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Fan Fic: Duel Nature

Duel Nature is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Eakin, centering around Twilight after she's nearly mugged on the way home from a late night of studying. Though she escapes unharmed, she dedicates herself to training in self defense. Her natural affinity for magic serves her well, and before long she's the reigning champ among the royal guard. Then, one fateful night, she grudgingly accepts a challenge from Princess Luna herself.

Things don't end well.

Furious with both her sister and her student, Princess Celestia decides to punish Twilight for attempted regicide, wanton property destruction, and vandalizing a folding chair by sentencing her to six months of community service as Luna's personal bodyguard in the hopes that the two of them learn to get along again. On a trip down to the tropical town of Pensacolta, the pair get swept up in a plot to bring back an ancient evil Celestia and Luna sealed away long ago.

It can be found here.


Duel Nature provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Twilight's really kicked her competence in this fic. She becomes the queen of the sparring ring and even puts up a pretty impressive fight against the setting's resident Princess of the Night.
  • A Handful for an Eye: When cornered on a roof, the pegasus that's been stalking Luna flaps her wings hard enough to blow sand and dust into Twilight's eyes, giving her time to get away.
  • And Then What?: The fact that Twilight doesn't know what she wants out of her life is symptomatic of how badly it's spun out of control for her over the Time Skip. Reinolds points out for her that, just because the immortal Princesses might have grand plans for her future, doesn't mean that going along with them would make her happy.At the end of the story she decides to spend a few months Walking the Earth in self-discovery.
  • Anti-Magic: Equestrians long ago developed nets that could do this to any spell casters that got wrapped up in them.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Channel enough energy into the brain through the base of a unicorn's horn and you can put them into a coma. Even when the recipient is a Physical Goddess, they'll still be unable to sense magic around themselves afterwards.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Luna might be an underappreciated figurehead politically, but cross her and she will destroy you.
  • Badass Boast: Luna throws these out almost as a matter of course, but when she's mad she really takes it to the next level:
    "CAPTAIN, WE ARE PRINCESS LUNA OF THE NIGHT, MAIDEN OF THE STARS AND MOON, AND RULER OF THIS LAND! IN TIMES OF WAR AND STRIFE, WE HAVE TORN THE VERY SOULS FROM OUR ENEMIES' BODIES AND LEFT THEM AS NOTHING BUT LIFELESS HUSKS. WE HAVE THROWN THOSE WHO OPPOSED US INTO THE FURNACES OF DISTANT STARS TO BURN ALIVE FOR ETERNITY. WE HAVE ENTERED THE MINDS OF OUR FOES AND INFLICTED UPON THEM THE EXPERIENCE OF SUFFERING FOR DECADES, WHILE ONLY MOMENTS PASSED IN REALITY. NOW WE ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU ONE FINAL CHANCE, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY SO LIGHTLY. MOVE! ASIDE! NOW!"
  • Badass Bookworm: Twilight is this in canon but this fanfic takes it Up to Eleven with formal training.
  • Badass: Captain Reinolds. Despite being hopelessly outclassed, he's not about to let anyone touch one of his students. Not even Luna when she screams the aforementioned Badass Boast into his face.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Trying to mug the Element of Magic? Don't be surprised when you end up as a potted plant.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Twilight knows all of Luna's, and uses them liberally in her attempt to defeat her. This backfires spectacularly.
    • Luna inadvertently manages to find Twilight's when she suggests that in the grand scheme of things, her relationships with her friends aren't important during an ill-fated attempt to cheer her up.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Reinolds stepping in to stop Luna from murdering Twilight in a fit of rage.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Twilight's new job-slash-punishment is guarding a goddess.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Magic training for Twilight.
  • Breather Episode: Chapter 6: Pep Talk. A non-canon comedic interlude before the three month Time Skip.
  • Broken Bird: Twilight doesn't take being suspended from her position as Celestia's pupil and sentenced to guard the pony who tried to outright murder her very well.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Twilight jams a magic BFS that was designed for the sole purpose of defeating the Ouroboros through itts chin and accomplishes nothing more than forcing it into a few days dormancy. Fortunately this is enough time for Celestia and Luna to put it back in its can.
  • Character Death:
    • Poor, poor, Bronze Bell; he's shanked by Gumdrops.
    • Gumdrops herself is crushed flat by the Ouroboros.
  • Chained Heat: Celestia hopes to invoke this between Twilight and Luna, with a royal decree instead of a literal chain. It works. By the end of the story, Twilight's relationship with Luna is stronger than ever.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Twilight uses a chair during her fight with Luna.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Twilight learns to make large ice platforms on open water so she can jump across them to a boat, more or less for her own amusement. The ability comes in handy when she needs to put a wall of ice between herself and some bloodthirsty seaponies
  • Combat Pragmatist: Twilight's developed in this direction and it serves her well once she's in life-or-death situations outside of the ring. She even has her very own copy of Dirty Tricks and Unsportsmanlike Conduct: A Combat Pragmatist’s Guide
  • Combat Tentacles: Seaponies
    • Luna is able to use shadows to grab things (particularly Twilight during their fight)
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Luna wonders whether lighting something on fire will get her out of a socially awkward situation
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Luna expects one of these against Twilight. She doesn't get it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Luna. Sure, she's a Physical Goddess. Sure, she's prone to minor temper tantrums. Sure, she'll threaten to murder you if you you don't give her the information she's asking you for, but she's really not that bad once you get to know her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Everything Celestia heaps on Twilight for her actions during the fight are, technically, punishment for breaking a folding chair. In reality, they are punishment for other things (pride, slander, breaking a friendship, etc) but this is the only official thing she can be charged with.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Gumdrop Giggles to Bronze Bell. Both because the latter is more of an Anti-Villain and because she murders him when he tries to back out of their Evil Plan.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: According to her, Captain Reinolds pushed Twilight pretty damn hard during the first few months of her training.
  • Durable Death Trap: All the local Temple of Doom Booby Traps still work just fine. Justified in that the temple enchantments were made specifically with Ragnarok-Proofing in mind.
  • Elemental Powers:
  • Enraged By Idiocy: Twilight's reaction to learning the truth about the royal guard during the Breather Episode.
    "Thank you for the offer, Captain. But now I think I would rather risk having a goddess unmake me from existence with the raw energies of creation than continue this discussion."
  • Expy: Horatio Mane, with the expected Quip to Black dialogue.
  • Eye Scream: Luna stabs Ouroboros in the eye with her horn
  • False Cause: The royal guard patrols the city, and the crime rate is low. Of course, it was low before they started patrolling, too, but Twilight can't convince anypony of why that matters.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Rarity tries to roleplay an attacker doing the most vicious and terrible things she can imagine to help Twilight practice.
    "I'm an attacker! I’m going to trim your mane! In a manner that’s not at all fashionable!"
  • Flash Step: Twilight's teleportation is equivalent to this over short distances. Unfortunately for her, Luna knows how to shut it down.
  • For Science!: Bronze Bell doesn't want to release the Ouroboros to use its power for personal gain. He wants to talk with it because it has seen thousands of years of history; the ultimate primary source!
  • Get Out: After their fight, Luna tells Twilight that their friendship is over and she never wants to see her again. Celestia has other ideas.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Twilight's attempt at psychological warfare was supposed to upset Luna and make her unable to fight properly. She succeeded and was almost murdered for it because Luna was that upset.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Luna threatens to murder Ample if she doesn't tell her what she wants to know, but she was bluffing. Probably.
  • Got Volunteered: Reinolds by Celestia to teach Twilight how to fight because he suggested it.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Ample Booty, criminal and former mook, helps Reinhold in the climax and later joins the Royal Guard.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Twilight's plan to throw Luna off her guard during their fight. It works, but also ends up making things much, much worse for her.
  • Improvised Training: Nothing hones speed, agility, and reaction time like playing tag with Pinkie Pie.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Twilight and Luna start to re-bond with one another when Celestia orders Luna to rework Equestria's 740,000-page tax code as part of her punishment. The two end up laughing uncontrollably while telling jokes about asset depreciation formulas.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Luna's revelation that the theories he's developed over fifteen years of study are completely wrong, that he's identified an artifact of world-shaking power as an ashtray, and that the ancient religious document he's spent the last month trying to decipher is actually an ancient takeout menu, prompts Buried Secrets to start taking pulls from a hip flask in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Invisibility: A trick most duelists know, but not considered useful since anyone worth hiding from will be able to 'see' the magic you're using to hide yourself unless you've blinded that particular sense beforehand. If you do use it, it helps to throw in some Ventriloquism so you can still talk to the pony you're hiding from.
  • I Meant to Do That: Luna's entrance into the gymnasium.
    "YES! The gymnasium wherein our elite guard ponies hone their abilities! That is, of course, the building that we knew we were visiting when we came in through the roof. It is exactly the building which we were entirely meaning to visit, and certainly not one that we chose at random!"
  • It Amused Me: Luna's motivation for challenging Twilight to a no-holds-barred beatdown that will probably leave her seriously injured boils down to "it beats making awkward small talk".
  • Just Toying with Them: Luna, to Twilight during the first part of the fight. When Twilight realizes this, she's not pleased.
  • Large Ham: Luna is in full "ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE" form in the first half of the story.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Luna's opinion is that a mortal pony's lifespan is far too short to accomplish anything of true merit and only by living through eras, rather than digging through their remains, can one understand them. This opinion makes her Innocently Insensitive to the mortal ponies around her.
  • Living Shadow: Luna has one and she can use it to strangle ponies.
  • Lovable Nerd: Bronze Bell, who's quickly smitten by the equally Adorkable Twilight Sparkle. A shame they both have No Social Skills.
  • Macguffin: There are three artifacts maintaining the seal of the Sealed Evil in a Can. Luna implies that trying to use them to release the monster and control it is doable, but would be a Very Bad Thing.
  • Magically Binding Contract: The Oath of Binding that Luna uses to confine Ample in a single room takes the form of a magically enforced promise not to leave. However, one can use Exact Words and escape with Loophole Abuse.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The underwater temple. Of course, it was designed that way intentionally.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Whenever Luna decides to go incognito, she usually picks names like "Selene" or "Artemis" or "Phoebe." When Twilight points out that her cover would be a lot better if she didn't always pick names associated with the moon, Luna reveals that this is actually an Inverted Trope
    "We would have you know that they were not associated with the moon before we started using them as identities in ages past. We are hardly to blame for ponies leaping upon such associations at the merest whiff of deific power," said Luna. "Honestly, we move ONE MOUNTAIN..."
  • Names to Trust Immediately: Among the royal guard of Canterlot there's a recruit named "Golden Heart". Ample Booty wants to live up to this name.
  • Meta Phorgotten: "It’s always extra satisfying to kill two birds with one god-summoning blood magic ritual, ya know?"
  • Miles Gloriosus: Reinolds uses an altered version of the story of Twilight's fight with Luna, where he plays a much bigger role than he really did, to pick up mares at a local bar. One night Luna's actually there and calls him out on it, accusing him of selling himself short and understating how awesome he actually was because she's there as his wingmare and they planned the whole thing out in advance.
  • Minored in Asskicking: If Twilight was already like this in the show itself, she's stepped up to a Friendship/Ass Kicking double major here.
  • Mooks: Gumdrop's opinion of her own crew. She's rather unconcerned about losing a few here and there to deathtraps and hungry seaponies if that's what it takes.
  • My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever: Reinolds doesn't need to block Luna's magic forever, only until Celestia shows up.
  • Neck Lift: After Twilight taunts Luna just one too many times (by stomping on several of her greatest failures), she lifts Twilight using a tendril of pure shadow.
    Princess Luna: (in a deadly calm tone) "Please, Twilight, tell us again how weak and pathetic we are. Do go on some more about how inferior we are to the perfect and wonderful Celestia. Or perhaps you’d like to make a speech about the wonderful power of friendship. You always seem so fond of those."
    The black tentacle tightened its grip and the only sound that escaped Twilight’s lips was a raspy, choked-off gasp.
    Princess Luna: "No? But you were so very chatty before. What a pity. Now, how about we do a little experiment together? Usually a choking pony will turn purple. I’m sure you knew that, Celestia tells us that you very much enjoyed studying physiology at her Academy. But you are already purple. I wonder what color you will turn? Any hypothesis?"
    The tentacle squeezed Twilight’s throat closed entirely. Panic seized her. An abstract, detached portion of her mind reminded her that she’d read just last week that depriving the brain of oxygen would lead to unconsciousness in 8.3 to 12.1 seconds, on average. Sure enough, she felt darkness creeping in around the edges of her vision. She had to get free. But how?
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe example. Whenever one of the royal sisters does something particularly embarrassing, the other will remind them of it for decades.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The consequences of breaking a Pinkie Promise. All that's know for sure is that the last colt who broke one woke up in a foreign city covered in cake batter with no memory of the last three days, and that he'd suddenly developed a crippling fear of confetti.
    • The story ends just as Luna is beginning to tell Twilight about the Zombie Gerbil Horde that attacked after a careless librarian placed a necromancy primer in the children's section. Then the author went and wrote that story as well.
  • The Power of Friendship:
    • Twilight and Luna were decent friends before their duel and Celestia believes that Chained Heat will make them better friends. It does.
    • Gumdrop Giggles defies this by murdering Bronze Bell when he tries to convince her that unleashing Ouroboros isn't worth losing one another.
  • Power of Trust: Twilight's faith in Bronze Bell inspires him to try to decipher the location of the Temple of Doom. He gives them a fake location, but they find it anyway.
  • Properly Paranoid: Twilight, after bad stuff starts happening around her and Luna. Although as a bodyguard, it's her job to be.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Twilight is more than a little outmatched during her head-to-head fight with Luna. The she decides to start pressing Luna's Berserk Button...
  • Ransacked Room: This happens to Twilight and Luna's hotel room and tips them off to the Evil Plan.
  • Revealing Cover Up: The baddies' assumption that Luna and Twilight are in Pensacolta to stop them, rather than just on vacation, is what drives them to try to assassinate them and break into their room. Which of course leads the two to try to stop them.
  • Roof Hopping: Gumdrop Giggles does this the old fashioned way. Twilight teleports instead.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Twilight spots a suspicious pony on a rooftop and they engage in a brief fight.
  • Royal "We": Luna still talks like this most of the time. She tends to drop it when she's trying to be sincere.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Lyra and Bon-Bon have come to Pensacolta for a nice, uneventful beach vacation. The first thing they see upon stepping out of the train station is Twilight, Reinolds, and Luna tracking down a Macguffin to save the city from the resident Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Ouroboros
  • Shipper on Deck: Luna thinks Twilight should take a night off and go on a date with Bronze Bell. She never gets the chance.
  • Ship Sinking: In the chapter named Ship Wrecked.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few, including Aliens, Batman Beyond, Indiana Jones, The Legend of Zelda, Firefly, CSI: Miami and World of Warcraft and even The Order of the Stick
  • So Proud of You: At the end of the fic, Celestia tells Twilight that she has done such a wonderful job as a bodyguard and learned so much from the experience that she doesn't have to fulfill the second half of her 'community service' sentence.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: The sociopathic stalker and crime lord? Gumdrop Giggles
  • Spoiler: In-universe. Twilight acquires an advance copy of Daring Do and the Spear of the Windigos and teases one of her friends with tiny bits of advance knowledge. She also spoils the story for the Big Bad by accusing him of ripping off the plot.
  • Spit Take: Invoked by Luna on Celestia in her advice to Twilight. "We recommend waiting until she has just taken a mouthful of tea for maximum effect."
  • The Tease: According to Luna, her sister is "utterly, utterly shameless and heavy-hoofed" when she hears somepony has a crush on her.
  • Teleport Spam: Twilight's strategy for beating Luna in their head-to-head showdown. It keeps her just ahead of Luna's attacks.
  • Temple of Doom: One of the three Macguffins is stored in one of these. The temple's name literally translates as "Building of Horrible Death".
  • Tempting Fate: Luna insists that a few seaponies don't present a significant challenge, and will be dispatched easily. Cue the appearance of something much bigger... which is dispatched easily. The resident Physical Goddess is more than capable of nuking it from orbit without effort.
  • There Was a Door: In the first half of the fic, Luna makes a dramatic entrance by crashing through the window ceiling of the Sparring Dome.
  • Time Abyss: Luna is a thousand times Twilight's age, if you believe her claims. She also likes to curse in dead languages and make fun of archaeologists' woefully inaccurate assumptions about ancient civilizations.
  • Time Dissonance: Luna's dismissive attitude towards mortals and their accomplishments drives Twilight nuts, eventually leading to her calling Luna out for becoming a spoiled sociopath who's disconnected herself from the world.
  • Time Skip: The three months that happened before the fittingly-named 'Three Months Later' chapter.
  • Unfortunate Names: Ample Booty. She's good at finding treasure, OK?
    "Hey, when you grow up poor and your name is 'Ample Booty' you've basically got two possible careers. Trust me when I tell you that 'pirate' is better than the other one."
  • Unishment: Rainbow Dash thinks that Twilight's sentence might be this when she learns that Twilight got to read an advance copy of Daring Do and the Spear of the Windigos.
    "You beat up a Princess and they punish you by letting you read the book I’ve been dying to get my hooves on for nearly a year? If I punched Princess Celestia, like, right now, could I get in on this too?"
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Twilight and Luna both, once the gloves really come off.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Twilight before she starts training. Reinolds quite explicitly points out that staying that way is a good way to get yourself killed in a real fight.
  • Warts and All: Twilight comes to terms with Luna's eccentrics and immortal mindset and the two become friends.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Luna's protection spells were designed specifically to be used in formal magical duels, and can stop every kind of energy or power that Twilight can throw at them. But since physical contact between duelist was strictly forbidden, they do nothing to block a pony's body.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 5. By the end of it, Twilight's been publically humiliated, suspended from school and sentenced to spend the next six months taking orders from the pony who's made it clear she wants nothing to do with her and nearly killed her. Opinions vary on whether this was excessive or Celestia gets a pass because she knew it would turn out okay.
  • Wham Line: "I never thought the day would come when I would be ashamed to call you my student" is the moment Twilight realizes exactly how badly she just messed up.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In-Universe. Professor Buried Secrets thinks the story of the great sea serpent Ouroboros is an allegory for piracy and colonialism, while the three artifacts that were used to seal it away represent the balance of power between three separate branches of government. Luna corrects him that, no, there actually was a gigantic sea serpent. She would know since she was there and sealed it herself.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Trapped in an underwater temple that's filling with water and hungry monsters, Twilight tells herself that the smart thing to do would be to teleport away and leave Ample to die. In the end she finds she can't go through with it and rescues her.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Celestia, once each to Twilight and Luna for what happened during the fight. Twilight's is quick and brutal, while Luna's degenerates into a three-hour-long screaming match with her sister.
  • Wizard Duel: Luna vs. Twilight.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Rarity considers this the most important type of self-defense technique. In fact, she considers it the ONLY important type of self-defense technique.

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