Chapter 24: Restoration
A small shadow flitted between the buildings. Slitted irises shifted quickly, ensuring the path was clear before the next jump. After ducking under a porch, the shade allowed himself a deep chuckle.
He had done it! Spike pumped his fist in victory. During the confusion of the reflection switch up, he had been forgotten. Again. Now that he had escaped, however, he could put it to good use. He'd do a little information gathering for Twilight. He was still her number one assistant, and it was what she would want.
Spike looked at the street from his hidden vantage point. Nothing in either direction. He looked up, making certain there were no tricky pegasi out to get him. Clear there too. He leaped across the road, rolling on the other side. He didn't have many opportunities to show it, but young dragons were actually quite agile. Something about this place opened his natural instincts.
The little dragon paused on the other side, realizing he had no idea where he was going. He had to have a plan of attack. He didn't have a map, and though this place reflected Ponyville, it was still different enough he didn't know where he was. Time to climb.
He leaped up at the wall, trying to scramble up it with his claws. The stone stood strong, however, and he couldn't get a good grip. He looked at the building behind him. Much of the same. But wait...
Quick mental calculations told him yes, he could make it. He leaped up at the nearest wall again, this time pushing off towards the other wall, continuing the pattern until he reached the top of the building. Spike looked down the way he came, almost falling over.
Even he was surprised. That was definitely more than his usual ability. But he felt great. Why did he ride Twilight around all the time? He should practice this more often.
Spike turned around, surveying the town now that he had a good angle on it. He could guess what some of the buildings were, based on their approximate distance from one another. “There's Temperament's blacksmith, which reflects Rarity's Boutique, so the library would be over...” He traced the horizon with an outstretched claw. “There.”
A tall, stone tower with steps running around the exterior rose above the town, a good landmark by anyone's standards. He considered his options. Well, he could go along the ground, which had more hiding places and was a good deal safer, or...
He grinned and dashed forward, his instincts taking over once more as he cleared the roof and landed on the adjacent building, losing no momentum as he rolled back into a run. How had he been missing this all these years? This was amazing, far better than-
He skidded to a halt right before the next rooftop.
No. These were the same thoughts he had begun to have when let his hoarding instinct get the best of him. Was this another aspect of his more animal side? One better kept under lock and key? He couldn't risk losing it now, not while his pony friends were scattered around the town. With a sigh, he slid off the roof into a snowdrift. He shook the powder off his head.
“Maybe later, Spike. But for now, though, we'll keep you walking like a good, civilized dragon.”
He passed through the rest of the town without much trouble, encountering only a few reflected ponies along the way, which were easy enough to avoid in the fading light. The moon was about to rise, and seeing as it was still a bit away from a full moon, his return trip would be even easier. Who knew? Maybe he'd be able to get back without anybody even noticing he was missing.
Spike finally arrived at what had to be Moon Pool's library, which was much larger in person. It stretched up as high as any tower in Canterlot, but seemed even taller here with only one story cottages to compare to. He stepped up to the front door, preparing to knock. ...No!– what was he doing? He'd never been officially dismissed, so he was an escaped convict. It'd be a terrible waste of all his secrecy thus far if he just waltzed up to the library like it was his own. Though, he remembered, Lustrous Revolt was with Twilight. Unless she had taken her here, she'd probably be out. Better to be safe than sorry though. He turned to the left instead, following the stairs up the side of the tower to the rooftop. He made his way slowly, realizing a fall from this height would be dangerous, and that the steps were especially icy.
He ascended the last step, onto a small ring of a roof covered by a blanket of snow. Good thing he was equipped to handle such a situation. He gave a huff of fire, which turned the air above the snow into an inferno. The snow melted into a small pool of water, revealing in a trap door in the center of the roof. Just what he had hoped to find.
He lifted it carefully, ensuring that none of the water –which was already re-freezing– dripped in. He dropped himself silently into the library, descending another set of stairs, which was only dimly lit by the occasional torch. He made his way down, tracing the wall with his back as he kept to the shadows as much as possible. He spent an awful lot of time in libraries, he realized with a small smile. Maybe he should try something new when he returned home. Sewing, perhaps. Then he'd have something to show Rarity, or even better, get her help with.
After he got about a quarter of the way down, the wall turned into book shelves, while the stairs were intersected by a wooden floor that circled the tower. The stairs then continued downward onto another, wider level. Spike could only assume that it continued like that until it reached the ground. Twilight would love a place like this, full of so many dusty old tomes.
He was here for information, he reminded himself. Well, what was he looking for? Twilight always raved about the stories she was reading, and how the heroes would find exactly what they were looking for just before the bad guys arrived. With no better plan, he left it up to fate, wandering the bookshelves until something caught his eye.
He murmured the names of the titles as he walked by. Some were foreign and strange, while others were perhaps too familiar.
“The Astronomical Astronomer's Almanac to All things Astronomy? Spike pulled the book down from the shelf. He frowned as he began thumbing through it. The inside of the cover was scorched and on page seventy three was the juice spill he also hadn't told Twilight about. There was no doubt about it; this was the exact copy he had accidentally burned the evening before Twilight met Aloysius, though every page was still intact. What was it doing here?
Spike whipped around. Something else was in the tower. He clutched the book to his chest, spines quivering as he listened with bated breath. There. A slight movement of air. Spike stepped further into the shadows.
Something flew past his head, and he ducked in fright, letting out a small cry. So much for secrecy. He jumped out, brandishing the book as a shield. “Stay back! I know how to take care of myself!”
He stumbled as the book was wrenched out of his grasp by the unseen enemy. A loud thump sounded behind him. Spike recovered, jumping to his feet, preparing for the worst. The Astronomer's had been reshelved.
“Who are you? Show yourself!” A screech next to his ear answered. Spike found himself face to face with a wyvern, a sub-category of dragon, the stage in between the infantile stage and adulthood. They often couldn't speak unless they had been taught like Spike had, but could understand the common language well enough.
“Hey there little guy.” Spike looked the fellow draconian over. Though his build implied he was older, this winged newcomer was a bit smaller than Spike, closer to Aloysius' size. “What are you doing here?”
The wyvern gave a condescending look.
“Oh, yeah. I suppose I'm the one who needs to explain. I'm Spike. I'm uh...” he thought for a moment. Should he really reveal his plans to this small cousin of his? If he didn't, it might raise the alarm, and if he did, it just might help him. “I'm looking for information about this place for my friend. Especially about reflections and perhaps a map.”
The wyvern lifted into the air and flew down the stairs. Spike ran after him, watching the wings with some jealousy. A screech announced their arrival at ground floor. A large map dominated the center of the room, markers placed all over it like some sort of board game. Oddly enough, there was a small rectangular box of sand on there as well. The wyvern flew over to it, and began clawing at it with his hind legs. Spike stepped over, looking at his work. Thorn, the sand read.
“Your name is Thorn?”
Thorn nodded vigorously. He gestured with his wings from Spike to himself.
Thorn went back to the sand, working quickly. A crude but recognizable drawing of a mirror appeared.
“...Reflections?” Spike laughed. “But we look nothing alike! Sure, we have the same color scheme, but your body build is totally different. At least the ponies looked the same.”
Thorn shook his head. He flew to one of the shelves, grabbing a book labeled simply as Dragons. He dropped it in front of Spike with nimble dexterity. Spike flipped through the pages until Thorn stopped him. “The differences between wyverns and core dragons. Alright.”
He skimmed through the text as quickly as possible. It seemed that dragons, being magical creatures, had two forms of growth. There was natural growth through time, in which wings and proper fire breath would develop as well as intelligence, and there was a secondary growth pattern based on the need for survival and instinct. This growth stunted intellectual growth but greatly improved strength and ferocity.
“This explains everything! So that's why I almost destroyed Ponyville when I got greedy. But how does this make us reflections?”
Thorn pointed out the word survival in the text.
Spike frowned for a moment as he tried to pick up on the vague hint. Then it hit him. “So...you're me...if I had gone through all that happens here in this world? You grew wings because it was necessary for survival? Then why are you smaller?”
Thorn turned the page. Spike began reading. “If food is scarce and predators are at large, a dragon's growth may be stunted. In turn this makes them more mischievous and greater fliers, as they must rely on their agility rather than strength...Where'd you get this information? We don't have anything on dragons in Equestria.”
Back to the sandbox. “The..library...of...the...lost. Every bit of lost information comes here?”
Thorn nodded. Spike was impressed. “No wonder this library's so big. Heck, if I had a place to store all the things I've lost around the house, heh.”
He was grabbed by a thought. “Do you happen to have a book called A Study of Alicorns: Their Psychology and Physiology?”
Thorn flew off again, going up several levels. Spike waited, tapping his foot impatiently. If he got this book, it'd make the entire trip, heck, the visit into the Forgotten Realm worthwhile.
The book fell from the heavens, landing in front of Spike with a thump. “Ohoho yes!” He picked it up, about to tear it open, wondering what could be so important. But no, he'd give Twilight the luxury of reading it first. Then she'd be in his debt forever.
He looked at Thorn, who was watching him expectantly. “So, uh...can I check this book out of the library? I have a friend who would love to read it. The one I mentioned earlier.”
Thorn nodded, but held up a claw. He jumped over onto Spike's shoulder.
“Oh, I see how it is. You have to come with me, to make sure the book's safe?”
Thorn's head bobbed once more.
Spike grinned. As long as he got what he wanted. “Alright then, let's go. Might as well use the front door now.”
They stepped out into the snow bound streets, Thorn locking the door behind them as a precaution. The draft from the door knocked an unnoticed paper from the table onto the floor. A short, simple list of instructions.
Bring the book. Keep them blind.