Chapter 6. They meet HIM.
Spike’s Journal Entry # 17
This morning, we received the letter; the letter that shows we can finally leave this town and all the horrible memories it contains. Celestia had arranged for us to meet an ex-dragon ambassador, and we have finally received word that he was ready to meet us. Twilight is still in the hospital so now the group is reduced to me, Fluttershy, and Applejack. We have gathered all the supplies we will need until we meet with Applejack’s cousins on the other side of the Isthmus of Smoke, which should be about four days.
Today, we said our goodbye’s to Bandana and Steel. Bandana gave me one of his small clubs for me to protect myself for the trip. “Just in case!” he said. It looks so cool! It’s a straight wooden stick with what seems like another small stick coming out of the side. It looks almost like a letter T, only a lot more intimidating than the letter.
We also stopped at the hospital and said our farewells to Twi. The doctors tell us that she’s going to be asleep for a few more days, but that in a week she could check out of the hospital. I still wish she could come, though.
AJ, Fluttershy and Ihave packed up everything for the trip, including a week’s worth of food, which is more than enough to last us until we meet up with AJ’s family. Now we walk… to the Isthmus of Smoke!
Spike’s Journal Entry #20
We’ve been walking for days. I thought that Manehatten was horrible (and it was), but this is unbearably boring! Trains don’t travel up here unless it’s to deliver supplies to the northernmost towns of Equestria. We woud fly, but Applejack is not a pegasus, so…we walk. Across the desert. We have supplies to last, but it’s so long and painful. Even with my scales, my feet are KILLING me.
Last night, we didn’t even sit up our tents. We just collapsed on some comfortable looking patch of dirt and drifted off to sleep. Fluttershy looked terrible. Her hair was wet with sweat, and the curls that were usually in her hair were long gone. Even Applejack had taken the tie out of her hair and retied her hair into a tight bun to keep it out of her face. We are all covered in dust. All we need is some sleep. Some sleep and a bath.
“Are y’all sure ya don’t wanna set up these tents?”
Fluttershy was already smoring, and it took Spike all his mental strength to string together a sentence, “Ground… is so comfortable.”
Applejack threw off her saddlebags and fell right next to Spike. “You’re right, we don’ need tents.”
Spike started snoring along with Fluttershy. Applejack felt herself slip into much needed sleep.
“We’ll… be there…t’morrah…”
And with that, the two ponies and baby dragon fell asleep. For the next twelve hours nothing could wake them, no sound or movement—not even the figure watching them from the fog, waiting…
“Oh, I don’t like this… not one bit!”
“C’mon, Sugarcube! It’s just the fog!”
“Yes, but I can’t see in front of me…what if—gasp—what if I step off a cliff and I don’t even see it?”
“Fluttershy, you have wings. You can fly.”
Talking was the only way the three could keep a track of where they were, and if they were staying together. The fog seemed to keep getting thicker and thicker. Applejack and Spike were both scared by Fluttershy’s comment; if there was a huge canyon in front of them, thy would never see it.
From AJ’s judgment, they were still heading north, so the hoped that the fog would clear by the time they neared the Isthmus of Smoke. They would need to see it for their survival.
Few ponies ever travelled along the Isthmus of Smoke. Even on a clear day, it was a dangerous and deadly path for even the most skilled adventurer pony. It was a naturally formed rock bridge that spawned a huge chasm. Over the ears, the rock bride slowly eroded away until now it was barely big enough for a pony to walk across. The sides were rounded too, so one step too close to the edge would result in a pony falling hundreds of feet to their doom. They could go around, but that would takes another two weeks of walking; besides, somewhere here was Celestia’s ally, the one that would help Spike cross the dragon border. The chasm was about 2 miles ling, so it would take all day for the three to cross the marrow rock bridge, single file, through the thick fog.
“So, here we are…” said Spike as they looked at the cliff that was on either side of the narrow walk way.
“Um… wow, this is scarier than I remember…” squeaked Fluttershy. She had stopped freaking out and had now resorted to rolling herself into a ball on the ground.
“I hear it gets narrower each year… but we can’t jus’ sit around’n talk about it. We need ta start walkin’!” said Applejack, trying to rally her friends. “Now, who’s gonna go first?”
Spike took a step back, and both Spike and Applejack knew that Fluttershy would never be able to lead the group across the Isthmus. Besides, ever since they left Twilight in the hospital back in Manehatten, Applejack knew that she would have to take on the role of leader.
“Okay, then. Everyone stay close behind me.” Applejack took one step out onto the narrow walkway. “Hehe, nothin’ ta worry about!” Applejack said with a fake smile. “Okay now, let’s get movin’!”
“NO!” Fluttershy was still in fetal position on the ground.
“Spike, can ya get Fluttershy? We need ta move if we want to cross before night.”
Spike walked over to his shy friend and tried to calm her down. “Come on Fluttershy, we’re all scared… but we need to cross, and we’re waiting on you.” She didn’t answer. “Fluttershy, come on!”
Suddenly, a noise came fromabove them. It was a shrill cry that pierced the sky. They never heard anything like it, and when they looked up, they were still as clueless as they had ever been. It semed to be a bird flying in the sky, but it also looked like a lizard. From what they could see, it had 4 lizard legs and the tail and wings of a hawk. But once Fluttershy saw it, she knew what was more scary than the Isthmus of Smoke: that thing. She screamed and ran toward the pathway, startling Spike with her speed and scaring Applejack by throwing her off balance.
“Woah, what got into you, Sugarcube?”
“Scary… monster… gotta get away!”
“Well, we need ta move carefully, or else we won’t need ta worry about some monster.”
“Oh right, I’m sorry Applejack.”
The three finally started walking through the Isthmus of Smoke as carefully as they could. Applejack didn’t want to scare anyone, but she was sure that she was the only one to notice that thing had been following them since they woke up.
Meanwhile, the creature in the sky was circling around the small caravan. Her master told her to keep an eye on these adventurers, and she would… but she wanted to have some fun first…
The caravan crossing the Isthmus was almost across the chasm, but night was quickly approaching, and none of them wanted to be here when night came. “C’mon everypony, let’s pick up the pace.”
“We need to go faster if we have any hope of finishing before it’s night…”
The group had been walking for hours, and besides hearing the occasional roar or squawk from the wild animals living in the Isthmus, they seemed to be in no danger. They hadn’t seen the creature in a few hours, and hoped that it just grew tired of following them and left them alone. From Applejack’s estimations, they were only about an hour away from the other side of the chasm, and now the narrow rock bridge was beginning to expand. Now it could fit two ponies walking side by side, although they preferred to walk single file as they had been doing all day.
After walking for so long without anything happening or any creature coming out, even Fluttershy’s nerves were beginning to calm. She now proceeded to try and help Spike calm down. “Spike, are you sure you’re felling alright? You have been really quiet these past few days.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me.”
“Well, if you even need to talk to me, just let me know. Everypony that I’m a really great listener!” She reminded him with a smile and a squee.
“Yeah, I’ll tell you if something happens.” In reality, a lot was on Spike’s mind. He was thinking about his best friend laying in the hospital. Even though she told him that it was okay, that he had a mission to finish, he wished she could have come. He was thinking about how far Dragon Blood reached out, and if they had any members out here in Appleooza or even Phillydelphia. He wondered why a group would want so badly to kill dragons… and if there were dragons who felt the same way towards ponykind. He was still very nervous about trying to find his parents in Dragon country. What if he couldn’t find them? Or worse, what is he did find them and they didn’t love him? They did abandon him as an egg before, and he wasn’t really a dragon in the sense that most people thought of as being a dragon. He didn’t even have a hoard, for crying out loud
But right now, he was most worried about this mysterious pony that Celestia had waiting for them on the other side of the Isthmus. She promised that he would help Spike cross the dragon border, but what if he too held ill feelings toward dragons. There had to be a reason that he quit his job as an ambassador, what if he hated dragons now? Just like everypony else.
“Spike, you better stop!”
The chasm came to an end and he had been walking on solid ground for about 50 yards. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice this, nor did he notice that Applejack and Fluttershy were looking at him with a worried look on their face. They looked like they did back in the warehouse, when Spike was choking Runner and he started transforming. They looked they were afraid of him.
“What is it? What happened? NOTHING’S WRONG WITH ME!”
Fluttershy curled into fetal position again. “No, not you… that!” Her hoof reached out from the light yellow ball on the ground and pointed to something behind him. He turned around.
It was back. It looked almost exactly the same as before; a large bird with the legs of a lizard, with sharp claws on each foot. It was about twice the size of any of the ponies, and stood well over 6 feet tall. But what they didn’t notice was the face. It seemed at first to have the face of a griffon, but its eyes were pure black and unblinking. Its tongue could also be seen coming out of its beak from time to time; it was forked.
The thing opened its mouth and let out an ear-piercing roar. The sheer force of the roar sent the other two still standing tumbling to the ground. It started circling around the group. Spike pulled out the club that Bandana gave him, and Applejack took her bucking position, ready to kick the creature in the face if it started to come at them.
Suddenly, another roar came out of the fog; this one put the roar of the creature to shame. Now all four of them—Fluttershy, Applejack, Spike, and the creature—were shaking in fear. What could possibly make that kind of noise? A dragon.
Specifically, the dragon that came out of the fog. He stood at about 10 feet easily on his hind legs, with wings that were currently folded in. He didn’t appear to be any normal dragon; he was very skinny, with dark green scales covering his body. He also seemed to have something on his head; was it hair?
“AY, Puki mon! What did I tell you about scarin’ da pony folk, mon?”
The dragon was standing there, looking ferociously at the creature. “Aiy, Puki! I told’ja not ta do dat, mon! Now go home’n tink about what you done!”
The creature slumped and flew off into the fog. The dragon then turned his attention to the Applejack, Spike, and Fluttershy. All of them were scared stiff, and could do nothing to move when the dragon took a full charge at them. He grabbed all three in one big sweep of his arms, lifted them off the ground, and… gave them a hug?
“Oh pony folk, iz been a long time since I have da visitahs, mon! Nopony evah come out here, iz great ta see a friendly face mon!”
“Thanks, but can ya tell us who you are exactly?” Applejack was so confused about this dragon. Was he going to eat them of was he going to invite them over for dinner?
The dragon stopped hugging them and set all three on the ground. Fluttershy was so paralysed with fear she fell to her side again like a fainting goat.
“Oh, I’m sort about dat, pony folk. My name is Bastion. Pleasure to meet da pony folk, mon!” He then proceeded to shake hooves with all three of them, even the still-petrified Fluttershy on the ground. “Oh, and I’m sorry about mah frien’ Puki. She’s a pranksta if I evah seen one, if ya know whad I mean!”
Spike found this dragon strange, yet surprisingly interesting. “So are you saying that thing is yours?”
“Of course, little dragon mon! She’s mah pet! And her name is Puki, just so ya know. She jus don’ know when ta stop, so her shenanigans sometimes get a little out’a hand!”
“Of course… now can ya tell us why that there…Puki… was tryin’ ta eat us?” Applejack was still a flurry of emotions (fear, anger, relief), so rage was most prominent in her face and voice.
“Haha, she’d nevah eat da pony folk! She’s a vegetarian mon!”
“If ya say so…” AJ replied.
“So, what are you doing here?” Spike asked. For some reason, now that he started talking to the dragon, he almost felt more comfortable around him, or rather, more comfortable than Applejack of Fluttershy, who was still lying on the ground. Applejack went to calm her down, and Spike continued to talk to Bastion.
“Funny story about dat, mon. But firs’ we need ta go inside before it gets too dark oud here, okay pony folk? Come back ta my place, I just made dinnah!”
Spike’s stomach growled at the sound of dinner, and he just felt like this Bastion character was someone they could trust. “Hey, AJ! I think we should go over with Bastion over to his house, okay?”
“I don’t know Spike…”
“You don’ trust Bastion mon? Oh, dis won’t help our situation. How can I help you pony folk get to da border if you don’ trust me?”
“What’d you say?”
“Celestia asked Bastion to help da pony folk. You still need help, right mon?”
“Ya mean YOU’RE the help that Celestia promised us?”
“Well, do ya see any odah dragon folk wit dreads out here? Didn’ Celestia tell ya aboud me?
“Umm… actually,” said Fluttershy. She seemed to come out of her fear-induced come when she heard he was the help that Celestia promised them, “Celestia never told us who was going to help us…”
“She didn’t? Ay, dat crazy little pony, she always doin’ foolish tings! She’s a funny one, ya know! But enuff talk, we need ta get inside, mon! Follow me, pony folk!”
And the three adventurers followed the unusual dragon back to the makeshift home Bastion made in a cave.
There wasn’t much in the cave. Bastion seemed to have taken some wood from a nearby forest and construct a crude door for the cave’s mouth. A single lantern sat on the table in the middle of the cave, and food was set on the other table to the side. The animal named Puki (the friendly dragon explained that Puki was a Korio: a half lizard half bird that was very friendly and loved to prank) was laying in the back of the cave asleep. Applejack, Fluttershy, and Spike gathered around the table as Bastion placed the food on plates and passed them out.
“Salad…” Spike muttered.
“I been told dat my salads are da best in all’a ‘Questria! Go ‘head and try it, mon!”
They all started eating the salad. Spike was hesitant at first, and the first bite he took was all lettuce. He felt like he was about to throw up.
“Wow, whoever told ya that this salad’s the best, they sure are right!” Applejack started to devour the salad on her plate as if she was starving.
“I must get your recipe, this is amazing. The animals would love a salad like this!” Fluttershy whispered calmly. She had now grown accustom to the new additions into the group, and had even been able to approach the Korio without too much difficulty. Spike decided to try another bite. This time he tasted it. It was so sweet, and crunchy, and the dressing was just sour enough to tickle his tongue with each bite. He never had a salad that tasted good, and he could remember few gems that tasted this exotic, either.
“Tank you, ponies! I try not ta eat the meats, so I learn how to make the vegetables taste just as good. I got dis recipe back when I live in Jamaneca!”
“JAMANECA???” Applejack and Fluttershy said in unison.
“Of course! Where else do ya tink I got dis accent from? And where I learn how ta grow out mi hair?”
“Oh my goodness, I would love to go to Jamaneca. I hear it’s always sunny, and the beaches are beautiful.”
“I hear you can just lay out on the sand’n relax all day.”
“I hear the water in the ocean is always warm there.”
“Wow, Jamaneca…” and the two ponies sighed in adoration at the thought of this paradise.
“Yeah, iz okay… it got boring really quick, mon.”
“So, going back to the hair…” Spike interjected, “did you learn how to grow out a mustache?”
“Sorry, little mon, I didn’. I wasn’ interested much in staches back den. Wish I did, tho.” Spike looked down in defeat. He thought he was on to something. “Oh, and befo we get too far, I need ta know everypony’z name. I assume little dragon mon is Spike, amarite?”
“Yeah, I’m Spike!”
“Den which one of you pony folk is da Fluttershy?”
“Umm… that would be me..”
“Den dat makes you Applejack?”
“Yer darn tootin’! Now, I gotta question fer you; how exactly do you know Princess Celestia?”
Bastion looked at Applejack in shock. “How do I— how do I KNOW her? Why, I’m her pers’nal assistant, mon!”
All three of them dropped their jaws. This dragon was the Princess’s assistant?
“I mean, I used ta be, a long time ago… wait—you tellin me dat you didn’t know nutin’ about tis?”
The other three shook their heads, their mouths still agape.
“Ay, what is dat Celestia doin’? Okay, time for uncle Bastion ta tell da pony folk a story! A long time ago, about a tousand yeers ago, Celestia was jus a little filly…”