• Published 13th Dec 2011
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The Ambassador's Son - Midnightshadow



A colt loses his family, Celestia deems his best hope lies not with ponies, but a dragon.

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Through Fire and Flames

═ The ══════════
Ambassador's
══════════ Son ═

Chapter One
Through Fire and Flames
An MLP:FiM Fanfiction by Midnight Shadow


The dragon leaned back in his chair, it creaked as he settled into the comforting embrace and he sighed with contentment. He lifted the wooden cup to his lips, blew on the hot liquid within and sipped it thoughtfully. “Celestia,” he said in a soft warm voice, as if that one word contained within it the whole wealth of a conversation. "How are you enjoying your tea?"

“Ambassador,” replied Celestia, just as tersely, but with a small, sly smile on her muzzle. "You do make a pleasing brew."

The two old friends regarded each other in silence for a moment, the green dragon named Sharptooth having a good few feet of neck and few extra pounds in mass on the delicate white alicorn. Nevertheless, Celestia held herself with a poise and grace that spoke of surety and calm and she lay on the soft red cushions before the scaly beast.

The dragon narrowed his eyes, taking another sip. “I have recently been learning a game your ponies have started playing again, I believe it is well known to you and your sister. I think they call it... castles? No, chess.”

Celestia smiled, crafty and wise, yet kind. “It is an old game, Ambassador.”

“When playing this game, the amateur seeks only to move. The master instead plans, seeking not short term gain. He, or she, places their pieces quite silently, simply and effectively to master the board as a whole.”

“It is a fascinating game, Ambassador. We should play together, some time, you and I.”

The dragon puffed a ring of smoke into the air, watching it for a few seconds. “My dear Celestia, you would walk all over me with those pretty little hooves of yours. I would be no match for one so skilled as you.”

“Oh, come now.” Celestia laughed softly. “Is it not a joy just to play?”

The dragon laughed, but his tone held a harsh undercurrent. “You know me well. If you have finished with your refreshments, and I do hope the tea was to your liking, then we can discuss the little matter you must be visiting me for. It has been a long time since we last spoke, I take it you're calling in one of those favours I owe you?”

Celestia looked hurt. “Oh ambassador...”

“Ah-ah, none of that. You only call me by my title when you want something, you minx. Spit it out.”

“You wound me, Sharpie.”

The dragon rolled his eyes. “And Sharpie is even worse, coming from you. I must have done something very bad this time. Is it the Griffons? The Naga? It can’t be the Mountain Trolls, and those Diamond Dogs of yours are hardly trouble these days.”

“Oh, no, no, nothing like that.” Celestia looked apprehensive.

“Hrmm, worse then. You want something from me, personally. Out with it, then.” Sharptooth shuffled in his chair, glowering.

“There...” Celestia looked troubled for a moment as she lay, reclining by the fire on the plush red pillows strewn about. “There was an accident in Neighvada, An Earth pony noble family, dignitaries to the Diamond Dogs, were trapped in a mine. Something happened, there was a blast. Their son... he doesn’t know.”

“Ah.” The dragon swirled his cup between his claws, “Life is such a precious thing. Those such as you and I forget that so easily.” He drained the cup and looked at the tea leaves for a few moments. “You’d better show him in.”

Celestia looked at the doorway and nodded imperceptibly. It swung open as a hoof pushed it from outside. “May I introduce Chiphoof, Ambassador Sharptooth? Chiphoof Irontail, of the Neighvada Irontails; an old family, one of the oldest. Chip here is...” The alicorn sighed sadly, and continued in a near-whisper, “He is the last surviving Irontail from this particular branch of the family.”

A small colt peered in the doorway, swishing his amber tail to and fro. He was the colour of soft leather, Sharptooth noted, almost all over, but for one notch on a forehoof that was black.

“Come in, child, come in.” Sharptooth didn't have to raise his voice; he was a dragon, after all.

The colt stepped nervously in, ears flicking about. Dragons, especially older ones, have a particular odour which many equines find disturbing. The colt would learn to tolerate it, figured Sharptooth, if he were to stay.

“I want to go home,” said the colt clearly, glaring at the princess.

“You will be staying here for a while.” she replied simply.

“No, I want to go to Mother and Father. Where are they? Why am I here?”

Celestia looked pained, glancing at the dragon for support.

Sharptooth rolled his eyes and snorted in disapproval before turning kind yellow eyes to the colt. “Little one, you will be staying with me for a time.”

“No!”

“Just for a little while. I am afraid when the princess demands it; you must acquiesce.” The dragon chanced a look at Celestia, who bared her teeth and flicked her ears back in annoyance. He chuckled softly. “Believe me, I’d much rather be alone with my books, telescopes and model flying machines.”

“Flying machines?” asked the colt, perking an ear up.

“Oh, just an old hobby. I build them. Would you like to see? They’re upstairs; be careful, they’re very fragile.”

“You must, Sharpie? You wound me to the quick, old friend,” said the princess, as the hoofsteps echoed down the stairwell and a door slamming open was heard.

Sharptooth got up and stretched, opening the door for the princess and gesturing outside. “Just placing my pieces on the board, Tia dearest, since you insist I play.”

The princess rose to her hooves and trit-trotted past the dragon, stopping to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Do let me know how he’s settling in.”

“I will.”

“And... break it to him gently.”

“Leave it to me, my dear Celestia.”

♦♦♦

Sharptooth watched as the royal chariot disappeared into the distance, scowling, before turning around and re-entering his house. It was built inside a mountain, as befit a dragon, with a long chimney stretching hundreds of feet up through the cliff-face and out the top. He shut the wooden door, slamming it to make sure the warped and ancient latch caught, and ambled up the stairs. He stopped at the door to the first floor on the landing, and knocked softly.

There was sobbing inside and he shuffled his clawed feet uncertainly. “Are you alright, Chip?”

There were scrambling and thumping noises, followed by a plaintive, “Don’t come in!”

Sharptooth snorted, and opened the door anyway. He looked down at the wreck of a model glider which a distraught colt was attempting to put back together. “Ah, I see you found my newest project. That joint’s been a bit tricky, it always breaks... hey, hey, no lad, stop, it’s okay...” Sharptooth moved quickly, spreading his wings and enveloping the foal as the child began to cry. “It’s okay, it’ll be okay, you can always fix things like this. And if not, we’ll just have to... start again.”

“They’re... dead, aren’t they?” said a small voice, from somewhere in the dragon’s wings. Sharptooth cursed the acuity of youth. When they were supposed to listen, cajoling fell on deaf ears. When they were not...

“Yes, child, they are.” There was more crying and the dragon held the foal closer, rocking back and forth. “Life is sometimes hard, lad. I know you don’t want to hear that now, but it is. Life is also like that model. Sometimes it’s... too broken to fix, and you just have to start again.”

“But I don’t want to! I want Mommy and Daddy!” The colt started to wail and thrash, hooves and teeth catching against his tough hide. The dragon just held the pony until the rage subsided into sobs. Sharptooth, with heavy heart, cast a small sleeping spell, and the foal relaxed in his arms. Presently, he started snoring. The dragon sighed heavily and withdrew to his weyr, colt and all.

♦♦♦

Chip opened his eyes. It was dark, warm and close. He was being held.

“Mom?”

The warm enclosure stirred and a strangely angular snout nosed him. “Good morning, Chip.”

The voice was low, far too low to be Mom, or even Dad. The close enclosure suddenly felt stifling, tight. He thrashed, kicking his legs about until whatever-it-was let go and he leaped from the pile into a dusty hard-packed dirt room. He skittered back as far as he could until he felt rock at his back. He shook, trembling like a leaf.

The dragon stretched slowly, purposefully. First one wing, the the other. Then his hind claws, foreclaws and finally his tail and neck. The dragon sat up.

“Do you want some breakfast?”

Chip bared his teeth and pawed the ground with a hoof.

“I’ll take that as a maybe.” The dragon got up from a circular depression in the floor of the cave and padded across to a door, which he opened and slithered through. The door remained open.

Chip listened intently as ordinary sounds of morning filtered through. Birds sang, warm morning air wafted into the cave. He could hear pots and pans being moved around. The sleep-cave was dark and rather bare of furnishings. He considered sulking in the darkness, it didn’t really sound all that interesting a proposition. He breathed deeply, wiped a hoof across his snotty nostrils and exited through the door.

The cave was... rather ordinary, really. A small kitchen on one side was currently filled with the dragon. He was wearing an apron emblazoned with flowers and what appeared to be the words ‘kiss the cook’ and was fussing with a bowl of something-or-other and a whisk.

“Pancakes?” the dragon asked, without looking round.

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

“Yes, er, please?”

“That’s better.”

“How long am I going to be here?”

The dragon lowered the cooking bowl and stopped whisking for a moment. “How long do you want to be here?”

“I want to go home.”

“If you want to take a walk, I won’t stop you. There’s the front door.”

Chip looked at the front door accusingly. He glared at it, then at the dragon in the kitchen who was still cooking. He all but galloped across the living room and threw open the door. He cantered outside into bright, hard daylight.

Dragons are well known for having an affinity for rocks. Ambassador Sharptooth, Sharpie to his friends, was no exception. Stories of them living in caves is, whilst somewhat cliched, entirely accurate. Chip found himself on a ledge, thousands of feet in the air. It was a large ledge, but it was still complete with a sheer drop straight down, to more jagged rocks below. His heart beat fast as the wind whipped past. He backed up from the edge, into the stomach of the dragon.

“Beautiful view, isn’t it? If you really do want to take a walk and clear your head, there’s a path down the side. Careful though, no guard-rails. The nearest town is... ah! There." The dragon pointed off into the middle distance. "Tacksworn, a mostly pony town on the frontiers of Celestia’s domain. So named because the founding fathers—and mothers—were on a treck to discover the boundaries of Equestria. One day they called a halt, as the story goes. ‘We have to stop here, good fellows,’ said their alpha stallion, ‘tack’s worn.’ And so they named the town after the happenstance. It’s small. Unobtrusive, but friendly. There’s a school there, I think you’d like it. How about you stay for breakfast, hmm?”

♦♦♦

Chip glared across the table as he ate the pancakes sullenly. For his part, Sharptooth nervously wrung his claws together.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve cooked for ponies. Not many make the trip up here. How are they?”

Chip stuffed the pancakes into his maw and chewed. They were good, very good. The dragon offered tea. Chip was halfway through the cup when he broke. He started hiccuping and crying again. The dragon moved quickly to comfort him.

“There there, let it all out.”

The crying lasted quite a while, with the dragon giving up on tissues and moving eventually straight for the tea-towel. He figured, as he wiped snot and phlegm from the colt, that he could always burn what was left.

“Why did they have to die?” Chip whispered, when the worst of it had passed.

“I don’t know, lad, but Celestia for some reason thinks it best you stay with me for a spell. If you will, you’re welcome.”

“You’re not going to die too, are you?” the colt asked suddenly.

Sharptooth shook his head, nuzzling the pony between the ears. “No promises, but I think not, not yet, not for a long while. But there is one more thing, lad, that I think needs to be said.”

The colt looked up, cocking his head on one side. “What?”

Sharptooth took a deep breath. “Celestia, your princess, is a wily one. She does nothing without reason; so it is in your best interest to consider what I am about to say very carefully indeed.”

Chip sat at the table, awkwardly, blinking. Celestia is good, isn't she? She wants the best for us, right? Chip wondered to himself. Wily sounded kind of like sneaky, when he rolled it around in his head. He wasn't sure he liked that. “What?”

“I, Ambassador Sharptooth Longclaw Leatherback of the Diamond Expanse Dragon Clan, wish to adopt you, young foal, and name you my son. This will entitle you to the full protection of myself and my clan.”

Chip’s mouth fell open, a blank expression on his muzzle. “You... want to adopt me?”

“Yes.”

“Is this a joke? My parents are... are dead, and you adopt me the day after?”

Sharptooth’s brow furrowed. “I said consider it, little one. I will give you today. Your staying here, under my protection, does not hang in the balance. I can neither force you to stay nor prevent your removal, not as a lost waif. If, however, you take up the mantle of the Diamond Expanse clan, then you will have the full weight of my family behind you in all things.”

“I am an Irontail...”

“You will be Chiphoof Irontail Leatherback of the Diamond Expanse Clan then, young one. Consider it a contract, one you may dissolve at will.”

“I’m a pony... I don’t have wings...”

“Not all dragons have wings.”

“I don’t have a horn...”

“Not all dragons have horns.”

“This is crazy!”

“Consider, young Chip, that your parents would have wanted you safe above all else. I have reason to believe you may be in grave danger. Why else would Celestia place you halfway up a mountain with a fierce dragon for a guardian?”

Chip was breathing hard, shaking, his thoughts a turmoil pain of resentment, astonishment and confusion. He did the only thing he could think of. He bolted.

Sharptooth sat at the table, his head on his claws, looking at the still-swinging door. “Oh Celestia, the trials you do force upon an old fool like me.”

♦♦♦

Chip ran. Tears once again stained his cheeks as the icy wind, roaring up from the valley below, stung. He found the path, and galloped down it. He didn’t care where he was going, the bottom had fallen out of his world. Bundled up into furs by strange pegasi, shoved into a chariot with a princess he’d only ever heard about in stories, flown through the night to be dropped off at a house on a cliff he hadn’t seen until the next day, told his parents were gone, gone forever.

He ran.

He ran and he ran and he ran.

And, as those running in a blind panic are wont to do, he slipped. His powerful gait throwing his young body off balance, gravity took a firm hold. He stumbled, and fell.

He couldn’t even be scared, not any more. He just closed his eyes, and fell.

There is a brief moment, some say, when your life flashes before your eyes. Chip’s didn’t, not really. Instead he saw his parents, he saw himself with his parents. Waking up on Hearth’s Warming, collecting candy on Nightmare Night. The Summer Sun Celebration at the fete, and finally, them, holding him, when he was very, very small. His mother used to sing to him a lullaby, he could almost remember it. As the wind whistled through his ears, he fancied he could hear her voice. The moment stretched as the memory enveloped him. He hoped it wouldn’t hurt. He hoped they hadn’t hurt.

He wanted them back, so very, very much. He loved them, why had they left him? They’d always promised to be with him, they’d promised to always be by his side.

There was a sudden lurching sensation, and a stinging pain in his side. His neck whipped down and his stomach felt like it had jumped out of his mouth.

He opened his eyes.

“I did say,” roared Sharptooth over the wind, “to be careful on that path!”

♦♦♦

Chip sat on the top of the mountain, watching the sun go down. He’d been there all day, almost unmoving. Sharptooth had sat with him, the patience of the dragon rivaling that of the rock itself. Finally, Celestia’s warm sun disappeared below the horizon and the sky darkened. Slowly, Luna’s bright moon rose and the stars burst into view. The sky was clear, the night would be cold.

“Come, little one, it’s time to go inside. Have you made your decision?”

Chip looked up, almost over his shoulder, at the dragon looming behind him. “I have. I’ll be your son. They would want that.”

Sharptooth smiled. “Come then, son, let’s retire for the night.”

“Just like that?”

The dragon laughed, a deep laugh that shook his scaly belly. “As you wish. More formal. Shake on it.”

A paw was extended. A hoof was offered. The two met.

“So mote it be."

♦♦♦