The vast realm of Deepholm, the very elemental plane of Earth itself, came apart at the seams. Chained within the world's heart, a thunderous bellow of rage fueled fury shakes the foundations of that trackless pit, beaten out in time to the sound of pounding adamanatine hammers.
Above the tortured plane, seas boiled and heaved, a vast swirling Maelstrom of magical destruction unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Tidal waves surged forth to obliterate coastlines, mountain ranges contracted and volcanoes sundered, earthquakes splitting open rifts to swallow villages and cities. The Cataclysm had at last come to a war torn world, and with it, a doom born on great black wings.
"My hatred burns through the cavernous deeps."
Creation sundered and cried as its Titan charged keeper broke free of his tormented bonds, once more loosed upon -
"The world heaves with my -"
"Hey! Hey! Over here! HEY! Neltharion!"
"...The world heaves with -"
"Neltharion the Earth-Warder! Don't pretend you can't hear me! Hey-y-y-y!"
"-with my torment... and..."
Pausing mid-monologue, the vast black leviathan that PREFERED to be called 'Deathwing' these days paused, moments before unleashing an achievement spawning breath of fire on the candy coated landscape below. Great veined wings, wide enough to block out the sun, shifted to slow down the massive body and reorient it into a hover. Ingots of enchanted blood, like living pearls of lava, dripped down from the jagged wound that tore open his belly, only partly contained by plates of adamantium steel. A vast reptilian visage with a massive metal lower jaw, crowned by black horns the length of tournament field, /sighed.
'I know that voice...'
Slowly turning to his left, burning eyes zeroed in on a tiny, black, flying -
Oh, great. It was a -
"Didn't you hear me?" the tiny creature asked, little pegasus-wings fluttering as it heedlessly zipped closer to the massive dragon's appropriately sized face. "Wow. Look at you! What the heck happened to you, Nelthy?"
Another /sigh. "Luna."
"So you do remember me!" The little black alicorn gracefully landed on his snout. "Hey, hey! Notice anything different? Huh?"
"You're not trapped in the moon," the dark leviathan observed.
"Yep! Got paroled! And it felt like you just broke out of Deepholm," the tiny little pony-godling said, pointing an equally tiny hoof at him. "So what's goin' on?"
"... I am unleashing a worldwide cataclysm," the dragon aspect rumbled. "...among other things."
"Oh, that is so you!" Luna laughed and stamped a hoof on his nose playfully. "You should've seen sister's face when she felt the aftershocks! She was all like," and here, the little pony god squished her cheeks together and stuck out one big eye. "Luna, Luna! He always liked you, go get rid of him!" Eyes rolled and drifted over to the countryside below. "So are you going to deep breath Equestria or something?"
A giant claw scratched his obsidian-scaled snout near the unusually and vexingly friendly pony. Why was it so hard to hate (and thus squash) these damn ponies? Especially when they wavered between adorable and annoying? Curse the Titans for sticking the dragonflights with such a stupid weakness. He'd thought it harmless and even funny at the time they'd all been uplifted, thousands of years ago.
'Oh yeah, we're making some little ponies, too. To keep the flights from fighting. Neltharion, stop pulling Ysera's tail this instant!'
For millennia, the ponies had been a thorn in his side, promoting peace and friendship among the flights. Arranging for their native lands to get sealed up from the rest of Azaroth had been one of his better moves. Now that he was actually flying back over this pastel colored wasteland again, he was remembering how much he hated it all.
It was hard to concentrate with them around. All the more reason to keep the little monsters confined to one small Titan-warded corner of the world.
"I was only going to deep breath it a little," he lied, beady burning eyes straying to the side.
"Well, okay!" Luna agreed, swaying a bit as he snorted world destroying flame from nostrils larger than her body. "You always did like causing earthquakes and fires. Just don't kill anyone, alright?"
"Please?" Luna sing-songed, trotting in a circle on his snout, her black tail swaying back and forth.
"You know, Luna, I am the Dragon Aspect of Death now. Killing is sort of what I do. That and destroying, so..."
"You're not the Aspect of Death, you silly dragon! I know you're still the Earth Warder deep down inside."
How he wanted to just snap up this annoying little pony goddess.
Curse Norgannon and confound his little ponies!
"What happened to that whole Nightmare Moon thing?" he asked, tilting his head enough she almost fell off. Ah, but she had wings too. Cute fluttery wings. Curse them.
"Just a phase!" Luna answered with a chipper tone that seemed only partly truthful. "I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, you know those Old Gods are crazy, right?"
"Hrm," he rumbled. "Are they? Nightmare Moon."
"You know they are. Or have you forgotten how they..." The little pony became stony silent for a few seconds, finally sniffing disdainfully. "This isn't the time or place to talk about that."
A dark cloud of ash wafted from Deathwing's nostrils. Maybe there was some hope for the little godling yet. But she was right. This wasn't the time or place.
"Right, right!" she waved him off. "I'm staying with my sister," she said that with an 'ick' but cheerily continued. "We can catch up on stuff later! You can still do that thing with your breath, right? And not the killing thing. I mean the message-sending thing?" She leaned in close with a playful wink. "Call me."
Finally shaking her off his snout and taking a few flaps away from the annoying moon goddess, Deathwing gave a quick glance over his shoulder and deep breathed. Just a little. Just a little-little.
Twilight Sparkle [Stood in the Fire]
Rarity [Stood in the Fire]
Applejack [Stood in the Fire]
Fluttershy [Stood in the Fire]
Pinkie Pie [Stood in the Fire]
He didn't hear the indignant squeak of an achievement missing Raindow Dash.
"Neltharion! what did I just say!"
Deathwing - "It's Deathwing!" he reminded her.
Said dragon flew away, an evil grin on his face. Stupid pesky ponies. Even if he and his children couldn't kill them outright, there was a good chance the Twilights and the mortal races would. Then all would become ash and ruin, a fitting end to a flawed, insane world. True Death, at last, would reign supreme and unchallenged.
World of Ponycraft
A violet colored hoof inspected the carefully assembled artifact fragments. On the other side of the work desk, Twilight Sparkle was part way through her new copy of the Ecology and Zoology of the Green Hills of Stranglethorn. Of particular interest was the section on southern ferns. Tongue sticking out as she looked from one of the illustrations to one of the fragment shards, her eyes narrowed as she considered whether she had enough fragments. It was delicate, research intensive work, and it had been going slowly if smoothly... when a certain issue interrupted.
Now, that "certain issue" wasn't a sudden wall of lava and hellish flame engulfing everything for miles. That was a few weeks ago. No. This interruption was less deadly, and more plan old aggravating.
"...yeah, little man, I got the Star Ruby, and the Golden Draenite, but do you really need the two Nightstone? Do you know what the Nightstone market is like these days? Isabel Jones is already busting my balls with all these Presents to Lila she keeps needing help with. Come on, be a bro?"
Spike's voice answered the stranger. "Gee, I dunno. Us Dragons can be pretty picky."
"Don't bust my balls, bro. Can't you take one of these other gems instead?"
"Okay, how about... Twilight Opal? Oh, or Dreadstone? I think I've still got one of those in here."
"You've got a - ! I, uh, I mean, alright, alright. I guess one Dreadstone and one Twilight Opal should be okay."
"You've got a deal, little dragon man!"
Twilight planted her face in the poor book, resisting the urge to hammer her head into the pages with her hoof. There was just no concentrating with Spike keeping the door open and haggling with somepony, shamelessly carrying on their transaction or quest or whatever in the middle of the doorway. The purple unicorn and town librarian made a mental note to look into having a dedicated soundproof reading room installed one of these days.
"Awesome, awesome, so, you'll tell all your friends that I helped you out?" the pony at the door asked, for the second time.
Twilight turned her head to see the tail end of the exchange: Spike had a small box full of gems, and the visitor pony was only now sort of looking past him, curiously, into the library. Underneath, he was a dark brown pony with a green mane, but he was also dressed fancifully in intricate brown and turquoise mail armor-saddle that hummed with incredible magical power. Outside, a huge lightning infused wolf was sniffing a postbox and probably moments from urinating on it... with lightning.
"That's right!" Spike replied, giving a thumb's up. "I'll make sure my Dragonflight knows all about your good deeds! Don't sweat it!"
"Thanks again, man," the lightning infused pony (with lightning infused pet wolf) answered with a wide grin. "I really need that rep. Hey, who's the enpeecee in there anyway?"
"That's just Twilight Sparkle."
"Oh. TTYL little dragon man."
Twilight let out another agonized groan, but held back the urge to act just long enough for Spike to close the door. A long laundry list of nagging complaints - wait, no, they weren't nagging! They were completely legitimate! Anyway, she had a bunch of 'em, and Spike was about to be reminded of a few.
"Spike, what have I said about using that nasty verbal shorthand?" she asked, voice simmering.
The baby dragon shrugged. "What's the big deal? Everyone talks like this now."
"Not in this library. In here, we use proper Equestrian," she reminded him, lifting a hoof to better switch to lecture-mode. "That means no BRB or TTYL or L4G or whatever. I don't even know what an 'enpeecee' is, but I don't think I like it. If it is worth saying, it is worth saying properly."
"Okay, okay, geez..." Spike muttered, having heard it before.
"And we really need to talk about you hustling all the new ponies that come through town. Getting you free gems is not a quest."
"Hey, its kind of a quest," the baby dragon argued, flopping down on a throw pillow to enjoy his spoils. "At least I'm not asking them to get a book that's right next to me. Gem retrieval is a legitimate mission! If I had tokens or something to hand out, I'd be totally raking things in! In fact, that's not a bad idea... 'ponyville jewelcrafter tokens' ... or maybe ponyville tokens of conquest...?"
Twilight just frowned.
"Besides," he hastily added, before she could chide him. "I'm a growing dragon; the more magic I eat the more I can help out around here, and who knows? I could be related to this Ysera lady, or Alex-traz-ra or whatever her name is. You can't not know she's my mom."
"Just because we don't know doesn't mean we can't not know," Twilight argued, almost ready to off on a tangent about logics and rational deduction. "And don't try to distract me. If you're going to get poor ponies who don't know any better to bring you gems, you should at least have some real reward for them."
"What?" Spike whined. "Really?"
"Really," Twilight sternly replied, putting her hoof down.
"I guess we do have a lot of books I could hand out..."
"Don't even think about it mister!"
Spike just chortled, and stuck his little hand in the gem box, picking out a large violet gemstone. It was near circular and a lustrous shade of Twilight's own coat color. It also glowed with magic, like almost everything brought over from the new lands. Spike giddily flipped it from one hand to the next, playing with his food before indulging himself.
"Is that the Twilight Opal?" the similarly named pony librarian asked, relenting a bit at how happy her dragon apprentice looked. He was like a little brother, after all, and impossible to stay angry at. Unfortunately, it was also impossible to keep him inside and sheltered from all the new bad influences to be found outside.
"Yep!" Spike confirmed, catching the cut gemstone in two hands and licking it like a giant piece of candy. "Oh. Oh! That's good. That is good! Spellpower and Stamina. The Ebon Blade has some nice, nice cuts." He nibbled on the top of it, eyes watering up. "Oh yes. mmmm. sooooooooo goood!"
Staring at her dragonkin companion, Twilight's eyes hooded in exasperation as he started to roll around in ecstasy. When he got to the sweet spot, he even started to purr.
"Oh, oh, that's right, you're just the tastiest little thing, aren't you?" Spike murmured softly as he nibbled. "I won't hurt you. I just want a little nibble. Just a little taste. In my mouth. Mmmmm."
And there he went, right off the pillow and across the floor.
"You're acting like Rarity's cat, you know? she asked, but he was lost in his own little world.
Twilight gave a resigned sigh. She could feel that that Opal wasn't even the most magical gem in that box of spoils. There was another one in there literally oozing uncut and untamed magic. She'd have to keep that out of Spike's hands before he gorged himself. He was already growing alarmingly fast over the last few weeks thanks to so many witless strangers accepting his quests for 'rep.' She was keeping a running count of the more potent gemstones he got his hands on, and teeth into, and usually inspected the packages before letting him go too wild on them. On the bright side, though, if he got too big, she could finally talk him into not riding on her back everywhere.
Back to the book!
And her archaeology!
Finding the illustration again, Twilight tried to imagine it in her mind's eye as it was in real life. Yet in doing so, her mind and imagination strayed, particularly to the adventure half of the book: massive forests, entire countries almost, full of feral animals and untamed weather! Battles against giant cats that could turn invisible and giant alligator beasts and tribal raptors and trolls. So many trolls, according to the book!
What strange lands lay beyond the borders of Equestria! The stories of ancient ruins and heroic archaeologists were even more amazing still! To think that there was so much history and lore out there, waiting to be uncovered? Fanciful illustrations in books were a good start, feeding her imagination and hunger for knowledge, but wouldn't it be amazing to see them with her own eyes? To plumb the secrets of Uldaman and Maraudon? To dig for alien relics in Outland, uncovering their secrets?
Resting her cheek against the cool wood of the reading desk, Twilight sighed dreamily. She was back in her pith helmet, hard at work in the famed Ironforge Hall of Explorers, home to the largest library in the world (except possibly for Dire Maul). She was surrounded by vague shapes, most of them were ponies, but a few were kind of indistinct 'humanoids' like she had seen so many pictures of. They could be found in Equestria, too, but most looked kind of alike, and her lucid dreams gradually morphed them into more familiar pony-like shapes and colors.
She was reconstructing a raptor skeleton from a collection of fossils painstakingly gathered from dig sites across the world while writing up her findings to send back to Equestria. The distant sounds of academic discourse and lectures were like music to her ears. It was ... wonderful. While reaching for a magnifying glass, her hoof paused, brushing accidentally against the hand of the heroic Harrison Jones - Professor Harrison Jones - earning an embarrassed, polite titter. Wasn't he looking for adventurers to join him in fabled Uldum? Oh, but she had so much work to do...! Surely he didn't need her help, did he?
"Mm. mm. oh, Mister Jones. I simply couldn't! What's that, you need me? I guess I am the only one who can translate those runes. Mm. mmm. Oh, Professor Jones, we mustn't..."
"I'm awake!" Twilight snapped up, wiping the drool from her chin, horn glowing as she quickly turned a few pages to give some fleeting semblance of reading - skimming - through her book. Of course, yelling 'I'm awake' really didn't do much to prove she hadn't been dozing off and daydreaming. Blinking rapidly and clearing her head, she saw Spike standing nearby, holding up a scroll.
"A letter from Princess Celestia," he confirmed. "I figured you'd want to know right away. Even though you were awake and totally not sleeping and dreaming about some guy."
"Ha. Ha. Ha." she drolly replied and magically plucked the scroll out of his hands. "For your information, it wasn't a dream about a guy, it was about science and magical study."
"Sure it was," Spike agreed with a too-large grin.
"I wonder if this is about my last letter?" Twilight wondered, ignoring the little gem-eating dragon and opening the scroll in the air. It seemed to glow with an inner light, a reflection of Celestia's majesty and beautiful penmanship. Probably there was also a subtle spell involved, infused in the paper and ink. She'd seen some enhanced vellum mentioned in a previous book on Inscription.
To my Favorite Pupil,
Twilight Sparkle -
I can tell from your recent letters that you've been doing very exhaustive research on the meaning of friendship in other lands. Your summation of guild membership statistics was very interesting. Very interesting indeed. In the future, however, you do not need to have Spike forward me an appendix and bibliography. Let's keep these letters short and to the point. Brevity can be a virtue sometimes, too.
Anyway, I have been thinking about your situation, and Equestria's situation, and I believe you are neglecting a valuable source of information. Since we have joined the Alliance and opened up a number of flight paths and shipping routes to other lands, it may be worthwhile to try and investigate friendship overseas by actually going overseas. There is no substitute for first hand experience.
Oh, and one last thing, now that I think of it.
Before going anywhere dangerous, I would dearly like you to investigate something that has recently come to my attention. A number of adventurer and mercenary guilds have risen to prominence in Equestria of late, and one in particular stands out: the Knights of Luna. While I don't mind my sister having one of the most prominent private security guilds in the country openly idolizing her, I would like some information on them just to be in the safe side. They have a guild office in Ponyville, why don't you check for any mischief?
- Princess Celestia
PS: I've also been thinking about helping you and the other Elements of Harmony get a guild of your own started up. Your friends haven't joined one already, have they? I'm looking into getting some interested ponies. Oh, and some heirlooms. I'm sure Varian has a bunch lying around somewhere. As for a name, well, I think the 'Celestia Six' is a 'way cool' guild name, don't you? Or 'the Celestials.' Or 'Warriors of the Sun Goddess Celestia.' Something like that.
Twilight stopped reading, and turned the unusually long letter around.
I just think 'Celestia' should definitely be in the title somewhere.
Twilight tried to keep a neutral, studied expression by the end. "Brevity as a virtue, much?" she wondered, but shrugged.
"Alright, Spike," she announced, magically rolling the scroll back up for later archiving. "Looks like we've got work to do!"
"mmmmmmm. Moonstone-yeah. It's a party in my mouth..."
Twilight hung her head sadly at the baby dragon rolling around on the floor. "...Spike."
Ponyville was, ironically, more crowded than ever before, despite Deathwing all but nuking it on his short little fly-over. Celestia, Luna and some others had hurried over and cast some sort of mass resurrection spell, miraculously bringing everyone back to life. Twilight hadn't even imagined that such powerful magics existed before that day but apparently the cat was out of the proverbial bag. It wasn't natural pony magic, she'd eventually learned, not that that bit of information explained how the two Princesses knew it.
Twilight didn't remember much immediately during or after (except for an odd voice in her head telling her she 'stood in fire'), but the town had taken days to extinguish all the flames and put out all the bits of nasty magma-spittle that had landed nearby. Normal rain, the first thing the surviving pegasus ponies thought to try, had an initial minimal effect... followed by an unexpected drawback. One none of them could have foreseen.
The rain made the fires angry.
Little fire elementals fled from the downpour, abandoning buildings to directly attack ponies trying to put them out with pails of water. Fortunately, Celestia's Royal Guard had been on hand and the chaos had been contained. Dazed and confused, the town had just barely salvaged their homes and businesses before the influx began.
Swarms of strange ponies were the first to move in, setting up new shops and inns and halls. Hot on the heels of that lot had followed a much more peculiar breed: adventure loving ponies had flocked to the area to battle with elementals in the forests and fields and hills and fight off dangerous animals. Whereas most sane ponies would rightly flee danger, these ones actively sought it out, sometimes in small groups and sometimes by themselves. Eventually a separate billboard was put up to cater to their interests in the center of town, near the water fountain.
With these crazy ponies had come an influx of gold, and as the economy and construction entered a new boom, yet another wave of newcomers appeared: humanoids from distant lands arrived, walking casually into town. There were small ones, ones about the size of the average pony (often with long manes that covered their faces - beards they called them), and taller ones, too. Some were purple or even bluish in color, instead of pale or pinkish. Only one set of them walked on hooves, though even they were cloven and not exactly very pony-like.
News from Canterlot filtered down that these were members of the 'Alliance' Equestria had recently joined. The appearance of so many strange beings was unprecedented...
Luckily, they had come to Equestria with a lot of gold.
A LOT of gold, actually. Some of the new arrivals were insanely wealthy. Or lucky. Twilight had heard that Canterlot was host to even more of them, especially in the new Trade Section of the castle city where Celestia had ordered a new auction house constructed. Ponyville was comparatively pedestrian but still bustling with activity and new, oftentimes strange, faces.
Trotting down the street, Spike riding on her back, Twilight couldn't help but stare up at one of the tiny humanoids riding a woolly mammoth of some sort. Directly adjacent was a blue pony also on a mammoth mount. The two were chatting animatedly and ignoring the fact that everyone nearby had to go around or between their two huge pets/rides. A mechanical man riding on one side of one of the mammoth mounts turned his head to watch her with clockwork eyes.
Others were flying around on even stranger creatures, drawn or captured or acquired from around the world. There was a purple skinned humanoid female hanging around near a mailbox, apparently asleep in the saddle of her proto-dragon. The sheer size of the red beast made it difficult for anyone else to get close to the mailbox. One caramel colored pony was inching close, only to jump back when the primitive dragon snorted curiously (or hungrily) in her (or was it his) direction. Yet the night elf rider was clearly sound asleep and content to park her ride in the most inconvenient of places.
Twilight kept a wide berth from the creature, but it still turned an armored neck to her and huffed a trail of ashy yellow smoke. On her back, Spike waved cheerily.
"Hey there!" he exclaimed, leaning down to whisper in Twilight's ear. "I think she likes me."
"That was a she?" the librarian wondered. "How can you tell?"
"You couldn't?" Spike asked, sounding surprised. "Just look at her!"
She resisted the urge to tell him that most dragons looked pretty alike. At least to Ponies.
There were a few locals with horses, too. Twilight took note of one heavily armored and horned unicorn-like horse that she passed by. The war charger snorted and shook its head, but didn't seem to pay any attention to her in particular. It was, she mused, probably a bit like what Spike saw in that proto-dragon. There was certainly no mistaking the gender of that paladin's Charger, that was for sure!
Coughing and trying not to blush, Twilight continued on.
Only to stare at the sight of a pony riding a horse. A pony. Riding a horse. The light pink mare with a white mane in the saddle didn't even seem to note the bizarre juxtaposition of what she was doing. She was too busy rummaging around in her bags and pockets for something, holding a rather large two handed sword in her mouth as her hooves dug deep into a rucksack between her legs. The horse beneath her cantered along, not a care in the world.
"There's something you don't see every day," Spike remarked, and 'hmm'ed before correcting himself, "Actually, I guess you do see it every day, these days?"
"Hey, Twilight!" he suddenly said, ducking down again to get closer to her ear. "When are you gonna get a mount? Then you could ride it and I can ride on you!"
"You're five seconds from being bucked into a mailbox."
"Aw, come on, seriously," he continued laughing, knowing it was an empty threat. "Wouldn't you like a cool mount to ride on? Some of them even fly!"
"What's wrong with walking?" she asked, glancing over her shoulder. "Oh yeah, look who I'm talking to."
"But... I already have an epic mount," Spike replied, looking at her with doe eyes.
"I guess that's kind of a compliment," Twilight admitted with a small smile she made sure he couldn't see. "Just don't expect I'll ever wear a bit and bridle again. That was so not my cup of tea."
"So where is this place, anyway?" Spike asked after a minute of silent walking and riding.
"I thought it was around here somewhere," Twilight answered with a tired sigh. "Maybe we should ask a guard."
"It'll look like of silly. I mean, we've lived here for a year..."
"I know, but the directions we got were kind of vague."
Fortunately, there was a large contingent of Royal Guard around the town now. The stoic, armored Pegasi guarded the skies and entrances of the town, while Earth and Unicorn guards in similar royal armor patrolled around. There really wasn't much for them to do. Despite being rowdy the town was full of adventurer types who seemed incapable of theft. There was the occasional rogue practicing pick pocketing, but no serious crime.
The guards were mostly there to chase off the occasional predatory Horde attacker (or explorer).
"Hello, excuse me," Twilight spoke up, approaching one of a pair of stoic Earth pony guards. They somehow managed to look both alert and half asleep.
"Can I help you, Miss?" one asked, inclining his head in a polite nod.
"Yes, thank you. I was looking for something."
"Ah," the gruff royal guard replied and gave an unhappy snort. "You know, when I joined up I didn't think I'd be spending more time directing people around town than fighting." Still, he shook his head and resigned himself. "So what are you looking for, Miss? Profession trainers? Class trainers?"
"Actually, I was looking for a guild..." She leaned in a bit closer. "The, um, Knights of Luna?"
"Oh, those idiots," the guard said with a single amused laugh. "I know where their office is. Do you have a map?"
"I... kind of don't..."
With a long suffering sigh, the guard turned his head to fish into one of the packs tied to his saddle. Taking out a copy of the town map with his mouth, he held it out and let Twilight pick it up with her magic, unfurling and levitating it in the air. He pointed to a building on the piece of magical paper and it chimed, a magical yellow light forming a marker in response to the touch. The guild officer was in a new section of Ponyville near the new armorsmith and mining guild.
"Thank you very much," she said with a bow. She meant it, too, especially since the guard was letting her keep a copy of the map.
"We've got a bunch of them and I don't need it anyway," he explained, unconcerned by the loss. "It'll update itself with any new stuff you find, too. Keep safe, Miss."
Magically floating the map ahead of her for a while after excusing herself, Twilight rolled it back up once she was sure she knew where this building could be found. Spike helped tuck it into a pocket near her cutie mark, and it was only a matter of minutes before she saw the armorsmith and mining guild. There were quite a few ponies and humanoids in and around the anvil and forge, some working and some chatting. One was busy making some sort of magical weapon, and his work sent vibrations of magical energy through the air as he hammered away.
Ducking past the busy metalworks, Twilight saw an alcove with a sign bearing a mysterious arcane symbol...
And under the symbol was a large plaque set into the wall listing guild lodgings and local officers. With pictures! Twilight facehoofed. So much for intrigue. There was even a welcome registry.
Ponyville Guild Lodging
(officers in attendance)
- (O) Ed
- (O) Edd
The P Team
- (O) Mister_P
Knights of Luna
- (GM) Giddy App
- (O) Elmersglue
- (O) Kneecaps
Church of Derpy
- (O) N/A
(check out our low low rates!)
"Another mystery solved," Spike declared, standing proudly on Twilight's back. "Their headquarters is cunningly hidden on the first floor."
"Very suspicious," she snarkily agreed. "Well, let's go in and see what they're up to."
Opening the door, Twilight and Spike came face to face with the terror of a well maintained atrium and front desk. The place was basically an inn for guilds staying in town, and a friendly looking pony with light orange coloring waved as Twilight entered. Very intimidating, the not-so-secret lair of Luna's mercenaries. There was what looked like a saloon or cafeteria to one side, followed by a meeting hall. A cork board had a list of scheduled meetings and conferences being held, including such fascinating topics as:
- Rusty's Birthday (plz sign up)
- Guest Seminar: Heroic Halfus
(attdn mandatory all prog raiders! This means u Kali!)
- Black Temple on Farm
(We need some guys to farm Ashtongue Rep
Guildies Preferred, but Friends are good too)
- Soloing for Fun and Profit!
As expected, the helpful bubblegum-chewing filly at the front desk was more than happy to direct Twilight to where the Knights of Luna were staying and conducting their nefarious schemes and seminars. The whole mission was seeming increasingly mundane to Twilight Sparkle, but she didn't let it deter her. Celestia had personally requested she do this, and that made it important, no matter how routine everything seemed to be. She hadn't thought her original friendship finding mission would be anything major either, and it had lead to her finding her best friends. It had opened her eyes.
Besides, Princess Celestia wouldn't just troll ponies by giving them stupid missions to relieve her own thousand years of boredom! Every mission was super important and relevant!
Steeling her resolve with that faith in her godly mentor, Twilight nudged open the doors to the Knights personal facilities. She immediately entered a pleasant looking foyer with chairs and some books and a tray of snacks on a table.
She smelt more food in another room, where a group of ponies were gambling. Others were working or just lounging around. One was cooking in front of a fire, a large white chef's hat contrasting sharply with her magical robes. In fact, as Twilight watched, the priest pony was cooking as a furious pace! How was she doing that?
"Hey there, can I help you?" a voice interrupted, and Twilight saw a stallion in plate armor. His cutie mark was covered, but he'd etched a shield with two red circles on it over the barding that covered his flank. His helmet was off, and he seemed nice enough: blue eyes, chestnut colored body and mane. Standard Earth pony, basically. Just with a lot of very powerful and intimidating looking metal armor.
"I was wondering if..." Twilight tried to remember how she'd planned to talk herself into learning more about the supposedly suspicious guild. "If you could tell me about your guild?" she asked, lamely.
'Stupid! There's no way he'll-'
"Well, I'm not an officer, but what'doya want ta know?" the pony asked, tilting his head innocently. "Name's Ironside, by the way."
"Hey," Spike greeted, quickly shaking the stallion's outstretched hoof.
"Twilight Sparkle, pleased to meet you," she said, quickly composing herself.
Maybe this would be easier than she'd thought? In fact, maybe this was perfect! Even if this guy wasn't an officer, he looked experienced enough, and he seemed pretty friendly. Maybe if she used some Rarity-like charm, he'd spill the beans on any troublesome plots the guild could be involved in. Then again, she had no idea how Rarity manipulated stallions like she did. Something about batting eyes and, um... and... ah…
"So," she began, as he walked her over to a corner of the lounge. "The Knights of Luna."
"Yep. The ol' KoL."
"So what do you guys... do?" Twilight wondered. Honestly, she did. What did these guys do? Missions for Luna? Actually, that was a good question.
"Missions for Luna?" she tacked on.
Ironside chuckled at that. "No. That'd be kind of cool if we did, though. We're an independent progression guild. We just fight for Luna's honor and stuff."
Twilight cocked her head to the side, curious. "And what does that mean, exactly?"
"Well. We." Iron reached up to scratch behind his neck. "I guess we don't literally fight for her honor. We just like Luna and think it's a good name for a guild." He paused for a second, and added, "Well, Giddy is pretty crazy for her and stuff. But we all just like Luna and want to spread Luna Awareness."
"Yep! Awareness of Luna."
Like that explained anything.
"Can you give me an example of Luna Awareness?" Twilight asked.
"Okay, sure," Iron agreed. "First thing is probably just spreading her name. So if you go in a battleground or you're crusading somewhere, people will see the 'Knights of Luna' banner and they'll go: 'oh, hey, Knights of Luna. Luna's pretty cool.' Or if they don't know who Luna is, they'll be all: 'hey, who's this Luna anyway?' And then we tell them. So it's a name recognition thing."
"Then," he added, finding a bit of a stride. "We try and do good deeds and heroic stuff for Luna, that's why we're fighting in her name. So she hears about what we're doing and she knows she's got ponies who are willing to fight for her." He smiled amiably. "Imagine she's all alone in the castle at night, tired from moving the moon or being the moon and all that, and there's no one around. Then she hears: oh, hey, the Knights of Luna just raided Blackwing Descent in her name! And sad-Luna becomes happy-Luna! That's what the Knights of Luna is basically about!"
Twilight wasn't quite sure what to say. This warrior pony sounded completely earnest. Was this guild really just about fighting some good fight all to make Luna happy? Or to inspire her or something?
"You don't..." She almost hesitated to bring it up now. Ironside was smiling at her so pleasantly. It felt like kicking a puppy. "What about the Nightmare Moon thing...?"
"What about it?" he asked. "Didn't you guys and the Elements of Harmony make her good again?"
Twilight blinked in surprised - so he knew who she was?
"I mean, one of you guys didn't miss with your friendship beam powers or anything, did you?" he chuckled and gave an eyes-closed grin. "We should try and support Luna and help her redeem herself, not blame her for what happened a thousand years ago!"
Twilight sighed, feeling terrible. This guy was just too sugary sweet to be involved in anything nefarious. Of course, that didn't mean his guild was entirely roses and flowers and happy-Luna-posters. Just that this one guy was apparently a heavily armored gumdrop. Twilight herself wanted Luna to be redeemed, too, though she didn't exactly think much about it. The Moon Princess had kind of dropped off the map since being de-nightmaremoonified, and hadn't even shown up at the Grand Gala. It was basically out of sight, out of mind.
"That's very nice of you to say," Twilight agreed, honestly. "I hope she's happy, too. I guess it is kind of easy to overlook her and all."
"Heheh!" Iron grinned even wider as he laughed. "We'll have you signed as a KoL member soon at this rate!"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," she replied, smiling back and playfully tapping him with her hoof. Of course he was covered in armor, so he probably didn't even feel it.
"So what do you do, anyway? Not the guild, just you?" she asked, suddenly curious about him personally, and what he did here. He seemed pretty devoted to 'Luna Awareness' and his job.
"Me? I'm just your usual meat shield prot warrior," Ironside explained, bashfully glancing down at his armored forehooves. "That means I'm the first guy to get in the mix with whatever bad guy we're up against. I take the hits, the healers keep me alive, and the deeps do the real damage." He looked back up, some pride entering his voice. "Mostly it's taunting, off tanking, and moving the fight around, but I do interrupts too. Counter magic stuff."
"Shield Slam. A few stuns." He became bashful again and chuckled. "I'm pretty new, actually. I haven't been 85 for long. I made a few friends back during the Cataclysm and they speed-ran me up so I could help tank."
"What do you mean; you haven't been eighty-five for long?"
"That's just the ranking system everyone uses outside Equestria," the warrior explained. "Kinda like a power level or something. It's a magical measure of how much experience you have with your class."
Spike suddenly laughed, resting a hand on the back of her head. "Twilight, you read all those books and wrote all those reports and none of them mentioned level?"
"H-hey!" she objected, annoyed that Spike would mention both her ignorance of a topic and the fact that she was a studybug all in one sentence, and in front of a stranger no less! "I knew! Just, I'd never looked too much into it!"
"Once you start training up your class, you'll develop a spell that lets you read other ponies - and other people - so you know their level and whether they're dangerous to you or not," Iron helpfully clarified. "That will come out as a sort of standardized number. People weaker than you or close to your level are readable, but really powerful types, like Celestia or Luna, can't be read on the normal scale."
"The last time I saw Luna, when we had our big KoL meetup at Canterlot, I tried to see if I could read her." He shrugged nonchalantly. "Just came back with a skull. So she's boss level. Kinda what you'd expect from a Moon Goddess and all."
"I see," Twilight said, filing away what she'd heard for later experimentation. "I'd heard even earth ponies can use non Equestrian magic..."
"A little. Like my hearth stone and magical items. The armor and weapons and trinkets are magic, too. Real basic stuff." Ironside gestured behind him. "If you want to know more about the guild, and you seem pretty curious, I could see if our GM is busy. Nothing like having an introduction to smooth things over, right?"
"Right!" she agreed. "Thanks."
"No problem!" He turned to lead her over to one of the back rooms. "We wouldn't even have Luna if it wasn't for you." Twilight blushed a bit at the praise, and he almost ended at that but quickly amended, "All you guys I mean!"
The three went through another mundane hall with wood panels. There was a moon motif here, with crescent moons on the ceiling, and a painting of Luna meeting the guild founders displayed on the wall. The Princess looked kind of funny, actually: she was the smallest one among the ponies in the picture, a lone unarmored filly surrounded by ponies in armor or elaborate robes. They were holding her up in the air, and she did seem pretty happy with all the attention.
Or adulation, rather.
'It's like... a fan club. A crazy mercenary fan club, but still.'
"Here we go," Ironside stopped at a door, and knocked before opening it a crack. "Hey, Giddy. You'll never guess who I've got here. Twilight Sparkle! The Element of Magic herself! She's got a few questions about KoL."
"Sure," a strange voice answered. It sounded deep, male, but echoing and pained. "I've got a couple minutes. Send her in."
Door opened, Twilight nearly jumped in fright at the sight of the pony inside. He was large, larger than even Ironside, who was himself a little smaller than Big Mac. Like Ironside, he wore plate armor and barding, colored a dark, dead green, with what looked to be bits of frozen crystal stuck in it. Spikes raised up from his shoulders, and horns curled under his neck. A nearby helmet, hanging from the wall, also sported horns and frightening glowing eyes under a skull motif. A deathly chill emanated from the room, like the cold of the grave.
This - Twilight had heard of this... condition.
"Twilight Sparkle," the death knight said, walking closer. His face was structurally pony-normal-enough, but the skin was pale and while he had blue eyes they was far removed from those of Ironside or a normal Earth Pony. They glowed with a chilly fire, like captured will-o-wisps, trails of energy rising like smoke from the black of his eyes around the pupils.
"This is Giddy App, our GM," Ironside said, helpfully sticking his head in between them. He then slipped a bit closer to Twilight and whispered, "I know, the name's kind of silly, but he's not an NBE."
Before the warrior could explain what an NBE was, he stepped outside.
Leaving her alone in the room with the undead -
"Pleasure to meet you!" Giddy App declared, smiling pleasantly.
Twilight heard Spike fall off her back, clearly also thrown by the friendly greeting. So much for suspense, too! Shaking her head slightly, she reached out and shook the death knight's hand. It was cold, lifeless, but strong.
Getting a better look, she also noticed wings the color of ice flattened against the side of his armor. So: he was a Pegasus, then? Probably the biggest one she had ever seen, and that included the Royal Guard Pegasi, who were already above average. He released her hoof and trotted easily back around to lean against his desk.
"And this must be Spike," he noted, and tossed something off the top of his table towards the baby dragon.
Rubbing his tail, still nursing the fall, Spike nonetheless caught what appeared to be a ring out of midair. There was a gem embedded in the gold circle.
"Hey! A bloodstone! Strength cut!" The dragon licked his lips. He was stacking strength, stamina and spellpower. The classic dragon three. Most people didn't want to part with their red gems, though.
"I was going to vendor that old thing, but if you can get the gem out, it's all yours," Giddy said with a friendly grin. "Or you could DE it." He turned to Twilight. "You're lucky you've got a kid like that who can burn BOPs. Maelstrom Crystals are easy money these days."
"Anyway," he changed the topic. "What brings you to KoL? We're not recruiting any more pony mages or locks."
Twilight shook her head, reminding herself to stay focused. "I'm not here about recruitment. I'd just like to know more about why your guild is... so Luna-centric."
"That a problem?" Giddy asked, inclining his head slightly at the perceived threat. "You anti-Luna or something?"
"I'm not anti-Luna. I wasn't aware there was an 'anti-Luna,'" Twilight argued. "It's just strange that your guys are... well... kind of Luna loony."
"You want to know why?" Giddy App asked, glaring at the violet pony for a second. "I'll tell you why."
The death knight pony loomed over her, eyes aglow with power -
Before suddenly turning into smoldering blue hearts. "Because how can you NOT love Princess Luna?"
He hopped over to a wall, where there was a picture of Luna; he unhooked it and held it up to his face. "Look at those soulful eyes! She was abandoned on the moon for a thousand years! She's just lonely and hurt, that's all!"
The death knight then bounced, Pinkie Pie-like, over to the other wall, where he snatched up a giant, jagged, two handed sword of doom. It looked like it was hewn from a haunted meteorite, forged in the blood of a dragon, and then set on FIRE.
Giddy App swung it around carelessly, hearts in his eyes bubbling around him.
"When I heard about her... and saw some pictures... I just knew I had to be the one to cheer her up! And what better way to show that I, that we I mean, that we care about her, than to throw her a party!"
Okay - way too Pinkie Pie like -
"And by that, I mean a slaughter party!" Giddy enthused; eyes briefly back to frightening normal. "We'll kill in her name! Horde! Faction Leaders! Raid Bosses! Instance Bosses! Rare Spawns! World Elites! Achievements! Realm Firsts!" He pointed the god-killing sword at a stunned Twilight Sparkle. "Like I said. We'll throw her a slaughter party."
On second thought, maybe not like Pinkie Pie.
"A. ha. ha." Nervous laughter punctuated her carefully side stepping away from the tip of the monstrous bladed weapon. "You certainly are... enthusiastic?"
"You have to be in this line of work." Ice cool again, switching from spring to winter in a heartbeat, the death knight sheathed the sword behind his back in the blink of an eye.
"And... Princess Luna appreciates your enthusiasm...?"
"She seemed to," was the dark response. ...that quickly lightened to a bashful. "I mean, she seemed pretty appreciative..." An icy hoof traced circled in the floor and the frightening death knight quickly started to giggle to himself.
By the time Twilight Sparkle finally left Giddy App's office, she wasn't sure whether she was frightened, confused, embarrassed, or even a little bit inspired. Mostly the first three. Knights of Luna was led by a murderous, undead version of a gender swapped Pinkie Pie. During their brief discussion, she had tried to focus on detecting the death knight's level, focusing on remember what she'd heard about it and read regarding innate Titan magics outside Equestria. She'd come up short on getting any details, but eventually she had been able to discern a faint number and name over the GM's name.
 Giddy App the Insane
Knights of Luna
His Title was 'The Insane.'
That probably wasn't a good thing.
She and Spike bumped into Ironside back outside in the hall. He seemed as friendly as ever.
"Did you know...?" she almost blurted out the question, still frazzled by the encounter. "His name...?"
"I said Giddy wasn't a NBE," the warrior replied, leading her to the exit. "Oh, or did you mean his favorite title?"
"Is he, I mean, he's... insane?"
"Yep!" Ironside agreed without so much as a moment's hesitation. "Pretty impressive, huh? The other guys say he got it back when it required Shen'dralar rep, pre-Cataclysm. I can't imagine how long that must've taken."
Twilight's left eye twitched, wondering if she'd be best off filing everyone in this building under 'insane.' How on Equestria was being 'The Insane' impressive? She narrowed her eyes and gave Ironside a long stare, picking up his name and title.
 Ironside the Argent Champion
Knights of Luna
Well, that was... kind of normal at least. Strange but normal.
"What?" he asked, seeing her staring.
"Nothing," Twilight decided. On her back, she felt Spike fidget a bit.
"That guy... really likes Luna, doesn't he?" the dragon asked, looking back.
"Yep!" Iron confirmed. Like it needed saying.
"Oh, Ironside, I wanted to ask you something else," Twilight began, seeing him look at her questioningly. "You said before that Giddy wasn't NBE? What does that mean? NBE?"
"Heheh!" He laughed lightly and blinked at her frown. "Sorry! I didn't - I wasn't laughing at you. I'd just assumed you knew."
She stamped a hoof. "Well, what does it mean? Not everypony knows everything!"
"NBE means 'natural born equestrian,'" he explained, and nudged her gently with the side of his head. "You and me, in other words. Ponies."
"So, Giddy App isn't a pony?" Twilight asked, shaking her head. "He's a death knight, but he sure looked like a pony to me!"
"He race changed," Ironside clarified.
"He... race changed?" Spike and Twilight asked at the same time, one confused the other surprised.
"How do you think he had that title?" the warrior pony asked as the three entered the reception room of the guild hall. "There's no natural born Equestrian pony with an Insane or Flame Warden or Seeker title. Not yet anyway. There are only a few at level eighty five. Most of the high level ponies you see around you got race changes when the Cataclysm happened."
Amazingly, he didn't seem to understand just why Twilight hadn't noticed.
"I'm pretty sure Giddy App was a human, but he changed his name and race. A few others were night elves, but they switched for some druid related reason. Our primary mage was a draenei before she switched," he said. "All the officers are race changed. They walk like ponies and smell like ponies, but its easy to tell if you know what to look for."
"Mostly, they'll always try and use their hooves," he explained, holding up a hoof of his own for emphasis. "I guess it's because they're used to using their hands. Even unicorn ones will default to using their hooves instead of their horn. They also eat meat pretty often. I only eat it for the raid buffs, you know? But they're used to it every day. It's easier to polymorph the body than the brain I guess?"
"A permanent polymorph?" Twilight whispered. "Why would they do that to themselves?"
She could barely imagine becoming human or a night elf or anything else for more than a few seconds. Who would change their race entirely, permanently?
"They've all got their reasons," Ironside reasoned with an indifferent shrug. "You get used to it. Maybe they did it for the racials. Ponies have a slightly higher crit chance with spells and attacks, faster run speed, and some innate nature resistance. For some folks, that's all the reason they need."
"But that's... completely crazy...!" Twilight just didn't have any other way to describe it.
"They're ponies now, so does it matter how they were born?" the warrior asked. "Everyone out there in the rest of the world is used to this kind of thing. What matters is what you are, not what you used to be. I think it's kind of neat."
Twilight didn't disagree, not aloud. It did seem weird to her, but there was a time when certain sexual orientations had been frowned on in Equestria. Everypony liked to think of themselves as living in a more enlightened, progressive time. She resolved to try and have an open mind. After all, everyone was entitled to live their lives and pursue -
"Well, well, well! If it isn't Twilight Sparkle!"
- and her train of thought derailed at the sound of that voice.
"Oh, hey there Trix," she heard Ironside remark.
Trixie. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
Twilight looked over and saw the baby blue pony that was Trixie the Great and Powerful. She was also sporting otherworldly attire: stark purple robes covered her shoulders and flanks, and black vestments trailed down over her shoulders. Curved purple and black cloth shifted around her upper arms as she trotted smugly over. The magician's hat she sported with the ensemble was off color, but at least familiar.
"Imagine running into you here," Trixie said with a haughty laugh.
"I live in this town," Twilight deadpanned.
"...imagine it anyway!" The other unicorn demanded, red faced at the snide remark. Waves crashed behind the two as they stood face to face, sparks clashing between them.
"I finally get a chance to pay you back for the humiliation heaped upon me," Trixie declared with an evil grin.
"I seem to remember you doing everything in your power to humiliate those around you," Twilight observed, sounding only half interested in the conversation. "Anyway, I need to get going-"
"Oh no you don't!" Trixie stood boldly between her and the door out. She chuckled darkly, closing her eyes and savoring the moment. "Because of you, Twilight Sparkle, I've seen Hell!"
"Because of you, I was mocked in Ponyville..."
(memories of her being laughed at in town came back, fueling her righteous anger)
"Driven out into the wilderness without a home..."
(memories of her kicking her worthless broken travel wagon)
"Forsaken and forced to live like a beast on the crudest fare..."
(memories of eating at a food stall in town instead of a fine restaurant)
"Living a broken shell of my former life..."
(memories of distracting the waiter and running instead of paying the bill)
"Forced into the most degrading and sickening of acts, just to survive..."
(memories of doing magic tricks at some foal's birthday party for money)
"But on that dark day, I swore I'd turn my life around and get revenge."
(memories of the Cataclysm, and staring up at the burning sky)
"Even if it was the last thing I ever did. I, Trixie, would have my revenge!" Her eyes snapped open, burning with an inner fire. "Revenge... on YOU, Twilight Sparkle!"
- only to find she was ranting and pointing at empty space.
"HEY!" She yelled, whirling around and out the door to find Twilight saying goodbye to Ironside. Pointing an angry hoof, she stamped it hard on the ground. "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude to walk out while someone's ranting at you? The Great and Powerful Trixie demands you listen to her tale of adversity, struggle, heartbreak, and triumph!"
"We don't actually have to do that, do we Twilight?" Spike asked, sounding scared.
"No, Spike," the bookish unicorn replied.
"You do! You do! You do!"
"Trix, what's this about?" Ironside asked, confused. "Didn't you want me to run you through Lower Maraudon today? Twilight here has to go back home. So I'll see her off and then we can head out."
"You're finally gonna run me through Maraudon?" She suddenly shot up to his side. "Orange and Purple wings, too? I've got quests there I need to finish!"
"NO!" She kneeled dramatically on the ground. "I want to go to Maraudon! I do! But I also want my revenge! Oh, cruel fate! Must I choose between them?"
Ironside just stared dumbly at the spectacle and experience that was Trixie. "Huh?"
Twilight just reached back as Trixie suddenly blasted back up and got in her face.
"Since I don't have time to completely destroy you, I'll have to settle for something quicker and easier," the crazy unicorn decided with a 'te-heehee'. She jabbed a hoof into Twilight's chest, forcing her back a step. "I, Trixie, the Great and Powerful, challenge you to a duel!"
"I don't have any reason to want to fight you," Twilight dryly observed.
"That doesn't matter! Accept the duel!" Trixie backed off and pretended to cover a laugh with a hoof. "Unless you're afraid of me."
"Trying to goad me into a fight. Didn't you try this exact same thing before?"
"Just accept the stupid duel!"
"I don't think -" Ironside started to intervene, only for Trixie to pop up and force his mouth closed with her forehooves.
"You don't think Twilight has what it takes?" the blue unicorn asked, and forced his head up and down. "It's just a duel, right? No one gets hurt. Just an innocent little contest of magic." Pink eyes narrowed at their target. "After all, didn't you hear? Twilight Sparkle defeated an Ursa Minor. Surely she hasn't lost her edge, right?"
"Fine!" Twilight relented, growing more than a little annoyed. If Trixie wanted a duel, or whatever, then she'd get it. As for why Ironside's eyes were suddenly extremely wide and worried looking, well - who knew? He was probably just ashamed to have gotten involved in such a stupid mixup with Trixie making him look so silly.
"I accept the duel!" the librarian announced, stepping boldly forward.
"Hehehe!" Trixie just laughed, pushing Ironside back and out of the way. A magical standard appeared between the two mares, together with a numerical countdown. Noticing the duel in the middle of the street, other spectators were quick to back away.
"Oh, this-" Trixie said, suddenly taking on a rather ominous black aura as demonic armor snapped in place around her. "This is going to be fun."
A literal torrent of dark magic enveloped the light blue pony and void-like rifts in space cracked open at her feet. One of them widened, forming a nightmarish fissure that belched forth a red and black dog from the pits of hell. Hungry sucker tentacles, a savage toothy maw under an eyeless skull, and heavily muscled legs and paws covered in protruding bony spikes characterized the summoning of a demonic Felhunter.
Spike quickly hopped off Twilight and vanished.
Kicking herself for not doing so before, Twilight tried to 'scan' Trixie to get a sense of -
 Trixie (the great and powerful!)
"Go get her, Twilight!" Spike cheered from somewhere safe.
Fifteen seconds later he winced from behind the shelter of an armored stallion's legs.
'That had to hurt.'
The next thing Twilight remembered, aside from the brief but lingering memory of being drained of mana and pummeled flat into the ground, was staring up at the pixie-like face of a familiar baby dragon. Hey, I remember you. ...Remember you jumping off my back and running for your life. She tried to say something to that effect but words kind of hurt. Lousy painful words. Who needed them?
"Hey, Twilight? You don't need me to do CPR, do you?"
"NO!" She shot up. Words had their uses after all.
Blurrily regaining her senses through the fog of being pounded like pizza dough, Twilight did take note of two interesting things. Two things which stuck in her mind long after her wounds healed and her mana recovered. Two things that would be burned into her memory forever.
One was the Felhunter, one leg in the air while it licked itself. Gross.
The other was Trixie, her forelegs up in the air as she danced and wiggled her rear, dancing in pure joy. Dancing. Dancing pony. Dancing Trixie. Forever burned into her eyes. Somehow the fact that Trixie had all those clothes on made it even worse. Twilight Sparkle made a vow that day.
"Trixie is victorious! T-R-I-X-I-E! Spell lock! Shadowbolt!" She hopped around and landed on all fours to poke Twilight on the nose. "You lose!"
"Okay!" She announced. "Ready to go now!"
And, without preamble, Trixie (TG&P) hopped onto what looked like a two person rocket and flew off. Watching her go, Spike could only shake his head sadly.
"Wow. I hate to say it, Twilight, but she totally schooled you."
"She took you to the woodshed."
"She beat you like a drum."
"Like a red headed step-"
"Okay, I'm done."