• Published 11th Jul 2011
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Pony Age: Origins - OmegaPony11

The Ponyspawn have invaded Equestria, and it is up to the newest addition to the Grey Wardens, Twilight Sparkle, to find the means to drive them back! With her friends and allies at her side, can Twilight win before Equestria is devoured?

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The High Dragon

Chapter 20 – The High Dragon

Everypony watched in awe as the silver reliquary opened with the help of Twilight’s magic. Once the lid was lifted and placed reverently to the side, Twilight peered inside, only to become lost at the sights within. The Mane of Stars was more than simple hair, appearing to be a fragment of the night sky itself. Each strand pulsed with ancient and divine power, together forming a perfect harmony of sacred magic. It almost seemed like blasphemy taking even one single strand from its resting place.

With the most precise levitation Twilight had ever done, she carefully lifted a wisp of the mane, holding it before her as she gazed in marvel. It was like holding a stream of perfect jewels, each twinkling of their own accord along with some unheard song of days long past.

Look at me waxing poetic, Twilight thought as she brought up a small crystal phial to keep what she called the “Star Strand” safe. After tucking the phial away in her saddle bag, she repeated the process with five more strands, placing them in their own containers and then giving one to each pony, just as Hauberk said they deserved.

“It’s so beautiful,” Fluttershy said as she gazed deep into the phial, “I can’t believe we did it.”

“Neither can I, darling,” replied Rarity as she looked on with complete admiration of the relic in her hooves. “This single strand of hair is utterly divine, though I suppose I mean that in the literal sense. How would it look in my mane? I think it would really bring out my eyes.”

“That’s a relic of days long gone, Rarity,” Applejack reprimanded, then placed the phial in her bag, “Not a fashion accessory. This is gonna save Macintosh, Applebloom, all of Red Apple. Took us quite a ways to get here, but ah think we’re all the better for it. Stronger, wiser, all that.”

Twilight nodded solemnly as she closed the coffin and stepped away from the altar. She took one last look at the temple room, still in awe of the artisanship that went in to making this place. Knowing that donkeys were the constructors only helped the unicorn look forward to seeing an entire city crafted by their expert hooves.

With a quick confirmation from Applejack, it was decided then and there; their next stop was to bring the Grey Warden treaties to the donkeys of Orzamule after healing Macintosh and Applebloom. Twilight was at first apprehensive about meeting an equine folk who had no inkling of magic, but after seeing what they could accomplish compared to other ponies, Twilight was excited to learn more. It was definitely a change, looking forward to something that she could plan in advance for once, rather than making things up as she went, like how she dealt with this mountain.

There was still the danger posed by the Dark Tunnels however, the home of the ponyspawn. While Twilight was curious how the monsters survived in the underground, her curiosity was brought to pause, not wanting to dive headlong into the depths of an evil lair. She would have to learn all she could from the experiences of Applejack and Shale, both of whom had fought their fair share of battles in the dark recesses of the earth.

They crossed the Bridge of Faith and through the Corridor of Night’s Reflection, still marveling at the sight of the temple as they returned to the Hall of the Elements. Twilight stopped as she gazed at the statues of the Elements of ages past, still standing proud and vigilant in the temple dedicated to a goddess that lived.

It was not awe or admiration that halted Twilight, but rather uncertainty that ceased her hooves. As she looked up at the image of the first Warden, Dewdrop Dazzle, new doubts spread into her mind as she levitated the parchment with the ancient ritual. Not only did they need an army to fight the ponyspawn, but they also needed to find the Elements to stop the Archdemon as the guardians of the past once did. Unlike the treaties, neither she nor Applejack knew where to find the Elements, or how to call upon their celestial magic.

“We’ll be fine, sugarcube,” Applejack said, seeing the concern on Twilight’s face as she looked at the ancient ritual. “We have a lot in to worry about. No need to add more apples to our basket just yet.”

“We don’t have the time though,” Twilight replied, as she kept her eyes on those of the unicorn statue, “If we can’t stop the Archdemon, the Blight will continue unhindered. We need the army and the Elements.”

“Remember what that block of stone said,” reminded Applejack, “The Elements reveal themselves when their bearers most desperately need them. For all we know, they’ll come to us.”

I certainly hope so, Twilight thought as she wrenched her eyes away from the monuments and back to the door leading to the antechamber. She wasn’t particularly fond of surprises anymore, after having endured all manner of unexpected events in this endeavor, from the strange, cruel, to even downright lethal.

As they finally left the temple proper, the bright light of the sun cascaded over the entrance, temporarily blinding the party as they stepped back into the outside world. Twilight took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, noting that it was not as cold as it once was; indeed, the climate had actually turned rather pleasant with the sun’s warmth — a gentle breeze flowing through the summit of the mountain.

The storms that protected the mountain had also abated, and most of the snow had melted away revealing green grass and even flowers. The ponies looked in wonder as the works of both magic and nature worked in tandem as if to celebrate their success. True to Hauberk’s word, a stone path leading from the temple was revealed, branching to the lower temple once ruled by the diamond dogs and a new path leading down the mountain back to the mainland; one that would cut out climbing down the mountain completely.

There was still the case of the high dragon, which thankfully was still sleeping soundly on top of its hoard of treasure. Twilight sighed in relief, almost worried that the dragon was going to wake up and suddenly have a craving for pony meat.

“Twilight!” Spike called, rushing over to his unicorn caretaker as they stepped off the stone stairway and onto firm ground, “You made it back! Did you get the Mane?”

“We did,” Twilight answered, drawing out her phial and showing the Star Strand to Spike, “Now we can leave. How are Trixie and Shale?”

“I am bored, and desire to crush something very soon,” the golem said as it walked to the group, “As for the boastful one, I believe she is delirious again, and her leg has started to change colour. Do ponies naturally turn green when bitten? It does seem fascinating.”

Twilight and the others ignored Shale’s usual interest in bodily harm as they rushed to Trixie’s side. She was writhing on the ground in pain, as her forelegs holding her wounded hind leg tight. She was sobbing in pain, adding curses to her pleads to make the pain stop. The sight of the drake bite made Twilight cringe; the poultices hadn’t healed the majority of the wound and it had become infected while they were in the temple.

“It’s as bad as it looks,” Pinkie said as she took up her alchemist’s bag, digging for some sort of medicine to help, “I can only help ease the pain, but unless we bring her to a proper healer soon, we’ll have to… amputate.” To accentuate her point, Pinkie held out her hind leg, sliding her fore leg across it and making a chopping gesture.

“No!” Trixie snapped as she shot upright, eyes wide in fear, “No chopping! No chopping at all!”

It was grisly, but it may need to be done. Trixie was already lamed from the drake bite, losing a leg would just complete the process. Without a proper healer, the infection would spread and the blue unicorn’s fate would be sealed. Twilight then stopped and looked at her saddlebag. The Guardian Hauberk did say the Mane of Stars could heal any ailment. What about a maimed hind leg of a unicorn?

Fluttershy had a similar idea, already drawing out her phial and gripping the cork stopper with her teeth. With utmost care, the Chantry sister bit down on the Star Strand, lifting it with reverence as she placed the relic on the ugly wound. While this was impromptu to say the least, it was a good way to see the extent of the Mane’s healing power.

“Don’t worry, Trixie,” Fluttershy said softly, trying to keep the terrified magician mare under control, “Luna will help heal you.”

Almost as if the Strand reacted to Fluttershy’s words, the divine hair glowed bright with power as it sunk into the wound. The entire leg then began to glow, with Trixie sputtering as her body shone with magical energy. The rest of the party averted their eyes as the light overwhelmed them.

As the light abated, they opened their eyes to see that Trixie’s wound had simply ceased to be. There was no scarring, no torn flesh, not even a blemish in the skin or coat from where the drake’s teeth had sunk into her. Trixie herself seemed no worse for wear, actually appearing to be in better health now than when she first left the Tower. The Star Strand had not only healed the wound, but also every ailment and every slight deficit to the unicorn’s health. No healing magic known to ponykind could compare to the power of this ancient relic.

“I feel…” Trixie started, getting back up to her hooves and looking around at the rest of the party as they kept their eyes locked on the miracle performed by the Strand, “I feel great! No! Not great… Great and Powerful! The Great and Powerful Trixie is back!”

“You are still not the Supreme and Indestructible Shale, but I suppose it is good to have my banter partner back. I cannot wait to win again.” Shale looked on with a smug look on its rocky face, though Twilight smirked, knowing that it was just the golem’s way of saying it was glad Trixie was safe.

“Well, that sells me,” Applejack said, her grin wide as they took down the makeshift camp in front of the temple, “If the Mane can heal that, then it can heal anything! Let’s head back to Ditzy’s boat and git to Red Apple lickity-split! I can’t wait to see their faces when they wake up, better than ever!”

It was a good feeling, knowing that they had been successful, not only by recovering the Mane of Stars, but also with discovering the weakness of the Archdemon and how to defeat it like the first Wardens of old. The costs were still high to Twilight, however, since it took the tragedy of Red Apple to send them northward. There was also the attack by the cult of diamond dogs, something she had wanted to avoid at all costs, though Lockjaw made it impossible not to fight.

Spike gave one last look at the massive dragon sleeping behind them when he leapt up on Twilight’s back. It always eased her mind knowing that the baby drake was safe and well. “What was it like in there, Twilight?” He asked out of the curiosity that Twilight had always wanted to instill in her ward, though only because he wanted to know what he had miss rather than a genuine hunger for knowledge.

As they walked away from the temple and onto the newly revealed path, Twilight told the story of the trials within, of Hauberk and the Elements of Harmony. Spike hung off every word, asking questions about what Twilight had experienced personally. As she mentioned seeing the spirit of Duncan, the others spoke of their encounters within the Corridor of Night’s Reflection. Rarity avoided the subject completely, trotting up ahead of the rest of the group while Rainbow Dash and Pinkie recounted their meetings with their respective parent.

Fluttershy stopped while they all talked, staring at the ground. “What’s wrong, Fluttershy?” Twilight asked, only to see fresh tears forming in the shy pegasus’ eyes.

“You all saw ponies who passed on,” she replied, “The old king. Your parents. Duncan. I saw Lady Elegance in the Corridor. If the ponies you saw are all gone that means… she said not to worry but I…”

Fluttershy broke down in soft sobs, covering her eyes with her hooves to stop the new river of tears, but to no avail. While the others tried to give some measure of comfort, it was Rarity who turned around on her hooves and rushed over to the former bard’s side. She levitated a frilly lace kerchief from her bag and used the cloth to help wipe away the tears.

“There there, dear,” Rarity said as gingerly wiped Fluttershy’s face, “You are quite lucky to have such a caring mare in your life. I’ve heard the tales of servants treated poorly, especially pegasus ones, but you were considered one of the family. That is something simply unheard of. Scandalous, one would say. She did it anyways. I wish I was as lucky as you. As all of you.”

The pink-maned archer blew her snout onto the kerchief, causing Rarity to cringe as she pulled the soiled cloth away. With a small pulse of magic from her horn, a minute jolt of electricity ignited the kerchief, reducing it to ash that blew away on the calm mountain winds.

The white sorceress closed her eyes for a moment, before looking at her friends who assembled around her. “I saw nothing but darkness in the Corridor,” she admitted at last, fear creeping into her voice, “No stars. No light, nothing but the black emptiness. And Flemeth. She told me that I had to go to her after our journey, or she would hurt you all.”

Now it was Rarity’s turn to well up as she recounted her experience with her swamp-bound benefactor. Twilight knew that Rarity was a proud unicorn, who had gained great power and skill on her own, but also knew that the prospect of facing down the Mare of the Mire was an uphill battle. Flemeth was old and powerful, and likely had an array of spells at her disposal, the power and ferocity of which Twilight could not even begin to imagine.

“Rarity,” Twilight comforted as she placed a hoof on Rarity’s shoulder, “Flemeth won’t do anything to you, not so long as your friends are here.”

“That’s right,” added Applejack, “We may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, but ah’ll be bucked if ah let any friend o’ mine get her body snatched from a marsh hag.”

“Even if we have to get through two Flemeth’s, we’re here for you Rarity,” boasted Rainbow, “Let her come. We’ll show her who’s boss!”

Despite the confidence and the bravado shown, Rarity turned away, saying nothing to neither allow nor deny her friends’ newfound determination. No matter how Twilight tried to bring that same confidence to her fellow unicorn, Rarity would only turn away, in her own way saying Flemeth was unstoppable.

We’ve done the impossible before, Rarity, Twilight thought as they resumed their march down the mountain, we want to help you. Why won’t you let us?

A sudden howl echoed through the frigid air, shaking the trees and alerting the ponies of a new presence. They spun around to see the diamond dog cult leader Lockjaw lumbering towards them. He was covered in several severe-looking scars, as well as countless bruises and lacerations. His left eye was swollen from the stiff strike by Shale’s hoof, and he was missing many of his teeth. Lockjaw was also walking with a limp, and in his left paw was a tube of bone, carved into some sort of instrument.

“Heretics,” he growled as he lurched ever forward, pointing a single claw at the party, “You will all feel the flame of Luna. Behold as I awaken the almighty one from her slumber, so that she may feast on your flesh and suck the marrow from your bones!”

“Grumpy puppy is being hammy again.” Pinkie’s taunt was ignored as Lockjaw brought the instrument to his lips. Twilight clenched her teeth as her staff floated to her side, battle-ready, as the others drew weapons. They were all tired from the trials of the gauntlet, but rest would only come after Lockjaw’s defeat. They all knew too well how the alpha dog was going to strike at them, and with his wounds, was going to call upon the high dragon to do so. Twilight took a sharp intake of air.

With a sharp intake of air, Lockjaw blew into the instrument, yet oddly they heard no sound. The lavender mage strained her ears to try to hear what Lockjaw was attempting to do, but could only hear the sound of the winds and Spike’s yells of pain. She turned to see the baby dragon fall from her back and onto the cold ground, writhing in agony as blood poured from his ears.

Twilight twisted around immediately, holding Spike in her hooves as he cried out, turning towards Lockjaw, eyes wide with fury. “Stop it!” she screamed as she raised a barrier around Spike and herself, “You’re hurting him!”

The bone whistle was not only causing Spike immense pain, but was also affecting the high dragon up on her perch. The monstrous reptile rose from its slumber, stretching its serpentine body to its full length. It opened its yellow eyes wide and craned its neck towards Lockjaw, who ceased his whistling and pointed at the ponies as he tried to hobble away from his dread mistress.

“Oh almighty Luna,” he said, bowing as he retreated, “I offer these heretics to you, great one, so that you may feast upon their bodies and purify them with your flame. Show these heathens your might! Show that you favour the dogs as your chosen, and that today is their day!”

The dragon roared in response, the terrible call from the wyrm shaking the ground and knocking the ponies down. With a great beat from its wings, the dragon landed near the retreating Lockjaw, abandoning its hoard of treasure to stare down the cult leader.

Several questions seemed to have been answered as the once powerful Lockjaw whimpered in the presence of the mythical beast he worshipped as a goddess. The dogs had delivered gems and sacrifices to distract the high dragon while they stole away her eggs. They used the bone flute to enrage the dragon, causing it to bleed from the ears just as Spike did. They then used the blood to become reavers just as Hauberk had described, and managed to collect the blood from this use. Who knew how many ponies and dogs died at the claws and flames of the high dragon to fuel the zealous hatred of Lockjaw and his blood drinking followers?

There, the reverence was one-way. As Lockjaw begged and pleaded to the high dragon he called Luna, the massive creature loomed ever closer, black smog flowing from its nostrils. “Please, spare me your wrath!” cried the alpha dog as he fell on his rump, “Your blood runs through my veins! We worship your very flame! These interlopers, they are the enemy! Not me!”

Rearing its head and spewing red hot streams of flames into the sky, the dragon roared again in fury before turning its fiery breath towards Lockjaw, immolating the dog leader as he screamed in pain. His howls of agony were quickly silenced as the roar of the fire consumed the large diamond dog, leaving only a charred skeleton in its wake.

The high dragon then turned its attention to the party of ponies, the fury of the mother wyrm not satiated from the gruesome act of execution. They all stared, wide-eyed, as the dragon lumbered towards them, a low hiss gurgling from its throat as it prepared another breath of fire. Trixie had already raised her arcane barrier, while Twilight reinforced the shield with her own magic.

“What do we do?” Pinkie called, only to back down as the dragon unleashed another torrent of fire onto the shield. From all her studies of dragons, Twilight had learned that they were creatures of pure destruction, their unmitigated fury consuming whole regions and threatening the livelihoods of entire nations when enraged. There were no reports of dragons simply leaving until the earth was completely scorched; only a dragon’s death ended their chaos. Especially a dragon so rudely interrupted in its slumber.

The drain of holding up the barrier was unparalleled to anything Twilight had ever faced before, including minotaurs and demons. Even with their magic combined, the high dragon’s flames were rapidly sapping their strength, and Twilight already felt weak and ready to faint. Trixie looked no better, already falling on one knee as she struggled to keep her staff aloft. Rarity joined her magic with theirs, in time for the dragon’s breath to cease, only to cry out as the beast struck the shield with its powerful claws.

“Please stop!” Fluttershy yelled, surprising Twilight as the yellow Pegasus stepped towards the edge of the barrier, attempting to plead with the high dragon, “I’m sorry that mean dog ruined your sleep, but we are not your enemy! Please, stop this and we’ll leave in peace. We don’t want to fight you.”

The dragon stopped its attacks, roaring once more before flapping the great wings on its back, the blast of air pushing snow, dust and ash into a cloud that blurred what was going on outside the shield. As the ash-storm settled, they all watched as the dragon flew off past the peak of the mountain, with Fluttershy giving the group a small smile.

“See?” she said, as she lifted some lyrium potions from her bag for the unicorns to drink, “All it takes is a kind word. Just like what the message said in the temple.”

Twilight was about to breathe a sigh of relief and release her magic, only for Shale to step forward and point a hoof to the sky. “Look again, meek one,” the golem observed, “I think all it gave the dragon was another idea on how to deal with us.”

The high dragon had turned around mid-flight, making a pass around the mountain, then swooped down towards the party and their magical shield, its mouth filled with draconic flame. Urging her magic to return to the shield in force, Twilight and the other unicorns pushed their spellwork to its limits, raising the barrier to incredible strength as the dragon assaulted them with another storm of fire.

All three mages cried out in pain as the flames lashed against the entirety of the otherworldly shell, the immense pressure of magic and stress causing Twilight’s horn to hurt. They could not keep hiding behind the shield forever. Sooner rather than later, the high dragon was going to crack the barrier and they would all be at its mercy.

“Meek one,” Shale said to a frightened Fluttershy, readying itself for a counter-attack, “We are not talking our way out of our fights. All our enemies, big and small, desire us dead. There is no reasoning with them. Take up the bow, and fight. Do not hesitate. You’ll get no second chance.”

Twilight noticed in shock that Shale had used the word “you” rather than “it” when talking to Fluttershy. As the dragon flew off to begin another pass, the Chantry sister readied an arrow and took aim, muttering an oath from the Chant of Sun and Moon as she tracked the dragon.

“Git ready, all of ya,” Applejack called through the bit of her sword, “It’s now or never.” Weapons ready, the fighters awaited the lowering of the shield to strike at the dragon itself. Fluttershy still had the bow trained, her body still yet somehow calm despite the situation.

“I’m ready, Twilight,” she said, barely loud enough for Twilight to hear, “This dragon wouldn’t listen. Just like the others. I’m sorry.”

Twilight’s horn and staff stopped glowing, no longer fueling the barrier as it dissipated around them. She protected Spike’s writhing body with her own, knowing that while a full dragon could recover from the impairing noise of the bone flute, a baby dragon would be in racking pain. Twilight watched as the others stepped forward, forming a line against the high dragon as it lowered itself to the ground, mouth filled with a new ball of flame ready to be unleashed. Fluttershy was at the forefront, keeping her aim steady as she took one last breath.

She fired.

The arrow flew through the air in an arc until it struck the high dragon in the eye. The great beast roared in pain, the fire in its throat dying out as the loss of vision sent the dragon careening into the mountainside. The dragon crashed against the rocky walls of the summit, howling in pain as it toppled to the ground. The jagged rock face tore into its wings, ripping large holes as more blood flowed from its now numerous wounds.

Applejack and the others stood ready as the dragon steadied itself on its large limbs. Fluttershy watched what she had done with her single arrow and promptly fainted, only to have the stone body of Shale act as her shield in front of her. “Get the archer to safety, purple one,” Shale said, “We are likely to do something completely stupid. But the squishing will be epic.”

“Sometimes it’s the stupid choices that turn out to be the most awesome,” Rainbow said with a smirk, “Got a plan, A.J.?”

“Sure do,” Applejack replied. Twilight levitated the unconscious Fluttershy away from the newly formed front lines as Applejack took command of the battle. “Shale, go fer the legs. Keep the dragon off balance. Rainbow, go fer the critter’s other eye. Keep away from its mouth. Ain’t in the mood to clean up after roasted boaster. Ah’ll be goin’ fer its belly, maybe under the chin as well.”

“Trixie, could use one of them chanted spells of yers, the one that makes us stronger and faster. Rarity, I don’t know what other magic spells ol’ Flemeth taught you, but now would be the best time to bust out the real impressive ones. Twilight, if you could blast the dragon with a spell here and there, I would be appreciating it somethin’ fierce.”

“Ooh! Ooh!” Pinkie Pie bounced, hoof raised in the air, “What about me?”

“Er...” Applejack was at a loss for the random earth pony before her, and then gave a simple shrug. “Throw grenades ‘till it dies! Here it comes!”

The high dragon bellowed in fury as it loomed over the party, jaws wide and eager for flesh to rend and maim. With a shout, Applejack lead the charge, quickly hopping back as the high dragon swept its claws towards them. The golem pony caught the massive talons with its head, pushing back against the dragon with strength that surprised not only the entire party, but also the dragon as well. Despite the effort, Shale was cracking under the pressure exerted by the drake matriarch. It would not be able to keep this test of physical might against the dragon for long.

Trixie followed her part of the plan laid out by the earth pony Warden, channeling her magic to work with the ancient spell-words she had studied so intently in the Tower. Twilight felt her body becoming stronger and healthier as the familiar entrapments of the blue magician’s strengthening spell worked its wonders on all of them, giving them a bright charged glow. With newfound strength, Twilight cast a small barrier over the bodies of Spike and Fluttershy while Rarity channeled another large powerful rune, the same she used against the drakes in the caverns.

The fighters launched their attack with speed and precision as Shale continued to test its might against that of the high dragon. With a small flash grenade primed and ready to be flung, Pinkie shouted a warning launched the explosive upward into the face of the wyrm. The bomb burst brilliantly, engulfing the area with bright light and blinding the already maimed dragon. It howled, clutching at its face with its claws, while the rest of the ponies averted their eyes and resumed their attack while the dragon was stunned.

Applejack charged forward, sword in mouth as she jumped upwards towards the high dragon’s belly, sinking her Red Apple sword into the belly of the beast. As the dragon was stunned, Shale assisted by tackling the hind leg. The glyph Rarity maintained worked as well, causing the feet of the dragon no little amount of pain as both she and Twilight fired bolt after bolt of arcane energy.

Not amused, the high dragon roared, blasting the area in front of it with waves of fire rather than directed flames, causing Pinkie and Dash to quickly break away from their attack. As Applejack and Shale readied another strike, the dragon turned quickly, slamming its strong tail into both and sending them flying into the rocky walls.

Despite their best efforts, the unicorns’ spells bounced harmlessly off the dragon’s scales. Descendants of the Old Ones indeed! Twilight thought as she and Rarity galloped away from the monster as it breathed another torrent of flame. How can we stop this thing? There has to be a way!

Rainbow flew circles around the head of the enemy beast, but could not find an opening as the dragon swung its sharp claws at the cyan assassin. Applejack and Shale slowly returned to their hooves, bruised and, in the Shale’s case, fissured from the crash against the walls of the mountain’s summit. Pinkie rushed to their sides immediately, applying a healing poultice to the earth pony and pouring liquid lyrium over the cracks in the golem.

They would not be able to keep up with the dragon for much longer. Twilight knew that a good half of their stamina came from Trixie’s spell, and there was no guarantee when that would simply cease. The threat of the dragon had to be ended quickly and decisively. With another look at the battlefield, the mage Warden looked with eyes attuned with the arcane, trying to find a solution in the mountain. It was a risk considering she was nearly blinded the last time she tried to look at the mountain, and like before, the mountain shined with incredible latent magical energy. The lack of the magically charged storms made it much easier to observe, but the mountain was still a font of power.

That’s it! Twilight turned to Rarity, who was looking at the ground with the same attuned eyes as Twilight was, as the dragon continued to chase after the annoyance that was Rainbow Dash. “Rarity,” Twilight said, pointing a hoof at the dragon, “I think I know a way we can take down the dragon. We need to use the magic in the mountain to do it though, and your lightning spells. Rarity I need you to use me…”

“This is hardly a time for being so forward!” As Rarity shouted, Applejack and Shale made their way over to the two unicorns with Pinkie following. Rainbow was still buzzing about the dragon’s head, narrowly avoiding snapping jaws and streams of fire.

“She can’t do that all day, Twi,” Applejack said, “We need to take that critter down, and fast.”

“As I was saying,” Twilight continued, “I need Rarity to use me like a staff. I’ll focus a feedback with the mountain through my horn, and then Rarity can channel the magic into her horn through me. I’m not going to lie; it is going to be extremely painful having that much power in our horns, but it’s the only thing I can think of to have enough power to summon a strong enough bolt to take down a high dragon.”

“This is where you come in Applejack. You and Dash are going to get close enough to embed one of your swords into its skull. The metal will act as a lightning rod, sending Rarity’s magic throughout its body. With the magic flowing from me into the spell, it should be enough to electrocute the dragon from the inside out.”

Applejack took a deep breath at Twilight’s plan, keeping an eye on both the high dragon and the blitzing pegasus. “Boy howdy, you sure know how to pick ‘em,” Applejack remarked, before gripping the sword-bit in her mouth, “Any idea how I’ll get up there?”

“Jump on my back,” Shale replied, “It will have to climb, but I will bring the bucking one close enough for it to jump onto the dragon.”

“Pinkie, get your healing gear ready.” This is going to hurt. The alchemist moved to the back where the barrier was still protecting Fluttershy and Spike as Applejack leaped onto Shale’s back, forelegs wrapped around the golem’s neck as they charged towards the dragon. With a ready breath, Twilight closed her eyes and focused her magic onto the energies surrounding her.

It had to begin gradually at first, slowly letting the magic that charged the mountain into her horn bit by bit. If she took in the magic too fast, Twilight would lose herself in the power and be useless, too drunk on the mountain’s magic to put it to proper use. Applejack would be unable to quell the surge, being too far to use her templar abilities. Too slow, and the dragon would make quick work of her friends.

We made it this far, we can’t fail now! Slowly Twilight opened herself to the magic within the mountain, letting the power flow through her and focused it on the tip of her horn. Eyes open, the unicorn mage noticed Rarity’s lightning already take shape in the form of a small orb high above the dragon’s head. Shale and Applejack were already close, and with a jump the blonde earth pony landed on top of the high dragon’s hindquarters.

Twilight flinched as the dragon swiped again at Rainbow, clipping the wings of the assassin and causing her to make an emergency crash landing. The high dragon roared in triumph, and was about to bring its massive maw down on the sprawled body of its fallen foe when a rather large piece of earth struck its blind side. Shale had stomped the earth in such a way that the golem had dislodged a large section of the ground. With a sharp buck, another chunk of rock flew towards the dragon with great force, slamming against its jaw and dislodging a fang.

The high dragon turned its attention to the new annoyance, ignoring or not even noticing that Applejack had boarded the beast and was slowly climbing across the scales. Twilight opened herself to more magic, feeling the power rush into her like a river, while still maintaining control of the flow. Her horn was starting to sting from the abundance of arcane power flooding her, but now Rarity was redirecting the magic towards her horn and then to the lightning bolt waiting to strike. Rarity had dug her hooves into the ground, bracing herself as more power flowed from the mountain to Twilight and then to her.

It was risky spellwork to use another unicorn as a staff. Usually they had to direct the magic from the Fade itself to make this process work, thus exposing themselves to powerful demons and presenting the threat of possession. Twilight counted her lucky stars that the energy was already in the mountain, and that a skilled sorceress like Rarity could refine the raw magic Twilight was drawing out. Now was the time to let it rush through her, now that she was used to the power.

Twilight grimaced as the immense power made her horn feel like it was on fire, yet continued to draw the power through her horn despite the crippling pain. The high dragon lifted one of its claws and slammed it on top of Shale, breaking off a foreleg as the golem was caught by the gigantic beast. Just as it readied another ball of flame to finish off the pony of stone, Twilight could see Applejack reach the skull, blade ready to strike.

Strike she did, sinking the sword into the dragon’s head with as much force as she could muster. The high dragon reared its head in pain, its roar echoing across the mountain and beyond, tossing the orange earth pony off and sending her crashing to the ground. She looked up to see the one-eyed dragon loom over her, the fiery breath it had prepared for Shale now ready to scorch the former templar to the bone.

“Now, Rarity! NOW!”

Rarity cried out as the power from her horn sailed through the sky, striking the orb with intensely focused energy. The ball crackled as it expanded exponentially, until it flashed downward in a powerful bolt of lightning towards the sword. The crack of thunder rocked the skies, only to be overcome by the deafening roar of the high dragon as it reeled its head upwards to the sky while the raw electricity surged through its body. It rocked back and forth slowly, a low rumble emanating from the throat of the great dragon. Unable to stand under its own power, the high dragon toppled to its side, crashing against the mountain’s summit. The ground quaked as its mass shook the summit, dislodging rocks, snow, and ponies alike from where they stood.

Trixie was thrown off her hooves from the earthquake, causing her chanted spell to be disrupted. As the effects of the magic drifted away from Twilight, she could no longer help but collapse much like the dragon did. Her breathing was ragged as she felt her head throb from having so much magic flow through her horn. Still, it was worth it if the threat of the high dragon had ended then and there.

All Twilight could do was listen, to hear if the dragon would get back up from the lightning strike. Instead all she could hear was the ringing in her ears from the combined efforts of the the thunder crack and the dragon roar. “I gotcha, Twilight,” she heard Pinkie say as she was turned over onto her back to be looked over by a pair of familiar blue eyes. Despite the close proximity, Pinkie sounded furlongs away as she rummaged through her bag of potions and poultices. Wrapping her tail around a small phial filled with orange liquid, the pink pony popped the cork off with her teeth and brought the glass to Twilight’s mouth.

“Let it all down easy,” she said as she tipped the phial. The liquid tasted of oranges, and Twilight found her eyes widening as a tingle went through her body, her body jolting with electricity as it awoke from the fatigue. She was still in pain, but now Twilight was awake and in pain and could move on her own power.

“Stamina draught!” Pinkie chirped as Twilight rolled back onto her hooves, “It used to taste like blech but then I added just a hint of orange. It helps to give the body the bounce it needs when feeling sluggy and cranky.”

“Thanks Pinkie,” Twilight said as she surveyed the field. Applejack had returned to her hooves and was checking over the body of the dragon as Rainbow Dash pulled herself together, gingerly flexing her wing that was damaged by the dragon’s claws. Shale was hobbling on three legs as it tried to lift its broken limb in place. Pinkie arrived with a flask of liquid lyrium, pouring the contents on the damaged golem as she helped reattach the limb to Shale.

Spike and Fluttershy were still unconscious on the ground, though thankfully they appeared unharmed from the battle. Trixie and Rarity joined Twilight’s side as they made their way to the carcass of the slain dragon that lay across the summit. Twilight could not find the words as she stared at the body of such a legendary creature. The high dragon, one of the most feared and powerful monsters the world would ever know lay dead at their hooves. While she had wanted to avoid such an unnecessary battle, there was a sense of pride forming as she looked at the body. Stories were written about heroes who struck down the rampaging beasts; now they joined the ranks of such legends. The archdemon took the form of a dragon, using the sight and strength to terrify armies and ponies alike. If they could best a high dragon, they could fight the archdemon.

“Well,” Applejack said, only to catch herself on her own words. She went to her sword, but found that the weapon had melted from the lightning and was now fused into the dragon’s skull. Shale said nothing as it limped over, the lyrium working slowly to reattach the limb fully. Only Rainbow Dash, her wing healed thanks to Pinkie’s potent poultice, stepped forward and looked at the corpse of the dragon with a smug smile, which she then turned towards the party.

“We are completely, utterly, ridiculously awesome.” The rainbow-maned assassin looked up to the perch where the dragon had previously dwelled and began to fly off.

“Where are you going?” Twilight called out. Rainbow spun around and looked at Twilight as if she had just grown a second head.

“We slew a dragon,” Rainbow replied, “That means we get its loot. Don’t worry, Twi, we won’t take too much time. I’ll find the stuff that looks useful. Magical stuff. Dragons always have the best loot.”

Pinkie joined her pegasus friend and, after some goading and bribery, hired Shale to carry the majority of the loot. Twilight shook her head as she rejoined Applejack and the two other unicorns, and with their help, lifted Fluttershy onto the earth pony’s back while Spike slept on Twilight’s. Taking one last look at the slain dragon, Twilight turned her attention towards the path made clear by their success in the temple of Luna, and made her way back to Ditzy’s ship.

The trip down the mountain was much shorter than the journey up, mostly in thanks to the much kinder path that was revealed by the magic from the temple. It was late at night when they finally approached the boat on the shore of Lake Blackwater, yet despite the late hour, little Dinky Doo rushed down the gangplank towards her mentor Trixie, jumping up and down and asking a dozen or more questions. The senior enchanter weakly smiled as she answered all of her pupil’s inquiries while the others made their way onto the boat.

Spike was still asleep, something Twilight thought the baby dragon needed most of all, and quickly descended into the cargo hold to place him in the small basket he had used as a bed. When she returned to the top deck, Rarity was sprawled on the wooden floor asleep, while Fluttershy kept watch on the mountain, having not spoken since she awoke on Applejack’s back.

The former templar had gone off on her own to make sure Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie made their way back safely, only to find two tired ponies and a golem bearing four saddle bags filled with treasure. Held in Shale’s mouth was a long sword which Twilight could tell was pulsing with powerful magic. The pony of stone also appeared different, with green crystals jutting from its rocky skin, and red crystals adorning its hooves.

“We used up all of my stamina draughts,” Pinkie started, only to lapse into a long drawn out yawn, “But we found a lot of neat things.”

“Hundreds of gold bits,” Rainbow added as the pony duo ascended the gangplank, “Countless gems. Applejack lost her sword to the dragon, so we picked up that one in Shale’s mouth. Might need to get it identified or something. Right now though, I could use a place for a power nap. Maybe a week sleeping.”

“Look what I found, purple one!” Shale said excitedly, waving a hoof at Twilight, “Augmentation crystals! Oh they look like regular mundane crystals you can find in any geode, but these have the trappings of magic in them. Green to harden my rocky shell, and red, well, I’ll show it when I need to squish something.”

Twilight could only smile at the golem who sounded unusually pleasant, and was now standing guard at the edge of the shore. With Rainbow and Pinkie collapsed on the deck, Twilight allowed herself a yawn as she found a comfortable corner of the ship to sleep in for the rest of the night. Before she could lower her eyelids, Applejack looked at her from her own corner and began to speak.

“Ah still can’t believe it, Twilight,” she marveled as Twilight closed her eyes. “Climbin’ that mountain, goin’ through that temple, actually findin’ the Mane o’ Stars, and beating a high dragon. We did all right, ah’d say.”


“Ah can’t wait to see Applebloom’s face when ah tell her everything. Ah can’t wait to see Loghoof’s face when he realizes just which mares he ticked off.”


“Yeah, Twilight?”

“Get some sleep.”

So they did.

That's it. I can't take it anymore. I'm out. That was way too perfect

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