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Where Dragons Rule
An MLP:FiM Fanfiction by Midnight Shadow
Chip yawned. It was late. Sharptooth had decided to walk down the mountain to the house. Complaints had been met with the information that he may fly down if he didn’t want to walk. Pointing out he had no wings had had very little effect.
“So...” Chip yawned again as the front door was opened. “Where do I sleep?”
“I think, tonight, you may sleep in the room with the models. I do not have a second bed, but there is an old couch in there that may suit you. I shall fetch what blankets I can find and a pillow or cushion.”
The only light was from what appeared to be an oil-lamp; the dragon had lit it with a single puff of flame breath. Chip sat on his haunches in the middle of the living room staring around at the dancing shadows as the dragon searched through a closet.
Books and scrolls lined one wall, with a writing desk underneath. The adjacent corner featured a small brass telescope, pointed out a window which was currently behind some thick curtains. A curious globe with what appeared to be maps on the surface was next to it, with an odd line down the middle of what appeared to be a great sea. There was a fireplace, with what appeared to be burning rocks in it that never went out, and a comfortable chair. A small pile of cushions lay in one corner, plush and red. Celestia had lain in them. Sharptooth turned around with a bundle of blankets in one paw. He gave the lantern, which was on a long brass stick, to Chip. Chip took it in his muzzle. The dragon then picked up a couple of the red cushions and motioned upstairs.
Chip trotted up the winding stairwell to the door he’d opened the day before. He pushed it open with a hoof and stepped in. The room was rather large for a small pony, with one long window down one wall. There was the desk, a long mahogany creation with many scuff marks and cup-indentations and stains on it. It smelled of age and use, and glue. Down the adjacent wall was the couch, beaten and torn and somewhat decrepit.
“Hop up, lad, and get yourself comfortable. I’ll tuck you in. If you don’t feel like going outside to do your business should you need to, then downstairs, past the kitchen, down the long corridor, you’ll find the necessary.”
Chip looked at the couch suspiciously. He pushed it with one hoof. It seemed soft enough. Two hooves seemed agreeable. He jumped up and turned around several times before dropping to his belly and squirming until comfortable. a red cushion was placed under his head and neck, and a second one was placed near his hind legs. Sharptooth pulled the blanket over the colt and he did indeed tuck the little fellow in. With a goodnight nuzzle, Sharptooth exited the room and tramped down the stairs to his own wallow.
Sharptooth got himself comfortable in his weir, which involved much wriggling and twisting and writhing. The previous night it had been difficult for him to fall asleep, at first, but he had finally found a suitable position with the colt nestled between his forepaws and back legs, tail and wings wrapped around the both of them. Now the hollowed out depression in the rock felt... strangely empty. He breathed deeply and sighed, closing his eyes. The next day promised to be easier than the current...
Sharptooth opened one eye and shifted a wing. He peered at the door. Sure enough, it creaked open. There was the soft pitter-patter of hooves crossing the floor, complete with the dragging swish of a blanket being pulled after them, via application of teeth in muzzle.
“Can... can I sleep with you, tonight?” asked a small voice.
Sharptooth tried hard not to laugh. He wriggled himself into a different position and lifted a wing. “Come on then.”
Moments later he felt the small shape clamber into the nest-like space he’d made in the crook of his paws, down near his neck and belly. Chip dragged his blanket with him and rolled himself up in it before making himself comfortable.
“Goodnight, little one,” whispered the dragon, but the colt was already snoring.
Chip opened his eyes, basking in that lethargic feeling one gets after a good sleep. He felt good... then he remembered, and he felt sick to his stomach again. The knowledge hit him, like the time Frostpepper at school had bucked him in the flank. It took the breath away, leaving a sick and heavy feeling in the pit of the stomach.
He was awake now; there would be no getting back to sleep. He decided to take proper stock of just where he was. It turned out he was lying on his back, hooves in the air, in the grasp of a dragon. Turning over as carefully as possible, the pony took the time to examine his benefactor. He hadn’t, so far. He’d been just... moving like some enchanted golem; reacting, not acting. As he lay there, the dim light of dawn filtering under the door, the colours and other unique features of the dragon were becoming visible.
Sharptooth was green, a deep and emerald green, with white horns on his head and at the joints of his wings. His claws, mostly his hind claws which were large and sharp, were similarly white and pearly. He seemed to have much smaller claws on his forepaws, Chip guessed it made manipulation with those odd fingers easier. The spines on the dragon’s back extended down his tail. They were pointed, but they weren’t sharp. They felt like... well, he guessed they felt like bone with a soft yet tough hide covering. He couldn’t help but notice that the dragon wasn’t scaly, like he’d thought dragons were. This one, at least, had a kind of... well, it wasn’t like the skin on a pony where the fur didn’t cover. It was more the same sort of hide as the scales, only more flexible and mobile. It was tough, yet soft and warm.
He hadn’t realized he’d been poking and prodding until the dragon woke up, giggling and snorting.
“He-hey! Cut that out! That tickles!” cried Sharptooth, snorting and belching. A small puff of smoke burst from his nostrils and the dragon hiccuped, belching again. There was a moment of silence, and then the dragon resumed hiccuping.
“Oh, dr—” hiccup “—at, now look what you’ve got m—” hiccup “—e doing!”
“Sorry!” said Chip, covering his muzzle with a hoof as he laughed. He was tumbled unceremoniously out of the bed, where he landed in a tangled heap with the blanket.
“I should thi—” hiccup “—ink so!”
Sharptooth padded off, hiccuping randomly, until he finally got a cup from somewhere and drank a little water. The dragon reappeared in the doorway, and yawned. “Come on, it’s time you got up. You’ve got school to get to.”
“School?” whined Chip in amazement from in the middle of his blanket-pile. “But... but...”
The dragon shook his head. “Young Master Irontail, if there is one thing you must learn, it is that life will out. You need things to do, lad, and being cooped up in this cave isn’t ‘things’. You’re a Diamond Expanse dragon now, my son, and no son of mine will be without an education. If you feel it’s too much, if you need someone to talk to, then we will deal with that need. However, I don’t know the full story of what happened to your parents yet, and I must enlighten myself. I can do that better without you under my claws all day. So, pride of my clutch, you are going to school.”
Chip opened and closed his muzzle a few times, silently. He opened it again in a laugh when Sharptooth’s stomach decided to announce that it was feeling rather ignored, and that if everybody was quite done explaining, it needed filling.
“...Right after breakfast.”
Sharptooth liked cooking. Truth be told, Sharptooth loved cooking. It was part of what had attracted him to the life of an ambassador with the gregarious and plentiful ponies. Their lands were large, mostly peaceful, and diverse. This meant, all in all, that they had time aplenty to experiment with their food. Like most dragons, Sharptooth could eat almost anything. He had a little meat now and again, although in deference to his friends he made sure that the source of it couldn’t talk and wouldn’t be missed. He even ate gems and other rocks, adding diamond powder to taste like other creatures added salt. However, he felt it best that Chip be given as close to a normal pony diet as possible, at least to begin with. The more exotic foodstuffs could be eased in later, maybe as a little father-son bonding time. This morning, therefore, he would make haycakes.
Haycakes were deceptively difficult. If he heated the stove too little, they would be stodgy and poor. Too hot and they would be rubbery at best, burned at worst. His stomach growled again. There was nothing for it, he’d have to flash-fry.
He mixed the batter quickly, poured it out onto an over-large flat baking tray and took a deep breath. As he exhaled, a blue-white flame played over the flat circles and they went from a very light to a very golden brown. He flipped them expertly and breathed a quick flash of green fire, he liked to think his green flame gave them extra flavour, and seared the other side. He smiled to himself. Just right.
He turned back to the table to see Chip sitting there with his bottom jaw practically on the floor.
“Ah, er, yes. You’ve never seen a dragon flash-cooking before?”
Chip shook his head, muzzle still open.
“Best thing in the world, seals in the flavour. Try them!”
There was nothing for it, Sharptooth reasoned, he’d just have to hope that tastebuds and appetite would overcome surprise. He shovelled half of the golden brown disks onto one plate, the other half onto another, and placed one plate on each side of the small table. Adding some fruit preserve, he said, “Dig in.”
Sharptooth used a fork. His son, he noted, needed neither fork or knife. The colt took a few careful sniffs and an exploratory lick, then rolled one up with his lips and tongue and practically inhaled it. The colt’s ears pricked up straight; he licked his muzzle clean and devoured the rest in a bloodthirsty orgy of gastronomical destruction.
Sharptooth smiled to himself—phase one complete. Now for phase two: the grooming.
The colt was surprisingly fast and maneuverable, but the dragon’s prey wouldn’t get far. He cornered the colt in his bedroom and pounced. The metal forked brush was then repeatedly applied to chestnut mane and tail until the unruly locks were shiny and straight, and the hideous spectre of ‘bedmane’ was banished until the next time. Then a smoother-bristled brush was applied to the light creamy-brown coat all over until it shone. Sharptooth noted that the foal was without a cutiemark, he made a mental note to discuss such things with Celestia. Time and childhood for normal dragons was markedly different than that of ponies, he would have to know if there were to be any differences.
“Ugh! I hate having my mane brushed!”
“Well don’t you dare muss it up, at least until I don’t have to look at it. It’s time we got you to school, young dragon. Every other student should just be breaking for their lunch, so you’ll have to wait until later if you get hungry.”
“Dragon?” Chip snorted. “I’m a pony!”
“You’re my son, Chiphoof Irontail Leatherback of the Diamond Expanse, and that makes you a dragon, even if you’re ‘pony-shaped,’ and don’t you forget it. Out you go, let me lock up here and I’ll fly you down.”
“Fly?” Chip gulped.
The dragon shooed the colt out the front door and then bustled around inside, readying the cave for a day spent empty. He exited via the front door and locked it. “Of course fly. What, you thought you’d walk all that way? My boy, until you can fly yourself there, you’ll either have to get up very early or I’ll have to give you...” Sharptooth sprung into the air, dived over the edge and reappeared riding a thermal a few seconds later. He spiraled, dove, and snatched up the pony in one smooth movement. “...a lift!” he finished.
Chip was screaming. The wind was whistling in his ears, his tail was streaming out behind him, there was nothing directly under his impotently kicking hooves and the ground. The ground was a distressingly long way away.
“Open your eyes, boy!” shouted the dragon, over the noise.
Strangely, Chip did. The scream died in his throat. Seemingly the whole of Equestria was below him, lit by the sun which was now high in the sky.
“Feel it in your wings, lad, spread them!”
“I don’t have wings!” he shouted back.
“Then do your best with what you have!” the dragon shouted. “Welcome to your first flying lesson!”
The claws, which had up until now held him so securely, flicked open. Gravity, that mysterious force which sought to keep most creatures attached most firmly to the ground, reasserted its dominance. Chip fell. He started screaming again.
“You must feel your wings!” Sharptooth said. “Feel them spread wide, will them with your whole being!”
“Aaaaaaaaaaah!” screamed Chip.
“Feel the wind beneath them, filling them, buoying you up.”
“Aaaaaaaaaaah!” screamed Chip, louder.
Sharptooth pulled his wings in close to his side, extended his claws and snatched the creature up very carefully. He spread his wings again, and lifted high into the air, above the clouds.
“Feels great, doesn’t it?”
Chip was shaking, his eyes were wide and he was panting. He spluttered out a few rather grown-up words and then went silent.
“Ready for another go?”
Sharptooth let go.
Again Sharptooth dove, caught the pony, and lifted him higher. This time the pony didn’t swear, instead he whooped and screamed with joy.
“That’s it, son! Ready to go again?”
“Hit me! YAAA-HOOOOOOO!”
The pony fell, eyes open, with his forehooves outstretched and his hind legs kicking up towards the sky. A shape spun past in the air, rose up underneath him, and Chip landed, galloped in a mad dash from the tip of Sharptooth’s tail and up along his back, and he springboarded off the dragon’s head. The dragon dropped away for a moment, came up underneath him and then jockeyed him into the air.
Chip drank in the sight as Equestria flowed beneath him. He was flying—well, falling with style—and he felt like he could do anything. Claws caught him again at the apex of his parabolic course, and the pair swooped down towards the ground. He was still breathless when the dragon released him at speed a few feet above the grass. He galloped madly in a rush to slow down, and finally came to a halt, panting.
“I think you mussed my mane up, Da—Sharptooth.”
“It’s windswept; it’s all the rage.”
Chip shuffled his hooves nervously. The thrill and rush of his first flying lesson—heavy with the promise of first—was fading into a very real and powerful dread of that most terrible of social situations, the first day of school. It was even overriding that ever-nagging feeling of loss and pain from the nebulous and as-yet still somehow unreal situation of being an orphan. Sort of.
He’d almost called Sharptooth Dad.
Then again, he thought to himself, I’ve called my teachers ‘Mom’ before now...
“Ah, your son, emergency relocation, uh-huh...”
The teacher, an earth pony with what looked like a book with a compass emblazoned upon it for a cutie-mark, was talking with Sharpie and making notes on a clipboard. Chip listened in whilst pretending to take great interest in his hooves.
“We’ll go with, uh, ten summers for now.”
“Bear with me, Miss Calligraphy, this is a rather unusual situation.”
“Race?” the pony continued, after a moments thought and a moue of disapproval.
“...Excuse me? He-he’s a, uh...”
“Dragon. He’s my son.”
“Miss Calligraphy, if you are unable to deal with a dragon in your class, I am quite sure the board of governors would be delighted to find you a rep—”
“Dragon it is then,” said the teacher, primly.
“Very well. I shall be along after school to pick him up. When do lessons commonly end?”
“Four o’clock, Ambassador Sharptooth, although the children do often play in the grounds until their parents send for them.”
“That will be acceptable.”
Chip watched as Sharptooth extended a paw and shook the forehoof of the teacher-pony gently. He bent and gave her hoof a kiss, which caused the pony to blush. Chip rolled his eyes.
Sharptooth turned, nodded once to Chip, and then loped a small distance and spread his wings, taking to the skies. With a few flaps, he was gone.
Miss Calligraphy, light-green earth pony, coppery red mane and tail, clip-clopped to Chip. “Master Leatherback, the others are just finishing lunch. You may mix and mingle, and follow the other children in when the bell tolls. I’ll have a place and your school things set up for you, alright?”
“Yes, Miss.” He nodded.
“And that’s another thing, it will be ‘yes Miss’ or ‘yes Miss Calligraphy’, clear?”
“Yes, Miss,” he repeated. It seemed this teacher was like so many others—selective hearing.
“Off you go then.” The pony turned around, and trotted smartly back into the school building.
Chip clip-clopped through the school grounds. It was a relatively small school; he’d generally had private tutors before. Cheap ones, he recalled, but private none-the-less. This was his first private school... wait, was it public or private when it was paid for by taxes? He couldn’t remember. Either way, it was school.
The noise of children playing reached his ears, and seemed to be getting louder. As he rounded another corner and nosed through some trees, he belatedly realised that it would have been a much shorter trip if he’d gone around in the other direction.
The children ranged in age from what seemed like five summers to fifteen. More importantly, they weren’t all ponies. Some were griffons; some appeared to be diamond dogs. As for the ponies, there were all sorts.
He was the only dragon.
Chip blinked. Had he really just thought that? Why yes, yes he had.
He steeled himself and headed towards the crowd. There was nothing for it. He’d just have to make some friends.