The Crystal War Book I: A Spark to Light the Dark

by NatureSpark

Ch.6 Being a Hero

~Chapter 6: Being a Hero~

Charm was standing in the middle of a dirt path unmoving as the sunlight shining through the leaves of the trees cast her in an ethereal light. Her beauty was breathtaking and at that moment Spark wanted nothing more than to run to her. She was calling his name, but he couldn’t move. She kept calling out to him and beckoning him to her, but try as he might, he couldn’t get his limbs to work. He wanted to tell her why he wasn’t coming, but his mouth couldn’t form the words. She was drifting away from him. He was going to lose her if he didn’t do something soon. His heart started to race as panic set in.
“No!” Spark shot up out of his sleep with a scream and it startled Star so bad that she dropped one of her books near the fire. Draft was able to kick it out of the flames before it had caught fire. Everypony turned back to Spark with looks of concern as they returned to their places around the fire.
“Are you okay? Just what in the hay was that all about?” Draft asked. Spark waited for his racing heart to slow before he responded.
“I’m sorry about that,” he huffed. “It was nothing. Just a bad dream is all.” Spark took a few deep breaths and got to his hooves. “Did you guys make any breakfast yet?”
“No. We only got up like fifteen minutes ago, so you’re just in time to take a turn cooking,” Star replied with a giggle. She smiled at him and then dug her nose back into the book she had been reading. Books weren’t something that Spark was accustomed to having on long trips, but there was nothing to be done about it. He searched through their supplies to see what they had in the way of food. There were carrots, apples, radishes, but Spark settled on making everypony some nice cucumber sandwiches.
“What were you dreaming about anyway?” Inferno asked as she begrudgingly accepted the food the unicorn offered her. She wanted to make her delicious gems last for as much of the trip as possible, so she was left with pony food. “You seemed really panicked while you were asleep.”
“It was nothing. I just had a dream that I was trying to run, but couldn’t. You know, the usual nightmare type stuff,” Spark mumbled. He smiled trying to ease Inferno’s concern and it seemed to work, as she went back to picking at her food with a sigh. Spark ate his sandwich and started digging through his saddle bags.
“What are you looking for, Spark?” Draft asked as he noticed his friend, frantically rummaging around through the bags. “Are you looking for this?” he questioned. The pegasus held up a pouch of herbs and grinned slyly at the unicorn. “I’m way ahead of you my friend.” He pulled out a nice looking joint and passed it to Spark. “I’m getting better, right?”
“Mhmm,” Spark replied. He had to admit that Draft had done a nice job, especially for a pegasus. The unicorn’s horn flashed with green light as he lit the end of the joint, inhaling softly, he let the herb work its magic. The last of the anxiety from his dream faded and Spark was ready to start another fun filled day of walking. Mother of Luna, it seemed like all he ever did these days was walk, Spark thought.
“Are you three about ready to get going? The faster we get there, the better,” Star said as the stallions puffed away on the herbs. Spark was just wishing that they could all fly the whole way, like Draft. They could have made it to Canterlot by then, but there was no way he would have been able to function without magic.
“I’m always ready. It’s these two ponies that you need to worry about,” Inferno replied. She gestured absent mindedly as she was in the process of nibbling on the very edge of a sapphire, presumably to get the taste of pony food out of her mouth. It seemed that while she could live off of the same diet as the ponies, the young dragon really wasn’t too keen on the taste.
“Yeah, I think we’re all ready now, so let’s get a move on,” Draft replied. He seemed to be in a much better mood this morning. Getting high tended to have that effect on ponies though.
“Maybe we can get through this trip after all,” Spark mumbled aloud. He started laughing at himself, and then used his magic to adjust his bags onto his back, noticing that the pain was gone from his side. He knew the herbs were partly to thank for that.
“What’s so funny?” Star asked. She glanced back at him, as if she had forgotten something important. Spark continued smiling at her and shook his head.
“Don’t worry about it. I just had a really ridiculous thought,” Spark assured her. He laughed softly a little longer enjoying his high as his mind began to wander.

They had only been walking for a couple hours when Spark’s hopes for a day without troubles were crushed. He could see a little filly running towards them. She looked to be a few years older than his little brother, but she was still far enough away that he couldn’t be sure. Trailing behind the filly, there was a loud thundering. Whatever the filly was running from was either very large or had a few friends with it. Spark’s magic flared green as he brought out his dagger and slid it down, over his horn.
“Draft, get your ass over there, grab that little pony and see what the hay is coming,” Spark shouted to his friend.
“Sure thing,” Draft replied. The grey pegasus took off like a catapult, kicking up dust and shooting like a blur, across the sky. It took him about a minute to get to the filly and back. Draft was breathing heavily when he touched back down, but hadn’t even broken a sweat. The small earth pony was struggling against Draft’s forelegs and yelling about how sorry he would be if he didn’t put her down. The winged stallion complied, dropping the filly gently on her flank.
“What’s after her?” Spark aimed the question to his friend, but it was the filly who answered him first.
“It’s this gang a stupid bullies. They threatened my ma n’ pa. Told us, if we wanted our farm ta stay intact, we’d have ta pay ‘em a bunch o’ bits each week. We don’t have that kind of money lyin’ ‘round the farm, so they locked us all up in the barn and set it on fire,” she explained with a fairly pronounced drawl. The green filly started sobbing at that point and Spark was already getting annoyed with whoever had done whatever to the heartbroken little pony. “My parents managed ta kick the boards outta one of the windows and push me through, but they couldn’t fit themselves. They said I should get away and try ta find help, but those jerks saw me escape n’ started chasin’ after me. Please mister, you got ta help me.”
“You three ready?” Spark asked his companions. He was pissed now; these were the worst kind of ponies, spineless bastards that had to resort to violence against kids. He nodded his agreement to help and looked back at his friends. Draft was hovering just above his left shoulder and Star was to his right. She had the Wyrm Stone around her neck and once again her eyes were filled with mystical fire. “Good. Inferno, you grab the filly and get behind us. If anypony gets through, you singe them, Star” She nodded her head in confirmation. Spark lowered his horn slightly and prepared the spell that would launch him forward faster than he could charge on his own.
A short time later, the gang showed up in a storm of thundering hooves and spray of dirt, slowing to a halt in front of the group of ponies. There were five of the criminals, four earth ponies and a unicorn. It was a yellow earth pony who spoke first.
“Give us that filly you got there, before we have to hurt you,” the gangly stallion threatened. Spark ignored him and addressed the entire gang in a stern voice.
“Which one of you stallions is leading this gang?” he asked. Spark eyed them all, sizing them up one by one, as the largest earth pony in the group stepped forward. He was a full head taller than Spark and built like a brick wall.
“I’m Stone and this here is my gang, The Rock Ridge Riders, so unless you wanna take a permanent dirt nap, I suggest you hand over the filly,” the behemoth of a stallion replied. He took a step closer and Spark pushed his glasses up his nose and nervously cleared his throat.
“Well Stone, you move one more muscle and I’ll buck you up good,” Spark answered in a relatively calm voice. “As for the rest of you, this is your last chance to leave unharmed.” The ponies looked tough, but Celestia be damned if Spark wasn’t going to protect the scared little filly hiding behind him and his friends.
“Any one o’ you walks away and I’ll end ya myself,” Stone replied gruffly. None of the stallions seemed inclined to take Spark’s offer over Stone’s threats.
“Try to just wound them if you can, Draft,” Spark called back quietly. “Star, be ready to take down that unicorn.” Stone took another step forward and then everything turned into screams and dirt kicking up around them.
Spark released his spell and immediately launched forward, ramming his dagger through Stone’s right foreleg, just enough to hurt. The larger stallion’s leg buckled instantly and dropped the him on his face. At that same instant, Draft bolted up in the sky to gain speed and then dropped down with full force onto the side of another pony with a loud crack. The pony fell to the ground with what was probably a broken couple broken ribs. Star used her magic to drop the opposing unicorn to his knees and then let out a burst of flames from her mouth searing the mane of earth pony closest to her, all while Inferno watched over the green filly behind her.
The last stallion twisted around and sent a buck straight to Spark’s head, dazing the unicorn and snapping the glasses off of his face. Draft was already making his next move and he reared up, trampling the pony that Star had burned with his fore hooves a half dozen times, knocking the stallion unconscious. Stone had gotten back to his hooves by that time and was charging the pegasus, but Draft was too quick for the earth pony. He launched into the air a few second before being rammed. Star let out another burst of flames at the gang, while the opposing unicorn struggled against her formidable magic.
Spark shook off the wooziness from being bucked and charged back at Stone, ramming the large stallion again with his dagger, this time in the side right behind his left lung. That attack dropped the behemoth to the ground and Spark followed it up with a stomp to his head, knocking Stone out cold. Meanwhile the unicorn had broken free off Star’s magical grip and tried to run, only to have Draft swoop down and kick him in the side of the head. He was the last to fall unconscious. With the fight over, Spark walked up to the gang leader and lifted him into a sitting position with his magic.
“This bastard is heavy,” Spark groaned. “Do either of you have any rope, so I can tie him up?” He looked to his companions and Draft nodded and pulled a length of rope out of his saddle bags. Spark wrapped Stone up, tying a complicated knot and then shook the brute awake with his magic. “Draft, find out where the filly lives and go see if her parents are alright. I’m going to take care of these five and we’ll meet you there when I’m done.”
“Sure thing,” Draft replied. He walked over to the filly, who shrank away from him at first. Eventually, with the help of inferno, they got the filly to tell them where her family’s farm was. Once he found out, Draft rose into the air and took off. More dust was shot past his friends’ faces as he did. Spark turned back to Stone, who was now awake, but still dazed.
“You’d better pray to Celestia that they’re unharmed or this will be your last day on this world,” he bluffed with an angry glare. Spark and Star walked over to the little pony, who was still shaking with fear. Inferno was doing her best to calm the filly, but Spark couldn’t blame her for being afraid, those gangers were a frightening bunch.
“It is going to be okay now. We took care of the bad guys,” Star cooed in a soothing tone to try and calm her down. “I’m Star and this is Spark. I believe that you already have met Inferno.” The dragon smiled at the girl sweetly. “What is your name?”
“M-my name’s Honeydew. Are ma parents gonna be okay?” she stammered. The green filly was on the verge of tears again, and Spark wasn’t sure what to do. “I wanna see ma n’ pa.” Honeydew looked up at him with big watery eyes, it was simultaneously the most adorable and heart wrenchingly sad sight that he had ever seen.
“Hop up on my back and we’ll take you to see your parents,” Spark told her. “If I know my friend Draft, he’ll have made it there fast as a whip and saved them.” He tried to reassure her, but he wasn’t too sure that it was working.
“So ma parents are gonna be okay? You promise?” she asked in her squeaky drawl. He really didn’t want to get her hopes up, but she was looking at him like he was her only chance for happiness, so he made a promise that he shouldn’t have.
“Sure, Honeydew. I promise that your mom and dad are going to be fine,” Spark replied. He turned to look at Stone, who by now was out of his daze and glaring silently at the lot of them. “You’ve got two choices there, Stone. First choice is you following us peacefully to this filly’s farm, to pay for whatever you’ve done and the second choice is you trying to struggle. If you chose the second choice however, I will be forced to buck you in the head again. After which that pony over there…” Spark explained as he gestured towards Star. “You know, the one with the really strong magic who can also breathe fire. Well, she’s going to have to drag your fat limp body all of the way there. You don’t want to cause a pretty young mare like her that much trouble, do you?” He glared at Stone, who got to his hooves in silence. “Good choice,” Spark told him.
“Should I torch him if he runs?” Star asked with a grin. She was getting the hang of his bluffs about violence, or she was bluffing and hopefully Spark was as well. She didn’t really want to travel with a killer. Star tried not to laugh as she thought about the absurdity of Spark killing somepony. Spark set off down the road with the filly in tow and Stone behind him, while Star brought up the rear.

Star opened her mouth and poured a wave of fire along Stone’s back as the earth pony tried to run away. He took a few large steps, but Star’s flames had cut him off before he got far. Spark turned back a moment after and began yelling at the other stallion. Star tried to keep a straight face as Stone nearly broke down in tears.
“I told you not to run!” Spark yelled, holding Stone him in place with the green glow from his horn. Stone cried out in pain as Star’s flames licked his hide, singing the ends of his hair. They had nearly made it to the farm before Stone had tried to escape. It was probably because they could see the ashes of the barn from where they were standing. “You’re going to answer for what you did, whether you like it or not, Stone.” They walked until they were standing in front of what once must have been a good sized barn, but now was nothing more that a pile of ashes and rubble. “Draft, where are you at?” Spark called out to his flying friend.
“We’re over here!” Draft replied. He had said ‘we’ which was a really good sign, in Spark opinion. They all walked up to the small house, where Draft was talking with two earth ponies. Stone had given up fighting.
“Ma! Pa!” Honeydew cried. She jumped off of Spark’s back and rushed to her parents, who both wrapped her in a tight embrace. “I thought ya’ll were done for. I tried ta run away like ya told me, but they were chasin’ me. I ran and ran until these ponies saw me and kicked The Rock Ridge Rider’s flanks all up n’ down the road.” The little filly had tears of joy running down her face as she spoke. Her parents were both crying as well and Spark grinned at the sight of the reunion.
“Stone! Get your good for nothing flank up here,” Spark called back a moment later. Stone didn’t budge, so Star helped him out by giving the stallion a good kick to his flank. He stepped forward and into the sight of the family. “Guess what Stone? Its judgment time.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Stone asked with terror. The threatening mask he’d worn cracked a little now that he was about to pay for what he had done. Spark just smirked back at him.
“You’re asking the wrong pony,” Spark replied. “It’s up to Honeydew’s parents. The ponies you threatened with violence and tried to burn alive. The ones whose daughter you were trying to kill along with them. You better wish that some power will listen to a piece of filth like you and decide to make them better ponies than you ever were.” The filly’s parents looked shocked at the sudden turn of events, but Spark wasn’t the one who wanted to make the decision. He could act as judge, but not jury and never executioner. Even if they wanted the criminal dead, the most Spark could ever stomach doing would be kicking Stone around a bit.
“We don’t want ya doin’ anything more, s’long as he stays away from us, from here on out,” Honeydew’s father said. He looked anxious for everything to just be over and Spark couldn’t really blame him. “Just take him away, please, so we can put all uh this behind us.” He hugged his family tightly and then turned back to Draft.
“You hear that Stone? They showed you a mercy that you don’t deserve,” Spark told the earth pony. “It’s all on one condition though, do you swear to stay away from this family and give up ganging for the rest of your life?” Spark was staring at him with a cold hard look that told him there was only one answer that would let him walk away. The large pony actually looked scared for the first time since the whole ordeal had begun.
“I-I-I swear, I swear to Celestia that I’ll stay away and give up ganging,” Stone cried. It was pitiful to see a full grown stallion graveling and crying like he was, but it was what Spark thought he deserved for his crimes. “The princess isn’t going to listen to a worm like you Stone, swear on your life!” Suddenly, Spark twisted around and bucked stone in the head, knocking him to the ground unconscious once again.
“We told ya not ta kill him!” Honeydew’s mother shouted in a terrified voice as she shielded her daughter’s eyes from the sight.
“Don’t worry, he isn’t dead,” Spark assured her. “I just knocked him out. He’ll wake up in a few hours with a concussion and a raging migraine. We’ll drag him with us for a while and drop him off a ways away from here. I have a feeling that he won’t be bothering you anymore.” He smiled at the little family and then turned to leave, because they still had someplace to be, after all. “Grab Stone and let’s get a move on, we’ve wasted almost an hour as it is.” Spark took off his dagger, using his magic to wipe off the blood and re-sheath it in his bag. Before he could take more than a couple steps however, he felt a small pair of legs wrap around him.”
“Thank ya, Spark. Ya saved my life. You’re a hero,” Honeydew told him. The little filly smiled up at him with her orange eyes full of joy and it warmed Spark heart.
“I didn’t do anything that any other good pony wouldn’t have done, Honeydew. I’m no hero,” Spark explained as he patted her tangled mane and smiled back at her.
“Naw, my daughter is right mister, Spark was it? You n’ your friends saved our lives and our farm,” the farmer said as he walked over. “Please, at least join us for some lunch; it’s the least we can do ta repay ya.” He nodded to the group of friends with a smile. “My wife here makes a great orange cobbler.” The dark orange mare nodded her head and motioned for them to follow her as she turned and walked into the house with Honeydew following close behind. “I don’t believe we were properly introduced. I’m Winesap and my wife’s name is Valencia. Welcome ta Rockridge Farm,” the red stallion said as he reached out a hoof towards Spark, who took it and gave it a quick shake before introducing himself.
“I’m Nature Spark and this is Discipula Star and Inferno,” Spark replied. “I believe you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Backdraft already.” He nodded toward the pegasus who nodded back.
“Yeah, we got pretty well acquainted after I dove through the roof of their barn, blowing it all to hay,” Draft chuckled. Winesap nodded his head in agreement before turning to walk inside the house.
“Let’s go get some lunch y’all,” Winesap called back to them. Spark and his friends followed the stallion inside where the smell of food was already beginning to fill the small house. Spark’s stomach growled savagely, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten anything since the crummy breakfast he had made that morning.

Everypony had finished eating and were all relaxing in the living room of the small ranch house. There weren’t enough seats to go around, so Inferno and Honeydew had gone into the filly’s room to play for a while, although the dragon was clearly more mature than the little pony. Spark had eaten his fill and was now contenting himself with listening to the stories of Winesap and his charming wife.
“We’d be bringin’ in allot more money if’n we had a more valuable crop ta sell. Our oranges do alright, but we have to get ‘em ta town before they spoil. That n’ they don’t grow all year round, so come winter we end up without anything ta sell at the markets in Baltimare.” Spark perked up his ears at that. Just maybe there was something more that he could do for their family. He only had a few seeds with him, but with his magic he could grow those seeds to full maturity in a little under an hour.
“You said that you need some more trees. I may have a few seeds in my saddle bags that would work for you,” Spark said as he fished out a small pouch of them with his magic.
“That’s awful kind of ya, sweetie, but its late fall and there’s no way that they would grow enough to survive the winter cold,” Valencia smiled at him and went back to telling Star her story.
“You just leave that to me. I have a little talent when it comes to working with all sorts of plants and such,” Spark whispered to himself. He got to his hooves and walked outside. A moment later he was joined by Draft, who knew first hoof the kind of magic Spark could work on plants.
“You’re going to grow these ponies a whole new crop aren’t you?” Draft questioned. The pegasus smiled knowingly at his friend as he added, “Well, give me some of those seeds and I’ll go get them ready for you.” Spark gave his friend half of the seeds and then set about planting the ones he had left. He began to dig up the ground with his hoof and drop in a seed. Once it was in the ground and covered by dirt, Spark would water it a little and then kneel down and touch his horn to the warm soil. Spark’s horn lit up with magic, the force coming off of it in layered shades of green power. Soon a small plant poked out of the ground and within minutes it had grown to a full sized tree, complete with red juicy apples that were ready to be bucked down and sold.

Spark continued in this fashion for a few hours with only short breaks. After he had planted his seeds in the ground, Draft pitched in to plant the rest of Spark’s, as well as fetching the water that the trees needed. All that the unicorn had to do was work his magic, but that was enough of a challenge that by the time they were finished, Spark’s horn had burnt out. He couldn’t even levitate a rock to save his life, but he had finished growing a small orchard for the Cider’s. He assumed that they would be able to harvest the apples before winter. That would give them enough food and money to live comfortably and still rebuild their barn. Spark collapsed to the ground with exhaustion and Draft brought him a flask of water, helping his friend take a long drink.
“You did really well, Spark. I think you gave this family back their lively hood,” Draft assured him. “You should be proud. You really do seem like a hero sometimes.” The pegasus chuckled and took a drink of the water himself.
“I’m no hero, Draft,” Spark started to disagree, but the pegasus cut him off.
“Please. Don’t give me that ‘anypony would have done it’ line. I know other ponies and most of them wouldn’t have lifted a hoof for that filly, if it put their own life in danger. Not only did you do that, but here you are worn out because you had to go a step further and grow them an entire crop.” Draft rolled his eyes at the fallen unicorn. “Face it, Spark, you’re so nice that you’d probably give up your kidney if it would save a pony you just met.” Maybe he had a point, Spark didn’t really feel heroic, but lately it seemed as if kindness was the exception rather than the rule. He hoped that wasn’t true and that it was just his bad luck that they kept meeting and hearing about so much evil.
“Could you go get the others? I, uh, I don’t think I can move yet,” Spark groaned. They both started laughing their flanks off as Draft stood up.
“Yeah, I’ll go in and get them. Don’t go anywhere now,” Draft chuckled before flying back over to the house, leaving Spark to lie on the dirt and stare at the cloud dotted sky. It would be winter in another half of a month. If they had to head for Manehatten after Canterlot, then they were going to need some better supplies to deal with the cold. Manehatten usually got a good amount of snow and the last thing Spark wanted was to die in a blizzard heading to, or from, the city. Right now though, he had more pressing matters to attend to, like having Star take a look at his face where he had gotten kicked. Spark could feel it starting to swell up and noticed blood dripping down into his eyes. His adrenalin had worn off earlier and now the pain was starting to catch up to him.
“I’m going to need a new pair of glasses now too. Buck me,” he sighed. Spark rolled onto his side and saw Draft leading everypony over to the new orchard.
“Oh my,” Valencia gasped in awe as she glanced around the new grove of trees. Her husband started walking around the small orchard, eyeing all of the new fruit they would be able to harvest.
“You weren’t kiddin’ when ya said that you’d be able ta help us out,” Winesap gawked. “I don’t know what ta say, son. Thank ya so much for your kindness. I don’t think that we can ever repay ya.” The farmer tipped his hat to Spark in thanks.
“Don’t worry about repaying us, Winesap. This is sort of what Spark does,” Draft explained with a smile. The pegasus walked over to his friend and helped him to his hooves. “Spark, you got blood running down your face. Better have Star take a look at it.” He turned and motioned for the small unicorn. “Star, do you think you can help out Spark while I go check on Stone. We left him alone back at the house and I don’t want him trying anything funny.” She nodded her head and Draft turned and flew back over to the small house, where they had left the large stallion just a few minutes ago.
“Oh Celestia, Spark, how do you always manage to get so beat up?” Star asked. She knelt down and got to work repairing his wounds, the white light of her magic soothing his aching face. “You look terrible and I’m guessing that you burnt out your magic doing all of this. You need to take it easy. What would we do if we got in another fight while you were still incapacitated?” She gave him a motherly smile as she finished her healing spell. Spark felt much better when she was done, but still had trouble staying on his hooves. Inferno walked over and assisted him with remaining upright.
“You sure are something else, Spark,” Inferno said. The dragon punched him playfully and then apologized when he winced in pain. “I’m so sorry. I guess you probably don’t feel to great right about now.”
“If you harvest these apples I think it should be enough to get you a new barn and keep your family fed through winter,” Spark told them. His gaze turned to Honeydew and he and he winked. “You make sure to do your part to help out your folks, alright Honeydew?” he asked.
“I sure will, thank you, Spark. You’re the best,” Honeydew replied. The filly ran up and gave Spark a big hug that hurt him again, but she seemed not to notice and he didn’t want to tell her to stop.
“Will ya’ll be spendin’ the night here? It’s the least we could do after all of this,” Winesap asked as he gestured around at the new orchard.
“I’m afraid not,” Spark replied. “We have to get to Canterlot to take care of some very important business and we’re already behind schedule for today. Thank you for the kind offer, but we had best be moving on before it gets too late.” The farmer nodded in understanding.
“Well if you’re ever in the area again please stop by. I’ll have my wife cook up some more cobblers,” Winesap told him.
“I have some left over in the house. I’ll go wrap up a few and you can take them with you. I know your friend Draft can’t get enough of them,” Valencia added. She turned back towards the house and walked away. Draft was flying back from the same direction, landing in front of everypony a second later.
“It looks like Stone got away,” he told them. “Chewed right through the ropes and headed west as far as I can tell. I doubt he’ll be back anytime soon though.” The pegasus eyed Spark suspiciously. “Are you going to be okay to walk?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine until it gets dark, then we’ll set up camp. I may need to have you roll up some joints though. My face got busted up during the fight and I can’t see to well,” Spark explained before he turned to face Winesap. “You take care of yourself and we’ll see you on our way back home.” The farmer smiled at him and nodded.
“I’ll be sure to do that, Spark. Ya’ll take care o’ yourselves too,” Winesap replied. He gave them each another hoof shake as his wife returned with five cobblers wrapped up in paper. Spark just smiled as she brought them over.
“Take these, sweetie. I bet ya’ll get mighty hungry walkin’ all day,” Valencia said. Star floated the treats into her saddle bags and thanked the mare for her gift. “Think nuthin’ of it, hun.” The dark orange mare gave them each a hug and said her goodbyes. Honeydew did the same and then followed her mom back to their house leaving the four friends to return to their mission.
“Let’s get a move on ponies. Daylight is a wasting,” Spark sighed. All three of the unicorn’s companions started walking down the road once more, the late afternoon sun at their sides and him in the lead. There were still miles to travel before they slept.

It had taken quite a bit of smoking to keep Spark on his feet as they walked the rest of the day away. At this rate, he thought, I’m going to wind up running out before we ever make it to Canterlot. The group stopped a short distance away from the river and filled their flasks with cold water. It was the last fresh water they would find until they made it to the Canterlot area. With their containers replenished, the ponies started setting up camp for the night. Inferno took care of the fire, once Draft had gathered wood and Star scrounged up a passable dinner out of their remaining supplies.
“What a day, huh?” Draft asked. He was in the process of rolling one last joint to smoke before they hit the hay, his hooves somehow managing to work the paper in a way that seemed physically impossible to Spark. The unicorn wrote it off as a pegasus thing. When it was finished Draft passed it to Spark, who lit it up and took a few puffs before passing it back.
“You know, Spark, you can be really intimidating when you want to be,” Star informed him suddenly. She was in the process of heating up some dinner while. “During that fight back there, you took that monster of a stallion down pretty quickly.”
“He was threatening a filly. What else was I supposed to do?” Spark asked. She smiled at him and handed him a plate of grilled carrots.
“I know and the jerk deserved it,” Star replied. “I’m just saying that I would hate to be on your bad side.” She passed out the rest of the food and then got a plateful of her own once her friends had been served.
“She’s right. I was watching you all fight and you each did great, but Spark brought down the wrath of Celestia on those ponies,” Inferno agreed. “I don’t think that they’ll ever do anything bad again.” The dragon munched down on her gem for the day, savoring each crunchy bite.
“That dagger of yours sure helped out too. You know that most soldiers name their favorite weapon,” Draft added. “Have you thought of a name for yours yet?” He was being completely serious, but Spark assumed the pegasus was just joking with him. Naming a weapon seemed like a strange thing for somepony to do.
“I haven’t really had the time to think about a name for an inanimate object, Draft. Sorry,” Spark chuckled at his friend and resumed eating the steaming carrots Star had fixed for dinner with a renewed vigor. Fighting with ponies really worked up the exhausted unicorn’s appetite.
“Well, I’ll try to think of one and get back to you then,” Draft replied. He had finished eating and was eyeing the cobblers sitting at the top of Star’s saddle bags. “Now which one of you feels like splitting some cobbler with me?”
“I will,” everypony and dragon said at once. They all started laughing as Star floated out one of the cobblers and divided it amongst them all. They munched down the desert and talked for a while, trying their best to put the earlier fight out of their minds. When they had finished eating, Star walked sat down by the flickering campfire.
“Do you want me to teach you about the Crystal Empire tonight?” Star asked them. She looked around at her friends, but they all seemed pretty worn out to her.
“I think we’re just going to have to save that lesson for tomorrow night, Star. I’m sore, my magic is burnt out and all I feel like doing is getting some sleep,” Spark replied.
“Agreed,” Draft said as he flopped to his stomach. “We’ll just have to save that one for later.” Star was fine with that, as she too was content to just go to bed for the night, so they all lay down and closed their eyes. The cloudy night sky was hiding most of the moonlight and without the fire it would have been pitch black.
“Good night, hero,” Draft quietly chuckled to himself as one by one the rest of his friends closed their eyes around him.
“Good night everypony,” Spark yawned. It had been a very long day and Spark had run himself ragged, but he hoped it was something that a night of uninterrupted sleep would fix. The unicorn barely got the words out of his mouth before he too was fast asleep. His magic would certainly need some time to return, he thought as sleep took him.