The Dark Stallion
Episode 11: The Black Stallion Returns. Elements Of Harmony Unite
Thousands of Years in the Past
“My queen, my liege, what is the meaning of this?”
An armor-clad stallion stood concealed within the shadows of a throne room as he knelt before the royal dais. Upon that dais, sitting upon her throne, was Princess Platinum, dressed in her royal regalia. Next to her stood Clover the Clever; next to her, Starswirl the Bearded. Two royal sentries guarded either side of the dais.
Princess Platinum, from atop her throne, gazed upon the stallion kneeling before her. “I regret to inform you, my dear, that this is indeed true. Though I had originally considered you as a potential candidate for the sovereign of Equestria, it seems that Starswirl here, in his wisdom and discretion, has found two more suitable candidates for that position.”
The stallion rose from upon his knees and took a defiant stance from where he stood within the shadows. “But that honor had been promised to me. How could you so easily revoke it? Does your royal word mean nothing? Have I not honorably served you? Have I not fought in your honor? Have I not won you countless wars and battles?”
The unicorn princess could only tilt her head and close her eyes. “You have indeed proven to be a noble warrior, but this new land will need more than mere brawn to lead it. It will require a leader who is as strong in heart as he is in will—a loving heart guided by only the highest of virtues: honesty, loyalty, kindness, generosity, and kindness, one that will unite this new kingdom with friendship.”
She turned to Starswirl as he remained standing neaerby with his assistant, Clover. “And Starswirl here has found such a heart in the two alicorn sisters, Celestia and Luna. He and the 12 pony tribe elders have seen fit to prep them for their new role as Equestria’s royal sovereigns.”
The stallion, less than pleased by this news, drew a sword from his side. “That throne belongs to me, and I will take it, whether you offer it willingly or not.”
He dashed forward and leapt toward the princess, his sword drawn high above him. Before he could strike down upon her, his sword was stopped by two spears, each belonging to the royal guards.
The princess merely winced within her throne, as her two guards were the only ones keeping the sword from coming down upon her head and slicing her into two.
Starswirl took one step forward and struck his staff upon the ground. “You would dare defy your liege? Betray your kingdom?”
The stallion took one leap back and swung his sword at the others, pointing at them with its tip. “The only traitors here are you and the others who conspired to take from me what is rightfully mine, and I swear to the heavens above that I will take back what is rightfully mine!”
Ponyville glowed orange with flames engulfing every building and tree. The night sky darkened with billows of black smoke rising into the air, along with the screams of frantic ponies scrambling and fleeing throughout the inferno-engulfed town.
Booming from the sky above like thunder roared a sinister laugh that echoed through the town. From the swirling dark clouds above appeared the image of the Shadow Mare, whom glared down upon Twilight Sparkle and her friends.
“Elements of Harmony, heed my warning,” the Shadow Mare told them, “surrender yourselves, or witness the destruction of all that you hold dear.”
The Shadow Mare resumed her maniacal laughter once more, whipping the towns ponies further into a panicked frenzy, and forcing Twilight and the others to cower under her presence.
Just then, a sudden breeze rushed through the small hamlet, and all the buildings within it ceased burning. They had returned to their original state, almost as if they had never been set afire. The town stood unharmed, untouched, as if nothing had happened to it that cold night.
All the town ponies whom had previously been panicking stopped once they realized all had returned to normal. They stopped dead in their tracks to survey their surroundings, confused and dumbfounded at what had just occurred.
Equally confused were Twilight and the others.
“What—what just happened?” she asked, eyebrow raised.
“Elements of Harmony,” the Shadow Mare bellowed once more, “what you just witnessed is but a vision of what will befall your beloved Ponyville if you do not surrender yourselves to the Dark Stallion. Come to the castle in the Everfree Forest before sunrise, lest this fate come to pass.”
The dark clouds quickly dissipated, and the night sky returned to its cloudless array of moon and stars.
As the other town ponies, bewildered by what had just occurred, returned once more to their domiciles, Twilight and the other remained standing outside, pondering their current situation.
Ninja Star turned to Fluttershy. “The castle in the Everfree Forest?”
“She must be referring to the Castle of the Two Sisters,” Fluttershy replied. “That’s the old palace where Celestia and Luna used to live thousands of years ago, and where they had stored the Elements of Harmony. Oh, but now it seems as though the Shadow Clan have taken residence there.”
Ninja Star nodded with eyes closed. “It looks like our foes have been hiding right under our own noses this whole time.”
Apple Jack scoffed. “Well, if that’s the case, they’ve managed to hide their scent better than a pole cat hiding out in a compost pile the day Granny Smith dumped out her spoiled three-month old apple chowder. Ain’t no pony here in town is crazy enough to venture out into those dang woods alone, so it’s the most likeliest place for those Shadow Thugs to be hiding out.”
Twilight stepped forward. “Well, it seems like we’re the only ponies crazy enough to venture to that old castle. We did it before when we defeated Nightmare Moon, and we’re going to have to do it again to defeat this current threat to Equestria.”
Pinkie Pie pointed to where the woods stood. “Looks like Xander’s beat you to the chase.”
Twilight looked to where Pinkie was pointing and saw as the stallion was racing toward the Everfree Forest.
“Xander!” she shouted before blinking out in a flash.
Within a blink of an eye, Twilight appeared before Xander, who reeled backwards in shock.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The mare asked of the stallion.
“Where does it look like I’m going?” The stallion replied, pointing to the Everfree Forest. “Did you think I was going for a midnight stroll?”
“And you weren’t even going to wait for us?”
“What made you think I wanted you to come along?”
Twilight let out an exasperated grunt. The last time she felt so frustrated was when she reached an impasse trying to figure out Pinkie Sense. Had she felt any angrier, she would have burst into flames as well.
“Have you learned nothing from tonight?” she yelled at him. “Have you learned nothing from your time with us?”
Xander remained unfazed. “The only thing I learned tonight is that there’s an evil force lurking within the forest seeking to take over Equestria by resurrecting an ancient evil, and whom currently have taken hostage both ruling monarchs of this kingdom.”
“Which is why you need as many ponies as you can to assist you,” Twilight interrupted.
“No I don’t! Those thugs are clearly after you and your friends, and the last thing you need is to practically walk into their trap and give yourselves up. You need to stay here where it’s safe and let me handle this. I spent four years within the kingdom’s most prestigious military academy and graduated with high honors. I know you believe in your 'magic of friendship,' but if anyone can handle this situation without it, it’s me.”
Twilight was about to interject, but before she could, she felt a hoof upon her shoulder. She turned to see that it was pink, along with the pony whom it belonged to.
“Pinkie?” she asked.
Pinkie pushed Twilight aside. “Let me handle this.”
The pink pony approached the unicorn colt.
“Look buddy,” she addressed him nonchalantly, “I get you’ve got this whole brooding loner shtick going, but if you ever paid any attention in school you’d know that the loner always succumbs to the help of the group and friends in the end. It’s just one of those unavoidable tropes ya gotta work with, so stop fighting and go with the flow.”
Xander’s expression shifted from serious to confused within mere seconds, his mind unable to comprehend what he just heard. “But—”
Pinkie placed her hoof upon his lip, preventing him from saying another word.
“Up bup bup! No buts! Twilight tried to weasel her way out when we agreed to help her defeat Nightmare Moon. Now it’s your turn to reluctantly accept out help in defeating this new evil baddie.”
She let go of Xander as she started to head into the forest. The others had by this time caught up to them and followed her lead.
“Now come on and let’s kick some Shadow Clan can-can. We’re the only mares bad enough to rescue the princesses.”
Xander could only stand awestruck and confused at what had just transpired. Twilight placed a hoof upon his shoulder. “She has a point.”
Xander could only grunt and follow Twilight and the others as they ventured into the woods.