistah Souma, fer some sorta wiz at magic yer acting like an idiot.”

“You’ve got a funny way of consoling,” Haru replied as he waved his claws about. “I’m doing this so nopony gets hurt because of me.”

“And yer doing this by separating yerself from yer friends?” Applejack pointed out with a roll of her eyes. “Mistah Souma, it wasn’t yer fault what happened last night – Twi explained that and…”

“IT IS MY FAULT!” Haru snapped back with his eyes open and narrowed down at Applejack. When Applejack reeled back slightly from Haru, the red dragon shook his head and looked down at his claws. “These claws of mine, they… They almost took the life of somepony. Not just any pony though, one who I consider a friend.

“I unleashed that monster in me, I almost allowed him to kill Twilight with these very claws!”

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack stated with a slightly annoyed look on her face.

“How can I even look Twilight in eyes after that?” Haru asked as he buried his face into his claws. “And I don’t even know if I can even control that monster within me and…”

“Haru…” Applejack growled with her eyes narrowed.

“Who knows what Dragon will do if he controls me again?” Haru asked shaking his head a few times before he lifted his head up. “It might be me ravaging Ponyville next time, and I don’t want to hurt anypony! I…”

WHAM!

Haru’s eyes widened as his face began to sting with pain before he was propelled through the air courtesy of Applejack kicking him with both of her legs with all of her strength. The force was enough to make Haru crash into the rocky side of the mountain a few feet from Fluttershy, making the young pegasus yelp before she galloped away from the dragon.

When Haru fell to the ground with his face and front of his body scuffed up slightly, “Ooooowww…”

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Applejack stated, she nodded towards Fluttershy who had galloped behind her Southern friend. “And as for you Mistah Souma, Ah hope that knocked some sense into ya.”

“It knocked something around,” Haru mumbled as his eyes spun about dizzily.

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack sighed as she slowly trotted over to the dragon. “Ya’ll have done so much for yer friends, so much for Ponyville, and just cause of one little incident, yer ready to abandon everything? That doesn’t sound like the Mistah Souma Ah know.”

Haru sat up straight and shook his head, “This isn’t just some small incident, Applejack. I almost killed a friend and…”

“Okay, enough of the pointless angst!”

The two ponies and single dragon jumped slightly when that voice rang out, making them all look up to the side of the mountain to see Phoenix sitting on one of the cliffs, waving his hand at the three. Fluttershy yelped as she dashed behind the tree that Haru was sleeping in while Haru jumped to his clawed feet. “Phantom!?”

“What in tarnation is one of them doing here?” Applejack questioned as she crouched down slightly, preparing herself for anything.

“Let’s see,” Phoenix mused as he tapped his finger against his chin. “There are a number of reasons why I’m here, let’s check our options. Option one, I’m not really here – You’re all in a group hallucination and you’ll wake up in a few moments.

“Option two – I’m here for the Monster Fan Convention and this is my costume. I just happened to get lost. Really lost.”

Phoenix leapt from the mountainside and landed on the ground with flames erupting from where he landed on the ground. With a slight chuckle, Phoenix spun around and lifted up his hand with three fingers, “Or option three – I’m here to kill some boredom. If I had known this plan of mine would take so long, I would’ve threatened the kiddo to bring me a couple magazines.

“All seem viable, but I’d go with option three personally.”

Phoenix looked towards Haru and Applejack, crossed his arms as he shook his head. “Although, I gotta say, I’m not impressed. When I heard that there was a Ring Mage running about destroying Phantoms, I was kind of expecting something a little more… Intimidating.

“After what I saw last night, fighting against that poser of a Greater Phantom, I was expecting you to be a buff warrior of great strength and intimidation.”

The sleek dragon looked towards Applejack, and then towards Fluttershy. He knew that Applejack was a Gate, but could Fluttershy have been one too? What were they doing at this mountain anyway? And how long was this Phantom around?

Haru shook his head from those thoughts, ‘GARGH! Too many questions! And I don’t have the time for this! Not when there’s a Phantom right in front of me!”

The last action that Haru performed didn’t go unnoticed by the fiery Phantom, which resulted in Phoenix chuckling as he waved his hand about. “But here I see nothing more than an angst little insect. Suck it up or give it up, just pick one! But if you’re just going to stand around thinking about everything, I could always roast one of these little mares to make it easier on you…

“DRIVER ON - PLEASE!”

Phoenix cackled loudly as the buckle on Haru’s waist glowed brightly, “Looks like I’ve found the spark to make you act. I’ve been looking for you, Ringy Wizard. Everything before me doesn’t last long, but I bet before you bite the dust…”

Several flames erupted from Phoenix’s back as he clenched his fist tightly, a loud sickening crack echoing through the air. “I’ll get to really take my time hurting you.”

Haru turned towards Applejack as he slipped a small red ring over his left claw, “Applejack, you and Fluttershy get out of here, now.”

“But Mistah Souma,” Applejack started.

“NOW!” Haru growled before he threw his hand in front of his belt. “This isn’t a debate! Now GO!”

“FLAME – PLEASE! Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

Applejack nodded as Haru’s body was immediately covered in his Wizard garb, the red jewels gleaming from both his own flames and Phoenix’s. The southern mare galloped past Phoenix, keeping her distance from the fiery Phantom who didn’t even turn his head as the pony dashed to Fluttershy.

Rather, Phoenix kept his gaze on Wizard, and Wizard did the same. The masked dragon lifted his hand up and pointed towards Phoenix, “Why do you want to fight me so bad?”

“Because I can’t sing or dance,” Phoenix replied, not caring that Applejack was pulling a frozen stiff Fluttershy from her hiding place.

“Well, you’ve got your wish,” Wizard replied as he lifted up his left claw showing the ring on his claws. “I’ll take you on.”

“Good,” Phoenix cackled as he threw his right arm in front of him, creating a powerful flame that transformed into a large golden broadsword with a wing-like hilt to it. “I am Phoenix of the Phantoms. What is your name?”

Wizard tilted his head slightly at the Phantom’s question, but turned his body to the side, “Haruto Souma. Why does a Phantom care about a name?”

Phoenix pointed his sword towards the masked dragon, “Everything has name – Ponies, Dragons, Phantoms, and even the land itself – It is a name that makes us what we are, and it isn’t something to be taken granted for. Consider it a courtesy, one of the few you’ll see in this fight.”

Silence filled the air, save for Applejack’s hooves clacking against the rocky ground. With an unannounced signal, both beings of magic charged at each other. Phoenix swung his sword right towards Wizard’s upper body, with the masked dragon quickly ducking underneath it.

The fiery Phantom spun around and took a low swept at Wizard, who dodged simply by lifting up one of his legs. But with the momentum of his missed slash, Phoenix had lifted his broadsword up into the air and just as quickly brought the blade down on Wizard, who in turn spun about to dodge the attack with his tail wrapped around one of Phoenix’s ankles.

Then, with a swift kick to the Phantom’s back, Wizard pulled his tail back and caused Phoenix to fall face first into the ground with a loud whap. However, Phoenix only cackled under his breath before he jumped to his feet. “Not bad!”

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Wizard drew his hand out from the portal and pulled out his WizarSwordgun and charged Phoenix. Both magical beings clashed their blades with flames erupting from the steel, the two pushed their weapons towards the other, undaunted by the fire that surged past them.

Then both magical beings pushed from each other, with Phoenix rushing forward to make his move and slashed horizontally at Wizard, only to have the masked dragon leap over the golden broadsword. The moment that Wizard’s feet touched the ground, he spun around and stabbed at Phoenix.

But the Phantom’s speed seemed to be improving as he blocked the attack with his sword, and pushed Wizard back, taking the opportunity to bring his sword across Wizard’s armored chest. Sparks erupted from Wizard’s chest and sent the armored dragon skidding back with smoke lifting up from his body.

Wizard brought his left hand to his jewel covered chest, but shook the pain away when Phoenix charged forward once more. When Phoenix brought his sword down on Wizard once more, the masked dragon dove to the right at the last second and fitted a pair of rings on his right claw. ‘The battle just started, but I can already tell this Phantom’s not like the others… He’s on another level! I can’t mess around here!’

Phoenix sighed loudly as he turned towards Wizard who brought up his right hand to the hand symbol on the WizarSwordGun, making a bright light erupt on silver weapon. “MULTI COPY – PLEASE!”

Wizard threw the sword up into the air, the fiery Phantom tilted his head slightly before he charged towards the magical dragon.

However, before Phoenix reached Wizard, several copies of the silver sword fell from the sky and stabbed into the ground around both of the fighting magical beings. Phoenix stopped before any of the blades had reached him and he looked around, “Ooh, nice choice! This makes the battlefield all the more interesting!”

Without saying a word, Wizard dashed over the ground, grabbing two of the swords and charged at Phoenix. The Phantom stood still as Wizard brought down both of the blades on Phoenix, who in turn casually lifted his broadsword up to block the attacks. “That’s it? You go through all the trouble to…”

Before Phoenix finished his sentence, Wizard leapt over the rather surprised Phantom and landed behind Phoenix. Wizard quickly spun about and slashed down with one of his swords, but Phoenix turned and blocked the attack with the broadsword once more, and twisted his wrist slightly to block the next oncoming slash from Wizard’s other sword.

With a spin, Wizard revealed that coiled in his tail was another sword, which actually caught Phoenix by surprise with the blade actually making contact and slashed across Phoenix’s stomach, surprising the Phantom and actually making him stagger back a few feet.

Wizard crossed the swords in his hands and had the blade in his tail resting on the ground while Phoenix brought his hand to his stomach.

“… heh… Hehehehehe… YES!” Phoenix proclaimed as he stood up straight, throwing his free hand to the side. “That’s what I’m talking about! That’s the ferocity that I was looking for! Show me more!”

Wizard was a little drawn back from Phoenix’s attitude, but shook his head to compose himself and charged towards Phoenix, leaping into the air to bring down all three blades onto Phoenix. The Phantom laughed loudly as he countered with his own broadsword…

CLANK!

All three of the blades flew from Wizard’s hands and tail, with Wizard forced back through the air, courtesy of the powerful slash that Phoenix had delivered. ‘I need to grab one of my swords! Quick!’

“No need to fly off on my account!”

Wizard lifted his head to realize that Phoenix was right over him, having leapt over Wizard. Before Wizard could react, Phoenix threw a powerful left jab into the masked dragon’s stomach and flung him to the ground, forcing a number of swords in the ground to pop from the earth.

It took only a second for Wizard to gather himself, and realized that Phoenix was falling towards him with his broadsword held overhead.

Wizard quickly grabbed two of the nearest blades and crossed them up at the last second to catch Phoenix’s broadsword. Although he managed to block the attack, Phoenix’s broadsword was still pushing down with Phoenix lowering his head slightly to look Wizard right in the visor. “C’mon! You can do better than this! I didn’t go through all the trouble of setting this up just so you could fail so quickly!”

The moment that Phoenix finished that sentence, Wizard slammed both of his feet into Phoenix’s stomach and flipped the fiery Phantom off of the masked dragon. Wizard jumped to his feet as Phoenix landed on the ground, and immediately, Wizard pointed the sword in his right hand at Phoenix. “Setting this up? What in the world are you talking about?”

Phoenix tilted his head slightly at Wizard, “You’re serious, aren’t you? You didn’t see the growing cloud of smoke overhead?! It’s been spreading over the land for the last few hours!

“Does this mean that I didn’t have to do this plan!?”

Wizard took this opportunity to drop his left-handed blade, quickly unfolded the hand charm on his right blade, and brought his ring covered hand to the hand of it. “C’MON SLASH! SHAKE THE HAND! SLASH STRIKE!”

All of the copies of the WizarSwordGun glowed a bright red as Wizard spun around to grab another one with his left hand and a third with his tail. While still spinning, Wizard slashed through the air, creating several surges of red energy that floated in front of the masked dragon, and with a loud roar, Wizard propelled all of the surges of fiery mana through the air towards Phoenix. “HII HII HII! HII HII HII!”

Phoenix lifted his head up to see the energy zoom right at him, and he quickly brought up his broadsword to block the surges of fiery mana. The attacks exploded upon impact with flames completely wrapping around Phoenix’s body.

The copies of the WizarSwordGun faded away from the ground leaving the only the real weapon at Wizard’s right claw, Wizard sighed as he shook his head. ‘That should do it.’

“Oi!”

Wizard snapped his head up saw that the flames were now whipping around Phoenix’s body, with his sword in the ground he was leaning on the weapon’s hilt. “Did you really think fire would work against me? The only thing these flames are doing is giving me a rather nice tan.”

“Great,” Wizard sighed as he stabbed his sword into the ground as he reached for his belt of rings.

“Don’t feel so bad,” Phoenix consoled as he drew his sword from the ground. “You actually got me to block the attack. Most of the time when a dragon breathes fire on me, I just take it since it’s just regular fire, but you forced me to block it.”

“WATER – PLEASE!”

Phoenix’s eyes widened as he watched a blue runic circle pop at Wizard’s feet and surge up over his body, turning the rubies on his armor into sapphires. “SUI SUI SUI SUI!”

Wizard folded the sword into a gun and quickly brought his right hand to the unfolded hand on his weapon. “WATER – SHOOTING STRIKE!”

Then without a moment of hesitation, Wizard shot a powerful burst of glowing blue water towards Phoenix. The Phantom spun his left hand, making the flames around him combining into a large fiery shield that blocked the watery attack with steam floating into the air. Wizard stepped back as Phoenix waved his hand about, “Didn’t know you could change elements, not bad at all. Too bad that squirt gun of yours isn’t going to do much.”

Wizard tossed his gun to the side and fitted different ring on his right hand before he threw it in front of his belt. “LIQUID – PLEASE!”

Phoenix chuckled as he watched Wizard’s body shimmer into a torrent of water that flew through the air. This time, the Phantom drew his sword from the ground and slashed at the mystic liquid, only for it to go underneath it and slam into Phoenix’s abdomen. The force caused Phoenix to skid back, but immediately he was sent stumbling forward when the liquefied Wizard crashed into Phoenix’s back.

The red Phantom turned his head to watch the magical water surge around him, every few seconds crashing into Phoenix and making the Phantom stumble about from the attacks. Phoenix cackled as he slashed down only to have the liquefied Wizard spilt and reform over Phoenix. “Not half bad, Haruto Souma! But petty tricks will only work so far!”

With a loud battle cry, flames erupted from Phoenix’s body and forced the mystic liquid back and crash into the ground, forming back into Wizard who’s body had smoke rising from it. “Gargh!”

“You’re not a bad fighter, Haruto Souma,” Phoenix sighed as he slowly walked towards Wizard, his broadsword resting on his shoulder. “But this isn’t what I was hoping for. Your tactics and tricks are good, but they pale in comparison to what I witnessed last night – Surely you can do better!”

Wizard quickly pushed himself off of the ground and reached for his chain of rings, exchanging the rings on his left claw.

“But this? This is just plop,” Phoenix stated as he slowly closed the gap between him and Wizard. “The Phantoms you destroyed must’ve been at the bottom of the barrel, and frankly, I’m disappointed in you and in my fellow Phantoms. Show me that power that you used last night!”

“LAND – PLEASE!

“Dododo dododon! Don Dododon!”

The earth at Wizard’s feet rose up and immediately covered his armor with square topazes with the masked dragon slipping another ring on his hand.

Phoenix sighed loudly, “… Really? It was just a fluke, wasn’t it? Oh well, another disappointment.”

Phoenix picked up his pace and lifted his broadsword up as Wizard snapped his hand in front of his belt. “DEFEND – PLEASE!”

Wizard threw his hand forward and created a large stone wall between him and Phoenix, however, the fiery Phantom brought his sword down and cleaved the wall in two, allowing him to continue towards Wizard.

The masked dragon threw his right claw in front of his belt once more, “DEFEND – PLEASE!”

The same rocky wall erupted from the ground, but Phoenix just slashed the stone slab and shattered it into millions of pieces. Wizard threw his hand in front of his belt a third time, “DEFEND – PLEASE!”

However, Phoenix didn’t even wait for the wall to fully emerge before he spun around and crushed the defensive spell, sending debris flying towards Wizard, surprising him. While he was surprised, Phoenix slashed his sword across Wizard’s chest, sparks flying and sending the masked dragon flying through the air. “GARGH!”

Wizard crashed into the ground near his sword, and quickly lifted it up when he realized that Phoenix was bringing down the broadsword. And even though Wizard managed to block the attack, the flames from Phoenix’s sword flew into Wizard’s body, forcing the masked dragon to falter closer to the ground.

Phoenix brought his face closer to Wizard’s mask, the oddly cold blue eyes looking into the yellow visor, “Let me tell you something, Haruto Souma, despite how this world looks, the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you think you are, it’ll beat you to your knees and keep ya there permanently if you let it!

Phoenix then kicked Wizard off of the ground, allowing him to bring his sword across Wizard’s chest, flames and bits of Wizard’s chest jewels flying from him. Phoenix then kicked Wizard in the stomach and forced Wizard to the ground. “You or nobody ain’t gonna hit as hard as life. It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

“That’s why this victory is mine! I’ve conquered what this life has thrown at me! I’ve conquered countless monsters! I’ve even conquered death!”

That’s when Phoenix wrapped his fingers around Wizard’s neck, lifting the sleek dragon off of the ground and even off of his feet. Wizard dropped his sword and clawed at Phoenix’s armored arm. Phoenix pulled him close as the air from Wizard’s lungs wheezed out of his masked covered mouth. “This victory leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I had hoped you were something more. But you’re just like the monsters I’ve slain - Unsatisfying.

“If you’re done, then time to die.”

Phoenix tossed Wizard up into the air, the broadsword in the Phantom’s hand covered in flames. When Wizard fell back to the ground, Phoenix began to bring up his sword towards Wizard…

SMACK!

At least until something smashed into right side of Phoenix’s head, making him stumble off balance and make his attack miss Wizard completely. When the masked dragon landed on the ground, Phoenix brought his free hand to his head and pulled whatever had smacked him upside the head – pulling what appeared to be a smushed apple, “… Hehehe… Hahahahaha! An apple! Oh hahaha! What pony attacks with an apple?”

As if in response, a second apple slammed into Phoenix’s face, making him stumble back slightly. When he wiped off the apple bits from his face, Phoenix turned to the side of the mountain to see Applejack standing there with her back to him, but with her head turned around, leering at the Phantom. “Ah’m only gonna warn ya once, leave Mistah Souma alone!”

Peaking from around the side of the mountain was Fluttershy, shaking visibly in contrast to Applejack.

Phoenix stabbed his sword into the ground and lifted his right hand up into the air, “Quite the brave little mare you are, wishing to take me on after seeing me utterly destroy your friend here. I can respect that.”

“Then git away from him!” Applejack shouted as she reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a couple of apples.

“Let me tell you something, little mare,” Phoenix said as his right hand immediately engulfed in flames. “While I can respect you helping your friend, I hate it when somepony interrupts my fights! Even if they’re at the end! It just pisses me off so much!”

Phoenix quickly waved his hand in front of his chest, creating several flames in the shape of small birds that cawed loudly. Then with a point of his finger, the fiery birds flew towards Applejack and Fluttershy.

“NO!”

But before the fiery birds could hit the two mares, using the last of his strength, Wizard forced himself in front of the attack with his arms raised up. The fiery birds crashed into Wizard with bits of jewels and his armor flung from him as he cried out.

“Mistah Souma!” Applejack cried out as the flames began to disappear from the dragon’s body.

As Wizard’s outfit shattered like glass, Haru fell to his knees before he fell face first into the ground, his body covered with scuffs and bruises. Smoke rose from Haru’s motionless body while Phoenix shook his head. “Tch, he wasted his life on you two. I was hoping for the steel of my sword to be the end for him, too bad. Would’ve been a fitting end for him.”

With an annoyed growl, Phoenix drew his sword from the earth and spun around to walk away. “Consider yourselves lucky, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth after this fight and I need to wash it out.”

Applejack was about to go after Phoenix and stop him, but looking at Haru told her to just let the Phantom go. Mistah Souma wasn’t able to make a dent in that Phantom’s hide, so, what could Applejack do? Besides, she had something more important to deal with, quickly galloping over to the fallen dragon’s side, “Mistah Souma! Fluttershy! Gimme a hoof!”

Fluttershy on the other hoof was keeping her distance from the fallen dragon, and kept her eyes on Phoenix who had distanced himself quite a bit from the two mares and dragon. “This…. This…Um… Well…”

TTTTTT

While the fiery battle between Phoenix and Wizard was slowly ending, Twilight was explaining to her other three friends about her meeting with the White Wizard, what he said, and even that Haru was in actuality a stallion but was transformed into a dragon. She had even informed Pinkie and Rarity about the events of last night before she met with the White Wizard. Rainbow Dash and Rarity were simply awestruck by the information that Twilight gave them.

“I… I simply don’t know what to say to that,” Rarity mused as she brought a hoof to her mouth. “I’ve never heard of such a thing – A stallion turning into a dragon?”

“Yeah, well, I can believe that sort of stuff,” Dash stated, still flying overhead with her front hooves crossed. “I’ve seen some of the weird stuff that Haru’s dealt with, and I’ve even fought with him against some of the weird things he deals with on a daily basis.”

Twilight then turned to Pinkie, who was oddly quiet throughout all of Twilight’s explanation, in fact, aside from having that usual smile on her face, the pink mare didn’t seem phased by Twilight’s information. “What about you Pinkie? Aren’t you shocked by this?”

“Well, yeah, I kinda was,” Pinkie stated with her head tilted slightly. “But it was kind of obvious.”

“Huh?” All three of the other mares questioned as they turned all of their attention towards Pinkie.

“What? You girls didn’t see the signs?” Pinkie questioned blinking a few times before she smiled brightly. “They’re kind of out in the open – Haru’s eyes, the fact he has a cutie mark, his knowledge of pony culture, and the author’s summary of the story that he blatantly leaves on his desk – After all that, I kinda figured he wasn’t the average dragon.”

“Wait, what?” Twilight questioned as she drew her head back.

Pinkie just smiled at her friend, “Oh don’t worry about it Twilight, besides, it still is a really good twist on this.”

Pinkie lowered her head and her ears drooped slightly, “Still, I can’t even imagine what Haru went through, it must’ve been really rough for him.”

‘I wonder if Phantoms don’t like their monstrous forms,’ Twilight thought to herself as she looked up to the clouded sky. ‘I don’t know if Haru hates how his body looks, but it certainly couldn’t have been easy for him to adapt to becoming a dragon. And even if it wasn’t, who knows if he could ever return to being a pony, he could be stuck in that form for the rest of his life.’

Twilight shook her head slightly, trying to keep the thoughts in the back of her mind for the moment, “Girls, I told you this because we’re all Haru’s friends, and because of what happened yesterday, he’s going through a lot in his head. He’s helped us all in some way, either in big ways or in small ways. And as you girls taught me, we have to help our friend.”

“That’s obvious,” Dash retorted with a roll of her eyes. “The dragon’s awesome! Soon as we’re done here, I’ll fly all over Equestria to find him!”

“Yup! At times like these, everypony needs a friend,” Pinkie added with a nod. “Haru’s strong, but nopony’s strong enough to be alone at a time like this.”

“Quite so,” Rarity chimed in as she trotted over to Twilight. “Mister Souma may have a clashing sense of style, but he’s a decent dragon. Or should we refer to him as a stallion?”

“I say we stick with dragon,” Dash suggested as she flew over her friends, keeping a smirk on her face. “It’s twenty-percent cooler.”

“Rainbow,” Twilight sighed as she looked at her winged friend. “In any case, we’ll deal with the dragon on this mountain first, then we’ll go find Haru. I’m sure he hasn’t gotten too far from Ponyville, I doubt he’d just up and leave.”

“So, anypony up for tic-tac-toe?” Pinkie Pie asked, getting her three friends to stare at her weirdly. “What? We still have to wait for Applejack and Fluttershy, and this’ll be perfect!”

Before anypony could take on Pinkie in the oh so dramatic game of tic-tac-toe, the sound hooves against rocky ground echoed through the air, drawing the mare’s attention towards the rough path. “C’mon Fluttershy! We’re almost there!”

“Applejack!” Twilight called out, with the orange mare slowly coming around the corner with a rope tied around her forehead. Fluttershy wasn’t too far behind Applejack, but seemed to keep her distance from whatever was tied at the other end of the rope.

“We… We made it,” Applejack announced with a loud sigh of relief before she fell to the ground.

Rainbow turned towards Twilight while flying upside down, “Told ya it’d take forever.”

The young unicorn trotted over to Applejack, looking down at her friend as she drew closer, “Applejack? Is everything alright?”

Lifting her tired head, Applejack slipped the rope off from her forehead before she turned towards the studious unicorn. “Twi… We got bigger problems than just a nappin’ dragon.”

Twilight followed the rope and her eyes widened at what was at the end of the rope – Tied up at the waist was none other than the very same dragon that Twilight was friends with. Only instead of the cheerful dragon, there was only a very bruised up and burned Haru, who’s eyes were closed.

TBC

Spell 16 - Final Hope

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It’s showtime.
- Haruto Souma / Kamen Rider Wizard

TTTTTTTT

Spell 16

Final Hope

TTTTTT

Twilight was horrified to see her friend just laying there on the ground, Haru’s body burned and bruised with his chest rising and falling slowly. Haru was alive, but in the condition that he was in, only Celestia knows how long that would last.

While five of the six mares were looking over their wounded friend (for some reason, Fluttershy kept her distance from Haru), Applejack told them all of Phoenix’s appearance and how the Phantom had defeated the magical dragon rather easily. Not even managing to even really hurt the Phantom at all, Haru really got injured by blocking an attack that the Phantom launched at Applejack and Fluttershy.

Twilight stood there for a few seconds soaking in all of the information before she turned to her friends, “Girls, we have to get Haru back to Ponyville, and fast.”

“Would he be okay on the trip back?” Rarity questioned, nopony realizing that Pinkie Pie had trotted over to Haru and reached into his jacket, ruffling her hoof through it. “With how he is, I doubt that Haru would be able to last too long.”

“Not a problem!” Rainbow Dash proclaimed as she brought a hoof to her chest. “I’ll just fly Wizard to Ponyville, drop him off at the hospital and zip right back here! It’ll only take me ten minutes! No wait! I can do it twenty percent cooler! It’ll take seven minutes!”

‘That math is wrong,’ Twilight thought to herself.

“And if ya’ll were going that fast, what do ya think would happen to Mistah Souma?” Applejack questioned with a slightly raised brow. “Sides, do ya really think ya’ll can even lift the dragon? He’s not exactly the lightest thing around.”

“He should probably cut out some of the doughnuts every once in a while,” Pinkie stated nonchalantly as she pulled out a crumpled, emptied bag of doughnuts from Haru’s jacket and tossed it out to the side.

“Yeah, well, we gotta do something!” Dash retorted to Applejack before she pointed a hoof at the growing smoke overhead. “Every second we waste here, Wizard’s getting worst and the smoke above us isn’t making this situation any better.”

“And we can’t disappoint Princess Celestia,” Twilight mumbled before she looked at Haru. “But we have to help Haru…”

“Ooh, then you can use this,” Pinkie Pie announced as she pulled a ring from Haru’s jacket and held it towards Twilight, surprising the unicorn. “This should be the right deus ex machina!”

Twilight blinked a few times at the ring that was being held in front of her, the ring itself showed a rather calm looking dragon carved into it with a nurse’s cap atop its head with a cross in the hat. “A Magic Ring? Pinkie Pie, I know how to use his rings, but if I were to use his Connect Ring, I don’t know where he’d go.”

“Well duh!” Pinkie Pie replied. “Of course you don’t know how to use his Connect Ring, that’s why I got one of the newer rings he made – The Recover Ring!”

“Recover?” Twilight questioned as her horned glowed brightly. “I’ve never seen him use that ring before.”

“Of course, he didn’t see a need for it,” Pinkie Pie answered with a bright smile on her face. “He usually never takes a hit when he fights a Phantom, but he’ll use it for other things! Didn’t you ever wonder about those times he went to get those Magic Stones but didn’t use any new rings?”

Twilight had to concede those points.

“So, this ring can fix up Wizard?” Dash asked looking over Twilight.

“Pinkie Pie, did you see Mister Souma use this ring before?” Rarity asked.

Pinkie Pie shifted her eyes left and right for a second before she kicked a beaten up black notebook that had the words ‘Friendship is Showtime Outline – For MangaKamen’s Eyes Only’ off of the side of the cliff. “Yeah, let’s go with that. I saw Haru use this on a filly who scrapped her knee, maybe it’ll work on him?”

Twilight eyed the ring for a second before she closed her eyes, ‘I did this once before… I’m sure I can do this! For my friend!’

Taking a deep breath, Twilight began to focus her magical energy into the ring. For a moment, nothing happened, at least until the ring glowed a bright purple. Twilight kept surging her magic through the ring as a large purple, moon-adorned runic circle appeared over Haru’s body. “RECOVER – PLEASE!”

The circle began to turn quickly, allowing several purple sparks to slip from the circle and float down into Haru’s body. As the sparks flowed into the dragon’s body, the burns, bruises and cuts began to fade away and his breathing began to return to a slower, more normal pace. When the circle disappeared, Haru looked back to full health, to the fact that he almost looked like he was just sleeping.

And by the fact that he was snoring slightly, that was probably the case.

Twilight sighed loudly as she slumped to the ground, the ring falling to the ground and bouncing a few times on the rocky ground. ‘W-Wow… That took a lot out of me. The last time I did that, I barely used my magic that day, but that nearly wiped me out. Either Haru’s got a lot more mana to him than he lets on, or using one of those spells just takes more than he shows.’

“Alright! Great job Twi!” Dash yelled out as she landed next to Haru and poked his head a few times with her front hoof. “Now all we gotta do is wake him up and we can get him to follow us.”

“As much as that plan would work, Rainbow Dash,” Rarity pointed out as she helped Twilight to her hooves. “From what Applejack told us, I think it would be best for Mister Souma to get his rest.”

“Ah agree with ya, Rarity,” Applejack sighed as she pulled her hat down. “It took almost everything Ah had just to drag Mistah Souma. So, until he can move on his own, Ah doubt we can move.”

“But come on!” Dash groaned loudly. “Couldn’t we just have Twilight lift him up with her magic? Then we could just continue on the paths here on hoof… Well, you girls can, I can fly.”

“I… I guess I could try,” Twilight sputtered slightly as she stood up straight and took a deep breath. “We do have to continue with this quest from Princess Celestia.”

“Nonsense Twilight,” Rarity stated as her horn began to glimmer a bright blue. “You’re not the only unicorn in our little group. And while I’m not accustomed to levitating something as big as Mister Souma, I’m sure it won’t be an issue.”

The same blue aura slipped over the knocked out dragon, and slowly he began to lift off of the ground, his limbs dragging against the ground. Rarity took a deep breath as she began to trot off with Haru floating behind her. “Well, shall be going then?”

“Finally!” Dash sighed as she flew overhead, taking every few seconds to tap Haru on the face with her hoof in an attempt to wake him up.

Pinkie Pie, Applejack and Twilight followed their friends, however, Fluttershy had been completely silent and kept her distance from Haru. There were so many scary things on this mountain – Two dragons and that Phantom monster that all her friends seemed to know about.

Her wings had locked up and snapped to her back, and no matter how hard she tried, the young pegasus couldn’t spread her wings. It was a nervous little tick she had when she was really frightened by something – And one of those ‘things’ was right next to her friends.

But, the thought of being left behind by her friends on this mountain with that fiery Phantom walking about wasn’t appealing. So, with a slight gulp, Fluttershy slowly trotted behind her friends.

TTTTTT

“Alright, what ya got there?”

“Um, Reach out to the truth?”

“Nope.”

“Uh, Wyld Stallions?”

“Tartarus no! That’s a first print!”

“The Bat-Stallion soundtrack?”

“TOSS IT!”

Near the cave atop of the mountain, a sleek, vinyl record flew through the air until a bird made of flames crashed into it, sending shards flying through the smoky air. Hellhound whistled as he watched the charred remains of the record fall to the ground. “Nice shot Master Phoenix!”

The fiery Phantom waved his right hand, making a few embers float from his hand. Phoenix was laying atop of one of the rocks near the cave and sighed loudly, “Enough of the praise, kiddo. What’s the next record ya got?”

“Uh, Pony in Pink?” Hellhound stated as he placed a hoof on the record.

“PULL!”

With a quick twist, Hellhound spun the record through the air as Phoenix snapped his hand towards it and shot another fiery bird of flames. The flame crashed into the vinyl record and made its broken shards fling through the air. Hellhound shook his head before he turned towards Phoenix who threw his arms over his head. ‘Master Phoenix, didn’t you get to fight that Ring Mage? I know Master Phoenix is known among the Phantoms as the Dreaded, but even he should’ve had a hard time against that masked dragon.

‘The Ring Mage destroyed at least two Phantoms, laid the smack down to Minotaur – Even when he did have Master Phoenix’s power – And only Lord Hades knows what else this Ring Mage did!

‘Master Phoenix… You’re much scarier than I thought…’

Phoenix sighed loudly as he sat up and rolled his head about. “Oi, Kiddo.”

The pony disguised Phantom gulped audibly as he nodded, “Y-Yes Master Phoenix?”

Phoenix lifted his hand up to his face and clenched his fingers tightly as flames flew from in between his fingers. “Did you see something when you were awakened?”

“Uh, you mean when I woke up this morning?” Hellhound questioned with his head tilted slightly.

“No, dingus!” Phoenix growled as he jumped off the rock and walked over to Hellhound. “I meant when you became a Phantom!”

“Uh, I… I can’t remember,” Hellhound stated with his head lowered and his ears drooping. “I can remember a few things about what my life was before this, but… some things are fuzzy.”

“I see, well, I can remember what I saw when I was awakened,” Phoenix stated as he lifted his arms up. “When I awoke, I had one vision – The world set ablaze. And do you know what I saw there?

“A fury. It was a great and terrible fury – The flames of Tartarus engulfing anything and everything that I come across. As I stumbled across the land for those first few days after the Sabbath that vision was burned in my very eyes – Even when I wasn’t in my Phantom form.

“But that fury, that fire soon drew its way into my very core, creating something within me. At first, I didn’t know what it was – Until that fateful day.”

Phoenix turned his head up to the dark clouds above and chuckled, “Ya know, that day was as cloudy as it is now. On that day, I was in my Phantom form when a platoon of Canterlot’s Noble Soldiers crossed my path. Something about Canterlot Nobles just rubs me the wrong way, but I didn’t pay them any mind…

“But they surely paid attention to me – I guess they never saw a creature like me before, doesn’t help that I was still experimenting with my powers on a nearby forest – So they decided to attack me.”

Phoenix lifted his arms up clapped his hands together, “Of course I fought back – But, when I did, that flame in my very being grew. The intensity of it became stronger and stronger with each soldier that I cut down, and suddenly that vision made sense. I was reborn to fight.

“I found that out when a white stallion with a shield-like cutie mark confronted me in that group – He was stronger than the rest of them. He even managed to stop my attacks with his surprisingly strong defensive spells, but I knew he wouldn’t last long against me.

“If Medusa hadn’t shown up and stopped me, I would’ve taken that stallion’s life along with his comrades.”

Taking a moment to take a deep breath, Phoenix turned to the cave where the smoke kept pouring out from it. Then after a few moments, he looked over his right shoulder pad and turned his gaze towards Hellhound, “Defeating the strongest around, that’s what the flames meant to me. They are the flames of battle that demanded to grow with stronger and stronger opponents!

“And that’s why I wanted to face this Wizard – I thought he’d be able to make the flames grow stronger…”

Phoenix lowered his arms and shook his head, “Ya know what, never mind – What else we got in that box of records I can burn?”

“Uh, give me a sec,” Hellhound muttered as he shuffled through the box of vinyl records. “Uh, let’s see, would this Daniel Ingram record do?”

“That all depends,” Phoenix stated with a shrug.

TTTTTTT

“Your turn Fluttershy,” Twilight called out to her friend.

Fluttershy gulped as she looked to the rest of her friends on the opposing cliff. Having found a rather convenient flat path, the group of ponies and knocked out dragon had reached a portion of the path that required them to jump across to another ledge.

All of the ponies save for Fluttershy had easily made the jump to the other ledge, and Haru was still asleep on the same ledge as the young pegasus. Before the group made their daring leaps, Twilight wanted to make sure that they were all on the other ledge before they moved their dragon friend.

Although, Fluttershy had some reservations about this idea – The fact that the fall between the two ledges was really high, the sleeping dragon that was waiting for them at the top of the mountain, the sleeping dragon that was just a few feet behind her, and that mean Phantom that was wandering about on the mountain itself.

In short, there were a lot of reasons why Fluttershy just wanted to go back home, grab her covers and hide under the bed. “B-But, I… It’s so… Wide…”

“Once again, you can fly!” Dash pointed out with a roll of her eyes as she flew over the gap.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of!” Pinkie Pie announced before she leapt through the air and landed on the ledge near Fluttershy. “It’s just a hop, skip and a jump! See!”

Pinkie Pie then took a deep breath, preparing to sing a song to raise Fluttershy’s spirits. But just as the first note was about to be sung, a loud roar-like yawn echoed through the air, making Fluttershy yelp and leap over the gap to hide behind her friends.

Pinkie released her breath with a deep sigh and turned her attention towards the origin of the yawn, seeing Haru sitting up with his claws in front of his mouth. “I had the weirdest dream… I dreamt of a world where doughnuts didn’t exist…”

“Haru!” Pinkie announced, making the dragon jolt with his arms lifted up. “You’re awake! But you ruined a perfectly good chance for a song!”

“Huh?” Haru questioned with his head tilted slightly. “I, well… Wait, what?”

“Haru!” Twilight called out to the dragon.

The sleek dragon turned his attention towards the mares on the other cliff and then lowered his head with a sigh following. The dragon slowly got to his clawed feet and reached into his jacket, “Well, it was nice seeing you ladies, but if you excuse me…”

Haru’s eyes widened when he realized something was very, very, VERY wrong. Pulling the jacket up, the magical dragon saw that all of the pockets inside the jacket were completely empty, “My rings! Where are my rings?!”

A coy whistle caught the dragon’s attention to see that Rainbow Dash was flying over him with the Flame Style ring held in her hooves. “Sorry Wizard! But we had to make sure you didn’t run off again.”

“Rainbow Dash, give me my rings,” Haru growled as he jumped up trying to grab Dash, only to miss as the pegasus kept flying, just out of his reach. “This is not funny!”

Dash flew away from Haru, making the dragon throw his arms up into the air before he stepped over the surprisingly small gap between the two ledges and then began to chase after the pegasus. “GET BACK HERE!”

Twilight shook her head as she watched her dragon friend go after Rainbow Dash, without his magic rings he didn’t have a chance to catch the speedy pegasus.

“Should we tell him that Rainbow Dash doesn’t have all his rings?” Rarity suggested as she used her magic to pull out a few of Haru’s rings from her saddlebags.

“Nah, if Mistah Souma got his claws on the rings,” Applejack stated as she calmly began to follow the dragon and Pegasus. “He’d just up and disappear on us ‘gain.”

Twilight nodded in agreement as Pinkie leapt over the gap and the ponies continued on their path, following the brave pegasus. Fluttershy on the other hoof was still shaking slightly, not wanting to follow the red dragon that was up ahead. But being alone was worse, and thankfully, her friends were with her…

TT ~ A good half hour later… ~TT

“D-Dash! Give… Give me my…” Haru wheezed before he doubled over to catch his breath. “Oh, forget it!”

The dragon fell to the ground and wiped some sweat off of his brow as Dash floated about him, “Not bad, but c’mon Wizard, you’ve got more in ya than that!”

“Get… Off my back,” Haru retorted as he lifted his head up at Dash.

The rest of the ponies were able to catch up with the tired out dragon and speedy pegasus, with Twilight leading the group and Fluttershy way behind the others. Twilight trotted a little faster so she was able to reach Haru first, and looked him right in the eye. “Haru…”

The dragon turned his head away from Twilight, shifting his gaze away from the mare. However, Twilight lifted her hoof up to Haru’s chin and forced his attention to her, “Haru!”

“Oh! Hello there Twilight,” Haru chuckled sheepishly with his eyes turning away from Twilight’s.

There was an awkward moment of silence as the rest of the ponies reached them, Fluttershy still keeping her distance. It wasn’t until Haru realized he was surrounded before he lowered his head once more. “What?”

“Haru, about last night…” Twilight started.

However, Haru slammed his claws into the ground and lowered his upper body towards the ground, “I… I’m sorry! I… I didn’t want to attack you Twilight!”

“Haru! It wasn’t your fault!” Twilight snapped back at the dragon, her hoof still under his chin as she tried to make him look up (but he wouldn’t have it). “I know about that Phantom you have within you! He spoke to me before he tried to attack and…”

“That doesn’t matter!” Haru shouted as he shook his head. “It was still my claws, it was still my body, it was me who tried to attack you! It doesn’t matter if I wasn’t in control! I don’t want you Twilight, or anyone I care about to be hurt! Especially with my own claws!”

Haru placed his head into his claws and shook his head, “Don’t you see? I ran so I couldn’t hurt anypony… I don’t know if I’ll be in control and... And I’m scared. I’m scared of ponies dying, of seeing those I care about disappear before me.”

“Then what the Tartarus did ya think would happen with ya’ll pulling that disappearing stunt last night?” Applejack countered back with her eyes narrowed.

“At least you’d be safe from me…” Haru mumbled.

“Oh c’mon Haru,” Pinkie chuckled as she patted Haru on the back. “Sure you get a little crazy when you ingest all that sugar, but you’re hardly a danger.”

“Besides, you need to cut this emo stuff!” Rainbow Dash barked as she crossed her hooves over her chest. “It’s twenty-percent less cool than how you usually are! The Wizard I know wouldn’t be like this!”

“Nopony is perfect, Mister Souma,” Rarity stated with a nod. “We all make mistakes, and sometimes they are out of our hooves – Like that one time there was a mix up in my supply orders and I received these three weird coins with animals on them. Sure, I didn’t get my proper materials, but you have to work with what happens – The good and the bad.”

“Haru, you can keep beating yourself up,” Twilight added as she used her magic to lift her dragon’s head up. “But we’re your friends, we understand that some things happen that are out of your control. You don’t have to run Haru.”

The dragon didn’t say a word, however, a familiar red jeweled ring was lifted in front of his face, his attention drawn to Rainbow Dash. The rest of the mares began to place the many rings on the ground before the dragon, until Twilight placed the Flame Style Ring in front of him, which made Haru raise a brow in confusion. “Haru, we have to continue on our mission for Celestia, but here. We’ll be following this path if you want to find us.”

Slowly the mares began to pull away from their dragon friend and continued on their path. Fluttershy was the last to pass Haru, with her looking at the saddened eyes of the magical dragon. For a moment, Fluttershy lowered her head slightly at him before she trotted to catch up with her friends.

Rarity trotted a little faster to catch up with Twilight, “Darling, are you sure that was a good idea? Won’t he just run away again?”

“Don’t worry Rarity,” Twilight replied with a smile on her face. “I’m confident that Haru will do the right thing and…”

“CONNECT – PLEASE!”

At that moment, all of the mares turned around to see a familiar tail slip into the large red runic circle. All the rings were gone, along with the present, all pulled away in the fading rune. Twilight lowered her ears with a sigh, “Haru…”

“Mistah Souma,” Applejack muttered under her breath.

“Oh come on, everypony!” Pinkie Pie stated with a bright smile. “I’m sure he’ll be back! He probably just went to get some doughnuts.”

“Oh yeah right!” Dash barked as she flew up through the air. “He just up and ditched us!”

With their spirits slightly sullen, the mares continued on their trek through the mountains. However, they were unaware that a familiar red jeweled bird was following them from high overhead.

TTTTTT

More than half a day went by since Master Phoenix had taken Hellhound with him to aid him in his plans, and Harpie was actually enjoying the quietness as she tended to Minotaur’s wounds. Both were in their pony forms, just to make sure that no other ponies would come to mess up Minotaur’s recovery.

Of course, even with his pony form bandaged up and him resting, Harpie was still concerned for her fellow Phantom’s wellbeing and what the higher Phantom, Phoenix, would do to him. Phoenix was known for two things – His reputation as an enforcer of the Phantoms, and his unpredictability. Whether he still thought Minotaur was the one who stole one of his feathers was a mystery to Harpie, and if he was going to do something to the wounded Phantom…

“Hello!”

Harpie jumped into the air before she fell to the ground in surprise. She lifted her head up and looked about the clearing in the Everfree Woods, trying to find whoever had just spoken. Aside from the still sleeping Minotaur right next to her, the pony-disguised Phantom didn’t see anypony. “Who’s there?! Show yourself right now!”

“Aw, but where’s the fun in that?” the voice called out cheerfully. “Doesn’t everypony like a game of hide ‘n seek? Besides, all work and no play make Sora a dull colt!”

“Sora?” Harpie questioned with her head tilted slightly. With a shake of her head, Harpie’s pony body began to glow brightly. “Whatever! Show yourself right now before I’ll make you regret it!”

“Psst! Want a hint?”

“What?!” Harpie hissed as her body slowly began transform into her feathered Phantom form.

“Look down!”

Cancelling her transformation, Harpie looked down to realize that she was within breathing distance of a familiar green pegasus who was on the ground. “Hello!”

Harpie leapt backwards and fell to the ground with a rather loud slam with dust flying from the ground. Sora giggled as he pushed himself off of the ground, “Ah, what a nice happy reaction. Just what I would expect from Miss Hoofdini.”

“It’s… It’s Harpie!” The surprised Phantom wheezed out with her eyes narrowed down at the gleeful pegasus before her. “And now I remember you – You’re Gremlin!”

“Nope!” Sora chuckled as he trotted around Harpie. “It’s pronounced So-Ra. Sora! Not that hard to remember four little letters in that order, right?”

“Whatever you want to call yourself, I guess,” Harpie growled as she rolled her eyes. “Now what are you doing here?”

“Awe, no need to be all defensive against little ole me,” Sora pouted as he lifted up a hoof. “After all, I’m just here to help!”

“Help? How?” Harpie questioned, getting back to her hooves and got in front of the still sleeping Minotaur. “And more importantly, why?”

Sora waved his hoof in front of his face with a bright smile on his face, “You shouldn’t be so mistrusting. After all, isn’t he part of your family?”

Harpie’s eyes widened as Sora turned his head back and reached into his saddlebags. A few seconds later, Sora pulled out a few large leafs and such, and placed them on the ground. “You’d be surprised of the plants in this place. A lot of herbal and unique plants around here, and a good portion of them can be used for natural remedies.

“I’m not a doctor, just a traveler. Hehehehe.”

Sora sat down on the ground as Harpie looked at the herbs in front of her. For a moment, the disguised Phantom turned towards the smiling pegasus in front of her and then back at the herbs. With a sigh, Harpie used her hoof to take the herbs and draw them closer to her. “Why are you bothering to help?”

“Oh, cause ya know,” Sora replied as he pulled his fedora from his head. “I can’t ignore a Phantom with a Pony’s heart.”

Harpie’s eyes widened and she quickly lifted her head up. “Wait, what?!”

However, Sora was nowhere in sight. Just as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. Harpie looked around the clearing, but there was no trace of the weird pegasus – Only the herbs that he brought for her was the only indication that he was around.

‘Just what the Tartarus is he after?’ Harpie thought to herself before she began to tend to the wounded Minotaur.

Meanwhile, Sora was sitting atop of one of the smoke clouds with a smile on his face. “Ah, how intriguing – Wife, husband, brother-in-law and daughter, a family of Phantoms and only one of them remembers the truth. These are odd times indeed.”

Sora then turned his head towards the mountain, watching as more smoke continued to pour out from the top of it. ‘I wonder how Mage-Kun is doing, hehehehehe.’

TTTTTT

It wasn’t long for the ponies to reach a rather daunting path on the mountain, but it certainly felt like a lifetime to Twilight with her head lowered down. But she kept her head up so she could keep her attention on the path before her. Most of the trip was quiet, most of the mares being quiet, save for Rainbow Dash who kept complaining under her breath.

Using her magic to pull the map from her saddlebags, Twilight looked at the paper and lifted her head up. Then with a calm and rather quiet voice, the young unicorn turned her head towards the others, “Let’s keep it down, according to my map we’re entering an avalanche zone – The smallest peep could cause a rockslide.”

Fluttershy stopped in her tracks, “An… Ava… Ava…”

Twilight quickly shushed her before the six mares continued onward, all of them being quiet and with Fluttershy taking up the rear. The mares cautiously trotted on the path (Rainbow Dash just taking her time by flying over), with Red Garuda slowly descending and landing on Fluttershy’s back.

Needless to say, Fluttershy wasn’t expecting that.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

All of the other mares jumped up and turned towards the yellow pegasus who had quickly brought her hooves up to her mouth. For a moment, all was still.

But when the mares all sighed in relief, the ground began to quiver before many countless boulders of many shapes and sizes fell from the nearby cliff side. All of the mares galloped as fast as they could as the boulders fell fast towards them.

“MULTI CONNECT – PLEASE!”

However, before the boulders even reached halfway down the mountain, several red runic symbols appeared high above the mares, each of them absorbing the boulders into them. All of the mares stopped and looked as the runes saved them. Twilight’s eyes widened at the familiar red runes. “This is…!”

“Doughnut?”

Twilight jumped when she realized that Haru was standing next to her with a box of doughnuts, one in his claws that he quickly took a bite from. “W-What the?! Haru?!”

The rest of the mares turned to see that indeed it was the magical dragon himself. The boulders had stopped falling and the runic circles faded away. Pinkie Pie cheered before she hopped over to the dragon, “See! I told you all! He just went on a doughnut run!”

With an audible swallow, Haru lifted his partially eaten doughnut and waved, “Uh, yeah… I hadn’t eaten in the last twelve or so hours, so I…”

Before Haru could even finish speaking, a familiar purple aura surrounded the box of doughnuts he had and it smashed into his face, powdered sugar and bits of doughnuts flying about from him. When the box fell to the ground, the red dragon’s face was completely covered with sugar and he even had a doughnut sitting atop of his nose, his blue eyes were dulled slightly. “I deserved that.”

“Yes, yes you did,” Twilight replied calmly as she trotted past the dragon with her eyes closed. “But you’re forgiven and thanks for that save.”

The rest of the mares slowly trotted past him, with Rarity’s horn glowing a light blue to have a cloth brought up to the dragon. “Here you go Mister Souma, you should clean yourself up.”

Haru took the cloth as Rarity trotted past him, with Pinkie Pie bouncing up next, “Yay! Now we can really have a fun time!”

The dragon shrugged as he took the doughnut from atop his nose and was about to take a bite out from it, until a familiar blue blur snatched the doughnut from his claws. Haru didn’t even need to turn his head to know what just happened. “Nice dramatic entrance by the way. But, for being so emo, I’ll just take this as compensation.”

Haru just clamped his claw tightly in frustration before he wiped off the powdered sugar from his face with Rarity’s cloth.

“Mistah Souma,” a familiar southern voice sounded, making the dragon pull the cloth down slightly to see Applejack in front of him. “If ya’ll pull a stunt like running away ‘gain, Ah won’t hesitate to kick ya’ll into another wall.”

“Good to know,” Haru chuckled sheepishly with a bead of sweat rolling down the side of his head.

However, Haru realized that Fluttershy didn’t move an inch since he appeared, so with his head tilted slightly, the dragon slowly walked over to the quiet mare. “Are you okay?”

Fluttershy turned her head so she wouldn’t look at the sleek red dragon in front of her, and she was visibly shaking. “I… I…”

The magical dragon knelt down so he could look Fluttershy in the eye, “Are you still scared about falling rocks? Don’t worry, they aren’t a problem now.”

“Um, w-well,” Fluttershy mumbled before she looked past Haru and quickly trotted past the dragon. “W-Wait up girls!”

Haru blinked a few times as he watched Fluttershy catch up with the others. Then with a shrug, the dragon began to follow the ponies. ‘… What’s up with her?’

TTTTTT

It didn’t take long for the mares (plus one dragon) to get near the cave where the smoke was originating from, following an odd, well-crafted path to the cave. But on the path were several broken shards of vinyl records that were randomly strewn about the rocky path.

“Anybody else notice all the trash around here?” Haru questioned as he knelt down and picked up a piece of the vinyl.

“I know, it’s simply dreadful,” Rarity added as she used her magic to levitate a number of pieces. “What sort of pony would be so disrespectful to nature?”

“We’ve got bigger problems,” Twilight stated as the group reached the top of the path.

The area before the cave was large, with many boulders and trees lining the cliff’s edge. The mouth of the cave was huge with thick, black smoke pouring from the roof of the cave and into the sky. However, while the smoke was eye catching, there was something outside the cave that drew the attention of all the mares and the dragon, a red and golden being who was seated atop of one of the large rocks outside the cave…

“Ah, I was wondering when somepony would show up,” Phoenix announced with a wave of his hand. “And it’s a bunch of mares. Nice.”

“Phantom,” Haru growled as he stepped before the mares, placing a familiar ring on his claws.

Phoenix tilted his head slightly as he chuckled, “Oh, this is a surprise, you must be made of tougher stuff to be able to walk around. You look like you don’t have a scratch on ya, Haruto Souma.

“And by the way, my name’s Phoenix we went over this already.

Phoenix pushed himself off of the rock and landed on the ground, lifting his arms up as embers began to float off his body. “I took the effort to remember your name, Haruto Souma. I would think my name would’ve been burned into your mind just as my blade was burned into your chest! I am Phoenix! The dreaded enforcer of the Phantoms and I…”

“Ooh! Question!” Pinkie Pie announced, appearing right next to the fiery Phantom with her hoof waving in the air.

Reeling back at the sudden appearance of the pink mare, Phoenix blinked his soulless blue eyes at the mare. “Uh… Sure? I guess?”

“Can we call you Feenie? Or Nick? Or Xin Eohp?” Pinkie Pie asked as she hoped around the Phantom.

“Listen here, mare,” Phoenix growled loudly as he crossed his arms over his armored chest. “I don’t particularly care for you calling me any of those. How would you feel if I were to call you, uh, um, Pinkie? Yeah! How would ya like that, Pinkie?”

“I’d love it!” Pinkie Pie cheered loudly as she bounced around Phoenix. “That’s my name! How’d ya guess it?!”

“I… I uh…” Phoenix stammered as he scratched the side of his head.

Then Phoenix began to laugh as he doubled over with his arms at his stomach, “Whahahahahahaha! Oh, that is priceless! Just for that, you can call me whatever you’d like, Pinkie.”

“Yay!” Pinkie Pie cheered loudly.

“Pinkie Pie!” Twilight shouted with her eyes widened. “He’s dangerous! Get away from him!”

“Oh just relax, Purple Unicorn,” Phoenix replied as his laughter died down as waved his hand at her as Pinkie Pie trotted back to the group. “None of you are on my list – Save for Haruto Souma, but technically he’s off it when I took him down. I don’t take pleasure in picking on weak, little ponies unless I have to.”

“Weak?!” Rainbow Dash growled as she flew towards Phoenix, who didn’t react as she flapped her wings to be right in front of him. “Listen up Phantom, do you know who you’re talking to?!?”

“If you were worth remembering, then you wouldn’t have asked that question,” Phoenix replied as he threw his arms behind his head. “Besides, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth from that last fight – I don’t need to make it worse by bullying a bunch of mares.”

“Oh yeah?!” Rainbow Dash snarled as she pointed a hoof at Phoenix. “I’ll knock you off this mountain so hard that you’ll…”

Before Rainbow Dash could continue, Applejack grabbed the pegasus’ tail and pulled her to the ground with her mouth. When the pegasus was grounded, Applejack released her tail, “Don’t antagonize the Phantom that defeated Mistah Souma!”

“Thanks Applejack,” Haru sighed loudly as he slumped forward. “That boosted my confidence.”

Phoenix snickered before he leapt to the rock he was originally on and laid down on the rock with his arms pillowing his head. “What a funny little group. So, I’m guessing that you’re all here to stop that dragon in the cave, right? Well, feel free to do so. I’m sure as Tartarus not gonna stop ya.”

“Wait, then why are you here?” Twilight asked, still keeping her distance from the Phantom.

“It was a plan I had,”Phoenix answered with a shake of his head. “I did all this to try to get a half-way decent fight out from the infamous Ringy Mage – Who defeated a number of Phantoms, and he even managed to best a Phantom who had a taste of my power. I was trying to force him to not hold back – Putting all of Equestria in danger felt like good fodder for him to go all out.

“Of course, if that’s not going to be enough to get a half-way decent battle, then nothing will. So, I don’t care. You wanna stop my plan? Go for it, not like anything you do will actually work.”

“You’re going to just stand there and let us stop your plan?” Haru questioned as he lifted his hand up.

“Did you become deaf when I knocked you around?” Phoenix questioned with a roll of his eyes. “I had my fight with you already – It doesn’t matter if this plan is foiled or not. And I don’t have any more interest in fighting you anymore. Knock yourselves out.”

The mares looked to each other before they trotted towards the cave, Haru on the other hand kept his attention squarely on Phoenix. This didn’t go unnoticed by the Phantom who tilted his head at the dragon, “I know I’m a handsome devil, but could you please not stare? I don’t like it when guys stare for too long.”

“What are you after, Phoenix?” Haru asked with his eyes narrowed.

“… To fill a void,” Phoenix simply replied with a wave of his hand.

When Phoenix stopped speaking, Haru shook his head and turned towards the mares who were lined up in front of the cave. ‘… I’ll keep an eye on him.’

“Alright,” Twilight stated as she used her magic to get her saddlebags off of her back. The young unicorn turned towards Rainbow Dash. “Dash, you’ll use your wings to clear the smoke.”

The blue pegasus saluted to Twilight before she zipped up into the cloudy air.

Twilight then turned her head, “Rarity and Pinkie Pie, you two will create a diversion to distract the dragon if things get hairy.”

Pinkie Pie squealed as she reached into her saddlebags to pull out a rubber chicken that she waved about with it squeaking loudly. Rarity just shook her head with a bewildered look plastered on her face.

“QUACKY!” Phoenix called out as he waved his hands about.

“You are… A really confusing Phantom,” Haru admitted with a flat look in his eyes as he looked at Phoenix.

The Phantom just shrugged his shoulders in response.

Twilight looked at Phoenix for a second before she shook her head, “Applejack, get the apples ready in case he decides to attack.”

Applejack had already pulled another pair of apples from her saddlebag and tossed them up into the air before she kicked them, sending them through the air before they slammed into a dead tree near the edge of the cliff.

“Wow! Apples as ammunition?” Phoenix cackled loudly. “Oh yes, that’ll be really effective against the fire breathing dragon that’s twenty times your size and could eat you all in a single gulp.”

“Are you going to keep giving peanut gallery commentary?” Haru questioned as he leered at Phoenix.

“I’m bored, so yeah,” Phoenix sighed, shrugging off Haru’s question. “I certainly can’t fight you, you’ve lost that spark that made you interesting. I can’t fight the dragon in the cave since, well, this plan is going so well on its own so I’d be stupid if I messed that up.”

“Aren’t ya’ll doing that though by letting us stop the dragon?” Applejack asked with her head tilted at the Phoenix.

“Nope,” Phoenix answered bluntly as he sat up straight on the rock he was on. “Cause I know that nothing that five mares and a Ringy Dragon can do will make that dragon leave this cave.”

“Five?” Twilight stated. “There are six of us, and one dragon.”

“Huh, then I must have another finger on my hand,” Phoenix replied as he lifted his hand up with all of his fingers stretched out. “Cause I see the same number of mares equal to the number of fingers I’ve got. Stallion, I love having fingers, they sure as Tartarus make things easier.”

Twilight looked around the area, and much to her shock, Phoenix was right! Fluttershy was nowhere in sight! “Where’s Fluttershy?!”

All the mares and Haru looked around the area while Phoenix just hummed a happy little tune to himself. It didn’t take long to find the shy pegasus, especially since her long pink tail was sticking out from behind one of the larger rocks, and it took Applejack to drag the mare out of her hiding place. Twilight trotted up to her friend, “Fluttershy, what’s wrong? We need your animal expertise to make this work.”

“I… I can’t go in the cave,” Fluttershy stated as she looked away from Twilight.

“Are you afraid of the Phantom?” Twilight questioned, turning her attention to Phoenix who was still humming his tune. “I can understand that but Fluttershy, we need you to help and…”

“It… It’s not just that,” Fluttershy mumbled as her voice began to waiver even more. “I’m… I’m… I’m scared of… dr…s…”

“Could ya’ll speak a little louder?” Applejack requested, getting closer to her friend.

“I’m scared of… dra…” Fluttershy muttered, slightly louder.

“Darling, you’re going to have to speak up,” Rarity stated.

“I’M SCARED OF DRAGONS!” Fluttershy blurted out loudly.

The ground then shook as the dragon in the cave snored loudly, a larger cloud of smoke shooting out from the cave and covering the group of mares and sleek dragon. When the smoke cleared, all the mares were coughing and Fluttershy was hiding behind Applejack.

Twilight zipped to look at her hiding friend, “But Fluttershy, you’ve got a great talent dealing with animals!”

“Yes, because they aren’t dragons,” Fluttershy explained with her head drooping down.

“Oh come on!” Rainbow Dash called out as she threw her front hooves into the air. “We’ve seen you go right up to a huge Manticore like it was nothing!”

“Yes, because it wasn’t a dragon,” Fluttershy corrected.

“Spike is a dragon, you’re not scared of him!” Pinkie Pie stated with a bright smile on her face.

“Yes, because he’s not a huge, gigantic, enormous, sharp teeth barring, horn wearing, smoke snoring, could eat a pony in one bite, totally all grown up dragon!” Fluttershy explained, taking a few moments to catch her breath as the dragon snored loudly once again.

Phoenix’s blue eyes widened slightly, “Huh, with a description like that, even I might be hesitant to fight this dragon. Maybe.”

Fluttershy fell to the ground quivering.

“But, Fluttershy, what about Mister Souma?” Rarity questioned as she comforted her friend. “He’s a dragon as well but…”

“Y-Yes,” Fluttershy stated, keeping her eyes closed. “B-But t-there’s just something I… I can’t help but feel scared around him!”

Haru closed his eyes and leaned up against the rocky wall.

‘Hmmm, hahahaha, looks like the mare can sense me… How intriguing.’

‘Dragon,’ Haru spoke in his head to the inner Phantom. ‘How?’

‘I don’t see the harm in telling you. Some ponies can sense sources of powerful magic – And even though you’re a shell that dampens my magic, even then others can sense it. It would make more sense why she’s afraid of the Phantom who kicked your tail a couple of hours ago.’

‘Gee, thanks…’

“But, if you’re so afraid of dragons,” Twilight stated. “Why didn’t you say something before we came up here?”

Fluttershy looked away from her friend, “I… I was afraid to.”

“Bwahahahahahaha!” Phoenix laughed loudly, holding his sides. “Priceless!”

Twilight leered at Phoenix who just keep laughing.

“All of us are afraid of the big dragon in the cave, Fluttershy,” Applejack stated as she helped her winged friend to her hooves.

“I’m not!” Rainbow Dash proclaimed with a smug look on her face.

Applejack rolled her eyes at her friend, “Well most of us are scared of that dragon, but we’ve got a job to do. And Mistah Souma’s not so bad, he helps us out whenever he can. So, c’mon girl, git in there with Twi, and show us what yer made of.”

Fluttershy lowered her head, “I… I… I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

With that, Fluttershy trotted towards a nearby large rock and hid behind it.

“Awe, that would’ve brought a tear to my eye, if I could cry,” Phoenix mocked as he brought his hand up to his eye.

Haru narrowed his eyes at Phoenix and then turned towards the cave.

A few moments later and explaining that bringing another dragon in the cave would end with bad results, Twilight carefully trotted into the cave. “Okay, time to do this… I’m sure he just doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

The other four mares tried to sound confident to back Twilight up, but with them hiding behind the cave wall, that didn’t have much of an impact to the studious unicorn.

Phoenix’s comments weren’t helping either, “This will be funny.”

Twilight turned her attention back to the cave before her and stopped when she saw the dragon herself – It was a huge behemoth of a monster, red scales, huge wings, spines jutting from its head and down its back, and the huge monstrosity barely fitted in the cave, especially with it resting on its jewels. From the large dragon’s nostrils, black smoke floated from its sleeping form.

Twilight gulped loudly, especially considering she was only a few feet from its mouth, which was about four times her size! “Um, excuse me, Mr. Dragon?”

The dragon was still sleeping and turned onto its back to scratch his underbelly. Twilight took a deep breath and spoke a little louder, “Mister Dragon?”

That got the dragon’s attention as he opened his eyes and leered his bronze eyes down at the small pony before him. Twilight chuckled sheepishly, “Oh, g-good you’re awake. Please allow me to introduce myself – My name is Twilight Sparkle and…”

At that very moment, the dragon yawned loudly, with a visible air of stinky morning breath that Twilight had the misfortune of being right in front of. When the morning breath subsided, Twilight’s eyes were watering, her mane was standing on end, and some of the smell stuck with her. Took her a few moments to compose herself, “… And my friends and I are residents in Equestria, Ponyville to be exact. We’ve come here to ask that you find another spot to take your nap. You seem to be doing a lot of snoring and every time you snore, more smoke is billowing the sky.

“Equestria simply cannot survive in a dark haze, you understand don’t you?”

The dragon’s response?

He blew a large amount of smoke onto Twilight, forcing her out of the cave, completely covered in soot. “W-Well, that didn’t work like I planned.”

“Denied,” Phoenix stated with his arms crossed.

While Twilight was using her magic to clean herself off, Rarity stepped up towards the cave, “Obviously this situation requires a little pony charm. Allow me ladies!”

“Heh,” Phoenix scoffed as he watched Rarity trot inside the cave. “So the Marshmallow Pony’s up to bat? This should be interesting.”

It was then that Rarity just stopped and turned her attention towards Phoenix, “Excuse me?! What did you just call me?”

The Phantom waved his hand slightly, “I called you Marshmallow Pony, Marshmallow Pony.”

“Oh my!” Rarity gasped as she trotted up towards Phoenix. “Have you no manners?! I am not ‘Marshmallow Pony’! I am Rarity, or Miss Rarity, or Madame Rarity! Have you no idea how to talk to a mare, Mr. Phantom?”

“Meh, you fancy types always get under my skin somehow,” Phoenix scoffed to the side. “Don’t get all out of shape, Marshmallow Pony… Although, that might just be a little too late to say that. After all, you do kinda look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Pony, all puffy and such…”

Rarity’s eyes widened before she narrowed them down at the Phantom, “OH! IT. IS. ON!”

Rarity’s horn began to glow brightly with blue magical energy, all the while, Phoenix jumped to his feet and waved his arms slightly, “Bring it on, Marshmallow Pony! Give me a reason!”

Rarity was about to go on the attack, if not for the fact that Applejack pulled on her tail and dragged her away from the Phantom. “WHOA THERE NELLY! We don’t need another problem on our hooves!”

Phoenix laughed as Rarity tried to break free from Applejack.

“I thought you didn’t want to fight?” Haru questioned with his eyes narrowed.

Phoenix dropped back to his backside to sit back on the rock, “So sue me, I’m bored.”

Haru lifted his arms up and then just dropped his arms in frustration.

That’s when a loud whistling sound echoed through the air, drawing everyone’s attention towards Pinkie Pie who was dressed up with a large box with colorful wrapping paper, a bright and large bowtie, flippers on her hooves, oversized sunglasses on her face, balloons and balloon animals tied to her mane and tail.

Phoenix tilted his head, “Uh, how did she fit all that in her saddlebags? It’s way too…”

“It’s Pinkie Pie,” Haru replied. “I stopped questioning what she can do ages ago.”

“That’s just ridiculous,” Dash sighed with a roll of her eyes.

“Exactly!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she slowly waddled into the cave. “Sharing a laugh is a surefire way to get someone on your side!”

A few seconds and many comical noises later, Pinkie Pie slowly inched out of the cave with her goofy costume completely ruined. “Apparently, he’s not a big fan of laughter.”

“Okay! That’s it!” Rainbow Dash shouted, flying up into the air. “It’s time to stop wasting time! I’m going in!”

“Rainbow! No!” Twilight called out before Rainbow Dash flew into the cave at high speed.

“Oh my Kida,” Haru muttered with his eyes widened. “She went in!”

“LLLLLLLLLLLLLLERRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYY JEEEEEENKINS!” Phoenix called out through his laughter.

A loud ‘WHAM’ sound echoed from the cave, immediately followed by a loud roar that sent Rainbow Dash spinning out of the cave and into the other mares, knocking them over.

“STTTTRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIKKKKKEEEEEE!” Phoenix yelled loudly.

The mares got to their hooves as the large red dragon appeared at the mouth of the cave, slamming his large claws into the ground before he stepped from the cave. The large dragon roared loudly while Phoenix just laughed loudly. “Simply priceless!”

“DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

Phoenix turned his attention towards Haru who was running in front of the five mares who were cowering with each other. “… Hmm…”

“FLAME – PLEASE!

“Hii Hii Hii Hii Hii!”

The large red runic circle appeared in front of Haru as he ran through it, immediately transforming into his usual red Wizard attire with him skidding to a stop before the mares. The large red dragon snorted loudly as it drew its head back.

Wizard slipped a ring over his right claws and threw his hand over his belt buckle. “BIND – PLEASE!”

Several red runic circles appeared around the large red dragon’s head, with many chains wrapping around the larger dragon’s mouth, binding it shut. The dragon tugged at the chains while Wizard turned towards the mares, “Get outta here! I got this!”

Phoenix chuckled as he leapt from the rock, “Well now… Looks like there’s a spark left after all.”

The large dragon ripped the red chains and snarled loudly at Wizard and the group of mares. Then the dragon blew a large cloud of smoke that crashed into Wizard and the five mares, forcing them into a large boulder. The boulder cracked before it shattered into pieces, revealing that it was the same boulder that Fluttershy was hiding behind.

The young mare looked to her dazed friends, watching as Wizard got to his claws and reached for his chain of rings. However the larger of the dragons snarled loudly.

Fluttershy narrowed her eyes. “How dare you… HOW DARE YOU!”

Everypony turned to see Fluttershy flying up to the dragon and land on his nose, trotting up to his eyes, making the dragon’s eyes widen in surprise as he looked into Fluttershy’s. “Listen here, Mister! Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you get to be a bully! You may have huge teeth, sharp scales, snore smoke, breath fire and may have just woken up, but that is no excuse – I repeat – That is no excuse! TO HURT! MY! FRIENDS! YOU GOT THAT!?!”

Much to Phoenix’s surprise, the large dragon whimpered loudly with his head lowering, making Fluttershy fly to keep her gaze down on him. All of the sudden, the huge dragon didn’t seem so big. “Well?”

“But… That rainbow kicked me,” the dragon replied as he pointed to Rainbow Dash. He then turned his claw to point at Phoenix. “And that red and yellow one stole my treasure from my usual napping place.”

“And I’m sorry about that,” Fluttershy replied with a nod of her head. “But you’re bigger than her, and you should know better. You also should know better than to take your nap where it won’t be a health hazard to others. As for the red and yellow one…”

“WHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Phoenix laughed out as he grabbed his sides. “Are all dragons this pathetic?! This is bucking hilarious!”

“And you!”

Phoenix’s eyes widened when he realized that Fluttershy was now flying in front of him. The Phantom shook his head, with a slight laugh following, “Oh no, are you going to tell me off now? Oh please, spare me!”

However, when Phoenix looked right into Fluttershy’s eyes, his laughter died down and his soulless blue eyes flashed slightly. Fluttershy tapped her front hoof into Phoenix’s chest, making the Phantom flinch slightly, “You should know better than to pick on others! You can’t go around stealing things, using foal language, threatening to destroy towns or hurting my friends just for your kicks!”

Phoenix leaned back as Fluttershy loomed closer to him, the fiery Phantom mumbling slightly, “B-But I… I was just…”

“There’s never a good reason to hurt others!” Fluttershy retorted as she intensified her stare on the Phantom. “I don’t know what a Phantom is, but you should also know better than to act this way!”

Phoenix whimpered as he fell backwards, landing on his backside as he tried to make a coherent sentence.

Wizard just stood there dumbfounded as he watched Fluttershy fly back to the dragon who was sniffling slightly. “I… I have no idea how to react to that.”

“There, there,” Fluttershy comforted the larger red dragon. “No need to cry. You’re not a bad dragon, you’re just a victim of a bigger bully. Now, please go gather your things, you just need to find a new place to rest, that’s all…”

The dragon stifled some of its crying and was about to say something as a powerful bright, fiery light erupted drew everyone’s attention towards Phoenix who’s body was producing a large amount of flames around him. “Nobody… And I mean, NOBODY looks down on me!”

Phoenix drew the flames into his right hand and immediately flung his hand towards Fluttershy, sending countless fiery birds streaming through the air towards the yellow pegasus.

However, before the fiery birds reached Fluttershy, Wizard leapt in between them with his coattails intercepting the fiery attack, absorbing the flames. Phoenix growled as Wizard landed on the ground and turned his head towards the fiery Phantom. “And nobody hurts my friends! Phoenix!”

Haru lifted his left claw up to reveal the red ring on his claws, “It’s showtime.”

Phoenix laughed as he placed his hands on his hips, “Haruto Souma, this time you won’t be as lucky. You may have that spark in you again, but I’ll stamp out that flicker for good.”

“I have no intention of running,” Wizard replied. “I will defeat you right here.”

“Heh, bullplop!” Phoenix roared as he charged towards Wizard.

Wizard ran forward as well, and when the two magical beings met, Phoenix threw a right jab at the masked Wizard, who blocked the attack with his left hand. However, Phoenix delivered a powerful left hook to Wizard’s shoulder, knocking the dragon to the left a few feet.

Wizard stumbled about before Phoenix leapt into the air and plowed both of his feet into Wizard’s chest, sending Wizard flying off the side of the cliff.

“Yer not getting off that easy!” Phoenix roared as he leapt after Wizard.

“Haru!”

“Mistah Souma!”

“Wizard!”

“Haru!”

“Mister Souma!”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she watched the two magical beings land on the path that they traveled earlier. “He’s not a bad dragon either… Mister Haru.”

TTTTTT

Meanwhile, in the royal court of Canterlot, Princess Celestia was at her throne going over some important royal matters with her guards standing near her throne. The large doors to the throne room were flung open as a number of royal guards galloped in.

The lead guard ran up to the throne and knelt down, “Your majesty! The chamber for the Elements of Harmony! It’s glowing! Something is happening.”

Princess Celestia however just looked outside one of the large windows and smiled at the sky, ‘Shiroi… Looks like your pupil is about to evolve…’

TTTTTT

Wizard crashed on the ground, at another plateaued clearing on the mountain with Phoenix landing next to him. Phoenix quickly grabbed the masked mage up by the throat and then tossed him against the ground, however, the magical dragon used his tail to push him back to his feet.

Phoenix stretched his arms as Wizard fitted a ring on his left claws and threw it in front of his belt. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Wizard threw his hand into the runic circle in front of him and pulled out the familiar sword. The masked dragon charged forward and brought his sword down on the slowly walking Phoenix. The fiery Phantom lifted his wrist up and intercepted the blade with sparks erupting where the steel connected.

With a twist of his wrist, Phoenix grabbed the blade and pulled it away from Wizard’s claws, tossing it towards the side. Wizard was surprised and took a powerful jab to the gut which forced him to stagger backwards. “Your little tricks aren’t going to be enough, Haruto Souma!”

It was then that Phoenix slammed his fist into Wizard’s mask, sending the dragon spinning through the air and into a rock that shattered on impact. “You know what’s going to happen… I’ll break you again like I did before. And then I’ll break your little mare friends.”

Using whatever strength he had, Wizard pushed himself from the remains of the rock just in time to dodge a high kick from Phoenix. However, the fiery Phantom quickly spun around and slammed the back of his hand into the side of Wizard’s head, sending him to the side. “You said you’d defeat me right here, right now.”

Wizard struggled to get up, only to realize that Phoenix had summoned the flames around his right hand once more and threw countless fiery birds towards the masked dragon. The birds crashed into Wizard’s body, with several sparks and embers erupting from his body. A loud sigh of pain slipped from Wizard’s mouth as he fell to his knees.

Phoenix cracked his knuckles, “But look at what’s happening, I’m gonna smash that shiny head of yours to pieces!”

“HARU!”

Wizard lifted his head up to see the six mares standing on the path, watching the fight from a safe distance. Floating in front of Twilight was an odd, gift wrapped box that was levitated by her magic. “CATCH!”

The box flew through the air towards Wizard, with Phoenix not caring as the masked dragon caught it. Wizard quickly tore the box open to reveal a large red ring inside of it – Similar to the Flame Style ring he was wearing on his left claw, however there were more details to the ring than the one he was using. Wizard took the ring and then looked to the mares, “A magic ring? But… How did…?”

“Don’t turn away in a fight!” Phoenix called out as he charged towards Wizard.

Wizard quickly replaced the rings on his left claws just as Phoenix was a mere foot from him, and as the fiery Phoenix lifted his fist up into the air, Wizard threw his claw over the belt buckle.

TTTTTT

Everything was dark.

Once again, Haru found himself surrounded by darkness – His Wizard garb gone.

“Mom… Dad…”

The dragon turned around to see a small red colt standing next to a pair of hospital beds, two very bandaged ponies laying in the beds as the colt fell to the ground crying loudly.

Haru’s eyes widened, “This is…”

“Nostalgic, isn’t it?”

Haru turned to the side to see… Himself watching the seen before him, a cruel smile on his face. The cruel Haru chuckled as he watched the small colt cry loudly. “Your moment of greatest despair, where your life began to fall to pieces.”

Haru turned away to watch the scene, “Yeah, it is.”

The cruel Haru laughed as he lifted his arms up into the air. “Everything around you is falling apart – Your new life is about to shatter like your old one.”

“But,” Haru replied.

Cruel Haru turned towards the sleek dragon as he lifted his left claw up to reveal the newest ring he was just given. “This was the moment that I received the hope from them. Their hope lives on within me.”

“You’re a stubborn fool, Haruto Souma,” the cruel dragon scoffed as its body began to transform, turning more metallic until it formed into the Inner Phantom – Dragon. “You desire to use my power with me still trapped within your pathetic body. However, my power will draw you closer to despair, and you alone cannot hope to contain me.”

“You don’t get it, Dragon,” Haru replied as he kept the ring lifted. “I am not alone.”

“What?” Dragon questioned.

It was then that six bright lights erupted around Haru’s body, making Dragon reel back. The Inner Phantom roared loudly as the light began to engulf him, and Haru smirked. “You may be my despair, but your power is my hope.”

When the light died down, six bands of light were coiled around various parts of Dragon’s body. The inner Phantom snarled and tried to break free of the mystical binds, “I am hope!?”

Dragon looked at his bindings and laughed loudly, “Amusing! You wish to use my power? Very well, use it to your heart’s content! But these chains will rust away eventually, and I shall be freed from this prison one day!”

“And when that day comes,” Haru replied as he casually lifted the ring in front of him. “I’ll be sure to hold you back again, stronger than before!”

A powerful flame erupted around Haru’s body as Dragon flew towards the sleek dragon.

TTTTTT

Flames pour out from Wizard’s body as Phoenix was about to throw his final punch, with the flames actually blinding the fiery Phantom. Wizard’s belt glowed a bright red as a large runic circle erupted from the belt and crashed into Phoenix, sending the Phantom spiraling backwards.

“FLAME!

“DRAGON!”

Wizard stood up as the runic circle began to engulf him. When the ring passed over him, a large fiery dragon erupted from Wizard’s chest and flew around him, engulfing Wizard in a towering inferno. “BOU BOU BOUBOUBOU!”

The six mares watched as the flames began to peel off some of Wizard’s armor until the flames exploded with shards of jewels and black armor flying through the air. When the flames disappeared, standing tall was Wizard, now dressed in a more ornate version of his Flame Style – A long, gleaming red coat with a fancier dragon face-like chest armor, his shoulders were covered with silver pads with rubies in them. Wizard’s tail was covered with the same red material with a black band around them, and his mask had a pair of silver horns from the top of it with golden material at his forehead.

“Whoa, that’s awesome!” Dash called out.

“Simply fabulous!” Rarity added. “Red is definitely Mister Souma’s color!”

“Amazing…” Twilight mumbled.

Phoenix, however, wasn’t as impressed. “Heh, a palette swap? That’s your answer for this? You tried that last time and it won’t work now!”

Wizard didn’t say a word as he slowly walked towards Phoenix, the Phantom however, charged forward and threw a powerful punch towards Wizard’s new head – Only to have his hand deflected by the masked dragon’s claw, allowing the masked dragon to spin past Phoenix.

Phoenix growled and turned around to backhand Wizard, only to have his hand caught by Wizard’s tail, “Phoenix – You’re strong, and you seek to find strong opponents to fill that void of yours. Me?”

Wizard spun around, pulling Phoenix with his tail into a powerful round house kick that sent the Phantom through the air. When Phoenix crash landed into a large boulder and shattered it, Wizard lifted his left claw up to show off the ring on his claws, “I’ve got a different problem.”

Phoenix quickly got to his feet and summoned his large broadsword with his flames, charging towards Wizard. When Phoenix slashed at Wizard’s head, the masked dragon easily ducked down and dodged the attack, spinning past Phoenix’s second attack. “Ever since I got these powers, I felt like I lived in a world made of cardboard.”

When Phoenix did a low sweep at Wizard’s feet, the masked dragon leapt into the air and spun around to slam his tail into Phoenix’s face, making the Phantom stagger backwards with a loud yelp. When Wizard landed on the ground, he used his tail to grab his WizarSwordGun and lift it to his left hand. “Taking care not to not break something, break somepony. Never allowing myself to slip to Dragon’s control, even for a moment otherwise somepony could get hurt.”

Wizard lifted his right hand up to reveal another ring on his claws. And holding the ring over his sword’s hand symbol, the blade glowed brightly. “COPY – PLEASE!”

Holding out his free hand, a second sword appeared in Wizard’s hand, and he held the swords up. “But you can take it, Phoenix. What we have here is a new opportunity for me to cut loose and show you a real SHOWTIME!”

Phoenix roared as he brought his broadsword down on Wizard, who caught the blade with one of his swords, and sidestepping the rest of the attack, Wizard drew his other sword across Phoenix’s stomach, sparks erupting from the fiery Phantom’s body. Phoenix turned around to slash at Wizard’s back, only to have his blade to be caught by Wizard’s tail.

The phantom was stunned to see his attack blocked so easily that he didn’t notice Wizard spin around to slash both of his swords across his stomach once more. And while Phoenix was still recovering from that attack, Wizard ran past Phoenix and brought both blades down on Phoenix’s right shoulder. After the sparks flew, Wizard slammed his foot into Phoenix’s back sending the greater Phantom stumbling forward.

Phoenix took a deep breath and turned around, “How? How did that little spark of yours turn into an inferno!? I can’t believe this!”

The phantom charged forward once more, his blade raised up. However, Wizard calmly slammed both of his swords into the side of the blade and knocked it away from Phoenix’s hands. The fiery Phoenix roared out as he tried to throw a punch at the Wizard, only to have his fist blocked by one of Wizard’s swords. The other sword promptly stabbed at Phoenix’s chest, making sparks fly from the Phantom’s body and sending him flying backwards.

Wizard dropped both of his swords into the ground, allowing them to stab into the dirt. “I told you. I’d defeat you right here and now.”

That was when Wizard reached for his belt of rings and pulled a bright red ring, “Its time I break out something special for this occasion.”

Fitting the ring in on his right claws, Wizard immediately threw his hand in front of his belt buckle. “VERY NICE – SPECIAL!

“THE BEST!”

A familiar red runic circle appeared on Wizard’s back as a large fiery dragon flew from his belt buckle, flying around the masked mage as he was slowly lifted off from the ground. The dragon flew into the runic circle and the dragon head on Wizard’s chest transformed into a large metallic dragon head that roared loudly. “The finale.”

Phoenix slammed his fist into the ground before he charged forward, throwing an extremely large fiery bird towards Wizard – Only for it to be engulfed in a powerful surge of fire that the dragon head on Wizard’s chest spewed out. The flames crashed into Phoenix, causing the Phantom to roar our in pain. “This… THIS IS NOT OVER! D-DON’T THINK IT IS! GARGH!”

Phoenix exploded into the flames as Wizard’s runic circle appeared in his place, absorbing the flames as Wizard landed on the ground, the dragon head on his chest fading away. Wiping the top of his helmet, Wizard turned towards the six mares on the mountain path. “Whew.”

“Still think Mistah Souma is scary?” Applejack asked, lightly jabbing Fluttershy in the side.

“W-Well, a little bit,” Fluttershy stated as she looked down at the masked dragon down below with a warm smile. “B-But the good kind of scary.”

Meanwhile, hidden behind the rocks, Hellhound watched the entire fight with him in his Phantom form. ‘HOLY LORD HADES!! HE DEFEATED PHOENIX!!! JUST WHO THE TARTARUS IS THIS DRAGON!?!’

TTTTTTT

With the sky now being cleared of smoke by the local weather pegasai, Ponyville was back to its cheery disposition. The group of mares plus one dragon were just outside the outskirts of the town, seeing all the ponies enjoying the sunlight that had returned. When the tired group reached the entrance to the town, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie and Rainbow Dash went their separate ways to rest at their respective homes.

Twilight and Haru were about to head back to the library, when Fluttershy trotted in front of Haru, “Mister Haru?”

“Yes?” Haru replied.

“I… I wanted to say thank you, and sorry,” Fluttershy stated with her head lowered slightly. “You helped us and I’ve been scared of you this whole time… I… I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Haru replied with a smile. “I should thank you, you were the one who actually scared Phoenix and gave me the courage to defeat him.”

Fluttershy smiled brightly with a slight blush to her cheeks, “T-Thank you. I’ll see you later Twilight and Mister Haru.”

And with that, the yellow Pegasus began to fly off, heading towards her home. Haru sighed as he threw his arms behind his head, taking note that Twilight was looking at him. “Well, this has been a crazy couple of days.”

“Yeah, it has been,” Twilight replied as she nervously turned her head. She hadn’t told Haru how she acquired the Flame Dragon Ring, nor did she tell him that she and the other mares knew of Haru’s past. She didn’t even tell him about the fact that the White Wizard had visited her the last night – It had been a long day and she had one other issue on her mind. “Um…”

“So, Twilight, is that couch still available?” Haru asked with a nervous smile on his face.

Twilight smiled brightly.

A few minutes later, the two had reached the Golden Oaks Library – noticing that Trixie’s wagon wasn’t there anymore. Haru rubbed his chin as Twilight trotted towards the door, “Huh, Ponyville must have some really good carpenters – Wasn’t a wagon in the side of the library last night?”

Twilight whistled slightly as she noticed that there was a note taped on the door, using her magic, Twilight pulled the note off and began to read it in her mind…

Dear Lesser Unicorn and Number One Assistant,

If you’re reading this, then the Great and Powerful Trixie has already left town. To Trixie’s number one assistant, thank you for your assistance and the Marvelous Trixie hopes that you return to this town at some point. When the Amazing Trixie returns, the Spectacular Trixie shall be requiring your assistance once more, for when the Magical Trixie returns, she shall become an even greater Unicorn.

To the lavender unicorn, Twilight Sparkle – The Fanatastic Trixie rented a book from your library and shall return it when Trixie returns. It was the book that had a weird runic symbol on it.

- Here’s your free Autograph,
Trixie Lulamoon

Twilight’s eyes widened as she stuffed the letter into her saddlebag, ‘D-Did she take the book that the White Wizard gave me?!’

“Everything alright there, Twilight?” Haru asked as he stepped next to the unicorn.

“Oh… N-Nothing’s wrong,” Twilight sheepishly chuckled as the door opened up. “N-Now let’s head inside, I need to send Princess Celestia a letter about our mission, and I’m sure Spike will be glad to see you.”

TTTTTT

Dear Princess Celestia,

I’m happy to report that the dragon has departed our fair country, and it was my good friend, Fluttershy, who convinced him to go. As it turned out, it wasn’t his fault that he had to sleep there, a Phantom was the cause of the dragon taking a nap there, but thankfully, another one of my friends, Haruto Souma, was able to take care of that dreadful Phantom.

This adventure taught me that you can never lose hope in your friends, they can be an amazing source of strength, and with their help anypony can overcome the greatest of trials.

Always your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle.

P.S.

Princess Celestia, do you know a character by the name of the White Wizard? He told me that he owed you a couple of favors and I was just curious about how he knows you.

Princess Celestia giggled as she read the letter from her student, furling it up with her magic as she carefully placed it with the others. With a sly smile on her face, Princess Celestia used her magic to bring up another parchment and quill pent up to her. ‘I think it’s about time that I meet this Haruto Souma. I’ll just have to prepare some things before that happens though…’

TTTTTT

Night had fallen over Ponyville as an single stallion stumbled down the path that lead from the mountain. He was a lean red pegasus with a wild black mane, his body covered with a bright, ragged and large vest that had several burn marks on it. The stallion’s cutie mark was a fiery red wing that had a sword behind it. “D-Damn it…”

The stallion fell to the ground and took a couple of breaths. When he had caught his breath, the stallion lifted his head up to look at the moon with a smile on his slightly bearded face. “I can’t believe this… I really can’t believe…

“Haruto Souma… You’ve lit an inferno in me…”

Meanwhile, just outside Carousel Boutique, a tall, winged figure stood in the moonlight as it held up a shining silver coin up into the air. The coin itself had a hawk like design on one side while on the other was an ‘X’ symbol. “I can sense it… Such a wonderful source of desire!”

TBC

Spell 17 - Stripes, Medals and Boxers

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Just as humans have changed, so has the nature of their greed. It’s become immensely large… And bottomless.
- Kazari, Greeed

TTTTTTT

Spell 17

Stripes, Medals and Boxers

TTTTTTTT

The sky was a rich, blue with the sun gleaming overhead, bathing Ponyville with its warm light as a familiar purple unicorn trotted through the town with a purple little dragon on her back. Twilight smiled as she looked up into the deep blue yonder of the sky, “What a gorgeous day, wouldn’t you agree Spike?

“Yeah! You wouldn’t even think that just a couple days ago the sky was filled with smog,” Spike replied as he looked about Ponyville. “Rainbow must’ve gotten up early and…”

“Yoohoo!”

With Spike’s comment interrupted, Twilight and her young ward turned to see a rather odd sight at the entrance of the town’s center – A goofy looking griffon was seated on a bright red carpet that had a number of odd trinkets spread out on the carpet with a large blue backpack behind him, most of the trinkets seemed to be really old and the griffon himself was gesturing towards them to come over. “Yes! The unicorn with the dragon on your back! I just opened up shop! Check out my wares and be my first customer!”

Twilight tilted her head at the griffon – He seemed very familiar with the feathers on his head styled to stand up, dressed in a bright red jersey with a hood on it – Spike on the other hoof jumped off of Twilight and skittered towards the edge of the carpet to get a better look at a small emerald statue in the shape of a serpentine dragon.

The unicorn trotted towards the edge of the carpet as the griffon lifted up a necklace that was made out of copper with a horse like design on it with a sapphire on the horse design. “Welcome! Welcome!”

“Uh, what are you doing?” Twilight asked, looking over a cracked vase in front of her.

“Well, even griffons need to eat, Miss,” the griffon replied with a sheepish grin on his face. “So, I figured that I’d set up shop and sell some of my one-of-a-kind antiques!”

The griffon lifted the necklace he had in his talons towards Twilight, “Take this little treasure for example – This is an ancient Caballon artifact, a rain dancer’s tribal necklace! And this little trinket can be yours with the low, low price of twenty-five bits! What d’ya say, Miss? I think this would look dashing around your pretty little neck!”

Twilight blinked a few times at the odd griffon, and then realized something, “Wait, aren’t you that griffon I saw a few days ago with that zebra?”

The griffon’s face lit up even more as his smile grew, “Ah! You remember me! That’s good! We should commemorate this second chance meeting with a sale! Since you remember me, I’ll take the price down to twenty-two bits! What do you say?”

“Well, as good of a deal that is,” Twilight replied as he horn began to glow brightly, the same aura appearing around Spike and lifted him off of the ground. “I am afraid I will have to pass this offer of yours.”

Spike huffed as he was placed back on Twilight’s back, and as the mare trotted off, the griffon slumped down to the ground with his head lowered. “Awe… That’s not good…”

When Twilight had distanced herself from the griffon’s shop, said griffon lifted his head up and pumped one of his talons. “No! I can’t let this get me down! I’m in a pinch! But when driven into a corner, you can think of new ideas!

“When you’re down, you can see your surroundings better! I won’t be dining on grass again tonight!”

Unfortunately, Twilight and Spike were able to hear the griffon’s proclamations, and that just made Twilight trot a little faster. “What a weird character.”

“Yeah, but he had some really cool stuff,” Spike huffed with his arms crossed over his chest. “That statue was pure jade! And did you see that he had a samurai sword there? That would’ve been awesome to have!”

“Spike, why in Equestria would you want a sword?” Twilight questioned, turning her head to look at her number one assistant. “They’re dangerous and you could hurt yourself with it.”

“Yeah, but Haru’s able to use one like a pro!” Spike answered with a bright smile. “I’m sure he could teach me how to use it!”

Twilight rolled her eyes, she had a feeling that’d be the case – While Haru was a good influence and didn’t cause trouble, the young mare did have to admit that the magical dragon did leave an impression her assistant. She didn’t really see the appeal of swordplay, but then again boys will be boys. ‘I guess even Shining Armor had his moments like that. Although, I’m probably going to have to have Haru talk to Spike about this.’

Speaking of the magical dragon, Haru had gotten up early this morning (roughly a little earlier than Twilight) and left for town to find work. The last few days, the ring mage had spent most of his time at the library in order to study up on the new ring that he had acquired in his fight against Phoenix. He had even transformed into his Flame Dragon style to test it out, and it went without a hitch… Save for part of the outside of the Golden Oaks Library that caught a flame when he transformed. But it didn’t take long for the fires to be put out.

After his testing, Haru had asked Twilight about where she got the ring… Well, that was a little more difficult to explain. Twilight didn’t want Haru to know that she was visited by White Wizard or that she and her close friends knew the magical dragon’s deepest secret. Especially since Haru wasn’t comfortable telling them about him becoming bipedal within the last half year of his life, and if he found out that they knew his secret, then it probably wouldn’t end well.

“Twilight?”

The student of Celestia shook her head from those thoughts and turned her attention towards the dragon on her back. “Uh, I’m sorry Spike, what were you saying?”

“I was asking if we could go back and pick up that samurai sword?” Spike asked with a bright gleam in his eye.

Once again, Twilight sighed at her foster brother’s request. When she turned her head forward, Twilight was about to speak up when she noticed something about Ponyville on this shiny day. The streets were empty!

“Where is everypony?” Twilight mumbled out loud to herself as she trotted slower through the town.

“Don’t change the subject!” Spike barked, before he too realized that the tow was almost completely devoid of anypony – well, save for the griffon behind the two who was still in his inner monologue. “Uh… W-What happened to everypony? Is it some sort of holiday or something?”

“Not that I know of,” Twilight replied.

“PSSSST!”

Twilight stopped in her tracks and looked around, trying to find the source of that weird sound.

“TWILIGHT! SPIKE! Come here!”

Both Twilight and Spike turned towards Sugarcube Corner, where the building was darkened yet the door was opened to reveal a pink hoof was motioning for them. “Hurry! Before she gets you!”

Without a second of hesitation, Twilight galloped into the confectionary with the door slamming shut behind her. Once inside, the darkness inside the building had completely covered the two, and the young mare stumbled about. “Pinkie? What’s going on here?”

That’s when a bright light shined in front of the two, revealing that Pinkie was standing before the two with a flashlight held up next to her face. “Oooh, one of the spookiest things ever!”

“Anything’s spooky if you’re alone in the dark,” Twilight replied with a flat look in her eyes.

“Oh, I’m not alone in the dark,” Pinkie Pie stated with a bright smile as the unicorn’s and young dragon’s adjusted to the dark. “At least, I don’t think I’m a video game series that was turned into a horrible movie rip off at the box offices.”

When they did Twilight realized that indeed it wasn’t just the three of them in sweet shop: gathered around Twilight were the other members of her little group of friends, including Haru (who was munching on a doughnut at the counter) and little Apple Bloom who had the Topaz Kraken (scratch that, the Topaz Kraken who was named Kenny) atop her head near the magical dragon. Twilight was a little surprised to see everypony around her and jumped slightly, which in turn made Spike slide off her back. “O-kay, so then, what are you all doing here in the dark?”

Applejack pulled back some of the curtains of the shop, while taking care that she was still hidden by said curtains. “We’re hidin’ from… HER!

A little curious, Twilight trotted towards the window and looked out to clearly see that the same griffon who tried to sell her something had another customer. Twilight focused her eyes to get a better look as Spike and the rest of the mares crowded behind her to watch. Standing before the makeshift shop on a carpet was an odd cloaked figure, with only their legs showing to reveal gray fur covered legs with black hooves, and at the right front leg were a number of golden circlets.

Suddenly, the cloaked figure turned towards Sugarcube Corner, showing that under the hood was a pair of glowing yellow eyes that made everypony, save for Twilight and Haru, duck for cover.

Twilight rolled her eyes, “Her? What’s so scary about her?”

“Did ya see her Twilight?” Apple Bloom asked as she stood up next to the young studious unicorn, Kraken (Kenny) squeaking a few times. “Did ya see… Zecora?”

“Apple Bloom!” Applejack scolded. “Ah told ya never to say that name!”

Twilight turned back to the window to see that the cloaked figure, Zecora, was back to talking to the griffon (who at the moment had lifted up the same copper necklace that he tried to sell to Twilight a few minutes earlier). “All I saw was her glancing this way…”

“Glance evilly this way,” Pinkie Pie corrected, putting emphasis on the word ‘evilly’.

Twilight rolled her eyes, “And you all flip out for no good reason.”

“No good reason?” Applejack questioned as she pulled her little sister close to her, with Kraken floating over the two Apple Sisters. “Ya call protectin’ yer kin no good reason? Why, as soon as my sister saw Zecora headin’ into town she started shakin’ in her lil horseshoes!”

“Did not!” Apple Bloom protested.

However, the little filly’s complaints fell on deaf ears as her big sister tossed the young filly on her back, “So Ah swept her up and brought her here!”

“But Ah walked here myself.”

“Fer safety!”

“Zecora,” Fluttershy gulped. “She’s mysterious…”

“Sinster,” Rainbow Dash chimed in.

“And spooooooky!” Pinkie Pie finished up.

“So is Haru without his morning coffee,” Twilight pointed out as she pointed towards the sleek dragon behind the counter.

“Hey!” Haru protested, stopping himself from finishing his doughnut.

“And I’m kind of surprised to see you hiding, Haru,” Twilight stated. “You fight monsters almost every week or so, but you’re afraid of a cloaked pony?”

“I’m not hiding,” Haru replied as he waved his doughnut slightly. “I came to Sugarcube Corner for some breakfast, and all of a sudden, everypony here comes rushing in here and the lights go out.”

Twilight nodded before she looked out the window once more, seeing that Zecora pulled back the hood of her cloak to reveal the back of her head with a black and white Mohawk-styled mane, stripes on her fur, and large golden earrings. Everypony, save for Twilight and Haru, gasped at the sight.

Instead, Twilight sighed loudly, “Will you please stop doing that?”

“Darling, haven’t you seen those stripes? That mane style? And that jewelry?” Rarity pointed out as she brought her hooves to her mouth. “So garish!”

“She’s a zebra,” Twilight stated bluntly.

There was a moment of silence before Haru raised his claws up into the air, “Uh, Twilight, she’s a ‘what’ now?”

“A zebra,” Twilight began to explain as she kept her attention towards the window. “And her stripes aren’t a fashion choice Rarity, they’re what most zebras are born with.”

Rarity’s blue eyes widened before she fell backwards and fainted.

“Born where?” Applejack asked, with an audible gulp following. “Ah’ve never seen a pony like her in these here parts, ‘cept fer… her!”

“Well, zebras are indigenous to Zebrica,” Twilight explained with a hint of pride that her studies were being used once more. “That’s across the sea, but, that doesn’t stop zebras from coming to this land. In fact, just the other day, I saw another zebra near your orchard, Applejack. But, I’ve never seen her in town before.”

“That’s because she lives in,” Applejack explained taking a moment to take in a breath. “The Everfree Forest!”

BAM!

All of the ponies, and even Haru, jumped at the surprising loud noise that erupted from the kitchen. From the door to the kitchen, Spike poked his head out with a claw full of sweets, “Uh, s-sorry! My bad!”

With his doughnut finished, Haru stepped from behind the counter, “The Everfree Forest, huh? I’ve heard of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever been there. What’s so wrong with it?”

“Mistah Souma, them woods just ain’t natural,” Applejack explained with a cold bead of sweat rolling down the side of her head. “The plants grow…

“Animals care for themselves,” Fluttershy added as she trotted up next to the tall dragon.

“And the clouds move,” Rainbow Dash chimed in, flying over the dragon’s head.

“All on their own!” All three yelped at the same time.

Right on cue, Rarity fainted once again.

“How does it make her evil?” Twilight asked, keeping her attention at the window. “Seems like she’s being pretty nice to that griffon out there.”

Dash flew to the window and squinted her eyes, watching as Zecora placed a few bits on the carpet in front of the griffon. Said griffon smiled goofily as he lifted the necklace to Zecora. “Hmmm, something about that griffon seems familiar…”

“She’s probably just sizing him up!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she bounced into the center of the shop. “She does all this evil… uh, stuff! And I even wrote a song about her evil deeds!”

“A… Song?” Haru questioned with a raised brow.

Pinkie Pie took in a deep breath before she began to sing,“There’s a light~ in the distance!

See them coming closer!
With the force of ages
Of centuries gone by!
Protectors of the right!
Defenders sworn to fight! Dino – Whoops! Sorry! Wrong song!”

Clearing her throat, Pinkie Pie began to sing once more, this time dancing about the room, “She's an evil enchantress!

“She does evil dances
And if you look deep in her eyes
She'll put you in trances
Then what will she do?
She'll mix up an evil brew
Then she'll gobble you up
In a big tasty stew
Soooo... Watch out!”

The song ended with Pinkie Pie atop one of the tables with her front hooves raised over her head, the pink earth pony trying to catch her breath.

“Wow, catchy,” Twilight admitted.

Pinkie jumped off the table and smiled brightly, “Thanks! They’re both works in progress.”

“Okay, aside from gossip,” Twilight coughed to get back on topic. “What exactly have you seen Zecora do?”

It was at this point that Rarity had gotten back to her hooves, “Darling, there’s more to it than that. Over half a year ago, Zecora appeared in town, and whenever she appeared in town, strange things start happening.”

Haru raised his brow slightly. ‘Over half a year ago, huh?’

“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash added as she flew through the air. “Once a month, she comes to Ponyville, and every time she does, something strange happens – Like one time, after she visited, a lot of ponies claimed that they were stalked by a weird cloaked figure at night.”

“Another time,” Fluttershy gulped as she shuddered to the floor. “A lot of the animals were scared and told me that a cloaked figure destroyed their homes.”

“And most recently,” Rarity chimed in once more. “As of late, a lot of ponies including yours truly have reported a number of jewel thefts! I may not have seen the culprit, but a few ponies claimed to have seen a cloaked figure lurking about at night!”

“Anypony can wear a cloak,” Twilight replied with a roll of her eyes. “Besides, did anypony see Zecora commit any of these acts? If not, then its only speculation that Zecora did them – And it’s only coincidental that they happen when she’s around. I’m sure there’s an explanation for everything, and if anypony here were actually brave enough to approach her, the truth would appear.”

Nopony noticed that Apple Bloom was quietly sneaking out of Sugarcube Corner with Kenny the Topaz Kraken floating behind her. It wasn’t hard for her to sneak out since Twilight was trying to argue her case, while Pinkie Pie was singing her songs once more, and the other ponies were trying to convince Twilight that Zecora was bad news, ‘Ah’m brave ‘nough; Ah’m gunna find that truth mahself!’

With the older mares in deep discussion (and singing), Apple Bloom snuck through Ponyville, keeping her attention on Zecora who had left the makeshift shop and was making her way out of town. Taking cover behind a rather large cardboard box, Apple Bloom and Kenny the Topaz Kraken popped their heads from behind the box. “Ah wonder if she’s as bad as everypony says…”

“There’s always one way to find out.”

Apple Bloom and the Kraken Familiar looked about to find the source of the familiar voice, Apple Bloom blinked a few times, “Mistah Souma? Where are ya?”

“I’m right in front of you,” Haru spoke once more, as the box in front of Apple Bloom lifted up to reveal that indeed the jacket wearing dragon was hidden within the box.

“Uh, Mistah Souma, what are ya doing?” Apple Bloom asked with her head tilted.

“Well, I got a little curious about Zecora,” Haru explained as he pulled the box down over him. “So, I snuck out while Twilight was making a few points.”

“Ah was more curious about the box,” Apple Bloom asked with her head tilted.

“Oh,” Haru coughed slightly from inside the box. “W-Well, I just used some of the magic I had, my Dress Up Ring, and my magic made this for me. I get that a tall red dragon sticks out, but this box just seems to fit right.”

“Ah guess that makes sense,” Apple Bloom answered with her head tilted slightly.

‘But when I put it on,’ Haru thought to himself as he turned around in the box and slowly began to follow Zecora with Apple Bloom following behind him. ‘I suddenly got this feeling of inner peace. I feel… Safe. Like this is where I was meant to be. Like I’d found the key to true happiness.

‘Does that make any sense?’

“Mistah Souma, ya’ll don’t mind if Ah tag along with ya?” Apple Bloom whispered to the hidden dragon.

“Huh? Y-Yeah, sure,” Haru replied as he shuffled a little faster in the box. “If I’m with you, I’ll make sure that nothing bad happens.”

TTTTTTT

It didn’t take long for the box covered dragon, the blank flank filly, and the Kraken familiar to follow Zecora to the entrance to the Everfree Woods. The cloaked zebra kept trotting deeper into the woods, Haru discarded his cardboard box disguise and darted behind some of the bushes with his familiar and Apple Bloom. ‘Hmm… If Everfree Forest is so dangerous, why is there an obvious path through it?’

“So, what’s the plan, Mistah Souma?” Apple Bloom asked as she leaned closer to the sleek dragon.

“Well, that’s a good question,” Haru muttered under his breath as he rubbed his chin with his dark claws. “We’ve still got Zecora in our sights, and we don’t want to lose her… But, I’ve never been in the Everfree Forest, so, we’ll have to follow her so we don’t get lost. On the other claw, I don’t know what’s in there…”

“Like a tall, fancy rooster?” Apple Bloom stated.

“Wait, what?” Haru questioned with a raised brow.

Apple Bloom pointed towards a few yards away from the entrance of the woods, where a rather odd creature was heading towards the brush. The creature itself did look like a tall rooster with black feathers sprouting from its shoulders and covering its 'hands'. The creature’s head looked like a gamecock’s head, with an odd face under the beak. The creature had red ribbons tied around its arms, was wearing an elaborate loincloth, and had a large burlap sack slung over its shoulders.

The odd creature sauntered into the woods, leaving a rather confused Haru at the bushes. “Uh, okay, that’s rather odd.”

“Ah heard that many weird creatures living in Everfree Forest,” Apple Bloom stated, garnering Haru’s attention. “But a big rooster?”

“Apple Bloom,” Haru said as he stood up. “I want you to stay here for a little bit.”

“Huh? But what about Zecora?” Apple Bloom asked with her head tilted slightly.

“There’s a lot going on in these woods,” Haru replied as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a pair of rings. “But, I’d feel better if you stay out here.”

“But Mistah Souma,” Apple Bloom protested, but Haru had already dashed off to follow the weird Rooster creature.

The young filly huffed as she turned towards the actual entrance of the Everfree Woods where Zecora was disappearing into the distance. Apple Bloom turned to see Haru disappear into the shrubbery, ‘Even Mistah Souma treats me like a baby… Ah can do this mahself! Ah’ll prove Ah can do this!’

That was when Apple Bloom galloped towards the entrance of the Everfree Woods, the topaz Kraken familiar flying after her.

As the filly went into the woods, she didn’t notice that pair of colorful, floral patterned boxer shorts flew past the entrance of the woods.

TTTTTTTT

The path that Haru took wasn’t as cleared off as the path that Zecora and Apple Bloom had taken, with the magical dragon having to get through a large amount of lowered branches, several roots that stuck out from the ground and a large amount of thorny vines that scratched the dragon’s exposed skin. ‘Ooh, that stings. Maybe I should’ve transformed before I entered here, but I don’t want to lose that creature…

‘Certainly has the look of a monster – But what in the world is it? Is it a Phantom?’

Originally, the magical dragon’s intentions were to follow Zecora – The incidents that the mares talked about were concerning, but they seemed to follow another pattern that Haru took notice. When he heard the mares talking about it, it reminded the dragon about Gilda’s own problems.

He couldn’t discount the possibility that this Zecora was a Gate being targeted by a Phantom just like Gilda was: being falsely accused of misfortunate events which would eventually ostracize the zebra. But Haru also had to consider that Zecora was possibly a Phantom herself, but deep down he hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

‘But then here comes that weird rooster thing – What is that thing supposed to be? A Phantom version of a Cockatrice?’

“Took this thing a while to get back this time.”

Haru’s eyes widened when he heard the voice and he crouched down. Thankfully, the voice kept sounding out so Haru could shift through the bushes to find the source. “C’mon, this thing’s speed is just a crime.”

“Perhaps, but he’s getting the job done. Soon we’ll have enough medals to get our own personal army.”

“Yes, the better soon than late. With our own personal army at our command, I will change every Phantom’s fate.”

Eventually after enough shifting through the leafs and thorny vines, Haru peeked through one of the bushes to see a rather small clearing – Where he saw the owners of the voices. There were three beings in the small clearing, one of which was the odd rooster creature who was dumping the contents of the large burlap sack: Dumping several kinds of jewels into a rather large pile of jewels. ‘A nest?’

The next figure that caught Haru’s attention was a tall, sleek, cloaked character with a ragged top hat covering its head. When Haru looked down at the cloaked figure’s feet, he noted that the creature was bipedal, but the being’s ankles seemed to be made of some sort of coiled metal of some kind. “But you’re damn lucky, Shocker. If we didn’t meet up a couple nights ago, you would’ve been just a gawker.”

“You’re one to talk, Spring Heel, I at least had a mission to fulfill – You were just causing mischief.”

The owner of that last voice was the remaining being in the small clearing near the jewels was a tall, eagle-like creature covered with musty grayish-brown feathers with a large gas-mask covering its face. At random parts of this monster’s body were bronze snakes that popped from the creature’s body, and around the monster’s waist was a white belt that had a large golden buckler that was engraved with a large eagle perched atop of a world symbol. The feathered monster called ‘Shocker’ lifted one of his talons towards Spring Heel. “What sort of respectable kaiju are you? You’ve got the fearsome look down, but your attitude wouldn’t even scare a filly.”

Spring Hell snapped his arms up into the air, revealing that at the end of his arms were several knife-like claws, “I’d watch my tongue if I were you, you never should underestimate a Phantom’s power. Shocker is a thing of the past, Phantoms are what ponies cower!”

“Humph, whatever delusions you wish to carry they do not matter to me,” Shocker scoffed as he walked towards the rooster monster with his right claw lifted up. “Soon this Yummy shall soon be ripe enough for us to harvest the cell medals. These ponies are a great source of desire, and so easy to determine which ones will give the most out of our medals thanks to those marks on their legs.”

It was then that Shocker stabbed his talons into the Yummy’s chest, making the gamecock monster stagger slightly before Shocker pulled his talon free. To Haru’s amazement, the Yummy didn’t have nary a scratch on its chest – No blood, no wound, just a few silver medallions falling from Shocker’s talons that fell to the ground. “You shall get your army in due time Spring Heel, but only as long as you aid me in my own desire.”

With a wave of his hand, Spring Heel knelt down and grabbed a few of the medals from the ground with his free clawed hand, “To help you find the one with the cores. Yes, yes, there’s no need to remind me of the bores.”

‘An army? Why would this Phantom need an army?’ Haru thought to himself watching the strange scene in front of him. ‘Phantoms have the Ghouls and their own numbers to draw from, why does this Spring Heel need this Shocker’s help to make an army? And how are medallions supposed to help them acquire this army?

‘And this Shocker, what in the world is he supposed to be? For some reason, I doubt he’s a Phantom, they usually have a sort of mythological theme or something like that. But for the life of me I can’t tell what this Shocker id supposed to be…’

It was then that Shocker lifted his head up and looked around. “… We’re being watched.”

Haru stilled his breath.

“Come out this instant,” Shocker demanded as he dropped the medals to the ground. “If either of us have come out to find you, then the end result won’t be pretty.”

With a roll of his eyes, Haru knew what he had to do.

“DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

Another sound echoed through the air as Haru’s belt appeared, three chimes echoing though the forested air…

“HENSHIN!”

When Haru called out his trademarked transformation battle call, he noticed that he wasn’t the only one to say it. There was an unfamiliar voice that called out at the same time…

“FLAME – PLEASE!”

TAKA TORA BATTA!

“Hii Hii HiiHiiHii!”

TA-TO-BA! TATOBA TATOBA!

TTTTTTTT

While a battle of epic proportions was raging on in the woods (the author would write it in, but this story has a certain formula to it, and we can’t deviate from it too much or else it would be EVIL!), Apple Bloom and Kenny the Topaz Kraken had managed to catch up to Zecora, right when the mysterious Zebra was passing by a large bunch of odd blue flowers.

Apple Bloom was about to just gallop through the weird blue flowers, but the Topaz familiar had stopped her. Making sure she wasn’t spotted by Zecora, Apple Bloom carefully trotted around the odd blue flowers as per her cute little pet’s odd request.

But just as she was about halfway passing the odd flowers…

“APPLE BLOOM!!”

The young filly jumped when she heard her name called out, and she immediately turned around to see that not only was her older sister was behind her standing within the weird blue flowers, so were the other five mares that were close friends with her. “Ya’ll get back here right now!”

Before Apple Bloom could even say a word…

“Beware! Beware, you pony folk!”

Zecora had called out from her side of the blue flowers, “Those leaves of blue are not a joke!”

Applejack had already galloped to her younger sister and the young mare was hoisted onto Applejack’s head, with the filly now on her back. “Is that supposed to scare us?! Y-Ya’ll keep yer creepy mumbo-jumbo to yerself, ya hear?!?!”

The other mares (save for Twilight) were trying to speak over each other, the purple unicorn rolled her eyes, “Oh brother…”

The rants and ravings of the group fell on deaf ears as Zecora began to disappear into a mysterious fog that seemed to come out of nowhere, “Beware! Beware!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever!” Dash barked stomping on a few of the blue odd flowers in the process. “Keep those weird flank curses to yourself Zecora! Otherwise you’ll be the one to beware!”

“Dash!” Twilight scolded.

Of course, Twilight wasn’t the only pony who was scolding, Applejack had her eyes narrowed as Apple Bloom shrunk down with her eyes looking down. “And you! Why couldn’t ya just listen to yer big sister?”

“B-But, Ah… Ah…” Apple Bloom stuttered trying to say something. “M-Mistah Souma was with me, and Ah…”

“And where exactly is Mistah Souma then?” Applejack questioned with her eyes narrowed down. “Ah know he’s a dependable dragon with these sorts of things, but still, not even Mistah Souma could break a hex from Zecora!”

“Where is Mister Haru?” Fluttershy asked.

Almost as if it was a cue by Celestia herself, an oncoming, yelling, black and red blur fell from sky, crashing into the blue flowers in front of all the mares with all the blue petals flying up into the air. When the petals began to fall, the mares saw that before them was a rather dazed Wizard with several silver coins scattered about. “Stupid… Boxing… Rooster…”

Most of the mares just looked at each other as Haru’s Wizard attire faded away. Twilight blinked a few times as her magical aura slowly materialized the dazed Haru, his blue eyes spinning. “I think he’s just a little out of sorts. I wonder what happened to him…”

“Probably just got swatted by a manticore or something,” Dash scoffed as she jumped into the air to let her wings spread out. “I dunno about you guys, but I’m getting outta here before that curse takes effect.”

“There’s no such thing as curses!” Twilight stated as Haru was lifted up into the air with her magic.

“Then how do you explain the mysterious fog?” Pinkie Pie retorted as she leaned close to Twilight. “The weird ‘warning’?” Haru falling from the sky with several coins?”

“Quite the unique design these coins have,” Rarity admitted levitating one medal that had a peacock design on it up in the air before her. “Hmm, I swear I’ve seen this design somewhere…”

“There are plenty of reasonable explanations,” Twilight started, but her friends were already leaving the path of weird blue flowers. “Curses are just pony tales.”

“Just you wait, Twi” Applejack said as she trotted off. “You’ll find that some pony tales really are true.”

Twilight sighed.

TTTTTTT

When Twilight managed to get out of the Everfree Woods with the still dazed Haru being lifted up behind her with her magic, she squinted slightly from the bright sunlight overhead. Twilight sighed as her eyes adjusted to the bright light, ‘Why would they be afraid of a curse?’

It was then that Twilight turned towards Haru and chuckled to herself, ‘Then again, we’re in a world where a stallion can be cursed to become a dragon. Speaking that, I should probably speak to Haru about what we know of his past… But, would he be able to handle that we know his secret?’

“Uh, excuse me Miss.”

Twilight jumped a little when somepony’s voice sounded from behind her, almost making her drop Haru to the ground. But she was able to compose herself before he hit the ground, and with a sigh of relief, Twilight turned around to see a familiar zebra standing behind her with a worried look on his face. “Uh, hello there.”

“R-Right! Hello,” the zebra replied as he lowered his head, his purple clothes wrinkling as his muzzle brushed up against his neck. “I hope I didn’t scare you or anything, I’m just trying to find something that got away from me.”

“Uh, okay, you didn’t scare me too much,” Twilight lied under her breath, her heart still racing a little bit. “And there’s no need to be that formal, we’ve actually met before. I think that griffon friend of yours called you Eiji, right?”

The zebra, Eiji, brightly smiled as he lifted his head up, “R-Right! It was near that orchard on that day when that weird weather came around. My name’s Hino Eiji, but Eiji is good enough.”

Twilight smiled at the zebra’s good behavior, “Well, Mr. Hino, allow me to properly introduce myself – I am Twilight Sparkle.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” Eiji replied with a slight nod before he turned towards the still floating Haru. “Oh, um, is he okay?”

“Haru? He seems alright, just a little dazed,” Twilight mused with a confused look on her face. “Do you know him?”

“Well, kinda,” Eiji replied with a nervous smile on his face. “We kinda just met a little bit ago, but we didn’t exchange names – Kinda busy with everything happening all at once. But anyway, I’m kinda searching for something, you didn’t happen to see a pair of floral patterned… Um… W-Well…”

Twilight couldn’t help but notice that the zebra’s face had a noticeable blush, even showing through his gray and black fur. “A pair of… boxers…”

“Excuse me?” Twilight questioned with her ears leaning forward. “What did you say?”

BOXERS!” Eiji sputtered out with his face completely red. When he realized that he blurted that out, his face turned completely red and his hooves were brought to his face. Then with a nervous chuckle, Eiji turned to the side. “Uh, s-sorry about that, it’s not really a subject a stallion should ask a mare, but I’m kinda in a pickle.”

“Well, if I see a random pair of boxers,” Twilight giggled with a bright smile on her face. “You’ll be the first to know, Mr. Hino.”

“O-Okay,” Eiji chuckled as he rubbed the back of his head. “Also, make sure you’re careful around here, there are a few weird things running about.”

“Tell me about it,” Twilight sighed, a flat look appearing in her eyes. “I’ve been hearing about curses, weird events happening in Ponyville, and all of a sudden my friend here falls from the sky with a bunch of weird coins next to him.”

Eiji whistled innocently as he turned his eyes away, “O-Oh, really? Well, Miss Sparkle, it was nice chatting with you, but I need to find those bo… My unmentionables…”

And with that Eiji spun on his hooves and slowly began to trot into the woods behind him.

“Wait! It’s dangerous in there!” Twilight called out.

Eiji stopped and turned around with a bright smile on his face, “Don’t worry! I may not look it, but I’m able to take care of myself. Besides, my friend lives in Everfree Forest, and she’s able to survive with the comforts of home.”

“Your friend?” Twilight questioned as she looked down at the ground. That’s when realization struck her. “Wait, are you talking about…”

But when Twilight lifted her head up, she saw that Eiji was gone. All she was looking at was the empty path that led through the Everfree Forest. “How are some ponies able to disappear out of thin air?”

“Practice, lots and lots of practice,” Haru answered.

Twilight snapped her head to the side to see that Haru was awake, and had his arms crossed over his chest… And he was currently upside down. “I hope it’s okay if I can walk on my own two feet.”

“R-Right,” Twilight chuckled as she used her magic to gently lower the dragon to the ground.

When Haru was standing on his own, the dragon dusted off his jacket and fixed his belt. “Much better.”

“Haru, why were you in the woods?” Twilight asked with her head tilted slightly.

“Twilight, I’ve got a lot to tell you,” Haru replied as he stretched his arms. “And luckily, we got a long enough of a walk to talk it over.”

TTTTTTTTT

A little time passed in the Everfree Forest, in the small clearing where Spring Heel and Shocker were discussing was completely devoid of almost every little thing that proved that the two were there – Save for the small trail of jewels that led out of the clearing and into the bushes.

“Well, well, well, looks like this forest hides more than just Phantoms…”

Stepping from some of the bushes, Sora stepped into the clearing with his trademarked smile plastered on his face. “Although, I must admit, I didn’t expect a Phantom to work with a Greeed. This just gets all the more interesting all the time.”

Sora trotted over to one of the jewels and swept it up with his wing, “Maybe I should try to get into the fun myself.

“Heeheehee!”

TTTTTTTT

By the time Twilight and Haru had reached the Golden Oaks library, the mystical dragon had explained his thoughts about Zecora and how she could be being targeted by a Phantom to make the mysterious zebra be blamed for all of the recent odd events that her friends informed her about. “That’s what happened to Gilda, right?”

“Yeah,” Haru stated with a nod as the two stopped at the front door to the library. “And as I said, I already found the Phantom with a number of jewels in the Everfree Forest. So, if it turns out that Zecora isn’t the Phantom, then at least we can prove her innocence of the jewel thefts.

“Getting them back is another matter entirely…”

“What do you mean?” Twilight inquired, a little lump appearing in the back of her throat, a little afraid of what Haru was referring to.

“This Phantom wasn’t alone,” Haru explained as he rubbed his chin. “Whatever this Spring Heel is up to, he’s got a couple of partners that are not Phantoms.”

“Not Phantoms?” Twilight questioned. “Are you talking about ponies helping the Phantom? Or…”

“I’m not sure what they are,” Haru admitted as he reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the silver medals that fell from the sky with him. “But whatever they are, they certainly aren’t ponies or Phantoms - When I fought against the three, and managed to land a couple of blows on these two…

“They ‘bled’ these coins.”

“That’s… Rather fascinating!” Twilight stated with her eyes gleaming as she looked at the medal in Haru’s claws. “This came from those other individuals? I’ve never heard of such a thing before!”

Before Haru could get a word in about the subject again, Twilight used her magic to pull the medal from his claws and floated it in front of her face. “I wonder what this thing is? It looks to be made of metal, but if it came from a living creature then… This is amazing!”

Haru sighed with his arms falling to his sides. “I think I’m just going to crash for the rest of the day, it’s been a long day…”

Twilight was more mesmerized by the odd medal that she had floating in front of her.

TTTTTTT

Eventually, night had appeared over Ponyville, and all of its residents had drifted off to dream land. Even Twilight, who had spent most of the rest of the day observing the odd medal in the basement of the library, had her own visit by the Sand Stallion. However, as she slept, the words of her friends concerning Zecora haunted her dreams – to make matters worse, Pinkie’s song was stuck in her head!

The morning couldn’t come fast enough for Twilight, who woke up when she dreamt of a maniacally laughing Zecora with yellow eyes. “Ugh, again with the dreams…”

Twilight pushed herself from her bed with a groan. “I’m starting to think I should talk to somepony about these sorts of things. Curses, schmurses.”

Slowly the mare made her way to the vanity mirror she had in her room and reeled back at the sight she was looking at. “Whoa!”

Her mane was a complete mess! Twilight elicited a small giggle before she used her magic to levitate her brush. “Maybe Zecora cursed my hair.”

With few brushstrokes, Twilight’s wild mane was easily tamed, but when her mane was tamed – Her eyes widened, the brush dropped to the floor, and her jaw dropped when she saw her horn. Her horn was covered with odd blue spots and seemed to be rather wobbly.

It took a few moments for that to sink into Twilight’s mind.

And when it did, an extremely loud scream echoed though the air around the library, scaring countless birds from trees.

TBC

Spell 18 - Taka Tora Batta

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Desires create new civilizations. Takes us to unknown worlds. They guide us to new heights! They evolve us!
- Kousei Kougami

TTTTTTTTT

Spell 18

Taka Tora Batta
TaToBa!

TTTTTTTTT

Hours before Twilight had awoken up and made her horrid discovery, the night around Ponyville was peaceful, quaint, and no pony was stirring. The same could not be said about the Everfree Forest…

“I did not expect these turns of events,” Shocker stated as he stepped about the bushes of the Everfree Forest, his large wings folded at his back so he wouldn’t be hindered.

“So we gotta move these jewels,” Spring Heel cackled as he dropped several jewels to the ground haphazardly, the gamecock Yummy following suit behind him. “It’s not like we’re in any danger from those two fools.”

“The only fool I’ve seen today is you, Spring Heel,” Shocker growled as he spun around to look at the rhyming Phantom. “You didn’t inform me that there was one of them around here!”

The top hatted monster tilted his head slightly, his glowing yellow eyes blinking a few times. “You’ll have to explain your reason. To me, I figured we knocked those two masked losers into the next season.”

“You really are a fool,” Shocker sighed as he brought his talons to his forehead. “What we fought today are the very beings I was born to fight – The ones that have defended everything that beings like you and I have been practically hardwired into our very systems to destroy. Justice, hope, courage…

“They are the thorns in our sides! The very beings who’s sole existence is to stop us!

“Kamen Riders…”

Spring Heel was spinning one of his bladed fingers around the side of his head before he stepped forward and cackled. “Your rambling is a nice show, but I think your train of thought is a little slow. In case you didn’t see, we defeated those two in a matter of minutes, less than three.”

“Over confidence will be your downfall, Spring Heel,” Shocker growled as he walked over to the gamecock Yummy, eyeing the odd creature. “We’ll have to send out the Yummy once more tomorrow to get the maximum amount of Cell Medals that we can get for our army.”

“Why do we need to limit ourselves to one more day?” Spring Heel questioned with a tilt of his head. “After all, this town is the best place to let our army play.”

“I’ll concede the point that this ‘Ponyville’ is an ideal location for some good old fashioned chaos,” Shocker admitted, keeping his back turned to the Phantom. “But we can’t risk sending the Yummy out too much longer – Especially now that those Riders know about us. Worst of all, one of those Riders actually uses Cell Medals.”

Spring Heel sighed loudly as he pulled his top hat off, revealing his long, jagged black hair with a pair of devilish horns atop of his demonic face. The sharp clawed Phantom reached into his hat and pulled out a number of gray rocks with gold veins on them. “Shocker, I ask that you stay the fear you hold, for I have a plan that is really bold. If we’ve got one last shot, then let’s go titanic! This Yummy shall not be alone, I’ll use these and create a massive panic!”

It was then that Shocker threw his talons into the Yummy’s stomach, making the gamecock Yummy stagger back as its superior drew his talons back with a number of medallions in his talon. “I see your strategy, Spring Heel. If that’s the case, then I do not mind spending a few of these medals to create a little chaos.”

Unbeknownst to the two scheming creatures, up above atop of the clouds over Shocker and Spring Heel was a certain, mint green Pegasus who hummed to himself a joyous tune as he watched the clearing. A rather bright smile crawled onto Sora’s face as he gazed at the scene beneath him…

As more figures began to join the original three in the small clearing, Sora’s grin grew larger and larger, even to the point that his face was beginning to hurt. ‘Oh my, what an interesting turn of events we have on our hooves. Makes me glad that Harpie and her ‘family’ took that little vacation to the beach to recover.

‘Still, I didn’t think Spring Heel would have the guts to do this – To actually team up with a remnant of the past like ‘that’. Hmm, I wonder what this joyful Phantom is up to.’

Lifting up his hoof, Sora looked at the silver coin – A Cell Medal if he heard correctly – and tossed it up into the air a few times. ‘But, maybe I could have some real fun with these little things – After all, money, money, money, it’s really funny in a rich mare’s world.’

Several loud groans echoed from the forest below, drawing Sora’s attention to see that the entire, small clearing was no longer cleared. It was completely full with shadowy creatures stumbling about Spring Heel, Shocker and the gamecock Yummy. With a sigh, Sora extended his wings and flew off into the night. ‘Better go get my seat ready!’

TTTTTTTTTT

“NO NO NO NO NO!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Twilight galloped throughout the library, tripping over herself, Spike’s bed, Spike himself (who woke up with the initial scream), nearly the stairs, and a few of the books that she had pulled off the shelves with her magic in her mad dash. “None of these books have a cure!”

“Hehehehe…”

“Spike!” Twilight scolded as she turned to her assistant, her spotted horn wiggling in the process. “This isn’t funny!”

The young dragon took a deep breath and put on a straight face, “Y-You’re right Twilight, this isn’t funny…”

The young unicorn raised an eyebrow at Spike, but turned her attention, “I’m going to look at the books downstairs, and get Haru to help me out. Spike, just… Just keep looking.”

As soon as Twilight trotted down the stairs to head to the main lobby and disappeared from Spike’s sight, the baby dragon broke out into laughter, tears appearing in his eyes. “Bwahahahahaha! It’s hilarious!”

Twilight heard Spike’s laughter, but she drowned it out. Her horn was her main concern right now, and in the short time she was awakened, she had noticed that due to her ‘condition’, her magic wasn’t working as it normally did. It seemed weaker, and even the aura that usually appeared when she used her magic was polka-dotted just like her horn.

When she got down to the main floor of the library, Twilight instantly looked to the couch were a certain red dragon was sleeping on with his back to her. There was a small cloud of smoke over the sleeping dragon that grew as he snored lightly. There also seemed to be a pile of sand at the floor near the couch, but Twilight didn’t really notice that when she called out to the dragon. “Haru! Wake up!”

The magical dragon just snored in returned.

Twilight sighed as she trotted over to the dragon, and when she was close enough, Twilight tapped Haru’s back with her hoof. “Haru! Please! This is an emergency!”

This time Twilight got an actual response from the still sleeping Haru, but it was only his arm pushing away the mare’s hoof from his back with a grunt.

“HARU! GET UP!” Twilight yelled at the dragon at the top of her lungs (although, it wasn’t as loud as her scream only a few minutes earlier).

“Oi! Can’t you see I’m sleeping?!?!” Haru snapped as he quickly sat up, scaring Twilight with his sudden movement and surprisingly rougher voice.

“H-Haru?!” Twilight questioned as the dragon growled under his breath.

The sleek dragon stood up, and it was then that Twilight noticed something about the Haru (it wasn’t hard to see since the dragon wasn’t wearing one of his jackets). The normally rail thin dragon had more defined muscles on his body, nothing too extreme, but his muscles were bigger than they were usually. The red dragon’s black spines were also standing on end and there seemed to be a red scale that stood taller than the other spines. Speaking of red, Haru’s normally blue eyes were a sharp crimson and narrowed down at Twilight. “Oi, ya know it’s rude to stare.”

The unicorn stepped back from Haru, ‘Is… Is he possessed by Dragon again? Oh this is bad! I can’t use my magic to…

‘Haru’ stood up from the couch and stretched his arms up over his head with a yawn, “Oh well, if I’m awake, then it’s time for breakfast.”

What happened next only made Twilight blink in confusion – ‘Haru’ sniffed the air a few times before a large goofy grin appeared on his face. “Hmmm! I can smell it! That aroma! It’s… It’s…

“Pudding!”

With a lick of his chops, ‘Haru’ quickly walked past Twilight with ash falling off his form with every step he took before he disappeared into the kitchen. Twilight just blinked a few times in confusion, “… What just happened?”

“Twilight! Twilight!”

The unicorn turned her attention towards the stairs to see Spike running down the stairs with a large green book held over his head. “I think I found an answer! How about this!”

Twilight looked at the book that the young dragon was holding up to her, and she furrowed her brow at the title of it, “Supernaturals? Spike, this isn’t going to help, we’re not dealing with ghosts, spirits, or curses. This book isn’t going to help with my horn! This could be an allergy, or an illness, or… or… or…!”

“But Twilight, what if this book is what you need?” Spike retorted. “I mean, Haru kinda deals with the supernatural all the time. What if…”

“Spike, there are other things we have to worry about besides hooey curses!” Twilight replied as she turned to the kitchen. “Haru’s acting weird.”

“Weird?” Spike asked as he lowered the book. “Weird how?”

“Well, for one thing,” Twilight began to explain. “I think he’s eating pudding.”

Spike tilted his head, “Pudding? I thought the only sweets he liked were powdered sugar doughnuts?”

“Yeah, but he looks different as well,” Twilight added as she turned back to Spike. “And he kinda acts like a brute, a goofy brute, but a brute nonetheless.”

“Uh, but Twilight,” Spike muttered out loud as he rubbed the back of his head. “Doesn’t this all sound like…”

“Ah pfurse!”

Both Twilight and Spike turned to the side to see that Pinkie Pie had entered the library – But something was really wrong with the usually cheerful pink pony. Her tongue was sticking out of her mouth and had the same blue spots on it. Obviously, this made the mare have a saddened look in her eyes.

“A hearse?” Spike questioned. “What’s a hearse? And how could it be one of those things?”

“Pinkie?” Twilight gasped as she trotted up to her friend. “What happened to your tongue?”

“Pee pah Zthecora!” Pinkie Pie spat out, sending spit flying onto Spike, who made the young dragon lift the green book up to shield up. “Sthe put a cursthe on me!”

Before Twilight could even question what her friend was saying, the front door to the library flew off the hinges before a familiar rainbow blur flew through the air and crashed into one of the many shelves in the room. As it turned out, it was Rainbow Dash who was now on the floor with countless books underneath her.

And from where Twilight stood, it looked like the pegasus’ wings were now inverted and moved from her back to her lower sides. “Ow…”

“Dash?!” Twilight yelped. “How in Equestria did your wings end up there?”

“I would think the answer would be obvious, dear,” Rarity’s voice sounded out, immediately drawing Spike’s attention towards the door.

“RAR… I…” Spike trailed off before he brought his claws up to his mouth to cover it.

Indeed standing at the door was Rarity, or at least it was a pony with the same mane and fur color as the mare – the pony in question had extremely long, white fur that covered her entire body with her messy, blue mane doing the same to her head (except for the white horn that stuck out from the messy mane). Of course, when the shaggy pony blew some of her hair from her face, Rarity’s face peeked out for a second before it was covered once more. “I believe you’re aware of yesterday’s encounter, Twilight?”

“Rarity, there’s an obvious explanation for all of this,” Twilight replied, a little shaky in her response. “Maybe an allergic reaction?”

“Twi, Ah hate to say Ah told ya so,” A squeaky voice sounded out. “But Ah told ya so!”

Rarity moved away from the door, easily tripping over her own fur in the process. When she did, Twilight was able to see that Apple Bloom and Fluttershy were entering the library. However, the squeaky voice wasn’t from them, but rather it was coming from above them where a miniature Applejack was riding atop of Kenny the Topaz Kraken familiar. “It’s a curse, Ah tells ya! Zecora cursed us all!”

“O-kay, I definitely haven’t heard of an allergy that can shrink a pony’s entire body,” Twilight admitted as she turned over to Rainbow Dash, who was now flying through the air haphazardly. “Or move a pegasus’ wings… But Fluttershy she seems fine!”

“Yes,” Rarity huffed as she pushed herself off of the ground. “She seems to be the lucky one of us.”

“Fluttershy?” Twilight questioned as she stepped towards her shy Pegasus friend. “Are you okay?”

Fluttershy looked away with her ears drooping down.

“Is there something wrong with you?” Twilight asked, looking over the yellow pegasus, taking note that there were no physical changes to her friend.

Fluttershy sheepishly nodded before she cringed.

Now Twilight was getting a little annoyed, “Would you care to tell us?”

Fluttershy just flinched again.

“So, you’re not going to tell us?” Twilight inquired.

The yellow pegasus nodded.

“Is that a yes or a no?” Twilight muttered to herself.

“Good grief girl!” Applejack squeaked as she had Kenny the Topaz Kraken float her down to the table near Fluttershy. “What in tarnation is the matter with ya?!”

Fluttershy sighed as she turned from her friends, “No pony knows the sorrows I’ve seen.”

There was a moment of silence as Fluttershy’s deep voice echoed through the library, everypony’s eyes wide (well, it was assumed that Rarity’s were wide, but no one could tell thanks to the current state of her mane).

The silence that followed was immediately shattered by two reasons – The first was due to Rainbow Dash crashing into the nearby ladder that Spike often used to get books, her head getting stuck between two steps. The second reason was due to Spike breaking into a loud, mad laughter. “BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! THIS IS HILARIOUS!!”

“This ain’t funny!” Applejack snapped at the dragon.

“But look at you all!” Spike chuckled loudly. “We’ve got: Hairity, Rainbow Crash, Spitty Pie, Apple Teeny, Flutterguy, and…”

Spike turned towards Twilight and rubbed his chin. “Twilight Wobble? Nah, that’s no good.”

“Spike!” Twilight scolded. “This is serious!”

“Indeed. That is no way to speak to ladies!”

Everypony in the room turned towards the source of the voice, which was coming from the kitchen…

TTTTTT

While the Golden Oaks Library was ensuing with chaos, the rest of Ponyville was rather calm and peaceful. Near the edge of town was a pair of mares that were deep in discussion.

“Oh come on Bon Bon!” A mint green unicorn moaned with a look of desperation in her golden eyes. The mare’s mane and tail were a brilliant cyan with a white streak in both and her cutie mark was a lyre. “Why is it so hard to believe? I know what I saw!”

The other mare sighed with a shake of her head, making her blue mane (with pink streak) move with her movement. The mare, Bon Bon, had a beige fur coat and her cutie mark was a trio of ribbons. “Lyra, how many times do we have to have this discussion? Humans don’t exist! They’re just a fairy tale! I’ve told you to drop this insane belief, and now look what you’re saying!”

“What’s so insane about seeing a floating, red hand flying about?” Lyra asked with her head tilted at her friend. “I saw it flying out Carousel Boutique this morning!”

“Lyra,” Bon Bon sighed with a roll of her eyes. “As your friend, I’m telling you that flying ‘hands’ and ‘humans’ don’t exist. If you keep this up, some ponies are going to have you committed.”

“But I…” Lyra started only to stop talking when she saw something past her friend.

“There’s a difference between interest and obsession,” Bon Bon explained, unaware that a familiar gamecock-like humanoid was joyfully walking towards the two, throwing a few punches through the air using it’s ‘fists’ in a mock boxing match. “You can’t just expect to see something that walks on two legs with five ‘fingers’ appear just one day. Mythical creatures don’t appear out of thin air!”

Lyra began to smile as the weird gamecock creature drew closer, and she saw that it wasn’t alone. Behind it were a group of odd creatures – All of which were standing on two legs and had hands! “Bon Bon!”

“Lyra! I’m not done talking!” the earth pony sighed, unaware that the Gamecock Yummy was now standing right behind her. “This is important! I don’t want to see anything bad happen to you! Your family is worried about you and so am I, and we…”

Bon Bon stopped when she felt something tap her back a few times. The earth pony turned her head around and her cerulean eyes shrank when she realized she was looking at a feather covered finger. Her shrunken pupils travelled up the hand and then the arm that the feathered finger was attached to the odd looking Gamecock Yummy. “W-What the?”

“You! Hand over any jewels you have!” The odd humanoid creature commanded.

Bon Bon just stepped back and realized that there were other odd creatures next to the Gamecock Yummy – All of them human shaped! To the Gamecock Yummy’s right were about six Ghouls that stood tall and had their arms crossed over their rocky chests, while at the Yummy’s left were six humanoids that had black bodies covered with silver bandages covering them. Instead of having a face at their heads, the odd creatures had circular, black glass.

“W-What are these things?” Bon Bon sputtered.

The Gamecock Yummy threw its feathered fist up into the air, “You two are being uncooperative!”

“SQUEEEEE!” Lyra loudly squealed as she jumped in front of the Gamecock Yummy, surprising the monster, along with the other humanoid creatures. “Those hands! That shape! That posture! The way they move! Bon Bon! Humanoids! Humanoids! Not exactly humans, but this is evidence! Evidence that humans exist!”

The Gamecock Yummy squawked slightly as it turned to the Ghouls and other odd creatures behind it – They just shrugged in confusion.

“Oooooh! Bon Bon! They just shrugged!” Lyra cheered loudly as she brought her hooves to her face and stared at the large group of humanoids with stars in her eyes. “OOOH! It’s just as amazing as I imagined!”

The Gamecock Yummy tilted his head at the mint green unicorn before it scratched the top of its red comb. That just made Lyra lean closer towards the monster, “Amazing! Hey! Hey! Can I see your hand? Please? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?!?”

Once again, the Gamecock Yummy was a little puzzled by this unicorn’s behavior. Why wasn’t this pony running away scared? Or why wasn’t she giving the feathered Yummy the jewels it had demanded earlier? Reluctantly, the Yummy lowered its left hand towards Lyra, and almost immediately regretted it.

Instantly, Lyra’s hooves grasped the Yummy’s feather hand as she began to fondle the fingers, putting a little pressure on the tiny limbs with her hooves. “Amazing! The bone structure is different from ours! Bon Bon! You’ve gotta feel these fingers! I bet human fingers are just like this! He’s got five just like humans are supposed to have!”

“Lyra! Get away from that thing!” Bon Bon yelled at her friend. “It could be dangerous!”

“Aw, don’t be a party plopper,” Lyra replied with her tongue sticking out at her friend before she turned back to the Gamecock Yummy. “Hey, hey! Are there humans where you’re from? Are there? Are there?!”

The Gamecock Yummy pulled its hand away from Lyra and turned to the others behind it, “No jewels. We go elsewhere now!”

“W-What?!” Lyra gasped. “Bon Bon! Quick! Give him a jewel!”

“Does it look like I have any on me?” Bon Bon replied with a dull look in her eyes. “In any case, just let them go Lyra!”

“Hey! Wait!” Lyra called out to the Gamecock Yummy.

The Gamecock Yummy looked over his shoulder before he pumped his fist up into the air. “Ghouls! Trash Yummy! RUN FOR IT!”

The leading monster dashed past the others before they followed after the Gamecock Yummy, it only took two seconds for Lyra to gallop after the group. “WAIT! I STILL HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!”

“Lyra! NO!” Bon Bon yelled as she chased her friend.

Up in the clouds above the town, Shocker flew over Ponyville with Spring Heel on his back. The Phantom cackled loudly, “Some mares are just plain mad, but to see our grunts run away is just so sad.”

Shocker sighed loudly as he turned through the air, “Keep your trap shut Spring Heel. We’ll prepare the rest of our forces. Once we have done so, we shall take care of our Rider problem and satiate the desire of the Yummy.”

“I bet you’re just hoping that they don’t run into that crazy mare,” Spring Heel cackled with a wag of his knife-like claw. “She’d probably even give you a nasty scare.”

Shocker only growled in protest.

TTTTTT

“Hmm? Is there something on my face?”

Back in the library, standing the doorway to the kitchen was none other than Haru himself with a tray of coffee mugs being held up with one of his claws. The red dragon had his slim figure back, but he was still different looking than usual – His black spines were slicked back and had a blue streak to them, around his neck was a long blue scarf, and on the bridge of his scaly muzzle was a pair of glasses that highlighted his now sky blue eyes.

Twilight blinked a few times as the dragon sauntered into the room before he placed the tray of coffee on the same table where the mini Applejack was standing at. “Oh yes, Lady Twilight, I hope you don’t mind but I made coffee when I heard the voices. I’ll be sure to do dishes later when this is resolved.”

“Lemme guess,” Applejack squeaked out as Haru carefully placed an oddly small cup of coffee next to the miniature southern mare. “Mistah Souma was cursed too.”

“It isn’t a curse!” Twilight groaned, noting that the now classy dragon was passing out coffee to the mares. “… I just don’t know what’s going on with Haru. He was really rude earlier but now he’s… I don’t really know what to say about him right now.”

“Here you are Miss Pinkie,” Haru stated holding a mug to the pink mare in question. “I didn’t know if you liked coffee, so, I got you hot chocolate. I even managed to get some marshmallows too! Oh, and I didn’t forget to get some for you either, Lady Apple Bloom.”

Although she couldn’t speak, Pinkie Pie’s face lit up as she graciously accepted the mug of hot chocolate.

“At least he got rid of the garish jacket,” Rarity admitted looking through her long, unruly hair. “Although, I didn’t know you wore glasses Mister Souma.”

The oddly classy Haru merely shrugged his shoulders before he continued dispersing the fresh coffee. While Haru kept serving the beverages to the ever puzzled mares, Rainbow Dash freed herself from the ladder she was stuck in and floated carelessly about the air. “Enough talk about Wizard! We need to take action! It’s obvious we’ll find a cure to this hex at Zecora’s place!”

“It’s not a hex either!” Twilight yelled out, reeling slightly when she realized that there was a mug of steaming coffee right in front of her. “Ah!”

Gently pulling the coffee back so Twilight would bump into the mug, Haru smiled and brought his hand to his glasses. “You never know Madame Twilight, behind every word is a hundred hooks, a thousand lies. Perhaps there is more than what meets the eye. This Mademoiselle Zecora could know something.”

“Haru, you don’t tell me you believe in this curse stuff too!” Twilight gasped.

It was then that the entire library was filled with the mares’ protests about what to do, and mixed along with it was Spike’s laughter and the oddly suave Haru trying to diffuse the tension in the room. Nopony seemed to notice that Apple Bloom was silently walking out of the library with Kenny the Topaz Kraken following her.

Of course, the young filly didn’t notice that her ‘big’ sister jumped into her tail.

And when Apple Bloom had successfully escaped from the library, an odd, red disembodied arm slipped into the establishment, making sure it wasn’t seen by any of the ponies or dragons in the room.

“Okay! ENOUGH!” Dash yelled out, finally managing to somehow stay flying in one spot, awkward as she looked with her hind legs being pointed out at both her sides. “Twilight, I don’t care what you have to say, it’s time to pony up and get some answers from Zecora! C’mon! Who’s with me?!”

“Ahf am!” Pinkie spat out.

“And I as well,” Rarity chimed in.

Fluttershy looked away as she spoke, “Ah, well, I don’t know. She’s awfully dangerous.”

“Come on!” Rainbow Dash countered back, nearly losing her precious balance in the process. “There’ll be at least seven of us! We’ll fight any other hexes she’s got with a wizard of our own! What do ya say, Wizard?”

Haru swirled the coffee mug in his claws before he smiled, “Well, it wouldn’t be the gentlemanly… Er, I suppose it’s called, gentledragonly thing to let a group of mares go off on their own for something that could be dangerous. Don’t worry Lady Fluttershy, I shall go too.”

Twilight sighed. There was something odd about how Haru was referring to her and her friends, he never used honorifics before.

“And how about you, Applejack?” Dash asked.

After a few seconds with no answer, every pony turned to the table to see that there was no trace of the pocket-sized mare.

“Sphf gone!” Pinkie exclaimed, adding a fresh new coat of spit to the floor.

Rarity gasped as she lifted up one of her back legs to look at her hoof, “Or what if some pony stepped on her!”

All the mares frantically checked their hooves, even Haru and Spike looked at the bottom of their clawed feet.

It was then that something occurred to Twilight, a horrible thought dawned to her. “Or… Sat on her!”

All of the mares raised their flanks up, which prompted Haru to turn away slightly, and use his tail to cover Spike’s eyes. “Hey!”

“Sorry, but no fan-service for you,” Haru snickered before he took swig of his coffee.

“What if she fell in somepony’s drink?!” Dash exclaimed.

“The only one who took a drink was Mr. Haru…” Fluttershy pointed out.

Haru’s blue eyes widened when he realized all the mares were looking at him, and he had a mouthful of coffee in his maw so he couldn’t say a word.

But before the classy dragon could say a word, Rainbow Dash crashed into him (not on purpose mind you, she just lost balance) and Haru spat out his coffee onto the floor. But no Applejack

Twilight sighed in relief when she noticed something else, “Apple Bloom’s gone as well.”

Dash pushed herself off of the slightly dazed Haru, “Then they must’ve gone ahead to Zecora’s!”

“E-Excellent deduction, Miss Dash,” Haru sputtered as he kept his arms at his stomach.

“If that’s the case, then we need to find them!” Twilight replied as she trotted towards the door, leading the group. “Let’s go!”

And so the journey began – With the five mares and single dragon out to find their friends and save them from the evil clutches from the supposedly wicked sorceress, Zecora! Only Celestia knows what perils await them in the Everfree Woods!

But before they could find their friends in the woods, they had to get past their own personal perils. For example, Rarity tripped over her own long fur and fell face first into the library’s floor. “Oomphf! Oh, this is so unseemly!”

“Fear not, Lady Rarity,” Haru stated as he knelt down beside the shaggy pony, his clawed hand held out to her. “Allow me to aid you.”

“I see that your taste in style is as exquisite as your chivalry,” Rarity stated as she lifted her hoof, missing Haru’s claws. “Although, I’m not one to talk right now…”

“Lady Rarity,” Haru stated as he took Rarity’s hoof and aided her to the rest of her hooves. “A mare of your class is more than just your mane and fur, you are beautiful in my eyes.”

That statement caught everypony’s attention, including a certain purple dragon’s , who at the moment was glaring daggers at the back of Haru’s head (wondering if he could throw a book that far to hit the taller dragon). If her face wasn’t hidden behind the long locks of hair, Rarity’s crimson endowed face would be on display for everypony to see.

This didn’t go unnoticed by the glasses wearing dragon, and as he stood up, he pushed up his glasses with his claws. “Is there something wrong?”

“Wizard! What the Tartarus are you doing?!” Rainbow Dash yelled out as she clumsily flew in front of the dragon.

“Hmm? Oh, I see the problem,” Haru stated as he lifted his arm up. “I don’t know what I was thinking, Madame Dash.”

“Good, cause we don’t…” Rainbow Dash started…

But, before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence, Haru had gripped her front hooves and his azure eyes looked deep into her rose colored ones. “It was so rude of me to neglect Equestria’s flying ace – Truly your flying is a work of art. Articulated wings that paint the sky while in motion.”

She didn’t know why, but for some reason Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but feel her face warm slightly…

TTTTT

Having barely escaped the insanity that was ensuing at the library, Apple Bloom galloped towards through the entrance of the Everfree with Kenny the Topaz Kraken familiar following her. The little filly’s eyes filled with determination and…

“Hold it right there missy!”

Apple Bloom skidded to a halt when she heard that familiar squeaky voice. The filly looked around to find her tiny big sister, unaware that the teeny Applejack popped up from the top of Apple Bloom’s mane. “Turn around right now!”

Kenny used one of his bejeweled tentacles to gesture up, and Apple Bloom realized that her older sister was atop her head. “Nope.”

“Nope?!?” Applejack questioned before she threw her hooves up into the air. “Ya’ll can’t ignore a direct order from yer big sister!”

Apple Bloom giggled, “Sorry Applejack, but Ah think Ah’m the bigger sister right now. Kenny?”

The Topaz Kraken grabbed Applejack from the filly’s head and lifted her to nearby branch, “Kenny! What in tarnation are ya doing!?”

Unfortunately, the familiar bowed its head slightly before it flew after Apple Bloom, leaving Applejack to groan loudly. “Apple Bloom! Kenny! Ya’ll get back here ‘fore Ah… ‘fore Ah… Aw pony feathers.”

The tiny mare sighed loudly as she looked around, unfortunately for her, Kenny had put her on a branch that was far too high from the ground for her to jump (it wouldn’t have been too bad of a jump if she was her regular size, but if she tried, she likely would’ve broken some bones in her body). ‘Maybe if Ah fashion a rope from some vines or something…’

“KeeeKeeeKee!”

Applejack blinked a few times as she looked deep into the woods, and her eyes widened as countless shadowed figures began to come into view towards the path in the woods. As they came closer, Applejack pulled a nearby leaf to keep herself hidden so she could see Spring Heel, Shocker and the Gamecock Yummy reaching the path, leading a small army of Ghouls and Trash Yummys (she didn’t know that they were Trash Yummys though). ‘Great, just what we needed for this whole curse thing – Them darn Phantoms! And looks like there’s an army of them! What in tarnation are they up to?’

Shocker, Spring Heel and the Gamecock Yummy stopped once they reached the dirt path, the three waiting for their army to follow suit. From where Applejack was standing, she couldn’t count how many in total there were, but there was enough to completely block the path they stood on. ‘At least it looks like they didn’t spot Apple Bloom.’

Shocker raised his right talon into the air while his left arm locked to his chest, “For the glory of Shocker! Ghouls! Trash Yummy! Forward march!”

“Step by step,” Spring Heel chuckled as the three leading monsters began to lead the army out of the Everfree Woods. “Our army shall eliminate those Riders inept!”

“Now you’re just stretching with your rhymes,” Shocker growled, not bothering to turn his attention away from the dirt road in front of him.

“Not like it’s a crime,” Spring Heel cackled loudly as he brought his claws up to cover his smirking face.

The bird-like monster sighed loudly with a shake of his head.

TTTTTT

Meanwhile, outside the very same woods, Twilight skidded to a halt to make sure that her friends were right behind her. Fluttershy, Rarity and Pinkie Pie were coming to a halt behind her and Rainbow Dash was flying through the air like a mad mare. But a certain dragon who had followed the group out of the library… and was constantly flirting with each of the mares with each step he took.

Needless to say, it made the entire journey to the forest a little bit awkward.

“Okay, where’d Haru go?” Twilight asked looking around.

“Last I saw,” Rainbow Dash stated with an annoyed look on her face. “Casanova was making a pass at Fluttershy.”

Twilight did notice that the yellow pegasus did have a shade of crimson dashed on her face, “I-I knew that M-Mister H-H-Haru was nice, but… But… I…!”

“Sheesh,” Rainbow Dash groaned. “Forget Wizard! Can we hurry this up? I’m starting to get a migraine with how this hex is messing with us!”

“Indeed Twilight, I’d like to get back to having a manageable mane,” Rarity sighed before she blew some of her hair out of her face again. “Rather sooner than later.”

“Buff whaff about fem?” Pinkie Pie spat out pointing towards the forest entrance.

The four other mares turned (Rarity had to move her hair out from her field of vision with her hoof again) back to the Everfree Forest where the small army of Ghouls and Trash Yummy being led by three different looking creatures – Shocker, Spring Heel and the Gamecock Yummy. Spring Heel cackled loudly while he brought up a claw to his snickering face, “Oooh! Lookie, lookie! Another welcoming party! Hey Shocker, here’s hoping that they won’t be like that mare who was quite so hearty.”

Shocker brought his talons up to his head and rubbed his temples. “Stop with the damn rhyming! It’s giving me a headache!”

Realizing that the five mares were leering at him, Shocker brought one of his talons towards the group, “Mares, this day is unfortunate for you, this army shall make you rue…”

”Make you rue? Makeru? Nakeru.”

A loud cracking sound echoed through the air before a loud booming voice sounded out, “Nakeru! Nakeru ze!”

Twilight blinked a few times at the odd language that sounded through the air, she had never heard it before. A little curious Twilight turned her head around and her eyes widened as a familiar dragon slowly began to walk up from behind. “W-What the?! Haru!?”

Rainbow Dash was about to turn to see where the dragon was coming from, but Haru had passed her and once again there was a definite change in the dragon. Gone were the glasses and scarf, and now his body was garbed in a yellow kimono with black vertical stripes running down the fabric with his usual hand-shaped buckler at his waist. Haru’s black scales were also pulled back and tied together with a string, with a bright yellow scale amongst them. “What the Tartarus?! What’s wrong with you now?”

Haru didn’t answer as he continued to walk past the ponies until he was standing in front of them with back to them and his arms crossed.

Rarity bit her lower lip before she yelped out, “Wha-Wha… MISTER SOUMA!!! What is that thing you’re wearing!? It’s so… So… It clashes with everything about you!”

The dragon didn’t respond.

“Ooh! Plis fis phawesum!” Pinkie cheered out with spit flying through the air.

“Um, where is Mister Haru getting all these clothes?” Fluttershy asked to nopony in particular.

“Oh, what fresh plop of Tartarus is this now?” Shocker groaned before he slapped his forehead with his talons. Using his free talons, Shocker slapped the Gamecock Yummy’s shoulder. “Get rid of him! And then clear the path! I’m getting tired of these theatrics!”

The rooster monster bowed towards his master before he threw his feathered fist into the air. Then with his fists raised up in a boxer’s stance, the Gamecock Yummy dashed towards Haru with a loud battle cry!

Twilight tried to think of a way out of this – If her magic was affected by whatever was wrong with her horn, then what if Haru’s magic was affected as well? In the mess of everything that had happened this morning so far, she neglected to ask the oddly acting dragon. ‘If he can’t use his magic, we’ll have to run! I can’t use my own magic, Rainbow doesn’t have complete control of her wings and… And…’

The Gamecock Yummy drew closer with its right arm pulled back.

“Girls! Haru! We have to run for…” Twilight started to yell out…

Only to have a clawed hand held out in front of her. Twilight turned to Haru who only took a step forward to cross his arms once more. “My strength…”

The Gamecock Yummy skidded in front of Haru, and before Twilight could even call out the dragon’s name, the rooster monster slammed its feathered fist into Haru’s face. Upon impact, a force of air made the loose dirt fly from the two, and even forced the mares back off slightly.

And yet, the Haru and the Gamecock Yummy seemed to be frozen in place, with the feathered monster’s fist still connected to the dragon’s face.

Then, with a shrill squawk, the Gamecock Yummy threw its right arm up into the air before the arm shattered into several silver medals that fell to the ground. The Yummy screeched in pain as it brought its other hand up to where its right arm was once before, trying to stop the cell medals that were pouring from its wound.

“Whoa,” Rainbow Dash muttered with her eyes wide. “So… Awesome!”

“Mmhm!” Pinkie chimed in with a smile around her stuck out tongue.

Shocker and Spring Heel looked at each other like the other was on fire.

And Twilight’s jaw had dropped. ‘How? Why? What?!’

The Gamecock Yummy lifted its head up with its eyes narrowed, only to realize that it was looking at a red palm with black claws that were right in its face. Haru was standing in front of the coin-filled monster with his right claw pulled back. “Has made you cry!”

Before the Yummy could react, Haru threw an open palm strike to the Gamecock Yummy’s stomach and the force flung the Yummy through the air with medals flying from its body. Both Shocker and Spring Heel jumped to the side to dodge the flying rooster. The Trash Yummy and Ghouls behind them weren’t as fast and the Gamecock Yummy crashed into them, flinging them into the ground and creating a large gap in the monstrous forces.

The Gamecock Yummy screeched out before its body exploded into countless cell medals, with the Ghouls and Trash Yummy exploding due to the force.

Everypony watching was awestruck with what just happened.

“Uh, Haru? How in Equestria did you do that?” Twilight asked, trotting up alongside the yellow garbed dragon.

Without a word, Haru slipped a yellow ring onto his left claw and widened his stance out to throw his right claw over the belt buckle. “DRIVER ON – PLEASE!”

“My strength has cleared a path for you,” Haru replied before he clapped his claws together in front of the materialized belt. “I shall stay here and fend them off.”

“LAND – PLEASE!

“Don Don DonDonDon!”

A large yellow rune appeared at Haru’s feet and crawled up with body with rocks and dirt floating up into the air along with it. As the rune climbed over Haru’s body, his entire form was covered with his topaz jeweled Wizard garb. However, when the rune disappeared over his head, several white tissues flew about the entrance to the woods. “My strength will make you cry. Wipe your tears with these!”

Wizard slammed his right hand into the ground, and immediately drew his hand back with a large golden battle axe. Then slowly, the axe wielding Wizard walked towards the large army.

Shocker growled before he threw his talon forward, “GET HIM!”

Wizard kept walking towards the forest, and none of the Trash Yummy or Ghouls were making a move towards the Wizard. In fact, they actually took a few steps backwards, trying to keep the distance between them and the imposing magical dragon.

“Why are you hesitating?!” Shocker screeched loudly as he turned towards the grunts. “GET HIM OR ELSE I’LL DESTROY YOU ALL MYSELF!!!”

Reluctantly, the large group of Ghouls and Trash Yummy charged towards Wizard. The magic garbed dragon lifted the rather crude looking axe, and just as the first of many monsters were about to attack, Wizard delivered a wide slash and knocked several Yummy and Ghouls up into the air.

“Twilight, do you have any idea what’s going on?” Rarity asked, while Wizard grabbed one of the Trash Yummy by its neck and tossed it into a group of Ghouls, knocking them over.

“Rarity, I’m seriously considering throwing logic out the window today,” Twilight sighed as she watched Wizard bring the axe down on a Ghoul’s chest, sparks flying from where the blade connected. “Let’s just get to Zecora’s while we have a chance.”

The mares galloped past Wizard, as the oddly stronger dragon slammed his tail into some of the Trash Yummy, clearing the path for the mares to gallop into the woods unhindered. Well, Rainbow Dash tried to fly over the mess, which resulted in her flying upside down into several bushes and branches until she crashed into the ground.

Dash groaned and tried to speak, but she realized that something was stuck in her mouth. Well, not something, but rather somepony. The small Applejack pulled herself from Dash’s mouth, “Rainbow! Thank Celestia! There’s no time to lose! Ah gotta find Apple Bloom!”

“Yeah, well, there’s kinda a few other…” Dash started, only to get a crudely made bit and reins from leaves, a stick and some vines, shoved into her mouth. “MHPHF!?”

“Ah need to find Apple Bloom, pronto!” the small Applejack stated as she jumped onto Rainbow Dash’s chest and grabbed hold of the reigns with her front hooves. “There’s an army of them there Phantoms in these woods, and Ah gotta find her pronto! So giddy-up, Pony!”

“Excuse me!?!” Rainbow growled through the bit.

“YYYYEEEE-HHAAAAWWWWW!” Applejack shouted before she slammed her back hoof into Rainbow Dash’s side.

That seemed to be enough to make the cyan pegasus’ wings move into action, propelling the mare into the air. “What the?!”

Meanwhile, back at the entrance of the forest, Wizard was quickly decimating the forces with his axe and surprising physical prowess. Shocker growled as he tightened his talons, “Spring Heel, it’s time that we step in and end this charade.”

The eagle Greeed was expecting another annoying response that rhymed, but the only thing that Shocker heard were the sounds of combat. “Spring Heel?”

Shocker turned to the side to see that Spring Heel was gone! And in his place was a single Ghoul that held up a piece of paper for Shocker to read. “Dear Shocker, I hate to cut and run, but seems that the time has come. With the ring mage fighting about, I have to go away without a shout. I had a few Ghouls pick up the cell medals from your Yummy, and left none for you, isn’t that funny? Enjoy fighting these riders that you obsess, but remember to keep calm and don’t be over taken by stress.

“Love, Spring Heel Jack.

“P.S. I’ll be back!”

Shocker roared loudly as he took the note and roared loudly as he ripped the paper up with his talons, scaring the Ghoul near him. “That lousy sonva-… I’m going kill him!”

“FLAME – PLEASE!

“Hii Hii HiiHiiHii!”

Shocker looked up from the remains of the letter to see that most of the Trash Yummy and Ghouls had backed off from the flames that covered Wizard’s body, turning the topazes on his suit into rubies. “Stupid Kuma hogging all the action, I’m the main star here! Me!”

Wizard threw his right hand towards Shocker, “Yo! Chicken Wuss, let me say this to start, I don’t give warning shots. From start to finish, I’m at a climax!”

It was then that Wizard threw his right thumb towards his chest, “Ore…

Then he threw his left arm forward with his right arm behind him, Wizard struck a dynamic pose, “… Sanjou!”

“Ugh, I’m surrounded by idiots,” Shocker groaned loudly with a roll of his eyes.

Wizard spun around with flames erupting at his right hand, the flames seemed to solidify into a curved silver sword with a red hilt with a flame design in the steel. “Ikuze! Ikuze! Ikuze!”

TTTTTTT

While the sparks were flying outside the forest, Twilight and her slightly dwindling group of friends had finally reached what appeared to be Zecora’s home – A large, weird tree that had a number of tribal masks and charms about the shrouded grove. The whole area seemed to give off a spooky aura that sent chills down Twilight’s spine. “Okay, so this place looks spooky… That doesn’t mean she’s a bad pony.”

“Eviphif!!” Pinkie sputtered out with her eyes slightly narrowed.

“Pinkie says ‘Evil’,” Fluttershy translated.

Twilight rolled her eyes.

“I don’t know what’s more horrible,” Rarity sighed with her no longer covering one of her eyes. “Those dreadful and tacky monsters at the front of the forest, or the tacky decorations.”

The four mares quietly trotted up to the window of the house to peer inside. The inside of the house was just as creepy as the outside – a bubbling cauldron in the middle of the room, creepy masks hanging from the walls, vials, odd plants and other oddities atop of the shelves, and in the corner of the room was a statue of a familiar, bipedal figure with a familiar ring-like helmet.

That didn’t go unnoticed by the mares, but only Twilight spoke, “Is that Wizard? What is a statue of him doing in there?”

But before anypony could say a word, Zecora appeared in the room with an odd container in her mouth. The zebra no longer had her cloak on and revealed her thin physique with a sun-like mark on her hind quarters. Zecora trotted towards the bubbling cauldron and poured the contents of the container into the odd mixture.

With her mouth no longer holding onto the container, Zecora began to speak in an exotic tongue that seemed to have a familiar musical tone to it.

“Sthe sthtole my sthong! Shthe shtole mm mm!” Pinkie shouted out before she jumped away from the window.

“She stole your song dear?” Rarity guessed.

“Hmmm mmm!” Pinkie replied with a sad nod

“Pinkie,” Twilight sighed. “That doesn’t sound a thing like your song.”

Pinkie Pie was about to start singing but then realized that her tongue wouldn’t really allow for it. So, the pink earth pony put on the best set of puppy dog eyes and skidded to Fluttershy. The yellow mare sighed. “She's an evil enchantress

And she does evil dances
And if you look deep in her eyes
She will put you in trances
Then what would she do?
She'll mix up an evil brew
Then she'll gobble you up
In a big tasty stew
Soooo... Watch out.”

Throughout the song, Pinkie was doing the usual dance, ending with her front hooves raised over her head.

“You saw all those terrible things,” Rarity stated turning her head where she thought Twilight was. “Now do you believe us Twilight?”

Although Rarity was speaking to one of the masks that decorated the area, Twilight looked into the window once more and then turned back to her friends, “Scary looking masks, confusing incantations, a statue of Haru in the corner for some reason, and a great big bubbling cauldron? Everything does point to Zecora being… Bad… Or… What if she’s just making soup?”

Twilight could feel the leers her friends were giving her (except for Rarity who was possibly leering at the mask through her messy mane).

“Mmm, the perfect temperature for ponies, I presume.”

Everypony turned back to the window to see that Zecora was looming over the cauldron once more, “Now, where is that little Apple Bloom?”

All of the mares gasped as Twilight could feel her heart sink slightly, “Or… What if she’s making Apple Bloom soup?”

“That actually sounds really tasty,” an unfamiliar voice sounded out behind the group.

All four of the mares yelped loudly and spun around to see another zebra standing behind them – dressed in a purple baggy shirt with saddlebags on his back. The zebra smiled as he lifted his front hoof, “Oh! Hello Miss Sparkle! I didn’t expect to see you here. Are these your friends?”

It didn’t take long for Twilight to realize who she was speaking to, “Mr. Hino?”

Indeed it was the same zebra that seemed to keep bumping into the purple unicorn, and he wasn’t alone. “Mistah Hino! Ah’m not a soup!”

Next to Eiji (who was busy rubbing the back of his head with his hoof) was none other than Apple Bloom herself, also with saddlebags on her. Twilight, Fluttershy and Pinkie smiled at the filly, but it was hard to tell if Rarity was smiling.

“Apple Bloom!” Twilight gasped with joy as she trotted to the filly. “You’re alright!”

“Why wouldn’t Ah be?” Apple Bloom asked as she tilted her head. “Mistah Hino and Miss Zecora are really, really nice! And Mistah Hino’s really funny! He kept on losing them box…”

“Ah! A-Apple Bloom! N-No!” Eiji yelped loudly as he waved his front hooves about. “Y-You can’t discuss that in front of mares! It’s too embarrassing!”

“But Ah’m a mare,” the filly pointed out.

“T-That’s different!” Eiji stumbled about with his gray and black face starting to get a tint of red through his fur. “You found out by accident! Y-You’re not allowed to talk about it!”

“Twilight, just who is this character?” Rarity asked, trying to see through her long mane.

“Oh, well this is…” Twilight started to say.

“Eiji Hino, an eccentric nomad,” An exotic and familiar voice introduced, sending chills down the four mares’ spines. “Although he is a goofy zebra, he is a very good natured lad.”

Standing behind the mares was none other than Zecora with a bright smile on her face, “Next time when you try to sneak, it’s better to find a place where anypony can hear your loud speak. The pony folk from the day of fore, from the looks of you, you didn’t hear me when I tried to warn.”

“Warn? You cursed us!” Rarity growled, pointing her hoof at Eiji, surprising the young zebra. “You made me look ridiculous!”

“You made me sound ridiculous!” Fluttershy chimed in, her deep voice threw Eiji off at how a pretty mare could have such a deep raspy voice, a voice that was on par with a stallion’s.

“Yuff mahd miff talk ridoncilus!” Pinkie Pie sputtered out, the spit somehow managing to hit Eiji – Even though he was currently behind the mares.

The traveling zebra brought his hoof to his muzzle, “The mares in this country are a lot more…”

Eiji stopped himself when he realized that the three complaining mares now had their sights set on him, and the zebra whistled to himself.

This elicited some laughter from both Zecora and Apple Bloom. Twilight tilted her head with her horn wobbling at the same time, “W-What’s so funny? My horn is… Is…”

“Twi, it ain’t a curse,” Apple Bloom stated with a snicker in her voice.

“Indeed, even if these afflictions may seem to be the worst,” Zecora stated as she gestured towards Twilight’s horn. “I assure you all, this isn’t a curse. Yesterday you all came in contact with a plant much like the poison oak. But instead of a fate of itching, this plant loves to play a joke.”

“Right, Poison Joke,” Eiji stated as he reached into his saddlebags, and pulled out a plastic baggy that had a familiar looking blue flower in it. “When it comes into contact with equines, it usually makes the worst kind of ridicule-inducing affliction on said ponies. Has some good magical charms, and can even change a pony’s physical traits.”

Twilight sighed with a smile, “See? I told you all it wasn’t a curse, or a hex… They don’t exist.”

“AH’M COMIN’ FER YA, APPLE BLOOM!!!”

Everypony turned up to see a blue blur flying right towards them, but completely missed the group and crashed through the window and flew into Zecora’s home with a loud boom that erupted through the air. “Darn it Rainbow!”

“Hey! I wasn’t the one steering!”

“I apologize Apple Bloom,” Zecora sighed as she turned towards the filly. “But it sounds like the brew inside has faced its doom.”

Twilight peered into the window and winced as she realized that it was due to Rainbow Dash (with the still small Applejack holding on to some reigns that were sticking from Dash’s mouth) that the brew that Zecora was working on was now spilled all over the floor. At the moment, Dash was resting on the weird Wizard statue, with the head of the statue now knocked off. “What was that brew?”

“It was a natural cure for the Poison Joke,” Eiji stated as he reached into the saddle bags once more and pulled out a familiar book that he held in his mouth.

“Yeah, turns out that all ya need is a special kinda of bubble bath,” Apple Bloom stated as she pointed to the book in Eiji’s mouth. “It’s in this book that Zecora had.”

Twilight couldn’t help but notice that the book was titled ‘Supernaturals’. ‘… Spike’s never going to let me live that down.’

“Uh, Zecora?” Twilight sheepishly turned. “Would you be kind enough to make another batch of that herbal bath?”

The zebra merely smiled and nodded back. “Mix it up I certainly will. Yet I am missing herbs from Ponyville. The only vendor who was kind, was that one griffon with many charms that were a real rare find.”

It was then that a large explosion rocked the ground and drew everypony’s attention to where the path led to outside the forest.

“Oh right,” Twilight chuckled sheepishly. “I thought we forgot something…”

TTTTTT

“Hissatsu… My hissatsu attack!” Wizard announced as he brought his left hand up to the odd blade he held in his right hand as the remaining Ghouls and Trash Yummy charged towards him. “WIZARD VERSION!”

A powerful flame erupted over the blade before Wizard delivered a wide slash which sent the flames from the sword into the oncoming enemies. The flames crashed into the Ghouls and Trash Yummy, which caused them all to explode in a fiery explosion.

When the flames began to subside, Wizard stepped forward and raised the odd curved sword towards Shocker. “You’re next, Chicken Wing Bastard! Come on! We’re still in the climax! The action can’t stop here!”

However, before Wizard could continue flinging insults, several silver feathers flew into his torso and exploded, sending the dragon through the air until he landed on his back. “GAH! You bastard! That hurt!”

Shocker immediately landed over Wizard and brought one of his talons down on the masked dragon’s neck, making him drop his sword. “You Rider scum! After the day I’ve had to deal with, I’m going enjoy what I’m about to do to you a little too much!

“I’m going to start by digging my talon into your chest, right through those jewels you’ve got protecting you. Then I’ll rip out your still beating heart from your chest, and crush it right in front of your eyes!

“And then I’m going to do the same thing to Spring Heel!”

“W-Wait!” Wizard sputtered out as he tried to break free from Shocker’s grip. “Y-You can’t do that! We have to keep this story teen rated!”

“ENOUGH!” Shocker snarled before his other talon dove straight down into Wizard’s chest.

Wizard yelled out in pain, but then stopped when he came to a sudden realization. “Huh? It doesn’t hurt?”

Then it was Shocker’s turn to scream, as while is talon did stab into Wizard’s chest, it didn’t pierce through the magical dragon’s armor or body – Instead, it was as if the talon fazed into Wizard’s body. “This… This shouldn’t be possible! The only way this could happen is if… Wait, you have Core Medals in you?!”

“… Core what?” Wizard growled with his head tilted slightly.

Before Shocker said another word, two black hooves slammed into the back of his head, forcing him off of Wizard and his talon leaving Wizard’s body. That wasn’t the only then that shot out of Wizard’s chest, three odd coins flew from the air. The owner of the hooves flipped through the air and caught all three in his front hooves before he landed on the ground next to Wizard who sat up to shake his head. “Gah… Geez, what in Kida’s name? Where am I? Why am I in my Wizard garb? And why do I have a craving for pudding?”

“Uh, I can’t answer that last one,” Eiji stated as he pocketed the three medals before he offered a hoof to Wizard. “But, you’re in front of the Everfree Forest and I believe you’re dressed like that because you’re fighting the Shocker Greeed.”

Wizard took Eiji’s hoof, and the zebra helped the dragon to his feet as Shocker roared loudly, “For the love of…! Why isn’t anything going my way today!? I just wanted to get some Cell Medals and fulfill my own desires! Is that so much to ask?!”

“When your desire is to harm innocent ponies,” Eiji replied as he stood on his hind legs to reveal that he had an odd belt around his waist with a buckle that had three slots on it. “Then it’s us Kamen Riders who’ll stop you.”

“Kamen Riders?” Wizard questioned with a tilted head as he watch Eiji lift up three medals up with his hooves.

With a warm smile, Eiji snapped two of the medals into right and left slots of his buckler, then when he snapped the third one in, the zebra clicked the buckler to a horizontal degree and grabbed a disc that was connected to the right of his belt. “Riders should help each other out.”

Then with a swift movement, the mysterious zebra ran the disc in front of the buckler, with three musical chimes sounding out as it passed in front of the medals. Wizard then chuckled as Eiji lifted the disc to his chest. “I see, the one from yesterday…”

“HENSHIN!”

Several, large, phantasmal medals floated around Eiji’s body until three came to a halt in front of him, “TAKA! TORA! BATTA!

“TATOBA! TATOBA TATOBA!”

The three medals came together in front of Eiji’s chest before the conjoined emblem slammed into his body. Almost immediately, a black, armored suit materialized over Eiji’s form with a red, hawk-like mask, yellow shoulder pads with matching gauntlets that had three long claws attached to them, and green, insect-themed leg armor covering his hind legs. At the new armored zebra’s chest was the very same emblem that had melded with his form, with a red hawk at the top, a yellow tiger in the middle, and a green grasshopper in the middle.

“You bastards!” Shocker growled as he threw one of his talons forward. “Just who the Tartarus do you think are?!

“OOO,” The new masked equine answered as he lowered his front legs to the ground, getting into a pouncing stance. “Kamen Rider OOO!”

“Has a nice ring to it actually,” Wizard stated as he stepped forward holding his left hand up to show off the Flame Style ring gleaming in the light. “Kamen Rider Wizard, and it’s showtime.”

“Oooh, that was so cool!” OOO was in awe as he watched the masked dragon strike a pose. “I really need to get my own catchphrase.”

Shocker screeched loudly as his wings fanned out before he flapped the wings, sending several gray feathers towards the two masked defenders of justice. However, both Kamen Riders leapt in different directions just in time to dodge the exploding feathers.

While in midair, Wizard slipped a familiar ring on his right claw and waved it in front of his belt buckle. “CONNECT – PLEASE!”

Throwing his hand into the runic circle, Wizard pulled out his familiar WizarSwordGun and fired several rounds that zipped over the field and crashed into Shocker’s body, knocking the eagle-based monster stagger back with a number of medals falling from his body from where the magical bullets connected with his body.

Before Shocker could unleash a counter attack against the masked dragon, a loud tiger roar sounded behind him, and caused the Greeed to turn around just in time to see OOO charging quickly at him with the claws on his front legs extended. The yellow claws lashed across Shocker’s chest as OOO passed the coin filled monster. Glowing yellow wounds appeared over Shocker’s chest as even more Cell Medals fell to the ground and the winged being fell to his knee.

Rapid footsteps drew Shocker’s attention back to in front of him to see Wizard and OOO right in front of him. Wizard and OOO spun around before they slammed their feet into Shocker’s shoulders, making the monster fly backwards with several coins bouncing off of the ground before he landed on his feet. But then, the monster fell to his knee and gripped his chest. “H-How?! How were you two unable to defeat me yesterday, but today I’m on the losing end?!”

“Monsters like you never understand it,” OOO stated as he reached to the left side of his belt, and pulled out two more medals. “Riders stand together, and when we stand together, nothing can defeat us.”

“We are the beacons of hope,” Wizard added as he slipped another red ring on his left claw. “No matter what obstacles come our way, we will always fight, never giving up!”

Shocker spread his wings once more, but this time he flew up into the air, trying to put distance between him and the two riders.

OOO replaced the two left medals on his belt and immediately scanned the disc over the belt buckle. “TAKA KUJAKU CONDOR!”

The phantasmal medals appeared in front of OOO before they snapped together and flew into OOO’s chest. Flames flew from OOO’s body as his torso and leg armor turned a bright red with wing and talon-like additions to them with a disc-like shield on his front left leg. Even the hawk-like helmet flared out with a bright red visor now appearing in front of his face. “TAJADORU~”

Fiery wings erupted from the new red OOO’s back, and the masked zebra flew up into the air with several fiery feathers following him.

Wizard shook his head before he threw his left hand over his buckler, “Not gonna let you show me up.”

“FLAME – DRAGON!

“BOU BOU BOUBOUBOU!”

The familiar fiery dragon flew around Wizard’s body before his black cloak turned red and he transformed into Flame Dragon style with him grabbing another ring from his chain of rings.

Shocker flew higher and higher into the air, his wounds quickly closing up. “I’ll find another town , make anot