The City of Light and Greyvale are one of the few safe locations in the Nexus Domain. Traveling through the land unaware and unarmed can be met with dire consequences. A truly dangerous place to travel through is the Komodo Den which is the fiery home of dragons. With an active volcano, pools of lava, and creatures who find no qualms with devouring whoever they please, the average dragon is feared and respected throughout the land. Dragons take orders from no one and are very loyal to their kind. To earn a dragon's loyalty is an incredible thing to obtain.
Chapter fourteen: Where one stands
Twilight, Spike, the ponies, Alanzo, and Gilda scanned the rest of the city getting rid of marionettes and finding the few villagers that managed to evade capture. The dark ponies were locked in a cell and Gilda kept watch of them. Once that was done they all grouped up and tried to form a plan on what to do next. “So does anyone know where Nightmare Moon is?” Twilight asked. “I tried getting it out of her cronies but they refuse to talk.” Gilda said. “You could take to the skies and find the location of Nightmare Moon or at the very least you can find out where she has taken the villagers.” Alanzo said. “And who will watch over the city and keep guard of the prisoners?” Gilda said. “Don't worry about that! I and Panza will watch over this place like an Ursa Major keeping watch of her Ursa Minor!” Alanzo said confidently. “As nice as that sounds I don't have the utmost confidence in an entire city being watched over by a twerp and his camel. I'll be keeping guard of the dark ponies.” Gilda said. “I understand. Can I at least keep watch of the villagers?” Alanzo said feeling dejected by Gilda's words. “Sure, just don't do anything stupid.” Gilda said with a sigh. “Thank you Lady Gilda!” Alanzo said as he bowed to her.
“We still haven't figured out where Nightmare Moon is.” Twilight said. “I have a map of the Nexus Domain, although it obviously won't tell us where Nightmare Moon is, not even if you yell its name three times in a row.” Alanzo said as he presented the map to Twilight. Twilight Sparkle floated the map to her. She unfurled it and looked at it. There were twice as many locations on the map than the previous one. “This seems a little daunting. There are far too many locations to spend time visiting them. We wasted enough time getting here from Dream Valley.” Twilight Sparkle said. “Hm, if only there was someone who could guide us. Someone who could, wait! Yes! I know just the person!” Alanzo said suddenly getting excited. “What it is it? What did you think up?” Spike asked curious. “He's the smartest man I know. He's a wise old wizard who lives in Mushromp with the animals in a garden filled with large vegetation!” Alanzo said as he tracked the map to track the location for Twilight. “You can't be serious. Not that old fogy.” Gilda said as she rubbed her face with the palm of her hand. “Yes! The very one! Twilight! You and your friends must go here to visit Moochick. If anyone can help you track down Nightmare Moon it would be him!” Alanzo said as he drew a line on the map from The City of Light to the Mushromp. “Thank you Alanzo!” Twilight said.
Twilight, Spike and the ponies traveled out of the City of Light and towards Mushromp which was within a forest adjacent to Greyvale. After a day of walking to their destination they finally arrive at Mushromp. Plants that were usually small were much larger and mushrooms, of all shapes, sizes, and colors filled the area. “Wow! Look at all these mushrooms! I always thought mushrooms were that nasty grayish color.” Pinkie Pie said as she marveled at the mushrooms. “These are wild mushrooms Pinkie Pie. They are different from the ones served in stores. They tend to come in an array of different colors and shapes.” Fluttershy said. “I wonder what they taste like.” Pinkie Pie said eying a particularly colorful mushroom. “I wouldn't do that if I were you. Wild mushrooms are often known for containing toxins that can cause some ponies to become very ill and create hallucinogenic effects and even death upon eating them. The creatures that live here probably know what is and isn't safe to eat but for us we are better off sticking to what shows up on the shelves at a store.” Twilight said. “Hey I think I see that Moochick feller!” Applejack said pointing towards a creature resting under a large mushroom. It was a grey and white rabbit with red overalls. “Where, is he around the rabbit?” Rarity said looking closely. “No silly it is the rabbit. Ain't it?” Applejack said now questioning herself. “I highly doubt it. Gilda called Moochick a fogy which is typically a term used on older people. That rabbit doesn't look fairly old but perhaps we can ask him where Moochick is.” Twilight said as she walked up to the rabbit.
“Excuse me.” Twilight said getting the rabbit's attention. The rabbit opened his eyes in irritation only to be surprised to see Twilight and the others. He jumped onto his feet and looked shocked to see them. “I think we spooked it....” Fluttershy said. “It's okay little guy we don't mean any harm. We just want to ask some questions. Can we ask some questions?” Fluttershy said as she talked softly to the rabbit approaching it carefully. The rabbit walked up to Fluttershy carefully. He looked Fluttershy right in her left eye. And then walked to look her right in her right eye, Then he grabbed her face and got up real close to her face to look at both her eyes at once. “What's it doing?” Rarity asked confused by the whole scene. “It's sizin' her up. Animals do this all the time.” Applejack said. The rabbit stepped back and gave them a thumb up. “I guess we passed whatever that was.” Spike said with a shrug. “Can you tell me where I can find a Mr. Moochick?” Fluttershy said still speaking softly to the rabbit. The rabbit had a surprised look on his face and crossed his arms and gave Fluttershy and the group a cross look. “I don't think it trusts us.” Spike said. “It's okay it’s just probably never seen us before. Its okay little guy we need Mr. Moochick's help. Ya see we need to save our homeland from being taken over by this mean pony named Nightmare Moon. Can you please lead us to Mr. Moochick?” Fluttershy said sounding as gentle and demure as possible. The rabbit tried to look tough and serious but after a bit he smiled and un-crossed his arms and nodded happily. It started hopping in a particular direction and motioned Fluttershy and the others to follow. “Good job Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash said. “Oh it was nothing. I'm really good at talking to woodland creatures.” Fluttershy said with a smile. “You're like a woodland creature whisperer! Except you don't really whisper, you just kind of talk really soft like you're going to give them candy or something. Man do you know how long it's been since I’ve last had a piece of candy?” Pinkie Pie said.
The rabbit hopped towards a house that looked like a giant mushroom but was actually made of other materials. He walked in and the ponies and Spike followed in after him. A short man sat on a chair reading a book. He looked to be an elf but was even smaller than Alanzo. His clothes were green and his hat draped over him like a flattened mushroom cap. The rabbit walked up to the man and tugged his clothes in an attempt to get his attention. “Not now Habbit I'm getting to the best part!” The man said swatting Habbit away. “Excuse me sir.” Twilight said trying to get the man's attention. “Hm, Habbit when did you learn to talk, Oh, That wasn't you, that was you!” The man said surprised to see visitors. “Yes. My name is Twilight Sparkle. Are you Mr. Moochick?” Twilight Sparkle asked. “Yes. Yes I am! I am Mr. Moochick but you can just call me Moochick. Are you here for something?” Moochick said giving Twilight her full attention. “We need your help, you see we are on the hunt for Nightmare Moon and we must find her as soon as possible. Can you guide us to Nightmare Moon?” Twilight Sparkle asked. “Oh my, A Nightmare Moon, That sounds quite dangerous. Are you sure you won't need anything extra? Perhaps a little piece of rainbow, I can lend it to you if I can find it in this mess I call home.” Moochick said walking around the room looking around. “Thanks but I don't think a little piece of rainbow would be of any help to us.” Twilight said. “You bet we don't. What good is a little piece of rainbow when you have me hanging around?” Rainbow Dash said.
Moochick walked up to Twilight Sparkle. He waved his walking stick and pointed it at Twilight's head. Nothing happened. He looked at his walking stick and shook it a few times. It briefly let off a glow. He then pointed it at Twilight's head again and her eyes lit up. Suddenly her current thoughts went blank as her memories flashed before her eyes. Random moments of her life were flashing back and forth in no particular order. Even her dreams were flashing before her.
He moved the walking stick away from her and she turned back to normal. “What was that you just did?” Twilight said as she returned to normal. “I decided to have a firsthand view of exactly you've been up to. I can see why you don't need the piece of rainbow. After all you have the elements of harmony.” Moochick said. “The elements of harmony, I never heard Princess Celestia mention that.” Twilight said. “She didn't, I don't know why she didn't tell you though. She gave you quite the power. She infused you with a magical orb that feeds off the emotional growth of its host. It's an ancient incantation I'm surprised she knew it she so looked young. Then again women always do take good care of themselves.” Moochick said as he brushed his beard. “It feeds off our emotional growth?” Rainbow Dash said confused by the thought.
“Oh yes. You see as living creatures we are bound by our thoughts and emotions. They guide us through our lives and help us make decisions. How we think and feel about something changes as time passes due to the influence of people or the environment or maybe just plain age! Nevertheless it is those changes that make shape us into unique individuals. For most people life can be very standard and seemingly unremarkable. But for some it is without a doubt that they had gone through quite a lot and have experienced many interesting things. These people could be seen as dysfunctional or unusual or just plain uncouth and they are but that's what makes them great. For if they can overcome their weaknesses and focus on their strengths they can become incredible people and can do amazing things. You ponies are such individuals. I've seen some of the stuff you have gone through. Quite the series of events, you all should be happy Celestia chose you for this mission. It's changed you in ways I bet you haven't even realized. The development you've undergone has made the elements inside you all the more powerful. I believe you could very well indeed stop this Nightmare Moon.” Moochick said. “How do we use the elements of harmony though?” Twilight asked. “Oh! That's right. She didn't tell you how to do that did she? Hmm, did she forget? Maybe it's triggered remotely....I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. Now about that trip to where Nightmare Moon is.” Moochick said as he walked outside. The ponies, Spike, and Habbit followed him outside where he held his stick out in the air waving it around. The stick glowed brightly showing a blurry image. “Oh yes! That place! That's a pretty suitable environment for a person like her!” Moochick said. “What did you find out?” Twilight asked. “I know where Nightmare Moon is. She is in Midnight Castle. Nightmare Moon in Midnight Castle, It just makes sense doesn't it?” Moochick said with a chuckle. “Hmm, it’s marked on the map but it's very far away. It took us a day to get here. Time is of the essence Nightmare Moon could be close to completing her army. We must stop her before she can mobilize.” Twilight said. “Ahh, I see. Well perhaps I can help you with that. In fact, I can help you with that! All you have to do is stand around me and form a circle.” Moochick said. The ponies and Spike stood around Moochick forming a circle around him. Moochick started waving his stick around causing it to glow brightly. Beams of light shot out of it and struck the ponies and Spike. Before they knew it they were morphed into small balls of energy. They floated Moochick's stick and floated around it maintaining the circle. “Okay now here is the hard part. It's Midnight Castle they wanted to go right?” Moochick asked looking at Habbit for advice. Habbit nodded. “Okay! I believe that is North West from here! Or was it south west from here?” Moochick said unsure on the castle's location. Habbit smacked his face and shook his head. “Okay! I think it was southwest all right. Okay! Here I go!” Moochick said as he pointed his walking stick into the air. His stick charged and with one large blast the orbs containing the ponies and Spike blasted into the sky. They flew through the air at fantastic speeds flying across the sky. “That was fun. Now where did I put that little piece of rainbow? It's got to be around here somewhere.” Moochick said walking back inside with Habbit following close by trying to get his attention.
Moochick's magic made them unable to perceive their environment or anything else for that matter. They helplessly flew through the sky. Eventually they crashed onto the ground turning back to normal in a flash of light. They looked around and saw that the environment was quite intense. The air was hot and the heat was severe. The ground was dry and arid with patches of grass scattered about. The smell of sulfur was everywhere and the castle was nowhere within sight. “This place is so horrid!” Rarity said covering her nose from the smell of sulfur. “I reckon that Moochick feller gave us a bit of wrong turn.” Applejack said unaffected by the smell. “Hmm, we aren't too far off. Midnight Castle is just north of here. All we have to do is pass through Komodo Den and we'll be there.” Twilight said. Just then something caught Twilight's eyes. She saw a creature flying through the sky. It was circling around them. It then landed right next to them. The creature was a dragon but unlike Spike he stood on all fours. His neck was fairly long, he had huge wings, and he was much larger and intimidating than Spike. “You will come with me.” The dragon said.
The dragon led them into Komodo Den. The area was crawling with Dragons from various ages from the young who were similar sizes to Spike to the older ones who were rather huge in size. In the distance an active volcano could be seen and around the area were pools of lava that not only did not affect the dragons. Some were even drinking it as if it was water. As they passed through the area the dragons leered at them and talked amongst themselves. Twilight and the others ponies started to become very concerned but Spike was more amazed to actually see other dragons for once. The dragon walked next to a very old looking dragon whose horns were chipped and broken and he had a long scraggly beard. “I saw them entering our lands.” The dragon said to the older dragon. “I see....” the dragon said as he stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Excuse me but may I ask what's exactly going on here?” Twilight asked, confused. “You are being put upon trial for you're crimes against our kind.” The dragon said as pointed his large claw at them. “Crimes, what are we accused of doing?” Twilight said shocked by the dragon's words. “You are accused of being an accessory to the theft of dragon eggs.” The dragon said. “We didn't steal any dragon eggs!” Twilight said. “Hmph, so you say. What say you when I tell you that one of you're own was indeed seen absconding with the dragon eggs?” The dragon said. “Well. That definitively did happen. But it wasn't us! It was Nightmare Moon. She stole the eggs and used them as soldiers for her siege on the City of Light.” Rainbow Dash said. “Hmm, how do you know they were used to siege the City of Light?” The dragon asked. “Well we had to fight them in order to free the city.” Rainbow Dash said. “You fought them you say? What became of them?” The dragon asked. “Oh well. Uh, we uh, Heh, Oh no.” Rainbow Dash said having realized what she was about to say. The dragon's face hardened as he took Rainbow Dash's reluctance as a sign of guilt. “You killed them didn't you?” he dragon asked now with a grimace on his face.
“We didn't kill them. But Alanzo did.” Applejack said. “So you assisted in the murder of our people?” The dragon said as fumes of smoke rose out of his nostrils. The dragon's surrounding them began snarling at the ponies. “No it's just. We were in the middle of a fight and we.” Twilight said struggling to recover the conversation. “So you would justify the killing of children by saying you were simply in the heat of battle?” The dragon said as he verbally cornered Twilight Sparkle. “Come on! Those things were trying to kill us!” Rainbow Dash said. “You would call our children “things”?” The dragon said showing anger at Rainbow Dash's words. “I mean uh. I didn't mean that. It's just. Even those little kid dragons are dangerous and stuff. We were only defending ourselves.” Rainbow Dash said trying to fix her words up. “I see. If I consider you're children dangerous may I kill them too?” The dragon said as he eyed down Rainbow Dash. “No! I just. Whuh, Oh man....” Rainbow Dash stuttered. “Rainbow Dash dear can you do me a favor and stop talking?” Rarity said angrily. “I've heard enough. You did not steal the dragon eggs. But you did assist in their murder. For those crimes you shall be put to death.” the dragon said. The dragons cheered at the older dragon's decision. Spike looked at the ponies that trembled in fear at the thought of their demise. Spike walked up to the old dragon and spoke to him.
“Hey!” Spike yelled. The dragon looked directly at Spike. He sniffed Spike. “You are not from here. You reek of their scent.” The dragon said. “Yeah that's because I’m their friend!” Spike said trying to be as confident as possible. “Are you truly? What sort of dragon would befriend creatures like these? They are not worthy of that accolade. See how they cower at the thought of death? If they truly feared demise they should have thought through their actions.” the dragon said as he pointed at Twilight and the others. “You haven't seen these girls in action! They are some of the bravest. Toughest, Nicest ponies I’ve ever known! They aren't like dragons but they're good creatures! And there are still things they need to with their lives and I won't stand for you killing them!” Spike said as he looked the dragon right in the eye.
The dragons in the crowd gasped at Spikes aggressive tone. The dragon looked at Spike. He took a deep breath and stroked his beard. He then exhaled through his nostrils causing a cloud of smoke to billow out. “A dragon's loyalty is nothing to be trifled with. But if I am not mistaken you are new to this place am I right?” The dragon asked. “Yeah, So?” Spike said. “A dragon must earn their right to use there title in the way you have done. I do not believe you have earned it.” The dragon said. “Well I’ll just earn it then! Um, how do I earn it?” Spike asked. “You will go through the draconian trials. There are three you must undergo. The test of stoutness, the test of attrition, and finally the test of willpower, Pass these tests and you can use you're title to exonerate your friends.” The dragon said. “Okay. Uh, we kinda are on a mission right now so the faster we do this the better.” Spike said. “Hah! Their needs to be preparations done before we can commit to this task, Take the ponies and put them in a holding cell. Spike, you will find you're lodgings with one of our own.” The dragon said. A couple of the dragons started escorting Twilight and the others to their prison. An adult salamander dragon walked up to Spike. It didn't seem as large or as mean as some of the other salamanders seen around the area. “I shall take it upon myself to give this drake lodgings.” the salamander said. The old dragon nodded. “Come along now young one.” The salamander said lightly touching Spike's head with its claw.
The salamander led Spike to a cave. Though it lacked the detail of normal sized creature's room it certainly looked like someone's home with a bed and an arrangement of other random items. “You may call me Ms. Magmari.” Magmari said. “Oh. My name is Spike.” Spike said as he looked around the cave. “So tell me Spike. Where have you been all this time?” Magmari asked. “I lived in Equestria. That's a place all the way in Dream Valley.” Spike said as he tried to find a nice place to sit down. Magmari noticing this she dug into a pile she had in the corner she pulled out what appeared to be small bed. She placed it on the ground for Spike. “What is Equestria like?” Magmari asked. “It's nice. I guess. I never really liked it all that much to be honest.” Spike said as he sat in the bed. “Oh? Why is that?” Magmari asked. “I always felt unwanted and out of place. Everyone was different. People really didn't like me being there and they would often belittle me calling me “Celestia's pet”.” Spike said. “These are the creatures you are defending?” Magmari asked confused. “Those girls are different. They did treat me bad at first. But as the days went on they started treating me like I was one of them. I honestly forgot how isolated I was back in Equestria up until now.” Spike said. “Why did you leave Equestria?” Magmari asked. “I'm on a mission with the ponies to stop Nightmare Moon who threatens Equestria. We were heading to Midnight Castle where she apparently is staying at right now.” Spike said.
“Midnight Castle, I know of that place. It sounds to me like you're journey is coming to an end. Are you prepared to return Equestria to assume the life you had before?” Magmari asked. “Oh man. I hadn't have thought about that. You really think things will return back to the normal?” Spike asked. “I don't know Spike. I think you should consider the thought though because this adventure is just a diversion from the norm. Eventually you will have to return to the normal life you once had.” Magmari said. “But what about the others, aren't we friends now?” Spike asked now concerned and sad. “That's hard to say. I would think that the favors are stacked against you seeing as once you return home and the high of success and victory wears off. Things will return back to normal. They will go back to doing the jobs they were doing before. They will go back to the places that made them most comfortable. And if you're lucky, they may actually think about you from time to time. But it's easy to be forgotten when you didn't matter much in the beginning.” Magmari said with a frown as she sat next to Spike. “I don't want to go back to that...I like how it is right now...” Spike said now starting to shed some tears. Magmari patted him on his head. “I know but there is no guarantee that you and you're friends will stay together. However there is one option you can consider.” Magmari said. “What's that?” Spike asked wiping the tears from his face. “You can decide to stay here in Komodo Den. Think about it Spike. Once you pass the trials you will be accepted as one of our own. You won't have to risk the possibility of going back to the way things were. Becoming “Celestia's pet” again. I would gladly let you stay here with me for as long as you desire. You are a young man. I believe you have the right to decide you're own fate.” Magmari said. Spike didn't immediately respond due to being lost in thought. “Do you really think people will treat me better here?” Spike asked. Magmari smiled and patted Spike on the head. “You can count on it Spike. Dragon's always treat each other with respect. It is simply our way.” Magmari said.
“Lana. Bring the boy to Alargon his first trial begins.” The dragon that had entered the cave said. “It's time to go Spike.” Magmari said nodding at the dragon and standing back up. Spike got out of the bed and followed Magmari.
The trial took place next to a large pool of lava. Dragons gathered around the area to watch Spike do his first trial. Spike looked around but didn't see Twilight or any of the ponies anywhere. The crowd murmured to themselves and debated on whether Spike will survive the trials or not. All the talking stopped when Alargon raised his hand to signal silence among the crowd. “What do you know of this substance Spike?” Alargon asked. “I don't really know anything about it. It looks and feels really hot though.” Spike said putting his hand close to the lava. “It is magma Spike. A substance found deep within the earth's core. Rocks that have melted under intense and incredible heat, the power that melts these rocks into this mixture is well beyond a mortal's power to contain. For some even getting as close as you have gotten would have set their clothes aflame and caused their skin to burn. Do you know why you are resistant Spike?” Alargon asked. “No, why?” Spike asked. “It is because you are a dragon. Dragon's are the only creature's who can withstand the wrathful fires of the land. The fire that we breathe is proof that we are the most stout and resistant of all creatures. You too must prove that you are stout as well.” Alargon said. A salamander dragon walked next to Alargon with a regular sized chalice wedged between his fingers. Alargon nodded and the dragon walked up to the pool of lava. He dipped the chalice into the lava and partially filled it with the aforementioned substance. He then sat the chalice next to Spike. Spike looked at the chalice. It didn't look like much but it contained the lava without showing any sign of wear. Spike looked at the chalice and then looked back at Alargon. Alargon looked back at him and looked at the chalice. “You expect me to drink that?” Spike said. “You have to prove that you have the stoutness of a dragon. Drink the lava and prove you're worth.” Alargon said.
Spike looked at the chalice. He then grabbed it with both his hands. The heat coming off the chalice gave a slight burning sensation to his hands. Slowly opened his mouth and let a bit of the lava go in. The burning sensation was painful and caused him to revolt almost losing grip of the chalice. He looked at Alargon. Alargon looked back at him and looked at the chalice. Spike could tell that a sip was not sufficient for him. Spike looked at the chalice. Took a deep breath, closed his eyes and poured the lava into his he tried to ignore the pain till the chalice was empty. When he finished he dropped the chalice. He felt the pain of lava going down his throat and through his body. It racked him with indescribable pain. He fell to his knees coughing and hacking up bits of magma. He began to cry out in pain trying hard to resist the pain he could feel in his gut. All the dragons watched in attentive silence seeing what would become of Spike. Spike could feel the heat magnifying in his gut. He stood up and let out a large breath of fire. And with that the pain began to subside. Spike fell down exhausted from the pain.
Alargon looked at Spike. He brushed his beard for moment. “He has passed this trial.” Alargon said. The dragon's cheered at Spike's success. “You may return to you're quarters to rest. You will arrive when I call upon you to do so.” Alargon said. He then walked away while the rest of the dragons walked away and began doing their own thing. Magmari walked up to Spike. He continued to sit there still tired from his ordeal. “Can you walk?” Magmari asked. “I could. But I’d rather not.” Spike said as he still grimaced at the painful feelings in his gut. Magmari smiled and scooped him up into her claw. “I'll help you out then.” Magmari said. “Thank you.” Spike said as he began to close his eyes.
Twilight and the others are trapped inside a cave that was turned into a jail cell. There was only enough room for all of them to sit inside the cave and there was nothing in the way of beds or any other amenities. Dragons stood just outside one took a break while the other stood guard. Twilight just stares out at the sky unsure on what will happen next. Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight. “Are you scared Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked as she laid on the ground her face up against the bars, Twilight look at Rainbow Dash. “Do you think Princess Celestia knows we are in trouble?” Twilight said. “I don't know, maybe.” Rainbow Dash said with a shrug. “I feel so lost Rainbow Dash. Princess Celestia has always been there for me. And right now when I need her most she is nowhere to be seen. I don't know where I am or where I am supposed to go or what to do with the elements of harmony and I still don't know anything about Nightmare Moon. And then there’s the Red Bull and Lady Amalthea who fit into all this. Moochick said we should be grateful that she chose us but I keep getting this feeling that she abandoned us. If we were to die would we just be replaced?” Twilight said with sadness in her voice. “I don't know Twilight. We just have to hope that Spike can save us.” Rainbow Dash said. “But the chances are stacked against Spike. He's only a little boy who up until just today had never seen another dragon in his entire life. Now he's expected to survive these trials and who knows what that entails.” Twilight said. “That's why I said hope. We don't know if Spike will succeed or not. We just have to hope that he does. It's all we can do. Princess Celestia isn't coming to rescue us. I might as well put my faith in a friend instead.” Rainbow Dash said.
“We've been to a lot of terrible places as of recently. But this place is the worst! It feels like the sun is right on top of us! This place smells absolutely horrid! And it's ruining my complexion beyond belief!” Rarity exclaimed. Applejack smiled and then started laughing. “What's so funny? Why are you laughing? This is no laughing matter Applejack! Or has the heat fried you're brain?” Rarity said unamused by Applejack's sudden laughter. “I'm sorry sug, I'm just laughing at you is all. Here we are being held captive by a bunch of fire breathin' dragons and all you can comment on is how you're really uncomfortable? I'm sorry I think that's funny!” Applejack said still giggling. “Well. Um, Yes. I am also very concerned for our lives as well.” Rarity said realizing her own vanity for a moment. “Aw don't fret about it Rarity! We'll be fine! I'm not worried!” Applejack said. “Hmph, how can you tell me that at a time like this? Can't you see that all hope may very well be lost?” Rarity said acting a bit melodramatic. “Aw shucks! We'll be fine! Spike will save us and we'll be out of here in no time! In fact I'll take this time to indulge in what you fancy folk call a catnap!” Applejack said putting her hat over her face. “Are you serious? A catnap, we are in some jail cell in the middle of nowhere! We have our lives hanging in the balance of a child! And. And. Hey, are you even listening to me?” Rarity asked annoyed. Applejack didn't respond. Rarity calmed down and just lay next to Applejack. “You think I’m a pill don't you?” Rarity said looking at Applejack. Applejack grinned.
Pinkie Pie looked on as she saw Fluttershy still trembling in fear. “Are you okay Fluttershy?” Pinkie Pie said showing much concern. “I-I'm not Pinkie Pie. In fact I-I'm nervous wreck...” Fluttershy said with a stammer. Pinkie Pie put her leg around Fluttershy. “Don't be afraid Fluttershy. We'll make it through this. Spike will pull through for us. I just know it. He won't let us down.” Pinkie Pie said trying to comfort Fluttershy. “I just can't shake this fear I have....what if he doesn't? What if he fails? Just thinking about it brings me pain and makes me restless.” Fluttershy said her breath now shortening from the anxiety. Pinkie Pie tried to think of what to do to make Fluttershy feel better. “What can I do to make you feel better?” Pinkie Pie asked. “I-I want to be home. I want t-to feel safe....” Fluttershy said still filled with anxiety and fear. Pinkie Pie thought for a moment on what to do. “Ya know what I would do when I feel scared?” Pinkie Pie said. “W-what do you do?” Fluttershy asked. “I sing a song!” Pinkie Pie said with a smile. “H-haven't we been here before?” Fluttershy said remembering a similar conversation awhile back. “Oh? Oh yeah! Oh right. You didn't like it when I sang...” Pinkie Pie said. “It's not that I don't like you're singing. It's just something I didn't want to hear. You have a wonderful voice. But loud and bouncy doesn't always suit the mood.” Fluttershy said. Pinkie Pie pondered on Fluttershy's words for a moment. “What if I sang you a song in a different way? Like calm and stuff? Would you like if I sang you a calm nice song?” Pinkie Pie asked. “I-I would like that.” Fluttershy said. “Hm, I don't know any calming nice songs actually. But I’ll give this a try. Tell me how it makes you feel.” Pinkie Pie said. She came up close to Fluttershy and wrapped her leg around her. She got close to her ear and started to calmly hum a tune to her. “It makes me feel. Relaxed...” Fluttershy said finally feeling relief from her anxiety. Pinkie Pie smiled and continued to hum to Fluttershy.
Spike woke up in the bed Magmari set up for him. He had been sleeping for so long that it was dark outside. Magmari had fallen asleep curled up in her bed. Spike walked around the den wandering about. He looked at the pile of items Magmari had stacked in a corner. He was hoping to find something of value to eat like gemstones but there wasn't anything he could find in the pile. Just then he stumbled upon a necklace, it had a pendant made of Amber in the shape of a dragon's tooth. Looking closely one could see peculiar markings on it probably the words for a foreign language. He thought about eating it for a moment but then looked at Magmari. His conscious got the better of him and he put the pendant necklace back where he found it.
A dragon then walked into the cave. “Boy. You will come with me.” The dragon said. Spike followed him to where his next trial was being held. Though it was the middle of the night many dragons were awake. The area was illuminated by the pools of lava and lanterns. A ring was set up with a pile of armor sitting in it. Spike walked into the ring and everyone quieted down to hear Alargon speak. “Do you know what lays before you?” Alargon asked. “It looks like armor.” Spike said with a shrug. “It is armor. But not just any armor. It is armor made to be the bane of dragons. When man began his march to dominate the world he stumbled upon our ancestors. Like any other creature he was scared and intimidated by us. We dragons cared not for man's march to take the world as his own. We only requested that he leave us to our own devices and respect our ways. This was not to his favor. He insisted that we ally with them. What he spoke suggested equality. But what it was in reality was simply submission. He wanted to treat us like a weapon to be used in battle. Or an animal to be bred and controlled, such was the fate of the unicorn and pegasi. They submitted to man and became his toy. We desired not, to share such a fate. Before we knew it man had decided to rise against us. He could not tame us. So he decided destroying us was the next best thing. The armor you see before you was worn by a warrior who made his living killing our people. And though they slew many of us, He could not quell us. Though man was fierce, they were weak. And we out lasted them. In futility after many lives were lost they did what they should have done in the first place. They left us to our ways and respected us. The strength of a dragon is in his might but when faced against a powerful opponent victory can only be obtained when you out last them. Out last this dragon warrior and prove you're worth.” Alargon said.
He then put his claw on the pile of armor. He whispered an incantation which caused his claws to glow. He moved his hand away. Suddenly the armor began to move on its own. The armor began assembling itself. It acted as if it was being worn by someone yet it was clearly empty. It picked up a sword and shield and pointed it's sword at Spike. “Oh no.” Spike said realizing what was just about to happen.
The dragon warrior ran up to him ready to swing his sword at Spike. He made a vertical slash at Spike. Spike jumped out of the way and blew fire at the armor. The armor briefly turned red but it remained unaffected by the attack. The dragon warrior turned around and kicked Spike sending him tumbling. The dragon warrior tried to crush Spike with his boot but Spike resisted pushing his boot back. Spike pushed the boot to the side causing the dragon warrior to fall down into a pile. Spike got up and got some distance as the armor reassembled itself. The dragon warrior put his shield squarely in front of him and charged Spike at full speed. Spike tried to run away but the dragon warrior caught up with him and smacked Spike across his back side knocking him unto the ground. The dragon warrior then tried to stab Spike while he was down. Spike rolled out of the way and jumped at the dragon warrior head butting it right it its chest. It fell to the ground falling into a pile again. Spike got up and got away from the armor as it reassembled itself yet again. It grabbed the sword leaving the shield on the ground. It gripped the sword with both its hands and made a stance. It charged Spike swinging its sword wildly. Spike jumped and rolled out of the way almost getting sliced several times. The armor charged Spike again this time Spike saw it coming and jumped onto the armor itself. The dragon warrior tried to shake Spike off but Spike held on tight. It let go of the sword with one its hands to grab Spike. Just then Spike jumped off of the armor and stomped the glove that was holding the sword. The glove fell down letting the sword fall to the ground as well. Before Spike could get some distance from the armor the dragon warrior kicked Spike sending him tumbling to the ground yet again. Spike was starting to succumb to exhaustion but stood up once again ready to see what the armor would do next. The armor walked towards him looking like it was ready to attack but then it flashed and piece by piece the armor fell to the ground reducing itself to nothing but a pile of inanimate armor like it was before.
Alargon brushed his beard and nodded. “You have passed this trial. You may return to your quarters.” Alargon said. Spike fell down as he was far too tired to make the trek back. Two salamander children walked up to him. “Would you like us to help you?” the salamander child asked. “Yeah, take me to Ms. Magmari's cave.” Spike said. “I know where that is. Rest yourself fellow drake. We will take you home.” the salamander dragon said. They grabbed his arms and legs and carried him back to the cave to rest for the remainder of the night.
“Spike, Wake up Spike.” Magmari said gently prodding Spike awake. Spike opens his eyes and sat up to face Magmari. He felt parts of his body feeling very sore. “You have to go attend you're last trial. The hardest parts are over.” Magmari said with a smile. “That's good. I don't think I could fight another suit of armor like that again.” Spike walked Magmari to where his last trial was being held. He saw Alargon and many other dragons surrounding the area. Alargon raised his hands to call for the crowd to go silent. “Are you hungry Spike?” Alargon asked. “I'm starving actually!” Spike said clutching his stomach. “What food do you most prefer?” Alargon asked. “I really like gemstones. Do you guys have any I can eat?” Spike asked. “We do but for this test we shall make you eat something I assume you probably have never eaten.” Alargon said. A dragon came up and presented a hunk of uncooked meat. He placed the meat in front of Spike. Spike looked at it perplexing. “What is this?” Spike said poking at it. “It is meat. The flesh of an animal, you are an omnivore Spike. You yourself have consumed the rocks of the earth and the vegetation that grows from trees and bushes. But now it is time for you to try the meat of a fallen creature.” Alargon said. “What? This is like a part of a dead creature? And you want me to eat it?” Spike said completely appalled by the thought. “I don't expect you to eat all of it but I expect you to take a bite and swallow it.” Alargon said. “Well. I drank lava. Nothing can be worse than that.” Spike said with a shrug.
He opened his mouth wide and looked for a part to bite into. He then sank his teeth into the meat. He ripped a piece of the flesh and started chewing it. At first he didn't notice a taste of any sort but then it hit him all at once. He liked the taste of the meat. In fact he considered it quite tasty. He swallowed the first piece and then went in for another this time showing very little reluctance for where he took his bite. Before Spike could eat more of the meat Alargon took it away from him. “Hey! I wasn't done with that!” Spike said licking his lips. “You previously found the idea of eating meat discouraging. How do you feel now?” Alargon said as he gave the meat to a dragon next to him. “Well it's pretty awesome tasting! It's right up there with gemstones!” Spike said happily. “Would you like more?” Alargon asked brushing his beard. “Yeah sure!” Spike said.
A dragon came in with Twilight Sparkle in his hand. He dropped Twilight right in front of Spike. “What's going on here? Spike?” Twilight Sparkle asked confused as to what was going on. Spike was stunned. “I thought you were going to bring me meat to eat...” Spike said unsure on how to feel. “She is meat. She is alive but that can easily be fixed. Take her life and have another helping of meat.” Alargon said. Twilight looked at Spike. “Spike?” Twilight said now afraid of what Spike might do. “She probably doesn't taste all that good.” Spike said trying to convince himself that Twilight isn't edible. “She is. There are few creatures that are inedible and even then as a dragon you can eat most anything and find it edible. Do you not yearn for more?” Alargon said. He then positioned his finger behind Twilight and flicked her towards Spike she fell right in front of him. Twilight looked at Spike. He seemed zoned out as he stared at Twilight. He poked Twilight's body. Spike bared his claws. He opened his mouth and started putting his mouth towards Twilight. Twilight closed her eyes expecting the worst to happen. He was almost going to do it but then he stopped himself and pulled away from her. “No. I can't do it. I can't eat you, Even if you are food.” Spike said moving away from Twilight. “You may be food but you're my friend. I couldn't live with myself if I did that...I'm sorry Alargon. I refuse to eat...” Spike said. The crowd murmured and talked. Alargon brushed his beard and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and then exhaled through his nostrils creating a cloud of smoke. He then raised his hand causing the crowd to go quiet. “You have passed the final trial Spike.” Alargon said. “What? I did? Uh how, I refused to eat.” Spike said completely confused.
“A dragon has a right to eat anything he pleases but he should have the willpower to keep himself from devouring without thought or discretion. There is nothing wrong with drawing a line on eating living creatures even if you devour meat. After all it is your right as a sentient being to make decisions regardless of their ambiguity. You have also shown true loyalty to these creatures. You did these trials to save their lives and you risked failure just to preserve them. Though you could have saved the others if you had slain this one you showed that you could not be swayed by such temptation. Though these creatures are small and frail they have no doubt earned your respect. And as a fellow dragon I must respect you're wishes. You're friends are exonerated of their crimes. Leave in peace.” Alargon said. Spike made a breath of relief as he was happy to hear what Alargon said. Suddenly Twilight came up to Spike and hugged him. Spike was stunned by the emotional display. “Thank you Spike...” Twilight said as a tear came down her eye. “Whoa Twilight, Are you okay? I know I almost ate you but this is so unlike you!” Spike said dumbfounded. Twilight let go of Spike and wiped her tears away. “Sorry it's just. You saved us. I feel bad because I thought you wouldn't. I doubted you. And I shouldn't have done that.” Twilight said ashamed.
“You're right, you shouldn't have! Twilight don't you know that I would give it my all just to see you safe and sound? You're like my best friend. And I don't want to lose you! So don't ever doubt me again because I’ll always pull through for you!” Spike said sternly as if he was scolding Twilight. He then smiled at her. Suddenly Spike was pounced by Pinkie Pie. She rolled around the ground only to stop on her feet and with Spike sitting on her back. “Yay Spike! You saved us!” Pinkie Pie said hopping up and down. Spike jumped off of Pinkie Pie's back. “You did it Spike. Woo hoo...” Fluttershy said happily. “So what did they have you do Spike? Was it rough and tough?” Rainbow Dash asked. “They made me drink lava, that red stuff over there!” Spike said pointing at the lava. “Whoa. That stuff has to be like a million degrees!” Rainbow Dash said. “I simply must commend you for your efforts. I thought you were simply a mascot or something. Now I see that having a dragon on your side has some benefits. Now if we can only do something about your sense of fashion....” Rarity said. “I reckon we better get goin' we could spend all day congratulatin' Spike but I think we should be paying Nightmare Moon a visit.” Applejack said. “Applejack has a point. It's time for us to move out!” Twilight said.
As they started walking away a voice called out to Spike. “Spike!” Magmari said. She quickly walked up to the group. “Ms. Magmari is something wrong?” Spike asked. “I want you to have this Spike.” Magmari said. She dropped a necklace into Spike's hand. It was the pendant necklace he saw earlier. “Wow! You're giving this!?” Spike said confused. “My goodness, It's an amber gemstone! Oh the craftsmanship and oh! The markings! So exotic! I must concur, why would you give away something so valuable?” Rarity said. “I don't have any real use for it. It was supposed to be a gift for someone. But, Well.” Magmari said. Her face tilted downward and she had a sad look on her face. Rarity looked at Magmari, and looked at Spike. “Don't worry about it Ms. Magmari! Spike will be sure to hold onto it. Won't you Spike?” Rarity said nudging Spike to talk. “Yes! I can do that! Thank you for the gift!” Spike said as he put the necklace around his neck. Magmari patted Spike on the head. “You be a good boy Spike. And you girls, Treat Spike well. He's a good child.” Magmari said. “You can count on us Ms. Magmari!” Twilight Sparkle said. Magmari smiled and watched them walk away, waving goodbye.
Their journey continues.