• 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 2: Growing Pains

"Are you sure about this, honey?"'

"We all need a day out, Night Light." Twilight Velvet gave her husband's shoulder a squeeze. The two of them were standing together outside their daughter's door, primed to wake her for a trip to the older parts of Canterlot city. "We can treat ourselves to everyone's favorite sights. I can see the falls, you can go to the old observatory..." her voice dropped to a whisper, "...and can you imagine how excited she'll be when she sees Canterlot's oldest library?"

Night Light chuckled and nodded. "You realize you're signing us up for multiple trips to Old Canterlot a week to take out and return books there, right?"

"Well, at least Dusty Pages is going to get a bit of a break!" The two of them laughed again at the thought of the haggard librarian before she knocked at the door and began to crack it open. "Twilight? Are you up, sweetie?"

The first thing that they noticed was that Twilight's bed was empty, but the fear only lasted for a moment until they spotted her laying on the floor, pressed against the wall. Twilight Velvet's breath caught in her throat as she spotted movement, something curled up beside her and stirring now that they had intruded on her room. It took only a moment for it to become clear WHAT the creature was: a dragon. A blue dragon, curled up beside their sleeping daughter. The dragon stretched itself for a moment before sitting up and staring directly at them. Its blue eyes were bright and intelligent, feeling like they were burning their gaze into her with an aura much bigger and more regal than its size would imply.

"Where- how-" Night Light started to stammer, only to shake his head in disbelief and fall silent again. That seemed to be enough to finally wake up Twilight, though. She stirred and groaned slightly as she rolled onto her hooves. When she finally seemed to be awake enough to recognize what was happening, her eyes shot open wide and her head snapped back and forth between her parents and the dragon. Twilight Velvet almost snickered at that, she KNEW that expression: her daughter knew she'd been caught. Caught in what had yet to be determined, but caught nonetheless. After several seconds of frantic panicking, she finally resigned herself to using her giant, adorable eyes to plead with them.

"Can... we keep her?"

Twilight Velvet had already made her decision before her daughter could finish the question. She was a thrill-seeker, it had always been in her, down to her bones. This was clearly an adventure planting itself right in their daughter's hooves, and she was begging for the chance to take it. If Twilight Sparkle was going to take after her mother, there was no way she could deny it. She smiled and poked her hoof into her husband's side.

"Well, honey? CAN we keep her?"

Night Light looked frantically back and forth between his daughter and his wife, and Twilight Velvet took a moment to savor how flustered he was. Over the years being married to her, he seemed to learn not to be surprised by anything, and it was fun to see him lose it again for the first time in years.

"W-Well, I- I suppose if your mother's okay with it..."

"YES! YesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesYEEEEESSSSSS!" she immediately took to her hooves, beginning to jump gleefully around the room in the most adorable way. The dragon watched all of this with fascination, not seeming to be disturbed at all by the deliberation or Twilight's sudden celebration.

"Are you sure about this?" Night Light whispered.

"Come on, there's no coincidences, right?" She replied under her breath. "Besides, look at how happy she is... I'm sure it'll work out." She walked up to the tiny dragon and bent down to look it in the eyes. "Welcome to the family."

The dragon tilted her head (Velvet still wasn't sure how Twilight knew it was a "her," but she was willing to trust her daughter on that one) and returned the stare with burning intensity. Something in those eyes told Velvet that this creature, while seeming to be mute, was certainly intelligent enough to understand her.

"So... what is your name?" She glanced over the dragon's scales, watching them shimmer and sparkle in the morning light. "Blue... Aqua?"

The dragon's eyes narrowed aggressively, making her disapproval clear.

"Okay, what bout... Azure- no- Azura?"

The glare didn't budge.

"Cobalt? Indigo? Marina?"

Finally, Twilight's ecstatic prancing came to a stop, walking up beside her and staring at the little dragon with equal scrutiny.

"She's like a sapphire... What about Saphira?"

The dragon finally seemed to be pleased with that suggestion, letting the glare drop and walking over to Twilight to rub affectionately against her.

Twilight Velvet resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Of course none of her suggestions had been good enough, but Twilight's first idea was accepted. Clearly, this little dragon had picked a favorite.

"Saphira it is!"

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"Come on, you have to eat!" Twilight urged, pushing the saucer of milk towards Saphira. "You're a baby dragon, and babies have to eat so they can grow up strong!"

She could practically feel the dissatisfaction washing off of Saphira as she glared at the offering. Finally, she spun in place, smacking the saucer hard enough to send it flying. Twilight only barely managed to catch the saucer in a levitation spell before it hit the wall and shattered, but she wasn't able to do anything to stop herself from being soaked with warm milk.

"Fine... what DO you want?" Twilight grumbled. "I've read some dragons eat gemstones, or Mom made hayburgers the other night-"

Twilight cut herself off as she felt a wave of disgust wash over her, almost strong enough to make her breakfast return to her mouth. Her head was swimming, almost spinning, and she leaned against the table to steady herself. After several seconds of breathing heavily and screwing her eyes shut, the sensation passed enough for her to look back at Saphira.

"Was... was that YOU?"

The little dragon nodded slowly.

"Okay... I guess you don't like hayburgers..." Twiight mumbled, reaching to pour her third bowl of cereal. Usually, she didn't eat more than two, but she was still ravenous. Her mind, however, was focused on other questions. How did Saphira make her feel that? Was that telepathy magic? How was a dragon using telepathy magic? Wait... is that why I'm so hungry this morning? Am I feeling HER hunger?

"Fine... then what should we- hey! Where are you going?" Twilight watched as Saphira finally seemed to give up on the dining room table and its contents altogether. With a flap of her wings, the tiny dragon took to the air, flying in a tight circle around the kitchen before making a beeline for the open window. Twilight's eyes widened as Saphira escaped outside, rushing for the window to try and follow. Even in the time it took for her to scramble up onto the window, Saphira had completely vanished.

"SAPHIRA, COME BACK!"

Twilight wasn't sure what to do. She wasn't a pegasus, there was no way she could catch up, even if she DID know where Saphira had gone. She wanted to take off running after her, but that would almost certainly be fruitless, too. In the back of her mind, Twilight knew that the most important thing was to stay here, make sure that if Saphira came back there would be someone to meet her. After what felt like a hundred options ran through her mind, Twilight finally hung her head and resigned herself to the worst feeling in the world- sitting and waiting.

"We could have figured it out..."

"Squeak!"

Twilight blinked, her head snapping down to the sound just below the window. Her eyes widened as a mixture of relief and shock filled her.

There was Saphira, hardly gone so much as a few feet from the house. She had pinned a large rat under her claws and latched her fangs onto its throat. Twilight could hardly do more than watch as the rat stopped moving, and a few seconds later it had disappeared down Saphira's throat, swallowed whole.

Okay, DEFINITELY a carnivore... I probably should have guessed that. Twilight thought. This time, the urge to vomit was entirely her own.

With her belly now full, Saphira licked her chops with a satisfied look on her face before flying back up to the windowsill. The dragon was clearly proud of herself, licking her claws clean before staring up at Twilight with a look she would almost describe as "smug."

Twilight sighed, wrapping a hoof around Saphira and pulling her close. Saphira let out an indignant squeak, but Twilight refused to relent.

"Don't scare me like that! Canterlot's a HUGE city, and if you get lost out there we might never find you!"

Twilight felt a grudging acceptance coming from Saphira as the drake pushed back against her, trying to escape the embrace. Twilight refused, pulling her tighter.

"Promise me you won't go out by yourself again! If you want to go hunting, I'll go with you!" It was a hastily-made promise Twilight knew she wouldn't enjoy keeping, but the fear of losing Saphira she'd gone through just now vastly outweighed the disgust she felt at watching her eat another creature. "I know my way around, it's how I get to the library by myself!"

This time, the impression Twilight got was one of indignation and frustration, but she stayed firm. "Or... I can tell Mom and Dad to keep the windows shut from now on! There's ways to get meat without letting you go out and hunt it, yourself!"

Saphira pulled away from her enough to arch her long neck and stare at her in disbelief. Twilight settled on her best impression of her mother's "try me" face. The two of them stayed locked in a staring contest for a few seconds, and Twilight could feel her will quickly eroding under Saphira's smoldering gaze, but she refused to back down. Finally, Saphira relented, looking to the side and scoffing angrily.

"Good!" Twilight smiled and let go of her grip on the proud little dragoness. "Now, I've got dishes to do, and then we need to study for the entrance exam!"

Saphira nodded, hopping down from the window and taking up a sentry position by the kitchen sink. A moment later, however, inspiration seemed to strike, and a glint of mischief appeared in Saphira's eyes. Without warning, her tail snaked around the counter and swept the majority of the dirty dishes into the soapy water with an ear-splitting clatter.

"No no NO! I had those... organized." Twilight sighed. Well, THAT was clearly payback for the unwanted hug... Still worth it.

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"So, once we return these, we need to get..." Twilight went over the list of topics in her head, crossing off one magical subject after another. "Thaumic iconography and modern incantation composition!"

Twilight cast a glance back at Saphira, where she was perched on top of a small pile of books in her wagon. Saphira nodded, affirming that she would commit the topics to memory and make sure Twilight stuck to them. Twilight knew that if she got distracted, Saphira would make sure that what was supposed to be a five-minute trip to check out new books wouldn't turn into a five-hour one. It was a rapport they'd repeated at least a dozen times over the last week as Saphira integrated herself as an essential part of Twilight's library trips.

"I don't know if two books on each will be enough..." Twilight tapped her chin. "We might have to swing by the Canterlot University library on our way home."

CU only let her take out two books at a time, and that was thanks to her other teachers making a provisional account for her there, but it had some of the best and most thorough textbooks she'd ever seen, and she felt like it had taken her studies to a whole new level.

The problem, of course, was that they refused to let Saphira in because of the "fire hazard" she presented, no matter how many times Twilight told them that she wasn't even old enough to breathe fire, yet! That meant that she had to either leave Saphira outside on her own (which made her worry, no matter how many times Saphira had proven to have an impeccable sense of direction) or go by herself, which was becoming more and more uncomfortable. In just over a week, Saphira had become an irreplaceable part of her routine, and it felt wrong for the two of them to separate.

"Hey, Twilight!"

Twilight drew up short as a trio of other fillies came running up to her, inadvertently cutting off her path to the library. Moondancer, Lyra, and Minuette all looked excited, but Twilight would have been lying if she said she was eager to find out why.

"Told you we'd find her going this way!" Lyra smiled and poked Minuette in the ribs.

"That new carousel is opening up today!" Moondancer smiled and pointed in a direction perpendicular to her path. "They're throwing a big party, there's even cake and a prize for the first filly to ride it ten times in a row without getting sick! Wanna come?"

Twilight cringed. She didn't want to go to some party when she had so much work to do, and even worse, these fillies were cutting into her valuable study time!

"I don't think so... I've got my entrance exam in a few days, and-"

"Ugh, all you ever DO is study! Don't you get bored?" Minuette asked. "Day and night, all you ever do is go to the library and back! Don't you want to have some FUN?"

"Studying IS fun..." Twilight mumbled, trying to hide her annoyance as she took hold of her wagon's handle and started to side-step the other girls.

"No, it's not!" Minuette insisted, going out of her way to get back in Twilight's way. "Come on, Twilight! You need to do something fun, or you're just gonna turn into a giant nerd! Come with us!"

"Well, maybe I LIKE being a giant nerd! Now go away!" Twilight snapped, trying to push past. Minuette held her ground, refusing to let Twilight continue on her way to the library. The two collided, and when Twilight tried to push past, Minuette pushed back, causing her to lose her balance and fall onto the sidewalk.

"I think you just don't like us! This is why you don't have any friends, Twilight!"

"W-Well, you-" Just as Twilight felt the tears beginning to flow, her response was cut off by a furious-sounding hiss and a flash of blue. Saphira had rushed out in front of her, interposing herself between Twilight and the other girls. Her hackles were raised and her needle-sharp teeth were bared in a show of aggression. Her wings were half-unfurled to make her appear bigger and her entire body was coiled like a spring. The other three stumbled back, clearly terrified of the out-of-control dragon. Saphira snapped at them, looking as if she were trying to take a chunk out of their legs but had come up short by several inches. Lyra and Minutette both screamed before sprinting away in the direction they'd pointed to, leaving them far behind. Moondancer hesitated for a moment longer, giving Twilight a sad look before turning and following the other two.

Twilight sniffled as she pushed herself back to her hooves, and Saphira settled into a much calmer, aloof-looking position sitting on her haunches. She smiled and sat down beside her dragon friend, mimicking her pose and gently stroking the top of her head with her hoof.

"Thanks, Saphira..."

Saphira looked for a moment that she was considering ignoring Twilight's thanks, but she leaned over and affectionately nuzzled Twilight's side. It only lasted a second, and to any outside observer it would have looked like Saphira just momentarily lost her balance and leaned on her for support, but Twilight could feel the love behind the action. When the moment had passed, Saphira returned to her perch on top of the tiny hoard of books, and Twilight wiped away the last remnants of her tears. Together, the two of them resumed their trek to cycle through the libraries of Canterlot.