Neltharion had been wandering ponyville for a while. He had gotten some odd looks to say the least, but he ignored them. The sun was high in the sky and there were no clouds. He still hadn't eaten any breakfast. In the room between him passing out, and his conversation with Twilight, Neltharion had lost his appetite from reminiscing the memories of his past.
Neltharion's nostrils picked up a sweet scent, and he let his nose take him towards it. He got eyes on a large pink and purple house with a roof that looked like.. chokolate? It also had a cupcake sign hanging, so he assumed it was some kind of bakery. Neltharion shook his head "These ponies were getting weirder and weirder by the day" he muttered. He thought nothing could surprise him now, after all the weird things he had seen around these ponies. He didn't know just how wrong he was in that assumption.
A bell rang as he stepped inside the bakery's door. It was a simple house with mahogany walls, a green carpet, some red and white swirly things around the room to signify the shop had something to do with sweets, and a staircase that lead up. There was also a simple glass counter with cupcakes and other sweets beneath. Just looking at them made Neltharion's stomach growl.
"Coming!" a female sounded from the room behind the counter which Neltharion could only assume led to the kitchen of the bakery.
Neltharion could hear sound coming from upstairs. It was the sound of a baby crying, and a male voice trying to calm the one crying with song and hushes. The male was failing miserably as the crying only got louder, and another one joined in on the crying.
A female pony emerged from the kitchen door behind the desk counter. Her mane were a mix of purple and pink swirling around like ice cream. Her coat were turquoise in color. "Sorry for the waiting de-" when she saw Neltharion she skidded to a halt, and inspected him with mouth agape and wide eyes. She stood like that until Neltharion cleared his throat, snapping her back to reality. She smiled sheepishly at him "Sorry, I just haven't seen you around here before." She clamped a hoof on her mouth as if she had insulted him.
Neltharion just looked at her in confusion at her display, until he heard a loud and long gasp coming from behind the kitchen door.
Neltharion' eyes were reduced to dots as he heard a female voice shouting with more power than he thought possible. He started darting for the exit as he didn't want anything to do with the owner of the voice. He looked over his shoulder, and saw a pink blur moving with the speed of lightning towards him. Realising he couldn't escape, Neltharion stopped, preparing to face the blurr. He was hit, and thrown out the bakery's door with the blur.
They were thrown on the ground. Neltharion landed on his back and was slightly disorientated from the hit. On top of him were a pink pony with bouncy pink hair, giving him a ridiculously large smile. It made Neltharion feel extremely uncomfortable.
"Ohmagoshohmagoshohmagosh! I have never seen you before! Im Pinkie Pie! Welcome to ponyville! Who are you? We should have a PARTY! Oh, and why do you look like that?" Pinkie pie said while wildly bouncing up and down above Neltharion.
"Eh, that doesn't matter. I'll find out later. Here, have a cupcake on the house!" Pinkie pie handed him a cupcake she had pulled out of nowhere.
Neltharion reluctantly took it. "Uhh.. Thank you?" was all Neltharion could say, still trying to process all that had happened the last minute.
"Pinkie!" the other female shouted from inside the bakery in an angry tone.
"Oh! I have to go back to work! It was nice meeting.. Uh.. Whoever you are" Pinkie said smiling as she walked back inside.
Neltharion just watched her walk away with mouth agape "What just happened?"
"UUUGH" Discord growled at the air. "I HAVE SEARCHED FOR TWO DAYS NOW, AND I STILL HAVE DON'T A SINGLE CLUE!" he shouted angrily while pacing back and forth. He had just arrived back at Canterlot after his second day searching, and he was frustrated to say the least.
"Discord calm down" Celestia said calmly, sitting on her throne. "You running around and shouting isn't solving anything".
Discord took a long breath to calm down "I have searched all of Equestria, and I still haven't found anything, so excuse me if i’m a little frustrated, Celestia" He said snarling at her.
"Have you checked Cloudsdale?"
"YES! I have checked everywhere, Celestia!" Discord shouted, now annoyed at the princess. "How hard can it be to find a dragon the size of Canterlot in Equestria?! I should have have found it in the first hour, but I haven't found anything.." Discord sat down, hands over his eyes. He turned to Celestia, having realised something. "Have you gotten word from the Griffin nation?"
Celestia nodded "Yes. No sight of it there" Celestia replied, levitating a letter with a griffin crest to Discord.
"What about Draconia?" He asked while reading the letter.
The dragons have searched their land with no sight of Deathwing" Celestia levitated another letter to Discord. He read it right away. "They want to know when we find it. This beast is a threat to them as well."
Discord shook his head "This doesn't make any sense, and that's coming from me!" Discord shouted frustrated throwing the letters away. There must be something he had missed, something obvious. Then it hit him. It was so obvious. "Ofcourse!"
"What?" Celestia looked at him confused.
"Tell me, Celestia. How can a dragon that size not be found anywhere?" Discord asked with a smug grin.
Celestia continued looking at him confused.
"What if this beast can do more than we realise?" Discord started pacing back and forth. "Dragon magic is completely unheard of in Equestria, so we have nothing to compare it to. All we know is that this dragon has destructive capabilities beyond anything we've seen before, but that doesn't mean destroying is the only thing it can do. It is just all we assumed it could do. What if it can do more?" Discord stepped close to Celestia, almost letting their muzzles touch. "What if it can shapeshift?"
Celestia's eyes widened at Discord's words "of course.." she muttered. It had been so obvious. Just because this dragon could use magic did it not mean it was limited to one type of magic. They had no idea of what it was capable of. "Discord, you're a genious!" she smiled at him.
"I know!" Discord smiled back. Celestia smiling to him made him feel warm and fuzzy inside.
"So if we assume it can use that type of magic, it would mean that it has a unique magical signature" Celestia stated, pacing back and forth, happy to actually have some progress. "And that would mean if we see him, or as much as go to a place he has been, we should be able to track his magical signature no matter how faint it may be, and no matter what form he may take. Now we just have to organise where to look" Celestia pulled out a map of Equestria.
Discord cringed at the word 'organise'. It was completely against his nature. No way he was gonna do something organised. Being stripped of spreading chaos was hard enough as it was. He decided to meet on the middle.
"Tell you what, Celestia. I'll look through the southern part of Equestria, and you look through the northern. If any of us find a clue, we will contact each other and Luna, and meet at the place we found it."
"But that can take weeks! And I have royal duties to attend."
"Don't care, Make Luna take your duties or something. This is first priority. You have the rest of eternity to hear complaints from the 'nobles'" Discord turned around and levitated to a window "Besides" he looked back to Celestia. "If you teleport from place to place, then it should only take a couple of days at most."
Celestia knew Discord was right and it annoyed the hay out of her. "But if I do that, then I won't have enough magic to raise the sun."
Discord gave her a mischievous grin "let me worry about that. I will continue my search now, tata" he snapped his fingers and fireworks appeared on his back. Another snap and they ignited sending him flying out the window.
Celestia allowed herself a smile as she shook her head at the display.
Neltharion decided to walk back to Twilight's castle a couple hours after the event, of the pink blur he now knew as Pinkie Pie. He saw many ponies giving him the usual odd looks on the way, but they looked away when he shot them a quick glare. He noticed all of the different marks on their flanks. What were these marks? The tattoo assumption had been thrown out the window when he had looked them closely. They were too detailed, and were marked even through their fur. This didn't make any sense to Neltharion. Why would they all have these marks and pictures on their flanks?
In his absent mind he didn't notice the three fillies running towards him. The fillies were focusing on something different aswell, so naturally they crashed into him.
Neltharion looked down at the fillies with a cocked eyebrow. The impact hadn't as much as moved him. The fillies laid on the ground. An orange pegasus on her back, a white unicorn were sitting on her rump rubbing her head and a yellow earth-pony laid splayed out on the ground like a slab cookie. The orange one rolled onto her stomach rubbing her head.
"Aah, did we hit a wall again?" It groaned.
"Ah' don't think so" the yellow one replied.
"It's good we decided to keep our cutiemark racing challenge for later" the white unicorn said, smiling to her friends.
Her friends returned the smile, and were about to continue talking when they heard someone clearing their throat above them. They looked up and were greeted with the annoyed and angry look from the orange pony they had hit. The fillies eyes were reduced to pinpoints as they looked at the stallion. He looked like something that could have come out of a Frankenhoof's monster movie.
The fillies screamed, turned around, and began running away only to realise they weren't getting anywhere. The orange stallion had somehow gotten all three of their tails under his hoof.
"Let us go!" the orange pegasus screamed, desperately trying to get away.
"I am sick and tired of ponies running into me, hitting me, commenting, screaming and or staring at my appearance and then running away!" Neltharion stated in an annoyed but loud tone. He was honestly annoyed by all the ponies around the town looking at him like he was some sort of freak. "Explain yourselves!
The fillies stopped running, as they realised they weren't going anywhere.
"Uh.. ah'm sorry Mr. you just look real scary, that's all.." the yellow one said, not looking at the stallion as she feared his gaze.
Neltharion sighed and released their tails much to their surprise. "It's alright young one. I let my temper and annoyance get the better of me" he said allowing a small smile. They were young. In time they would learn not to judge anyone out of appearance, heck he might even be that lesson, although Neltharion knew that sometimes it was best to judge someone from their appearance.
"Who are you three? I would like to know the names of those who tried to put me in the dirt" he asked.
The fillies seemed to perk up at this, as if they were just told they could have all the cake they could eat.
"Ah'm Applebloom!" The yellow earth pony with red mane said with a smile.
"Im Sweetie belle!" The white unicorn with tricolored mane said, looking away.
"And i’m Scootaloo!" The orange pegasus with purple mane said, pointing a hoof to herself and smirking.
"And we are the CUTIEMARK CRUSADERS!!" they yelled in unison at Neltharion, who jumped in surprise at their sudden outburst.
Neltharion took a moment to compose himself after the outburst, and looked at the three fillies who looked triumphantly like they had done the most awesome thing in the world since someone invented cake.
"My name is Neltharious Prestor, but you can call me Neltharious or Lord Prestor if you may" he said proudly, while bowing.
"Naah I'll just call Nel" Scootaloo said waving at him dismissively.
Neltharion cringed at that nickname. Few had called him that before. Not even his siblings had dared calling him that more than once, because he thought it to be most undignifying nickname of all time. He downright hated it. The few that had actually called him that, not being his siblings, had enjoyed the rest of their existence as an ash pile. "Take it easy Neltharion, they are young" he said to himself and took a deep breath.
"Anyways" Neltharion began as he remembered something they had said. "What is a cutiemark crusader?" He had heard of many crusades and crusaders on Azeroth like the scarlet crusade, but he had never heard of anything sound as silly as a cutiemark crusader.
The fillies to jumped at this, more than happy to explain.
"We are on a crusade to get our cutiemarks" Scootaloo explained.
"And what is a cutiemark exactly?" Neltharion questioned, now slightly intrigued even though it sounded ridiculous.
The fillies stared at Neltharion with wide eyes, almost as if he had turned into a giant chicken or something.
"Ya don't know' what a cutiemark is?" Applebloom asked, slightly confused.
Neltharion simply shook his head at her. What was the big deal about these cutiemarks?
"A cutiemark is the mark on your flank that represents your special talent, and your purpose in life" Sweetie belle explained.
Scootaloo took over, her ears having drooped at what she was about to say. "And we don't have one... We haven't found our talents yet" she said showing her blank flank.
Neltharion raised an eyebrow, slightly surprised at this revelation. A magic mark that represented your purpose in life? The idea itself was preposterous to Neltharion and it raised a lot of questions in his head, mostly about this pony magic, and it's capabilities.
"So.. Mr. Prestor?" Sweetie belle began "What's your special talent?" she asked glancing at his flank.
Neltharion's eyes shot up, and he turned his head to look at his flank, the fillies joined him. On his flank was an ash colored sphere with molten cracks across it. Neltharion's eyes widened at the mark. He knew exactly what it meant. The sphere depicted a planet, the color, and cracks depicted what would have happened to Azeroth or any other world for that matter if he let the corruption take over again. His talent and purpose in life, according to his pony form, was bringing death and destruction. "Uhh.. I’m not sure" he lied.
"Cooool" Scootaloo said in awe of the cutiemark. The other two fillies followed in staring at his cutiemark.
Neltharion sighed in relief. It seemed they had no idea what it meant. Good, thought this was about to get complicated he thought to himself. The cutiemark did unease him, but he hoped it just depicted his talent in his corrupted state, and not when he hopefully came out of it.
He bid the fillies farewell and went on his way towards the crystal castle. The fillies tried to bombard him with questions about how he got his cutiemark, but Neltharion ignored them. He had questions he himself needed answers for. Specifically about these ponies magic, and it's limits.
Twillight had been in her library all day, researching. Trying to find out something about the dragon that was gonna invade Equestria, and this strange new stallion that had appeared out of nowhere. There was something about the stallion, she just couldn't place it. When Neltharious first got here she couldn't detect anything unusual about him, but now.. Just thinking about him filled her with a sense of dread, and she didn't know why. Magically there was nothing special about the stallion. From what she could detect, he had the same magical presence as a normal earth-pony. She assumed it was because of what the stallion had told her, but there was more to it, she just didn't know what.
She had gone through books with over 1200 years worth of equestrian history to find information about this place the stallion had claimed he was from, and to her frustration she had found Nothing. Nothing at all, but how would that be possible? She had looked over maps of Equestria, Draconia and the Griffin nations to find an island similar to what the stallion had described. An island of war.
Twilight sighed deeply in frustration and closed history book Nr. 39. How am I not finding anything? she thought to herself, rubbing her templates. She groaned in annoyance, and rose from the cushion she had sat on. Her joints cracked as she stretched her limbs, and she heard her stomach rumble, so she decided to walk towards the kitchen. Guards saluted her on her way, but she was to tired and annoyed to notice, and care to be honest.
Inside the kitchen was Spike humming a joyful tune while cooking something. He noticed Twilight come in and smiled at her.
"Hi Twilight!" he exclaimed. He hadn't seen her all day.
Twilight mumbled something incoherent, and sat down on a chair at the edge of the dining table. She closed her eyes, and let her head fall on the table with a loud thud.
"Rough day?" Spike asked, not even bothering to turn around and look at her. It was normal for Twilight to do something like that when she was really frustrated, which wasn't rare.
Twilight glanced up at a nearby watch 7.23 P.M. She had been researching for over 10 hours straight with no results. To say she was frustrated was an understatement.
"You have no idea.." She muttered. "So.. Spike what have you been doing today?" She asked, trying to get her mind of her own frustration.
Spike turned to her with a smile "I've been helping Rarity with some orders, visited Pinkie, cleaned up the throne room and read the new issue of Power Ponies" He said, very enthusiastic about his day, and started to ramble on about the latest issue of his favorite comic, and how good it was.
Twilight however, was completely oblivious to Spike's rambling. She was deep in thought about the recent days events.
"Twilight? TWILIGHT!" Spike shouted, ripping her from her thinking. "Is something wrong?" he asked her, slightly worried.
Twilight sat up, looking at Spike with a worried expression. "Im sorry Spike, im just stuck on what to do. I can't seem to find anything regarding anything about our visitor, or this mysterious dragon Celestia says is coming" she said in a low voice.
Spike simply gave her a small smile, and went over to her putting his claw on her shoulder. "You worry too much Twilight. You gotta have faith in the princesses... And Discord. When they find it, we will swoop in and blast it with, I don't know, your rainbow power?" Spike put his claw to his chin, trying to come up with a better name for it. He shook his head and got back to topic. "Anyway, It will be alright Twilight, don't worry." Twilight seemed to perk up a little at her assistants words and smiled back at him. Spike walked back to what he was doing before, and suddenly flipped a frying pan, sending a pancake right onto Twilight's plate.
"Pancakes for dinner Spike? Really?" Twilight asked while shaking her head lightly.
Spike turned to Twilight with a smug grin "Hey, you didn't tell me if you even wanted any dinner, so don't complain."
They both heard familiar hoofsteps coming from somewhere in the crystal castle. Familiar metallic hoofsteps. Before Twilight, and Spike could say anything. Neltharion stuck his head inside the door, a flat expression on his face.
Twilight smiled at him, hoping he was in the mood to answer more questions. Spike had a skeptical look, he may have forgiven the stallion, but that didn't mean he trusted him.
"Lord Prestor, im glad you could join us" Twilight said.
Neltharion kept his flat look and replied in a bored, and tired tone "unfortunately I won't stay long, Twilight. I’m tired after spending all day in your village."
Twilight was a little saddened by him not being in the mood to answer the questions she craved answers for, but didn't let it show. "Of course. I know ponyville can be tiring, but it's a nice place, once you get to know it."
"That may be so, but for now I bid you goodnight Princess Twilight, Spike" Neltharion bowed before Twilight and nodded to Spike and was about to leave when he heard Twilight's voice.
"Oh Neltharious, I just remembered. Tomorrow my friends will come for a visit, hope you don't mind" Twillight heard Neltharious grumble something incoherent, possibly in another language, before he replied.
"Not at all princess. I am but a guest in your home, and I shouldn't have to tell you that you can do what you wish in your own home, with, or without the consent of your guests" he said before he walked down the hall with his iconic metallic clinking from his hooves.
Twilight and Spike spent the rest of the evening in silence. Twilight went back to her books and notes before she went to bed. She took her notes with her so she would know where she had left of in the morning. Spike went to sleep in his room early, after reading some comics.
Twillight had a nightmare that night. A nightmare where she watched her friends burn to ashes in a fire that consumed all of ponyville, and in the middle of it all the fire was the stallion she had let into her home, laughing maniacally at her friends burning.