• Published 4th Jun 2016
  • 5,743 Views, 142 Comments

Love in a Time of Dragons - Orkus

Spike, having changed and matured greatly over the years, receives news from Dragon Lord Ember that a great gathering of dragons is to take place soon. Having held feelings for her for years, he attempts to win her heart over before its conclusion.

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The Gathering

"Um... I'm not sure about this. There looks like a lot other dragons down there..." Spike nervously mumbled to his friends, taking a step back from where he stood on the cliff's edge. "I... I don't think I stand much of a chance with all that competition, guys."

"Don't tell me you've got cold feet, Spike," Twilight spoke to her assistant, shifting him a glance. "We came all the way out here, and you're already thinking of giving up?"

"You most certainly better not be thinking like that!" Rarity said, walking to his side. "We trained you for this! If there's any dragon more capable of going out there and finding their special somedragon among that throng, it's you, Spike."

"Yeah!" Pinkie Pie swiftly agreed, pouncing onto Spike's back and wrapping her hooves around his sizable shoulders as best as she could manage. "You've got this, Spike! Never doubt yourself, and you'll do the best!"

Spike thought on their words through closed eyes as Pinkie slid off of him. Soon flashing open again, a smile came over his snout. "You're... you're right! I can do this!" he said with a grand sense of self-assuredness in his volume, closing his fists tightly. "I've been through a month of nonstop training for this once-in-a-lifetime event! I can't just let it pass me by like this. I've got to try!"

"There's my big brave Spike," Twilight smiled, gently hugging him close to her, which he returned. With a confident gleam in his eyes, Spike stretched his wings out after their embrace slowly came to an end and turned from the dragons in the distance to the three ponies.

"I'd better get over there, then," he started. "I guess I'll see you all a little later."

"We'll set up camp here and see how you do through the telescope we brought along," Twilight told him, already sifting her magic through a duffel bag and taking out several of the parts needed to construct such a device. "Good luck Spike."

"The best of luck," Rarity also wished, smiling proudly at her dragon friend. Nodding to them again, he jumped from the ledge, took off through the air with a powerful stroke of his batlike wings and soared over to join the rest of his kind.

Having landed but a scant few minutes before, Spike wandered through the horde of fellow dragons, many of whom were talking amongst themselves about the event they were all here for. He couldn't help but gaze in awe at just how many there were surrounding him. There certainly appeared to be more up close than at a distance, and being around such a huge group of his kind felt both alien to his mind, yet normal and calming to his instincts.

"Wha- no... it can't be, can it?" a deep, reverberating voice suddenly piped in from behind him, just a few minutes into his exploring. Spike turned around in acknowledgement and saw a large, muscular, crimson shape rapidly stomping up to him. His emerald eyes at first widened in surprise, before closing to thin, slanted slits when he realized just who it was, and he mumbled a small growl to himself.

It was Garble. Were there any dragon Spike actively despised over any other, it was Garble. And another thing the young drake noticed as well, to his ire, was that Garble, like himself, had grown greatly since when they had last met. Though Spike was a head taller than he was when he encountered him at the Gauntlet of Fire years ago, Garble was now nearly a third higher than that. The golden dorsal spines that lined his head and back looked all the more longer and sharper now, his tail was of an intimidating length and visibly strong enough to effortlessly whack down several trees in one fell swing, and his wings, though currently folded, clearly would express an intimidating span if he were to open them. All-in-all, he was perhaps one of the largest dragons Spike had seen so far since getting here.

"If it isn't my favorite little pony-dragon!" he said again in a deceivingly friendly tone, wrapping his arm and elbow around Spike's neck before he had a chance to react, pulling his smaller, glowing shape close to his, and forcing Spike to fight against it for the chance to breathe. "Oh man, it's been a while, hasn't it? How've you been, squirt? You haven't been consorting with all those dumb ponies, have you? Oh who'm I kidding, you have been. I can smell them all over you..."

"Let... go of me... Garble!" Spike managed to choke out coldly, before finally breaking out of the hold he had on his neck. Rubbing his now stiff throat with a claw, he cast a leer back at his tormentor, who was now examining him closely with a smug expression on his long snout and a hand on his chin.

"Nice wings, whelp. Not as nice, big and strong as mine, but nice," he complimented in a sarcastic fashion. "You know, I thought you'd never actually grow a pair. Guess I was wrong."

"When have you never been wrong?" Spike quipped back at him with a sneer. His foe's webbed ears flattening in that instant, Garble's entire demeanor changed with the insult he received, and tried vainly to find a perfect retort.

"Yeah, well... shut up!" he shouted. With a bellow, Garble shoved Spike to the ground before he could expect a blow to come his way. Letting out a hearty laugh, he planted his foot on the younger dragon's back and stared down at him maliciously, fangs bared. "You're not gonna stand a chance of finding any dragon once I'm through with you, Spike..."

"Hey, I thought we were supposed to save the fighting for when two of us are brawling for a life-mate," he growled, pushing Garble's leg off, standing up and brushing himself off. "You wouldn't wanna go and break dragon law, would you? I'm sure it could lead to some pretty dire consequences."

To these words, Garble stood back and gave a thoughtful look, before common sense won out in his mind. "Ah, forget it," he mumbled, folding his arms together and turning his long-fanged muzzle away from Spike uncaringly. "I'll beat you up some other time. Who knows? It may come soon enough..."

"We'll see about that, Garble," Spike grunted defiantly. No sooner had he finished speaking, a big, dark figure flew overhead, blotting out the sun for a brief moment, and casting a shadow over all of the dragons. Turning his full attention to it, Spike saw the enormous shape of a mountain-sized dragon soaring through the sky. When the sun was revealed again, it illuminated who it was, and just by seeing the massive, winding horns of bone and the permanent leer etched onto his stern and rocky face, Spike and the others knew who it was who had arrived.

It was Torch, the former Dragon Lord, and Ember's father. His bulky and thick bluish-gray shape, covered in armor as black as smoldering charcoal, headed for a large rock formation many hundreds of yards away from the crowd. Right as he was floating over it, his giant wings stopped flapping, and his body dropped from the air. Torch's landing heralded a ground-shaking crash to rival an earthquake, dismantling, shattering, and pushing away some of the rock making up his new seat.

Though everyone else had their eyes set on Torch's intimidating form, a smaller silhouette was noticed by Spike accompanying the titanic creature. To his joy, he quickly recognized that it was Ember, and her comparatively tiny, blue shape was also covered by a flaring sheen like everyone else. As she gracefully touched down on a boulder sitting in front of her father, a mirthless, serious visage covered her face, and her eyes, open and alert, looked to her father before going out to the horde of her kind and addressing them thusly.

"Greetings, everyone. As you all should know, I have summoned all able and fit dragons of the appropriate age here for one reason, and one reason alone: The Time of the Heartscale," she started with her voice echoing across the area for all to hear, and rubbing a claw over her scepter as she spoke. "It is a cherished tradition we dragons have held and maintained for ages immemorial. It is a time where each of us finds the one, special dragon destiny and fate has been holding onto for us, waiting to be fought for with tooth and claw, and claimed if deemed worthy enough. And now, it is our turn to uphold these values, and let love blossom from the foundation our forebears have set for us."

Ember lifted her scepter above her head, and the red bloodstone that rested on its tip began to radiate with a blinding light. With a sizzling noise, a red beam shot out of the scepter and fell over all of the dragons present, showering them in its crimson glimmer. When the light dissipated, the glow that had been covering all of them disappeared in an instant. Spike sighed as the minor, but still annoying burning sensation that had been digging under his scales was finally silenced and gone, giving him some relief.

As the last dragon had their glow fade away, Ember continued on. "It may seem as though we are ready to begin, but the last thing you must all know is that for now I will be stepping down as Dragon Lord," she said, using a claw to take her golden circlet off. "Until the Time of the Heartscale has reached its end, my father will once again serve as Dragon Lord in my place, as is custom. From here till then, I am just a normal dragon looking for her life-mate, like you all."

She turned about and presented her bloodstone scepter to Torch, and the far larger dragon accepted the ornate, crystalline staff into his outstretched, mighty palm. Closing his tree trunk-sized fingers around it, he held onto the familiar authoritative item with a nostalgic grip he used once before when he was the Dragon Lord. With a confident nod to her father, Ember hopped down from the boulder where she stood and glided down to the crowd of dragons below. As she descended to the front of it, Spike desperately tried to spot where she landed from where he was standing, only to quickly lose sight of her in the living tide of scaly bodies.

Back on top of his high-up perch, Torch looked over all of the younger dragons with a predatory gleam in his aged, reptilian eyes, before clearing his throat. "ALRIGHT YOU YOUNG WHELPS, YOU ALL HEARD HER, RIGHT?" the great, mountainous creature boomed like a crack of thunder to all of the dragons standing below him, distorting the very air around him with the sheer magnitude of his voice. Everyone, Spike and Garble included, all began to rapidly shake their heads up-and-down and murmured words of agreement in response.


The majority of the crowd responded back with a mixture of the words 'yep', 'uh-huh', 'yeah', and the ever-elusive 'of course'. Torch, snorting a small cloud of smoke through his horned nostrils, unleashed a satisfied grin through the crooked, yellow fangs lining his mouth, finally ready to give the words he had been wishing to utter since arriving here. "VERY GOOD. NOW... LET US ALLOW THE TIME OF THE HEARTSCALE TO OFFICIALLY BEGIN!"