• Published 19th Jun 2019
  • 2,416 Views, 823 Comments

Bind on Pickup - David Silver

What do Spike, Garble, and Smolder have in common, besides being dragons? They've been summoned to another world at the behest of a needy adventurer who thinks her fortunes are turning with their arrival. No one involved is ready for what comes next.

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2 - Entering the Grass Field

They moved in an uneasy mass, the dragons trailing behind their new summoner. Garble grabbed Spike as they went. "Look, I know you're a pansy or whatever, but you can't be happy about being that whatever's plaything, right? Don't you have ponies to get home to?"

"He's not wrong," agreed Smolder with a soft shrug, following with her hands behind her head. "But, I also have to admit I'm kind of curious where this is going. She said she's an adventurer. That's basically the opposite of boring."

“Yeah! It’ll be fine,” Spike said with only a little uncertainty. “We’ll do some adventuring, figure out how to get home, and get home. Easy peasy.”

Smolder fired an emphatic thumbs up, but her reply was cut off by other words.

"There she is," noted another female tone. "What'd you get, Sandun?"

"That's not her name," snorted a male. "It's Sandumb, obviously."

"Didja get something good?" asked a reedy second male voice. "Or Sandra luck as usual?" All three laughed, good naturedly to one another, but hardly to the one they focused their mocking towards.

"Laugh all you want," proclaimed Sandra with a moment of steadfast confidence. "I got a summon so great, it couldn't even fit in one body."

"Wha?" asked the larger male. It was about this point that the dragons came into view.

Four humans stood, three of them standing in a line barring Sandra’s way, a female with her hair worn up wearing a breastplate with a shield at her back and sword at her side was directly ahead of her, flanked by two men, one wearing a fancy outfit with a rapier at his side, one with a bow slung over his back. Behind them there was another figure, possibly female from the long hair, wearing a tall hat and a jacket that covered half of her face, only her eyes being visible from beneath the coat and robes.

The three humans in the front were all stunned by the appearance of three dragons, though, all gaping.

Sandra puffed out her chest, putting her hands on her hips. “You see. Everything is different now, and I’m gonna start rising the ranks immediately now.”

A wicked grin appeared on the female assailant’s face. “Oh, no, I know what’s going on here. Screwup Sandra can’t find anybody willing to be her partners, so she bought some cheap low rank summons from someone somehow, and she decided she’d make herself a party.”

"What are they talking about?" Garble hiked a thumb at the loud bunch of whatever-they-weres.

Spike grinned internally as he gave a shrug as if he didn't know. "It sounds like they don't think you're a good adventurer though. They don't think you’re tough enough. Kinda rude if you ask me."

"I'm not sure that's--"

Garble didn't wait to hear what his sister had to say, pushing Smolder aside as he stormed towards the trio with fire in his eyes and smoke on his lips.

“Oh yeah? You think I’m not tough enough to hack it?” He loomed over the smaller woman, snorting and growling, and leaned down. “I don’t think you know who you’re talking to.”

The woman, however, was completely unphased, raising an eyebrow to him. “Who you are? You are just some random summon that a nobody adventurer has. I, on the other hand--” She raised her hand, and on her wrist was another mounting with a shining blue stone on it. “--Am sapphire grade. I beat a dozen monsters bigger than you this morning.”

“I’m not some dumb monster, I’m a dragon,” Garble spat out smoke.

The woman just rolled her eyes. “No. Dragons are centuries old, and make you look like the tiny insect you are."

Sandra was suddenly there, between Garble and the source of his ire. "Words are easy. You'll see when we start making you all look like chumps. Garble, we're out of here."

"It was starting to smell in here anyway," grunted Garble indignantly.

Smolder leaned closer to Spike. "When did you start playing my brother like that? You know he's sensitive."

Her definition of sensitive was not quite Spike's. Still… "Once we see what this adventure is about, I bet Garble'll start having a good time instead of being annoyed. Besides, we don't know how to go home, so better that he--"

Sandra and Garble returned to them, Sandra pointing across the guild lobby. "We're heading out. Gonna see how you all perform against real monsters. You know what a monster is, right?" she didn't sound nearly as confident as she'd like to be that her summons understood their purpose.

Smolder rolled her eyes. “Yes, we know what a monster is.”

“Good, we’re fighting them, let’s go.” Sandra marched across the guild hallway, the party of adventurers returned to gossiping among each other, except the girl in the back, who spent a moment staring at Sandra and her new entourage, narrowing her eyes, and looked away to leave.

Through the guild hall the few people they passed, all wearing some manner of armor and weapons. Spike had a hyperactive bounce in his step. These were real adventurers! Sure, guards had armor, and occasionally you saw an adventurous pony, but this was a whole organization. And he was going to fight monsters.

Emerging from the guild that had almost a tavern-like atmosphere, they stepped out into vast openness. It was a city all around, wide and vast, with buildings that reached towards the heavens. Only Manehattan could have competed with it, leaving all three dragons gaping and turning about to take it all in.

Just to the right of the entrance they could see an enormous tower that the city seemed to be encircling, as if its tallest buildings were nothing compared to its height that couldn't even be seen as it rose above the clouds without pause, presumably pushing up into the very heavens beyond. The tower was made of the smoothest stone, but the shapes it made were anything but smooth, forming uneven floors and strange gaps as if the floors of the tower had been built by different designers at different times.

Spike looked up with marvel. The city was amazing. And it was bustling. A bunch of differently shaped humans wandered around. Tall willowy ones, smaller ones, big stocky ones. Ones with strange ears, even a couple that looked more like races Spike saw from outside of Equestria were around. But this place felt nothing like Klugetown, and there was a spirit of adventure and joy, instead of danger and betrayal.

“Are you sure we didn’t step into a pony town?” Garble said, looking at the same sights with a dismal expression.

Spike frowned. “Figures you wouldn’t appreciate it.”

“What’s there to appreciate? All this frou-frou and people building their own stuff, it’s all lame…” As a large tan skinned adventurer, somehow larger and bulkier than Garble, with a wicked looking axe on his back walked by him, it drew Garble’s gaze. “... Mostly lame.”

“Aww come on, Gar Gar,” Smolder said, nudging him before pointing to a store that had a sword and shield crossed. "Now, I'm no expert, but…"

"Is that a for-real item store?" asked Spike with wide eyes.

Sandra turned towards her strange summons. "One of many, but we don't have money to be buying equipment, and you have fire breath and sharp claws and those teeth look decent too, so what would you need it for?" She shrugged softly. "Come on, the day only has so many hours, and I can feel that experience already flowing!"

She led them through the town. It was a vibrant place, full of a wide variety of people, built up as well as out, with bridges even between some of the buildings. They passed nearby a district will glowing smoking blacksmitheries, and as they passed there was another large building with people training with large two handed weapons in an open yard.

But soon, they reached a wall and a gate, and above the wall there was a bluish purple heat haze, wafting faintly in place, but quite solid in appearance despite that.

Sandra approached the wall and she announced, “Slate grade adventurer Sandra, with summons, going out of town!” She bopped her brooch, bringing up the stats.

The guards briefly looked at the stats, and over the three summons, raising his eyebrow, but he just pressed a little panel on the wall, and said, “Good luck out there.”

She beamed and said, “I don’t need it! I’ve got summons now!” And she marched out, happy as can be.

The pastoral land beyond was full of rolling hills. A few farms and windmills dotted the landscape, alongside a beautiful sparkling lake with a manor by it.

But, in addition to the beautiful scenery, there were creatures. Many creatures dotted the landscape, apparently not hiding or darting about. Many many more than you would normally see in the wilderness at random, even, the land seemed lousy with them.

Spike thrust a finger out. "Is that a literal slime?" He hopped in place, coming down facing Smolder. "Just like in Epic Warrior!"

"No idea what that is." Smolder lifted her shoulders but had a wicked smirk on her face. "But I'm guessing it's our job to do things to them?"

"Yes!" Sandra pointed much like Spike has. "Go forth, my summons. Teach that slime a lesson!"

The slime seemed to notice it was being spoken to, two great projections curling up then flopping, forming lop-eared bunny-like limbs as fine slimy whiskers grew from a sudden mouth. It was a rabbit slime. "I can usually take down one or two of those in a day before I had to come back. Let's see how many I can do with you all."

The three of them just stared down the extra bouncy rabbit, and Garble nudged Spike in the back. “Come on. You’re the fan of this stuff, right?”

Spike brandished his claws and stepped himself forward to the cute rabbit slime. The adorable green nose sniffed at him, and it bounced a little around. It looked up at him with big round eyes, somehow. Spike bared his teeth, trying to growl and puff out smoke. He was ready, he was able! He was a dragon!

He couldn’t do it.

He turned around. “Are you sure that, um, we have to kill the cute little monster?”

And at that moment, the monster struck, rearing back, it’s body flattening a little, until it’s rubbery body sprang back into place, propelling it forward violently into Spike’s side, knocking him over with a cry.

Garble erupted into laughter.

Spike actually growled to himself. Now the monster was making him a fool? Fine, it was a real monster, and it needed to really be taken out. He turned to it, swiping with a claw. He got purchase into the monster’s flesh, cutting into it, and it cringed back, morphing in a way that it’s limbs and nose just retracted into it and came out facing Spike.

It pounced at him again, only this time Spike was ready, easily dodging out of the way. He took a breath, and puffed out a big puff of fire, directly hitting it. The heat washed over the creature, obscuring it from sight as it melted away.

With a soft chime, the broach she wore demanded her attention. Next to each name of the members of her party, a soft beige bar appeared next to them, filling slightly with a bright blue bar. Sandra squinted at them, glancing up at hers, then the dragons'. "Wait… You're not supposed to have those. Summons… don't advance on their own…" She stroked her chin, looking quite befuddled. "Uh, but you did it! Good job! One down, so much more to do!"

Author's Note:

A thanks to Dragonpony for sudden fan art that turned into a new cover!

They've scored their first kill, one of many, perhaps? Spike and Smolder are kinda digging this.

What do you mean my summon gained XP? That's weird...

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