Clever Clover leapt aside as Minoko's energy ball streaked toward him. The red orb changed direction to follow him. He raised his axe and batted the attack aside. The energy orb impacted a snowbank, vaporizing it. Clever Clover then raised his axe and charged Minoko. He swung the axe in a mighty arc, but Minoko disappeared. She reappeared behind the purple prince and thrust with her unicorn horn of pure magical energy. Clever Clover parried the attack and launched one of his own, but failed to connect. The two ponies charged each other. Energy horn clashed with steel axe.
"You're getting better, Clever Clover."
Clever Clover lowered his axe. "You too, Minoko. What do you say we call it a day?"
"Sure. After a good workout out in the cold, I could go for some cuddling in front of a nice, warm fire."
"Ah, I'm not sure about that." Clever Clover trotted across the snowy field to where Belle Star and Morning Glory were sparring. "How's it coming along?"
"Oh, we're doing fine!" reported Belle Star enthusiastically.
Morning Glory nodded. "Yes. I'm really getting the hang of this."
"How'd you all like to grab a bite to eat?"
* * *
Across town, ponies went about their daily business as usual, barely noticing the large stallion wearing a wolf's pelt draped over his shoulders. The wolf-clad stallion stood in the middle of the lane and looked about in annoyance. He lifted his mighty hoof and dropped it with such force that the earth shook. Now, the ponies of Friendship Garden stared with awe and fear at the strange stallion. He grinned a wolf-fanged grin. "Good. Now dat I have your attention, vill somevone tell me vere to find da prince called Clever Clover?" No one answered; some fled in terror.
"Very vell den, I'll have to make him come to me." The giant stallion lowered his head and charged a nearby house. He struck with such force as to reduce it to splinters. The stallion walked from the wreckage unscathed. "Go! Tell Clever Clover dat Volfgang has come for him!"
* * *
Before long, a crowd of panicked ponies reached the restaurant where Clever Clover and company relaxed. Minoko looked around at the fleeing masses. "Wonder what's got them so worked up?" she mumbled.
Just then, Ivy came running in. "Oh! Clever Clover! There you are! There is a huge pony smashing houses across town! He says he's looking for you!"
"Wha!? A huge pony? He wouldn't happen to be wearing a wolf skin, would he?"
"Uh, as a matter of fact, I think he was."
"Oh!" Belle Star gasped. "It must be Wolfgang!"
"You mean one of those losers that Nightshade broke out of Kuramitsu Fortress?"
Clever Clover stood up. "That's the one. I guess we'd better take care of this before he causes too much damage."
And so the foursome, still armed from their sparring earlier, set out to face Wolfgang. They circled around the outskirts of town in hopes of luring Wolfgang out of the city. It didn't take them long to find him; the giant made no effort to hide himself. It didn't take long for Wolfgang to spot them, either.
"Vell, it took you long enough. Now ve vill see vhat you are made of."
The four friends stood side by side to face the mighty wolf-clad stallion. "Vhat's dis? I thought you goody two shoes types alvays fought fair."
Clever Clover shrugged. "I don't know; I'd say, pound for pound, we're pretty evenly matched."
"Ha ha ha! I like you, prince. Too bad I have to kill you now."
Clever Clover held his axe at the ready. "Heh, I'd like to see you try."
Wolfgang lowered his head and grinned. Then, faster than Clever Clover's eyes could follow, he rushed the purple prince. Almost before he knew what was happening, Belle Star threw herself between Clever Clover and his assailant at the last second. Wolfgang's massive forehoof caught Belle Star in the mid-section. The force of the blow sent her flying into a deep snowbank some distance away.
"Belle Star!" cried Clever Clover.
Wolfgang sought to take advantage of Clever Clover's distraction; but before he could act, Minoko head-butted the behemoth, knocking him off balance. Wolfgang lashed out at Minoko who leapt into the air where she floated safely out of reach of the giant. Clever Clover charged with his axe, but Wolfgang batted aside the ancient blade and kicked the purple prince in the gut. The wind knocked out of him, Clever Clover collapsed. Wolfgang reared up on his hind legs, preparing to drop his mighty steel-shod forehooves on the helpless prince; but before he could land the decisive blow, Minoko showered him with a barrage of red energy spheres.
While Wolfgang was distracted, Morning Glory rushed to Clever Clover's side, the holy sword of the Spirit Clan in hoof. The lupin giant struck his hoof against the ground with such force that a shower of dirt, stone, and ice shot up at Minoko, interrupting her attack. Then Wolfgang turned to Clever Clover and Morning Glory. He struck at them with all his might, but his hooves merely slid off of the invisible barrier from Morning Glory's sword.
Clever Clover was recovering from the blow he had taken and had regained his hooves. But Wolfgang was not deterred. He struck the ground again, shaking it so violently that Clever Clover almost fell over again. The purple prince pulled himself up to his full height, which was still barely half that of Wolfgang. An orb of blue energy appeared above Clever Clover's forehead. It settled onto his brow and a whorled horn sprang forth. He charged Wolfgang, striking him with enough force to drive him back several yards, but the giant maintained his footing. Clever Clover charged again, catching Wolfgang's head in a pincer between his horn and axe, but Wolfgang shrugged it off and struck back. Clever Clover fell to his knees. As Wolfgang was about to land another attack, the prince rolled to his right and sprung to his hooves once more.
Clever Clover, barely able to lift his axe, surveyed the situation. Minoko hovered just out of Wolfgang's reach; her attacks had to this point been little more than an annoyance to the behemoth. Morning Glory hid behind her holy sword's barrier, safe from harm but unable to launch any sort of attack. Wolfgang swaggered arrogantly toward the purple prince.
"So, you are the mighty prince dat has been giving Jack O Lantern so much trouble? I don't see vhat all the fuss vhas about."
Clever Clover struggled to lift his axe over his head. "Oh, I think you're about to find out just what kind of a fuss we can make. Minoko! Heads up!" The purple prince hurled his axe with all his might, right past Wolfgang.
"Vhat? You tink dat I vill spare you just because you have trown away your veapon?"
Clever Clover grinned defiantly. "I think...that you should look behind you."
"Come, come, prince. I vill not fall for such an old trick."
But if he had turned, he would have seen Minoko catch Clever Clover's magical axe with tendrils of magic from her forehead. Then the axe seemed to melt, the wooden handle and metal blade twisting together, taking on the form of a whorled horn. The axe-turned-horn settled onto the pirate pony's forehead with a noise like thunder that shook the very Earth. Minoko's eyes glowed a fiery red as she lowered the horn toward Wolfgang. Then an aura of flame erupted around her body as she dove, striking the ground in front of the giant, causing an eruption of rock and fire with such force that it drove even the mighty Wolfgang back three times as far as Clever Clover's attack.
"Vhat's dis? Von of you developed a backbone? Dis might be more fun dan I expected."
Minoko's cold gaze betrayed no emotion. A wave of energy shot out from the horn, throwing Wolfgang like a rag-doll.
The lupin giant cried out in rage. "I vill destroy you!" He charged Minoko who stood her ground, unflinching. She batted him aside with the horn as easily as one would brush aside a blade of grass. The mighty behemoth landed with a mighty thud. Minoko stood over him and leveled the horn at his face.
"Now, I'll send you to the next dimension."
A sphere of darkness enveloped Wolfgang and vanished, along with him. Minoko reared back her head and surveyed the area with fiery eyes.
Morning Glory cautiously lowered her sword and walked over to Clever Clover. "What just happened?"
"I'm not exactly sure. I think we won, but that looked like Jack O Lantern's teleportation spell. Minoko might have gotten the better of Wolfgang, but he got away."
"Oh," Morning Glory leaned close to Clever Clover and whispered, "but are you sure it was a good idea to give Minoko your axe? She's more frightening than ever."
Minoko turned her fiery gaze to Morning Glory. Then the whorled horn untwisted and fell to the ground in its true form, that of an ancient axe. The fire faded from her eyes. "I'm glad that's over. How are you guys?"
Clever Clover's strange horn faded away. "We're fi...Belle Star!" Clever Clover rushed off to check on his fallen friend.
"Minoko," said Morning Glory. "I'm impressed that you were willing to give up such power..."
The pirate shrugged. "That was nothing compared to when I had my real horn. And Clever Clover's father was still able to get the better of me. Imagine what Clever Clover could be capable of."
Clever Clover dug through the snowbank until he uncovered Belle Star's still form. He shook her gently. "Belle Star, are you all right?"
Belle Star's eyes slowly opened. "Huh? Wha? Clever Clover? Is it morning already? It's awfully drafty in here."
"Ah, we were fighting Wolfgang, remember?"
Belle Star's expression went blank for a moment, then her eyes went wide with fright. "Oh! Oh! Wolfgang! Where is he?"
"Don't worry, we took care of him. But why did you throw yourself in front of Wolfgang like that?"
"I'm your bodyguard. It's my job to protect you."
"But...but if you get yourself killed...I don't think my life would be..."
"Well, Belle Star, there's something I've been wanting to say to you for a while now; but I just haven't been able to find the right words, and I haven't seen the ring since that New Year's party..."
"Huh? Ring? What are you talking about?"
Clever Clover helped Belle Star to her feet. "Oh, nothing. Forget I said anything."
"Okay! Gee, I didn't get to finish my dinner; I'm hungry."