• Published 9th Jun 2021
  • 408 Views, 45 Comments

Seconds to spare - Hope



Princess Luna sends her student, Eris, to make friends in Ponyville.

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Ch.6 And Future All Hope

"How do you deal with so much pain?" Eris asked Pinkie as they walked, everyone else quiet and thoughtful in the wake of enduring the assault of their pasts.

"Silly, it isn't pain," Pinkie said as she skipped over a rock, a bounce in her step, and never losing her smile. "It's Living! It's me, and you, and everything in between."

Eris chuckled, looking out into the trees as she tried to understand the strange pony.

"Maybe it's too much living for me then," Eris decided.

"Not enough You, too much of the other things that hurt," Pinkie countered. "There's good stuff. You're some good stuff."

Eris sniffled, but she did smile before a rumble rolled through the ground. Everyone stopped and looked around for more aging cracks in the ground, but they didn’t see them. The silence stretched on until the ground shook again.

“It came from thataway,” AJ said with a gesture down the road.

They picked up their speed and came around a bend to see a river in turmoil. Thrashing whitewater roiling over the banks as a bridge was broken in half, the wooden pieces flying off into the woods, and sinking into the waves.

“Dang it, we needed that bridge!” AJ shouted as they galloped up as close as the group could get to the wild river.

At the sound of her voice, a dark shape rose from the waves and turned to face the group. Dark purple scales and golden spines swept back from lips turned down in a sneer of rage. The spines that stuck back from the creature’s head looking dishevelled and broken.

“Leave! Go away! Come back in a few years, when I’ve found a hole to bury myself in!” he roared at them, his tail thrashing to the side and sending another spray of water at the ponies, the mist falling over them like rain.

Rarity stepped up closer, squinting at the creature before clearing her throat.

“Excuse me! But what happened to your mane? Or… Spines? They look broken!” she called out.

“Well thank yooouuu for noticing!” he snapped in reply, bringing his head low to glare directly into her eyes. “Yes! I woke up, and I look terrible! I don’t even know what happened, but I look a hundred years older, my spines are all broken, and my scales are positively DULL!” he roared in anger.

Rarity stood her ground and looked him over, smiling just a little.

“Darling, your scales look fine, don’t you know that dragon scales gain a deeper and more refined luster with age?”

He huffed, and opened his mouth to retort before looking at his arm, squinting.

“Really? They look alright?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yes, I just noticed your spines, and… Well, not to be overly boastful, but I could trim them into a much better condition,” she offered.

He looked around at the group and frowned.

“Just because you want to get over MY river!”

Rarity shook her head, and looked back to the rest. “Rainbow and Fluttershy, dears, could you start carrying the others across?”

She then looked back to the serpent, smiling.

“I think we’ve got that covered, dear, but your spines?”

As the pegusi carried Pinkie across, the river dragon slowly laid his head down on the bank of the river, allowing Rarity to get a closer look, before digging through her bags and pulling out a hoof trimming tool and a file.

“I’ll have you looking quite dashing in just a few minutes, then we can head along, it’s a shame about your bridge though,” she said with a sympathetic look as she clipped off broken ends.

“It’s fine,” he huffed. “Nopony’s used it in… Well, decades. So no fare, no news, no… Anything.”

“A shame!” Rarity gasped. “This is a bit remote, I’ll admit, but perhaps if we can fix the current situation, I could host a party or two out here! Travel by carriage, fix the road… It certainly has atmosphere,” she said with a wry chuckle.

“No…. No pony wants to come all the way out here,” the dragon insisted. “Especially not with the new guy around.”

“New guy?” Eris asked.

“Well he just showed up, said that he’d be rolling back the clock, and told all the creatures of the forest that we’d be serving him soon enough,” he sighed, sounding miserable. “I remember serving the ponies a long time ago and that was hard enough! The rules, the noise, but… it was better than this.”

Rarity tut tutted, shaking her head. “Shame, we’re going to try and stop him, that’s why we’re out here.”

“Really?” he said, hope in his eyes for the first time as his tail fell still. “Well… Here.”

He stretched his body across the river, flat as a bridge.

“I’m sorry about the bridge. Come on, no need to fly across,” he said, his tone of voice much gentler.

Eris stepped up next to him, conflicted but she knelt to put her hand on his, where he was holding onto the river bank.

“Thank you.”

“Thank your precious unicorn friend here,” he said, looking back at where she was working on his spines. “I was… so angry,” he admitted.

“Sometimes we need a bit of hope and joy in our lives, to see past what hurts right now,” Rarity said fondly, patting him on the head gently. “I just wanted to see you at your best is all.”

He smiled, as Eris walked across his back, followed by AJ, to join their friends on the other side of the river.

That left just Rarity and the river dragon.

“What’s your name, little pony?” he asked.

“It’s Rarity,” she said as she took the file to his spines, sharpening the clipped ends.

“My name’s Steven,” he replied. “It’s been… a long time since anyone cared how I felt.”

She frowned, pausing in her work. “Have you thought about coming to Ponyville?”

“I wasn’t sure if I’d be run off,” he admitted, looking away shyly.

“Well, if you do come to town you tell them Rarity invited you,” she insisted. “My name… It’s fairly well known, and who knows maybe you can model some clothes for me.”

His eyes practically sparkled as he turned to look at her, grinning.

“Model?!”

“Yes,” she chuckled before gesturing with the file. “Not quite done, I wouldn’t want to leave your spines blunted.”

He blushed and laid his head back down.

“I’d love to model for you,” he said after a bit, still smiling. “I’d love to… look good, no matter how old I am.”

She put the point on the last spine before getting down and standing in front of him.

“Steven, it doesn’t matter how old you are. I learned that from my mother. Age changes us, but there’s no age that destroys beauty, if you know how to find it, and enjoy it. Visit me once this is all over, please, and I’ll show you just how dashing you can look.”

“It’s a deal,” he agreed. “Now go on, your friends are waiting for you. Thank you, Rarity.”

“You’re quite welcome, Steven, and thank you,” she said as she put her tools away and got up carefully on his back, walking across with her head held high.