~Chapter 7: Flying High Away~
“No. I don’t remember ever seeing him that mad before, but you don’t have to worry,” a voice spoke from the darkness. Spark could hear hushed whispers as he awoke from his dreams.
“Are you sure about that?” Inferno asked. “I like him, don’t take this the wrong way, but you saw how fast he took out Stone. Do you think any of us could stop him if he ever snapped?” She was talking about him with Backdraft.
“I already told you, Inferno, there is no way that will ever happen,” Draft replied quietly. “Sure, he can throw down when the time comes for it, but he’s not the kind of pony that would attack somepony else without a good reason.”
“I know. He just surprised me I guess. I still trust you three,” the dragon replied. She didn’t have a reason not too.
“Three?” Draft asked.
“Yes. Even if your brother can be a little abrasive, I do trust him to make the right decisions,” Inferno explained. “Just remember, everything Star and I witness we’re supposed to write to Princess Luna about.” Yeah, that made sense, Spark thought. Star was the princess’s personal student after all.
“I think he’s waking up…” Inferno said as she noticed his eyes twitching open. Spark knew they had been talking about him, but it was too ridiculous to even worry about. Sure he had taken down Stone, but that was only because the boulder of a stallion was cocky and hadn’t expected them to fight back. Besides, if his friends hadn’t been watching his back, Spark probably would have been stomped to death.
“Good morning, everypony,” Spark greeted them cheerfully. He decided to just pretend that he hadn’t overheard their conversation.
“Good morning, Spark. How are you feeling today?” Draft asked as he sat down beside the unicorn and passed him a joint.
“I feel like I got bucked in the face and then spent the day walking,” Spark replied with a laugh. He smiled and took the joint and tried to spark it on his horn, but his magic wasn’t working yet. He had almost forgotten that he was burnt out. Hopefully it would wear off soon, before he became to annoyed by the problem.
“You need me to light that on the campfire for you?” Draft asked. The pegasus took the joint back and leaned his face into the fire, after a few puffs it was lit and he handed it back. “Star is still asleep. I’ll get breakfast started after we smoke.” Draft looked at him and then leaned in to whisper in his ear. “I’m not sure if you were aware, but you look and smell like shit.” Then he backed away and chuckled a few times.
“Thanks for letting me know,” Spark replied dryly. “I’ll go hop in the river while you make breakfast.” Spark got to his hooves and made his way to the flowing river a few minutes later. The sun hadn’t begun to warm the shallows yet, so it was nearly ice cold as he dipped his hoof, before pulling it out and backing up a few steps. Taking a deep breath to brace his nerves, Spark ran full speed and leapt out into the water. The large splash he made sent a school of fish swimming away from the rocky shore. He submerged his head in the cool stream, letting the rushing water carry away the dirt and grime of a few days travels as he shivered in the slow current. Clean and invigorated, Spark returned to the campfire once he was done and took a seat beside it in order to dry out. The autumn breeze against his wet hide was cold and sent a shiver down the unicorn’s spine.
“So, how’s breakfast coming?” Spark questioned. The smell of fresh apples, fried in sugar and cinnamon, was drifting into his nostrils and making his mouth water profusely. “It smells delicious.”
“They’re just about done. Give it like five more minutes,” Draft told him.
Spark sighed and decided to spend that time talking to Star now that she was up and about. He walked over to where the mare was seated, reading an old book.
“What are you busy reading there?” Spark asked. He looked over her shoulder at the page, but it was a very boring looking book of magic and he just didn’t have the stomach for reading something that dry and educational.
“This? Oh, it’s a really interesting book of medical spells,” Star replied after a moment. She seemed genuinely enthused about it, which confused Spark to no end. He liked to learn new spells as much as the next unicorn, but there were far more hooves on approaches to learning, which was what he had always preferred.
“Always the faithful student, aren’t you?” Spark asked. He smiled at the black coated book worm, but she was engrossed in her medical research and didn’t even notice. Star let out a distracted, “Mhmm,” then she just continued with her reading, so Spark left her alone with her text.
“Good talk, same time tomorrow then?” Spark called back sarcastically. He snickered at his own joke and walked back to where Draft was busy throwing apple slices onto plates. They looked delicious and Spark ate half of his share before he had even sat down. They were fresh and sweet, with just the right amount of cinnamon to spice them up a little. “Pretty damn good, Draft. Who new you were such the master chef?” Spark shoveled the rest of the pieces in to his mouth and then went back for a couple more. All of the walking had really increased his appetite.
“Star! Get your flank over here and get some food before fatty here eats it all,” Draft called out to the mare, who hadn’t yet noticed that they were eating. Spark shoved his friend for the fatty comment and walked over to his saddle bags, where he began repacking all of his belongings. He saw his dagger and, remembering what Draft had said about naming it, decided to pull it out and give it a look over.
It really was a beautiful piece of equipment. The enchantments aside, just the extraordinary craftsmanship made it a valuable weapon. The details were intricate, each twisting vine looked hoof carved to perfection and the inscription on the back was done up in beautiful calligraphy. The emerald inset was adorned with patterns as well; a tiny picture of two unicorns rearing up and, what appeared to Spark to be random patters along the edge of the jewel. It was no wonder that ponies became so attached to weapons when they looked like that.
“Did you think of a name for it yet?” Draft asked him. Spark had been so absorbed in examining the blade, that he hadn’t even heard the pegasus walk up. He was peering over his shoulder and Spark realized how Star could completely shut him out, as interested as she was in books and such.
“No, but I think you might be right. Something that was this lovingly crafted should have a name, even if it was just made to hurt ponies,” Spark replied. It was a shame really; the skill that went into making the dagger could have been put to better use making fine shoes, or maybe some fancy broaches.
“I wonder what your dad called it. You know, back when it was a part of his super secret life?” Draft asked. As sarcastic as he sounded, the pegasus had asked a good question. Spark didn’t know much about who his father really was, but maybe somepony in Canterlot would. Perhaps even Princess Celestia herself; after all, Oaken Field had been one of her best stallions.
“I have no idea, but I bet that we can find out when we get to Canterlot,” Spark said. “After all, there’s no reason to change its name after so long” He put the silver dagger back in its sheath and got to his hooves. “It’s about time that we get moving.” He was still a little sore and would have been more than happy to sit around all day, but there were places to go and ponies to see. “Let’s pack up the rest of this camp,” Spark called over to Inferno and Star, who were finished eating by then. They packed up their bags, hoisted them on and moved out. The group was heading northwest and the mountain that Canterlot was built upon loomed in the distance, framed by the rising sun.
They had walked all morning without running into any trouble and Spark was very happy about that. It seemed like every day so far they had gotten delayed and at the rate they had been walking, they would be a day late. Spark didn’t want that to happen, but he had heard the news that the Crystal Queen was captured nearly a week ago. Time had sure flown by and, as slow as pony politics moved, he was still fairly sure that war would be declared soon. If that happened, Spark wasn’t sure if there was anything anypony would be able to do to reverse the decision. The last thing Equestria needed right then was to go to war. They were still working on rebuilding most of the major cities after Discord’s reign of terror finally ended. Manehatten, Los Pegasus and Vanhoover had been hit the hardest, but nearly every city in Equestria had received some sort of damage in the struggle.
“I’m sorry I didn’t catch that. What were you saying?” Spark asked. He had been lost in thought and hadn’t noticed Draft talking to him.
“I was just asking how far you thought my brother and Strata had gotten by now,” Draft asked again. The pegasus was hovering beside him and seemed to be troubled by something.
“If they flew all night that first night, then I would guess that they’re probably camped out on the far side of the Everfree Bog,” Spark replied. “Why do you ask?”
“That would mean that he should arrive in Canterlot a day after we do, if everything goes according to plan of course,” Draft commented. He sighed and hung his head a second after.
“Which it rarely does,” Spark replied. He saw his friend’s point, if Downpour was delayed for any reason they may have to leave Canterlot before they met up with him.
“I’m just worried about him I guess,” Draft said as he picked his head up, changing his attitude dramatically. “I’m sure he’ll be okay though, my brother is one stubborn son of a mule after all.” Spark had to agree with that. He was more worried about them making it to the city in one piece, rather than Downpour and Strata.
“Do you two mind if we stop here for lunch?” Star asked. “I want to send another letter to Luna and let her know that I’m okay.” She hadn’t written the princess since they left Dodge and assumed that her teacher would be starting to worry about her.
“Yeah, it’s about lunch time anyway, so we might as well,” Spark replied. “Draft and I will get the food ready. You and Inferno go ahead and send your letter. I want to continue as soon as we can.” He shrugged off his bags and started to pull out food. It was a pain in the flank without magic and he didn’t know how Draft managed to do things so quickly with his hooves. Sure pegasus had that strange way of grabbing some things with their wings, but Spark could barely manage to do anything gracefully using only his hooves. He finally did manage to dig out some carrots and started eating right away, giving some out to his companions while he did.
“All done, so what’s on the menu for today?” Inferno asked as she walked over to the two stallions. “Carrots, oh joy,” She sighed, but she still sat down and ate her fill though. “Is your magic back yet Spark?” He hadn’t tried it in a while, so he decided now was as good of a time as any to attempt rolling up a joint.
“I don’t know. Let me see what I can manage,” Spark replied. He concentrated on levitating the papers out of his saddle bags, his horn glowed green for a moment before letting out a few sparks and fizzling out. “I guess that’s a no.” He ended up just handing the papers over to Draft. Thank Celestia the pegasus had learned how to roll well, he thought. A minute later Draft handed back some nicely rolled up herb. “Inferno, would you be a dear and light this for me,” Spark asked the dragon. He gave her his sweetest smile and she just rolled her eyes.
“Fine, but don’t let me hear you say that I’ve never done anything for you,” Inferno replied. She blew out a small flame and dipped the end of the joint into it. Spark took it from her a second later and sucked in a long drag. He held the smoke in his lungs for a few moments and then exhaled, a big grin forming on his face.
“Ah, much better,” Spark groaned as he glanced around with a grin. The colors of the earth and sky seemed more vibrant and he was filled with euphoria. There really aren’t many things that are better than this, except maybe the affection of a wonderful mare, he decided. That got him thinking about Heart Charm, the gorgeous pink pony was probably missing him as much as he was missing her right then. If only Inferno’s magic could send letters to ponies besides the princess, then he could write to her.
“Please pass me some of those carrots. I’m starving,” Star said as she walked up, having finished her report to the princess. Spark passed her a few carrots and she took them, practically inhaling each one in rapid succession before asking for some more. “Ugh, all this walking is starting to get to me. I don’t think I’ve eaten like this in years. Draft just shrugged his shoulders in response.
“Yeah, but it’s not like your going to get fat when we’re always on the move like this. Now if you were back in Dodge just sitting around reading and you tried to eat like that you might start to put on a little pudge,” the pegasus told her. He snickered and Star smacked him playfully on the shoulder. “What? You know that I’m right. Spark was too busy thinking to join in their joking though.
“So Star, do you think the princess will be happy with your report?” The unicorn asked her. He was fishing to see if she’d admit to spying on him. It wasn’t that he really cared, but he thought that everypony had developed at least a little mutual trust. Star could at least have the decency to let him know she was going to write to the princess about all of them. Sure it was Inferno that had told Draft, but he could have at least told Spark in turn.
“I don’t see why not. I’m guessing that she’ll find our run in with Strata the most interesting,” Star replied. “Plus, she may also put out an arrest warrant for Stone, even if he did promise to give up ganging. I doubt that she will be to keen on trusting the word of a known criminal.”
“Good. It’s no more than what he deserves and bedsides, it will keep us from ever running into him again if he gets locked up,” Inferno commented as she got up off the ground and stretched out her scaly body. “I suppose we should get walking again, shouldn’t we?” Draft crouched down and looked over at the small red dragon
“I’ll give you a ride, no use in all of us getting worn out for no reason,” he told her. She gave him a funny look and was about to say something, but thought better of it and climbed onto his back instead. “She’s right; we do need to get going again. There’s always plenty more traveling to be done,” he added.
“Yup, and by the end of all this I’m going to have a flank of steel,” Spark joked as he struck a pose that everypony else couldn’t help but laugh at. “You guys are just jealous.” He stuck his nose in the air and walked off a little ways before turning around and laughing at himself. The sun began to disappear behind some large grey clouds as they continued down the empty dirt road with the cool autumn breeze blowing at their backs with every step.
The group had been traveling in silence for a couple of hours, everypony lost in their own thoughts as they crossed hill after rolling hill. There wasn’t much else to do to occupy their time. They had talked about pretty much everything under the sun. I wonder how Sugar and mom are doing right now, Spark thought as he steps over a puddle of mud in the trail. The little colt hadn’t even really woken up when Spark said goodbye to him. He really hoped that his little brother wasn’t too upset. These thoughts and many more, had been the object of Spark’s musings for most of the walk. All of this time to let his mind wander was starting to unnerve the quiet stallion. A few days ago Spark had been positive that leaving for Canterlot was the right thing to do, but the more he thought about it, the less sure he became.
“Somepony better start a conversation soon or I think I’m going to lose my mind,” Spark groaned suddenly. His friends gave him a couple funny looks. “I know I’m not the only one who’s sick and tired of it being so quiet.”
“I know what you mean,” Draft replied. “We’ve been doing almost nothing but walking for the past couple of days, it’s only natural that we’re starting to get sick of it.” The pegasus was feeling the same way as Spark it seemed.
“I know a spell that reproduces the sound of an organ. Does anypony know how to sing?” Star asked. She actually had a pretty good idea. Music always helped to sooth the weary soul, but Spark sure as hay couldn’t sing though, at least not very well.
“There is this one song that I used to like, but my voice isn’t the greatest. If I sing it you guys have to promise not to make fun of me,” Draft told her. He was going to sing a song, which was one of the strangest things that Spark had heard in awhile. He didn’t know his friend even liked to sing.
“Of course we won’t laugh, please sing for us Draft,” Star asked as she fluttered her eyelashes, the way that mares often would when they wanted to get their way, and Draft complied without much hesitation.
“It will only sound passable if you can provide the music. Do you know how to play-” he whispered the rest into the mare’s ear, so that his other two friends would be somewhat pleasantly surprised. Star nodded her head eagerly and a second later her horn was enveloped by the usual white glow. This time however, it was accompanied with the sound of an organ drifting around them. When Draft’s voice started to mix with the instruments sound, it produced and effect that Spark couldn’t have described well enough to do it justice.
Gotta find a way
Yeah I can’t wait another day
Ain’t nothing gonna change
If we stay around here
Gotta do what it takes
Cause its all in our hooves
We all make mistakes
Yeah but its never too late to be true
Take another breath and say another prayer
Spark recognized the song, but hearing it accompanied by the organ was something else entirely different. Draft’s voice wasn’t perfect, but there was a deep longing behind his singing that made the unicorn’s emotions surge with his friend’s heartfelt words.
And fly away from here
Anywhere yeah I don’t care
We just fly away from here
Our hopes & dreams are out there somewhere
Won’t let time pass us by
We'll just fly yeah
Beside Star, Inferno was beginning to tear up and Spark hated to admit it, but he was on the verge of a few Stallion-y tears himself. Star’s eyes were closed and she was concentrating on her magic with an expression somewhere between love and sorrow as th music intensified.
If this life
It seems harder now
It ain’t no never mind you got me by your side
And anytime you want
Yeah we can walk away & find a better place
Cause we won’t let nothing or no one keep getting us down
Maybe you and I could pack our saddle bags and hit the sky
That was all that Spark could handle and he was in full emotional mode now. Tears were running down his face. Maybe it was being away from home, the stress of the last few days, or he might just have been a whinny little filly, but he didn’t care. The song was raw and beautiful.
And fly away from here
Anywhere yeah I don’t care
We just fly away from here
Our hopes & dreams are out there somewhere
We wont let time pass us by
We just Fly…
Draft’s voice trailed off before the song was finished, but Spark didn’t mind. Any longer and he would have been blubbering like a foal with a skinned knee.
“Mother of Luna, Draft. Why didn’t you ever tell me you could sing? We could have had music this entire trip you ass,” Spark laughed awkwardly. He wiped away his tears and kicked his friend in the side affectionately. The music had faded with Star’s spell and now she was just staring at the pegasus with her mouth hanging open in awe.
“I told you guys not to make fun of me,” Draft replied sullenly. The pegasus glared at his friends and his face turned a little red with embarrassment. Inferno walked up to him and reached up her clawed hand to pat him on the shoulder.
“They aren’t making fun of you, Draft. They’re completely serious,” she consoled. “You don’t have the best voice, but you made up for that by pouring out your soul. Look over at Spark, he was crying like a Celestia forsaken mare.”
“Was not,” Spark lied. He tried to put on his most stern, mature face, but his red eyes betrayed him. “Okay, I may have teared up a moment. Seriously though, Draft. For an amateur, that was pretty bucking good. With a little practice you could probably even make a living out of singing.” Draft smiled at his friends who were finally starting to compose themselves.
“Thanks everypony, it means allot to hear you say that, but I’m going to have to say no to singing for a living,” the pegasus replied. He started laughing and his friends joined in. The laughter helped to push the last of the sappy feelings out of Spark’s mind.
“Well, I don’t know about you ponies, but I feel way better now,” Inferno said. She was right, everything did seem much better. Spark would never admit it to anypony, but a few tears went a long way in relieving some of the pent up anxiety.
“Are you ready for your turn to sing, Spark?” Star asked, giving the stallion her fluttering eyelashes, but Spark was having none of that.
“Oh no, if I sing, especially after that, everypony here is going to need some serious help to get the memory out of their heads,” Spark chuckled. His comment was followed by another round of laughter. After the chuckles died down, the group resumed walking in silence. It was late afternoon by then, and the clouds were still thickening in the sky. It looked like rain was heading their way and Spark sighed as he returned his attention to the road ahead.
It was raining. Of course it was raining, because that was just their luck. They hadn’t had their daily delay after all, Spark silently fumed. He was soaked to the bone and his previous good mood was being drowned out by large cold drops of rain. Star had done her best to keep them dry by maintaining a weak field of magical energy around them, but after a few miles she was thoroughly drained. She hadn’t wanted to completely burn out her horn and Spark didn’t blame her. Not having magic was terrible.
“I hate the rain,” Inferno complained. She was trudging along even more miserably than the rest of them. Being closer to the ground, the dragon had collected an impressive layer of mud up to her knees. She stopped in her tracks to scream out some of her frustration and then continued to walk along with her companions.
It had started as a light drizzle at first, but before long had developed into a full blown downpour. Spark had just reminded himself that his friend was still out there flying towards White Tail Woods. Hopefully Downpour wasn’t having as bad of a time as they were, he hoped. Knowing the crazy pegasus though, he would probably be loving the foul weather. The driving rain and winds didn’t faze him much.
“Should we try to find shelter for the night?” Star asked. She had been worried that her books would get ruined, so Spark had given the mare one of his extra blankets to drape over her saddle bags. Not that it would do much good if the rain kept up for too long.
“No. I refuse to get delayed one more bucking time!” Spark shouted. “We are going to Canterlot and we’re going to arrive there on time, like we said we would!” He was yelling for the sake of yelling. It wasn’t like the rain would hear his whining and stop for him, but it made him feel a little better to scream. So good in fact, that Spark decided to yell some more. “Aaaaaggggghhhhh!” His voice didn’t carry very far in that kind of weather, but it did make him happier.
“Easy there, manticore. No need to have a breakdown just because of a little rain,” Draft laughed. Being the pegasus that he was, Draft didn’t mind the rain as much as his friends. He might even go so far as to say that he liked a little drizzle now and then, but this was a little much even for him. “You know I might be able to clear the sky above you three if I get a flying start and charge the clouds.”
“Yes. Yes. That. Do that… immediately,” Spark replied. He didn’t know why his friend hadn’t mentioned something earlier. They could have been dry the entire time and instead they were calf deep in muck and suffering from wind chill.
“Yeah, I’ll see what I can do,” Draft told him. He flew straight up into the sky and Spark lost sight of him behind the cloud cover. A few minutes passed without anything happening, until suddenly Draft went zooming by with a trail of clouds getting sucked away by his wind current. They could see clear sky and even a tiny bit of sunlight shining through as the pegasus shot past.
“Hahaha, Yes! He did it! Dry, wonderfully blue sky once again,” Spark cried. “Celestia be praised.” His cheers were short lived however, before Draft even made it back to them, new clouds had moved in to take the place of the ones that the pegasus had just gotten rid of.
“At least you tried, Draft,” Inferno huffed in annoyance. “I guess the clouds are just too thick for one pegasus to handle though.” She looked downright miserable, so Spark offered her a ride. “Are you sure? I’m pretty caked with mud right now,” Inferno replied. Spark just laughed.
“Don’t worry about it, I can always just rinse off, right?” he asked with a smile. It wasn’t like this rain was showing any sign of stopping soon.
“Well if you insist,” Inferno relented. She hopped up onto his back with the barest hint of a smile on her face. It beat the hay out of walking and the group continued on in that manner for sometime.
“I can’t even tell what time it is because of all this rain. This bites a big on,” Spark whined. At this point, the three ponies were barely moving at all and without his glasses, Spark couldn’t see anything that wasn’t right in front of his face. After the third time nearly tumbling Inferno off of his back after tripping over a rock or branch or something, he gave up and decided to call it quits. “Alright everypony, buck this. Tell me if you see a sheltered spot to make camp for the night.” At the thought of finding a dry place to stay, they all picked up their pace and kept an eye out. Lighting flashed somewhere behind them, lighting up a large group of boulders near a small mountain about a half a mile away. Draft caught sight of it first, and at his behest everypony took off in a gallop straight for it.
They set up camp in a small alcove between the boulders that Draft had found. It had a few leaks here and there, but it was better than nothing and they were thankful for what they had. The first thing they had done was to have Inferno get a fire going and then they started crowding around it trying to dry off. If they didn’t have a dragon with them they probably would have gotten pneumonia staying outside in the weather.
Drying out took quite a while and immediately after, they had begun drying all of their belongings. Anything that had been able to retain water was set by the fire while they ate some dinner, which was also a little bit damp. Star’s biggest concern had been her books and now there was about seven of them splayed out in the warmth of the camp fire. They hadn’t gotten completely ruined, but there was definite water staining on several chapters of three of them. They would still be legible though, and that was what really mattered. Draft was lying on his side rolling up a joint for them to smoke and Inferno was picking mud out of in between her claws as Spark relaxed by the flames.
“You know what?” Draft asked out of nowhere. The pegasus had finished rolling and sat up as he spoke “I’d take fighting Stone and his gang over huddling in a dark damp cave any day of the week.” You and me both, Spark thought with a smile.
“I guess now is as good a time as any for you to tell us about dragons, Star, unless you’re busy of course,” Spark said. He facehoofed as soon as he had spoken. Of course she wasn’t busy, because they were stuck in a damned hole in a pile of rocks.
“Nope, I don’t believe I am,” Star replied. “I might as well teach you something while we pass the time.” She sat down next to them and started to cast her story telling spell, when Spark interrupted her.
“Just wait for one quick second,” he urged. The unicorn got up and walked over to Inferno, handing her the joint that Draft had rolled. “Please.” She sighed and lit the herb with a small burst of fire. Spark took it back from her and then settled in to listen to Star weave her tale.
“If I miss anything, Inferno will have to fill it in at the end. She is an actual dragon after all,” Star explained. Her horn started glowing, the magic creating figures of white light as Spark got comfortable on the damp earth.
The Dragon Lord is the only original immortal that is known to still be living. If any creature on this earth knows what occurred in the beginning of time itself, it would be him. He lives somewhere on the continent southeast of Equestria, although nopony has ever seen him. He hasn’t left his lair in over one thousand five hundred years. There isn’t even a pony alive who really knows what he looks like. I don’t believe that even Celestia or Luna had laid eyes on him.
He prefers to keep dragons out of the affairs of the other nations for the most part, even declining to do anything when Discord had risen to power. The only exception is a deal he made with the King and Queen of the Alicorns before they died. In return for providing dragon eggs for the top magical apprentices to hatch, Equestria sends large amounts of jewels to the dragon’s domain. This is the way it has been since the treaties were made and it is the only reason that I was given Inferno to hatch when I was a filly.
When dragons are young, they function much like the rest of us, but as they age they begin to change. The most obvious change of course is their size. Dragons continue to grow until the day they die. I can’t say for sure if this is true of the Dragon Lord, but you can imagine how large he would be if it is. Most of them also develop greed so intense that it borders on obsession. If you ever meet a grown dragon you must never remove any of their possessions. Not if you value your life. Everypony should be aware that they can breathe fire; it comes in many different colors and grows in power as they get older. The last change comes in their sleeping patterns. You’ve seen how Inferno has the same sort of sleeping pattern as we do, but when she matures, her sleeping pattern will change. She will be awake for decades at a time and then hibernate for just as long.
The most important rule for when you talk to a dragon however is to remember that they are cunning. You don’t live for hundreds of years without learning a thing or two. There are many stories of great ponies that thought they could outsmart a dragon and get their gold and jewels, but nearly all of these attempts ended in gruesome failure. You may think that you can trick a dragon, but often times it is really the dragon that is doing the tricking. Keep this in mind should you ever meet one face to face.
Star finished her story and the magic died away, leaving Draft and Spark to stare at her in wonder. The small mare knew so much more than either of the stallions had ever learned. Spark was grateful to have access to her wisdom for his quest.
"Well that was, um, frightening,” Spark commented. He wasn’t really sure what else to say. There were a few of those things that he hadn’t known, but he had expected a pony that raised a dragon from birth to have a little more insight into their culture.
“Yeah, I was expecting more of a story and less of a warning,” Draft agreed as he dropped the joint that had been left burning in his mouth, after it singed his lip.
“That’s us dragons for you, all fire and brimstone with a healthy dose of sadism,” Inferno smiled mischievously at the two stallions. “So don’t make me mad or I might just decide to eat you.” She flashed her teeth and then laughed their expressions.
“Stop scaring them, Inferno. You’ll have plenty of time for all of that when you’re big and greedy,” Star joked as she got to her hooves and began putting away her books, which were mostly dried out by then. Spark and Draft looked at them both with disbelief.
“You don’t really think Inferno will get like that, do you?” Draft asked with genuine concern.
“Oh goodness, no. Pretty much all of the dragons that have been hatched by unicorns grow up to be nice, more or less,” Star assured him.
“I was just messing with you two. Don’t worry about me; I’m not like normal dragons. The few that I’ve met wanted nothing to do with me,” Inferno sighed. Spark wasn’t sure, but he thought she sounded a little disappointed when she said it. It must have been hard living in a foreign land, he imagined, shunned by your own kind. He didn’t think he could do it and knew that Inferno dealt with it far better than he would have been able to.
“Hey Draft, do you mind rolling one more of those?” Spark asked a little later. “That lesson sort of brought me back down.”
“Sure, give me just a second,” Draft replied. The dark grey pegasus started working his hooves and soon produced another joint. He was almost as good as Spark at rolling now. Not quite, but certainly close. Inferno lit it up for them and the two stallions started happily puffing on it.
“Do you think I could try some of that?” Star asked softly. Spark was stunned by the unexpected request. He didn’t know that Luna’s student would smoke herbs.
“Sure, I don’t see why not,” Spark replied. “Just promise me that Princess Luna never ever, ever finds out. I don’t want to spend the next five years in the dungeon for ‘corrupting’ her pupil or anything. Star shot him a funny look.
“Why would I ever tell Luna about something like that? She’d probably be as mad at me as she would be at you,” Star replied. Well it was bound to come up sooner or later, Spark groaned silently.
“Look, I know that you were asked to report everything we did to the princess, so don’t buck around with me, okay?” Spark asked. She seemed taken aback by his statement. “What, didn’t think I knew?”
“It’s not like I was trying to keep it a secret<’ Star defended. “It’s sort of my duty to report what I do and learn to Luna. It’s all a part of being her student.”
“Well, you still could have let me know that you were acting as her royal highness’s spy,” he retorted. “I just thought we had some mutual trust going on.” Spark took a long drag of the joint and then passed it to her.
“I’m sorry. I really didn’t think it was such a big deal,” she replied. It wasn’t either, so what if she was telling the princess what they were doing this whole trip, Spark wasn’t sure why he even cared, but he decided it was for the best to just let it go. He glanced at Star, who was staring at the joint like it was an arcane tome. Draft just snickered at the face she made when she smelled it.
“Look, it’s easy. Just put the end up to your lips and breathe in,” Draft explained. He mimicked taking a hit to show her.
“Are you sure you should be doing that Star?” Inferno asked. “I don’t want you ending up becoming a burnout.” She looked to Spark and Draft with her shining, yellow eyes after she said it. “No offence.”
“None taken,” they replied at the same time. Star had just started to take her hit and began coughing at once. Then Spark remembered that he had brought his best stuff with them.
“I think that one ought to be enough,” He told her as he snatched the joint back, before she could smoke any more of it.
“Are you sure? I don’t really feel any different,” Star replied before she started coughing again.
“I’m pretty sure, just give it a bit. Draft, can we have a countdown please?” Spark asked. He smiled as Draft started to count back from fifteen. Star gave them both a funny look as her coughing eased up a bit.
“…five, four, three, two, one,” Draft counted back. He hit one and a huge grin spread across the black mare’s face, followed immediately by loud giggling.
“Th-this has got to be the be- the best I’ve ever felt, ahahahaha,” Star choked. She tried to catch her breath and keep talking, but didn’t have much luck. “No, ha, no wonder you two smoke all of the time, ahahaha.” Star fell to the floor and rolled around hugging herself. Draft and Spark couldn’t help but join in her laughter. It was one of the most hilarious sights they had ever seen. The goody-goody mare, Star, Luna’s star pupil, was rolling on the ground because she was baked. You just didn’t get to see that every day. Off to the side, Inferno just rolled her eyes at the three of them.
“Great. Now she went and smoked herself stupid,” Inferno sighed. “I’m going to bed.” The little red dragon curled up and closed her eyes a second later.
“She’ll be fine in the morning, Inferno. Just let her enjoy herself tonight. She can go back to being a bookworm tomorrow,” Spark said with a smile.
The three ponies stayed up for a while longer, telling jokes and stories. They laughed and ate until the high started to wear off and they decided it was time for bed. Star was out like a light about five seconds after lying down, so the two stallions picked up the rest of the supplies and put them away before nodding off themselves.
“Did you ever picture us sitting her like this, Spark?” Draft yawned as he closed his eyes. Spark thought about it for a few seconds before answering.
“You mean huddled in a cave, with Luna’s best student passed out in a heap and a dragon curled up near by?’ he asked with a laugh. “Nope, I can’t say that I did.” Spark closed his eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling it slowly and letting helping himself to relax.
“Night, Spark,” Draft said sleepily.
“Good night, Draft,” Spark replied. He then rolled over and listened to the sound of his friends’ slow breathing and the constant patter of rain against stone for a while, until it finally put him to sleep.