• Published 26th Feb 2020
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Our Little Brother, Spike - Hope Caster

Finding a whelp cold and alone after hatching season, Amber Ironscale brings the poor thing back to her cave and adopts him, giving him the name Heathspike, Spike for short. Her son, Garble, vows to be the best big brother he can be, no matter what.

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Chapter 2: Scuffle in the Nursery

Garble was already trying to spend as much time as he could with his baby brother. The moment his eyes fluttered open; energy surged through his tiny body. A smile broke out upon his face, and he began towards a sleeping Spike. He was only stopped by his mother’s claw.

“Garble, he needs his sleep,” Amber gently chided as she nudged her eldest away from Spike. “You can play with him after he wakes up.” Garble pouted at this, but then his mother smiled and said, “You know, I’m going to the nursery with Spike later today. If you’d like to join us, I certainly wouldn’t mind.”

Garble excitedly nodded.

“Good, now, let’s get you fed, and maybe Spike will be up by the time you’re done with breakfast.” Garble quaked with excitement as he followed his mother. “Flare, could you check on Smolder?”

Flare reluctantly obeyed. Smolder was going to love meeting their little guest, he just hoped that she wasn’t going to grow too attached to soon. In a small, makeshift nest, lay his daughter. Only three years of age, and she was still the most precious little hatchling he’d ever laid eyes on. He waited patiently for her to wake up on her own, but after Spike’s loud babbles and giggles didn’t seem to do the trick, Flare decided he’d need to take matters into his own claws.

“Smolder, it’s time to get up,” Flare said, gently nudging his daughter.

“No,” She grumbled as she turned away from him. “I don’t wanna!”

Flare let out a sigh. Smolder was always difficult when it came to sleep. If it was time for bed, she didn’t want to sleep. If it was time to start the day, she didn’t want to get up. Sometimes he wondered if it was just her wanting to go against whatever they said.

“Smolder it’s important, I have a surprise for you.”

It was frightening how fast she stood up and how excited she looked. She probably thought that she was getting a treat.

“Come, follow me,” Her father said, slowly making his way through the cave and towards his mate. He had to hide the growing grin on his face. “Our daughter’s up.”

“Surprise!?” Smolder said, noticing that her mother was holding something. She noticed Garble was beaming. Her excitement only growing, she began to bounce in place.

Amber smiled and lowered her hand to the ground, revealing Spike.

“Deh!” Spike said, removing his fist from his mouth.

“Smolder meet your new baby brother, Heathspike.”

Her eyes went wide and she climbed into her mother’s claw. With some assistance from her father, she held her new brother in her arms. Spike cooed as he gazed up at the new face.

“I love him,” Smolder gently whispered.

“I thought you would,” Amber said with a small giggle. “Aren’t you going to say hi?”

“Hi Heathspike!” Smolder echoed, before giving him a kiss on his forehead. “He’s cute!”

Spike simply babbled as he gummed his fist.

“Well, I think you two are getting along well- Smolder don’t do that,” Amber sighed as Smolder began to poke Spike’s pudgy cheeks, her daughter giggling loudly.

“They’re soft and squishy!” She said innocently. Spike began to whimper some as his face twisted into a frown, causing Amber to become a bit firmer in tone.

“Smolderessence, I don’t think that he likes it. Stop.” Smolder heeded the warning and Spike returned to gumming anything he could get his claws on. “You’re just like Garble when he held you for the first time.” Amber shook her head as she put both her and Spike on the ground.

Smolder was given a quick breakfast and put on their mother’s back. Much to her disappointment, Garble was the one to hold Spike for the trip. When they arrived at the Nursery, there was a large, deep blue dragoness already there. She looked up at Amber and smirked as she landed.

“Watch your siblings, Garble,” Amber ordered, putting them down in one of the unoccupied holes in the ground. “I’m going to finish my work from yesterday and talk with a friend.”

“Yes, Mama,” Garble said. While their mother tended to her duties, Garble picked up Spike. “This is the nursery,” Garble explained. “When I’m Dragon Lord, it’s going to be my job to look after this place and make sure nothing bad happens when mamas leave their eggs here! Like what Torch did for us.”

Spike simply blinked before hitting Garble’s cheek.

“Beh!” He said. There was a soft snicker from Smolder.

“I think he’s challenging you.”

“I’ll go easy on him when the time comes,” Garble said. “The best part about coming here is this.” Garble put his brother on the heated ground. Spike began to make little hums of joy as he shifted from side to side slowly growing more and more content.

“Garble, no! I wanna play with him!” Smolder whined, knowing that placing a hatchling down on the ground in the nursery was the equivalent of telling him to take a nap.

“Smolder, he likes it.”

“But I wanna play,” Smolder pouted.

“Play what?”

“I don’t know. Oh, wrestling!” Smolder said, getting on all fours. “We should teach him to pounce and bite and everything! Tail smack, claw swipe, and fire breath!” Smolder let out a mewl as she spat out a very small wisp of deep pink fire.

“He’s too small for that. He needs to grow a little, like you did.”

“I guess, but that’ll take forever,” Smolder inflated her cheeks, holding her breath. Then, she remembered that she had another brother, a big brother. “You don’t have to grow,” Smolder said as an evil grin spread across her face. Garble gave her a confused look before being tackled. The two began to roll about, each trying to pin the other. Spike was very entertained.

Meanwhile, Amber gathered many eggshells and deposited them into her container from the other day. The blue dragoness, who hummed to herself, was certainly helpful. Her name was Lord Consort Blaze.

“Something on your mind, Blaze?” Amber asked. “You only hum when you want to say something.”

“A few things, actually. My mate was not happy with you yesterday,” Blaze said, as she blew fire on the shells, reducing them to ash within moments. “Most dragonesses wouldn’t even think about hitting the Dragon Lord, but to have the gall to scold him afterwards! Amber Ironscale, you are too bold a dragon.”

“I upset him!?” Amber put her claw to her forehead and swooned in an overly dramatic fashion. “I feel such shame!” Her face fell flat. “Did our mighty lord happen to tell you what he did to make me slap him?”

“Oh, I knew something was amiss the minute he started complaining. He called you lazy, emotionally unstable and a few other words I won’t repeat around your children. I thought ‘if he’s being so adamant that it was all your fault, he did something warranting it’. After I forced the truth out of him, I slapped him too. Mostly for lying to me and insulting you.” She giggled a bit. “I’m honestly a bit jealous. I practically dump my work on you, and then you go find a hatchling.”

“It was fortunate you did! If you or anyone else had been the one to clean, he might have never been found,” Amber said.

“I would have been careful! Ugh, if I didn’t want to get out of work, Ember would have a new baby brother and Torch would have a son! I’m the one that managed to mate with the Dragon Lord, and you seem to have all the luck! So, what did you name him, or did Flare finally win out with Blackfire?”

“Oh, heavens no! I named him Heathspike, Spike for short. And I don’t have all the luck, you only have a daughter, I have two sons now. Three if we include miss pouty at times.” She looked towards the hole for a moment. Spike was happily cooing while Garble and Smolder wrestled each other. Smolder seemed to have the upper hand, but Amber could tell by his hesitations that Garble was holding back, to make things fair.

“Don’t get me started with pouty. Ember seems to glare at everything around her!” Blaze complained, burning more eggshells. “I give her a snack and I get glared at. Torch lets her play on his horns, she glares at him. She’d probably glare at the sun if it didn’t hurt her eyes.”

“Is that why you left her with Torch? She is his precious little princess after all, I’d be shocked if he ever let Ember out of his sight!”

“No, I brought her along. In fact, I thought she might make a good playmate for Garble. She called him a boulderhead on the way here and went ‘adventuring’ the moment I put her down.” Blaze shook her head. “Torch is thinking about stepping down as Dragon Lord soon and Ember wants to prove that she can be big and strong and brave. If I need anything from my mate, Amber, it’s for that brute to tell his daughter he loves her no matter what. Instead it’s ‘you’re too small for this, you’re too weak for that, you’re forbidden from anything that I don’t approve!’ It’s bad enough he’s overprotective, but he also can’t voice it in a kind way.”

“He’s stepping down? Don’t tell Garble that yet,” Amber sighed. “He’s been declaring himself the next Dragon Lord for the last few months. I’d hate to have him jumping off the walls for an actual chance.”

“Soon is relative. Probably in a few years, maybe two decades. No need to worry about Garble doing something stupid and reckless just yet. You’ll have to wait until he gets his wings. I just hope Ember doesn’t do anything impetuous when she molts.”

There came a sudden, sharp scream that echoed through the nursery. Blaze sighed drearily and turned, recognizing the scream to belong to her daughter. She quickly found her and shook her head disappointedly, not because her daughter was frightened, but rather because it was likely Ember that was responsible for whatever was frightening her. The little hatchling was running through the nursery breathing heavily and screaming while being chased by two frilled lava lizards that were, at best, a quarter her size each.

“Think we should help her?” Amber asked.

Blaze began to think deeply about the offer. “As much as it pains me to say this, I feel like a lesson needs to be learned.” Ember quickly climbed a rock and whimpered, burying her face in the stone surface. One lizard veered off away from the hatchling, satisfied that she had been frightened. The other got up on its hindlegs and hissed loudly, shaking its frills. “If they start biting, I’ll intervene. For now, she wanted to act like Torch, I say let her earn everything that entails.”

Meanwhile Garble and Smolder separated just as Garble was about to pin her on her stomach and bite the nape of her neck, which would have ensured his victory. The scream had Spike whimpering and looking towards his siblings.

“Stay with Spike,” Garble said. “I’ll check it out.”

While Garble climbed from the hole, Smolder went to Spike’s side and began to nuzzle him. Out of instinct, Spike leaned into her.

“Don’t worry, Gar-Gar’s going to beat up whatever it is,” Smolder whispered. Spike seemed to only whimper louder as he buried himself deeper into his sister’s embrace. “What’s wrong?” Then she heard a hiss, looked up, and watched as one of the frilled lizards slowly lowered itself into their pen.

Garble was less than thrilled by what he saw. He was expecting a Roc to be attacking, or maybe a pony, or something else that would have let him have an epic battle. All he saw was a blue dragon being terrorized by a frilled lava lizard.

‘Scaredy drake,’ Garble thought to himself, his tiny face growing angry. Lava lizards, bright orange reptiles with deep crimson spots on their back, were not venomous, nor dangerous, and had a tendency to eat insects and mites off fully grown dragons. The most they could do was hiss at things, flare their large, bright yellow hoods, run on their hindlegs, and shoot blood from their eyes if agitated or frightened enough. The last one was gross. Grumbling to himself he went over to the lizard and smacked it with his tail, sending it tumbling away.

The blue dragon heard the cry the lizard gave and peeked from her hiding place. She saw the lizard running away on its hindlegs. Had it not recently attacked her; the sight would have been one of the most entertaining spectacles she’d ever witnessed. She also saw a red dragon walking away, ignoring her completely.

Ember let out sniffles and whimpers before her little face hardened into a glare. ‘I could have handled that,’ she thought to herself, wiping the lingering droplets of water that had formed in the corner of her eyes. She climbed down from her perch and glared bitterly at the dragon, as if trying to set him on fire with her mind. ‘He ruined everything.’

As Garble slowly made his way towards his siblings’ pit, Smolder gallantly growled and snapped her fangs at the lizard, who was now on two legs, baring its sharp rubbery fangs, and shaking its frills. Spike sniffled and whimpered as Smolder circled the beast.

It would feint a lunge at her, not foolish enough to actually strike, only for the young dragon to snap her teeth back at it. Seeing that it was nearly out of options, and uncertain about what would happen, the lizard blinked hard for a few moments. Smolder got ready to pounce, but, when its eyes opened, two streams of crimson shot forth, splattering both her and Spike. Spike’s wails echoed through the dragon lands, and Smolder, trembling at what had just been done to her, quickly retreated and shielded her little brother just as another stream shot from the lizard’s eye.

Garble’s eyes widened and the drake scampered towards the pit as fast as his little legs could carry him.

“I’m intervening,” Amber said, upon hearing the cries. She was quickly stopped by Blaze.

“Hold on, Garble’s already running to them. Why not let him handle this, like a good big brother?”

“That thing is frightening Spike!”

“I know, but it’s an intimidation tactic, it’s probably hurting itself more than it is Spike or Smolder. Besides, this little fight could be good for Garble’s confidence.” Amber raised a single eyebrow at her friend. “If Garble gets sprayed and starts cowering, then you should intervene.”

“I should stop this now! You’re not the Dragon Lord, you can’t make me wait.”

“I know, which is why I’m suggesting it, not ordering you like Torch would. If Torch were here, he’d be screaming at everyone and everything. Let’s just see how Garble handles things.”

Amber reluctantly steeled herself and nervously watched as her son leapt into the pit right next to the lizard.

Snarling, Garble’s fangs chomped down on the lizard’s tail and he threw it against the wall. The reptile began to thrash on the ground before finding its footing. Standing on its hindlegs, its frills uncurled and shook, trying to intimidate the new threat. Garble snarled and snapped at it. The Lizard closed its eyes, but Garble retaliated by spewing a small stream of fire at it.

It was hardly singed, but it mattered not to the lizard. It turned and sprayed its blood against the wall before fleeing from anything that looked like a dragon. It is said that the lizard abandoned the Dragon Lands that day and ran to Equestria. Whispers in the wind say that it later stumbled across a very kind Pegasus and made a goodly home in her animal sanctuary.

Garble quickly came to Spike and Smolder’s side and did his best to comfort them, but the babe could only wail while Smolder quietly wept alongside him.

“Mama!” Garble called, when he noticed that both Spike and Smolder had been sprayed with blood. Instantly a claw scooped the three of them up.

“Shh, shh, shh, there, there, mama’s here,” Amber cooed, holding her hatchlings close. “You’re all safe, you’re all alright. No need for tears.” She began to rock them back and forth, slowly calming down her younger children. Once they were at ease, she cleaned the residue from their scales until nothing remained on them.

Ember was also picked up, though she was noticeably angrier.

“You seemed to be on quite the frightening escapade.” Her mother said. “I assume that you’ve had enough adventuring for one day?”

“I wasn’t scared,” Ember said, trying to sneer but failing when she sniffled. “I was leading them into a trap. That boulderhead ruined my plan!”

“Oh, you had a plan, I’m so glad to hear that,” Blaze said with a smirk. “What was it? Surely you can tell me what brilliant stratagem you devised.” Ember gave her a confused look. “Stratagem means plan.”

“I don’t wanna,” Ember said turning away from her mother and inflating her cheeks, earning her an eye roll.

“You’re too much like your father, Ember. He usually does things without thinking as well. Why were two lava lizards even chasing you?” Ember huffed and refused to answer. “Ember, I’m already not happy with you considering the problems you’ve caused for other dragons, do not get pouty with me.”

“They were close to the nursery,” Ember grumbled. “Dad says since he’s the strongest dragon, he has to keep things away. I was trying to be like him! You saw how scared those little babies were of them.”

“Ember, I understand that you want to be like your father, but may I pose you a question?”

“No,” Ember huffed.

Blaze could admit asking was a mistake. Smirking, she said, “Let me rephrase that. I’m going to pose you a question. Why don’t you try being better than your father?”

“But dad’s big and strong, I need to get big and strong! And he’s Dragon Lord, no one is better than him.”

“I know it seems like that, but trust me, I could beat your father in a fight?” Something of a white lie. Blaze could only hit as hard as an anemic kitten. However, what she lacked in strength, she more than made up for in intelligence. Is it possible she could beat Torch in a fight if they were strangers? Perhaps on good day, if Torch agreed to having a leg broken or an arm chained behind his back, and if victory could be achieved via a three count. However, they were mates. 'Beating' essentially meant pacifying him in some way. A surprise kiss would give Blaze just enough time to push him on his back, and a plethora of nuzzles and affectionate words would keep him there long enough for her to achieve victory.

“Then why aren’t you Dragon Lord?”

“I’m not the Dragon Lord because I knew it would be too much of a hassle."

This was a true to an extent. She tried to lead dragons when she was young, but it was like herding a pack of, well, dragons. They mostly just wanted to be left to their own devices. When the chance to fight for the title of Lord came, she decided to spend time in a nursery, playing with hatchlings. There were times she wondered how far she would have made it if she did participate. Longer than most anyone would expected, perhaps making it into the top 20 dragons, but she doubted she could hold her own for longer than that.

"Ember, leading dragons is one of, if not the most infuriating jobs I can name. I remember when we were younger, your father always flew through a canyon filled with slingtails to visit me. He was hit by several boulders, broke several bones, and was late for several of our outings. Do you want to know how he eventually overcame such a task of maneuvering through that territory?” Ember shook her head. “After several repeat teachings, I taught him that the best way to handle them was not to fly through the canyon,” Blaze explained. “Do you want to know how you could have avoided the lava lizards?”

“Not bother them?” She muttered.

“Exactly. You’re learning already!” Blaze smiled as her daughter grew increasingly bitter. “How about this Ember, you stop being grouchy, at least with me, and I’ll teach you how to use your head. Then, when you grow up, you’ll be both strong and smart.”

“And the Dragon Lord?”

“Ember, you’ll be the best Dragon Lord we’ve ever had.”

“Okay,” Ember grumbled.

Though she disliked her grumbling, Blaze was over the moon about the promise. “Good. Now, you’ve caused enough trouble for one day, how about a nice nap?”

“But I’m not tired!” Ember whined.

“Oh, but you look so exhausted,” Her mother said with a whimper. “Watch.” She put Ember down in one of the unoccupied, lava heated egg pits. Instantly, Ember’s eyelids became heavy and she instinctively curled up in a ball.

“But I’m not… tired… right now.” Her eyes shut and gentle snores escaped her tiny maw.

Meanwhile Amber placed her three children into a nearby egg pit. Spike and Smolder nearly fell asleep instantly, fatigued after their encounter with the lizard, while Garble paced around them anxiously.

“It was very brave of you to protect your siblings like that, Garble,” Amber said. Garble didn’t seem to hear the compliment.

“They’ll be okay, right?” Garble asked, looking up at Amber. “They had that red stuff on them.”

“That was just to frighten them, nothing more. Though, they would probably feel safer if you were close by for their nap. You can keep them safe, can’t you? Mommy still needs to clean up or else Torch might get grumpy.”

“Okay.” Garble curled himself around his siblings as best he could, taking extra care to make sure that Spike was between him and Smolder. Letting the lava lake beneath them warm him, Garble fell fast asleep.

With their children snoozing, Amber and Blaze finished cleaning the remainder of the nursery with little trouble. With their chore completed, Blaze was finally allowed to meet Spike.

“So that’s little Heathspike,” Blaze said, looking at the purple dragon. “He’s absolutely adorable! Seems healthy, and what a marvelous color scheme! Not to mention that he has such good siblings. They’ve only known him a day and they’re already protecting him from nasty little lizards. It’s hard to believe you just found him in an egg pit! How could a mother leave this little sweetheart behind?”

“Worse than that, I found him in a pile of eggshells.”

“Beg pardon?”

“A pile of eggshells. Must have been a heartless monster to leave him all alone. Blaze, are you alright?” Amber paused, seeing the growing look of concern on her friend’s face.

“That’s horrifying. Abandoning him is one thing, you just leave him behind for someone else to claim during a hatching, but burying him in rubbish? Heartless doesn’t start to cover what that is!” She looked down at the siblings sleeping in their little pile. “Perhaps it was better that it was you who found him. Garble and Smolder certainly don’t seem to mind. What a lucky hatchling.”

“That he is. My lucky little hatchling.”

The two friends soon parted and brought their slumbering children back to their caves.

Author's Note:

Smolder protects, Garble's attacks, and they both got their baby brother's back.

Picture that gave me the lizard chase can be found here