• Published 19th Mar 2021
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Sapphire Scales: Sisters' Tales - Pennington Inkwell



What if another dragon's egg had appeared to Twilight Sparkle BEFORE her entrance exam? One that glittered like a sapphire?

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Chapter 1: The Egg

"GARJZLA!"

The midnight forest was momentarily illuminated by a flash of red light as the magical bolt struck. Its caster had given it deadly force, but had missed their target in their hurry, instead striking her steed. It was dead before it had even struck the ground, but the raven-haired elf was quicker, leaping off of her horse's back and taking off on foot with her precious cargo clutched tight. She only spared a moment to glance back at her guards, seeing both of them had already been felled by a flurry of arrows. She couldn't stop the anguished cry that ripped through her at seeing them, but that was all of the mourning she could afford before sprinting into the night.

"After her! She's the one I want!"

She didn't flinch as an arrow sailed past her ear with a hum, her mind racing with thoughts of how she would escape this ambush. Urgals weren't smart enough to plan an ambush or crafty enough to infiltrate their ranks deeply enough to learn her party's route. Combined with the spell that had nearly killed her, Arya knew that they were being led by something much more sinister.

She drew up short, forced to stop when the trees and undergrowth in front of her burst into flames. She could hear section after section of the forest erupting into blazing infernos, and faster than she could have possibly outrun, she was trapped in a ring of flames. For a moment she considered using her own magic to clear a path, but pitting her strength against another caster would leave her too drained to outrun the foot soldiers.

There was a small granite crag to the north, one she could easily climb if she could reach it. It would give her enough height to leap over the flames and make her escape. Again, her sharp senses picked up the fetid scent of Urgals, and she could hear the horned beasts charging towards her. She kept one arm wrapped around her pouch and the treasure inside, and the other reached for her short sword. There were at least three of them between her and freedom, if her ears were serving her correctly, and more on the way.

She could kill three with ease.

When the monsters closing in on her had been dispatched, she didn't waste time fighting the rest, setting herself for an all-out sprint to the granite crag. She had always been quick on her feet, and Arya left the rest of the enemy soldiers behind with ease, closing the distance in a matter of seconds. Once more, however, her hopes for freedom were cut off as she was forced to come to a sudden stop. Rather than flames springing up, this time a figure slammed down in front of her, having leapt from the top of the rock. He was gaunt and pale as death, with blazing red hair and dark, maroon eyes hungry for blood. Arya's blood ran cold as she realized she was face to face with a Shade, a frighteningly powerful caster. He grinned at her wickedly, with one hand holding a long, thin sword and the other raised and ready to cast a spell. His almost-translucent skin glistened in the firelight as he slowly advanced, clearly finding her apparent helplessness delicious. She whipped her head from side to side, praying that the fates had left her some way out. Behind her, she could hear her earlier efforts to outrun the enemy soldiers come to naught as they caught up and entered the small clearing. Arya met his gaze, drawing herself up with every ounce of dignity and courage she could draw from the pit of her soul. If this monster wanted to take enjoyment from her, she would make sure it was hard-won, without tears or begging.

The Shade glanced over her shoulder, looking to his troops.

"Get her."

She had seconds left, and only one final resort. If she did not possess the object she was carrying, she couldn't be robbed of it. It would be casting their fate to the winds and praying that the breeze was favorable, and she would ordinarily never have even considered it. However, even a small chance for good to prevail out of her hands was better than absolute certainty of evil's victory in her hands.

She hastily unwrapped the item, letting the satchel drop to the ground as her mouth hastily muttered words in the Ancient Language. When she raised the sacred object to the sky, the Shade seemed to catch wind of her plans and raised his own hand to cast.

Time seemed to slow as she watched the fireball leap from his hand towards her. Her tongue moved deftly and her lips didn't stutter as she finished the last of the incantation, but she could feel the Shade's influence on her spell, trying to draw it away from her control. It was less than a second, but under the intense concentration it felt like hours that the two of them pulled back and forth on one another. As she felt the tide of magic beginning to turn, Arya threw all of her strength into the spell, throwing aside caution and invoking words of authority and power. The sapphire stone in her hand shimmered with emerald light, outshining the moon and the fire in a brilliant surge of magic power, and despite it meaning she had succeeded, she felt no satisfaction when the weight of it was gone. She had decided to let the dice roll on millions of lives and hundreds of years of careful tradition and preparation. What would happen next was beyond anyone's control, and she could only pray that this remnant of their world's legacy would find a home somewhere safe.

The last sensation she experienced was the searing explosion of pain as the fireball struck her squarely in the chest, and the world faded to black to the sound of the Shade's infuriated howl.

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This time of day, Twilight Sparkle would usually be making her third trip to the library. The policy that fillies under ten years old couldn't check out more than three books at a time was a real problem, but not one she could do anything about for a few more years. For today, however, that had become a non-issue, since she was spending the afternoon outside.

"Now, pull back just a little..."

Twilight did as she was told, and watched with glee as the kite responded by floating higher and higher.

"Great job, Twily!" Shining Armor ground his hoof on the top of her head, giving her an affectionate noogie. "See! I knew you could do it on your own, this time!"

Twilight blinked, coming back to the moment in a cacophony of warring thoughts and emotions. She gave the kite string a hard pull, watching it turn and plummet downwards at breakneck speed. With a far-off crunch, the kite crumpled and impaled itself on the branches of one of the park's trees.

"O-Oh! I guess I still need help!"

She knew that he didn't believe her before she'd even finished the words, and his tired sigh and disappointed look felt like they were twisting the knife in her heart.

"Twily, you KNOW I have to go. I can't stay just to keep teaching you how to fly a kite that you already can fly on your own..."

Twilight thought about trying to keep up the charade, but she couldn't stop herself from pressing up against her Big Brother Best Friend Forever as she began to cry. "I- I don't want you to go!"

"I know, but I have to..." Shining Armor wrapped a hoof around her. "The Royal Guard training starts tomorrow. I've gotten more time than most recruits to say my goodbyes because we live in Canterlot, but I can't wait any longer!"

"But-"

"And you KNOW how much being in the guard means to me, don't you?"

Twilight clamped her mouth shut, only able to sniffle and nod as she remembered countless days that the two of them had spent watching the Royal Guard going about their duties, with Shining Armor doing his best to emulate their every move.

"And YOU have your test for Princess Celestia's school in a couple weeks, don't you? When you get in, you're going to be studying there full-time!"

Twilight wanted to correct him and say that wasn't a guarantee. She still had to PASS the exam, first, and then there was the matter of whether or not she'd be a part-time home study or a full-time scholar depending on her score, and then on top of that-

"Besides, it's not like I'll be gone forever, right? We'll see each other again soon, I promise!"

Twilight pressed her face into her brother's side, wiping her tears on his white coat. "P-Promise?"

Shining Armor dropped to one knee, looking her straight in the eyes. "I promise, little sister..."

The rest of their last day passed in a blur of tears and dread. They stayed out at the park until the sun had nearly set, though the majority of Shining's attention was pulled away from her when Cadence had shown up to say their own goodbyes (the kind that involved kissing and other gross mushy stuff that Twilight had no interest in seeing her brother doing). Then they'd gone back home together, where their parents were both waiting with teary eyes and the heavy trunk he had packed with everything he would need. As a family, they'd all traveled to the train station together, and after squeezing every last hug they could out of him, Shining Armor had stepped onto the express train to the other side of the city, where the recruitment center was waiting for the last few stragglers to take to the training grounds.

Now Twilight was sitting in her room, despondently staring at an open book with bleary eyes. She was trying to focus, but her brain just felt tired, too tired to focus on what usually held her attention so easily. After what felt like hours of turning pages without really taking anything in, she finally shut the cover and decided to call it a night.

She clambered into bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin, trying to ignore the overwhelming feeling of emptiness coming from the house. Specifically, one door down the hall. She knew that, objectively, it should have been a night like any other, but she couldn't shake the feeling of a void just on the other side of her wall. She tossed and turned trying to get comfortable, but nothing seemed to be able to pull her away from the thoughts that her brother wasn't there, and those thoughts made everything hurt. Even Smarty Pants seemed to do nothing to ease the pain, no matter how tight she squeezed.

She continued to toss back and forth until she was shocked out of her reverie... literally. An electric spark leaped from her blanket to her hoof, painfully snapping her back to the present.

"Ow!" She shook her hoof lightly, trying to dissipate the pain as she sat up again. As she glanced around her room, however, she realized that there was more to the shock than a simple case of static electricity.

The air in her room had changed. It was charged with magical energy, practically buzzing with it. The window was shut tight, but a breeze had still begun to take shape, and in a matter of seconds it had evolved into a blustering frenzy.

"Wha-What's happening?" Twilight stammered, pulling her blanket tighter. The aura in the air had grown so strong, it was making her teeth tingle and her horn ache. The power climbed higher and higher as more sparks leaped from one surface to another, coalescing from every corner of her room and sparking their way towards the center of her room. The more arcs of power gathered, the more their glow tinged and tinted to an emerald green. She could feel the power escalating to a fever pitch, and she finally pulled the covers over her head, trying to protect herself from whatever was happening.

And with a flash, a crack, and the smell of smoke, everything fell silent.

Twilight waited several seconds before she dared to poke her head above the comforter, making sure that everything was safe before she dared leave her bed. The winds had stopped, the aura in the air was gone, and all the electricity seemed to have expended itself. She nearly jumped out of her skin when there was the sound of a hoof pounding against her door.

"Twilight Sparkle, I thought we told you no more late-night spells!" her mother chided.

Twiight's response was one borne out of habit, an apology she'd kept on standby for so long and used so many times, she was barely even aware she was saying it. "S-sorry, Mom!"

Twilight rolled herself out of bed and onto her hooves, her eyes widening as she stepped around the corner of her bed and found herself staring at a mysterious object.

It was a blue stone, the deepest blue she had ever seen, and even laying on its side, it was tall enough to reach her chest. It glittered and shimmered in the moonlight, with hair-thin veins of metallic white that caught the silver light coming through the window. Iridescent flecks only accented the deep ocean blue of the surface, making the color feel all the more regal by shimmering like diamonds. It was standing in the center of a giant scorch mark on the wooden floor that made it look as if it had recently been on fire, with soot-stained streaks of black radiating out from the stone evenly in all directions.

"I understand you're upset, but you need to try to get to sleep! If you don't stop reading so late, you're not going to be able to preform your best for the entrance exam!" Her mother continued. "So please, try to get to sleep, honey!"

Twilight blinked, finally coming to recognize the fact that her mother was just outside her door. Her head snapped back and forth between the mystery stone and the door, debating whether or not she should get straight to telling her what had just happened... and then her eyes lingered on the scorch marks on their polished hardwood. The very nice hardwood flooring that had been in this house and stayed intact as long as she could remember. Combined with the fact that her mother thought that the disturbance had been HER doing and that Twilight had no proof to the contrary that the damage was her fault...

"O-Okay, Mom! I'll go to bed, now! Goodnight!" She called, frantically reaching out to the stone and rolling it aside. She felt her eyes near bug out of her head as it fully exposed the small blackened crater it had burned into their floor. She looked around her room and snatched a rug from the foot of her bed. She frantically scrubbed the rug against the soot, scrubbing away everything she could until the only marks left were the permanent ones. Turning the dirty side down, the rug was able to serve another, much more vital purpose: it covered all the signs of the stone's magical explosion.

With the current emergency mitigated, Twilight turned her attention back to the stone, itself.

What was it? Where had it come from? She wasn't anywhere NEAR trying summoning spells, she was barely getting the hang of levitation! It couldn't have been her fault, right? There was no possible- no conceivable way she could have done something like this on accident, right?

Had someone sent it to her? Had it sent itself? Was it dangerous? Should she go get her mom, now? What if it was an evil rock? Could rocks BE evil? If it was evil, how was it so pretty? Was it a gemstone? Was it a sapphire? A sapphire almost as big as HER? What was that kind of stone worth? Should she call someone? Who was she gonna call? Who would believe "this magical rock showed up in my room in the middle of the night and I had NOTHING to do with it" as a story from a filly her age, when the librarian didn't even believe she could take care of four books at once?

"Oh, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?" Twilight muttered, beginning to pace up and down the foot of her bed. "I wish Shining Armor was here..."

"Chrrp!"

Twilight froze in place. Eyes wide and with her heart pounding in her chest, she turned towards the source of the noise.

"Did... did the magic rock just-"

The stone squeaked, seeming to feel indignant at having been called a rock, and rocked slightly back and forth.

"H-Hey! Cut it out!" Twilight glanced frantically around for something she could use as a weapon, then settled for just pointing her horn and glowing it as brightly as she could. She didn't know any spells she could use offensively, but the rock probably didn't know that... right?

The rock continued chirping and squeaking as it rocked more and more violently back and forth. As cracks began to appear in its pristine surface, Twilight felt the pieces come together. The round shape, the movement, the sounds... it was an egg! A MAGIC EGG.

She could only watch as more and more cracks appeared in the surface of the egg, until the pieces began to flake off and fall away. With every second that ticked away, Twilight could see more and more of the creature inside, until it shattered completely into a pile of glittering fragments. Twilight's breath caught in her throat as batlike, membranous wings stretched wide, and the quadrupedal creature inside yawned and stretched like a cat with an arching of its back. Twilight noted that in spite of having just been born, it already possessed a pair of sharp-looking incisors in the top of its mouth. In her shock, she didn't notice the light spell failing as she fell back onto her haunches.

"A dragon..." she whispered. Beyond stating the obvious, she was speechless.

Dragons hadn't been native to Equestria for millennia, they lived in their own country far away and rarely visited ponies. They were hardly ever seen outside of migrations! And one had just hatched in her room and was staring directly at her.

Her entire brain had ground to a halt, and the dragon seemed to ignore her for the moment, shaking off what remained of the egg's inner membranes and beginning to clean itself up with its tongue. One thought managed to fight its way to the surface of Twilight's confusion: it was beautiful. Its scales were the same deep blue color as the eggshell, and even in its first clumsy steps, it seemed like it was trying to hold itself with a certain degree of poise. It had ivory-white talons on its feet, like the veins of white on the shell, and its eyes were a pair of bright blue points in the semi-darkness, still keeping locked directly on her. Its wings stretched again, wider than its body was long, and then settled against its sides. Once it had deemed itself sufficiently clean, it began to pad its way towards her, its claws clicking softly against the wood.

Twilight staggered back, still unsure what she should do. She knew dragons could be dangerous, but what about newborn dragons? Could it still hurt her? Some venomous reptiles were born with the ability to already use their venom to protect themselves, what about dragons? Could a newborn have venom? Could a newborn breathe fire? What about the way the egg had arrived? There had been HUGE amounts of magical power, and dragons were known for their physical strength, not their magical prowess. Were there a pair of worried dragon parents somewhere out there ready to tear their house apart looking for their egg?

She felt her rear push up against the wall as she ran out of room to retreat, and still the dragon continued walking towards her. It didn't appear to be threatening her, it was simply walking towards her with its head tilted to the side in a way that looked almost... curious.

Maybe curiosity is universal? Twilight thought, realizing that she was probably NOT the one in the room who knew the least about what was happening. When the dragon began sniffing at her, Twilight held out a trembling hoof towards it, aiming to let it get a better sniff. If it worked for helping cats and dogs feel more friendly, maybe it worked for dragons?

When the tip of the dragon's snout met her hoof, Twilight felt a shock of magical power run through her body. Before she had time to worry about what was happening, the world was already spinning, and a few seconds later she was completely unconscious.