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January 6, 2013
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After making their way the stock standard concrete stairwell, Twilight and Jean found themselves in a stark white hallway with gold painted decorations lining the ceiling and floor. The few paintings that Twilight could see all looked very similar, and on closer inspection, discovered that they were all picture of former chancellors. The amplification spell was starting to wear off, causing it to become unstable; to the point where they could hear conversations happening through walls and behind closed doors. While convenient, considering what they were doing, it also made for a few awkward moments, such as when they walked past a bathroom.

Eventually the spell dissipated and left the two girls with nothing but a bit of luck and their own skills. Twilight took the lead, using her natural sense of direction to lead her through the labyrinthine hallways. The pure white walls were starting to get to her, however, giving her a severe feeling of nausea. Twilight closed her eyes for a moment, knowing that it wasn't the time to be betrayed by her own body. Jean took the lead from then on to give Twilight a moment to think. Even if they did find proper evidence that it was Ignatius and the council that killed Councillor Udina, they didn't have anyone to give the evidence to.

After scouting the top floor, they moved to the next one, always cautious of being caught by the many guards that had to be patrolling. Twilight was surprised that whenever she poked her head into an office, the rooms were empty. No furniture, no carpet, nothing. It was a strange occurrence that neither of them could explain. As they descended through each floor, they continually found the same thing.  Eventually the girls started to get bolder, rounding the corners without checking them first.

"What in the hay is going on here?" asked Jean, and Twilight just shrugged in response. When they got to the ground floor and were still unable to find anyone, Twilight started to get extremely frustrated. It was like the universe didn't want her to stop Ignatius' tirade of tyranny. She started to go into a small tantrum at the thought of going through all the effort of sneaking into the building and coming out with absolutely nothing to show for it. Her horn glowed red as she struggled keep her emotions in check but eventually the spell blasted out of her horn, covering her in red aura that just barely covered her fur. But it was her vision that was the most affected by the magic; a grey haze of small orbs made up her world, and when she looked over at Jean, all she saw was a Jean shaped mass of pink orbs with a slowly dissipating pink trail from behind her and leading back up the flight of stairs when they had come from.
"What the?" whispered Twilight, as she looked around the room and saw more trails of coloured orbs in the air.
"What is it Twilight?"

"I'm not too sure, for some reason this spell is doing something strange to my field of vision. Everything is grey except for you and a few trails that are criss-crossing the room," Twilight explained, her eyes following a particular brown trail as it stretched from the front door, across the room and seemed to collide with a blank wall behind a reception desk. She walked over to the wall and started to study it. The brown orbs were not bouncing against the white concrete, but instead they were phasing through it as if it wasn't there.

"Hey, come check out this wall," she said, and Jean made her way over with a puzzled expression on her face.
"What's going on?"
"I'm not too sure, but I just have a feeling that this isn't a solid wall," Twilight replied as she ran her hoof along the smooth concrete, searching for any kind of indentation or switch. When they couldn't find anything, they set about searching every inch of the reception desk. By complete accident, Jean's elbow knocked over a gold statuette of Emperor Gregor, and when she did, the sound of clanking gears erupted from within the wall itself. After a few seconds, the wall slid upwards, revealing a long, dark stairwell that led downwards into the earth.

"A secret passage? Now that's just cliché," Jean whispered, as they both flipped their hoods over their faces and started to make their way down the steps, both of them pressing their bodies against the walls on either side of the tight staircase. Twilight's vision was filled with brown orbs and although it had initially been very distracting, she was already starting to get used to it.

The stairs twisted around and around and seemed to go on forever, and for whatever reason, as they descended, a rotten smell rose from the darkness, and if it wasn't for Jean's natural night vision, they would have probably fallen to the bottom. Twilight's breath began to rise in front of her face as mist and a noticeable chill fell over the air.
"What is this place?" she asked, looking back at the pink mass of orbs that represented Jean.
"I have no idea, but all I can say is that the smell is definitely one of death,"
"That's what I was afraid of," Twilight replied quietly, slowing down in pace as the sound of talking hit her ears. It was slight, and had an echo that indicated that it was still a fair ways off, but the sheer fact that she could physically hear herself getting closer to the truth made her heart beat faster in anticipation.

The staircase finally ended, revealing a long, hallway that was dimly lit by a few gas lanterns that lined the walls. At the other end of the passage was a large double wooden door that had wrought iron bands around it at irregular intervals. In the centre of each door was a large metal dragon skull shaped knocker.  The girls walked up to it cautiously, hoping that it didn't just burst open as there were no places for them to hide. The trail of brown orbs was phasing through the door, and it just made Twilight's heart beat even harder. They pressed up against one of the doors and checked their blades, while at the same time mentally preparing themselves for whatever could possibly be inside.
"Are you ready?" asked Jean and Twilight had to take a deep breath of rancid air before nodding. She deactivated the spell and got down low into a ready position.

***

Twilight kicked out with her hind legs and struck the door, only to have it resist her blow. The voices on the other side of the door stopped abruptly.
"I think it might be locked," said Jean and Twilight gave her a stern look in response. She kicked at the door again, harder this time, and it barely moved. Jean joined in, and together they threw themselves against the one door, only to bounce off unceremoniously. They took a step back, breathing heavily and staring intently at the door. Suddenly, there was a knock from the other side of the door, followed by a female voice.

"It's a pull door you idiot!" she shouted, and Twilight blushed with embarrassment. Jean walked over to the door and gingerly pulled on one of the knockers, the door swinging on its hinges effortlessly. Twilight let out a sigh and got back into her ready position, before charging through the door as Jean swung it open completely. As soon as she crossed the threshold, however, her charge stopped as her brain took in the scene in front of her; a dungeon like room that was almost entirely taken up by a single U-shaped banquet table that was covered in a white tablecloth and gold candlesticks. But it was what was on the table, as well as what decorated the walls that all but brought her to tears. On three silver platters, one for each section of the table was what appeared to be a roasted pony with entire sections either cut or torn out of each mass. Along the walls were a mix of a bunch of different races strung up onto metal hooks. Ponies, Zebras, Dogs and even a single griffin were simply hanging as though they were a decorative piece. Seated at the table were fifteen griffins, all of whom Twilight recognised as members of the council. In the centre of the table, on the largest and most ornate chair, which she could only describe as a literal throne, sat Ignatius. While everyone else had stopped to stare at the intruders, he was ignoring them, instead just staring at him hunk of pony meat and taking great chunks out of it with his beak.

'Hello Dusk, I see you found our little conference room," he said between bites. Twilight just nodded, too shocked to do anything besides stare at him. "And what do you think? I decorated it myself,"

"I think it's rather horrifying," she whispered, spotting Jean walk up beside her.
"Well everypony has different tastes," Ignatius said casually, putting his food down and wiping his mouth with a napkin. "So I suppose you have a lot of questions, about what this is, and… I suspect you are also looking to find out who killed Councillor Udina,"
"And you would be correct," piped up Jean. Her voice was shaky as she looked at the gory scene in front of her.

"Okay then. Well it was us who killed Udina, the traitorous pig!"
"But why?" Twilight enquired, her eyes darting around the room as the other griffins started to advance on them.

"He was a vegetarian, and by laws set down by Emperor Edward the third, every griffin must partake in the consumption of meat on a regular basis,"
"But that's crazy!" Jean shouted, causing Ignatius to scowl and stand up straight. "I mean, there are far too many griffins that are vegetarians these days in respect to the other races we deal with. I'm a vegetarian for Gregor's sake!" Twilight closed her eyes and sighed as Jean talked, knowing that she had gone too far. She opened her eyes and glared at Jean, who had her hand stuck over her mouth and a shocked look in her eyes.
"I don't think that was the right thing to say," said Twilight drily and Jean just nodded once. When she looked back at Ignatius, she thought that his facial feathers were going to catch alight from rage. His wings were extended to their fullest and quivering slightly. Twilight locked eyes with him, and could see the rage and the insanity that was hidden behind his golden eyes. Ignatius' expression went cold, and he sat back down in his chair, before lazily waving his arm toward them.
"Kill them,"

***

Twilight ducked under a wild swing, flicking her wrist and extending her hidden blade, before thrusting it into the neck of a female councillor. Taking a few steps back with the griffin still twitching, Twilight used it as a meat shield as a few of the others attacked. Within mere moments, the back of her shield had been shredded, the wings hanging on by a few strands of sinew. Twilight then kicked the lifeless mass away, using it as a projectile to knock a couple of her attackers over. She chanced a quick glance over to Jean, and found her in a similar situation, but still looking on top of it.

The main thing Twilight was happy about was that her currant enemies had not been trained in combat like her usual ones. Their attacks were wild, uncoordinated and full of emotion, mainly rage. A couple of quick jabs with her hoof knocked another out, while at the same time a councillor dived at her. In his hand he was holding one of the metal hooks that had been used to hold up Ignatius' 'decorations.' Twilight side-stepped him, getting low and then trying to uppercut him with her hidden blade. The blade barely missed his face and he wrapped the hook around her right arm. The barb at the end of the hook dug into the leather bracer and latched on, which only made it easier for the councillor to drag Twilight around by her wrist. He twisted her arm and wrenched it around behind her. She let out a cry of pain as one of the griffins that had been knocked over by the one with the shredded back advanced on her with his talons raised. She kicked out at him, catching his knee with her hoof. She heard a loud crack, followed by a scream as he fell onto his face. The griffin behind her pulled on her arm again, causing her to yell. He laughed in her ear, pulling her arm even harder.

"Aw, what are you going to do now, little pony?" he jibed and Twilight gritted her teeth against the pain as she filled her horn with the first spell she could think of. A single purple spark shot out of her horn, colliding with the ceiling before detonating in a flash of searing light. The grip on her arm was released as her assailant covered up his face. The hook was still embedded in her bracer and she pulled it out with a grunt, giving it a quick spin before jamming the barb into the griffin's eye socket, dragging him to the ground and twisting the hook. Twilight whipped around, only to see Jean brutally slamming a female griffin's head into the wall at the other side of the dungeon. Twilight made her way over, only stopping to finish off the griffin whose leg she had broken as he writhed in pain on the ground.

When she put her hoof on Jean's shoulder to try and calm her down, Jean turned around and backhanded Twilight's face. She took a step back, rubbing her cheek as Jean gave a high pitched squeak and dropped the griffin she had been beating.

"Oh I'm sorry Twilight," she said, as the sound of Ignatius' laughter started to echo in the dungeon like room. Twilight shot a dark look toward the throne, which only served to make Ignatius laugh even harder. The other ten councillors that hadn't even bothered to try and attack the girls joined in the laughter, and Twilight could feel herself blush as they all started to point at her and laugh harder. She shot a blast of energy at Ignatius, and it hit the table in front of him, burning a hole in the white tablecloth. His laughter stopped, but the others continued. Getting to his feet, Ignatius walked around the table, keeping his eyes trained on the assassins. He leant against the side wall, putting his hands behind his head. Ignatius then whistled loudly, drawing the attention of everyone in the room.

"Councilfeathers, if you would be so kind, I need to speak with Dusk and her friend in private," he said, raising his hand into a fist and hitting a brick in the wall. The sound of gears filled the room, followed by an extremely loud bang, and then all ten of the councillor's heads exploded as thick metal spike burst forth from the wall behind them, piercing their skulls and showering the girls with blood.
"Oh that's better, peace and quiet,"
Jean and Twilight break into the Griffin Council building, looking for Udina's murderer, but what they find there is much more horrifying.

As always, special thanks go to :iconerockertorres: for the cover art and the use of his OC; Archangel.
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:iconpj202718:
Vision: The confrontation with Ignatius and his followers is pretty much what one could have expected it to be in that we're dealing with an insane, decadent freak who doesn't care what moral standards he ignores.

Originality: Although Baron Harkonnen from the Dune series never ate anyone that I know of, Ignatius does remind me of him. We have the same barbarous nature hidden poorly by what he thinks is culture.

Technique: Showing us how depraved Ignatius is and how little he thinks of the lives of anyone who isn't him makes him a rather convincing bad guy.

Impact: Well, you did hint that they'd rescued Twi from a monster and you delivered. When the purges come after the war, a lot of people will be happy.
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:iconinsanefriend:
i laughed so hard when the griffons heads exploded it was just so unexpected
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:iconthe-rogue-shadow:
The-rogue-shadow Feb 1, 2013  Student Writer
I'm glad you liked it. Ignatius is really hard to write for simply because of how insane he is.
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:iconpj202718:
Well, this is just about where we came in. Also, include Ignatius's brutal death in the ending.
Oh, wait. He'd probably dig it.
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:iconthe-rogue-shadow:
The-rogue-shadow Jan 7, 2013  Student Writer
I'd imagine so.
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:iconpj202718:
Man.......I don't envy Gregor the clean-up he's in for.
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:iconthe-rogue-shadow:
The-rogue-shadow Jan 8, 2013  Student Writer
Nor do I
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:iconpj202718:
Ah, well. He's gotta do it, right?
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:iconthe-rogue-shadow:
The-rogue-shadow Jan 9, 2013  Student Writer
I'd imagine so.
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:iconpj202718:
Such are the burdens of command.
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:iconthe-rogue-shadow:
The-rogue-shadow Jan 11, 2013  Student Writer
But it is one that he knows all too well.
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