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[RGRE] How Villanon Stole Hearth's Warming by AponymousAuthor

By silvertear
Created: 19th December 2020 04:16:50 AM

  1. "How Villanon Stole Hearth's Warming"
  2.  
  3. By AponymousAuthor
  4.  
  5. Quick Note:  This was a Christmas gift written for the "RGRE" and the "Super Humans and Power Ponies" threads.  It was originally posted in RGRE and then crossposted into SHPP.  I'm putting this story up as I really enjoyed it and will keep it here until I'm told to remove it or until Aponymous posts it into his account.
  6.  
  7. First post Dec 24, 2018 @ 18:20:34 Pacific
  8. Original post (RGRE Thread): desuarchive.org/mlp/thread/33324531/#33328116
  9. SHPP thread:  desuarchive.org/mlp/thread/33297883/#33335924
  10. Original Pastebin link (dead): pastebin.com/GXg4WjNS
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  14. >”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jane Frost nipping at your snout. Although it’s been said, many times, many ways, Happy Hearth's Warming to you~”
  15. >Songs played on the radio, filling whatever room they were pumping into with Hearth's Warming spirit, lifting the hearts of Ponies everywhere
  16. >Currently, one particular group of Ponies were busy setting up decorations, arranging gifts, hiding presents and, in the case of one Stallion, cooking, baking, brewing, and other food-related verbs
  17. >Zap had been in charge of weather management, making sure that the perfect amount of snow was falling outside
  18. >”Not quite enough to make getting to work a chore, but /just/ enough to give fillies and colts a snow day!”
  19. >Saddle-Rager had done much of the heavy lifting, hauling boxes and trees about, as well as organizing a few tunes with her songbirds
  20. >”I’m sure it’ll be very relaxing~”
  21. >Radiance had, despite your offers to help, managed the decorations
  22. >All of them
  23. >Somehow, you’d assumed the Crystal Keep couldn’t get any shinier than it already was but Radiance wasn’t called that for being dull
  24. >”Don’t worry, Darlings, I’ll make sure our Hearth's Warming is utterly /dazzling/!”
  25. >Mare-velous had actually taken to helping Hum Drum gather ingredients for dinner, between discussions with Fili-Second about official Hearth's Warming traditions
  26. >You’d yet to discover how she got so good at navigating markets and haggling, not to mention her seemingly endless supply of apples
  27. >”Ah’ll make sure we’ve got everythin’ we need.”
  28.  
  29. >Fili-Second had been left in charge of party-planning, with Mare-velous’ help and judgement
  30. >With her speed, energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, she left you all utterly unaware of what was going to happen every year, even if you asked Mare-velous for hints
  31. >”DontworryaboutathingImadesuretodelivereachandeverycardthatwewanteddeliveredaswellasafewothers! PlusIevenmanagedtorushovertoManehattanforawhilesoIcouldgrabafewdecorationsandgamesIhadtntbeenabletogetinintime! IcantwaittoseethelooksonallyourfaceswhenyouopenupyourgiftsbecauseipickedthemoutboughtthemandwrappedthembeforeIgottoevenlookatthemsotheyregoingtobeasurpriseformeaswell!”
  32. >Hum Drum had been in the kitchen all day (yes yes, I’ve heard the jokes, very funny everypony) cooking up a storm
  33. >Everything from salads to cakes to some sort of odd, stone soup had been prepared, each of which was ready and waiting, or being cooked to perfection
  34. >If he’d had a cutie mark, you had little doubts that you couldn’t discern “head chef” from it
  35. >”I’ll make sure we have a dinner worthy of Hearth's Warming. Also, enough leftovers to last us for the next week or two.”
  36. >That left you, Matter-Horn
  37. >You, of course, had been in charge of planning the event!
  38. >After all, each and every one of you had things you wanted to do, and times when you needed to be alone, whether it be shopping, wrapping gifts, or otherwise
  39. >So, you’d made a comprehensive plan, and had made sure everypony followed it to a ‘T’
  40. >As such, when Hearth's Warming Eve…day arrived, you were all ready to go
  41. >Gifts had been piled, décor had been décor-rated, food was either ready, or set to go for tomorrow, and you’d even have carolers stop by the Crystal Keep to sing a few songs!
  42. >All in all, there was no way anything could go wro-
  43. >Then, somepony knocked at the door
  44. >You figured it was probably just more carolers, or maybe somepony wanted some help, so how could you resist walking over and opening the great Crystal Keep’s front door?
  45.  
  46. “Happy Hearth's Warming! What can I doooooo…”
  47. >Your voice trailed off as you found yourself staring up and up at the huge form of Villanon, looming in your doorway
  48. “Villanon? What are you doing here?!”
  49. >You heard a chorus of voices pipe up from behind you, the rest of your team rushing to the door to help you face off against the mighty metal Stallion
  50. >”You’ve got a lot of nerve showing that ugly mug of yours around here, Villanon!”
  51. >”Mhm!”
  52. >”Quite right!”
  53. >”What she said!”
  54. >”Yeah! You should be in here instead!”
  55. >As a collective, everypony turned to look at Fili-Second, who’s large smile was dwindling under the combined weight of her friends’ glare
  56. >”Uh…surprise?”
  57. >”Ah Fili-Second. You know, I almost didn’t believe it when I got your card. The fact that the Power Ponies would invite me over for Hearth's Warming? It seemed simply preposterous and yet, here we are.”
  58. >With your attention on Fili-Second, you didn’t notice Villanon move forwards, a metal hand covering your face, pushing you to the side as he strode through the doorway, coming to stand in the front hall of the Crystal Keep
  59. >”My my, how gaudy! Has anyone ever told you, Radiance, that shinier doesn’t always mean ‘better’? That goes for the crystals your suit is adorned with as well.”
  60. “That’s it!”
  61. >You had no clue why Fili-Second had invited your group’s nemesis, but you were going to put an end to this right now! You took a stance, ready to fight, and the girls moved into formation, Fili-Second included, who still looked confused as she darted back behind you
  62. “In brightest day!”
  63. >”In blackest night!”
  64. >”No darkness shall escape our sight!”
  65. >”Let those who worship Evil’s might!”
  66. >”Beware our power!”
  67. >”Our Friendship’s might!”
  68. >Typically, that was a good sign that things were about to kick off, but Villanon just laughed instead, cackling into his mask
  69. >As one, you all leaped from your positions, ready to bring Villanon down, only for his voice to boom out like thunder!
  70.  
  71. >”Fools! You have no clue of what will happen should we fight today, do you?”
  72. >”Yeah, we’re gonna kick your butt!”
  73. >Zap flew outside, wind generated by her amulet pulling dozens of icicles off of the Crystal Keep, whipping through the air, moving faster and faster
  74. >As Zap readied her attack, you realized that despite the warmth of the Crystal Keep, you could see your own breath, a fact that could only mean one thing!
  75. “Zap, everypony, stop fighting, now!”
  76. >While normally, this command might have seemed bizarre coming from you, this time it was of the utmost importance that it be followed which, thankfully, the girls picked up on, pausing their preparations
  77. >”Well why th’hay not, Matter-Horn? We’ve got’im right where we want’im! Ah say we truss’im up now, ‘fore he has the chance to do it t’us!”
  78. “Girls, this might sound crazy, but I believe Villanon’s figured out some way to control the Windigos!”
  79. >”Ha ha! Close, Matter-Horn, /very/ close! You see, the Windigos are kept at bay by the harmony of Ponies. As such, /disharmony/ will bring them out, allowing them to freeze over Equestria! Normally, fighting wouldn’t be a problem, but today is supposed to be the most harmonious day of the year! If you all fought me today, the balance would shift so drastically that they’d freeze Equestria over-night! Even now, you can feel the world growing colder, can’t you?”
  80. >It was true, despite Zap’s adjustments to the weather, snow had begun to fall faster, looking far less fluffy than before
  81. >While it went against all your natural instincts, you knew you didn’t have a choice
  82. “While I hate to admit it, he’s right, girls. Stand down.”
  83. >As the team adjusted, you stepped towards Villanon, looking up at him, staring into his eyes
  84. “Alright, what do you want, Villanon?”
  85.  
  86. >He placed his hand on his chest, brushing against the Alicorn Amulet
  87. >”My, Matter-Horn, whatever do you mean? It’s like it said on the card I received, I’m staying here for Hearth's Warming. On that note, I’ll go find where I’ll be staying the night.”
  88. >As he turned and tromped off, you sent the nervous-looking Saddle-Rager after him to make sure he wasn’t planning on breaking into anywhere secured or protected
  89. >Of all of you, at least she could match up to him in terms of brute force and durability, and besides, you wanted to ‘talk’ to Fili-Second
  90. >Once the Human and Pony were out of sight, you hauled Fili-Second over with your magic, plopping her down and holding her in place so she couldn’t dart off
  91. “Fili-Second, what the /hay/ where you thinking, sending /Villanon/ of all Ponies a card inviting him to share Hearth's Warming with us?! He’s our nemesis for Faust’s sake!”
  92. >”W-Well you said I was supposed to send an invite to everypony on your list, but when I got halfway across Equestria, I realized I’d forgotten to grab the list soIcamebacklaterandgrabbedthefirstoneIsaw! I’m sorry…”
  93. “I’m sorry for yelling Fili-Second, I was just thrown for a loop after /he/ showed up. Hopefully we can just get along and keep all of Equestria from freezing over for the next day and half.”
  94. >Despite your trying to assuage her worries, Fili-Second still looked nervous
  95. “Is there…something else you wanted to tell me?”
  96. >”If you…/didn’t/ like Villanon being here you’re /really/ not going to like who’s next.”
  97. >Before you could even question who said Pony, or otherwise, might be, there came a light rapping at the door
  98. >Not wanting to look wimpy in front of a potential supervillain standing on the other side of the door, you grit your teeth, turned, and opened it up
  99. “Happy Hearth's Warming! What can I doooooo…”
  100. >”Ah, hello, I hope I am not late.”
  101. >For the second time today, found yourself needing to stare up at another, taller guest
  102.  
  103. >This one though, she didn’t wear any gear other than ornamental-looking golden armor, her fiery mane and tail flowed in the air, melting any snow that came near, and her huge, tucked-in wings were matched only by her long, pearly-white horn
  104. >”I believe you all invited me?”
  105. >That was right about when you passed out
  106.  
  107. -----
  108.  
  109. >You awoke to the calming sounds of birdsong, as well as a few rough, fluffy slaps from Zap’s wings as she tried to rouse you
  110. >After taking a few more smacks, you managed to focus long enough to catch your assailant’s wings with your magic, looking up at her
  111. “I’m up, I’m up! What did I miss?”
  112. >”Well, after you passed out-“
  113. “Aaagh…”
  114. >”-in front of Daybreaker-“
  115. “Nooooo…”
  116. >”-Radiance guided her to a room for her to stay in.”
  117. >Oh no!
  118. “She made sure it was a different room than the one Villanon is staying in, right?!”
  119. >”Huh? Oh, yeah, definitely, I’m sure it’s fine.”
  120. >’It’s fine’?
  121. >She wasn’t worried about this?
  122. “Zap, this is the exact /opposite/ of ‘fine’! Villanon is her primary target right now! If they run into each other, there’s no doubt that they’ll wind up fighting and if they do, the Windigos will freeze everything we know over!”
  123. >She seemed to catch on after that, nodding her head before speaking
  124. >”So…we need to keep them from seeing each other?”
  125. “They can’t even know the other one’s here.”
  126. >With that problem up in the air, you got started thinking about solutions
  127.  
  128. -----
  129.  
  130. “Outfit Swap!”
  131. >”Outfit Swap?”
  132. >Well, you’d come up with…something but hopefully it would work!
  133. “Yep, that’s right it’s an old, family tradition.”
  134. >Looking up at Villanon, who lounged in the doorway to “his” room, you could tell the Stallion wasn’t exactly buying it
  135. >”For Hearth's Warming?”
  136. “Yes!”
  137. >”Well I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve never heard anypony play this as a Hearth's Warming game.”
  138. >Daybreaker decided to pipe up then, and you dashed down the hall to reach her door before she stepped out of her room
  139.  
  140. “O-Oh no no you, uh, see it’s a recent thing we started to do.”
  141. >”A recent family tradition?”
  142. “Yes!”
  143. >”Ah, I see. Well then, my little pony, how is this game played?”
  144. >You let out an internal sigh of relief, glad that you’d managed to pass this off
  145. >Now came the tricky part
  146. “S-So! Everypony puts their name in a hat, and then we draw them and, based on who got what, we swap outfits!”
  147. >It certainly was far from the best idea you’d ever come up with, but how else where you supposed to hide the fact that Villanon and Daybreaker were currently under the same, shiny roof?
  148. >”Oh? Well that…It /does/ sound like it could be fun. Alright, I suppose I’d be happy to join in~”
  149. “Great, so then that just leaves Villaaaaguest! The other guest, because it’s you and then them so I’ll just go over and check to make sure that everything’s a-okay okay? Okay.”
  150. >Darting back over to Villanon, you filled them in on the rest of the “tradition” and, after a bit of thought, they, miraculously, agreed
  151. >The rest of the girls had as well, and so you got to fetching names and dumping them into a hat, ready to begin this mad game of cat and mouse
  152.  
  153. -----
  154.  
  155. >Villanon had rigged this
  156. >You had no clue /how/, but you absolutely /knew/ he’d rigged this
  157. >The girls and you had accepted the idea that one or two of your outfits would be stretched out of shape when Villanon or Daybreaker tried to squeeze into them
  158. >You all knew a great place you could go to get your outfits repaired, after all
  159. >No, your anger came from the fact that somehow, Villanon had managed to get Daybreaker’s golden armor
  160. >/HE/ got to be /DAYBREAKER/!
  161. >Sure, a little, stylized mask had been made to help disguise him fully, but that wasn’t the problem here!
  162. >/YOU/ wanted to be Daybreaker!
  163. >You just so happened to be a big fan of her, after all!
  164.  
  165. >You had dozens of action figures, posters, signed collectibles, and even five certificates that documented you as being the head of each local Daybreaker fan community from fillyhood to now!
  166. >YOU’D PAINTED YOUR OWN COAT WHITE FOR NIGHTMARE NIGHT!
  167. >The only Pony, or creature, that came anywhere close to Daybreaker on your list was Dr. ‘The Bearded’!
  168. >Yes, deep down you still recognized that Villanon was Stallion who’d been subjected to multiple mind-altering effects, but gosh darn it you should be allowed to get at least a little upset!
  169. >Once you’d all got into each other’s disguises, you’d decided to meet in the rec room to show off
  170. >If this didn’t work, you didn’t know what would
  171.  
  172. -----
  173.  
  174. >“Well, Darlings? How do I look?”
  175. >Radiance stepped out from behind the curtain of the changing room, mane flowing majestically in the breeze That didn’t seem to exist for anypony but herself and Daybreaker
  176. >She’d wound up getting Fili-Second’s outfit, though it did look a little odd on her
  177. >With her white coat, it sort of looked like somepony had just smoothed her out and drawn large arrows over her body and legs
  178. >Still, she made it look good, and she playfully trotted quickly on the spot before sauntering down to join the rest of the ‘audience’
  179. >With Radiance joining Fili-Second (dressed as Saddle-Rager), Saddle-Rager (dressed as yourself), Zap (dressed as Mare-velous), and you (dressed as Radiance), that left three left to go
  180. >Villanon, unfortunately, hadn’t given up his armor, and so instead, Mare-velous trotted out in the Stallion’s long, green cloak and hood, his tunic done up around her beneath it
  181. >It looked surprisingly good on her, though it was so large it was difficult to see much of the mare from beneath it
  182. >Next came your unfortunately-invited guest, Villanon, who’d sacrilegiously gone-through with wearing Daybreaker’s armor
  183. >Shamefully, you’d even considered bribing him, but you knew it would just make him laugh harder
  184.  
  185. >Even more dramatically than with Radiance, the curtain was flung open, Villanon striding out to the familiar sound of metal-on-surface-of-your-choice
  186. >He’d used some sort of his foul magic to warp the gear slightly, either molding it to better fit him, or casting a powerful form of illusion magic to disguise what he might actually have been wearing
  187. >his broad chest bore the protective plate that usually wrapped around Daybreaker’s no-doubt glorious tuft, the metal stretched to properly fit him
  188. >The metal that stretched along and over Daybreaker’s delicate, yet powerful, wing muscles had been left in tact, flowing, glowing fabric attached to them, forming wings of his own
  189. >Her horseshoes had been molded into boots and gauntlets, long, spiky things that extended out like sharpened blades, made to resemble the sun’s fire
  190. >Atop his head was the crown-like helmet, which he wore like a king, the sparkling Sunstone embedded in the highest spire that rose above his head, glowing like the sun for which it was named
  191. >While the Alicorn Amulet was, thankfully, hidden, so too was the rest of his body
  192. >The girls and you had wondered if, for once, the mad Stallion would be nude, as befitted a normal civilian/neutral party, but no. Instead, in a fashion that matched the tight suit he wore under his armor, he was wearing a red-and-white suit that clung to him almost supernaturally
  193. >It wrapped around his form, allowing all of you to see his muscles, admiring his toned physique
  194. >His face was semi-obscured by the shade cast from the helmet, as well as the simple mask he wore beneath it, but to say he was unattractive would be a lie
  195. >You didn’t like admitting it, but he was quite handsome, despite his cruelty
  196. >”Not quite my usual look, but I think I can make it work.”
  197. >His head turned towards you, and you could finally see that smug smirk that you knew lived behind his metal mask
  198. >Amulet or no, he was enjoying this far too much!
  199.  
  200. >Once he stepped down, he extended one of his gauntlet-clad hands, an ethereal one appearing near a large chair, pulling it over effortlessly for him to sit upon while you all waited for Daybreaker
  201. >A minute passed, then two, and then by the five-minute mark, you just knew something was wrong
  202. >Daybreaker was the strongest, fastest, most powerful, eloquent, fascinating, beautiful, radiant, wonderful-
  203. >Sh-She was pretty great, so you just knew something must have happened to her!
  204. >There was no way she was having trouble with a costume change, right?
  205. >”Uh, Matter-Horn? Maybe y’should jus’ let’er-“
  206. “Don’t worry, Daybreaker, I’m coming!”
  207. >You threw the curtain aside, rushing up to her changing room, only to hear the sounds of a struggle!
  208. >What had Villanon done to her?
  209. “Daybreaker, are you-“
  210. >You were not prepared for what you saw
  211. >Considering her wings and horn, she’d needed an outfit that had enough space for both and so, by luck of the draw, she’d wound up with Zap’s outfit
  212. >Radiance had been delighted, as apparently the black of the suit would blend nicely with Daybreaker’s white coat and fiery mane and tail
  213. >The thing that none of you had really thought about was how small Zap was compared to her
  214. >Pegasi were typically either smaller, or thinner, than most ponies, to allow for easier flight, and Zap fell into the smaller category
  215. >Super-suits were stretchy and form-fitting by nature, but it was only when you opened the door to Daybreaker’s dressing room that you understood, on a physical level, the differences between and Alicorn’s proportions, and those of a normal Pony
  216. >The rubbery, black suit had been forcibly tugged up over Daybreaker’s body, clinging desperately to her huge, thick hindlegs, taut, superpony muscle hidden beneath a layer of soft pudge that gave Daybreaker the legs any mare wished she could have
  217. >With the semi-Popped collar on Zap’s suit, Daybreaker’s glorious tuft had free range to make it’s presence known
  218.  
  219. >Like a warm, still explosion of fluff, it practically poured out of that suit, tearing the fabric enough to make room
  220. >Thanks to the small rip, the outfit’s collar cupped that tuft like a push-up ball bra, helping to pronounce that emaresculating, prominent plush even more than before
  221. >The worst offender of all though, was the superheroine’s rump
  222. >Daybreaker had only been able to work the suit halfway up before she was stuck, the outfit simply too small to continue without help
  223. >In your head, you rationalized the sight in front of you as simply being the result of all the galas, award ceremonies, celebrations, and more that Daybreaker tried to attend
  224. >Surely most of all…/this/ was purely because, with Hearth's Warming approaching, she’d simply not had enough work to burn it off!
  225. >”Ah, Masked Matter-Horn, is that you? I seem to be having a little..nng..trouble squeezing into-ah~! Into this outfit.”
  226. >Daybreaker’s rump was like twin, over-stuffed pillows that were being crammed into a tight suit, wobbling against each other, jiggling against each, weighty tug
  227. >With every pull, it shook those perfectly-shaped mounds, quaking them like jell-o before they settled back into place as if by the hoof of Faust herself
  228. >Every time she managed to work the suit a little higher, packing a bit more of her ass in, the fabric slowly slid back down, tracing the curve of the superheroine’s cheeks, the disturbance giving you the briefest of glimpses deeper
  229. “I stared into the abyss…”
  230. >”Masked Matter-Horn? Could yoummf!...Please help?”
  231. “…and I winked…”
  232. >”Did you say something?”
  233.  
  234. >Wordlessly, you reared up onto your hindlegs, bringing your forehooves down onto that mighty plot
  235. >Through Radiance’s suit, you could feel the way your hooves sunk in a few inches before being met by powerful muscle
  236. >’Thank you, Dad, Mom’ you thought to yourself as you pressed down, adding your magic to Daybreaker’s, forcibly drawing Zap’s suit up
  237. >”Almost…almost…”
  238. >’I’m so glad I was born’ You shut your eyes, focusing on your hooves, and the feedback your magic got as the skin-tight suit enveloped your heroine’s rear
  239.  
  240. -----
  241.  
  242. >With outfits sorted and disguises in place, you all moved on to the party games
  243. >You’d been worried that Daybreaker might catch on to Villanon, but luckily enough, his suit was made well enough that, had you not known it was him, he might very well have fooled you, too!
  244. >Fili-Second rushed into the room, moving at high-speed, causing her legs to smoke slightly, Saddle-Rager’s costume not used to that level of friction
  245. >”Alright, now it’s time for the best part of the night, the /Game Room/!”
  246. >Inside the large hall was a wide variety of games, from ones played on a board, to the screen, to events that seemed more fitting for a sports day, but still, somehow, worked
  247. >”I designed this year to be like a /huge/, real-life, Mario Party game!” [Pronounced ‘Mare-rio’]
  248. >She bowed, smiling at the ‘Ooh’s and ‘Aah’s from the rest of you before going on to explain the game
  249. >Unfortunately, like whenever Fili-Second got excited, she started speaking faster and faster, the rules rapidly becoming a jumbled, obfuscated mess that was so unintelligible it could scarcely be understood!
  250. >Somehow though, Daybreaker and Villanon managed to nod understandingly
  251. >Well, at least Villanon would be on an equal playing field as everypony else with this!
  252. >What could possibly go wrong?
  253.  
  254. -----
  255.  
  256. >After rolling a pair of over-sized dice that Button Mash [Alias, ‘Arcade’] had used when he trapped you all in a huge game of 'Trouble', the race to the end with the most Elements began
  257. >Daybreaker was going first, followed by Radiance, and then yourself, meanwhile Villanon was all the way at the bottom!
  258. >Even Hum Drum had left the kitchen to play with you all, only needing to dart back and forth occasionally, making sure everything was progressing as it should
  259. >Pretty soon the first round was over, and Fili-Second announced the first of the randomly-chosen minigames
  260. >”Alright, we’re starting things off with…The Hind-Legs Huddle!”
  261.  
  262. -----
  263.  
  264. >“STALLION! DON’T YOU BUCKING STEAL MY- YOU BASTARD!”
  265. >”Ha ha! Did you really think you could hide behind that Diamond-dog bone all game, Zap?”
  266.  
  267. -----
  268.  
  269. >”A-Another red space? Really? Really?!”
  270. >”’Saddle-Rager? Are you okay?”
  271. >”/I’M FINE./”
  272.  
  273. -----
  274.  
  275. >”I’m not saying that coming after me was a bad idea, Darling, but I will say that I happen to be heading towards that charming little ghost.”
  276. >”N-Now hold on jus’ a sec, there!”
  277.  
  278. -----
  279.  
  280. >”I’m going to d-duel you for an Element, ‘Jolly Green Giant’!”
  281. >”Oh /wonderful/!”
  282. >”Hum Drum, don’t duel hi- You have enough bits! Why did you put up an Element?!”
  283. >”Don’t listen to her, Hum Drum, you’re doing /great/.”
  284.  
  285. -----
  286.  
  287. >”HeygirlsImreallysorryaboutthisbut CHANCE TIME!”
  288. >”No no nO NO NO!”
  289.  
  290. -----
  291.  
  292. >”-and so, after much deliberation of the handing out of the final three Elements-“
  293. >”Bucking random-chance horseapples!”
  294. >”-the Jolly Green Giant, with an astounding /six/ Elements of Harmony, wins!”
  295. >You watched as he stood up, looming above all but Daybreaker herself (though he was still taller than her by about a head or two), that arrogant, smug grin never leaving his face, Six Elements of Harmony floating above him like a halo, suspended in his magical grasp
  296.  
  297. >”I’d just like to say that I couldn’t have done it without you, Hum Drum. If you hadn’t dueled me in dart-throwing, I might never have grabbed that third Element. Of course, Fili-Second landing on the Chance Time and giving me all of Zap’s Elements was a big help as well.”
  298. >Normally, game night tended to be high-stakes, but fun. This time around, the games had just been so much more unbalanced!
  299. >Tasks that were challenging for Ponies simply weren’t for Humans, which gave the supervillain so many advantages over the rest of you
  300. >On top of that, Villanon played for keeps, and with his already-poor reputation in your group, it only made every loss more personal
  301. >By the end of it all, the lot of you, other than Daybreaker, and the villain in question, were in a pretty sour mood
  302. >At least dinner would cheer things up
  303.  
  304. -----
  305.  
  306. >Snow fell a little faster than it should outside, the serene night sky slightly obscured by quickly-flying clouds
  307. >Inside the dining area, everypony, and Villanon, had gathered for dinner, sitting in their respective spots at the table
  308. >You’d very subtly set Daybreaker’s spot at the head of the table, with you on her right side
  309. >Villanon made sure to snag the other end, staring across the table at your team’s Alicorn guest
  310. >Considering that you were all still using your real names, despite the costume swap, you were still wondering why Villanon had decided to undergo this charade
  311. >Was this just his way of tormenting you?
  312. >Did he have something nefarious planned?
  313. >He had whimsy and villainy enough for a dozen Stallions, so it really could have been both
  314. >Still, his disguise was nothing short of excellent, and he’d chosen a great name
  315. >The Jolly Green Giant
  316. >There wasn’t a Pony alive who’d call Villanon “jolly”, other than when he was winning, and there were plenty of green Ponies out there, so that part was nonspecific
  317. >The closest you could really get was “giant”, but he was a mini-giant at best
  318.  
  319. >On the other hoof though, Daybreaker /was/ a brilliant mare
  320. >She’d dealt with her fair share of ninjas, assassins, spies, and more, so maybe she was playing the waiting game as well!
  321. >Did she already know about Villanon’s plan with the Windigos?
  322. >Maybe she was planning on waiting him out in some kind of a stalemate until Hearth's Warming had passed!
  323. >Two super-powered creatures, head-to-head in a battle for the sake of the country, if not the whole world!
  324. >Mare, Daybreaker was awesome
  325. >”And now for the main course!”
  326. >Snapping you from your thoughts, you looked down as Hum Drum replaced your untouched salad, realization slowly dawning on you that you must have been zoned out for the last ten minutes or so!
  327. >Daybreaker was talking to your friends while Villanon-
  328. >Oh, that grinning son of a bastard!
  329. >Pardon your Prench!
  330. >Your cheeks were growing hot and you were resisting a Zap-like outburst when the Stallion broke eye contact with you, choosing to look down at Hum Drum
  331. >”Oh my, Hum Drum, it appears you’ve completely forgotten about /my/ dietary needs. I don’t mean to be rude, but I really can’t eat this hay-and-flower-based concoction.”
  332. >You’d neglected to tell Hum Drum just who ‘the Jolly Green Giant’ /really/ was, as you knew he’d get scared and accidentally spill the beans, though you were kicking yourself now as the poor, innocent little colt looked up so caringly at the Supervillain
  333. >”Oh, I’m sorry, Jolly! I didn’t know you were coming until Filli-Second burst into the kitchen and said you were so I wasn’t able to find out what kind of food you liked.”
  334. >”Jolly” waved Hum Drum off, smiling down at him, a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he spoke, a few words more than enough to send a chill down your spine
  335. >”Don’t worry, Hum Drum, I brought my own food. Would you mind roasting this for me?”
  336. >Emerging, impossibly, from below the table was a horrifying sight, one that made your stomach writhe and your spine shudder
  337.  
  338. >Glancing over at Saddle-Rager, you could easily see how horrified she was
  339. >There, in Villanon’s extended gauntlet, was a turkey
  340. >Well, you assumed it was a turkey, but it was hard to tell after it had been butchered, plucked, and prepared, it’s body desecrated with stuffing and spices
  341. >Radiance fainted, Mare-velous’ lips pressed together into a thin line, and Fili-Second, who’d rushed out of the room, could be heard, speed-vomiting into the toilet upstairs
  342. >Zap looked pale, you were feeling queasy, and even Daybreaker looked taken aback
  343. >Saddle-Rager was…
  344. >You actually couldn’t tell what, exactly, she was feeling
  345. >A range of emotions trickled across her face but, while she managed to keep her composure, you could see your suit beginning to strain around her and hear the sturdy, wooden table creak under the pressure of her hooves
  346. >Hum Drum was speechless, his mouth hanging open as he stared up at the grisly sight, a fact that Villanon capitalized on
  347. >”No? Then I suppose I’ll just have to do it myself.”
  348. >His other gauntlet raised up and, in a bastardization of Daybreaker’s solar fire, he burnt the turkey’s corpse up
  349. >It wasn’t at all cooked well, which only added to the cruelty of it all and, as he set the corpse down on the table, sliced off a leg, and then dug his teeth in, you made a quick excuse, and dragged the rapidly-enlarging Saddle-Rager out of the room before she attempted to beat Villanon’s head into the ground
  350.  
  351. -----
  352.  
  353. >Normally you would have all gathered to watch a movie or two, and then head to bed, but after “dinner”, none of you were in the mood
  354. >You were pretty sure Saddle-Rager had demolished much of the training room, and the rest of the girls were either fuming, or trying to come up with ways of getting a stubborn Stallion out of the house
  355. >Before long, you’d brushed your teeth, changed into your pajamas, and then climbed into bed
  356.  
  357. >Glancing out at the night sky, you could see cars being covered with snow, with other families being snowed-in
  358. >Occasionally, you thought you caught a glimpse of something in the sky, but you tried to put it off
  359. >Tomorrow, you’d be opening gifts with your friends, enjoying the company of your idol, and you’d save the country from being frozen over
  360. >You all could suffer through one more day with Villanon, right?
  361.  
  362. -----
  363.  
  364. >You were awoken to the sound of screaming, followed-up by Fili-Second pouncing on you, knocking the wind from your lungs while she yelled
  365. >”MatterHornIwentdownstairstotakealookatallthepresentandlightupthetreebutwhenIgotdownthereallthegiftsweregone!”
  366. “Zwha? F-Fili-Second, I didn’t even hear a quarter of that, what’s wrong?”
  367. >The panicked Pony took a deep breath, before spitting out the same sentence as before, but this time with more emphasis on the whole thing
  368. >”/MatterHornIwentdownstairstotakealookatallthepresentandlightupthetreebutwhenIgotdownthereallthegiftsweregone!/”
  369. “Fili-Second, seriously, you /have/ to slow down.”
  370. >She had you dressed and downstairs before “down” left your lips, placed in front of the tree
  371. >There, underneath it, was empty air
  372. “But that…that doesn’t make sense! They were all here yesterday so where did they-“
  373. >Oh.
  374. >It was /him/.
  375. “Villanon.”
  376. >”Villanon?”
  377. ”/Villanon/.”
  378. >”You rang?”
  379. >Spinning on the spot, the two of you looked over at the Stallion as he entered the room, still wearing Daybreaker’s outfit
  380. “Jo-Villanon! What did you do?!”
  381. >”Yeah! What she said!”
  382. >Walking into the center of the room, He bent down, plucked up a cookie from a plate and a cold glass of milk, dipped it in, then took a bite, the sight of his sharp, white teeth bringing up memories of his “dinner” last night, as well as the sharpness of those canines
  383.  
  384. >”Well now, I decided to take a look at the gifts under the tree and wouldn’t you know it, but there wasn’t a single one there for me! At first I thought it was a mistake, so I looked through the Crystal Keep, but the more I searched, the more I realized that there wasn’t a single gift here for me!”
  385. >He dipped, and took another bite of cookie, taking his time to enjoy breaking it down
  386. >”Now, an evil Stallion might have simply destroyed all your gifts, or kept them for myself and, while I did do the second, I am nothing if not benevolent.”
  387. >Out of the corners of your eyes, you noticed, for the first time since you’d come down here, movement from outside the windows, dark, shadowy figured shifting about on the other side of the glass
  388. “Villanon? What did you do?”
  389. >His grin had grown into a full-blown smile as he raised his hand up, magic swirling in his palm before firing up from his fingers, rising into the air before coming crashing down on him!
  390. >”I decided to take up the role of Santa Claus and bring you all some presents of my own!”
  391. >The colors of his pilfered outfit changed, the red lining becoming white, while the white became red. His metallic boots turned to a deep obsidian, while the helmet on his head melted together into a large, red mass that rose into a tall spire, the tip of which flopped back, like an over-sized stocking cap
  392. >From upstairs, you heard the thundering of hooves, your team, as well as Daybreaker, coming rushing downstairs, each of them wearing pajamas that matched a similar theme as to that of their normal costumes, other than Daybreaker, who’d clearly been unable to squeeze back into Zap’s costume on her own
  393. >Speaking of Daybreaker
  394. >”Masked Matter-Horn! We all heard the commotion from upstairs, what’s going on down here?”
  395. >Her crimson eyes shifted quickly from you and up to Villanon, his outfit changing to match, what you could only assume to be, that of this mysterious “Sandy Claws”
  396.  
  397. >”Jolly Green Giant, what is the meaning of this? Wait…that magical signature…you’re not, Jolly, are you?”
  398. >”NO HE IS NOT!”
  399. >You weren’t aware this room even had a skylight, but apparently you did, a fact you noticed as it shattered, Nightmare Moon flying in, landing on the floor
  400. “N-N-Nightmare M-Moo-“
  401. >”Sister! The Jolly Green Giant is not what he appears!”
  402. >SISTER?!
  403. >Daybreaker reared back, looking over at the midnight mare, surprise evident on the Solar heroine’s face
  404. >”Luna! What do you mean?!”
  405. >/LUNA/?!
  406. >AS IN WORLD-FAMOUS, PLAYMARE, BILLIONARE PHILANTHROPIST, LUNA?!
  407. >THEY’RE /SISTERS/?!
  408. >”Just think about it, old chum! “Jolly”, a word that typically refers to somepony being happy or cheerful, correct? Well, who do we think of as being the polar opposite of just that, but Villanon? The very same Villanon who pretended to be a Mare for so long, the polar opposite of a Stallion!”
  409. >”Brilliant, sister, but how did you deduce the rest?”
  410. >WHAT IS GOING ON?
  411. >”While Villanon was crafty, he made two major mistakes! Giant, for instance, does not describe him accurately. While it /is/ true that he is larger than most, he is /far/ from a ‘giant’. The only reason he’d describe himself as such would be sheer arrogance, something which he ‘does’ have plenty of!”
  412. >”But what about th’green part? How’d y’figure that one out, Nightmare?”
  413. >You’d agree with Mare-velous’ curiosity if it wasn’t for the fact that your brain was currently melting down as you tried to process everything that was going on
  414. >The rest of your team looked just as bewildered as you felt, eyes switching back and forth across the room as if they were watching a four-pony ping pong match!
  415. >”Consider his name. ‘Villanon’. The only letter the two have in common is ‘N’. On top of that, there are two ‘N’s in his name. What other color has an ‘N’ in it, as well as two other, twin letters?”
  416. >”By Faust!”
  417. >”Exactly!”
  418.  
  419. >The sound of metal on metal silenced the room, drawing everypony’s attention to Villanon as he stood by the now-roaring fireplace, clapping his hands
  420. >”So, you figured it out, hm, ‘Luna’?”
  421. >With a snort, she stepped forwards, soon matched by Daybreaker, and then your team and you
  422. >If you were going to go bouncing off into madness, you at least wanted to go down swinging
  423. >”I’ll admit, it was a clever ruse, Villanon, but it will take more than just that to stop us.”
  424. >Nightmare Moon replied, her horn beginning to glow, the mare readying herself for a fight, but the Stallion seemed to have other plans
  425. >”Well then, for being such wonderful ponies, I better make good on my promise! Here’s your Hearth's Warming presents!”
  426. >A glow enveloped his form and, as he stepped backwards, into the fire in the fireplace, he shot up the chimney, his laughter echoing back down as the windows on either sides of the room shattered!
  427. >A dozen gift-wrapped canisters flew into the air from either side, the bow-topped caps of which burst free, spray filling the air that you immediately recognized as belonging to Maneiac!
  428. “Agk! Everypony, get clear, quick!”
  429. >You all struggled to escape the room, but it was too late!
  430. >Even as the spray wafted out through the windows, you knew it was too late
  431. >Everypony around you had been stuck in place, trapped in your own clothing
  432. >From above the Crystal Keep, you could hear Villanon tromping about before he, and a huge, red, modified sleigh, dropped down onto the piling snow drifts
  433. >Atop the sleigh stood a massive, red sack, packed with all manner of odd shapes that bulged out it’s walls, presents poking out from the top of it
  434. “Oh my gosh…is that…”
  435. >”It is, Matter-Horn. We tried to stop him, but we were too late. It appears that, throughout the night, Villanon, and his accomplices, have pilfered every Pony’s presents, loading them onto that very sleigh.”
  436. “Accomplices? Who’d want to work with him?”
  437.  
  438. >As two Ponies rushed towards the sleigh, drawing your attention from Nightmare Moon, you realized just who would be crazy enough to help Villanon out
  439. >”Breaking into the Crystal Keep was so easy, I might just have to come back after it gets it’s halls decked with /ice/~”
  440. >”I think you all used a little too much hairspray, you already look /frozen/! Ahahahahahahahahahaha!”
  441. >Maneiac and Cat-Colt leaped up from the snow and into the sleigh on either side of Villanon, both of them wearing their usual outfits, though their color schemes had been changed to red and green
  442. >With a crack of the reigns, spectral Reindeer appeared in front of the sleigh and with another, they began to pull, hauling the trio, and their Hearth's Warming haul, away and up a mountain that had seemingly sprung up overnight
  443. >The lot of you continued to struggle against your bonds, but your clothes refused to budge even an inch
  444. >If that wasn’t enough, Villanon must have helped Maneiac with the spray, because when it coated you all, it seemed to cut off all of your magic as well, leaving you helpless
  445. >As Villanon’s sleigh dwindled out of view in the rising blizzard, you finally stopped struggling, going limp in your (admittedly comfortable) prison
  446. >You could hear the howling of the Windigos in the distance as they grew stronger and stronger on everypony’s sadness, confusion, and anger
  447. “Ah can’t believe it…he won.”
  448. >Mare-velous
  449. “/I/ can’t believe I’m going to get turned into a Zap-sicle in my pajamas.”
  450. >Zap
  451. >”What’s going to become of Equestria, Darlings? This can’t really be it, can it?”
  452. >Radiance
  453. >”All those poor ponies and animals…Nothing can hibernate for a whole ice age!”
  454. >Saddle-Rager
  455. >”Aw come on, girls, Horny’s gonna think of something! Right?”
  456. >Fili-Second
  457. “Girls I…”
  458. >What could you do?
  459.  
  460. >Villanon was already out of sight, and with him went everypony’s spirit, leaving them just as cold and bitter as the Windigos coming to freeze you all
  461. “There’s nothing I /can/ do. I…I think this is it.”
  462. >You already knew what your friends’ reactions would be to that, to your admittance of defeat
  463. >You hung your head and waited for the snow to rise high enough to bury you under it
  464.  
  465. -----
  466.  
  467. “On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, and Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, On Donner, and Blitzen!”
  468. >You, currently, were Villanon and you were feeling pretty pleased with yourself!
  469. >Finally, you’d done it!
  470. >You’d riled them up for a whole day, and then broken them down the next, ensuring the Windigos would come and freeze them all into Ponysicles
  471. >You’d be more than fine with your armor and your magic protecting you, and one it was over, you could easily rule a /new/ Equestria!
  472. >On your left was Maneiac, cackling maniacally, hair scooping up snow, presents, and whatever small, semi-solid creatures she found on the way up the mountain
  473. >Your right-hand Stallion was Cat-Colt, looking cozy in his festive sneaking suit, languidly examining various gemstones and crystals he’d swiped from the Crystal Keep before having set up the ambush
  474. >Where he stored things on that skin-tight suit you had no idea
  475. >”But do you recall, the most famous Reind-/hair/ of all!”
  476. >Maneiac added in, somehow knowing the song despite having no reason for it
  477. >The three of you were heading for the peak of this mountain and, once you reached it, you were going to topple this sled and send everypony’s presents tumbling down the other side
  478. >You weren’t sure why you were going with that disposal method in particular, but it just felt /right/
  479. >”Hardtime, the horny guardsmare! Had a very needy cunt!”
  480. >Oh, that was just spoiling the mood
  481.  
  482. >Glaring down at Cat-Colt, his eyes met yours, but he just smirked and continued
  483. >”And if she ever bucked you, she would huff and puff and grunt!”
  484. >Soon, Maneiac had added to the song, her cackling tones somehow blending well with Cat-Colt’s smoother, well-trained voice
  485. >>”All of the other guardsmares, used to perv on Villanon! They tried to get him to wear, booty shorts, ball-bras, and thongs!”
  486. “Quiet!”
  487. >”Aw, Villanon, are we reaching the /roots/ of some of your problems?”
  488. “No, Maneiac, I thought I heard something.”
  489. >Cat-Colt leaned his head over the edge of the sleigh, ears adjusting to try and catch whatever it was that you’d heard
  490. >”Hm, I’m not hearing much of anything myself, other than the howl of the Windigos. Are you sure we’ll be safe?”
  491. “Of course, I made sure each and every enchantment was set in the proper place. All three of us will be fine. Now, pipe down, we’re almost at the summit
  492.  
  493. -----
  494.  
  495. >"Matter-Horn, I like jokes a whole bunch too, but don't you think we should focus on getting out of this-"
  496. "How, Fili-Second? I can't use my magic, I can't move, and I can't even see Villanon's sleigh anymore. Everypony is sad, and the Windigos are just getting stronger and stronger. I can't do /anything/."
  497. >You didn't even bother to lift your head, letting it hang there in defeat, though from the fact that nopony in the room responded to you, it let you know that your sentiment was shared
  498. >Things were quiet again then, aside from a light sniffling from Hum Drum
  499. >Faust, you were pathetic
  500. >Equestria was going to be wiped out, and you couldn't even comfort your little-
  501. >>"It's true some days are dark and lonely-"
  502. >Your scrunched-shut eyes opened slowly as you felt an odd sensation tugging on you
  503. >You looked down towards your tuft as Fili-Second sung, but you didn't see anything touching your body
  504. >>"-and maybe you feel sad, but Fili' will be there to show you that it isn't that bad."
  505.  
  506. "Fili-Second? What are you-"
  507. >>"There's one thing that makes me happy, and makes my whole life worthwhile-"
  508. >It was more than just that it was pulling on you, it felt like it was pulling on your very /being/, as if calling on you to join in
  509. "Fili-Second?"
  510. >>"-and that's when I talk to my friends and get them to /smile/!"
  511. >Raising your head to look at Fili-Second, you saw the other girls doing the same, staring over at the speedster's beaming smile
  512. >Almost knowingly, Radiance looked to Fili-Second, and then to the rest of the girls, a smile growing on her face as she began to sing as well!
  513. >>"If some are grouchy, pay no mind, surprise instead with something kind!"
  514. "I-What is going-"
  515. >"Shh, Matter-Horn, just listen."
  516. >With widening eyes, you looked over to Daybreaker, who was sporting a small smile of her own, nodding sagely to the tune of both ponies songs
  517. >>"Lo and behold, you may just find, A smile is what you bring!"
  518. "D-Daybreaker, what's going on? Why're Fili-Second and Radiance singing? Why does it feel like I'm supposed to join in? what /is/ this?"
  519. >>"What is this place, filled with so many wonders?"
  520. >Now Saddle-Rager too?
  521. >With every voice that added to the song, you could feel the pull on your heart growing stronger and stronger, like an unknown hoof was trying to pull you in, but you had no clue what you were supposed to do!
  522. >How could you sing at a time like this?
  523. >>"Casting its spell, That I am now under!"
  524. "Daybreaker, Nightmare Moon, what's going on? What is all this?
  525. >Unlike before, Daybreaker was beaming now, watching the girls with a look of joy, and even Nightmare Moon, solemn as she was, was starting to crack a smile as well!
  526. >"Enjoy this, Matter-Horn. You're getting one of the rarest opportunities there is."
  527. "But what /is/ it, Daybreaker?"
  528. >The mighty Alicorn turned her vision solely on you, warmth flowing into you, fighting back against the cold that begun to creep into the room
  529. >"This, my little Heroine, is a Soul-Song."
  530.  
  531. -----
  532.  
  533. “There! Did you hear that?”
  534. >You were Villanon again, and your partners in crime just shook their heads in response, leaving you to puzzle over what it was you thought you could hear
  535. >Most of the land beneath this colossal spire was quickly being buried in snow and coated with ice, so surely it couldn’t have been coming from there
  536. >Strangely enough, you found yourself thinking about the Power Ponies as you looked back down below, and it wasn’t to gloat
  537. >What was going on?
  538.  
  539. -----
  540.  
  541. "A Soul-Song?"
  542. >You were Matter-Horn again, and you didn't know what Daybreaker was talking about, your attention torn between the Alicorn, and your team, especially when Zap joined in the medley!
  543. >>"No winter will come to Manehattan, I'll do it on my own-"
  544. >Even though none of you could properly move, it almost felt like the snow was falling slower than it had been before, and you could swear that you heard singing picking up from not just the Crystal Keep, but other places in Manehattan, and, impossibly, even further beyond that
  545. >"Yes, the Soul-Song is, quite possibly, the strongest magic that exists. It is something that goes beyond any mere spells or incantations, and even far-surpasses any Alicorn abilities that the two of us have."
  546. >While she didn't look entirely pleased about it, Nightmare Moon nodded, speaking up as well
  547. >"The Soul-Song is a manifestation of a Pony's soul. Hence the name."
  548. >Daybreaker sighed at that, giving Nightmare Moon a look
  549. >"There's no need to be so curt in this situation sister."
  550. >(STILL AWESOME BUT ALSO WEIRD)
  551. >"Matter-Horn, a Soul-Song is a very rare thing that only comes out when a Pony feels something so true and so deeply that they can't express it in any way but through song. After all, what is a song, if not /Harmony/ itself?"
  552. >That...
  553. >Oh sweet Faust above, that made so much sense
  554. >>"I'll keep you all by my side, so I will not be alone!"
  555.  
  556. >Zap's voice joined the girls', and you were certain not that more and more Ponies were singing across Equestria
  557. >They might have been hundreds of miles away, and yet it was like you could hear them then and there, like the were singing right there in the room with all of you
  558. >>"We've traveled th'road ah generations, joined by ah common bond!"
  559. >Mare-velous threw her voice in to the mix, singing out loudly, her words flowing in with the others, a distinct, yet unique, melody forming
  560. >As Pony after Pony joined in to the song, you could actually see the snow slowing down, but it wasn't stopping
  561. "But...there are so many Ponies singing, and the Windigos are still coming! Even with so many of us, why isn't it working?"
  562. >>"We sing our song 'cross the pony nation, from Equestria an' beyond!"
  563. >Daybreaker looked to the still-freezing world outside, and then back to you, still smiling, though it had diminished somewhat in the seemingly ever-present cold that was trying to work it's way into your heart
  564. >"Perhaps this song isn't to save Equestria from the cold. Perhaps this song is to save somepony in particular."
  565. >Somepony?
  566. >Who?
  567. >How?
  568. >How were you expected to join in this song, any ways?
  569. >You'd never even /heard/ of "Soul-Songs" before this!
  570. >The song itself was pulling on your heart, practically forcing you to sing, but you had no clue what to say
  571. "But what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to fix things by singing, when I don't even know /what/ to sing, or who it's even for! How can I just throw everything I know away because of some kind of song? I don't...I don't know what I'm doing!"
  572. >At first, the two Alicorns didn't respond, though they shared a knowing look with one another
  573. >You had no clue why they bowed their heads, but then you felt a strained tug on your leg, and you looked down to see Hum Drum, fighting against the spray, struggling so hard just so he could get your attention
  574.  
  575. >He looked up at you and, as he did, you could feel the shame growing in your heart for having given up so easily, his song hitting you the hardest of any of them
  576. >>"Would you say I'm a hero, glorious and brave, if I told you something you wouldn't believe? That sometimes I'm scared, and I can make mistakes, and I'm not so heroic, it seems."
  577. "Hum Drum-"
  578. >>"But if day can turn to night, and the darkness turn to light, then why can't you imagine that your heart can change?"
  579. >Everypony's song seemed to vibrate through you as Hum Drum sang to you, tears welling up in his eyes, and as you spoke, you could feel your words beginning to dance to some sort of almost inaudible melody, like your own song was fighting to free itself from inside of you, but you were still so uncertain
  580. "It isn't that I'm ungrateful, for all the things that I've earned. For all the journeys I have taken, all the lessons that I have learned."
  581. >The song was fighting against you now, but you didn't know how to let it out
  582. >How could you?
  583. "But I wonder where I'm going now, what my role is meant to be. I don't know how to travel, to a future that I can't see."
  584. >you stared down into Hum Drum's eyes, before looking back over to both of the Alicorns to your side, their heads raised up again, letting you look into their eyes as well
  585. "I have my team, I wear this mask, I'm a heroine, this is true, but it's still unclear to me, just what I am meant to do."
  586. >They still had those knowing smiles on their faces, too
  587. "I wanna have a purpose, wanna do all that I can. I wanna make a contribution, I want to be a part of the plan."
  588. >>"Your destiny's uncertain, and that's sometimes hard to take, but it will become much clearer, with every new choice /you/ make."
  589. >>"Patience is never easy, I understand wanting more. I know how hard it is to wait, to spread out your wings and /soar/."
  590. >>"But, you stand here for a reason, you're gifted and you're strong! That mask upon your face is because you /belong/!"
  591.  
  592. >Daybreaker, Nightmare Moon, and Hum Drum were singing together now, their voices flowing through you and into the harmonious song reaching across all of Equestria and, as they helped to raise you up, you could feel your confidence returning
  593. >>"Know that your time is coming soon, As the Sun rises, so does the Moon, as love finds a place in every heart, you're a heroine, you'll /plaaay/ your /paaaaaart/!"
  594. >How could you have given up so easily?
  595. >You had so many amazing friends
  596. >Even more than that, they were your family, and you'd turned your back on them!
  597. >Well you wouldn't any more
  598. >You could feel everpony singing as one, and finally, you were ready to join them
  599.  
  600. -----
  601.  
  602. >You were once again Villanon, and as the summit came into view, you found yourself reminiscing about your past escapades
  603. >Your various fights with the Power Ponies
  604. >Your criminal dealings with the shadowy underbelly of this world
  605. >Putting a scheme together and nearly pulling it off
  606. >The more you thought about it, the happier you felt
  607. >Despite the anger and frustration you may have felt, there was a lot of happiness as well, or at least satisfaction
  608. >What was strange was that this was coming to the forefront of your mind now, as your sleigh came to a stop on top of the mountain’s peak
  609. >The summit was small and not all that sturdy, which meant that your sleigh wound up balanced somewhat precariously
  610. >Banishing the thoughts from your mind, you stepped out of the sleigh, Cat-Colt and Maneiac following suit, trotting through the deep, packed powder behind you as you circled around back
  611. >You spared the world below you one final glance before you turned to the sleigh, gazing up at the massive sack full of gifts
  612. >Your shiny, obsidian-colored metal boot reflected your face as it rose up, planting firmly against the back of the sleigh
  613. >All it would take would be one little kick, the final, cumulative blow to strike down everything that was figuratively, and literally, beneath you
  614.  
  615. >The muscles in your leg tensed, magic flowing through you and, as you began to bend, you paused, hearing that noise again
  616. >You didn’t pull away from the sleigh, but you turned your head, looking down at the near-frozen land below you
  617. >”What? What is it?”
  618. >Cat-Colt worked his way over to you, looking up at you, confusion evident on his face while you continued to peer down towards what you were fairly certain used to be the Crystal Keep
  619. >It’s spires hadn’t quite been swallowed up by the snow and yet, despite the bleak landscape, it almost seemed like things were glowing
  620. >Then, you heard it clearly, for the first time
  621. >They were singing
  622. >Every Pony down there seemed almost in unison with one another, their voices mixing and matching, forming a strangely beautiful melody that flowed with the grace of a masterpiece
  623. >Yet, the more you listened to it, the more you realized that every Pony was singing different words, as if they were all individual puzzle pieces that fit together into one, harmonious song
  624. “I…this doesn’t matter. The country is too far-gone for any of this to matter. Let them enjoy these last moments before we finalize this chapter of Equestria’s history and begin anew.”
  625. >To your annoyance, Cat-Colt and Maneiac didn’t move. Instead, both of them stood where they were, watching that odd, almost warming glow
  626. >Then, one by one, voices began to peter out
  627. >The song that had once been loud enough to find even you changed from fortissimo to Piano as its singers froze
  628. >Most, you didn’t recognize, and yet you found yourself waiting for…something
  629. >What it was, you didn’t know
  630.  
  631. -----
  632.  
  633. "I used to wonder what friendship could be, until you all shared it's magic with me!"
  634. >It felt as easy as talking, and on top of that, singing with everypony else just felt /right/
  635.  
  636. "When I was young I was too busy to make any friends. Such silliness did not seem worth the effort it expends, but my little ponies, you opened up my eyes! Now the truth is crystal clear, as splendid summer skies, and it's such a wonderful surprise!"
  637. >It was pure Harmony, and as you sang your own song, it was like your friends knew the words too, their own songs adding to yours, and in return you added to theirs as well!
  638. >>"Big adventure!"
  639. >>"Tons of Fun!"
  640. >>"A beautiful heart!"
  641. >>"Faithful and strong!"
  642. >>"Sharing Kindness!"
  643. "It's an easy feat, and /Magic/ makes it all complete! You're all my little Ponies, do you know you're all my very best friends?"
  644.  
  645. -----
  646.  
  647. >How Hum Drum had managed to last this long, you had no idea
  648. >Radiance followed him, though with how loud she’d been up to the end, you had no doubt she tired herself out trying to support everpony else
  649. >After her was Saddle-Rager
  650. >That Mare was far stronger than she gave herself credit for, and you didn’t mean her other form
  651. >Mare-velous petered off after her, honest to the end, even of her limitations
  652. >The next to go was Zap
  653. >As headstrong and confident as she was, she really did need her friends
  654. >Matter-Horn was…
  655. >She’d done the best she could as the team’s leader, she deserved the break
  656. >The last Pony left singing was Fili-Second, her wavering voice still struggling to go on as the Windigos claimed everything around her, still trying to make everypony happy, even in the end
  657. >Stepping away from the sleigh, you turned your full attention down to the imperceptible source of cheer
  658. >You could wait until she was done
  659.  
  660. -----
  661.  
  662. >Be Fili-Second
  663. >Matter-Horn went quiet a minute ago
  664. >You hadn’t heard anything from Zap in a while
  665. “Come on everypony, smile smile smile-”
  666. >It was getting pretty hard to keep your own eyes open
  667. “-fill my heart up with…sunshine, sunshine…”
  668. >Your lips were dry and cracked, and your throat was sore
  669. “All I really need is a smile smile smile...”
  670. >You had to keep singing though, not just for yourself and not even just for everpony else
  671. >You had to keep going for him
  672. >You had to make sure he heard it
  673. “From these happy friends of mine.”
  674. >As your eyes shut, you took in as much as you could of the outside world
  675. >You were sure this would work
  676. >You were sure of it
  677. >...
  678. “So giggle at the ghostly, g-guffaw at the…the grossly, crack up at the...the...”
  679.  
  680. -----
  681.  
  682. >Silence reigned over Equestria, and you were once again Villanon
  683. >It sounded like Fili-Second had changed her song up at the end, but by then it was too quiet to reach you, though you weren’t sure of how it had in the first place
  684. >Turning wordlessly around, you left your two, still accomplices to their thoughts and strode back to the sleigh
  685. >Gripping the back of it with both hands, you pushed it to the edge of the mountaintop, only your strength, and that of your magic, keeping it from tumbling away
  686. >If you just let go of it, you’d be done, you’d be the final victor
  687. >All it would take was one push
  688. >”Villanon?”
  689. >Cat-Colt spoke softly, but you didn’t acknowledge him
  690. >Your arms shook, and it was not from the cold
  691. >Let go, and you’d never see the Power Ponies again
  692. >You’d never have heroes busting down your door to stop you
  693. >You’d never kidnap Hum Drum and use him to lure Matter-Horn and her friends into a trap
  694. >For that matter, there wouldn’t be any more schemes
  695. >You could pick and choose whatever you wanted, so there’d be no more cunning and planning and craft
  696. >There would be no heroes to thwart, no rivals to surpass, no valuables to be stolen and no machines to build
  697.  
  698. >As you thought about your empire, you came to realize just how stagnant your life had become from this one act
  699. “I…might have gone too far in some places.”
  700. >As your concentration lapsed, the sleigh creaked forwards, slipping from your metallic grasp, taking the sack with it
  701. >You barely managed to find purchase on the massive thing to keep the colossal bundle from tumbling after the sleigh as it bounced and broke down the mountainside
  702. >Even so, with your hands preoccupied holding onto it, and with only a modified version of Daybreaker’s outfit on, the weight and momentum of the presents-filled thing was dragging you to the edge
  703. >Boots digging into the snow, you fought back against this Sisyphean task, clinging to your metaphorical boulder as it threatened to take you over the edge with it
  704. >Hooves wrapped around your waist, and you spared a glance backwards to see Cat-Colt clinging to you, standing on his hindlegs so her could hold you in his grasp, struggling with you
  705. >”Villanon!”
  706. >Even with his addition though, it wasn’t enough, and you soon found yourself teetering on the edge of the abyss, gazing down at the abyss of snow and ice below
  707. >Right as the pair of you started to tip over, large, green locks lashed around you, pulling you back onto the summit, forcibly dragging Cat-Colt and yourself onto firm footing, and with it, the three of you could haul the sack back up as well
  708. >”Stallions!”
  709. >Maneiac grunted out with a certain, annoyed inflection as, with a final, heavy pull, the three of you collapsed into a pile, presents resting beside the lot of you.
  710. >”What on Equis were you /doing/, Villanon?!”
  711. >Cat-Colt hopped up, standing above your splayed-out form, hooves on either sides of your body while his snout nearly bumped up against your nose
  712. “I realized something, Cat-Colt. Something so awful I can scarcely believe that I find myself agreeing with it.”
  713.  
  714. >With a huff, he stepped away from you and sat down on the snow, leaning back against the presents-filled sack
  715. >”Well it better be something pretty hair-raising to have been worth nearly dragging us off the mountain over it.”
  716. >”I agree! Also, nice one, Cat-Colt!”
  717. >”Thanks, Maneiac.”
  718. >Standing up, you brushed the snow from your outfit, raised your arms and, taking hold of ice and snow with your magic forged a new sleigh
  719. >Levitating the presents, as well as Cat-Colt and Maneiac, you set them all down in the sleigh before climbing in yourself, taking up the space on the bench between them
  720. “The world would be boring without heroes.”
  721. >Giving the sleigh a thump with your boot, it tilted back the way you’d come from and, with a second smack, it began to slide, riding the path the three of you had made before back down towards the land below
  722. >Bits of trees poked out from the sides of the mountain as your trio slid faster and faster
  723. >There was no real control over the sleigh, but it didn’t really matter, either, as your current course of action was solely to return to the Crystal Keep
  724. >For a time, silence reigned in the sleigh as well, until it was broken by a groan from Cat-Colt and a maniacal laugh from Maneiac, the hair-powered mare seeming to find this discovery more than a little humorous, though the same couldn’t be said for the Stallion on your right
  725. >”Villanon you are, without a doubt, the strangest Stallion I have ever met.”
  726. “I’ll take that as a compliment!”
  727. >”So, that’s it? We’re just going to give them back their presents and be on our merry way?”
  728. “Hm, something like that, yes.”
  729. >”You know, you’re making us sound like the Good Mares.”
  730. “Oh? Really now? Well, we’ll just have to do something to dissuade them of that opinion.”
  731.  
  732. -----
  733.  
  734. >You were…
  735. >Who were you again?
  736. >It was so hard to think
  737. >It was so cold
  738. >Maybe you should just go to sleep
  739. >…
  740. >Wait
  741. >It’s getting warmer
  742. >Was it just your imagination?
  743. >>”When the Devil is too busy-”
  744.  
  745. >You could feel your ears twitch, like someone far in the distance was singing
  746. >>”-and Death’s a bit too much-“
  747. >It wasn’t just that their voice was so loud that you could hear them in this cold, dark place, though
  748. >>”-they call on me, by name you see-“
  749. >It was like their voice was resonating with your soul, like it was something that had been missing
  750. >>”-for my /special/ touch!”
  751. >As the darkness clutching at you began to thaw, you started to remember who you were, and realize what was going on
  752. >>”To the gentlemen, I’m misfortune-“
  753. >You were Matter-Horn!
  754. >>”-to the ladies, I’m surprise-“
  755. >Water, definitely from the melting ice, ran down your face as you came to understand just who was singing, too
  756. >>“-but call me by any name-“
  757. “Villanon!”
  758. >>”-any way it’s all the saaaaaaame!”
  759. >You’d wondered why everypony harmonizing as one hadn’t been enough, and now you realized it was because there was at least one creature left out, one being who either didn’t want to be included, or didn’t feel like he could be!
  760. >As Villanon sang, you could see the snow and ice melting away, your team, as well as Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon, thawing as well
  761. >>”I’m the fly in your soup, I’m the pebble in your shoe, I’m the demon in your bed, I’m the bump on every head!”
  762. >”Fili-Second? Matter-Horn? Darlings, you’re all okay!”
  763. >Radiance practically burst from the steadily-shrinking snowdrift, embracing each and everypony around her
  764. >She must have had a ton of ice on her because there sure was a lot of “water” running over her cheeks
  765. >”Ugh, for once, ah actually /wanna/ go t’the spa, or at least th’sauna!”
  766. >”H-Ha! W-What a-a w-wimp! I-I f-feel p-perfectly f-fine!”
  767. >Zap replied with as smug an expression as a chattering, shivering Pony could have
  768. >Mare-velous just rolled her eyes and pulled the Pegasus into a hug/noogie
  769. >”Aw, c’mere!”
  770. >>”I’m the peel on which you slip, I’m the pin in every hip, I’m the thorn in your side, makes you wriggle and writhe!”
  771. >”Um, wh-what’s that music?”
  772.  
  773. >You looked over at Sadle-Rager, right before a pinkish-blur scooped her up and twirled her around, Fili-Second responding with ludicrous speed
  774. >”OoohIjustKNEWVillanonwouldpullthroughtheresnowayhewouldjustgiveuponallofuslikethatIguesshereallydoeshavealotofgooddeepinhishearthejustdoesntwantustoknowaboutiyyouknowOoohIjustknewinvitinghimwouldbeforthebestevenifitwasnearlytheworstohImjustsohappyIwannasing!”
  775. >Daybreaker nodded while Saddle-Ranger sort of whirled on the spot like a spinning top
  776. >”Indeed. Your judgement was more than wise, Fili-Second. There is still good in that Stallion-“
  777. >>”It’s so easy when you’re evil! This is the life, you see, the Devil tips her hat to me! I do it all because I’m evil, and I do it all for free, your tears are all the pay I’ll ever need!”
  778. >”-even if he might try to deny it.”
  779. >To her side, Daybreaker’s sister, Luna (WHICH WAS STILL TOTALLY CRAZY), didn’t look quite as pleased with Daybreaker’s excellent, and no-doubt infallible, conclusion
  780. >”While it may have worked out /this/ time, we only got lucky that we were able to persuade that Stallion. Right now, the best thing we can do is try to get that Amulet off him while he’s still feeling the harmonious effects of the soul-song. Come on, Daybreaker.”
  781. >”Right behind you, ‘Nightmare Moon’.”
  782. >”Hrm.”
  783. >Wait, what?
  784. “You two are still going to fight him?”
  785. >Daybreaker turned back to you, a soft, warm smile on her face
  786. >”Only if we have to. The Amulet is still incredibly dangerous, but we’re going to try talking him down, at least for the moment.”
  787. >”If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to see if we can force it off of him .”
  788. >Wha-they couldn’t just fight him!
  789. >Not after everything had happened leading up to this!
  790. >Standing up to your full, face-to-tuft height, you stared up at the Alicorn sisters (SISTERS!), your jaw set and your brow furrowed
  791. “Then we’re going too. We’ve got the most experience with him, and I know, deep down, that he can change!”
  792.  
  793. >Daybreaker looked to Luna (LUNA/NIGHTMARE MOON! LUNA/MOON! HOW HAD YOU NEVER NOTICED THAT BEFORE?!), the two sharing some sort of deep, familial knowledge (DID THEY HAVE PSYCHIC POWERS? YOU HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS!) before turning back to you
  794. >”I think that would be more than acceptable.”
  795. >”We disagree, but in the end, it is all of your decision to make.”
  796. >Excited, you looked back at your team and, with a series of nods and smiles, you knew you’d be ready for the final showdown
  797. >(A FINAL SHOWDOWN WHILE YOU’RE TEAMED UP WITH NIGHTMARE MOON AND BUCKING /DAYBREAKER/! WOO!)
  798.  
  799. -----
  800.  
  801. >Everypony changed as quickly as they could and then rushed out to find Villanon
  802. >It didn’t take long, at least, as the huge, red sack still mostly-full of presents was a very obvious landmark
  803. >Flying, running, leaping, and teleporting in, you could see that the violin-like noises had been Maneiac “playing” her hair like an instrument, while Cat-Colt had been providing percussion, with Villanon in the center, singing
  804. >Once you all drew near, they soon stopped, leaving Villanon smiling at all of you
  805. >“Ahh, the Power Ponies, as well as both Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon! How kind of you to visit me during /my/ Hearth's Warming celebrations! I’ve decided to grant everypony the gift of mercy, isn’t that kind?”
  806. >Glancing around, you could see all manner of Ponies peeking out from their respective homes, staring into the large, town square-like space that he had set up shop in, so to speak
  807. >Daybreaker was the first of you all to step forwards, looking across the area to Villanon with a sympathetic expression
  808. >You supposed she’d learned that Villanon didn’t care much about threats after the encounter with him in jail
  809. >”Villanon, there’s no need to do this. Your actions today have proven that there is still a good Stallion in you. You don’t have to let the Amulet force you further and further into its lust for power. Please, remember the fun we had this Hearth's Warming’s eve.”
  810.  
  811. >Villanon looked less than interested, crossing his arms over his broad chest, staring Daybreaker down
  812. >Oddly enough, you almost thought you’d noticed a bit of movement on one of the nearby rooftops
  813. >“Really? I’m just supposed to take your word that I’ll be let off scot-free? How gullible do you think I am?”
  814. >”Please, Villanon, just take the Amulet off and we can talk. If you don’t give it up, things will just keep getting worse and worse for you until, well-“
  815. >”Until what? Come on, Daybreaker, I’m a busy man, spit it out.”
  816. >No, there was definitely movement going on up there, and not just from one roof, either
  817. >”It doesn’t have to go anywhere, Villanon! Please, the Amulet is messing with mind, it’s making you do things you wouldn’t normally do!”
  818. >Radiance chimed in, and Villanon’s smile grew wider, a bit more ‘toothy’
  819. >”Ah, so I’m just not in control here? I’m just a puppet of somepony else’s desires? I should be a good person, like you?”
  820. >”Well duh!”
  821. >”Now Zap, please be more considerate to him. Yes, Villanon might have done some awful things, but I’m sure that, once away from the Amulet’s grasp, and with somepony, or ponies, to talk to, he’ll be alright.”
  822. >Wait, were there Ponies lurking behind him in the shadows?
  823. >”Hm, I see. So that’s how you all feel, huh?”
  824. >Almost unbelievably, you watched as Villanon reached up, moving his hands behind his neck to the clasp of the Amulet
  825. >You actually believed he might remove it, before three, red beams shot from his fingers, hitting three super-heroines that you only recognized now that his heat beams had lightened the are up upon striking them, sending them tumbling back into what remained of a pile of snow
  826. >”You had them waiting for me to drop my guard, huh, Nightmare Moon? Not a bad strategy.”
  827. >”Damn.”
  828. >”Alright, let me put this a way you /idiots/ will understand.”
  829.  
  830. >Stepping forwards into the middle of the huge square, one metal boot tapped on the ground, Maneiac and Cat-Colt starting to play some music as a new soul-song radiated from within Villanon
  831. >”Everypony, get him, now!”
  832. >Nightmare Moon bellowed out, leading what you quickly realized was an all-out assault upon the Villain who, in response, raised a blue crystal above his head and crushed it, sparkling dust drifting down over him
  833. >As it did, his current clothes seemed to shimmer, a new layer replacing them as his latest, actual suit emerged around him, encasing him in that durable metal and machinery
  834. >”Aw, of course the Stallion has a sparkly, magical-colt outfit change.”
  835. >Zap called out, ducking under another heroine as she came sailing over-head, thrown through the air by Villanon
  836. >>”I’m not the “damsel” in distress.”
  837. >Two Mares leaped down from a rooftop towards Villanon, only for his hands to catch them first, metal digging into their fur as he spun on the spot, using their momentum and sending them crashing into a wall
  838. >>”I’m not your boyfriend or the frightened Pri-ince.”
  839. >Nightmare Moon, tried to stab at his chestplate with, no doubt, a Shatter spell, only for Villanon to teleport behind her, a punch to the back of her head knocking her down to the ground
  840. >>”I’m not a little bird who needs your help to fly.”
  841. >As if spurred on by the words, Saddle-Rager ran in, bounding across the ground, costume stretching and straining to encompass her form as, with a concrete-cracking leap, she launched herself at Villanon
  842. >>”Nope!”
  843. >Boosters on his legs and arms, shot him forwards, letting him slide underneath her as she soared over his head, accidentally crashing into the sleigh, smashing it to bits
  844. >You, watching this sudden combat break out, didn’t have enough time to prepare a defensive spell as Villanon’s boots scraped along the ground, moving rapidly towards you, only coming to a stop as Daybreaker moved between yourself and him
  845. >>”I’m the bad guy.”
  846.  
  847. >Raising his hands up, you could feel the magic flow through his arms, forming a sort of crystalline wall in front of him, and not a second too soon as raw power surged from Daybreaker’s horn, flames slamming into his wall, sending him soaring backwards, unharmed, but back into the middle of the fray
  848. >”Are you alright, Matter-Horn?”
  849. “Y-Yes, sorry, he caught me off guard.”
  850. >”It’s not wrong to want to help him, my little Pony, but you must be prepared for the worst, even if you hope for the best.”
  851. >Turning your head to look at the aforementioned villain, you saw at least a half dozen heroines tackle him, grabbing his legs, arms, and head, burying him under a shifting mass of Pony that hit him again and again with spells and powers and, if all else failed, physical force
  852. “Right.”
  853. >For a moment, you could feel the tug on your heart weaken, as if his soul-song was ending, only for a huge explosion of ice to radiate out from him, sending every heroine currently on him crashing off to the sides, semi-frozen
  854. >It was lucky that there was still enough snow in here to cushion the blows from these attacks
  855. >>”All these /weak/ heroines that you see!”
  856. >Aqualass went to hit him, but, as he spoke, a flaming, crown of thorns emerged on her head and, with a roar, she began to pummel the other heroines around her
  857. >>”Each of you, with shaking knees, will kneel before me!”
  858. >”Help them with the residual effects, Matter-Horn. The rest of your team, help the rest of us bring Villanon down!”
  859. >Your tasks assigned, you charged to the affected Hippogryph, beginning to weave a spell to remove the foul, mind-afflicting magic on her
  860. >Nightmare Moon, and a few other heroines, disappeared into the shadows while the rest crashed down upon Villanon like a wave, only to be broken by blasts, punches, and kicks
  861. >>”So I’m not a ‘victim’, or a ‘broken, soft colt’-“
  862.  
  863. >Fili-Second zipped in, crashing into Villanon with enough force to throw him off-balance, positioning him perfectly for Saddle-Ranger to slam him down into the ground, moving aside in time for a half-dozen Unicorns bury him in every binding spell they knew
  864. >Aqualass’ mind seemed to clear somewhat when that happened, allowing you to help her break the spell, the crown disappearing
  865. >>”-what am I girls?“
  866. >”Thank you, Matter-Horn! I will attend to the Ponies here, you go and aid your friends! And remember-”
  867. >You nodded, and turned to rejoin your friends
  868. >”-he’s the bad guy.”
  869. >The chains burst from Villanon’s sheer physical force, magic amplifying it enough that, as Saddle-Rager swung at him again, he caught both her hooves with his hands, holding her in place long enough for twin, crimson beams to blast out from his eyes, hitting her in the face, forcing her down onto her knees as she roared in pain
  870. >>”Oh it’s magic, to watch a planet -”
  871. “Get off of her you bitch!”
  872. >Mimicking Daybreaker’s earlier attack, you let loose a powerful bolt of flame that struck him in the side of his head, forcing his view up and away from your friend, his eye beams digging through the ground before cutting through the presents-filled sack
  873. >Apparently somepony had wanted propane for Hearth's Warming because as his beams hit it, the thing exploded, sending presents flying up into the air, falling back down one by one like rain
  874. >>”-freeze over and die!“
  875. >Radiance formed a mirror in front of Villanon’s face, reflecting his beams back, knocking him off Saddle-Rager’s dazed body, allowing her to tumble to the ground
  876. >>”Oh it’s thrillin’, to be a villain-“
  877. >Mare-velous managed to loop his neck with her lasso, keeping him down, while Zap’s stormcloud peppered his body with lightning bolts
  878.  
  879. >They lacked the sheer strength of her typical, solo ones, but it was enough to keep him distracted as you cast a spell of silence over him, With Radiance joining in, forming a barrier over his mouth, all of you trying to shut the Stallion up
  880. >That was when Fili-Second arrived, skidding to a stop beside you
  881. >”ImbackMatterHornandIbroughtthebigcannons!”
  882. >Trying to focus on the spell, not wanting Villanon’s magical defenses to counteract it, you only turned your head to look at Fili-Second when you saw Nightmare Moon leap onto him, followed by the others that had disappeared with her, blades digging into his cloak and tunic to keep him pinned, while others were used on his joints, trying to break, or cut, him out of his suit
  883. “You got what? Fili, you have to speak slower, I don’t-gah!”
  884. >>”-I CRUSH ALL THEIR HOMES AND THEN I WATCH THEM CRY!”
  885. >His voice boomed out with a shockwave, sending all but Nightmare Moon off and through the walls of building, the Alicorn managing to cling to him, while the magical feedback of your broken spell lightly singed the tip of your horn
  886. >>”/’Cause I’m the bad guy!/”
  887. >”He might have spared Equestria this time, but it was only so he could continue to torment all of us for as long as he may live!”
  888. >You recognized that voice
  889. >”Mare, that’s evil.”
  890. >Added Hum Drum, while you, stupefied, looked up and around, gawking at yet another unbelievable sight
  891. >There, floating in the air, his cloak and beard flowing in the wind, was Dr ‘The Bearded’!
  892. >”Starswirl!”
  893. >Oh Faust, Daybreaker said that like an excited little filly!
  894. >That was so adora-
  895. >”Augh!”
  896. >Radiance cried out as Villanon threw Nightmare Moon at her, the Alicorn’s wings not strong enough to stop such a rapid, fastball toss, sending the two off to the side, long enough for him to kick Saddle-Rager with the heel of his boot, knocking her away
  897. “Girls!”
  898. >>”Oh, and it’s fantastic-“
  899.  
  900. >You threw every magic spell you had out at him, sleep spells, distractions, illusions, bolts, blasts, everything, but what he didn’t block just seemed to glance off him
  901. “Darn it…just s-stay down!”
  902. >>”-I see something-“
  903. >You pulled back, two Mares tying to rush him taking his fists, going down for the count while you drew on the latent magic in the air
  904. >With the massive amounts of spells, sheer magic all around you, it was easy to gather a large build-up, feeling them swirl into the collection spell you were casting, guiding them all to your horn like a huge ball of energy one which you threw at him
  905. >>”-I blast it!”
  906. >As the orb obscured your view, something green began to glow, digging through it like a mole through the earth
  907. >The orb barely managed to slow it down but, right before it hit you, you felt somepony slam into your side, knocking you into a pile of snow just in time, Fili-Second catching the beam instead of you, a smile on her face even as it hit her hard enough to tear through her side, the light in her eyes dimming as she passed out
  908. >Aqualass was on her in an instant and, after checking her out, gave you a thumbs up to let you know she’d be fine, if out of the fight
  909. >>”-and let me tell you why!”
  910. >You could have lost her if you weren’t lucky
  911. >That might have killed you
  912. >That was it, Villanon had to be taken down, and he had to go down /now/
  913. >It was a miracle that despite the numerous, scattered heroines littering the ground like leaves, nopony had been killed yet
  914. >”Masked Matter-Horn!”
  915. >Your head jerked up as if on command, looking up at Dr ‘the be-at Starswirl
  916. >“I have a plan, but it will require you, and every Unicorn here’s aid to accomplish! Will you lend me your skill and power?”
  917. “I-of course!”
  918. >”Good! Unicorns, to me! Watch the spell I weave and add layers of focusing and reinforcement magic! Everypony else, pin that Stallion down!”
  919.  
  920. >There were far less Heroines left standing, or even sitting, now than at the start of all this, but even so, everypony did their part
  921. >Earth and physical-based ponies stampeded towards Villanon, dodging his high-powered beams and explosive spells, getting close enough to force him to swing and kick at them, drawing his attention from Starswirl and the rest of you
  922. >Pegasi dive-bombed him, Zap’s weather keeping up it’s assault with soccerball-sized hail that rained down on Villanon, pelting his metal suit, which was starting to show signs of strain, wear, and tear
  923. >His song had slowed too as he tried to focus on the assault, parrying and blocking, feinting and blasting
  924. >For every good blow that struck him, he hit back twice as hard, pummeling Ponies into the earth and nearby buildings
  925. >>”I’ve always had a weakness-“
  926. >”By the unblinking eye of El-zabub! Phantom fears and freakish nights, shrivel under your great sight, reveal them your unblinking lens, and crystallize our power, friends!”
  927. >The Night Sky seemed to shift stars swirling in, forming a new formation that you did not recognize at first, until it became more clear that it was that of a colossal eye
  928. >Light shone down from it’s iris and pupil, forming an intricate spell, like a million prisms that took in everything they were given and let it shine through as one
  929. >You weren’t sure just what you were going to be pushing through it, but you, and the remaining unicorns around you, did what you could, adding protective layers to the spell’s form, basic prism spells shifting in to match Starswirl’s simplest portions, his level of magical knowledge enough to make everypony here look like magic-kindergartners when compared to him
  930. >>”-for bareness and bleakness-“
  931. >”THEN YOU SHALL HAVE IT!”
  932. >Daybreaker’s voice boomed out from far above you all, the sheer force behind it enough to force you down onto your knees, even stalling Villanon as he looked up from where he was standing
  933.  
  934. >Everypony on him scattered, running to the sides, dragging off anypony that they could, leaving Villanon facing down a might unlike any you had ever seen before
  935. >Daybreaker hovered in place above the massive spell, and above her, as you came to realize it, was the sun, hanging in the clear, blue sky
  936. >Daybreaker’s horn glowed, the magic traces around it glowing so bright that it burst into flames, magical fire crackling over her body as the overflow from the force of the spell she was casting surged out from her like sweat, engulfing her, turning her into a massive, flaming Alicorn
  937. >Then, the sky went white
  938. >Fiery death struck Manehattan, or it would have, if not for Starswirl’s spell
  939. >A few Unicorns went down in the first few seconds of holding the full might of the sun back, even when only trying to reinforce Starswirl’s spell, but you couldn’t blame them
  940. >Your legs were quaking, your teeth were rattling together, sweat was matting your fur down, and you could /feel/ your horn creaking, as if about to break at any moment
  941. >Sparks ran down your body, singing your outfit, but you forced yourself to stay up, to keep going
  942. >A single beam of destruction lanced out from the iris of the spell, slamming into Villanon, who’d raised his hands in preparation
  943. >Innumerable defensive spells, ones of a magnitude of power you’d never considered possible, rose up from the armored Stallion, forming a wall of force, while his suit began to glow a bright, emerald green, whirring to life, supporting him as the beam hit
  944. >Magic was ripped to pieces, and his suit strained to keep him in place, sliding him backwards, smashing through long-since abandoned buildings
  945. >Barrier after barrier broke, and he formed new ones to replace the old, managing, bit by bit, to at least slow the beam, to curb its force for a moment, but he was so focused on it that if he even tried to dodge, he’d be incinerated in an instant
  946.  
  947. >Deflecting it didn’t work, as he couldn’t hold the spells up long enough for any sort of reversal to take place, but still, you began to worry
  948. >If this kept up like this, Villanon would be defeated, but Daybreaker’s sun would lance through Manehattan, no doubt killing hundreds and destroying the city
  949. >When you looked back to find Starswirl though, he was gone, and when you looked back to Villanon, you quickly knew why
  950. >Your fellow Unicorns and you hadn’t been there to reinforce his spell solely so he could maintain it
  951. >You all had been there so that he could concentrate for long enough to cast a different spell
  952. >A portal
  953.  
  954. -----
  955.  
  956. >You were Nightmare Moon, and you were awake once again
  957. >As the earth beneath you quaked, and a heat so intense you could feel yourself shriveling filled the air, you knew what had been resorted to
  958. >Still, opening your eyes, you hadn’t expected to see Villanon still standing
  959. >His suit was creaking and cracking, his magic looked strained and you could see that behind him, a hole in the universe had opened
  960. >As if he’d noticed this himself, he’d sacrificed some of his shielding so that he could hold himself in place, keeping the sun’s flame from casting him through and into whatever oblivion Starswirl had chosen for him
  961. >Now it would be a battle of whose magic could hold the longest, Starswirl’s trained abilities, or Villanon’s stolen ones
  962. >As if Nightmare was still speaking in your head, you found yourself rising
  963. “Why don’t we even the odds.”
  964.  
  965. -----
  966.  
  967. >You were Matter-Horn again, and you couldn’t hold out any longer
  968. >Your horn cracked, splitting near down the middle, dropping you to the ground
  969. >Frankly, the mere fact that you were still conscious was a miracle
  970. >Had you gone any longer, the crack might have traveled all the way to your skull, killing you
  971. >Every other Unicorn was down, bar Starswirl, who had been left focusing on two spells at once
  972. >Even he, with his long years of study, looked like he’d falter soon
  973.  
  974. >You could see Villanon a little clearer now as the Lance’s power dwindled, though he looked about as beat-up as the rest of you
  975. >Still, his song had yet to end and, as he held back the blast, his suit cracking further and faster, like broken glass, you could hear him as he tried to continue his song
  976. >>”-I-“
  977. >That was when the dark blue figure of Nightmare Moon hit him
  978. >She tackled him, her horn glowing with a fury to match Daybreaker’s as it pierced his armor, stabbing into his gut
  979. >There was a momentary pause as it felt once again like the world slowed down around you, and then came the explosion
  980. >The blast tore through Villanon’s back, shredding his gut, tearing his armor away around the horn impaling him and, in the blast’s explosion, you’d swear you could see the cosmos
  981. >Wordlessly, his spells dropped, the sun’s beam striking him, burning his armor black, sending him through the portal with Nightmare Moon clinging to him, helping to force him through
  982. >As they tumbled in together, Starswirl’s magic finally gave out, the portal disappearing, as did the protective spell above everypony
  983. >For a moment, the world felt like it was on fire, and then it faded
  984. >Helplessly, you watched Starswirld collapse to the ground, horn burnt out, dangerously singed
  985. >Daybreaker followed soon after, her armor melted and her fur now a shade of obsidian, even darker than that of her sister’s
  986.  
  987. >They were both unconscious, but alive and, with their sacrifice, they’d helped to save the day
  988. >Villanon was gone and, while the loss of Nightmare Moon alongside him was tragic, you were sure that Starswirl would be able to find, and retrieve, her after having rested
  989. >Not only that, but you could feel that the soul song was no longer going, no doubt losing its connection to you all once Villanon had been cast out
  990. >With that, you’d won
  991. >Exhausted beyond belief, injured, and still reeling from the sheer amounts of reveals, discoveries, and raw, untapped magic, you let your eyes close, grateful for the chance to rest and recover
  992.  
  993. -----
  994.  
  995. >You awoke to the sound of cracking
  996. >Well, it was more accurate to say that you forced yourself to open your eyes, because your body /wanted/ to sleep for what felt like a thousand years
  997. >Your horn ached, and you didn’t dare try channeling even a drop of magic through it
  998. >With time it could be healed and fixed
  999. >What was worrying you was that strange sound
  1000. >At first, you didn’t see anything
  1001. >Then, what looked like a hairline fracture appeared in the air, glowing a sickly shade of green
  1002. >That fracture began to spread, lengthening along the vertical, with split-offs taking the horizontal
  1003. >You tried to raise yourself up onto your forehooves, only to collapse back down, nearly losing consciousness again as you watched reality seem to bend
  1004. >Something metallic and black pushed through between the cracks, followed by another, and then another, still more crushing through the seam
  1005. >Once about eight had dug their way in, they folded, four going up, and four going down and, as they began to pull apart, you could feel that familiar tug on your soul
  1006. >The soul-song
  1007. >Mouth agape and weary eyes wide, you stared into the growing void as a song continued from inside of it
  1008. >>”I…crush all their…hopes and…then I watch…them…cry…”
  1009.  
  1010. >The universe broke momentarily as Nightmare Moon’s unconscious form came tumbling out, her back half burnt and blackened from the glancing blow from the solar lance, her wings more meat and bone than feather and magic
  1011. >Behind her collapsed form stood Villanon, his armor falling to pieces that shattered when they hit the ground, more dust than metal now
  1012. >He’d been struck head-on by the beam, even though it’s power had been weakened, and it had clearly been more than enough to destroy his damaged gear and wear down what magical reserves he had
  1013. >Stepping through the portal, he managed to stagger through, his amulet’s flickering light going dark, more than spent for the time being
  1014. >Every last one of his defenses had finally been broken down and now, as the crumbling villain shook and stumbled towards you, there was nopony left standing to capture him
  1015. >>”See…I find this business rather /fun/.”
  1016. >The best you could do now was writhe on the ground, watching him approach
  1017. >His boots broke off his feet as he took one step, and then another, gauntlets falling off of his hands as he flexed his fingers
  1018. >>”I /don’t/ want your assistance…or your adulation.”
  1019. >His cloak crumbled from his back, hood no more than a few scraps of singed cloth
  1020. >>”I’ll vaporize…your planet and…bid you ‘bye bye’.”
  1021. >His mask was long gone, letting you hear his true voice, the song still tugging at your heart
  1022. >>”’Why?’”
  1023. >He came to a stop right in front of you, staring down at you from such a height that he looked even more monstrously powerful now than usual, despite how ravaged he truly was
  1024. >When he dropped to his knees, it was like the Equis itself shook from his might, his hunched over form blotting out the sun as if he was an eclipse, shadows consuming his form for all but his gleaming teeth and almost glowing eyes
  1025. >>”Come on…guess.”
  1026. “Because you’re the…bad stallion?”
  1027. >Silence
  1028. >Then he collapsed to the side, landing on his back, his head beside yours
  1029. >”Eh. Close enough.”
  1030.  
  1031. >As the feeling of the song faded, the world seemed to calm, and you could /feel/ sleep trying to claim you, but you forced yourself to stay awake, tilting your head to look at Villanon, who adjusted his own to stare back at you
  1032. >”By the way, what was all that?”
  1033. “What? What was what?”
  1034. >He raised a brow, then furrowed it
  1035. >”The song-thing. You know, what I was doing through pretty much all of this fight for…some reason.”
  1036. >Now it was your turn to raise a brow, until you realized he was probably just mocking you
  1037. >He’d gained an incredible amount of magical knowledge recently, after all, and as far as you were aware he’d been living on Equis all his life, so the fact that he might not know was simply ridiculous
  1038. >Still, you’d humor him, if for no other reason than it would keep you awake, and maybe give somepony a chance to catch him before he recuperated
  1039. “Riiight, /you/ don’t know what a soul-song is.”
  1040. >”No no, I’m serious, what kind of magic spell-thing did you pull on me? I heard you all singing earlier, after all.”
  1041. >You rolled your eyes, only to wince when it hurt more than you’d though it would, which was that it hurt at-all
  1042. “Yes, I know you did.”
  1043. >He raised an arm up, pointing at you while he spoke, only for the shaking limb to collapse back down by his side
  1044. >”I knew it! You figure out some kind of music-based spell that got past my defenses! What was it? How did you do it?”
  1045. >…
  1046. >Did this Stallion /not/ know what a soul-song was?
  1047. “You’re not messing with me, are you?”
  1048. >”Of course not. I’m /very/ serious when it comes to power.”
  1049. “Yes, of /course/ you are. Okay, tell me how it felt.”
  1050. >He shifted his head to look back up into the sky
  1051. >”It was like…I could feel something pulling on /me/, on my /soul/. It was like I felt that I was supposed to join in with everypony and that if I /had/, I’d know my part and how to sing it. It felt…/right/. Like I was /meant/ to sing with you all.”
  1052.  
  1053. “But then…if you felt that way, why didn’t you? How come you didn’t sing with everypony when we were all singing?”
  1054. >He turned his head back to you, a set, serious expression on his face, as if this was not a point to be questioned with him
  1055. >”Because nothing tells me what to do but myself.”
  1056. “O-Oh.”
  1057. >”Speaking of which.”
  1058. “Villanon? What are you, h-hey, let go!”
  1059. >You watched as he shifted onto his side, his hands reached out to cup your cheeks, and then he pulled you in, bringing his lips to yours, his eyes shut as he kissed you!
  1060. “FRSKRMMRPH?!”
  1061. >His hands were rough and strong, fingers rubbing idly through your fur while his lips pressed against yours. With his position, you could feel the top of his head brush against your tuft
  1062. >His breathing was slow and steady, counterbalanced by your own rapid, panicked breaths, sharing both with each other as he held you for what felt like minutes, but was really only a few seconds, before finally pulling back, eyes open and staring into yours, a confident look on his face
  1063. >”You should see the look on your face.”
  1064. >You, in the mean time, were so frazzled after everything else that this was the final straw, the thing that broke your brain
  1065. “Zwuh?”
  1066. >”Oh come on, it’s not like /that/ was your- /Wait/. That wasn’t /actually/ your- O-Oh sweet Faust, it was!”
  1067. “Sh-Shutup!”
  1068. >Villanon laughed, rolling onto his back again as his body shook and his cheeks flushed from how hard he was laughing
  1069. >“I-I can’t b-believe this! Your f-first kiss was not with some Stallion, but it was with /me/! /Villanon/!”
  1070. “F-Faust above, sh-shut up! How can you even /be/ this evil?!”
  1071. >He grinned that sharp-toothed grin, looking you dead in the eyes, your face red with how hard you were blushing
  1072. >”You /really/ want to know how I can act like there aren’t any consequences for my actions?”
  1073. “Yes! How on Equis can you just keep being more and more evil?! How is it even /possible/ for you to double down /this much/?!”
  1074.  
  1075. >He started to lean in, and you worried that he was going to kiss you again, but instead it seemed solely so that he could whisper to you
  1076. >”Because, Matter-Horn…none of this is canon.”
  1077. >What?
  1078. “What?”
  1079. >He pulled back, looking up at the sky again while he crossed his arms behind his head, relaxing on beside you in the middle of all this destruction
  1080. >”Now, as a great pony once said-“
  1081. “No, seriously, Villanon, what are you talking about?”
  1082. >”-Happy Hearth's Warming to all-“
  1083. “Villanon, who are you talking t- Villanon, look at me!”
  1084. >”-and to all a good /fight/!”
  1085. “/Villanooooon/!”
  1086.  
  1087. -----
  1088.  
  1089. (FIN)
Reversed Gender Roles Equestria RGRE AponymousAuthor Villanon Power Ponies

Stallion coming-of-age ritual (aka Motherfuckers) by Anonymous

by silvertear

[AiE] Burning Questions by MINDWAVE

by silvertear

[RGRE] How Villanon Stole Hearth's Warming by AponymousAuthor

by silvertear

Applejack Season (NSFW clop) - by Operafag

by silvertear

[RGRE] Villanon by AponymousAuthor

by silvertear