• Published 27th Dec 2014
  • 2,818 Views, 87 Comments

Antaboga. - Reptilicus



Spike struggles to adjust to a new home and a new life.

  • ...
3
 87
 2,818

Not an answer to be heard.

The streetlamps in Ponyville had been doused by the storm, making the town darker than it usually appeared at this time of night. The charming comfort of the cottages shifting into imposing cubes of slick cob and soaked hay. Thunder boomed in the distance, yet the lightning was too far to illuminate the path Spike ran upon. But he wouldn't need it this night. He only needed to move in one direction, away from the shouts of anger, the screams of terror, and the multitude of tiny lights behind him. Torches, lanterns, shovels, pitchforks, and even a few swords, all shone in the darkness. Spike couldn't see the ponies holding them, but he could hear them. Their voices, filtering through the rain, vibrating like they had inside the dead tree. Voices of friends and neighbors, ponies Spike thought had enjoyed his company. Ponies he thought had loved him. He could even hear the children shrieking as they chased him, lights in the darkness as he ran. The thunder grew louder as the sound of the stampede swelled, hooves clattering on stone and brick and soil, all galloping to slow the dragon down.

Spike looked ahead and saw his new home, Twilight's castle, stretching up into the black sky, nearly invisible with its crystal exterior having nothing but darkness to reflect and refract. He slipped and fell, sliding down the muddy pathway and smacking into the two golden doors that marked the front of the structure. The mud was in his scales, itching madly, but he didn't have the time to deal with that now. His small nimble hands pounded on the door in desperation, the coursing rain nearly drowning out the sound.

The doors swung open of their own power, revealing a warm and inviting interior, similar to that of the Golden Oak Library. Wood floors, uneven walls filled with old books, a crackling fireplace with marshmallows studded with emeralds warming up on a tray over the cozy flame. Twilight floated down from some unseen place, her wings unmoving, landing with a muted thud in front of Spike. Her features scowled in an expression of pure disgust. She backed away from Spike, sneering.

"I told you not to come back."

And the vision of warmth and comfort was gone, the doors slamming and a cold wind erupting in Spike's face. He could tell the crowd was almost upon him, their lights reflecting against the golden doors, fireflies in the metal signaling the incoming inevitable end. But this is what Spike deserved, wasn't it? He was a dragon. A beast from a strange and violent species. Ponies could never be his real family, no matter how much he desired it. Twilight had been his savior the day he was born, and that had crumbled to ash. The tiny dragon fell to his knees and closed his eyes, awaiting the angry citizens as their voices reached a crescendo of volume. They were here.

And then Spike woke up.

--------------------------
___________________
--------------------------

Spike sat up in bed gasping for air, his scales itching as he kicked off the wool covers. It had been hours since his bath and he still didn't feel comfortable. Worse still now that the cold sweat from his nightmare had drenched his body, dripping to the bed and leaving a few dark spots against the silk. Spike fearfully looked around to be sure he was home. That nightmare, that vision, had been almost the same as the one he had seen on his first trip to the Crystal Empire. The vision beyond the crude door that Sombra, King of Mists, had created to prey on a pony's worst fears. His green fin-like ears pricked up as he heard Twilight running down the hall, apparently awake again from her own bad dream. Their night terrors seemed to occur in tandem. Spike wasn't in the mood to see her, flopping onto his bed with a growl and turning away from the door.

"Spike?" Twilight whispered from the glimmering door frame, sounding more tired than usual. "I know you're awake, Spike."

Stillness was the only answer to come from the baby dragon.

"You're mad at me. And you should be. I'm really sorry, Spike." continued Twilight. "About earlier. I shouldn't have yelled like that. I was just... scared. I know this is hard and you miss our old home. I miss it too, Spike. The smell of wood and old books, dust and ink. You miss all those happy memories from the library. And here I am making a bunch of bad ones in our new home. I think tomorrow, I'm going to put a hammock near the fireplace for you to sleep in. I hope it'll be more comfortable than this room. Maybe it will feel like your old bed? I hope so."

Gingerly the lavender alicorn approached, afraid she might startle the child in the bed. She gently crept alongside him, laying down next to Spike and extending her wing over him, an affectionate motion generally reserved for pegasi and their chicks, unsurprised when she felt him wriggle out from under it. Her throat bobbed for a few moments as she tried to think of something she could say. Something to make her little dragon smile again. But it was late, and she knew nothing she said now would make it up to him, and the shame he probably had felt from being humiliated in front of crystal ponies who thought he was a hero back in their homeland.

"Goodnight, Spike. Sorry." Twilight muttered with a heavy tone of regret, extending her wing yet again over the dragon as she lay her head down to sleep at his side.

-----------------------------------
_________________________
-----------------------------------

A loud clinking of metal rungs signaled the morning, well technically noon, awakening period for Spike. He felt exhausted, turning his head up to see that the curtains that covered the ornate windows into his room were being pushed aside, bright white sunlight forcing its way in. Celestia's love, beaming into the bedchamber and making the crystal tile glow with a magenta warmth. Spike's vision was quickly filled with the equine responsible for waking him, a dully colored blue stallion, made entirely of crystal, with long bangs made of red crystal sediment. The same one Spike had seen briefly the day prior, with a similar rose counterpart.

"Good morning, Master Spike!" he chirped happily, almost singing. "It's well past morning and time for a nice brunch, don't you think? No better way to start the day I always say, like a feast. I hope this is up to par with what you usually make, I've heard you are quite the chef for being so young."

Spike sat up in bed, ready to protest, only to have a tray shoved in front of him, causing his mouth to water. Hard boiled eggs that had been rolled in rock salt crystals, a waffle with chocolate chips and drizzled very lightly with butter and caramel, a bowl of fruit salad with chunks of granite mixed in with the vinegar dressing, and a cup of yogurt with a spoon made of shale dunked into the soft coils of cream.

"This... this is all for me?" Spike asked, his eyes still bleary as he gazed at the culinary spread.

"Indeedly! Nothing but the best for the dragon who saved my life twice. By the way you may call me Eric Silicate, I am happy to serve, though me and my sister's time at your home will probably be pretty brief."

"Saved your life twice?" Spike asked scratching his head.

"Why yes!" Eric continued, not missing a beat as he fastened a crystal bib around Spike's neck so the tyke could eat without making a mess. "First you helped decimate that nefarious blankety-blank, King Sombra. Freeing us from years of slavery and bringing us a new Queen! I've never felt so satisfied watching a horse explode into tiny bits. Then you saved my life again at the Equestria Games when you prevented that frozen cloud from falling out of the sky and squashing the audience. I owe you my life, young sir!"

"Oh! Well... uh... you're very welcome! Also thanks for the grub!" Spike dug into his breakfast, noticing that Eric was giving him an odd look.

"Are you feeling alright by the way, Master Spike?"

Spike swallowed a particular large clump of egg before speaking. "I'm tired. And itchy. That's about it. Why?"

"You seem very pale. I know we haven't really met before until just now but I seem to recall you being a bit more... purpley? Are you ill?"

Spike glanced down at his body, furrowing his brow. It was true, his normally vibrant purple scales seemed duller than usual. It reminded him of how Twilight had looked when Discord had finally broken her spirit, in what seemed like an event from ages ago. His scales still tingled as well, being itchy in a few places despite a rather rigorous bath to cleanse them. He dearly hoped all the ash from the day prior hadn't caused some permanent injury to his skin. But for the time being, outside of being weary, he felt fine. Whatever was wrong with his body could wait for another time. Now was a time for eating!

"Yeah I dunno." answered Spike, turning his attention back to the food. "I'll figure it out later."

As Spike ate he noticed Eric standing a few feet away, smiling expectantly. It dawned on Spike that Eric was functioning as a butler at the moment, and couldn't simply leave the room. That would be disrespectful to the master of the house, who was apparently Spike at the moment. He had to be formally excused.

"Oh! Uh... you can go, Eric. Thanks again for the breakfast. It's really really tasty!"

"My pleasure, oh Great and Honorable Spike, the Brave and Glorious." Eric bowed deeply and pranced out of the room, humming happily to himself.

It dawned on Spike as he watched the crystal pony leave, that his previous plan wasn't going to work. Originally he had hoped he could show up these visitors, make them look foolish. Show Twilight that he, Spike, was the best help a Princess could ask for. Maybe even try to sabotage their efforts if things got desperate. But being served breakfast in bed had quickly changed his mind. The compliments didn't hurt either, building his generally weak self-esteem and making him feel better than he had in some time. He decided that Eric and his sister were OK by him, and hopefully stuck around as long as possible.

But this meant Spike would have to find a new way to prove to Twilight he was still important. But unless she started sending letters about friendship to Celestia again, he was quickly running out of options. And that thought hurt his appetite as he chewed slowly on the waffle, not even noticing as his scales seemed to grow ever so slightly greyer.

------------------------------------
__________________________
------------------------------------

"You look stressed, darling." Rarity cooed as she quickly applied a powder puff to Twilight's face, causing the alicorn to sneeze. "You're going to look like an old nag before you're even 30 at this rate. Are you not sleeping well?"

"Still havin' bad dreams, sugar?" Applejack chimed in, carrying a tray of lemonade on her head.

A get-together was being had at Sweet Apple Acres, the home and workplace of the Apple family. Esteemed farmers and bakers in the town of Ponyville, which they had helped found decades prior. The Elements of Harmony had all gathered with their families, hoping to spend a nice warm spring day together with much-needed social relaxation. Rarity shifted uncomfortably on the hay bale she was sitting on, using her periwinkle unicorn magic to grab the tray from atop Applejack's head, passing the drinks around to the other adults nearby as they waited for Twilight's answer.

"The dreams haven't gone entirely away yet." Twilight admitted. "But they are appearing with less frequency. I'm not sure why I'm having post-traumatic stress with this Tirek event. We've faced similar terrible monsters before. I can't understand why this one has affected me so much."

"Well you did lose your home, Twilight." Fluttershy whispered from behind the curtain of long pink wispy hair she used to hide her face. "And you thought you had lost Spike as well. Not to mention that Tirek came very close to well... hurting you very badly."

"Yeah, if I had come as close to getting blown to smithereens as you did, I'd be having bad dreams, too." Dash grinned, ruffling Twilight's mane, as the others frowned. "What?"

"Maybe you should see Princess Luna, Twilight. She worked wonders for Sweetie when she was having poor dreams."

"Yep, she helped Scoots out a bunch, too." Rainbow seconded.

Twilight sighed. "Spike suggested the same thing to me a few days ago. Maybe I should. I thought some light sedatives and calm music with tea before bed would help, but maybe the problem is something... deeper."

Rarity's eyes lit up when Twilight mentioned Spike. The young dragon had quite a crush on Rarity, and was always such a little gentledrake when she needed help around the shop.

"How is Spike as of late, Twilight? I haven't seen him around the Carousel Boutique for a while now."

Twilight flicked her head, motioning to where Spike was sitting in the tall grass of one of the nearby ponds, Applebloom and Sweetie Belle chatting amiably with him. "He's been mopey. Especially since the library accident."

Twilight turned to Rainbow, looking sad.

"I'm sorry again that Spike got Scootaloo involved with his little adventure, Rainbow. I can't imagine how terrified you must have been."

Dash shrugged. "Ech, no harm no foul. Besides the way Scootaloo tells it, Spike didn't even want her to come along since he knew it'd be dangerous. But Scoots has a thirst for danger, like me!"

"Spike does look so mopey and pale." Fluttershy mumbled from her spot behind one of the hay bales, taking a dainty sip of her drink. "I wish there was a way we could cheer him up."

"Parties always cheer me up!" Pinkie Pie squeaked, giving Fluttershy a hug and making her lemonade fly out of her hoof. "Although I'm not sure what kind of party we could throw for Spike. I'm sure I could think of something!"

"I was hoping just being here with some friends would raise his spirits." Twilight shook her head sadly.

"Uh-huh, good luck with that." Dash rolled her eyes, pointing at the youngsters near the pond.

Squatting in the tall grass, low to the ground, was Scootaloo, a few yards away from the rest of the children. She was grimacing at the other two foals, glaring daggers in their direction, looking ready to pounce and steal Spike away from them so she could have someone to talk to. If Sweetie Belle and Applebloom had noticed Scootaloo nearby, they made no motion or act toward her, seemingly ignoring the orange pegasus.

"Rainbow, could you please explain to me why your dau... sis... Scootaloo is having some sort of feud with Sweetie Belle and Applebloom?" Rarity asked, giving Dash a shrewd look. "It's been going on for quite some time and I'm quite sick of it. What exactly happened?"

"Bloom's been all broken up about it. Scootaloo was one o' her only friends, Dash." Applejack frowned.

"I tried talking to her about it, guys. I did, really." Dash sighed and landed next to Rarity and Twilight with a thump. "She still hasn't forgiven them for the whole tattling thing with Filthy's spoiled little brat."

"What tattling thing?" a commanding tone coming from Rarity, wanting eagerly to know more. "Sweetie has given me such a bare bones version of this story, and I'm sure if she did something wrong she would have left it out."

"I shouldn't even be talking about this." Dash muttered. "I promised Scoot and Cheerilee and Filthy Rich I wouldn't. But you guys are their older sisters so you have a right to know everything that went down."

The rest of the adults shuffled forward, waiting for Dash to spill the beans.

"Yeah don't crowd me." Dash snorted, before taking a deep breath. "You guys know how those three got singled out due to not having cutie-marks. Well Scootaloo got the bullying the worst due to her disability. I guess it got worse and the kids in class were causing mishaps with school property and getting Scoots blamed for it. Cheerilee of course believed them, because the teachers in this town suck."

"Dash..." Twilight gave Rainbow an unflattering look.

"I don't mean you." Dash corrected, continuing. "Anyway. I guess one really bad day Scootaloo said something rude back to Diamond Tiara and her little minion. That rich little grey filly with the white mane. Silver something or other. So those two held Scootaloo down and started pulling some of her baby feathers out."

Fluttershy cringed as she saw the anger flash in Dash, Applejack, and Rarity's eyes. Bullying was one thing, but outright cruelty was a line no pony should ever step. Especially in regard to children.

"Anyway. Scoots got loose and did something I'm sure she'd wanted to do for years. She kicked Silver and Diamond Tiara, bucked them in the face. Diamond got like 5 teeth knocked out of her mouth and Silver lost like 2 and got a black eye. After that I guess Applebloom and Sweetie told Cheerilee what Scootaloo had done and the teach came out to yell at Scoot."

Dash leaned back against a bale of hay and shrugged.

"And you gals know the rest of the story. Scoot grabbed Diamond's tiara and smashed it on the roof, hurt herself on the way down, ran through Ponyville in hysterics and then I came in to save the day. Then a mess of paperwork later and I was Scoot's legal mo... uh, guardian."

Applejack tilted her head, looking confused. "What did ol' Filthy Rich have to say about that? I ain't seen him since he went on vacation with his kin right afterwards."

"Oh, he was mad at first. Didn't think his precious little spawn could be so rotten. He changed his tune once she started talkin', though. I think seeing all that violence, and how messed up Scoot was, must've really scared the kids cause they all started admitting all the stuff they'd been up to. Even Diamond fessed up and told Cheerilee about all the bullying and getting Scoot and Bloom and Sweetie blamed for stuff they didn't do. I'd never seen Cheerilee cry before, and I suppose I should have felt bad, but if she'd been doing her job properly in the first place none of this would have happened."

"She does try so hard." Rarity shook her head sadly.

"Not hard enough." Applejack growled, knowing fully well how often Applebloom had come home in tears from all the bullying at the school. "Well at least now I know why yer lil'un don't wanna talk to Bloom or Sweetie. Probably feels they betrayed her that day, tellin' miss Cheerilee."

"They were only trying to do the right thing at the time." Rarity suggested, looking towards Dash.

"You don't gotta convince me." Dash sipped her drink and looked over at Scootaloo who was still pouting in the grass. "You gotta convince that 6 year old filly over there who's had her faith in others stomped all over."

Dash sat up, looking at Twilight with a cheeky smile.

"Actually that brings me to something I wanted to talk to you about, Egghead. Okay so, I gotta report in for a little bit of basic training at the Wonderbolt's main facility over the weekend. Spitfire needs some r&r and needs me to take over and pretend I'm still a rookie for a bit. I can't bring Scoots. I know she'll want to come but I'm gonna be busy for 3 days and I have nowhere to put her, and the thought of her falling off Cloudsdale is just... I cant. I just cant. Fluttershy will be busy taking care of Tank for me."

"And you realized it'd be bad to have her stay with Rarity and Applejack due to the situation with their little sisters." Twilight raised an eyebrow, finishing Rainbow's statement.

"Exactly. Scoots seems to have taken a liking to Spike so I figured I'd ask my buddy, Twilight. She already loves hanging out with you since you teach her so much stuff." Dash smiled her broadest smile, hoping to appease Twilight with her sudden request.

"Why can't I do it?" Pinkie asked, sounding slightly offended, her large blue eyes looking on the verge of tears.

"Uh because you already take care of, and have spoiled, the Cake twins." Dash deadpanned. "Scoots is on a special diet to fix her wings right now anyway."

"Spoil them? I don't spoil them!"

"Pinkie I've never seen babies as fat as the Cake twins in my life. There's nothing wrong with sneaking candy to children but you sneak them like... entire friggin' pies."

"How the HAY would YOU know how fat a baby is supposed to be? Huh? HUH!?" Pinkie shot back, looking ready to start swinging.

"Girls please, please." Twilight tried to look serious, holding back her laughter at the argument. "It's alright. Dash I'd be more than happy to look after Scootaloo over the weekend. If we're lucky I can sneak in some tutoring as well. With her and the two maids Cadence sent over, maybe Spike will finally cheer up. And hopefully with the castle being a bit less empty I can get a good night's sleep."

Rarity's ears pricked up at the mention of the maids.

"Oh yes! Your maids arrived yesterday did they not? Are they good? Are they crystal ponies? Do they look lovely amongst all the crystal walls and floors? Are any of them rich stallions? Do tell!"

As the adults gossiped amongst themselves about life and recent events in town, a very different conversation was taking place not far away in the meadow. Spike still felt glum and tired and most of all itchy. He sort of wanted to join the grown-ups and listen in on their conversation, but wasn't in the mood to speak with Twilight, or hear her talk as if nothing was wrong. In an effort to distract his mind he had grabbed a small twig and was using it to poke at an ant hill near the pond. The cabal of insects had quickly become infuriated at the wooden monstrosity jabbing into their network of tunnels. Once realizing they were no match for the powers of the implement, a hasty retreat was ordered and Spike watched as the ants tried to barricade up their damaged exterior. But then Applebloom and Sweetie had shown up to discuss slightly more important matters.

"I made my song!" Sweetie squealed, dancing happily into Spike's vision wearing a flowery hat her sister had clearly crafted for her, and squishing several ants on her tiny white hooves. "Would you wanna to hear it, Spike?"

"Why not." Spike answered with little enthusiasm.

Sweetie rocked back and forth on her hooves, humming a catchy little melody. This went on for a couple of minutes before Spike grew confused.

"Hey Sweetie uhh.... where are the lyrics?"

"Oh!" Sweetie's face broke into a wide grin. "I haven't written any yet!"

"Land sakes, Sweetie!" Applebloom interrupted, trying to gently shove Sweetie aside. "Y'all are gonna bore Spike to sleep. Look how tuckered out he looks already."

Spike scratched the end of his snout, before yawning. "Hi Applebloom."

"Today in school I found a book on goo and slime and goops, Spike!" the cream colored earth pony announced, her strawberry red tail wagging happily. "It had all sortsa stuff about bad slimes, like the ones that knight ponies used to fight for stuff called 'loot', and even good kinds of slimes. I think I know the one I wanna get for Granny. It sings and dances they call it 'smooze'. Know where I can get any?"

"No. Also that stuff would eat Granny Smith. It sings and dances to make ponies get closer and then gobbles 'em up."

Spike let out a long exasperated sigh and squirmed away from the anthill, falling backwards into the tall grass. The soft yellow grass and strands of baby wheat were pretty comfy, he had to admit. He could probably take a nice nap right here. But then he'd probably wake up covered in bugs. Plus the adults would wonder if he'd wandered off and then Twilight would shout at him again. A snort of smoke escaped his nostrils as Spike lay in the grass. Sweetie and Applebloom exchanged a look of concern. Normally Spike was such an excited and happy little dragon, but that wasn't who was laying in the grass.

"Are y'all sick, Spike?" Applebloom asked, her small amber eyes full of sympathy. "Ya look mighty flushed. I reckon Gran could fill up one of our growlers with some corn broth or chicken noodle soup. Then ya can sip while you recover!"

"I'm not sick." Spike grunted as Applebloom and Sweetie Belle lay down in the grass nearby, staring at him with matching looks of curiosity and worry. "I'm just tired. And sad, I guess."

"Why are you sad?" Sweetie asked quietly, looking even more worried.

"I guess... I dunno... I guess I'm realizing that Mother's Day is going to be really bad. For me, anyway." Spike mumbled. "I tried looking for other dragons not long ago, hoping I could find my mom or dad. Or any family."

"Well what's wrong with yer pony family?" the other filly asked, looking perplexed. Family was the most important thing to the Apples. More important than cider. More important than the entire farm.

"Nothings wrong with them." Spike felt his eyes grow moist. "They're perfect. They're special. But I'm not. I'm just an egg that got lucky. My family is perfect. I'm not."

"Well.... " Sweetie began, her happy mood now gone from seeing Spike look so distressed. "Maybe you aren't perfect. But neither are me or Applebloom. Or even Scootaloo."

"We're like kindred spirits, ain't we Spike?" Applebloom chimed in.

"How so?"

"Well neither you or me ever got to meet our real parents. We got raised proper by other folks. And I'd say we turned out just fine! Better than fine, even!" Applebloom nodded with a matter-of-fact expression, knowing she was preaching gospel.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, Spike smiled. He wanted to agree with the small cream-colored filly. And he nodded like he did. And perhaps for a while, her words lifted his spirits. He felt whole again, and happy, and loved. It would be only temporary, as he lay here in the meadow with the other children, but at least for now everything seemed right again and his heart felt lighter. His skin still itched, and he still felt very grey, but for now that was of no concern to the dragon. There were ponies who cared for him, and his nightmare, no matter how real it might have felt at the time, was a falsehood.