My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic presents
The Dark Stallion
Episode 10: The Princesses Fall! The Dark Stallion Returns!
Last time on My Little Pony:
Twilight Sparkle and her friends found themselves forced to fend themselves against the Shadow Clan when it crashed the Grand Galloping Gala. As much of a fight as they put up, their victories came bittersweet. Ninja Star managed to fight off Slash, but just barely. Xander had his Amulet stolen by Squish, who revealed himself to have killed Xander’s father. And Sky Wind was accosted by the Shadow Mare. She returned his lost memories to him, revealing himself to be her son sent to infiltrate the other ponies and monitor their activities for the Clan. But the biggest loss that evening came with the princesses, who, along with the Elements of Harmony, were captured. What sinister motives does the Shadow Clan possibly have for the Princesses, Elements, and Amulet?
Thousands of Years in the Past
The horizon glowed orange as the setting sun peeked from behind the bordering mountains. Through its tangerine tint, fading slowly to indigo like a dying gasoline flame, faintly shone the stars as they began to appear within the encroaching night sky.
Within the light of the waning sunset stood five ponies atop the battlement of Union Tower, overlooking the lush scenery of the surrounding valley below.
Of these five ponies, three stood within a blue circle freshly painted upon the battlement’s cobblestone floor. The regalia of these three ponies signified their high-ranking status.
One pony was a lavender unicorn with long, sleek silver hair, upon which sat an equally silver crown embedded with purple gemstones. If her crown and demeanor did not reveal that she was of royalty, then her flowing indigo cape attached with an amethyst broach did.
The other pony was a scarlet pegasus with a spiky black mane hidden within her Spartan helmet, its golden iron metal matching that of her plate armor, emblazon with a lightning bolt insignia upon her breastplate.
The last pony was a caramel earth pony with a dark chocolate mane twisted into a ponytail, fluffy as chocolate mousse. Her hat almost made it appear as though she was balancing a bowl of butterscotch pudding upon her head. The rest of her costume consisted of an apron-like dress, making her appear more like a chef and less like the elected leader of her tribe.
Indeed, all three of these ponies were the respective leaders of all three pony tribes: Princess Platinum of the Unicorns, Commander Hurricane of the Pegasi, and Chancellor Puddinghead of the Earth Ponies.
As these three ponies stood steadfast in their respective stations, another pony—an ivory unicorn with a messy green mane, and garbed in a lowly burlap cloak—was nearly finished painting the circle in which they stood. Being the apprentice of the most acknowledged wizard of the known world, it only seemed appropriate that Clover the Clever would be tasked with painting this magic circle.
Standing nearby to supervise her task was that very wizard himself, Starswirl the Bearded. True to his very name, his white beard swirled like the starry arm of the Milky Way galaxy itself, shining in contrast to his gray coat as pale as the dusk. The only other color on him was his blue hat and cloak, sewn with golden bells and stars.
With the final stroke of her brush, Clover finished painting the circle.
“The circle is complete, Master Swirlbeard,” the apprentice told her mentor.
Swirlbeard nodded. “Then we shall start the ritual at once while we still have sunlight.”
He rose upon his hind legs and lifted his forehooves in the air, facing the three royals. “When I give the instruction, each pony shall perform their part of the ritual. This spell will require every pony’s cooperation if it is to be performed properly.”
With that, he shut his eyes, and his horn glowed with cyan magic. As his horn began to glow, so too did the magic circle in which the three other ponies stood.
“Unicorn magic,” his voice boomed.
With those words spoken, Princess Platinum cast her own horn aglow with her indigo magic.
From her wing, Commander Hurricane pulled forth a single scarlet feather with her teeth.
“The sweat of the brow of the Earth pony’s plight.”
With a swipe of her forehead, Chancellor Puddinghead collected several drops of sweat with her hoof.
The blue magic of the circle glowed brighter as the vanishing sun further darkened the night sky. As the light of the circle intensified, the items from each of the three ponies—Platinum’s magic light, Hurricane’s feather, and Puddinghead’s sweat—began to gravitate towards the center and revolve around one another like water in a drain,. Faster and faster they gyrated until they disappeared in a single blue blur.
“When all these three come together in unity.”
The blue blur exploded in a flash of light, and in its place revealed—
“So appears the symbol of our purity.”
—a crystal clear gem that shone with the radiance of a prism, shining fragments of rainbow upon the ground. The gem was encapsulated within a silver frame and hung by an equally silver chain.
This medallion floated in midair, kept afloat by the blue magic of the circle surrounding it. As the medallion remained afloat, the light from the circle quickly faded, allowing the three ponies to step away from their places and pace towards it. Clover and Starswirl followed suit.
All five ponies approached the medallion and gazed upon with wonder as it floated before their eyes.
As Starswirl approached them, he gestured toward the medallion. “Cast your eyes upon this, my fellow ponies, and gaze upon the symbol of our union—for as this amulet was forged from the magic bestowed in each of you, so shall it serve as a testament to the bond that has been newly-forged among you and your tribes, that the peace borne from it shall forge a new land governed under a new rule, upheld by he or she who bears this amulet and the power invested within it.”
Princess Platinum nodded. “Aye, fair Starswirl, but whom, pray tell, shall be this new ruler who bears this amulet, and with it, the rightful rule over this new land, Equestria?”
Before anyone else could reply, Commander Hurricane snatched the amulet from midair and held it within her grasp.
“Clearly the new sovereign must be one with the strength and might to lead a nation as equally strong and mighty. Clearly, the only leader capable of such resolve is me,” she gloated, tossing the amulet in the air as if it were a mere coin.
Just as the amulet was flung in the air once more, it became enveloped by an indigo glow and began levitating back toward Princess Platinum.
“Surely, you jest, dear commander,” she retorted. “The new leader of this land must have the grace and demeanor to inspire reverence in its citizens, and such grace and demeanor could only be found in a mare as fair as myself.”
Suddenly, she felt the amulet plucked out of her hand as Chancellor Puddinghead snatched it for herself, forcing the princess to gasp in indignation.
“Fiddlesticks,” she said. “What the ponies of this new land need isn’t some pampered princess ruling from high atop her ivory tower, or a brutish warlord lording over them with an iron hoof. What they desire is a regular salt-of-the-earth pony who is as down-to-earth as they are. And who could possibly be more down-to-earth than an earth pony as myself?”
Puddinghead grinned, but elicited only grimaces from her two peers, and it was only seconds until all three were throwing death glances at one another.
Before they could erupt into heated argument, the amulet was seized by pale lavender magic and drawn away from them.
“My lieges, I beseech you, please cease this quarreling at once.” Clover hovered the amulet toward herself. “We already agreed to set aside our respective egos for the sake of peace among our tribes and within this new land, and I fear that if you reignite this wrathful cold spell, that your hearts will grow cold once more, and with it, winter will be coming.”
The three leaders glanced at one another in embarrassment and recoiled in shame.
Starswirl nodded. “My pupil clearly reveals the wisdom I have bestowed upon her. As an aside, I advise that the rule of the old world make way for the new rule of this new world, with a new ruler to represent the new union among our three tribes.”
Clover nodded. “Aye, my liege, but whom, pray tell, do you recommend become this new ruler of our new land?”
Starswirl bowed his head and stroked his beard before turning away from the other four ponies. “I advise that you each elect from the ranks of your own tribes a candidate whom you consider worthy of naming sovereign. We will return in due time and consider our nominations. As for myself, I have two prospects of my own in mind.”
Slowly, Celestia stirred from her slumber. Her eyes gradually opened, and her blurry vision began to adjust to the minimal lighting of her surroundings, though her pounding forehead made it much harder for her to focus.
At first, her surroundings appeared to be of a hazy crimson tint, before she realized that she was encapsulated within a giant red gem—a crystal prison with her as its prisoner.
Through the red crystal walls in which she was trapped, she could see that she was in a room so void of light that the walls remained invisible within the far off shadows. The only noticeable light was that of the very crystal which imprisoned her. With its faint light, she could see the floor below her.
Below, she could see a giant circle drawn with red paint on the damp stone floor. Within this circle were painted six smaller individual circles, and within each of these circles was one of the Elements of Harmony. All six of these smaller circles were connected to each other and to the main circle with a single line. All six circles revolved around another circle within its center, and within it was placed the Amulet of Purity.
From this magic circle protruded a line that curved into a spiral pattern, and it was above this very pattern that Celestia’s crystal prison remained afloat. Across the main circle, she noticed another floating crystal similar to her own and with another spiral pattern drawn underneath it and connected to the main magic circle.
Unlike her own crystal, the crystal floating opposite to her was blue, and within it was confined—
“Luna!” Celestia exclaimed with a raspy voice, still hoarse from her abrupt awakening.
Within the blue crystal, Luna began to stir from her own slumber, and as she opened her own eyes, the first thing she could see was her sister. Before either one princess could address the other—
“Well, well,” a sultry voice spoke from within the room. “It seems as our dear princesses have awakened from their naps.”
The two princesses turned their attention to where the voice emanated. Approaching them from out of the shadows was the Shadow Mare. By her side was Sky Wind, and behind them were her three henchmen—Squish, Swoosh, and Slash.
Celestia narrowed her eyes with furrowed brow as she glared at her captor. “It looks like we meet again, Shadow Mare.”
“It’s been a long time, Celestia, Luna.” the Shadow Mare paced toward the two princesses in their crystal prisons. “I can’t even remember the last time we met.”
She hung her head in contemplation before shooting her glace back up in a glare as sharp as a knife at Celestia. “Oh yes, it was when you banished my husband to another dimension!”
Ponyville remained as calm and quiet as the night itself. The night air was silent, save for the occasionally chirping of crickets, and the night itself was dark with every light in town dimmed, save for the sparkling of stars in the sky above and the twinkling of fireflies in the grass below.
However, the town’s serenity merely camouflaged the chaos that had erupted earlier that evening. Though Canterlot Palace had been infiltrated and the princesses kidnapped, word of these disasters remained within Canterlot and had yet to reach the serene hamlet of Ponyville, as most of its citizens either were sound asleep or busy burning the midnight oil.
It was to this serenity that Twilight and her friends arrived after fleeing Canterlot on the next departing train. Upon the disappearance of the two princesses, the palace was left to the care of the royal guards, who ensured to maintain decorum as they secured the palace from any further threats and investigated the whereabouts of the princesses and their captors.
Not wanting to interfere with military affairs, and seeking to escape the chaos in Canterlot for their own safety, the ponies decided to retreat to Ponyville where they took residence inside Twilight’s library.
Here, Twilight’s friends huddled around a table. Xander stood atop a ladder as he scanned the library shelves, and Ninja Star sat quietly upon the staircase polishing his katana.
All the while, Twilight frantically paced the wooden floor, to the point where she nearly wore a hole in it. “Oh, whatever are we going to do? This is so very, very terrible.”
“Ah, don’t be so hard on yourself, Twilight,” Pinkie Pie chimed. “It’s not really as bad as you make it. If you really think about it, the only thing that happened tonight was that a gang of rouge ninja crashed the palace and threw the gala into utter chaos, all while stealing several powerful artifacts and kidnapping the two highest rulers in the land, ensuring inevitable lawless anarchy once every pony in the kingdom learns of their absence and—”
She poked her cheek with her hoof as she thought over what she had just said, all the while remaining oblivious to the angry glares from everyone else in the room. “Actually, now that you think about it, this really is as bad as you make.”
Rainbow Dash banged her hoof upon the table. “That’s not the only bad thing that happened. Those Shadow Clan thugs also took off with Sky Wind. Who knows what those goons are going to do with him, especially in his current state.”
Apple Jack shook her head. “I don’t know, sugar cube. Something seemed mighty suspicious about that pony when we found him taking off with Shadow Clan. It didn’t seem like they had him restrained or nothing, and for having been allegedly captured by them, he seemed mighty calm about it.
These words provoked Rainbow Dash, who leaned over at the country pony and glared down at her. “What are you getting at?”
“All I’m saying is that, for some pony who was captured by the Shadow Clan, he didn’t seem to be bothered by it one bit. In fact, it almost appeared as if he was going along with them willingly.”
Rainbow Dash further leaned over toward her. “Are you accusing him of being one of them? How do you possibly know that?”
Apple Jack pushed back at the rainbow-maned pegasus and returned the glare back at her. “How do you possibly know that he isn’t? We know absolutely nothing about him on account of his amnesia, and we don’t even know if that’s real or not. I mean, don’t you find mighty suspicious that he dropped into town around the same time the Shadow Clan started attacking. For all we know, he could be working with them.”
Dash pushed against Apple Jack and further glared her down. “How dare you accuse Sky Wind of being one of them? He’s not. He’s just not. I know. I’ve been with him since he first arrived, and he’s far too kind of a soul to be one of them.”
Before either mare could chew into the flesh of the other, Twilight rushed in between them and held each one back from the other.
“Enough you two,” she told them, forcing them back into their seats. “Regardless of whether or not Sky Wind is one of them, our main priority right now should be to track them down and rescue the Princesses and Elements.”
Twilight backed away from the table and began pacing once more. “It would help though if we knew what their motivations were. What could they possibly want with the Princesses, the Elements, and the Amulet of Purity? And what of this Dark Stallion they spoke of? I don’t believe I ever heard of him.”
“I believe this book may give us a hint,” Xander said from atop his ladder before eventually sliding down with book in hand. With the book open, he began flicking a few pages as he approached Twilight. “This is the book which I had obtained what little information there was about the Amulet of Purity. I faintly remember seeing some mention of the Dark Stallion in here, but it must have evaded my memory. It seemed too much like the ancient history you learned in Magic Kindergarten, so I took no real notice of it.”
He finished flipping through the pages and jabbed the one page he was looking for. “Here it is.”
Twilight leaned over his shoulder as he scanned the contents of the page. “What does it say?
Xander turned to Twilight. “You’re familiar with how Celestia and Luna became Princesses of Equestria, correct?”
Twilight nodded. “Of course. It’s a history lesson every pony in Magic Kindergarten learns. It happened right after the events of the first Hearts Warming Eve. After the three pony tribes settled in the new land of Equestria, they determined to elect a new ruler from among the three tribes to reign over them. It was later that Celestia and Luna were approached by Starswirl the Bearded and several representatives from each pony tribe to be named as their new princesses.”
Xander nodded. “Right, but apparently that’s not the whole story.”
He turned to gaze at the open page. “According to this, there was another pony who was considered for the role.”
“My husband, the Dark Stallion, had been promised the throne of this new land, but that promise was broken, and you two usurped his rightful place at that throne,” Shadow Mare told the two princesses.
“His heart was full of dark intentions,” Celestia retorted. “The elders where unaware of the darkness lurking within his heart. They had no choice but to revoke their initial decision and confer the title to more deserving leaders.”
“Don’t flatter yourselves,” Shadow Mare barked back. “Regardless of my husband’s intentions, that title was promised to him, and he was willing to do anything in his power to claim what was rightfully his.”
“Says here that the Dark Stallion and his followers rose up in rebellion against the pony tribes to claim the Equestrian throne,” Xander read aloud to the other ponies. “Their revolution was inevitably snuffed out by the united armies of the three tribes, but not without costing hundreds of innocent pony lives. The Dark Stallion and his followers were apprehended and tried for treason, and the two princesses used their magic to banish them into everlasting shadow.”
“I take it they didn’t think about turning him into stone or sending him to the moon,” Rainbow Dash interjected.
Apple Jack shrugged her shoulders. “I guess they hadn’t thought about it yet, though I have to say it’s rather queer that the Princesses didn’t have the traitor outright executed.”
Twilight shook her head. “The Princesses are far too merciful to resort to such draconian barbarism.”
Rainbow Dash scratched her chin. “Though it makes you wonder just how many other evil threats to Equestria the princesses simply ‘magiced’ out of existence. Next you’ll be telling me that the princesses made an entire magic crystal kingdom disappear to get rid of one evil king”
The others merely rolled their eyes at the mention of that idea.
“Tell me, Celestia,” the Shadow Mare said, “Why do you insist on imprisoning or banishing your enemies rather than outright killing them? Nightmare Moon. Discord. King Sombra. Lord Tirek. You and your kingdom could have easily been rid of those threats if you had simply extinguished them once and for all; and yet, you chose not to. Why is that?”
From within her crystal prison, Celestia hung her head with eyes closed before raising both to address her captor.
“Because I know that deep down within even the darkest of hearts exists the smallest glimmer of light, and that no matter how dark that heart is, the light within it has a chance to shine bright if only given the chance.”
She turned to gaze upon her sister. “I knew this well when I banished my sister to the moon those many years ago, and though it pained me to do so, it would have pained me even more to have killed her, knowing that she would have never been given the chance to mend her ways. I had given her that chance, and we became reunited once more as sisters rather than adversaries. If my sister can reform, than so can any other dark heart.”
The Shadow Mare snickered. “Such weakness.”
Celestia shot an angry glare at her. “Showing mercy to thine enemies is not weakness.”
Shadow Mare returned the glare. “It is too weakness. Your mercy may have allowed your darling little sister to turn over a new leaf, but not before casting your entire kingdom into eternal night. And what of Discord? Once he broke free of his stone prison, he wreaked havoc on your kingdom by turning it upside-down and inside-out. And yet, even then, you chose to return him to stone once more. What will happen the next time he breaks free? Do you think he will be willing then to change his ways?”
Celestia bowed her head. “I very much think so.”
“Foolishness!” Shadow Mare barked. “Such foolishness! Your mercy towards your enemy has been your kingdom’s greatest weakness. A kingdom such as your own has no place being ruled by a bleeding heart as yourself. It can only be properly ruled by an iron fist. With strength. With fear, not love.”
Shadow Mare turned her back on the princesses, but not without turning her head to face them with a grin that revealed devious intentions. “Fortunately, Equestria will no longer have to suffer under your weak reign. Once more, they will be led by a bold ruler who will reign over them with the strength they’ve always deserved but never had.”
Luna cocked an eyebrow, “And how, pray tell, are you going to bring back the Dark Stallion?”
Swoosh and the other two henchmen approached them.
“What did youse think we was doing with all of this here set up like this?” he asked, motioning to the magic circle with the Amulet and Elements.
Slash pointed to the Amulet within the circle’s center. “It was with that very Amulet that you two banished the Dark Stallion, and so, it will be with that same Amulet that we will bring him back.”
Swoosh shrugged a shoulder. “Of course, that there Amulet had its magical power or something removed from it and divided among those there six Elements of Harmony, so we’s need their power to activate the power of the Amulet once more, you knows what’s I’m saying, am I right?”
Squish pointed his staff at Celestia. “And not only do we need the power of the Amulet and Elements for this ritual, we also need the power of the ones who originally banished the Dark Stallion in the first place—by which, of course, we mean you two. Why else did you think we dragged you all the way down here and put you in those crystals?”
Shadow Mare chuckled as she turned to face the princesses once more. “It was you two who banished my husband, and it will be you two who will bring him back. Of course, if this ritual proves successful, I’m afraid it would mean that you two won’t be around to witness his glorious return, for, you see, the only way to pull him back from the shadows is to send you two in his place.”
Both princesses gasped upon realizing the weight of their situation.
Shadow Mare chuckled. “But don’t worry, your departure will not be in vain, for I’m sure that my husband will be more than willing to claim your throne in your absence.”
Celestia struggled within her crystal, her horn glowing as she did. “You won’t get away with this. My faithful student Twilight and her friends will see to your defeat.”
Shadow Mare snickered. “Don’t waste your breath or your energy. You won’t break free of that crystal, even with all your alicorn magic. Besides, we need every little bit of it to summon my husband from beyond the shadows.”
She and the others positioned themselves around the magic circle. She and Sky Wind stood on one side, and the other three henchmen stood opposite to them on the other side.
Celestia ceased her struggling and glanced down at Sky Wind.
“Sky Wind,” she called out to him, forcing him to look at her. “Do not follow the evil path laid before you by your mother and father. I have heard of you from Twilight’s friendship reports. She has told me how she and the others helped you try to regain your memories, and how you became good friends with them, especially Rainbow Dash. I know that there is some good in you. Please look at the light within you and see past the dark intentions of your parents. Do not emulate their wicked ways. Please, Sky Wind, make the right choice.”
All that time, Sky Wind coldly stared at her before returning a sinister grin.
“For a thousand-year-old princess, you sure are slow and dense. That amnesia of mine was merely a ruse to allow me to get close to your student and her friends, and to spy on their every move so that my family could get closer to you. Now that my ruse is over, I don’t need them anymore. I only have one choice now: be the heir to my father’s new throne.”
“Enough,” spoke the Shadow Mare. “Time is of the essence, and we must move forward. We must offer these false queens in sacrifice, allow the shadows to take them and extinguish their light, for the night will soon be dark and full of terrors.”
She looked at Squish. “Prepare your magic, and combine it with mine to activate the circle.”
Squish did as he was instructed and rose his staff on high. As the gem on its tip glowed blue with magic, so too did the Shadow Mare’s horn glow with red magic. Soon, the Amulet within the circle began to glow, and as it glowed, it levitated high from off the ground. As it glowed brighter and brighter, the Elements within it began to glow simultaneously.
Soon the entire circle was glowing blood red, with the magic starting its glow near the amulet before passing along the outline to the Elements and the outer rim before traveling all the way to where the two crystals stood.
As the magic glow reached them, their crystals began to glow, each with their own color—with the crystal containing Celestia glowing red, and the one containing Luna glowing blue. As their crystals glowed, both Celestia and Luna’s horns began to simultaneously glow, though not through the willful volition of either princess.
Shadow Mare raised her head on high as she looked toward the heavens. “Oh everlasting shadows, release my husband from your bonds, and in his stead, accept these two false queens.”
As their crystal prisons glowed, both princesses felt as though ever molecule within their fiber were burning as their magic rushed from out of their horns and into their crystals. To them, it felt as if they were a potato placed in a microwave on the highest setting, as each one felt a burning sensation surging right through their bodies as their magic, and even their own life force, was sapped right out of them. Never had either princess felt such intense pain, and thus, there was nothing else for them to do but writhe and scream in agony.
The Shadow Mare continued her incantation: “Ensure that after this long summer has ended, that darkness falls heavy on the world, the stars bleed, the cold breath of winter freezes the seas, and the kingdom becomes ripe for the Dark Stallion’s taking.”
In a single, violent scream, both princesses had their entire bodies enveloped in a bright explosion of light, each one matching their own magical aura—with Celestia’s white, and Luna’s blue. The light filled their crystals with such intensity that both exploded into countless shards, forcing the others to shield themselves from the flying debris.
Both explosions unleashed a surge of raw magical energy that flowed along the outline of the magic circle, reaching the Elements and Amulet, and forcing them to glow even brighter. From where they floated, each of the six Elements unleashed a magical colored beam at the Amulet, and as it received their energy, the Amulet glowed with a blinding white light.
This white light contrasted with the black wisps of smoke rising from the blood red outline of the circle. The black wisps in turn gravitated toward the glowing white light of the Amulet, almost like water being drawn into a drain. The black energy began to collect into a single nebulous form that soon took the shape of a horse—a stallion, more precisely.
When the Amulet could glow no brighter, its glow quietly dimmed to reveal a stallion standing within the center of the circle and wearing the Amulet from around his neck.
The Dark Stallion toward over everyone else in the room, and his wings nearly overshadowed them all. True to his name, his coat and mane were as pitch black as the room, even the night itself. He would have remained invisible to eyesight had his outline not been highlighted by what little light shone within the room.
Also helping to reveal his form were her glowing red eyes, which matched that of his wife’s, and the purple highlights streaked within his flowing mane. The only other feature apparent upon his nearly opaque form was his white cutie mark, which took the shape of a torch with a roaring flame—a symbol of light ironic to his title.
As soon as his feet touched the floor, the Dark Stallion took a few steps forward, and upon stepping outside the circle, took a deep breath. For so long, his lungs had forgotten what it was like to inhale fresh air, considering that he was trapped in spirit form within his shadowy limbo.
“It feels good to be back in flesh and blood.” He grasped the Amulet hanging around his neck and rose it toward his face, allowing him to more closely inspect it and see his reflection within its gem. “And it feels even better to be holding what is rightfully mine.”
The Shadow Mare took one step toward him. “Welcome back, my dear husband, to the world of the living. Your kingdom awaits its new and rightful sovereign.”
“My darling wife.” The Dark Stallion approached her to wrap one arm around her shoulder and use his other hoof to pull back her mask, revealing her lips and aligning them with his own before passionately kissing them. “Being trapped within that cold, dark purgatory for so long has made me forget the feeling of your warm embrace and even warmer kiss.”
Still within her husband’s grip, the Shadow Mare slipped her mask over her face to hide her blushing cheeks and smile. “And for so long, I have missed you, as has your son. I know you have been wanting to see him, as he had been born shortly after you were banished into shadow.”
The Dark Stallion released his embrace from her as he turned to face Sky Wind standing next to her. He stepped towards the young colt and gazed upon him, reaching forward to grasp his chin and lift his face toward his.
“Yes, I’ve always wondered what the face of my heir looked like,” he said, studying every feature of Sky Wind’s face. “He definitely takes after me, and I’m sure you raised him well enough to do so in demeanor as well as in looks.”
Sky Wind simply nodded once his father released his face. “Indeed she has, father, for it was I who helped aid it your return. It was I who kept a watch over our enemies to monitor their activity and track down the items required for your release.”
The Dark Stallion grinned. “And you have done well, my son. I can tell by looking at you that you will make a worthy successor to my throne—that it, once I claim it from my usurpers. Speaking of whom—”
He turned to face the magic circle. Either side of it was littered with the debris of broken crystal, and laying on top of the debris were the two princesses—or at least what remained of them.
Both princesses lay lifeless amidst the crystal debris. As their own lives had been snuffed out, so too had the radiance of their coats and mane since faded. No longer was Celestia’s mane the many colors of the sunlight reflecting into the rainbow, nor was Luna’s mane the opaqueness of the night’s sky with the glowing moonlight and glimmering stars. Both manes returned to their original, plain state, with Celestia’s mane pink, and Luna’s pale blue.
The Dark Stallion paced over to where Celestia lay, and kicked his hoof against her face, causing her head to tip over slightly before falling flat against the stone cold floor. Other than that, there was no other reaction from her. She was lifelessly cold as the very floor she lay upon.
“So these are the princesses who banished me to my eternal prison?” He scoffed. “They appear much older, if not less alive, than when I last saw them.”
Shadow Mare paced up next to him. “As they were the ones whose magic was used to banish you, it was their magic we had to harvest to bring you back. As you can see, the spell required to do so cost them their lives, but regained your own.”
The Dark Stallion gave a hard chuckle. “Yes, I can feel their very life force coursing through my veins.”
He rose upon his hind legs and raised his fore legs toward the sky in triumph. “And with this new energy bestowed upon me, I shall regain my throne and assume my rightful place as sovereign of Equestria.”
For a few seconds, he stood silently upon his hind legs before returning to all four. He glared up at his horn and grunted.
The Shadow Mare placed her hoof upon his shoulder. “What seems to be the matter, dear?”
“My horn,” he replied. “I cannot use my magic.”
“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.
The Dark Stallion swatted her hoof off of his shoulder before snapping back, “I mean exactly what I said. I cannot use my magic. No matter how hard I try to summon it, it will not manifest itself through my horn.”
He then began to pace frantically back and forth. “Without my magic, I am unable to claim my right to the throne. I have become impotent.”
“This is impossible,” the Shadow Mare replied. “You magic should have been restored along with your physical form.”
The Dark Stallion stopped pacing. “Then there must have been an error with the magical ritual that resurrected me.”
Squish gave an indignant “harrumph!” before putting both fists upon his hips. “Impossible. My spell was foolproof. I should know: I’ve had to work with fools.”
This comment elicited an indignant “Hey!” from both Slash and Swoosh, who returned sharp glares with furrowed eyebrows at Squish.
Squish motioned to the magic circle and everything placed within it. “We had gathered everything required for the ritual. We had captured the two princesses who had initially banished you, and we had retrieved the items by which they had banished you with. That, of course, was the Amulet of Purity, but as its power was divided among the Elements of Harmony, we had to retrieve them as well to transfer their power to the Amulet.”
Sky Wind snickered. “Well, then, I guess that very well may be the problem.”
Squish raised a skeptical eyebrow at the dark prince. “Whatever do you mean?”
Sky Wind paced over to where the magic circle stood along with the Elements. “The power of the Amulet of Purity had been transferred into the Elements of Harmony, that is true, but it appears their power alone was insufficient. It appears they were powerful enough to bring my father back to his physical form, but not enough to restore his magic. For that, they require the source of their true power.”
His two parents glanced at each other before gazing back at their son.
“And where is this power hidden?” The Dark Stallion inquired.
Sky Wind gave a sly grin. “The princess’ protégé and her friends.”
Xander shut the book that he and the others had been reading. “Well, that history lesson taught us a little bit about the Dark Stallion and his relation to the princesses.”
Twilight placed her hoof on his shoulder. “Which give us all the more reason to go out and find them. Who knows what danger the Shadow Clan will put them in.”
Xander tossed the book over his shoulder. “But the question remains about their whereabouts.”
Rainbow Dash shrugged her shoulders. “Meh, I wouldn’t bother trying to find them. If the past few weeks proved anything, they’re always sure to find us. Danger always has a funny way of doing that.”
As soon as she had said that, a bright light flashed from outside and filled the room, followed by a sound like thunder. The explosion of light was violent enough to shake a few books from off their shelves and startle every pony nearly out of their skin.
“What did I tell ya?” Dash said.
The other ponies rushed to the library door to see what had happened outside. When Twilight opened the door, it revealed a ghastly sight that caused every pony to gasp in horror.
The entire town of Ponyville was ablaze in an inferno. The sky glowed bright orange from the flames engulfing every building and tree. Rising billows of black smoke filled the air, along with the screams of ponies scrambling and fleeing through the town.
Twilight and the others stepped into the chaos surrounding them. What had previously been a calm and quiet evening had awoken into an inferno of flame and cacophony. To their own horror, they turned to see that Twilight’s own library was ablaze with flames enveloping every single leaf and licking off the bark of the tree.
“What in Celestia’s name is going on here,” Twilight exclaimed.
Before any pony else could reply, a sinister laugh echoed through the town and boomed from the sky above like thunder.
The ponies turn their gaze upward to the sky swirling with dark clouds, and from them appeared the image of the Shadow Mare gazing down at them.
“Elements of Harmony, heed my warning,” her voice roared from above, “surrender yourselves, or witness the destruction of all that you hold dear.”
With that, the Shadow Mare resumed her maniacal laughter, forcing the others to cower under her presence.
Shadow Mare: Elements of Harmony, heed my ultimatum: either surrender yourselves at the castle within the Everfree Forest, or face the destruction of all you hold dear.
Twilight Sparkle: Oh no! Now we really need to rescue the princesses!
Xander: I’ll take care of this. You all stay here?
Twilight: Wait, where do you think you’re going?
Xander: This mess is all because of me and my amulet. I’m not going to let you get hurt because of it.
Twilight: Haven’t you learned anything from us? You don’t have to do this alone.
Xander: Next time on My Little Pony: “Rescue From The Everfree Forest, Or The Escape From It?”
Twilight: We’re all in this together, Xander!