The Ambassador's Son - Book 2
An MLP:FiM Fanfiction by Midnight Shadow
Sharptooth waddled awkwardly around the cave like a mobile tea-service whilst Shimmer Star looked on with amusement. He had most of his armour on, and his lack of experience with it showed. The headpiece was too big, the tail-blade fit badly and the haunch guard was oversized enough to be in danger of dragging along the floor. The spiked neck-guard sagged around his shoulders, and his wings were entirely too small for the blades there too.
"My brave little warrior," the unicorn said, giggling. "Have you learnt much these past few weeks?"
For a reply, Sharptooth struck a mighty pose and snorted a few brief spurts of fire.
"They grow up so fast," said Shimmer Star with a sigh.
"A few centuries and he'll be ready for life on his own," Onyxious replied with a chuckle.
The unicorn choked on her plate of vegetables at the dragon's words. Coughing weakly, she replied, "Forgive me, I keep forgetting the unique timescales dragons live with."
The large black dragon lay on his belly at the back of the cave with a scroll on the rock floor before him, held open by two carefully placed weights. "This is good work, little pony. A true work of art, although your cartography skills are somewhat lacking."
"I do what I can without eyes in the sky. You never met her, but Flutter Fire was the true artist of our little herd," Shimmer Star replied wistfully.
"I may never have met her, but I can tell you miss her." The dragon tapped the scroll. "You have marked both her capture, and her final resting place. I... I have returned there, in the past few years, once or twice. It is now a pond, unremarkable yet beautiful in its own way."
"Sharptooth—" Shimmer broke off; the large dragon had been reluctant to hear of the hatchling when previously mentioned. This time, Onyxious seemed more open. He gestured with his claws. She continued. "Sharptooth was born there. I marked him down also."
"So I noticed. He means a lot to you, too."
"My husband and I, we haven't had..." The unicorn broke off, both blushing and sad.
"You should," Onyxious said. He stared at the map, running the back of a huge claw across the parchment slowly. "Whilst you still can, you should."
"Is that an order?" Shimmer Star flicked her ears in mirth. Onyxious raised an eye-ridge at the mare, and then burst out laughing.
"If it suits you, then take it as such! Just see to it that you continue to chronicle the world of dragons. Ignorance breeds fear and distrust, and is oft the cause of misery. A change is in the wind for Celestia and her little ponies. You may just be one of the architects of it. I would have peace between our kinds, if it be possible."
"You approve of my new hobby, then?"
"I approve of knowledge being revered, catalogued and shared. You may call upon my knowledge, meagre though it may be, in your works. I would have you stay to learn more."
Shimmer Star looked up sharply at the huge beast with wide, surprised eyes. He was wistful, pleading even. "You wish me to delay our trip home, then?"
"I do, but I can tell you will not extend your visit overlong. It is written large upon that innocent muzzle of yours, little unicorn, that you desire other ponies to mingle with. Take your foal with you. He is not ready to leave the nest. I will teach him what I can in this brief span, then you may go. I urge you though," Onyxious grinned, pointing to the scroll, "make a new map."
Canterlot. The very name was spoken of in hushed whispers and with reverence. It was something new, an entirely different sort of town. It needed a new word, city. Rising out of the side of a great mountain, with a sprawling community below, ponies were flocking from all over Equestria to take part in history. Stonemasons, coopers, carpenters, plumbers and more—they all hawked their wares, taught apprentices, built or repaired.
Sharptooth looked up in awe at it all as he rode into the city on his mother's back. The farmlands extended for acres and acres, and the city itself had been visible ever since they'd passed through the old forest-home of the Everfree. Trotting through the now-abandoned Equestrian stronghold had been eerie and disconcerting. It was as if the joy had left with the ponies, leaving only an echo of ancient sadness. Whereas before, the castle of the royal pony sisters had been warm and welcoming, even if ruined, now it was foreboding and brooding. Without the ponies to keep the animals in check, some of the nastier species were moving in to make the best of the unexpected smorgasbord. Sharptooth had made a note on the map he was making for his mother; Everfree Forest: danger, do not enter. She laughed at his glyph-scripts. In ancient times they had used pictorial representations of dragons for danger. Now, however, 'here be dragons' had an entirely more straightforward meaning.
"So... is this where we're gonna live, mama?" Sharptooth asked, gesturing around what was fast becoming the trade-district of the inner city.
"No, little one. That is our destination." Shimmer Star pointed to a large building without a roof, still being constructed. It was a school-house, unfinished and open to the elements. Great stone blocks were being hauled into position by pegasi after being bucked straight out of the mountain and then carefully and painstakingly carved into the correct size and shape by earth ponies. Unicorns were fusing the blocks together where the stone facade was visible, other craftsponies were painting, tiling or otherwise fixing and pasting. The entire city was alive, thronging with ponies, even though it was far less than even half finished. Back in the Everfree, it would have been a disaster, but here in Canterlot City it was just a minor inconvenience at worst, and a teaching aid at best. Canterlot would receive no rains for many years, not until all the buildings had been completed, the pegasi were doing their best to make sure of that. A huge cloud base had been constructed and was more or less anchored off the mountain peak. More and more pegasi were spending their time upon it, and the nascent cloud city was growing rapidly. Made of compressed cloudstuff, the wind did little to move it, and its creation kept the rains away as would-be thunderheads were absorbed into the collective. There were even hushed talks of lightning-powered hotspring baths and steam-rooms, and other water-based attractions, which would surely be the envy of any ground-based pony. Sharptooth dearly wanted to see it for himself, but couldn't quite fly. Truth be told, he barely had gliding down. He also wasn't sure if dragons—or at least whichever sort of dragon he was—possessed the same cloudwalking abilities that pegasi and griffons did.
"I'm gonna live at the school? Aww Mooommm!"
"Don't you 'aww Mom' me, Sharpie. You'll go to school just like every other foal, and you won't be spared homework. I can also guarantee you'll never be late with it."
Shimmer Star opened the door carefully. In the flickering, dancing light of the firefly-lantern, the unicorn could just about make out the snoring form of Sharptooth. He'd fallen asleep at his desk again. She momentarily worried if she was giving him too much homework, pushing him too hard, but then her attention was caught by the drawings. Tenderly, she levitated the dragon into the air and, curling him up into a comfortable ball, deposited him in his weyr. The little dragon had taken to sleeping in a small, hollowed-out depression in the ground. He only ever used his bed for jumping off of, and for hiding things under. She'd put a stop to that by getting him a walk-in closet which contained what few clothes a dragon needed, plus a growing amount of things that belonged to his own personal hoard.
The drawings were a new capability, true creations. They were of strange flying machines; some looked like birds, others looked like dragons, still others looked like pegasi. Some were just winged boxes and kites. She shuffled and collected the papers carefully and slipped them into a drawer in his desk. There were other drawings in there too, and a hefty wave of embarrassment washed over her as she realised she was prying into the private life of her son by looking.
She closed the drawer smartly, but couldn't help trotting into his hoard to organize his clothes a little. She chuckled at the eclectic mix of belongings. It had started small, knives, forks and spoons going missing from all over the school. There weren't many, most were used by the cooks to prepare the food as the majority of ponies could only use the ones with hoof-bands. She had discovered a pile of the shiny objects under his bed, along with a decorated plate or two, and had had stern words with him. He'd not known it was stealing, they'd seemed free for the taking, certainly everypony took them when they needed them. It just hadn't clicked that they were needed to eat off of and were returned after, and that his keeping them wasn't the same kind of 'needing'.
Instead, the little darling had taken to drawing, and would happily draw or sketch something for her in return for an addition to his hoard, be it a butterfly or a strange rock, or a few strands of her mane or tail. It had taken an exercise of will to persuade him that his schoolbooks were not hoard material, so he'd taken to expanding on the tome of dragons she was slowly compiling. As she filled in one scroll with her odd mix of maps, lore, biography and geography, he would copy it out onto proper pages and secret away the original. He wildly enjoyed the originals, as they were a journey unto themselves. Following the map, from beginning to end, would teach the reader along the way about the world of Equestria and the strange creatures within, weaving tales about draconic lore, their physical makeup and capabilities, and their customs and mores. Sharptooth's take on the piece was far less art and far more factual, but it was much better for reference material.
She smiled, the child had large dreams. A hoof gently touched the Arcanum E Draconus, with its thick, red kelp-leather bindings which would one day be sealed in place. The only book like it, as far as she knew, in all of Equestria. She had started to add to it herself, and each page she supplied made the little dragon's muzzle light up with joy.
The chariot landed smoothly just outside of town. Sharptooth eased himself out of the construct and lumbered towards the large, strangely-fragrant burning pile. Townsfolk parted before him, he inclined his head reverently to them as he passed. Turning back to Hairpin, he requested she fetch his son. Now that Lord Diamond had arrived to greet the two newcomer dragons, his son would be permitted to do the same.
Sharptooth found the crowd thinning well before he came close to the two oversized creatures. His nostrils flared involuntarily, Wild dragons were known to be somewhat unpredictable, even those who had returned to civilisation. With this much meat on offer, he wasn't sure there wouldn't be a relapse. Such a thing would be... unfortunate. Two huge heads turned towards him, and the sharp snapping sound of bones being cracked and sucked dry of marrow ceased. The two dragons rose and stretched, and walked over to meet him.
"Greetings, Lord Diamond. I am Fangaur," the first, and largest, intoned. His coppery scales were stained red with blood, and pieces of bone with flesh still attached hung from his jowls. Sharptooth inclined his head.
"And I am Arganthious. Our emperor Quetzalcoatl sends his greetings to you." The second dragon's head snaked around, glaring into the crowd before seizing another morsel from the burning pile. Without further conversation, the amber-coloured behemoth continued feeding.
"Welcome, my brothers," Sharptooth said. "I am grateful for your fire. Will you share your feast?"
"We will share," Fangaur grudgingly replied. It was clear he would have preferred to eat his fill first, as was his right by simple virtue of his size, but then the emperor had welcomed them back from the wilds under the strict command to be sociable. Civilized dragons did not fight over food, though a ritual challenge and answer snarling match with some of the griffons had raised his spirits and satisfied his baser nature. He decided he liked griffons. The strange little creatures were delightfully direct, and all but fearless even in the face of his bluster and ire. They also hadn't shown overmuch interest in the meat that he and his brother had set burning, and when all was said and done, a fed dragon is a happy dragon.
The sudden swoop overhead of the chariot that had brought Lord Diamond brought Fangaur's guard up again momentarily. He rattled his tail-spines in warning before he realized what he was doing. He ducked his head in shame. "Forgive me, my Lord."
"There is nothing to forgive, brother Fangaur. May I present my son, the Lord-Elect of the Sapphire Reaches?"
"M-may I approach, Lord Diamond?" Chip stuttered as he made the required obeisances, disentangling himself from the conveyance. He eyed Hairpin for support, nervously. She had trotted off to park the chariot without a second glance at the two huge dragons. Chip turned back, the ritual request was granted with a small nod of his adoptive father's head. Chip trotted closer and stood before Fangaur, who seemed the larger. A head almost as big as his entire body snaked down for a closer look. Suddenly the dragon lunged. Chip's ears splayed back as Fangaur snagged a body from the fire. The dragon tore off a piece, holding down the rest with his claw. Chip gulped, and decided being sociable was not only polite but a really good idea as he bit off a piece of barbequed diamond dog. He had known there would be a funeral pyre and feast, but he hadn't known the two would be one and the same.
He was halfway through what appeared to be a forearm, contemplating on the odd gamey taste and the feel of bone against his teeth, before he realized what he was doing. By then it was pretty much too late. He eyed the grinning skull of his meal and felt decidedly green, but didn't really have much choice except to carry on. He wasn't sure who it would be more impolite to should he stop, the dragons or the ex-diamond dog.
As he saw movement out of the corner of his eye, he caught himself baring his teeth in preparation to, of all things, defend his meal. For a moment, the mostly foreign emotion of anger flowed through him, and it left him feeling rather disoriented and odd. Turning, he realized that it was Hairpin approaching. She was carrying a large wooden bowl in her muzzle, full to the brim with bread, fruit and vegetables. Trotting smartly passed Chip, who she bowed her head to, she moved straight towards Fangaur and secreted herself between his foreclaws. Making herself comfortable, she settled down to eat. Instead of being snapped up as an hors d'oeuvre, the pegasus was groomed by the huge creature and then summarily ignored.
Chip was about to ask Sharptooth about this behaviour when four winged forms backwinged to land and a fifth hooved form trotted over. Fangaur and Arganthious both hissed warnings. To his surprise, Chip found himself neighing loudly in challenge. Far from causing more problems, the two huge dragons bent back down to eat, though their ears and head-spines both flicked up. Chip flicked his own ears about in confusion. The presence of the two titanic beasts was sending him uncomfortable mixed signals.
"Hey dweeb," Carmine said as she padded over towards Chip. "Second time you've invited me to a draconic shindig. Plan on making a habit of it?"
Before a blushing Chip could manage a retort, Sharptooth made introductions. "Brethren, may I welcome Carmine Wildfeather and Bethany Lionstuft of the Tacksworn Griffon Protectorate, Clan-Chief Thrinn of the Protectorate Council, and Bright Pinion and Isabella Liriope of Equestria? My friends, these are Guardians Fangaur and Arganthious of the Draconic Hegemony. We eat as one clan this night, we share these kills, we share this honour as we have shared blood."
Peering over the gargantuan foreclaw of Fangaur, Hairpin rose with her bowl. She placed it on the ground before the two ponies and trotted off.
"Where's she going?" Chip hissed to Sharptooth.
"To feed her master's friends first, my boy, as it should be."
Sure enough, the pegasus returned with two bowls of food on her back. Using a wing, she flipped them expertly to the ground in front of Bella and Penny before snagging her own food and hastening back to the safety of her nest between the claws of the mammoth dragon.
"Eat, eat!" urged Chip, grinning like a maniac. "These two are sticklers for protocol. You want them to be offended?"
Bella and Penny shared a look, shook their heads, and inched over to their food bowls. Carmine and Beth for their part just fluffed up their feathers and squawked raucously at the two dragons, who snarled back at them. Chip almost christened the desert sands, but it seemed to be the right response.
"Dragons. Never thought those etiquette lessons Pops drilled into me would come in handy."
"You mean you're supposed to challenge them for your share of their kills? Could've warned me!"
"For a dragon," Carmine said as she chewed noisily, "you don't know very much about dragons."
Chip frowned and sulked, but couldn't stay mad for long. In the grisly, macabre firelight of the burning barbeque funeral pyre, the griffon slyly entwined her tail with his. It was where nopony could see it, of course, but it was there, all the same.
Sharptooth carefully stepped on each small, marble step as he made his way around the inside of the circular building. The years had passed slowly for the hatchling, but he had to admit he had grown. His mother was no longer the giant she had seemed at first, and now he dwarfed her. He was now far too large to ride upon her back, though he still fondly remembered when he used to. The school wasn't completed, it would take a few more years yet even with the incredible ability of teams of ponies working together to manage what would otherwise have been impossible. Canterlot would most certainly not be built in a day, but it was already a community, not simply a building site. What had been completed for his family in particular was something at once both grander and simpler than Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. It was a tower, perched high amongst the spires of the growing complex of Canterlot Castle, the keep at the centre of a new, burgeoning Equestria.
He climbed it now, one step at a time. He could have flown to the balcony, but that always seemed to be an insult to the craftsponyship of the building. Besides, it gave him time to think and clear his head. Dragon foot-claws weren't really all that well made for pony-sized steps and he didn't really want to ruin the marble finish, but his progress was solid. Every full rotation, there was a new doorway leading to the central room of that floor. Sharptooth wanted the last room, the one they had called the Eyrie. It was situated at the very top and had no door.
His mother, one of the original founding teachers of the new school for the gifted, recognized a dragon's need for solitude even as she, herself, looked for a more secure place for her writings. Some weren't quite ready for prying eyes yet, whilst others Equestria itself was not quite ready for. Thus, the tower served several purposes; it was his, his mother's and his father's home, their collective library, and a vault, the site of his hoard. It was also tall, one of the tallest and highest buildings in Equestria. On the balconies spaced around each side, one could see to what felt like the far edges of the Realm. Sharptooth knew better, of course. Still, it was just this view that he needed.
It was several hours later when the soft clip-clop of hooves on marble roused him from his work. A gentle nudge of his mother's muzzle under his wings made him look down from his easel.
"Mother! What are you doing all the way up here?" Sharptooth placed his compass and etching tools down on the easel and hugged the pony gently.
"Can a mother not visit her son from time to time? Especially when he lives in the same building." Shimmer Star head-butted the recalcitrant Sharptooth.
"Not in your condition," he admonished. Running his claws gently over her flanks, he looked her seriously in the eyes. "When is my little brother due?"
"A few weeks yet, my love. I am no invalid, ponies have been having offspring since before Equestria itself was founded."
"Yes, but none of those were my mother." The dragon broke off from his sketching entirely to fetch a large comfortable divan. Shimmer Star gratefully sank her bulk into it, angled to keep her eyes on the dragon and his artwork. Pregnant ponies were more or less unaffected by their condition, unlike some other animals, but keeping the weight off their ankles and hooves was always a good idea.
Shimmer glanced around the Eyrie. "I love what you've done with the place, son."
The dragon chuckled. "Most of it isn't my doing, I have more of a technical appreciation for lines than any ability with colour. The few, more artistic ponies who visit their substitute teacher can't resist adding something. I think they see it as a challenge, or their duty."
"Celestia tells me your thesis will be on topological thaumatics," the unicorn mare said. "Tell me of it." She yawned, shuffling about until she was comfortable.
"Trouble sleeping again?" Sharptooth asked with a grin.
"You wound me, Sharpie. Humour your old mother."
"You are neither wounded nor old, but I will tell you a little of my findings." The dragon strolled over to a large desk, and dragged it to the middle of the room, angled so that it was properly in view. "Do you remember our first trip back to Onyxious? When we got lost?" The dragon set up a small chalkboard, sketching an outline of Equestria, quickly yet cleanly.
Shimmer Star nodded. "We were almost devoured by Timberwolves."
"Well, that was through no fault of our own. The world has shifted, Mama, and we didn't notice. I dare say if we lived down there, we'd have been fine, but the paths between Canterlot and the Southern Desert no longer meander through exactly the same environs. Something new has appeared in the South East, and it has moved the Southern Ocean Westwards, twisting the geography of that entire region." The dragon super-imposed, in a new colour, a similarly-shaped landmass which was both bigger and strangely bent and twisted, marking duplicate points for known towns and villages, in new places.
"It affects not only the land, but also the sky. I have measured several degrees of displacement of the stars in a specific, relatively small patch of the sky from their positions in my youth. It has happened relatively recently. Equestria is not only bigger, but it is a slightly different shape. I intend to ask Celestia about it, but whilst I cannot yet fathom their nature, I have ascertained that there are large, powerful spells laid upon these lands by a person or persons unknown. The further one gets from the center, the less... uniform the realm is. Time itself as well as space is... bent, fractured."
Shimmer Star bit her lip. "What does this mean for us? For Equestria?"
Sharptooth shook his head. "Fear not. These spells are titanic, far beyond anything I've ever encountered, and they are in no danger of collapse. Their nature is so intrinsic to this land that it may be they form part of the fabric of this world itself. They have, as far as I can tell, always been in flux. Quite likely they can never be rendered fully stable over their entire operating area. I intend to investigate this situation by developing a new branch of thaumatics to deal with topological interrogation and delineation."
"You're going to make a magic map," Shimmer Star said, chuckling to herself.
"Aww Mom! It's not a magic map!" Sharptooth stomped a claw.
"Oh?" Shimmer Star grinned widely.
"Okay, fine." Sharptooth's ears drooped. "it's a magic map, but... that's not the point! It's... it's..."
"It's a fine endeavour, my bonny boy, and I'm sure you will succeed in it."
There is an old saying in Equestria, let sleeping dragons lie. It's applied to any number of animals, but when it's applied to dragons, they really mean it. So it was that Chip found his eyes opening as the very late morning sun finally rose high enough in the sky to send its jolly, warm and overall bright rays of light into his face. As the sounds of an entire town full of ponies, griffons and diamond dogs filtered through his perceptions, he realized that he and his friends had been given a late morning. Memories of the night before began to surface, he remembered there had been music. There had been food. There had been dancing. By a few small odd cuts in some specific places, it seemed there had been kissing too. His cheeks glowed at the thought of it.
There had also been alcohol of a sort, thanks to fermented cactus juice, and a wide variety of flavoured salt licks. Chip hadn't been allowed any, much to his dismay. Even attempts to assert his lord-hood hadn't been enough to sway Sharptooth. Still, as with every young person after a night of frivolity, Chip found himself checking his physical situation. All four legs? Check. Tail and mane? Check. Orientation? On back, all four legs in the air. State of room? Error: room not found. Memory returned; he'd fallen asleep in an oversized pile of draconic indolence. Normally, the lateness of the year and the openness of the desert skies would have ensured an uncomfortably cold night. None of that had applied when sleeping in a pile surrounded by two huge ex-wild dragons.
Chip kicked about a bit and rolled over until he could get up. Shaking himself and stretching, he heard his bones and joints pop and crack. His mouth tasted funny and he needed a drink, but escaping the confines of the ring of dragons was going to prove difficult, unless he didn't care about waking anybody else. Ultimately it didn't prove to be an issue, his rousing disturbed the others, and the entire group were rubbing the sleep-dust from their eyes and staggering out into town within a few minutes.
Tacksworn in the morning was peaceful, but vibrant. Chip couldn't help but notice a change in the air. The army of diamond dogs which were still apparently at his disposal were already busy with their chores of replanting crops, rebuilding damaged shops and homes, and clearing away debris. They seemed less like an invading army and were well and truly on their way to becoming a part of the community. To their credit, or their shame depending on who you asked, the survivors who hadn't run off into the desert had been more for the running through town and making noise than any actual vandalism. Those who had sought to escape any punishment meted out by the townsfolk were being hunted down by Thrinn's army. The griffon clan-chief wasn't taking any prisoners, and packless diamond dogs rarely survived for long.
The funeral pyre had burned away to little but ash, fed as it had been throughout the night by the combined balefire blasts from the two oversized dragons.
Chip was left with the question of what now?
"Now, my son," Sharptooth said, the dragon sauntering up behind him, "we start again."
Chip hadn't been aware he'd spoken aloud, and wasn't sure what to reply. "How can we just start again?"
"By just carrying on. It is what we do. It's what we always do, even dragons. You will go to school, you will grow, you will learn. I dare say the Irontail name may be seeing a resurgence in yourself and your cousin Sunshine Filigree, Irontails, both. It's an interesting world we live in."
Chip sighed. "I... am glad it is interesting." He started crying. He tried to hide it, but he couldn't. He sat down on his haunches, and tears ran down his muzzle. Instantly the dragon, with his one good wing and one good eye, was around him. The dragon's wings were soft and supple and ideal for hiding behind. "I didn't think I missed them any more," Chip wailed. "A-and the worst thing is, I kind of don't. I mean I l-love them, but..."
"You're afraid to taint their memory by loving me too?" Sharptooth asked. The foal—the large, draconic, brave, fierce and heartbroken foal—nodded. Sharptooth just held him. "You cannot. This, I can assure you, I know."
"Please don't send me away again." Chip's reply was almost a whisper, plaintive and soft.
The dragon shook his head. "Things are moving fast, too fast, but neither of us have any choice. I was a fool, and we both paid for it."
"I don't have anybody else!" Chip wailed, his voice muffled beneath the dragon's wings.
"Neither do I. Nobody like you. My clan is old, and fractured. We never were ones for community. An oddball clan at the best of times, I am revered as the true lord of the Diamond Expanse, but truth be told even among dragons we are self-reliant. Our businesses and projects operate independently, and we meet but infrequently, even for dragons. I shall tell you a secret, little one." Sharptooth moved closer. "Amongst my own kind, I am considered merely a juvenile, barely out of teenage-hood. In a millennium or so, I will be expected to have settled down to serious pursuits instead of gallivanting around foreign climes and chumming with the natives.
"You, my dear boy, are taken as a good influence on my roguish ways. How successfully I raise you, my first born and now true child of my egg, cannot help but reflect upon my own worth as a dragon. If you're stuck with me, you can be sure I'm stuck with you. So come, we have time. You will tell me of your past and your parents and I will do my best to teach you about mine. Never fear of forgetting your birth-parents, I can assure you it cannot happen. You are also more than allowed to be happy, it's what they would want. Could you ever see them wanting you to be unhappy?"
Chip shook his head as he wiped his muzzle with a hoof, and Sharptooth smiled. "Then it is settled. We shall carry on, together. Agreed?"
"Agreed." Chip raised a hoof. The dragon shook it.
As their aimless walk took them further through town, Chip asked, "Tell me about the map. I... I know it's over, but tell me what it is. I've never seen anything like it. I gather there is nothing like it."
Sharptooth nodded. "The truth is that I made it, years ago. There is one other version, a much smaller and rougher copy, the spells upon it are far less refined, much coarser, though serviceable. Equestria is not as firmly set it stone as you may think. It is constantly in flux, and it is these fluxes which brought the griffons, us dragons and even the diamond dogs here. The Griffon Kingdoms are, to all intents and purposes, a part of Equestria. Their lands are distinct, with their own day and night cycle, but travelling there is nevertheless a simple affair. Leviathania, home to the dragons, is not so simple to get to. One must cross the wild spaces between realms, but these paths are open to all who are willing to try. The diamond dogs, though... my ignorance there burns me. I knew they were relative newcomers to Equestria, but the truth is more complicated than that. I thought they were seeking a way home—a way home which I accidentally discovered over half a millennium ago—but if the princess is right, and your friend Ruff's discovery of the tales of the high king strikes as big a chord as I think it might, then those who killed your parents were chasing after different dreams. Dreams are dangerous in the wrong claws, my boy, but they are also easily dispelled by the cold, harsh light of day."
Chip was silent for a few moments but then raised his head and asked, "What do you mean?"
"I mean that whatever legends the High King sprang from, they are less than bedtime stories for whelps. As quickly as empty promises of power and glory can raise an army of dreamers, once broken, those promises are discarded just as swiftly, if not more so. If you are worried, however, then I can give you the other copy of my map. I have a task for you."
"What?" Chip almost stumbled in shock.
"I want you to take Hairpin and travel to Neighvada. I need you to deliver the paperwork I've been going through to the correct authorities. There is no reason, however, that you should not indulge yourself a little." The dragon grinned, nudging his son in the withers. "Satisfy your curiosity and come back content with closure; whatever Path or Way it was that I discovered so long ago, I am sure it is as much a part of history as the map itself is. I can sense the yearning in you, my boy. After all that has happened, after all you have been through, you all need some time to relax. So take Hairpin and your friends and... have a holiday."
Chip walked on again for a few paces. "You're making Hairpin foalsit me," said Chip, pouting.
"I'm more than sure you can get into enough trouble even with her help, little one," Sharptooth laughed, tousling Chip's mane with a foreclaw, "but maybe she can get you out of it too."