Disclaimer: I do not own My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, or any of its characters or concepts. I do not own the characters of Shield Maiden, Diogo, or the Colt. I make no money from this writing.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Equestrian Knights: the Two Powers
Chapter 11: The One Where the Readers Go "HOLY SHI-"
"Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Twilight, Brave and Good,
She turned away from violence.
When she understood,
Her final fall to silence.
"I have turned these words over and over again in my mind, but no matter what I haven't the foggiest idea what they mean. The Magicahedron spoke them to me as I consulted it this morning. I was seeking wisdom for a land dispute with the northern gryphons. A young dragon, barely a child, requested to start a lair in the mountains bordering Hatchling Forest with Gallopfrey. Spikara, I believe his name was. Suffice to say, the gryphons are not too thrilled with the prospect of a new neighbor. I feel though I might be able to convince them otherwise....
"I digress. The words. They remind me of a simple song, or a child's poem. Despite its apparent simplicity however, I simply don't understand it. I do not know of any pony, gryphon, dragon, or deer with the name of Twilight. I believe 'silence' refers to death; perhaps a reference to the Silent Realm of Magus V. Darkart? I shall have to review the works of Merlin then, for any reference to twilight.
"Oh, how I miss my sister at times such as these. She was always a clever pony at figuring out riddles and rhymes like this. My mind wanders to what will happen, so few yet so many years from now. The children of today will be young adults by the day of her return. I shall have to face her again. I can only hope the bearers of the Elements of Harmony will have revealed themselves by that point.
"There is going to be an examination for my school for gifted unicorns tomorrow. I think I might visit it, if I have the time. I need something to take my mind from all this."
journal of Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria
Twilight Sparkle was greeted by heated arguing that late morning as she stepped from the elevator into the hotel lobby, disrupting what had otherwise been a nice stay in a nice hotel. The whole lobby was a cacophony of noise in fact, filled with shouting and well-manicured hooves clacking on smooth tile as staff ran to and fro in a panic. Across the lobby from the elevators Twilight watched as unsuspecting guests entered in through the front doors, froze at the sight of the chaos, and swiftly performed u-turns right back out.
The loudest of the noise though came from over to the left of the elevators, at the lobby desk. Twilight worked her way over there, spotting Shield Maiden and Big Mac. It was the Gildedale pony making most of the noise, shouting thunderously at the beleaguered unicorn behind the desk. Big Mac simply looked out of place and uncomfortable, trying but failing to keep his fellow earth pony calm.
"Now Mrs. Shield Maiden, there ain't nothin' gained from all this yel-"
"This is outrageous, absurd, and an utter insult to your guests! Have none of you any honor or sense of responsibility?" Shield Maiden raged, and the desk attendant looked ready to cry. "If this were to happen in the halls of Thatchholm, the pony responsible would suffer the utmost shame!"
"What in Celestia's name has happened, ponies?" Twilight looked from the terrified attendant, then to Shield Maiden. Up closer, without the grey earth pony's usual armor on her, Twilight recognized not just great anger, but awkwardness as well. "What's going on?"
Shield Maiden took two deep breathes to reign in her anger, before turning to meet Twilight's gaze. "This...hotel staff has somehow misplaced all our equipment we gave to them for safekeeping last night."
Twilight felt the bottom of her stomach drop out of her at this. It was too early to be dealing with problems like this; outside the sun was barely halfway over the horizon. "Oh no...you mean everything?"
Shield Maiden nodded, her mouth set in a grim line. "Our weapons and armor, at least; everything but what we took to our rooms with us." She turned a stern glare back toward the hotel staff. "If I did not know better, I would say our equipment was taken, rather than lost."
The unicorn at the desk let out a squawk of protest; letting out a string of objections and pleas that there had been no foul play on the part of the hotel staff, and that as many personnel as could be spared were searching for the lost items. "Just please, please don't give us a bad review when you return to Gildedale. As our first costumer from your country we endeavor to give you the best stay possible."
"You have failed at that," said Shield Maiden, before turning from the desk and starting to walk away. Twilight frowned at the dalepony's aggressive behavior, giving the hotel pony what she hoped was a far kinder look before moving to follow Shield Maiden. Big Mac followed behind her.
"Shield Maiden, did we really need to be-"
Shield Maiden stopped, forcing Twilight and Big Mac to stop too. For several seconds the three ponies stood in the middle of the hotel lobby, none of them looking anywhere, their mutual silence hidden by the bustle of their surroundings as other ponies hurried past them. Twilight opened her mouth to say something, to ask what had been going on a moment ago with Shield Maiden's anger, but Shield Maiden beat her to the punch.
"I apologize for the show I seemed to have put on." The grey earth pony turned to look back at Twilight, her ears flattening. "It is just...in Gildedale, the proper keeping of arms and armor is considered an essential task, for if our warriors cannot ready themselves in time, anything bad could happen. Lives can depend on this sort of blunder. But...I remember too late that this is Equestria, a country far more used to peace than Gildedale. Or it once was, at any rate."
Twilight smiled in understanding at this, though she was disturbed some by Shield Maiden's last comment. Despite whatever attacks from diamond dogs and mysterious pony monsters had occurred, Equestria, her home, was still a land of peace and harmony...right?
It seemed Twilight let some of her sudden worry show on her face, as the next moment Shield Maiden came forward and rested a hoof on her shoulder. "Keep your spirits up, Twilight. No storm lasts forever, even without Pegasi to control it."
"Well, I suppose you're right." Twilight hesitated a moment, before moving in and nuzzling Shield Maiden's cheek, a show of affection the other mare returned. She then stepped back and looked around them. "So, where are the others?"
Shield Maiden indicated behind her with a quick jerk of the head. "That's where I was leading us, actually. Rarity, Diogo, and Doctor Whoof are all waiting in the mess hall having breakfast. Ditzy Doo and the Captain are still in their room, we think. Too late a night out."
"Captain?" Twilight took a moment to get what Shield Maiden meant. "Oh! Rainbow Dash, of course, she is...a captain. Huh."
"You have a problem with your friend being in command?"
Twilight quickly shook her head. "No! No, of course not. Dash can be a very good leader when she's focused on the problem." She ducked her head down, ears flattening to her head. "It just...never dawned on me before. You know somepony for so long, you get an idea of how they should be, you know? So when they start not fitting that idea...I'm happy for her, I really am. Her dream has always been to join the Wonderbolts, the best flying team in all of Equestria. I think, for her, this tops that though."
"Why, Miss Twilight," said Big Mac, joining the current conversation for the first time. "You sound almost nostalgic. Somethin' bothering you?"
"Nostalgic?" Twilight thought on that for a moment, just a moment, before giving her head a nod. "Yeah, I suppose. Things change." The simple and happy days when she was new to Ponyville, when Rainbow Dash was always napping or practicing for the Wonderbolts, when Applejack was always a reliable source of advice, when Pinkie Pie's parties and afternoon tea with Fluttershy could always be looked forward to, when a simple visit to the Carousel Boutique could swiftly change to an hour of trying on new clothes with Rarity while Spike admired the white unicorn; those days were dead and gone. There was nothing left to be nostalgic about.
"Anyway," said Twilight, changing the subject. "We should go, we don't want to keep the others waiting. We have a busy few hours before leaving, so let's get to breakfast."
With Twilight leading, the trio moved through the crowds and across the lobby to a door on the far side, which exited out into the hotel's café area. All three of their stomachs rumbled and growled for food, their worries over the misplaced equipment fading for the moment as they went to enjoy a warm breakfast.
After breakfast plans were made and the group split up. Diogo stayed at the hotel to help however he could with the search for the saddlebags and equipment, and also to tell Rainbow Dash and Ditzy what was going on when they left their room. The rest left the hotel in two groups; Big Mac and Shield Maiden went to get rope, cold-weather tents, wheat bars, and other supplies necessary for trekking through the coming mountains, while Twilight went with Rarity and Doctor Whoof to buy cloaks and clothing better suited for the cold of Gallopfrey.
"The winters of Gallopfrey are like nothing any of you will have experienced down in Equestria proper," the earth pony had said to Twilight and Rarity as they wandered through the shopping district of Stalliongrad, searching for the right clothing store for their needs. Several times Rarity had to be pulled away from the fancier, high-profile stores, before they all finally found one to their liking, a mid-range place by the name of Harkness's Hoods.
"It's all mountain up there, hard and sharp for the hardy folk. Most of the soil is too thick for trees to dig in their roots, so the wind will roar across the craggy plains like a starving beast. There are gorges so deep and narrow the wind coursing through it can funnel tight enough to cut you on a bad day. Whole lakes of ice lay scattered about, and you can skate across them all day without leaving a single remarkable scratch. Oh, it's all beautiful, in a wild and deadly way."
"Yes...beautiful...of course...." Twilight kept herself from remarking that no, the way Doctor Whoof described Gallopfrey did not sound beautiful at all, or even safe for that matter. Rather than hurt his feelings and say this however, she looked down and in front of her, where Rarity was kneeled down. "Is this really necessary? I'm sure I could just grab something off the rack here...."
"Nonsense, darling!" Rarity pulled her head back, a silver thread clenched between her teeth, and suddenly the black pleather vest Twilight had been put in tightened around her chest and shoulders. "If your clothing doesn't fit perfectly the air could seep in under it and chill you!"
Twilight rolled her eyes in exasperation at her friend's antics, but gave no struggle as the unicorn went to and fro from the aisles to where Twilight stood at the back of the store, in front of a full-body mirror. In all honesty she had been beginning to feel the chill of the coming winter on the way there from Brelagrose, and that had been with her original Element of Justice cloak. Without it...Twilight wouldn't complain about new clothes anymore.
"It's great watching someone do what they love, isn't it?"
Twilight looked over at Doctor Whoof's reflection in the mirror, a look of real admiration on his face. "What do you mean? Rarity?"
Doctor Whoof grinned, his grin only growing as he looked to Twilight. "Well Rarity of course, but really anyone, pony or gryphon or diamond dog or what have you, doing what they love, what they have a passion for. There's nothing grander in all the universe than a Rainbow Dash flying, or a Rarity dressmaking, or a Applejack apple bucking."
"Or a Doctor Whoof doctoring," added in Twilight. She chuckled and nodded her head. "But I think I know what you mean. It all comes back to our cutie marks, doesn't it? We're at our best when we are doing what we love?"
Rarity went bustling by, briefly checking Twilight's hoof size before trotting down the aisle, humming some tune or other. Doctor Whoof grinned while watching her go. "Yes, like when I'm...'doctoring', which I'm not sure is a real word, but I like it. Doctoring. I'm the doctor that helps others achieve their best. The...doctor...."
Twilight watched his grin turn into a frown in thought in the mirror. Before she could say anything about this a cry went up from somewhere several aisles down. This was soon followed by Rarity trotting from that aisle over to them, a box held aloft beside her with magic. "Oh Twiii~liiight! I've found the perfect winter boots to go with that vest!"
Twilight and Doctor Whoof shared a look, both fighting back a laugh. Twilight smiled and lifted her hooves up without complaint, allowing Rarity to slip the boots on. When this was done Twilight took a few steps around and tested them out. Rarity was right, the boots she had picked out were a good match for the vest, fitting snugly and made of the same black artificial leather. Twilight looked up at her old friend and smiled. "You're right, they're great. So are we done here?"
Rarity beamed at the praise, but shook her head. "Why, not at all! We still need to find you a fitting cloak, plus finding something for the good doctor. Now of course I've kept an eye out for myself while doing all this running around, so it won't take more than a moment to find my own outfit."
As Rarity had been going on Doctor Whoof had been slowly edging away. Now he quickly turned and began trotting off. "Well it sounds like you two are plenty busy, so I'll just go and dress myself, thank you. Have fun!"
"We certainly will," Rarity called back, not looking up from her work adjusting the boots. "And no fezzes!"
Twilight giggled, joined a moment after by Rarity. The two friends stood there for several seconds, laughing good-naturedly at Doctor Whoof, before Rarity shot a knowing look at Twilight. "You fancy him, don't you darling?"
Twilight stopped laughing abruptly. "I-what?"
Rarity tittered, smiling at Twilight. "Oh Twilight, there is no use in hiding it from me. I am, as it were, an expert on this sort of thing. And really, despite his...eccentricities, he really is a good catch. A bit roguish, yet at the same time so lovably adorkable in that silly bowtie of his. Plus, I'm sure it doesn't hurt that he's the only pony in Ponyville who can keep up with you in an intellectual discussion."
"You've...been putting a lot of thought into this." Twilight gave Rarity a flat look, one the unicorn lacked the grace to meet. "So what, now that you've got your romantic dreams fulfilled, you're focusing on everypony else's?"
"Well, several of us did sing a song about getting you two together...."
Twilight facehoofed, groaning at her friend's antics. It was sweet, really, that her friend cared for her enough to try to make her happy this way, though Twilight would have preferred some more time to figure out her own feelings first, before dealing with everyone else's feelings regarding her feelings.
Removing her hoof from her face, Twilight noticed Rarity seemed to be waiting for some kind of answer. Twilight sighed. "Listen...yeah, you're right about all that stuff. And I guess, maybe, that I could slightly like him like that...but there's no future there."
Twilight hung her head as Rarity frowned. "Twilight, darling, what do you mean there's no future there?" Twilight couldn't bring herself to look her in the eye Rarity's frown deepened. She moved closer and put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Darling, what's wrong? What aren't you telling us?"
Twilight gulped, doing her best to fight back the tears threatening to rise in her eyes. She had wanted to not tell her friends about her future. She had come to realize that foreknowledge was a terrible burden, and if they knew, they would do anything they could to stop what was to happen to her, even at the expense of the quest. And Twilight couldn't allow that. Deviating from the known future could change it; she'd learned that much from Doctor Whoof, and changing it to save herself could result in her friends dying. Above all else, for the safety of her friends, Twilight would not let their path deviate. She would die.
"Rarity, I'm just-"
"So then, how do I look?" Doctor Whoof came from around the corner, sliding on the tiles and skidding to a stop next to the two mares. "Pretty cool, eh?"
Twilight and Rarity looked, the fashionista pony surprisingly nodding in approval. Doctor Whoof had traded in his tweed jacket for a dark-green greatcoat going down his back clear to his tail. "I must admit, it is quite nice. Matches your mane very well."
Doctor Whoof beamed. "A fashion compliment from Rarity. Hah, my life is complete. Anyway, Rarity, I dropped off your new wintry, coldy outfit and some cloaks for the others up front. Yes I know what you would pick out for yourself, no you won't find any fezzes waiting for us and yes, I did, in fact, find Sparkle's new cloak. Check it, yo."
Doctor Whoof turned and presented the box placed on his back. As Rarity told him quite firmly that he was never to say "Check it, yo" or anything like it again, Twilight levitated the box over and opened it. She brought the cloak up into the light where she could examine it. It was a simple cloak, exceedingly so, made of a pitch-black material Twilight couldn't identify but looked and felt like a mix between silk and wool, as smooth as silk to her hooves but not so reflective. It had a hood like her purple cloak, but unlike that one, this had sleeves for her front legs.
"Well then, Doctor," said Rarity, examining the cloak with a dressmaker's eye. "It seems you are embarrassingly unfashionable only when you want to be. Go on then, Twilight, try it on."
Twilight did so, slipping her forelegs through the sleeves and letting the hood rest on her shoulders. The cloak fit her quite well for something grabbed off the rack by a pony who didn't have any reason to know her dress size, and with a few quick adjustments from Rarity it was as good as perfect. She turned to the mirror and looked at herself, taking the moment to forget any troubles about the future and just admire herself from a few angles. "It's simple...it's practical...."
"It's absolutely you." Rarity came up to Twilight's side and smiled. However, as she looked at Twilight's reflection, Twilight noticed the unicorn's smile turn thoughtful. "It will also do a good job of hiding your wings. As beautiful as they are, they might attract attention would prefer not to have."
Twilight nodded in agreement to this. As she did the hood flopped forward onto her head, covering her right eye. She froze, staring at her reflection in mute shock. She couldn't help but notice that in this black cloak, with the hood hiding her right eye like it was, she looked remarkably like another pony....
"But that would be ridiculous."
Twilight looked at Rarity. "So you noticed it too?"
Rarity nodded, frowning. "Yes...but of course that's a very practical cloak, surely common this time of year. And purple eyes are rather common among unicorns, and your right eye certainly isn't yellow. The resemblance is...merely coincidental."
Twilight gulped and nodded again. Coincidental resemblance, that was as far as Twilight was willing to let that idea go.
Doctor Whoof checked his watch. "Hm. This has been fun, but we should probably go before Macintosh puts out an all-points bulletin for Rarity. Dash is surely pacing about the hotel lobby, impatient for us to get going."
This got some giggles from Twilight and Rarity. The trio of ponies went through the store to the checkout at the front, where the earth pony clerk seemed more than happy to check them out; Rarity especially, before she made a veiled threat regarding her horn and his cutie mark. Soon enough they were out on the street, huddled in a close group to avoid the late-morning traffic. Doctor Whoof spoke up. "So then, should we try to find the others around here, or head back to the hotel? Or we could do something interesting, like get lost and see the city's seedy underbelly!"
Twilight shared a look with Rarity, and then shook her head and looked at Doctor Whoof with bemusement. "That doesn't sound very interesting at all, only dangerous. Besides, we don't have time to waste on...on...." Twilight looked away from him, away from Rarity, her ears perked and eyes wide as a haunting song drifted from somewhere in the crowd toward her.
"Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Twilight, Brave and Good,
She turned away from violence.
When she understood,
Her final fall to silence."
"Twilight, what's wrong?"
Twilight ignored the question, too focused was she on that song. Thinking she heard it slightly louder from the right she turned and went that way, pushing her way through the crowds with barely a muttered apology to the ponies and diamond dogs caught in her way, leaving her two companions to do nothing but follow her. The song was the key, she was sure of it.
"Tick Tock, Goes the clock,
Twilight, Brave and Good,"
If she could find that song, understand it, then perhaps she could understand how to stop what it was about.
"She turned away from violence.
When she understood,"
Twilight turned a corner right and, the sidewalk relatively clear compared to earlier, broke into a run. The cries from Rarity yards behind her went unheeded by Twilight. She would die if it was the only way to insure the success and safety of her friends, but nopony would say she didn't look for every alternative.
"Her final fall to silence."
Twilight turned a left and was there. A small playground was laid out before her, a place perhaps for parents to let their children go play to get out of the way of shopping. It was mostly empty at the moment; a young colt on the swings, another on the slides, and, near the entrance to the playground, a trio of fillies playing jump rope. It was they who were singing.
Doctor Whoof came to a panting stop beside Twilight. "As...As a doctor I was recommend a vigorous jog for your health, but...but well, there's a time and place for everything you know!"
Twilight shot him an apologetic smile, as Rarity came to a stop on her other side. The unicorn was looking away from them, and when Twilight followed her gaze saw she was looking at the fillies. "Twilight my dear, what are they singing there? What do they mean by 'fall to silence'?"
Twilight didn't know how to answer that. Now that she was there, she didn't know what to do. She had expected to find Dusk Nox singing it, or some enemy she could beat up, not mere children. What she did know was that she had to get to the bottom of this.
"Excuse me, girls?" Twilight called out to the fillies and approached them, followed a few steps behind by Rarity and Doctor Whoof. The three fillies stopped their jump roping and looked up at Twilight. "Excuse me, but where did you hear that song you're singing?"
The one that had been jumping, a brown-coated filly, pointed over her shoulder. "That stallion over there taught it to us."
Twilight looked where the filly had pointed. Far to the back of the playground a unicorn stallion sat at some benches, watching the children play. His coat was royal blue, his well-groomed mane and tail a rusty orange, and he wore a black, wrinkled suit. His eyes were the same shade as Ditzy's, and the cutie mark on his flank was an empty hourglass."
"Twi...Twilight." The dawning horror in Rarity's voice was palpable. "That's one of the monsters that was in my dream! That's the monster that freed the other monster!"
Not seconds after Rarity finished saying this did Diogo teleport into their group, his eyes wide his body covered in a thin sheen of sweat. "Oh thank goodness, I've been looking all through Stalliongrad for you three! I checked Rainbow Dash and Ditzy Doo's room, but neither of them were there and the bed didn't look slept in. I don't think either of them came back last night!"
New-found terror surged to life inside Twilight at this. Equipment missing; friends missing; an apparent monster sitting across a playground from her, teaching children to sing about her coming death; the rest of their group scattered throughout the city. Things had gotten out of her control before she realized anything could get out of her control.
"I think...coming to Stalliongrad was a bad idea. I...." Twilight steeled herself for what she was about to do. She pushed the fear back, back where it couldn't interfere with her thoughts. "Diogo, take Doctor Whoof back to the hotel with what we've got and get ready to leave. Rarity, find Big Mac and Shield Maiden and get back to the hotel. I'll meet you all there in a bit."
Doctor Whoof shot her a sharp look. "What are you going to be doing?"
Twilight gulped again and took a step forward, away from her friends and toward Rarity's monster. "There are some questions I need answered."
"Doctor." Twilight turned around and stared him in the eyes. Silence as the two waited with bated breath, before she broke her composure and lunged forward, wrapping her forelegs around his neck in a hug. "Thank you for caring."
Twilight figured she must have given something away in her voice, something hinting at the emotions of sadness and fear swirling inside her, as after she spoke she felt him stiffen up within her arms. She let go and looked up at him, seeing him frown back down at her. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but for once, Doctor Whoof seemed not to have anything to say. He stepped back and looked at Diogo. "Get me out of here."
The deer complied, leaving Twilight alone with Rarity. Twilight looked to her old friend. Rarity looked back. Neither said anything, they just both took a step forward and wrapped their necks about in a hug. Twilight sniffled, unable to keep her tears from dripping down onto her friend's shoulder, but Rarity only hugged her even harder. At that moment, in that city so far from home, Twilight thought she loved the white unicorn more than she ever had before.
"Stay strong." Twilight felt Rarity place a small, soft kiss on her cheek. Then came a feeling like a cold breeze against her body, and when Twilight pulled away Rarity was gone. Teleported away.
"I wish I'd had the chance to learn the deer method of teleportation. It seems interesting." Twilight stared a moment longer where her friends at a moment ago stood, before turning back to the blue unicorn across the playground from her. At some time an earth pony had come to collect the children, a parent she assumed, with three red balloons for a cutie mark. She and Rarity's monster were alone in the playground.
He stood up and began to walk toward her. "Twilight Sparkle. Did you get my message?"
She gave a nod, moving to meet him in the middle of the playground. Now that he was standing and near her, she noticed how tall and slender he was. "If you mean Brelagrose, then yes. And you are a monster."
He came to a stop two yards from her, his face a full of arrogance. "Well good. I wonder. Surprised to see me?"
Twilight shook her head. "No. I don't know who you are."
"I didn't expect you to. There was a time when I loved you, Twilight Sparkle, but that ended when we ruined each other's lives. It might have begun even the day we met at the University; you the bright, rising star, and I the beleaguered senior out of his place."
Twilight gasped as realization hit her. The body was different, the voice was different, but only one pony she had ever known had ever referred to himself like that. "Yellow Jacket...Jack...you're alive?"
He nodded. If he felt any new emotion after she said this, he didn't show it. "I am the Master, now. I don't fully understand how it happened. Blood magic like what I used to gain magic is notorious for unexpected developments. My soul being caught between life and the Dreaming is not hard to imagine. It is at this point irrelevant. What matters is that whatever happened, happened for a reason, and that reason was something I learned about Life and Death."
Twilight wanted nothing more than to close the distance between her and him and embrace him, beg for forgiveness, cry her sorrow for having killed him in the first place. Yet, the way he stood there, the way he looked at her, made her stay where she stood. His new name for himself didn't help. All she could do was listen to what he said. "And... what did you learn?"
The corners of the Master's lips turned down into the slightest of frowns. "You killed me, Twilight Sparkle, you crushed me into meaty pulp; with a certain amount of justification, I must admit. But then something happened, something my studies in the darkest tomes and most vile of ancient practices had warned me of. I got caught in the web that separates this world from the Dreaming...the Silent Realm, as you'll remember me going on late at night about."
She remembered those nights well. The animated way he spoke, the warmth of his gaze toward her, the way his smile would make her smile. Sometimes she wished that was all she could remember of his.
"And so, for a while I went along with the rules of that world, I struggled and bled and...suffered. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn't. I was compelled to delve to the very bottom, to dredge up the most hateful, the most vile and cruel...and that's when I discovered it. The truth. The reason why we're here."
He began to walk toward her with slow, leisurely steps, like a beast stalking its prey.
"The reason why we're here is because there is no reason why we're here. There's no applying reason, there's no escaping the chaos and utter pointlessness of life, because as we both know without chaos...there would be no life."
Twilight looked to her left at the sound of a door opening and saw another Master walking toward her from an apartment building. "It is chaos that created us."
Another sound to her right, a Master walking through another playground gate. "Chaos that divides us."
Another Master, behind her. "Chaos that kills us."
"Chaos that loves us,"
"That drives us."
The Master in front of her finally smiled, revealing rows of shark-like teeth. "We are here to teach you what the Silent Realm taught us: the pointlessness of all this."
Twilight stared around her in horror as the six identical unicorns surrounded her. "I don't understand, how is this possible? Only deer can master duplication spells to this degree."
"Yes, we know," the Master in front of her replied. He dropped the smile and moved until he was just a foot apart. "And I must say, your friend Diogo's life magic was delicious."
A rush of wind came as Doctor Whoof teleported into the hotel lobby with Diogo, sending the earth pony stumbling to his knees. He groaned, blinking to make the spots in his eyes disappear. "Oh...wow, better work on those landings, yeesh."
"I'll be sure to do that, my brother Gallopfreyan."
Doctor Whoof froze. His heart thudding in his chest, he looked up from the floor to find himself surrounded by diamond dogs in full armor, a forest of spears aimed toward him. A few feet ahead of him lay the body of Diogo, a look of horror on his face.
"But...I don't...." Then Doctor Whoof understood. He looked to his right where the fake Diogo stood and watched as the illusion ended, revealing the blue unicorn from the park. "Of course...why would Diogo ever know to look in a playground for us?"
Then a hoof smashed into his face, and all Doctor Whoof knew was darkness.
Lightning slammed into Twilight Sparkle's gut, blasting a hole straight through her, her cloak, and into the wall behind her. She staggered, wings flapping and a fountain of blood spurting from her mouth. Even as the hole was disappearing from her healing factor the Master grabbed her mane between his forehooves and slammed her into the ground.
His telekinetic hold lifted her into the air and slammed her through the playground's monkey bars, the metal twisting around her body from the force of the impact. She struggled to stand up, crying out in pain as a pole that had speared through her right flank shifted.
"Sorry to hurt you, s-sorry to kill you...."
The Master screamed in rage. Rearing back on his hind legs he fired bolts of electricity from his forehooves, reducing the bars around Twilight to metal slag. She teleported out of the mess, reappearing at the entrance to the park. Before she could do anything two Masters slammed hoof-first into her from the sides. Loud cracks rang through the area, and Twilight suddenly had trouble getting a full breath.
A Master swept her legs out from under her. Before she could fall a pillar of rock shot from the ground slammed into her side, sending her flying through the air into a brick wall. Not a second past before three blasts of fire and three of lightning struck the pile of bricks collapsed on her, sending dust and stone flying in a blinding explosion.
"Ffff...forgive you f, fu, for killing her...." The six Master's turned from the smoking crater Twilight had been in a moment ago to see her collapsed against the swings behind them. Her body shook from fatigue, her clothes were scratched up and burnt in a few places, yet her gaze toward him was steady. "Trixie...my, my sister...I forgave you for killing her. It was all my fault, all of it, and I'm so s-sorry for killing you...."
The Masters stopped moving, each with one hoof up and crackling with electricity. The Master in the center of the group tilted his head, seeming to Twilight as if he was curious about something, before lowering his limb. The others followed his lead, before suddenly collapsing back into him. Then only one Master stood in the ruined playground.
"Twilight Sparkle, before the end, you shall not even be able to be sorry."