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Prose Equus 10: Death's Door.

Mandroid Apr 12th, 2019 122 Never
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  1. Prose Equus 10
  2.  
  3. >”Come on, throw it!”
  4. “Baldur, I really don’t think this is a good idea.”
  5. >”Frightened children don’t get a seat in Valhalla, No-name! Throw it!”
  6. >You twirl the spear you held between your fingers and take a deep breath, sending it slicing through the air with a mighty heave.
  7. “Pleasedontdie!”
  8. >Baldur closes his eyes and juts his chin out with an expression so self-satisfied that you’d only seen it on cats before.
  9. >The spear strikes the prince’s chin and rebounds with a CLANG, spinning through the air and landing some feet away in the courtyard.
  10. >”Tadaaaah!” Baldur explains, flapping his wings out triumphantly.
  11. “Did you even feel that?”
  12. >”Like a breeze on my coat, friend!”
  13. >You walk over to retrieve the spear.
  14. “And everyone does this? Throws weapons at the crown prince?”
  15. >Baldur rolls his hoof as he recounts. “Rocks, weapons, the occasional barn. It’s all in good fun if I cannot be hurt!”
  16. “You’re one of a kind, Your Highness.”
  17. >As you bend down to pick up the spear and inspect its head for chips, you see Crownsguard dashing along into the central hall of the palace on the veranda above you. It sets the hairs on your arm off.
  18. “…Baldur, what do you make of that? The armor of those warriors looked different…”
  19. >Baldur flaps his wings and gains some altitude, looking into further into the palace. “That’s peculiar…those are the markings of the Wolf Brigade, brother’s hoof-picked warriors.”
  20. “Lord Tyr’s personal army?” you ask “What are they doing here…?”
  21. >Baldur lands next to you, the time for games at an end. “I cannot say! It is rare to see them out of the Ulfirborg unless it is out in the frontier.”
  22. >You look up upon the golden walls.
  23. “What say we take a closer look…”
  24.  
  25. >You step silently along the rich crimson carpet of the Asgardian royal palace and make your way deeper in. The Wolf Brigade were keeping themselves to the hall closest to your favored courtyard, requiring you and Baldur to go all the way around to the opposite end of the palace to avoid them.
  26. >As you sneak closer to the throne room they were protecting, the walls subtly shift from polished brass to gleaming gold, and the glow reflecting off them gets brighter.
  27. >You glance back at the Living Lightbulb before he ruins your stealth.
  28. “Could you not do that?”
  29. >The God of Light closes his eyes and suppresses his divine radiance back to a normal level. “Sorry.”
  30. “No sneaking operations for you, Baldur.”
  31. >”I will have you know that I-“
  32. >You shush Baldur as a new sound enters your ears, the double-time clipping of someone with eight hooves.
  33. >”What is it you would have me DO, my son?”
  34. >You and Baldur sneak your heads around the nearest door and peer into the hall, where the Allmother was walking next to Lord Tyr. The queenly war god wore her usual stern face, while her counterpart kept pace with her despite the difference in size trying to instill some of his own emotion into it.
  35. >”Do NOTHING, Mother! Simply allow my warriors and I to travel to Midgard so that we might prevent this tragedy!”
  36. >”Midgard…?” Baldur whispers.
  37. “What tragedy?”
  38.  
  39. >”Lords of the Nine Realms we may be, Tyr, but you know the price of interference with them.” The Queen states. She looks down at her son with the softest eye you’ve seen from her. “I beg you, remember what transpired the last time an Aesir interfered with another realm to this magnitude, this is greater than simply slaying a few rogue giants.”
  40. >Tyr’s face falls and his head hangs. “I will never be able to forget that day, Mother…”
  41. >The Gods of War share a silent moment together before Tyr raises his head. “But she is still down there.”
  42. >Sleipnir frowns and turns away from Tyr to silently chew his words and contemplate this mysterious “she”. Her eye looks back at her son with a question.
  43. >”Are you certain it is her you are trying to save?”
  44. >Tyr’s eyes widen and his head hangs, you hear Baldur suck the air through his teeth behind you. As you’re about to ask him what that meant, the Queen reaches out and places a hoof on Tyr’s shoulder. “You give these mortals too little credit. They have repelled Tirek before.”
  45. >That gets your attention for a change, you remember the underground martial resistance you’d formed to get civilians to safety when Tirek rampaged through Equestria those years ago. If he was returning then-
  46. >Tyr cuts off your thoughts with a second blow. “He was never at the back of a horde of demons.”
  47. >Sleipnir nods and lowers her hoof, Tyr continues.
  48. >”Mother…the Tartarian gates are open, and every minute sends them wider. Your birds themselves saw that the mortals stemming the tide are beginning to break against it.”
  49.  
  50. >Time has taught you many things, patience, calm, and confidence; you are not one easily shaken.
  51. >However the thought of your friends down in Equestria falling against an army of Tartarian spawn, or facing the Desolator again while you were trapped here, chills you to your core.
  52. >Your conscious mind catapults back to a week ago, with Loki in the Griffon cave where she told you the tale of Ragnarok.
  53. >Horde of ghouls
  54. >Horned beast of darkness
  55. >Fields of dead
  56. >End of the world
  57. >It all checked out.
  58. >”We must leave the realm of the mortals to the mortals for now, my son…” Sleipnir says, while Tyr simply sighs.
  59. >You feel your hands break into a sweat and your breath catch in your throat.
  60. “We need to save them…” you whisper.
  61. >Baldur’s ears flatten. “Mother thinks that the Midgardians can handle this threat…”
  62. “Well she’s wrong.”
  63. >You turn back to Baldur, his cheeks are puffed in surprise at your sacrilege.
  64. “I’ve seen this terror with my own eyes, it has only grown worse. We can’t just stay here and do nothing!”
  65. >Baldur nerves must be getting to him, he scrapes his hoof on the floor. “We…cannot! Mother hath decreed that we shall not interfere and Tyr will abide by her will! So will Heimdall! There’s simply no way DOWN to Midgard right now!”
  66. >You feel you can no longer spend another moment here and push past Baldur, heading towards your room.
  67. “I refuse to accept that!”
  68.  
  69. >After an hour, you set your plan in motion.
  70. >To the south of the palace, at the edge of Asgard, the watchpony Heimdall kept his eyes turned towards his rainbow well. Through the mystical Bifrost, he saw all that transpired in all the realms, but nothing right now was more worthy of observation than the battle that held Midgard in its grip.
  71. >Until you arrive.
  72. >With both hands, you throw the doors to his keep open and meet his gaze as he looks up. His eyes go between you, the heavy armor you wear, and the multiple weapons strapped to your person that you’d gathered since arriving in Asgard, from the icy blade you’d retrieved alongside retrieving Loki to the spear you were just playing with Baldur with.
  73. >Heimdall sighs. “No-name.”
  74. “Watchman.”
  75. >”I suppose you’re here to join your friends in Midgard.”
  76. >You take a deep breath, continuing to block the doorway with your body.
  77. “I am.”
  78. >”The Queen has decreed that we are not to interfere, No-name.” Heimdall says. “You know I can’t let you pass.”
  79. “I know only one thing, Heimdall.”
  80. >You reach into your satchel and retrieve something you’d stolen from a butcher after getting your weapons, a succulent cut of red, dripping meat.
  81. “I know you can only stop one of us.”
  82.  
  83. >A flick of your hand sends the venison sailing through the air, spreading its rich aroma across the keep.
  84. >You duck as the flap of wings at your back sends a freed and hungry young Manticore through the air.
  85. >“Gah!”
  86. >Svaofali’s feet can’t exactly stop his momentum as he overshoots the meat and crashes into Heimdall.
  87. >”What is the prince-!”
  88. “He’s here because I freed him.”
  89. >You leave the doorway and march towards the well, strapping your shield and chestplate tighter to your body one final time.
  90. “Everyone here may not want to engage with the demons down there, but you’ll just as happily watch them, to the ignorance of things right under your nose by the looks of it.”
  91. >You stop before the well while Heimdall tries to push Svaofali off him, the Manticore Prince now thinking he’s playing.
  92. “I’ll keep them safe from anyone, Heimdall. Even all of you.”
  93. >You ignore any response he had, leaping into the Bifrost.
  94.  
  95. -Midgard-
  96. “Shore up the left flank! Fall the wounded back and reinforce from fifth company!”
  97. >”Shining!” comes a call from above you as Sunshine Smiles lands at your back. “Fifth Company has been fully deployed! We have no one to reinforce with!”
  98. >You summon an Ethereal shield to protect you from a hurled fireball.
  99. “How did we go through them that fast!?”
  100. >”Perhaps the horde of demons had something to do with it!” Sunshine pounces on a fiery hound and pushes his clawed weapons through its chest. “There are too many of them! We’re getting more wounded than we can treat here!”
  101. >Dammit.
  102. “Where’s Twiley? We need a bombardment to fall back!”
  103. >”While the Princesses hold the skies with the Jarl, Flash reports that she went towards the gate!”
  104. >Your stomach drops.
  105. “What?!”
  106. >”She snuck along the crags to our right flank! She has to be trying to go close the gates!”
  107. >You push your barrier forward, keeping the infernal hounds at bay a few moments longer so your men can fall back. Chaos reigns all around you as the tide of demons prices the souls of the royal guard and begins to overwhelm their ranks.
  108. “You need to get to her, Smiles! She’s our only hope of retreat!”
  109. >You snag a lance from a fallen guard and thrust it through your barrier and through the skull of the dire beast behind it.
  110. “I’ll hold the line here, but hurry!”
  111. >”You can’t hold this front all your own, Shining!”
  112. “I’m going to have to! Get to Twiley!”
  113. >Smiles looks to the sky for his opening. “Too thick! We’re choked with-“
  114. >Your friend doesn’t get any further as one of the demons climbs over your barrier and tackles him from behind like prey. You see it happen in slow motion and for a moment, your panic overwhelms you and your barrier falters.
  115. >The demons spill over and close on your ranks as you try to dive to Sunshine’s aid.
  116. >But it was too late.
  117.  
  118. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhcVZMArN9M
  119. >A shaft of rainbow light hits the ground like a meteor and blows dust and dirt into the air. The sounds of Sunshine’s struggle with the demon cease and for a moment, you fear the worst, until a voice calls out to you.
  120. >He stands up to his full height, towering above any pony on the field. ”You’re letting them shake you, Shining. With as few guards as you have here, you could never hope to defend this line.”
  121. >Another demon charges from its brethren into the smoke as the voice steps forward into a ghost you thought long gone.
  122. >”You have to ATTACK!”
  123. >Anonymous uppercuts the demon in the jaw with a mace and sends it careening back into the masses. The hounds that it lands on snarl and snap to get to their feet, but Anonymous whips his arm back and then forward, throwing a polished golden buckler off with incredible force that impacts the head of one before rebounding into another, its sharpened edge embedding deep inside.
  124. >In rage, a pack leader in the back leaps over its fallen friends and aims to fall on Anonymous. With a grim smile, he reaches back and pulls a golden tipped spear along with the corpse of the hellspawn that attacked Smiles out of the dust, twisting it in his hands and thrusting it up into the gullet of the diving alpha.
  125.  
  126. >He’s just as quick to lower the skewered beast down where it drops on another.
  127. >A cough from your side calls your attention.
  128. “Sunny!”
  129. >You help your friend to his hooves and get his helmet off him, he’s been bloodied a bit, but his remaining eye is still there.
  130. >”Did I take a hit to the head, or is that what I think it is…”
  131. “You’re fine, Smiles…Anon is back.”
  132. >Your once-dead friend ducks under a swipe and retrieves his shield, using it to bash back a demon into a retreat. He turns to the both of you and holds his arms out.
  133. >”Is this what Equestria’s finest have become since I’ve been gone?”
  134. >You feel a smirk tug at your face and a fire in your heart ad the old man’s audacity.
  135. “Smiles, go find Twiley. We have it here.”
  136. >”You on your own, I doubted. With him? Maybe just…” Sunshine says before taking to the air.
  137. >Anonymous locks eyes with you as the demonic horde charges at his back and the thunder pounds in your ears. “Let’s get to work, “captain”!”
  138.  
  139. -Anon PoV-
  140. >Shining Armor lowers his horn and charges at you while dragging sparks of the weird out of the air to the tip. Tired as he is, he powerful legs still let him leap, armor and all, over your head.
  141. >A magenta barricade forms before Shining as he crashes into the ground behind you, crushing the infernal demons into ashes on impact.
  142. >”Weapon!” he cries, your arm already reaching back behind you.
  143. “Left side!”
  144. >You throw your war hammer, tested and true against Chimera, along Shining’s side and crush the skull of another demon. Your feet move on their own bringing you to his side where you lance another.
  145. “Good to see you!”
  146. >”Likewise, you look well!” Shining responds as he gets the war hammer in his grasp and sends its head through another demon’s torso. “Remind me how that came to be? Because last I heard, you were dead.”
  147. “Was, didn’t take.”
  148. >You drive your spear through the neck of one of the demons and get the eye of the one behind it.
  149. “As for the rest? Clean living, and eating my apples.”
  150. >Especially golden ones.
  151. >”Ah, of course. How foolish of me.”
  152. >Shining sidesteps a hound and brings the hammer down onto its head. “Cover me!”
  153. “At your back!”
  154. >You step in front of Shining and raise your shield, getting between him and the horde.
  155. >>Shining turns to the guard behind you. “LET’S GO YOU RUNTS! DON’T YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER!?”
  156. >A few of the guard get to their feet as their captain calls.
  157. >”I SAID STAND UP! THE ANGELS HAVE FALLEN TO AID US IN THIS BATTLE, THEY WATCH OVER YOU STILL!”
  158. >A resounding cheer erupts from the Equestrian Guard. Weapons are grabbed, hearts are steeled, and the Tartarian Hordes pushed back against the hooves of Equestria’s finest.
  159.  
  160. >But for Shining and you, a different priority.
  161. “Move!”
  162. >You kick Shining out of the way and duck yourself back just in time to avoid losing a foot when a beam of destructive energy ripples through the air and scorches the earth behind you among a chorus of screams.
  163. >”Well! I could scarcely believe it when I heard what stopped our charge!” a voice calls.
  164. >You get to your feet, but remain behind a nearby rock to get eyes on the speaker.
  165. >A pony, it seemed, taller than the others and bulkier, wades through the battlefield. From the sides of his head sprung two massive bull horns that widened his wingspan. His blood red eyes scan the scene as his hooves leave a trail of fire in their wake. In the center of his head, a gnarled unicorn horn that held a miniature sun atop it.
  166. >He chuckles as he sees Shining getting to his hooves while the demons at his back break around him like a stream on a stone to attack the guard.
  167. >”The Captain of the Guard and his former lackey, it was my understanding that you’d died.”
  168. >You push yourself up with your spear and ready it.
  169. “I got better.
  170. >”Clearly.” He replies, puffing himself up. “Rejoice then, Equestrian! Your second death comes at the hooves of the mighty Trihorn Demoneye, servant of Lord Tirek himself.”
  171. >A pregnant pause passes between you and Shining as you exchange a glance. Supressing yourselves.
  172. >”Y-you can’t be serious.” Shining says.
  173. “Are you sure you don’t want to be the one dead, with a name like that?”
  174. >The orb swells in size. “And now you die.”
  175.  
  176. >You spin your arm and send your spear flying. Your aim is slightly off, but it strikes one of Demoneye’s horns and throws him off balance, sending the beam of energy into the sky.
  177. “Rear!”
  178. >”I’ll take front!”
  179. >Shining and you cross over with one another as you charge Trihorn. The demon’s namesake eyes open and spot you cursing past his side. His horn alights with his cursed magic, but he gets the head of a hammer to his face.
  180. >Demoneye turns his attention to Shining who blocks his blast with another barrier.
  181. >You draw your ice blade from your waist and look around.
  182. “Spear’s too far off!”
  183. >”Then we do without! Number 23!”
  184. “Got it!”
  185. >Trihorn hears the glint of steel behind him and turns his head, his pupils shrinking as he sees you. An attack on two fronts was something even a demon would have trouble with.
  186. >And so he does, bucking back and sending a wave of fire into the air, which you block with your buckler.
  187. >Just as planned.
  188. >Being in position before you, Shining can strike the demon’s skull with your hammer, letting of a resounding KRACK against it. He turns his blood red eye back to the captain to incinerate him, but instinctively closes it in pain as a frigid blade cuts slices out of his hide.
  189. >An attack on two fronts is what any soldier wants to avoid, and that’s what Trihorn finds himself in now as he had to engage between you and Shining. The moment he could get one of you in his sights, the other would land an attack that would require him to turn his attention if he didn’t want to lose his head.
  190. >And each time he was forced to turn his back, he’d take a hit from one of you, slowly wearing him down.
  191. >You catch his eye one time when he turns to you and smirk.
  192. “What’s wrong, darling? Getting tired?”
  193. >The blood red orb turns into an inferno as all three of Trihorn’s namesake light up with infernal fire.
  194. >”You just had to say it, Anon.”
  195.  
  196. >Trihorn Demoneye rears back and slams his hooves onto the ground, sending a wave of force from the impact and flinging you back into a rock wall while Shining Armor is sent end over end back to his men.
  197. “Gah!”
  198. >Your sword and shield fall to the ground amidst the piles of demons as you slide to your ass. Even in armor, the impact on stone took the wind out of you.
  199. “Shining…SHINING ARMOR!”
  200. >You blink through the battle haze and delirium from the impact as you get to your feet, the boiling sky rolling above you past the flying hordes.
  201. >You could see Princess Celestia and Luna each doing battle with flocks of the Tartarian spawn, but holding their own.
  202. >You silently wonder what would happen if you died here again, would they notice?
  203. >”O-on your hoves, soldiers!”
  204. >Shining!
  205. >You push yourself up to see Shining Armor standing in front of his guards who caught his fall. His head is bleeding over one eye and his horn sparking, but he locks eyes with the enraged Trihorn.
  206. >”Shining Armor” he muses, his horns alighting with fire. “Let us see if the slag I reduce you to shines as brightly as you do now.”
  207. >Trihorn Demoneye unleashes his fury at Shining Armor and the remaining Equestrian Guard.
  208. “NO!”
  209. >A flash of light from the sky descends on Shining and the beam of destructive magic breaks on it.
  210.  
  211. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny24zPeQLks
  212. >Magical forces from the demonic commander blow apart the dust of impact. A pulsating hexagon of radiant light stands inches before Shining’s face and breaks the unholy energy against it effortlessly.
  213. >Sunshine looks up at his savior, his red mane whipping in the breeze his magic makes.
  214. >Wings outstretched and protecting the guard, Baldur strikes his front hooves into the ground.
  215. >”FACE ME, DEMON! I STAND FOR ALL OF US!”
  216. >With a flap of his wings, Baldur’s barrier repels the attacking spell, while he looks no worse for wear.
  217. >”No-name! Let us take him!”
  218. “BALDUR LOOK OUT!”
  219. >>As Trihorn prepares another volley, Baldur lets out a childish yelp and opens his eyes as wide as you’ve ever seen them.
  220. >”Headlights!”
  221. Brilliant beams of light flash from Baldur’s eyes and illuminate the entire area, but they’re directed at Trihorn himself.
  222. >You run looking for a weapon that wasn’t melted already, but they seem to have been blasted away by Trihorn.
  223. “Baldur what in the Hel are you DOING here!?”
  224.  
  225. >”The God of Light will not abandoned his closest friend, No-name!”
  226. >”Anonymous, what in the world-!?” shining starts.
  227. “Baldur! This is Shining Armor, captain of the Equestrian Guard!”
  228. >”Greetings, Captain! Gah! Eyebeams!”
  229. >Baldur’s holy light drives Trihorn back down the hill he was atop, the magic on his horns fizzling.
  230. >You however keep looking for a weapon.
  231. “And this is Baldur! God of Light in Asgard and totally in..vin…cible…”
  232. >An idea dawns on you, one that you hope the queen can’t see.
  233. “Keep flashing at him, Baldur!”
  234. >”I never stopped!”
  235. >You run over behind Baldur and grab his hind legs. As a Pegasus, he was lighter than most. With a heave, you get him off the ground, though he flaps his wings wildly in surprise.
  236. >”Whoa! Hey! Bad touching!”
  237. “It’s time to put on your war face, your highness!”
  238. >You unleash a terrible howl that Baldur is all too happy to mirror as you rush Trihorn with the God of Light held above your head.
  239. >The demon sees your makeshift weapon just in time for you to bring it down on him. Again and again and again.
  240.  
  241. >You stand up tall and look down at Trihorn’s bleeding face. You spit on him.
  242. “Stay down.”
  243. >A toothy gurgle is your response.
  244. >”Hey! Hey! Turn me around and let me see!” your weapon cries.
  245. >You chuckle and indulge Baldur as you sit yourself down. The Princes ooh’s and aah’s at the defeated demon and then nearly jumps a foot as a soldier runs past him, charging into battle and screaming a victory cry.
  246. >”Whoa-hey!”
  247. >Another soldier follows him, then another, and another, before a routing charge materializes and attacks the demons.
  248. >”Anon! Let’s go!” Shining calls, getting to his feet.
  249. “After you, old man!”
  250. >In moments, your sword is in your hand and you’re off after the others.
  251.  
  252. >And in due time, you’re crouched to one knee in the middle of a combat zone.
  253. >”Anon!”
  254. >”No-name!”
  255. >Your friends rush over to you, you hold up a finger.
  256. “Just…give me a moment…to catch my breath.”
  257. >The pounding in your chest rings through your entire body, even with the magic of the golden apple.
  258. “I’ve got a few years on the both of you…hehe.”
  259. >The Equestrian forces around you, rallied by the arrival of a bonafide god and the defeat of the demonic commander, quarrel with the demons on even footing. The demons themselves have the opposite effect, staying distance and cautious after one of their own fell as they plan their next move.
  260. “Just need…one more minute to-“
  261. >”No, I think you need some space.” A voice says.
  262. >You, Baldur, and Shining are encased in a mystical bubble and floated off into the air.
  263. >Baldur contorts in the bubble.  ”HELP! MOTHER! STRANGER DANG-“
  264. >”Relax, Prince Baldur!” Shining says “This magic belongs to-“
  265. >You’re deposited in front of the spellcaster, a purple alicorn in a fancy hat.
  266. >”-Twiley!” Shining Armor is the only one not on his flank when the bubble lets you out, instead running up and embracing his little sister. “You’re safe…”
  267. >Sister hugs brother back before she sees who he came with. “Anon! Holy Celestia, you’re alive!”
  268. >A moment later she’s rapped around you.
  269. “Heh, in a manner of speaking. Hello Twilight. This is my friend, Baldur.”
  270. >You gesture to Baldur who is already prostrating himself out. “Your Royal Highness!” he says emphatically.
  271. >Twilight giggles. “He’s certainly polite.”
  272. “He’s well groomed.”
  273. >You push yourself to your feet a bit wobbly.
  274. “Twilight is the one who found me when I arrived in Equestria, Baldur. She helped me even though she was just a filly.”
  275. >”Then my most magnanimous thanks for aiding my future best friend, Princess!”
  276. >Another girly giggle from Twilight escapes her before she composes herself.
  277.  
  278. >”Anon, I’ll be brief.”
  279. >”Then can I be-“ Baldur starts before you get your hand over his mouth.
  280. “Please continue.”
  281. >”Anon? Briefly? What the BUCK is going on?!”
  282. >Shining grimaces at her language, but she continues. “You died! DIED died! We had confirmation that you went into that cave and never came out! Then you show up here with someone calling himself a god-“
  283. >”Not “calling”!” Baldur shouts.
  284. >”-right as the gates of Tartarus are opening?? Serendipity of this magnitude only exists in stories!”
  285. >You look over the battlefield of soldiers fighting demons, once weary and now galvanized by the arrival of two souls at the right time.
  286. >You shrug.
  287. “It’s miracle duty, Twi.”
  288. >Twilight rolls her eyes.
  289. “What? It’s the most apt… How have you been since I’ve been gone?”
  290. >”Oh you know. Finding the Pillars of Equestria, establishing a school for friendship. I was investigating a strange offucrance near the Crystal Empire some weeks back; a beam of pure cosmic magical energy shot from the sky and obliterated one of the peaks in the mountain range! Theories abound, but I’ve heard legend of a magical sword of ice that was kept up there-”
  291. “That was me.”
  292. >Twilight pops up. “Excuse me?”
  293. “Yeah, that big magic. That was my fault.”
  294. >”…You can do that now after you died!?”
  295. “No no! Someone I know can! She did it to scare the witch at the top of the mountain.”
  296. >You think.
  297. >”Who could wield such awesome power?! Not even Princess Celestia can do that and she’s…THE BEST!”
  298. >”Oh oh! I know!” Baldur chimes in. “It was my mother, Queen Sleipnir of Asgard! All-Mother, Skylord of the Eastern Cosmos, Living Daughter of Fire and Lord of the Day and the Night!”
  299. >There’s another pregnant pause in the air as Twilight sits herself down and rubs her head with her hooves.
  300.  
  301. “Right…so just a recap; Asgard is real, I’ve been there the last little while, you might be able to blame any strange happenings on me lately, and his Mother is the most frightening thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
  302. >You snap your fingers.
  303. “Oh, and we’re here to help.”
  304. >A great roar from the gates catches all your attentions. You see the massive Adamantine doors push open a bit more in herald of more demons spilling forth.
  305. >”No! The doors!” cries Twilight.
  306. >”More of them are coming through, Anon!”
  307. “We need to get to the front!”
  308. >Twilight runs back to a blue tent stocked with books. “Before Commander Smiles found me, I was trying to close the gates by force, but that won’t work now! You need to keep them at bay while I figure out a way to close them! Before Tirek arrives!”
  309. >You nod and pick up your sword and shield, sliding a spare helmet over your head.
  310. “They won’t take another step this way.”
  311. >”I hope so. “Twilight looks back at the two of you with worried concern etched into her face. “I’m happy to see you, Anon but…it’s hard to believe any god sent just you and a novice fighter like your friend to us in an hour like this.”
  312. >”Oh-ho, they did not.” Baldur says in a teasing tone.
  313. >All eyes turn to the prince who points smugly at a whirling gap in the clouds, you know what’s coming from that hole in the sky.
  314. >”No one sent me, friends! I ran away to help No-name, just as planned.” Baldur looks to the rainbow lights seeping from the cloud with a tired but assured smile.
  315. >”Being prevented from leaving the city as I am, I knew someone would have to come get me…”
  316.  
  317. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blCBoXKCGl0
  318. >The stream of light from the Bifrost scorches runes into the ground on the field of battle, dividing the Equestrian Guard from the demons and leaving angels in its wake.
  319. >Lord Tyr stands before ten of the most massive ponies you’d ever seen, wearing the armor you’d seen at the edge of the palace before your ill-advised jump.
  320. >The Equestrian Guard drop to their flanks in awe, though the demons don’t hold such fear in them. A few of the brave ones charge forth only to be but in two when Tyr transforms the cap on his hoof into a mighty broadsword.
  321. >This was not the Tyr you had seen in his keep training men. This God of War raised his weapon to the sky and bellowed “WOLF BRIGADE, ATTACK!”
  322. >The ten guards with him joined their commander in their charge. They formed a perfect spear’s head formation as they drove into the demons, either skewering them with magical thrumming weapons or stomping them under the soles of their mighty horseshoes.
  323. >The entire battle becomes just this front as demons pour from the heavens to try and reinforce their brothers making the push, only to be grounded and burned by the magic of the unicorns within the Brigade.
  324. >What would take an army hours takes them but scant minutes as they divide the enemy line almost to the gates themselves, each warrior a flurry of motion as they tore demon flesh from its hides and sent the beasts screaming back to the abyss they pulled themselves out of.
  325.  
  326. >Shining Armor stands next to you agape at the spectacle, and you’re not too far behind him.
  327. “Baldur…what-?”
  328. >”My brother Tyr commands all the legions of Asgard, No-name.” Baldur begins, coming up to your side. “If, in any of those legions, he discovers one of extraordinary talent, then they are offered ranks among his personal unit, the Wolf Brigade. Mightiest warriors in the realms clad in the most powerful armors and for use against the fiercest foes. They used to travel to the other realms as often as they could! Battling foes and righting the wrongs they could find as the swords of justice! ...Untill, well, something happened…”
  329. >Baldur goes quite.
  330. >”And they’re here to help us?” Shining says in shocked disbelief, probably the first good news he’s heard all day.
  331. >Baldur sucks his teeth a bit. “Theeeey are probably here to retrieve me as I disobeyed Mother, and in such force due to my closeness to the Gates of Tartarus. But they’ll help while they’re here! The Wolves love a good hunt.”
  332. >You sigh a tired sigh.
  333. “Well I won’t turn down their help here…they can court martial me when everyone is safe.”
  334. >You start to breathe easy when Twilight comes and ruins everything.
  335. >”Uhh, guys!?”
  336. >Shining rushes over “What is it, Twiley?”
  337. >A magical apparatus Twilight is adjusting with her horn explodes in a shower of sparks. The Princess of Magic turns around frantically. “That astrolabe was the only way I could think of to close the doors! By all logic it SHOULD have worked, but something must be holding them ba-
  338. >Twilight is interrupted by thunder speaking.
  339. >”WELL WELL, IF IT ISNT THE LITTLE MORSELS COME TO PLAY AGAIN.”
  340. >Dread crawls into your stomach as orange eyes filled with hatred alight inside the Tartarian gates, their glow highlighting hellish red skin and rippling muscles that forces open the gates more.
  341. “Tirek!”
  342. >Twilight points. ”He’s going to force himself through!”
  343. >”We need to get all our soldiers out of-What? What is it? A spontaneous storm cloud isn’t our priority right now!” Shining Armor shouts at a subordinate behind him.
  344.  
  345. >A sphere of fire hot as the sun forms between Tirek’s horns and fires through the gate, impacting with nuclear force at Lord Tyr’s hooves.
  346. >”MORE MORESELS THIS TIME, YOU EQUESTRIANS DO SPOIL ME!”
  347. >Baldur reaches his hoof forward. “BROTHER!”
  348. >Like a bullet, Baldur is flying off over the battlefield to Tyr. Like Baldur did for you, you run right after.
  349. “Twilight figure something out fast! Call the Princesses if you need to! We’ll hold him off!”
  350. >Platitudes, you knew, but your body wouldn’t let Baldur run off into certain death to save his brother that protected your family without you.
  351. >”Anon! Baldur! Get back here!” you hear Shining Armor cry.
  352. >”Fear denies faith, Captain!” Baldur cries back.
  353. “What he said!”
  354. >And faith was all you were running on right now.
  355. >You run past the site you did battle at earlier and spot a battered demon rising.
  356. >”You cannot defeat Lord Tirek!” Trihorn jeers. “All the power in Equestria could not hope to best him in combat and you three have so much less than that!”
  357. “Shaddup!”
  358. >You’d give it all you had, even if it wasn’t enough. Demon or no, God or nothing, you’d die standing like you did before.
  359.  
  360. >Another of Tirek’s beams hits Tyr’s hoof, now transfigured into a large banner shield that he ducked behind while his Brigade weathered the atomic storm with the wards on their armor.
  361. >You and Baldur get behind the shield and press yourselves against it, offering what resistance you could against the unstoppable force bearing down on you all.
  362. >Through the squinted eyes of effort, you meet gazes with the Battlelord.
  363. “Lord Tyr.” You get out through gritted teeth.
  364. >”No-name.” he bites back, pushing against the shield.
  365. >As you feel your legs pushing back into the dirt and your hands burning through the metal, you make one final call to the sky.
  366. “I don’t suppose you have any more miracles left for me, do you All-mother?”
  367. >The All-mother doesn’t answer, but the sky does, with a mighty clap of thunder.
  368.  
  369. >Something races across the battlefield from behind you, breaking the sound barrier as it blows past Twilight and Shining’s camp towards the Gates of Tartarus.
  370. >Trihorn’s mocking laughter is cut off as the object barrels through his head on its approach to the gates.
  371. >A moment of shock crosses Tirek’s face as the object discharges a force of impact and forces the gates shut moments before it impacts them itself.
  372. >Silence falls across the battlefield save for the sound of melting metal and discharging energy, but you can’t see what in Equestria is going on behind this shield.
  373. >Tyr pulls the shield away as the object falls to the ground in a cloud of dust and steam before the gates.
  374. >You look up at them. The black metal, said to be unbreakable Adamantine, was fused by some great heat down the center of the door, connecting both doors together into an unbreakable lock.
  375. “What could have done this…” you ask aloud.
  376. >”Oh dear…” Baldur says.
  377. >”By Mother’s eye…”
  378.  
  379. Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wx1z2mPHzo
  380. >You look down at the clearing smoke and see what saved you all. Even you, a novice, recognize it in an instant.
  381. “Is…that what I think it is.”
  382. >”OH YES.” Baldur says emphatically.
  383. >You hear a whistle off in the hills and the mallet floats off the ground, sparking electricity.
  384. >”We should run.” Tyr says.
  385. >”I agree!” echoes the invincible god.
  386. >With those two decided, you weren’t going to argue. The three of you turn and start beating feet back to safety as the hammer begins to spin at high speed.
  387. >The hammer sins and spins, pulling wind and gale from all corners of Equestria towards itself in a mystical cyclone that tears at the very ground itself. You must fall to your knees and hang on to rocks for safety, as do your comrades, but the demons still outside were not so lucky to escape the storm’s wrath. The infernal hounds get pulled from the ground and sucked into the vacuum made by the mallet.
  388. >In what feels like moments, the battlefield is cleared of demons and the storm shoots up into the air. A hypersonic burst of air explodes over the valley as the hammer gains altitude, pulling the cyclone of demons behind it.
  389. >Ponies below stand in silent awe as the hammer suddenly ceases its gale and expels all wind from the valley.
  390.  
  391. >Demons hang in momentary stasis, the ones still alive from not suffocating in the vacuum clawing at the air, before they slowly begin to fall to the ground.
  392. “What in…the Nine Hels…”
  393. >Baldur looks to the sky with tears at the corner of his eyes, smiling his most earnest smile. “The Princess wished for a real miracle, did she?”
  394. >Even Tyr mirrors his brother’s gaze, watching the demons fall to the ground with the same astonished expression you saw Slepnir obliterate a mountain with.
  395. >Far off, you hear a single distant voice in the nearby forest the cloud of demons was over shout “Hammer DOWN!”
  396. >The hammer falls streaking a trail of lightning. The night of the battlefield from the acrid smoke of war becomes a brilliant day as the largest lightning bolt you’d ever seen erupts from where the hammer landed and into the clouds above.
  397. >It didn’t stop there. The clouds themselves, fed this raw power, eject the same streaks of electricity through the sky and strike every single demon still in them.
  398. >The Equestrian defends drop to knees, flanks, and more watching the storm incinerate the demonic host. Even the princesses watch astounded as the lightning flays the demons of their flesh and reduces them to ash in the wind.
  399. >Howls of the hounds die with the lightning as their remains scatter into the air.
  400. >The ground rumbles beneath your feet rumbles as the hammer shoots off into the sky and breaks through the clouds like it did the Tartarian gate. The force of its passing so great that a wide area of sky is pushed away, letting the light of Celestia’s setting sun bathe the battle-weary soldiers.
  401. >And then it is gone.
  402.  
  403. >An explosive cheer of joy bursts from the mouth of every pony across the battlefield, marveling at what just happened and grateful to be alive.
  404. >Yourself, Baldur, Tyr and his warriors remain near the gate watching the sky.
  405. “That…just happened.”
  406. >”Yes No-name, yes it did.” Baldur says.
  407. >The light god looks to his brother excitedly “Do you know what this MEANS, Tyr!!”
  408. >Tyr looks less than optimistic, locking his jaw. “Yes brother, I do.”
  409. >One of Tyr’s wolves approaches behind him and speaks with a deep, hollow voice. “My lord, the Midgardians approach.”
  410. >You straighten up as Shining Armor, Sunshine Smiles, Twilight and even Flash Sentry race down to meet you. The Princesses approach from above to see all the commotion.
  411. “Hey Flash.”
  412. >”Hey old man.”
  413. >”ANON THAT. WAS. AMAZING!” Twilight explains, jumping for joy. “Whatever that was, it sealed the gates and killed every demon in the area! You were RIGHT, it IS a miracle you’re here!”
  414. >”What happened?” Sunshine asks.
  415. >You look to Baldur who just smiles at you, then to Tyr who is avoiding your gaze by examining the clouds.
  416. >Guess it falls on you then…
  417. “Well, you see-“
  418. >The Bifrost opens up and pulls the lot of you back to Asgard.
  419.  
  420. -A bit later-
  421. “Ow! Ow ow ow!”
  422. >You’re floating above the Bifrost well in the emptied keep bend over backwards and in an unescapable magic grip. You can feel your spine screaming in protest as you get bent in more terrible ways.
  423. >”A bit louder, No-name. They couldn’t hear you in Vanaheim.”
  424. >Queen Sleipnir continues to trot around the well, her eyepatch glowing as she holds you and bends you more, while Loki watches from the floor.
  425. >The irony isn’t lost on you.
  426. “You’re loving this…”
  427. >”I’ll admit to a slight pang of joy over this.”
  428. “Let me remind you that when you were here, I saved yoU-AAAAHHHH!”
  429. >Your body contorts in ways it shouldn’t as Sleipnir approaches and holds her head next to yours. “Tell me what it was you did wrong, No-name.”
  430. >You think for a minute.
  431. “Got caught?”
  432. >Sleipnir spins you around into a ball and bounces you off the wall a few times before returning you to your place above the well.
  433. >”She hates that answer…” Loki says.
  434. “Probably because she heard it so much from you.”
  435. >”Silence.” She demands.
  436. >Sleipnir turns you around so you’re looking at her upside down, still in a pressure pose.
  437. >”What you have done, human, is reveal our existence to the Midgardians by dragging not yourself, not one, but TWO of my children along with you to a place where all eyes were upon. They know of you know, know of US.”
  438. >You nod in pain.
  439. “That…sounds right, yeah.”
  440. >”Your actions go in the face of my rule back for hundreds of years. Gods have been banished for less.”
  441. >She lowers you down just over the event horizon of the well and continues to squeeze, so you continue to scream. “Perhaps, if the mortals mean THAT much to you, I will return you to them…in low orbit. We can see if half an Iduun Apple is enough to survive re-entry.”
  442. >Loki watches and grimaces, too frightened to speak.
  443. “AAAHHH! YOU DON’T DESERVE THE PRIVACY!”
  444.  
  445. >Sleipnir pulls you from the horizon and holds you before her face. “What.”
  446. >Either it was the battle or your shoulders getting singed by extradimensional energy, but your patience has worn too thin.
  447. “I said you don’t deserve the privacy, you one-eyed mountebank! “Queen of the Gods”! Ptah! What good are you if you lead your gods to let them die when a Devil breaks out of Hel!”
  448. >Your wriggle in your binding.
  449. “Maybe it’s a matter of perspective, Your Highness, but I was on Equestria when Tirek last set foot on it and he put the fear in me when he drained the Princesses of their magic and nearly destroyed the kingdom! I had to learn to fear him when we were organizing what amounted to a suicide run just to drown him in bodies!”
  450. >Loki watches you rant, Sleipnir remains stonefaced.
  451. “So you’re damned right I’ll throw myself right in front of every pony I’ve ever met to try and stop him from returning! And I’ll drag any of your children along with me, they all want to get out of here often enough! Hold me back long enough and I’ll even drag you down there, O Lord of Asgard! My life is given so that those ponies may never know a day where they must feel that fear! And so should yours and everyone else in this city!”
  452. >You jerk your body forward and get a centimeter closer to Sleipnir’s face.
  453. “So throw me or get the HEL out of my way, because I’ll tear down every veil of secrecy you have if it means saving ONE of their lives.
  454. >”As you wish.”
  455. >Sleipnir throws you.
  456.  
  457. >You impact on the keystone of the doorway into the keep and smack into the stones on the ground.
  458. “Ow.”
  459. >It is Loki, surprisingly, that is at your side first. “If you lost an eye then Heimdall owes me a golden helmet!
  460. >You lift your head and offer a quick, tired smile with both eyes, much to Loki’s disappointment.
  461. >”So.” Queen Sleipnir starts, her eye still glowing as she approaches you. “You wish to be a meddler? Stick your nose in the business of the nine realms and impose yourself on them? An unpopular life, I assure you, it’s why everyone hates me.”
  462. >You don’t touch that bait and just shrug your hands.
  463. “We can’t put the past back, My Queen…the genie is out of the bottle. They know, and they need help.”
  464. >”Indeed we can’t. I detest time travel.”
  465. >”She really does.” Loki chimes in.
  466. >”In your arrogance, you have revealed us to the mortals and you DO speak truth, we cannot put our secret back to the way it was…so we will control how the mortals are made aware of us, and you will spend the next eternity in penance for your misdeed.”
  467. “I beg your pardon.”
  468. >”You will not receive it.” >Sleipnir extends her neck down to you, regarding you as a bug. “Did I perhaps stutter? I am say that you are now my PEON, No-name. You will do what I command when I command it and it will be recompense for revealing yourself as you did.”
  469. >”I hope you turn out better than the last peon…” Loki bemoans.
  470. “…I’ll bite, what happened to him?”
  471. >”I turned his skin into fire and then cut off his head.” Sleipnir answers, walking over you and out of the keep.
  472. >”Be better, No-name. Loki, get him to a healer. Our No-name has changed more than he realizes by revealing us, and there is much to do…”
  473. >Loki gets you onto her back and follows her mother, letting you asses the weight of today in your head in peace.
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