Rise of the Elements Part II: Return of the Avatars

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 11: Meeting with the Ancient

Chapter 11: Meeting with the Ancient

A woke up a certain morning after to a certain princess's sunlight decided to start shining in my eyes, and I groaned without meaning to. As I sat up, I shivered as multiple vertebrae popped into place, and I sighed when finished. I looked down at my bedmate and smiled. Rainbow Dash was always cute when she was sleeping, though I'd never tell her that. Her long and messy sparkling mane seemed to glow in the morning sunlight, and I couldn't help but grin as she twitched a few times in her sleep.

Not wanting to wake her, I stood up gently and closed the door on my way out. I then did my morning grooming and cleaning, taking extra time to brush out my mane, tail, and coat. As I stepped down the stairs, I saw that Twilight was already up with a cup of coffee, reading a book in the main room of the library. Oddly enough, there had lately been an influx of patrons to check out books, and this morning was no different. There were several ponies in the main room looking through the books, as well as a few others reading.

Twilight noticed me finally and smiled. "Good morning, Frost. Sleep well?"

I chuckled and nodded. "Oh yeah. I mean it was only a few hours, but it was a great few hours."

Surprisingly, the lavender unicorn didn't blush, but just giggled in return. "So I heard. Did you enjoy the reception yesterday?"

I shrugged. "I mean the day as a whole was kind of a downer after what happened, but the reception was awesome. It livened me up quite a bit, and all in all it was a great day." I looked down at the floor now in disappointment. "Brightwing and the others didn't deserve this, though. We need to make sure that they didn't give their lives in vain."

As I sat down next to her, she nodded and took a sip of coffee. "We will, Frost. For now though, we need to train the recruits and ourselves. You have to remember that the ponies of Equestria aren't used to this kind of violence or killing. Granted we can't really kill something that's already dead…but the violence is something you're going to have to train out of them. And the threat of death…" She lowered her head in fear. "I'm scared, Frost."

I leaned in and hugged her close, causing the patrons of the library to eye us curiously. I ignored the looks and kissed her on the cheek with a smile. "Twi, I get scared too…but that's what courage is for. The reason I overcome my fear is because I'm not just doing any of this for me…I'm doing it for thousands of ponies everywhere. I also know that until we handle this ourselves, it's never going to stop." I pointed to the ponies in the room with us, some of them not much older than the Cutie Mark Crusaders. "We're doing this for them…and for each other."

The lavender unicorn nodded and looked up at me. "How bad is it going to get, Frost?"

"Well do you want to be comforted or do you want the truth?" I asked.

"The truth, Frost. I don't want to be under any illusions about the situation." She responded resolutely.

I nodded and frowned a little, letting a deep sigh out. "It's going to get bad, Twi…really bad. Even a war with the gryphons wouldn't be this bad. Sure, they're stronger and faster than us, but they still have that little bit of reverence for life." I then looked out the window into the distance…knowing that our enemy was out there somewhere, watching us. "What we're going to be defending ourselves from is annihilation, Twi. These things aren't going to take prisoners, and they'll never stop on their own. I'm not going to lie to any of you about this Twi, because if you're joining me, you need to know what you're getting into. Ponies are going to die…probably lots of them. I'm going to make it clear to everyone we train that they might not make it back home from this war. Those of us on the front lines are going to be in the most danger…but if I die, I want the ponies that remember me to know that I was fighting side-by-side with my soldiers." She was now more fearful, but I pressed on. "This is one of those times when the ends justify the means, Twi. A sacrifice by one pony can save thousands…and it may very well come to that."

To avoid the stares, we went to the kitchen and closed the door. Twilight looked up at me with teary, yet stern eyes. "I don't want to just be in the intelligence committee…I want to fight, Frost."

I had never thought that Twilight would willingly request such a thing, so I couldn't help but gasp. "R-really? I mean, are you sure? You do know what that means, right?"

She nodded curtly. "I do. Nearly all of our friends are going to be putting their lives on the line. I will not be the one that sits back in safety while my best friends risk their lives for my safety. No…that isn't what a good friend would do. Besides, the princesses have told me all the time that I'm probably the most magically gifted unicorn in all of Terra. You all are going to need my help."

"Very well, Twilight. You're going to be training with the rest of us, then. If you're going to do this, I want to make sure you're in top shape both physically and magically. It's going to be difficult and downright painful sometimes…and it's quite likely you're going to be cursing at me some days. However, I'll only do it because I want to give you the best chance to come out of this. Live or die, I want to make sure that every pony gave everything possible for their world. If we can do that, Terra will survive. Are you ready for that kind of commitment?" I asked with an impassable expression.

I saw a fire in her eyes, one of determination and unbreakable spirit…an expression I'd never seen in her before. She smiled and nodded gently, yet powerfully. "I am, Frost. With all of us together in this, we can do anything. I truly believe that."

I smiled and pulled her into a hug. "So do I, Twi. So do I."

Perspective change – Darkflight


These decaying, horrid monstrosities had started being sighted across the continents…and the numbers they were appearing in was disheartening to say the least.

I was sitting in my study in the palace, looking over scout reports from across the entire planet. Slowly, all territories were being surrounded, and it looked like we had maybe another few months at the most before Death had enough forces to overrun us by sheer numbers. Gryphons and ponies I had prepared for, but dragons? This wasn't something even my weaponry and armor could handle on their own.

We needed help…lots of it.

I sighed in frustration and stood, donning my armor and weaponry as I prepared to depart for a certain meeting with some very powerful beings. I was to meet with the dragonkin of Drakkhenmyst, a fog-shrouded continent to the extreme northwest of Equestria. The high temperature of the continent was caused by multiple active volcanoes, and this made it the perfect place for the majority of the dragons of Terra to call home. Ponies didn't dare get close to it, but even with me being as nervous as I was, I didn't have a choice. I just hoped the respect being a black dragon was supposed to enact would come, otherwise this would be a waste of time for me.

As I donned my blood-red armor, I heard the door open from behind me, and I turned to see Princess Celestia standing there with a hopeful expression, wearing full armor.

"I appreciate this, Darkflight. You have no idea how much this means to Equestria." She remarked.

I shook my head with a toothy grin. "You act as if what I'm doing isn't something I'd do on my own. Equestria is my home now as well, and I'm going to do whatever I can to assure she's safe." I chuckled heartily at the irony of it all. "You know, this'll be the first time in my life that my skin color will have positive results. Let's just hope we get the help we need."

She nodded and smiled. "We will, Darkflight. Have faith." She then walked around me once my armor was on, checking to make sure it was snug and in proper alignment before smiling. "It seems we are ready. The flight will take a few hours, but we will have a good tailwind, so it will be a long, but easy flight."

"Why can't you just teleport us there, princess?" I asked in confusion.

She sighed and shook her head slightly. "I have to be able to picture my destination in mind to do so. I have never been to the island, so I can't do that. Luckily, I will be able to send us back here magically once we finish our business there, so fear not."

I nodded in agreement before gathering Force Edge and Yamato, putting them in their scabbards along my back and waist. I checked to make sure they were secured before walking with the princess to the landing bay and taking flight into the sky.

The flight to the draconic continent was uneventful, just endless waves with a few uncharted islands here and there. Mostly it was boring, but I was thankful that the tailwind allowed me to simply soar on the high-altitude jet stream the whole way there. This allowed me to nearly fall asleep as I just held my wings open and relaxed.

I must have actually dozed off, because the next thing I know I'm being nudged by the princess as a shrouded landmass appeared before us. We landed on a beach, and I could already see a few dragons flying through the foggy sky with curious expressions on their faces.

Before I could go further, however, the princess stopped me with a stern look. "There are a few things you need to know about how you need to behave here, Darkflight. First of all it is true that as a black dragon, you instantly command a great deal of respect here. However, age is just as important. Many of the dragonkin on this island are decades or centuries older than you. A safe course of action for you is to bow to any we meet if they do not bow to you first, or if you see me bow, follow suit. Strength is valued in dragon society, but arrogance will get you killed. So be careful, be humble, and don't do or say anything stupid." She then sighed and shook her head. "I apologize for how that sounds, but we may only have one chance at this. Do you understand?"

I nodded. "I do, princess. I may be the more playful one out of my family, but I can be serious when I need to. Don't worry, I got this."

She nodded. "Very well, let's go. Follow me closely and do not speak unless spoken to."

As we walked through the rocky area of the beach, we soon entered a dense undergrowth of forest. I noticed dragonkin of all sizes, shapes, and colors. None of them approached us thankfully and I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, until we exited the forest towards a cavern and were approached by a massive bronze dragon. The princess immediately bowed, so I followed suit, kneeling and bowing my head.

The dragon chuckled and stepped forward. "Arise, Princess of Equestria. You are a friend here." I felt a tap on my shoulder. "And you as well, young one. Any friend of Celestia's is a welcome guest here." I stood as he asked and removed my helmet, bowing my head with a fist against my chest in a salute. The dragon's hearty laugh echoed through the cavern behind him again. "I like this one, princess. Where did you find him? I do not recognize him."

The princess smiled at who was obviously an old friend of hers and nodded towards me. "He is Frostbreaker's brother."

The dragon looked at me with his piercing silver eyes and smiled. "Ah, so this is the soon-to-be legendary dragon of Equestria. What is your name, young one?"

I was fighting hard not to tremble in the shadow of the imposing dragon, but smiled and looked into his eyes. "My name is Darkflight, sir."

"A name chosen for yourself, no doubt." He remarked, to which I nodded. He eyed my armor curiously. "That is very interesting armor you have there. Where did you acquire it?"

I shrugged. "I made it, actually."

The bronze behemoth looked surprised for the first time. "A metalworking dragon? There has not been one to work the ancient craft since before I was hatched. But does it stand up to dragon specifications?"

I allowed myself a smirk and extended the hand that held my helmet out to him. "Go ahead. I bet that no matter what you do, you can't crush it."

Without hesitation, the large bronze dragon took my helmet, placed it on the ground, and stepped on it with a mighty stomp of his foot, causing the ground to shake. When he lifted his foot, however, there was a hole in the ground…in which lay my helmet, completely unscathed.

The much older dragon looked very impressed now. "I must say, I did not expect this. It appears you have mastered your craft, Darkflight. Well done…you have earned my respect." The dragon's gaze then went back to the princess and he took a stoic expression. "I know why the two of you are here, Celestia. Come with me and I will lead you to the high council. You need to speak with them about this."

As we walked, the princess eyed him in confusion. "I thought you were on the council, Tilak."

He chuckled as we continued walking, the air slowly getting warmer and warmer. "I was Celestia, however, I tired of the politics. I am a warrior at heart, not a diplomat."

I followed in silence, tuning out the conversation as I followed the two of them through the cavernous depths of the mountain. Before I knew it, however, we had arrived at a large natural cave within the mountain, lighted by a plethora of torches burning with cyan, smokeless flames. I had come across the magic flame a month or two ago, but had passed it off as useless because it didn't create heat and didn't spread like normal fire. I was now mentally kicking myself, realizing the applications of this were literally endless. Smokeless lanterns that never burn out, for example…I mean come on, why didn't I think of that?

My thoughts were interrupted when I noticed Celestia and the bronze dragon bowing as they entered the chamber, so I did the same.

A deep, rumbling voice caught me by surprise, almost causing me to jump in fear. "Greetings, Princess of Equestria. Long has it been since you have last graced us with your presence. Please rise." She did as the dragon asked, but because I had not been addressed directly, I stayed in a bow. Thankfully, my instinct seemed to prove correct, as the dragon then addressed me. "And this must be the Obsidian of Equestria. Rise, young one."

I did so and removed my helmet in respect of the chamber and the ten or so other dragons in it. The voice that had spoken was an obviously very old dragon with a scaled body of blue and one broken horn. He had scars covering much of his face and chest, and it was obvious to me he had seen combat many times in his life.

Another dragon, who I assumed was the blue one's mate, sat next to him. She was a brilliant white, and her scales sparkled as if made of diamonds. She giggled as she looked at me and smiled, leaning to the elder blue dragon. "He's cute, father. Why don't we have dragons like him around here?" Okay, not mate…daughter. And she thinks I'm cute…awesome

I raised my hand as if I were in school and the elder blue nodded to me, giving me permission to speak. "Umm, I might as well just tell you now that I'm happily in a relationship."

The diamond-esque female pouted her lips. "What a shame…I could have made you very happy. Who's the lucky dragoness?"

I fidgeted nervously and cleared my throat. "Umm…she's not a dragon…she's a pony."

This took the entire chamber by surprise, as a collection of gasps sounded. The elder blue was the only one to speak, thankfully. "A dragon and a pony, hmm? Well…this is most unexpected. I…I cannot say I approve of this, young one."

This instantly put me on edge. Who the hell did he think he was? I now glared at him and couldn't help but set my jaw as I responded, "With all due respect, elder one, I am not asking for your approval. I was simply advising you."

Perspective change – Celestia

At Darkflight's response, a large red dragon stood and flared his wings while baring his teeth. "You will show respect to an ancient, you sad excuse for kin!"

This was one of the things that made dragons so feared…their "diplomacy". Heated arguments were settled in duels, and I was not sure Darkflight was ready for that.

To Darkflight's surprise, the elder blue was the one that settled the tension in the air. "Silence, Trezera. You would do well to remember respect when addressing an Obsidian. Sit down and be silent, or you will be forced to settle this with him."

The obstinate red growled and glared at Darkflight. "I think I'll take my chances. Outside…now."

The black dragon now looked at me curiously as the entire chamber began to file out. "Umm…what's going on?"

I laughed haltingly with a false grin. "I may have forgotten to mention that disagreements are settled by force in dragon society."

"Great…it's like high school all over again. Wait…I don't have to kill him, do I?" he asked.

I shrugged with a look at the red. "That's up to him." I then gazed back at Darkflight with a look of caution. "Do not stop unless he gives in or cannot fight any longer."

He grinned and nodded. "I think I can do this. I don't even need my swords for this one." He followed the rest of the dragons outside and I did the same.

We arrived outside in a clearing of bare dirt, the dragons all gathering around anxiously. The red was now standing on his hind legs, easily being taller than Darkflight by at three times his size. Darkflight, however, looked oddly unconcerned. He simply stepped into the makeshift "ring" and stretched out his arms, wings, and legs.

He then smirked at the red and motioned to him. "So are you just going to stand there or are you going to try and attack me? I don't have all day, and I'm getting a little hungry."

The larger red dragon growled. "Your arrogance will be your undoing, fool." He then took a deep breath and released a massive gout of orange fire at Darkflight.

The smaller black dragon stood completely still, simply raising a gloved palm towards the flame. As soon as the flame hit him, it engulfed him completely. However, as I watched, the flame slowly receded to one point – the place where he was holding his palm up. As the fire receded into the glove, I noticed that the rest of the armor was covered in black scorch marks, but was otherwise unscathed. The glove that had absorbed the flames, however, was glowing a bright orange.

Darkflight formed a fist and smiled. "My turn." He gave a strong flap of his wings, and before the opponent could react, he planted a strong punch right on his nose. As soon as his fist connected, an explosion happened at the point of impact, knocking the larger dragon to the ground in a heap. The dragon shook his head before getting to his knees, while Darkflight smirked. "Had enough, or do you want some more? I have plenty more to give."

The dragon called Trezera stood again, a scowl on his face. "I'll kill you for your insolence, you ignorant son of a pony."

"Hey man, uncalled for!" Darkflight retorted. "You wanna fight, let's fight…but leave my mother out of this."

Trezera grinned and chuckled. "Oh, have I hit a soft spot? Don't worry…I'll be sure to bring your broken body to her. And then maybe, just for fun, I'll let her join you." The dragon then lunged forward and grabbed the smaller dragon in a bone-crushing embrace, and I did actually hear a loud snap of a bone breaking.

Every instinct in me screamed to save him, but I knew I could not interfere…so against my better judgment, I stayed where I was.

I shouldn't have worried.

Darkflight screamed in pain once, then feigned unconsciousness, forcing himself to go limp in the arms of Trezera. The overconfident dragon released his grip for just a second, which was enough time for Darkflight to scramble up and bite down on the soft scales of his neck. The red dragon roared in pain and was about to grab Darkflight, but then the black dragon pulled back with all his might, ripping a large bloody chunk of flesh out of the dragon's neck. A howl of pain was heard from the larger dragon before he fell to the ground, beginning to bleed out. The sight was almost enough to make me ill, but I stood fast and watched what happened next.

Darkflight hopped off the dragon and took a deep breath, blowing orange flames on the wound. The downed dragon howled again in pain, but the wound was cauterized nearly instantly. He then put his foot on the dragon's head and growled. "Submit, or I'm going to fry you."

Even in the position he was, Darkflight's opponent was still obstinate. "Hah, do you believe this would stop me?"

Darkflight smiled maniacally and laughed. "No, I didn't...but I know this will." He then breathed a flame I'd never seen him use before…one of the deepest red onto the neck of the dragon. It flowed around it like a liquid.

I was confused as to what he was doing, as Trezera did not flinch or show any sign of pain. Darkflight then breathed the same flame on his hand, and slowly started to close it into a fist. As he did so, a force started to physically crush his opponent's throat. Trezera began to furiously claw at his throat as his breathing was constricted, causing some scales to drop off and drops of blood to flow.

The obviously superior black dragon smirked as his writhing victim eyed him pleadingly. "I can make it all stop, just tap the ground three times to signify you submit, and you'll be free. You might want to do it quickly, because if I squeeze much harder, your neck will snap…and I'm feeling a muscle spasm coming on…"

Trezera's eyes widened and he immediately pounded the ground three times. Darkflight immediately opened his hand, which caused the red dragon to gasp wildly for air. Darkflight shook his hand, as if shaking off water, and the flames dissipated off of his hand and the other dragon's neck.

Darkflight was wincing in pain with each breath, but stepped forward and extended a hand to his defeated opponent. Trezera eyed the hand warily, expecting a trick, but Darkflight smiled warmly and pulled the dragon up off the ground.

The blue ancient chuckled deeply and smiled. "When I warned of you having to settle this with him, Trezera, it was for your safety, not his. Never underestimate the power of an Obsidian." He then gestured to Darkflight with a grin. "Had this been an immoral one, you would have lost your life here today."

Darkflight nodded towards his previous opponent. "I never wanted to fight you, man...but if you start a fight, I'm certainly going to finish it." He then offered his hand as a gesture of goodwill. "Can we put this behind us?"

Trezera stared at the extended hand for a moment before taking it firmly and shaking it with a smile. "Of course. You have proven yourself here today. I apologize it came to that in the first place, but it appears some good has come of it. Thank you for humbling me, Darkflight."

We all then headed back into the meeting chamber, where we all took our places again. The blue ancient cleared his throat before speaking, "Well, now that we have that out of the way, we can get to the reason why you both have come here. Please explain, young Darkflight."

It was a first for me to have one so young respected more than I was, but then again Darkflight was a dragon, where I was not. And so, I simply stayed silent as he spoke. Darkflight nodded solemnly and stepped up to the central stone table, standing upon it. He looked around the room at all the dragonkin present and sighed. "I'll not mince words with all of you, as I'm sure your time is valuable. I'll get straight to the point: a powerful and malevolent force is threatening Equestria as well as the rest of Terra. To put it simply, we need your help...any and all of you."

An aged female golden dracoknight cleared her throat. "And how exactly does this affect us, hmm? We have seen none of this creeping darkness of which you speak."

Darkflight sighed and shook his head. "The avatar of death is what I speak of. He is planning for conquest over the entire planet, effectively destroying the world of the living." The Obsidian then took a deep breath before continuing. "He's resurrecting dragon corpses as well, by the dozens."

The gold female still remained stoic. "That is all well and good, but how does this affect us?"

"Well after he destroys Equestria, where do you think he'll set his sights on next? As long as you all live, you're a threat that will need to be dealt with. The only reason you haven't been targeted yet is because the ponies of Equestria are a greater threat." he explained.

The gold laughed loudly. "Ponies? A threat? This is nonsense."

"You would do well not to underestimate them. You all believe I'm powerful? You should see my brother, Frostbreaker. He single-handedly decimated the entire gryphon army during the Gryphon Encroachment, and by decimated, I mean that the gryphons couldn't even bury their dead because there was nothing to bury. He has now been reborn as the avatar of winter. We also have Night, Day, and Life." he explained with a bit of a growl.

The ancient blue spoke again. "Four elemental avatars? Hmm...it has been so long since I have seen Life."

Darkflight nodded. "I also have a feeling we may very soon have Spring as well. However, even with that being the case, we will still need help. This is your world as well, after all. What say you...will you help fight for your world, or will you let it fall to the looming threat that will plague us?"

I held my breath for the answer, as a yes or no could change everything...