• Published 26th Feb 2020
  • 4,714 Views, 542 Comments

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.

  • ...

Chapter 4: Family

Two weeks and two days had passed since Garble had begun reading to Spike, and now Smolder, nightly. He read from his book sonnets and the book of fairy tales that his sister adored. Not for the pictures of beautiful princesses or colorful dresses, Smolder made sure to make that clear. Rather, it was for the violence in them, mostly inflicted upon the villain of the story. Due to his sister’s influence, Spike was starting to adore the stories as well. What was truly worrying to his parents was his amazement and coos upon seeing the knight or prince character. They prayed it was just for the armor they wore and the swords they wielded.

While their father never liked Garble reading pony books, the stories along with his sibling sleeping near him had Spike quiet for nearly the entire night, so he couldn’t complain. Flare could now name one thing ponies did right with their miserable existence. There was still the occasional feeding, which Amber took care of in all odd hours of the night. In exchange, the children were Flare’s in the morning.

However, it was not the children that woke their parents up today, it was a loud slam outside the cave. Amber and Flare began growling and gave the air a sniff, only for a sickening feeling to overtake them. Smolder and Spike also woke up for a moment, only to quickly fall back asleep. Garble rubbed his eyes and heard his mother’s loud gasp. He looked up from his spot and saw his parents’ scales glowing brightly as they made their way to the mouth of the cave. With his siblings still sleeping soundly, Garble decided to follow them alone.

“Do you think this is good or bad?” Flare asked, whispering to Amber.

“Good, it has to be. He was abandoned, Flare. Besides, it’s been a month, he wouldn’t just give him to some stranger that took a month to approach him, would he?”

“I can’t say. What would you tell the mother if you were Torch? Just stay calm and let’s see what he wants. Maybe he’s declaring him ours.” He took a deep breath and wrapped his tail around his mate’s.

Unfortunately, Garble couldn’t hear any of this, irritating him the longer they whispered. He continued following them until the hatchling got one glance at the entrance and his little heart stopped.

There was a dragon standing at the entrance, a bulky dragon, with grey-blue scales. His black armor gleamed in the sunlight, his crystal crown shone like fire, and his eyes though dark, were fierce and determined. The air around him seemed to demand respect and dripped with authority, and Garble couldn’t help but tremble with excitement.

“Dragon Lord Torch,” he whispered to himself as his eyes became saucers. He was just about to rush and shake Spike and Smolder awake when his mother’s voice echoed in the back of his head. ‘Garble, he needs his sleep.’ Garble took a good look at his siblings. They looked happy snuggled together, snoring. He’d tell them all about it later. They were going to be so jealous. Garble quietly crept closer, ducked behind a rock and listened to the conversation.

“Dragon Lord Torch, it’s an honor to welcome you to our cave,” Amber said bowing her head to her ruler. Torch seemed exhausted and grumbled something unintelligible. “Might I be so bold as to ask why you’re here?”

“The whelp, where is he?” Torch managed to say clearly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

Flare and Amber swallowed a growing lump in their throats and moved to the side, showing Spike sleeping alongside Smolder.

Garble couldn’t help but wonder why Spike was so important. Though he loved his brother, he was so small. From what he heard from his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Torch typically cared only for big, strong dragons like his dad, or the dozens of other dragons like his dad, or Garble himself one day.

“Why is he snuggled with your hatchling?”

“It helps him sleep,” Amber said, forcing a smile to hide her growing anxiety. “I think he’s afraid to be left alone, I did find him abandoned after all. Though, I don’t think they mind, my children just adore him! Smolderessence is starting to pretend to be his mother at times, you must know how little ones are; and Garbuncle’s trying to teach Heathspike all about the Dragon Lands. He just loves being a big brother!”

Garble beamed at the complement, and for the rare instance that his mother used his full name without him being in some sort of trouble. His joy faded the moment he saw Torch’s scowl.

“You introduced your children to him as a member of the family before I gave the word? You named him? If the mother had come, this foolishness would have caused a debacle!” Torch said, snarling and baring his fangs at the dragoness. Garble watched as his mother shrunk just the tiniest bit before his father took a step forward, lowly growling as a winged draped around Amber.

Flare had a rational fear of Torch, as any dragon would. However, when he felt as if his mate was being threatened, even if she was being rightly admonished, such fears didn’t matter to him. There came a deep growl from Torch as he bore his fang and leaned towards the deep crimson dragon. The two began puffing themselves up and snorting small bursts of fire at one another.

“What should I have done then?” Amber said, interrupting the stand-off. The two dragons looked towards the dragoness, and Garble watched as his mother straightened herself up, and returned a glare at Torch.

“Excuse me?” Torch growled.

“He had some trouble sleeping at night, them being near him helped with that. What should I have done instead?” Amber clarified. “Should I have let him cry himself to sleep every night? Tell my children that the child was not to be even looked at with affection or care? Should I only tend to him when he cries and let him know that I would only care about him like a child needs when you say it’s alright? Perhaps I was brash, and some distance might have been a good idea, but I would like to know the alternative.”

Torch mulled over the question for a short while, his growls growing louder and louder, his scowl hardening. Flare’s spines seemed to raise as his eyes dilated in response. Then, Torch let out one final snort, sending out an intense plume of fire. “It’s fortunate for the both of you that no one has come seeking my aid, nor is there a rumor of a mother missing her hatchling. I see no reason to prolong this. The whelp’s yours, by decree of the Dragon Lord. May these lands forever know him as Heatspike-”

“Heathspike,” Amber corrected.

“-Heathspike Ironscale. May Bahamut bless you and your family as you care for him.” In a bright flash of light, the glow of Amber and Flare’s scales were no more, and Torch let out a loud yawn and he devolved into annoyed grumbling. “You’re fortunate my mate likes you. Waking me up early and sending me here. Like a few hours would have made a difference.”

“Thank you for this, Lord Torch. We promise to raise him well,” Amber said with a smile.

Garble meanwhile simply sat confused. Wasn’t Spike already part of their family? He was his little brother after all. Then a thought crept to the forefront of his mind: where was Spike’s egg before his mother brought him home? He recalled his mother showing him Smolder’s egg the day after it was laid.

Torch left not long after. Instantly, the dragons nearly collapsed. “Oh, thank Bahamut,” Garble heard his father say. “That came sooner than I expected.” Flare took several deep breaths before joyfully chuckling to himself. “I have another son. We have another son. We have another little hatchling. What did we just get ourselves into?”

“A son?” Amber said, holding back a smile. “Oh, you mean our guest. You’re not growing too attached to him, are you?”

“I’m not hearing the end of that for at least a few weeks, aren’t I?” Flare asked.

“When we’re in private, no, you won’t. I might stop teasing if you start making up time with him.” She looked towards the nest and frowned. “Flare, where’s Garble?”

“He should be-” There was a clattering as Garble hit a small stone with his tail, alerting his parents to his presence.

“Oh, Garble, you’re up early,” Amber said. “I suppose you saw the Dragon Lord? Was he everything you thought he’d be?”

Normally, Garble would have gone on a very long tirade about how great Torch was and how great a Dragon Lord he would soon be. His rants usually boiled down to: ‘I’m going to be the strongest and biggest dragon ever!’ This had been the pitch of every Dragon Lord in existence. Instead, Garble asked a very simple question. “Mama, why were you and the Dragon Lord talking about keeping Spike?”

It didn’t shock them that Garble asked about that. Amber and Flare lay on the ground on either side of Garble and craned their heads towards their eldest. “Well, Garble, that’s because I didn’t lay Spike’s egg,” Amber said.

“But you did mine and Smolder’s. I thought mamas had to lay their eggs.”

“We do, and I did lay your eggs, but not Spike’s. I found him already hatched.” She watched as Garble’s face scrunched up. “He was laid by someone, not me though.”

“Does that mean he belongs to someone else?”

“Well, that’s a bit complicated,” Amber paused, thinking about the nuances of the question.

“As of today, Spike is officially part of our family,” Flare said, deciding to be direct. “No one in the land can say differently.”

“But what about the dragons that laid his egg?”

“Not even they can say differently.”

“You see Garble,” Amber began, “sometimes a mother and father can do something horrible to their whelps. Spike didn’t have his birth parents with him when I brought him home. By all evidence, we think that he was abandoned.”

“Why would they abandon him? You always told me that parents love their whelps.”

“Oh, we do, more than you’ll ever know until you have hatchlings of your own. That doesn’t mean that all parents do. Sometimes they can feel nothing towards their children, or worse. I don’t know how or why, and I hope to never find out, but it happens. When I found Spike, it was so late and cold that I thought it best to bring him home with me.” Her face fell the more she thought about Spike being left alone, cold and hungry, before smiling when her thoughts turned to his first night with them. “He was certainly happy to be here. He certainly took a liking to you and Smolder. When I let Torch hold him, he screamed and cried, but with you, he was calm. I think he knows you’re going to be a great big brother.”

“But doesn’t this mean that he’s not really my brother?”

“No, Garbuncle, no, he is your brother. He’s a part of our family now. It’s just-” Amber paused for a moment. How could she put this in terms a six-year-old could understand? “You see, sometimes families get to make a wonderful choice. When someone’s alone, who needs a family and love, we can choose to be their family and love them. Some view this as something difficult to do, but I think it’s rather easy.” She watched as Garble moved closer to her. “Spike needed a home, a mother, a father, and a pair of wonderful siblings. One to teach him to be strong and brave, the other to teach him to be clever. The moment I found him, I knew that we could give Spike the family he needed, just like I knew that you and Smolder would love him the moment you saw him. That’s why Torch came by this morning, he wanted us to do just that.”

“But what if the dragon who had him comes back?”

Amber’s face fell. Essentially, they’d have to pry Spike from her cold dead fingers. However, the more she thought about it, the more she wondered what she’d say to them. ‘I understand you laid him, but finder’s keeper’s! Oh sorry, Torch just declared him ours. Too bad! I would love to give him back, but why was he buried under a pile of eggshells? Sweetheart, you’ll have to kill me before I give you my son.’ She began to feel a bit queasy the more she thought about meeting his birth parents.

“Well, if that happens, me and her will need to discuss a few things. Some very hard things,” Amber said.

“I personally wouldn’t worry. If they haven’t come yet, chances are they won’t. It’s safe to say that Spike is here to stay,” Flare said, nuzzling his now worried mate.

Garble smiled. “That’s good. I wouldn’t want him to go.”

“None of us do,” Amber said. “Garble, don’t tell Smolder about our little chat, I’d rather talk to her first, alright?”

Garble nodded. “Mama, can I have something to eat? I’m hungry.”

“Of course, how about an emerald?”

Garble nodded and followed his mother, while his father went and curled around Spike and Smolder. Then he paused for a moment, and looked towards his sleeping siblings, particularly Spike. It was strange hearing that he had to choose to love Spike. However, the more he looked at his little brother, thinking about all the good times and fights they would share, he began to realize that his mother was right, it was a very easy choice to make. After all, he was Spike’s big brother. Who else would teach him to be a proper dragon?