Duelists of the Autumn Crown

by DrakeyC

Chapter 1: Welcome to Canterlot High

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Duelists of the Autumn Crown

Welcome to Canterlot High

Twilight groaned and opened her eyes. Slowly, the world came into focus. She saw a row of unfamiliar houses not far away on the other side of a road and a field of grass. “Where am I?”

“Twilight?” A familiar voice called out to her. Twilight saw a dog come into her field of vision and focused on it. It had light purple fur with a tuft of green fur along its head. It reminded her of…

“Spike? Are you a dog?”

The dog looked down at itself and nodded. “Yeah, seems so. But I have no idea what you are!”

“Huh?” Twilight looked down at her hooves on the ground.

Instead of hooves, she saw long, lavender limbs ending with five fingers.

She did the rational thing.


Twilight jumped up and looked down at her body. A dark purple skirt with a pink star emblazoned over it covered her below the waist, from which stretched legs into dark purple and pink boots. She looked at her arms and torso. A light blue blouse concealed her upper body andtwo straps wrapped around her shoulders. Twisting her neck brought a backpack into view. Finally, Twilight’s attention was drawn to a strange device strapped to her left arm.

The device looked like a lavender disk with pink linings. Connected to the disk was a three-section strip of metal that was folded around the disk into a rough horseshoe shape. Various indentations, buttons, and slots covered the strip, and a screen was built into the disk behind a large open slot. Twilight ran her fingers over the device and found a button on the back. She pressed it. The arms on the strip of metal snapped forward and bent into a straighter shape and the buttons and screen on the device lit up.

“What is this?” Twilight pressed the button again and the device de-powered and retracted back into its more compact horseshoe shape. She looked over her body, turning her hands around. “For that matter, what am I?”

Spike shook his head. “You’re definitely not a pony. You don’t have hooves, a muzzle, or a horn.”

What!?” Twilight reached to her face and felt a short, stumpy nose. She squeaked and moved her hands up to her head, feeling only skin and hair. She began to pant. “Okay… okay let’s recap. I’ve been turned into some sort of two-legged being with arms and hands, no fur, and…” She looked at her arm again. “Some sort of weird disk machine attached to my arm.” She put a hand on her chest and caught her breath. “First priority, find Sunset Shimmer. Second priority, get my crown back. Third priority, get back to Equestria. Fourth priority, do all of that before I have a panic attack.”

“Hey, look on the bright side,” Spike said cheerily. “You don’t have to worry about those pesky wings anymore.”

Twilight lowered her arms and glared. “Not helping.” She turned her attention from her new form to the world around her. A large three-story building loomed in front of her. Twilight looked behind her and saw a statue of a rearing horse. She stretched a hand out to the base and the stone rippled as her hand passed through it. “Well, here’s the portal.” She glanced back at the building. “If Sunset Shimmer came out here, maybe someone there saw her.”

“Worth a shot,” Spike replied.

Twilight carefully stepped forward on her two legs. She stumbled forward and grabbed the railings of the steps into the building for support. “This is gonna take some getting used to.” She pulled herself up to the top and reached the doors. There, she paused. The polished glass of the doors allowed her a look at her reflection. Twilight twisted in place, looking at herself.

“Weird,” she murmured, holding up a strand of her hair to look at it. “I’m me. But, not me. But I look like me. Except not a pony.” She frowned. “Too confusing. Let’s just find Sunset and get back to Equestria.” She put a hand on the door and pushed.

“Ow!” On the other side of the door, another being fell on their backside as the door swung into them.

“Oh!” Twilight cupped her hands to her face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there!”

The other being, a girl with pale white hair and a blue jacket, scowled up at her. “Are you blind? The glass is transparent, you dolt!”

Twilight quickly got over her embarrassment and glared back. “I said I was sorry. You don’t need to be rude!”

“Rude, huh?” The girl sneered and lifted her arm. Twilight saw a disk device like hers on the girl’s arm, only where Twilight’s was purple and pink, this girl’s device was blue and silver. “Well, next class is a free period. Perhaps you need to be put in your place!” The girl pressed the button to activate the device and its arms swung forward. Twilight recognized a stack of some thin brown items in the large slot on the disk.

“Um, hang on.” Twilight held up her hands and shook her head. “You’re right, I’m sorry. My fault. I’m not looking to cause trouble, I’m just kind of new here and looking around.”

The girl looked at Twilight’s arm as it waved. “You’re walking around school with your duel disk on, and you don’t even have your deck loaded?” She snorted and turned off the disk. “What an amateur. You’d be a waste of time.” The girl tossed her head and pushed past Twilight to go outside. “Next time you get in Trixie’s way, she won’t be so merciful.”

Twilight gritted her teeth at the girl’s back. “There’s no need to – what?” She looked at the girl closer. “Spike… did she just say her name was Trixie?”

“She did look a little familiar,” Spike said.

Twilight shook her head. “That’s not possible. Trixie couldn’t have found the portal. Could she?”

“I doubt it. It’s the only one and it was locked up, right?”

Twilight looked back around the building. “Yeah…” She noticed the banners and rows of lockers down hallways. “This is a school!” She smiled. “That means there must be a principal somewhere! Come on, Spike, we’ve got to get searching! Whoever runs this school must be able to help us.”

Just then, a loud ringing filled the air.

The doors in the hallways opened and hundreds of students filtered into the halls. Twilight gasped and flattened against the wall as they moved past her. She shuffled into a doorway and looked over the crowd. She saw several faces that seemed vaguely familiar and many more that didn’t. A wide variety of these beings in a variety of skin tones, hair colors, and clothing types made up the population. And it seemed almost every one of them had another of those disk devices strapped to their arms in a variety of colors.

“Dude, I am gonna rock this thing, semi-finals for sure.”

“I got my sister a new starter deck for her birthday."

“Check out what I pulled from the new booster!”

As conversations washed over Twilight, she self-consciously looked down at her own disk. All the students had those stacks of brown items in the large open slot on the disk, where Twilight’s was empty. She wondered what it meant. Twilight leaned down and whispered to Spike, “Seeing anyone using one of these?” Twilight looked at her own disk. “They seem important, if everyone is wearing one.”

“No clue.” Spike shook his head.

The crowd had begun to disperse and Twilight carefully weaved her way through them. She saw several of them glance at her and then the disk on her arm, with various expressions following.

“She hasn’t even got her deck out, what a noob!”

Twilight scowled at the voice from the student that just walked by her and turned to glare at their back as she walked. “I don’t know what that word means, but I am not—" Twilight stopped as she bumped into someone, sending both of them to the ground. She groaned and pushed herself up, holding her head. “I have to start watching where I’m going.”

“Are you okay?”

She turned her head and saw a hand held out to her. She followed the arm up to the face. A handsome boy with short, slightly spiked hair was holding his hand to her. Another of those disk devices, this one blue and yellow, was on his arm. Twilight took his hand and let him pull her up.

“Um… yes.” Twilight took her hand back and brushed herself off. “Thanks.”

“How come you don’t have your deck ready?” The boy asked.


“Your duel disk. Where’s your deck?”

Twilight saw the boy hold up his arm to display the disk there and looked at her own. “My deck?”

“Just saying, a lot of students are itching to duel with the tournament tomorrow. If you’re going to walk around school unprepared to duel, they might think you’re an easy target,” the boy explained. “Having your deck loaded will at least avoid attracting attention.”

Twilight looked at the ‘duel disk’ on the boy’s arm and noticed another stack of the brown things there. Realization dawned. Cards. Deck. Oh. “Right, my deck!” Twilight laughed nervously. She reached to the backpack she was wearing and grabbed a random pocket. “I’ve got it right here!” She unzipped the pocket and reached inside. She felt an angular box and pulled it out. A semi-transparent purple box of cards was in her hand. “Oh. I really did have it here.”

She pulled open the top and removed the cards. Fanning them out she saw they came in three colors, with what she presumed to be the names of the cards scrawled along their tops. She noticed the boy watching her and forced a smile and held up the cards. “See? Deck ready to go!” She held up her duel disk and examined it for a moment before folding the cards together and slotting them into the large open space in the disk part. She heard a click and saw the arm over the slot descend slightly, locking the cards into place.

“Not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just saying, going around like that can get you challenges.”

Challenges? Twilight decided to ponder what he meant later and settled for nodding as if she understood. “Right, thanks for the tip.”

“No problem. I’m Flash Sentry.” The boy held his hand out again.

Twilight looked at the outstretched hand, then held hers out opposite his. “Twilight Sparkle.”

Flash looked at her hand, then moved his back to clasp it and shook it. “Nice to meet you.” He took his hand back and turned his attention to the open locker between them.

“Likewise.” As Flash removed several items from the locker and put a few more inside, Twilight looked around the thinning halls and thought. He must be a student here. And whatever these ‘duel disks’ are about that someone might challenge me over them, he doesn’t seem to want to. “Say, Flash, could you help me with something?”

“Hm?” Flash slammed his locker and clicked the lock on it shut. “What’s up?”

“I’m looking for the principal’s office, but I’m not really familiar with the school. Can you show me where it is?”

“Oh?” Flash looked at her. “I thought I hadn’t seen you before. Are you a new student?”

“Yes!” Twilight said the word a bit too loud as the perfect alibi was handed to her. At Flash’s slight recoil she calmed down. “Yes, new student, just transferred. I have to check in at the office?”

“Sure.” Flash smiled and turned. “Follow me.”

Twilight let out a breath and looked at Spike. He gave her an encouraging look and padded forward. Twilight raised her eyes back to the hall and followed Flash.

As the two walked, Twilight presumed classes had begun, seeing that the hallways were almost empty now and she saw a couple of teachers closing their doors. A few more stray students were about, though. And they were still looking at her. And whispering as she passed. Twilight looked back at one pair and they immediately turned away.

“Flash?” Twilight saw one girl’s gaze linger on her as she passed them. “I thought you said having my... ‘deck,’ ready, would avoid attracting attention?”

Flash chuckled. “I don’t think it’s your deck attracting attention.”

“What?” Twilight felt her cheek and forward. “Is there something on my face?”

“No, your face is perfect.” Flash stopped short in the hall and turned his head. “Not perfect! That is to say it looks good, perfectly average, normal face. Not that it isn’t a nice face, you’re pretty enough. I-I mean, it’s pretty fine! Good, fine. Nice face.” Flash’s eyes darted away. “Um…” His eyes lit up and he pointed. “I have to get to class! The office is down there!” Before Twilight could respond, Flash stepped around her, his face bright red and he hurried down the hall.

Spike grinned and nudged Twilight’s boot. “I think he likes you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Spike. He just met me.” Twilight watched him go and blushed. “I think that’s actually the first time a boy called me pretty.”

“What about Star Gazer back in the school for gifted unicorns?”

“He finished by saying I looked ‘pretty silly’ and threw paste and sparkles on my horn.”

“Oh yeah.” Spike snickered. “That was funny. He called you Twilight Sparkling.” Twilight glared at him. “What?”

“We’ll talk about it later.” Twilight headed down the passage in the direction Flash had indicated. As he said, she soon found the door to the school main office and carefully pushed it open.

A large room with a few cubicles set up on the back wall greeted her. Typing at a computer at the front of the room, an older man with a sandy brown mustache and glasses paused and looked up at her.

Twilight waved. “Hello, Mr… ah,” she looked at the nameplate on the counter. “Kibitz?” The man stared at her evenly. “Um, I’m a new student, and I need to speak to the principal. Please?””

Kibitz turned his eyes to a phone by his keyboard and he pressed a button on it and picked it up. “Ms. Solaris, you have a student to see you… yes.” He hung up and gestured a hand towards a door on the right wall. “Make it quick, she has an appointment in ten minutes.”

“Thank you.” Twilight headed to the door and knocked.

“Come in.”

She pushed the door open. A woman with hair in shades of pale pink, green, and blue was sitting behind a desk, looking over a folder of papers. She looked up at Twilight and smiled. “Hello. Have a seat.”

Twilight slowly approached the chairs in front of the desk. Something about this woman seemed familiar. She looked at the nameplate. “… Celestia Solaris?” She whispered.

“Just Celestia, if you please. I prefer to be informal with students.” Celestia closed the file folder and pulled her chair closer. “I don’t believe we’ve met before?”

“Um, no, we haven’t.” Twilight came to her senses and smiled. “My name is Twilight Sparkle, I’m a new transfer. Or, will be. I start next week.” As an afterthought she added. “I don’t think they’ve brought my paperwork yet. Sorry.”

Celestia smiled. “That’s fine. It’s nice to meet you Twilight. What can I do for you?”

Twilight hesitated. How much could she have seen or known? Would she personally have bumped into Sunset? “Um… when I was coming in today to look around, I bumped into a girl carrying a crown. It was gold and had a pink jewel on it?”

“Certainly, I know the item. The crown for the winner of the Autumn Crown Tournament. Apparently someone stole it last night, but I’ve locked it up for safekeeping.”

“Right, see that—” Twilight paused. “Autumn Crown Tournament?”

“Yes.” Celestia stood and gestured to a poster in her room. Twilight looked at it. Several of the cards similar to the ones in her duel disk were sprayed over the image of a crown – one suspiciously similar to the Element of Magic – and a pair of students with duel disks facing each other as if in confrontation. “It’s the school’s bi-annual Duel Monsters tournament, along with the Spring Crown Tournament.”

Twilight stood and came closer. “The crown goes to the winner of the tournament?”

“Yes. The winner of the crown is also given an honorary position on the student council and awarded special privileges with teachers.” Celestia gestured a hand at another wall. “You can thank our current champion for that.” Twilight looked where she had gestured. A photograph of a girl with red and yellow hair was wearing a similar crown and holding up her arm with a duel disk on it, smirking in triumph.

She looks familiar… Twilight peered at the pale aqua eyes, narrowed in a defiant challenge, and gasped. “Sunset Shimmer?”

“Our current champion, undefeated for two years now, since she first came to the school,” Celestia said. “It was her idea to expand the influence of the champion to other areas of the school, given how hard students work to win and how popular Duel Monsters is.”

Twilight turned around. “She goes here?”

“Indeed. The tournament is only open to students of this school.” Celestia smiled. “Although, if you wanted to sign up, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem. You are joining us, after all.”

Twilight looked back at her crown on the poster and shook her head. “Actually, I can’t. I just need the crown.”

Celestia’s smile vanished. “Pardon?”

“I’m sorry, it’s a long story, but I need that crown. Please?” Twilight grinned in a way she hoped looked pleading.

Celestia shook her head. “I’m sorry, the crown is reserved for the winner of the tournament this Sunday. Our students take Duel Monsters very seriously. Even if we offered another crown I doubt they’d appreciate it.”

Twilight rubbed her chin. There must be some way… “Wait. The crown goes to the winner of the tournament on Sunday?”

“The tournament begins tomorrow and the finals are Sunday evening.”

Three days. She nodded. “Okay. Can I enter the tournament?”

“Certainly.” Celestia pulled a notepad on her desk over to her and wrote down a note. “Take this to the second floor computer lab, the tournament organizer is finalizing preparations there. Give her this and she’ll let you in.” Celestia tore the note off and held it out.

Twilight took the note – a quick look and she saw it was an explanation for why she wasn’t in the school registry – and smiled. “Thank you, Celestia.”

“Of course, Twilight. If you don’t mind, though, I’m expecting an appointment soon.”

“Right.” Twilight waved and approached the door to the office.

“Twilight?” She turned. Celestia was looking at her feet with an expression of disapproval. “We don’t allow pets on the school premises.”

“Hm?” Twilight looked down. Spike! “Oh! Um… he’s my… service dog!”

“Service dog?” Celestia tilted her head. “For what?”

“My…” Twilight began to panic. Think of something, I’m not disabled, what would Spike help me manage? “Anxiety!” She blurted out. She paused as she registered what she had said. At her feet Spike stifled a snicker.

Celestia’s expression softened. “My apologies, I was unaware. You’re welcome to bring him on school grounds then, of course, but I must ask he be on a proper leash tomorrow.”

“You got it!” Twilight grinned and waved as she pulled the door open behind her. She backed out, glancing down to make sure Spike had come with her, and closed it. Twilight headed into the hall, passing a teacher as she came into the office.

In the hall, Spike stuck out his tongue. “Yuck. A leash? Seriously, Twilight, are we gonna do that?”

“We have to, Spike. I’m sorry, but we have to come back to this school.” Twilight approached another poster for the tournament on the opposite wall. “We only have three days to do it, but if the crown is locked up, that means Sunset Shimmer can’t get to it either. And if I want to get it from Celestia, there’s only one thing to do!” Twilight spun around, a confident smile on her face. She clutched her duel disk to her chest and pumped her fist.

“If I want my crown back, I’m going to have to become the champion of the Autumn Crown Tournament! So that’s what I’m gonna do!”

Spike looked up at her. “And what exactly is this ‘Duel Monsters’ game they play?”

“I have no idea!”

Next Chapter: The Gauntlet is Thrown Estimated time remaining: 5 Hours, 55 Minutes
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