• 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 5: Through the Storm's Eye

"Welcome, Alicorns," said a voice unfamiliar to Twilight Sparkle. "You came right on schedule. I do so admire mares who are punctual. Might I ask which of you two is the one Rainbow Dash referred to as Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight opened her eyes to find herself standing on a massive shelf of stone before the opening of a great cave. Around her a storm raged, she in its eye. She caught a glimpse of white to her right and found Celestia was next to her, as she had been in the chariot just moments before. Her eyes went to the massive writhing mass of black clouds swirling and she understood she was in the eye of this magical storm. This was very powerful magic. Her ears sought out the source of the voice and she found a single red glow coming from the cave, clawed feet visible in what little light there was.

"I am Twilight Sparkle," she said bravely.

Celestia stilled her with a gentle touch of shoulder to shoulder. "You'd better let me handle this, my student," she whispered. To the cave she called out, "I know who you are, Flamespyre. What is the meaning of this?"

The glowing eye blinked slowly, moving slightly down before bobbing up. It went down, then up again. The speaker was moving forward as his forelegs came into view. The scarred tapered snout of the dragon came into view as the monster studied them cautiously, great jaws slightly agape and twisted into a self-serving look of smugness. The neck and body following it was pitted with scars everywhere. In the right socket where an eye should have been was nothing but an empty pit. Twilight wanted to scream and run, but found her hooves unwilling to move.

"You have me at a disadvantage, Alicorn," rumbled Flamespyre as he came fully into view from the cave. He was as Rainbow Dash described, a least three times larger than Scarheart. "You have power. I smell it on you. I taste it on you. I hear the air about you crackle with it. Interesting. Might I have your name, child?" He appeared genuinely curious as he sat down demurely, curling his tail around his feet. The dragon made no further move to suggest aggressive behavior.

Twilight had never heard anyone refer to Princess Celestia as a child before. Celestia appeared unperturbed by this little jab. "I am Celestia, Princess of Equestria and co-ruler along with my sister, Princess Luna." She did not relax. "It would appear you wish to talk, so I will listen to what you have to say. Mind you, not magic, no mind control. I am aware and prepared to counter anything you can do."

The dragon held up a claw and smiled. "No doubt you are prepared, I'm sure, Princess Celestia. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. What think you of my son's work?" He cast his burning eye to the cloud wall. "Magnificent, isn't it? I had to adjust him, of course, but now I could not be a prouder father."

"This isn't him doing the storm?" Twilight looked up at Celestia in shock. "The amount of magical energy it takes to do something like this is enormous."

"Apparently not." Celestia set her jaw firmly, knowing right now she was in a disadvantage. She had not anticipated this storm. Inwardly she cursed her stupidity and said to Flamespyre, "It's a vulgar display of power, I think."

The dragon chuckled, bobbing his head as he replied, "Well, I see it as a preventative measure to keep your little army from interfering with our discussion. There is so much we can talk about. Sophisticated monarchs such as ourselves have no need for the barbarism that is violence. I will not shy away from my past, but I will see to it I have a future."

"Bold words from one who hides behind a storm," snapped Celestia.

Immediately Flamespyre retorted, "As says one who comes with an army at her back." He straightened himself up and smiled as he adjusted his wings. "It would appear we both anticipated each other."

"Indeed," said Celestia. "But I wonder how long Scarheart can maintain his storm. It must be a strain on him."

"It shortens the time we have," admitted the black dragon. His eye flashed wickedly. "It would be a pity should it start to falter."

"So what is it you want?" asked the white Alicorn tersely.

"Indeed. What do I want?" the dragon mused seemingly to himself. He scratched his chin with a claw, the tip of his tail unfurling in a lazy twitch. His eye suddenly blazed, fixing on Twilight. "You stay put, young lady. We adults need to have a discussion."

Twilight could not even move. The fear from earlier had nothing to do with it. Magic was holding her in place! She was magically rooted. "Princess!" she shouted.

Celestia reared angrily. "Release her!" she cried, her horn suddenly aglow.

"Come, Alicorn. Let me see your power!" Flamspyre launched himself into the air in a single explosive leap from his hind legs. His great black wings snapped open and clawed at the air effortlessly as his fanged grin beckoned for Celestia to follow.

"I'll come back for you," Celestia promised her student and was then after him, her great white wings gracefully launching her skyward after the great ebony monster. Magical bolts shot from the tip of her horn at the dragon. They bounced harmlessly off an invisible shield surrounding him, flickering ripples across its surface for a moment before becoming invisible again.

Flamespre banked into the wind torn clouds, going with the wind and letting it propel him forward, continually spiralling upwards. Celestia found it difficult to keep track of him as his dark form blended with the churning mass. She only knew he was going up, so she followed suit, allowing her magic to track his own energies. Within moments, the energies were gone. Celestia quickly realized the dragon had stopped using magic. It began to dawn on her Flamespyre was indeed powerful. She was going to need the Elements along with her power to stop him. But the storm and the other dragon were hindering that help!

She spun around, waiting for the attack to come from anywhere. Flamespyre was stalking her, this much she was fully aware of. Gritting her teeth, she recalled his angle of ascent within the clouds, estimated his speed and began to fire into the cloud wall a wide pattern of magic bolts. She was rewarded with impacts flaring just inside and the massed outline of a great form writhing in pain. A sudden surge of magic could be felt. Twilight's voice called out from far below an alarm.

"Well played, Alicorn!" roared a voice behind her. Teleportation! She wheeled away, her own magic surging as she sought to get higher than the dragon. Talons flashed, missed just as she blinked away. Flamespyre hovered where she was, looking up at her, exposing his fangs in a wide grin.

"You're enjoying this," Celestia muttered under her breath. Her only hope was for Scarheart to be defeated and the storm to dissipate. Flamespyre would want this over quickly and the gleam in his eye suggested he was out for a permanent outcome.

Storm or no storm, Rainbow Dash was not about to let some giant red lizard keep her from finding and helping Celestia and Twilight. Not thinking, she charged straight at him, only wanting to get past the dragon. He wasn't as big as that one dragon she had kicked, so maybe he would actually feel her hooves in his face. Somepony called out behind her, but Dash paid no attention.

"Let me through!" she yelled.

Scarheart was not fast enough to dodge out of her way, his eyes widening in surprise and shock as she spun, coiled up both her hind legs and kicked as hard as she could. Her hooves struck him in the left eye and he reeled back with a roar of pain and rage.

"What are you guys waiting for?" she called out to everypony. The force moved at once as orders began to sound out. "Come on, let's get this dragon and show him what a loser he is!" When she turned around, she caught sight of Scarheart's lower half of his body going up into the clouds.

It started to rain.

"Perfect," she grumbled miserably. Dash went after him, of course and nearly went headlong into a fireball. "Whoa! Dragon fire!" The Pegasus darted to one side, the flames licking the tips of one wing as it blasted past.

The expeditionary force moved towards the heart of the storm, fanning out as they approached on multiple altitudes. They reasoned the dragon was their primary threat and needed to be eliminated quickly. The detachment assigned to protecting the Mare Six assumed a loose box formation around them, pausing to account for all ponies. Naturally they were missing Twilight Sparkle. Also Rainbow Dash was playing an odd game of cat and mouse, not realizing she was now the mouse. They were all now mice.

The closer the force came to the mountains, the greater the threat it became for ponies to be caught up in the winds and dashed upon the faces of the jagged mountains. The storm became stronger, deadlier. The rain was now falling sideways, the wind howling. Formations quickly fell apart and it was becoming too dangerous for anypony to stay in the air. Already there were injuries, some severe before the captain ordered everyone to the ground. By the time he had made that decision, ponies were scattered across dozens of miles of boulder strewn forests. Common sense and the desire to live drove the ponies out of view into the trees.

Only Rainbow Dash remained aloft, determined to bring down Scarheart. She felt somehow all of this weather was his doing. Being a weather pony gave her a learned knowledge of how air patterns and clouds work and she was very good and cloud busting.

"Stop cheating!" she yelled up at the clouds. "How can I find you if you're hiding like a scared foal in the clouds? Show yourself and fight me, you coward! Yeah, you're chicken. Can't handle the one and only Rainbow Dash because I am that awesome."

She blinked into the rain and suddenly found a dark shape drop right in front of her. An open maw filled with razor sharp teeth was coming right at her. She dodged once more, the dragon's eye rolling with her as he shot past. The back of a foreclaw clipped her shoulder, sending the chromatic maned mare spiraling out of control. Dash spun wildly, her momentum carrying her into an angled descent.

Scarheart described a graceful arc down, twisting his serpentine form as his head followed Rainbow Dash. His wings snapped out as he leveled himself, then started clawing at the air as he rushed at her with yet another roar. Father had commanded. Father had to be obeyed. The punishment was too terrible to consider if the storm could not hold long enough for him to deal with the Alicorns. His golden eyes were locked on the out of control Rainbow Dash, her body a tight bundle of soaked rainbow.

"Can't you fellers get up there and help Dash?" yelled Applejack at the captain. She had a hoof firmly planted on her Stetson as the wind tore away her words. The officer started at her blankly, not hearing. She repeated her words again, louder, her mouth practically in his ear.

He wildly shook his head. "We can't! The wind is too much for our wings to handle! I'm losing soldiers to this storm as it is." The captain had a look of helplessness. "I've got my command scattered all over the place. You need to find shelter, miss!"

Desperate, Applejack screamed for someone to go help Rainbow Dash. Officers ignored her, tending to their ponies and trying to find some sort of shelter from the storm.

Rarity appeared at a trot. She spied Applejack, went over to her and gave her a hug. "Thank goodness I've found you, AJ!" she yelled in the howling wind. "The others are safe. Where's Rainbow?" She was soaked from tip to tail, but her blue eyes were on her friend and on the verge of tears at being so glad to find her safe and sound.

Applejack's hat flew off, her cord keeping the storm from carrying it off. "Where?"

Rarity turned. "Grab my tail! I'll take you to them!"

The Earth pony did so, clamping her teeth on her friend's sodden tail. She thought to herself how this would probably never happen again. One simply did not mess with Rarity's lovely locks.

An older Pegasus joined them. With him was an equally grizzled Unicorn. They were part of the unit assigned specifically to guard the Mane Six. Applejack had not thought to introduce herself to them save for briefly last night. What was his name again? She wondered as he and his fellow guard placed themselves between the wind and the mares.

"Are you all right, ma'am?" he asked her over the storm.

"I'm fine," she said. "Rainbow needs help up there. She can't beat that dragon by herself. None of them bucking officers are gonna lift a hoof to help the gal. I'd do it myself, but I ain't got no wings." Applejack squinted at him. "Ain't you the pony that was with Twi and the princess earlier at lunch?" she asked with a mouthful of tail.

"No ma'am," he shook his head as he lifted a wing over her. "That would be our other sergeant, that Unicorn talking to the pretty mare you've got a hold of right now. I've taken a shine to that new princess of ours. The sergeant was the one that did all the talking."

Applejack was glad to hear that. Within moments they were under a makeshift shelter consisting of a pile of steep boulders overgrown with bushes. A great tree leaned over, partially fallen but deemed secure enough to serve its chosen purpose. Applejack was reunited with her friends, noting a dozen or so guards standing out in the rain while the mares had what little space there was. The Pegasus who escorted her gave her a nod and a smile and trotted over towards the gathered stallions.

"Give me a blasted status report," he bellowed at them. Rarity's escort joined him within seconds.

"How is everypony?" Applejack asked the group.

"Wet!" chirped Pinkie Pie. She was actually the only one not in the shelter and was leaning into the wind with her mouth open.

"Scared," whispered Fluttershy. She was a little huddled ball of frightened trying to hide under a log. Of course, nopony could hear her.

"Where's Dashie?" asked Pinkie, craning her neck into the sky. "Last I saw her, she was charging at that meanie mean dragon!"

"Not the best decision she's ever made," murmured Rarity. All the mares turned their faces skyward as another peal of thunder rumbled ominously. Worried expressions were set through the falling rain.

The Unicorn sergeant poked his head into the group. "I just figured I'd tell you ladies we're gonna try and get yer friend some help. I've got my stallions who are more than eager to get up there. Our standin' orders bein' to protect you fillies, we're gonna get that thick headed one and save her."

"Oh, thank you!" cried out Rarity. "Please do tell your boys to be careful. I would be simply crushed if any of you fine stallions were hurt." She batted her eyelashes at him. It was difficult to tell if she was being genuine or dramatic or both.

Applejack settled for genuinely dramatic. "Thanks, partner," she said to the soldier.

He nodded, trotted over to his winged counterpart, speaking one word. The Pegasus turned, and roared, "All right you gelded mother buckers. There's a filly up there who needs your wings to save her flank. Let's get up there and get it done!" Without another word, they took off into the storm, one, two, three, four, five sets of wings battling the winds to get aloft.

Rarity was suddenly blushing at that outburst. "Oh, my."

A younger Pegasus joined him, speaking quietly. The old soldier respectfully nodded as he listened. The Pegasus then returned the nod and then went after the other five.

Applejack figured the young Pegasus had to be one of the officers. Lightning flashed as she caught a brief view of the winged guards battling their way into the sky.

Celestia was drenched in her own sweat as she and Flamespyre circled each other. The massive dragon was panting heavily, but grinning at her. Was he trying to string her along? She was not sure. Part of her wanted Luna to be here to fight this monster, the other part wishing Twilight did not have to witness this. Superficial wounds covered her coat, giving blends of red smearing her here and there from getting too close to the dragon. Her magic had deflected most of the blows and she felt the advantage was in her favor. Twice already her horn had scored deep wounds, but what were they to the huge monster eager to continue? There was no way she could match him physically. She knew her magic bolts were affecting him. Flamespyre could say the same about his magic upon her.

"Enjoying yourself?" Flamespyre jeered, ignoring his own blood bright red thin lines against his black scales. "I enjoy exercise like this. It really gets the blood flowing, don't you think?" His one eye gleamed with a madness found in those who lusted after power.

"You never intended to talk, did you?" retorted Celestia, stealing a moment to catch her breath. She maintained her magic at the ready. "Your request was a ruse."

"I did give it serious consideration to negotiate with you. But then I delved into the mind of one of your foes." The dragon smiled broadly. His tail swished in his excitement. "Three Alicorns in all the world are all that stood between myself and the restoration of my kingdom." His eye flickered down to Twilight Sparkle, a tiny dot far below the two combatants. "She's very young. Not much of a threat, I'll wager and not much of an Alicorn. But, an Alicorn is still an Alicorn, leaving the total at four."

"You underestimate her, dragon," Celestia warned. "But this day, she is not your opponent. I am."

She took the initiative, leveling her horn and firing a continuous beam of magic from her horn at Flamespyre's chest. The dragon held out a claw, his own magic forming a shield and deflecting most of the beam away. A portion did get through, striking the outstretched paw. Flamespyre withdrew it with a cry of pain. He retaliated with a blast of his dragon fire, but Celestia was too quick and dodged easily to one side.

So long as she maintained her distance, she believed she had a chance against this monster. Celestia continued to fire away, hoping her magic would not exhaust her before her enemy could be brought down.

Flamespyre suddenly disappeared. Teleported! Celestia spun around, finding her vision filled with the massive frame of Flamespyre bearing down upon her. His tail whipped around and caught her fully in the side. There was a dull popping sound. The explosion of pain sent her reeling, the air also blasted from her lungs. She heard Twilight Sparkle call out to her. Celestia was flung into the cloud wall, her body limp and unresponsive. Flamespyre watched her disappear.

His eye fell upon Twilight Sparkle.

Rainbow Dash broke out of her free fall, knowing exactly where she was and where Scarheart was approaching from. She reversed her spin with a twist of her body and the flaring of her wings. She found she was enjoying this challenge, though she wished her rough housing partner didn't outweigh her a hundred times over. Easily she avoided the dragon's attempt at snapping at her, laughing at him and his slow movements. No pony and no dragon could ever match her flying skills. Rainbow Dash could simply not be beaten in the air. The poor dragon facing her had no idea what he had gotten himself into.

Until he used that same spell to hold her as he had the first time they had met.

"Lame! So lame! So very lame in the most uncool way!" she protested, flailing with her hooves as her wings were being held in place by Scarheart's magic. "Can't you do anything original?" She noted the storm appeared to have died down a little.

Scarheart flew through the wind, taking a moment to simply look down at her and smile. He reached out and plucked her from the storm torn air, holding her with both foreclaws. "I win," said the dragon with a hiss. "Doesn't matter how you win so long as you do win."

"You're a rotten cheat! You used magic!"

Scarheart sniffed. "I don't recall any ground rules being established."

"I'm gonna pound you good, you big jerk," she promised.

Six armored forms appeared out of nowhere, hooves connecting with dragon scale simultaneously from different directions. A pair of hooves grabbed Rainbow Dash just as Scarheart released her as he cried out in pain and alarm. The dragon fell away, surrounded by attacking guards. "You're safe, Miss Dash," said a reassuring voice. It was one of Celestia's guards. "I need to get you away from the combat zone. You should let the professionals take over from here."

The drenched mare watched the battle unfolding, hating she was being denied a chance to finish it. Her eyes drifted to the clouds. "I can clear those clouds," she said to the guard.

"I doubt that," said the soldier as he tugged her towards the ground where the others waited. His markings on his armor indicated he was an officer.

"No, I'm serious. I can totally get rid for this storm for everypony so we can get to the princesses, I swear!" Rainbow Dash struggled away from the Pegasus' grasp and pointed up. "One Sonic Rainboom should disrupt the air patterns enough for the storm to lose cohesion. I know storms, soldier. Let me do what I know!"

He considered her for a moment, casting his eyes into the rain before relinquishing his grip. "All right. I remember you doing one at Best Young Flyer Competition." He pointed at his fellow guards. "They should give you enough time. Go and be quick!"

Scarheart grabbed one Pegasus guard in his talons and flung him away, his claws screeching against the pony's armor. Repeated blows had him staggering and the kicks were relentless, bruising flesh beneath his scales and thick hide. His first act of retaliation after several seconds was to reach out and take hold of something. The dragon somersaulted forward, tucking his wings in as he selected a suitable target. At the last moment, he unleashed his tail, smashing it across the armored back of a Pegasus. There was a cry and the soldier fell away, wings still flapping, but becoming a victim to the winds.

Rainbow Dash darted up and past him not far away, ignoring the dragon as he turned on his next opponent. Battered and in pain now, he shook off the last of assailants if for a moment and immediately tore after her. The main focus of the hooves had been on his shoulders and wings. Effectively sore in those areas and even bleeding a bit where the skin had split, the resiliant dragon pushed onward, his golden gaze locked on the small mare and her rainbow contrail. A guard tried to bar his path, but the dragon blasted him with a short burst of flame. The Pegasus fell away, frantically trying to put his burning wings out.

Three down.

Furious from the pain and enraged by the mere sight of Rainbow Dash as she taunted him by simply being a better flyer than him, Scarheart began to his magic to propel him, unaware his reserves were beginning to run dry. Somewhere in the clouds, he lost track of her, but he knew she was going up. Perhaps above the clouds? He pressed on.

The air began to grow colder the higher he went. He was physically in more pain than he had first thought and mentally he was beginning to struggle in holding the storm together. Father had asked him for ten minutes. Had it been ten minutes yet? Had that time elapsed? The dragon's head finally found a break in the clouds and he was above the storm at last, surrounded by billowing clouds lit the colors of sunset. He swiveled his head to and fro in an upward arch, searching for the little winged mare.

"There you are!" he hissed when he did spot her. Diving straight at him.

"Catch me if you can!" she sang at him as she went by.

Snarling, he did just that, folding his wings and going into his own dive. With an ear-shattering roar, he was after her. With his mass, he thought the advantage in speed would be his. What was she doing, using her wings in a dive? What was the purpose of that much speed? The air around her was beginning to bend, the unseen barrier beginning to mold itself around her tiny form as she became a speeding blue bullet of chromatic epicness.

It happened. The boom. The ring of magical colors. The very air shocked back at him as the leading edge was suddenly washing over his body. His concentration on his magic faltered. The storm began to break apart. The mental anguish of his spell suddenly breaking made Scarheart howl and clutch at his skull with his claws. He spun in the air, losing all cohesive control over his ablitiy to fly and fell screaming to the earth far, far below. The pain overcame him. The world faded and he went limp, rolling onto his back as his head, tail, and wings trailing like tattered rags as the storm abruptly gave up its strength.

The Rainboom shattered the storm, sent a mind into a coma, and caught Flamespyre completely by surprise. His head turned upwards when he heard the breaking of the sound barrier and towards the source. The cloud wall rippled, faltered, then broke. A rainbow wall of moving air rolled through it as easily as a knife though butter. Curious at first, the black dragon's eye narrowed to a narrow slit as he realized his son had failed him yet again.

"Weak minded fool," he spat. Flamespyre returned his attention to Twilight Sparkle. "Let's see," said the dragon as he landed in front of her. "If I were to start harming you or raise a claw against you thusly." Black talons menaced the young Alicorn.

Twilight screamed for Celestia as she tried to fire bolts of magic from her horn at the approaching monster. They struck home, but appeared to do little effect. In desperation, she tried a teleportation spell and put all of her strength into it.

"Get away from her!" screamed the Princess of the Sun, unleashing unbridled fury upon the dragon. She appeared, leaping out from behind Twilight and unleashing every ounce of power she had at Flamespyre, who was not expecting it at all. It completely enveloped him in a fire like the surface of the sun. Her magic crackled in her fury, the entirety of her form bathed in her aura of white and gold and purity. For that one moment, Twilight beheld a goddess who was beyond a princess, beyond her mentor.

Flamespyre unleashed a scream the likes of which had never been heard. Nearby stones shattered as Celestia's magic enveloped the one eyed monster. Talons tore madly at the stones, digging deeply and savagely. Every moment of pain, every sense of loss, every rage the great black dragon had ever felt in his ancient life reverberated like a tidal force. Scrambling to stay upright, the dragon splayed his legs as the heavy damage began to be seen. His entire chest smoked and was charred as his head hung low to the ground, panting and fighting to keep his one eye on the shining Celestia. The membranes of his wings were pitted with great holes. Blood began to pool in his shadow. After a moment of silence, the dragon began to laugh brokenly, spitting up blood.

"Yes, Alicorn, show me your true power," he rasped with burnt lungs. "So beautiful to look upon. Yes, the pain is worth seeing this."

Celestia landed, saw what she had done and felt ashamed for having to resort to this. It was necessary to go to this extreme, though she never imagined the dragon would survive her attempt at banishing him. She was going to need the Harmonies. Oh, how her side hurt! How it was so hard for her to breathe! Twilight was finally able to move as the dragon no longer could hold her. She immediately went to Celestia's side, not wanting to look at Flamespyre, but finding she could not turn her eyes away from his broken body.

"It's over, Flamespyre," Celestia said gently. "Your forgotten war was over long ago. Surrender and I promise you just treatment."

"Surrender?" The dragon spat the word. "The war may have been forgotten, but it never ended, Alicorn. I am eternal. I am forever." A wave of pain shook his massive frame.

Celestia pitied him. "You are mad."

The dragon grinned demonically. "Oh, no my lovely. I am prepared for this!" He rolled his eye into its socket and uttered a single word. His body turned to ash, crumbled.

Upon the wind could be heard a dreadful promise. It has begun...

Stunned by this outcome and not sure what exactly happened, Twilight's thoughts were interrupted as Celestia began leaning heavily against her.

"Twilight, I-" she began before her eyes rolled back and she fainted.

Twilight caught her with her magic just before her head could strike the ground. "Princess!" she cried frantically. "Celestia!"

Rainbow Dash pulled up from her Rainboom and noticed the falling form of the dragon. She knew he was in trouble. After him were four of the soldiers. Well, if they thought the dragon was still alive, they would do what they could to make sure he stayed that way if it was possible. Protecting life was paramount. Just before he hit the ground, several Unicorns on the ground caught him in a levitation spell and gently lowered Scarheart to the ground. They had a prisoner.

Glad to have that taken care of, Dash found her friends. The force was reassembled and several scouts went on ahead to find the two lost princesses. Rainbow Dash, of course led the way.

Author's Note:

Kind of gruesome for a fight. I wanted to actually have Celestia earn her Alicorn status and thought it would be neat to have her do something other than tell others to go save the world.

It's a start, Tia...it's a start.