• 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 22: The Longest Night Part III

Sixty minutes ago...

The explosion rocked the castle, knocking every pony off his or her hooves. Rainbow Dash, Lightning Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and Fluttershy instinctively took to the air, covering their eyes and faces from flying glass when the outside forced its way inside, sending shards everywhere, over everything. The noise was beyond deafening and ears were suddenly ringing.

"Is every pony all right?" Twilight Sparkle called out.

Rather, she tried to. She could barely understand the mumbling of her own voice. Rubbing her sore chest, she released Star Journey, having flung herself over his little body as soon as the windows had shattered. Her colt's horn had dug into her by her own fault of trying to physically press him into her. Star was staring up at her, wide eyed and very frightened. Dust from the ceiling had for the most part avoided coating him, thanks to Twilight's maternal instincts.

Fearing the ceiling might collapse and not sure of the structural integrity of the hall, the Alicorn began herding her friends and their children outside, as well as waving at the staff to move out of the building. Guards were swooping in everywhere, most of them aware the civilians were just as deaf as they were. Every pony had ringing ears and it was not a fun song to listen to. Once outside, all eyes were turned skyward, mouths hanging open. Ponies not paying attention noticed their neighbor gawking. They followed suit, heads looking up.

The rising cloud of smoke was as evil as any dragon that had ever swooped down upon an unsuspecting victim. Worst of all was a nightmare perhaps even more ominous. Chrysalis hovered in the air some fifty feet above the maze - or what was left of it - encircled by her magic in a protective shield. Her lovely dress was shredded, her eyes were wild and maniacal, baring her fangs in a hideous grin. Her horn blazed with her magic and she squeezed her eyes shut, blinking in a puff of green smoke.

By now, Twilight was beginning to feel the ringing in her ears subside. She was able to hear voices, crying, snuffling, panicking and even some cursing.

"Are we under attack?"

"Guards down!" Applejack was the first to notice guards, both pony and changeling scattered around the ground. Most bore minor scrapes and bruises, some just stunned, but a few had some nasty injuries from the blast. Wearing armor had probably saved their lives.

The group slowly worked their way to the crater, eyes straining for what they supposed was a changeling attack. No invaders appeared, though the alarms and klaxons were blaring as if an air raid was underway.

"Luna and the Queen are fighting!" yelled out the changeling captain. What was his name? Twilight stared at him hard, following his spear as he pointed it off into the sky towards the moon.

Myzanum. Captain Myzanum. The biggest changeling the lavender pony had ever seen, or any pony had ever seen. He was brutish, yet spoke carefully and in short and curt sentences. It was then Twilight could see a green and yellow glowing ball streaking back towards the party. It was another impact, with ponies once again scrambling for cover and more debris flying everywhere. The Alicorn put up a shield as big as she could manage as ponies were scattered everywhere. It was only partially effective, but kept her friends and their children from getting hurt.

"WHAT THE BUCK IS GOING ON HERE?" She heard one of the changelings yell. It wasn't the stiff and formal captain, that was for sure. Probably one of Silent Wing's friends. It was one of the changelings Pinkie Pie said to be absolutely hilarious.

Rainbow Dash was eyeballing the two changelings before turning to Twilight. "This isn't a changeling attack, is it?" she asked, absolutely confused by the mayhem.

"No, it isn't Dash. This is far worse." Twilight watched as the smoke cleared and Luna slowly picked herself up from the new crater within the bigger one. "Much worse." She was remembering the little gleam in the eyes of a mother hell bent on taking care of a perceived threat to her offspring. "Much, much worse."

It had been one of the most disturbing (and admittedly fascinating) conversations the purple Alicorn would remember. Probably because those harlequin eyes had assumed a crazed look she had seen in her own reflection a time or two in the past. The 'tardy' incident from several years back came to mind. Then there was the twitching lips and the forced, way-too-big smile so completely out of place on any changeling's face (especially a certain queen).

Luna and Chrysalis were talking. Twilight wanted to call out to her aunt (by her brother Shining Armor's marriage to Cadence, Lulu's and Tia's blood niece), but the expression Queen Chrysalis wore was simply frightening. Her daughter, Atalanta saw it and started to cry, starting with a whimpering snuffle. It was the face of a bloodthirsty monster, stalking her prey and preparing to pounce for the killing blow. The conversation the pony and changeling had was unheard as they were too far away, deep in the center of the yawning crater.

The queen charged at the unsuspecting Luna, both falling forward in a flailing ball of violent action. Every pony was frozen in place, too afraid of the power Queen Chrysalis possessed.

Then Applejack spoke up. "Anypony wanna try an' break them two up?" Her expression was dubious at best, and she was one of the braver ponies in the group.

Pinkie Pie had actually considered it. Trotting right up to the edge of the crater, she peered down. One of her daughters, Blueberry had jumped on her back, sitting on her mother's flanks as Pinkie leaned forward, pursing her lips.

"Tell you what," she giggled with a huge grin at Applejack. "You go first. I do parties at wakes, too!"

Twilight Sparkle saw her friends frantically shaking their heads, taking a step or two back, finding reasons to stay in the land of the living. With Queen "I've Gone Absolutely Mad" (as Rarity would succinctly put it years later in her memoirs) savagely going hoof to hoof with the Princess of the Moon and apparently winning, there was a fair chance it would have been more of a hindrance to Luna than an asset to assist her.

Besides, Twilight noticed how calm the dark Alicorn appeared.

"Anypony else turned on seeing this?" Lightning Dash blurted as he had been the only pony to not see the inherent danger of the fight raging below. His little ears were perked forward, his wings partially unfurled as he was actually grinning at the battle.

"I did not teach him that!" Rainbow Dash took his tail in her teeth and yanked him back hard, cuffing him by the ear when he was in range. She was several shades of red and began to make promises under her breath to geld Soarin the next time she saw her colt's father.

Star Journey had mostly stayed with his mother, cowering behind her rear legs and under her tail. He saw Princess Atalanta not near anypony and just watching what was happening with horrified eyes. The chubby little prince could hear her cry out in a little voice over and over again, "No momma! Please don't fight, momma."

A part of him felt sorry for her. Another side of his sense of superiority wanted to tell her Luna was going to win because changelings weren't good for anything other than getting their flanks kicked. With a leering smile, he tottered over to her, throwing a possessive hoof over the little princess as if staking a claim to her. He had meant to be more understanding. Unfortunately, he had never grasped the concept of being overbearing instead of simply just being a friendly shoulder for some pony to lean on. On top of that, he had a very oily smile a traveling salesman would know to kill a sale to a blind diamond dog.

That is how she viewed it. Thusly did she react with disdain, shoving him away and scrambling for Frakas, her brother's friend. She knew him. The changeling cadet was startled when he found a little black form with a wild mane and dirty dress clinging to one of his legs. She had darted underneath Captain Myzanum's belly to get to Frakas. Patting her awkwardly on the head, he shrugged and went back to watching the warring mares.

Minutes later, Atalanta was in her mother's hooves, the fight over and apparently Aunt Luna and Queen Meanie Fangy Tooth (Pinkie Pie had referred to Chrysalis under that name more than a few times before while telling her stories) acting like friends. Such a weird fight! Confused by the outcome, Star Journey gave the little princess one last look with melancholy eyes.

Star Journey did not know what to do. He didn't care what was going on anymore. Turning on his hoof, he decided to go home. Aunt Luna was going to win anyways. No ungly old nag was going to beat her. No changeling could beat any of the princesses. They were the strongest in the world. Princess Atalanta was not different. She would soon learn why ponies were best. The set expression on his face promised just that.

Forty-five minutes ago...

He met Atalanta not far from his quarters. Her Royal Highness was looking at him, crest fallen and absolutely miserable. Golden yellow eyes peered at him apologetically, almost shyly. Suspicious of her, but also curious (with a dash of juvenile hope). She sat just outside his door leading to his family's royal chambers (almost encompassing an entire wing largely unused until Twilight Sparkle had ascended to Alicornhood), her tiny tail curled around her cheese hole legs and hooves. She was immaculately clean, as if none of the recent events had touched her. A shy smile waited for Star Journey.

"I was mean to you," she said quietly, almost with shame.

"Huh?" Star Journey blinked, stopping just short of her with a skid. He plunked down on his rump and scratched the back of his head. "I thought you hated me."

She shook her head wildly, her eyes wide with mournful innocence. "No! I was just so scared of you and how impressive you were that I couldn't face you." Ata shied away slightly, looking ashamed. "I like you and I want to be your friend."

Completely dumbfounded by this sudden turn of events, Star Journey could only gawk at the pretty princess who was now batting her eyes at him. "Why aren't you with your mom?" he finally asked. To his credit, he sounded sufficiently suspicious.

This was too good to be true.

She scraped at the floor with a hoof. "My mommy said I should make friends with you because everyone knows ponies are going to save us from the bad things coming." Ata's eyes sheened rubies for a moment as she looked up at the prince, properly awed by his presence. "Will you accept my apology? Queen Chrysalis told me to apologize and I want to apologize, but not because she told me but because I want to." She slid shyly towards him, not looking into his eyes as if she was too ashamed to do so.

As the Creator was his witness, poor Star Journey had no idea what to do.

Twilight Sparkle was frantically looking for her colt, asking any pony she could if they had seen him. None of her friends had noticed him since Lightning Dash offered to help look for his friend (he was one of the few ponies to whom Star Journey did not act the brat towards) and commandeered his other friends (who were less enthusiastic about looking for the porky pony) into assisting. Red and Golden Apple threw their hooves in to help only because their mother Applejack glared at them in the age-old motherly way every pony was familiar with in one form or another (yes, even Silent Wing was not immune).

Queen Chrysalis gathered up her mollified daughter and had gone to her quarters. Silent Wing had offered to hang around and help with the cleanup, Feidole and Frakas right behind him and looking for the moment when they could turn in for the night. Celestia asked the colt to go rest as he had already had a long night. As battered as he was, he refused and offered Twilight his help. The mare was grateful.

She was able to pick up his trail easily as servants pointed hooves to the general direction of her quarters. Of course he would go home, she grumbled. What was she going to do with that colt? Applejack had offered her advice, of course. Being the pony who held the Element of Honesty, Twilight Sparkle found she could not ignore the words of her good friend.

"I'm tellin' ya, Twi," she had said before the lavender Alicorn went off to find her son. "Ya need ta spend a lot of time with him. You've been stressed with all the work you've had ta do and you ain't had no time with Star. It ain't been fair to him and it ain't been fair to you."

Of course, she always said something to that effect almost every time the two got together. Life had a funny way of making things more difficult than they needed. Often times it was due to the inactions or just a stubborn refusal to break from bad habits. Such things could happen to the best of ponies. Twilight Sparkle was no exception to the rule. She knew her mistakes in rearing her colt were beginning to glare and she was more embarrassed of herself than she was of her son. This problem, instead of embracing it had felt as though it had grown beyond her ability to handle on her own. She was deathly afraid to go to her friends for help.

It had never been like that before. In the past, there would have been nothing to keep her from going to her friends for help or advice. Time has a funny way of affecting relationships. The Mane Six were still friends, but the friendship as a whole did not feel the same.

The biggest falling out had been between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy when Lightning Dash was still a foal. Soarin had turned his attention elsewhere during Rainbow's pregnancy, finding her expectant appearance less than attractive. Naturally he turned Fluttershy's concern for her friend against her, starting an affair that nearly ruined her friendship with the cyan Pegasus completely. Rainbow had only started speaking to Fluttershy again less than a year ago. The sad yellow Pegasus mare had spent years begging forgiveness, refusing to interact with other ponies until she could make things right with Rainbow.

There had been other incidents to strain the friendship of the Mane Six, but that had been by far the worst. Twilight thought about them, having cast a final glance over her shoulder and seeing the two speaking quietly together before setting off on the adventure of colt searching. Fluttershy was still pressed by guilt, but at least now Rainbow Dash had put a warm hoof on her friend's shoulder. The years of healing had finally fixed a painful rift between the two Pegasi. It culminated in a sisterly hug between two close friends who wouldn't let anything break apart the bond between them ever again.

"Maybe I do need to spend more time with him," she lamented, decided, and determined for herself all in one sentence. A family vacation was needed and Flash Sentry was going to spend time with his wife and son or else. Setting herself with firm jaw and hard violet eyes, she trotted off to hunt down her son, set some firm rules, and realize she had not exactly been paying attention to her motherly duties.

She came across a servant who finally had some concrete evidence of seeing Star Journey. "Oh, Princess Twilight!" exclaimed the Earth pony with the light yellow coat and faded green mane. "I saw your son and that changeling princess heading towards the catacombs, I think. I don't know why they'd go there at this hour and especially with all the commotion going on. Perhaps they're hiding?" she suggested with a helpless shrug.

"Where the dragon is?" Twilight crinkled her nose. Star Journey had always liked staring at the sleeping dragon, always wondering if and when it was going to wake up and start gobbling all the ponies who had made him mad. It now began to dawn on her how disturbing an image that was.

As the servant hurried off to deal with whatever duties the little battle had conjured up for her, Twilight paused dead in her tracks, her blood suddenly cold. Was not Crown Princess Atalanta going to her quarters with Queen Chrysalis?

She spotted a patrol and asked them to check on the changelings. Something was not sitting right and she hoped she was wrong. There was a pit in her stomach and her instincts screamed danger.

Twilight Sparkle hurried down the hall and outside the center courtyard and towards the main entrance to the catacombs.

Thirty minutes ago...

For some reason, the two guards ignored the colt and the filly after Atalanta stared them both down, her horn glowing a lighter green than Chrysalis. The two Unicorns, a mare and a stallion, became stiff and wide-eyed, their pupils glowing a strange green. They stood before a massive steel door twenty feet high and twenty feet wide. A smaller door for ponies was to the left where the guards stood at their posts. Scarheart slept there.

"What did you do that for?" Star Journey asked as he raised up on his hind legs and waved a hoof in front of the mare. She did not blink and stared straight ahead as if he wasn't there.

The princess grinned at him. "Oh, bother the boring guards! They'd ask questions royals like you and me shouldn't be asking. Let's go see the dragon! I've heard all sorts of things about him and I've been dying to see him with a friend." She pouted, seeing his hesitation. "We're friends, aren't we?" To one of the guards she said, "Open the door!"

She was obeyed without question.

"Uh, yeah!" he cried out after her when she didn't wait for him to respond. "Of course we're friends." He waddled after her, his horn glowing like a candle. It was a spell he knew and was rather proud of.

Atalanta already had her horn glowing, looking over her shoulder and grinning. "Ever seen a dragon wake up?" she asked, her eyes flashing gold again. It might have been a trick of the light reflecting from his horn again, but Star was not paying attention.

She was paying attention to him and that was all he cared about.

"No," Star Journey admitted. "I heard it's not a safe thing to do." He sounded dubious.

"Dragons aren't so bad. Doesn't your mother have a dragon?"

"Spike? Yeah, but he's kinda boring. He doesn't burn anything or push anypony around. I once tried to tell him to burn one of the maids for spilling my milk and he tattled on me!" He frowned at the recent memory. Twilight's solution was to put him in a corner for a poorly supervised 'time out' while she studied some stupid book. The chubby prince had waited five minutes before she forgot all about him and Spike took one of his many naps.

"I'm going to show you a better dragon than Spike," Atalanta promised, stopping in her hoof steps to lean towards the colt.

Confused, Star tilted his head back and cocked it to one side. "The red one? Nah, he's sleeping and Mother says he can't wake up because his brain is fried."

"Not that one!" The princess continued following the wide corridor. At the end of the hall and at the bottom of a deep elevator shaft slept (permanently) the red dragon Scarheart. "I'm going to show you a black dragon. He's the neatest and most powerful dragon in the world."

The colt hurried after her, even more confused as they came up to the massive elevator. it was designed to hold up to fifty tons and was large enough to haul something as large as a medium sized dragon. "There's no other dragon down there," he stated, trying to remember if Mother or either of his aunts had ever mentioned another one being down there.

"This one's made of shadows," Atalanta said as she pressed the button opening the sliding gates of the elevator. It opened and she climbed in. "Come on! I'll tell you about him. My mother said he's been down here for a long time and there's a crystal thingy that will wake him up if we do a special trick."

He did so and noted the princess was looking at the panel curiously. "Don't know how it works?" he asked.

She smiled at him. "I'm sure a smart prince like yourself knows how to operate this contraption."

"Of course!" he beamed, glad to be a hero in her eyes.

Draccaria smiled wickedly when he wasn't looking.

Ten minutes ago...

Twilght Sparkle hated when she was right. Seeing the two spell bound guards under the influence of mind control confirmed her suspicions. It didn't make sense why anypony would want to mess with a comatose lizard at the bottom of a cave. They attacked her without word, but she easily overcame them with her magic, putting them to sleep with a single thought and spell.

It was almost morning.

Silent Wing had been going out to help, having just left Celestia and Luna not a minute ago, his wing finally able to handle some light flying (by his estimation). Feidole and Frakas were with him when he spotted the lavender mare drop the guards and start calling for help.

"What's going on?" he called out to her.

Twilight yelped and hurled a bolt of magic at him, striking the young prince fair and square in the chest. The force of the blast shoved him back a foot or two, but the magic itself fizzled, seemingly to seep beneath his coat. His chest scar assumed a curious golden glow for a moment. Frakas and Feidole stared at her, confused by her reaction, no less so than their leader.

"Hey! I'm on your side!" he protested, dropping into a defensive stance. "Princess Twilight?" Silent eyed the two guards. "You two," he commanded his changelings briskly, "get help. Now!"

The mare looked abashed and at the same time amazed at the colt. "Sorry!" she said sheepishly. "The guards were taken over by mind control. It's changeling magic!"

"Impossible. They're all accounted for!" Silent protested. "You can check with your watch commander. I made sure they all reported in right before I last spoke with Celestia. I swear on my life it's not any changelings that came with us." His eyes narrowed as he stared at the inert forms at Twilight's hooves. "It's a setup," he hissed, going right past the startled mare and in through the door.

"Wait!" she called after him, trying to hold him with her magic. Again it fizzled and she remembered her last spell had been as effective as a water balloon against a dam. "Where are you going?"

Silent peeled back through the door and looked at her. "Where does this go?" he asked, tossing his head into the darkness behind him.

"There's the dragon we've got in there. I don't know what use he would be, unless." She trotted up to the door. "Move aside!"

"Unless?" Silent backed up, but not fast enough as Twilight practically bowled him over.

Her horn flared to light. "Somepony is planning on waking him up. What's my son doing with them? Why is your sister with Star Journey?" She huffed, stamping a hoof and swishing her tail in agitation.

"With all due respect," Silent coughed uncomfortably, "my sister is not exactly a big fan of your kid."

She let his choice of words slide. "Unless it's a hostage situation of some sort. C'mon, kiddo, let's see what's going on. I'm sure I can handle anything down there. Can I trust you to watch my back?"

The colt was troubled at the prospect of his sister possibly being a hostage. Something was not sitting right in his gut, but he didn't know what. Quietly he replied, "With my life, Twilight. With my life."

Five minutes ago...

The elevator reached the bottom of the shaft, almost a half a mile down. Almost the first thing the colt and filly noticed was the well-lit form of the sleeping giant lizard stretched out on his left side where he had been placed fifteen years ago. Scarheart might have been mistaken for a corpse save for the slowly rising and falling ribs. The room stank of dragon smoke, a combination of sulphur and ash. Every time Star Journey saw him, he was always amazed at how big the dragon was.

Twilight Sparkle had told him before most dragons were far, far bigger and this one was not that big, thought she had trouble explaining why a 'teen' dragon could get up to forty-five feet long and seven tons. The previous experience she had with dragons other than spike of less than adult size were the three bullies Spike had dealt with. None of them were over a ton in size. Then again, neither of them were also a mix of changeling and pony to go with their dragon blood. She had yet to explain that to Star Journey as it was still a recent revelation.

He didn't care. It was a big bucking dragon.

Atalanta was not impressed, not even bothering to give the dragon so much as an awed gawk. Instead, she sniffed at him, hitched up her flank and strolled right by him.

"Where are we going?" Star Journey asked her.

"Down," she replied simply. "There's another door back here. Did you know that?"

"No, I didn't. Why are we going that way?" The colt was beginning to think this was a bad idea. "You don't think this dragon is cool?"

Atalanta was already at the next door. She waved a dismissive hoof at the sleeping monster. "Oh, he's just a decoy."


"Oh, don't tell me you're going chicken on me," she said with a cute pout Star found irresistable. "I want to share this with you. I guarantee you'll never forget it." Again her horn glowed, sparking and breaking the lock on the door. It swung open. She swept a hoof inside, grinning with a promise and waited for him.

Star Journey gave it a half a moment of thought. Nopony was going to call him a chicken. Especially a girl! "This had better be good," he growled. Cute or not, he did not want his flank spanked if this meant something stupid at the end of the tunnel.

Silent Wing and Twilight Sparkle decided against waiting for the elevator. The colt stopped the mare's attempt at the button, advising stealth.

"They'll hear it," he warned with a whisper, tapping an ear.

"Who ever they are," she agreed, nodding in approval.

Colt and mare took to their wings, the Alicorn taken a little by surprise when Silent simply hopped over and dropped like a stone. She caught a glimpse of his wings snapping open halfway down even as she jumped over with her own unfurling cautiously.

Gutsy kid.

They came to what appeared to be a great ragged amber crystal pulsing with a strange red light. It was in a very large cavern, formed naturally over tens of thousands of years. Clear crystal quartz columns, thick and massive supported a granite ceiling. They sprang seemingly everywhere, supporting the vast weight of the castle and the stone beneath the foundations. The cavern itself was vast, seemingly going on forever.

"This is how Queen Chrysalis came up and nearly took Canterlot," Atalanta said to Star Journey with a wisp of regret. They followed an underground river that opens up to the outside some fifteen miles away.

"I didn't know that," the colt admitted, finding that tidbit pretty neat to know. "I heard she was the only one who snuck in."

"Yep. Snuck up on Princess Cadence and decided to stick her down here since nopony remembered about it." She grinned as she made a narrow beam of light with her horn. "Keep your torch the way it is and follow me. We're almost there!"

"This is really cool!" Star Journey grinned at an odd crystal reflecting his face right back at him. Smaller natural facets grinned back at him his pudgy little face.

"Come on, Star! Here it is!" she sang to him. Atalanta pointed at the amber crystal they both could see pulsing once entering the cavern. "The Shadowdragon is here!" She reached out and lovingly pat the strange stone.

Star Journey thought it looked kind of ominous and scary. "I don't know," he fidgeted in a small voice. Fear was beginning to seep into his brain. "I really have a bad feeling about this. What's a shadowdragon?"

There was a very dark and decidedly unfriendly chuckle rumbling around him.

"What was that?" Star Journey asked, suddenly very afraid.

Draccaria smiled, her eyes turning golden as her smile became unnaturally big. "Oh, that's just Daddy saying hello to you, Prince Star Journey." Her form shimmered, grew, growing pale. White bat-like wings sprang from her shoulders and a multicolored spiked crest sprouted from the top of her head as her mane shrank away to nothing. A pair of horns sprouted, sweeping back gracefully over her neck and shoulders. A snake like tail curled around her lovely clawed feet, each one gleaming with wicked talons from the glow of the crystal. Her snout elongated, her fangs became serrated long fangs. Her neck grew, became supple and curved into an S. She reached out and picked up the now screaming Star Journey.

"Let me go! Mommy! MOOOOMMMMEEEEEEEEE!" he screamed hysterically.

"Yes," she purred at him as she laughed. "Call to your mother."

"Yesssssss," rasped the crystal as a single red eye opened in its darkening center. "Call out to Twilight Sparkle. I have a conversation I would like to finish with her. It's so nice to have a hostage when the discussion beginssssss."

Flamespyre laughed uproariously.


The world erupted in war.

Author's Note:

Guess who's back next chapter?