• Published 2nd Aug 2013
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Rise of the Dragonking - Scarheart

The era for peace is over. Despite the best efforts of the Alicorns, an ancient enemy has returned to resume a war forgotten by even Princess Celestia. A world is plunged into darkness. Old foes must become allies if they are to survive.

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RotDK Chapter 20: The Longest Night Part I

Silent Wing followed what appeared to be a floating Alicorn through the halls with no guards. It felt strangely comforting to be in the presence of the most powerful Alicorn in the world. There was not need for protection, not around Celestia. He remained slightly behind her, on her left flank and not hearing the typical sound of hoof falls on the marble floors where his own hooves rapped out their steady echo throughout the silent corridor. The castle was well lit even at this hour, not at all like the dreary fortress the colt had called home his entire life. With either of the two princess awake at all hours, each one commanded her own staff and guard. There was always busy work going on, even as the clock struck near eleven.

The colt shook his red and black mane, watching with fascination how the magnificent white mare's mane flowed with a life of its own, a miracle in itself as it appeared to echo her majesty through warmth, love, and understanding. Princess Celestia did pause once or twice to look back at the colt and smile at him, making small talk about how he was enjoying his stay in Canterlot. He could not only see the wisdom in her eyes, but he felt it. Celestia was ancient by all accounts, even rumored to be a goddess.

He could not help but wonder in some confusion what was wrong with her. Why could he not hear her rear hoof steps? Why was her tail drooping and practically dragging along the ground in her wake? Silent could make it out from beneath the lovely blue blanket draped artfully over her back and flanks and tucked beneath her wings.

She seemed to read his thoughts. "Like you, I have also felt the sting of battle, young prince," Celestia's voice echoed as they ventured deep into the castle, to places where ponies normally did not go.

"You've fought battles?" he asked her curiously.

She came to a large door made of heavy oak. It was very old, with a large iron ring bolted to it. Wrought iron bars lined the doors. With her horn Celestia opened it, the hinges creaking slightly as they swung the door in. "I have," she answered him sadly, her voice reverberating within the darkened room she was peering into. Facing him with a half turn of her neck, Celestia whispered, "Too many. I carry each one with me to this day."

Silent Wing turned his attention to the dark room as candles within suddenly flared to life. "What's in there?" he asked apprehensively.

"I want to show you something you need to see." Celestia waited by the door, very serious yet gentle.

"Like what?" The prince hesitated, leaning back on his hind legs, a front hoof pawing nervously at the stone floor.

"The past. The forgotten past. If you are what I think you are, then within your mind is a doorway to a path buried in the fog of time." Celestia leaned over and lightly touched his temple with the tip of her horn. "It's in there, somewhere."

The colt swallowed hard, not sure if he should trust the Alicorn. "Is it dangerous?"

The gaze she gave him was unreadable for a moment, as if she preparing her words carefully. "It could be. I don't know what I will find in there. As magic is essentially useless against you, I shall have to try a different method of touching your mind."

A strange voice called from within the room, "Come inside and don't look so dour. The night is still young despite the hour."

"Come, Silent Wing. I wish to introduce to you an old friend. She has been preparing all day to meet you." Celestia stepped back and gently urged the colt inside with a smile. "I promise you nothing bad will happen. Queen Chrysalis herself agreed to let me do this. It's to protect you."

"Protect me?" He found her words confusing. "From what?"

"Your father."

Silent Wing's world suddenly felt cold, dark, and ominous. "My father?"

"I will explain everything to you. Your mother tried to tell you, but you would not listen." Celestia could see the colt trembling visibly, but as to why eluded her. It could have been anger, fear, the cold draftiness he could feel as well as she could. Perhaps all three at once. Maybe none. "Please," she pleaded quietly. "Do you not want to know some answers?"

He moved forward reluctantly, driven by a necessity he could not understand. The Alicorn's wing softly unfolded, gently draping over his form, guiding him. The room within was not large, perhaps ten feet by ten feet with a low ceiling. In the center of the ceiling was a flue. Beneath it was a black kettle large enough for a pony to stick his head in Within it bubbled a strange liquid smelling of old things Silent could not quite place. Stirring it was a black and white striped zebra with golden hoops encircling her neck and dangling from her ears. She sat on her rump and greeted the colt.

"Come sit here next to me," she beckoned with a hoof, "So you can be comfortable and not flee. My name is Zecora as all are told, no need to fear as you are indeed bold!"

Silent noted, "You speak in rhyme."

"All of the time," she finished for him and chuckled.

"I can assure you, she means you no harm, prince Silent," Celestia told him as she came down somewhat gracefully on a pile of cushions. "Zecora has been a friend to all ponies since she came to live in the Everfree forest. She has special talents perfect for helping ponies like you understand some of the 'whys' circling them." The Alicorn used her magic to adjust her legs, the years of practice and being used to her disability having become a second nature to her. She made it look easy.

The young colt shook his mane, noting neither mare appeared alarmed. They simply waited for him to decide if he was going to trust Celestia's word or not. Letting out a snort, more at himself for his hesitation, Silent went to the spot Zecora had indicated and sat down.

"So, now what?" he asked as he stared at the kettle.

The zebra picked up a small wooden bowl and dumped its contents slowly into the bubbling liquid. The reaction was a slow churning motion oddly making the contents broil inwards instead of out.

"Watch carefully now the brew, tell me when it becomes blue," Zecora said, having a bit of a rhythm to her accented voice. "Once the color is due, the fumes must be inhaled by you."

"You want me to sniff it?" Silent asked incredulously.

"You and I will inhale, then we'll be in a dream state. If we do it at the same time, our minds will become linked and I'll be able to guide you with my magic," explained Celestia smoothly. "If your mind piggy backs on mine, then it will get us around your problem with magic. Then we'll be able to see the things you need to see. It is my hope you will have certain truths revealed to you. Beyond that, I cannot say for certain what either of us will see. Where we go will be a past even I am not familiar with and know even less of."

"I don't think I understand half of that," moaned the prince helplessly.

"Some things are best experienced first hand," suggested the Alicorn as she chuckled. "You will not be harmed. The things we'll see have already come to pass. What I don't know is what events and when they happen. The potion is unpredictable. It shows only what you need to be shown and nothing else."

"So is it kind of like seeing through the eyes of a past life?" asked Silent curiously.

Celestia seemed impressed. "Very good."

Zecora stoked the fire beneath the kettle and added another piece of wood to it. The contents of the small cauldron had settled back to a normal looking boil. "The time will come soon, be careful the fumes don't make you swoon." She tossed in a pinch of glowing red dust.

The cauldron broiled blue. Smoke snaked from it. It had a sweet pungent odor.

"Inhale deeply!" commanded Celestia. Silent did so, leaning forward and flaring his nostrils as he did as instructed.

"Come with me," he could hear Celestia say to him, her voice fading, repeating. It became a gentle echo as the world began to spin. Silent Wing tried to lurch to his hooves, but he was held firmly in place. He may have cried out, or it may have been another voice.

He knew nothing more.

There was a gentle nuzzling at his cheek. Silent Wing awoke to find a dragon looking at him. She was the color of a pale cloud, her magenta eyes peering with concern into his own beneath a mane like row of aurora colored spikes. "Stay with me!" she hissed.

The prince struggled, his body feeling strange, yet natural. "Celestia?"

The white dragon smiled and helped him to his feet. "In the forgotten flesh, as it were," she said with a small laugh. "I find it strange we are in the form of dragons."

"We are?" Silent looked down at himself, dull red scales with ebony tips. A long, snake like tail twitched absently from his rump. The colt found he could turn his neck in almost any direction he please, looking over his form and seeing great bat like wings sprouting from his shoulders. "I've got to be at least seven tons!" he remarked as he flexed his claws.

"You make a fine dragon," noted the Alicorn dragon approvingly. Her form was perfect even as a dragon. Celestia was testing her hind legs, lifting one and flexing the wicked talons with a professional air. "Remarkable," she commented. "Come. The time we have is limited."

Silent stood on wobbly legs. It took a few moments for him to acclimate to this body. Then it felt as though it had been his form his whole life. The prince wondered if this was because this was some sort of dream, becoming a part of a memory.

"The more we stick to the memory, the better we'll be able to control these forms," explained the Alicorn as she turned to take in their surroundings. "It would seem we are beneath a heavy cloud cover." Just as she said that, lightning flashed and a peal of thunder rolled ominously directly overhead. The flash illuminated Celestia's form as she was beginning to flare out her wings and turning, her eyes flaring as they reflected.

"What do we do?" he asked as he came up beside her.

With shock, his gaze fell upon a desolate landscape, gray and lifeless. Scattered here and there on the barren earth were dead trees. Craters of various sizes pitted the earth. Mountains like broken fangs stabbed into a broiling cauldron of a sky.

"This is - was - the Great War," Celestia said with a catch in her voice. "Hundreds of thousands of ponies paid with their lives to win a war that had to be won. The price paid was great."

"A war to end all wars?" Silent Wing felt a pit in his stomach. "Horrible. Why would the world allow this to happen?"

"Your father did this," the Alicorn said. "This memory is part of the madness of his violence."

His body shuddered involuntary. This all felt familiar. "My dreams," he whispered. No. Someone else...maybe?

"Where do your instincts tell you to go?" Celestia asked him curiously. She turned her tapered snout upon him, her pony eyes reflecting a pair of narrow muzzles with sharp teeth working back and forth unbidden.

Silent Wing observed, clearing his thoughts. He turned slowly until he could see a shattered mountain in the distance. "That way."

"Lead on. I will follow you."

Without thinking, his wings took on the air, buffeting it mercilessly as his powerful legs drove him into the air. A ragged bolt of lightning dipped out from beneath the raging clouds, arching down and back into the black mass of chaos. Electricity coursed through Silent's body, making every muscle in his body convulse wonderfully.

"Silent Wing!" Celestia called out behind him. "There will come certain points when you do not have control of your body. This will be the memory taking hold. You will be unable to stop what has already happened or control any actions. Remember this!" She drew along side him, her wingtip brushing over his back before drifting away.

"Who's my father?" the colt in dragon form shouted at her. "Why am I now hearing about this? Mother never told me about him."

"He is the spirit of war, a remnant from a time before ponies and magic. By means not known to me, perhaps even forgotten forever even to himself, Flamespyre became a living thing. Once he realized he was and had become through self-awareness, he took the form of the first dragon and anointed himself king of all dragons." Celestia plucked at a scale upon her chest pointedly. "He spent a long time creating more dragons by means of his magic, exploring what he could and could not do, testing the limits of his power and pushing beyond. As you can see," she said, rolling on her back with graceful wing and body manipulations, "He succeeded in creating his dragons. But it was not enough for him."

Silent nodded eagerly, very much caught up in the story. "How old is he? And how is it he's my father?" That part he was not so eager about. But the question was foremost in his mind, as disturbing as it was starting to become. He was also fighting the urge to yell and scream at her for lying to him. Silent Wing for some reason found he could not. It was as if the truth was keeping him in place.

"You could say Flamespyre is timeless. He is Immortal, a spirit created from avarice and hatred over countless centuries, since the first sentient being became aware of such thoughts and feelings. You could almost think of him as the father of war in a sense."

"I don't believe you!"

"That's why we're here." Celestia yawed and dipped, going beneath Silent Wing and rolling on her back, her eyes fixed on the prince. His eyes followed her as she made her way to his opposite side, reversing her actions as she rolled up next to him again. "Telling you isn't effective enough. Your mother found that out the hard way. This is better and will show you truths that even I cannot deny."

More lightning and thunder flashed and boomed around them. It began to rain. The falling water felt sickening, poisoned. Both dream dragons noticed other forms like theirs appearing, flying in loose formations around them. There were thousands of them, flying dragons all heading for the shattered mountain ahead. A few carried small limp forms. Many carried upon them wounds and scars, old and fresh. There had been recent battles. Among them flew scores of dark changelings, their forms tiny next to the massive dragons.

Suddenly, Silent was aware he was no longer in control of his body. He shrieked a challenge to something ahead of him. What was it?

A line of Pegasus dropped from the clouds, carrying spears and wearing gleaming armor. They were led by a handful of Alicorns. Outnumbered, they still lined up defiantly against the overwhelming force.

"Destroy them, little brother," crowed the form Celestia was occupying. It was clearly not her voice. Silent thought it sounded vaguely familiar through the eyes of the dragon he was remembering through. "Bathe in their blood! Father will be pleased."

"But they are beaten," he protested in another voice he knew. But how? He had never met these dragons before. "There's no need for more bloodshed."

The bigger dragon regarded him with a sneer. "You pathetic little worm. You know Father's command. All Alicorns must be destroyed upon sight. No exceptions."

Silent felt himself bristle. "I won't do it, Draccaria! War is one thing, flat out murder is another."

"Scarheart, you will do as you are told. You will do Father's will. These Alicorns are not worthy." Celestia's memory form moved with terrible swiftness, grabbing Scarheart by the throat and pulling his face to hers. "Do as I say or I swear I will tear your belly open here and now without hesitation."

The Alicorns watched the grappling dragons, unsure as to what was happening. By now they were surrounded and vastly outnumbered.

"No!" Scarheart screamed at Draccaria, breaking free of her grip, his spines flaring along with his scales. "This is wrong and you know it! The war is over. Let them surrender. They have fought honorably. They deserve an honorable defeat. Look at the land, Draccaria. It is dead and we need the Alicorns to restore the balance of nature."

Ah, I was wondering what dragon form I had taken. I know yours all too well. He sleeps even now beneath our living bodies. Celestia's thoughts probed gently into Silent Wing's mind. Curious. I had no idea they had a falling out like this.

"Do you want Father to wipe your mind again? How many more times will you fail him until you are made like that twin abomination he insists on keeping alive?" Draccaria tossed her head angrily, spitting a hateful gout of flame. "He should have destroyed him long ago. The little monster has done nothing but obsess our father and kept him from realizing his ultimate dream."

"I'm the only one who can handle the Alicorns between the two of us," Scarheart reminded his sister with menacing eyes. "Father made that my specialty. If you want to finish them off, by all means go ahead. Me? I'm done killing. The fighting has become pointless. We have the world, Drac! The world as Father said we would."

They are on the cusp of final victory. What stopped them? Celestia pondered this to the young colt. Inner turmoil? Weariness from war?

"How does the whelp do it?" practically screamed Draccaria. With a vast voice she turned to her army of dragons and changelings. "FINISH THEM ALL! LET NONE SURVIVE!"

With a great roar, the dark mass fell upon the small group of ponies.

Scarheart struck down his sister with a sudden ferocity, blasting her to the ground with the force of a macigal blast behind the power of his tail. "NO!" he cried, blinking and reappearing between the ponies and certain destruction. "THAT IS ENOUGH!" The very clouds recoiled from his voice, a shaft of sunlight breaking through and falling upon the Alicorns behind the dragon.

That would do it. Silent Wing echoed his pleased tone into Celestia's mind. I think I like this dragon.

That's not the same dragon we faced fifteen years ago. Flamespyre changed him. Perhaps there is another memory we can explore. The Princess of the Sun was certainly curious.

The army faltered, confused as one of their leaders was denying them their enemy. They veered away in different directions as their momentum would not allow for them to stop suddenly, not with thousands of surging bodies behind them going in the same direction.

To the Alicorns and their ponies, the young dragon said, "You should go now. I cannot hold off my sister forever. For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

A scream from the ground below confirmed Draccaria was not at all amused by her younger sibling's defiance. The earth exploded far below, vast wings rising ominously from the murkiness below. She was rising.

Oh, my I do believe I am coming straight at you, Silent! Celestia's voice was all concern and worry. Most of all, Silent could sense her fear. It might have been a remnant from the past, but it felt real enough.

Princess, I can feel Draccaria's rage from here. Silent Wing felt Scarheart's body shift, ready itself at the white form streaking up at him as more lightning streaked from the sky around them. He's not strong enough to stop her! She'll kill him and then kill the Alicorns!

Celestia tried to reassure him. There's nothing you can do with what has already happened. Let's see how this plays out. We're here for a reason. The potion places in the memories that are significant and important. I don't understand this magic coming from these dragons. It's like facing two beings on par with an Alicorn of Luna's abilities.

As she finished mentioning her casual observation, Draccaria slammed into her smaller brother, her jaws snapping with wild abandon at his throat. Scarheart in turn fended off her bites with his foreclaws before blasting her at point blank range with his fiery breath.

Since I brought up the subject, what do you think of my sister Luna? The question was so out of place as the battle unfolded it caught Silent Wing completely off guard.

Say what? Scarheart was pulling away from his sister. Draccaria had only been blinded by the dragon fire, but only temporarily. Within moments the larger dragon was after her brother with murder in her eyes. What does that have to do with anything?

Well, you were bold enough to kiss her, weren't you?

What? Silent wondered if he was ever going to stop saying that word. When did this happen? Scarheart clawed his way into the clouds. It was raining harder now. This felt oddly familiar as if something like this had happened before.

You saw her in a dream, didn't you? Celestia pressed, making mental notes of Draccaria's abilities and her magical prowess. She does that with some ponies, visit them in their dreams. She actually went to find you while you slept to see if you were a threat to Equestria. Goodness, the anger of Draccaria increased her magic exponentially! Celestia continued to take notes while at the same time trying to hold a very important conversation.

Silent lost all concentration on the fight the memory had him in. If he had been in his own body, he would certainly have broken into a cold sweat. Do...do you mean I k-k-k-kissed the real L-l-l-luna?

Yes. Yes you did. Shocked the stars right out of her mane. The Alicorn mused before clearing her mental throat. Pay attention to what your dragon is doing, Silent Wing. I think you may know him better if you learn his tendencies.

I can't do that with this sudden talk about Luna! Scarheart closed the gap between himself and his sister, almost completely by accident as she burst up beneath him in a gap in the clouds. The two dragons clashed again, forgoing magic as they simply resorted to physically mauling each other. Claws and fangs tore through scales as wing beats buffeted opposing bodies. Scarheart and Draccaria snarled and hissed ferociously, their hatred for each other painfully obvious. This was a fight to the death!

Don't you like her? Celestia wondered. Prince Silent Wing, it's a memory. Stop acting as though you can affect something that happened thousands of years ago.

They're killing each other! Silent wanted to stop them. There was blood falling like rain from the dragons, yet neither was willing to relent. The other dragons and changelings had by now retreated to a relatively safe distance.

They're both still alive in the present. Draccaria is currently undermining Queen Chrysalis' rule. The main reason she's in Canterlot is to protect her from the coup attempt. I suspect Draccaria anticipated this and allowed it for the simple reason it makes taking your homeland that much easier. The Alicorn's voice was unconcerened, though she did sound a bit sick when a particularly nasty gash was sliced across Scarheart's chest. This is a bit gruesome, isn't it?

Scarheart was hurled from the air and towars the ground. As he fell, he rolled his body, legs dangling down and his wings flaring with an audible pair of snaps. The force of impact caused by him using his magic to cushion his fall created a crater beneath his mass as he struck the earth, sinking a dozen feet deep and more than fifty across. In a moment, he was springing back up, his eyes blazing with blood lust as he screamed, saliva and spittle flying everywhere. Draccaria was caught completely by surprise, expecting him to stay down.

You still haven't answered my question.

Silent Wing felt Celestia's voice push against his mind a bit firmer now. Which question do you mean?

Do you like Luna?

I barely know her! I didn't know it was the real her in my dream, I swear!

I don't know if I should believe you.

Both dragons were forced to land, the last clash draining more of their strength and stamina. They prowled each other in a wide circle, tails lashing angrily and wings flapping angrily. Draccaria roared, Scarheart screamed back. They glared at each other like massive cats, ready to pounce as they stole a moment to measure each other and wait for the right moment to renew the battle.

"I'll kill you. If I don't, Father most certainly will." Draccaria grinned, smoke trailing from her nostrils. "You've sealed your own fate, traitor."

Between them formed a black shadow on the ground, stretching from their own casts and darker than the deepest night. Both dragons paused, their eyes widening as they realized Flamespyre had decided to step in between them. His massive dark form rose from the merging shadows. Wings of death unfurled like an opening to a nightmare, that one baleful eye burning with crimson hate turning first to his daughter, and then upon his son.

That is your father, Silent Wing. Celestia's voice trembled with a fear she had not felt if fifteen years. Behold, Flamespyre! All thoughts on the subject of Luna was immediately forgotten.

Silent Wing shared her fear, felt the fear from Scarheart, saw the smug grin etching across Draccaria's saurian lips, revealing her fangs to their fullest. His attention went back to the massive monster representing every nightmare ever had by all ponies at the same time.

Two words echoed across time and space, both denying and accepting this inevitable truth, unassailable and absolute. Oh, shit!

"Enough, my children," Flamespyre spoke after a length of studying his battered offspring. "Neither of you should be killing each other at this moment. As much as it amuses me to watch the both of you try to tear each other to pieces, there is still the matter of a war to finish. Draccaria, go tend to your mother. I am done with her." The black dragon hissed those last words out with spiteful contempt, as if the greatest insult had been played upon him.

Her eyes went wide. "Father, do you mean you -"

"DO AS I SAY, CHILD!" The force of his voice alone upon the smaller white dragon drover her form into the mud, sending her sliding into a crater behind her. Submitting in silence, she bowed her head and lifted away, casting a final glance over her shoulder, her eyes suddenly devoid of her confidence. There was fear there.

Flamespyre turned his attention upon Scarheart, the lone eye twitching in fury. "It would appear the last re-education process did not take hold as I had hoped. You do realize you only live as a guinea pig for the magic that will eventually control your failed twin, do you not?"

Scarheart did not respond. How could he?

"No matter. You will not remember. You never do. Your mother's taint upon you is not as strong as it is on that thing I need." That one singular eye focused on the little red dragon bleeding on the broken ground. "It would appear the experiments must continue before I can resume the cycle on your twin."

He's a monster, Celestia! He can't be my father! Can we please go? Please? I don't want to be here any more. Silent Wing's heart lurched for Scarheart, looking up in absolute terror at the approaching embodiment of war and death.

I only wish I could know who your mother was. Her mind caressed his gently, enfolding him in a mental embrace. She kept you from becoming like your father. She tried to keep Scarheart from becoming like him. She almost succeeded. Somehow, she was able to protect you better than she could protect your twin.


Yes. Unfortunately, Scarheart lies sleeping, his mind destroyed by his father's last attempt at 'correcting' him. It ultimately shattered when Rainbow Dash unwittingly crushed the fragments of what was controlled by Flamespyre by disrupting the magic storm Scarheart was holding in place. The Alicorn suddenly felt mentally exhausted.

Then how were they defeated so long ago? How did the Alicorns recover from that..that monster's rampage? The young prince could feel her waning strength. His was actually worse, feeling as though it had been locked in a mental battle for days. This was not actually too far from the truth.

Celestia sighed, feeling the memory begin to fade and her mind returning to her body. I don't know. I'm sorry you had to see this. The truth cannot be refuted. You are a dragon. A most unusual dragon, but one none the less.

Silent Wing felt everything fade as before, withdrawing from the scene of Flamspyre reaching for the helpless Scarheart, his scream matching the red dragon's own cry of terror.

He awoke again, this time in his own body. There was a pounding sound.

"Prince Silent Wing! Princess Celestia! Please answer!" called out the muffled voice of Feidole with desperation on the other side. The changeling was pounding on the door again, with more urgency.

Zecora was already at the door as the prince woke up with a splitting headache and the lasting image of that evil eye coming for him. Princess Celestia was observing him calmly.

"Are you all right?" she asked gently. Magenta eyes reflected her worry.

"My head is killing me." Silent shook his mane, his ears flicking irritably at the door.

Zecora already had it opened and Feidole practically fell into the room, his solid sapphire eyes searching wildly before finding both Celestia and Silent staring back at him with alarm.

"What?" the prince demanded flatly.

The changeling was scrambling to his hooves, sputtering out breathlessly, "Queen Chrysalis is trying to kill Princess Luna! Please stop them!" He was on the verge of panic.