• Published 24th Mar 2018
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My Little Universe: Season 7 - EquestrianKirin



It's a whole new ballgame for Gem and Pony alike. Saddle up!

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Dragon Lord

"I'm so glad you two could come."

Off within the towers of Canterlot, Twilight Sparkle was having some good company over. It had been some time since they have done so, but Luna and Celestia finally had some time to check in on what had been going on over these autumn days.

"Of course. It's rare for us to just come by and visit," Luna said.

"There's always some crisis we have to deal with. somepony's always asking for our help," added Celestia. Celestia and Luna barely had much involvement thanks to their roles as princesses of Equestria, so seeing this time was a breath of fresh air. Plus, over nearby, Pink Diamond herself was trying to find something to do. Namely stare off into some of Twilight's books … or try to anyway.

"I'm grateful to know things had been going well for you here, Pink Diamond. And won't the others be happy to hear once they come by," Celestia said, though Pink Diamond looked a bit bored.

"Yeah, sure, how do you work these things?" Pink Diamond asked, showing a book to them, more confused than annoyed. She heard that books did hold a bit of information, but how could she get them to work?

"Just open the pages," advised Twilight.

"How? There's no touch screen, or buttons, or - Oh!" Pink Diamond stopped talking when Luna opened the book for her, getting the information out to her. Well, they could let this slide, since she was just made weeks ago. Now more interested, she began to look through the pages of Equestrian information. It's not the most exciting thing ever, but it's better than poking at a book cover all day.

"I've heard from your letters that Starlight Glimmer has been doing well in her friendship lessons?" inquired Celestia.

"Well, we had a rocky start. But she's doing great now! In fact, she's agreed to help Spike and Amethyst get some gemstones for Rarity today," Twilight informed. It was nice for Starlight to go out and try to lend a helping hoof for her friends nowadays. Guess her trip to see Sunburst helped out in that a lot.

"TWILIGHT!"

… And the following slam of the door got much of their attention. Starlight and Amethyst had gotten themselves back, looking a little dirty admittedly, but there was something a little bit troubling with what they brought back. Well, guess somepony needed their help after all.

"Twilight, thank goodness, we got a situation here. I don't know what happened, but -"

"Whoa, slow down Starlight. Now what's wrong?" Twilight asked. Amethyst came in not too long after, holding Spike in her hands, and placing him on the table. However, there surely seemed to be something wrong with him: his scales were shining for some reason, and he was itching up a storm! He couldn't stop from scratching himself in vain to get the pain to go away. Well this was a surprise.

"What happened?" Twilight asked.

"I-I dunno! All of a sudden I started glowing. And burning!" Spike said, scratching himself like a dog to get it to stop. Luna and Celestia though need little time to figure it out.

"Little is known of Dragon culture. But this is something we've seen before. It's the call of the Dragon Lord," Luna said.

"Dragon Lord?" Amethyst questioned.

"Indeed. Dragons glow when the Dragon Lord is needed of them in the Dragon Lands," Celestia replied.

"Great. Ngh, but how do I make it stop?" Spike groaned, scratching his face.

"The only way to end the summons, is to answer it. You must go to the Dragon Lands, and see what is expected of you," Luna explained. Spike was really feeling rough with this scratching.

"Y-you sure? Isn't there a spell that could stop the itching, or something?! Starlight?" Spike asked. Starlight was put on the spot, but didn't have anything.

"Eh, well, I can try. Just stand still," Starlight said, trotting back to get some distance. Her horn began to glow, but luckily for Spike's well-being, Celestia opened her wing to block it before Starlight could make a shot.

"There isn't a spell capable of stopping the call of the Dragon Lord," Celestia reassured. Starlight stopped her glowing horn.

"You sure about that? nothing in spell-deactivation, dragon physics, or even in magical skin treatment?" Starlight questioned. Celestia shook her head.

"We've tried magical methods ourselves last time the Dragon Lord made the call," Celestia explained. "Even if it is halted, it will not completely vanish until the Dragon Lord no longer has need of them. As Luna stated: the only way to stop the summons is to answer it."
Spike was really hoping for a quick way to stop this, and a gulp could be heard from him.

"Oh boy. Back to the Dragon Lands again? Uh, m-maybe I can wait it out? I'm in no mood to meeting with *gulp* Garble."

"Isn't that the dragon who nearly fried you?" Amethyst asked, thinking back on it from some of the stories they've shared. Spike nodded.

"How could I forget? He would've burnt us to a crisp if they weren't there," Spike said, referring to Twilight as one of them. This was something Spike did way back in the day, trying to prove himself more like a Dragon. Of course, ol' Garble and company did not make that easy for him. If all Dragons were being called there, no doubt Garble would be there too.

"Eh, maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe the Dragon Lord's just doing a roll call or something. And hey, remember Scarlett? She's a dragon, maybe she'll be there," Amethyst suggested.

"Scarlett. You really think so?" Spike asked. He hadn't heard too much about Scarlett in a while, probably his first true Dragon friend.

"I dunno, maybe. She is a Dragon, and this is effecting all Dragons, so …"

"Uh, well if I have to go to the Dragon Lands. Will you come with me?" Spike asked. Twilight actually got a bit excited about this.

"Ooh! Oh my goodness, I'd love to! We are sadly lacking any information on dragon culture and customs. I could research them – maybe even write an article! This could be my chance to make a great contribution to the knowledge of Equestria!"

… The others were not amused.

"Heh, and be there for Spike, of course," Twilight corrected.

"Do be careful. The Dragon Lands are especially dangerous for ponies. It would be wise to be discrete," Celestia advised. This sort of information got attention of Pink Diamond, who immediately found going on an adventure far more pleasing than just reading some books.

"You're going on an adventure to the Dragon Lands? I'm in!" Pink made clear. Nice enthusiasm, but the others weren't sure.

"I'm afraid it would be best for you to stay here," Luna advised. Well talk about knocking wind out of a sail.

"What? Why? I'm a diamond, I can take down any of those Dugongs!"

"It's "Dragons"," Starlight corrected.

"We have no doubt you can, but the Dragons hold little care for what status another creature outside of dragonkind is. Your status as a member of the Diamond Authority wouldn't help you much," Celestia explained.

"That," added Luna, "And it's that exact reason why you shouldn't go. You are a diamond, and one that has been lost for thousands of years at that. Your fellow Diamonds would be devastated if something were to happen to you now."

Pink Diamond pouted hard, trying to hold back a groan.

"Oh fine. … Have fun on your great adventure, while I sit here and read some boring books for the day. Which by the way is WAY more boring than going to see Dragons," Pink sighed, going back to the books and grabbing another. This Pink Diamond was no bookworm, but as fun as it would sound, she wasn't going anywhere. They knew she was upset, but it's for the best.

"Alright. so, where're the Dragon Lands anyway? Got any idea?" Amethyst asked.

"Don't worry, I've been there before. We know where it is, though if we're going to be discrete I think we should do something more practical." Twilight reassured.

~~~~~~

"... This is practical?"

With some quick access to the lands themselves thanks to Twilight's Portal Key, Twilight, Amethyst, Starlight and Spike got themselves to the lands in question. It sure looked a bit different from the normally bright and lively lands of Ponyville or Canterlot, or whatever else. The land didn't have too many plants at the heart of it, and full of hard rocks, dark skies, and even in autumn, it felt a lot hotter. The ground all over was covered in cracks, cervices, and grikes, and in this area in particular shaped into some sort of crater, with a huge rock formation at the center. Disguises were a bit of a quick thing to go by, and while Amethyst had it covered with a dragon disguise ala shapeshifting, Starlight and Twilight both had their practical disguise down pact … aka, a rock.

"This is about blending in, remember?" Twilight reminded.

"I could've just used a transformation spell, you know," Starlight said, finding it a little cramped inside the rock costume. Spike was sitting on top of them both.

"Keep it down in there, or they'll hear you," Amethyst said, who was sitting right next to them. They didn't need anyone else to know who was there.
As a few more minutes came by, more and more dragons started to land down and find a seat to the Dragon Lord's arrival. They all could see many different types of dragons take their seats, all shapes and sizes. some appeared like dinosaurs, some looked more serpentine, and some more lizard-like. But regardless on what body type, they were all dragons through and through. They would have to keep in their toes and hooves just to be sure there wasn't any trouble.
As they were waiting around for this Dragon Lord to show up, they began to hear someone start to come over to them.

"Spike? That you?"

"Scarlett!" Spike gasped, and indeed it was. Scarlett moved out of the crowds right over to him, glad to see one happy face in this horde of Dragons. Just like every other Dragon here, she too was glowing slightly, but was happy to see him again.

"Wow, it's been a while. How're things?" Spike asked.

"Oh, all the better for seeing you," Scarlett replied, "I think you've actually grown since I last saw you."
Spike began to feel a bit confident, puffing out his chest.

"Well, I have been working the weights lately," Spike said, even flexing a little bit. Scarlett couldn't help but giggle a bit. However, this was a bit short-lived as another Dragon started to go over.
A tall teenage dragon with dull red scales, yellow underbelly, pinkish freckles, and yellow spikes which end in a webbed crest on his head similar to those on the helmets of the loyal guards they would see on night patrol. His eyes yellow with purple pupils, and wings yellow and slightly torn.

Enter Garble.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't our old friend Sparkle Warple."

"It's Spike," Spike corrected.

"You sure your pony friends didn't give you a pony name?" Garble mocked, his eyelids a flutter in a girly manor. Spike was not up for Garble's games. And immediately Amethyst could see why he would not like this guy.

"Nice to see you too," Spike spat.

"I didn't say it was nice to see you. It's not. I don't like you," Garble reminded, shoving Spike off his rock before claiming it as his own. "Was I not clear about that?"
Scarlett helped him up to his feet.

"Lookin to start something?" Amethyst growled.

"Stay out of this. Why don't you go bug someone else," Garble spat. This just got Amethyst snarling at him.

"That's my rock!" Spike said.

"Oh really? Then why aren't you sitting on it?" Garble mocked. The other dragons laughed, but Amethyst wasn't gonna take this lying down. Amethyst spun around, and used her "dragon" tail to whack Garble off, the red dragon landing hard on the rocks with a thud. Amethyst placed spike back on his rock, and took the extra weight off of Starlight and Twilight.

"Sorry Spike, just dealing with a fly," Amethyst spat.

"Thanks," Spike replied.

"You think you can show me up?" Garble growled, getting right in Amethyst's face.

"Oh, I know I can take you on, over-cooked gecko," Amethyst replied. both dragons growled at eachother, but before a fight could start, Scarlett quickly bolted in between them, pushing them back.

"Stop, stop, stop! He's coming," Scarlett warmed meekly.

"Who's coming?" Amethyst asked.

And then came the shadow. Every dragon stopped talking and looked to the crater's formation. The shadow easily covered fifty feet, and when they looked ...

"Holy Smokes ..."

And there, landing at the center of the crater onto his throne sat a colossus. Many of the dragons were enough intimidation to go around, but this one towered over them all like a human to an insect, and just as foreboding, as any of the dragons around them could as easily stand at the palm of his frontal claw. Huge, orange-membrane, draconic wings stretched out behind him, outstretched and open for all to see upon landing. A mighty arrow tail long enough to cover an Equestrian train. Massive horns, curved downward and forward, coned, and each one as thick as full grown redwood tree. His body covered in diamond-shaped scales, and while thick enough for any sword, he still wore a cast of black obsidian armor on his upper torso. His left horn had a golden ring worn on it, and on top of his head, a red bloodstone crown. His teeth jutted out of his jaws, and his eyes of dark amber looked down to all of his subjects. Amethyst was worried enough with these dragons eating gemstones, but one sight of this giant beast and she was frozen still. She could only hope this giant wasn't hungry, which was probably shared with Spike. The dragons all around them stopped talking once he landed and looked to every single dragon in the area.

"DRAGONS OF EQUESTRIA! HEAR ME!" he roared. All the dragons, including the rebellious ones like Garble (shocking I know), stopped their chit chat and looked to the mighty beast. Then again, none of them could even come close to standing up to such a beast even if they wanted to. Spike, Scarlett, and Amethyst stayed quiet and waited for what the giant had to say.

"I have been Dragon Lord for longer than many of you can remember, and my reign has been extraordinary!" He bellowed. Much of the dragons stayed quiet, but apparently the dragon didn't approve.

"AGREE WITH ME!" He ordered. Soon all of the dragons (Amethyst and Spike not included) all agreed and cheered, many of them chanting "Torch! Torch! Torch!". This kept up until Torch, the dragon lord apparently, raised his claw.

"This is fascinating: Dragons are notoriously reckless, but they do whatever the Dragon Lord says!" gasped Twilight.

"That's … actually pretty neat," Starlight agreed.

"Unfortunately, according to dragon law," Torch said, rolling his eyes in annoyance, "it is time for me to step down. Sad, I know."

...

"BE SAD!" Torch yelled. Many of the dragons did just that, many actually crying on this "sad news".

"And here I thought the Diamonds were demanding," Amethyst whispered. She may have not known too much on the diamonds and their orders, but none of them were as demanding as this.

"And that's why I summoned all of you. To compete for the throne! In the Gauntlet of Fire!!"

That time many of the dragons cheered on this news, this time without Torch making the demand on them to do so. Seemed their minds were set, and that was when Torch presented something else to all of them: held in his thumb and index claw was a sort of artifact. Some sort of staff, but to Torch it might as well be a small toothpick.

"Whosoever has the strength and fortitude to retrieve this Bloodstone Scepter from the heart of the Flamecano, will then be crowned Lord of the Dragons!" Torch declared, just before he turned, and flicked the staff away. The staff itself, as they all watched, flew long and far until it got into a nearby volcano. Amethyst and spike glanced to one another, but then a huge red ring of light emitted from the area. It went over each and every single dragon, and then did the growing. The itching stopped, the glowing stopped, and they all looked normal. Spike couldn't help but give a sigh of relief. Torch smirked to his subjects.

"When the Bloodstone Scepter disappeared, the Dragons stopped glowing," Starlight stated.

"I know! We are learning so much!" Twilight said in glee. somehow, Twilight had a book with her, and was writing it down quick. Starlight continued watching as she did that, trying to avoid the feathered quill she was using.

"The Gauntlet is dangerous, for I designed it myself! Only Dragons with my strength, ferocity, and determination will be able to finish. We'll all gather at the cliff when the sun is at its peak!" All the dragons roared and cheered on this declaration. It all sounded fairly easy to do, but considering the species involved, it was anyone's guess on what they could all be going into.

"O-Ok, I don't want to be Dragon Lord or Dragon toast," Spike said.

"Yeah, and you stopped glowing, so let's high-tail it out of here," Amethyst whispered. Spike and Amethyst quietly began to go when -

"YOU THERE! Where do you two think you're going?!" Bellowed Torch. Every other Dragon quickly moved aside, leaving Scarlett, Amethyst, and Spike in the open. Well so much for a getaway plan.

"Uh ... Going home?" Amethyst said. Torch lowered his head down to their level.

"None of you can leave unless I say you can!" Torch stated.

"B-But we don't even want to be Dragon Lord your cla - I mean, majesty," Amethyst insisted, spike nodding in agreement. however, be it by instinct or by royalty laws for her own kind, Amethyst had the diamond symbol up by mistake, which she quickly corrected. Torch just grunted.

"Is that so? Well as the current Dragon Lord I SAY -"

"Dad!"

Torch was ready to yell, but then he saw another dragon fly down to them. This dragon was cyan blue in scale coloration, and looked only as big as Jamie or Lars back home. Her head scales and tail were darker blue, and her eyes matching Dragon Lord Torch. Apparently this was Torch's daughter, and she wasn't standing by and letting this happen.

"Dad, look at them. He's just a runt. That, and they don't even want to compete. Let them go," she insisted. Torch found this a bit amusing himself. Amethyst quietly moved over to Garble.

"Who's that?"

"That's princess Ember. I wouldn't even look at her if I were you. Unless you want Torch to eat you," Garble answered. Considering she was lucky not to be sniffed out thus far, that was a likely possibility either way.

"They are tiny. I could crush them both with my pinky claw," Torch said, a few chuckles escaping his jaws. Amethyst never liked being called a runt by anyone, being the overcooked Gem she was, but any attack now would get them both killed. Even she knew her limits in something like this. Spike got in her way before she could jump in, and Scarlett off nearby was getting a bit nervous for her friend.

"Hm ... Very well then. I release them," Torch decided. Well they were out of the game, thank goodness.

"Thank you! And thank you," Spike said, the second one towards the helping female dragon. She didn't worry much for it though and flew off as they began to move away.

"Well, that's that. Let's get outta here before I decide to make mincemeat outta Torch," Amethyst said through gritted teeth. As much fun as it would be to beat Torch in a fight, how could she face a giant like that by herself? Spike and Scarlett went to join her, walking on their way passed the other dragons themselves. The whole horde of dragons were more than ready for this gauntlet, whatever it was, and as they were starting to go, they could overhear much of the dragons talking to eachother.

"When I become dragon lord, I'm going to make burps an official greeting," said one of the dragons. Another dragon scoffed on the idea.

"You? Please! When I'm dragon lord, I'm going to pillage Equestria of all their pillows. Why do those ponies get to rest in comfort while we sleep on rocks?" Not too much either. It was then that Garble moved passed them both, shoving them aside.

"That's nothing! When I become dragon lord, the first thing I'm gonna do is get revenge on those puny ponies. They're going to regret the day they crossed Garble," he growled. "We'll take whatever we want from Equestria. And burn the rest!"
Now THAT sounded very scary for Equestria to deal with, and with the idea any of these dragons can rule, that was what made Spike nervous.

"O-Oh no. Equestria's gonna be in trouble if any of them are in charge," Spike said shivering.

"Don't worry, maybe they won't even get it. Besides, you got us, we can handle it. Not too bad," Amethyst said. Amethyst didn't like the idea either, but wasn't as worried about it. But THEN one more dragon came forward, laughing at Garble's idea.

"Just Equestria? HA! Just wait til you hear what I'm gonna do!"

"Oh yeah? What?" Garble asked, getting right into the dragon's face.

"When I become Dragon lord: we're all gonna go on a little trip. There's a world somewhere that's jacked full of talking gems! And once we takeover that world, we'll have a grand feast, and whatever's left of that kind we'll use on that pathetic pony place. Taking two worlds with one swoop!"

"I take that back, it IS that bad," Amethyst gulped.

"Can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope that burping Dragon wins," Starlight said.

"B-But what can we do?" Scarlett asked humbly. Her friends were both Gem and Pony, she didn't want to loose either of them. Spike had to think of something, but with looking to them, and thinking it over, there was only one thing he could do.

"I'll do it."

"Do what?"

"There's only one way to protect Equestria and Homeworld, and only I can do it. I have to compete in the Gauntlet of Fire!" Spike declared. Scarlett looked shell-shocked.

"C-compete in the Gauntlet?! Spike, don't, it's too dangerous!"

"I have to do something. You heard them: the worlds are in big trouble, and they got horrible plans for both of them!" Spike reminded. With the other dragons not with them, Twilight and Starlight got the disguise off for a brief moment.

"But Spike, the Gauntlet of Fire's extremely dangerous. Besides, if you'd win, you'd have to stay here," Twilight warned.

"I know I do. But it's the only way to protect my friends," Spike concluded. Amethyst and Scarlett could tell that this choice was the only one they got left in the case of what they got to go on. They weren't sure what Torch did during his ruling, but none of these dragons were looking for any peace amongst any other race. That, and the fact they're aware of the Gem world didn't help either, as if they win they could go off and get a feast out of Diamond City! As if their world wasn't as in enough of delicate terms with it.

"Well, sport, if you're gonna go and do this, don't think you're gonna go in alone. We'll be right there with ya," Amethyst promised, Scarlett nodding.

"And we'll be there to cheer you on the whole way," promised Starlight. Spike was glad at least someone was going to root for him here.

~~~~~~

Once the sun was high enough, and with all Equestrian Dragons present at the cliff looking off towards the island, the Gauntlet of fire was more than ready to start. All the young dragons were more than ready to get going, looking forward to become the almighty Dragon Lord just like Torch. Torch himself stood by the cliff as well, but before they could start things off, Spike and Amethyst soon caught up. Torch looked down to the contestants.

"I thought I released you two," Torch stated.

"Well, we decided to compete anyway. We are dragons," Amethyst pointed out, which was true (sort of). This just got Garble laughing though.

"You're going to compete, Sparkle Warple? You can't even fly!" Garble mocked, the other dragons all laughing at him. Amethyst wasn't gonna take this sitting down, and was right in Garble's face.

"Why don't you watch your tongue, gravel head?" Amethyst growled.

"Who're you calling gravel head? Gravel head!" Garble mocked back, snarling at her. This confrontation stopped when Torch roared, good and loud.

"Save your ferocity for the course! Any Dragon can compete. But they do so at their own peril," Torch bellowed. Garble reluctantly stopped, but not before turning around and walking away. His turn around got his tail whacking Amethyst in her rear, infuriating the Gem in dragon's clothing even more. And to think Spike had to deal with this pain before. Torch raised his head up high, looking off to the island.

"Your task to fly over this ocean to the Flamecano is just one of the many perils that await you. Remember: the first to return to me with the Bloodstone Scepter will be therefore crowned. So … GO!" And with a mighty fire breath aimed to the skies above, the signal had been struck, and all the dragons on the cliff began to go off. Flying off the cliff was no problem.

"Good luck! Just kidding, hope you lose," said Garble, before whacking Spike off the cliff with his tail, landing right into the saltwater. Amethyst flew down to him, as Spike was spitting out some water.

"Thanks, Garble! I thought of swimming anyway," Spike called in a groan, before he began to swim.

"Don't worry, we'll get him. Come on," Amethyst said, picking up Spike and taking him out of the water. Amethyst was just as determined to get through this, though mostly to be sure that Garble was beaten. Scarlett was along for the ride herself, also unable to fly along, so Amethyst had to carry Spike on her back and carry Scarlett with her arms. Not too bad for a Gem to do. The other dragons simply ignored them as they went along through. Twilight and Starlight cheered him on from below, having to swim across the water in seaweed disguises.

"You can do it, guys!" called Twilight. Spike gave a thumbs up as they went along.

*RAAAHHH!*

Oh, did you think a simple fly over the ocean was gonna be that easy? Just narrowly avoiding the obstacle, a huge Sea Worm suddenly launched itself out of the water. It looked like some weird hybrid between an eel and angler fish, stretching up a good twenty feet out of the water. The dragons were well above the range, but the Sea Worms made up for it with a launch of water from their mouths like a Jetstream.

"Look out!" shouted Scarlett, Amethyst just stopping short of the Jetstream. There was a multitude of these sea creatures launching themselves out of the water, blasting out the water right at the horde flying over. Some of the dragons were slammed hard, and other just avoided the hits of water. And to think that this was the first obstacle of this gauntlet. Amethyst, Scarlett, and Spike were doing pretty good in their reach towards the island, but Starlight and Twilight looked and saw one particular Dragon get struck down hard. While many of them were struck down by the water geysers from these Sea Worms, this one was actually hit by a speeding dragon, who struck him with his wing, knocking the armored Dragon right down to the water. He landed right next to Starlight and Twilight, but this dragon didn't come up right away. In fact, he wasn't coming up at all.

"He's gonna drown!"

.......

For the dragon, his life was saved. With combine efforts from the others, this dragon was given another chance at life as he laid there on the shores of Flamecano. Spike and Scarlett were the first ones he seen, coughs escaping his mouth. Eventually the group got the helmet off of him so he could breathe properly -

"Princess Ember!" gasped Spike. What're the odds they would end up rescuing the princess of Dragons? Ember took a bit before coming to, but she didn't look too pleased.

"What do you think you're doing?" Ember questioned.

"Saving you, your majesty," Scarlett said, "We saw you fall, but Spike here dove right down after you! You wouldn't be here if it weren't for him." A nice gesture, sure, but Ember still wasn't too sure. However, after getting herself around, her snout started to tell her there was a bit more going on here.

"Wait … is that a pony I smell?"

"W-Wha? Ponies? What ponies? No ponies here, hehe," Spike said, standing over by Twilight and Starlight just in case. Ember though was a little bit smarter than that, and moved Spike aside as she investigated the suspicious mounds of seaweed. One yank and -

"Ponies?! What're they doing here?!" Ember demanded.

"They're my friends," Spike answered.

"Friends? Dragons don't do "friends"," Ember stated.

"Well this dragon does," Spike said. Ember didn't seem too keen on this whole thing really, but there was little time to actually question it, especially in the middle of the Gauntlet of Fire.

"Whatever. Just make sure you and your ponies don't get in my way. I got a Gauntlet to win," Ember said, getting her helmet back and ready to go. However, before she could take off, her nose started to pick up scent of something else. Something a little bit more appetizing. More tempting. Ember turned back, and suddenly found herself right by Amethyst.

"Huh. You actually smell very good," Ember stated.

"Uh … thank you?" Amethyst said, backing up. While the dragon disguise was a pretty good one, it would seem Blue the Gem Dog wasn't the only one who could sniff out gemstones. Speaking of which, Ember soon saw the gemstone located on her chest, which Ember could see the reflection off of.

"Wait a minute," Ember said, looking very suspicious. Amethyst started to get a little bit nervous. If she were to get caught now, she would get eaten no problem, and once more, would put the rest of her group in danger. Ember looked Amethyst in the face.

"You a Siren?" Ember questioned. Amethyst scrambled to try to come up with something.

"Siren? Me? No way, I'm a full dragon. I just uh … picked up this as a souvenir, yeah! It's like a good luck charm," Amethyst answered. Ember thought on it for a bit, even flicking the gemstone with her claw. Amethyst cringed on feeling the claws on her gem. Ember did have one idea, and decided to test it, her claws suddenly digging into the sides of Amethyst's stone. Amethyst cringed, and tried to keep herself together, but the risk of her stone being pulled out of her chest proved just too much.
Her body suddenly turned back to normal, much to Ember's surprise.

"What the - a Gem? Well, no wonder then."

"Ok, so i'm not a dragon, don't try to put me on the menu!" Amethyst warned. She wasn't gonna get eaten without a fight, but this did spark some curiosity.

"Wait, how'd you know about Gems? Er, the kind that walk and talk I mean," Starlight asked.

"I heard some dragons chat about it on the way here. I always thought it was nonsense until now," Ember explained. Spike glanced over to Scarlett, who now was giggling nervously, a blush on her face.

*AUGH!*

Not a moment too soon. Soon after the conversation, suddenly one of the dragons was knocked right down from the sky by a flying boulder, slamming down hard onto the beach. And wouldn't you know it happened to be Garble again? He found himself right under the huge boulder, too heavy for him to simply move by himself. Starlight and Twilight quickly got the disguises back on, Ember got the helmet back on, and Spike hid off away. Garble tried to get the boulder off of him for a bit before looking over to the dragons.

"Don't leave me here Spike!" called Garble.

"Don't listen, Spike. He just knocked you down, remember?" Amethyst quietly reminded. However, even so, seeing something in such a predicament and leaving it there didn't suit well for this dragon. So, he and Scarlett both decided to go over, and with both of them working together, easily pushed the rock off of Garble …

"Ha! Knew you'd do it. Your pony friends made you soft," Garble mocked, just to kick some sand onto Spike. Scarlett stepped back, but got hit in sand too.

"You're welcome."

"For what? I didn't say "thank you"," Garble stated. With Garble now next to them though, his own snout started to pick up a scent of both Gem and Pony.

"Wow. You even smell like a pony … or is it coming from over there?" Garble began to sniff around like a predator after prey. Starlight and Twilight both stayed silent, not wanting their cover blown, and Garble was inches from their faces. Before they could be found out, Ember suddenly got in the way.

"That's me. I pillaged a few ponies on my way here," Ember said, her tone lowered to sound like a boy. Garble took interest.

"I like your style. Have we met somewhere before? You kinda look like -"

"My neighbor!" Spike suddenly said, jumping in between Ember and Garble. "Uh … Sandy … Rockbeach!"

Each to its own. The group all took a look back up the cliffs of Flamecano Island, and they began to see something up on the cliffsides, chucking rocks at the Dragons. The main reason Garble ended up on the ground in the first place.

"Stupid Slingtails knocked me down, but I got no time for small talk," said Garble. "Ha! Get it? Because you're -"

"Will you just go?" Amethyst warned, getting right up in Garble's face again. Garble just grumbled before flying off on them. A gauntlet can't be finished with just chitchat. As they watched Garble fly off, they saw a few other dragons getting struck and narrowly avoiding the large rocks flung by the Slingtails. Jasper and Bismuth mentioned fighting one of these things already, but seeing them in action did show them at their strongest. Plus, they were in their element, so they had more boulders to use.

"Boy, that looks rough … but, that's what makes it a challenge. By the way, why'd you cover for me? You could've had one less competitor," Ember concluded.

"I'd ask you the same question. You could've told Garble about my friends," Spike said. Which he did have a point. Ember though shook it off and got focused again on the task.

"Well, nevermind. I can't win this thing just by talking. I'm gonna prove to every dragon who thinks I'm a little princess that there's more to being a ruler than just "big and strong"." As it stood though, they kept hearing multiple grunts and screams as more Dragons were bombarded by the rocks. No way would they going to get through this mess without at least one rock hitting them. And at their size, one rock could launch them back into the lair of the Sea Worms. Spike took little time to think on this, but an idea did flash his mind.

"Hey, why don't we work together?"

"Together?" Ember questioned, eyebrow raised.

"You can fly up there, and I'll be a lookout for you. Like a second set of eyes," Spike proposed. The others were kinda unsure about this, and Scarlett moved Spike off to talk to him in private.

"Hey, you sure you wanna just jump in like this? I-I know she hasn't bothered you, but you don't know her too well."

"I do know she could've told Garble about Amethyst, Starlight, and Twilight, but she didn't. I think we can trust her," Spike explained.

"Well, maybe. She hasn't been as uh … rough as other Dragons I knew," Scarlett figured.

"Well, I'm up for helping her out," Amethyst put in.

"You, Amethyst?"

"Duh! She's trying to prove that just being all brawn and no brain isn't all it takes. I've practically gone through that," Amethyst said, showing her true self to prove her point. Speaking as a Quartz Gem that was only half height as a regular, they could see how Amethyst could relate to this.

"Her behavior has been contradictory about what I've noted on Dragons so far," Twilight said, looking to her book.

"Hey, little fella!" called Ember, catching their attention. "I've thought about the idea, and it makes sense. Let's do it."

"Great! It's a deal!" Spike said, hand extended. Ember though only held him by the finger for the handshake, and got her helmet back on again.

"Just so you know, this doesn't mean we're gonna pick flowers, or exchange necklaces, or whatever pony friends do," Ember made clear. Well, deal's a deal, and it was time to get this started. Scarlett climbed onto the draconic Amethyst's back, as Starlight and Twilight readied themselves as well, Twilight waving a hoof.

"Good luck! We'll meet you at the top."

~~~~~~

And so, as the other dragons continued their own peril through the Slingtail territory, Ember and Spike were up and off again. Ember carried spike on her back easily and had the easier time in flying on through the rocks with Spike on her back. Ember dodged and weaved her way through the rock launches, Amethyst and Scarlett adopting a similar strategy off close by. The Slingtails themselves were about as relentless as one would expect to creatures invading their territory, and while the rocks and boulders were very large, accuracy was about as well-done as an actual catapult. One Slingtail down below aimed its shot up high, right at both dragons!

"Pull up!" called Spike. Ember did as she was told and aimed skyward, her tail barely scraping the boulder as it flew in the air, landing down hard onto the ground below. Another Slingtail off below then tried its shot.

"Cut left!" Spike said, and Ember went left fast to avoid the next boulder. Calls like this were made out time and time again, Scarlett guiding Amethyst as Spike guided Ember. It was a bit of a tricky game of dodge the bullet, but both sides were doing pretty well in the race. Eventually, they were catching up with the leading dragons as they flew off inside a nearby cave.

"Nice work. Let's keep this up. Er, until we get through the tunnel," Ember said.

"Lead on, Ember," Spike said. Ember felt more confident, and both troops then flew right on into the cave after the other dragons.

Of course, the flight itself was kinda cut short after a little bit. The tunnel itself at first appeared pretty mundane, rock walls, floor, and ceiling. …

*SLAM!* *SLAM!*

The two tag-teams skidded to a halt when they began hearing this loud noise. On looking in, they all found a huge chasm full of moving stalactites and stalagmites slamming into eachother like rows on rows of rock teeth. A few Dragons stopped and were humbled by the sight of this task, and a number of other dragons were actually kinda stuck, gripping onto the moving rock formations, and barely making much progress in making it through. Flying through clearly didn't do them well. While sitting there, they actually saw Garble fly passed them, and immediately trying to fly through, only for them to see a stalactite slam him into the wall nearby! Again, flying wasn't gonna be doing them well that easily. But as Ember said, that's what made this a challenge.
In silent agreement, Amethyst and Ember took off flying, and as before, Scarlett and Spike gave their warnings as they went through. Unlike before though, there was far less room for error, and far less time to make a call. The "teeth" grazed the two fliers time and again, and one in particular was dangerously close to Ember and Spike.

"Scarlett, feel up for flying?" Amethyst asked.

"Huh? But I can't -" before Scarlett could finish, Scarlett was suddenly launched into the air, and Amethyst flew straight at Ember and Spike, knocking them just out of range as the Gem took the full hit of the flying stalactite and stalagmite combo. The hit was swift, and crushed her like a pancake, leaving her very dazed afterwards. She still had to keep her form, and thank the stars her gemstone didn't get crushed in that hit, as Scarlett landed on her back again. It took Amethyst a bit to regain herself AND keep her form.

"Oh my goodness, you alright?" Scarlett asked.

"Never better ol' cap," Amethyst muttered before fully coming to, shaking her head and catching up.
Ember, Spike, Scarlett, and Amethyst continued on ahead, and while many of the Dragons so far were left behind, only Garble seemed to make it there thus far. Much to their annoyance, and his to see them in front.
The next obstacle to this crazy tunnel was a similar thing to the first one, but instead of the proper rock teeth, they instead were dealing with trigger-happy crystals (ironic for Amethyst). They didn't have to carry the others through this part, but didn't completely split up throughout this part, them having to duck, slide, and leap through this while narrowly avoiding the many jutting crystals. This was a crazy strain on them, and some almost got struck by them by the slim bits of their scales. The pressure as well was straining on Amethyst as she tried to keep herself together while dodging all this, and the slam on herself in the prior challenge didn't help either.
As for Garble …

*SLAM!*

"Uuugh. Anyone got the license on that … carriage? ooohh."

And *thud* he went to the ground.
Soon, the four managed to reach the end of the tunnel. On arrival, they found themselves in the presence of the deep heart of the Flamecano, lava pools edging a good amount of it as land bridges and many tunnels laid out everywhere. This surely looked like the main place where this Bloodstone Scepter would be located, but they didn't see it much of anywhere. They still had to look for it somewhere in this place. When they finally arrived, Amethyst finally felt faint, and returned to her normal form, breathing heavily and needing a minute to regain some energy.

"Yellow Diamond's trainings' got nothin on this," Amethyst panted.

"Guys! you made it!" Starlight suddenly said. SOMEHOW, Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer both had gotten themselves over at the exit, and were waiting for them with some rock disguises on. That was the power of the Portal Key right there.

"Eh, it was nothing," Spike said with a smile. At least they made it through.

"Nothing? Spike, you've risked so much through all of that just to help me get through, and they're risking so much just to support you!" Ember made clear.

"That's what friends do: we look out for eachother. Don't you have someone looking out for you?" Amethyst asked. Ember however shook her head.

"Well … not until now." Ember paused, and suddenly snapped back to her version of reality. "But that doesn't matter: we made it through the tunnel, and that's it. There's one Scepter, one Dragon Lord, so I guess it's every creature for itself."

"What? … So we aren't really friends?" Spike asked meekly. Ember felt a little conflicted at first, but again remembered the task at hand.

"Like I said, Spike. Dragons don't do friendship." And with that final statement, Ember went off and flew on her way through the caverns! She flat out ditched them on the spot for the sake of the contest. It was a bit bittersweet, and some thanks for how much they helped her out.

"Um … don't worry, Spike, m-maybe she didn't mean it?" Starlight asked. Spike sighed.

"I know she cared for us: she saved us already once when she didn't have to. Forget what Ember says: that makes us friends!" Spike stated, before starting to go off to find the Bloodstone Scepter. He helped Ember this far, so even if he couldn't reach the Scepter himself, then maybe he could at least make things a little better with Ember. After all, all the dragons were heading off that way, so odds were Ember would be too.
The group really didn't have to go too far though, and only after a good half an hour …

"Wait, I think I see something! Down there!" Scarlett said. Scarlett went off ahead a little bit as the others went off to catch up.
The group got to the tunnel, and once they did, they found themselves in a large chamber again. A chamber with a single land bridge leading up to a platform of red crystals shined in its glory from a hole above. This was the center of the Flamecano, and on the platform would be the Bloodstone Scepter! With all the trouble already, they have made it.

"There it is! I can't believe we're the only Dragons to make it," Spike beamed.

"You're not."

Big surprise: Garble! He had managed to get to the center after all, and boy was he furious when he saw such weak Dragons make it before him. Worse yet, Amethyst didn't change!

"I-I'M STILL A DRAGON!" Amethyst yelped, but she wasn't fooling anyone anymore. Angry, and determined, Garble charged forward, shoving Amethyst and Scarlett aside, almost knocking both off down the bridge, as the red dragon grabbed hold of Spike by his head, holding him right over the edge!

"And I am NOT going to lose to a puny, pony-loving Dragon like you!" Garble made clear, ready to drop him right off the cliff.

"Okay, THAT'S IT!" Amethyst finally took action and summoned her whip, wrapping it around Garble's head and pulling back hard. Spike was dropped to the ground, and Garble glared back at Amethyst. He grabbed the whip, and brought it up to his teeth, biting down hard and cutting it in two before rushing at the Gem, tackling her to the ground! Garble had about enough of this, and grabbed Amethyst by the hair and tossed her right at Spike, sending them both over the edge! Amethyst just got a whip to grab hold of a edge in the bridge, but it wasn't too much, and Garble was already moving to the platform!

"We got to do something!" Starlight said. Twilight agreed, but before they could …

"LEAVE THEM ALONE!"
Ember! Out of nowhere, Garble was suddenly slammed hard back, the red Dragon crashing into the ground, and knocking into Starlight and Twilight, knocking their disguises off of them. Ember got hold of the whip, and quickly pulled Amethyst and Spike back up to safety.

"Ember! I thought it was every dragon for themselves! Why did you save us?!" Spike asked.

"That's what friends do! And I am. I mean, we are. I never should have left you all back there. Agh, please don't make me talk about my feelings!" Ember said. Garble got to at this point, and one look at the ponies got him even more angry.

"WHAT THE?!" Garble turned savage, teeth barred, and he began to march up towards them, making both Unicorn and Alicorn backing up to the cliff. The primal rage of the Dragon made their instinctual fear start to come up, being a pony against a dragon and all.

"Spike! Amethyst, Scarlett! Get the Scepter!" Ember instructed. Scarlett and Spike began to go and do so, but it was Amethyst who didn't agree and rushed for the others instead.
Ember got to them first, and Garble was tackled hard to the wall. Garble looked on and saw Scarlett and Spike making haste towards the Scepter, something he will NOT allow! With his own strength, he tossed Ember aside, and bee-lined towards the two, just for Amethyst to wrap her whip on his tail the last second, making him slam into the dirt. Garble tried to get the whip unwrapped, but Ember just tackled him just as he did so, which turned into a test of strength.

"I'm sick and tired of you two helping each other! Dragons don't do helping! Dragons don't do friendship!"

"These dragons do!" shouted Ember, spinning once before throwing Garble back again. This time the stubborn dragon got himself upright before he could hit the wall, and he had about enough of this crazy game. No longer caring about anything, he flew straight for Scarlett fast! Scarlett gasped, and was grabbed by the tail, and used as a weapon to slam Spike back to the others before he threw Scarlett at them all. Like a bowling ball to pins, everyone got struck back hard! Garble smirked smugly, whipping his hands in satisfaction as he walked right to the platform.

"Finally! Dragon Lord Garble's reign starts now!" Garble said, ready to grab the scepter. Scarlett, Spike, Amethyst, Starlight, Twilight, and Ember readied to get him. They can't allow -

"Huh? ... WHERE IS IT?!"

What? Turned out, Garble found the area was devoid of any scepter. The others went up to see, Garble shattering crystals and digging the dirt to try and find it, but it was nowhere to be found.

"Come on, I'm so close! Where'd it go?" Garble said again, digging voraciously to find it.

"Eh, your Dragon Lord torch did kind of flick it over here," Amethyst commented.

"The scepter always lands in the same spot though. It's like a magnet. That means someone must've grabbed it first," Ember figured.

"But isn't everyone else behind us?" Spike asked, pointing back to the other dragons ready to catch up. Amethyst quickly got into disguise along with Starlight and Twilight before they caught up. If memory served, that was correct: the only one that kept up with them was Garble, so who could've slipped by them?

*crack*

"I think we found our answer," Scarlett shuttered, looking up.
Looking on upward, they began to see a familiar dragon from earlier, the exact one that suggested Gem destruction as apart of his ruling. And this dragon already got hold of the Bloodstone Scepter before any of them could even get there. However, they knew this wasn't anything normal. For a start, the dragon was hanging upside down from the ceiling like a Gecko, and the staff no longer had the exact Bloodstone in it, that part now within his teeth. Looking at it now, he didn't look anything much like a Dragon anymore, and more alien in appearance.

"Hey! That's my scepter!" Garble yelled.

"What scepter?" the dragon asked smugly.

"Um. The one you have in your claw?" Ember asked.

"What? this scepter?" and suddenly, the dragon proceeded to crumble the staff like twigs. Once done with that, the "dragon" dropped them all down to the others.

"You all wanna fight over the stick, go ahead. I got what I want," the dragon snickered. All this trouble to become Dragon Lord, and now they all just got some shards to make up for it. Torch would never buy it.

"Oh great! How's any of us gonna become Dragon Lord now?!" shouted one of the dragons.

"You're not, that's kinda why I did that. Duh," the dragon scoffed.

"That scepter was mine!" Garble yelled. The other dragon hissed in his face, his eyes flashing green for a moment.

"Oh? then why weren't you holding it?" O the irony. And to further slam the point home, the dragon turned and whack Garble away with his tail, before beginning to fly skyward towards the exit opening. The other dragons were ready to fly up, but this dragon slammed the walls with his tail. The tremors were just hard enough to close that exit, and make the cave start to crumble!

"Cave-in! Everyone out!" Scarlett yelled. All the dragons were already running out the same way they came in. Where else could they go? The chamber itself was already crumbling hard, many of the crystals and rocks falling down onto them. Some of the dragons got hit by these rocks, or stumbling over others just to get out. Amethyst grabbed Spike and tried to get out, but all the shaking and tremors were not doing them any favors. So many of these traps and challenges torch had set up were now even more hazardous: the crunching stalactites and stalagmites may not be as abundant, but were harder to avoid due to the tremors. The larger dragons had the most trouble with this, and Scarlett was almost crushed under one of the dragons, only saved by skidding just inches sky of her. Garble though barreled right through her to get out, making Scarlett tumble and get her tail stuck under a fallen rock!

"Scarlett!" gasped Spike, jumping out of Amethyst's hands, and running back to get her. Scarlett tried to get her tail unstuck, but many of the dragons weren't staying to help her. All but one.

"Come on, I got ya!" Ember! Regardless if they were friends or not, Ember wasn't gonna let a fellow dragon bite the dust. Using all of her strength, alongside Spike, they both shoved the rock off of Scarlett's tail. She, the first dragon, Ember and Spike rushed off to rejoin the other escaping dragons. Ember pulled Scarlett along just fast enough to avoid the falling rocks above. As they continued going through though, the cave-in got them all in a surprise, and a huge rock suddenly fell down at their only exit point. And they were so close too!

"We're trapped!" gasped one of the dragons. With all the rocks still crumbling all around them, they had no time to think of any particular plan to get out, but Ember wasn't leaving any dragon behind. It was then that Ember remembered their earlier tactic.

"No we're not! Everyone, follow me!" Ember ordered, pointing over to the passageway they used to come in.

"Hey, you're not in charge!" Garble snapped. As if the cave wanted them to listen, a gigantic boulder almost crushed him, landing inches from his tail.

"ME FIRST!" Garble yelled, rushing passed Ember to the same hole she was pointing at. There was no time for questions, so many of the dragons rushed right for it. some of the larger ones did find the exit a little bit snug, but they got through alright. As they tried going through though, there was one dragon that suddenly got stuck his wing stuck under a falling crystal. None of them realized it until after he screeched, Ember skidding to a stop and seeing the dragon stuck. The blue dragon struggled, but he wasn't going to get out in time by himself.

"Spike, guide the other dragons outside!"

"But I can't leave you!"

"Just go!" Ember yelled. Spike tried to protest, but the cave quickly reminded them of the situation, and Spike had no choice but to run off down the tunnel, as Ember raced back to the other dragon.

When the whole group finally got outside, they could see what devastation that first dragon had did to the island's volcano. The other dragon was long gone, but they all could hear the entire island's cave completely collapse. Whatever that dragon did, it was far stronger than just a few whacks of one's tail. Everyone held their breath, Scarlett, Spike, and Amethyst waiting for the two to come out, but as the sounds died down, there was no noise coming up from the interior of the cave. From the opening, bellows of smoke and debris shot out from it. Everything was silent, Spike crossing his fingers, hoping that Ember could've gotten out.
Eventually, they all then saw a huff of smoke come out one more time, to show Ember and the dragon rescued. They both looked a bit dusty and dirty, but other than that they looked alright in the long run. Most of the dragons cheered, including Spike and Scarlett for Ember's quick-thinking, the dragon she rescued actually giving her a kiss on the cheek. A bit quick, but who could blame him for thanking her for saving his life? Him, and everyone else as well. Spike went right up to her and hugged her as well.

"You made it," Spike said, smiling. Ember smiled back to him.

"We made it," Ember replied. Starlight and Twilight, out of sight, but no longer in disguise, smiled to eachother when they saw their friendship. Good thing, but -

"WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?!" bellowed a voice. The noise from the cave-in reached far beyond just the island, and was just enough to catch the attention of Torch. Seeing the giant dragon fly towards the beach was a intimidating sight, and Torch landed off into the water, the huge wave only missing the others because they all flew up. The wave went back down, and they all landed again, but Torch wasn't pleased on this ruckus.

"You mean none of you could even get into my gauntlet?" Torch growled.

"We all got in, chief!" yelled Amethyst, "But one of your contestants sabotaged it! He nearly crushed us!"

"WHAT?!" Torch yelled, his voice making the ground shake. Torch looked ready to scorch everyone alive, but Ember had just about enough of this, and flew right up to Torch's line of sight.

"Leave them alone! None of them had anything to do with it!"

"Ember? You?! What're you think you're doing here?!"

"I know you didn't believe I could do it, but I did," Ember stated. This made Torch even more cross with his daughter.

"I explicitly told you NOT TO DO IT! You're no bigger than that runt I agreed to send home!" Torch retorted.

"So what if I'm not as big as other dragons?! It shouldn't be ALL that matters!"

"I designed this Gauntlet for a BIG, STRONG dragon to win! Because it takes a BIG, STRONG DRAGON, TO LEAD!" Torch roared. Ember was not deterred in the slightest though, and landed on Torch's hooked nose.

"I know! But you know what? I made it through anyway. That, and I just saved ALL of our contestants from getting crushed inside that cave-in. So maybe it takes more than being "big and strong" to be a good dragon lord!"
And to Torch's surprise, all the other dragons agreed in a nod. Torch, for the first time all day, grown a little quiet when seeing this. He took a moment to see what Ember was talking about, and even though he didn't see it, Ember was telling the truth.

"... I was wrong, Ember. You might not be big … but you are strong. And smart. And perhaps that counts for more than I thought. … And you will make an excellent leader." Torch smiled to his daughter, and while she didn't have the Bloodstone Scepter, Torch could see the good potential she could bring to the dragons under her step. While this suited well for many of them, only one dragon had complaints. Try and guess who?

"HOLD ON! Why is she suddenly the new Dragon Lord?!" shouted Garble, flying right up to her, "She may have gone through the Gauntlet, but I HAD THE SCEPTER! ME! Why is she the Dragon Lord, and I'm not?!"

"I don't see YOU holding it! ... Where is the Bloodstone Scepter anyway?" Torch asked, suspicious, and seeing how it wasn't anywhere in sight. The other dragons needed a minute before Spike went forward.

"Eh. Well, the dragon who sabotaged the gauntlet? He stole it."

"What do you mean he stole it?" Torch growled.

"Well, kinda. He just took the Bloodstone, and crumbled the rest of it. He didn't even want to be Dragon Lord," Spike replied, hoping not to get eaten by Torch. And while that'd normally be the case, Torch took a look towards Ember, remembering what happened already.

"... I don't need a scepter to know who's the Dragon Lord here."

"WHAT?" Garble gasped. Torch smiled, and looked back to Ember, who honestly was worried her dad wouldn't accept it.

"DRAGONS! HEAR ME! I present to you all the new Dragon Lord! EMBER!!"

And all the dragons there applauded and cheered for Ember. With help from her friends, she had proven more than worthy of the Dragon Lord role. Something shared amongst everyone else there. Except for Garble, who simply crossed his arms and grumbled to himself. By all rights, he should've won that, if not for that meddling cheater dragon.

~~~~~~

As for the sabotaging dragon, he didn't stop his flight until he was well outside of the Gauntlet. He wasn't even in the Dragon Lands anymore, but more closer to the pony settlements. The land underneath him was barren and not very pleasing to anyone going through. It wasn't until he got here did he land. He looked up to the skies around him to be sure that no one followed him, or saw him come this way. He appeared alone. The dragon began to move over towards one particular structure in sight, which itself looked like a giant termite mound with as many holes as a wasp's nest. The dragon flew right inside without fear, and traveled through the varying tunnels and chasms within, until he reached a much larger chamber.

"Ah. There you are. And did you get the Bloodstone?"

The dragon snickered, and opened up his wing to present the Bloodstone to the figure. When this happened though, his body suddenly was covered in a green flame. His body suddenly altered into a much smaller size, and a lot more pony-like. However, this pony was dark-skinned, holed transparent wings, and his legs had as many holes as a fine swiss cheese. This was no dragon, and neither was the figure being shown the Bloodstone.

"Excellent. This will work nicely."

Author's Note:

Time to bring on some more expansion to the world of pretty ponies with the realm of Dragons! This was supposed to be put up earlier, but this season was probably the best case scenario to place it in with the themes going on.

Anyway, enter princess Ember, return of Scarlett from MLU season 03, and what Pink's been up to ... yeah, most of her stuff's been more off-screen lately, I'm trying to juggle as best i can with all of this, you know how it is. Hope you enjoy this beauty ^^ :twilightsmile: