Have you ever felt like you didn't belong where you were? Like you knew in your heart there was a place for you, but it seemed like your surroundings just didn't measure up to where you thought you should have been?
I did for a long time. I thought following my species on their migration was the way to go, the way for me to figure myself out. I mean, I'm not going to be a baby dragon forever, and, as much as it pains me to think about it, I should have a life of my own, independent from Twilight's library. I'm not saying I'd want to leave and never look back, but... sometimes I'd just wished I could go on adventures, fight bad guys and rescue Equestria, instead of just keeping books organized and pulling my scales out worrying whether or not Twilight is going to make it back in one piece. After that dumb migration, I thought I'd have to live my life among the ponies forever.
Not that I would mind, I love them all and everything, but... I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here. I kind of wish Twilight hadn't given me this dumb diary-I mean journal. Diaries are for girls! See, that's part of the problem! I feel like the more time I spend around these chicks, the more I'm losing my sense of masculinity! I'm a dragon, darn it! The biggest, most powerful, and fearsome creature in all the land! Ponies should be respecting me for who I am, not who I associate with!
As much as it seems like I want it, adventure for a guy like me can be a scary thought sometimes. When I'm far from home, I miss my basket, my blanket, my easy life, and Twilight, of course. Ah, Twilight. She probably found the note I left her this morning. I bet she's upset... but I know she'd never let me do this on my own! And I didn't want her to follow me this time! So I had to make sure she couldn't. I do miss her, but like Daring Do always says: "Adventuring ain't easy!"
I wasn't even sure I wanted to follow Cynder on her journey to look for that special crystal or whatever it is she's after, but the more we travel together, the more I think I'm starting to grow on her. Which is nice, because I think she's really cute! (I hope she doesn't read that!)
I mean, I've only ever seen a few female dragons, and they were all much bigger and scarier looking than she is. Actually, she's only a few inches taller than I am! But I don't think she and I are the same kind of dragon. I mean, she can use magic! Like a unicorn! How cool is that? I think I'm getting ahead of myself here, dia-... journal. I'll start us off where all good adventure stories start off: the beginning!
Twilight and I were in Canterlot to pick up a few books for the library back in Ponyville. I was below her pulling the book wagon as she went through each volume and decided whether or not anypony—besides herself—would want to read it. I wasn't much for libraries, even though I lived in one. I wasn't much for wordy books either; I mostly liked adventure stories, like Daring Do, and sometimes Twilight let me go to the comic book store and pick a few to read! She doesn't usually like them, but she always says she's just glad I'm reading something.
"Almost done Spike," she chirped from atop the ladder, gathering a few more books and loading them into my already heavy wagon. "You're awfully quiet today," she added, though I just looked away.
"Yeah, I'm just tired I guess. Migrating takes a lot out of you..." I yawned. Truth be told, I expected the whole migration thing to help me discover who I was, or who I was supposed to be. The only thing I learned is that members of my species are jerks, and that I fit in better with the ponies I was raised with. I was glad they followed me; I was glad they were there to help me out of my jam, but I still couldn't help feeling just as lost as I did when I decided to go on that trip in the first place. I'd been doing a pretty good job of hiding it; though the old 'I'm just tired' excuse was beginning to lose its effectiveness.
It looked like my excuse still had a little juice left in it, as Twilight turned back to the shelves and slid down the ladder. "Alright, I think that's all we'll need for this month. Now what do you say we stop by the comic book shop and see if they have that new issue of Scaly Avenger?"
"It's called Scales of Justice, and yes!" I said happily. Sometimes Twilight knew the perfect thing to pull me out of my funk. We hurried to the counter and checked out all the books before heading across the street.
"Spike, hold my saddlebag while we cross the street."
What am I, a baby?
"Twilight, I can cross the street without holding on to you. I have legs, you know."
"Spike, this is a busy intersection! You could get run over by a chariot or carriage that didn't see you!"
I hated it when she did this. I know she raised me, and I know the Princess told her to look after me, but sometimes a guy just wants a little independence. I know she may think she is, but Twilight isn't my mom.
"Fine..." It wasn't worth fighting over; after all, she was taking me to my favorite place in Canterlot (besides the jewelry store) to buy me something. I wrapped a claw around the cloth strap and waited for the road to clear. A quick trot and in we went, leaving the wagon outside. I went straight to the action section, passing everything from sappy romances to weird junk from Neighppon.
I managed to get three brand new comics out of Twilight, even though she usually only gets me two! That was a good day. I thought we were finally about to teleport home when Twilight pulled her list from her bag, noting we still had one more errand to run.
"No trip to Canterlot would be complete without a visit to Princess Celestia!" she added cheerfully, folding up the list and putting it back in the saddlebag.
"You're gonna make me pull this wagon all the way to Canterlot Castle?" I balked in disbelief. It was hard enough for me to get it across the street!
"Of course not, silly!" she answered, charging a teleportation spell. "I'll send it back to the library."
In a flash, the wagon was gone. I hopped onto Twilight's back as we set off into the city center. I liked the princesses, but most of the time, our visits consisted of Twilight going on about who knows what, while I wait for it to be over. This visit was sure to be like all the others: walk in, wait for the princess to finish whatever royal business she was attending to when we'd arrive, and then Twilight could have her time with her teacher.
"Twilight! Just the student I wanted to see," Celestia mused as we entered her royal chambers. "And hello to you Spike, you're looking taller since I last set eyes on you."
I blushed, though it was near impossible to tell through my scales. I was always somewhat uncomfortable around the princess, even though I had no reason to be. Still, Princess Celestia usually had a bowl of tasty gems somewhere in her chamber when she was expecting us.
Unlike all the other times, a guard burst through the door of Celestia's drawing room with an urgent expression on his face.
"Your Highness! We've arrested a spy attempting to infiltrate our borders!"
I could see the princess' brow furrow. I guess Equestria didn't get many spies trying to sneak into our country. Heck, the last war (according to Twilight's constant aloud studying) was the Lunar war a thousand years ago!
"She is in our custody?" Celestia asked.
"Twilight, I'm afraid I must cut our meeting short."
"I understand Princess. C'mon Spike."
I was leaving with Twilight, kind of disappointed that I hadn't got a chance to raid her bowl of gems, when a snippet of the guard and the princess' conversation caught my attention.
"She's no pony, your highness. She's a black dragon."
I stopped dead in my tracks. "A black dragon?"
I could feel Twilight's angry eyes burning the back of my head for intruding on the princess' conversation. The guard continued to talk, as though I had said nothing. Jerk.
"She refuses to speak to anyone, all she says is that she is on a mission on behalf of a 'purple dragon of prophecy', and can trust no one."
To this day, I don't know what possessed me to say what I said next.
"I'm a purple dragon! Maybe she'll talk to me?"
This time, Princess Celestia turned to me, and so did the guard. I felt Twilight smack the back of my head as she chastised me for being rude and listening in on the princess' royal conversation or some nonsense, when Celestia totally saved my hide.
"Perhaps Spike may be of some assistance."
I was expecting to be reprimanded, and to have my ear lectured off all the way back to Ponyville, but instead the Princess Celestia wanted my help! Finally, a chance to prove I was more than just Twilight's assistant!
"As you said, you are a purple dragon."
Now, I'm not usually this smug, but I just had to see the look on Twilight's face.
It. Was. Priceless.
Anyway, she led Twilight and I out of her chambers and down through the different levels of the castle. The first few floors I had seen before, but the lower we got, the less inviting the rooms we traveled appeared. The ornate stained glass of the upper and middle floors soon became dingy and ancient stone, lit only by torches as we descended deeper into the underbelly of Canterlot Castle. There weren't any windows, and the narrowness of the corridors made me feel pretty claustrophobic.
Judging by the look on Twilight's face, she'd never seen this part of the castle either. Honestly, I hoped I would never have to again. We began to pass rusty looking prison cells, though thankfully they looked like they hadn't been used in quite some time. I guess they must have been used in ancient times or something. We came to a steel door with iron grates over a small hole for looking through. It looked like the kind of place you'd lock up an enemy of the kingdom, not a border trespasser. Something Celestia immediately asked the guard about.
"Why have you imprisoned her in the dungeon?"
"When we stopped her at the border, she resisted arrest, knocking out two of our guards before we were able to subdue her," he explained, opening the creaky old door. That's when I first laid eyes on her. I've always had a crush on Rarity, but I think I can safely say that it wasn't going to go anywhere. I mean, she's a pony! And I'm... I'm just a dragon. I still miss her though, and sometimes, it does hurt to think I carried a torch for her for so long, completely blind to the fact that... wait, what was I talking about again? Oh right! Cynder. Anyway, she was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen, even though she was in a rusted old cage.
She was sleeping when the sound of the door woke her. She carried a pouch slung across her shoulder, but nothing else. six ivory horns graced her head, two pointing up, two just below them at an angle, and another pair jutting out from her bottom jaw-line. Her elegant forelegs were accented by two silver shackles, as well as one around her neck and tail. On her forehead was... I couldn't even describe it, like some kind of tattoo or tribal mark, kind of like Zecora's, as well as similar marks on her shoulders and under her eyes.
Oh, those eyes. I could go on for days about them. Ice blue. Piercing, like the early morning sunlight through Twilight's window constantly waking me up at the crack of dawn. I was nearly paralyzed by her gaze alone. I felt butterflies when I looked at Rarity. I felt hornets when I looked at her. It was a weird mix of intimidation and attraction I'd never felt before or since.
She looked at us, eyes scanning each one of us as they traced Twilight, then me, then the princess, then the guard who'd led us here. Princess Celestia stepped forward, and introduced herself.
"I am Princess Celestia, ruler of this kingdom," she said, awaiting her response, though none came. Cynder sat up, rubbing her eyes with her wingtips and looking at me again. It was kind of weirding me out at this point.
"You... you're... a purple dragon," she whispered, clearly in awe of my amazingness... or maybe just the fact that I was purple. Either way, it was still pretty cool.
"Her disrespect knows no bounds." I heard the guard mutter at her ignoring of the princess' introduction.
"Yes, he is. If you want to question him, you must first answer my questions," Princess Celestia replied, not at all upset over being ignored.
Cynder looked toward the princess, and nodded. "I will. What do you want to know?"
"What is your name?"
She flinched at the mention of her own name, like she expected us to hurt her after we knew who she was. Not that any of us did. She seemed somewhat relieved by our ignorance, for some reason.
"Why were you attempting to cross our border in the dead of night, and not through the proper channels?"
Cynder scoffed, "There's no time for proper channels when you're being chased."
Princess Celestia nodded and continued her questioning. "Chased? You were being chased by what?"
Cynder relented, "Well, not so much chased... more like tracked. By an army planning on reviving a beast my... friend and I thought we'd slain long ago."
"And so you believed a good idea would be to bring them to our doorstep?" the princess' expression had hardened somewhat by this point, "We have had over 1000 years of peace under my rule. As you can see, our dungeons remain mostly unused," she added, pacing back and forth in front of her prison cell before stopping to face her, "You simply left our border guards unconscious, yet you could have easily killed them and made your escape. Why?"
Cynder shifted uncomfortably, "I didn't mean to break any laws or make my enemies your own. I've seen enough killing in my life to know when it is necessary and when it is not," she appeared distraught over those words as she examined her paws, "I could leave this place now if I wanted to, but I know I'm better off leaving this place as a friend, rather than an enemy."
The Princess seemed really interested in her last statement. "You could leave this place now?"
Cynder nodded, scratching her claw against the stone floor. "Yes, but I'd rather not cause trouble..."
"It's no trouble, I assure you. In all my years, I've only heard of a dragon race capable of what I believe you are describing," Princess Celestia added, taking a seat on her haunches, "Please, show me."
"Very well..." Cynder sighed.
What happened next, I wouldn't have believed if it hadn't happened right in front of me.
She closed her eyes, only to open them a blood red, and then she sank into the floor in a wisp of shadows! She was completely in the floor somehow, and the shadowy smoke slowly moved outside the cage, where she ascended from it, standing in front of us, but free from her cell!
The guard took a step forward before the princess ordered him back.
"Incredible..." the princess whispered. Every jaw in the room hung slack as her eyes returned to her normal hue.
"Now, I may ask questions of my own?"
The princess nodded. "Of course."
She turned to me. I wasn't sure what to expect.
"Little one, do you know of the significance of your scale color?"
I shook my head nervously. I'd always been purple and green. It wasn't the most masculine combination, but I got by just fine.
"In our lands, a purple dragon is born once every ten thousand years, and is blessed with the ability to control the four magical elements: ice, fire, earth, and electricity."
Twilight found her tongue before I could untie mine.
"I can assure you, Spike isn't magic, nor is he different from any other dragon," she interjected, "I would know if he was, I raised him since he hatched!"
"Yes, I know he's not that purple dragon. I can't divulge my mission, but I'm here on the actual purple dragon's behalf," Cynder stated plainly. Why did Twilight always have to ruin my fun? At least she could have let me think I had magic powers for once!
"Well, if you are a visiting dignitary, I can offer you proper accommodations. I apologize for all this unpleasantness," the princess added, standing up and motioning her to follow.
Cynder smiled for the first time, and even glanced over at me while doing it! Did I mention the hornet thing already?
We followed the princess out of the dungeon and back into the regular parts of the castle. Cynder seemed to be in awe of the stuff Twilight and I took for granted. I don't know where she came from, but it must not be as nice as Canterlot.
The princess called for her head housekeeper, and asked if there were any rooms in the castle available.
"I'm afraid not your majesty, the entourage of the Griffin Republic's ambassador has all the rooms filled."
Princess Celestia rolled her eyes, "Of course he does..."
"She can stay with us in Ponyville!"
Twilight had to have been getting tired of my outbursts by now.
"You wouldn't mind, Twilight?" Celestia asked. I knew if Twilight had one weakness, it was refusing the princess.
"Oh, uhm... well, I'm not sure we've got the room," she began. I wasn't about to let this opportunity get away.
"Twilight, can I talk to you for a second?" I asked, pulling her to the side as she bent down to my level.
"Please let her stay with us! This may be my only chance to talk to a dragon that isn't a total dick head!"
"Spike! Watch your language!" she snapped. Rainbow Dash taught me that one.
Twilight sighed. She knew how much this meant to me, and with the princess in my corner as well, I knew the odds were in my favor. "Please?" I was practically begging at this point, but I didn't care. I had so many questions to ask her!
"Okay. She can stay with us."