GREEN   86    32635   179.63 KB

For Whom the Bewitching Bell Tolls [Rgfang-ARCHIVE]

By Ryperiour2 on 29th November 2020 04:49:03 AM

  1. Part 1 - https://pastebin.com/Vx5iwtCC
  2. >You/re in Season 9
  3. >You try telling the Mane 6 Cozy and Tirek have been jailbroken by Discord.
  4. >Even going so far to explain that he revived Sombra and tried getting him and the others to work together, but it didnt work, so now he re-framed that incident as another "test" for them no longer needing the Elements of Harmony
  5. >No one believes you, especially Fluttershy, who defends the idea thathe wouldnt betray them again after their first run in with Tirek
  6. >You plead with them to check Tartarus to prove a point, but they arent interested in making the trip, especially after being nearly trapped there last time
  7. >Discord is also conveniently not around for questioning, but you doubt that would change anything. He'd likely feign innocence
  8. >....
  9. >Try talking to the other Princesses
  10. >Celestia and Luna dont buy it. You dont have any evidence of such a claim and they have no interest in checking Tartarus right now with other pressing matters on their table their upcoming vacation plans
  11. >No one believes you. There's no one you could turn to in order to prove that something is deeply wrong.
  12. >The only thing you can do is take things into your own hands, and thee's only so much time....
  13. >You turn inwards. You had to research things about the fundamental magics of this world
  14. >It shows. As your knowledge and aptitude grew, so did your distancing from the rest of the ponies
  15. >Some start wondering if you're feeling sick from the bags under your eyes as you burn the midnight oil frequently
  16. >Or why you stopped at AJ's for lunch with her family, and even stopped having your gaming sessions with Spike and Mac on the weekend evenings
  17. >But you had to do this. You had to save everyone from themselves.
  18.  
  19. >Be anon
  20. >Blacksmith by trade and (former) tabletop DM,
  21. >You knew that things were going to get out of hand (err, hoof) soon. There wasnt much time to prepare since the school was only attacked less than a week ago. Your vision of what was to come mysteriously came not long after.
  22. >No one believes you. Hell, when you thought about what you learned, you didnt believe yourself, either.
  23. >But every night, you would have the same dreams of their adventures and the tribulations to come....and that absolutely sickening end result.
  24. >It sickened you to your core that the ponies who took you in as a stranger to this world and showed you friendship could possibly do such a thing to a child.
  25. >You had heard of the things she had done, their reasoning behind her imprisonment, but when you questioned before as to why she did this or what was done to help her change, the responses were less than satisfactory.
  26. >It was a topic that was dropped for a time, but now.....if the visions were to be true, then a grave mistake would be made.
  27. >There was only one thing to do - get the Bell before "Team Grogar"' could.
  28.  
  29. >You would need to forge a weapon capable of getting through Gusty's shield where it was kept
  30. >There were also the materials that you knew little about, and a forge capable of melting them down. From your study, the workshop and your on-hand inventory be insufficient for such a task.
  31. >Since none believed you, it would be best to keep your interactions with them as short lived as possible. As much as you'd miss Spike and 'Mac, you couldnt have them slow you down (or involve Discord) should word come about regarding your chat with the Princesses.
  32.  
  33. >Drafting the design for the weapon was the easiest part. A simple claymore with a gold sword guard, shaped as a half-crescent with some carefully selected gemstones socketed into its frame. That should allow the guard and the hilt to conduct magical energy from the few small utility spells you learned to harness as a Focus, while allowing the blade itself to be tempered with anti-arcane properties.
  34. >This was the more difficult prospect. Gold and Gemstones were commonplace for ponies as is, be it for making their beautifully minted bits or Rarity designing dressed with the abundant acquisitions of her digs.
  35.  
  36. >But magic-nullifying materials? They're incredibly scarce save for those who sell suppression rings.
  37. >Even when researching how they're made, the magic negating material used would be in such small amounts that it would be impractical to use for forging, even if you had hundreds of rings
  38. >Then you remembered a certain "vision" of Maud telling Starlight about magic negating stones.
  39. >Yes! And she moved into Ponyville not long after that, too! A quick visit to the local stone savant would be a great first step in your project.
  40. ....
  41. >Your visit with Maud was mostly uneventful. She was fairly forthcoming with the information you needed.
  42. >An ore aptly called Magebane was what you needed. While a lot of the metals in Equestria were conduits to magic at varying degress, with gold being the most effective, this was a metal that actively repels it. Naturally, its found in the most barren of places - and for your trip, your closest chance for a deposit of such would be Ghastly Gorge-
  43.  
  44. >"Anonymous."
  45. >Maud interrupts your musing as you were setting out to leave
  46. >"I wont question you on why you need this ore, but there is something else."
  47. >"Why have you been avoiding my sister lately? She has been trying to get you to talk with her and came to me for help earlier, too."
  48.  
  49. >You meet her gaze evenly as you grab your things
  50. "Maud, your sister laughed off the idea that she and her friends would someday soon support something terrible - that an otherwise non-threat to Equestria was purposely manufactured by someone they call their "friend". It wasnt just her, either. No one believes me.
  51. >Maud blinks as she listens, her face never betraying even an iota of emotion as always
  52. "I can understand that no one buys this. I dont really have proof about what I saw, but the visions I had...they seemed real; from the ambiance of the surrounding nature within them to the tingling of my skin as
  53. powerful magic is being cast, to the screams and fear of its victims."
  54. >You look away briefly, stopping yourself
  55. >"Whether or not it can happen, the reality is that you have friends who are worried about you, Anon. Even if they do not believe, what you have with them is rock solid. You shouldnt let it erode away with whatever you're planning if it means keeping them in the dark."
  56.  
  57. >You couldnt have expected her to believe this either, but at least she didnt outright shrug it off like the rest.
  58. >As you meet her gaze again your grip tightens on the strap of your equipment bag
  59. "Were you this inquisitive of Starlight's plans when she asked you about that stone to control the cutiemarks she would steal?"
  60. >Maud's eyes widen ever so slightly for just a moment and she falls silent as she tries to process a response
  61. >You take this as an opportunity to start leaving.
  62. "I was in the Crystal Empire at the time, but I saw yours and Starlight's talk in one of those hallucinations, too."
  63. >"Anonymous-"
  64. "Dont worry - unlike her, I dont want to hurt anypony with this, if I can help it. Thanks again for the tip."
  65. >You know better than to return to your workshop right away. Chances are that one of the Mane 6 or their buddies would be waiting for you there now that you've emerged from its depths for the first time since your meeting with the Princesses a few weeks ago.
  66.  
  67. >It was starting to get late. Ponies in Ponyville's market were starting to close up shop, and you needed to pass through in order to make it to the nearest train station. There's a dropoff point that's only a couple miles away from Ghastly Gorge, and you could probably set up camp at one of the many ridges there.
  68. >You did have a very brief run-in with Applejack while sneaking around, however.
  69. >"Anon! Ya finally came outta yer steaddin' huh? Arent'cha gonna say howdy to a friend?"
  70. >You pause and curse yourself for being seen, standing upright from your crouching by the now vacant strawberry kiosk
  71. "Applejack."
  72. >"An where are you off to at this hour? Ya'll didnt come to catch some last minute sales, did ya? "
  73. "I'm just doing some of my own business is all."
  74. >You cant let her know what you're doing or where you're going. Just keep your best pokerface and ease yourself out of the conversation as quickly as possible. If Twilight comes after you-
  75. >"Fair enough. Say, Twi was hopin' to have a chat with you about what happened a couple weeks ago. It seemed mighty important, an we even stopped by your place a few times to get'cha.
  76. >You rub the bridge of your nose in mild frustration
  77. "I was home, but my doors are locked. I dont know how you guys can walk around without locked doors, but I wouldnt want somepony just wandering in when I have a lot of materials that need careful handling."
  78.  
  79. >This seems to go over the little cowpony's head
  80. >"Ah cant imagine some hunk of rock bein' that important. Sounds like you and Rares take a real shine to pickin' up pretty pebbles-"
  81. >Enough.
  82. >Withdrawing a small silver circlet from your bag as she rambles, you snap her to attention while equipping it
  83. "Hey, AJ, how does this look?"
  84. >"Huh? What's that you got there-"
  85. >With a bit of mental focus, the bracelet releases a sudden blinding flash of light that only lasts for a second
  86.  
  87. >AJ is left standing stock still, unblinking.
  88. "A 'pretty pebble' made this, too."
  89. >It was a very weak paralysis spell imbued into this implement. On a foal, it may work for a little more than ten minutes, but on a full grown pony, especially one as physically capable as AJ, you've probably got about two before she starts shaking it off.
  90. >Using it again would be out of the question, since the magic within it would need time to recharge itself from this world's ambient Ether.
  91. "Sorry AJ, I'm all out of time to chat. Tell Twilight I dont want to hear her rabble, though."
  92. >You can see her pupils move ever so slightly in response
  93. >Deciding to move quickly, you up and turn AJ away from the direction you're going and book it for the train
  94. >Just in time, too. You were able to catch the last one out of Ponyville for today. The station gradually moves on by as you look on, seeing a freed Applehorse finally make it there as she checks the platform for any trace of you among the departing ponies.
  95. >Knowing Twilight, she probably just wanted to lecture you on the importance of spending time with friends after your studious seclusion period, or inquire why you badgered Celestia about her vacation plans when you saw them last, calling them completely unimportant compared to what was coming.
  96. >You prop your chin up with your hand as you lean against the window, observing the scenery go by
  97. >It was still lost to you how someone who preaches and teaches harmony could allow a foal to go to a prison for monsters. You couldnt fathom why no one tried reaching out to Tirek either.
  98. >And worse yet, no one even cared to check on them
  99. >How could anyone hope to become better if all one does is leave them to fester in their despair and anger? Its no small wonder they could have escaped and desire revenge.
  100. >This wasnt the Magic of Friendship they shared with you.
  101.  
  102. >You arrive at your stop in the Twilight hours. By the time you've checked your things and made your hike to a rise overlooking the Gorge, the moon's already begun its nightly ascent.
  103. >It doesnt take long to set up tent with your packed materials and set up a small ward around it with some magically charged Amethyst. Like your usual items, its not particularly powerful - a pony could easily walk into it without effort.
  104. >But it would do the job of keeping the insects, scorpions and other critters from wandering in, and the stones recharge themselves within a few hours.
  105. >It never ceases to amaze you what one could do with these gemstones and a little rune engraving. Maud might have really been onto something when she said somepony could conquer Equestria with the right one.
  106. >Once your camp is secured, you peer into the ravine from your perch. Its dark, but you can make out the movements of the local quarry eels below
  107. >They usually sleep during the day, but at night, they emerge to hunt small prey animals or squabble with each other over territory and mates.
  108. >Even if you wanted to hurry things along, you arent equipped to deal with them,
  109. >Hell, even if you could, mining in the dark was never a good idea.
  110. >Resigning yourself to rest, you have yourself a small packaged supper and gaze at the moon, thinking of your next steps
  111.  
  112. >From here, it would be a trip back to the checkpoint and a train ride to the north west for the last stop at the Peaks of Peril.
  113. >The Kirin made their home nestled in the nearby forests. It had been some time since you visited their quaint home out of curiosity, long after Fluttershy and AJ aided their kind.
  114. >Since then, they've gradually started to try turning their wrathful flames into something they can use instead of fearing what they can become. Though short lived, you learned a lot about your current craft by spending time with the fluffy hybrids.
  115. >Its time to sleep. You'll need to get up early to mine that Magebane.
  116.  
  117. >Within your dreams, you see the same things as you usually do - flashes of different fragments of time of Equestria. Its never in any particular order and only in short snippets. Most are major events but sometimes you get a glimpse of the simpler conversations or interactions between ponies you've met.
  118. >Tonight was different, however.
  119. >The visions you had would start and end far more abruptly than you were accustomed to.
  120. >Where once you could see an entire conversation or sequence of events to its end, they only lasted about a minute, and the interval between each shift started to decrease gradually as your mind began to race
  121. >Your head started to ache, being gradually overwhelmed by the information streaming through you at such a rapid pace. You begin tossing and turning in your sleep in the real world with pained grunts
  122. >Your dream-self was completely paralyzed, eyes glazed over as you subconsciously struggled to keep your sense of self from being swept away in this stream of imagery
  123. >It felt like an eternity had flashed before you before it ended within mere moments.
  124. >Your consciousness persevered somehow as you fall from your empty space onto the ground that had manifested, undergoing a brief spasm as you recover from the paralysis
  125. >It takes a bit of time to adjust, but you're able to weakly pull yourself from the ground to see the scene before you - a very familiar one at that
  126.  
  127. >"There is no punishment suitable for the crimes you've committed!", you hear Celestia cry
  128. >Meters away, you see a depowered Cozy Glow, Tirek and Chrysalis, and before them stands their would be judge and jury
  129. >As always in such visions, your presence holds no actual weight or meaning to the scene.
  130. >Despite this, you try to call out to them, to tell the Princesses to wait a moment.
  131. >Discord, as always, worms his way into their ears with his idea of a verdict, and the Princesses smile in agreement.
  132. "No....not again...."
  133.  
  134. >"Yes, I think that will do nicely", Luna remarks
  135. "Celestia, Luna, this isnt right! They're helpless now! They cant hurt anyone! Dont-"
  136. >"Ooh, can I help? Pretty please?"
  137. "-Its because of you they've done this!"
  138. >Your voice reaches no one.
  139. >You cant change anything.
  140. >Even when you pull yourself up and try to get in the way of their combined spell, it passes straight through you, striking its intended target
  141. >You can only look back at the affected, as you always do.
  142. >Chrysalis tried to lash out as any cornered creature given no quarter would
  143. >Tirek flinched away from the beam, hoping to spare himself of any pain that may have come with this punishment
  144. >And Cozy Glow could only look on in abject terror as she felt herself petrify
  145. >For a moment, it almost seemed like her eyes had locked with yours before they became solid stone
  146. >"...."
  147. >You dont even notice when the Princesses approach the statue
  148. >Your balled fist tightens at the cheer of the ponies involved at this execution.
  149. >But unlike the other occasions you've seen this, something changes.
  150. >A hoof gently rests upon your shoulder as you look on at the statue, temporarily startling you out of the haze of your anger and disgust.
  151.  
  152. >"At last, we have found thee, Anonymous."
  153.  
  154. >"Admittedly, this dream of yours was far more to find among the many, and even more difficult to enter."
  155. >You felt her hoof pull away, but it wasnt like you cared
  156. >"That is most unusual, human. It is as though something wanted to obscure your mind from our sight."
  157. >The Princess paces about as she observes the now still-motion world.
  158. "Why are you here?"
  159. >You try to keep your composure. Despite the feelings roiling in your mind, you at least wanted an answer.
  160. >"Our conversation from weeks prior, Anonymous. We have had much time to think of your claims, as bizarre as they were,"
  161. >Luna stops at the statue, standing by your side as she looks up at the petrified victims
  162. >"But this....is no mere dream, is it? We were only able to come to this place because we existed within the makings of this dream of yours."
  163. "Luna. Did you see all that transpired before you froze this place?"
  164. >There's a pause before she replies
  165. >"We did, Anonymous."
  166. >Keep it together.
  167. "Was all of that crazy shifting earlier your doing?"
  168. >"It was. After seeing how unique your dreamscape was, We had to delve deeper into its abyss. Unlike other dreamspaces, we cannot discern if this is a fabrication of your mind or something more."
  169. >Finally, you look at her for the first time since the interruption.
  170.  
  171. "Real or not, do you think this is just? To petrify these three when they have no power? To not even offer them friendship or a chance to change?"
  172. >Luna meets your gaze evenly. You can see her bottom lip stiffen in a slight grimace as she tries to solve some internal conflict to her answer, but it doesnt take long for a resolution to come.
  173. >"I do."
  174. >She doesnt have a moment to react before you meet her answer in kind.
  175.  
  176. >The entire world around you shatters into an endless voidwhen your fist meets her face. Luna herself doesnt budge despite the oddly satisfying force you smashed her with, but her head does twist a bit.
  177. >You also think you might have broken something
  178. >Despite your fist being buried in her cheek, she's able to gradually turn to look at you in the eye with a mix of anger and shock, making you pull back
  179. >"You.....you hit me? How is that possible here? "
  180. >You'd like to know yourself, but that doesnt matter right now
  181. "You seriously mean that? You of all ponies should be sympathetic to their situation."
  182. >Luna collects herself and starts using her horn to channel some healing magic. It looks like it takes time to work - something you chalk up to her being out of practice
  183. >No one has directly assaulted her or her sister in some time, after all
  184. >"Listen well, Anonymous. When I say that I find their fate just, I do not mean it out of maliciousness"
  185.  
  186. >"If what your dream shows us is to be believed, they will never cease being an enemy to our kind. Ponies have suffered trauma from the terror they set upon us time and time again. I have seen it in their dreams countless times as I aid in helping resolve the fears of the dreamers."
  187. >Luna circles you, and you move slowly in kind to keep eye contact
  188. >"Tirek insatiably feeds on our magic, the lifeblood of our society. Chrysalis, on our emotions with her refusal to reform like the rest. The foal, however sweet the facade she puts on, holds nothing but greed and contempt for everyone else.
  189. >Luna pauses her pace to stare you down
  190. >"How can we ever hope to change them when they either cannot or refuse to conform to a better way? How is it not better to isolate them until a means to their salvation could be found, as it were for myself and young Stygian?"
  191.  
  192. >Your eyes close as you breathe deeply, feeling your flash of fury dissolve into something else.
  193. >It was pity. At first you were angry because you had believed that the Princesses saw your plight as the ramblings of a madman. Hell, you had your own doubts about how true it could be, too. Even beyond Discord's trickery, the end result seemed like such an unnatural thing for them to do; but hearing this response only reinforced that this was more than a mere possibility.
  194. >They firmly believe that this is right
  195. "Luna."
  196. >Her eyes observe you with cautious intent, looking for any signs of hostility
  197. "You've misunderstood everything about what friendship is. Hell, I doubt you ever really learned its true meaning."
  198. >That earns you an ear flick and furrowed brow
  199. >"You would seek to lecture me, when you've abandoned your friends to revel in your delusions?"
  200. "I would."
  201. >You take a step towards her
  202. "Luna, the whole reason Stygian came back to his senses was because Starlight and Twilight actually reached out to him. Even in the depths of his despair and anger, friendship found its way to him - a ray of hope in his darkest hours."
  203. >Another step. Luna stands firm, but you see her bottom lip stiffen again as she listens
  204. "Had you remained as Nightmare Moon when your emotions took on a life of their own, would you have changed your mind if offered the same opportunity? Or would you prefer another thousand years on the Moon because the 'means to your salvation' hadnt been found yet!?"
  205. >Another step forward for you, as her eyes widen and she takes a step back
  206. >"I....if its for the good of Equestria....I...."
  207. She doesnt notice that you're standing before her as her mind races, likely reliving the turmoil her rebellion and subsequent punishment had brought upon her.
  208. >You raise your hand, but she doesnt notice until its right before her face. Snapping back to this reality, she flinches for an impact that doesnt come.
  209. >It rests gently on her crownless head instead.
  210.  
  211. >Her eyes gradually open again as she looks at you, their edges filling with teardrops
  212. >Its strange to you to imagine that a day would come where you were talking down to a Princess like a displeased father would to a misbehaving child.
  213. >She even attempts to choke out a reply, but you're not having any of it.
  214.  
  215. "Luna, I'm plenty mad and hurt that you and the others belittled my warnings, but more than anything else, I'm disappointed. Of anypony else, even Twilight "Princess of Friendship" Sparkle, you should know what it means to meet ponies where they are in the dark and help them find their way to a better tomorrow. You should know what its like to be locked away and neglected, forgotten to the ages in all but name and myth until someone else can deal with you."
  216. >She cant even look at you anymore, trying to find anything else in this endless void to look at. You kneel, moving your hand to her jaw to make her look at you again, even if her tears flowed freely and her lip quivers
  217. "And its because you know these things, because you lived these things, you should know better than to put anyone else through it. Not to the helpless....and especially not a mere foal."
  218. >"A-anon....."
  219. She can barely choke out her name with all of the guilt she's been weighed down with as the realization of her failure comes down on her in full.
  220. >You look at her solemnly for a few more seconds before pulling away
  221. "I dont care what you do from here. I'm going to do what I think is right, even if I have to do it alone."
  222. >"....I'm sorry...."
  223. >You turn away from her, having run out of anything else to to say, except...
  224. "Now get the hell out of my head."
  225. >You dont see it, but somehow your mind can tell that she has taken her leave
  226.  
  227. >You are Princess Luna, Warden of the Night and those who dream within it
  228. >Awakening from your stasis, the first thing that greets you is pain in your cheekbone. It was nothing that your magic couldnt recover you from, but it was unprecedented that you would be harmed in a dream and have it follow through to your true self.
  229. >....
  230. >More than that, your encounter with the Outworlder Anonymous left you with much to think about.
  231. >As you rise from your bed and head to your balcony, you begin to question yourself
  232. >Was it really fair to have simply put Tirek and Cozy Glow away as you and your sister had?
  233. >Just what was it that Cozy Glow dreamed about before she executed her plan? It was natural for many ponies to fall through the net of your gaze as you scoured the dreamworld - you are but one soul attempting to aid many, and before her betrayal, no one suspected anything
  234. >But what if you had found her dreams? By chance, could you have seen her for what she truly was? Could you have helped her?
  235. >Even if you couldnt, what have any of you done after the fact but send them away? If Anonymous' vision holds weight, then it would seem that history repeats itself once again in a far more troubling way.
  236. >The time soon comes for you to lower your moon and make way for your sister's sun.
  237. >"I suppose, paying Tartarus a visit to check on them wouldn't be wasted time."
  238.  
  239. >You will need to get an ensemble of mages together. When the magic of Equestria was nearly lost, Tartarus' entrance and exit were but a mere door. With its magic fully restored, its seals would be active, preventing entry or escape to living entities without a incantation invoked by three ponies to pass through.
  240. >Today, you had scheduled to finalize your vacationing plans with your sister, but with Anonymous' words gnawing away at your conscience, you couldnt possibly focus on your future revelry without ensuring that nothing was amiss. From there, your future vacation wouldnt be the only thing to talk about
  241.  
  242. >You're Anon, the one and only
  243. >And you fucking punched a goddess horse in the face and told her off on top of that
  244. >You should feel alpha as fuck and as robust as ever from what was a good night's rest, but you're morning's met with a punch of mental fatigue
  245. >Must be a side effect of the dreamscape shenanigans.
  246. >You dont hate them, you tell yourself. They're just not acting like they usually do. You never knew the ponies to be so callous, even towards others they arent fond of
  247. >All you could do is hope that somehow your words reached Luna. If not that, your fist doesnt disagree about reaching her again should she come at you with more "justified" bullshit.
  248. >The sun's barely risen over the mountains in the distance. Its a prime time to break camp and get mining. It will take at least a day to gather and compare samples of this ore once you find some deposits to ensure you make with only the highest quality fragments you can find.
  249. >Afterwards, its off to the Kirin to forge your weapon and maybe arm yourself a bit better for the journey ahead
  250. >A long road lay ahead of you, but you wont waver in your mission to unravel Discord's plan and give his unwitting pawns the chance they deserve
  251.  
  252. Part 2 - https://pastebin.com/tF4pHd2p
  253. >You happily bounce along until you reach the thick wooden door. Looking at the windows first, the house appears to be unlit.
  254. >It would be rude to just break into the place, so you give it one of your patented knocking patterns that you usually use to announce your arrival, as well as call out to him just in case he came back
  255. "Anon~! Pinkie's here today, so can you come out and play?"
  256. >Silence.
  257. >Well, if he's inside, it could be an interesting game of hide and seek. If not, then you'll just have a look around either way
  258. "Okie dokie loki, Anon. Ready or not, here I come!"
  259. >You use a party horn to further announce the beginning of your visit, but it also doubles as a super secret lock pick
  260. >The party item unfurls itself straight into the keyhole once blown
  261. >With your cheeks puffed, some careful control of the air you put into it to stiffen or loosen its shape, and some careful tilting of your head you pick the lock in seconds.
  262. >Well, that was super easy. If he's really hiding here, then its not gonna be much of a game for long if he couldnt keep you out.
  263. >Still, maybe you should be a little quieter from now on. If he came back and is hiding here, it would be a wasted opportunity to not get the drop on him with a surprise!
  264. >You withdraw your old sneaking suit from your mane after digging out some miscellaneous party favors and quickly put it on, goggles and all as you begin your hunt.
  265.  
  266. >Your eyes dart around the dimly lit room. Anon's kept it fairly tidy - his books are stacked neatly in a cute bookshelf, save for the stuff he regularly reads on or stacked near his workbench
  267. >Some lanterns he uses to light his humble abode area out, with the fireflies having been let go
  268. >Trotting around a small bend and find his bedding. It doesnt look like its been made in a while, but...
  269. "Gotcha!"
  270. >You raise the mattress from the bedframe, expecting to find him hiding under it
  271. >Imagine your disappointment when all that you found were some half drawn discarded concepts for his wood and iron work and some little latched book-
  272. >Wait
  273. "Ooh, what's this we've got here?"
  274. >It doesnt appear to be labeled, but you've got a strange feeling about this. Your pinkie sense is making you tremble and your tail twitch in intervals you recognize
  275. >This book must be more than a little special to Anon. Maybe it would have some answers.
  276. >But before you look into it, you figure you should check the basement, just to be sure.
  277. >There's a thick latched floor-door that leads down into the depths, where his forge is located. You've been down there your fair share of times when delivering baked goods, just to find that workahloic toiling on his newest commission piece
  278. >Yet unless he was in the middle of something really important in what he was doing, he'd always be able to make a little time for you to have a snack and exchange jokes or friendly gossip
  279. >He's only been gone for a little over a day, but you hope that things can go back to how they were when he does come back
  280. >Looking at the iron doors, they have been barred up and padlocked....he wouldnt have done that if he were still here.
  281. >Well! Maybe he isnt here at all, but you couldnt just leave without any leads on what his problem was
  282. >Hopefully this book will give you an answer.`
  283. ---
  284. >A cursory scan gives you a wide range of information. This book was -definitely- a personal item of his.
  285. >He kept stuff ranging from order details and personal opinions of the works he'd have to do
  286. >And ideas some of the residents from either ponyville or abroad had submitted to see if they were feasible
  287. >You find one of such items from "Lyra Heartstrings" as a mechanical arm and hand to match his, with some intricate labeling and anon's commentary on the side, questioning how the little pony managed such a thing
  288. >There's something from your sister Maud here about helping fix her blunted picaxe
  289. >A letter from the Kirin about inviting him to their next Beer Drinking contest, with some "special interest" of a second visit noted by the writer....
  290. >You would be here all day if you sat down and read it all, and while that sounds -really tempting-, you decide to try to find something more recent.
  291. ... ... ...
  292. >Oh! There's something here.
  293. >"As of late, the Friendship School's been getting more and more attention from my pals. Between AJ and Dash's real jobs, the time they need with their families and each other, and the teaching too, I havent had much time to really spend with them."
  294. >A frown gradually forms on your face
  295. >Sure, the school was a very busy place these days, and you still had to plan parties, bake with the cakes and occasionally foalsit, and-
  296. >"I used to be able to order from Pinkie's bakery almost every two to three days, but I havent really had a chance to get a hold of her as of late."
  297. >You were just...really busy. You're just one pony, you couldnt see to everyone's needs, right? You werent being neglectful.
  298. >"I can only imagine how Dash is taking to this. I've heard lots of stories about how grueling her regiment can be at times when it comes to prepping for her performances. Having to volunteer for the weather team in Ponyville and spend time with Scootaloo and the others must be trying."
  299. >There was that one time you found Dashie passed out in the Faculty Room, but you thought she just wanted an afternoon nap. Its not the first time you've caught her loafing around, even before the school, though you have to admit that she seemed harder to wake than usual.
  300. >"I feel like I should tell Twilight about this. The school might be a nice place to socialize newcommers but its clearly taking its toll on her friends and my time with them, too."
  301. >"Even on my busiest days, I can make a little time to meet and talk with a couple of them somewhere down the line, but lately, it feels like we rarely see each other
  302. "Oh...."
  303. >Your mane deflates slightly
  304. >"Maybe she just hasnt noticed - I know how she gets when she's invested in something: the smaller details easily slip through. Still, if there's one thing my craft taught me, its that the smallest imperfections in the right places can make something come apart extremely easily"
  305. >A pause and a deep breath.
  306. "Okay, THAT is a friendship problem, but that couldnt be what made him leave....right?"
  307. >You skip some pages of Anon's musings about the questionable necessity of the Friendship School
  308.  
  309. >"Lately, Ive been having these strange dreams. No, not dreams, visions. they're just too vivid to be mere dreams."
  310. >"I see Discord turning into this goat-like creature and going somewhere far away. I see Tirek and Cozy Glow escaping their prison in Tartarus"
  311. >"And they appear at this place at this disguised Discord's behest, along with Chrysalis. They are planning something."
  312. "I would have ignored it if I didnt see this multiple times when I sleep for the night. It goes further, too."
  313. >"They are sent after some sort of item to make this false being more powerful....and they do succeed at getting it. But they intend to use it against Discord"
  314. >"But Discord escapes, only to later decide their punishment when they are defeated by the forces of good in Equestria"
  315. >"I need to tell the Princesses about this. I should talk to Twilight to arrange an audience."
  316.  
  317. >More filler....better skip ahead about a week
  318. >"None of them believe me at all!"
  319. >'You're just worrying too much, Anon. Tartarus is totally secure. Nothing gets in or out without notice.'
  320. >'Your dreaming patterns are a mystery to us, but if we felt some kind of disturbance, we would notice it right away'
  321. >"Are you fucking kidding me?!
  322. >Your ears flatten against your head. The ink on the page is not in his typical fine writing.
  323. >Anon's frustration manifested itself in thickly inked wording with a few splotches and a slightly damaged page.
  324. >"I begged Princess Celestia to check. Just....check. We would have an answer if she just peeked and found them gone! I know I'm not crazy here, but she doesnt think its necessary. Celestia just goes on about how secure the place is with its magical barrier, or its dumbass guard dog, and how even going in takes time and energy, nevermind escaping such a place."
  325. >Thinking back, you remember how difficult it was to escape when there was no magical barriers reinforcing the door while the magic of your world was being sucked away. The Princess IS right - Tartarus is one hard pinata to crack.
  326. >Anon continues to beg Celestia and Luna to check, but they deny it as a priority matter for the time being, with Celestia stating that she could put it off till after their vacation
  327. >Twilight insists that Anon drop it for now and that they could come back and talk about it another time, but he becomes even more obstinate.
  328.  
  329. >"I know it sucks to get off your fat flanks and do something for once to prevent a problem before it takes on a life of its own."
  330. >"You guys let Chrysalis get ahead not once but twice and never looked back at stopping her if she came back again."
  331. >Now you cant even be bothered to check to see if your prisoners are STILL in their prison or even see how they're doing! Is this how you help them?!
  332. >"Guards, this human has lost his composure. We still have other matters to see to today, so could you please-"
  333. >"If you wont do something about this, then I'll deal with it myself! Your leadership sucks anyway since Twilight does all the heavy lifting!"
  334. >Anon notes that it took a small squad of the Throne Room Guard to remove him as he tried to approach them "to reform their asses with some spanking" and even left a funny doodle about it
  335. >...What came next, you knew all too well.
  336.  
  337. >You were with the rest when he and Twilight returned, and of course she wasnt happy at all about Anonymous' shenanigans. Twilight was fuming that he made "such an affront" towards the Princesses regardless of what he thought about their answer.
  338. >To keep him from engaging Twilight and hopefully lighten the clearly tense mood, you inquired about the situation and made light of it when he said Discord would break into Tartarus to free the craziest filly Equestria's known and the big red meanie who betrayed him with ease
  339. >I mean, it did sound funny that he'd get worked up over something so silly...
  340. >Dash laughed it off too, but the way he looked at you at that....
  341. >It wasnt the look of someone the joke had flown over, or even the look of the unamused.
  342. >He was angry....hurt, even.
  343. >And you didnt even recognize it
  344. >All you did was help make a bigger fool of him, and no one is laughing now
  345. >He locked himself up not long afterwards, and you could figure that his departure was to deal with this his own way
  346.  
  347. >You've gotten all you could from the book, but even now, you're not sure what to do.
  348. >Anon's pretty well traveled and could have gone anywhere. Twilight would still be pretty mad about him insulting her idol, but maaaybe she could be convinced to help if its a friendship problem?
  349. >....
  350. >For now, you return the book to where you find it and decide to leave. Surely there's somepony you can talk to in order to decide what comes next
  351. >The contents of that tome took away all the pep and bounce you came in with
  352. ---
  353. You are Anonymous the Resourceful
  354. As Celestia's sun mercilessly observes you from above as you work at different deposits with your trusty pickax in hand, you take a brief moment to wipe the sweat off of your brow
  355. >Finding the deposits werent difficult, but you needed to make sure that what you picked out was of the highest quality.
  356. >You had learned how to identify this with a little testing - using some of your magic infused gemstones, you would set your clumps of ore next to them and in contact while in a shady spot and observe the result
  357. >If the stone dimmed a little, then the clump was probably not very good
  358. >However, some of the better ones would make the stones dim significantly, and your best finds would temporarily suck the magic out of the gems completely for a few minutes
  359. >Though you might not have Rarity's eye for detail, but this method suits you just fine
  360. >The only concern was that some of your best deposits were very close to the caves of some of those giant eels you know frequent the area.
  361. >They are usually nocturnal, but your mining could easily draw attention
  362. >This actually becomes a problem on your last deposit, where one happens to slither out of its hole as you work
  363.  
  364. >As it slowly emerges, you quickly piece together your plan of action
  365. >You could try to stay perfectly still, but there's no guarantee it wouldnt smell you nearby and lunge
  366. >You could try to back away gradually, but these motherfuckers are long and quick at lunging. You'd be lunch if you're noticed and wont have enough distance
  367. >There isnt any nearby cover in such an open area either to wedge yourself into
  368. >There was only one option left....to fight.
  369. >Even if you cant kill it, you can at least do enough damage to get a clean break away, but it wont come without cost.
  370. >While the cavern eel stirs and flicks its tongue to get the scent of the immediate area, you look at your pickax fondly
  371. >it was one of your longest lasting tools in your stay in Equestria, and one of the most reliable. Your entire living was in part supported by this thing
  372. >But now, you're going to have to part ways
  373. >You slot two of your unused magic gems into a pair of sockets you used to temporarily enhance your old friend as you worked, with one containing "fire" magic and the other containing "wind".
  374. >With a chisel from your belt, you strike both gems, cracking them.
  375. >You know this would get the serpent's attention, as the sound of magical crackling will alert most wildlife in the immediate vicinity
  376. >But that's just what you counted on
  377.  
  378. >You've only got one chance, and it will have to be enough.
  379. >As it turns towards the sound, you make a good jump off of a nearby rock and strike it in the eye with the sharpest point, embedding it as deeply as possible
  380. >The serpent screeches audibly and flails about, pulling itself away from you as you watch the gems glow as they detonate, releasing the magic they contained
  381. >Alone, they wouldnt do much, but when fire and air are used simultaneously....
  382. >The flame suddenly erupts around the beast in a large plume that quickly spreads throughout its scales.
  383. >As the intensity increases, even its blood is partially evaporated by the flames
  384. >A grimace forms on your face as you pull yourself away from the grand but disturbing scene
  385. >You didnt even know if that beast would survive this, and with minimal introspection, you found that you didnt really care
  386. >Immolation was a gruesome way to attack something, but your loss of old reliable hurt more than watching this thing burn.
  387. >You decide to book it with your cache while you still could before the rest of that thing's kin awaken from the fuss.
  388.  
  389. >Returning to your campsite, you look over your current load and your remaining supplies, as well as have a snack and slake your thirst
  390. >You can still see a small stream of smoke from the valley in the distance
  391. >Fluttershy would be absolutely aghast at what you did
  392. "Too bad she houses a monster far more sinister than anything I could come up with on a dime. She'd forgive him for worse, too."
  393. >Besides, you're a human, not some hippie horse who can make any animal stand down by just talking to it.
  394. >If you didnt kill or drive it back, chances are you would be a corpse or a meal
  395. >MANon 1, Conscience 0
  396. >The only thing you should be ashamed of is losing your mining bro and not getting a chance to try cooked cavern eel
  397. >A salute to your fallen friend - his sacrifice on this journey will not be in vain.
  398. >You'll rest for the day and break camp come the sunrise tomorrow, and it'll be off to the Kirins to make your blade and maybe get a little drunk
  399.  
  400. Part 3 - https://pastebin.com/jdwGphB0
  401. >As dawn breaks, you awaken and clean yourself before cleaning camp, with quick inventory check to make sure you've got everything.
  402. >Curiously, you didnt have any visions of the future while you slept that night
  403. >Maybe its because you've decided to take action? The future could be subject to change if you know what leads to it, right? Or is every step you take also ordained to lead to what you've seen?
  404. >A pause to contemplate on these things before you snap yourself out of it
  405. "No way. I wont let that happen...."
  406. >Once you're done, you make your way back to the train checkpoint at a nearby outpost and wait. All the while, you design your weapon's mold in mind.
  407.  
  408. >You're no body-builder, but you're fairly strong from the physical labor and ample traveling and mining you've done. Still, you're not so sure how well that will translate to your swordarm's overall strength.
  409. >A claymore would be your initial idea, but maybe something a bit lighter will be serviceable, especially as it'll be additional weight to your other supplies when you go to Mt. Everhoof for the Bell.
  410. >Speaking of, that thing, the bell that you've seen in your dreams....its always given you a weird vibe
  411. >Magic in general did at first, but you've gradually become accustomed to it over time - sans the more powerful unicorn and alicorn magics that you've seen Bookhorse and her Counselor companion use here and there
  412. >But that thing, even in your dreams, really felt unnatural. It filled you with a sense of dread, and as you look at it, you cant help but feel......
  413.  
  414. >The sound of a shrill whistle and that of iron wheels grinding to a halt snaps you out of your light trance
  415. >You decide not to worry about it for now. You're the only one (well, aside from Discord and soon, his lackeys) who knows exactly what you're going after. It might be better that way.
  416.  
  417. >Once you've boarded the train, you opt to ride it straight to the Perilous Peak's dead-end. It will be a long ride, but you cant afford to waste time stopping in Ponyville and risk being interrogated or stopped by anypony.
  418. >While you could use some restocking of your supplies, especially while snacking on a portion of your rations as you watch the scenery pass by, you're confident that you can tough out the hike to Kirin Town
  419. >Once you're there, you can restock and settle in a bit to get to work as soon as possible
  420.  
  421. >Your mind wanders a little over time. You wonder what will Luna do if she actually decides to check, assuming Sunbutt doesnt hold her up over it.
  422. "By the time they take any action, everything else would probably be in motion anyway. They've never been quick to act. Never properly prepared."
  423. >A bitter truth, but the truth nonetheless.
  424. >While you did adapt pretty well to pony society, it always did irk you just a little that they're so blissfully unaware of the dangers that lie just outside of their borders
  425. >Its a world of fantastical beasts, of magic and mystery, and danger if you dont mind yourself, yet they live simple lives in their simple towns and cities
  426.  
  427. >Their innocence was both endearing and enviable, at least you thought as much before recently
  428. >Even of their worst enemies, of their greatest challenges, they would still try to see the good in such adversity and within each other, and somehow that would give them the strength to effect change, be it in others or their surroundings.
  429. >It was inspiring. It was a magic that was special but at the same time so familiar and basic compared to the arcanic mysteries of this world.
  430.  
  431. >So if your vision held true, where did this Magic go?
  432. >Why was Kindness and Generosity withheld?
  433. >Why the Laughter at their fate?
  434. Was there any value in the Loyalty of this mockery of what they stood for?
  435. >Could they face the Honest truth if they knew the full extent of what they would do?
  436.  
  437. >Instead of stewing in your emotions, you opt to have a nap. It'll be some hours before you make it to your stop in the north west, so you might as well save what strength you have for the hike to Kirin Town
  438. ....
  439. >Another vision, a repeat of what happened before, time and time again
  440. >The three are defeated once more, and are rendered vulnerable while the Princesses prepare their judgement
  441. >But this time, you refuse once more to allow this to go on
  442. >With all of your being you stand before them as Discord whispers his punishment plan
  443. >Like all the times before, your presence isnt noticed by any of them
  444. >If this is a dream of any kind, then maybe....just maybe
  445. >For once you could sleep peacefully if you put everything into changing it
  446. >As the trio prepare their personification magic, you concentrate as much as your slumbering mind would allow
  447. >You focused every bit of emotion you could muster in this state into raw, solid thought and hold your hand out towards the three in defiance of what was to come as they launch their spell
  448. >A blinding light assails your vision as their spell collides with you, no longer passing through harmlessly as it once would
  449.  
  450. >The reaction makes your eyes shut tightly for a brief moment, but when you are able to open them gradually you find that the spell was completely negated
  451. >In your hands sits a finely crafted ebony blade, crackling briefly with the surging magic it had neutralized
  452. >You briefly appraise its craft, noting that it had matched one of many different designs you ran through your head, but also noting that it had a small attachment of a deep orange lock of fur at its pommel
  453. >And unlike your other visions, your presence was no longer unnoticed. The Mane 6 reacted in sharp surprise to your "sudden appearance" and looking behind you, the defeated villains also showed a mixture of surprise and confusion.
  454.  
  455. >Celestia is the first to break the confusion your appearance created
  456. >"Anonymous, what is the meaning of this?"
  457. >You stand your ground, but lower your weapon
  458. "Princesses, this has to stop. You have already won - they're powerless to do anything to you now."
  459. >Next, Luna steps forward
  460. >"That may be, but for how long? They have proven time and time again to be capable of becoming a threat to our kind and the world at large!"
  461. >A glance back to them before facing Luna once more
  462. >Clearly this wasnt the one you struck before, but still
  463. "Luna, there will always be threats to Equestria and its allies, but answering with force isnt your way."
  464. >You point your blade to the creatures who had assembled in the distance
  465. "Before, dragons were territorial monsters who would bring harm to your kind if crossed, but through friendship, they've become allies and even have visits and a student schooling in Ponyville! Before, the Yaks would be willing to wage war on you over the smallest sleight! Even the new breed of Changelings only came about because you gave them a chance, despite your fears!"
  466. >Again you focus on the Princesses
  467. "Now look at what you've done. You tossed Tirek into Tartarus twice! The two of you should know his history with his brother - did you ever think to help him mend the betrayal he felt? Or to help him find another way to coexist with your kind?"
  468. >The withered centaur looks away with a scowl as an old wound is opened
  469.  
  470. >"Anon, he destroyed my home and held my friends as prisoners! If it werent for that special box, all of Equestria would have been doomed! How do you expect me to just-"
  471. Twilight responds, but you cut her off
  472. "Let it go? You're the Princess of Friendship, not the Princess of Grudges. I'm not asking you to forgive him for what he's done, but you could try helping him to be better, like you did with Starlight.
  473. Or is he not 'useful' enough to be kept around like she was?"
  474. >You can see Starlight nearby, giving Twilight a wide-eyed stare she waits for an answer
  475.  
  476. >Twilight attempts to stammer out a reply, but cant coherently make out a sentence that wouldnt potentially damn her standing with her former student beyond "Its not like that,"
  477. >That's her mess to clean up, though. The princesses still dont seem wholly convinced.
  478. "Its true, Chrysalis has always been a problem, but after losing her hive, she's done little else to threaten ponies. What's a ruler without an army?"
  479. >"I am still a Queen, and I WILL restore my hive!", she's quick to respond, but you ignore her for now.
  480. "You guys helped the Changelings find a better way, but none of you, nor any of them, for all the friendship and love they shared, made any attempt after she fled to fixing the bridge between them and their mother. She was left alone to her own slowly creeping madness, growing weaker and wary until an opportunity for revenge came. Of course she'd be a threat, its the only path left for her!"
  481. >Lastly, you look at Cozy Glow, who appears to be appraising you with curiosity. The cogs in her head are probably trying to figure out an angle to use your interruption to her advantage like the little manipulator she is, but now isnt the time to worry about that.
  482.  
  483. "Twilight."
  484. >She's still trying to find some way of explaining her angle to Starlight, who only returns an unamused expression before forcibly teleporting her before you again, likely wanting to hear what else you had to put on her
  485. >For once in a very long time, Twilight felt very, very small. You could tell just by looking at how sh withered under your gaze and her nervous smile as her eyes darted to Celestia, Luna, and anywhere else in hopes of someone bailing her from more verbal punishment
  486. >Her aid never came.
  487.  
  488. "You let this foal enroll without making sure the lessons stuck properly, and when she revealed her agenda, you didnt accept any responsibility or tried to fix the mess you enabled. You just....let her go. "
  489. >Celestia's impressive pokerface cracks a bit, knowing what came next. Her eyes dart between the other two Princesses briefly before locking with yours again
  490. >"And you let the other Princesses take her away and lock her in literal 'Monster Hell'. No followup on why she did it, no checks on any family or friends she had real ties to, no attempts to fix her, nothing."
  491. >Back to Luna, who's mouth hangs slightly agape as she looks at the other two
  492. "Equestria will always have threats to face...but these are problems of your own making. Now you're going to put them away forever without ever owning up to that fact. I cannot and will not allow it."
  493. >Twilight cant even look at you anymore, just staring at the ground as her ears and wings droop slightly
  494. >Celestia also closes her eyes, exhaling sadly as she internally considers the merit of your words
  495.  
  496. >The silence is only broken by the loud crunching of popcorn as Discord himself watches the show play out from above, just out of your un-adjusted field of view.
  497.  
  498. >Your eyes narrow and you instinctively grip your weapon's hilt a little tighter as you internally brace yourself for the shenanigans to come.
  499. >"Bravo, Anon! Truly you're an A class Friendshiprenure, and all without a single day in the Friendship School too~"
  500. >Discord magics up a graduation cap atop your head and appears before you in his own ceremonial robes, all to offer you a diploma that you dare not open, lest you indulge him further.
  501. "Discord," you hiss under your breath
  502. >"Still, dear Anonymous, you have fallen short on the mark, if only by a teensy-weensy detail"
  503. >The diploma unfurls itself into, revealing a drawing of Discord blowing raspberries at you before poofing, along with your cap
  504. >"While I did not expect the coup they pulled, their entire scheme was but a mere test for Twilight and her friends"
  505. >The Princesses seem a bit perplexed as they listen to his words. You wished they would ignore him
  506. >"You can say that this seems much too over the top for such a thing, but really now, is it?"
  507. >A snap of his fingers and Twilight appears before him on a little crystalline pedestal
  508. >"The Princesses sent our dear little Twiggles to the Crystal Empire with her friends and family to face a tyrant they knew very little of, even with an entire kingdom on the line."
  509.  
  510. >Another snap and the rest of the Mane 6 appear next to her. Discord slithers behind them to give them a group hug as he speaks
  511. "Since then, they've all become soooo much more powerful and capable friends~"
  512. >Fluttershy is the only one who doesnt seem somewhat uncomfortable about this.
  513. >Discord makes his way back toward the princesses as he heads towards you
  514. >"But great friends dont always make great rulers, do they? And great rulers dont always make for the best friends"
  515. >A flick of their crowns with his fingers as he passes to their annoyance, but still they listen.
  516.  
  517. "You're twisting this shit again.", you growl
  518. >"Twisting -what-, Anon? That I had hoped they would make for an adequate challenge for my dear friends? That's the honest truth, I say"
  519. >Discord turns his lion's paw into Grogar's head, making a living sockpuppet that emulates his voice
  520. >"To truly overcome our adversaries, you have to work TOGETHER". it states before transforming back into its original form
  521. >Chrysalis pipes up
  522. >"You USED us as your playthings just to test our enemies!? This insult will NOT stand! I'll hound you to the ends of Equestria if I have to, and-"
  523. >Discord manifests a roll of tape that spreads itself over her mouth, quickly silencing her
  524. >"I admit, even I didnt expect that they would band together to work against me or get this far out of hoof, but our dear Twilight and company pulled together as they always do and united Equestria as one powerful force of good to put a stop to it all~ If there's any proof that they can lead everyone to a brighter future, then this would be it."
  525. >Discord appears near Fluttershy and hugs her
  526. >"And I did say that I was soo sorry that things went so far. "
  527. >Fluttershy giggles a little, hugging him briefly in response
  528.  
  529. >Princess Celestia nods in agreement
  530. >"Indeed, my former student and her friends have come far since her journey began....and still, the danger these three pose, even in this state, cannot be ignored. To build a future of harmony, they....will have to be put aside. At least until we can find a better solution.
  531.  
  532. "You're twisting this shit again.", you growl
  533. >"Twisting -what-, Anon? That I had hoped they would make for an adequate challenge for my dear friends? That's the honest truth, I say"
  534. >Discord turns his lion's paw into Grogar's head, making a living sockpuppet that emulates his voice
  535. >"To truly overcome our adversaries, you have to work TOGETHER". it states before transforming back into its original form
  536. >Chrysalis pipes up
  537. >"You USED us as your playthings just to test our enemies!? This insult will NOT stand! I'll hound you to the ends of Equestria if I have to, and-"
  538. >Discord manifests a roll of tape that spreads itself over her mouth, quickly silencing her
  539. >"I admit, even I didnt expect that they would band together to work against me or get this far out of hoof, but our dear Twilight and company pulled together as they always do and united Equestria as one powerful force of good to put a stop to it all~ If there's any proof that they can lead everyone to a brighter future, then this would be it."
  540. >Discord appears near Fluttershy and hugs her
  541. >"And I did say that I was soo sorry that things went so far. "
  542. >Fluttershy giggles a little, hugging him briefly in response
  543.  
  544. >Princess Celestia nods in agreement
  545. >"Indeed, my former student and her friends have come far since her journey began....and still, the danger these three pose, even in this state, cannot be ignored. To build a future of harmony, they....will have to be put aside. At least until we can find a better solution.
  546.  
  547. >You cannot believe what you're observing right now. He fucking spun this to something they wanted to hear and they're buying it!
  548. >"That's a pretty ominous butter knife you've got there," Discord states
  549. >"I bet even the slightest cut could drain the magic out out anypony it touches. Even -I- could fall apart at the seams if you made a cut"
  550.  
  551. >Discord literally falls apart to illustrate his point, but quickly puts himself together again
  552. >"After all the work I did to help my friends, are you really going to betray yours and all of Equestria just because you feel sorry for these three?"
  553. >You look at the silenced Chrysalis and her two companions, then to the Mane 6, then to the expectant Princesses, and back to Discord, who you point your weapon towards
  554. "My friends wouldn't turn the helpless into stone just to build some utopia. Friendship isnt about leaving others behind when things dont work out. If I have to cut you down to stop this madness and snap them to their senses, I'll do just that."
  555. >Gasps from everyone, including a suddenly distressed Fluttershy
  556. >Before Discord can return some fancy quip, you immediately lunge at him and take a good swing.
  557. >It looked like it cut, but as he cries out and (again) falls apart, you quickly note that there wasnt any actual damage or blood.
  558. >He segmented himself just as you made the cut to try playing everyone again.
  559. >You're certain of it - this was too easy, but this was still an opportunity.
  560. >Just before you can plunge your sword into his "severed" head while he plays dead, you're bowled over by a pink and yellow blur delivering a tackle to your midsection.
  561.  
  562. >The speed and suddenness was enough to disarm you as you're sent a few feet away from him
  563. >"Anon, STOP! This isnt like you at all!"
  564. >Fluttershy holds your torso in an attempt to pin you while giving you her best pleading face while you take a moment to recover from having the wind knocked out of you
  565. "Neither.....is any of this like you guys! Now get off of me!"
  566. >As you struggle to pry her off, Discord pulls himself together with a feigned sigh and expression of relief
  567. >"That was too close. I could have seriously vanished forever if that got into me."
  568. >Cozy huffs as she watches you struggle to free yourself from Fluttershy's deathgrip
  569. >"Golly, knocked over by the shyest one and unable to keep fighting? Some help you are, human."
  570. >Fluttershy is removed, but not by your doing, as Discord teleports her back to her friend's side while moving you under the same entrapment that held Cozy, Tirek and Chrysalis, the latter of which glares at you as she tries to voice her disappointment.
  571. >Discord chimes again
  572.  
  573. >"Clearly we're all a little hot under the collar from everything that's happened today. I still say we put these four away-"
  574. >"Three. Anon might have gotten a little carried away, but he's spoken honestly about this matter," Starlight interrupts
  575. Twilight speaks up
  576. >"Its just going to be a short time out compared to what happens to the others, r-right?"
  577. >Still clearly shaken from your roast earlier, but hey, as far as you were concerned, she probably could use an ego boost from seeing your "execution".
  578. >Celestia and Luna nod, with Discord rolls his eyes, likely discontent with not trapping you forever with the rest.
  579. >You struggle and rage to free yourself,while Starlight laughs nervously and winces, unsure of whether a little "time out" would be sufficient"
  580. >Discord rubs his hands together to rev up his petrification magic and the Princesses join in
  581. >"Now, now, no more fussing. Are there last words? I might be able to engrave them, at your base~"
  582.  
  583. >Tirek, who had oddly been the quietest of the bunch, finally speaks
  584. >"Discord, when we worked together to conquer Equestria, I thought I had you figured out. I thought you simply enjoyed making chaos and causing ponies to suffer, and would only abide by them because of their weapons against you.
  585. >Discord chuckles
  586. >"Such fun days they were, even if you were using me, it did feel wonderful to cut loose again....but THAT was the old me"
  587. >Tirek shakes his head
  588. >"No. You havent changed at all....and what you've done with us, what you've done to -them- only makes your true betrayal run deeper than that of my brother."
  589. >Discord waves him off
  590. >"I have no idea what you're talking about, Tirek. I'm reformed now, dont you know?
  591. >Tirek refuses to acknowledge him further.
  592. >Discord gives one look at Chrysalis, but after a pause to consider it....
  593. >"Pass"
  594. >Chrysalis screams into her seal and tries to ignite her horn to do something, anything, but she's rendered too weak from the Rainbow blast to manifest her strength.
  595. >Discord looks down at Cozy Glow, who returns a puppy-eyed stare and a lip quiver, as though on the verge of tears
  596. >"Oh, this ought to be rich."
  597.  
  598. >You only manage to pull half of your upper torso out of the giant weight on your body
  599. >Cozy Glow speaks quietly in a trembling voice
  600. >"-sniffle- I used to wonder what friendship could be...."
  601. >She rubs her foreleg to her eyes, briefly covering her face
  602. >"Until you shared....."
  603. >Her hoof is removed and she returns a wry glare and a smug grin that makes Discord flinch slightly
  604. >"That its full of hypocrisy! Golly, who would think that I would be proven right after all! I started to doubt myself a bit back on Mt. Everhoof when we worked together, and even in our Canterlot bust, I started to think I might have been wrong about friendship like that sorry excuse of a Princess said! Now seeing you all here, judging us and acting like you're all so much better, just because we dont think like you proves my point!"
  605. >She laughs manically
  606. >"Friendship IS power!"
  607. >A look at Discord
  608. >"Power to manipulate without repercussions!"
  609. >To Celestia and Luna
  610. >"Power to decide who should be banished and who can stay with your group!"
  611. >And lastly, to Twilight
  612. >"Power to define and control what and how that group thinks! "
  613. >"I couldnt take Equestria, but I still won against your idea of 'Friendship!' Hahahaha!"
  614.  
  615. >Her words clearly unnerved the crowd as there was a murmur and exchange of glances and whispers all around
  616. >Still, you knew it wouldnt stick. These horses could be made to believe anything.
  617. >You cant get out of this, so you ponder what could you have done differently? How else could you have turned this around if you couldnt cut this deceiver down? Your words had almost reached them before he interfered-
  618. >Wait.
  619. >You glance a distance away and see something dimply glow in the distance
  620. >Yes, of course....if you had the Bell, you could have sucked his power away without needing to make an obvious attempt at it.
  621. >Hell, you could depower the Princesses and everyone else too!
  622. >Then when everyone's nice and weak, you can all sit down and talk this out, and if Discord still insists on being retarded, well, he wont be able to dodge you next time.
  623. >The Bell was still the answer to your problems, and your blade was a means to that end.
  624. >You dont even notice Discord trying to get your attention as you envision your way forward.
  625. >"Oh well, if he has nothing more interesting to say, then why bother."
  626. >Chrysalis angrily nudges you, but it takes a few tries before she finally gets your attention
  627. "What? You still want to say something to him before you're made into a statue?"
  628. >"Mfmfmm"
  629. >You sigh and remove the tape from her mouth as gently as you could
  630. >Strangely, she doesnt react to it, instead shoving you a few more times
  631. "Goddamn it, just speak your mind already."
  632. >"Its time to wake up, you idiot! We've arrived to our stop!"
  633.  
  634. >That isnt her voice.
  635. >Those words make the world fall apart around you as you're forcibly snapped back to reality, back on the long since stopped train. A grumpy stallion conductor shoves you again against your shoulder
  636. >"By Celestia, its been 15 minutes since I started trying to get you up. I thought you might have been in a coma or something. We're at the end of the line, so get out."
  637. ---
  638. >You grumble out a curt "thanks" and grab your things as you leave the locomotive
  639. >Its already late afternoon, but your hike to Kirin town would get you there by nightfall for sure.
  640. >Curiously, Loose Tracks isnt around to greet you at his booth
  641. >You wonder if any of the Kirin happened to have approached him since your last visit.
  642. >He was really spooked about their kind, among the many dangers out there.
  643. >Whatever, there's no time for pondering silly things. Your last vision told you everything you needed to know.
  644. >When you started your train ride, you had your mind on what sort of weapon you would design, but now you've got a better glimpse of the future you could forge, too
  645. >All wasnt lost to you or the others just yet.
  646. >You can still change this, and you will....at whatever the cost.
  647.  
  648. Part 4 - https://pastebin.com/6txAVSKV
  649. >After a mostly uneventful hike into the woodlands, you've made your way down to the Kirin's hometown.
  650. >Even before you got too far into the outskirts, you were already seeing some of them out and about, carrying supplies they dug up from the mountains or from foraging en route to their homes and shops to stock for tomorrow's series of bartering
  651. >Naturally, you opt to speak with some of the passerby about current events in their rustic little town
  652. >Though it was still a cozy place, unlike Ponyville, the kirin were still lacking on the modern conveniences of things like Grocery Shops and projector based movie theater. Still, they lived comfortably and gradually grew in their own way after their Silence spell had been broken
  653.  
  654. >Since they didnt have cutie-marks as regular ponies do, they werent bound to specializations unless they willingly dedicated themselves to a craft.
  655. > It always struck you as a bit odd that Ponies would find their talent and often dedicate themselves with a fervor that detracted from any other avenues that didnt surround the mark's implications
  656. >Still, regardless of the trades or services they took up, there were three things they were exceptionally notable for: their metallurgy, nature magic, and their truth-telling.
  657. >While the former wasnt as widespread as the latter, those who took on the forge could easily match and outdo ponies with marks dedicated to the craft. However, Kirins rarely needed such implements beyond making convenient items like iron based tools equipment for the mines in the Peaks of Peril
  658. >Convincing them to make a weapon might not be all too easy, as they do their best to distance themselves from things that may incite their fiery and wrathful half
  659. >But thats fine - you're skilled enough to work on this with just a little help from the locals.
  660.  
  661. >A rosy pitaya lands in your path from a nearby tree, catching your attention.
  662.  
  663. >"Heya tall stuff. Come here often?"
  664. >That voice is immediately recognizable as you look at a nearby tree
  665. >In it, you find a certain cream colored, orange maned kirin reclining casually on a branch. She's chewing one of its fruits, having peeled back the skin with her magic as she observes you.
  666. "Hey, nice to see you too, Blaze"
  667. >You pick up the fruit and examine it for any bruises, but find its perfectly intact
  668. >"C'mon, join me up here. The view's super great when Twilight leads us into nightfall"
  669. "Hmm," you respond a less than a little enthused at the mention of "Twilight".
  670. >Ever the keen observer, Autumn climbs down to meet you after a few seconds
  671. >"Something eatin' ya, Anon? I'm glad you're visiting, but you look like you're a bit bothered."
  672. >Her head tilts in that cute way their kind's known for when they feel inquisitive.
  673. "Yeah....there is something. I wish I could say this was just a regular visit, but its more than that."
  674. >Autumn nods in understanding, fetching a bag of her own gathered foodstuffs from the tree with her magic
  675. >"Wanna crash at my place for the night? Maybe I can help with whateevr's on your mind. We can talk all about it over drinks."
  676. >Her invitation returns a small smile as you agree to accompany her. Its true that she talks a lot when she's in a really good mood, but unlike Pinkie Pie, she's more than willing to stop and listen the moment she picks up that someone has something to say., especially if its important.
  677.  
  678. >The two of you walk back to her home not too far from the "square" of their settlement, and she quickly unloads her cache after igniting the lanterns inside her abode with some Nirik flames
  679. >Next, Autumn magics over some wooden cups and pops a cork off of a keg of what you presume is her beer stash as she plops herself on her couch, patting a spot with her long tail for you to rest.
  680. >You get comfortable, taking her beverage offering and setting your stuff aside to join her.
  681.  
  682. >While you really want to down your poison, you decide to just have a sip to loosen up some of the internalized tension and fury you've been carrying with you
  683. >Its best to keep yourself as sober as possible, not just for your retelling, but to avoid a nasty hangover impeding your work tomorrow
  684. >Autumn takes hers down to about half, her eyes never leaving yours as she drinks
  685. "I've.....been seeing things, Blaze. Dreams, or visions. I dont know anymore/ At first, I thought it might have been just a one-off deal or that Princess Luna was messing with me."
  686. >"Luna?"
  687. >"Oh right. You guys dont know much about Equestria outside of your homes, huh? She raises the moon and also watches over the dreams of ponies sometimes. Even helps them learn through them on occasion"
  688. >Another head-tilt but she nods and gestures with her hoof to continue.
  689.  
  690. >You recount the details of your dreams, telling her that they repeat over and over. You also gradually explain the situation with Twilight and her friends and their friendship school.
  691. >"Teaching Friendship? Something about that doesnt sit right with me about that, Anon."
  692. "I know, I know. its not something to simply teach but experience. Still, a lot of non-ponies dont understand it, so...."
  693. >"Ah."
  694. >You mentally prepare yourself as you explain Cozy Glow's situation in the School
  695. >She listens silently at first, but after learning of her defeat, she rings up the million bit question:
  696. >"So what happened after she was stopped?"
  697.  
  698. "They threw her in Tartarus and never bothered to check on her or try to help her be better"
  699. >Silence. You watch her reaction very carefully, and for a moment you could have sworn a spark flickered in those eyes as she peers into you.
  700. >Autumn sets her cup down with her magic focibly
  701. >"But they helped us! Fluttershy and Applejack went to such lengths just to figure out what went wrong when they were here! They almost lost their emotions just trying to help us! Why couldnt they help one of their own?!"
  702.  
  703. "I dont know. Twilight just thought she was a lost cause and they ditched her so. None of the others stood up for her either."
  704. "Her, a magic draining centaur with sibling issues, and a changeling queen who lost her hive. They've been imprisoned or left to their own devices when they've done wrong. Out of sight, out of mind."
  705. >Maybe you need another sip. if only to wash down your palpable disappointment.
  706. "They've never tried to aid the foal and centaur. The changeling queen was offered an opportunity, but it was on the tail end of her own kin turning on her. She was probably blinded by her anger and hurt to really consider it. And those who turned never sought her out to mend things either."
  707. >It hurts to see her shock and ire ebb into sadness as her ears flatten and she looks to a corner of the room, but it was the truth.
  708. "Just.....what sort of friendship are they spreading to others these days....?"
  709. >You heave a sigh. This was it....
  710. "Autumn....I havent told you exactly what these dreams I've seen foretold just yet."
  711. >A glance back to you as her horn ignites.
  712. >The entire keg she poured from earlier is brought to her side
  713. "If its anywhere near as bad as this sounds, I might need more refills"
  714. >You wish you had the luxury of getting hammered right now too.
  715.  
  716. >This time, you explain your hand in all of this. Your view of their untimely end, your attempts to bring things up to the Princesses, the way your friends brushed off your concerns, your departure from Ponyville, and lastly your reason for coming here.
  717. >You ended up having more shots as you talked, again to drown your own ire and disappointment....but its becoming hard to tell if its the beer in your system that's making the room feel hotter than it was earlier.
  718. >Autumn's gone from worried curiosity, to shock and disappointment, to....something else.
  719.  
  720. >She hasnt transformed, but her pupils have completely vanished as she bares her fangs, quivering a little on the spot
  721. "Autumn?"
  722. >"How can they be so....so....!"
  723. >Shit, you dont want her to explode into flames, especially with that keg close by
  724. >You quickly get up and kick it a short distance away from her first
  725. >She hadnt erupted (yet) so you decide to try calming her down by booping her nose
  726. >....
  727. >No effect, and you're starting to see sparks flare at the end of her tail
  728. >Well, its all in or potential house fire
  729. >You give the furious horse a full on embrace and pray you dont burn for it.
  730. >"Ssssaahhonn....?"
  731. >The intense heat from that sort of contact was already making you sweat a ton, but your clothing was just enough protection to not burn you
  732. >Autumn looks around as you pull yourself away, having come to her senses with a slight blush
  733. >"S-sorry! I didnt mean to get riled up like that..."
  734. >You sigh, relieved. She's better than others at controlling that, but even then, accidents can happen
  735. "Good to have you back. I know its really aggravating to think they'd be like this after all the good they do. its got me pretty fucked too, but I'm using all of that as fuel for this attempt at making things right."
  736. >Her eyes are tracing over you for any signs of burns, but she settles once you assure her that you're okay.
  737. "I'm going to find a certain artifact and use it to out the one who's setting those three up for failure, as well as subdue the Princesses so we can talk this out....as friends should. I hope you dont mind if I spend a few days here."
  738. >Autumn smiles a little with a nod
  739. >"Are you kidding? You can stay as long as you like! If there's anything else I can do to help with this, just say the word."
  740. "Thanks, Blaze."
  741. >You give her mane and head a rub and she rubs into it a little
  742. >The rest of your night is spent unpacking your things and chatting with your roommate about less weighty topics before you retire for the evening in her guest room.
  743. ---
  744. >You awaken to the smell of breakfast being made, as Autumn Blaze, despite how much beer she chugged last night, rose with the sun and got to satiating her immense hunger.
  745. >Another thing you liked about their kind was that they werent adverse to hunting, prepping and consuming meat.
  746. >Even if it werent a mainstay food compared to their usual fruits and grains that they forage or cultivate, they werent anywhere near as squeemish about it as the mainland would be
  747. >Even their aspiring "everycreature" society, you'd still get looks and nervous smiles or whispers for wanting some fish or bacon.
  748.  
  749. >You decide to have a peak at what's up in the kitchen as you catch a glimpse of your roommate humming a wonderful tune as she preps a pair of plates.
  750. >It doesnt take her long to notice you've been watching her hum and sway to her melody and she greets you with a smile
  751. >"Morning! Did you sleep well, Anon?"
  752. "Pretty good, actually. Its been awhile since Ive had breaks in having those dreams of the future. Need help with anything here?"
  753. >"I'm actually just about done! Have a seat and I'll be right over."
  754. >Taking a seat at her small wooden table, you're eventually met with your plate and a cup hollowed out from a really hard fruit filled with a blended juice
  755. >Your breakfast is also comprised of assorted fruits and veggies, but there are some strips of well cooked squirrel meat
  756. >You make short work of polishing off your plate, savoring every bite of the breakfast offering while Autumn works her own meal with similar voracity.
  757.  
  758. "What an amazing meal, Blaze. Thanks a lot"
  759. >She beams at you as she returns a happy "you're welcome" as she begins detailing how she prepped everything to make that breakfast happen
  760. >You decide to interrupt her before she gets a bit too invested in her rambling to ask about how early the local smiths open shop
  761. >"They're probably already up and about getting ready. I'm sure one of them will be willing to lend you a hoof on your very 'unique' project"
  762.  
  763. >Briefly, you return to your room to gather your materials and tools, bidding your friend a brief goodbye before you set off towards the town
  764. >Autumn had briefly stopped you on the way out to tell you that she'd have some business to see to, so she might not be home when you return
  765. >While you were curious about her plans, you've got your own work to do, so you tell her not to worry but warn that you might plunder her snacks if she's -too- late, which she scoffs at and playfully jabs you about as she leaves
  766.  
  767. >Even though the sun's only risen less than an hour ago, the locals are indeed up and about. Gatherers and hunters are getting their items and groups together, miners are having hot meals by a small fire pit and sharing stories of their recent travels, and the younger of them are meeting their neighbors and friends to either help the adults how they can (if allowed) or looking to play.
  768. >It warms your heart to see them all pulling together like this for almost every little thing - enough so that you even help a few Kirin with their menial tasks along the way
  769. >It made you remember simpler times in sleepy little Ponyville, before it started to pick up on modernizing in the wake of becoming a campus town.
  770. >You cant remember the last time you had to help with Winter Wrap Up or the Running of the Leaves after Twilight saw to the optimization of the weather team's work to make sure Fall and Winter conditions came and went on schedule.
  771. >Friendship was still strong in Equestria, no doubt, but it still felt like it was missing something at times.
  772.  
  773. >You're able to find your way to a part of the small town just on the outskirts where the smithy made their home.
  774. >There's also a small group of the aforementioned miners looking to either commission any tools they'd need for their climb or repair what they've already had
  775. >One of the larger Kirin, who you recognize as one of the experts of this place is accompanied by a few younger apprentices, helping sort the orders he passes onto them.
  776. >Some are even well off enough to work on repairing equipment without his supervision, but he still gives the item an examination just to be sure its done to his expectations
  777. >Its old Bark Pyre. The silver-maned and one eyed kirin dusted off his soot covered spotty cream coat as he appraises another item before handing it over.
  778. >It doesnt take long for him to notice the human standing in the lineup, and he waves you to come on over
  779. >"Well well, if it isn't young Anonymous the Otherworldly!"
  780. >He always did that, attaching "titles" to those he was remotely fond of. He had something for almost everyone, really - save for his apprentices.
  781. >They get titles after meeting his approval to advance at a certain level in his teaching
  782. >The two of you had become fast friends in your visit a few years back, and he showed you quite a few things on advancing beyond the basics you already had down.
  783. >So it really didnt take long for you to get yours.
  784. "Glad to see you're still at it old timer. This place wouldnt be the same without your hammer's singing as it meets the hot iron," you reply with a smile
  785. >"Aye, human. The forge always swells and chimes a beautiful sound for those who put their heart and soul into it, but its at its best when an ensemble gather."
  786. >He motions to a spare set of tools that the apprentices arent using
  787. >"So wont you sing with me this fine morn? We've got a good audience here, just waiting for our performance!"
  788.  
  789. >You happily oblige, opting to use your own tools instead as you help your old friend
  790. >Not only do you get to help, and be helped in kind, but working on those tools would help you warm up your skills for your main project.
  791. >Plus, you get to flex a little on the little greenhorns observing your work with their boss as your combined efforts gradually chew through the orders lined up.
  792. >True to his nature, Bark puts on quite the (literal) performance as the two of you work, giving out a well thought out song about blacksmithing with his apprentices harmonizing as they aid the two of you in handling and distributing the items you would have worked with or finished.
  793. >You almost want to join in, but while it seemed like Ponies were naturally inclined to find their stride in their impromptu songs, you weren't quite as confident at it
  794. >You're content to just keep pace with him instead
  795.  
  796. >The song (and somehow your workload) goes as fast as it came
  797. >Another marvel of pony music you never fully grasped - being able to get a lot done within its very short duration
  798. >Still just as tiring as working for hours on end, though.
  799. >Even old Bark needs a breather while the apprentices chat among themselves about how much fun they had through it
  800. >You wipe the sweat off of your brow as you take a seat next to the old Smith to chat
  801. >"Ahm glad you came back to us, friend," he starts as he has himself a drink of water from a gourd he had set nearby
  802. "Its good to be back. I'm sure you can figure exactly why I'm visiting so well prepped/"
  803. >"Aye, there was something reserved to your method as we worked together. You were holding back...and you're holding in your true feelings for a strong wish alone."
  804. "Nothing gets past you when it comes to smithing," you reply with a nod
  805. >"So what is it, then? What sorta burden you're bearing to offer to the flames?"
  806.  
  807. >The next half hour is spent explaining the design and materials you were hoping to use to the old stallion and apprentices
  808. >They seemed intrigued by the idea of such a potent anti-magic ore would exist, but It was clear that this would be difficult for the apprentices to handle.
  809. >They hadnt quite built the strength to handle the forging process entirely without magic
  810. >"Ah, so it will be a challenge. We will help you as far as we can, but I believe that granting shape and form to your weapon's blade will be a song only you can sing"
  811. "its cool, Bark. I'll take any help I can get."
  812. >He offers a toothy smile in response
  813. >"Come apprentices. Let us prepare the mold and the forge for our friend."
  814.  
  815. Part 5 - https://pastebin.com/0sqYxERU
  816. >While the apprentices work to engrave your desired blade design into a mold, you and Bark decide to give the ore a test run on smaller items
  817. >To scale Everhoof, you would need some spiked frames for your footwear. Surely you could try making some here in the meantime
  818. >Bark was a bit unused to handling his tools without magic, but he seemed to enjoy the odd challenge, even if it slowed him down a little
  819. >Naturally, this wasnt an issue for you
  820. >With some careful work and a bit of trial and error, you manage to fashion yourself a pair to slip into
  821. >While you're at it, you could make some pins for the your outfit
  822. >Just in case you're hit by magic, it might weaken its influence...maybe.
  823. >No harm in making some climbing ice picks too
  824. >All in all, you would spend the bulk of your day with trial and error as the two of you work with the strange material
  825. >It takes quite a bit of effort to work with this metal, even when its heated, making it difficult to shape
  826. >But the end results are rather pleasing to look at - creating a glossy black metal that proves to be exceptionally durable.
  827. >The two of you break for lunch and a rest with the apprentices, who had finished designing the mold you would use for the blade
  828.  
  829. >"I must say, this is quite a difficult ore to shape. I think I might have to leave the main project to you, ", Bark states with a sigh as he wipes the sweat from his brow
  830. >He seems a lot more fatigued than you would expect from helping with these smaller tools, but a part of you theorized that just making contact with this stuff drains the magically dependent equines to some degree
  831. "No worries, friend. Thanks for helping me test this stuff."
  832. >He returns a weary smile as he reclines in a nearby spot, letting his gourd and one of his aides keep him company.
  833.  
  834. >Once your break's over, you and the apprentices get to heating up the forge. They take to their Nirik forms as they aim for the hottest temperatures possible
  835. >Nothing less would do with how pure you intended to make this weapon's edge
  836. >Your previous tests gave you just enough to go on to know how to handle it now
  837. >.....
  838. >Hours pass as you labor, forging and reforging the blade's metals to remove impurities until you're satisfied, and then shaping the hot metal with hammer in hand
  839. >Taking a page from Bark's book, you put your emotions and intent into each and every heavy but calculated swing.
  840. >Everything that had been doused by the displays of kindness and friendship from this place was set aside to allow the flames of your indignation to burn as they should. However, much like the Kirin had learned since their encounter with ponykind, you did not let it consume you
  841. >No, it was merely the fire that powered your engine to move you closer and closer to your goal
  842. >By the time the sun had set, you had allowed yourself a respite as your work was set to cool, removing your sweat-stained attire after working almost non-stop
  843. >"Anonymous, I do not know where you found the stamina to handle such a metal, but those feelings...."
  844. >Bark speaks in a wary tone
  845. "...you could say Ive been a bit peeved lately. I guess I never really had anything to vent it into till now"
  846. >He returns a nod in understanding after running a hoof through his curly floof
  847. >There's one more thing that you wanted to work on before you return while that blade cools, aside from the guard and pommel which one of the other apprentices finished while you worked
  848. >Something just as important as your climbing equipment or this sword
  849. >There's no time to waste
  850. ---
  851. >You are Princess Luna
  852. >And you have no words for what you see before you now after all of the efforts it took to unlock the gate to Tartarus
  853. >After a long flight into its depths, you had come to the platform where the two most fiendish beings who have threatened Equestria in recent memory should be imprisoned
  854. >Yet there cages lay bare, with nary a sign of any recent activity
  855. >Save for an odd stone sculpture of a certain filly and centaur laying in the smaller cage
  856. >"No signs of a struggle or forcible escape attempt," one of your mages note
  857. >"No sign of any visitors prior to our arrival either", another remarks
  858. >Anonymous' words pass through your memory freshly as you do your best to betray no emotions to your servants as you weigh the situation
  859. >Nothing can simply walk in here and free them without leaving signs of their presence or a wake of destruction in their path if they used force
  860. >And the two were powerless to escape on their own accord
  861.  
  862. >That means....
  863. >Wait.
  864. >While a part of you really wants to act immediately, to send out search parties and a warrant for Discord's arrest (or Fluttershy, if need be to draw him out), at least for the purpose of questioning, you also remember that the Outworlder's vision also showed that the three would be inevitably captured
  865. >What if your actions in light of this new information prevented this from coming to pass? What if you enable something worse to happen by taking action now?
  866. >"Your highness? What should we do?"
  867. >Your eyes move to the stallion before you, showing great concern in that there were two escapees on the loose without any reason or explanation how or why.
  868. "Nothing, for now."
  869.  
  870. >He seems taken aback by this, but you press on with your orders
  871. "We are leaving this place. There is no clues or opportunities to be had here"
  872. >"Should we make a report-"
  873. "No. No reports, Archmage Wand Spark. Neither of you are to speak of this matter to each other or the rest of the guard. The situation is indeed worrisome, but I have an idea of what must be done."
  874. >They seem at mild ease knowing that you have a direction to lead them, but still worried about letting this go
  875. >You understand this, but this situation is even more delicate than the norm. Tirek's first appearance and activity was noted by your sister's dreams, much like Anonymous' visions of what was to be.
  876. >However, hers was far more short-sighted. There was only so much to go off of, and her poor planning led to the one you suspect to be involved in this mess betraying Equestria for the rogue villain Tirek when he was supposed to aid in his capture.
  877. >Anonymous' vision showed you both the endgame. It showed you both that they could, and would be stopped.
  878. >You couldnt risk ruining things, as much as your logical mind screamed to take action.
  879. >However....now that you were far more certain that things were going to what he's seen, you account that this crime will absolve the two of escaping Tartarus of their own will - a grave offense you resolve to charge at the one responsible instead.
  880.  
  881. >As you depart with your entourage, you begin to wonder whether or not the odd human had his own preparations ready for the day...and just what would he do when it came. Furthermore, how did he inherit such a prophetic power? Was if of his own acclimation to this world, or was there some other party involved?
  882. ---
  883. >Two days pass
  884. >Having finished out your loadout and forging your weapon and climbing gear and acquiring supplies for your trip, you're all set to set out.
  885. >Autumn had made a point in aiding your prep by helping barter some winter clothing woven from Kirin floof and beast pelts that the hunters had gathered
  886. >You really couldnt thank her enough for housing you and helping out, and just being good company, and you express this sentiment to her whenever you can
  887. >"Its what friends do, Anon. The others tell me you've been helping a lot around town too, even if it doesnt net you anything to trade or gain, so I know you understand that."
  888. >She looks at your blade, casually sheathed away on your back but under your rucksack
  889. >"I hope you dont have to use that on anypony."
  890. "I hope so, too."
  891. >Autumn thought the blade to be rather menacing with the way it darkly contrasted to their magical and colorful world, even now she purses her lips in thought as she gazes upon it
  892.  
  893. >"You know what? I think it could use a little something."
  894. "Oh?"
  895. >Using her magic, the kirin snips off a lock her precious floof and binds it to the pommel
  896. >"There! Now its a little less scary looking~"
  897. >The gesture makes you chuckle - in a way, it did look a little nicer, and-
  898. >"Consider it a reminder of your time here....but hey - you're totally free to come back when you're done!
  899. >"I mean, its not like you're going on a really perilous climb in somewhere freezing cold when you could be nice and warm down south with us, and-"
  900. "Hey..."
  901. >You put your hand on her head to stop her rambling before she can take it too far
  902. "I'll be back. I promise. You and the rest helped me a lot since I came here and I felt I should help in kind too. This place has been wonderful."
  903. >"W-would you consider staying next time?"
  904. >That caught you a little off guard. She's looking at you, having angled her face into the palm of your hand to slightly hide the blush on her face and a bit of her eyes as she gauges your response
  905.  
  906. >It was a question that had popped into your mind before, but was never the forefront of your attention with everything else going on.
  907. >This place was a paradise. Even if it was far removed from a lot of the modern amenities you had been used to in Ponyville, it had a really good charm of its own
  908. >Everything was natural and organically done, the Kirin themselves, though proud and a little temperamental at times, were incredibly kind and invested in each other's day to day
  909. >And Autumn was a blast to be around as well
  910. >Once this is all over, could you really go back to Ponyville? Could you be happy there knowing what the ponies had become, even if you managed to sway them to see the error of their ways? And if you didnt return, who would keep them on task to not lose themselves again?
  911. >Could you still call them your friends after all of this?
  912. >Could you just let them go once you've set things right?
  913. >This....was a more difficult question than you had considered it to be when it bugged you in the back of your mind, now that its at your full attention, but....
  914. "I want to."
  915. >Her eyes and smile widen and her tail swishes excitedly
  916. "I just need time to finish what I've started and set things right. Then, I'll return with an answer, but trust me, I really want to."
  917. >"That's good enough! I'm gonna hold you to that though, so you'd better come back!"
  918. >You smile warmly at the little fluffy bundle of excitement
  919. "I promise."
  920.  
  921. >As you leave, you're seen off by a small entourage of the Kirin you've helped or been helped by in your few days here, including Bark Pyre and his apprentices
  922. >Even their Elder, Rain Shine is there to wish you well on your journey,
  923. >You turn around as you depart on the path leading out of their village and wave them goodbye as you set forth for Mt. Everhoof
  924. >A long journey awaited you, but you were as ready as you would ever be for what lay ahead.
  925. >You hoped.
  926.  
  927. Part 5.5 - https://pastebin.com/8fkikp6g
  928. >You are Grogar
  929. >Well, not really. You're actually Discord
  930. >Seeing the "King" get toppled was a good wakeup call for the other three stooges to try to get their act together
  931. >At least you had hoped it was, Aside from Cozy Glow, they were still mostly aloof at the best of times.
  932. >What they will need is a task - a difficult one that wont pit them against your friends immediately but give them enough challenge to make them see the benefits in teamwork
  933. >Nothing brings that and friendship together like a common goal, after all! You've seen it first hand many times before. When ponies work together, they can make impossible things happen.
  934. >And it certainly does feel good to be a part of that effort, too. Better than you imagined, even.
  935. >Sure, primarily having them learn to overcome things on their own is nice, even if its a little white lie to excuse bringing about a little chaos to shake things up in a world thats been more harmonious than ever
  936. >Even better was that you got to do a little bit of heroism in their most recent confrontation too.
  937. >It was absolutely delightful to be so important that your friends felt like they couldnt do it without you. It made your heart soar to imagine yourself as the key to saving those fair damsels from their vicious enemy, even if you played up the drama a little bit and his presence there was technically your doing
  938. >Oh, who cares, they wont ever find out about that, and what they dont know, never hurts~
  939.  
  940. >But back to your thoughts....perhaps they could be competent enough to acquire "his" Bell.
  941. >Yes, it was once a myth that Grogar's Bewitching Bell lay at rest in the greatest mountain of Equestria, beyond the reach of anycreature
  942. >Even you could not acquire it with how well protected it was
  943. >But there was far more to the story than the writers of old could have ever known.
  944.  
  945. >Grogar was a lot of things - the few books that speak of him call him "the mean old goat", or "the maker of monsters", but you knew better.
  946. >Better than anypony.
  947. >Long ago, before Equestria even had its founding, before even the Windigoes existed, this world was a very different place
  948. >Ponies of the different tribes didnt disagree with each other, and lived in perfect harmony in nature
  949. >Supposedly, there were even other beings similar to that talking Ape Fluttershy and the others met in recent years
  950. >Still, no world of pure good could exist without a counterbalance, and evil slowly crept into the land
  951. >Creatures began oppressing each other, monsters began to appear
  952. >And soon, there was a face to it all, the horned monstrosity of legend himself
  953.  
  954. >Grogar was evil incarnate. He didnt just make monsters out of thin air like a cheap parlor trick - he was both the monsters of one's greatest fears in their mind, as well as the sweet, seductive whisper for power for those who would give into their darkest thoughts.
  955. >And you, were one of his first creations in his plan to throw this world into disarray; to bring chaos and disorder into a utopia and to sow distrust among its populace
  956. >All to spread his influence as distrust, fear, and outright evil began to set into the hearts of the once pure ponies
  957. >The more power he gained, the more you did as well, as he shared just a fraction of it with you on occasion
  958. >Still, it was more than enough. Soon, even the sun and moon were at your mercy to toy with as you saw fit, wresting them from their natural cycle to move at random
  959. >As Grogar's power's grew, he brought greater evils into the realm. With the utopia in shambles from the attacks of lesser monsters, nature in complete disarray, and the feuding of the races, his last act was to scatter them from their home by calling upon the Windigos - spirits he weaved into existence to hound them to the ends of the world, attracted to the negativity you both sew into them all.
  960.  
  961. >The races feuded on how to restore the land, and such were their disagreements that they would attract the Windigos wherever they gathered in large numbers. They would never be capable of uniting or amassing a force to undo what you two did.
  962. >And without any unity or plan to abide by, the races split to solving things their way with a tenuous peace.
  963. >The Earth Ponies sought to reclaim nature and grow a sustainable food source
  964. >The Pegasai attempted to rectify the aberrant weather patterns that you so carefully weaved as you traveled
  965. >The Unicorns hoped to tame the Sun and Moon, at the expense of their magics waning over time
  966. And what few humans who may have existed, disappeared without a trace
  967. >Few bastions were made for each race during these tumultuous times, but no matter what, Ponykind remained separated for thousands of years, all as the two of you enjoyed your domination of this world in the face of the meager resistance they put to those changes.
  968. >The unicorns in particular were a subject of Grogar's interest. As magic was precious to them, to be conscripted to the self-sacrificial duties would often lead the maligned or the self-interested to him, sooner or later....and they in turn would become minions to his ever growing army
  969.  
  970. >....
  971. >And then, things changed.
  972. >Friendship and commonality was found among the three races as they sought a new home.
  973. >The Royal Sisters came to this world
  974. >And evil was pushed back for the first time in thousands of years
  975. >The old fool himself was bested by a pony stealing his prized treasure and sealing it away,
  976. >And ultimately, he would be banished to the aether while you were turned to stone.
  977. >Still, to this day, you wonder if his influence remains in this world, as ponies can still be seduced to evil and have it manifest in unprecedented ways
  978. >Perhaps as long as that Bell exists, so will he, in some form or another.
  979.  
  980. "And that makes the Bell all the more important to have," you grumble to yourself.
  981. >You were different now. Before, you would probably revel in the possibility of your maker returning to help you unmake this peaceful world into the chaotic mess that it once was, but now...you've grown rather accustomed to this charming state of the world
  982. >Even if it needed a little spicing up here and there.
  983. >Certainly it was perfectly safe where it was, at least for now. Yet there is no telling that it always will be.
  984. >Even in a more harmonious world that the self-made Princess of Friendship is trying to create, evil can and will return...and the last thing you would want would be to have Grogar himself come back with it
  985. >Even better, you were certain this ultra-rare relic would smooth things over between you and Twilight as she would gush over its historical significance, and you're sure Fluttershy and the others would be ever so thankful that their best friend was looking out for them as he always does
  986. >It always pleases you so to be the center of attention~
  987. >You decide that its about time to send them on this fetch quest. If nothing else, they will learn to work together, and their friendship going against that of your friends' should make for a spectacular show in the long run.
  988. >And who knows? Maybe they might learn a thing or two and change from such a contest of power. If not, then again, you wouldnt find any harm in stopping them as you did with Sombra
  989. >You could later explain your part in helping them change while testing them with finishing the reformation of Equestria's worst, or be the hero who puts a stop to their "nefarious scheme"
  990. >All with one big, chaotic hurrah of a conflict
  991. >Its a win-win, no matter what happens!
  992. "Well, this party wont start itself. Let's begin!"
  993.  
  994. Part 6 - https://pastebin.com/gMLyH8cN
  995. You are Anonymous the Mountaineer
  996. >And your climb as begun. There was a path to follow up from the initial base of the mountain, and you happened upon a cabin along the way
  997. How curious.
  998. >Though while you're intrigued about who would live out here, you feel its best to press on instead of making unnecessary stops
  999. >As you make your way further on, the paths begin to narrow, and what was once calm weather begins to pick up into a strong gale of winter's fury
  1000. >It were as though the mountain itself was trying to ward you away from the treasure within
  1001. >But you would not be deterred. Not after coming this far.
  1002. >Slowly but surely, you path your way along what remained of the mountain trail until you find a spot where the sudden storm wasnt as strong
  1003. >From there, you begin your climb, using your picks and harness to secure yourself as you scaled your way towards one of the small plateaus that dotted the face of the mountain
  1004. >...
  1005. >It takes almost three hours just to make it to the plateau you targeted, and the skies are growing darker. The storm isnt exactly letting up either
  1006. >You had used some rubies you had on your person to help keep yourself warm.
  1007. >Normally they would be your firestarters while you were out camping, but this unnatural cold had begun to seep into your well insulated clothing
  1008. >Though to keep yourself from catching fire spontaneously, you would have said rubies share a pouch with shards of low quality Magesbane shards to dull their magic to just giving warmth vs creating a flame
  1009.  
  1010. >You are in luck, however. The vantage point you have reveals a cavern into the mountain not too far from where you've roosted, marked by a dead tree before it. It would be best to take a rest there until things settle, or at least till you regain some strength and a plan to fight this abnormal weather
  1011. >Anything is better than attempting to set a bivouac out where you're constantly exposed to this.
  1012.  
  1013. >A short and careful horizontal shimmy and a little decent later, and you've got yourself a shelter for the time being.
  1014. >Its dark and still pretty cold, but nothing you couldnt handle.
  1015. >Before entry, you snap some modestly branches from the tree outside. They were likely not going to be good kindling for a fire, having been exposed to this cold for so long, but at least you could tie your Ruby and Magebane to it to make a light for the cavern
  1016. >Thus, you prepare your makeshift lantern as you enter your temporary refuge
  1017. >The first thing you decide to do is to see how deep this cavern goes, as well as whether or not there was anything else living here. Disappointingly enough, you find that it ends abruptly at a cave-in, with boulders strewn about and the bones of some....very unfortunate griffon.
  1018. >There was nothing else.
  1019.  
  1020. >You sigh and set yourself up at a distance between the entrance and the dead end.
  1021. As you observe the weather outside, you find that it curiously has begun to die down almost as soon as it had kicked up
  1022. >Perhaps the weather itself was magical in nature after all.
  1023. >As long as your presence could be picked up by whatever magic maintained it, the storms would come in all their fury to deter your ascent
  1024. "Maybe the depths are just as dangerous", you muse
  1025. >If this magic here is indeed alive, then there's a chance that trying to reach the bell from within the mountain would be met with a similar end
  1026. >Wait.
  1027. >If this place indeed senses your presence magically, then all you would have to do is strip yourself of every source of it.
  1028. >You could become effectively invisible to this protective magic
  1029. >...Theoretically.
  1030. >It would mean leaving all of your gems aside from the Magesbane behind
  1031. >You wouldnt be able to use the rubies for warmth or your few utility based jewels, so you would have to be extra careful
  1032. >But if there isnt a storm, the climb shouldnt be as hard.
  1033. >You decide to have a small meal and rest.
  1034. >Tomorrow, you'll try.
  1035.  
  1036. >Sleep finds you easily
  1037. >However, unlike the last few days of peaceful rest, you find yourself in another vision.
  1038. >It had been awhile since you've had one, but you're mentally prepared for this.
  1039. >Instead of being plagued by what you had seen, you had spent the last few weeks acting to change things - to make the future you desired more than a dream
  1040. >There was nothing they could show you now that would shake you.
  1041. >As before, you stand between the Mane Six, their allies, and all of their united Equestria to defend three souls who couldnt fathom a better way
  1042. >As before, you would deny that the so called heroes understood the weight of their actions. You would decry their ideal of friendship as blatant hypocrisy
  1043. >But as you do this, you make an extra attempt at changing things.
  1044. >This time, you would have the Bell in your possession, and you waste no time putting it to use first, sapping most of the magic from the Princesses and Discord with ease before trying to reason with the rulers and the deceiver.
  1045. >They will hear you now. They were at your mercy - a fact that emboldened you further
  1046. >However, as you speak to Celestia and Luna, their bodies begin to warp and contort into something else as their forms are overtaken by a magic that isnt their own.
  1047.  
  1048. >You now stand before Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon, glaring at you with vicious intent
  1049. >"You would dare to challenge our will for this treasonous scum? I have built an era of peace through MY actions! Through the actions of those I have chosen!"
  1050. >While this change is a shock to you, your mind doesnt waver
  1051. "You have, but that peace is one that will never last if you cannot forgive your enemies and help them find a better way"
  1052. >Nightmare speaks
  1053. >"Even if they are willing to betray and spite thee?"
  1054. "Forgiveness doesnt mean that we forget, but that they're worth helping be better without lauding their past sins over them. Its never too late to find a better way."
  1055. >The other ponies have begun to vanish around you.
  1056. >Black crystals erupt from your left, as a cloud of purple haze manifests. A pair of hate-filled eyes speaks from this formless mist
  1057. >"And what of their desire to rule?"
  1058. "There will be many who can learn from them and the lives they led and will lead. They may have a following without need for a crown or castle."
  1059.  
  1060. >The world itself fades around you.
  1061.  
  1062. >Discord himself appears in this small semi-circle of wickedness before you
  1063. >"And how would you know that you're not a pawn in their own little ga-"
  1064. >Your blade found itself in his torso, cutting him off mid-sentence
  1065. "Because unlike you, I'm not playing around with their lives, nor will I be toyed with."
  1066. >The Mane Six appear as Discord melts away from existence, all speaking in unison
  1067. >"And you would risk becoming an enemy of us all to help them?"
  1068. >You look at them all as their empty stares bore into your soul
  1069. >But there isnt a doubt in your mind now.
  1070. >There hasnt been for a long time.
  1071. "If doing the right thing makes me your enemy, then I'll be just that. I'll tear the foundations of your false utopia apart if it means giving them a chance. to be better and showing you all where you've gone wrong."
  1072.  
  1073. >There's a deafening silence in the void as they all begin to smile eerily
  1074. >Then, they begin to laugh - the sound of which distorts into something truly haunting as they too gradually vanish
  1075. >A voice speaks out to you amid the cacophony, but you cannot make out its words
  1076. >The intent, however, isnt lost to you. It brings you comfort, as though it suggests that your resolve pleases it. That it urges you to press on and do what you will.
  1077. >No matter the cost.
  1078. >....
  1079. >You awake once more, feeling fairly well rested, compared to your usual dreamscape ventures.
  1080. >Looking to the outside, you see that all is calm, and resolve yourself to leave behind every source of magic you have here.
  1081. >Its about time to press on.
  1082.  
  1083. >It had only been a few hours of rest, but you can see the sun creeping up across the horizon as you make your way outside of the cavern.
  1084. >You warily go a few feet out and wait.
  1085. >....
  1086. >No shifting sky, no sudden breezes, everything seems eerily calm. Perhaps your idea held merit after all.
  1087. >You break out a snack to get something in your system before you continue, using the extra few minutes to just be sure that nothing changes
  1088. >Once you're done and find that the weather remains clear, you continue your climb
  1089. >By mid-day, you've reached a plateau with a cavern, shielded by a faint, golden bubble
  1090. "This is it. It has to be inside."
  1091. >You waste no time drawing your Magesbane blade
  1092. >there isnt any telling that you could fully destroy the barrier, but that might be better for when those three would come this way.
  1093. >You take a stance, pointing your weapon at the barrier as you steady yourself.....and with a strung thrust, you plunge the black blade into its surface
  1094. >There's an immediate reaction as the magic fueling the barrier attempts to fight back, pushing against your weapon and sending gold sparks all about the place as you struggle against it
  1095. >You force your bodyweight into the push, and gradually, your weapon reaches into the other side
  1096.  
  1097. >Once you can get half of it in, you sharply pull your blade horizontally to create a wide tear into the barrier
  1098. >The bottom half of the force-field falls away, leaving a rift that you're easily able to roll under with your weapon in tow.
  1099. >Not wasting any time, you make your way into the cave to retrieve your prize...
  1100.  
  1101. >Not too deep into the cavern, you find the Bell itself resting on a well engraved podium, depicting its theft by a certain pony and the pursuit by its owner of the thief
  1102. >Curiously, it seems to depict that the Goat creature did indeed find and enter this place, but could not leave with the bell in tow, and you can see why.
  1103. >There was a shield surrounding the floating Bell itself, and its condition reflected that of the shield outside - in your case, that means there was a nice horizontal opening left from your weapon cutting into it
  1104. >If someone narrowly managed to get inside and the barrier mended itself, then the bell would be out of their reach still, as they would likely be drained from all the effort put into just entering this place.
  1105. >But you arent relying on magic here.
  1106. >You open your bag and take out the special item you crafted last in your time among the Kirin - a fake Bewitching Bell, designed solely off of your memory of those visions you had repeatedly experienced.
  1107. >It was crafted out of the most dense quartz you could find with an emerald core grafted into its center; the former was exceptional at storing magical energy in good quantity, and the latter serves as a "magic magnet" of sorts.
  1108. >Putting the two together should allow it to serve its purpose when the time of the trio's betrayal comes: They wont completely drain Discord, but it should be enough to reveal his disguise to make him flee, and empower them enough to still be threatening.
  1109. >For good measure, you withdraw a shard of Magesbane and hit the fractured sphere once more to open it up slightly, and swap the bells with each other, storing your prize away
  1110. "They wont notice the difference. Everything will go as Ive seen it time and time again."
  1111. >Noticing that the shield around your floating faux-bell is beginning to mend itself, you quickly take your leave for the exit.
  1112.  
  1113. >The barrier mends itself mere moments after you leave the cavern. You take a moment to look back at it as you contemplate on where you will go from here, and what you can do.
  1114. >Returning to Ponyville isnt much of an option - not only because of your grievances with the ponies who snubbed you, but because your presence there may change how things go.
  1115. >Perhaps settling somewhere on the outskirts of Canterlot and Ponyville would be better. The areas were rich in game to hunt and fresh water was easily accessible....and you'll be close by when Cozy, Tirek and the others begin their assault
  1116. >As you begin your climb down, you hear something thud onto the plateau.
  1117. >No, two things.
  1118. >You peer up from the edge and see Chrysalis and Tirek, with Cozy Glow on his shoulders as they arrive to the cave, having worked together to scale the mountain
  1119. ("It looks like I was just on time, but they're here a lot sooner than I expected")
  1120. >While there's.....a lot you really want to tell them, you quickly remember just who you would be dealing with - the obstinate changeling queen, a centaur who wouldnt think much of beating the shit out of you, and an exceptionally cunning filly who might be too curious about your presence here for anyone's own good
  1121. >It pained you that you couldnt warn them of what was to come, but its best to just get out of here while they do their thing.
  1122. >And so you do.
  1123.  
  1124. Part 7 - https://pastebin.com/Y6y5Tuz6
  1125. >You are Anonymous the Watchful
  1126. A week and a few days pass. Your camping trip on the plains has been a good one as you watch the skies, cooking some fish over an open flame.
  1127. >You didnt have many resources left - having picked up what you left behind at the "griffon's dead end" on the way down and simply subsisting out here instead of mining as you waited
  1128. >There hasnt been any dreams since you've gotten the Bell itself, but keeping it around you does fill you with a sort dread.
  1129. >Could it be because you feared failure after coming this far? Or was it because you knew what you had to do, but feared the unknowable outcome?
  1130.  
  1131. >As you poke your cooking fish with a free stick, you notice the skies begin to darken.
  1132. >A chill runs down your body as unnaturally cold breeze blows through the area. You can see faint ghostly figures dancing about in the clouds and knew just what they were and what it meant
  1133. >The Trio's plans were already moving rapidly to their final stages
  1134. >Equestria would be rife with division and dissent, the ponies would be captured and would later escape their captor's hold to confront their enemy in a final showdown.
  1135.  
  1136. >You take your meal to go and put out the fire. Packing what little you've got on your person now and retrieving the bell and your blade, you look to the skies once more
  1137. >Whatever happens today, the only thing that you can be sure of is that everything will change, for better or worse.
  1138. "Its time to go."
  1139.  
  1140. >...
  1141. >"The elements showed me and my friends how strong our friendship could be. Together we work to bring harmony to Equestria! But there will always be more to do. Which is why we teach others about the magic of friendship - others who will continue our mission after we are gone..."
  1142. >You can already hear Twilight's preaching from where you stood, her range empowered by her accumulated magic. Still, you're some distance away, as you continue your sprint towards the field.
  1143. >The light-show is already beginning as they come in sight after you round a hill. The massive three pronged Rainbow fusing into one source was a sight to behold, but it filled you with urgency than wonder as it crashes down on Twilight's intended targets.
  1144. >Your fake bell clatters along the ground after the there are stripped of their power, crackling to capacity with the magic it had taken early on. Naturally, Pinkie manages to seize it, using its abundant chaos magic to spawn a giant treat to trap the weakened villains beneath.
  1145.  
  1146. >However, her transformation sets off the unstable Bell, causing a reaction that makes it erupt with all of the accrued magic, which is then returned to their rightful owners.
  1147. >"Well, this is a treat even sweater than Pinkie's cupcake~", Discord chimes
  1148. >"I never thought it possible that it could reach capacity but oh well - perhaps its for the best."
  1149. >You push past the crowd of gathered ponies as you continue your sprint, with some gasps and callouts from some who might have recognized you as you rushed by
  1150. >The reinvigorated Sun Princess step forward to press their accusation.
  1151.  
  1152. >"There isnt a punishment worthy of all you've done!", Celestia declares
  1153. >You're almost there, but Twilight and company has noticed your approach as Discord whispers in the ears of the Princess
  1154. >"Anon?! Where are you-?!"
  1155. >Seeing your blade as you reach for it, she attempts to magically restrain you, but you were expecting some interference.
  1156. >Brandishing the REAL Bewitching Bell in your free hand, her magical energy is immediately sucked away before it can properly connect with you, making her recoil in shock from being suddenly stripped of everything she had.
  1157. >The reaction, along with your sudden appearance stunned the rest of her group into inaction too
  1158. >In the same moment, you use the last magical stone you had to grant you a burst of wind based momentum; taking a leap as you unsheathe your blade to bring it down on Discord, who's only just noticed you from being so invested in whatever he was plotting
  1159. >This was it.
  1160. >No Mane Six to stop you
  1161. >No trickery from Discord being prepared
  1162. >No Princesses ready to react.
  1163. >It all came down to this moment
  1164.  
  1165. Celestia narrowly had a chance to give you her dumbstruck reaction, but Luna had continued speaking as you had lunged over
  1166. >"We cannot do this, Discord", she says sternly
  1167. >What
  1168. >It was enough....just enough, to narrowly alter your swing. Instead of splitting him down from his head as he looked your way.....your swing lops off his eagle's arm as you land close
  1169. >Your eyes widen as you attempt to process what happened and quickly decide on how to react: You could turn around and swing while he's writhing or.....or....
  1170. "...!"
  1171. >You tun around and use the Bell to rip his and the Princess' magic away
  1172.  
  1173. >You are Princess Celestia
  1174. >It all happened within mere seconds, and you've had just as much to process what transpired
  1175. >The once strange but amicable human was hunched behind you and your sister, wielding a weapon that actually dismembered Discord - the arm itself laying right next to you after being severed.
  1176. >And he has the Bewitching Bell? But it had just shattered when Pinkie Pie had used it! The shock of having your magic forcibly ripped again wasnt as bad as before, but it still left you with tremors as you observed your surroundings
  1177. >The Draconequus himself was screaming in agony as he bled profusely for the first time, trying to invoke chaos magic he didnt have with the snap of his other hand's fingers
  1178. "W-what is the meaning of this!? Anonymous!"
  1179. >Even stranger still was your sister. Luna, while taken aback, seemed to be more composed about this than anypon-....anycreature here.
  1180. >Determined, even.
  1181. >She quickly steps forward, joining Anonymous by his side as Discord retreats from you both to distance himself from his attacker
  1182. >The man rises to face you, gripping his blade as he sees Discord snaking away, but Luna intervenes.
  1183.  
  1184. >"Enough is enough, Anonymous. I have not forgotten what we've seen and spoken of that night. We will right this wrong together."
  1185. >Anon seems....pensive about letting Discord go, but Luna's unwavering stance allows him to relent after a short silent stare-down
  1186. >'Right this wrong'? Your sister had conspired with the human after he had gone rogue from Ponyville? Why has she not spoken of this to you? And why has he come to disrupt the punishment they would receive?
  1187. "Sister, what are you doing siding with him as he protects these creatures? Is this yet another betrayal? After all you've done to change?"
  1188. >Luna seems shocked that you would levy such an accusation on her, but though it wasnt your most nuanced way of defusing an already high-tension encounter, it was the only thing that could come to mind.
  1189. >Its quickly blown over when Cozy Glow pipes up
  1190. >"Hey, if we had managed to recruit Nightmare Moon, do you think things would have been different?"
  1191. >"Nightmare Moon is dead," Luna states curtly as she glances over her shoulder to the trapped three before facing Celestia again.
  1192. >"Sister, we cannot believe you would laud such a claim against us. We vowed to stand for Equestria's citizens and what it stands for ever since our return to....normalcy."
  1193.  
  1194. >Twilight and her friends have arrived now and are looking try helping tend to Discord, and your former student joins your group warily, noticing that Anon is still very much armed and observant of their movements as he patiently listens
  1195. >"Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, what the hay is happening here? A-and Anon, what's happened to you?! Why did you do that to Discord?!"
  1196. >You decide to speak before things get messier than they already are
  1197. "There is a lot to answer for, but perhaps now isnt the time and place-"
  1198. "No, now is THE time and place, I've waited for this day to come, and I wont be satisfied until we've made this right" Anon interjects.
  1199. >"M-made what right? What's wrong?"
  1200.  
  1201. >Luna nods in agreement
  1202. >"Twilight, have your friends keep Tirek, Cozy Glow, and Chrysalis from escaping. We have much to discuss."
  1203. >You watch as Twilight gets to setting a meticulously calculated perimeter around the giant cupcake of those best fit to guard it
  1204. >Luna herself asks Anonymous for some of her magic in order to speak privately with him, Celestia, and Twilight about these events; a request he begrudgingly acquiesces to.
  1205. >With your sister's magic and Twilight's return, a magic bubble is formed around the group as you begin talks over this bizarre situation
  1206. "Luna, why didnt you tell me about any of this?"
  1207. >"Truth be told, Anonymous spoke of such things before when he came to our court. Do you remember his 'urgent' visit? You had written his ramblings off as nothing to be concerned of or an active imagination....and so did we, at the time"
  1208.  
  1209. >Luna looks away
  1210. >"But then, we had an opportunity to observe his dreams....to see the full extent of what would come to be. That which has manifested itself now. Sister, you too had prophetic visions of great dangers when Tirek had returned"
  1211. "I....remember, yes. They were sparse, but it was a warning of sorts that we had to act-"
  1212. >"And act I did," said the human "Even when everyone laughed it off and you didnt listen, I decided to do something."
  1213. >"You asked why we did not inform you. On the topic of Tirek, do you remember how sourly your plan for protecting Equestria's magic had turned? Had we united the bearers on the matter, things could have gone much smoother, even with Discord's betrayal."
  1214. >A blush forms on your face. Its true that things didnt go completely as expected, but...
  1215. "But we did stop him," Twilight states confidently
  1216. >"Yeah, sure....at the cost of your home and nearly everything you love.", Anon chides.
  1217. >She noticeably deflates at that, but cant muster a rebuttal.
  1218.  
  1219. >Luna gazes at you once more
  1220. >"Sister, we could not afford to make matters worse. To take chances that may fall through. That is why we kept you in the dark, and I am sorry."
  1221. >You dont know how to process this, but more importantly...
  1222. >"And what were the two of you trying to change?" Twilight inquires.
  1223. >"You heard what Discord said, Celestia. The punishment he had gleefully planned. I cant let you do that," Anonymous states.
  1224. >So he is indeed protecting them.
  1225. "Will you make a case for them?"
  1226. >"Not formally. I'm no lawyer, but there's some things you should know before you drop your gavel on them, especially at the behest of that snake," he hisses
  1227.  
  1228. >"Discord was behind all of this. Impersonating Grogar, he freed Cozy Glow and Tirek from Tartarus, where they were harmless, and brought Chrysalis from her vagabond life in the woodlands. Twilight can attest to as much."
  1229. >Your gaze shifts to Twilight, who seems to be both confused and anxious that the human was privy to such knowledge. Her eyes meets yours and she nods in agreement with his words
  1230. >"He even revived Sombra-"
  1231. >Your eyes widen, remembering the chaotic mess that day was
  1232. >"-and allowed for his rampage, which damaged the Tree of Harmony, one of the few sources of magic that could impede him. I know your friendship magic doesnt -need- it, but that still holds weight. All while pretending to be the 'hero'"
  1233. >Both you and your former student are dumbfounded
  1234. >"What proof do you have of this?" asks Luna
  1235. >Anon looks at the confused villains, observing the conversation from their bind
  1236. >"Just ask them. Use truth telling magic if you must, but they know 'Grogar' revived him"
  1237.  
  1238. >"Did you have to...do that to him though?" Twilight asks, wincing as the image of his dismemberment remains fresh in her mind
  1239. >"After all he's done, he's lucky to not be dead," Anon states coldly, glaring as Fluttershy tries to comfort him as he's seen to by some doctor ponies
  1240.  
  1241. Part 8 - https://pastebin.com/yyCehPx5
  1242. >You are Starlight Glimmer
  1243. >After what should have been a close but still amazing victory, a surprising intervention had occurred with the return of Anonymous the human
  1244. >And now he's holding an impromptu meeting with the Princesses while the defeated villains are guarded. Even powered down, precautions are carefully made to secure them on site until this meeting ends
  1245. >Applejack insisted on helping keep an eye on Cozy Glow to make sure no one was swayed by her silver tongue
  1246. >Fluttershy had gone with the medics to keep Discord company after securing his removed limb
  1247. >And you had moved Pinkie Pie aside to recover from the shock of the Bell's explosion
  1248. >That only left you, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash.
  1249.  
  1250. >The former seemed at a loss as to what to make of the situation unfolding before them
  1251. >The latter was....as you would have expected, very angry - the target of her ire being the human who had made Fluttershy terribly upset.
  1252. >Even now, the cyan pegasus was flying around the barrier, looking for any point of entry she could find to give Anon a piece of her mind
  1253. >When that failed, she tried knocking against it to get their attention - likely feeling as though her demands for answers outweighed the meeting they're having right now
  1254. >Seeing a moderately distressed Twilight doesn't help, as Anon is in the middle of grilling both Twilight and Luna at once - both have their ears folded back and a look of concern as he gestured towards Cozy Glow while cornering them during his lecture
  1255. "Rainbow Dash-"
  1256. >"Lemme in, Twilight! You're just gonna let him talk to you like that after all of this?!"
  1257. >Using your magic, you pull the bucking mare away from the shield to get her attention.
  1258. "Can you cut that out? We don't have a full understanding about what's happening in there!"
  1259.  
  1260. >"So what?! He just shows up out of nowhere after we narrowly beat those bozos, attacks a friend of my friend, and now he's harassing the Princesses! What more do we need to understand?!"
  1261. >Her wings are spread out as she stares you down, breathing sharply with agitation. Clearly Dash is still riled up from both what she described and almost 0 downtime after they escaped what could have been a near-death experience from the earlier showdown.
  1262. >You'll have to help her calm down before things escalate further
  1263. >Time to engage your Counselor Mode
  1264. "Rainbow, I understand how you feel...trust me, I know this looks absolutely awful. We've just barely saved Equestria and put our lives on the line like never before, and still the situation is still a very tense one."
  1265. >Rainbow Dash hasn't backed down from her aggressive stance, but she is listening.
  1266. "But look, Anon's weapon isn't drawn. The Princesses are listening to what he's saying and giving their own thoughts in kind. Princess Luna has her magic back after it was stolen by him, too."
  1267. >Dash huffs and lowers her wings slightly in response
  1268. >"He still cut off Discord's arm."
  1269. "He, uh....yeah. He did do that. Seeing somecreature bleed out like that was a pretty big shock, too....but he's getting help, and Fluttershy's with him."
  1270. >You offer a smile, but it was lacking your usual confidence as the image of that event flashed freshly in your mind
  1271. >Not once have you ever seen Discord in actual agony. You doubt you'd forget that moment easily, if ever.
  1272. "Either way, it looks like they are handling things reasonably, even if the topics they discuss are sensitive and the timing isnt the best. I know you want to be there to support your friend - I do, too...but there are some things she has to handle as a Princess. that we cant interfere with till called upon."
  1273.  
  1274. >You glance over to Twilight, hoping to find something reassuring to add. Maybe an inkling about how well the talks are going
  1275. >What you would find is just the opposite - Twilight seems to be staring at the ground, wide eyed and her mouth slightly agape and seeming somewhat pale - as though some awful realization had struck her deeply and she had no idea on how to process the revelation.
  1276. >Luna is biting her bottom lip and wincing slightly, and Celestia simply closes her eyes, still maintaining her composure as she considers whatever they've been sharing this whole time.
  1277.  
  1278. >Dash seems to have shifted from annoyed to a bit worried as she notices their expressions.
  1279. >"What could he be telling them to make them look like that?", she wonders openly
  1280. "I'm not sure....speaking of Anonymous, Pinkie had brought up something to me sometime back, not long after he left."
  1281. >This catches Dash's attention as she faces you again
  1282. "She went looking in his house for him to make sure he hadn't hid away to mind his business. Of course, she didn't find him there, but she did find a book of his that explained his feelings about some recent developments at the time."
  1283. >"Pinkie found it? What did she tell you? Did it explain why he ran away or any of this craziness?"
  1284. >In a way, it bothered you a little that you would be breaking your trust with Pinkie to bring this matter up with somepony else, but if there was anypony who might need to know his side of things, it would be the ponies who helped fuel his decision to leave....right?
  1285. >Truth be told, there wasn't much you could do to ease her concern as you didnt know Anon too well, nor what he would be capable of. You wished that there was something you could have done
  1286. >Also you were overworked with visitors from the student body, so even if you wanted to, your time to do so was unfortunately incredibly limited.
  1287.  
  1288. "Well, you see, it all began when he had a dream that nopony gave any credence to..."
  1289.  
  1290. ---
  1291.  
  1292. >You are Fluttershy
  1293. >And your sobbing wont stop, even after making it to the ER with your friend
  1294. >Fortunately in his depowered state, the amnestics and immediate first aid they offered worked pretty well for his induction into the hospital
  1295. >But it wasnt long before news came from one of the attending nurses about their preliminary findings
  1296. >Discord's arm, as well preserved as it were by the unicorns who aided you by freezing it, was effectively dead.
  1297. >Perhaps it was because he was the physical manifestation of a magical spectrum, but whatever Anon's weapon did, it rendered the arm unable to be reconnected or healed with magic
  1298. >And without his magic, not only could he not restore that missing limb, but he couldnt heal the wound either.
  1299.  
  1300. >You just couldnt understand what went wrong.
  1301. >Was it something you or the others did or said? You knew he and Discord never got along all that well, but you never imagined things would come to a head like this
  1302. >What could have made Anon do something like this?
  1303. >And what could you do or say now that would make him give back Discord's magic?
  1304. >Rubbing your eyes and quieting your sobbing, you resolve yourself to try....you have to try asking him to help your friend; to show some mercy, whatever disagreement they could have had to lead to this
  1305.  
  1306. ---
  1307.  
  1308. >Once more, you're Anonymous the Intercessor
  1309. >And you've made your case to your peers
  1310. >Twilight looks like she's been spooked out of her mortal shell, now that she realized how she had failed as both a Princess of Friendship and the head of her own Friendship-themed institution, to correct and aid someone who fell through her system instead allowing her to be sent to pony hell
  1311. >Especially after Starlight had to beat the idea of redemption being possible for even the worst of cases into her skull not too long ago
  1312.  
  1313. >You told them that you didnt expect or even desire them to just forgive or forget how these three managed to almost turn pony society on its head
  1314. >No, most importantly, you wanted them to understand the root of the issue that led to this catastrophe so that instead of imprisoning them again for who knows how long, they can mend things and avoid another incident like this in the future
  1315. >And most importantly, you wanted the horses to see the wool Discord had pulled over them all throughout, especially with this situation.
  1316. >He hadn't changed; he couldn't and shouldn't be trusted.
  1317. >All he desired was to create chaos, writing off the aversion of disastrous results as a valuable lesson learned by his "friends"
  1318. >Even if it came to the expense of the lives or trauma of others
  1319. >Being the spirit of Chaos is no excuse to allow harm to come to their own
  1320.  
  1321. >"Today, we had almost cemented the grave mistakes of the past, but now we have an opportunity to change things", Luna states with a solemn nod
  1322. >"Perhaps it is not yet time for us to retire, sister. Clearly there is still much we must do. There is a chance that we can track down Tirek's brother and arrange a meeting while he's in our custody."
  1323.  
  1324. "Get Thorax to do something about his mother for once," you add. "Its not just a pony problem, but a Changeling one. Help him however you can, because he probably wont get far on his own"
  1325.  
  1326. >The ponies nod in agreement as things come to a close
  1327. "Oh, and....If you all agree to help them turn a new leaf, do let them meet each other from time to time with careful supervision. They may deny it up and down, but they've got a bond unique to them. It shouldn't be wasted, and hey, it might even help them change for the better"
  1328. >"Those three did show an uncanny capability to coordinate themselves in our confrontation earlier," Celestia murmurs
  1329. "There's nothing uncanny about it. Its just friendship of a different kind. Now, I'll return your magic if you promise me that you'll make an honest effort on their behalf, regardless of what punishment you drop on them."
  1330. >"We will do our best, Anonymous, we swear to thee" Luna pledges
  1331. >"It wont be easy, but I promise to do what I am able", Celestia responds in kind
  1332. >It takes Twilight a moment to compose herself before delivering her own answer
  1333. >"The magic of friendship.....is something that I wanted to be shared to everycreature across the land. Its hypocritical to not even think of extending a hoof to even the worst of us, especially if they're acting out of hurt or misunderstandings. I don't know if its not too late to turn things around, but we'll never know if we never try. I promise to do...to be better in these endeavors from now on."
  1334.  
  1335. "...Good. That's what I want to hear."
  1336. >Raising the Bewitching Bell, you focus your intent on returning the magic it held, and it responds in kind. The other Princesses are reinvigorated, though the Bell itself doesnt relinquish -all- of their reserves. Just most of it, as Twilight remarks after the fact
  1337. >Its not a problem, though, as what isn't there will return to them naturally over time.
  1338. >The barrier is lowered and Twilight's two friends rush into the space as soon as the chance comes.
  1339.  
  1340. ---
  1341.  
  1342. >You are Starlight Glimmer
  1343. >Their talks seem to have come to a close as the shield dissipates. Rainbow and Rarity are the first to approach her, but you're not too far behind.
  1344. "Twilight, darling! Is everything alright? You had us all anxious that something grave had come- err.....not that sir Anonymous' arrival in itself was grave, but...you know what I'm getting at."
  1345. >Dash puts herself between Twilight and the passive human as though to threaten, but he completely ignores her as he walks on by
  1346. >"Hey! Just where are you going?!"
  1347. >Anon pauses to regard the cyan pegasus curiously
  1348. >"Nowhere out of the way. I'm just gonna watch the cleanup."
  1349. >"You're not even gonna explain yourself after all of that?!
  1350.  
  1351. >Anon is about to answer, but Twilight pulls her aside
  1352. >"We'll talk about everything, Dash, I promise. I have some things to answer for regarding this mess....."
  1353. "You? Answering for this? How could you be responsible for -any- of this?" you inquire
  1354. >Twilight's gaze turns to you
  1355. >"Remember when you helped me see that Stygian could have still had some good in him, despite becoming a complete monster by being overtaken by his own darkness? How do we know that something similar inst the case for Cozy Glow as well?"
  1356. "Well, she isnt exactly possessed with a malevolent magic-", you start with an eyebrow raised before being cut off
  1357. >"No, no its not evil magic. I think that something has happened to her in the past to make her this way. She's just a filly, but her experiences and her talent has taken her down a very dark path."
  1358. >A flash of your own past as a foal pulls itself to your attention from the recesses of your mind and you unconsciously take a step back
  1359. "Are you suggesting that she could be like me?"
  1360. >"Its possible, but as Headmaster of the School of Friendship, I failed at entertaining that possibility; even when I acknowledged it when we became friends ourselves. None of this occurred to me when she revealed her plans."
  1361.  
  1362. >You take a seat as you consider Twilight's words
  1363. >The more you actually think, the more questions arise about the overall situation
  1364. >Just who IS Cozy Glow? Despite her interactions with the students and staff, little was actually known about where she came from or what really made her to be what she is.
  1365. >There wast even an investigation into how she came to get on agreeable terms with Tirek of all creatures!
  1366. >Oh Celestia, how did everypony just let this sit as an open and shut case with no investigation!? So much of this could have been avoided if you all had just-
  1367. >Twilight's hoof snaps you out of your mental spiral as she rests it on your shoulder
  1368. >"Its okay, Starlight. It doesn't excuse what she did fully, but we have a responsibility as both ponies and the Counselor and Headmare who took her in."
  1369. "We....we do, Twilight. I'll do everything I can to help."
  1370. >Dash seems to be catching on to the implications Twilight spoke of earlier, but still huffs in annoyance. It wasnt easy for her to just let something like this fly, but seeing the two of you decide on something is enough to get her to stand down for now.
  1371.  
  1372. >The Princesses and the Pillars are escorting Tirek and Chrysalis to Canterlot's dungeons with magical suppressors equipped, and Twilight and the Students are taking Cozy Glow away to hold her somewhere in her own castle for now.
  1373. >Anonymous moved to a different spot, of the field to lower the odds of Dash badgering him, though he then had to deal with a recovered Pinkie jumping him for a hug at his return.
  1374. >Their reunion is interrupted shortly after Anonymous manages to pry Pinkie off of him with the return of Fluttershy, who appears to ask to see Anonymous alone for a bit.
  1375. >He obliges, setting Pinkie down after what looked like an explanation of their decision before leaving with the worried pegasus
  1376. >You only had an inkling as to what they would discuss, but hoped that things wouldn't get any crazier than they already had today.
  1377.  
  1378. Part 9 - https://pastebin.com/yFEQvmc5
  1379. You are Anonymous
  1380. >And you had hoped that this topic could have waited for another day or so at least
  1381. >However, Fluttershy had come straight to you about Discord's condition not so long after she had left with him
  1382. >Apparently your weapon was more effective than you had given it credit for
  1383. >Not only did it leave a really nasty wound that the doctors couldnt properly mend with their magics, nor that his arm was unusable from the cut, but he could possibly die a slow and agonizing death if what magic they use to stabilize him falls through.
  1384. >After telling you all of this, Fluttershy was about to tell you how he could be helped, but you decide to interrupt her.
  1385. "So what?"
  1386. >Buttershush's eyes widen as she clams up
  1387. >"Umm.....excuse me?"
  1388. "So what, Fluttershy?", you repeat "Why should I help him? Why should I show him mercy?"
  1389. >Your tone isnt filled with venom or spite, things Fluttershy likely assumed you had harbored considering what you had done
  1390. >It was a genuine inquiry
  1391.  
  1392. >In truth, you didnt like the idea of someone suffering till their end came. You wouldnt wish it on anypony, or human yourself. However, you wanted her to justify helping this monster masquerading under the guise of a friend
  1393. "He's betrayed your kind with Tirek willingly. He constantly badgers and bothers your friends just to get attention, and now he manufactured a problem to you and Equestria's greatest peril yet, nearly damning three otherwise hapless individuals to a terrible fate had I not acted.
  1394. >With each sentence, you take a step forward and she scoots back in response
  1395. >You could tell that she knew your words were truth.
  1396. >She feared facing the facts just as much as she feared facing someone willing to do harm to set things right
  1397. >Her gaze only meets yours when you've stopped after another step, and her ears press hard against her head when she looks upon your face
  1398. "Fluttershy. Why shouldn't I just put him out of his misery with my blade?"
  1399.  
  1400. >Though your presence and eerily restrained demeanor intimidated her, Fluttershy quickly finds her spine and speaks up
  1401. "B-because...everycreature deserves a chance...", she squeaks
  1402. >You know that isnt the end of it, so you wait patiently
  1403. >"I....I know he's not been a very good friend. Even if he means well, he cant help but cause trouble or raise problems"
  1404. "Yeah, who needs enemies with friends like that guy?"
  1405. >She winces at that, but continues on
  1406. >"Still, I didnt expect 'reforming' him to be something that just happens in a day. Even after he apologized for the Tirek incident, he still hasn't grown a lot, but he IS changing for the better, Anon. Slowly but surely "
  1407. "Fluttershy, you have no idea whether he's really changing or just using you to get away with his schemes. I bet that none of you even considered punishing him for this mess despite it all being a problem he created."
  1408. >"You're right....it hadnt come to mind - and its true that Discord did make up a lot of issues for us. Still, just because he's problematic doesnt mean that I should give up on him, should it? What sort of friend would I be then if I did?
  1409.  
  1410. >Fluttershy offers a small smile, relaxing a little as she believed herself to be making a point that got through to you
  1411. >It quickly vanishes when you chuckle a bit before laughing at her while holding half of her face in your palm
  1412. "Fluttershy, you're truly the Element of Kindness if you're willing to give him a free pass no matter how shitty he is to you and your friends. You're just -too- damn kind."
  1413. >But your mirth quickly runs dry as you focus on her again
  1414. "I wonder where that kindness was when a filly nearly sucked the magic out of your world and got sent to Tartarus without a second thought. I wonder whether you would have stopped the Princesses yourself to give them a chance, too."
  1415.  
  1416. "It sure would have saved me the restless nights and everything that came afterwards if you and the others would have spared some kindness for generosity's sake; if you all had made an honest effort to help your enemies change, ultimately gaining their loyalty so you could all share in the laughter and magic friendship brings."
  1417. >Fluttershy is looking away from you now, hiding her face behind her mane
  1418. >Stopping to her level, you turn her head to face you, eliciting an eep of surprise
  1419. "I agree with you that everyone deserves a chance to be better. Nopony, or creature should be left behind just because they mess up, especially if why they fail is never dealt with. I dont agree with letting stuff like this go time and time again, though."
  1420.  
  1421. >You pick up the Pegasus in one arm as you start walking.
  1422. >"A-anon, where are we going? What are you going to do?"
  1423. "We're going to Ponyvlle's hospital. I'm going to finish what was started."
  1424. >At this, she struggles free and blocks your path
  1425. >"P-please...wont you reconsider hurting him further?", she whimpers
  1426. "I'm not going to hurt him, but if you want to ensure that I dont change my mind, perhaps you can answer some questions for me along the way about him."
  1427. >"Anything! I'll answer as best as I can if you promise not to."
  1428.  
  1429. >As unfortunate as it were, after all of this, you couldnt trust the ponies to completely leash that monster. One day, he will likely come after you, maybe even sooner rather than later
  1430. >But if you were untraceable, and vanished from Ponyville without a lead, you could still live peacefully
  1431. >You dont give her a yes or no, but go straight to your question
  1432. "How does he find you or anypony specific from his dimension?"
  1433. >"Oh....well, he's really good at finding magical traces of other beings. Its how he could track down Tirek when he was on the loose"
  1434. "So if it has magic, it can be found by him, huh?"
  1435. >"I think so. Thats what he told me, anyway..."
  1436. >You glance to your ebony blade as an idea comes to mind
  1437.  
  1438. >Ever since you had come to this magical world, the magic itself was this esoteric and foreign force to you.
  1439. >You could sort of see and feel it when someone used it on you, but you never really had any of your own to speak of
  1440. >Even the wildlife had some innate magical properties of some kind, from the unassuming cattle to the literal constellation creatures made of the stuff
  1441. >It took a few years living here for you to start developing a proper sense of the arcane, and even now, the most you could do was will the release of the magic within objects like the jewels or stones you found
  1442. >It was still a nice feeling to have some magical ability though, even if it amounted to less of that than the ponies
  1443. >Your growth in that area even led to food being made or grown by earth ponies tasting better than you remembered, too
  1444. >Though you were used to doing without, you did employ it in your day to day as a minor convenience where you could with the above means. Sometimes you wondered how much further you could develop over the years or with aid from others if you looked into it seriously.
  1445.  
  1446. >Now, however, there was no question that if you wanted to hide from Discord once he reawakens and recovers, you would have to strip yourself of any trace of magic
  1447. >Or at least enough that he cannot find you if he looked
  1448. >It wouldnt be a huge loss, but you would be lying to yourself if you denied that a part of you was deeply angered by this
  1449. >To think you would not only have to leave this place and your friends again, but also lose a fundamental connection to this world
  1450. >All because they cannot truly control him
  1451.  
  1452. >Even if you kept the Bell as leverage, there's no telling whether or not he or anypony else couldnt make off with it sooner or later and cause problems for you or anyone else.
  1453. >No. It would be best to put it back where it belongs, sealed away from the rest of the world and forgotten to all but myth.
  1454. >You end your silent musing to glance at Fluttershy, who was keeping pace with you. Her eyes were filled with caution and worry, likely trying to imagine what you could be thinking about
  1455. "Fluttershy. What would you do if Discord killed me?"
  1456. >The question stops her dead in her tracks as her eyes widen in abject horror of the idea
  1457. >"D-Discord would never do something like that!"
  1458. "Yeah, maybe you're right. He's the kind of sick fuck who would probably torture me for all eternity in some pocket dimension and blame my disappearance on something else. Nopony would be any wiser and believe his story fully."
  1459. >"Anon, why do you think the absolute worst of him like this? He's childish at times and not the ideal friend but he isnt....he isnt pure evil"
  1460. "Its just a question Fluttershy, but if you wont just humor me, maybe its because I find it hard to take your words at face value considering what he's been willing to do so far. What you see is a troubled soul who doesnt really understand how to function normally in your society. What I see? Its an eldritch abomination that doesnt care to truly fit in. He just plays along in song while exercising his powers to fulfill his own interests."
  1461.  
  1462. "Now, however, I've ended the charade, the game he was so used to playing. I've shown him that there's someone on the stage who can cut the strings of the puppets he plays. I've shown him what pain is. You called him childish just now, so tell me: what do foals do with toys that they dont like? They're discarded or broken for their amusement. I will never let myself be someone else's toy or pawn to be messed with, and I hope you dont let him string you along after today, too"
  1463.  
  1464. ----
  1465.  
  1466. >Fluttershy is gradually goes quiet after your diatribe, which suits you just fine. The last thing she admits openly was that she had no way of proving you wrong, and you've said all you wanted to on this.
  1467. >The two of you arrive at the hospital where you're briefly stopped by the staff
  1468. >They wanted you to disarm yourself of your sword, but you just push pass them, stating that its for your protection should Discord try anything
  1469. >Fluttershy also assuages them that you're here to help, and they...comply, mostly
  1470. >When you enter the ER with the Bell in tow, you find the comatose fucker in a stasis bubble being handled by 3 unicorns while a Doctor observes his condition
  1471. >He quickly acknowledged the two of you on entry
  1472. "I'm here to give this fucknoodle his magic back. Sort of"
  1473. >"Anon, language..."
  1474. "Whatever, how are we going to do this?
  1475. >"As we've never had a case like this before, we'll have to do it the only reasonable way we can: The shield will be lowered and he'll gradually wake up. From there, you'll have to give him his magic so that he can undo the damage done himself. It....will be distressing. If you want to leave the operating room while this transpires, Ms. Fluttershy-"
  1476. "N-no, I'll stay...." she replies quietly, putting on what you would call a brave face if she had one.
  1477. "Whatever, lets get this over with."
  1478.  
  1479. >The nurses look at each other anxiously, but nod in agreement when they see you have the bell primed, gradually lowering the stasis magic field
  1480. >Discord practically snaps away after the first unicorn powers down
  1481. >"Oh, I've had the most frightful dream-....wait, this isnt my abode.", he slurs
  1482. >"....Fluttershy? Is this....?"
  1483. >His eyes fall on you and immediately narrow
  1484. ">You! Just what are you doing at my bedside?! I didnt expect nightmares to follow me into the waking world unless I had pizza flavored pineapple for breakfast before bed!"
  1485. "Better start snapping your fingers to fix your lost arm. The pain's coming real soon", you state flatly.
  1486.  
  1487. >As if on cue, the second nurse powers down, and his eyes bulge outward as the sharp and alien sensation of mortal pain floods his body
  1488. >Discord lets out a terrible scream as he spams and rapidly snaps his fingers on his remaining hand, attempting to make the feeling go away.
  1489. >Its at this point that you start using the Bell to restore his magic to him....slowly.
  1490. >Sure, you could will the Bell to release all of his magic in a surge instead of a stream, but he doesnt deserve that sort of mercy in your eyes
  1491. >It takes him almost 4 minutes of constant agony before he has just enough magic to undo the loss of his limb, and the act renders him comatose from exhausting what magic he had gained, on top of the stress of the pain he endured.
  1492. >You immediately stop the flow of magic afterwards and start make for the exit
  1493.  
  1494. >The doctors and Fluttershy took a moment to recover from the scene of the god of Chaos flailing around screaming like a wounded wild animal, but Fluttershy was able to reach you before you left the building
  1495. >"Um....I know it wasnt a simple decision to make, but thank you for helping him heal...", she starts
  1496. >"But what about the rest of his magic?"
  1497. "This? He wont be needing it. Twilight and the other Princesses didnt get all of their magic from it either, but they can recover the rest of theirs over time from this world's ambient ether. I'm sure he'll do the same, too."
  1498. >Fluttershy is about to inquire more of you, but a certain speedster descends quickly before the two of you, interrupting her.
  1499. >"There you are! I knew I should have checked this place first. Fluttershy, Twilight wants to see you and the rest of us about today, and our teaching going forward..."
  1500. >She gives you a look for a moment before rolling her eyes and focusing on her friend again
  1501. >"The others are already there, so I came to get you."|
  1502. >Fluttershy gives you a "we'll talk later" before leaving with her friend
  1503.  
  1504. >You weren't planning on sticking around for "later".
  1505.  
  1506. ----
  1507.  
  1508. >You spent the rest of the day getting food for your journey and any other supplies you might need
  1509. >The ponies were more wary of you than ever after today's events, with some openly showing reluctance to serve you
  1510. >It wasnt unexpected, but it was another hassle you didnt need.
  1511. >Afterwards, you would gather whatever else you had in your home that you could stand to carry and make for the trains again
  1512. >They were on the right path now. The ponies you knew would help the three change for the better.
  1513. >Discord will try to find you eventually, but once you've climbed the mountain, you intended to use the Bell to take what magic you had away from you before putting it back into its prison
  1514. >It was better this way, you thought. Your adventure began with you departing this land in haste to make things right, and now this chapter of your life would close with you exiting silently.
  1515. >Even though you had to say a wordless goodbye to your home and life in Ponyville for now, you may one day yet return to these lands, if only to see just how things are...armed to make things right once more if needed.
  1516. >But for now, you had one final task to do
  1517. >And there was somepony special waiting for your return, too.
  1518. >A promise is a promise.
  1519.  
  1520. ---
  1521.  
  1522. >A letter was found in your home when the ponies came looking for you that night. A simple poem you had left behind:
  1523.  
  1524. "I've done my best to make things right
  1525. And trust you all to follow through
  1526. I pray you all share the friendship you've learned
  1527. To make any who still oppose become better, too
  1528.  
  1529. I leave you here, just like the rest
  1530. Confusion crosses your faces
  1531. 'This is how it is,' I say
  1532. And vanish without any traces
  1533.  
  1534. But know that should chaos or evil overtake this world
  1535. That someone will always be there if need be
  1536. To tip the scales where friendship had failed
  1537. Just as this day the Bewitching Bell had tolled for thee."
  1538.  
  1539. ~End...?~
  1540.  
  1541. Epilogue Part 1 - https://pastebin.com/vZLi25p0
  1542. >You are Twilight Sparkle
  1543. >15 years had passed since Anonymous had left Poniville
  1544. >In that time, your school had undergone several revamps to its teaching schedules, among other things so that your friends could have more time for their professions and personal lives
  1545. >It wasnt at your initial recommendation or that of your 5 friends, but a note Pinkie had showed you from Anon's journal
  1546. >Within, it detailed how he felt a bit shunned due to how busy you all had gotten running the place
  1547. >Among other ill-feelings towards the idea teaching friendship in an institution
  1548. >Still, when it was brought to the table, the others (some less reluctantly than expected) did admit that their roles in the school took up a lot of much needed time and energy, now that the topic had come up
  1549. >They were more than happy to accept the proposition of more staff rotations
  1550.  
  1551. >It seems like even when he wasnt around, Anonymous could still expose something overlooked in how your friendships worked
  1552. >And so, you began to restructure your school and staff once more, getting more staff to rotate in the place of your friends
  1553. >The other Pillars were happy to lend a hoof, and the students who had graduated loved the idea of coming back to contribute
  1554. >Anon's journal is framed in the Headmare's office of the School now. Though not all of the criticisms that it kept remained as issues these days, it stood as a reminder that there was always room to improve things, especially if it makes your institution less of a detriment to the friends you already keep.
  1555. >If only such strides had not come at the cost of his disappearance.
  1556.  
  1557. >As you walk the Hall of Remembrance in Canterlot Castle, you look upon the glass-stained windows. All of these depictions of triumphs over the years from your friends aiding you to make the impossible, possible
  1558. >You never liked how you stood out so prominently in these
  1559. >It was all the effort of a cohesive whole - you just helped glue the pieces together.
  1560.  
  1561. >Yes, just like these glassed depictions...
  1562. >Anon might not have been an element bearer like the rest of you, but the time you and the others did share with him still made him a part of you all.
  1563. >A part who probably wan't as valued as he should have been.
  1564. >His time to shine came, but it was also the time he took to break away from the whole you had come to cherish.
  1565. >Now the image of your whole was marred by his absence, and nothing could fix it.
  1566. >An audible sigh leaves you as you continue on into the chamber
  1567.  
  1568. ---
  1569.  
  1570. >Your next stop is another depiction, showing Cozy Glow and Flurry Heart together.
  1571. >Cozy Glow was a difficult case to properly reform. Her skewed view of Friendship, especially having been left unanswered for so long, wasn't easy to change....but together with Starlight and the CMC, you were able to help her....adjust to a better way.
  1572. >She was still a very cunning filly, and her tongue and wit even sharper
  1573. >However, you came to recognize this as her talent - she could convince ponies to see and even buy into angles they might not have considered of their own volition, even without being cute.
  1574.  
  1575. >A talent you came to take advantage of. While Spike handles things internationally (mostly often on behalf of the Dragons, as they needed someone level headed like him), Cozy Glow became an Ambassador in her own right
  1576. >Though she prefers to be called the "Grand Friendship Inquisitor" instead
  1577. >That filly always loved aggrandizing status, despite dropping the "Empress of Friendship" idea.
  1578.  
  1579. >Flurry Heart struggled to handle her new role as a Princess, but though she was naive when it came to diplomacy and flexing her political power, Cozy was more than capable of aiding her, as she had when it came to consolidating several factions of her Empire that had splintered off due to some major disagreements.
  1580. >You and Cozy had been there that day, when she interjected in negotiations to pull Flurry aside to help "adjust her game plan" where her advisers had balked, becoming indecisive.
  1581.  
  1582. >It was a difficult day as tensions between the factions had been pretty high
  1583. >Cadence and Shining Armor had been doing their own part to keep the The Empire together, leaving their daughter to handle things back at home
  1584. >Still, with Cozy Glow's quick thinking once she was properly up to speed on the situation, and her silver tongue, she nearly beguiled the separatists into a heavily one-sided deal
  1585. >However, Flurry would interject, noting how it would not be totally fair to the factions at the table, breaking the conditioning Flurry had woven over them with her words, and coming to a more fair arrangement before you could interject yourself
  1586.  
  1587. >Though she had not a true grasp of what power her station wielded, Flurry Heart was just.
  1588. >The separatists came to appreciate her consideration after realizing what they had almost bought into, much to Cozy's chagrin.
  1589. >It was surprisingly amusing how they rounded each other out in their own way, and you had sought to have them spend more time with each other.
  1590. >Perhaps Cozy Glow's shrewdness could be picked up by Flurry Heart, who in turn could help her find a bit more compassion in how she "convinces" others.
  1591. >...
  1592. >You'd still keep an eye on their developments, though. It would be best to ensure Cozy doesnt relapse like Discord did, just because somepony in another domain with politicla power is willing to lend their ear to her. She's come a long way since, and while you could expect a stumble here or there, an international crisis could be harder to manage.
  1593.  
  1594. ---
  1595.  
  1596. >You move on to another glass, showing a depiction of Starswirl, Scorpan, Celestia and Luna, and Tirek, and Cozy Glow
  1597. >This one was an....interesting case.
  1598. >Tirek thought the Princesses were going to subject him to torture or another prison for what had happened that day, but instead, Starswirl had located his brother Scorpan and arranged a meeting between the two
  1599. >There was a lot of anger from Tirek's side from having to speak to a traitor, and hurt from Scorpan's side that Tirek would think of him as such, but in time, they were gradually able to work through their misgivings and misunderstandings
  1600.  
  1601. >All Scorpan wanted was for their kind to live peacefully with Ponykind. He saw beauty and harmony in the lives they lived, versus ruling with might and imposing your will on the weaker that their family had been used to
  1602. >Cozy had interjected stating that Tirek HAD indeed made friends, recounting her and Chrysalis' time together with him
  1603. >Even if it wasnt an ideal example of Friendship, Scorpan was overjoyed that Tirek could find friendship after all these years
  1604. >Tirek.....begrudgingly agreed with Cozy Glow. Even though it "was to crush his enemies at the time", he did.....enjoy his time together with them. It made him happy that they didnt look down on him and that he could rely on them when they worked together.
  1605. >Even if they ultimately failed.
  1606.  
  1607. >"You do not have to live in the image father had created for us, brother. To oppress others through one's might is the thinking of a bygone era. Time and time again, Friendship has proven to be the greatest power of all, and you've proven yourself capable of attaining it, too."
  1608. >Scorpan's words are engraved on the wall under the mirror. Despite what Tirek had done against you, it was touching to see him find the truth you had come to know so early in your life so far along in his own.
  1609. >Scorpan would invite Tirek to his homeland, with Cozy promising to write & visit sometime.
  1610. >Hopefully with Chrysalis in tow.
  1611.  
  1612. ---
  1613.  
  1614. >Chrysalis was a very difficult case
  1615. >Attempts to get her to reconcile with her hive have fallen through time and time again because she just "refuses to deal with traitors", especially if she were "to end up looking like them" in the process.
  1616. >At the very least, she had refused to wander the woods again to starve out of nowhere, hoping she could gain some attention from just being around the ponies in Ponyville over what happened last time she was left out there.
  1617.  
  1618. >Still, Chrysalis has made a few attempts at sabotaging the daily workings of Ponyville's populace.
  1619. >However, with mass awareness of her presence in town and and a spy or two keeping track of her whereabouts, even when she shifts form, she never really managed to do much before her plan backfires on her or crumbles away, amounting to nothing after being exposed
  1620. >Chrysalis had fallen into depression as an end result, eventually simply giving up on trying to defeat you and your friends
  1621.  
  1622. >It was a first, really - you'd never seen a villain simply give up on their ambitions out of fatigue. She still wasn't keen on joining Thorax and the rest, but Starlight had a better proposition.
  1623. >Chrysalis would return with her to the Town Starlight helped establish when you had first met her.
  1624. >They were doing fine on their own, but still desired a leader to help develop their home further, and possibly attract more ponies
  1625. >Starlight wanted herself and Chrysalis to aid them in that endeavor, understanding that Chrysalis didn't just want to rule, she NEEDED to rule
  1626. >It was all she knew as a Queen - it was her instinct, her purpose. To deny such would be like ignoring a pony's cutiemark and the calling they would feel from its acquisition
  1627. >How could Chrysalis begin to change when she cannot satisfy her most basic desire?
  1628.  
  1629. >Starlight figured if she could be taught how to govern a town of ponies and care about her subjects instead of ruling through fear and intimidation, Chrysalis could open up to learning better things.
  1630. >It was a rough start (on both fronts), as the folks were worried about what having a changeling around could entail (and Chrysalis felt that being given co-ownership of a town of ponies was some kind of potential trap), but with some assurance from Starlight Chrysalis slowly managed to integrate into their community over time
  1631. >It was a strange feeling for her to not have to hide in plain sight or worry about disguising herself to fool ponies, but...a surprisingly welcome one
  1632. >It reminded her of her better days among her hive, in a way.
  1633.  
  1634. >Without the need to weave a web of lies to ensnare the populace, Chrysalis could focus on the important things after assuming control
  1635. >The town was a bit short on overall resources, something Chrysalis was very quick to point out after a day of touring it and asking ponies of what they stocked vs what they needed
  1636. >Starlight would listen as Chrysalis meticulously pointed out the materials, the foodstuffs, and items the populace could use to improve their living conditions
  1637. >It was an exceptionally well thought out report . Chrysalis clearly had experience understanding how to keep her following going on hard times.
  1638. >However, her suggestion of raiding nearby towns for what they required was not the way to go, even if she could "seduce the elder or mayors to do their bidding if raids are off the table"
  1639.  
  1640. >Fortunately, Starlight was able to send a missive to Ponyville and also get some help from a certain "Inquisitor", whom Chrysalis was all too happy to reunite with upon her arrival
  1641. >While you were all for setting up a trade route with Our Town, trading with other settlements was still a must
  1642. >And Cozy Glow was more than happy to help show Chrysalis how to negotiate without employing force, threats or subterfuge.
  1643.  
  1644. >Weeks would turn into months as the two worked together to make Our Town prosperous.
  1645. >It wasnt always easy, especially should an odd disaster came their way, but Chrysalis' quick thinking and resource management (of ponies or their materials) and Starlight's magic always managed to pull them through
  1646. >Though it was a shaky start, Chrysalis became a beloved leader, having done what she could to care for & understand the ponies she had to look after
  1647. >Her excuse was that "she needed to know to best use them", or "wanting to cement herself as a capable Queen deserving of adoration", but Starlight and Cozy Glow could tell she had grown attached to her subjects
  1648.  
  1649. >Working with Starlight also eased the misgivings Chrysalis had with her over the months
  1650. >Chrysalis had admitted that it wasn't....her best judgement to pin her kin's betrayal solely on Starlight's shoulders and that she was simply hurting from the loss of what was her family
  1651. >Though she STILL isnt willing to reconnect with them, Chrysalis was content with the new family she had made among these former strangers, who had grown to cherish her
  1652. >She even thanked Starlight for giving her a chance to start over, despite all the contempt she spewed at her since they met, but that was a secret between the two of them.
  1653.  
  1654. >After two years living and helping guide them, Starlight was certain Chrysalis would be ready to handle things on her own, stepping down as co-mayor and giving her the reigns of leadership
  1655. >With Our Town's dependence on other settlements to thrive, and Chrysalis having her own domain (albeit a small one) to rule, there was no longer a threat of her trying to conquer Equestria
  1656. >At least, you hope so.
  1657. >She even comes from time to time to speak with Cozy Glow or for provincial summits
  1658. >Though there's still a pinch of animosity from her aimed at you from quashing her old ambitions, she's been fairly cordial, understanding that her old grudge is a small matter compared to the needs of her subjects
  1659.  
  1660. >Her looks hadn't changed too much, but you had noticed that Chrysalis seemed...."whole", now.
  1661. >Maybe it was because she didn't need to parasite off of misplaced affection, now that she had the love of her ponies for who she is, but her mane and body's holes had "filled in" over the years
  1662. >Chrysalis' wings and mane also gave off a beautiful gleam when the light hits it just right....
  1663. >Not the drastic change you expected from a Changeling reforming, but perhaps she would become something particularly special over time?
  1664. >Or maybe her transformation would be more gradual.
  1665. >Still, you wish that there was a way to get her and Thorax to get along, but maybe it would be best to hope they come together organically....somehow.
  1666. >....Well, foal steps. There's no need to rush things.
  1667.  
  1668. >You already commissioned a stained glass window of her next to Tirek's and Cozy Glow's. It should be done by the end of the month.
  1669.  
  1670. Epilogue Part 2 - https://pastebin.com/UxW1y3wK
  1671. >As for your other friends...
  1672.  
  1673. >Starlight returned to her duty as guidance councilor, but encouraged for students to speak with the other members of staff when concerns or problems arise, lessening her overall load and creating a better bond between the students and the teachers
  1674. >Turns out that not a lot of the problems the students had were -that- difficult to deal with. Most were interpersonal issues that almost anyone could handle
  1675. >They just needed some assurance or a little advice to help them along
  1676. >Sunburst eventually moved to Ponyville and sought employ in the School, providing a second experienced voice of reason to stand in for her on occasion
  1677. >In time, you were able to delegate the handling of the School of Friendship to the two of them. Trixie even became a Principal to help the new Headmare, too
  1678.  
  1679. >With more time on her hooves, Applejack was able to find somepony and later start a family, along with her brother and his wife
  1680. >The whole apple family and student body and faculty were there for the biggest wedding since your bro's, even when she had hoped to not make a big deal out of it
  1681.  
  1682. >Rainbow Dash and Rarity excelled in their careers before settling down themselves. Dash became a Captain and Trainer for the Bolts as Spitfire had before her, eventually becoming one of the faces of their association and inducted into their Hall of Fame
  1683. >Rarity's fashion chain was world-renowned for its exceptional design and her innovation in fashion to bring out the best in everycreature
  1684. >A design philosophy that she would pass on to those who would manage her chains.
  1685. >Both would be great donors and contributors to the School of Friendship and other associated businesses
  1686.  
  1687. >As the populace of Ponyville grew, so did the demand for parties. Pinkie alone couldnt keep up with it all, but fortunately, she wouldnt be alone on that front for long
  1688. >A familiar stallion would return to help form the ultimate party duo Equesstria's ever had the fortune to see in action.
  1689.  
  1690. ---
  1691.  
  1692. >Discord....was still as problematic as ever. Always looking for ways to get under somepony's skin. His mischievous ways were now kept under a sharp watch from Fluttershy, however
  1693. >She had changed somewhat since that day - still quiet and kind, but now she could be firm and strict when needed, easily convincing Discord to cut the shenanigans if she suspects he's going too far
  1694. >Fluttershy confided to you in secret that she felt that she was partially responsible for Anon's disappearance, bringing up the proposed question he asked of her when the two had gone to the hospital together to help Discord heal.
  1695. >As happy as Fluttershy was in her work of establishing more sanctuaries where her animal friends could live safely, she felt she had failed to ensure the same for Anon living here...despite having done what she could for Discord when he was offered a chance.
  1696. >It was something she never really forgave herself for, and hoped to apologize for should he return.
  1697.  
  1698. >Discord had noted her sullenness and blamed it on Anon himself for "ruining everything|",
  1699. >Even when you explained time and time again that it was his fault things turned out as they had, he refused to take responsibility in full
  1700. >That's likely a big part of why Fluttershy hasn't been so easy on him lately.
  1701. >He offered to "hunt him down" for Fluttershy, but she vehemently refused, stating that she didn't want Discord to have anything to do with him anymore
  1702. >It didn't stop him from looking for the human (likely for his own reasons), but he couldn't find a trace of him in Equestria's ether.
  1703.  
  1704. >It was almost like he left this world or never existed.
  1705.  
  1706. ---
  1707.  
  1708. >Fluttershy also informed you that his magic had not returned in full, but he was gradually recovering.
  1709. >It would likely take him hundreds of years to be back to what he once was, by his own estimation, however.
  1710. >She....had speculated to you of the possibility that somepony or some method may be necessary to put a stop to him long after she and the others are gone, should the need arise.
  1711. >The not-so timid pegasus knew the poem Anonymous had left, that somepony would always be waiting to aid them should things go to Tartarus
  1712. >But she wanted to let him rest, wherever he may be. It was her belief that Equestria had to learn to prepare for themselves, instead of hoping someone comes to save them again
  1713. >And you agree.
  1714. >Perhaps ultimately, harmony and disharmony couldnt truly coexist beyond a certain point.
  1715. >Or maybe Discord hasn't been properly reformed from the get-go, despite all that's happened.
  1716. >You would still hold out hope that something can be done to make him understand....but if not, you will do what you must for Equestria's sake.
  1717.  
  1718. ---
  1719.  
  1720. >And you.
  1721. >Since the handover of the Friendship School, you took to Canterlot to look after Celestia's School of Gifted Unicorns, as you always wanted to since you were a filly
  1722. >Like your mentor before you, it wouldnt be too long before you found your own prized students among the lot, but you still did your best to not play favorites -too- much.
  1723. >Two of which were Luster Dawn and Bright Star
  1724. >Luster Dawn showed immense potential when it came to Spellweaving and learning of different magical spectrums, but seemed unconvinced of the Magic of Friendship, despite your claims and the history surrounding it
  1725. >Bright showed a keen interest in magical artifact and creature study, stating that he wanted to one day acquire them all for Equestria's security and to test them for research purposes
  1726. >You've assured him that most of them have been found, though its true that there wasn't much done in the way of thorough research.
  1727. >Maybe one day he'll get his chance.
  1728. >For now, though, you'd have a lot of stories to share of this hall for the two of them when they come later today.
  1729.  
  1730. >Your friends would also be joining you later. Despite their busy lives, you all make an effort to at least meet every week or bi-weekly, for at least a day to hang out and do things together.
  1731. >Discussing Equestria's rulership could wait for the "official meetings" at the end of the month....there was plenty of time to balance both business and pleasures.
  1732.  
  1733. ---
  1734.  
  1735. >But where was Anonymous?
  1736. >Before the Princesses went off on their own travels around the world, Luna stated that she knew of where he traveled through her interactions with him in his dreams, but be had made her promise to not to reveal such to anyone
  1737. >You did hear rumors of him from time to time in passing from other creatures
  1738.  
  1739. >A climber from the Crystal Empire had seen his descent from Mt. Everhoof. The Human had helped them deal with the unnatural storms by giving him some black shards that his his presence from the mountain
  1740. >Some Kirin students who came to the school mention Anon and Autumn Blaze helping their kin with a series of frontier settlement projects. When you asked more about it, they were admittedly short on details of the matter, but they also had their own questions, too
  1741. >Particularly about a play Autumn wrote about Anon's adventure in Ponyville to stop Discord's elaborate ruse
  1742. >Fortunately the details of that were mostly truthful, albeit with some odd humor and more songs than you remembered being involved in that mess
  1743. >At least there was a lead of sorts, but you were still too busy to personally verify this information
  1744. >...Which might have been for the best. You weren't sure if you were ready to see him until things had settled here with the reformation of the three villains at the time.
  1745.  
  1746. >Word of other events in the months to come cropped up as your affairs settled down
  1747. >While you weren't sure which if the four settlements Anon and Autumn had gone to, they had been seen with a sizable family of young in their travels together
  1748. >Two sons, two daughters, a family of nomadic adventurers helping those in need while seeing the wider world for themselves
  1749.  
  1750. >There were stories of the family's exploits and deeds here and there, with some sounding absolutely fantastical.
  1751. >Such as the family aiding the Somnambulan ponies at the all too sudden arrival of a cat-like spirit calling herself "Baast", along with the Sisters who had been vacationing in that region at the time
  1752. >Or a full year and a half later, where you heard that they had visited the Abysmal Abyss near Griffonstone to explore its depths, only to find that the Arimaspi wasn't the only thing lurking down there
  1753. >Its said they returned with a number of "trophies" of their subterranean encounters, including the head of the Idol of Boreas, among other stories of what lived within those depths.
  1754. >Yet as near ridiculous as it seemed to imagine such a thing, you had confirmed with Grandpa Gruff that they did indeed manage such a thing.
  1755. >Needless to say, even just recovering a piece of the Idol was a huge morale boost to Griffonstone as a whole
  1756.  
  1757. >A letter you had gotten from Scorpan's province mentioned Anonymous in passing, who Tirek had recognized and warmly welcomed when they were searching for a place to rest in that region for a few months
  1758. >He remembered that the human's intervention had granted him a chance to even be here to mend his relationship with his brother
  1759. >Cozy Glow was made privy to this in her own writing with Tirek, hoping he had asked if Anon was coming to Ponyville anytime soon (or at least hoping to find out where he was going so she could meet him in person)
  1760. >Unfortunately, he wrote back that couldnt get a straight answer on their next destination, but Anonymous was pleased to hear that Cozy and Chrysalis hadn't wasted the chance he made for them
  1761. >And he was happy that the others were doing well for themselves
  1762.  
  1763. >"I can't say where or when, but I know we'll all meet again.", were Anon's words.
  1764. >It would be enough for you.
  1765. >When he does return, you were certain Equestria would be ready to welcome him with open hooves.
  1766.  
  1767. >These were your thoughts as you look at the last stained glass window of the human standing before Cozy Glow, Tirek, and Chrysalis in opposition to the Princesses, Discord, and your group of ponies with his sword drawn.
  1768. >The words of the page left in his home etched into the wall below the display, both a reminder and a warning to everypony who would come to know this tale.
  1769.  
  1770. ---
  1771. >...
  1772. >A few years passed
  1773. >The new guardspony of Mt Everhoof noticed that the mountain had gone from eerily calm to tumultuously stormy over the past few days
  1774. >Igniting his horn to feel around the mountain's base, he could tell something was wrong
  1775. >Stepping out into a blizzard that had rolled in, he didn't have to go far before finding hoofprints trailing away from the mountain's base
  1776. >But with visibility decreasing, he couldn't hope to go or see too far into the wilds
  1777. >What he did see, however, sent a chill to his bones far worse than any storm could
  1778. >A silhouette stood in the blizzard, completely unaffected by the raging weather.
  1779. >Adorned on its ungulate shaped form were a large pair of curved horns
  1780. >It looked back at him with a gaze filled with burning hatred before vanishing in the flurry.
  1781.  
  1782. >True evil....had returned to these lands once more.
  1783.  
  1784. END
No tags

For Whom the Bewitching Bell Tolls [Rgfang-ARCHIVE]

by Ryperiour2

/pct/ Pastebin

by Ryperiour2