Feb 13th, 2017
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  1. "Don't you believe that confronting yourself- this… other self, the solution?"
  2. >She puts her head up for the first time.
  3. >"Jojo, you're telling me to embrace myself?"
  4. "Well, this other self. That's what- in your mind, you believe in."
  5. >You bring down your head to her, and look her right in her eyes.
  6. "Don't lie to yourself. That’s what you should be."
  7. >You point to the picture of the tall, thin beautiful princess she's drawn for you.
  8. >The flowing hair, as apposed to her still, lifeless wig.
  9. >She's ready to take the mantle next to the glory of her sister.
  10. "You're ready to take the mantle as-"
  11. >"As the ruler of equestria?"
  12. >You smile warmly. "That's what I mean."
  13. >She smiles a little wider than your taste.
  14. >You wave it off- though.
  15. "Go to your sister, now. Tell her the news."
  16. ___
  17. >At the wave of a hoof, the last of the delegates leave.
  18. >Luna has confined herself to her chambers once again.
  19. >It's been her rebellious phase, if you could even call it that.
  20. >It's like her rebellious phase, phase 2- electric boogaloo.
  21. >"I know what you're thinking, Celestia-"
  22. >You look down on your court wizard.
  23. "Next you're going to tell me you want to talk to her."
  24. >"May I console her?" He giggles a bit- realizing that you were right.
  25. >That pony, to you is considered the only reason Luna comes out to even lift the moon anymore.
  26. >Your court mage and personal friend to luna- Starswirl The Bearded.
  27. >He was a lanky fellow with a beard that touched the floor at all times.
  28. >His hat hangs over his eyes, hiding most of his face from view most of the time.
  29. >This time is different- though. This was Luna, and when talking about her he takes off his hat in respect.
  30. >It's what she needs in a time like this.
  31. >But you shake your head anyway.
  32. "No, Starswirl, you remember how last time went."
  33. >"But this time is different! I know I'm making way on her!"
  34. "She won't even tell us why she'll leave."
  35. >JoJo should be finishing up in there soon.
  37. >Jovial Journey was the pony sent to comfort Luna, and considered the most talented psychiatrist in equestria.
  38. >Not renown for his triumphs, but he is the go-to for council.
  39. >You've been looking into getting him into becoming an equestrian ambassador.
  40. >He's a tall, strong brown earth pony with even darker brown hair, with a few strands of gray in it.
  41. >You don't know his age, but he seems well into his thirties, yet un-bridled with children, like most stallions get these days.
  42. >He has the eyes of a phoenix and the stride of an Ox, setting the walls ablaze with his aura wherever he goes.
  43. >Starswirl, when he walked in, even commented on his production of Noren energy, or goodwill generated magic.
  44. >Though- we don't know his capacity for actually using it.
  45. ___
  46. >The room lays quiet, only the sound of breathing making noise.
  47. >Finally, the two appear from the corridors of the castle of the two sisters.
  48. >Luna sports a smile, for the first time in years, and Jojo, that contemplative completeness you always see after an intellectual victory.
  49. >You realize just how big Jojo is standing next to Luna, he's giant, and his head ends at Luna's horn.
  50. >He could easily fit Star swirl underneath him- although Starswirl'd have to have his head down.
  51. >Your mind wanders for a moment while your mind shouts out how tired it really is.
  52. >Wordlessly, luna comes and sits on her throne, presenting herself regally for her position at the night.
  53. >And, just as wordlessly, you leave your throne, to go off to bed.
  54. >You graciously thank Jojo, however- and give him a note for the 2000 bits.
  55. >Then, the thrones disappear into the shifting landscape behind you as you dive through the castle to your bed.
  57. >A few hours pass as you walk around in the beautiful forest around the castle of the two sisters.
  58. >You've been invited to stay with the two princesses tonight.
  59. >Well, not in their beds but it's close enough to hear them snore.
  60. >Who would have thought that- of all professions a psychiatrist would get to sleep at the castle?
  61. >Not even most princes of other countries get to do that.
  62. >You sit down for a moment carving a reed with your skillful mouth and hooves.
  63. >While your father, Windy Journey- was a buisnessman, his father was a farmer.
  64. >You're a strange mix of the two, being able to carry the talents of the land while doing business with the princesses.
  65. >It's about eight o'clock now, and the moon should be going up.
  66. >Luna hadn't been a very difficult case, she had this vision of herself, taller- prettier, more powerful.
  67. >You believe it sprouted from her envies of celestia, her shining over their kingdom more often than not.
  68. >She should just take her place as ruler and the other half of this world, and all would be in harmony.
  69. >At least, that's how it's supposed to go.
  70. >Hopefully she doesn't get needlessly intimidated with the role like she might.
  71. >Then we'd have a problem, back to square one.
  72. >You blow a C sharp note on your reed whistle, before going back inside to go to bed.
  73. >With a creak, the mattress touches the floor.
  74. >You sigh, looking over your situation.
  75. >Your body takes up the entire bed, and weighs down on the springs.
  78. >Soon, it's morning.
  79. >But you've awoken quite early, it seems- as the moon still stands proud in your window.
  80. >Probably in the early 5s.
  81. >You yawn, stretching well.
  82. >then, you crawl out of your sprawl, and begin down the hall- looking for a night servant.
  83. >Maybe they can make you some toast or tea
  84. >Just to keep you toastea.
  85. >You giggle to yourself in your deep voice.
  86. >Your head perks up at a bit of chatter echo down the hall, you head towards the noise.
  87. >Yes!
  88. "A servant! Come to Papa Jojo!"
  89. >The talk gets louder, and more fervent as you hear crackles of magic.
  90. >You reach the main atrium in your stumbles, to celestia facing the throne.
  91. >"Luna, I will not fight you! You must lower the moon! It is your duty!"
  92. >You watch in horror as luna fires at the ceiling, trying to kill Celestia with falling debris
  93. >Luna's eyes go narrow as she steps forward to about 20 feet from celestia.
  94. >"Yare Yare Daze, Celestia! If you will not fight me…"
  95. >Her face goes to a wicked grin before she booms out
  97. >She then immediately charges up her horn.
  98. >"You've always been useless! USELESS USELESS USELESS! You can't even half ass yourself to do your duty!"
  99. >She cackles loudly!
  100. >"Even in the face of YOUR Kingdom crumbling, the moon rising and never falling!"
  101. >"You could not even try to stop me?! I'm Disappointed, but moreso I'm FURIOUS with your inability!"
  102. >Celestia begins again.
  103. >"You are my Sister! How could you do this! Please, stop this fooli-"
  104. >"Shut your peasant mouth!"
  105. >She points her head down to her, and you find yourself running to shield your princess.
  106. >As you dive, you see a flash of light, blinding you as if you had stared into the sun.
  107. >The event happens quickly, but you see luna for the first time, tall and dark, with sharp shark like teeth and a powerful stature.
  108. >But she's stumbling back.
  109. >You see the walls peeling around you from bright, white light, walls shattering and the castle crumbling.
  110. >Celestia's incapacitated on the floor by you, and at this point you scoop her up with your massive, rippling muscles and dive out while she's dazed.
  111. >At the steps of the castle you see the main atrium collapse, and hopefully for the better on the transformed Princess.
  114. >You scoop up Celestia and move on to the way out of this jungle.
  115. >She's still passed out, but it's no big deal, she's not that big.
  116. >And, in a bit- you're out of that infernal jungle.
  117. >Something says you're going to have to get back here.
  118. >Though It seems some power has been de-activated as the briars and brush are getting thicker behind you.
  119. >And over the hills and over the dale you make it to the place you were going to meet the peagsi.
  120. >The pegasi that were supposed to take you back to Manehatteon.
  121. >You see the stallion in and the cart patiently waiting with a smile
  122. >That smile turns to horror as he see's his ruler near death.
  123. >Franticly, he begins.
  124. >"Jojo, what happened back there in the castle?"
  125. >You shake your head violently, presenting a face of worry.
  126. "I don't know, sir. Please just take us somewhere we can get our princess some treatment!"
  127. >You shout much louder than you think was honestly necessary.
  128. >With calm, passionate courtesy he nods.
  129. >"Yes sir! Please hold on master Jojo!"
  130. >He takes off, struggling to keep you two as well as stay fast.
  131. >But his loyalty to the crown kept him forward and quick.
  132. >You couldn't tell the problems with the princess, but she wasn't waking up.
  133. >Soon, you land in the mountain town of Canter's Lot.
  134. >You storm down the cobble paved ways, to the town surgeon.
  135. >You burst through the door, seeing the stallion cutting a mane currently.
  136. "Sir! I need you to check her!"
  137. >He stops.
  138. >"Is that-"
  139. "Yes sir! Now please take care of her!"
  140. >Without hesitation, he nods, and takes her back into the place where the magic happens.
  141. >Exhausted, you set out for breakfast.
  143. >You're shocked at how efficient ponies work when their ruler's on the line.
  144. >And Celestia's flash of white, destroying the castle.
  145. "Not so useless now, huh Luna."
  146. >You walk the town, taking in the sights.
  147. >It's beatiful, the view- it oversees the entirety of the valley below.
  148. >And the amount of real estate is phenomenal.
  149. >You notice a nice pancake diner.
  150. >The sign on the front says, in hasted paint.
  151. >The best pancakes in canter's lot!
  152. "Ooh! This is going to be nice! I hope they have waffles, as well!"
  153. >Behind you, a voice shouts out.
  154. >"Stop right there, Jojo!"
  155. >You jump, and freeze.
  156. >The voice was grumbly, and controlling.
  157. >You turn.
  158. >And-
  159. >Nothing. So you turn back around to-
  160. >"Going somewhere?"
  161. "WHAT!"
  162. >A large, larger than you, stallion, blocks the entrance!
  163. "How did you?"
  164. >"Get here? In the door?"
  165. >You stop, your face clenching at his speed.
  166. >His face wrinkles a wicked smile.
  167. >"It's simple, really. It's my special talent!"
  168. >He poses, flanking his flank at you.
  169. >You zoom in, and focus on the bolt climbing down his thigh.
  170. >"It's a lighting bolt! I'm as fast as lighting!"
  171. >"And tell me, I know that you brought the princess into town."
  172. >He walks by you, before stopping to whisper in your ear.
  174. >He runs off. You shake your head.
  175. >You quickly brush it off and walk on to the pancake parlor.
  177. >"You'll have the pancakes and strawberries with a side of coffee."
  178. >You smile warmly.
  179. "Yes ma'am! You do know your ponies well!"
  180. >She nods a bit before adding.
  181. >"It's my special talent!"
  182. >You laugh pleasantly. As she walks off.
  183. "It most certainly is."
  184. >Soon, she walks off, and you wait, sipping on water.
  185. >You finally process what the big stallion who stopped you in the door said.
  186. >/I'm fast as lightning!/
  187. >/We'll see about that./
  188. "See about what, though."
  189. >You have a sick understanding of something.
  190. >Sweet celestia.
  191. >He might be here to-
  192. >Celestia's in danger.
  193. >You hope you're not too late.
  194. "I'm never going to get breakfast…"
  195. >You jump up, and dive out the door, and into the street. Passed the smiling waitress- whom had your coffee.
  197. >With a heretical amount of speed you sprint your way to the surgeon's place.
  198. >And with a horrible grimace, you see blood in the windows.
  199. "Lots of-"
  200. >You dive into the building, and you wish you haven't.
  201. >The blood was on the floor, climbing its way down and up the walls and dripping from the ceiling, it was underneath the cash register and inside the chairs and filled the bottles of shampoo.
  202. >The blood was in the Shoes of the deceased.
  203. >Strangely enough, there were no hoof prints.
  204. >but a menacing light shone in the room.
  205. >This was a work of that pony from earlier
  206. >You ran into the back to find the dead doctor and broken glass.
  207. >You hear a faint-
  208. >You dive right and the man from the store flies passed you.
  209. >"Jojo! Where is celestia!"
  210. >He looks, less menacing and more…
  211. >Worried.
  212. >You run over to him
  213. "I thought you had done this! Who did this?!"
  214. >He composes himself
  215. >"I cannot tell you, but without Celestia I believe our chances of living are-"
  216. >The sky turns black, the moon quickly usurps the sun, causing an eclipse.
  217. >"Very slim."
  218. >You fall out of the parlor and down the street, leaving a patron blood trail behind you.
  219. >You get to the pad, where you see a few ponies carrying a coffin to a storage bay.
  220. >"That's her. It must be."
  221. >You grimmace.
  222. "We won't make it in time!"
  223. >"Like hell! Watch if you can!"
  224. >And like that, he's over at the coffin, as if he had teleported.
  225. >He swats one man down, cracking open to reveal the bagged from of an alicorn.
  226. >The two ponies carrying them, were bat ponies, old night guard.
  228. >You follow up Lightning's speed with a more normal pace and head to confront the guards.
  229. >They see you, and burst out laughing.
  230. >One jumps left, trying to flank you
  231. >He laughs, giving up his element of surprise.
  232. >"You've already lost!"
  233. >The other one follows with.
  234. >"Yes! Yes! It's all in place! Go ahead and have her! She-"
  235. >You turn left, it jumping and freezing at realizing that you were a lot bigger than they had thought.
  236. >You simply head-but him, and his head explodes under your mass.
  237. >Then you turn to the other, fire in your eyes.
  238. >You he tries to fly away, but lighting is there to hold him.
  239. >Then, you do you- the fire in your eyes simmers and you take a deep breath.
  240. "I- We're sorry I had to do this, my friend. Please forgive me. Why did you make those remarks from earlier?"
  241. >You hear a muffled 'What the hell?!' from lightning, probably at the change of tone.
  243. >You gently put a hoof on his snout, shutting him up and hopefully calming him more.
  244. "Woah, woah- I'm sorry if I said anything wrong. I just- please realize that this is my princess I'm fussing about."
  245. >You sit down, the bat settling more.
  246. >His 'eeeeees' and squirming cease as your calming words fall over him like a cotton cardigan.
  247. >"I do suppose I'd do the same, if luna was in that place. But please, mister- I'm just under orders!"
  248. "Exactly. My friend- and please- call me Jojo."
  249. >"Well, Jojo. I-"
  250. >He breathes in through his nose before exclaiming, more jagged than you'd expect.
  252. "Wonderful! Now- mister-"
  253. >"Sparkles"
  254. >What a name!
  255. "Mister sparkles, tell me why you're here in the first place."
  256. >"Well, I guess it all started fourteen years ago with my childhood."
  257. >The bat ponies' body finally hits the ground behind you some 40 feet.
  258. >above you, you hear lightning say 'Damn, you're good.'
  260. >"And that's really how I got here."
  261. "So- You're still under orders?"
  262. >He realizes that he just told you everything.
  263. >Apparently, he's just a city boy who ended up on midnight duty.
  264. >Out in detrot.
  265. >And, that evolved until Luna- Now considered 'Nightmare Moon' by herself is trying to bring eternal night.
  266. >That 'Other self' was her.
  267. >Now, they were trying to get Celestia so Luna could kill her herself.
  268. >What a ditz, sending bat ponies to do this.
  269. "Thank you."
  270. >He starts crying.
  271. >You put your hoof back up to his snout.
  272. "I forgive you, remember- and I'm the only one who knows. If you fear what Luna-"
  273. >"Nightmare Moon"
  274. "What Nightmare Moon will do to you, then she shouldn't be ruler."
  275. >You nod your head in intellectual victory.
  276. "Start a new life, Hold on to this feeling of hope."
  277. >"I won't stop believing, sir!"
  278. "And thanks again."
  279. >You look to lightning, who lets go of the bat pony, he then runs off, shredding his armour to go find an entry level job in Canter's lot.
  281. >Lightning's over by Celestia now, peeling off the bag, to a surprisingly-
  282. >"Awake Celestia!"
  283. "Right!"
  284. >Her eyes were wide open, but she was still.
  285. >But quickly, she gets up. Dusting herself off.
  286. >"Did you just reform a bat pony?"
  287. >She says with surprise.
  288. "It wasn't that difficult, My Princess. He was just under orders."
  289. >"It's not that, you took the effort to save a life, instead of ruin one."
  290. "I still killed one!" you protest.
  291. >"Nonono Jojo! That's the sign of an amazing heart!"
  292. >You harumph.
  293. "Well, It seems that Luna took place in an old Discordian castle outside Manehatteon."
  294. >"The Castle Skynyrd!"
  295. >Lighting pipes in behind you.
  296. >"I Know that place! It's the perfect area for Luna to take up hold!"
  297. "Dark, damp, and a pool of chaotic magic!" >"We must stop her, I know what she's trying to do!"
  298. "What?"
  299. >Celestia jumps up and starts stretching.
  300. >"She's trying to bring Discord back!"
  301. >Your face crumples into a scowl.
  302. >You know who discord was.
  303. >And you don't want to try to reform him.
  306. >Celestia Breathes normally for the first time.
  307. >"We-"
  308. >She pauses.
  309. >"We defeated Discord with the Elements of Harmony, a-"
  310. >She pauses again to think how she would put it.
  311. >"They were created by the tree of harmony, think of them as the fruits of that tree."
  312. >"Initially, they kept the forest clear of brambles and nasties, so we could build our home."
  313. >You think for a moment.
  314. "The hidden wing? They contain these elements?"
  315. >She jumps, her eyes widening.
  316. >"How did you-?"
  317. >You smile.
  318. "Lucky guess, it's how I'd do it."
  319. >Lightning steps in.
  320. >"As I see it, we need back at the castle before we even begin to set in on Castle Skynyrd."
  321. >Celestia nods, and you head on to the only way out of Canter's lot.
  322. >An old road that climbs down the mountain.
  323. >Loaded with bandits, as you were told.
  324. >Before you left- Celestia had used her… Importance… to get the group some gear, and food.
  325. >You got some Steel armour, a far cry from the gold armour that the day guards usually get and the silver the night ones get.
  326. >Then you got a short sword for defense, but you don't think you'll need to use it.
  328. >You're about five miles away from the bottom of the mountain, definitely at the point of no return.
  329. >"It's supposedly perfectly broken down this line, one half of the trail on this side."
  330. >Lightning points to one side.
  331. >"One half on the other."
  332. >He points to the other, looking at Celestia.
  333. >She giggles a bit.
  334. >"I can't believe I know so little about my kingdom."
  335. "Then getting out like this is good."
  336. >In the weird red moonlight Celestia looks, strangely younger.
  337. >You see the youthful eyes, like a Hairdresser on her first trip to another city.
  338. >While she might be no less than forty years of age, she appears twenty.
  339. >You simply giggle back and continue moving.
  340. __
  341. >A mile later of small conversation, you begin getting the vibes of bandit territory.
  342. >Signs of Struggle, and what not.
  343. >A few small gold breaks in armour where the guards were shredded.
  344. >But it doesn't seem that this area will garnish any fright.
  345. >The bandits only attack at-
  346. "Oh Hell it's night all the time now isn't it."
  347. >"What was that, Jojo?"
  348. >Lightning turns, before a near lightning fast spear comes up from behind.
  350. >You couldn't speak fast enough, but lightning could react.
  351. >It clipped his head, shredding his left ear.
  352. >"Damn-"
  353. >Another one came for him, this time he was able to get out of the way, running towards the spears.
  354. >Or, you think he was running.
  355. >You didn't see much before he was near the source.
  356. >But you see him get slammed into the floor by another weapon.
  357. >And then an axe went for Celestia.
  358. >This time she shielded herself, and yipped to herself, then she dived behind a rock.
  359. >Which left you and this bandit.
  360. >By that time, you're able to speak again.
  362. >He replies quickly.
  363. >"Show myself? Stand and deliver!"
  364. >His voice was surprisingly normal, like a cashier.
  365. >An axe ricochets off your armour, but you don't do so much as flinch.
  366. >You look in the direction of the bandit, and see a small, thin mass of black with a lit horn.
  367. >A Unicorn, obviously.
  368. "By Celestia please don't do this! We're trying to save the world!"
  369. >"You're funny! I get heroes through here all the time!"
  370. >Another spear comes by, this time chinking your side, you simply begin walking towards him, weak spot on your flank.
  371. >"I'm serious, m-sir! Please let us pass in peace!" you roar
  372. >A knife buries itself in your chink, sending a shockwave through you, causing you to bleed out a bit.
  373. >"Are you crazy? You're not going to stop?"
  374. >And another spear, this time you dive left, it flying passed.
  375. >"If you were to give me some money then I'd be off!"
  376. >You begin to run towards him, and he begins to run away, but you were faster, and able to kick his legs out from underneath him.
  377. "Not so tough now."
  379. >"You're close enough, just-"
  380. >He kicks you, allowing himself to get up.
  381. >You still don't flinch, you're a hundred pounds heavier anyways.
  382. >"Alright, you want my name? I'm SteelLight Sparkle! Son of Moonlight and Starfly Sparkle!"
  383. >He brings up a weapon.
  384. >"My talent? It's Magic!" He Poses "Obviously, how else could I produce these magically charged weapons?!"
  385. >So that's what he's doing!
  386. >The lighting charged blade, their speed! He's a Magician!
  387. >"And you're going to die here, Earth pony, and I will rape your little girl friend!"
  388. >He buries the blade into your armour.
  389. >You feel that one, it was as hot as dragonfire.
  390. "I don't want to do this, SteelLight, but if you will not let us pass in peace. I will make you let us pass in goodwill!"
  391. >You pose back, Giving your moment to think while you two pose at each other.
  392. >You pull your shortsword, and at that- you charge, letting the armour take his rapid fire magic weapons.
  393. >Then, you touch sword to his leg, and he's blasted back as if you had hit him with a large hammer or rock.
  395. >You stare at your blade. It glowing a light white.
  396. >In a five foot radius is looks like honest day.
  397. >"That-" Celestia calls out from behind you, poised for fighting now.
  398. >"That is Noren Energy that you've channeled."
  399. >You look back at the blade, it thumping quickly, you notice- to the beating of your heart.
  400. >It's in sync with your heart, with your soul.
  401. >"It is Channeled through your beating heart, sent out in waves along your blood lines."
  402. >"Noren energy! The energy of goodwill!"
  404. >You feel determined, Steel's Light has recovered at this point, and begins throwing more powerful weapons.
  405. >This time the blade seems drawn to protect you, making you want to dive here, and there, and move the blade there.
  406. >The energy's guiding you, allowing you to dodge and weave.
  407. >You make your way to SteelLight, who is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
  408. >You throw your body on top of him, holding him down, biting down on his horn to stop him from producing magic. An old technique used in the guard, supposedly.
  409. >Then he sees Celestia appear behind you, in the red turned white light.
  411. >"My Princess!"
  412. >He Shouts.
  413. >You look into his eyes, they're now beginning to form tears.
  414. >"This is bad! I'm Really in for it now!"
  415. >He begins babbling to the princess about his apologies.
  416. >You let go of him, he seems to not be in a fighting state.
  417. >Though you keep your blade ready.
  418. >He's groveling now.
  419. >"Oh Please let me have a chance!"
  420. >and so on.
  421. >Then you see Celestia look at you in the eyes, and then down to him.
  422. >She gently lifts her hoof to his face, moving his head up.
  423. >"I forgive you. SteelLight- My Little Pony…
  424. >He stops, before clearing his eyes of tears.
  425. >"You- You will?"
  426. >"On a normal occasion, SteelLight, you'd be beheaded, but today someone showed me that there was much more to justice than just punishment."
  427. >She sets down on the defeated bandit brigade.
  428. >"Sometimes, there is more gratification to help a pony get off a troubled path than to force them onto another."
  429. >"You must want to prove yourself good…"
  431. "NANI!?"
  432. >You wake up, at the bottom of the mountain.
  433. >With SteelLight by the fire, warming up.
  434. >He was really thin, it seemed he hadn't eaten in a while.
  435. >Although he could always eat the grass.
  436. >'There's nothing wrong with grazing.' you think to yourself.
  437. >You pull yourself up, and head to get yourself set with some oats.
  438. >You notice Celestia is still asleep. You'd expect her to be a moment.
  439. >It's still night time. But you'd expect it to be something like four in the morning. Not like you need to think about time anymore.
  440. >You sit down next to him his thin face looking over to you, holding the generic oats.
  441. >You know what he's thinking.
  442. "Take the money and run, that's what you're thinking, huh." You say, not looking away from your oats packaging, fumbling with it between your two dexterous hooves.
  443. >You feel him nod, then realize what that meant, then he quickly switched to a shake, in-between the shivers.
  444. "Yeah, that's about the weight of it. And hell's bells- it's just an offer, to come with us. Go ahead and go on back- if you don't want to be here. We'll even give you a bit of food."
  445. >He smiles, trying to get some eye contact from your stolid presence.
  446. >"Jojo, I won't lie. I don't think this is the best path for me at all- but I've always wanted to serve our princess."
  447. >"I don't want to be the black dog of the mountains anymore."
  448. >He sighs.
  449. >"I don't see that for me, or my bloodline. I want a son in college one day, at least."
  450. >You giggle.
  451. "How cheesey. I went through college. I'm no soldier- I'm a Psychiatrist."
  452. >He giggles back, his shivers calming a bit.
  453. >"That's kind of a niche market, huh?"
  454. >He inches a bit closer to the fire.
  455. >"Sweet Celestia it's cold out here."
  456. "Huh? It's sixty?"
  457. >You finally get the box of oats open, you laugh in triumph.
  458. "Oats! My brother!"
  459. >Then you begin eating your-
  460. >Well, you didn't have dinner last night, did you?
  461. >This is dinner, these are dinner sized rations.
  462. >Nice!
  464. >"I do hope that I can help you guys. I did really do some damage to you guys."
  465. "That was Tuesday, it's gone." you say with a giggle. You notice lightning groggily shuffling up as you do this.
  466. "Tuesday's gone- gone with the wind." you say with a warm smile.
  467. >"Well, you really did mean it when you said I'd let you guys pass in goodwill."
  468. >You both chuckle.
  469. >Then, you sit while you witness lightning in a grog trying to produce coffee with his wings.
  470. >And soon, Celestia is up.
  471. >She plops herself down in the dim redness of the night and enjoys some oats.
  472. >Even SteelsLight gets into the Oats eating mood.
  473. >You sit, before Celestia announces that "It's the time of the season for heroes. We'd best get on!"
  474. >You thought that was pretty clever.
  475. >Soon, you pack up and then set out.
  477. "Here we are, the beginning of the Castle's Boundaries."
  478. >You look at the awe inspiring forest in front of you.
  479. >That wasn't there before.
  480. >Lightning shakes his head.
  481. >Celestia begins the exposition.
  482. >"At it's conception, this place was home to the tree of harmony."
  483. >"It's magic was forever free over this forest."
  484. >She scowls a bit.
  485. >"Me and my sister call it the Everfree Forest. But the Tree kept it beautiful. But something's changed. It senses the disharmony."
  486. >Lightning comes around to get in front of Celestia.
  487. >Simply he exclaims-
  488. >"Time out."
  489. >He breathes in, and then out before adding.
  490. >"Why in the living hell did you build here?"
  491. >Lightning looks at Celestia, who simply laughs.
  492. >"We loved the view."
  493. >You all laugh, with Lightning twitching a bit.
  494. >"Sweet home Everfree."
  495. >And with that, you move on into the forest, following the path that seems best clear.
  497. >You keep down before heading to what looks like some sort of-
  498. "HOLY!"
  499. >"WUAH!!"
  500. "CLIFF!"
  501. >"JOJO!"
  502. >The cliff you were walking, in an instant, begins crumbling beneath you.
  503. >Celestia grabs you, and barely lifts you, while lightning quickly gets SteelLight off the ground.
  504. "Sheesh, take it easy on the kidneys, my leige!"
  505. >"Welcome to the Everfree."
  506. >You say, through the adrenaline.
  507. >And, with the help of the two airborne ponies, you all get down the bottom of that valley.
  508. >Celestia says that's probably the way to the castle…
  509. >It's not like we have a map.
  510. >Out of the corner of your eye, you spot movement.
  511. >Quick movement.
  512. >Then, in front of you, stood a pony.
  513. >A pony of menacing heir.
  514. >You try to make eye contact, and speak.
  515. "Hello?"
  516. >Simply, the mare speaks.
  517. >"Turn back, Princess. I cannot let you any further."
  518. >"You will never let the sun shine again."
  519. >She removes the hood she was apparently wearing.
  520. >And like any good enemy, she Poses.
  521. >But it seems that there's more here.
  522. >She was a lanky earth pony, with no gear.
  523. >She couldn't take all of us on.
  525. >"You're probably thinking now."
  526. >She does an imitation of you, but it lands as gineric.
  527. >"How is she gonna take all three of us on?!"
  528. >"Well? That's a good question!"
  529. >Then, behind her, a beast appears, seemingly out of thin air!
  530. >"I have this! I bring to you."
  531. >She sparkles. The Beastly Manticore following suit.
  533. >"AND WITH THIS SPIRIT PET YOU WILL NEVER GET PASSED ME!" >She begins wildly laughing.
  534. >You Freeze, lightly panicking at the beast.
  535. >The thing is huge, large enough to swallow you whole!
  536. >You couldn't-
  537. >You could! You have the princess on your side!
  538. >Then, you Turn your head to your team.
  539. >With calm, cool ready heads. All of them.
  540. >You smile.
  541. >We're ready to take on this sweet spiritual beast of hers!
  543. >First things first. It's a Manticore.
  544. >You begin sizing it up while the mare poses dramatically.
  545. >It's got Claws, a mouth that can crush and kill most beings and a tail of a scorpion.
  546. >You've got to get at that tail, then you can simply attack it.
  547. >You look to Steelslight.
  548. "We've got to destroy it's tail. Can you do that?"
  549. >"On it, JOJO!" >And with that, he dives right- but not before having to conjure a shield for something.
  550. >A knife like appendage shoots from the Manticore, and in the direction of Steelslight!
  551. "OH NO!" You shout.
  553. >He Realizes this, and dodges a few more spikes.
  554. >Then you get in on the battle.
  555. >You run in, waiting intently on the shot.
  556. >In an instant, it chucks a spike at you, and you use your blade to parry it.
  557. >Steelslight then gets a blade off, and takes off the tail of the Manticore!
  558. >The Manticore roars, and uses a quick movement to swat Steelslight off to the left. He seems knocked out.
  559. >Before the beast follows up, you get the attention of it.
  560. >Lightning Follows up, dashing at the Mare.
  561. >She's fairly unguarded.
  562. >But she's directing the Manticore around.
  563. >She's acting like the brain.
  564. >You realize, you have to kill the Mare before you can get at the Manticore!
  565. >The two of are able to keep the Manticore busy.
  566. >But you're not gaining any ground, you can't peel yourself away from the fight to even get a glance at the Beast's master.
  567. >And, in a blink, it hits lightning out of the air, his limp body swatting against the rock nearby.
  569. >"Lightning!" you shout, before you see the fight ahead of you.
  570. >You must get through these rocks!
  571. >You must get passed this Manticore!
  572. >Diving in, you swing your short sword in a pure act of determination.
  573. >You get a couple of cuts off, parrying the spikes before one large spike almost takes your head off.
  574. >The mare cackles again, but shuts up when she sees that you're alive.
  575. >You hear her audibly curse. But you don't know the word.
  576. >The large spike was a wooden spine, easily mistaken for a splinter, but heavily Poisoned.
  577. >That was close, you think to yourself.
  578. >You can't even turn to see the location of the princess.
  579. >You hope she's protected.
  580. >Finishing the thought, you pull yourself back into the fight.
  581. >You drive your sword into it's leg, but it pulls it out and now you're left sword-less.
  582. >Then you're flung, but not knocked out.
  583. >You sit now, behind a rock, trying to think of another plan.
  584. >Before you hear the mare screech, grunt, and quickly quiet before you hear the Manticore roar loud enough to hurt your ears.
  585. >You hop over the rock to see the mare impaled by.
  586. >Oh dear.
  587. >She was impaled through the head on Celestia's horn.
  588. >Celestia had come up behind her and drove her unicorn horn through her brain.
  589. >The morbid sight causes you to freeze, but the Manticore is as angry as ever. Though it seems more vulnerable now.
  590. >You finally collect your thoughts and get back into it.
  591. >But you forget you didn't have a blade.
  592. >You stop, before it swings at your hulking mass again.
  593. >You get off one line before getting flung again.
  594. "Too much determination."
  595. >But, by the time you landed, you find that the beast's paw has landed on something.
  596. >It landed… It landed on it's own splinter! The same one that almost took your head off!
  597. >It falls over, and lays stoic on the ground.
  598. >You and Celestia grab your friends and head off deeper into the canyon.
  600. >After a bit of walking you find yourselves in a bog.
  601. >Lightning and Steelslight finally woke up from their hits, and you think lightning has a concussion.
  602. >Keeps prattling on about 'the starway that leads to heaven.'
  603. >A lot of people's inter-suppressed thoughts come out when under hypnosis.
  604. >This might be like that.
  605. >So you write that down somewhere.
  606. >Celestia now leads the group, she knows the path from here.
  607. >With a Glomp, you step in some mud, your hoof sinking further than before.
  608. "Ack, I stepped in something."
  609. >"Oh Son of a Sick Dog!"
  610. "What it's just scum."
  611. >"Why would you call me scum?!"
  612. >Your head darts up.
  613. >You're surrounded by trees.
  614. >Animated, walking trees with faces tormented and curled into howling frozen screeches.
  615. >The bark searing with pure anger like as if the world herself poured all her frustration into them.
  616. >There auras remind you of everything impure with the world.
  617. >You just sigh.
  618. >In about twenty minutes, we're back at it again.
  619. >Out of obligation, you pose, as is your custom.
  620. >Then they begin their high pitched chatter.
  621. >"We are the keepers of this forest!"
  622. >"You will go no further! Nightmare Moons orders!"
  623. >"You will die here, Celestia!"
  624. >To your left, you hear Steelslight sigh as well.
  625. >But it's in relief.
  626. >"Thank the sun, they didn't mention me…"
  627. >Looking actively at Steelslight, adressing Celestia, they tack on-
  629. >"Ah Hells bells!"
  630. >And with that, they step in to stop you.
  632. >You move around a tree, sweeping back and fourth in order to try and get behind it.
  633. >But you were cheap-shot in the throat, and thrown across the small battlefield.
  634. >then you tried throwing your blade at what you thought was the weak spot.
  635. >Then it was caught, then thrown back at you with furious speed.
  636. >Diving back, you retrieve your sword.
  637. >This continues on, a combination of events in the order of fighting, dodging when the fighting fails, and then you repeat.
  638. >Then you stop, defeated physically by the wood.
  639. >The hard bark beasts.
  640. >You're thinking now.
  641. >Thinking of something to say.
  642. >FIM FLAM IT!
  643. >You pipe up, just when they're about to end you.
  644. "Have you ever thought of why you exist?"
  645. >They stop.
  646. >"Eh?"
  647. "I- I mean, why you're a tree and not a pony."
  648. >They all look at each-other.
  649. "Yeah! Think about it for a moment."
  650. >"What, you mean we need to be a bridge or something?"
  651. >"IS THAT A THREAT!"
  652. >One shouts out another thing before they're about seething.
  653. "Nononono! Calm! I'm trying to help you! Think about it? Do you feel like a Pariah? An outcast?"
  654. >They all stop, their faces changing slightly.
  655. >"Wel- Well yeah. Yeah we do."
  656. "And that- that's what Miss Moon told you, huh, that you could be no longer outcast."
  658. >You stand up now.
  659. "A group of moving trees in a forest of stoic, happy, peaceful trees! No wonder you feel different!"
  660. >"We're the problem, aren't we? THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK!?" "No, but you certainly don’t need to identify as a tree. That's the problem here, right? You believe you’re a tree?"
  661. >"But we want to be a tree!"
  662. "Then you can always assimilate to the tree environment! It's not to difficult to be a tree! I could be a tree, and so could you."
  663. >They're as simple as you guessed.
  664. >You smirk and pose.
  667. "TO BE SILENT!"
  672. >You pose sharply. >In the heat of excitement. They all stand in a ten yard circle around you.
  673. >And they salute before freezing in the ground.
  674. >The last line they say is simply.
  676. >Shocked, your group gathers their belongings, and walk in-between the trees, unwounded but very tired.
  678. >As you move along, you continue across a river, treading the calm waters with ease.
  679. >You navigate through more woods, the red solar eclipse lighting your way
  680. >Then you tread across a suspension bridge and down a path.
  681. >You see the castle in the distance.
  682. >In your thought, you trip over something.
  683. >You look down at the rolling thing, and smile.
  684. >Through the smile, you exclaim-
  685. "Nice!"
  686. >You pick up the flute- reed that you had made two days ago.
  687. >Then, as a good luck charm, you pocket it in your saddlebag.
  688. >Your internal body clock says about 4:30 or so, but that may be wrong.
  689. >The group's got one last really good push left in them in case something's wrong.
  690. >Celestia's chattering to Lighting and Steelslight about the history of the area
  691. >And the beings they slayed under their hooves.
  692. >You peer inside the now destroyed atrium.
  693. >The searing- marks left by Celestia's attack much more vibrant.
  694. >The force of the sun seriously scares you.
  695. >And somewhat ironically, chills you to the bone.
  696. >Celestia speaks up.
  697. >"Come, the elements are this way. Keep guard, Luna may have sent for them as well."
  698. >"Well" Steelslight proclaims- "With all the Royal's fighting the Knight's down by Skynyrd in the south, you'd think we'd be along without a problem."
  699. >"Luna's Power is strikingly equal to mine when it comes to resources and influence, Steelslight. We'll be at a near standstill war-wise. But Luna now is willing to play dirty, and will send for Equestria's worst to fight us."
  700. "Equestria's worst? Like a couple of trees?"
  701. >She stops, and turns to you, glaring, and then softening her face.
  702. >"Those trees we're one of Discord's spells. You know not the heartache that particular enemy wrought before our rule presented itself. If released to open crowds they could've slaughtered thousands."
  704. >You get your tongue in order, before replying.
  705. "Well, strong of heart and soul is not necessarily strong of mind, Celestia- please recognize that slaughter is not triumphant to laughter. We need not to fight more but to resolve more, you'd understand that the most, though- as the elements are the most powerful forms of magic in existence."
  706. >She pauses. Thinking a moment.
  707. >"You truly are a very wise stallion, JoJo."
  708. "I try my hardest. Let's get on."
  709. >You cross the bridge and stand on the rubble of the roof.
  710. >You sit for a moment, before going towards the hallway on your left.
  711. >Celestia shouts out for your attention.
  712. >"JoJo, the Elements are this way, JoJo."
  713. "I Understand that, Celly- but I need into my stuff."
  714. >It's still here after all.
  715. >You roll down the hall and take a left, before rummaging through your set of clothes, changing it out for your normal brown suit.
  716. >Then you make it back down the hall and into the atrium.
  717. >At that point…
  718. "They must have left."
  719. >You look around, calling out a few names, before standing there befuddled.
  720. >Time to get into the mystery mobile.
  722. >You travel though a mess of rubble, and into a large hall, with colored glass upon the walls.
  723. >You've had just walked through this area the night before.
  724. >This leads toward, you think- not the elements…
  725. >With a hint of understanding, you begin down the hallway.
  726. >You begin speeding up-
  727. "This leads- uh oh."
  728. >You begin barreling down the hallway, realizing where you're heading.
  729. >You see hoofsteps of mud from celestia and the others.
  730. >But they stop almost 20 paces in.
  731. >This means-
  732. >"You're not alone, Jojo."
  733. "Yeah, I know that."
  734. >You turn towards the glass on your right.
  735. >Upon it is a blue clad figure with stars on his robes.
  736. >It's the court Wizard!
  737. "Starswirl! What have you done with Celestia!"
  738. >"Diminished her, why do you ask, Jojo?"
  739. >He begins maniacally laughing.
  740. >"Diminished! What an exquisite euphemism for killed! Don't you think!"
  741. >He's bonkers.
  742. >"So, you think you can pull miracles out of nowhere?"
  743. >"Not with me! You can't!"
  744. >You flex in anxiety.
  745. >>>>>TO BE CONTINUED!
  748. >"So, you think you can pull miracles out of nowhere!?"
  749. >"Not with me! You can't!"
  750. >"HA HA HA!"
  751. >Okay, think, how to get him out of the glass…
  752. >"Ready to Die, Jojo!?"
  753. "Sheesh, what a try-hard."
  754. >POP!
  755. >He's out the glass!
  756. >Wait, no.
  757. "I'M IN THE GLASS?"
  758. >You look around in this strange world, everything having a slight purple tint to it, mirrored to the other world.
  760. >You try to draw your shortsword.
  761. >It's not there. >You simply grab a nearbly candlestick.
  762. >He charges a magic charge at you.
  763. >You get in a batter's stance.
  764. >He casts, and you swing!
  766. >Swing!
  767. >And a MISS! >It went through the candle stick! And right into your body!
  769. >He poses.
  771. >You think for a moment.
  772. >You're not too damaged from the conundrum so far.
  773. >Your brain gages that you can take a few hits from him right now.
  774. >Plan, plan, you need a plan.
  775. "Alright. We'll do it your way."
  776. >You gotta get at his horn.
  777. >But that might be a problem.
  778. >He's too crazy to-
  779. >MAGIC BLAST.
  780. >Dive left, Pose in order to intimidate.
  781. >No use, he's too mad.
  782. >You can't reform him, can you?
  783. >Show him the light or something?
  784. >The light…
  785. >Noren? Can we use Noren energy?
  786. >Last you checked, it's-
  787. >Celestia's words echo through your mind.
  788. >Noren energy is the power of goodwill, and is channeled through the beating of the heart!
  789. >You channeled it, at the time of defeating Steelslight- through your shortsword.
  790. >It was a form of steel.
  791. >But Noren is magic, and should have power in this world! >You understand now.
  792. >This world is-
  793. >MAGIC BLAS-
  794. "ACK!"
  795. >You're tossed across the world, but you don’t feel any damage.
  796. >Well, your heart-rate's up. You're gonna see just how much Noren you have in stock.
  797. >This is…
  798. >He's the most powerful wizard in all of Equestria.
  799. >You just hope you're up to it.
  801. >You get up, and ready yourself.
  802. >The heart seems beating at about 180 BPM.
  803. >Plenty of power.
  804. >Now, You focus your power.
  805. >You feel a surge of warmth.
  806. >Oh my- is this what magic feels like?
  807. "Nope, that's just a blast of magic."
  808. >You look up at starswirl, his face twitching slightly.
  809. >You're taking increasingly less and less damage.
  810. >The Noren might be acting like a shield, but you don’t know.
  811. >Focus! >Between you and starswirl is a mess of chairs and rubble, it's like he threw the kitchen in with the main atrium to make your battlefield.
  812. >He's sitting atop a large boulder, firing relentlessly at you.
  813. >The shots are now bouncing off of you almost entirely.
  814. >But you fear that these are small, worthless shots in order to- originally-
  815. >"AHAH! You've seemed to bring some sort of shield in with you! Sad that these are only weak foal's magic, just to make you suffer!"
  817. >"AHHHAH!"
  818. >He points his magic, and you barely dodge a thin beam, approx. 2 centimeters wide, cutting a large hole in-
  819. >In everything.
  820. >There's a hole across the battlefield approx. 2 centimeter's wide.
  821. >You run close to him, but he pops off some sort of large Area of effect spell, blasting you away from him. >He then blasts himself up ontop another boulder, firing another round of very hazardous spells.
  822. >This is bad, you need to hit him with something, and noren is only just keeping you alive longer.
  823. >You can't channel it into anything worthwile, and it's not like this energy is ranged.
  824. >Maybe if you could get it in-
  825. >Into the boulder he's on.
  827. >You run for that boulder.
  828. >But he's quick, and hits you away.
  829. >"C A N T Y O U S E E ? YOU'LL NEVER REACH ME!"
  830. >You Continue fruitlessly dodging for a few minutes.
  831. >He comes down off his boulder, ready to end this.
  832. >He picks you up with his magic, trying to throw you, but your heart-rate increases, and you slip out of his grasp.
  833. >You think you're immune to magic with Noren running through you.
  834. >He's twitching even more.
  835. >You were supposed to be dead twenty minutes ago.
  836. >He's got to move on to more important things, you guess.
  837. >Or maybe you're hurting his pride.
  838. >He draws a blade, but you're too adept at swordplay to even let him glance you.
  839. >Then, he drops the sword, while your heart drops.
  840. >He begins picking up large boulders, hauling them at you.
  841. >You're at the end of your rope.
  842. >With a huff, you're caught in the side by one, and thrown across the room.
  846. >In desperation, you simply pick up a rock and throw it at him.
  847. >It goes through his head.
  848. >He laughs some more, beginning to move toward you.
  849. >But you realize something.
  850. >You might just-
  851. >You dive left, picking up as many rocks as possible.
  852. >He recoils slightly, ready to pop an AOE in case you had charged him.
  853. >You keep throwing them at him, picking him in his eye, his snout, through his horn, all over his head.
  854. >He keeps laughing.
  855. >You begin running with a crushed side.
  856. >"You're done! You're entire side is crushed!"
  857. >"Give up! This little journey is Over, JOJO!"
  858. >"We have the elements, too- did you know that? Celestia is Dead! The elements are in posession of Nightmare Moon!"
  859. >You keep throwing rocks.
  860. >"You're so STUPID! I can't believe you Convinced Nightmare Moon to Come into her own! It must've been by accident!"
  861. >Oh it was by accident, all right.
  862. >But this action isn't.
  863. >You throw a sling of stones at him.
  864. >This time, they pass through his head, but he shrieks in pain anyways.
  865. >He fell off the boulder he was on, recoiling in pain and terror.
  866. >You run over, not before he tried charging an AOE to get you away.
  867. >But before then- however, you threw a few more stones that kept him screaming in pain, too hurt to make spells.
  868. >You get him in his horn, and you throw himself on him, charging him full of noren.
  869. >You're heart feels like It's about to fall out of your chest.
  870. >the world around you falls out around you and you're left where you began.
  872. >You Get up, sharp pains in your side keeping you from posing.
  873. "Alright, Starswirl. I'm gonna tell it to you straight."
  874. >He looks up.
  875. "You lost, you've lost because you got cocky and trusted your surroundings too much."
  876. >You eye him.
  877. "And as a talented Psychologist, I build up that mental connection with stones being thrown at your face being harmless."
  878. "So when I filled them with Noren, turning them into batteries of Noren energy, you never saw it coming when you were hit with them, like bullets from a gun."
  879. >You smile.
  880. "The rocks might've gone through you, but the Noren didn't!"
  881. >He looks pissed.
  882. >"You'll never win! Nightmare moon will ressurrect Discord!"
  883. "What are you under, some sort of spell?"
  884. >"You'll never-"
  885. >"You'll never-"
  886. >He's twitching and repeating the same line.
  887. >Sweet Celestia he might actually be under a spell.
  888. >You fill him with all the Noren you can feel, maybe a bit of goodwill can break it.
  889. >…
  890. >You hear an audible 'CRACK' in him somewhere, and his eyes clear up dramatically.
  891. >He looks at yourself, and smiles.
  892. >"JOJO! It's you! I'm so happy! I have to warn you, it's Luna! She's gone rogue!"
  893. "I know. Come on, we need to find Celestia."
  894. >He eyes you.
  895. >"You're hurt!"
  896. "It's no problem, Starswirl, we need to find Celestia."
  898. "One problem though, Starswirl."
  899. >he looks back up to you.
  900. >"What is that, JoJo?"
  901. "You said she was dead."
  902. >He gasps. >"Oh, nonono, that- that can't possibly be true!"
  903. >"The oracle said that she wouldn't die until-"
  904. "Until what."
  905. >He looks around.
  906. >"Shh. I'm thinking."
  907. "Oh."
  908. >You park your flank on the rubble.
  909. >…
  910. >.....
  911. >"Oh! I know!"
  912. >You spring back up.
  913. "What!"
  914. >"I have a magical connection i can make to her. I can feel her energy if I-"
  915. "Please don't explain it to me."
  916. >"Alright, Alright- that's fine."
  917. >His horn lights up, and takes off in a direction.
  918. >"Woo! She's not dead!"
  919. >For being old enough to be bearded he's quite youthful.
  920. >Damn Unicorns.
  921. >He leads you down a few hallways and across a bridge.
  922. >And into-
  923. >"Alright, she's in this glass pane here, along with a few others."
  924. "Probably our friends."
  925. >"Yeah, let's get in there."
  926. >He lights up the panel, and you both jump in.
  928. >What you saw made you cringe.
  929. >Five assorted piles of dead bodies, all bat guards.
  930. >With celestia in the middle, without cut but looking- exhausted.
  931. >Her hair is still, her aura, dim.
  932. >and her cutie mark.
  933. "Woah, what happened to her cutie mark!?"
  934. >"I feel ill, Jojo."
  935. >You look, shocked at what's replaced her Cutie Mark.
  936. >It's a simple Line, on top of it, another line. Like a set of buildings turned on it's side. Simple marks.
  937. >An equal sign.
  938. >You turn to Starswirl.
  939. >He's staring, not in shock, but in bitter, freezing fear.
  940. >"That- that's Melantius Aequalitatem. It's a very powerful spell."
  941. >He stammers a bit.
  942. >"I know that magic signature. I know that spell."
  943. "Who's is it? Luna?"
  944. >"No. It's-"
  945. >"It's mine. I casted that spell."
  946. >There's tears forming in his eye.
  948. >You take a few steps back.
  949. "That's one way to say it. If it's stolen then that means it can be returned, correct?"
  950. >He reels in pain.
  951. >"I do not know. I- I only knew this spell, I've never casted it! It's an illegal spell."
  952. >"To steal one's cutie mark is punishable by death in some parts of the known civilization."
  953. "A cutie mark just can't be destroyed."
  954. >"I know. I know, Jojo. I have to go."
  955. "Where?"
  956. >He doesn't reply, he simply turns and runs away.
  958. >You turn to Celestia.
  959. "Do you know anything about this?"
  960. >"I know enough. What Starswirl was meaning to say before he rudely left was 'Jojo, Celestia's Cutie mark is in a vessel of some sort. It might be in this castle, I'm going to go look in certain places to find it'."
  961. >She drags herself to her feet, weak, but mobile enough to follow behind you.
  962. "Did you see where the others went? They're obviously not here, In the glass."
  963. >"Castle Dungeon, east wing most likely. That's luna's favorite part of the rage cage facility."
  964. "Rage Cage?"
  965. >"Yeah. Come on, I know an easy way there. Through this door- err, on the other side, that is."
  966. >She guides you out the glass world, down an area before tapping a few times on a pillar, it abruptly turns, allowing access to a lower area of the castle.
  967. >She slowly descends, like she had just gotten out of bed.
  968. >Her magic was stolen, it seems.
  969. >Near the bottom, she gestures her head in order to cast a spell.
  970. >Then she herself realizes that she's lost her magic.
  971. >At that point, you shuffle past her and simply try pumping a bit of Noren into the room.
  972. >Nothing much happens, a bit of dim light emerges from you but you've no resemblance of how to control it.
  973. >What little light is there does allow you all to get to the area in question.
  974. "HELLO!?"
  975. >You shout down the way. Stopping while the echo chamber in front of you ring out in all directions.
  976. >You hear a shout from down the way.
  977. >"JOJO!" replies back.
  978. >Celestia smiles.
  979. >"Luna never changes. She's got too much a sense of humour to not put everyone in the Rage Cage!"
  980. >Every time she repeats the name of the area your heart beats a bit more.
  981. "What the hell is the Rage Cage!" You blurt, your burst shouting down the way.
  982. >"Nothing special. Just a nickname for where we make all the prisoners fight to the death."
  983. "What the hell?"
  984. >"The rage cage is the only punishment worse than beheadings. Though there's nobody here besides starswirl. So they shouldn't be fighting eachother."
  986. >"they shouldn't be."
  987. >she looks at you through the dim light with slight concern.
  988. "Let's- Let's just go ahead and find out, shall we?"
  989. >"Yes. Let's get there quick."
  990. >You both go as fast as Celestia can go. Before you roll down the isles of prison cells.
  991. >"Why do we have so many places to put prisoners!"
  992. "Yes, My Princess, please tell me that!"
  993. >"I really-"
  994. >she takes a breath.
  995. >"don't know."
  996. >After a bit more of banter, you two reach where the Underground Gladitorial Arena is.
  997. >And, to your relief- where your friends are.
  998. >The place is massive, and your friends are in the mane arena, sitting and drawing in the dirt.
  999. >Celestia turns and trots off to the left, before tapping a code into a couple of bricks.
  1000. >4 taps, 3 taps, 7 taps, pause, 1 tap.
  1001. >Every gate in the dungeon opens, including the access points to the rage cage.
  1002. >And in a bit, the group's back together, with starswirl elsewhere in the castle. Looking for Celestia's Cutie Mark.
  1003. >After a bit of walking, and silence- you're back in the mane atrium of the castle of the 2 sisters, collapsed on itself with the fighting the night before.
  1004. >"Okay. So now that This Starswirl Business is over-"
  1005. "The elements, the Wing with them in it."
  1006. >"Right, this way. I know a short-cut."
  1007. "Of course you do."
  1008. >you giggle a bit.
  1009. >Lightning pipes up as well-
  1010. >"So how do they work? Like they don’t just plug into a massive blade, do they?"
  1011. >"No- lightning" Celestia begins- "We pilot them with our souls. Well."
  1012. >"You pilot them with your soul. Huh."
  1013. "Not in her state. I'm pretty sure most of it's potency was stolen with her Cutie mark."
  1014. >"Wait, What!" Steelslight shouts, breaking his silence, too.
  1015. "Yeah, Starswirl stole her cutie mark. It's supposedly in a jar somewhere."
  1016. >"Container, Jojo- but yes. It's not in my possession anymore. And with that- my control over the sun."
  1018. >Wait.
  1019. >The light- it's not red anymore.
  1020. >it's pitch black.
  1021. >Not twilight.
  1022. "Is it dark in here or is it just me?"
  1023. >"Oh Son of a-"
  1024. >"Yes." Celestia simply says- "Now Luna has complete control over the night time. And it's only a matter of time before Discord is risen in our world."
  1025. >"We Cannot let that happen! We must get the elements and defeat nightmare moon!" Lightning Bellows.
  1026. >You reach what looks to be the elements room, a feint warmth coming from the room itself.
  1027. >You open the door to find the altar, and next to the altar-
  1028. "I see you beat us to it, Starswirl! Do you have the elements?"
  1029. >"It's worse than I ever thought. Jojo, Celestia, I've failed us all."
  1030. >He turns, face soaked with tears of fear.
  1031. >"I'm scared, Princess."
  1032. >He cowers a bit.
  1033. >"They're gone. All of it."
  1034. >He turns with a letter of parchment in his posession.
  1035. >"I found this on my study. It's hopeless."
  1036. >You take the note and place it on the ground for you all to read.
  1037. >'Dear graceful liege Nightmare Moon, I have found the elements, and have come into posession of Princess Celestia's Cutie mark, and with that- her ability to raise the sun. It is yours, Fearless Leader. I Look forward to your swift takeover of the world.'
  1038. >You reel back a bit, before shaking the face off.
  1039. "Well."
  1040. >you take a breath, everyone on the verge of breaking down.
  1041. "We need to get on the road again."
  1043. >Skynard Castle's gates are 300 miles southwest of here, near the Outfield Bay of the Lunar Ocean.
  1044. >The Team's heading to a small farmtown near the outskirts of the Forest, a small, sleepy town called Ponyville.
  1045. >Celestia says that- it takes 4 days by hard, hard flight to get to castle Skynyrd, and three days of summoning rituals to bring him from his world of 2D to this world of 3D.
  1046. >We're taking a path that- supposedly will get us there before Luna has the abilities to bring Discord into this world, so we should be okay if we don't get Destroyed on the way.
  1047. >The group's been a bit revitalized under the assumption that we have a good chance to undo the swift decimation of the known world.
  1048. >Though- from what you're told, Starswirl's much more quiet than he should be.
  1049. >He's supposedly a mess of conversation, though he's become an introvert.
  1050. >He must be brooding on what Luna made him do.
  1051. >End journal entry, Trottsenary 27th, 1332 C.E.
  1052. >Signed, Jovial Journey.
  1053. >----
  1054. >You close the gold hemmed leather bound book, putting it away in your bag.
  1055. >The last entry, from 2 nights before, states, somewhat ironically, now 'How much progress you're making with Princess luna'.
  1056. >Reading that entry makes you hurt slightly, and it brings to mind probably what- to some extent, Starswirl's feeling.
  1057. >The campfire's burning out now, it's morning, probably- and the group begins it's takedown of camp before the adventure continues.
  1058. >Starswirl's helping Celestia more than he's helping himself, though you bet he'll get to his own stuff and get that packed before you'll get done.
  1059. >Unicorn Magic just outclasses what you can do with a mouth and hooves, though at the cost of durability.
  1060. >Lightning's done before Starswirl and Celestia gets done packing Celestia's bag.
  1061. >And Steelslight done after Starswirl gets his done.
  1062. >Of course. You get yours packed last, but not far behind everyone.
  1064. >You're coming up on Ponyville, with apple orchards to your left, and pear orchards to your right, the farms going for miles and miles out.
  1065. >In the middle of the town Is a small town hall and a few booths where produce is sold to travelers- but usually exported.
  1066. >Ponies Bow down to the deflated Celestia, Who regally bows back, signifying the "okay" to get up, for the locals, who mostly go back to their buisness.
  1067. >"They seem really blasé to have you here, Princess."
  1068. >Celestia turns to Lightning with a warm smile on her face.
  1069. >"Me and Luna come here often- their produce is the best in the land, as far as I'm concerned."
  1070. >Starswirl looked like he was going to add something for a moment, but then just decided to go back to looking around- removing himself from the light-hearted conversation.
  1071. >"This place holds a special place in my heart, Lightning."
  1072. >Steelslight pipes up, standing next to you.
  1073. >"If it's okay with the group I'd like to buy us some of this winning produce."
  1074. >You look back, and simply nod, and he does a light trot off.
  1075. >Starswirl then finally decides to speak up, while lightning and Celestia are having a lighter talk about memories created in this town.
  1076. >"Jojo." he simply says, getting your attention.
  1077. "Yes, Friend?" you reply.
  1078. >"I'd like to teach you more about your powers, Noren energy is the only form of magic available to non-unicorns, and is very rare. To be able to use."
  1079. "I'd like that, but we're on a time schedule. We can't simply stop and learn about my ability to use Noren when the world is on the line."
  1081. >"Well, maybe we can- See-"
  1082. >he points to Celestia.
  1083. >"We've been brought here as a pathway through. But something that Celestia forgets is that there's transport here."
  1084. >He points to the town area, where Steelslight is happily dashing around the produce stands, buying things with the money taken from the castle.
  1085. >"This place is an Export town, Jojo."
  1086. >Something clicks with his words.
  1087. "There's a rail through here, isn't there!" you pipe up, looking over Starswirl's hat to look for the rail in the dark night.
  1088. >"Though the farthest southwest the train will take us is about a days travel to Skynyrd, in the city of Los Pegasus."
  1089. >He gestures to your chest.
  1090. >"It'll cut a day off of our path. Though Celestia might already have this plan in mind."
  1091. >Celestia and Starswirl peel from You and Lightning, and meet a few paces from the town hall, Then lightning and yourself go ahead and head towards Steelslight, who's got bags of apples and pears on him at this point.
  1092. >Simultaneously- You and lightning pipe up.
  1093. "We've got a plan! Steelslight!"
  1094. >"We've got a plan! Steelslight!"
  1095. >You both look at eachother in quick startle, and pose, and then say to eachother-
  1096. "What's the plan, then?!"
  1097. >"What's the plan, then?!"
  1098. >with your statures, and looks on your faces, it was like looking into a mirror.
  1099. >You both continue to explain the train situation to Steelslight, who just nods at the end of your speeches, and says-
  1100. >"Okay."
  1101. >You nod but lightning sinks down a bit.
  1102. >Steelslight joins back up with the group, leaving you and lightning together.
  1103. >Once out of earshot, he bursts out with-
  1104. >"JOJO! That was my plan, damnit!"
  1106. >"Why did you have to steal the Lightning's THUNDER!"
  1107. >He poses to put as much moonlight on his cutie mark as possible.
  1108. "Don't chew me out, I heard that plan from Starswirl, not from myself or even you."
  1109. >You counter-pose to add weight to your argument.
  1110. "We've got a place to be! Don't get mad at such trivial drabble!"
  1111. >"Trivial drabble! These are DAYS I'm saving over here!"
  1112. "FINE! Fine, thank you lightning, for your wisdom and insight. Please find us the next departing train to los pegasus and we'll be on."
  1113. >"OKAY!" he bellows, smile on his face.
  1114. >And just like that, he bolts off towards where he saw the station.
  1115. >Atleast you know the direction the rails are in. You haven't seen a train yet.
  1116. >Though it's morning (probably), so the trains shouldn't start really arriving 'till.
  1117. >"Just a few more hours! Guys!"
  1118. >Lightning's back with times. He's probably memorized all the times, while posing.
  1119. "Well, then we've got a few hours to hang around, then."
  1121. >It was 8 O'clock, Celestia proclaimed- when Lightning came back with the good news.
  1122. >It would be eleven when the next train came to the stop.
  1123. >Celestia took lightning around the town to show him what the place was like.
  1124. >While Steelslight, Starswirl, and yourself- went to go look for yourself.
  1125. >Lightning didn't care about the place, but wanted to spend time with Celestia.
  1126. >Probably physical time, too.
  1127. >Celestia's taller than Lightning, who's in chain, taller than you.
  1128. >The thought of lightning trying to climb Celestia makes you laugh sharp and loudly, on the inside.
  1129. >While on an outward appearance just appeared as a bright smile.
  1130. >You pass by a flyer, on the ground, with Los Pegasus on the cover.
  1131. >It simply says, accompanied by a couple of high rolling ponies throwing bits-
  1132. "Come on down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the mares are pretty!"
  1133. >"Huh?" Steelslight replies.
  1134. >Starswirl answers for you- "It's Los Pegasus's Nick name, The Paradise city."
  1135. >"Been there a few times. If you're in the right part of the town, they're absolutely true with what they say."
  1136. >he finishes with the simple "It's a magical place- if you know where you are."
  1137. >Steelslight's thin face stretches into a smile. >"Can't wait, Starswirl."
  1138. >"And you should. Though we can't stay long there. Remember that."
  1139. >"Righto-"
  1140. >You all pause while walking in the dim night before Steelslight barks up again.
  1141. >"If you all don't mind, I'm gonna go find a diner. I didn't eat any of the stuff I bought. And I'm quite hungry to spend what I've got here on something before we leave."
  1142. "That's fine, me and Starswirl are gonna get on with a lesson in noren energy."
  1143. >"We are?" he replies, only lightly surprised.
  1144. "Yes we are. I'm gonna need it."
  1145. >"Alright, we're going to have a lesson!"
  1146. >He seems to have forgotten his guilt for a bit. Or maybe he's masking his pain.
  1147. >You hope it's not the latter. That's a bad symptom of a larger, scarier condition.
  1149. >"Okay, Jojo, let's go into more detail on what Noren is."
  1150. >Starlight is sitting across from you, next to the nearby river.
  1151. >"First things first. It's Eastern Translation is literally- Goodwill. Discovered and Perfected by the great priestess Rasshu Hankyū. Coined, Discovered, and Taught the only form of magic known right now for Earth Ponies."
  1152. "Rasshu? I thought she was a healer, not a warrior."
  1153. >He smiles.
  1154. >"So you know your history, Absolutely, Jojo- she used her power to heal many important ponies. And that's the magic of it. It's a cleansing power. In your heart you have the ability to cleanse all corruption from this world. Your pure spirit can wash nightmare moon's dark magic away like tears in rain. Jojo- don't you understand?"
  1155. >You feel invigorated hearing that.
  1156. >He breathes, putting a bit of piercing white light on the area.
  1157. >"Though it's also a best in class defensive force. To put it bluntly, Jojo- it's more than just a feeling. It's a force that saves ponies, through healing, cleansing, and defending."
  1158. >"The rest is up to yourself."
  1159. >Your eyes are darting around, you've never thought of having the ability to use magic through simple words alone.
  1160. >"First things first. Your heart is a battery, it holds noren energy, though it's also a generator, you have to regenerate it through acts of goodwill, it might just be holding the door, or turning a person from a path of destruction."
  1161. >The light in the area dims a little bit, and he stands up.
  1162. >"Now there's a few techniques I'm going to go over with you to help you bring out the best in your powers."
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