• Published 3rd Oct 2016
  • 2,655 Views, 148 Comments

Flames - Olakaan Peliik

Coming to the ponylands: Not Planned. Being an ambassador for dragon kind: Not Planned. Finding a better place to live where my sister would be safe: Planned.

  • ...

XVIII - New Firendships

The awkward silence, while we waited for our lunch, was...well, it was awkward. Ember sat across the table from Celestia. I sat to the right of Ember, Viing sat to her left. Princess Cadance sat to Celestia’s left, next to me. Across from Cadance sat Captain Armor to Celestia’s right.

Since nopony or dragon was saying anything I thought it best to bring something up. Anything! “So, Enforcer, how goes the growth of the Crater Guard?” I asked.

He seemed to sense my attempt to break the awkwardness. “I’ve set up three security teams: one to patrol and enforce Lord Torch’s laws within the city, one to protect the mines and our crops, and the last to travel to the outlying areas and enforce laws there,” Viing explained.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how do you manage it all?” Captain Armor asked. “Here we have a very well set up command structure. But I’ve not heard how you do it in the Dragonlands.”

“The Enforcer has many loyal siblings who have been put into leadership positions,” Ember answered for him in a haughty tone. “It’s because of this that our city is as safe as it is.”

“Sounds rather impressive. I heard rumors that your city was built in a rather short amount of time. My question is how?” Cadance inquired.

“That would be thanks to the building capabilities of the Stone and Ice Dragons,” I started.

“Both are famous for the capability to build, but when they decided to work together they made a truly remarkable city,” Viing added.

“Yes, dragons are making impressive progress blah, blah, blah,” Ember said, obviously over this conversation.

I decided to ignore her and continue. “Speaking of our progress, I’ve been conversing with King Aspen. I have been negotiating a deal which will allow him to plant forests in our lands, giving us a much larger food source and perhaps even increase the amount of wildlife we have in our lands.”

“What? Are you negotiating without the consent of my father? What is to stop this ‘King Aspen’ from taking our lands from under our claws?” Ember asked.

“I was instructed, as Speaker by your father, to improve our relations and broker alliances with any and all kingdoms I could. The Princesses of Equestria are our first official allies in this endeavor. I am hoping King Aspen will be our next ally,” I explained, trying to contain my irritation. Besides, the mere notion that a bunch of caribous could pose a threat to dragonkind was childish.

“I fail to see why we mighty dragons need with such weak allies,” Ember scoffed, rolling her eyes and flexing her talons.

“Princess Ember, if I may—” Princess Cadance had started.

“May what?” Ember snapped at her, causing Cadance to start in surprise. Shining Armor started to stand up, his horn glowing.

I stood up to my full height as fast as I could, beating Shining Armor. “I’m sorry to interrupt you Princess, but Princess Ember needs to be reminded of what her place is,” I said, and turned to Ember, who folded her arms and glared at me.

I spoke clearly so she could not mishear me. “Princess Ember, if you keep insulting our hosts and allies, we will be forced to carry out your father’s orders and escort you home and inform him that you have jeopardized the safety of your homeland in favor of your foolish youngling pride.” I spat out the last word like it was poison.

The whole room was silent. Celestia, Captain Armor, Viing, Cadance all watched the staring contest between Ember and I. I had just insulted her, Lord Torch’s daughter. But for some reason, I felt like he would have approved.

Finally, she looked away and down at the table in front of her. “I see,” She looked up at Princess Celestia. “I apologize for my behavior.” she forced herself to say.

“We accept your apology. But it’s hardly the worst attitude we’ve seen here.” Celestia smiled.

“You should meet the Yaks,” Cadance suggested.

Captain Armor nodded. “Very loud and destructive.”

Ember resisted, but couldn't help but grin at that. “Perhaps another conversation is in order? Perhaps about the Wonderbolts and the possibility of us making our own similar division?” she suggested.

“That sound like a much better conversation.” Princess Cadance agreed.

After a few more minutes our food arrived. Ember ordered some eggplant parmesan, I don't think she realized exactly what it was but she seemed to enjoy it. Viing had ordered a stew from the more winter-like part of the menu. Princess Cadance, Celestia, and Shining Armor all ordered various style salads. I got a fruit salad my stomach felt heavy enough as it is.

Ember seemed to be much more attentive to her attitude with the knowledge of consequences should she misbehave. It felt weird disciplining a princess.

Canterlot Stadium. I've passed this place plenty of times but I've never, until now, been inside. The concrete structure overlooked enchanted clouds that marked the racetrack. The box we were in was comfortable, made to entertain royalty with plush royal purple cushions, and provided an excellent view of the track. I was sitting behind Ember and Celestia, listening to their conversation. Viing seemed to be paying attention to what was happening on the track. The Wonderbolts were doing warm-up laps as fans got into their seats.

“So the primary function of the Wonderbolts is military?” Ember asked Celestia.

“Yes,” Celestia confirmed. “But thankfully, there are hardly any situations that require their skills, so they keep their skills sharp by performing feats of magnificent aerial art.”

“What kind of things would they be asked to do if it was necessary?” Ember asked with great interest.

“Not a whole lot to be perfectly honest. Wyvern attacks, stray Basilisk, missing giant three-headed dogs.” Celestia listed.

“Weak creatures, for the weak,” Ember said under her breath so Celestia couldn’t hear. But I did and glared. Ember saw me behind her and immediately focused her attention forward.

I held back any further of my irritation. So, far, so good. An announcer stood on a little podium down below, with a microphone, and tapped it with a hoof to test that it was working. “Welcome, fillies and gentlecolts, to the first Wonderbolt’s Race of the Season!” The crowd cheered like thunder.

“Today's race will feature the Alpha squad of the Wonderbolts versus the Beta squad. In race two, it will be the members of Hotel squad versus Lima squad. And finally, for race three, it will be Romehorse squad versus Sierra squad,” the announcer called. “Now put your hooves together for the Wonderbolts!”

“That was awesome!” Ember said excitedly.

We were in the Embassy. Celestia had gone home to her castle, and tomorrow we had a few other things to do before Ember was to leave. I was just happy to be on familiar ground for the time being. Ember, Viing and I sat in a little lounge area that I had built between Ember’s quarters and the four standard guest rooms.

“As weak and hilariously proud these ponies are, they can sure put on a show.” Ember smiled.

“So am I to instruct the formation of a few Firebolt squads?” Viing asked as a joke.

“That's actually not a bad name,” I commented.

“I was kidding!” Viing said quickly, looking slightly alarmed at the idea of having more dragons to take charge of.

“Too late. I'm already gonna talk to my father about it. I think he'll love the idea. The Firebolts, our best fliers. From every species of dragon, representing us. Perhaps even race against the Wonderbolts one day!” Ember said excitedly.

I fought back a yawn, but apparently, it did not go unnoticed. “Speaker, if you are fatigued we will not need you until morning,” Ember said, dismissing me with a wave of her claw.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Go home,” she ordered.

I stood from the seat. “Before I leave. Viing, you can bunk in one of those four rooms,” I pointed out the rooms. “Breakfast will be ready by the time you both wake in the morning.”

“Thank you, Speaker.” Viing bowed his head. Ember just ignored me.

“Goodnight, Princess, Enforcer.” I bowed to them both before leaving. Ember and Viing both bowed their heads in response as I left.

Once outside, I took to the sky. This was going far greater than I expected. Started out a little rough, but I think Ember is learning. I lazily landed in my backyard. It was late and Kii was likely asleep.

I entered the kitchen through the back door. I headed for the stairs when I saw a note on the kitchen counter. “Kii spending the night over at Hex’s house- Aleazh.” Oh, well, I at least knew she was safe.

I continued my trek upstairs to my room. I set my alarm for eight in the morning. Viing and Ember have never slept on beds before so they'd be sleeping in. I'd have plenty of time to get there before they wake up.

I slithered underneath the covers and relaxed. Odd, it was much more comfortable than usual. Oh well. It’d just make it easier for me to get to sleep...

Okay, this is weird. I was in the Dragonlands. But how did I get here? I was in Canterlot last I knew. I looked around. This wasn't any part of the Dragonlands I've been to, and I've been to most of it: the whole area was featureless, covered in black ash. I took flight and headed in a direction. I couldn't sense what direction was north.

I kept flying for what felt like hours. Nothing in the landscape changed. Not so much as a rock, it was just all ash. Just as I was about to give up looking for a landmark I heard a screaming roar. The kind you hear when a dragoness is in distress.

I quickly searched the ground below me and spotted another dragon beneath me. Niirah?! What is she doing here? I thought she was in Canterlot as well. Then again I was supposed to be there too.

I looked closer. Niirah was running from another dragon, black as the night with eyes of red. He was at least three times her size, and twice my size. But I couldn't just stay up here and do nothing.

I dove for the two. Niirah’s hind leg got caught in a rock crevice, preventing her from moving; she stared back at the giant dragon chasing her with wide-eyed panic. Just as the black dragon reached her and reared back to bite her neck, I slashed my claws at the dragon’s neck.

The dragon roared in pain and turned to dust like the ash around us. I circled around and landed where he had stood. Niirah looked just as confused as she did surprised.

“Let me help you.” I gently removed her hind leg from the crevice allowing her to move.

She cowered away from me. “Why would you help me? You're a male, and you don't even like me.”

Without knowing why, without meaning to, I smiled at her. “You were in need of help. So I helped. And I don't hate you, I actually find you interesting, but you have yet to give me a chance to try an be friends.” I suddenly realized that I actually believed what I was saying.

Niirah’s anger disappeared, leaving confusion. “I don't understand,” she said, looking down.

“Not all males are thickheaded brutes.” I laughed a little as I spoke. “I think you should give some of us a chance...and maybe I should give you one.”

Niirah looked around and seemed to think about what I had said. After what seemed like forever, she looked up at me and smiled. She was actually very pretty when she smiled; she looked like a completely different dragon when she smiled.

The ash on the ground around us started to get kicked up and we lost sight of each other. “Niirah?” I called out, trying to reach through the ash, but the ground suddenly disappeared. I couldn’t get air with my wings and I fell through the darkness.

I grabbed the bed to keep myself from falling, then quickly realized that I wasn’t falling. Wait. That was a dream? I threw the covers off and looked around. I was in Canterlot and not in the Dragonlands at all. Definitely a dream. A weird one.

“Spirits,” I muttered as my heartbeat steadied. I looked over at my alarm clock and found that I was awake half an hour before I had to be.

“Well, I'm awake now,” I grumbled to myself, getting up.

I got up and took a shower, then headed for the Embassy. I thought about the weird dream as I walked. If the Spirits of my Ancestors thought this is some kind of joke, they have a weird sense of humor. But on the off chance, that this was a message or something from them, I had to have an open mind.

I must've not been paying attention because before I knew it I was bumping into somepony outside the Embassy. Or rather somedragon.

“Speaker?” Niirah asked with surprise and with none of her usual hatred toward me.

Wait, why wasn't she mad. “Niirah? You seem to be in a better mood,” I said.

“Oh well thank you for noticing.” She cracked a smile for half a second. “I started seeing a therapist a few weeks ago at my teacher’s recommendation. She’s helped me a great deal already. That’s actually one of the reasons I’m here: to talk to my brother.”

“Oh. Well alright then. He should be inside, probably asleep.” I opened the door for her without thinking. But she entered without getting mad at that, either.

What was happening? Today is just all manner of weird. First a strange dream about Niirah, and then the real Niirah is being nice to me, or at the very least not mean. What's the catch, Spirits? Seriously?

I could see the cooking staff that arrived from the Dragonlands was already at work making breakfast. Good to see. “Come on. Viing should be in one of the rooms on the third floor,” I said to Niirah.

Niirah followed me. None of her usual grumbling, snide remarks, or rude gestures. Even her presence seemed, calmer. It was weird. “So are you gonna need specific time off for your therapist?” I asked. “I just wanna know so I’m not surprised when you need to go.”

“So far it’s every evening at six,” she informed me. “But she said that soon I’ll only need to go in weekly,” she added rather proudly.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that. You seem better.”

“I feel better.”

We got up to the third floor. There was a Dragon Guard who had just started his shift. He snapped to attention as we approached. “Which room did the Enforcer occupy?” I asked.

“First on the right, Speaker,” he reported.

“Thank you,” Niirah said to the guard. Okay, I'm officially weirded out now.

“Would you mind waiting here a moment?” I asked, gesturing to the seats. She seemed to fight back a comment and irritation, as she went and sat down she started breathing deep.

She would have bit my head off if I asked her that before. Weird! I opened the door to Viing’s room. He was comically sprawled out on the bed, obviously comfortable and snoring lightly, his armor sat to the side of the room on the floor.

“Viing,” I nudged him. He grumbled. “Viing. I'm sorry to wake you buddy, but Niirah is here to see you.”

He woke up instantly and scrambled to get to his talons, looking bewildered. “What?”

“Niirah is here to see you,” I repeated more clearly.

The look of confusion was still plastered on his face. “Again, what? She hates me. Why would she willingly come and see me?” he asked.

“Why don't you ask her?” I pointed to the door.

Hesitantly he walked out to the seating area. I followed him out.

“Hey, brother,” Niirah said as he approached.

“Hey. You wanted to talk?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded.

“I'll just leave you two alone,” I said and walked over to the guard. “Stand on the next floor,” I ordered. He looked a little confused but obeyed.

I went down to my office to wait. I started organizing my mail from the previous day, signing R.S.V.P.s to events that I thought worth my time. Eventually, Viing and Niirah came down the stairs. Viing stopped to talk to the guard momentarily, while Niirah approached my office.

“Is there anything you'd like me to do on my way out, Speaker?” she asked.

Stop being nice! It’s weird! “Um, yeah. These R.S.V.P.s, if you could just drop them in a mailbox on your way out, that would help.”

She looked to be biting back some emotions. “Will do.” She stepped over and grabbed the small stack off my desk and left. She stopped in front of Viing before hugging him quickly and heading down the stairs, leaving him looking shocked. What?! I didn't even know she knew how to hug.

As she departed, Viing headed for where I sat in my office. “That was interesting,” I commented.

“Yeah, she said that she ‘has been thinking and has decided that not all males are as bad as she thinks.’ It’s a little strange, seeing this rapid of an attitude change.” Viing was definitely still confused.

“So?” I asked.

“She apologized. And said that she wanted to start writing letters to me and the rest of our siblings,” Viing said slowly. “Also she asked for a little bit more money so she could pay for her therapy sessions.”

“I see,” I said. “Ember should be waking up soon.”

“Right.” Viing shook his head to refocus. He stood and headed back up the stairs to put his armor back on.

After finishing up at my desk, I headed up as well. Viing was standing to the side of the room. The lock on Ember’s room was being fiddled with from her side. Ember opened the door and smiled wide as she stretched.

“I cannot believe how comfortable that, that...Speaker, what was it you called it?” she asked.

“A mattress,” I told her.

“Yes, that! I definitely want one now,” Ember said.

“Same here. Beats rocks.” Viing agreed.

“Yes, well getting one for home will have to wait. We have breakfast and then another meeting. Correct?” Ember asked she didn't sound particularly excited.

“Yes. Breakfast is downstairs.” I nodded.

Ember didn't know it but Princess Luna was actually the one we were meeting this morning, not Celestia. I was curious to see how the princess, whom I know to not take kindly to a bad attitude, would handle Ember.

We stood in the castle. Viing and I were waiting patiently, but Ember was pacing back and forth.

“Ugh! What is taking so long?” Ember stomped obviously frustrated.

“The princesses are very busy mares,” I said patiently, stating the obvious.

“I'm busy too,” Ember protested.

“Really? Doing what, acting like a youngling?” I asked. She whirled on me and glared at me like she wanted to have me for lunch. I took comfort from the fact that she couldn’t do anything to me.

The big doors to the room opened and Luna stepped in with her personal guard right behind her. The guards took position by the door, while Luna walked right up to Ember. “Roaring Contest.” Princess Luna stated.

Viing and I looked at each other, confused. Luna took in a deep breath and used her Canterlot voice to roar right in Embers face. “ROOOOOAAAAARRRR!”

Ember had to brace herself against the roar that this pony princess just surprised her with. Ember blinked in surprise a few times before smiling, stepping up to Luna. “RRRRROOOOOAAAAARRRRR!” she returned.

Luna seemed unfazed and cleared her throat. “RRRRROOOOOAAAAARRRRR!” she responded, her bellow shaking the ground, castle, everything. I had to cover my ears. Viing looked scared, as did all of Luna’s guards that were here.

“Haha!” Ember let out a truly genuine laugh, smiling wide. “I like you!”

“Shall we speak of what entertains thee in the Dragonlands? Perhaps we can better accommodate thee on thy next visit,” Luna said and gestured toward a sitting room off of the grand hall.

Ember happily took the invitation. “That sounds like a great idea. You're alright, Luna.”

“We like to think so,” Luna smiled. They walked off with Luna’s guards and Ember’s guards behind them.

Viing walked up to me. “What just happened?”

There was only one way I could answer that question right now. “I have no clue.”

So Luna seeing Ember off went far better than her arrival. Ember and Luna were practically BFFs by that point. I couldn't help but feel insulted by that. I worked hard to make her visit nice. On the other claw, I did insult her. Twice.

I was in my office now, just going through my files. A tavern here had requested a shipment of Dragon Fruit wine, and a few of the other alcohols we have in the Dragonlands. Algae had done her research on the tavern and all it needed was my signature. As I was starting to sign I heard yelling.

“What do you mean 'the post office is closed'?!” I heard Ash yelling through the walls.

“The. Post. Office. Is. Closed. I'll just send your letter in the morning with the rest of the outgoing mail,” I heard Niirah hiss back.

I quickly stood up and made my way out to where the argument was taking place.

“Take it over there now!” Ash roared in Nirrah’s face.

“No!” Niirah shouted back, standing up.

Ash was the one overreacting here, and he was about to lash out. I quickly got between them. “That's! Enough!” I roared. Both of them stood down and turned to look at me.

“Ash, she is doing her job correctly. First thing tomorrow morning she brings the outgoing mail to the post office. That is final,” I said. He grunted and went into his office.

I was going to talk to Niirah but she was already on her way out of the building. I quickly locked my office door. “Algae. I'm headed out for the day,” I called as I passed her office.

“Alright boss,” she called back.

I caught up with Niirah outside. It was afternoon the sun still very high in the sky. “Hey. You alright?” I asked walking beside her.

“Why should you care?” she said, walking angrily.

I easily kept up with her angry walk. “I'm not allowed to care about how a friend is feeling?”

She didn’t respond, but she did stop walking and started to take deep breaths. Amazing: she really looked like she wants to change.

I had an idea. “Hey, come with me,” I said. “I wanna show you something.” I took to the sky with a hard flap of my wings. She stayed on the ground for a moment, staring at me. “Please?” I asked.

After a moment, she took off and flew up next to me. I continued to gain height and she followed until we were high above Canterlot, so high that you could hardly tell which buildings were which.

“What was it you wanted to show me?” she asked me over the wind.

I looked back, and she already seemed calmer. “Really, I just wanted you to get up here and clear your head.”

“I don't understand,” she stated.

“Leave all your worries down there on the ground,” I instructed. “Just breath in the air up here. Let the air hold you.” I dove for a second before opening my wings and coming back up beside her. “Go, on give it a try. Just let your worries fall away.”

She closed her eyes a moment and folded her wings in for a dive. A second later she opened her wings back up and let the wind and air carry her back up beside me.

“That was fun!” she said, smiling. She looked like a different dragon altogether, just like in my dream.

“Have you not been flying since you came here?” I asked.

She seemed to think a moment. “Not really. No.”

Wow, she really needs to let loose a little. “I'll race you to Ponyville,” I challenged.

She grinned challengingly. “You are on!” She dove before I could. I followed her, pushing on the speed.

I pulled ahead of her as we descended, but then I lost a lot of speed trying to decelerate before I hit the ground. She turned a lot better than I did and kept most of her speed as we weaved through the sky.

I was on her tail though. My massive wings allowed me to push more wind with less effort. Ponyville was easily in sight now; it wasn’t that far away from Canterlot, after all, especially not for a flyer.

Niirah seemed to notice that I was gaining on her and she poured more into her wing beats, remaining in front of me. We passed a sign on a road below us that said “Ponyville Town limit. Population nine hundred.”

We both slowed down after a second and lighted down on a grass field to rest. “I beat ya!” she said, sitting down and trying to get her breathing back under control.

I walked a little past her, barely out of breath. “Yeah, you did. But are you gonna sit there and gloat or you gonna follow me so we can find something to drink?”

“I vote for water. Definitely.” She stood and followed.

We walked into the small town and I looked for a suitable place to rest. We came to a small little restaurant close to the center of town with a sign over the door that said “Haut-Savoir.” There was outside seating, which I found to our benefit, so we didn't make anypony within nervous. I lead Niirah to a table.

A waitress approached. Her coat was a kind of blue and had freckles on her snout, her mane was a kind of copper color without the shine, and her cutie mark of two different colored horseshoes. She also had a little bit of meat on her bones but it in no way looked bad for the mare. “Welcome to Haut-Savoir, what can I get you to drink?” she spoke clearly like anypony in Canterlot would.

Niirah seemed a little confused. “Wait a minute. You aren't afraid of us?”

“Why would I be?” she asked.

“The ponies in Canterlot stay away,” Niirah told her.

“That's Canterlot. This is Ponyville, a pair of dragons visiting is just another day around here. One time an Ursa Minor attacked in the middle of the night,” she informed us. “Trust me. You two are more than normal for us. So what’ll it be?”

“Water for me please, and if I could just get a plate of fries?” I asked.

“Water,” Niirah had started. “Please?” she remembered to add.

“Two glasses of water, and a plate of fries. Be back in a minute.” She walked back inside the restaurant to fill our order.

After a few seconds, I took a breath and spoke up. “So Niirah. I'd like to ask you a question. But you can choose to not answer it.”

“Let's hear the question first,” Niirah said, looking at me a little bit weird.

“Why DO you distrust males so much?”

Niirah was silent and stared at me in bewilderment for a moment, then looked at the table. I waited. The waitress came back with our order. “Here you go. Six bits for the fries,” she said, setting the plate and glasses down on the table. I gave her what I owed plus an additional three bits. “Stay as long as you like,” she smiled.

I sipped on my water as I continued to wait for Niirah’s response. “I'll answer your question if you answer mine first,” she finally said.

“Deal,” I stated.

“Nikta mentioned that the four of you ‘took’ Kii’s egg from your mother. Is that true?” she asked.

Nikta and her big mouth. I no doubt had the same look on my face that Niirah did when I asked her my question.

“Yes. It's true.” I wanted to leave it at that, but Niirah looked like she wanted to hear more. “Our mother was cruel and abusive. Were it not for the fact dragons shed their skin every spring, my siblings and I would have many showing scars.”

Niirah’s face showed understanding. I continued. “When our mother laid Kii's egg...I don't know if it was instinct, or just a desire to protect my family. But I rallied my brother and sisters and we stole the egg by force and ran away. We never saw our mother again.”

“My father killed my mother when I was nine,” Niirah told me.

“The same mother who laid the eggs of your older siblings?” I asked.

Niirah nodded. “My father used me as a beating rock for fifteen years until Viing and my other siblings found me. Needless to say, I wasn't very grateful to them for leaving me behind like that.”

We sat in silence for a little while, munching on fries, and sipping our waters. When the silence became too much for me, I spoke up.

“Your siblings found you though, and even after you gave them the cold shoulder, they are still willing to love you,” I reminded her. “They are your family.”

“And you turned into Kii’s dad,” Niirah joked.

“Oh, please don't say that. I'm still too young to be a dad,” I groaned.

Niirah smiled again: no force, completely genuine, and pretty. “Sure you are, you're what, ninety?”

“I'm eighty-seven, and I'll be eighty-eight later this spring,” I said, mildly annoyed.

Nirrah laughed a little bit, then sighed. “So now that we're past all this awkwardness...”

“Friends?” I asked.

She nodded. “It’s a start.”

Author's Note:

Hooray friendship!

I'll just wait for you all to notice the cameo/Easter egg I dropped. I wasn't exactly subtle. Anyone familiar with the Quill & Blade series will notice it.

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