• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Rainbow Dash and Ember Speak reached the mesa before the pegasus could even think twice about it. After having traveled the length of the sundered ravine, the two survivors approached a giant gash in the northwest edge of the grand promontory. The spectacle of the large structure had been drained from Rainbow's spirit, replaced by the gray solemnity of the heartless desolation that surrounded the landscape. The smog pouring out of the entrance to the dragon's nest was thicker than pure ash. Rainbow Dash had great difficulty seeing through the mess; it was hard enough as it was to breath evenly at over five hundred yards away.

Rainbow and Ember exchanged glances. With a shared nod, Rainbow darted to the left and found a flat ledge of fractured rock. She lowered the two of them down so that they perched at an even level to the entrance. Above them, a shattered temple loomed. Loose flakes of dust fell in the high winds as they took the opportunity to catch their breath.

“Doesn't look like there's much light getting in there,” Ember said. “How are we going to get a signal to that pendant of yours?”

“I haven't got a clue,” Rainbow Dash muttered, eying the frothing smog. “But somepony higher up on the ladder of smarts might.”


“Live and learn.” That said, Rainbow Dash tilted her ruby pendant up towards the dim light and rubbed her hoof in circles across the polished circle. In a matter of seconds, the gemstone lit up and a familiar, regal voice hummed through the windy air.

“Rainbow Dash, we entreat thee.”

“Try and keep it down some, Princess,” Rainbow Dash replied. “We're just a sneeze away from dragontopolis.”

“Acknowledged. Art thou alone?”

“Nope. I got somepony with me. Consider her backup.”

“This is a most perilous endeavor. Is this pony certain she desireth to assist thee?”

“Uhm... Th-that I am, your highness,” Ember Speak remarked, bowing towards the winds.

Rainbow Dash smirked and rolled her eyes.

“We are happy that thou hast found the company of such polite equines, Rainbow Dash.”

“I could really use with a dash of politeness for what's about to happen,” Rainbow Dash replied. “You ready to put your charm on a dragon queen?”

“Verily, Rainbow Dash, we are both ready.”

“Good, cuz I—” Rainbow Dash jerked in place. Her face scrunched up. “Wait, what do you mean 'we both?'”

“Huh?” Ember Speak blinked. “But I thought your Princess always spoke like that—”

“This is a dire situation, Rainbow Dash, and we saw it fit to incorporate all of the wisdom available to us. To such an end, we have relocated ourselves within the rift's sanctum. Our beloved sister is here as we speak. With our combined talents, we shall speak to the dragon Matriarch and appeal to her better senses.”

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, her jaw clenched and nostrils flaring.

Ember glanced at her curiously. “You mean the other Princess is there too? That's... that's good, right?”

“Would thou wish to speak with her, Rainbow Dash—?” Luna's voice began.

“First thing's first, Princess,” Rainbow Dash snapped in a cold tone. “The Dragon Queen's lair appears to be deep inside a giant mesa of rock. I doubt any of the moonlight can get inside.”

“Thou feareth an inability to broadcast our magical communication?”

“What do you think?”

There was silence on the other end of the ethereal conversation. After a brief moment, Luna's voice returned.

“With our sister here, we believe we have sufficient power to maintain a solid connection.”

“Like how?”

“By combining our strengths, we shall capture the moonlight that thou art exposed to presently. Our sister's light spells can keep us in contact for at least another two hours, even without exposure to the moon.”

“Is there a drawback?” Ember Speak found herself asking out loud.

“After we cast the spell, thou must give the pendant a brief moment to calibrate our sister's light spell, and then we shall be able to communicate freely.”

“Like how brief a moment?” Rainbow Dash asked. “We're kind of running out of time as it is, Your Highness.”

“Then we shall not tary. Art thou prepared?”

Rainbow Dash gazed at Ember, took a deep breath, and nodded. “It's now or never, Princess.”

“Indeed. When next we speak, we anticipate being in the presence of this Matriarch.”

“Be glad you can't smell her.” Rainbow Dash tilted her body up to get even more exposure to the moonlight. “Ready when you are. Give 'er the zap.”

The pendant went silent. Then, slowly, a deep humming sound filled the air. Suddenly—in a bright strobe—beams of shimmering energy burst out from the lightning bolt shaped ruby.

Ember Speak gasped immediately. “Why's it have to be so bright?! This is the worst place for that!”

“Shhh! I'm sure it'll only last a second—” Rainbow Dash stopped in mid-sentence, her ruby eyes twitching towards the horizon.

“What is it?!” Ember murmured in a panicked breath. “Another dizzy spell—?”

Rainbow Dash grabbed Ember Speak and hoisted her up into the air viciously.

“Gaaah!” Ember remarked then fell silent as she saw several leathery shapes surging below. Rainbow Dash was dragging her up towards the temple's level. She flew swiftly behind a fallen slab of rock and dropped the two of them beyond view. The gray chunks of building material just barely snuffed out the light that was momentarily issuing out of the magical pendant.

Ember peeked from around the edge of the stone material, watching with panting breath as several dragons soared towards the opening beneath them. They carried pieces of ruined buildings and armored lockers and wooden chests that had been scavenged from the graveyard of Silvadel. No less than six shrieking drakes flew into the opening, sending a deep vibration through the upper lengths of the mesa.

The last dragon, however, stopped and hovered in air. Its slitted eyes squinted and blinked towards the heavens, catching the fringes of the solar spell emanating from Rainbow's pendant.

“Blessed elders...” Ember murmured.

Rainbow Dash was already stripping of her saddlebag and planting the thing directly in front of her in a desperate attempt to blot out the light. Just as she did so, the wind around the temple picked up. With a heavy slam, the dragon perched on the rock cropping behind them, its talons digging into the soot-stained concrete just above their shivering heads.

The temperature in the air picked up. Sulfur and ash billowed in waves as the drake swung its snout around—nostrils flaring as it scanned the immediate ruins before it. After squinting, the creature grunted in impatience and kicked off the rubble, littering a cloud of pebbles and dust onto the two equines below.

Ember Speak suppressed the urge to cough. Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth, feeling the air grow colder as the dragon's flapping wings grew distant. She craned her neck and saw the monster flying a grand circle around the body of the mesa, as if searching the broader stretches of the mountain for any sign of ponies. After several seconds, Rainbow Dash lowered the saddlebag. Her pendant had a dim glow to it now. She could feel the heat of the solar spell from deep within the fluctuating surface of the ruby lightning bolt.

“Looks like it's charged,” Rainbow Dash said. “Only a matter of time before we hear from the Princesses again.”

“Remind me,” Ember remarked. “What's the name of Luna's sister?”

Rainbow Dash ignored her question, instead glancing once more at the circling dragon and uttering, “We can't waste anymore time. Who's to know how many more dragon flocks are going to rush into the entrance behind us?”

“What are you proposing we do? They'll spot us at a distance so long as that thing is glowing even remotely!”

“Then...” Rainbow Dash's eyes narrowed as she saw the dragon circling around one last time and darting straight towards the entrance. “...we get closer.”

“Huh?” Ember's eyes went wide as Rainbow grabbed her, galloped over the edge of the temple, and dove straight down.

Just then, the dragon was soaring through the smoggy opening.

With perfect timing, Rainbow Dash flipped the two of them upside down, pierced the smoke, and glided until the two of them were levitating just inches above the dragon's undulating spine. They kept with it, sandwiched between the creature's scales and the surface of the tunnel's ceiling above. Out of sight of the dragon and yet within a gobble's distance, they stealthily entered the dark stomach of the mountain... where a deep, rising heat awaited them with a crimson glow...

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