The moon was full, lighting the land in a dull white sheen from its throne amongst the heavens. Crickets chirped noisily in the brush and the stars gazed down upon it all. Only about five minutes had passed since the earth pony soldier had run into the salespony and dragon with a message for the princess of the Equines.
“You’re sure that you’re up to this?” Scav asked as he twiddled his thumb talons, nervous. His face had achieved a whitish tint, “Absolutely sure?”
“Scav, I’m only teleporting us fifteen miles and at three mile intervals. Be glad that we aren’t going straight to Canterlot, we’d need a lot more than five jumps for that. It can’t possibly be very hard.”
“How far did you teleport us that time in Fillydelphia? That time that the guards were hot on our tails,” Scav retorted, not convinced.
“About a mile,” Greymane said, “But remember, that time we were running for our lives. Adrenaline pumping and no time to think makes a spell far less effective and accurate. This time around I can concentrate and take my time with each jump.”
“Are the two of you done arguing yet! We need to get a move on!” The soldier pony said as he walked up to the two, he had finished examining the map and comparing it to his memory, “You know what to do, unicorn. Let’s get to Ponyville with all due haste!”
“Okay, here goes nothing!” Greymane said, his horn glowing with a grey light, eyes screwed shut.
Five Teleports Later...
It felt as if Scav’s stomach had turned as heavy as a bowling ball as his guts were wrenched downwards. He felt a falling sensation for a fraction of a second before solid ground reappeared beneath his feet. After a gasped breath of surprise, he looked around. The three beings and the mobile stall had arrived in the midst of a sleeping town, Ponyville. The moon had barely changed position in the sky.
“Good, we’re here!” The soldier said, trotting onwards.
“So where is this messenger living?” Greymane asked.
Scav shook his head to clear the sense of vertigo and followed.
The soldier was quiet for a moment, “If I remember correctly, Ponyville’s messenger lives in...” He squeezed his eyes shut, thinking hard, “...the town library...or is that...no it’s the town library. He’s a child dragon named Spike or Spine, something like that.”
“A dragon?” Scav asked.
“Yes, he’s living with some unicorn mare. I didn’t memorize the name but she was one of the top students at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, which is why she has the dragon in the first place. See, one of the entrance exams to get into the school requires that the student hatch an egg with their magic. Under normal circumstances the two bond and stay together, usually for the rest of their lives.”
Greymane and Scav looked at each other at the mentioning of the school.
“How very interesting,” Greymane said as he looked forwards again.
It took them another few minutes to reach the library. There was a single light on in the large tree house, one of the rooms on a middle floor. The light caught on an old bee hive that rested just outside the window, the hive’s occupants were either asleep or long gone.
“Oh thank Celestia we’ve made it!” The soldier said, raising a hoof to knock.
The Unicorn Twilight Sparkle flipped to the next page of the book she was reading when a knock came from the door.
“Now, who could that be?” She asked aloud, looking up from her book. She noted that it was already well into night outside. Stifling a yawn, she got to her hoofs and turned on the ground floor lights with a touch of magic as she started towards the door.
The lights to the downstairs floor turned on, causing the group to cover their eyes momentarily. The door opened and a unicorn mare with a light mulberry coat stood in the doorway.
“Can I help you?” She asked as she opened the door. She looked over the soldier pony and her eyes widened, “Oh my...what happened to you? You’re...you’re covered in blood!”
“I’m fine ma’am. I have...”
“But you’re hurt!” She said, gesturing to the cuts on his hide, “You’ve got cuts...”
“Ma’am I am fine!” The soldier cut in, annoyed, “I have an important message for princess Celestia, and I need your dragon to send it. This is of the utmost importance, do you understand?!”
The unicorn looked at him for a moment, then spoke again, “Who are you..? You have a message for the princess..?”
“I am a soldier of the Equestrian army and I need to send a message directly to princess Celestia or more ponies will die! Now for Equestria’s sake please! Have your dragon send this immediately, lives are in the balance here!” The soldier looked to Greymane, who was looking at the mare, “Unicorn! Message!” The soldier snapped.
Greymane nodded and procured the message from a saddlebag across his back, floating it to the mare, she took it.
“Um...all righty then. Why don’t you come in, it must be freezing out there,” She trotted back a step and gestured inside.
“It’s okay if he comes in too?” Greymane pointed a hoof at Scav, “Don’t worry, he’s with us...well me to be more precise.”
The unicorn only now took note of Scav, her eyes widened a moment and Scav smiled, giving a little wave with his hand as he did so.
“Uh sure, him too,” With that she moved back into the library, the others following.
“Sorry,” said the green dragon, his scales scraping the frame of the door as he moved inside. Twilight grimaced at the damage, but it was minor and she could have it fixed later, “Stay right here, I’ll have my dragon send this message immediately. Then I plan on having those wounds attended to,” She said to her guests, saying the last part to the soldier specifically.
“If it’s alright with you ma’am, I would like to make one hundred percent sure that the message is sent, I’ll go with you,” the soldier pony said to her.
Twilight nodded, “Sure,” and promptly led the way up to the library bedroom.
“Oh Spike it is soo beautiful!” Rarity said, looking at the gemstone he held with sparkling eyes, “Oh thank you, thank you my little Spikey Wikey!” With that she embraced him in a hug and planted another kiss on his cheek, then quite suddenly she pulled away and started shaking him wildly by the shoulders, shouting, “Spike! Wake up! Spike!”
“Huh, wuh?” Spike awoke from the dream, staring into Twilight’s face, “Twilight? What time is it?” He asked groggily.
“Almost twelve at night,” Twilight explained, “I need you to send this to princess Celestia, then you can go back to bed, okay?” She held a folded scrap of parchment in his face with her magic.
“A friendship report? But I thought you already had me...”
“Why is it that whenever somepony or dragon is asked to do something they always have to go about questioning it without actually doing anything!” An exasperated voice came from behind Twilight.
A caramel colored earth pony wearing a set of beat up chainmail underarmor trotted over, his hide was covered in spots of blood.
“Just send the message!” He said, eyes glaring with anger.
Unable to question any further due to the other pony’s glaring stare and the state he was in, Spike inhaled and hit the message with a blast of his fire. The message turned into a wisp of smoke with small sparkling particles. It flew out the window that Twilight opened with her magic.
The soldier watched the message finally shoot off into the night and he felt as if a great burden had been lifted off his chest. He began to suddenly feel dizzy and lightheaded, wobbling slightly on his hoofs. He didn’t take note of it as he sighed in relief.
“It’s sent then?” the soldier asked.
“Yep,” The unicorn closed the window with her magic.
“Thank Celestia! Finally...” And everything went black as his legs gave out from under him.
A yell of fright came from up the stairs.
Greymane and Scav exchanged glances and charged upwards to the noise, Scav not noticing that his larger frame cut gouges in the wood and furniture.
Greymane shot through the open door. His horn glowed with grey light and his face beheld a snarl, he was ready to fight. The female unicorn and a small dragon were leaned over the collapsed soldier who was sprawled out on his side. His eyes were closed and his mouth slightly open, Greymane couldn’t tell if he was breathing.
“What happened?” Greymane asked, looking around the room to see what had caused this.
“I...I don’t know, he just...collapsed,” the unicorn said, looking back at Greymane with confused eyes.
“Is he still breathing? Does he have a pulse?” Scav asked, his head poking into the room and a red color fading from his face.
The unicorn lowered her ear to the soldier’s mouth and placed a hoof against the side of his neck. After a few moments,she let out a sigh of relief, “He’s still breathing and he has a pulse.”
Now it was Greymane and Scav’s turn to give sighs of relief.
“Here, um...we need to get him off the floor. Help me move him onto the bed,” Greymane said. A magenta and grey aurora surrounded the soldier’s limp body.
“One, two, three. Lift!” The two unicorns used their telekinesis to pick up the soldier and float him onto the bed.
“Now, you,” Greymane pointed to the baby dragon, “Spike is it? Go and get a doctor and bring him here. We shouldn’t be moving this pony around too much until we know what happened, got it?”
Spike gave a military grade salute and ran out the door, Scav moved aside for him to get by.
“Can you get the lights on?” Greymane asked, a second later the room was filled with light, “While we wait, do you have any medical experience?”
“Not really, no. But I probably have books on it!”
“Great then. Scav, help the lady get some first aid book, I’ll keep an eye on the soldier.”
“Right!” Scav agreed, moving down the stairs while the unicorn mare followed him.
“No, no, no...” Twilight said, at each ‘no’ she brought down a book, checking the title and discarding it on the floor. Spike could clean it up later.
“What title in particular are we looking for?” the green dragon asked.
“I don’t know, something that has to do with first aid,” Twilight replied as she continued her search for a book.
Scav scanned a shelf on the opposite side of the room. He paused and picked out a book, reading, “First aid one-oh-one...what about this?” He turned to the unicorn. Scav was slightly startled as a magenta glow grabbed the book and almost took him off his feet as it was wrenched from his hand.
“Yes!” the unicorn said, “Would you mind staying down here? You’re kind of destroying all my stuff with your scales.”
Scav nodded and the unicorn galloped up the stairs, the book floating right behind her.
Once she had made it to the room, Scav went to the window and looked out into the night wondering if the small dragon, Spike, would be back soon. As he looked over the darkness, his eyes caught on the moon. More specifically, what appeared to be a twisting cloud that writhed like a serpent in front of it.
“Smoke..?” He finally realized as he gazed longer at the semi-opaque film over the moon. He was going to check it out. He moved to the door and called back up the stairs, “Greymane!”
After a few moments of silence, “What?”
“I’m going to check something out really quick outside, I’ll be back soon okay?”
Scav squeezed through the door once more, scraping more wood off of the frame and cursing as he did so. Outside, the crickets were still chirping away, the cool air was otherwise silent as a graveyard.
Scav leapt into the air for a better angle. Something just didn’t feel right about how the smoke looked. He quickly confirmed that it wasn’t coming from any of the houses in Ponyville and dove deeper into the night sky.
Once he was high enough, Scav looked at the moon and traced the smoke trail down through the night. His gaze ended on a spot that looked to be pretty far away. A spot that was sheathed in a large blaze of fire.
Cursing at himself for telling Greymane he would be back soon, Scav shot towards the fire with all due haste.
The large white Alicorn, Princess Celestia, was reading over Twilight Sparkle’s most recent friendship report when a strand of sparkling smoke flew in through her open window.
That’s odd, she thought, Another friendship report?
A piece of folded parchment materialized from the smoke and Celestia took a hold of it with her magic, unfolding it in front of her.
Twenty one hundred hours, Celestia stopped. That didn’t sound like Twilight at all, the hoofwriting was different as was the parchment used, this furthered her suspicion. It didn’t match anything in a report from Twilight or any of the other ponies who sent her friendship reports from time to time. However it most certainly came from Spike. When sending messages through magical fire, the signature that the travelling message took varied per pony...or dragon. Even if many looked the same, like snowflakes, no two were ever exactly alike. Celestia continued reading. As she did, her eyes grew larger as she took in the information.
When she finished, she read it over again to make sure she was actually reading it right. A third time only confirmed that what she held in her hands was real.
...dragon leader named Shadowfang, high priority threat to Equestria, more will die if action is not taken to stop Shadowfang...that line in particular reread in her head over and over.
Celestia stood, the message dropping to the floor as her magical grip ended, she moved quickly to the door and flung it open with magic.
The two guardsponies who stood on either side of the door had been chatting. When the door flew open, they startled and quickly moved back to their statue-like positions.
“You,” The guards looked to the majestic Alicorn, the one on the right looking right into Celestia’s face, “Fetch Shining Armor, Charger, and Luna. Have them meet me in the war room with all due haste! You,” She turned to the other guard, “Come with me!”
Both guards were struck dumb, the last time the war room had been used was when the threat posed by the changelings had been discovered. Nopony had expected the room to be used in a long time. The two guards pulled themselves together, mentally, and followed their assigned orders as Celestia galloped down the wide tiled floors of Canterlot.
A dragon war was on the horizon.