• Published 12th Jun 2015
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I Am Not a Charlatan! I Am Mysterio, Master of the Arcane Arts! - The Quidam



Ethan Mcintyre had dreams to become an actor, magician, and/or special effects artist. So who else should he go to a convention as, but the supervillain, Mysterio! How could things have ended with him in a magical world due to a mysterious figure?

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Issue 4-Smoke and Mirrors vs. Smoke and Fire [Part 1]

The sun shone brightly in the sky as it was intended to do. The only difference now was that instead of being an object of positive energy and cheeriness, it was instigating further misery upon the individual trotting bellow it. To her it was an object that was hurting her on multiple levels. It was a symbol of intense heat and the length of time she would suffer under it. At the same time, anywhere else in Equestria, ponies would probably be praising it and the monarch (or diarch now) that raised it to give light to the day. Perhaps if it was another time, and she wasn’t suffering the effects of dehydration and exhaustion, she could appreciate it as well. But then again, can you really blame a pony for hating the sun after spending who knows how long wandering into what amounted as a desert?

Trixie just about had it with this direction she was taking. It had been days since she’d seen so much as a sign of any sort of pony settlement. She should be trying to make more bits to cover her loses after the great fiasco in Ponyville. Unfortunately, she had forgotten what happens when big news hits the ears of ‘country bumpkins’: they spread the word. Word spread far and wide of a blue unicorn showmare who led an Ursa Minor into the town of Ponyville to inflate her ego only to lose control of said beast and nearly cause the town to suffer because of it.

Gossip seemed to follow wherever she tried to set up another show. At first she was able to earn enough bits to get some new clothes and a decent meal or two while facing a crowd that would laugh at her performances. But as she moved on, like a game of telephone-if such things were to exist in this realm-the stories whispered behind her back seemed to become more spiteful and nasty. The story seemed to evolve into a tale of a con artist who was more talk than talented and couldn’t take on an Ursa Minor newborn, to a crazed lunatic who forced two innocent young colts to act as bait for an Ursa to attack the town. By the time she reached the entrance of the last town she stopped in, she found herself being chased out by a mob with pitchforks, torches, and rocks of all things!

With that came the last straw. Trixie knew her time as a showmare was done. No longer could she show her face in any civilized setting without being laughed at best and driven out at worst. So she set out to journey and perhaps find some place to find…something…anything…she wasn’t really sure anymore. She just knew that each step forward had to in some way be another step away from the horrid state her life had become.

She was lucky that she was capable of eating foliage and flowers raw otherwise she would have starved by now. At this point, she’d give up her long locks of hair for some water. All she had was a sack full of used up supplies and the clothes on her back. At least this time she was dressed well enough with a simple outfit consisting of a slightly worn out blouse and pants. She would have hated to feel more undignified to be stuck in only her night clothes again.

“Where do I go?” she spoke out in the driest tone of voice she could gasp out. “I don’t…want to die here.”

She faltered onto the dirt and minimal foliage that covered the earth she walked. Trixie Lulamoon was unconscious in what seemed to her to be the middle of nowhere. Had it really been so, it may have been the end to her story right there.

Yet, it wasn’t quite the middle of nowhere. Oh it was still a dessert like setting as far as the eye could see. However, in the distance there could be a large and fragmented looking settlement that could be made out. For a few minutes more, a large and imposing figure was traveling from there on a pathway that eventually came across the unconscious unicorn.

Unlike the pony, in the glare of the sun it could be barely noted as to what its features were like. The shadows that it did create did make out that its features were more canine than equine. Whatever it was, it appeared to be collecting scrap that it placed into a barrel that it wore like a backpack. When it came across Trixie, laying their unconscious, it seemed to be contemplating on how to react to this unexpected change to its daily routine.

“Only trash get buried here.” The large figure said with a feminine sound of annoyance. “If yall’s trash, then at least ya’ll be useful to someone who could use the extra paws.”

She threw the passed out mare over her shoulder as she walked towards her previous location. “There’s always a better use for stuff ponyfolks throws away after all!”

She walked calmly back to her place of residence. The closer she got to it with every step, the more the structure in the distance revealed itself. As it turned out, it was a massive junkyard, a place where most things find their end.

That is, except for a couple of things that would find a new beginning. After all, one’s junk could sometimes become another’s treasure.

[}0{]

If there was one thing that could be said that Mysterio did right, it was plan a scheme. For every heist, robbery, and outright attack he performed there was a great deal of ingenuity and planning that had gone into it. Why the cartoons even went out of their way to show strong clues of it with his every appearance. From the blueprints layouts of the buildings he would appear in with his special effects magic, to his holograms of fully thought out settings to use as diversions or escape routes, Mysterio was one master of not just manipulating his environment, but his opponents into positions that he controlled.

The problem was that unlike Mysterio in his comic and cartoon scenarios, Ethan was limited on resources. He lacked a great deal of Mysterio’s usual materials to plan around with. He didn’t have any sort of financial backing like Mysterio did when he worked for big names like the Kingpin. He certainly didn’t have a studio filled with old props he could salvage from. At most, he had a library, and maybe some suits of armor for what he now knew were equine-descended people. But even with that he lacked any tools to create anything that would be a significant boost to his scheme like a robotic duplicate or an elaborately disguised weapon.

Rather than derail him, Ethan still felt he had amazing capabilities in planning out a heist such as this. He sat there at the desk taking notes on what he could learn about dragons that could be useful. It wasn’t just that the library had a good sized section of material to read up on either. He had a direct source of draconic knowledge from his newly enlisted subordinate, Tsavorite.

He used the term subordinate to only denote her status as a lower rank. He didn’t want to come across to her as a Master who owned her, but as a leader with a new employee. While her code of honor seemed to dictate her into thinking he owned her life, he did his best to counter argue and take a stance that she wasn’t subservient. It was a circular argument that led his decision to soften his image as a mighty sorcerer to her. So it was a couple of days since Zecora declared her to be healthy enough and felt she should return home, that he decided that if Tsavorite was going to stay and choose to serve him willingly, she had best to comprehend just who she was pledging her service to.

To do that, he decided to do the one thing to get her to start understanding him a bit.

He recalled the first time he decided to let her catch a glimpse of his true self behind the globe.

[}0{]

“Now Tsavorite, what I am about to show you may perhaps be the most horrifying thing you have seen in your life.” He said to her that day as they stood in the library. “I ask that you try your best not to scream, or to let your fight-or-flight instincts attack me as a reflex.”

“What are you-” Tsavorite started to question, before her mind seized her voice.

The sound of something unlocking occurred as Mysterio reached for the part of his head that connected with his shoulders. A great hissing gave out a cloud of steam as he lifted up the globe and lowered it around his arms to hold it.

The Dragoness’ eyes widened at the sight of Mysterio without his helmet.

“It’s!”

“Yes?”

“IT’s!”

“Yes!?”

“It’s very underwhelming.”

Well that certainly took the wind out of Ethan’s sails. He had been ready to give a speech about how he was nothing to be disgusted by, only to find that his big reveal was met with monotony.

“I mean no offense Lord Mysterio, but I was imagining that you were something much more horrific, like a collection of eyes, or,” She shuddered. “Tentacles kept under that helmet. Instead, your features are just plain, albeit peculiar.”

‘Peculiar?’ He was expected her to say ‘bizarre’ or ‘uncanny’, but ‘peculiar’…now that was practically insulting! “How so?”

“Like those round ears of yours. They just stick out on the sides of your head.” She tilted her head as she considered why they weren’t on top of his head like most beings. “That is very strange.”

“I’ll have you know my ears are fine!” They weren’t that round, were they? They stuck out a good angle from his head like any other person. Still, the sensitive topic gave him a bit of a tic. “At least I have them! I don’t see you with any, so how you can listen eludes me!”

Tsavorite seemed to either be unaware at Ethna’s displeasure, or ignoring it because it didn’t deter her survey of his features.

“And that fur on your head. You don’t have it anywhere else except over your eyes.” She continued. “What sense does that make?”

“I could have it on other parts of my face if I wanted.” He was capable of growing facial hair just fine! “I just choose not to.”

“And that nose.” She flicked at it with a claw, not seeming to care at how he flinched. “What purpose does it serve sticking out of your face like that?”

“Yeah, well, what purpose does having a spike on your nose serve?” he said as he poked a finger at her said appendage.

The two stared down one another before they finally ended up laughing at their fight over nothing.

“Thank you for that. I needed a pick me up.” Ethan said as he placed his helmet back on.

“Still, why do you choose to hide your features? I understand you look strange compared to ponies and my kind, but I do not think it is something to be disturbed by.” She tilted her head as she also noted his voice not having the echoing tone “Although, I admit, it is quite unexpected to realize that your voice is much more…youthful without it. Still, it is nothing to be ashamed by.”

“While I appreciate your acceptance, I think I should keep my ‘true form’ hidden for now. I don’t yet know if my being a human is accepted as well by others in this realm.” Maybe when he got the courage to show Zecora what he looked like he could feel more relaxed with the thought after her reaction, but until then, the helmet stays on. His voice returned to echoing with a deep resonance as he placed the orb back to its proper place. “Besides, I feel…good when I am in the full attire of the mantle I inherited.”

[}0{]

From that moment on, Tsavorite seemed to become friendlier and at ease with how she reacted around Ethan. She still held onto the idea that she had a life debt to repay to him with to be certain. At the very least, she wasn’t as hard pressed to act subservient to him. She still asked to help when she could, but she seemed to take comfort in not being expected to attend to him and being able to speak up more.

While Ethan felt relief that he wasn’t unintentionally taking advantage of someone, he found himself even more hard-pressed to come up with a plan to take down this red drake that drove Tsavorite from her home and hoard. This wasn’t helped by how he noticed that there stores of gems were only getting smaller with every day that passed. While he wasn’t blind to how much the dragoness needed to eat to keep herself healthy enough, he knew that there was a clock ticking that was counting down to when she would start fading into that emaciated state once again. She was getting better if the lack of ribs and her skin filling out where any indication. God forbid that her condition would start worsening again because he couldn’t drive a red dragon away from this cave in the mountains somewhere.

“If I had just one more tool to make a plan possible, I could do this, no problem!” Ethan thought aloud as his annoyance grew with another piece of paper being torn up for its implausible design. This one involved getting all the suits of armor and melting them into projectile that he could launch at the drake. The problems with it were too out of the question. He had maybe a week to build this launcher which with his skills alone would take him a month, and as far as he knew, he had no welding torch substitute as Tsavorite was not strong enough to breath fire to so much as scorch the metal.

This was the eighth attempt at planning out an idea and it was already late afternoon. Yet each one from planning a cave-in, to creating an army of robotic knights was deemed too implausible due to a lack of time, resources, and chance of success.

“I need to perform a miracle.” He banged his head onto the table top he was working on. “But even a miracle needs a hand.”

He looked towards his helmet that he set aside like a desk ornament. It was like gazing into a crystal ball, only he was trying to see a way to make his own future into something he could control.

Well, he supposed it couldn’t hurt to voice his question to the tool that helped him survive here for so long. “You’ve been a really helpful hand. I don’t suppose you could show me anything up your sleeves that could take out a dragon?”

In an ironic twist, the suit decided to do just that. With the utterance of that question, one side of the square-like gauntlet he wore on his right arm slid open to reveal a hidden compartment. What he found was a collection of items that would make his miracle happen!

[}0{]

“Tsavorite!” Mysterio proclaimed as he knocked onto the door of the bedroom. “Are you decent? I have something I must show you!”

“Come in.” She yawned as she woke herself up and made to get out of bed. It was late into the night and knowing Mysterio, he probably got her up for something truly important. Throwing the covers off of herself she stood out of bed straight and at attention to hear what he had to tell her.

“Well, then I must first inform you that-” his words faltered as he stood in the doorway. His express was difficult to read because of his helmet, but he seemed to be frozen for some reason.

“Is something the matter?” Tsavorite asked. She was worried about why the sorcerer had stopped in place. Did she not address him properly or unintentionally insult him somehow? She knew he was not strict to ceremony, but perhaps she should have shown more respect as he entered.

“I’m terribly sorry about entering at this time of night! I’ll discuss this news of mine in the morning when it better suits us.” He spoke quickly with what dignity he could muster. Apparently he was the party that did something embarrassing.

The globe helmeted figure hurried to step out and close the door as quietly as he could. Tsavorite could only blink as she was flabbergasted as to what she may have did that caused such a reaction in him.

[}0{]

As Ethan settled himself to sleep in a bedroom some halls away, he found that he was far from tired. His mind kept racing with questions and difficulties of the cultural faux pas he just walked into.

“She sleeps in the nude, yet nothing is indecent when she is uncovered.” He had to ask himself aloud to classify the validity of what he just saw. “How does that work or make sense?”

Evidently, Ethan would be finding it hard to fall asleep that night with his mind bringing up questions like ‘why a person wore clothes if it didn’t appear that they really needed them?’ and ‘If this was the female draconic form, then what was the male’s like?’

[}0{]

“So what is this matter that you wished to tell me?” Tsavorite asked as they sat down to eat breakfast.

“I have found the method in which I will drive that dragon from your home!” He pulled out a handful of objects and placed them onto the table between them. “Behold! I have right here the key components to my spells for this errand of mine.”

There were metal cubes that had hollowed out holes on each side. They were not much bigger than a dice, she supposed but they didn’t seem to appear that interesting. There were also some vials of what appeared to be some different colored liquids that bubbling and in some cases glowed.

“What makes them so significant?” She wondered as she continued eating her daily serving of gems. “Surely this can’t be all you’ll need to take on a mature dragon, Mysterio?”

“Oh, you’ll see!” He held up one of the cubes to her eye level. “This cube for instance is one of the keys to my great victory. One in which I’ll show just how powerful of a sorcerer I am! Now, first I must go over the fundamental of my great plan.”

[}0{]

As the two sat down and were discussing matters of strategy, two others were discussing their own approach of dealing with Red Dragon that had begun preparing for a hundred year nap.

“Sister, tis madness!” Luna proclaimed at her sister’s decision. Her plate of breakfast nearly went flying at the impact of her fist upon the table. It had the added effect of not only showing her strength that contravened her youthful stature, but also had the servants discreetly leave the dining hall to avoid what they thought to be a fight between two goddesses.

“Do you think I don’t know that, Luna?” Celestia argued back, trying to keep her voice calm and composed. “Do you really think I am unaware of the risk that I am having Twilight and the Element Bearers undergo for this?”

“But not even a squad of the Royal Guard to accompany them?” Luna raised. “Or at the very least, to send the Elements of Harmony to them? It is a full-grown dragon for Mother’s sake!”

“I know that, Luna, but our hands are tied. Their sovereigns may be civil when it comes to discussion, but it does not take them much to remember that we have come to a ceasefire, not an actual treaty of resolution. A handful of them would love to reignite the flames of war, literally and figuratively.” She explained. “I am still in discussions with their High King if the Elements of Harmony should be considered a war power, or not. So far they have diplomatic power according to them, so they at least know that they are not to be harmed lest they become the instigators.”

She continued with a quick drink from her glass to cool her nerves. The next point was just as, if not more, frustrating than the last to her.

“As for our soldiers, whatever squads that are not out patrolling right now are being reevaluated by our Colonel since her coming out of retirement.” She rubbed her forehead in annoyance at the results of that disruption to her forces. “Already, I am forced to give each of them a week’s worth of paid leave to recuperate from how far she is driving them to meet ‘her qualifications’.”

Luna had to raise an eyebrow at that emphasis of ‘her qualifications’. “Is she that harsh of a drill instructor?”

“Let’s just say, I am surprised Shining Armor didn’t throw away his badge when she volunteered to reevaluate him as the new Captain of the Royal Guard. Candace is already sending me letters of how the vacation she planned to spend with him is now dedicated to treating his wounds as he is bed-bound in the infirmary. ” Despite the outcome of that incident, it at least kept Shining from being in a position to hear about his sister being sent to negotiate with a dragon and to go AWOL to rescue his B.L.S.F.F (Best Little Sister Friend Forever). “In any case, I find that we are hard pressed to lend much help, at least in time, to avert possible disaster. We’ll just have to see what they are capable of, and hope that they have what it takes to deal with the situation before we can send anything that becomes available.”

It was then that Luna noticed the look in her sister’s eyes. Despite her best to maintain the regal presence of the Princess of the Sun, she could see that image was blemished. Her regalia were askew, showing she did not take the concentration she usually had placing them. Her hands that were holding the glass to sip from were shaking. It was only slightly, but she spotted them. Even her hair did not seem to flow at the same angle that it usually did by unseen wind.

In that moment, Celestia did not have the picture perfect appearance of the Beloved Princess of Equestria. Instead, she had the look of a mare that sent her filly out into a dangerous world. Only, this filly was Twilight, not a progeny of her body, but of her wisdom and teachings. To lose her was something she knew her sister never wanted to experience with her prized student. Especially, when she considered how her sister seemed to hint at how she despaired losing her and something else some time back.

“Tis would be easier if we were back in the old days. We wouldn’t have to worry so much about the consequences of driving a dragon from blowing smoke on our lands.” Luna sighed out as she recalled the age in her youth-her actual youth mind you!-and how dragons were not but adversaries to defeat, not political rivals in civil games. “When a dragon dared to think it could just take a hundred year nap, we gave it a list of reasons why it was a bad idea. Usually with our fists repeatedly being inflicted on its face.”

That seemed to cheer up Celestia a bit as she gave a giggle at the image of how her sister and her fought of dragons like the warriors in the tales of old. Such simpler times indeed!

“That’s part of the problem, Luna. Growing up means being responsible for your actions, and in this case we must be sure to act in a manner that is not going to restart a war that nearly tore the realm apart.” She stated with an exhale of her own. Still, Celestia tried to remain positive. “I’m sure Twilight and her friends can come up with a way to resolve this matter peacefully. With any luck, a solution to our problem will be found and they’ll find themselves back in Ponyville safe and sound.”

That was all that they could do at that moment: Hope for the best and pray the worst never came to pass. Little did they know that the next day something would occur to alter the events that should have transpired; something…wonderful!

[}0{]

On this day, the sun shone steadily as it was intended to do. Only, it did not shine as brightly due to the smoke layer that was developing in the sky above. It almost seemed to be reminiscent of an active volcano. Yet it was not a spout of lava that the smoke was originating from, but the entrance to a cave that was located near the peak of a mountain.

“Now are you certain the smoke shall dissipate the moment this drake leaves?” Mysterio asked as they neared their destination. The trek up this mountain was long and treacherous, but it seemed they made good time to be there with the midday sun.

“I believe so. Dragon smoke tends to dissipate quickly when a dragon is awake for a good while, so it stands to reason that it should cease when he is driven out.” Tsavorite rationally stated as she shuffled behind him.

Despite Mysterio reasoning that he only needed directions, she still insisted on personally leading the way to her old den. The fatigue of the journey was clearly present in her as she traveled along; showing that she still had some ways to go before being fully recovered from her brush with death. Still, Mysterio gave no argument to deter her decision to come. He made concessions to stop when she needed, but brushed it off by stating how his suit was like a sauna (whatever that was).

As for the sorcerer himself, he was hard to read with that dome head of his. He did not give the semblance of being worried as they drew near to their destination, but neither did he give off an aura of confidence. The best way Tsavorite could describe his current emotional impression was neutral determination.

“This should be far enough.” He declared as they reached the turn to the clearing before the cave. “You should wait for me here so that you are not harmed in the crossfire. Try not to let him know that you are here. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve driven him out.”

“Are you certain you will not need my help to deal with him?” She asked as she sat on a flat rock to rest. She tried to hide her weakness, but the journey was just too strenuous for her at her current state. There was no way the sorcerer didn’t notice.

“Tsavorite, the trip here alone has tired you out more than it has me. You can barely stand up to him as you are.” He wrapped himself up in is cloak as he turned and steadily walked to the cave. “Trust me. I will handle this!”

Tsavorite looked like she was about to protest more, but realized the futility of doing so. She could do nothing more, but watch him from a distance, muttering whatever well wishes she could in hopes for his success.

[}0{]

While Mysterio gave off a presence of being stoic to his upcoming challenge, Ethan was doing his best to remain calm and not break into a run for it.

‘Come on, Ethan, this is no different than the time you tried out street magic and ran into those gang members.’ He thought as he tried to reason out the situation by recalling a previous time in his life when he was this scared to act. ‘Of course, while those guys would shank you if you didn’t hand over the money you pulled out of their ears, they weren’t big enough to tear you in half with one bite, or burn you into a crisp with fire breath.’

As he approached the entrance to the cave, he could already make out the rumbling snores of the beast that lied inside. As much as he tried to disregard the volume as an echo, he knew that whatever was making the noise was big. He was half tempted to make some form of ‘bigger boat’ line, but his mind blanked out for a moment as he heard a loud coughing noise, followed by a flicker of light, or what was probably flame.

‘Well, if I fail, hopefully I’ll be a pile of ash in a blink-’ He punched his fists together as a last chance effort to psyche himself up and abandon his fear. ‘What am I saying?! I’ve got this! I’m a master of sleight of hand. Sure it’s a dragon, but he’ll be no different than any other lout once you’ve shown what tricks you are capable now!’

It was with that conclusion that Mysterio began his latest performance of his art.

“Hear me, dragon!” He pointed accusingly towards the cave entrance. “I come here to face you for your transgression!”

There was no answer. Only more snores and smoke exited the cave. Not a sign of anything so much as a red scale or spine.

This raised Mysterio’s ire, so he raised his voice to reflect this disrespect to his demand. “I said I come here to punish you for the crime you have committed! Now come out from there, or so help me, I will drag you out from their like a hatchling!”

Now that started something! For in an instance, the smoke stopped puffing out. There was a loud series of thuds that started to get louder as something large drew near the cave. Mysterio readied himself into a fighting stance as the being stepped out into the daylight.

If Tsavorite was nearly seven feet, then this dragon was around three times that height, give or take. He was built like an armored reptilian Adonis. Seriously, if his musculature didn’t determine him to be a threat, it was how his red scales seemed to shine with a heated gleam, while the yellowish ones of his torso was like a Kevlar vest of gold. It was like if Brooklyn from Gargoyles took up Goliath’s training regime and got boosted into the Incredible Lou Ferrigno while becoming a C-rank kaiju. Heck, he even wore a loincloth that reminded him of the type they wore in the Gargoyles cartoon, only it had a linked chain instead of a leather belt. The only difference seemed to be that he had no hair, but extensive spines that stuck from a long serpentine neck. His needle like snout revealed sharpened teeth ready to bit him.

Or in this case, drawn back to yawn. “-Yawn- Now who is this that disturbs my slumber?”

Mysterio composed himself into a more respectable persona and stature. When his cape started fluttering in the wind, he began his introduction to this opponent before him.

“I am Mysterio, the Lord of Wonder Castle and a Master of the Arcane Arts!” He raised a fist in fury as he continued. “I come here to reclaim the territory and property of Tsavorite the Dragoness! You may remember her as the green dragoness whose hoard you have stolen for your greedy black heart!”

The Red Drake raised a brow at that declaration before chuckling out. “Really? You come here on behalf of that slítere?”

“Slítere?” Mysterio whispered. Inside his helmet, Ethan saw his HUD immediately pull up a translation protocol and a brief explanation appeared on the side of his view. ‘Slítere’ was a term that in Old English had connotations of being a waster, destroyer, or a consumer of food; in other words, a gorger or glutton. Seeing that this was some form of insult, he pointed accusingly at the drake as he furthered emphasized his stance on the matter at hand. “I come here on behalf of my newest subordinate who has shown me a prime example of one who exhibits Dragon culture. You on the other hand have proven to be nothing more than a smokepot!”

The Drake stopped laughing. His eyes glowered in anger as he angrily questioned that accusation. “What was that?”

Now if there was one thing you did not call a dragon, it was a ‘smokepot’. From Tsavorite’s brief explanation when he asked for some insults to throw at him, this was the one that did not only imply weakness, but impotence. To call him such would be to call him ‘wickless’, which she warned might send him over the edge.

“Are you deaf as well? I came here to face a dragon, but instead I find a smokepot that only needs to be put out!” Mysterio proclaimed, not caring about how much his words were driving the drake into a rage. He was on a roll. “So while it is not worth even my piss to do so, I will oblige you with a moment of my time to receive your apology as you get the hell out of here!”

The Red Drake flared his nostrils as he heard this slight to his character.

“HOW DARE YOU-” The Drake began to rear back its long neck, only to find his words interrupted again.

“How? Simple! I dare it, and you just take it like lumps of coal you poorly maintained furnace!”

The Red Drake roared with a mighty bellow that could be heard for miles. If there was any evidence to how angry he was, it was that smoke was constantly pouring out of his mouth as his eyes gave off a fiery glow as they glared into the reflective surface of Mysterio’s visage.

“You think I am going to leave MY dwelling and hoard because of the demands of a foolish jester who claims to know magic?” He clenched his clawed hands as the sharp spines along his neck seemed to flair out. “You think I would give up this entire sum of treasures for the sake of a wasteful Slítere?I have taken this treasure as my own, and therefore, only I am entitled to it, you cheap conjurer of tricks!”

“I am no mere conjurer of tricks! I am Mysterio! And I’ll only need three spells to end you!” He held up three fingers to emphasize his claim. He then dwindled down to one, before giving off a snap as he initiated his first spell. “Magicis Mistius!”

A deep mist surrounded them. Unlike his usual green mist, this one was more of a yellowish tinge. It spout from Mysterio and expanded into a deep fog that hid everything from view. Mysterio was no longer able to be seen, but the drake knew he was there by his sense of smell. This was but a poor form of concealment from a predator such as himself.

“You dare to call ME the smokepot, but all I see is one who unleashes a load of foul air!” He raised his wings as a bright orange glow gathered in the back of his throat. “Now perish in flames!

He ignited the dense mist with his breath of flame. That was a big mistake! The mist ignited and became a massive burst of sound and light as it detonated into a shower of colorful explosions. The drake felt disorientation hit him with the force of a rock slide. Were he a lesser dragon, that move may have finished him.

“That was just my first spell, but I am giving you one last chance to flee, before I change my mind.” Said Mysterio’s voice as it came from behind him. “So if I were you, I would take it because I would be too frightened of facing my most primal fear as a dragon.”

The Red Drake turned and entered the cave as quickly as he was able to face the spellcaster. He just stood in the center as if waiting for his arrival.

“I’ll watch you burn before I see you claim my treasure trove,” He growled out as he readied himself for another breath of fire.

The sorcerer did not cower in fear, or make any move to avoid the incoming attack. Instead he slowly gave out a noise as his glassy orb-like head blinked out a light in a repeated motion. He was not making noises at random, but was actually laughing aloud like he understood a great joke.

The Red Drake ceased his developing attack to ask him what was so hilarious. “And what could a fool like you find so funny? Have you finally succumbed to hysteria in my presence?”

Mysterio just waved him off as he started to calm down. Though he was still chuckling a bit, he settled himself into a coherent enough state to talk.

“Look around you, Drake! I’ve already taken it!” He spread his arms wide as he spun about the room. “Every piece from the biggest gem encrusted chalice to the smallest golden coin is gone! Nothing in here remains but rocks and the shifting piles of dust!”

The Red Drake at first didn’t believe this. Then he noticed the fact that the only thing occupying this cave was himself, some stones, and this spell casting thief. There wasn’t so much as a single piece of gold or jewel to be found.

The Treasure!!” The Red Drake exclaimed as he frantically searched about the chamber for any glimmer of it. But all he found was a collection of useless pebbles and stones. “Where is it?! What happened to it?!”

Mysterio just stood there with his arms crossed, enjoying the Red Drake’s displeasure at this change of fortune.

‘Part one of the plan: Complete! Mysterio proclaimed to himself in joy as he thought back to the plan he solidified yesterday.

[}0{]

As the two had finished their breakfast, Ethan and Tsavorite were discussing the plan that he had come up with for their attack on the Red Drake. Ethan had improvised a model of the mountain out of various things he could find to get his point across. What looked like a salt and pepper shaker on their way up a pile pf various dishes was in fact a representation of Mysterio’s great scheme.

“Now the key to the plan is making sure he gets outside of the cave long enough.” Ethan stated as he pointed to the part of the mountain that had the entrance to the cave. The teapot was placed menacingly out of the tilted bucket that was the cave that was filled with some of Mysterio’s golden coins to represent the treasure.

“Why is that?” the Dragoness asked.

“Because how else am I going to rob him blind?” He then took the coins one by one as he explained this part. “He just needs to be outside and not anywhere near the treasure for about two minutes. Then we won’t have to worry about the treasure for I will have taken it in that time.”

He jingled the coins in his hands, before opening his palm to reveal that they were gone. It was a simple sleight of hand for him, but Tsavorite saw it as an amazing magic technique.

“Amazing!” she exclaimed excitedly, before remembering the targeted prize was a lot more than a few coins. “But how will you possibly take all of his treasure in such a limited time?”

“Why with my magic off course! If a human magician is capable of making a statue about a hundred and fifty feet tall disappear, then a sorcerer of my caliber can certainly make a cave full of treasure disappear in just two minutes.” Ethen placed a hand behind his ear, before taking the coins out of it. “Maybe three at most.”

While that was an impressive claim to make, Tsavorite still looked worried at the prospect of attempting such a thing.

“But what makes you think you even have a chance?” She countered. “This is a dragon in his lair. With his hoard surrounding him, he will be strongest due to his greed.”

Ethan saw the honest worry in her glance. Despite the reptilian nature of her pupils, they were still able to express such anxiety with no chance of misrepresentation. It amazed him how relatable an expression was, and thus compelled him to find a way to alleviate it not just for her sake, but for his own similar feelings he was trying to hide.

“Let me tell you a story about an earlier man who took the mantle of Mysterio and the greatest trick he ever pulled.” He began as he told her one of the most severe appearances of Mysterio in all of comic book history.

“It was against an opponent who was said to be unbeatable. His bones were unbreakable, and had a healing factor that made him immortal. He fought with claws that jutted out of his fists that were composed of this same metal. His fury was that of a wild animal, and he was the best at what he did, but what he did wasn’t very nice to say the least.”

Tsavorite seemed to flinch at this image of such a monster. Ethan noticed, but continued his tale.

“One day, it was up to this Mysterio to subdue him. He knew right away that the odds were against him. In fact, those that heard of his assigned task probably considered him a dead man walking.” He then banged his fist on the table, nearly causing the mountain of dishes to tumble over. “But he was able to accomplish his goal with the skills he had against this supposedly unbeatable foe and left his in a state in which he would never fight again for years to come.”

“What did he do?” Tsavorite asked, immensely curious how a magic user could defeat such an unbeatable foe.

Ethan seemed hesitant to answer at first, before succumbing to her curious stare. He tried to word it as lightly as he could.

“This Mysterio used the opponent’s enhanced senses and animalistic rage against him and broke him with but a few simple spells. The warrior thought he was fighting a congregation of his worst enemies in a massive battle royale in his home.”

“And what else?” Tsavorite asked, knowing there was something that he clearly was hesitant to tell her.

Ethan was silent for a good while, before finally getting the nerve to tell the dragoness just what was the ending to that story he was trying to avoid saying.

“When his mind cleared, the warrior found forty dead bodies not composed of his greatest villains, but his dearest allies.” He continued despite the gasp Tsavorite gave at that revelation. “The blood on his hands made him lose his will to fight and nearly to live. All of it was thanks to a couple simple spells from this sorcerer.”

Tsavorite actually looked a shade greener than she should at the story. Ethan could only hope that his moral on the spot could ease her into a better understanding of why he said this story.

“The reason I tell you this is not so you are aware of the violence that was done, but to let you know the potential anyone who takes up the mantle of Mysterio is capable of enacting.” He tried to explain as he absentmindedly twirls a coin in his fingers. “Not everyone is unbeatable. Sometimes one’s greatest strength can become their greatest detriment.”

“But the way that one…person…did it is unimaginably cruel. Yet not only are you not the first Mysterio, but this is the legacy you have chosen to inherit?” She looked wearily at him as she had to ask, “Would you ever even consider doing such a thing so…horrible?”

Ethan felt really guilty at that question. That wasn’t what he wanted to convey to her. He certainly wasn’t that kind of person like that Mysterio. That still did little to alleviate the rotten feeling that hit his core. Yet, he still was able to collect himself into a determined attitude as he affirmed his good intentions.

“I don’t think I would kill a dragon’s loved ones for a mere pile of gold.” He asserted with a slam of the golden coins in his hands onto the table. He gave a smile as his emphasized his confirmation. “Besides, if this plan goes well, I won’t even have to wound him to get back your treasure.”

[}0{]

So far the plan was going well. While the explosive gas did some serious damage onto the dragon, it was nothing close to being fatal. While it did harm the drake, which broke a bit of the unspoken rules he gave to Tsavorite, he didn't see it as a failure on his part. Rather, he viewed it as a good sign in how was able to rattle the supposedly sturdy creature into acknowledging his capabilities as a fighter. That and the fact that he somehow took the entire hoard away in such a limited amount of time clearly shattered whatever confidence the drake had at his own competence.

“Now I have gotten what I came for, so you may as well be on your way.” Mysterio nonchalantly shooed at him like you would a cat to get away from your doorstep. “A big strong Drake like yourself is sure to find more treasure elsewhere. At the very least, you won’t starve without it like poor Tsavorite seemed to when you wrongfully claimed it.”

“Give it back!” The Red Drake demanded with gnashing teeth. “Give it back or I will burn you and everything that is set around here!”

“I will not! I have taken it and thus am entitled to it, as said by someone quite recently, I’m sure.” He then flicked his cloak back as he threw a pointed towards the exit. “Now be gone before you rile my wrath against you further!”

The drake let loose a mighty roar. Mysterio only took that to mean ‘No’.

“Have it your way then!” Mysterio curled his cape tightly around himself as his visage glowed with a green light for a moment. “My second spell will be a warning shot so you can understand my capabilities.”

[TO BE CONTINUED...]

Author's Note:

Well this chapter missed my personal deadline. As I said before, I try to not take more than a month to write a chapter with my life being how it is, but again the days seemed to have all sorts of things pop up to keep me preoccupied. This last month in particular was jam packed for me, and I don't doubt it's going to be busier the deeper we go into September and beyond. So apologies in advance for my update rate, but my Real life takes priority. I'm sure you all understand.

In any case, this was a chapter that started to stretch out to be much longer than I anticipated. So I split it down the middle as cleanly as I could, because I found that the second part needed more time to work, and the least I could do is give you this first part to read in the meantime.

I hope you all enjoy it, because I tried to make sure it had some more interesting things to build into for my story such as:
1. Where is Trixie? What happened to the Great and Powerful Showmare?
2. Who is this mysterious figure that lurks in the shadows of discarded things?
3. How does some(one/pony/dragon) react to the true terror that lies under Mysterio's helmet?
4. How is Mysterio one of the Most Underated Supervillains in all of Comic books?
5. Why would Celestia and Luna ever agree to send six ponies of to face a fully grown Red Drake to parley for it to leave?
and More!
So I hope you all yet enjoy another chapter of this story. Please like it if you enjoy it so far. Also comment on any questions or concerns you have and edits I need to make note of. I always try to proofread my work before posting, but sometimes I miss a thing or two. That and I always appreciate construction criticism so long as it remains polite!

Thanks for that, and stay tuned for the next chapter!