• Published 14th May 2022
  • 433 Views, 61 Comments

Art of the Dragon - Trinary

Smolder is worried about being a role-model so Rainbow Dash gives her an opportunity to be just that.

  • ...

Chapter 2

“Would you care for some more tea?” Ocellus held up the teapot.

“Mmm.” Smolder nudged her cup forward in lieu of a proper answer. Even though her secret tea parties with Ocellus were usually the highlight of her week, Smolder just wasn’t feeling into it today. Even putting on her adorable lacey pink dress wasn’t helping, and it didn’t take a philophage to notice.

The changeling in question filled Smolder’s cup, but kept her over-sized eyes on Smolder. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Smolder let out a small, surprised grunt, something dragons were rather eloquent with. She appreciated Ocellus’ phrasing of the question; with a species as tuned to the emotions of others as changelings, asking if something was bothering them was a pretty pointless question to ask. They usually still would, out of politeness if nothing else, but Ocellus had come to realize that Smolder appreciated if not preferred directness. The gesture helped Smolder’s mood, but only so much. “I guess.” She picked up her cup, little-claw extended, and took a sip, not even waiting for the tea to cool off. But then, being a dragon, she didn’t really need to. Then she took another, longer sip. And another. And another.

Ocellus crossed her front legs over her chest. “Now you’re stalling.”

Why did everycreature around here have to be so observant, Smolder rued to herself. In the Dragon Lands, nocreature cared what you did so long as you didn’t mess with their stuff. Or made yourself look weak—which she supposed was the problem. “Professor Rainbow Dash saw my dress.”

Ocellus gave a little start, blinking her eyes several times in succession. “Oh dear.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Smolder rubbed her face. “It was the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

“I-I can imagine.” Ocellus’ wings flittered nervously. Being so sensitive to the emotions of others, Smolder didn’t doubt that she very well could imagine how bad it was. She half-wanted to ask what utter embarrassment tasted like, but didn’t really want to dwell on it.

Smolder pinched her snout. “It’s like, of course she was the one who saw it. If it was Professor Rarity, she’d probably have offered to make me more, and Professor Fluttershy would’ve invited me to her house for a critter tea party. Even Professor Pinkie Pie would’ve been fine. But no, it had to be the one professor who really isn’t into dresses and tea parties. Because that just figures.”

“There’s also Professor Applejack,” Ocellus offered. “She said she doesn’t like ‘frou-frou’ things too and—” she spotted Smolder’s look. “That’s not helping. Sorry.”

Tapping her claws idly on the table, Smolder looked glumly into her tea. “Ugh, classes are going to be so awkward from now on. Not to mention having to see her when I work on the stupid floats in the gym…”

“Um, if you don’t mind me saying...” Ocellus’ elytra buzzed nervously. “You were sort of in a mood even before this. I think it was ever since they announced the Fall Exhibition, in fact.”

“You know, this is why so many creatures were weirded out by changelings,” Smolder noted. “You guys are way too observant. I blame the compound eyes.”

Ocellus pouted. “You said you always liked my eyes and—wait, you’re trying to distract me!” Darn it, she was learning. Smolder grunted as Ocellus attempted to inflict her most withering stare on her. Being Ocellus it wasn’t all that withering, three out of ten, max. But it was improving. “Tell me what’s bothering you or—or else!”

Smolder’s eyelids flickered a bit. That sounded like a challenge. Ocellus certainly knew how to grab her attention. “Or else what?” Smolder leaned forward, teeth flashing in a smile. She smiled while Ocellus squirmed, no doubt trying to think of something to deliver on that threat.

“If—if you don’t, I’ll—” Ocellus blustered. “I’ll, um, I’ll shapeshift into you and walk into Gallus and Sandbar’s room in that nightie you think I don’t know about!”

Smolder reared back, her face ablaze with red as she struggled to get her jaw to work. “Buh-wha?”

She’d pushed Ocellus more than she had realized. The fact that she even made the threat was significant: first, it meant Ocellus was serious in getting to the bottom of what was bothering her. Secondly, Ocellus was an even faster study when it came to understanding the draconic mindset than Smolder had realized. She couldn’t help but be impressed, even as her cheeks burned. “Okay, okay! Yeesh, going for the throat much?” Smolder drank more tea to try to wait for her face to settle.

For her part, Ocellus was blushing nearly as badly as Smolder. “S-sorry, but you didn’t leave me much choice.” She took a sip too. “I wouldn’t really have … but you’ve been really upset and I want to help you.”

Once she’d emptied her cup, Smolder sighed. “Yeah, okay, it’s fine. It’s just—what am I even doing? What is this, what even is this?” She brushed her claws over her dress. “I’m sitting here in a pony school wearing a dress and drinking hot leaf-juice!”

Ocellus set down her own cup. “But Smolder, you love your dress. And your tea set and ... well, all of this.”

“I know!” Smolder groaned. “I do, I really do. It might have taken the Tree of Harmony to show me how much I did, but yeah, I love it. But this—it really isn’t dragon-like!”

“Since when does that bother you?” Ocellus tilted her head, a gesture she picked up from ponies. “You’ve always been your own dragon.”

“Since they asked me to represent the Dragon Lands at this stupid exhibition!” Smolder grabbed a gem-studded biscuit and snapped it in two. “And they want me to be the face of the school to the dragons like I’m some sort of role-model. Like you said, I’m my own dragon. I don’t—” she stopped to take a fierce bite out of her biscuit. “I don’t know if I can be an example or whatever for them to follow. And I especially don’t want to be thinking about this and deal with Professor Dash seeing my dress!”

Ocellus reached out and patted Smolder’s claw with her hoof. “It’s okay. We can work through this together.” She beamed at her, so bright and sunny that the dragon couldn’t help but smile too. “I wouldn’t worry about Professor Dash. She wouldn’t tell anycreature about what she saw.”

Smolder thought about it and nodded as she helped herself to more tea. “Yeah, maybe it’ll be weird for a bit but I think she’d want to put that behind her as much as I do.”

“Good!” Ocellus chirruped. “Now, maybe we can talk about the exhibition?”

Smolder stood up. “Actually, can we put a hold on this? I need to go take care of something.”

Upset at being cut off mid-planning, Ocellus pouted. “Nice try, but I know you’re trying to distract me again.”

“No, I mean I need to go.” Smolder squirmed in place, holding up her empty cup. “Too much tea.”

“Oh!” Ocellus blushed. “Sorry.”

Smolder waved her off and, after carefully taking off her dress, headed out, feeling much better now that she’d gotten to talk to Ocellus. She didn’t know who she’d be if it weren’t for the friends she’d made at school. But then, she frowned slightly, that was part of the problem with the exhibition.

By the time she reached the end of the hall, she’d forgotten all about Rainbow Dash and, if asked, would’ve confidently said that Rainbow had likely forgotten all about her as well.

Rainbow Dash wished Twilight wouldn’t look at her like that every time she shared one of her great ideas: eyes wide and mouth open, one hoof massaging the side of her head.

She was starting to take it personally.

Then again, Twilight had been having more and more headaches lately. It was becoming an all too familiar experience during their regular meetings of the Council of Friendship. This one was being held at the school since Twilight wanted to check in on the exhibition preparations, which is why Rainbow brought it up here.

Still, she didn’t get what Twilight was getting so bent out of shape about. Her idea was simple and easy, especially compared to the usual problems Twilight had to deal with: disagreements with Equestria’s neighbors, getting the Equestrian bureaucracy running smoothly, freaking out that the newspapers ran a baby photo of her and so on.

“Let me get this straight,” Twilight started again as she glanced over Rainbow’s proposal—she knew writing it down would make Twilight more likely to approve it, as she did love approving forms. “You want me to turn you into a dragon?”

Rainbow Dash nodded fiercely. “Exactly!”

“And you think this will help pony-dragon relations…” Twilight slowly tapped her hooves together. “How, exactly?”

“This oughta be good,” Applejack stage-whispered to the others. Rarity quickly shushed her.

Rainbow decided to ignore them. She couldn’t exactly come out and tell them what was going on with Smolder, since that would not end well, so she came up with a different explanation. “See, it’s like this: Smolder has had to come live with ponies in a place that’s not as fire-proof as the Dragon Lands which was kind of a big deal for her, but she did it to learn more about friendship and how to get along with other creatures like ponies, right?” Twilight nodded, which was when Rainbow sprang the trap. “Well, fair’s fair, right? Shouldn’t one of us get to learn what it’s like to live as a dragon? Especially if we want more of them to come to the School and interact with ponies more?”

“That does sound reasonable,” Twilight admitted, “which is making me suspicious. Also, why you?”

Rainbow scoffed. “Are you kidding me? Nopony else here can match my experience with dragons!”

Twilight arched her brow. “Really?” The more Rainbow thought about it, maybe she should’ve expected the pony who had hatched a dragon egg and all but reared one herself would have an issue with that assertion.


Rainbow rubbed the back of her neck and coughed. “Er, right … well, I meant among the rest of us! You’re the Princess of Equestria now, so you doing it yourself would be all … diplomatic-y and stuff.”

Twilight whickered in annoyance. “There’s … a halfway decent point buried in there. Somewhere.” She took a deep breath before letting it out in a sigh. “Proceed…”

Determined not to lose her momentum again, Rainbow Dash leaned in, ticking off points with her wingtips. “Just look at my credentials! I’ve kicked a dragon in the face; saved Rarity from another one; I went into the Dragon Lands when Spike went on his migration; my favorite legend is about Flash Magnus saving his comrades from a pair of dragons and I rescued his shield from Garble.” She crossed her hooves and pouted. “I also would’ve gone to that totally awesome Gauntlet of Fire thing too if somepony would’ve thought to ask me.”

“We said we were sorry,” Twilight groaned as she rubbed her face. “It was sort of an emergency.”

Applejack raised her hoof. “Uh, ain’t most of that an argument for why you shouldn’t? Seems to me like you butt heads with dragons more than anything else.”

“True, but with dragons that’s hardly a disqualifying factor,” Rarity observed. “They’d be more likely to get along with somepony who’d stand up to them rather than somepony with more ... shall we say, elegance?” She tossed her mane.

“Yeah! Like how you threatened to totally destroy them if they touched a scale on Spike!” Pinkie exclaimed, causing Rarity to cough awkwardly.

“She probably said it elegantly,” Fluttershy chimed in, trying to be helpful.

Twilight held up a hoof to try to get everypony back on track. “Okay, I agree that you have a demonstrated interest in dragons…” Rainbow leaned forward eagerly, but Twilight frowned. “But I’m still not sure about this.”

Rainbow slumped back in her seat and groaned. “Oh, come on! Why not?! Don’t tell me it’d be too hard for you, you turned us all into Breezies that one time and we’ve all been turned into seaponies.”

“True, but I’m not sure if dragons would react well to a pony pretending to be a dragon…” Twilight chewed her lip. “I’m worried that might come off as disrespectful—like you’re just playing at being who they really are.”

“Isn’t that what you did when you became alicornified?” Rainbow pointed out.

Twilight’s eye twitched. “That isn’t even a word and … what do you mean?”

“Think about it,” she pressed. “You went from being a unicorn to an alicorn and got yourself a set of wings. Was that being disrespectful to pegasi?”

“That’s not the—” Twilight tried to protest.

“Or what about unicorns?” Rainbow Dash pressed. “Isn’t becoming an alicorn almost like saying that you’re too good to be a unicorn now? Or when you go through that mirror portal and turn into that … whatever that is?”

“Twilight does like switching her body up a lot,” Pinkie Pie pointed out. “It’s just a matter of time before she turns into a draconequus. Or minocentaur—cenominotaur? Whatever Tirek was.”

Rainbow crossed her front legs over her chest. “Oh yeah, sure, you try to have a monkey coltfriend in another dimension and we’re all supposed to just take that in stride, but if I make the perfectly reasonable request to turn into a dragon and suddenly I’m the weird one!”

Twilight sputtered. “I don’t—I—what?!”

“Don’t tie the poor gal up in knots.” Applejack gave Rainbow and Pinkie a look. “For what it’s worth though, if Rainbow wants to have a dragon experience, being a dragon is probably the way to do it. As—” she was probably about to say ‘nice’ but honesty compelled her to rephrase, “—accommodating as Ember’s been, there are plenty of dragons who still get their snouts outta joint over ponies. Having RD get the full dragon experience might make it easier all around for folks to understand where everycreature’s coming from.”

“Exactly!” Rainbow beamed. “If you want to do something, you have to go all in. No point being all indeterminating, right?”

Twilight still didn’t look completely sold, so Rainbow put on her best, most pleading expression. “I promise, nothing bad’ll happen! I’ll listen to Smolder, won’t burn down Ponyville or do anything that’d risk starting a war with the dragons!” Her ear twitched as she thought about it. “Actually, you almost started a species war involving dragons when Ember visited Ponyville and when you opened the school, plus that time when we first met the yaks. That’s three more times than I’ve ever potentially risked starting a war.” She stroked her muzzle. “Or does that not count since you were probably diplomatically immunized or something?”

Twilight groaned. “If I turn you into a dragon, will you please stop butchering the equine language?”

“Yes ma’am!” Rainbow saluted her eagerly.

Twilight took another breath and closed her eyes, concentrating as the magic surged. Her horn lit up and a second later, so did Rainbow Dash. White light swirled around her, so bright that the others had to look away.

There was an even brighter flash, and when everypony looked up, there was a svelte blue-scaled dragon standing in the middle of the room standing unsteadily on two legs. Rainbow’s ears had tapered up and hardened into a pair of prominent horns. A series of spines with all the colors of the rainbow stretched from her neck to the tip of her tail, which twitched about on the floor. She spread her wings wide, having a greater wingspan than before. As Rainbow turned to get a better look, the sun’s rays reflected off her scales in such a way as to cause them to shimmer with a rainbow aura. When she grinned, Rainbow revealed she had a mouthful of fangs. “This. Is. So awesome!”

Pinkie Pie leaned forward. “Oooh I can see my reflection in her scales! Shinyyyy...” Rarity dramatically held a hoof up to her forehead and fainted backwards—right onto a put-upon looking Applejack. Fluttershy let out a squeak of terror and ducked down, hiding under her mane.

“Hey, it’s still me!” Rainbow waved to her, then stopped to regard her own claws. “Whoa, these things are weird. How do you get to move the one you want?” She wriggled her claws, opening and closing her hand, slowly getting a feel for having digits. “Heh, check it—I can extend some and keep others down!” She stretched out her hand and slowly brought each individual claw down until only the one in the middle was pointed out. “How cool is that?!”

Twilight coughed. “Um, about that, Rainbow—”

Rainbow turned, her tail accidentally bowling Applejack over. “Whoops, sorry AJ!”

Applejack flailed her limbs as she pulled herself back up. “Dangit, watch where you’re putting that giant backside of yours!”

“Okay.” Rainbow turned around and knocked Applejack over again. “There, I was watching where I put my tail that time.”

“Girls…” Twilight warned.

Rainbow Dash barely heard her, having realized something else. “I can breathe fire now, right?”

“Not in my school full of books you’re not!” Twilight shrieked.

“Not to mention the students, yes?” Rarity added dryly. “And us, as well?”

Twilight laughed awkwardly. “Yes, of course! It’s just that—Rainbow Dash!” she shouted as Rainbow took an experimental bite out of a crystal vase she’d brought from her old castle.

“Sowwy!” Rainbow swallowed quickly. “I was just seeing if I got the full dragon treatment. Turns out these actually taste really good!”

“They’re Maud-approved!” Pinkie added, holding up the vase to display a sticker of Maud Pie holding a half-eaten chunk of crystal and a (presumably) pleased look on her face.

Twilight rubbed her face. “I don’t know about this…”

“Don’t worry Twilight, I promise I’ll empathize the scales off Smolder!” Rainbow grinned.

“That isn’t how that word works,” Twilight grumbled, her eye twitching again.

Rainbow looked at a clock. “Uh-oh, I have to go find her now, see you later!” She zoomed out, slamming the door shut behind her. The second the door closed, she heard Twilight groaning and the sound of a pony’s face planting onto a table. Rainbow had grown rather familiar with that sound.

It was immediately followed by Applejack asking, “So, when did you figure out she uses bad grammar to distract you whenever you’re about to object to what she’s gonna do?”

Darn it, Applejack! Rainbow raced out a nearby window, the last thing she heard before heading out was the sound of Twilight yelling “She does WHAT?!”