The Ambassador's Son - Book 2
Time Enough For Love
An MLP:FiM Fanfiction by Midnight Shadow
Shimmer Star and Rainy Days looked up as one as the door to the dormitory slowly opened to reveal a hesitant green figure just outside. Shimmer's muzzle widened in a huge smile as she saw who it was.
"Sharptooth! Is it really you? Oh my bonny boy, you were gone so long! It's been almost five years!" She moved to get up, but at the gentle insistence of her draconic son, who rushed forwards and placed a large claw upon her withers, she lay gratefully back down, breathing awkwardly around the bulk of her belly. She was clearly tired, but in good spirits.
It warmed the dragon's heart to see her like this, even though he knew she was suffering with the latter stages of her second pregnancy. He idly ran a claw across the bulge, feeling an idle kick. He smiled warmly and sent his newest sibling a silent greeting. The green dragon then turned and embraced both of the two ponies, rubbing his blunt muzzle up against them one at a time. "Forgive me, Mama, Papa. Time for dragons—" He stopped when he saw their expressions, and hugged them harder. "Forgive me again, now isn't when you need to hear that."
"I always knew this day would come," cried Shimmer Star, her voice muffled as she sniffled, tears running down her muzzle.
"Shimmer, love, we can't stop our first born from growing up any more than we can stop the second, or the third... from being born."
Sharptooth dried his muzzle off surreptitiously on a curtain before turning back. "My... siblings are doing well?"
"Your brother, Autumn Days, is growing big and strong, just like his father. Your sister," Shimmer shifted her bulk again as she spoke, "is growing bored with her lack of space."
"She should be more patient, there is time enough for running and playing in the sun," stated Sharptooth. "It's something children easily forget as we seek to grow up. Forgive me, Mama, Papa. I won't squander the time we have."
"Oh my darling Sharptooth, there is nothing to forgive." The lavender mare nuzzled her large, scaly, green son affectionately. "We cannot stop you from living your own life, or from being the dragon we know you are."
"That's not a problem. I won't leave you again, Mama. I'll always be with you."
Sharptooth shook his head as he stared into her eyes. "I will have time enough to... to live my own life, so I have enough of it to spend with my family." He hugged them both again, wrapping his wings around them. Hot tears fell down his muzzle as he mentally added, what little you have of it.
Sounds. Pressure... pain! Bright lights and noise! Oh, so much noise! The warmth that had surrounded her was suddenly gone and everything was cold and mother was gone forever and strange things were touching her and she felt so alone and scared and—
"My, my," the midwife said, blinking to uncross her eyes, "she certainly has a good pair of lungs on her! Come come, let's get you to Mommy, little one. Do you think you can remain standing, Misses Star?"
"Yes, yes," Shimmer Star replied, flicking her tail in agitation. "I'm alright." She wobbled slightly, but had locked her legs and so remained upright. Childbirth was exhausting, and it had taken almost everything out of her. The squealing, crying bundle was placed in front of her hooves and she bent to lick her daughter clean. As the rough tongue dried and cleaned the newly-born foal, the bundle stopped screaming and started to hiccup, cooing and giggling softly.
"Good morning, Sparkle!" whispered Shimmer Star. She smiled and then lifted her head, looking at her husband and at her first-born - if adopted - son. "You can breathe now, sillies," she said, chuckling.
Sharptooth and Rainy Days both let out huge sighs and took in gulps of air.
"Was it like this the last time?" Sharptooth asked quizzically.
"Worse. I thought she was going to explode, and then the baby didn't cry and..." Rainy Days shivered, remembering.
"May I see her, Mama?"
"Come closer then, but not too close. You'll scare her, you great lummox. That's it little one, my Morning Sparkle, find your breakfast... oof! Ow... as gentle as your brother, I see... the horn makes it worse." Shimmer grinned weakly as the foal, on skittish and wobbly legs, found her way under her mother to her first meal. The little foal was golden, all over, like the morning sun. Her mane seemed to shimmer and sparkle in the afternoon light.
"Still, I think I'm glad I'm not a dragon. It's hard enough to feed one of these little monsters, let alone fifty!"
"Mother!" protested Sharptooth, "I wasn't that bad, was I? I don't recall your feeding me was all that... special."
"If you're feeling left out, little Sharpie, the other one's free."
"Eew! Mama! No! Eew!" Sharptooth stormed off to the other side of the room, where he glared out of the window with enough force to melt the glass should he so desire.
"Come come, you don't need to be jealous of your little sister. Or your brother."
"I just wish that one of them could have had wings," replied Sharptooth, wistfully.
"Flutter would have liked that, son. A dragon teaching her children to fly."
"I'll keep watch," Sharptooth whispered, almost to himself, "I promise, when I can, I will teach them."
"What was that, love?"
Sharptooth smiled as Shimmer Star yawned. "Nothing, Mama, nothing. Get some rest, I know sleeping standing up isn't quite as good, but you need what you can get. Papa and I will hold down the fort."
"Crimson Dawn's Enchantment of Subtle Legibility, you say?" the grey unicorn asked, without looking up. He peered at the large mat before him, walking all around it with great interest.
"Yes, sir, and Snaffle Strap's Everlasting Ink, with Sprite Dancer's Flowing Threads of Plenty, and Shimmer Star's Heartfelt Keepsake Charm. Plus, of course, my own cartographic spells and meta-thaumatic manipulations. This map, made of magic woven into the very strands of the mat itself, is to date the most detailed and most thorough map of all of Equestria. Under the right thaumatician, it can be coaxed to provide a view of all known and – to a degree – unknown territories clear to the edges of the Realm of Equestria."
"My, my, my, this is... something incredible. We must investigate it further! Your work is exemplary, Sharptooth, but it is just the start! It is the start of a new age for Equestria!"
Sharptooth shook his head, sadly, "I cannot let you, sir. It is not for sale, it will not be gifted and it will not be examined. My work, I regret, must remain secret."
"What is this?" The grey unicorn stallion looked up finally, shocked. His peers, other members of the faculty of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, murmured amongst themselves. "I object! Celestia shall hear of this!"
"Celestia is well aware, good sirs and ladies. Had I understood the nature of my work, I would have abandoned it long ago." Sharptooth looked around the room at the other teachers and members of the faculty. Many had turned out to see the first dragon graduate, but this strange turn of events was becoming far more interesting than even they had expected.
"I am sorry, master Comet Shine." Sharptooth moved to stand between the angry unicorn and the map, forearms crossed.
"Preposterous!" Comet Shine huffed, his voice echoing from the walls of the chambers. "May I enquire as to why?" His voice was curt and sharp.
"Because Equestria is not ready for it," replied Sharptooth, simply.
"You think yourself greater than the esteemed teachers within this school? You think us young foals, snot-faced and bandy-legged, prancing about in ignorance? I will have you know, young dragon, I am many times your age. If you presume—"
"Age is no substitute for wisdom, sir." Sharptooth snapped his claws, and the map disappeared in a brief flash of light. "It shall remain a part of my hoard until I decide otherwise. I shall make it available for viewings, strictly under my control, but no more."
"I will see you expelled for this! Failed! Summarily ejected!"
Sharptooth grinned, showing teeth. "I highly doubt it, Headmaster Shine. If that is all?" Sharptooth nodded to the rest of the faculty, before walking calmly from the room, leaving the elder stallion fuming.
Autumn Days spat, and blood splattered on the flagstones. He neighed loudly and charged at his opponent, headbutting him and throwing the other stallion to the side. "Take it back! Take it back, Charger!"
Autumn reared up, danced on his hooves, spun easily and bucked Charger in the side. Charger, for his part, leaped to his hooves as he rolled and bared his teeth, splaying his ears back.
"You're a liar, Autumn! You've never been flying! Liar, liar, tail's on fire!"
Autumn yelled angrily at the other foal and bunched up for a run at the dark maroon earth pony as a dark shadow flowed across the square, instantly silencing the crowd who were chanting Fight! Fight! Fight!
"THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH!" bellowed Sharptooth, snarling as tongues of flame licked around his muzzle. The crowd scattered, leaving the two combatants alone in the square. Both were breathing heavily, bleeding and scared out of their wits. "Would you care to tell me, brother dear, just what's going on?" The dragon glared at the suddenly recalcitrant golden-hued colt.
"H-he started it! He said you'd never taken me flying!"
"Well that was very foolish of him. Charger, isn't it? Listen, young foal. Do not judge a book by its cover. Appologize to Autumn, here. He has been flying with me many times. Though I believe he won't be for a while as he is grounded."
Autumn winced, ducking his head lower, looking at the red and white slabs that made up the now-vacant market square.
"Sorry, Autumn." whispered Charger.
"And Autumn, say sorry to Charger for fighting with him."
"Good, now go home, Charger. If I hear of any more trouble, your parents will hear of it too. Clear?"
Autumn watched as the other earth pony foal ran as far and as fast as his legs would carry him. Sharptooth shook his head in disbelief. "Didn't the foal know?"
"He didn't believe me," sniffed Autumn, wiping a hoof across his muzzle. It came back red. "You s-spend all day up at Canterlot City and I'm d-down here and—"
Sharptooth sighed as Autumn started snivelling. He hugged the pony tightly. "Come on. I tell you what, I won't tell Mom if you don't. Maybe you and I should spend a little time together. Fighting's not something you should rush into, Dizzy."
"Aww! Don't call me that, Sharpie!"
The green dragon grinned, "Okay, okay. It's your first day at school, so I suppose you're grown up enough to be Autumn Days. Want a lift home?"
"Okay." The foal pouted, pawing at the flagstones angrily. He looked up at his older brother, "Is... is school going to be this awful all the time?"
"No, no," replied Sharptooth with a chuckle, "sometimes it's worse."
Hats were thrown in the air and parents and other family members cheered from the square. They also cheered from the balconies and they cheered from the skies, their shouts echoing throughout Canterlot City as everypony celebrated not only graduation, but the start of summer. The loudest cheer of all was given by a green dragon with small white horns, twice the size of the largest pony. Shouting angry epithets and warnings to be more careful, pegasi dodged the several-foot high flame as it seared into the sky. Shimmer Star and Rainy Days both laughed, nuzzling each other.
"One more after this, love," said Rainy, sighing.
"Just the one. I still can't believe, Sharpie, that you thought sending him to school with a tail full of iron was a good idea."
"It would have been," protested Sharptooth. "Teaching him to fight would have taught him to avoid fighting!"
"With Autumn, I'm not so sure. He'll make a good guardspony though, but I doubt he'd make a good diplomat. I still find it hard to believe that my son is going to be an ambassador! I mean... there are thousands of dragons, aren't there? Not to say that you're not simply perfect, my bonny boy, but..."
Sharptooth chuckled, hugging his pony mother. Straightening up and twisting about to unkink his back, he flapped his wings. "I'm no ambassador yet. Besides, my place is here for now, helping you to teach the kids."
"Did you ever surrender that map of yours to those fools in the faculty?"
"No," Sharptooth laughed. "No, I didn't. And I never will. They would have to penetrate my hoard-room should they seek to defy me, and they know I would not forgive them."
Rainy Days laughed this time, nuzzling his son as Autumn returned to his parents, a fully-grown and graduated earth pony guard. "I remember how much you sulked before you could cast those ward spells, and the cleaners kept walking into the closet."
The dragon's ears drooped. "Aww Dad! You're embarrassing! Besides, they got their revenge. They lost the Arcanum E Draconus. You worked hard on that, Mama!"
"So did you, my son. I spent time and effort collecting the information and buying those pages, but you sorted out my notes! And your claw-writing is still far more legible than my hoof-writing or even horn-writing"
"Well I still have your notes, thank goodness. I'll have to make another copy, some time. It would help you in your teaching, mother."
One of the proudest and yet saddest days of the lives of Rainy Days and Shimmer Star was when Morning Sparkle graduated from Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Only recently completed, the building was magnificent. The weather was perfect and Shimmer and Rainy's daughter was radiant.
Sharptooth hugged them both as they stood in a similar square up in Canterlot. "I knew she could do it."
"Our work here is done, son. Your old mother can die happily."
"Don't you dare speak like that, Mama! You're not old!" Sharptooth said as he pouted. "You're barely sixty!"
"Sixty years young, my love!" added Rainy Days, nuzzling the lavender unicorn gently. "And proud mother of three very successful young foals."
"...Of two foals and a hatchling, then."
Sharptooth rolled his eyes as he welcomed his little sister back to their group. She was hardly 'little' any more, though. Sharptooth laughed to himself, Morning was approaching the same age that Shimmer had been when she had adopted him. With Autumn Days having flown the nest, only their eldest son still lived with them. Under any other circumstances, it would be seen as strange... but when their eldest son was a dragon, strange had to be a whole lot stranger.
The dragon turned back to his parents. "Come, Mama, Papa, time to have our celebratory meal at the tower. Autumn will be arriving this evening and I do so want everything to be ready."
"Don't Worry. You're a wonderful cook, son, even if you keep trying to get us to try those draconic spices. I'm sure crushed diamonds and amethyst are tasty to you, but to us ponies... not so much." Rainy Days laughed heartily, stomping his forehoof in mirth. He stomped it all the harder at the look on the dragon's muzzle.
"That was one time, Papa! I thought it was the salt!"
As the sun rose higher in the sky, the quartet moved homewards to their tower, laughing in the warm summer weather.
The door creaked open loudly, startling the entire class. The door was relatively new and the hinges hadn't settled as the wood was still relatively green.
"I hope, young dragon, you have a reason for this?" reprimanded Shimmer Star. She stood up stiffly from her pose behind her large oaken desk. Sharptooth rushed to help her, but she waved him off.
"I do, mother. It's Cloudsdale... they're going to move it!"
Instantly, the classroom broke into excited chattering, and foals of all ages leaped to their hooves to press against the large windows.
"Children, children!" shouted Shimmer Star. Coughing slightly, she stomped a hoof. "If you will all form up in single file, we will go outside to see just what my errant son here is talking about."
There were excited titters as the large – to a pony – dragon wilted under the glare of his pony mother.
"They're moving Cloudsdale. The last house in Canterlot is ready, Mama, so the pegasi are free to move Cloudsdale where they wish. It will open up the farmland beneath the current shadow as well as allow them to send water and their best weather pegasi to anywhere in Equestria."
Shimmer Star smiled, flicking her ears in amusement. "A worthy reason to suspend lessons, then. Come, children. Spit spot, single file, after me. Lead the way, my bonny boy."
A large crowd had gathered in Canterlot and the surrounding city, and they were almost all looking upwards. For years, many years – the whole lifetime thus far of many ponies – Cloudsdale had been a fixed feature in the azure dome of the sky above Canterlot. Now, the white was speckled with colour as pegasus after pegasus leant his or her wingpower to moving the enormous cloud city. With whole flights of pegasi to call upon the wind, and others set to making sure the fluffy building blocks of the capitol city of the pegasi and other winged creatures didn't fall apart under the buffeting, the pegasus nation slowly but surely took flight.
It was slow at first, as it had to be. Cloudsdale was enormous, after all; it had even recently gained a rainbow waterfall that allowed the pegasi to create rainbows, glorious multi-coloured ribbons that were painted across the sky to mark the end of a rainfall.
Slowly but surely, with many false starts and excited premature cries, the entire collection of cloud-based structures was drifting further and further Westwards. As it began to pick up speed, the population of Canterlot started to cheer.
Even as the sky first cleared and, unsurprisingly perhaps, then grew dark again with rains as the pressure changes drew them in, the crowd of ponies turned into an impromptu street-party that grew all the louder and more boisterous as the first drops of rain in some thirty-odd years fell and washed through the masses. The rain fell in huge hot fat drops that cleansed the pelt as it rejuvenated the mind before flowing ever onwards to the distant sea.
"In all my life, I've never seen anything as amazing. It's like a dream come true!" Shimmer Star had tears in her eyes at the fulfillment of a life-long wish.
"Equestria grows, Mama, and changes. I think there will be many more such things in the future."
"My bonny boy," Shimmer Star said with a sigh, "I think such sights are for the children I teach, not for me. The future belongs to the likes of you, son."
Sharptooth bent to kiss the pony he called his mother, nuzzling her affectionately. His wing was extended, keeping the rain off her. "You have many years left, Mama, many long years. You and Papa both."
Shimmer laughed freely and happily as she started on the long walk home. "That's the sort of thing you youngsters say to old timers like your father and me, when still flushed with the luxury of youth. Let's go home."
The door opened easily on well-oiled hinges, the door having seen many coats of paint and the hinges many more applications of oil. The floorboards shone with wax, and Sharptooth found he recognized every notch and mark. The dragon stooped to step through into the classroom. There weren't many dragons in Canterlot, and none of them were as big as he. He pushed the door closed, hearing the latch engage.
The class was silent, respectful. These were students of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, not the boisterous and irreverent foals of yesteryear. Each and every one knew what a privilege it was to be in not only this school, but in Shimmer Star's class.
“Is there a problem? A messenger was sent for me.” Sharptooth spoke softly and easily. He was a familiar – if odd – sight throughout the halls of Canterlot's premier school, but he didn't want to excite the children overly.
“It's miss Star, sir, she's...” one of the foals, a copper-coloured unicorn, pointed helplessly.
Sharptooth followed the motion, to the corner of the room. There, reclining on cushions from where she gave her famous lectures, lay Shimmer Star. The aged lavender unicorn, now more grey than lavender, was snoring gently. The dragon truly looked at, for what felt like the first time in years, the unicorn he called his mother. She looked frail, aged and tiny. The hooves that had held him down and the muzzle that had resolutely groomed him seemed small enough to fit in his claw, now. He sighed, and took position behind the unused desk.
“If there are no objections, I shall hold today's class. I believe it was on intrinsic magic, yes?”
“Please, sir,” the copper unicorn asked, waving a hoof in the air.
“Yes, Bevelmiter, wasn't it?”
“Yes, sir. What is intrinsic magic? Miss Star said it was magic that... you don't have to learn, but I don't really understand why we've got to learn about it then.”
Sharptooth laughed, “We learn, children, because in advanced thaumaturgical studies, we will be delving deeper into manipulating such intrinsic qualities, and on bestowing them upon others.”
Bevelmiter's young face screwed up in concentration, “You mean, I could make a unicorn fly like a pegasus?”
“Not as such, though you could in theory bestow the ability to cloud-walk upon a unicorn or earth pony. Now, observe. A dragon, such as myself, does not need a horn to focus magic...”
Shimmer Star opened her eyes and lifted her head with a start. The room was dark, with curtains drawn and a soft blanket pulled up to her ears. As she stirred, a large, winged shape nuzzled her affectionately.
“You were sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to wake you.” Sharptooth said.
“Did... did I miss the whole class?”
"The whole day?"
“You missed your whole retirement,” admonished the dragon softly. “Why didn't you tell me? I went to Celestia and informed her of my displeasure at your being worked so hard that you slept during classes, and she politely informed me that you'd been retired a month ago.”
Shimmer Star had the decency to look embarrassed. Then she started softly crying, “Please don't take this away from me.”
“I told you,” the unicorn's voice was weak, tired, “it's the thing that brings me most joy. Especially now, after your father...”
“Mother, you're sleeping in class! This can't go on!” the silence between the pair was charged and tense. Finally, Shimmer Star relented, seemingly folding in on herself. Gently, Sharptooth stroked her mane. “You have done so much, mother. You were Celestia's prize student and you almost single-hoofedly set the standards for higher education all across Equestria. Nopony could ask for more from you. Nopony at all. Your legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of todays youth, and the youth yet to be born, and for centuries to come.”
“A legend in my own lifetime. They think I battled Nightmare Moon, the foalish ponies. They tell of how I set off deep into dragon country, tamed a whole flight and brought them back to Canterlot to be pets. If the dragons ever hear of that...”
Sharptooth laughed too, his voice now a rich baritone, “My kind tell stories of how entire herds of ponies are enthralled by a cabal of dragons, pets for the young whom they serve selflessly. I think it amuses Celestia almost as much as it amuses me. You became an example, mother, of integration and strength. Dragons learning from ponies learning from dragons, yet another legacy. Please,” the smile left the dragon's muzzle, “please retire. I know just where we can go.”
“We? Don't you have your royal duties?”
Sharptooth shook his head, “I am still but a junior member of Celestia's court, and have yet to obtain my true place. I can travel where I please and be in any part of Equestria that matters in short order. I think I am deserving of a short holiday.”
“A decade or two, nothing much.”
Most of the Everfree was dark, but the fireflies lit the paths as they had so long ago. Sharptooth wandered easily through the forest, thankful for the peace and quiet. Idly he remembered his youth, over a century ago. The spells he had cast kept his roads clear; no animal in the forest dared cross a dragon. His trip to the local village had been without incident; over the years they had grown used to his presence and would no longer run and hide, boarding up their doors and windows. The small package he held in his claws was a gentle but necessary potion for his mother Shimmer Star, the legendary unicorn of Canterlot. It eased her pain, and granted a little solace for the ailing mare.
His home clearing opened up before him, and the hut carved out of the tree welcomed him. The sun shone brightly here, through the hole in the canopy, and it was warm and dry. As he opened the door, the wind-chimes gently tinkled as they spun.
He'd tried to get his mother to live in the village, but she had flatly refused. Their time as a family amongst the dragons, before finally making their home in the Everfree, had changed her as much as his time amongst the ponies had changed him. She preferred the solitude and the silence as she worked on her final tome. Against all odds, the magically-inclined unicorn had turned to flowers and herbs, cultivating a small but successful garden among the trees.
“Mother?” called Sharptooth softly. “Mother?”
There was the familiar creak of a unicorn turning over in bed, “Sharptooth? Is that you?”
“Yes, Mama.” Sharptooth strode into the small dwelling and stoked the fire. The stones flared up, bringing more light.
“Did you find out where my Rainy has gone?”
Sharptooth winced. “No Mama, they... they said he'd be back soon, probably with Flutter.”
“Come closer, my boy, I can barely see you. You got back so late, it's dark already.”
Sharptooth looked around as the noon sun streamed in through the windows. He sighed and licked her muzzle as a foal would. “Sorry, mother.”
“Winter's come early, honey. It's a good thing dragons don't hibernate or I'd not see you 'til spring.”
Sharptooth sat on the end of his mother's bed, he chuckled good-naturedly, wiping at his eyes with a claw, “I told you long ago that I'd never leave you, Mama.” He sat there for a while, just listening as she breathed, with the package placed on the end of the bed, unopened. He recalled the day, long ago, when he had been rescued in a cave in the middle of the badlands by a pony, part of a trio who had just gotten out of their depth as they toured Equestria in search of lost knowledge and those who needed teaching, and how his life had subsequently changed. He owed this mare so much, he owed her his life, and it hurt so much to be here... but he would never leave, would never change things.
“Sharpie?” his mother called, finally.
“I think I hear your father. Is... is that Flutter? I think... I think I hear Flutter and Rainy. They've come back! Oh, I've missed them so much!”
Sharptooth squeezed his eyes shut, “I know, Mama. I missed them too. Rest for a while, they'll... you'll see them soon.”
“It's so dark, son, and cold. It shouldn't be this cold so early in the summer.”
“Don't worry Mother,” Sharptooth clambered onto the bed, snuggling up next to the mare, “I'll keep you warm. And safe. You don't need to be afraid of the dark.”
The dragon lay there, listening, as the mare's laboured breathing grew shallower, and shallower, until finally... it stopped.
Deep in the Everfree Forest, a stone's throw from an old and abandoned castle, stood a dragon. He had stood there all through the night, unsure of what to do. Before him were two small mounds of rocks; one was a few years old, with moss growing on it. It was all but lost, reclaimed by the forest. The other was new, the rocks scoured clean but wet with tears.
The dragon stood there, silently and unmoving, as Celestia's sun moved blithely through the sky, ignorant of the fact his world had ended. As day turned once more to night, Sharptooth found he couldn't hold in his grief any more. Throwing back his head, he roared his grief skywards. It burst out as a huge gout of flame that lit the heavens. His bellow echoed from the roots of the mountains to the dome of the sky and onwards across Equestria. As the great dragon leaped into the air, the last of his enchantments failed. The hut built out of the tree fell dark and silent, the firefly lanterns grew dim as one by one the fireflies within them dispersed and the paths that had been so obvious before, subtly shifted and faded away. The Everfree did what it always had, it swallowed up the past, but it could not swallow the memories.
Far South of the Everfree, beyond the San Palomino Desert that held Tacksworn and Neighvada, beyond the badlands where few save dragons and diamond dogs dared to tread, Sharptooth landed in front of a large, dark cave set high in a mountain. As always, it was guarded by a great black dragon who reclined upon the ledge above the entrace.
"I see it is time, young dragon."
It looked like Onyxious hadn't moved since Sharptooth had last visited. For all the green dragon knew, he hadn't.
"It is. The last of the ties that have kept me in place this past century and a half are broken. I am now ready to be a dragon. Take me with you... father."
Onyxious was silent for a few minutes as he gave things his customary amount of thought, but finally he nodded. "You will travel with me to the court of the emperor and you will present yourself before him. There he will accept you into the hegemony, and a new chapter in your life shall begin."
Sharptooth nodded, and moved to take wing.
"First though, son, you will follow me."
Bemused, Sharptooth did as he was bid.
The two dragons flew slowly through the air. Sharptooth had half expected the sky to split asunder as it had so many times, before, but it did not. They lazily circled, catching thermals and updrafts which took them higher and higher. Sharptooth watched the world roll past beneath him as they headed up into the mountains. The clouds boiled and swirled as the dragons dove upwards, and suddenly the pair broke through the curtain of grey into powerful sunlight. Snow capped the mountain peaks, brilliant fingers of gold and silver that flared and twinkled in the distance. Sharptooth marvelled at the ocean of white, stretching off into the distance, wondering at the lonely emptiness of it all. This was pegasus or griffon territory, yet... there was an aura that Sharptooth found at once familiar and terrifying.
The cave was simple and unmarked, hidden in a crevasse which kept it from view. Onyxious landed far clear of it, and walked in with wings furled. Sharptooth followed the motions of the elder dragon.
The sense of age as he entered was palpable, though it wasn't the cave itself which exuded it. Sharptooth growled in surprise as Onyxious waved a claw, and the cavern in the mountains danced in the light of hundreds of torches as they burst into flames. Lit up by the flickering yet strangely intense torchlight lay the corpse of a titanic, silver dragoness. She dwarfed even Onyxious, huge even as she was curled up, as if in sleep.
As Sharptooth watched, the dragon seemed to move. He had to rub his eyes and blink, because the dragoness was dead, he could tell that, but yet it was if she moved. It was like an after-image, a memory of her being in a different position. When he looked again, she was still curled up, but still the humongous form towered above him, her breath hot and pungent around him. With the strange, unearthly sight, came her voice.
"Ah, my son. My last, first-born son..."
"M-mother?" Sharptooth trembled. His entire body was the size of her muzzle, one of her teeth alone was big enough to spit him.
"You survived, my child..." The voice was like the memory of a whisper, echoing solely in his head.
"I... I did, mother. A-and I c-came home. To you."
"You are a dragon, my child. You are always home. Remember me, little one, Lord of the Diamond Expanse. Remember... me..."
The disturbing vision faded. One by one, the torches extinguished. As the bright light was methodically replaced by stygian darkness, it seemed as if the corpse became just another forgotten pile of old bones and flesh. Whatever spirit or shade had inhabited them had passed on. Sharptooth ran outside, followed by Onyxious who moved at a much more respectful pace.
The smaller green dragon was breathing hard, and his eyes were wild as he looked up at Onyxious. "What was that?"
"Your mother died, son. A century of dying... I told you time was different for us dragons. She died a century ago, and it has taken this long for the last of her fire to be extinguished."
"A-and... Lord of the Diamond Expanse?"
"She has named you her heir," replied Onyxious simply, bowing his head. "None will dare challenge the last dying wish of one such as she."
Sharptooth slumped, falling to the ground. "What do I do now?"
"I think you know what to do."
"WHY MUST YOU SPEAK IN RIDDLES!" shouted Sharptooth, spurting flame from his nostrils. He clenched his claws into a fist, turned, and with a single motion brought forth his will. Magic flared in his grasp, and with a rumble that seemed to split the mountain asunder, the cave entrance collapsed. For many long minutes, rubble rained down around the pair of dragons as Sharptooth buried a parent for yet a third time. Finally, when his rage had subsided, the green dragon unclenched his fist and the aura of magic faded.
"That, young dragon, was the response worthy of a dragon lord. You cannot truly be lead to dragonhood, you can only be shown the way and left to travel the path alone. Dragons rarely ask, they do. In all things, my son, know that you are the sole heir and lord of the Diamond Expanse. It is for others to request of you, and for you to grant and deny their wishes as you see fit."
"Then I will present myself to the dragon emperor, father... but I would welcome your patronage."
Onyxious smiled, bowing his head. "It shall be as you wish, my son."