• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,629 Views, 215 Comments

Where We Belong - BlazzingInferno



Eternal night shrouds Equestria, and an even worse fate awaits Rarity. Or so she’s been led to believe.

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Cold Comfort

No birds sang in the trees, and no animals rustled the bushes. Silence ruled the forest, save for the crunch of snow underfoot and the quiet rustle of settling snowflakes. Rarity would’ve called it picturesque, if the circumstances were different. Now wasn't the time to relax and admire the scenery.

Dizzyingly high cliffs peeked between the tree branches on every side with no sign of even the narrowest of passages. She supposed that’s how such a pleasant-looking valley functioned as a prison. If falling from the sky was the only way in, that left little chance of escape for a unicorn and a wingless dragon.

A snowflake landed on her nose, prompting a fresh shiver that reminded her just how cold she was. The tattered remains of her uniform were soaked through. Leaving it behind would’ve been a smart move, but she couldn’t do that, not yet. She’d worked so hard carve out her place in the world, from leaving backwater Ponyville for sophisticated Canterlot, to constantly keeping her manner of dress in vogue, to throwing herself into the service of a tyrant just to keep her place among the socialites. She’d worked so hard for so long, and yet here she was in some sort of magical prison valley, trapped forever, and possibly on the cusp of being eaten.

There was a chance the dragon was telling the truth, of course. She’d never heard a good thing said about them, not even in the basest of company. Still, that didn’t mean her precious social circle was all-knowing. By every reasonable account she was supposed to have been torn to shreds before reaching The Pit’s floor of bare rock and bubbling lava.

She sniffed the air, noting its complete lack of sulfur and brimstone. “This is awfully… pleasant-looking, for a prison.”

“Depends on who you talk to,” Spike replied, “most dragons aren’t into pretty forests. Dragons care about this stuff.”

He hefted the bundle of gold and jewels in his arms, producing a chorus of clinks and rattles.

Rarity nodded. At least some stories about dragons were true, then. Just so long as the bits about eating ponies weren't. “Is it much further to your home? I don’t see anything ahead of us except more trees and—”

At last she saw something new. The valley’s edge lay ahead, and directly in front of them was a jagged gap in the rugged cliff face, a dark cave entrance not much larger than Spike himself.

Spike ran forward and held out a welcoming hand, spilling his cargo in the process. “Come on in. I’ll put some more wood on the fire and get us something to eat.”

While Spike stepped inside, his huge form melting into the shadows, Rarity’s pace slowed until she stood at the cave mouth all alone. “Why are you stopping, Rarity? It’s a miracle you’re alive. You’re also cold, wet, and starving. This is hardly the time to focus on how… rustic your new home is. Or how dirty. Or what manner of creature you’re sharing it with.”

Sullen step by sullen step, her hooves left the snow-covered ground for the cave’s rough stone. The sudden feeling of warmth and a subtle, earthy aroma demanded that she pick up the pace. The garish sunlight gave way to a dim but welcoming scene. A fire crackled merrily in a small alcove, casting flickering light on a high-ceilinged living space lined with shelves and makeshift curtains. This certainly wasn’t the royal palace, but she detected thoughtful touches all around her, from the chimney carved into the ceiling, to the curtains dividing the cave into rooms, to the neat bundles of herbs and twigs filling the shelves.

She settled herself by the fire, relishing the scent of warm embers more than the finest vintages of cider sitting in her personal stores back at the palace. What would become of her possessions? Would the Queen have her fine dresses and furniture burned? She might as well set fire to the entire palace, considering how much of a hoof Rarity had in its decoration and daily upkeep.

Not that any of those things mattered now, she supposed. She’d been more than exiled. She’d been made on example of, cast into the legendary Pit to be devoured by dragons.

Spike appeared from behind one of the curtains and set a stone bowl of greens before her. “Hungry?”

Rarity’s stomach wouldn’t say no. Decorum barely won out over her desire to bury her face in the bowl instead of nibbling each leaf politely while thinking of the royal banquet hall she’d never dine in again. “Thank you.”

“It’s no trouble. Nobody’s been down here in ages. I used to keep track of the days, but I ran out of room to count.” He gestured to a bare wall covered in tick marks from floor to ceiling.

“Ponies say dragons condemned the worst of their kind to The Pit. What horrible thing did you do, to earn such a fate?”

Spike’s smile vanished. He stood facing the fire, unmoving. “That’s not how… it’s a dragon thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

She retuned her attention to her meal, this time allowing herself to munch leaves and flowers whole. So much for holding onto her table manners, not that her present and future company was likely to care. “We have all our lives to talk. You might as well tell me. If I can master the intricacies of Canterlot social graces, I can learn to understand your… dragon things.”

Whole seconds passed before he let out a long, low sigh. “Okay.”

Her eyes followed him around the room, first to the cave entrance to pull a curtain across it, then to a shelf to retrieve a few herbs and another bowl, and finally to the fireside to sit down next to her. Her fur stood on end as his colossal, scaly form came within mere hoof-breadths of her own. Still she sat, unwilling to move further away from the warmth for dignity’s sake alone.

He stirred his bowl’s meagre contents with a clawed finger, his gaze distant. “The Pit’s not really a prison. It’s more like… It’s like a funnel.”

“Pardon?”

“The ancient dragon sorcerers built it a really long time ago. Dragons kind of have a problem with treasure.”

Rarity thought back to the jeweled chains she’d crash-landed in. It hadn’t crossed her mind for a moment when Spike scooped them up rather than leaving them in the snow, and yet here he was eating greens like her instead of gems. What had he done with them? “I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of dragon sorcerers before. I didn’t know dragons had magic of any kind.”

“We used to. Dragons love finding gems, and hoarding them, and eating them. When we get greedy, we get bigger, and when we get bigger we get dumber too. The sorcerers built The Pit for the greediest dragons of all, the ones that gave us all a bad name… the ones that eventually took over.”

“But you said it wasn’t really a prison?”

“When a dragon gets over their greed, they get small again. The Pit was supposed to be a place where you’d put dragons that needed to work out their greediness. There aren’t any gems, and everything’s enchanted: you can’t climb, fly, or dig out, it’s always a snowing but never buries this cave, the plants grow back really fast… stuff like that. When a greedy dragon finally goes back to normal, they’ll fit through the exit.”

Rarity gasped. “There’s a way out?”

Spike nodded pointed a finger. “Right there.”

Her magic lifted the curtain he was pointing to. Beyond it lay a passage shrouded by darkness, despite the fire’s glow. Staring into that abyss of black chilled her to the bone. “Is it… safe?”

“Probably.”

She turned back to him, ears folded back and her best glare in full effect. “Probably?”

“I’ve helped a couple other dragons calm down enough to fit through, but never me.”

“Ugh, so that’s what’s keeping you here? That’s why you tracked me down, so you could add my jeweled chains to your precious hoard just as soon as I trot through the ‘probably safe’ exit? How exceedingly noble and kind!”

Spike stood with such speed that the rush of air nearly blew out the fire. “I’m not like that!”

She sat there, stunned to silence, while he stormed through a curtained passage and, judging from the thump that traveled through the ground, collapsed onto something soft. For a moment she’d forgotten what manner of creature she was talking to. The dragon had a name and a voice, but he was still a dragon; pony-eater or no, he wasn’t anything like her. He was big, dangerous, and apparently driven by greed. He and Nightmare Moon would’ve gotten along splendidly. “I suppose I’ll be going, then.”

He didn’t reply. Perhaps he didn’t even hear her. No matter.

Standing took her longer than it should have. A brief rest and small meal hadn’t come close to undoing their long trek through the woods or all the horrors that preceded it. “Well… perhaps I’ll go tomorrow morning, if you don’t mind. I don’t suppose you know where the exit actually lets out? I can’t risk running into Queen Nightmare.”

A fire ruby the size of a hoof bounced through the curtain, tinkling softly against the hard stone before coming to a stop at Rarity’s hooves. Spike’s quiet voice followed it a moment later. “I don’t know where the exit goes. Maybe having something valuable to trade will help out there. I have more. You can take as much as you want.”

Rarity stared down at the enormous, heart-shaped jewel with wide eyes. It’d make an exquisite centerpiece in a brooch or necklace. “That’s… awfully kind of you, Spike.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“That is your name, isn’t it? Would you prefer that I call you ‘dragon’ or ‘beast?’ ”

“Dragons aren’t supposed to be kind!” Anger edged into his dejected tone.

Rarity shut her eyes, if only to take her eyes off the gorgeous gem. She needed a saddlebag to carry it in. Perhaps she could fashion one out of her ruined uniform. She’d tried her hoof at clothing design once or twice, before moving to Canterlot. “Very well. I’ll just sleep here by the fire. Good night.”

“Night.”

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