No Rest For The Traitor

Light At The End Of The Tunnel: Price

Using the light provided by Darky's wing we've ascertained one critical fact about our situation. The teleportation popped us out in some sort of a janitor's closet.

"For some reason I doubt the enemy launched the past invasion from here," I whisper.

"I guess Mistake's ability to steal magic destabilized the portal just like it happened during his first time jumping the journal spoke of. I'm not complaining in the slightest though."

"What does the guy have to do with all of this?" asks Darky.

Here it is, the dreaded question.

"Heavy," I put an ear to the door just in case, "What did you tell her?"

"He just told me it's absolutely necessary for me to come and that it would explain why I... get confused from time to time," Darky interrupts.

"Can it wait?" asks Heavy impatiently, "I know more than both of you put together how important it is but we have to get out of here first."

"Just one thing," I shut Heavy up and turn to Darky, "Darky, what if I told you there's someone whom you have willingly forgotten but I'm sure if you found out about him you'd be sure you made a mistake, heh."

"Heavy?" she looks at him quizzically, "I think you may have hit him way too hard."

"He's not kidding, Darky," Heavy reassures her, "We don't know what exactly happened but all the little gaps in your memory, the little inconsistencies about things that happened point at something. Just think about this, don't answer - what happened two years ago when Valiant Charge got banished out of Canterlot? Who is responsible for him not touching you again? As I said though, let's get out of here first."

"Hmmmm," Darky hums.

Anything behind the door? I can't hear anything even with my ear pressed hard against the wood.

Open the door carefully, veeeery carefully. Any reaction? Nope.

Sticking my head out, I see an empty stone corridor with few doors set in the sides.

Electric lights. Here, in the middle of the forest?

More like - a stone fortress, here in the middle of the forest?

"Heavy," I whisper, "This place is where the second invasion was launched from, right?"

"From what I know, yes."

"And the invasion ended like... over a month ago?"

"I see what you mean. It seems that the purpose of this place is different than I suspected. Probably something to do with the Tree of Harmony."

"Yeah, Mistake wrote about it. What is it?"

"Something not important for us at the moment. Let's go."

He begins striding confidently in one direction.

"Eeeerm-"

"Act like we belong here. We can't really fight our way out."

"A griffon, a batpony, and an earthpony..."

Heavy carefully peeks over a corner.

"That plays in our favor," explains Darky, "Sombra basically unified the entire world so his soldiers were of all sorts. The issue will be our armor probably but let's cross that bridge when we get there."

A pegasus suddenly clears another corner and rams directly into Heavy Hoof wearing full plate armor.

"Explain yourself!" Heavy barks out and looks at the pony's insignia, "Private."

"Gnnmgh," the pony tries to recover from his head almost being pushed into his ribcage, "Sorry, sir-"

He salutes but looks us up and down thoughtfully.

"-wait, who are you?"

Heavy tries to look as insulted as ponily possible but Darky steps out and spreads her wings. The phoenix one begins burning brightly and the blackfire one touches the wall, charring it slightly.

"Wanna ask the shadow king personally?" she grins, taking care to show both her fangs.

The private's eyes go wide.

"Shadow king? Kong Sombra? Oh my g-"

Heavy coughs.

"What my lovely associate here is saying is that we're here by the order of Twilight Sparkle to investigate the recent opening of the portal."

"Magistrate Twilight? Oh, sorry, sir... sirs... and ma'ams... ma'am. Can I help you somehow?" he stands at attention now, rigid as if a steel spike was going up his rump.

"Hungryyyyyy," Darky hisses, making the pony whimper quietly.

"Just direct us to the nearest exit. We found out the portal is unstable," Heavy turns to me, "That's probably how the intruder got away last time."

"Seems logical," I nod, "We might need to do reroute the thaumaturgical current via Cromach-field crystals to the main capacitor."

The pony's eyes glaze slightly but he reacts fast enough when I look straight at him.

"So?"

"I don't know anything about technomancy, sir-AAH!" he screams when Darky breathes wetly into his ear, still grinning like a predator ready to pounce.

"The nearest exit," Heavy taps the ground impatiently.

"T-t-the main gate is just down the stairs and through the lobby."

"Good. Dismissed!" Heavy orders.

"Yes, sir-AAAAAAAAAH! Get her off me, pleeeeease! I wanna live-"

"Darky, stand down!"

Choking stops grinding her fangs on the private's neck and just slaps his rump with the black wing.

Ignoring the pony as haughtily as I can, I start walking onwards and nudge Heavy.

"Enough of this, we need to do the maintenance and if worst comes to worst evacuate this place before the portal overloads," I say, making sure the private hears it, "An unstable K-class wormhole like this can't have much more mass to let through before collapsing."

"Live long and prosper," Heavy scowls and waves his hoof at the private, "The archmage said we still had time. Was she wrong?"

"The measuring equipment's signal must be full of interference up north. The damn absorption crystals can't be helping."

The three of us enter a large lobby with two sets of stairs leading down. Unfortunately, there's quite a heavy amount of armored ponies standing around. Heavy removes his helmet and puts it on his shoulder, making sure it shows only a small part of his Guard insignia.

"Now that was a good technobabble if ever I heard one," Darky grins, "Cromach-field crystals."

"Hey, my head just went on a vacation there and my name was the only thing I remembered. You weren't bad yourself - Hungryyy - I almost needed a diaper more than the soldier did."

"What's with the helmet, Heavy?" I ask the earthpony examining the patrolling guards with a stern look.

"Their markings are similar to ours but slightly different. If I cover mine just like this I should be seen as Brigade General Heavy Hoof who is currently performing a surprise inspection. The smarter of them will notice the barely visible insignia, look as sharp as they can, and think how clever they are for outsmarting an officer."

And just like that, we don't run away, we don't escape via a secret tunnel, or we don't fight our way out. We walk out through the main gate with the soldiers saluting us.

With the fortress behind us, we take the well-known road towards Ponyville. How do we know? Because the structure is at the same place princess Luna's encampment is on our side of the portal. Mirror world indeed.

"How do you call Spitfire after eating too much chilli?" Darky breaks the silence.

"Hmm?"

"Shi-OW!" she bites her tongue as Heavy smacks her head.

"That was bad and you should feel bad," he says.

"So, what's the plan? You dragged me here without telling me anything."

"Well," I look at Heavy who is, who would have guesed, looking at me, "Ehm, the plan is to find Mistake and get him home?"

"I see, I see. Any idea how we should go about it?" Darky's smile isn't exactly friendly.

"He should be in Canterlot or in the Crystal Empire, at least according to the linked book."

"The what now?"

Heavy sighs, well, heavily.

"I didn't want to drag you into this, Darky, but the genius here thought you were the only hope for Mistake."

"Why?" she shrugs, "No! First the book-whatsit. Explain."

"Cromach here has a linked book, a souvenir they sell in Ponyville to tourists. It is connected to a second book and everything that's written in one shows up in the other. Well, that's not exactly correct because the magic is shoddy and it's just a cheap gift rather than anything else. The second book is in the hooves of Mistake who is using it as his journal and we're tracking him thanks to it. He got it from you when we got him out of the asylum in Ponyville with the help of queen Chrysalis and doctor Bright Eye."

Darky looks blankly into the distance while walking.

"I... remember being there for some reason. I stayed a while and worked... in the asylum because I... had to stay away from princess Luna? It's not making much sense. We were stalked by this pegasus guy and then the Nightguards attacked us and Nightmare Moon appeared again and somepony defeated her?"

"We?" Heavy urges her on.

"Me and... somepony. The same pony who almost killed Valiant during the winter before you became a recruit. Was it... Mistake? Why would I want to forget him if he did all that?"

"Good question," I interrupt Heavy opening his mouth, "Which he will have to answer himself because he seems to know the reason."

Unfortunately, Darky isn't stupid.

"What aren't you telling from me?"

"He... seems to think he hurt you in some way and that he should stay away from you because of it-"

"Which is impossible," Heavy interrupts heatedly.

"Heavy?" Darky looks at him, eyebrows raised.

"I know- knew the relationship between you two. There is no way, no matter what, that he would willingly hurt you. Unfortunately, he's an idiot and might think that certain circumstances were his fault. He can't forgive himself for anything bad he does, even minor things like yelling at a recruit because of something unimportant."

"So, every memory that feels garbled is his fault?"

"No, somepony called Void did it."

"Void? Why? Last time I saw him I was getting real drunk at the Horseshoe. Hey! You were there as well, Heavy."

"I don't go there much so it must have been when princess Luna asked you to become her bodyguard. An offer you refused."

"Of course. It was because... because..." Darky trails off and a tear rolls down her cheek, "I can't remember. She did something bad to somepony close to me."

"Yes. She tortured Mistake in the worst way possible. You herself told me that and the princess later told me exactly what happened."

Darky shakes her head.

"The memories make sense with a second pony inside them but even so I don't feel anything if I put him in the empty spot."

"I suppose that's Void's doing. He wouldn't want to just wipe your memory so he wiped Mistake and made it so you wouldn't think too much about it."

"Why?"

"Only two ponies know that. Void and Mistake."

"So, Crystal Empire?"

"That's where, according to the journal, he's ultimately headed to talk to Twilight Sparkle who took over the giant alliance of states after Sombra's fall."

"Mind if I read the journals you're talking about?"

Me and Heavy exchange looks.

"May as well, we've spilled everything already," I grab the two black books, one completely normal and one bruised, battered, burned, and partially melted, and give them to her, "The new one is the linked book and the one that looks as if a dragon chewed it up is his original diary."

"Thanks," she says thoughtfully.

I've never seen her actually seriously think about anything and I'm not sure I like it. Maybe it's just because I have no clue what she'll do when push comes to shove.

Maybe it's because I know her as a fleeting and uncaring, not evil but just thoughtless, pony who values herself over anyone else. Truth be told, I think she'll hurt Mistake by talking her way out of this and leaving him hanging when he needs her.

Am I caring too much about a unicorn I've known only for less than two weeks? Well, that's because he saved my life. Gotta admit that's not it, at least not all of it. The plan of settling down back home with some nice girl open to occasional experimentation with friends burned away in the desert but the idea is still there...

...only now it's not some nameless griffon girl but a unicorn stallion.

On some level I want her to leave him just so I can take her place. Well fuck, is it love or is it just his droolworthy butt?

Not now. There will be enough time to sort this out if- when we get back home.

The paved road leads out of the forest and I can see Ponyville in the distance. The panorama is a bit different as the little town seems to be built around some humongous circular building marking its center.

Something whistles through the sky and a draft of wind slams all three of us to the ground.

"Here they are, AJ!" yells a blue pegasus mare with rainbow mane and tail in a deafening voice. She's wearing a necklace with the symbol of a cloud with a rainbow lightning bolt coming out of it. Other than that, even in this cold weather, she's wearing nothing aside from tons of multicolored piercings and studs all over her muzzle and the tips of her ears.

How I wish I had my pistol. Too bad noone was able to repair it back in Canterlot.

Darky doesn't hesitate however, drops the book she was reading while walking, and charges at the pegasus like a bullet. I'm not able to watch the fight as right at that moment a group of... things comes out of thin air.

"So that's where the design came from," whistles Heavy, looking at who seems to be the leader of the group.

It's another mare, orange with blonde mane. Her main features, or at least the most noticeable ones, are two mechanical contraptions resembling griffon arms instead of her front legs. This time it's Heavy who doesn't give her time to speak and attacks.

All I can see is her little grin as she snickers and nods towards me.

The group of six things takes position around me. They look like ponies. Well, they're shaped like ponies but they are just metal armors with what looks like cables and constructions under the chassis. I have no doubt the mechanical ponies are based on griffon motors and hydraulics and that they're stronger than an earthpony. Unfortunately, each one of them has a red, angular crystal where a unicorn horn would be which means magic is a possibility.

They definitely aren't as agile as ponies though and I spin my axe, cleaving one's head clean off, and the razors on my wings cut through something on my six. A quick step to the side and a look behind me reveals that one's eyes are damaged and it's retreating for now. I can't let that happen so I fly up and with another swing of wings I divebomb the fleeing mech, burying my axe in his back. Throwing the bunch of wires and metal at a different one, I use the second of confusion to swing at the head of one of the three focusing at me.

Then the magic hits. It's always the damn magic. Contrary to normal unicorns these guys' concentration doesn't seem to be possible to break and a red shield stops my battleaxe mid-air.

"Energy critical. Requiring assistance," says the attacked mech in a voice resembling a broken radio.

With my morale boosted, I step back to avoid the slash of a blade on the leg of a different mech and with an upswing of the axe I feel only the slightest resistance as the red shield breaks and the mech's head flies away.

Three left.

Charging the one who previously attacked me, I realize I'm bigger and, surprisingly, heavier than it so I just trip him up and swing the axe again to cleave him on the ground. This time the shield holds.

"Suppressing fire."

I jump away to avoid any projectile but nothing comes, instead I can feel a crushing weight I remember from the cellar pulling me to the ground. Having no real footing after my jump, the red glow of three horns pins me to the ground. It's not meant to break my bones, thankfully, but it's effective enough to only allow me to turn my head to look around.

Darky's aerial combat is almost impossible to see but this is the first time I see her fighting serously and I'm getting a surge of respect towards her. The blue pegasus seems to be toying with her though. I know that some sort of magic must be playing a role there as well because the dives, instant changes of direction and movement fast enough to shatter bones and rupture organs the pegasus is performing can't be natural. She doesn't seem to be a fighter though and Darky's using it as much as she can. The pegasus doesn't have the instinct to predict the incoming blows but her godlike speed and reflexes are still enough to have the upper hand in the skirmish.

With me not moving, the three remaining mechs make a circle around me and just keep their horns aimed. I twitch my hand experimentally and after a little give I can feel the unbreakable push of magic on it.

Hmmm.

The ground shakes.

Heavy Hoof narrowly avoids a blow that would have gone through his ribs considering the sharp claws on the end of the orange earthpony's metal arms. Heavy doesn't seem to have trouble with those since they're quite slow compared to his movements but the necessity to avoid any hit isn't allowing him to fight as efficiently as he usually does.

Suddenly, his enemy slams her arms to the ground and spins around, ready to kick Heavy with her hind legs. The movement is almost instant, signalling to me that it's something the mare does regularly and under pressure. Unfortunately for her, Heavy's style is the exact counter to her strong swings and he's already in position to block the kick with his steel staff.

"What the fuck?" I groan as Heavy, the titanic earthpony, flies a fair distance and lands on his back.

Still sitting on the ground, he looks with dread and confusion at the V shaped metal that used to be his main weapon.

The orange mare trots to him as he picks himself up from the ground and swings at him. Unarmed and facing the destructive force of blades he's gonna...

... spread his hind legs, bend his torso and, fueled with the power of his entire body spinning, slam his hoof into the mare's face.

Heavy and hoof-to-hoof combat?

Red stains the snow and the confused mare gets hit immediately by an upswing lifting her off the ground slightly.

A thunder-like crack rips through the air and I see something black make a small crater in the snow. A millisecond later the blue pegasus lands on Darky who doesn't seem to be moving anymore. With blood streaming from her face and numerous, but shallow, cuts all over her body the pegasus grins victoriously and plants her plot directly onto Darky.

That's enough for me. Slightly moving my leg as if I wanted to sit up, I feel the magical grip shift there. The mechs don't notice my grin as my free arm, powered by me using the magic holding me as a lever, grips the closest mech by its leg and swings it into the other one.

With only one now holding me down, I can feel the magic only slowing me down and, not wasting time picking my axe, I spin my entire body and cut the mechs head off with the razor on my wing. Veil of red clouding my vision, I rip off the heads of the final two mechs still trying to untangle themselves from each other.

"Heh, interesti-"

I can read you like a book, you blue bitch. Fast you may be but you're too predictable. Spin. Swing. Grip. You ponies will always underestimate griffon ability to grab things. Things like your neck.

"-GAH," the blue pegasus appearing at speed making her almost invisible groans.

I tighten the hold as she struggles and she soon gets the message.

"Hold there, partner," comes a country-heavy voice from where Heavy is... was fighting with the orange mare. He's currently hanging by his neck in one of her mechanical arms. In response to me noticing her she pulls Heavy slightly higher, making his legs rise from the ground for a second.

"Ooooh-kay?"

My hands are burning and shaking from exhaustion and I can't do the same thing as she can but I can sure as heck snap the pegasus' neck if I want to.

"Let Rainbow go an' Ah'll make sure ya'll end up in the arena an' not in the grave," she sniffles slightly with blood still pouring from her face, courtesy of Heavy Hoof.

"Rainbow...?" groans Heavy.

"Forgive me if I don't trust you right away," I growl.

"Are you Applejack?" Heavy croaks again.

"That's mah name. How do ya know 'bout me, mister invader?" Applejack lets Heavy stand on the ground safely again.

"Cromach, let her go!" Heavy commands.

He must be too scared for his own life. This can't be a real order.

"You can't be serious. We don't know whether Darky is even still alive. I might not save her but I can still make sure this girl pays for it."

"Let. Her. Go."

"Listen to yer friend, griffon."

"NO! YOU CAN'T BE BEGGING FOR YOUR LIFE THIS WAY! NOT YOU!"

"It's up to you, Applejack," Heavy says, "We're Blazing Light's friends."

Applejack lets go of Heavy's neck but grabs his mane instead. Is she... afraid? Is there anything between her and the pegasus?

Hesitantly, I loosen the grip around her neck but not let go completely.

That's a mistake.

Rainbow disappears and my grasp slips on a gust of wind. A second later she reappears with Darky on her back next to Applejack.

"Hey, I knew she looked familiar," says Rainbow, "Like the vegetable in Canterlot."

Applejack actually slaps her and Rainbow looks at the ground.

"Sorry."

"Now, since at least one of ya proves ya deserve a chance," AJ puts Darky down from Rainbows back and examines her closely, "Speak. The white one, Ah mean, the white pony one. Not the hothead."

"We need to talk to Blazing, currently under the name Mistake, who came here without knowing everything he needs to. We think he's heading to the Crystal Empire to see princess Twilight Sparkle."

"Princess?" Applejack smiles a little.

"She is still a unicorn in this world, is she?"

"Indeed she is. Well, Ah have no problem taking ya there myself if ya're who yer saying ya're," she looks at me, "We'll have ta shackle the birdie though."

"Cromach," Heavy, still breathing heavily, asks, "Are you done being an idiot?"

"Depends on whether Darky is okay," I growl.

"She's fine," says Rainbow, "Cracked ribs at most. I went easy on her."

I nod towards the six heaps of scrap metal around me that used to be the mechs.

"I'll send somepony to clean this up," Rainbow grins.

We get escorted to Ponyville train station by a group of soldiers while I carry Darky on my back and Heavy stumbles forward and hisses with every step. Now calm, my memory brings one of Mistake's journal entries and I realize these two are his if not friends then at least allies.

Note to self - apologize to Heavy for my outburst. He realized it first and I almost killed us all.

We're sort of treated like prisoners but noone kicks us or anything. Contrary to what I remember from our Equestria, there is an armored train car just for situation like this. Our weapons and armors are gone but Darky is currently eating some sort of stew from a bowl resting on her crossed legs, I'm reading Mistake's old journal, and Heavy is just looking out of the moving train.

The linked book on the small table by the window glows when we are about two hours away from Ponyville.

[Linked Book Entry]

There was one thing I still needed to see before leaving Canterlot, something personal.

Blazing Light's manor was being taken care of by a bunch of servants and I had an order to be obeyed signed by the Bearers so they let me inside. I owe Twilight for this. Using the same method she tried on Celestia she kept little pieces of mirror Chokey's mind intact and she's slowly recovering as well. Physically she's in much worse shape because I fed on her without care. Mirror Blazing was an abusive bastard worse than Valiant but in the end it was me who caused the most damage to her.

I won't make up excuses for being under the control of the Element and other nonsense. I drained her dry. I broke her both physically and mentally.

I have to suffer then consequences.

I will because Twilight can't help me. Here, in the Crystal Empire, she examined my state and said that while repairing a mind or working the physical form was easy with her knowledge she had no clue how to separate two souls mixed together. She offered me she would keep the gate I opened from closing and study me further but she was worried about Sombra being back in her world. I'm not going to let that happen. Sombra has already ruled this world once and I won't let the unnecessary gratitude towards me and softness of others cause it again.

After seeing Chokey I had a general idea what to do but I still held hope that Twilight might erase Sombra and I'd be just me again. Now that she's failed it's up to me to do what nopony else managed to do. I must make up for my completely first failure in the Crystal Empire where Void sent my soul jumping.

The Corrupted Heart didn't explode in this dimension because Twilight didn't pour enough power into it at the time. As things have it, I now have a massive source of power, an unstable container to pour it into, and Betty who can break it.

Last time it was me, Scream, Twilight and Sombra caught in the explosion but now it'll be just Sombra and me.

It's finally time to end this once and for all.

[End Entry]

[hr]

Mistake is an idiot.

I don't want to be late.

I don't want to be late.

I don't want to be late.

I can't do anything about it. The train is moving and all I can do is sit here and let my thoughts circle around the possibility of never seeing the unicorn again.

Throwing the book to Heavy, I lean my head into my open talons.

I don't want to be late.

I don't-

Someone shakes me by the shoulder.

"Mhm?"

"We're here, Cromach," Heavy smiles and wipes my wet face.

"I'm scared," I say, shaking my head to drive off the waking haze.

Heavy looks more amused than he has the right to.

"Of what?"

"Of not getting to him in time. How long was I asleep?"

"It's after midnight."

The door to our private room opens and Applejack steps in.

"Twilight is waiting fer ya outside. Ah sent her a message."

I pack the books up and follow the mare outside.

And here was me thinking Heavy's rump was epic. Applejack's butt could eat Heavy's for breakfast.

It's a reflex, nothing else, that makes me bow before the purple unicorn I know from my world. Despite not being an alicorn, this Twilight Sparkle doesn't have the feeling of an uncertain girl around her but the solid presence of somepony who has been through hell and back to get where she is.

"Blazing Light is in the castle," says Twilight and a group of soldiers surrounds us.

"Are you sure?" I ask, expecting an angry rebuttal.

"What do you mean?" is her calm answer.

"Well, I have a fresh journal entry here saying he wants to do something with the Corrupted Heart, whatever it is. I'm not sure but he doesn't want anyone to get blown up so doing it at night seems like a good idea."

A burst of purple light comes from Twilight's horn and we're immediately somewhere else.

It's a city square with a tall crystal tower in the middle of it. The area is fairly well-lit by torches, street lamps, and also a unicorn currently focusing a beam of light from his horn into a black, heart-shaped crystal levitating above a pedestal at the base of the needle-like tower.

"Mistake!" I rush to him but a black barrier pushes me away. "MISTAKE!"

He either can't hear me or ignores me and everyone else.

"Step aside," says Twilight and lights her horn again.

The barrier absorbs the light cast by her horn without even flickering.

[b]"Well, well, well. Both traitors are here."[/b]

The heavy, raspy voice comes from nowhere.

A large tome appears next to Twilight in a flash of light and opens. The barrier fades away... for about a second.

[b]"Don't try that Neighcronomicon nonsense on me, girl."[/b]

"What's going on?" I ask Twilight.

"It's Sombra. Blazing is bringing him back for some reason."

"I thought the journal said it wasn't possible."

"It's not. At least not without... oh dear. Wait, what journal?"

"Not now. What's going on?"

I look at Mistake who seems to have bright blue strand-like veins glowing all over his body seemingly all ending at the tip of his horn. One by one they are gradually fading as I do all I can - stare.

"He's literally ripping magic out of his body and pouring it into the Heart. Every cell able to conduct and produce it is being forcibly destroyed, thus pushing the magic in one place and forcing it out."

"A simple version for the flappy bird, please!"

"He's burning away every bit of magic he's got. Sombra is his magic and if he doesn't want to die or end up in a body completely incapable of using any sort of magic ever again he has to leave."

There are almost no glowing veins left and in few seconds even the tip of Mistake's horn goes dark. The unicorn wobbles and looks around exhaustedly.

"Betty," he breathes out, "It's been a pleasure knowing you."

In a flash of phoenix flames the familiar sword appears and, leaving a trail of fire, swings at the black crystal.

It stops, held by black shadows.

[b]"Don't be rash. There's still too much to do now that immortality is within reach."[/b]

The darkness seeping from Corrupted Heart forms into an alicorn-sized unicorn, grey with ethereal black mane and curved, razor-like horn.

"Gotcha, Sombrero," Mistake grins.

A second Betty appears from nowhere and spears the Heart before Sombra can react.

[b]"NO!"[/b]

The reality around the Heart warps and something lights up the entire square.

Golden flakes in the air? Sand?

A golden portal similar to the one we used to enter the mirror world appears. A set of golden tendrils bursts out of it and each one latches to Sombra who tries to run away but gets slowly pulled inside.

Was this Mistake's plan?

One look at the exhausetd but obviously terrified unicorn tells me it wasn't.

[b]"What's going on? NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo-"[/b]

The scream ends when a golden tentacle chokes Sombra and the portal devours him.

I bang at the barrier keeping us away from Mistake. I bang and bang until I notice something crawling out of the portal.

"Heavens," Heavy takes place next to me, "that's impossible."

The pony crawling out of the portal is an alicorn-ish being. An alicorn with ethereal sandy-colored mane, bronze changeling plates all over his body, red corset imitating a changeling queen belly plate, and bright red phoenix wings coming from his back.

Mistake just keeps staring with his mouth open.

"Fate has come for you, Blazing Light. You cannot run."

Mistake screams when a golden tendril emerges from the alicorn's side and stabs into his right eye. No damage seems to have been done but Mistake is groaning in pain.

"What was supposed to happen will come true," the alicorn says calmly.

Another tendril wraps itself around Mistake's left front leg and...

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

...rips it off.

Mistake tries to get up from the ground but his remaining front leg keeps slipping on the bloodied snow. After few tries her looks at me, no, past me where Darky is standing, smiles, and stops trying.

"You're safe now," I hear him say.

The golden tendrils latch onto him just like they did with Sombra and begin pulling him to the portal, leaving a red trail in the snow.

"NO!" is a metallic scream from nowhere I know belongs to Betty who materializes and cuts the tendrils off.

"Do not resist," the alicorn smiles, "Your turn will come right after his."

"Get. The. Buck. Away. From. Him."

Betty slices all approaching tendrils until the alicorn sends a barrage of them at once, forcing Betty to turn into a giant shield and wrapping them around him instead.

"It was an honor serving you, my Bearer," says Betty, pulled into the portal despite struggling all the way.

The inevitability strikes me. We can't get through the barrier. The alicorn will kill Mistake. Even if he doesn't he will bleed out right there in the snow.

"STOP THE FUCKING SPELL AND WE'LL HELP YOU!"

No answer. No movement. Just the patient work of tendrils pulling the body.

I have to get him out somehow. Noone else seems to be able to do anything. Letting my arms hang in defeat, I brush against a pouch on my belt.

I reach inside and feel the crystal, still warm with magic despite the cold out here.

"Princess, or whatever you are here, break this!" I pull the crystal out.

"What?"

"DESTROY THIS DAMN ROCK OR I'LL SHOVE IT SO FAR UP YOUR ASS YOU'LL BE KISSING MY TALONS!"

Not waiting for an answer, I throw the crystal straight at her face as hard as I can. A mage of her caliber must be able to recognize and deal with danger in split second.

The rock gets vaporized so soon after leaving my claw the spell burns me as well.

"Thanks!" I yell as I suddenly feel something tugging at my entire being.

I shiver and stumble on the frozen forest floor.

There's the three of us and a bunch of Nightguards pointing spears in our direction.

The four of us.

I pick up the feather-light body of Mistake. The color has drained from his face, his right eye is glassy and faded, and he's almost stopped bleeding... and breathing.

"I'LL KILL THE FIRST ONE OF YOU WHO ISN'T A DOCTOR AND COMES CLOSER-"

The hoof stopping my outburst belongs to Heavy who shakes his head.

He's right. This won't help.

I look at the limp unicorn in my arms.

There's nothing I can do.

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