Equestria, a land where colorful ponies live in peace and harmony with nature, frolicking and being generally happy and incredibly cute.
That might be true from time to time and in certain places of said beautiful continent but definitely not everywhere. The idyllic existence is just something the neighbouring countries percieve as reality. The approach is understandable from the viewpoint of minotaurs living in tribes in the permanently frozen north, fighting for survival against things seen only in the darkest nightmares and the worst enemy of all - environment. The griffons in the east have it fairly similar although not as bad, living in a verdant region criss-crossed with deserts of varying sizes.
Deserts, this far north from the equator?
One could ask such question and would have to look into the history of griffons and ponies fighting over areas suitable for comfortable living for an answer. History, though, has a grim sense of humor and said conflicts turned those lush forests and bountiful grasslands into the wastelands they are now. Despite them, or maybe because of them, the inhabitants are tough, resourceful, and grateful for every new day. How the griffons managed to fight off a race capable of using magic and ruled by two immortal sisters of godlike powers is hidden in the mists of time but the greatest clue could be their interest in inventions and new machinery. Unfortunately, such industrial revolution threatened to ruin the griffon land more than the magical wars ever could (albeit not as fast) and the two races became tentative allies, ponies desiring new technology and griffons looking for methods to bring back life into their homeland.
How is that important for this story?
Just a little. The general perception of ponies as defenseless pacifists of this age shattered after a certain griffon secret service agent instigated an attack on Equestrian coast in order to improve his standing with the griffon Emperor using information gained from a young griffon soldier he put through harsh trials to make him suffer for personal revenge. The attack failed miserably and the entire griffon invading force got wrecked by technology and magic far beyond their understanding. Not much information escaped about the incident but the entirety of the griffon secret service focused their efforts into finding out how ponies got so far ahead of them and the result was that they didn't.
They had help from somepony, somepony the griffons have never met before.
The secret service knew about the peace treaty between their mortal enemy - the changelings - and ponies but none of the traces led to them. Changelings are deadly, deceitful, and threatening and every young griffon has the knowledge drilled into their head but, one big but, they aren't a civlized nation with technology. No, changeling agents might have warned the ponies about the incoming attack but they definitely weren't the ones who repelled it. The agents still don't know exactly who did it as those sent to investigate failed to return with any amount of information. The agent that got the furthest returned with only bits and pieces.
Bits and pieces that shook the griffon secret service to their armored boots.
He talked about a heavily guarded pony encampment in the Everfree Forest, about a shimmering portal surrounded by ponies at all times leading into a massive fortress somewhere unknown and even more guarded. He said even ponies didn't know much about the place but called it the mirror world, a different version of Equestria and the entire world. The agent didn't know anything else because he got caught on the other side of the portal and promptly returned to the hooves of ponies who in turn sent him back to the Griffon Empire. The griffons don't know who the powerful ally is, they don't know the true power of ponies from beyond the portal, but they sure act much friendlier than they used to. Politics can be fun like that. One question still remains on their minds though.
How did the ponies acquire such an ally and what are they going to do with it?
The answer to the second part is uncertain but the answer to the first part is long and starts somewhere completely different yet very similar in many respects. Pony and griffon scientists and mages (only pony mages, of course) can talk on an on about alternate realities and infinite universes until everypony listening falls asleep but in this case it would cast light on what happened to a unicorn in a different branch of existence.
Said unicorn's name was Blazing Light and he was nothing special aside from considering himself an utter failure. He left his home in Manehattan in deep depression and the first train ticket he bought led him to Canterlot over a year before the changeling invasion happened. Armed with no life experience whatsoever, he got lucky in finding the crappiest job Canterlot had to offer that winter - carrying coal at night to every occupied room of Canterlot castle. It paid next to nothing but came with an empty room and a serviceable bathroom which was everything what Blazing wanted from life. He wasn't in good physical shape and almost pissed himself when he saw a batpony for the first time but the castle staff was so desperate for some heating (and lazy enough at the same time not to do the coal job themselves) to give the position even to somepony as unsuitable as he was.
Before his job interview Blazing met a batpony - princess Luna's personal bodyguard and the head of the Nightguard at the time Sharp Biscuit who directed him to a different batpony who was responsible for the job offer, a low-rank guardsmare responsible for preparing the Nightguard shift schedule. Her name was Choking Darkness, an unfortunate remnant of her mother's love for some extreme bedroom interests and a reason for her to become rather irritated whenever it was mentioned, and Blazing immediately fell in completely unrequited love with her although having never been an interest of mares before he had no idea.
Doing Choking's dirty work, Blazing was happy when she started talking to him more and more because they met frequently when she used the shower in Blazing's empty castle apartment instead of having to walk home across the whole city after every guard practice. For a while Blazing believed he was special in some way for her but then he found out her flirty approach was her general behaviour and as an unfortunate accident he met Choking's ex-coltfriend who was a very jealous and possibly insane pony. That happened after Choking asked Blaze to help her out by being a bartender at a party she hosted in the castle, a party where one of the guests was a diguised queen Chrysalis preparing the invasion of Canterlot year in advance. Chrysalis, seeing in Blaze a servant who can get anywhere in the castle, cursed him to eventually become a changeling and tell her everything about the routine of the castle staff. He, of course, didn't know anything at the time other than that a rather gorgeous pegasus mare talked to him for longer than any mare should.
Unfortunately, Choking, drunk as a skunk, tried to kiss Blaze which brought the attention of Valiant Charge, a staff combat guard teacher at the time and said ex-coltfriend, to him. As mentioned before, Valiant was an extremely jealous pony and soon after the party he and his friends threatened Blaze to make him stop seeing Choking. Choking being Blaze's boss, he saw no real way to do that and he actually had no desire to do so because even the smallest amount of Choking's attention was more than Blaze had ever had before. Blaze's refusal ended up with him in the infirmary with broken ribs and legs. Queen Chrysalis, disguised as a nurse that time, returned to see how her curse worked only to find out Blaze somehow failed to become a mind-controlled slave but when he told her everything she wanted she strengthened the spell, failing again but speeding up his future changeling transformation. Choking found out what happened and visited Blaze as well, triggering his new ability to feed on affection and helping him recover. When he admitted why he didn't want to just leave her be she offered to find somepony to help Blaze learn to defend himself because it wasn't the first time Valiant threatened her close friends but she was scared because he threatened even her and was a high-ranked Royal Guard and the son of a noble.
Choking's friend turned out to be Sharp Biscuit, a universally capable armsmaster and an excellent combat tactician, who helped Blaze awaken his ability to read ponies to an unnatural extent. Blaze, unfortunately, had very little armed combat talent which stemmed from his deeply rooted confidence issues making him believe every pony was more worth of life than himself. During this training Blaze learned that the little voice criticising him for everything he did was the start of his mind shattering into two split personalities, the original one and the one beating him for every mistake he's ever made. A mind can't just decide to go against itself though and the second one proved to be helpful in allowing Blaze to use his unicorn telekinesis to levitate two weapons at the same time without having to look around, thus improving his movement prediction even further. Blaze's main strength was, for previously mentioned reasons, in an unlethal combat though and he was able to outgrow Sharp's jack-of-all-trades abilities using only martial arts magazines bought from a small shop in Canterlot (and a rather drastic physical training led by Sharp). Things escalated when Choking decided to join their training and thus attracted Valiant's attention one night when it was just her and Blaze practicing in the castle gardens.
Using the combat skill that made other unicorns frown upon Blaze when he was younger(when unarmed combat was just his hobby) he successfully defended himself from the attack of Valiant Charge and four of his friends. That wouldn't have been possible without Chrysalis' spell kicking in and turning him into a strange changeling. He kept his color scheme and mane but his coat turned into changeling armor plates, allowing him to shrug off some attacks and survive. Said transformation made him go berserk and wound Valiant heavily. While the combat was going on Choking asked Sharp to bring princess Luna who stopped the combat and was ready to kill the unknown creature Blaze became but Choking persuaded her not to because technically Blaze was her underling which meant a Nightguard and as such entitled to royal interrogation. What only Sharp knew at the time was that princess Luna's special ability was the ability to sense lies and with her intervention while Blaze was locked in the castle dungeons they uncovered Valiant's previous crimes. When Luna left and pronounced Blaze free Sharp kissed him, thinking he was interested in stallions based on the looks he recieved during the showers together after every training. Blaze didn't know what to do with his first kiss but told Sharp he wasn't against anypony thinking he was worth the trouble which was a completely new experience.
Valiant Charge got banished instead of being executed or serving a lifetime sentence in prison thanks to the help of his wealthy father.
Funnily enough, the won fight due to some obscure old law meant that after beating a weapon expert became one himself and thus Blaze lost his old job and got a new one teaching the fresh spring batch of guard recruits unarmed combat and unicorn telekinetic sword combat. His first group of newbies brought two more interesting ponies to him. The first one was an experienced soldier named Solid Steel, who later became the head of the combat branch of Equestrian secret service, and a fresh recruit from the Trottingham military academy named Heavy Hoof. Two big problems arose during the training. The first one was that few older soldiers returning to the Royal Guard for retraining recognized Blaze as a changeling (sort of) and despised him. The second one was that Heavy was being abused by other recruits despite being stronger, smarter, and more skilled than everypony around him for being gay. That problem got sorted when Heavy stood for himself and beat up half of the recruit barracks himself after Blaze arranged a long talk between Heavy and Sharp which later resulted in them becoming a romantic item. A year of successful training passed, broken only by Choking finding a normal coltfriend named Fairfax and Blaze driving him away just like Valiant would have done. The rift between Blaze and Choking didn't close even after he came clean and repaired the relationship he'd broken.
In the second half of the year queen Chrysalis returned and this time her mind control worked on Blaze, using his non-lethal combat expertise to subdue prince Shining Armor and make him into Chrysalis' slave. After succeeding, Chrysalis drained Blaze to death, at least that was what she thought. When Blaze woke up he rushed to the practicing recruits and rallied them to stave off the main wave of attacking changelings, distracting queen Chrysalis in the throne room trying to find out why her forces weren't where they should long enough for Shining Armor to recover and bubble-blast the changelings away. With Blaze being part-changeling he was set on fire but gained his cutie mark that day. A black and a white circle locked together to symbolize his conflicting personalities and two minds in one body. Shining Armor, on behalf of princess Cadance persuaded to leave Blaze unpunished by Choking and Heavy, didn't press charges.
Another year passed and Twilight Sparkle ascended into alicornhood, a year Blaze spent mostly by drinking himself stupid every evening because Choking got promoted for being the official leader of the recruit group that stalled the invasion and wasn't around to keep Blaze sane after Canterlot turned on him for being a changeling-ish thing. His guard status protected him from everything aside from his own mind turning against him from the guilt of almost single-hoofedly giving Canterlot to Chrysalis by beating Shining Armor.
In more depressed state than ever before, Blaze had no idea the worst day of his life was yet to come.
The day was more precisely a night, Nightmare Night, when Choking was supposed to escort princess Luna to Ponyville but wanted to go to a party instead and Blaze agreed to take her shift. When Blaze and Sharp escorted the princess the flying carriage got attacked by a one-eyed pony using fire wings to fly, having a mechanical griffon arm instead of his front leg, and being much better than Blaze at hoof-to-hoof combat. The attacker was focused only on killing Blaze and let the carriage fly away towards Ponyville safely. Blaze, seeing no way to defeat a much more skilled opponent was in a mental state to try a suicidal attack when he noticed a golden portal following the attacker and charged into the pony, forcing him into the portal which crushed him and closed. Defeated but alive, Blaze returned to Ponyville and took a break while watching princess Luna have fun from afar.
After losing sight of her for a while Blaze found Luna and Twilight Sparkle barely holding off a unicorn version of Twilight with enough magical power to break through Luna's defenses and attempt to kill her. Pissed that Luna hadn't stopped to help him before, Blaze didn't want to throw himself into danger but when Sharp tried to bodyblock for Luna Blaze stepped in and took the spell himself, saving the thestral bodyguard. The spell was designed to drain will, life, and magic of the target but the loss of magic didn't cripple Blaze like it would do to a different unicorn because he wasn't able to use any magic at all aside from telekinesis. The side effect of the spell was that Blaze's inner voice got replaced by a being who called himself Void.
Void proved to be a more interesting passenger than Blaze's second personality and proclaimed himself to be an ancient being locked in Tartarus whom the spell sealed in Blaze's body and who would be free after his death. Contrary to Blaze's expectations, Void didn't attempt anything to harm Blaze and shared few words of wisdom with him. Blaze, being immature and way too depressed at the time, didn't listen too much but while Void was set on causing trouble for princess Celestia personally he wasn't causing trouble for the unicorn and he let Void just sit inside and watch the world.
Void wasn't the one who broke Blaze's little world, that honor belonged to Choking who wanted to switch shifts the next day again to go to another party to which she was invited by a prince she had met the day before. To make Blaze more willing after the night of horror she drugged him with pep pills and he, suddenly full of energy after breakfast, agreed. The problem was that Blaze's overly excellent performance during guard practice made a rivalling trainer Rising Thunder notice him and reveal Blaze was teaching recruits on drugs. It didn't take long for Blaze to realize what Choking did and why she did it but he would never tarnish her reputation to save himself so he waited for things to unveil. That evening the shift he switched with Choking left him patrolling the castle library the entire night and he found Blueblood trying to rape Choking in a dark corner where nopony should have been. Attacking Blueblood, Blaze got taken out by Rising Thunder who followed Blaze and recieved a reward from the prince for protecting him. Threatening Choking with gallows if she talked about the rape attempt, Blueblood and Rising accused Blaze of attacking royalty while being on drugs. Blaze, unwilling to put Choking in danger, refused to talk when Luna interrogated him so she wouldn't find the truth and act. The next day, according to a law ordering death penalty for all who would dare attack royalty, Blaze was hanged in Canterlot castle gardens.
To the absolute horror of Celestia and Luna watching the execution, Blaze's death summoned Void back into the world. Before both terrified alicorns could act, Void revealed the truth about everything Blueblood and Rising had done and disappeared. Shortly after, he offered his services to Choking who wanted to take revenge on Blueblood in exchange for her helping him retrieve the remainder of his soul and power from Tartarus. Choking, unwilling to help somepony threatening to cause trouble for Celestia, made Void explain he was the alicorn of Death who got trapped there after Celestia tricked him to look for his love in the depths of Tartarus ages ago. It turned out Void wanted to be more an annoyance than danger because he had nothing against ponies living in peace and prosperity under the solar princess and Choking agreed.
Blaze woke up in a magical body mimicking the abilities of his old one created by a different alicorn. Scream, the alicorn of Lust, summoned Blaze's soul before departing the world forever and let him out of her pocket dimension back to the world without telling him what she wanted. The only thing Blaze wanted though was to see Blueblood suffer and he found the prince after an evening dinner in a resturant, leaving him heavily wounded and yelling about ghosts. After getting heavily drunk to stop his mind screaming at him for willingly torturing another pony he found out Choking was seen with Void. Knowing about Void's hate for Celestia Blaze supposed he was using Choking to do his bidding which was broadly correct. In order to find a weapon capable of harming a demonic being Blaze returned home to the base of the Order of the Silver Sun in Manehattan, a place where one of the pair of blades capable of breaking spells was kept. Blaze lost the fight with his father Blinding Light, but his new body stopped him from dying. Unfortunately the killing blow meant for Blinding was blocked by Blaze's mother who got killed. Blinding, paralyzed by the sight of his dead wife, told Blaze where the second Blade of Balance of the pair was kept and told him never to return home again.
Choking, putting pieces about Blaze's death together, made her way to Manehattan just in time to see him kill his mother. Realizing what he'd done and in front of whom he'd done it, Blaze ran away and took the first train back to Canterlot. When Choking got the information about Blaze's next destination she rushed home as well. It turned out the second sword was in the possession of her family who led the Cult of Luna and was in direct opposition to the Order. When she got back to Canterlot she asked Void to rush to the site of the temple and stop Blaze. Using the magic distortion ability of one sword, Blaze gained access to the other one but the temple was already empty, Choking's family being warned by teleporting Void who appeared before Blaze. Trying to get Choking out of Void's hooves, Blaze attacked him and lost his right eye in the process, draining most of Void's currently limited power. Before the fight could continue Choking got to the temple as well and told Blaze why she was helping Void and what the place was. Blaze, realizing he was ready to kill anypony standing between him and the second sword, made himself believe he was the only threat to Choking and, unable to bear his guilt anymore, fled to Ponyville and later to Everfree Forest where he used the magic cancelling swords to pin himself to a floor in one of the many caves and waited for the magic in his body to drain away.
Void teleported Choking away from the temple because he felt Celestia tracking the use of his power and flying towards them. Returning to Choking's partment, the duo found princess Luna already waiting for them. Luna didn't attack them and explained she talked to Scream who shared that the spell bringing Void back was of her design and that the powerful unicorn version Twilight was part of her plans to save Equestria from an attack planned by king Sombra from the mirror world. Scream's plan was to have Luna help Void recover his soul from Tartarus by protecting his weakened self from Celestia. Luna, few days later, brought Celestia to Void's hideout and persuaded her to give him a chance. Choking and Void grew very close in next two weeks while Celestia was gathering armed forces and heading towards the Crystal Empire where Sombra was supposed to be able to connect both worlds using the Crystal Heart and mirror Corrupted Heart as catalysts.
Blaze's suicide attempt failed as before the Blades could kill him completely a group of changelings running away from a hydra hid in his cave. They took the Blades pinning him to the floor, letting his body recover and help them kill the beast. The changelings proved to be Chrysalis and a group of her guards who died in the process of defending her. Chrysalis recognized Blaze and tried to kill him, failing miserably as the Blades of Balance stopped all her magic. Tired and helpless, Chrysalis was ready for death but Blaze spared her because he didn't see her as a monster, remembering how ponies looked at him after the invasion and not wanting to kill anypony ever again. Chrysalis used his soft heart and hard dic- nevermind to make him protect her while returning to her hive through the forest. Blaze saw the carefree face of the changeling queen and their travels persuaded him Chrysalis' attack on Canterlot was more a desperate rather than malevolent act. Back in the hive, which was an abandoned city near the old Castle of Two Sisters, Blaze recognized a statue of Scream who, as Chrysalis told him, was a patron of changelings in a similar way Celestia was a patron of ponies, not the ruling kind though.
Using Scream's statue to contact her, Blaze got transported to her pocket dimension again and she told him everything. She told him about mirror Sombra's plans to conquer this Equestria. She told him about the spell that transformed him into the strange changeling he was and how it was the remnant of Celestia's heresy, a fate-changing spell designed by Starswirl the Bearded that the solar princess twisted to turn flutterponies into changelings for her army to fight griffons ages ago. As a last thing she told Blaze that there were eleven Elements of Harmony, not only the six known ones, and the five evil ones were locked by Celestia in the mirror world in the past, giving mirror Sombra's dark magic enough power to conquer the entirety of his world now. There were eleven, not twelve, Elements because the Element of Magic always appeared in the world which was weaker to balance out the stronger one and, according to Scream's words, the mirror world was far more powerful than Blaze's Equestria. Starswirl the Bearded's research into the Element of Magic gave birth to the Blades of Balance, currently in Blaze's possession, which were supposed to be the safeguard against Magic materializing in the mirror world one day. Armed with the Blades, Blaze was sent by Scream to the mirror world to kill one of the mirror Element Bearers. Before he went, Blaze asked Scream to teleport him to Choking's apartment so he could finally tell her he loved her and ask her out.
Blaze was ready to refuse Scream's mission if Choking said yes. Unfortunately, during Blaze's two weeks of travelling with Chrysalis Choking fell in love with Void.
Devastated, Blaze agreed to do what Scream wanted and she teleported him to the mirror version of Ponyville where he posed as Sombra's secret agent to harrass Rainbow Dash, the Element of Betrayal, so she would bring him to Rarity who was sold off to the Element of Greed, dragon king Spike. Having no chance of killing a fully grown dragon, Blaze murdered Rarity, causing Spike to go ballistic against Sombra's forces and weakening the invading force. While returning to Ponyville Rainbow Dash realized what Blaze had done from bloody spots on his coat and tried to kill him but Blaze struck first, crippling Rainbow and killing her after rough landing. Unable to cope with what he'd done, Blaze didn't defend himself when Applejack, the Element of Destruction, found him and sentenced him to fight in the Ponyville arena until he died.
Blaze fought his way through the ladder and faced Applejack in fair fight three times. The first time she ripped his front left leg off which the surgeons replaced with a mechanical griffon arm to allow AJ to cripple him more next fight. The second time she broke his horn. The third time Blaze stopped relying on the Blades to protect him from the power of the Element and killed AJ right in front of Sombra visiting the arena. Rather than killing Blaze, Sombra was happy he found somepony so resourceful and asked Blaze to join his forces. Breaking down at the realization that Scream gave him a one-way ticket, that Choking had never loved him, and that everything he'd done only caused pain to somepony Blaze agreed and his horn got replaced by a red crystal as a reward and he became the bearer of the Element of Betrayal previously belonging to Rainbow Dash.
The Element proved to have a mind of its own and made Blaze explore his lack of magic, causing him to slowly gain the power of turn the magic of his opponents against them. Betrayal, right? Upon Blaze's wish the Element took the form of a flying sword and, hating it, responded to the name Betty. Mind clearer, Blaze realized he was in the prime position to betray Sombra and destroy his plans but he wanted to see his mirror self first. Mirror Blazing Light was the captain of the Canterlot Royal Guard who made mirror Choking into his slave by blackmail about her involvement in the changeling invasion. Killing him, Blaze falsified some documents and gave everything belonging to mirror Blazing to Choking who, in conjunction with Betty, finally helped Blaze partially come to terms with everything he'd done.
There was only one thing left to do so Blaze headed to the Crystal Empire to backstab Sombra as soon as the invasion happened.
When the two world connected mirror Sombra and Twilight managed to defeat both royal sisters, causing Scream to appear and gloat. Scream's real plan was to take revenge on Celestia for imprisoning Void who was her lover in Tartarus. Equestria was moments from belonging to the shadow king.
Choking and Void successfully managed to get Void's soul from its prison in Tartarus and returned to the Crystal Empire just in time to see Sombra's forces attack. Void, seeing everything is lost, tried to make Scream see reason but she was far too gone in her insanity. Seeing Choking and Void together and realizing she really wasn't in any danger from him, Blaze made his final choice and used the Blades of Balance to pierce the Corrupted Heart, causing it to explode violently and kill Sombra, mirror Twilight, Scream, and himself.
That's not where the story ended though. No, concerning the current branch reality this is where the story really began.
Void, as the keeper of the underworld, saw in young Blaze a pony similar to himself and, being infinitely more experienced and wise, wanted to give him a chance to find love in the same way Scream had given Void a chance when he was hated by most alicorns for his aspect millenia ago. Knowing, though, that Blaze's soul wasn't in the state of mind to see it like that, he made up a nonsense story about how he would be grateful if Blaze managed to travel to an alternate reality and save Scream instead of killing her. In exchange he offered Blaze that he would take care of Choking for the rest of her life. Blaze agreed and Void cast a spell that would send the unicorn to the alternate reality that could accept him.
Unfortunately, Blaze's natural ability to distort magic made the spell unstable and he ended up jumping through multiple dimensions for a year before landing in the current one. On the plus side, he still had Betty to talk to. One of the realities was one where the Elements of Harmony didn't awaken for Twilight and Nightmare Moon won, shrouding the world in darkness and slowly wiping out everything. Blaze, landing in a summoning circle of Trixie, Nightmare's apprentice, drew Nightmare Moon's attention and she used him to breed a killer species of changelings feeding on fear instead of love (her little touch), having no wings (mirroring Blaze's crippling fear of heights), and capable of transforming into only one form (a remnant of Blaze's hate for lies and deceit). Those Nightmare changelings eventually devoured all life. Trixie, seeing the Nightmare's true desire, helped Blaze continue with his dimension jumping.
Finally, Blaze arrived in the current reality and recognized it was during the Nightmare Night he saved Sharp and Luna from mirror Twilight. Overcharged by stolen magic from the jumping spell and knowing what had to happen he attacked princess Luna's carriage and killed Blazing Light native to this reality. Saving Luna and Sharp again, he immediately told Void about everything that had happened and was going to happen. Void, agreeing to cooperate, cast light on the plan of Void from Blaze's original reality and explained the truth. Blaze wasn't happy about being used (even if it was for his own good) and had two choices - do exactly the same things he'd done to achieve the correct result or really try to save Scream this time. Harboring little spark of hope that Choking wouldn't want to be with Void if Scream was alive, Blaze tried a different approach.
After being hanged and resurrected in a shiny new magical body (again) he was resolute about not going home and killing his mother even for the Blades, after all he had Betty now, so he revealed he'd killed real Blazing to Choking, Luna, and Sharp and tasked them to help Void faster this time, believing that giving Void more time to recover his power would allow him to stop Scream without having to blow up the Corrupted Heart.
Taking on Scream's mission, Blaze now knew the real reason for having to kill the three Element Bearers he had killed was because they weren't loyal to Sombra but to mirror Twilight so he had to go through the mirror world in a different way. Fortunately, after he rescued Rarity from Spike this time instead of slitting her throat AJ offered to fake her defeat in the arena thus allowing Blaze to enter Sombra's ranks again. Things led back to the Crystal Empire invasion where the royal sisters were defeated again. Unfortunately, due to Blaze working directly with mirror Twilight this time she didn't fight Luna and didn't overcharge the Corrupted Heart with magic and when Void's presence proved insufficient against Scream Blaze had to strike the Heart again.
Lacking the boiling magic inside, the Corrupted Heart just cracked instead of blowing up and all the wrath of Sombra and Scream fell upon Blaze. The damage was enough to separate the mirror world invasion point from real Equestria and before the connecting spell failed Void dragged Blaze and Scream back home. Threatening to break up with Scream (loneliness being the reason she'd gone insane in the first place), Void finally managed to make her see light and stop helping Sombra. Choking, seeing Blaze had nopony else in this world, decided to give the poor unicorn a second chance (first one in this reality) for a relationship.
Thus the first mirror invasion was successfully averted. Unfortunately, fate has a thing for kicking Blaze in the nuts.
While returning to Canterlot, the train was attacked by a new force which Blaze and Betty were able to identify as Nightmare changelings who must have followed him through dimensions somehow. Force was a strong word for a group of two dozen changelings who managed to incapacitate a train full of soldiers and even stronger for the ten remaining after clashing with the combat branch of Equestrian secret service led by Solid Steel who was supposed to keep tabs on Blaze whom the princesses didn't trust too much. The leader of the ten last Nightmares was a young changeling queen who managed to reconstruct Blaze's dimension jumping spell to save the last of her kind from starvation after successfully devouring their entire world under Nightmare Moon's influence. Twenty years passed in the dark dimension before the conquest was over but the jumping spell was focused on Blaze so it spat the changelings out at his location.
Princess Celestia wasn't too keen on having a new group of changelings settle in Equestria but as a reward for Blaze's service in stopping the invasion she offered the Nightmares a chance to live as long as they learned about life in Equestria first. Since the young changeling queen was one of the first who were born after Nightmare Moon used Blaze she considered him her father and for leading the last of her race to relative safety she recieved the name Guiding and the Light family name. The Nightmare changelings scattered to various parts of Equestria and one left for the Crystal Empire, accompanying princess Cadance who was curious about the Nightmares being able to live on love as well as fear. Seeing that was the case, Cadance talked to Choking about how she was able to forgive Blaze for killing the original Blazing Light in order to forgive queen Chrysalis and offer her a peace treaty to save the broken hive.
Everything seemed perfectly fine for a while. Guiding Light's ten Nightmares, while not greeted too warmly, were safe. Blaze and Choking started a real relationship together, growing closer than ever before. Unfortunately, Blaze's failure to kill Sombra in this reality proved a big mistake.
Sending Pinkamena Diane Pie, the Element of Suffering, to find and attack Blaze, Sombra proved he was still kicking and in an attempt to protect Choking who got in the way Blaze got seriously wounded. Pinkamena later attacked princess Celestia who was unable to defend herself from an Element bearing murderer who inflicted grievous wounds that even alicorn regeneration had difficult time healing. To protect others from being attacked, Celestia locked the throne room using her magic which, still wounded, Blaze broke and he and Choking saved princess Celestia's life. Pinkamena, in a fit of rage, cut Choking's wings off and would have killed her if Blaze, using Betty, hadn't ended the Bearer's life first. Catching Blaze exhausted, Fluttershy, the final of Sombra's loyal Element Bearers, harnessed power of the Element of Imprisonment and enslaved Blaze's mind irrevocably.
Choking, losing her wings permanently, was after her recovery summoned to Scream's pocket dimension where she recieved a vision of the future from Scream as a reward for helping release Void's soul from Tartarus completely. Unfortunately, the vision showed her some very unpleasant things - Guiding Light meeting queen Chrysalis and starting a cooperation between both hives, Void saving princess Luna from being killed by Guiding, Sharp Biscuit dying at the hooves of Blaze, and Blaze finally killing himself. Being madly in love, Choking tried what she could to stop it from happening but her efforts just helped the visions come true instead.
With the Corrupted Heart unusable to hold the stable connecting spell, Blaze, enslaved by the Element, led Sombra's new army through a new point where the mirror world and the normal one could be permanently connected again - the proximity of the Tree of Harmony. Choking warned Luna who repelled the first wave with the help of Chrysalis' changelings and the Nightguard. Unfortunately, her magic only made things worse when Blaze appeared and used the giant magical charge to obliterate the entire defending force. Sharp Biscuit, knowing princess Luna could take care of herself, protected queen Chrysalis from the spell and died in the process. Moved by his sacrifice, Chrysalis later accepted Cadance's peace proposal between ponies and changelings. Luna, furious at the loss of her closest friend, cursed Blaze with her alicorn power and banished him permanently from the realm of dreams, making him unable to sleep ever again.
Using Blaze's magic stealing ability and his own dark knowledge, Sombra captured Canterlot. Before moving north to the Crystal Empire defended by Shining Armor and Cadance, Choking found Blaze in Canterlot and told him that no matter what he did she would love him. Scream, persuaded by Void to help matters to repay Blaze and Choking's help, found Blaze as well and returned the diary he'd been writing since the day he ran away from home. Blaze's split personality, instead of blaming him for everything, was moved by Choking's devotion to Blaze and, feeling he was worth it, sacrificed itself to the mind-control effect of the Element and destroyed itself, freeing Blaze.
Unfortunately, the princesses were still captured and there was nopony to help Blaze against Sombra anymore. On top of that, Luna's curse, only made stronger by Blaze's magical body keeping him alive by force, proved too much of a torture and the weeks without sleep drove Blaze insane. When the Crystal Empire fell Sombra linked both worlds again using himself as the link to the Corrupted Heart and revealed his true plan while sealing himself and Blaze in the throne room.
Sombra explained the reason Blaze was so resillient was the spell Scream used to resurrect him. As the most powerful magic user alive, Scream inherited the final gift of the alicorn of Life - the power to give new existence without the need to resort to unstable necromancy, true immortality rivaling alicorns. Sombra kept Blaze alive just so he could use him to beat the princesses and finally take over his body and claim the immortality for himself. Sombra activated the final part of Scream's spell and Blaze's part-changeling body broke apart and was reborn back into his original and uncrippled unicorn form, returning Blaze's horn, leg, and breaking Void's alicorn power which caused Blaze to lose sight in one eye. Underestimating half-insane and broken Blaze, Sombra's takeover attempt didn't work immediately and both minds tangled together, breaking the dimension linking spell and sending everypony to their respective worlds. The side effect of the linking spell was that everypony would appear at the point of the original connection and Blaze's mindless body was teleported back to the Everfree Forest portal site.
The unexplained end of the second mirror invasion set several things in motion.
Choking, despising Luna for what she did to Blaze, searched through the Everfree portal site and found out that a unicorn of Blaze's colors was found wandering aimlessly through the forest and the guards led him to Ponyville mental hospital. Leaving the Nightguard, Choking moved to Ponyville and got a job taking care of the patients. Not caring that Blaze didn't recognize her or react whatsoever, she stayed with him and hoped one day his mind would come back.
Queen Chrysalis, wanting to keep an eye on the Elements of Harmony, sent a group of elite changelings to watch over Ponyville. Celestia, worried about Chrysalis' plans, sent her own group of soldiers led by Heavy Hoof to watch the changelings. The changelings, led by commander Shadowstep, were only partially loyal to Chrysalis and used the time camping near Ponyville to have some fun and one night hunted Heavy's troops to gain some food without real desire to hurt them. Horatio Cross, Shadowstep's master of arms, used Sharp Biscuit's form copied from Heavy's mind to fool Heavy without knowing Sharp was dead. Heavy went berserk and attacked Cross, losing miserably but not stopping the assault until he hurt himself more than Cross had. Feeling terrible, Cross mulled over Heavy's dedication and a spark of love grew inside the changeling, a spark which later made lonely Heavy slowly reciprocate the feeling.
Unfortunately for Choking, Heavy saw her and Blaze in Ponyville. Blaming Blaze for Sharp's death, he wanted to tell Luna Blaze was alive but Choking threatened to kill him. Unwilling to fight his friend, Heavy decided to listen to the whole story and left Choking and Blaze alone after that.
Luna, on the other hoof, was mourning Sharp's death and became a target for the Nightmare, the god which had possessed her before the Elements freed her, who invaded her mind in the form of memory of Sharp talking to her. Pretending to care about Equestria, it guided Luna to look for a way to destroy the Tree of Harmony to prevent any further contact with the mirror world, a thing that could happen only if Discord and Nightmare joined forces to do so as Luna learned from Scream.
Scream felt Nightmare's presence in Luna and tasked Void to prevent Discord from interfering, something which the god of chaos agreed to do in exchange for Void himself not involving himself in what was about to happen. Luna, changing back into Nightmare Moon, attacked Celestia and cast a long-term sleep spell on her to prevent her from ruining the plan to destroy the Tree of Harmony to make the Elements powerless and her unstoppable. When that proved impossible due to Void's intervention, she decided to kill him to release Discord from his promise.
Before the attack, Celestia sent Twilight Sparkle, new princess of diplomatic relations and friendship, to find out whether or not Guiding Light would honor Chrysalis' peace treaty. The concern was valid because Guiding knew what Luna did to Blaze and ordered all Nightmare changelings to return to the new hive in Pine Hills. Only one changeling didn't return because he was too far, number Five who was by princess Cadance's side at the time. While Twilight was in Pine Hills negotiating, Luna ruled over Canterlot and made things appear as if Twilight was the one who had attacked Celestia in order to gain the alicorn's power which she temporarily had possessed during lord Tirek's attack. Twilight, accompanied by One, Guiding Light's changeling body double, infiltrated Canterlot and got the whole story from Celestia after dispelling the sleep magic. Having to flee from the mind-controlled Nightguards, they faced heavily weakened Nightmare Moon.
Nightmare Moon was able to break Scream's mind to find out where Void was hiding but her attacking Void in the underworld proved a terrible mistake when he mercilessly wiped the floor with her using souls of the dead as a shield. Thanks to that mistake Twilight was able to face Nightmare Moon and flee in time, sacrificing One.
Twilight tried to teleport to her new tree castle in Ponyville but in panic overshot and ended up in Shadowstep's encampment. The changelings offered help in fighting Nightmare Moon and got ready to protect the other Element Bearers.
Guiding Light, recieving the final thoughts of One, gathered her changelings and teleported them to Ponyville in order to stop what had happened in their world from happening here as well.
Nightmare Moon wasn't stupid though and right after Luna broke for the first time she found a mercenary and gave him two jobs - finding Blaze because she thought Choking knew something she didn't and was afraid of another invasion (fulfilling Luna's remaining concerns to gain her trust) and gathering all the Element Bearers in one place 'to keep them safe'. The mercenary's name was Icy Gaze and he was good at his job. Blaze's trail led Icy to Ponyville where he found both him and Choking, captured the Element Bearers successfully (all but Twilight), and recieved a lot of money. Unfortunately for Nightmare Moon, Icy wasn't a murderer so when she ordered him next to kill the Bearers he panicked and tried to escape but it was too late.
Nightmare Moon appeared in Ponyville ready to wipe out all opposition so foolishly gathered in one place.
While all this was going on, a fight was going on in Blaze's mind between the soul of Sombra and shards of Blaze's personalities. Uniting the pieces of his mind, Blaze won but was too weak to surface and so a new personality with amnesia appeared in Blaze's body. Choking tried to rebuild the relationship but the new Blaze had no idea who she was and her forceful approach only made things worse.
When, based on Icy's information, Luna's mind-controlled Nightguards started moving to Ponyville Choking tried to hide Blaze's presence but they were found out. Queen Chrysalis arrived to save them and distracted the Nightguards with her changelings disguised as copies of Blaze. Choking, seeing Blaze wouldn't be useful whatsoever if Luna found them, sent him away with Chrysalis and got ready to face the Nightguards.
Chrysalis had a different plan though. Delving deep into Blaze's mind she offered the weak soul of Sombra a deal. Sombra would help Blaze come back and in turn she would make him return as well. Blaze would be alive and Sombra would have enough time to study the magic of Life that repeatedly kept Blaze alive from inside his body. Sombra agreed and allowed Blaze to steal his power when both returned to Ponyville and fought Nightmare Moon.
Unfortunately, the god proved too strong and the power of Life which made Blaze's natural magic appear only in the form of phoenix wings (phoenix, rebirth, huh, huh?) serving as a fire shield got twisted into the power of true death when Blaze stole a bit of Nightmare's power. The power of true death was enough to cripple the god but burned Blaze alive as well because no mortal was supposed to ever wield it, only Void as an alicorn could. With Blaze dead (again), Cross scanned Luna's mind for the reason she fell to the Nightmare and, transforming into Sharp Biscuit again, comforted the broken princess, causing her to cast off the Nightmare's influence.
Guiding Light, seeing Luna was defenseless, tried to kill her for very understandable reasons (first torturing and then causing the death of her dad) but was stopped by Void who broke the promise to Discord.
After dust settled, Choking was back in Canterlot drinking herself stupid. Luna asked her to fill Sharp's place as her bodyguard, saying she didn't need a friend guard anymore but somepony who wouldn't hesitate to correct her if she steered wrong again. Choking refused and kept drinking. Her second visitor was Void who offered her a chance to forget her pain by locking the memories of Blaze away. Unable to bear the pain of loss, Choking agreed and Void's magic gave her new wings as well. Not understanding why she hated Luna anymore, she agreed to become her bodyguard.
Guiding returned to Pine Hills and resent her changelings to learn about Equestria, Icy Gaze got imprisoned because he knew too much with the official reason being the capture of the Element Bearers, Cross and Heavy entered a stable relationship, and almost everypony was happy.
Discord, however, was mad that Void spoiled his fun and, using his divine powers, resurrected Blaze just to allow him to see Choking one more time. Laughing at the unicorn's pain when Choking didn't recognize him, Discord stopped the spell keeping Blaze alive and he returned back to ash, the only remains of him after being burned by the black fire of true death.
Sombra had other plans though. Having only short time to study the magic of Life, he was able to give Blaze a completely new body which nopony would recognize and thanks to that the unicorn was back again. Unfortunately for Sombra, Blaze, having lost everything that mattered to him, had no reason and desire to live.
Still no clue about how ponies became allies with the mirror world, huh?
Enter a young griffon soldier named Cromach. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances he had to leave the Griffon Empire while being chased by the Imperial Legion and bounty hunters on a partially false charge. Fleeing successfully to Equestria, he met a unicorn who called himself Mistake and stopped him from jumping down from Canterlot city walls. With Crom being a soldier he wanted to join the Royal Guard and thanks to Mistake's knowledge of the inner workings of the castle he succeeded in joining the recruit training.
The bounty hunters didn't stop chasing Crom though and when he asked Mistake for help the unicorn told him to steal an amulet from Choking Darkness and when in trouble call somepony called Betty for help. One night Crom got captured by a sadistic hunter and would have died if it weren't for a flying sword killing the attacker. The sword was wery angry Crom called him Betty but also curious about how Crom knew about him, leading Blaze (Mistake) under his new name to regain his Element. Mistake's combat skillset being fairly unique, Heavy Hoof was able to guess Mistake's identity but needed to make sure.
When Mistake suddenly disappeared Blaze, Choking, and Cromach tracked him thtrough the newly opened mirror world portal. Mistake asked mirror Twilight for help in getting rid of Sombra inside him forever but she didn't know how to do that so he chose the brute force approach. Knowing Sombra somehow lived inside him as magic force, Mistake forced all of his magic to the Corrupted Heart and finally broke it completely with the help of Betty, getting rid of mirror Sombra once and for all.
When the Heart shattered a dimension jumping portal opened and the original Blazing Light from this reality returned with massively enhanced powers (Blazing's seem to be really difficult to get rid of) and took away Mistake's eye and leg. Crom, knowing from Blaze's diary how he opened the new mirror portal in the first place broke the catalyst keeping the portal open and the four of them returned back to the Everfree forest.
Mistake died of his wounds few days later (this time for real, not that it stopped him).
Crom, devastated at the failure of the rescue attempt, recieved an offer to return back to the Griffon Empire stripped of all charges in exchange for classified information about pony military structure. Returning home, he was betrayed by the secret service agent that offered him the freedom and the information Crom gave to the agents allowed the Empire to launch a devastating invasion of Equestria.
The griffon agents didn't account for one thing - that Blaze considered himself so useless even death itself didn't want him. While no amount of Luna's healing magic was able to keep him alive, the remains of Sombra's dark magic were enough for mirror Twilight to revive him as an undead on Luna's plea. Mirror Twilight gladly helped as a reward for saving her world from Sombra and sent her forces to protect Equestria from the griffon attack. With Blaze slowly recovering, he asked mirror Twilight to help him in saving Cromach and she let him use her warship which Blaze named Lightbringer, just for the fun of it. In the need of services of somepony knowing his way around the Griffon Empire, Blaze enlisted the help of Icy Gaze and in return Icy's sentence would be cut in half. The rescue mission was successful for all sides involved, well... most of the good guys. Cromach wasn't executed, Blaze got his new friend (who was madly in love with him) back, Choking got to beat Icy up few more times for him ratting her out in Ponyville, and Icy himself managed to get the blueprints of the Lightbringer for personal use.
There was one last thing to unveil and that was the presence of the original Blazing Light who was supposed to be dead.
Blazing turned up to gain control of the Order of the Silver Sun and sent an assassin to kill princess Luna. All that was a ruse he used to manipulate the Order members to do his bidding in order to gain the Blades of Balance which he wanted to use to kill Blaze without giving him a chance to return. The confrontation of Blaze (Mistake) and original Blazing Light ended favorably due to Cromach and Choking recovering the Blades faster than Order agents but Blaze went blind as a result of the explosion which levelled the entire Order headquarters.
And so we're here, right at the beginning of this story.
Mistake has been through a lot an now he's completely unable to take care of himself. Fortunately for him, despite Cromach and Choking being locked in the battle for his affection they decided unanimously on one key thing - all of them deserve a vacation.
And what's better...
...princess Luna is paying for everything.