• Published 4th Jan 2014
  • 5,959 Views, 673 Comments

A Dragon's Might. - Madness Brony

With no warning, the might of the Griffon kingdom descends upon Equestria. Twilight, in her desperation, teleports Spike as far away from the conflict as she can in the hope of saving his life.

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Oh How the Times They Are a Changing

Spike touched down in the center of the courtyard after completing his final aerial sweep for the night. It was just over a week ago that he had lead the ponies out of the wretched work camp in which they had been imprisoned for so long, and many were still regaining the strength sapped out of their bodies by all the years of forced labor and cruelty. That combined with the suppressor rings on the horn of every Unicorn present meant he was currently their only line of defense, so he had taken it upon himself to perform a daily search of the area surrounding the castle to ensure that no possible threats came too close. He had also sat down for some lengthy talks with Twilight and Lyra to learn as much as possible about the past twenty years in Equestria.

When Twilight first told him about the punishment which had put Rainbow Dash in her current miserable state, he had immediately seen red. If not for a firm slap to the face from the lavender Unicorn, he would have surely gone on a rampage. Both she and Lyra had been crystal clear, though, that they were likely in the only currently safe location in Equestria due to its hidden nature, and regardless of Spike's power, he could not take down an army alone. The only others who had taken a stand were an evasive Pegasi rebel group, and the only way for them to stay safe was to stay in constant motion to elude Griffon forces. So, for the time being, the Dragon had to wait.

He had realized quickly that every day he spent in the castle stewing would only bring him closer to his boiling point. He needed to do something, anything, to start rectifying the current situation and ease his troubled mind. His first instinct was to get back to Ponyville and try to find his other childhood friends, so he had spent every possible moment working on a way to do so. As he made his way through the main hall, passing through ponies who were getting ready to sleep, he briefly made eye contact with Twilight, who was tucking in Rainbow Dash, and gave her a slight nod. She silently returned the nod, and he proceeded upstairs.

After making sure everypony was comfortable for the night, Twilight and Lyra went upstairs and entered the chamber which was once the shared bedroom of the royal sisters. Spike had been using it as a makeshift office so that the three could have discussions and make plans away from the rest of their company. The two Unicorns found the violet dragon seated behind the large, slightly-decayed desk. He sat slightly hunched over in the equally large and old oak chair, elbows rested on the dark, unfinished oak surface, snout on his clasped hands. His posture made it clear that he was deep in thought, but Twilight immediately noticed the slight crease to his brow, the almost imperceptible frown, and recognized the look all too well. While somepony else may not have noticed, Spike was clearly upset. When Lyra let the door close with a low thud, Spike raised his head and motioned for them to sit.
"I'm sure it goes without saying that I've been a bit on edge. I'll be honest: receiving all this terrible news day after day and having no immediate way to change anything has left me both angry and agitated." The dragon sat up straight and lowered his clasped hands to his desk.

"As things stand, nopony here can provide me with anything resembling useful information about the current state of Equestria. I cannot fault any of you for this, but we certainly won't improve our odds of changing things by remaining in the dark." He paused for a moment, then took a deep breath and continued. "I have decided to return to Ponyville to try making contact with the remaining Elements of Harmony. I assume they have been living relatively free lives and should be able to provide me with more updated information than you, who have been imprisoned. While I'm gone, I will place the two of you in charge here." Having said this, Spike sat back in his chair and awaited a response.

Twilight's eyes, which had been slowly getting wider as he spoke, were frantic. "Spike, are you out of your mind?" She was clearly working very hard to keep the volume of her response controlled so as not to worry those down in the main hall. "We don't need to have been in Ponyville for the last decade to tell you that the Griffons aren't going to let a grown dragon simply waltz into town!" Lyra nodded quickly in affirmation, eyes just as concerned.

Spike chuckled. "Twi, who said anything about a dragon going to Ponyville?" He rose from his chair and stood in front of his desk, then with a snap of his clawed fingers, a flash of light filled the room, causing both Unicorns to shield their eyes. As the light faded and their eyes readjusted, the ponies found themselves looking into the eyes of not a dragon but a strapping Unicorn stallion with an amethyst coat and a two-toned emerald and malachite mane. Twilight looked like she was having a hard time keeping her jaw from dropping to the floor in shock.

"I would've thought by now that you two would be more aware of my magical prowess," Spike said a tad smugly. "A simply transformation spell like this is a trick we dragons have been using since before ponies began recording history." His grin did not fade as he took a seat on the floor before the two mares.

Twilight was once again the first to reply once she collected herself. "Spike, that's incredible!" she said excitedly while padding around him, inspecting his Unicorn appearance. "Your transformation is flawless!"

Lyra seemed less excited, her eyes still as troubled as when he had stated the plan. "Your disguise is undoubtedly great, Spike, but I'm rather worried about the implications of you leaving the castle. You are currently the sole force defending this place, so you being gone for any amount of time would place everypony in grave danger. You maintain the spell that shields this place, and you are the only being strong enough to fend off the creatures of the Everfree. If a pack of hungry timberwolves got close enough to sniff us out, we'd be done for."

Spike nodded in agreement and replied, "I understand the concern, Lyra, but luckily for us I believe I've found a way to add two more watchmen to the guard of the castle."

"Well, in that case I would want to meet them first if that is at all possible." The mint-coated mare still looked rather distressed at the whole idea.

"Oh, there's no need for that. You both know our new watchmen quite well. Well, watchmares I should say."

Twilight and Lyra shared a puzzled look. Some comprehension began to dawn in each of their eyes as they looked back to him and Twilight spoke. "I'm not sure if you're going where I think you are with this, Spike, but…"

He cut her off with a deep chuckle. "I am indeed looking at the two who will guard the palace in my absence." He held up a hoof to stop the protest he knew would come. "I've been searching for a proper spell to deactivate those rings on your horns and return you both to full capacity, and I think I finally cracked it before tonight's patrol. If this works, you should be more than capable of casting the guards and wards spell with minimal instruction," he said to Twilight, "and you should be able to easily dispatch any threats that infiltrate the shield," he said as he turned to Lyra.

"Now let's get going on this." With a wave of his hoof and another flash of light, Spike the dragon was before them once again, rising to his feet. He stepped over to stand in front of Twilight and raised his clawed hands around either side of her horn.

"Try not to move, Twi. The spell I've devised isn't complicated, but the more you move, the harder it'll be for me to focus on the ring."

The three sat perfectly still as the room hummed softly with arcane magic. One by one each rune adorning the ring took on a dull yellow glow until they were all lit, then the glow strengthened momentarily before fading away. As the ring went dark, there was a muffled crack followed by bits of metal hitting the floor. Twilight immediately shivered openly as magic rushed through her veins for the first time in nearly fifteen years. The feeling was almost foreign now, and it was absolutely exhilarating. She fought to contain her excitement as Spike moved on to Lyra, still in deep concentration, to perform the same ritual for her.

In just over twenty minutes since he had started, the fragments of the second ring fell to the floor, giving Lyra access to her own magic after twenty years without it.

"I will admit that when I initially saw those rings, I had no idea how to remove them, but upon further inspection I realized that it wasn't magic which fueled them, but runecraft. A typical disenchant spell wouldn't suffice, so I had to get creative and whip up a little something of my own." Spike pulled out a small notebook and placed it in front of Twilight, who relished in lifting and opening it with her newly returned magic.

"In there are my personal notes on Griffon runecrafting. I'll be lending you this along with some books I found on the subject. Before I depart, I'll go through my method of removing these rings with you, and you should research as much as you can on runecraft while I'm away. We will surely have to deal with more if we continue our rebellion." Twilight nodded without looking away from the notes, the familiar spark in her eyes as she devoured this new knowledge warming Spike's heart. He then turned to Lyra.

"Lyra, I want you to begin instructing every Unicorn present in the most basic forms of the Still Way the moment you are able. You'll also need to find out if there are any other martially trained ponies among us. You are presently the only one skilled in pony combat, and we won't get far with just the two of us able to jump into the fray if the need arises. I entrust the training of our future troops to you." Lyra stood ramrod straight and nodded militantly, her eyes filled with determination.

"Come sunrise I shall depart for Ponyville to try and recover the other Elements. During my absence it will be of utmost importance that you both carry out the tasks I am leaving you with to the fullest extent of your abilities. We are the seeds of rebellion. If we dare wish for any hope of overthrowing the Griffons and reclaiming Equestria for its rightful rulers, we must ensure our seed takes root and grows properly. I am placing my trust in the two of you. Can you complete the tasks I've presented for you?" He set the two mares with a commanding look filled with fiery vigor.

"Leave everything to us. We will not fail," the pair responded in perfect unison, eyes alight.

Spike could only smile in response.

The thick foliage of the Everfree did a good job hiding the bright flash of light which went off near the border of Ponyville as the midday sun began sinking toward the horizon. As Spike made his way out of the dense forest, he spotted what appeared to be some sort of checkpoint built on the road leading into town. An armored Griffon sat inside a sturdy little booth flipping lazily through a newspaper. Spike paused for a moment to weigh his options. If he took the road, the guard would undoubtedly see him due to the placement of the structure. If he tried to cross the open field to sneak into town, the lack of cover would also lead to him being spotted, since security checkpoints to enter town likely meant at least a small guard and perhaps patrols. He certainly didn't want to be immediately detained upon arrival to his childhood home.

Spike pondered for a moment before his lips curled into a wry grin. He briefly deliberated the solution he had come up with. It was potentially reckless, but, given how limited his options were, he exited the forest and stepped onto the dirt road leading into town, strolling rather nonchalantly up to the building which blocked the way.

A quick rap on the front window brought the guard to attention.

"Pardon me, sir. I was wondering if I could enter the town," Spike said coolly, looking the Griffon dead in the eye. The Griffon frowned and stepped out of the booth.

"I'll need to see your papers before you go anywhere," he said as he attempted to stand imposingly over the amethyst stallion. Unfortunately for him, Spike had sculpted a rather imposing pony illusion for himself, easily standing at eye level with the rather small border patrol.

The corner of Spike's mouth barely turned upward as he made a subtle gesture with his right hoof, expertly employing a suggestion spell.

"You don't need to see my papers. I'm here visiting a sick friend."

The Griffon's eyes went dull as he replied in a deadpan voice, "I don't need to see your papers, sir." Spike grinned.

"Enjoy your stay in Ponyville." The guard stepped back into the booth, stamped a sheet of paper, and passed it through the window to Spike.

"Enjoy your stay in Ponyville, sir." Spike grinned as he accepted the paper and placed it in his bag then continued down the road toward town, pleased that his plan had worked so well.

Thanks be to Io for these Griffons being so delightfully dimwitted, Spike thought in silent gratitude. As he approached the small town in which he had spent much of his childhood, a wave of nostalgia washed over him, flickers of memories floating to the front of his thoughts. Ponyville itself, however, did not greet him with the warmth he remembered.

The friendly, welcoming atmosphere Ponyville had exuded in his youth seemed to have been stripped away and replaced with a cold sense of foreboding. It was as if the Griffons had somehow drained the very color from the town, leaving everything a dull, silent grey. Spike's memories were of bustling businesses and smiling townsfolk milling about, and each step down the now deserted streets only strengthened his resolve to make things right. This was not how Ponyville was supposed to be.

When Spike entered the market square, which should have been filled with carts and ponies selling their wares, he was met with a barren expanse of brick. Never would have imagined Ponyville could be so utterly depressing, he thought to himself as he watched a swirl of leaves get blown across the grim landscape. If memory serves, Carousel Boutique should be the closest, and Rarity always was in the know from what I remember…should be a good place to start. With his destination in mind, Spike proceeded toward the only high fashion establishment in all of Ponyville.

The sun had begun to set when Spike reached what he remembered to be the location of the boutique. What he found where the beautifully designed building once stood was an imposing iron monstrosity. Gone were the meticulously chosen decorations and the lovely silks and velvets from the windows. Additions had been fastened all around the main structure, like so many strangling vines snaking around the trunk of a tree, slowly squeezing the life from it, and each one was producing a steady trickle of black smoke, even with no sounds of activity inside. Spike shuddered to think what the columns would produce if there was work being done. The once inviting dress shop had been turned into a nightmare of iron and smog that he could scarcely recognize.

Spike gathered himself and knocked on the door of the imposing establishment, hoping that Rarity was still the proprietor of the shop despite its vulgar appearance. When his first knock was met with silence, he frowned. Determined to at least see who was running this modified metal abomination, he rapped loudly on the door, the sound echoing down the deserted streets. It wasn't long before he heard shuffling behind the door, and then a voice he could never forget no matter how many years it had been.

"We are closed for business at the moment. Please bring your orders to the front desk when we open in the morning." Spike didn't need to hear more than a single word to know who the posh, sophisticated voice belonged to.

"I don't have an order, persay. I was looking for a particular mare that used to run a dress shop in this location. I spent many an afternoon here as a little dragon helping her sew and collect jewels for her creations."

There was a brief silence before he heard a chorus of bolts and chains being undone and he let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. The door flew open to reveal a worn and haggard Rarity. There were slight frown lines etched into her forehead and dark circles under her eyes, emphasized by her normally flawless eyeshadow and mascara being smudged. Her once vibrant, styled mane hung loose and unkempt around her face. Her eyes went wide the moment she locked eyes with him and she froze, blindsided as two decades of separation came to an abrupt end. As if someone had paused Rarity and then pressed play, her eyes suddenly swam with tears and she threw herself at Spike, who caught her without missing a beat.

Her body shook silently for several moments before stilling, then, as quickly as the emotion had overtaken her, she recomposed herself and ushered him inside, immediately bolting the door shut behind him.

"Excuse me for a moment, Spike. I need to escort my current guest out." Before Spike could respond, she was gone, leaving him standing alone in the entryway. It wasn't long before she returned, a Unicorn stallion with an onyx coat following just a step behind.

"I do so apologize for this, Rhyme, but a very old and dear friend has dropped in and I simply cannot miss this opportunity to catch up. I do hope you understand the situation," she said sweetly, looking up at him. Spike could tell just from her tone that she was putting on her best pleading puppy dog eyes. The onyx stallion smiled in return.

"It's no trouble at all, Miss Rarity. I left the refreshments in the cooler, so you and your friend help yourselves, alright? I'll catch you on a better day." With that, he tipped his hat to her and Spike before placing it over his cobalt mane and letting himself out. Rarity immediately went to the door and refastened every last lock and chain.

As Rarity led Spike into the sitting area of the house, Spike stopped for a moment and, after noting that all windows were fully covered, dropped his disguise with a quick wave of his hoof. Rarity turned, confusion from the sudden flash of light evident in her eyes. The moment she saw the purple dragon before her, her eyes filled with pain and longing, and she threw herself at him for the second time that evening. He caught her once again and held her close as she dissolved into tears, her frail body going limp. Spike was taken aback by the outbursts of emotion from his childhood friend. He had never expected that his return would elicit such a reaction, especially from the always confident and composed Rarity he remembered.

When Rarity's sobs finally weakened, Spike dared to lift her chin up from his chest only to be met with a look as heart-wrenching as the one he had received from Twilight only a short week ago. Rarity's eyes were glassy with tears still unshed and filled with pain, showing clearly how much the past two decades under Griffon rule had damaged her mind. It might take some time before she could explain to him exactly what had happened to Ponyville while he was gone.

Spike carried the mare over to her divan and managed to calm her down enough for her to stay upright on her own before setting her down and sitting on the floor beside her. He wiped the last of her tears from her eyes and nuzzled her.

"You don't have to say anything, Rarity," he said softly. "I've already found Twilight, and I've learned how terrible things have been while I've been away. I'm here now to try to right the wrongs and return Equestria to the way I remember it." As he drew away from the Unicorn, his hypersensitive nose suddenly made him aware of the lingering scent of strong alcohol.

"Rarity, have you been drinking?"

Her horn lit up in response. A small cabinet quietly opened and a bottle of amber liquid floated out accompanied by two small glasses. Before Spike could come up with the right question to start with, the top of the bottle spun off and it poured the liquid into the two awaiting glasses before coming to rest gently on the table. One glass levitated over to Spike, who wordlessly took it out of Rarity's magical grip.

"In times like these, darling, even the best of ponies need a little something to take their minds away from the troubles of daily life." That being said, the fashionista tipped her glass back and downed its contents in a single swig,

Spike was stunned as his childhood crush expertly downed her drink. He took a sip from his glass as Rarity refilled hers. Dragons never had much use for commonplace alcohol, as their anatomy burnt off most of it before it could enter the bloodstream. There were, of course, specially fortified brews his master had exposed him to which could get the job done, but he could chug Nightmare moonshine for three days straight and not catch the slightest buzz. The taste of the Sweet Apple whiskey Rarity had passed to him wasn't bad, though, and he took another small sip as the bottle placed itself on the table again.

After a slight pause in her motions, Rarity said, "Now that I've settled down a bit, I do believe I have some questions which merit answers."

"By all means, ask away."

She sipped her drink and gave him a sideways glance. "Well, first and foremost I simply must know how my adorable little baby dragon showed up on my doorstep as a rather strapping stallion this evening. Dragons certainly don't just turn into ponies as they age, and you are of course in a more…expected physical form now." She eyed him up and down, drink still at her lips.

Spike chuckled. "Well, you are correct about that. I just used a little shapeshifting magic to disguise myself. I wanted my entry into Ponyville to go as smoothly as possible."

Rarity gasped and replied, "I thought only the princesses possessed magic powerful enough to completely alter somepony's appearance," to which Spike couldn't help but laugh as he remembered his own naivety.

"One of the first things I learned after leaving Equestria was that the majority of the things I had learned here were as far from the truth as I could have ever imagined. Without going into too much detail, I will note that Celestia and Luna are far lower on the scale of magical beings than they would want anypony to believe." He tossed back the last of his drink before setting down the glass and staring intently at Rarity.

"That isn't important, though. The reason I'm here is to get you and others back together. If we are to have any chance of success, we need to reunite the Elements of Harmony. I have Twilight and Rainbow Dash hidden away at our current base of operations, and I came back to retrieve you, Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Applejack."

Rarity dropped her gaze to the floor and held it there for far longer than Spike was comfortable with. He had expected surprise perhaps, or something akin to Twilight's initial reaction, but there was clearly something bothering the snow-white mare and Spike needed to know what it was. "Rarity, what's the matter? I've been out of the game for two decades now; I'm counting on you to bring me back up to speed right now." He kept his voice encouraging but firm as he spoke.

Rarity bit her bottom lip before downing what was left in her glass and bringing her eyes up to stare forward at the bottle on her table. "I'm afraid things might not be as simple as you want them to be." She refused to make eye contact with Spike as she spoke. "If I were to disappear from the shop, Sweetie Belle and my parents would be sipped off to one of those horrid work camps. The same goes for Applejack if she were to stop tending to the farm. As for Pinkie and Fluttershy, well, both of them seem to have slipped…" Her voice cracked slightly, and she quickly poured herself another glass of whiskey and drank it in one gulp.

"Fluttershy, despite my best efforts, seems to have withdrawn into her own little dream world." Her voice was strained. "Talking to her is like talking to a filly playing pretend. She is completely dissociated from the rest of the world." She took a deep breath before going on. "Pinkie Pie is another story entirely. Ever since those brutish Griffons invaded Ponyville she has kept herself shut away fro the outside world. I haven't heard her speak a single word in over ten years. It's been longer since she last smiled."

Spike leaned forward and held his head in his hands. His friends were far worse off than he had predicted, which complicated matters significantly. Rarity carefully moved over to the edge of the divan and said quietly, "I'm sorry, my dear, but I don't think any of us are in any shape to be leaving Ponyville at the moment," punctuating the admittance by draping a foreleg over Spike's shoulder.
The amethyst dragon tensed under her touch. With a heavy sigh, he rose his head up. A dragon did not give up so easily. He turned to Rarity, a forceful determination in his eyes, and sat up straight, willing the worry and doubt from his body as she pulled her hoof from his shoulder.

"I didn't rescue an entire camp full of ponies only to have them return to lives as nothing more than slaves. If I have to smash my way through an entire army of Griffons to rescue your family and Applejack's, so be it. If I have to spend the rest of my life trying to find a way to mend both Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy's damaged psyches I will gladly do it. I will not surrender now and let my friends and family continue to suffer under Griffon rule." He placed a hand on Rarity's cheek, using his thumb to carefully wipe away the fresh tears which had sprung to her eyes. "I will fight to my last breath so that you can all live your lives in whatever ways you wish to."

His deep, forceful tone and commanding presence as he spoke those words shook Rarity to her very core. The Spike she knew so many years ago was only a child. He could never have invoked such powerful feelings in her, feelings which caused her to shiver and blush lightly as she met his gaze. Her body seemed to move on its own, rising slightly to press her lips against his only to have him turn away at the last moment.

The mare's blush brightened as she looked away while Spike stood up fully.

"I'm sorry, Rarity, but I'm simply past that point in my life," Spike said quietly, brushing his nose with his thumb. "You'll always be a very special somepony to me, but I'm afraid I've moved past that particular crush." He leaned down to nuzzle the top of her head for just a moment.

"Why don't you show me where I can sleep tonight? We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and if we're planning to get everyone back together, we're both going to need every bit of energy we can get."

Rarity smiled up at the amethyst dragon and daintily levitated the bottle of whiskey back into the cabinet, which closed as quietly as it had opened, before stepping off the divan and gesturing for him to follow her. He was right, after all. If they wanted to see things return to normal, they couldn't allow themselves to be sidetracked by such attractions.

Author's Note:

I have no words other than thanks to EVERYONE who's still reading despite my horrendous inability to prioritize this story properly within the rest of my life. Much love to all of you. ~Aura