The Demon's Angel

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 18: Hidden Glow

Chapter 18: Hidden Glow

The morning was a normal one for me, in that I watched the clock until it was time to get out of bed and get ready, the only difference being the time. It would be one of the only times I would leave Dash's side before the sun came up, but it was because of what I was going to be doing today and for whom.


Personally, I didn't have a lot to gain from the Wonderbolt Captain, other than a paycheck, but perhaps if I showed a little goodwill, it might put her in a better mood for whenever Dash competed to join the Wonderbolts...and for something like that, I'd fight Luna herself (which I had done before, but never in this context. A story for another time).

It appeared the fiery yellow pegasus was a stickler for punctuality, as she arrived at my home promptly at 04:00, just as I was stepping out of the shower.

"C'mon kid, let's go!" she whispered "loudly".

I sighed and rolled my eyes as I stepped outside my home. "Don't call me 'kid', feathers."

The Wonderbolt glared at me for a moment before smirking. "I like you already. Come on, let's get going. I'd like to arrive at the A/O before the sun rises."

I wore my own smirk as I said, "I hope you can keep up then." And with that I flapped my wings with a strong gust of wind and took off at breakneck speed towards the mountain I had been told about, the pegasus mare struggling to keep up.

When the two of us arrived at the aptly named "Dragon Mountain", it was to the sound of snores that shook the mountainside, along with a plume of smoke that accompanied them. Spitfire looked at me warily and pointed to the sky, then to her eyes, then to me. I got the message and watched as she flew off to a safe distance. Once she had done so, I sighed softly and turned to the smoky cavern that held my target.

From what I'd been told by Twilight Sparkle, dragonhide was fireproof, so much so that dragons could bathe in the lava from a volcano without fear. Even with that being the case, there was no word on me being "fang-proof" or "claw-proof", so I still had to be careful, as it was likely this dragon was not going to take kindly to being told to fuck off to somewhere else.

As I approached the innermost reaches of the cavern, both the noise and heat increased to uncomfortable levels until I saw my quarry, slumbering on a large gathering of different shiny treasures and the like.

"Um, excuse me?" I vocalized softly. The dragon didn't so much as twitch in response, so I shouted much louder, "Excuse me!" My voice that time was more of a roar than a normal voice, and this got the dragon's attention.

The eyes fluttered open and the large red dragon yawned and stretched, then looked to me in confusion. "Can I help you little one?"

The dragon spoke in a different language, but one that I for some reason both understood and knew. Pieces in my mind clicked in place and I recognized it as ancient draconic word. I smirked and nodded, responding in the same language, "Yes actually, you can. I've been sent by Princess Celestia to-"

"Oh, so you're that one." he growled out. The larger form glared at me and said, "These lands are mine by right of my family, so you can tell your beloved princess she has three days to evacuate the area, or I will take it by force."

I let loose my own growl and responded, "Look buddy, I'm trying to be nice here, but I'll personally kick your tail from here all the way back home if I have to. You're in direct violation of the treaty of the year 460, so if you want to continue breaking that code, I'll remove you myself."

The red scaled beast stared at me for a moment before erupting into laughter. "You remove me? Oh, that's a good jest, little one."

"You obviously have no clue who you're talking to, do you?" I asked with a tired sigh.

He shook his head, still chuckling. "I do not. Should I?"

I planted my feet and stood as tall as I could. "I'm Zizzanasx, the Skylord."

A deep threatening growl was my response as he said, "You are not fit to speak his name, whelp. Get out of my sight before I am forced to get violent."

I sighed and lowered my head. "You know, I had hoped to do this nice and easy, but it appears you're dead-set against that. Fine...I'll turn up the heat a little." I closed my eyes and changed my form, becoming much larger and thus, much more intimidating. With practice, the change now took only a few seconds to finish, and when I opened my eyes again, it was to be looking eye to eye with the standing red dragon.

"L-Lord Zizzanasx!" he exclaimed in shock. Immediately the dragon's head bowed in reverence. "A thousand apologies for my behavior. I did not know-"

I waved a large scaled hand at him and shook my head. "Really, it's fine. I keep a smaller form so that I won't be recognized and will blend in easier, so it makes sense that you had no idea who I was." I then sat back awkwardly on my rump and crossed my front legs across my chest. "Now, the fact still remains-"

I was interrupted with, "My lord, I apologize for how this sounds, but I am not leaving simply because you ask me to. The fact still stands that this is my land, stolen eons ago from my family by the pony princess of the sun. It is mine by right, and I will not give up that right, not even for my king."

"That's a pretty bold statement..." I responded, fishing for an answer to my unasked question.

"Duenos, my lord. Son of Temuul." he answered.

I didn't know either one of those names, but he didn't know that, so I just played it off and nodded. "I understand your feelings with this matter Duenos, but please explain to me why you believe this land you claim 'stolen' should be given to you. Have you no home?"

The red dragon grunted a laugh and said, "Of course I do, my lord. That does not change the fact that this land belongs to me."

I nodded slowly and grinned smugly. "So let me get this straight: you – who have a home of your own – would drive away all these ponies, who have nowhere else to go. Oh, and let's not forget me as well." The dragon gasped at this and I nodded. "Oh yes, I should have mentioned that these lands are my home as well, and most of the ponies you wish to send away from their homes are my friends."

"You live among these...these insignificant creatures?" he responded, gawking at me.

I growled out, "One of these 'insignificant creatures' happens to be my mate, thank you very much, and before you say anything about that, I should remind you that you're talking to the skylord. Insults to me I let go, but insults to my mate or my friends I do not. Choose your next words carefully."

For the first time since my transformation, the other dragon stood defiantly in front of me. "Apologies, but I will not give my lands to ponies."

Yet again taking knowledge from what Twilight Sparkle had told me, there was only one way to address this...

"Very well...then I will take your lands from you, since you are being so selfish as is." I growled out.

Duenos glared at me. "You would have me wager my lands in a duel against you, but what do you wager?"

I thought for a moment before smiling. "My life."

"You would give your very life for these wretched ponies?" he barked back.

I held his gaze and nodded slowly and deliberately. "I would give that and more, if I had more. Do you accept the terms or do you submit?"

Another glare was my response as he grinned evilly. "I accept the terms. Prepare yourself for battle, ancient one. You will find your life forfeit today."

The field of choice for this duel was to be an uninhabited valley within the mountains, where nopony would be injured in the crossfire. As the two of us made our way to the spot, I could see Spitfire following from a fair distance away.

"Why is that pony following us? Is she one of your 'friends'?" Duenos asked in annoyance.

"More like an acquaintance." I responded. "She's here to keep an eye on things and make sure I don't kill you."

As we landed, he turned around and raised an eyeridge at me. "The ponies do not wish me slain?"

I shook my head as I glanced at Spitfire again. "They just want you gone, not dead. That means if I win and you leave as we agreed upon, you never have to worry about me again. If you don't it could get mighty painful for you."

"You are rather confident, speaking as if you've already won." he mused as he took a place far away from me.

I shrugged as I turned back to him. "What can I say? I'm an arrogant prick sometimes. It's why my mate loves me."

"I'll never understand ponies..." he mumbled. He then spread his wings and growled menacingly. "Let us begin."

I took my stance just in time to take a fireball to the face. Once the smoke cleared, I laughed, "Fire? Seriously?" My momentary smug feeling was wiped from my very being as a claw embedded itself in my face. I roared in pain and responded to the pain by shooting my head forward in an attempt to bite my attacker, only for the claws to be ripped from my cheek and a fist replacing it. My vision swam as stars floated in front of my eyes, and I nearly lost consciousness. 'Okay, time to stop playing around. Keep acting like a jackass and you're going to get your ass handed to you.' I trained my senses on the dragon in front of me, now completely focused on him. I roared loudly, this time in a rage, and lunged forward towards the larger dragon. As I collided with his side, I realized that a head-on tactic wasn't going to work. This guy was built for battle. He was solid as a mountain, and just as heavy. Thankfully, I was a smaller target than he was, and much more mobile because of my species.

I flapped my powerful wings and shot into the air like...well, like Rainbow Dash. Now that I had more room to move around (and thus, an advantage), I was much more relaxed now. I had to work out exactly what would and wouldn't work on this guy, so I took a deep breath and roared loudly, letting a torrent of lightning shoot out of my mouth. It hit the red dragon on his side, but it didn't seem to do much more than just piss him off. 'Great, well there goes that plan' I continued flying around to avoid the slower dragon as I tried to think of a plan to overcome him, and that's when I thought of the sky. I continued fluttering about, lazily dodging his attacks as clouds began to gather overhead, blotting out the sun and turning the day into night. Duenos either didn't notice or didn't care, as his attacks became more wild and angry. He was getting a little sloppy now, and I grinned in anticipation of what was to happen next.

Just to give him some room to feel superior, I let myself be hit from one of his strikes, taking an overhead double-hammer to the ribcage, which I knew for a fact was going to bruise. I fell out of the sky and onto the ground, a crater being left from where I fell. I gasped for breath and rolled over on my side as the dragon screamed through the sky, right for me. 'That's right, just a little closer...'

The wind began to pick up as the black cloud above us began to creep down from the supercell thundercloud, causing the red dragon to pause and finally look up. Three more funnels began to form, then a fifth, and a sixth. As the wind began to pick up more and more, he finally looked at me with an expression I knew well by now: fear.

"You wouldn't!" he shouted over the roaring winds.

I just smirked in response and nodded. "Oh, I would. I hope you like flying."

With that declaration, I increased the power of the winds tenfold, which caused the larger dragon to slam his claws into the rock in an attempt to stay grounded. This proved futile, as a second later the earth itself was torn asunder, and he was brought into the sky against his will. While still controlling the storm, I reverted back to my smaller form and held my hand in the air, feeling the winds caressing my sore scales. I watched with a sort of twisted pleasure as the crimson dragon was flung about in the air like a ragdoll, and occasionally against a tree or cliff face.

"Stop!" shouted a voice from behind me, and I turned my head to see Spitfire looking on in horror.

"Oh hey, Captain. Just taking care of business, that's all." I answered in amusement.

She came up beside me and punched my leg. "You're not supposed to kill him! That isn't how we do things!"

I rolled my eyes as I continued to give the dragon the flight of his life. "If I wanted to kill him, I could have the wind tear his skin off. I'm just giving him a little something to remember the next time he thinks about doing something like this."

"Are you sure?" she asked, still mistrusting my tactics.

I nodded with a smile. "He'll be sore and really sick, but still very much alive." I looked back to the scene and grinned. "I think that will suffice." At once I dissipated the twisters and the clouds, and the scene was once again a bright and sunny day. I walked over to the dragon in time to see him lurch to his feet and begin heaving as his stomach contents emptied on the ground, and I just chuckled. "So, have you had enough or do you want to spend the rest of the day flailing around like that?" I asked in draconic.

Duenos coughed and sputtered a few times before wiping his mouth and groaning out, "Please...never again."

"Does that mean you submit then?" I asked as I stood near his head.

He nodded slowly. "Apologies, my lord...but I could not let my lands go without a fight. You fought and won fairly, so I concede defeat to you."

"If you and your people can be civil, I have no problem with dragons being in the Everfree or in the mountains. I never did. It was when you threatened to hurt the ponies living in these lands that it became my problem." I responded firmly. I then eyed him curiously. "Although your size might be an issue."

"That is easily corrected." he responded, just before a fiery torrent engulfed his entire body. I was about to shout in horror, but then the flames began to burn out. What was once a towering inferno was now a small bonfire of sorts, and when the flames finally dissipated, I found myself looking at a much smaller dragon, with a form akin to myself. He stood shakily and I reached out to support him, and he grinned in thanks. "Thank you, my lord."

I nodded in a welcoming gesture and raised an eyeridge curiously. "I thought only me and my daughter could do that."

The once-large dragon shook his head and smiled, finally regaining his balance as I released him. "It is a latent ability we all possess, but that few use anymore. In the circle of draconic civilization, power and might is respect, and so there is not much use for a smaller dragon."

"So what's the use for it in the first place then?" I asked in confusion.

He smiled sheepishly. "To allow for positive relations with the other beings of this world."

I smirked in victory and crossed my arms over my chest. "I bet you're feeling pretty foolish right about now."

"Somewhat." he responded in embarrassment. "I let my pride get the best of me...again."

I chuckled and nodded. "You're just lucky it was me to come and get you and not Fluttershy. She's the small yellow pegasus that scolded you last time, in case you're wondering."

I noticed him cringe a bit at the mention of the timid pony. "She frightens me."

I barked a laugh and shook my head. "If you actually knew her, you wouldn't be afraid of her in the least. She's literally the kindest pony you could ever hope to meet."

"Why does it sound as if you're inviting me to the pony lands?" he asked curiously.

I shrugged. "Maybe I am. Dragons and ponies don't have to live separately. I'm not the only one that lives there either. Little purple dragon? Went to the colony a few years back?"

Duenos tapped his chin with a claw a few times before nodding. "I do vaguely remember a young dragon by that description. He lives in the pony lands as well?"

I chuckled and nodded. "He was raised by a pony. In fact, he feels more at home with ponies than he does dragons."

"That is saddening." he remarked softly.

I nodded. "Yeah, it kinda is...but that's not the ponies' fault. Dragons are known to be temperamental, territorial, and violent. Other than Spike and I, they don't have any other dragons to change that outlook." I looked into the dragon's orange eyes and smiled. "But you really don't seem like all of that to me. I understand things are different between dragons and ponies, but maybe it could be your calling to mend that connection between the two races."

Suddenly he looked a little bashful (which was really odd to see from him) as he looked away. "I'm not sure I'm the right one for the job, my lo-"

"Just Zizzanasx is fine, thanks." I interrupted.

He nodded and continued, "I'm not sure I'm the right one to do that, Zizzanasx."

I chuckled and shrugged. "Better than me. I'm no ambassador, and I know that. You seem to be better with words than I am, and because of your presence, probably have more charisma than I do. You'd be perfect for that."

"Are you asking or ordering me?" he questioned warily.

"Neither." I answered with a smile. "I'm just saying it would be a good idea is all, and I'm sure that the ponies would love to meet a 'wild' dragon...providing you can behave yourself. Long ago, our two people lived in harmony before the great wars of past. Perhaps it's time to mend that bond."

"I am not so sure they would welcome me as you seem to think." he mumbled out loud.

"Does that mean you're interested?" I asked him.

The dragon nodded once. "I've always been fascinated with the other cultures, truth be told."

"Ah, a fellow intellectual. Nice to meet you, good sir." I quipped with a grin. "Well like I said, if you can promise to not be uncivilized, I will vouch for you."

The dragon nodded a few times before smiling a toothy grin. "It is possible I may call in that favor sometime soon." He then reached out a clawed hand towards me, which I took without hesitation. "For the record, that was a well-fought battle. That was the first time in centuries I've been bested."

I released his hand and smirked. "Yeah...and all it cost me was my face. Oh well, you can't have everything." I then pointed towards Ponyville. "Anyhow, if you need to find me, I'll be in the darkened cloud structure in the sky. Find me if you choose to take me up on my offer, and I'll help as I can."

He nodded once more before changing into his larger form again, then flying off.

"What was that all about?" I heard the pegasus mare ask from behind me.

I looked back at Spitfire and laughed. "You know, I'd completely forgot about you. Sorry about that."

"What language were you speaking?" she asked in confusion.

"Ancient draconic, apparently." I responded. "Don't ask me how I knew it, because I couldn't tell you."

"Well," she started, now sporting a smug grin, "not only did you get him to leave, but it appears he was pretty pleased with something. And that whole shrinking act he did...I was not expecting that."

I chuckled and then sighed. "To be honest, neither was I. Caught me completely by surprise as well."

The Wonderbolt grinned and nodded. "Well whatever you did worked, because you got him to leave. Granted you got a little bloodied, but it's not gonna kill you or anything."

"Yeah...I'll just tell Dash that it's your fault." I joked.

Spitfire rolled her eyes and took to the skies. "Well, let's head back to Canterlot. You'll receive your pay when we arrive, and I'm sure the princess will want to hear about this as well."

I nodded and also took to the skies, following the mare towards the capital.

When we arrived, it was to an entire platoon of royal guards, with Captain Shining Armor at the front. The unicorn stallion and his comrades were dressed in full armor, but as he removed his helmet, I could tell he was calm and pleased with something.

"Welcome back, Mr. Hero." he remarked smugly.

I rolled my eyes and bumped a fist with his hoof. "I assume you've already heard then?"

He nodded. "I have, and Princess Celestia requests your presence in the throne room." He then looked to Spitfire. "Both of you." Both Spitfire and I nodded before following the captain of the royal guard towards the throne room.

I knew Lily and Diz really well, so I wasn't fazed in the least by a request to see me, but apparently it was a big deal for the Wonderbolt at my side. Her eyes were nervously darting around the entire way there, and even though I tried not to, my mind did pick up on a few fears she was having...namely getting fired for not taking care of things herself.

Even though that wasn't going to happen – and if Spitfire was really as close to the princesses as she claimed – I knew that Lil wouldn't be able to resist messing with her.

As soon as we entered the room and I saw Celestia's fake scowl, I knew I had been right.

"Captain Spitfire, step forward!" the sun princess bellowed, not even waiting for her to bow.

I stayed put about a dozen or so feet away from the stairs that led to the princess' throne and waited with a smirk, an expression that Celestia didn't miss. As Spitfire was treading up the steps with her head held low, the princess winked at me before turning her gaze back to the pegasus mare.

Upon reaching where the throne was, Spitfire bowed before the princess as low as she could, and Celestia just grinned since she couldn't see her face. "Captain Spitfire, am I to understand that the Wonderbolts could not handle a dragon?"

"W-well princess, you see..." the mare tried to explain, almost shaking on the spot. At this point I couldn't contain myself any longer and I burst out into laughter, causing both the princess and pegasus to stare at me, one in shock and the other with a barely-contained torrent of laughter. Spitfire turned back to the princess to see her on the verge of laughing and sighed as she rolled her eyes. "Okay, alright. Ha ha, let's all bag on the pegasus. Ugh...don't do that to me."

As opposed to me, Celestia let out only a few princess-ly giggles before replying with, "Oh dear Spitfire, I couldn't resist." After a few more seconds of light laughter, she cleared her throat and looked at the pegasus mare with a warm smile. "In truth, I must actually commend your actions. You took the correct path in seeking out Storm Rider upon finding you could not handle things on your own." Celestia beckoned me closer, and I strode forth to stand beside the Wonderbolt Captain. "I trust Storm Rider – or Zizzanasx as you may know him – as much as I trust you, Spitfire. If ever you need assistance with anything of this sort, do not hesitate to ask him."

When the yellow pony looked at me I offered a friendly smile. "Yep. I'll help however I can, so don't be afraid to ask if you need anything."

"So," Celestia started, gaining both of our attention, "how exactly did the encounter go?"

Spitfire started first with, "Well it was fairly standard. They fought."

"Loathsome, but still expected." the solar princess remarked.

I nodded. "After I won, he agreed to leave Ponyville in peace...but I offered him amnesty as well."

The white alicorn raised her eyebrow in surprise, stating, "I'll need to hear good cause, Koa."

I smiled and pointed to myself. "Well, I had thought that Moonbeam and I were the only ones who could change our form. It appears I was wrong about that. The dragon's name is Duenos, son of Temuul. He is actually very interested in pony culture, and wishes to study them if you would allow it."

She eyed me suspiciously for a moment before asking, "Do you trust him?"

Even though I had just met the dragon, I felt no deception in his words. He had composed himself with honor, so I had no reason to mistrust him. With that being the case, I nodded. "I do, Celestia. He would not hurt anypony."

She nodded a few times before smiling. "It has been many centuries since we have been in good standing with the draconic inner circle. This could be our chance to repair that bond. Very well, I will allow it if you keep watch on him and introduce him to the Elements."

I nodded back with a grin. "I'll let you know if and when he arrives."

"Good." she responded warmly, then frowned when she gazed at me again. "You may want to clean your face a bit before heading home, Koa. I don't think Rainbow Dash will be too happy about the state of your face."

I shrugged as I stepped up towards Celestia. "Better a few cuts on my face than to be missing it completely."

"Indeed." the alicorn responded with a grin. She then turned her gaze to Spitfire. "All in all, well done on the mission, Spitfire. As always, a resounding success on your part."

The mare blushed a bit at the praise and bowed her head slightly. "You're too kind, princess. I'll take my leave now." The pegasus then stepped back and trotted towards the large double doors before disappearing out of them.

The princess then widened her eyes and said, "Oh, and before I forget," she levitated a large pouch of bits over to me, "Spitfire dropped this off this morning before leaving. I believe it belongs to you now."

I took the pay gratefully and then made my way to stand near the princess. A certain question had been plaguing my mind lately, and now that we were alone I felt compelled to ask. "Lil, why is Spitfire so trusted?"

She sighed and closed her eyes. "I suppose I can trust you with that information, although unlike the rest, this must stay between us and you understand?" I nodded and she smiled. "Thank you. Well, it's quite simple really...she's my daughter."

I guess I should have been more surprised, but with finding out things as I had the past few months, I wasn't really shocked. I just nodded a few times and answered, "I guess that makes sense. When I think about it, the two of you are actually a lot alike." I then glanced back at the double doors for a moment. "Does she know?"

"Yes." Celestia responded as I turned my gaze back to her. "I must however ask that you do not reveal this to anypony else. It could destroy her career."

"That's fine, I'll keep it quiet." I responded. I then smiled and turned around. "Well Dash is probably wondering where I am, so I should get back home to clean up. I was planning on taking her and Scootaloo out for lunch, so I'm hoping to get home before then."

Celestia looked at the sun for a moment before grinning. "Well it is nearly noon. You should hurry if you want to make it in time." Before I could turn and leave though, she placed a hoof on my back to get my attention. She then surprised me with a tight hug as she nuzzled my non-injured cheek. "It is good that you are okay, Koa. I worry about you."

I kissed the mare's cheek affectionately and smiled. "I always need you to look out for me Lil, because I sure as hell don't. Thanks for that by the way." I then stepped back and spread my large wings. "If you need me for any reason, you know where to find me." Celestia nodded with a smile as I took flight out of the palace and turned towards home.

Spitfire's PoV

This guy just gets more and more interesting.

Not only did he fight off a dragon, but he then makes friends with it while speaking an ancient royal language. I guess I should be more surprised than I was, but from what the princesses had told me about him, he was more than capable of something like this...which probably meant that the only one surprised was me. The more I thought about his actions thus far, the more and more I started to realize something very upsetting:

I was actually jealous of Rainbow Dash...again.

This just tacked on another thing to the list of things I envied her for. Her speed and ability while flying were two thing I could live with. After all, I didn't become the Captain of the Wonderbolts by being an arrogant foal. This was different was the first time I was envious of her because of a stallion – or in this case, a dragon. Had I been a weaker mare, I would have attempted to take him for myself...but no, those days of my life were over. I had made a lot of mistakes in life so far, and I was dedicating the rest of it to righting those wrongs and becoming a better pony...

A pony mother could be proud of.

I never referred to her as that in public – mother, I mean. It was so rare that I had time alone with her that I could actually refer to her as anything besides "princess", but it was something I longed for. In her own way, she always looked after me as a mother should, and was there when I needed to talk. The only thing missing from my life lately was that comforting embrace and warm smile when I would wake up from nightmares, or the ability to candidly talk to me when I needed guidance. As a filly, I would blame her for this, but as I grew I came to realize that it wasn't her fault, and when I would see her face, I could also see regret at not being able to be as close as she'd like. She was just as much a prisoner of this as I was, wanting to be and do something she couldn't, instead having to smile and put on a mask of indifference. I knew she did it to protect me and allow me to live my own life, but sometimes I would honestly question whether it was worth it or not.

The part of me that said "yes" had over the years grown weaker and weaker, to the point where I looked to Rainbow Dash as my way out.

I honestly believed the feisty cyan pegasus could be the best, and while she couldn't be promoted directly to captain, she could go into training under me when she got in. At this point it was only a formality, as I knew not only did she have the skill to pass our test with flying colors, but also that I would do almost anything to get her in. It would be a break not just for her, but for me as well. It was a win-win scenario, where we could both walk away happy.

At least that's what I told myself.

The honest truth was that I was just tired. I was tired of the secrets I had to keep from everypony, but most of all I was tired of having to keep my best friend at such a distance. I hated the fact that I had a friend that would listen to anything I had to say without judging me...but I couldn't actually do it. My only two honest choices in life were to continue living as I was...

Or embrace who and what I truly was and give up the freedom to be "normal".

Celestia, guide me...