• Published 3rd Jul 2022
  • 3,119 Views, 55 Comments

The Countryside Knight - Dark Krystal



Twilight is tasked by Princess Celestia to help the Lunar Captain make some friends.

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XIV - The Talk Before the Train

“If what Princess Luna told me is correct, then I should be back from Canterlot on the fifth or hopefully the third moon from toda—Spike! Are you listening!?” Twilight snapped her head around and glared at Spike, finding the young dragon busy checking himself out in the stand-up mirror. Spike jumps as he sees Twilight’s glare reflected in the mirror; he spun around and put his arm against the mirror

“Y-yeah! Of course, Twilight!” Spike said quickly as he gave Twilight a tense smile.

“Then when will I be back?” Twilight questioned with a skeptic glare on her face.

“Uhhh… on the fooourth… right?” Spike answered with an unsure grin.

“Spike…” Twilight said irritably, with a deadpan glare.

Spike sighed in defeat and moved away from the mirror. “Okay, okay… sorry.”

Twilight shook her head. “Spiiiike… You’re going to be in charge of the library with Owlowiscious while I’m gone! You need to pay attention; it’s good for you to know this in case any of the others come to ask where I am!”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it! But… why can’t I just, you know… go with you?” Spike threw his arms up and looked off to the side with a disgruntled expression.

“Because… It’s… uh…” Twilight stammered briefly. “A… private event that Princess Luna is holding, and she wants me and only me to come, Spike.” Twilight explained as she looked away.

“Mhm…” Spike grunted bitterly. “I don’t get it, Twilight… Why can’t I come? What even is this private event she's throwing?”

"I don't know either, Spike. All I know is that Princess Luna requested me and myself to go to Canterlot." She explained as she turned back to her bed and looked into her saddlebags to check off her current storage.

"Mhmmm…" Spike cupped his chin and narrowed his eyes. A moment of silence passed before Spike broke it. " Twilight isn't this kinda… fishy."

"Oh! Spike, come on!" Twilight scoffed and rolled her eyes.

"Think about it, Twilight!” Spike said as he approached her. “It wasn't that long ago that Princess Luna was Nightmare Moon! P-plus, didn’t the elements just kinda… make Nightmare Moon vanish and leave Princess Luna behind!”

Spike stopped by Twilight's side and jabs her shoulder his claw. “You told me, "Don't just vanish, Spike!" So how come you made Princess Luna an exception?” Twilight gave Spike a peeved look.

"Think about it, Twilight! W-what if this is a ploy by her to get revenge on you!?" Spike Twilight sighed and gave a look of concern for the dragon.

"Spike…" Twilight let out a sigh; she turned around and placed a hoof on his shoulder. "Princess Luna is herself; she is not Nightmare Moon and Nightmare Moon is gone. Even if she comes back, friendship will prevail.” Twilight gave a reassuring smile at Spike, the dragon looking away sheepishly in response to her confidence.

“It’ll be okay. It’s a short event and I’ll come back as soon as it's over.” Twilight gave Spike a bigger smile, only for it to fade as she noticed Spike’s still uncertain expression

A sigh leaves her. “If I don't come back or send a letter back by the third or fourth moon, then… feel free to gather the girls and come after me, okay?" Twilight said reluctantly.

Spike perked up slightly at that, and after a moment of brief silence he looked back over to Twilight and nodded his head. “Okay, deal!"

Twilight gave a small smile and pulled away from him. "Okay. In the meanwhile you can uh… think of this as a… uh… mnnn… break!"

“From… you?” Spike said with no hesitation, earning a deadpan look from Twilight.

“Sure, Spike From Me” Twilight pulled away and returned to her saddlebags. “ Just relax until I get back and uh… you know... make some friends! You never know what potential friends are waiting for you!”

"...Are you the real Twilight?" Spike asked as he looked up at Twilight, an amused expression on his face. Twilight stopped her check-over, looking up and deadpanned at the wall.

"The Twilight I knew a couple of moons ago would rather be invisible and read a book.” Spike said with amusement in his voice..

“Spike… do you remember the term for characters in a story learning from mistakes and change?” Twilight looked back over at the dragon.

“Uh... yeah? Character development, duh.” Spike raised a brow at her.

Twilight leaned her head down and poked his nose with her horn. “Maybe you should try it sometime...” Twilight smirked, earning an eye roll from her assistant.

“Oh, pssh!” Spike scoffed lightly and turned around, heading down the stairs. “Whatever, I’m going to go see if my new issue of power ponies came in yet. I'll be back before you leave! And remind you of our deal!” Spike yelled as he went down the stairs.

“Okay, Spike. Remember! Don't tell the girls about me leaving today, please? I don’t want them to turn this into something big or freak out like you did.” Twilight yelled back.

“I didn't freak out!” Spike yelled from below. "I'm just saying it's possible!"

Twilight rolled her eyes; her ears stood up as she listened to Spike’s footsteps below; her ears flicked as she heard the opening and closing of the front door. A heavy sigh left her and she threw her face into her bed sheets.

' I'm so sorry, Spike… '

Twilight raised her head up. Tiredness became more visible on her features. Worry, anxiety, and fear had plagued her since Princess Luna's announcement, while normally it wasn’t worrying… Ratimir's attitude and… nope, it was only just Ratimir and the fact that he was going… and he was going to crush the Solar Guard that made her brain ache and yearn for relief.

' Why did you have to make this complicated!? You big… oaf! '

Twilight smacked her bed sheets before letting out a sigh again.

' It'll be nice to see Shining Armor again… but will I have to pick a side? Will he be upset if I sit on their side?! What will happen if Ratimir succeeds? Will Shining be okay? '

Twilight smacked her head against the bedsheets rapidly while letting out a frustrated groan.

' I need to just… finish packing! Finish up, make sure Spike will be okay while I'm gone! And think about what to do when I get on the train! Postpone this Twilight! POSTPONE IT! '

Twilight smacked her cheeks lightly and nodded, a determined look on her face. Her eyes snapped onto her saddlebags. She scans the contents quickly and murmurs. "Okay, toothbrush, books, maybe some snacks, parchment paper, and… what else?.”

Twilight looked over more before looking up; she put her hoof on against her chin. Her eyes wandered around the room, searching for any reminders of something else she would need. Twilight’s eyes stopped, but not on something she needed. Twilight stared silently at the framed photo of her and her friends. A smile almost threatened to make its way onto her face, but her eyes went down and landed on the oddity in the photo.

Spike.

Twilight eyes lingered on Spike’s captured joy as he stayed by her side. A lone dragon surrounded by ponies. It was strange, true, but why did it catch her attention now? Twilight tilted her head as her mind began to wander, slowly, her vision began replacing herself and her friends with members of Lunar Guard, and leaving the role of Spike to Ratimir. Twilight’s mind paused, the indication that Spike was even remotely close to being like Ratimir… Twilight closed her eyes, and shook her head.

` No, no, no, no! Twilight, you’re overthinking it again! He’s not even close to being like Ratimir; he has me and… and…`

Twilight scowled as the conversation from earlier returned to the forefront of her mind. The worry and sadness Spike revealed at her being gone for a bit. She opened her eyes a little and she looked at Spike's framed happiness once again. Her eyes danced between him and the girls.

` Is he close to any of the girls? He has a crush on Rarity… does that count? Applejack he… uh.. Uh, Fluttershy he… uh talks to her? Positively? Rainbow Dash… P-pinkie Pie! He hangs around Sugarcube corner! But… what else… what else…`

Twilight froze in place. Her body quivered as she stared at the framed Spike, her vision starting to combine the dragon with the human once more. Twilight gasped and snapped her head away; panic started to rise from within her. Her mind started to trace back to every interaction Spike has had since they came here; her memory of seeing the dragon has always stuck to her side and only went out when he needed to get something.

The only times she saw Spike invited out by somepony was Rarity… but only when she needed Spike’s assistance. No pony else has ever invited Spike. In fact, most ponies didn't even glance at Spike until recently. Recently? Why recently? Twilight's eyes widened, her mouth loosened, and her blood chilled.

Spike’s birthday.

The incident.

Twilight’s back legs weaken. The unicorn fell down onto her haunches as the memories of that day came to her mind. A new factor about dragons was known that day to her… Dragon greed, and unfortunately everypony else learned about it… at the cost of a few destroyed buildings. Her hooves raised up to her chest as her breathing quickened, the fear and worry she felt upon seeing the fully greed-driven Spike was returning.

She hadn’t even noticed she had been ignoring seeing the incident from an outside perspective. Brief scenes of the ponies screaming in terror came to her memory. The fact that Wonderbolts were called in to deal with the situation, and even the destruction of pony homes. It came back all at once. Twilight hesitantly and fearfully glanced over at the photo; again, her mind had changed it back to the Lunar Guard being in the background.

Her eyes lingered on the fearful photo as the stories Princess Celestia and Luna told her regarding the fear of bat ponies returned to her memory.

Fangs, claws, slitted pupils, and an unusual diet. Different. Not well known. Twilight’s eyes shrunk as the memory of the Zecora incident came to mind, how the town feared her… Twilight opened her mouth, her mind and heart desperate to challenge these claims, desperate to say she was overthinking and panicking over nothing, but… nothing left her mouth.

She closed her mouth tightly and bit her lip, her hooves raised slightly as a wetness began to build up in her eyes.

` No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Spike’s kind! He’s helpful and… and a good person! Ponyville’s filled with good people! J-j-just ignorant I-i’m sure this is just temporary! It’s just temporary! T-there's no way they could fear a-a-a b-baby dragon! No way they can be scared of Spike! They just f-fear the unknown! Zecora was mysterious after all! `

But.

She felt it. She felt each point that any point she made could be broken by a “But”, there was always a "But", a "But" that held reason and logic against her more emotional arguments. Tears began to drip down her face as the truth of the situation held itself in front of her face.

Spike was on the verge… or already an outcast to Equestria, to the ponies he surrounds himself with. Twilight sat there, crying silently as her will to argue faded. Her mind started to create visions of the future for her assistant… no her little brother. She could see Spike walking down the streets of ponyville to do his errands, and the townsponies looked at him with a new wariness and fear on their faces.

Slowly her vision shifts and changes. As Spike transforms into... Ratimir. The human standing in the street by himself, with his usual uncaring, apathetic look on his face as he walked down the streets by himself. Twilight slowly fell to the floor.

She put her forelegs over her face as she wept on the ground.


“Extra paper..? Check... Extra pens and pencils..? Check… Books for downtime reading? Check... Notepad..? Check...” Twilight checked off wearily, her reddened eyes held heavy as she looked over her saddlebags for the tenth time just to stall time.

"Mhm…." She grunted, finally tired from the distraction. Her eyes slowly wandered over to the window, seeing the orange hue lightening up the window.

' Is it almost time..? '

Twilight looked down the stairs, her eyes lingering there for a time before a heavy sigh left her.

` And Spike isn’t here yet... should… go get him? Make sure nopony hur-no, no… They… wouldn't… right? I need to take my mind off this… I should just… do a last-minute check around the library just to make sure nothing can or will go wrong. `

Twilight slowly nodded to herself and headed down the stairs. Her eyes snapped onto the front door when she reached the bottom and continued to linger there as she went into the kitchen.

' He's okay… he's okay, Twilight. '


Twilight hesitantly moved her eyes away from the door. Twilight focused her attention and mind on checking the fridge and pantries, counting the number of edible items and then calculating their volume to determine if it was enough to last until she returned.

“There should be enough food for him and Owlowiscious...” Twilight mumbled as she closed the pantry door.

` Even if they ran out of food, I’m sure the girls would be willing to help out Spike… Right? No, no… I'm right! Don't… don't doubt them, Twilight… `

Twilight turned around and walked out of the kitchen, returning to the center of the library. Her eyes went back to the front door briefly before she shook her head and looked over to the bookshelves.

` I… I should organize the shelves real quick, and hide all the spell books until I’m back... just in case. `

Twilight ignited her horn and grabbed hold of all the books in the room with her magic. She focused her magic on moving and placing all the books in alphabetical order back on the shelves. Her eyes constantly kept flickering back to the front door, an impatience starting to rise within her gut.

Thankfully, before she could decide to go with her impatience, the sound of something heavy colliding with the wall eliminated her growing impatience. Twilight pauses her magic and looks over to the direction of the collision. Her eyes lingered on a particular book that laid on the ground against the wall. Twilight raised a brow at the book, the odd design of the book stood out to her. Slowly she walked over and picked It up, looking over the book.

A soft sigh left her as she looked over the artistic cover of various Equestrian monsters surrounding a pony.

` Monstrous Manuels the 5th Edition... I remember reading this when I was a foal, hehe... `

Twilight opened the book and began to flip through the pages, recognizing and remembering the words of the pages as passes through them. Twilight released out a low huff, feeling a bit pleased at the small blast of nostalgia. However, the feeling was cut short as she passed by a page that held a familiar image. Twilight blinked and returned to the page, her eyes shrunk as she examined the artistic depiction of the creature.

A thin pony under the moonlight, its bat-like wings flared up, red slitted eyes looking directly at the reader as it grins with blood covered fangs exposed. Underneath the bat-pony was the fallen, drained corpse of a pony. Twilight stared at the picture, her thoughts jumbled as she stared at the picture. Hesitantly she looked up to the top of the page to see the name of the creature.

Thestral.

Twilight’s magic let go of all the other books she held her magical grasp on as she stared at the name of the creature. The stories the Princesses had told her... The guard's reaction to the word... and the appearance depicted in the book compared to the guards, flooded and overwhelmed her mind. She almost felt sick. Hesitantly her eyes wandered down to the page; to the first paragraph, her brain now able to remember all the words on this page against her heart's wishes to be ignorant of it.

THESTRALS: Demonic beasts that only come around in the depths of night! These creatures are blood-drinking beasts of darkness that take on the form of ponies, like changelings. While not perfect like a Changelings, in the cover of night it works well enough to allow one to drop their guard.

` No... `

“Encountering one is a sign of incoming misfortune or... death. They are reminders to lock up and stay indoors at night. The Thestrals will be in packs or alone, they often stalk or attack their prey from the sky, if desperate they will seek to kidnap foals and colts. Do not enter unknown caves as it may b—”

Twilight closed the book abruptly. Her magic sparked up as she held the book, shaking the book lightly as sparks started to pop out of her magic aura and onto the floor as she glared at the cover.

` T-this book… Almost everypony uses this! School's teach with it… It’s given to explorers... campers, travelers, and... and... `

Twilight drops the book from her magic as she stares wide-eyed at the book. “That’s right... everypony knows this book... everypony...” Twilight whispered to herself.

The air around her felt uncomfortable. Twilight trotted over to the window, ready to open it up and take in some fresh air. She paused as two townsponies walked by her building, talking happily as usual. Yet, as Twilight watched them pass a new feeling rose towards them.

Resentment.

The thought of going outside and seeing other ponies, ponies who most likely thought the members of the guard she interacted with were... monsters out to kill them or kidnapped their children. The thought of the same ponies might be seeing Spike as a potential monster in the same light. Twilight gritted her teeth as she felt her stomach twist and tighten. She felt trapped, surrounded by enemies.

' Was this how bat ponies felt? Was this why they were eager to crush the Solar guard? No… was this… how princess Celestia and Luna felt. '

“Fools… Damn them…” Twilight murmured under her breath, her eyes quickly widened and she put a hoof over her mouth. Slowly she drew her hoof back and looked back out the window, back out into the land of the common, normal, average pony. Those that feared any creature that was remotely a threat. Twilight glanced back at the book and scowled.

` Everypony knows this book… including… the girls… `

Twilight’s posture sunk at the memory of their reactions regarding Zecora.

` I… can’t ever let the girls find out… `


"I… I forgot… how… terrible walking here was…!” Twilight panted as she slowly climbed up the hill. A smile came on her muzzle upon seeing Ratimir's house come up into her view up the hill, she briefly sped up, only to slow down within seconds as her lungs nearly heaved out of her body.

"No.. more…" Twilight said between gasps, shutting her eyes and igniting her horn. She vanished and reappeared on the porch stairs. Twilight yelped as she nearly collapsed onto the stairs. Twilight flailed her forelegs around and caught herself with the railing on the stairs. She took a moment to rest against the stairs railing. Between pants, Twilight looked over to the barn, and noticed the lack of light coming from underneath the door.

“...Celestia, please don’t tell me they left early... ” Twilight muttered to herself.

` From the letter Princess Luna sent… I should be slightly early! Unless something came up and they had to do it earlier... Please don’t tell me I made a trip out here for no reason! `

Twilight groaned as she slowly made her way over to the barn doors. An anxious look on her face as her ears flicked, trying to catch any sound behind the door. Twilight sucked in a breath and held it as she raised her hoof and gave the usual knock pattern on the door. Silence stays in the air afterwards. Twilight barely lasted the minute within it; she raised her hoof again and knocked with an anxious impatience.

“...............” Twilight began to pace back and forth as the minute passed by, without any sign of life from behind the door. Her heart started to pick up as panic rose; she stopped in place and stared down at the door with a look of desperation. Another minute of silence passed before Twilight let out a groan and fell back onto her haunches and put her hooves against her face.

“Stupid Twilight! Of course, they left early! you should’ve figured that out the moment nopony came to pick you up at the station!” The unicorn contemplated her life for a moment; a heavy pained groan left her as she got back up. Twilight took a moment to look behind her, staring back at the woods, and scowled at the thought of going back through the forest. Twilight let out a sigh and headed back to the house, intending to follow the trail back down.

` I hope the train comes back.. soon… `

Twilight stared at the ground and shutted her eyes, silently building up the willpower to trudge through the wilderness again.

Thump

Twilight’s ears twitched and she snapped her head up, her head turning back and looking at the house. She glanced at the door and then the wooden flooring of the porch.

Thump, Thump, Thump Twilight takes a step back, looking up from the floor to the door. Her eyes sparkle and a smile starts to make its way on her face.

` Is it… is it the opposite...? `

Twilight trotted up to the porch and pressed her ear against the door. A grin grew on her face as she listened to the muffled footsteps on the other side.

` I came too early! Thank Celestia! But... the only person who could be here was... Ratimir. `

Twilight pulled away from the door; the unicorn gulped at the thought of knocking on the door and seeing Ratimir was wonderful, dealing with him, however… not so much. Not only that, but she wasn’t even sure how he’d react! Her mind flashed back to the instructions Princess Celestia had given her, telling her to not knock on the front door.

` Does Ratimir hate people knocking on the front of his door? What if he does? Will he assume I’m an enemy and attack!? `

Twilight shivered as her memory of seeing him in combat flashed before her eyes.

` T-the moment he opens t-that door I need to immediately tell him i-it’s me! `

Twilight took a deep breath and knocked on the door. Silence filled the air. Twilight’s ears flicked as she stared at the door with a nervous look. Silently Twilight counted down to sixty seconds before she would knock once again. Her counting was cut short as she heard the familiar heavy footsteps approaching the door slowly.

` Thank Celestia! `

Twilight quickly fixed her mane as the door clicked and unlocked. Twilight fixed her posture as she prepared to smile or ignite her horn to protect herself, depending on the humans reaction, of course. The footsteps made an abrupt stop before the door, filling the air with a moment of silence before the door swung open. Twilight’s eyes shrunk as she saw Ratimir lowered with both hands over his sheathed sword on his waist.

Twilight froze in place. Ratimir’s focused, cold eyes locked onto hers. Twilight felt a shiver pass through her like a gust of wind. Instinctively she took a step back and opened her mouth to say something.

Then he struck.

Twilight’s eyes widen upon seeing a red substance spill out of the bottom of her vision. Twilight’s her paused as she saw the red subsistence spill out onto the ground. Twilight wanted to reach and touch her throat, but found her body refusing to move… in fact, Twilight couldn’t move her lower body at all. Twilight’s eyes snapped back to Ratimir, finding him already back in his normal posture.

Twilight opened her mouth, wanting to scream, but any sound she wanted to make refused to come out. All Twilight could do was stare at the human as her eyes grew heavier until she no longer had the strength to hold them back up.

` I’m sorry Princess Celestia…. Spike… girls… I.. I mess— `

“Oh, it’s you...” Ratimir said, and let out a sigh, rising out of his stance. Twilight’s eyes snapped open; she looked up at him with an expression of shock; before her instincts caught up, she jumped back and crashed herself against the porch post. Ratimir jumped slightly, startled by her sudden action. Twilight panted, quickly, touching her throat with her hooves. Twilight let out a gasp as she felt her neck intact and dropped her hooves, taking the moment to rest against the pole.

` W-what just happened!? He… he killed me! I saw it! His sword cut my throat! What just!? I don’t…! `

“You okay?” Twilight looked up and stared at the confused human.

“I… uh… w-what happened just now…?” Twilight asked as she slowly came to a stand.

“You knocked, I opened the door; you blinked and then jumped into my post.” Ratimir huffs. Twilight looked at him in bafflement and slowly looked down to the ground, rubbing her throat once again.

` I… blinked? That… explains why I couldn’t stop my eyes… but me… dying. Why… Why does it feel like… I know what happened? `

“So, mind explaining to me why you’re here so early?” Ratimir asked, snapping the unicorn out of her thoughts.

“O-oh… well, because I wante-needed to make sure everything goes well. Can I um… come inside?”

Ratimir grunted and moved aside for her. “It shouldn’t be that hard...”

“It shouldn’t be, but, with you... things happen.” Twilight said bitterly while eyeing Ratimir’s sword hand as she walked past him. Twilight walked over to the fireplace couch and easily laid claim to it, letting a sigh escape her as she laid down and rested her body. Ratimir huffed and closed the door before making his way to the kitchen.

“Are the guards here?” Twilight questioned as she peeked over to Ratimir from the couch.

“Waking up and getting ready in their town, hopefully.” Ratimir answered while working on stuffing a satchel. “The sun went down not too long ago, and I’ve been putting them through hell the past few days.”

“Ah...” Twilight nodded and slowly sank back onto the couch, only to quickly jerk back up. “Wait, what do you mean by... “Hell”!?”

“You’ll see.” Ratimir answered so bluntly that Twilight felt her anxiety peak once again; she quickly shook her head and laid back down. Trying to recover physically and mentally from everything that had happened.

“Okay. Wait, did I arrive when you woke up?...” Twilight let some of her anxiety slip out.

“No, I was already up before you came here. I have to prepare and lock up the place, since those… damned wenches are forcing me to go.” Ratimir said with annoyance in his voice. Twilight chuckled to herself and rested her head on the couch, closing her eyes and sighing. Her hoof rising up again and poking her throat.

` Should I ask him about that? No… he’ll just call me weird… but… I swear I read about this before…`

Twilight put her hoof down and ignited her horn, pulling her saddlebags off herself and onto the floor with her magic. She hummed to herself quietly as she dug around for a book to pass the time. Twilight glanced over to Ratimir once more. Her eyes lingered on his sword, then his back. Twilight’s hoof slowly came to a stop as she stared at Ratimir’s back, briefly for a moment she saw Spike in the kitchen.

Twilight shook her head and looked over to the empty fireplace, a look of distress on her face.

` I thought I got... No... no, I didn’t get over it... I... What do I do with Spike? I don’t want him to be like Ratimir or... be presented with a path towards his lifestyle. Living out in the middle of nowhere... by yourself most of the time... and feared by others...`

Twilight sighed and ran her hoof down her face, her brow furrowed as the thoughts of what she could do to help Spike came to her mind... but so do the consequences and the potential failures of those plans. Eventually she looked over at Ratimir and opened her mouth, closing it and shaking her head only to repeat the action two more times before finally speaking up.

“Ratimir... can I um... ask a question?” Twilight asked hesitantly with worry in her voice.

“Mn.” He grunted. Twilight sucked in a gulp of air and shut her eyes as she exiled, steeling herself for what she was about to ask the man.

“Ratimir... are you... um… o-okay?” Twilight asked. As soon as the sentence finished, the man paused in place, frozen for a minute, before slowly turning around. With his left arm on his table, he looks over at Twilight with a look of suspicion and confusion on his face. He stares at her silently for a while before answering her.

“I’m… content…” Ratimir answered hesitantly. “Why are you asking me that?” He narrowed his eyes.

“W-well! It's um... b-because you uh.. live alone and you’re uh... you know... around f-five hundred moons old a-and you don’t really like others s-so I um... assume you're feeling... b-bad?” Twilight gave a nervous smile, earning a sharpened glare from the human.

“B-b-but you're okay! So, t-that’s all that matters. I won’t bother you ag—”

“What’s the true reason you asked me that?” Ratimir cut her off, moving away from the table and pulling something out of the stove. Twilight froze, staring at his back before letting out a heavy sigh and throwing her head onto the couch pillow.

“Okay… It was… well… just today I realized that you were… a lot like my... assistant Spike. He’s a baby dragon...” Ratimir turned his head and stared at her with a raised brow.

“He’s the only dragon in the town I live in and... not so long ago he.. uh… rampaged. Ratimir squinted at her and opened his mouth slightly.

“B-because of a um... unknown issue, I didn’t know about dragons, and I just... I... I… I!” Twilight shut her eyes and took a deep breath before nearly yelling it out. “I don’t want him to be like you!”

Ratimir flinched slightly, he turned around and gave his full attention to Twilight. “I don’t want him to be alone like you, and… and feared like batponies.” Twilight said, slowly opening her eyes and looking down at the couch pillows.

“There's not much information on dragons... and Spike, he… he grew up around ponies, so his personality is a reflection of our nature… He’s kind… gentle, and helpful!” Twilight smiled briefly.

“B-but still Spike’s a predator… he has claws, sharp teeth, and he can breathe fire… all at a young age. He can easily hurt other ponies… and if that happens I…” Twilight closed her eyes again, tighter, and dug her hooves into the couch. “I wouldn’t know what to do… I didn’t even acknowledge how lucky we were that he didn’t harm anypony during his rampage until today!”

Twilight opened her eyes, shaking her head as she felt a wetness build up in her eyes once again. “I... I didn’t acknowledge the consequences until today! At the time all we did was repair the town buildings and ask Princess Celestia to pay for the damage we caused… despite it being an accident, b-but I didn’t realize the consequences that would come for him. T-the anxious glances ponies gave us when the two of us walked to the station… the distance they gave us…”

Twilight wiped her foreleg across her eyes, sniffles starting to come up. “I… I don’t want Spike to be feared like the batponies… I don’t want Spike to be alone because he can’t fit in with everypony, and I… I…” Twilight sucked in a breath and finally finished. “I just want Spike to have a happy life… Is there… Anything that I can do…?” Twilight looked up at Ratimir, uncaring for the tears that streamed through her eyes.

Ratimir was speechless, holding a look of indecision on his features. For a moment he looks down, up and then outside to the window. A small smile grew on Twilight as she watched the flustered human before wiping her eyes. “S-sorry for just… throwing this onto you, Ratimir. I-in my head it was so… collected and calm, I… I didn’t think I'd become like this. Y-you don’t have to answer. I think I just… wanted to let it out.”

Ratimir looked back at her with an unreadable expression, letting a moment of silence linger in the air before sighing. “I… I’m not like your mentor. I can’t give you advice that would make your heart rest easily.” Twilight's smile faded as shock came to her face upon hearing the gentle tone Ratimir was using.

“The concept of having a dragon assistant… or even letting a dragon be near ponies is so unbelievably foolish…” Twilight winced slightly. “But… if he’s raised by your kind, then he shouldn’t be that… bad… I guess.” Ratimir glanced away for a moment. “If his nature is good… then he should be fine. He’ll have opportunities to prove himself to others; all I can say… is support him during it.”

Twilight's eyes widened slightly, her eyes starting to dry as she watched Ratimir stare out the window with a thoughtful look. “He’ll probably grow curious about his kind at some point…” Ratimir raises his left hand and scratches the back of his head. “If he does… let him go.”

“H-huh?” Twilight asked abruptly, looking at him with confusion at his decision.

“It’s something that I was taught where I came from. If a wolf is raised by my kind, then it’ll grow curious about its own; so often what we’d do is we let it go back to nature and let it choose its own path.” Ratimir explained, giving an attentive gaze towards the moon.

“If it returns then it chose the path of loyalty, if not, then it chose the path of companionship. It was the way he…. Did things. Thus, I will share that with you now.” Ratimir turned his gaze back to Twilight and pointed at her.

“For now… support him on his path; but when the time comes that he encounters a fork in such a path… then let him choose and support him through it. As long as he has you… he shouldn't be like uh… me or the others.” Ratimir's hand fell, and he went back to what he was doing before, with his back turned to her, although at a slightly faster pace now. Twilight stared at him with wide eyes before a smile began to creep up on her face.

“Thank you, Ratimir…” Twilight said jovially. Ratimir grunted in response as he wrapped two items up quickly and put them in a bag. Twilight watched him for a while, her mind going back to his words and expressions before a soft chortle escapes her.

“What?’ Ratimir asked as he looked back as he closed a cabinet.

“Oh, it’s just” Twilight looked at him with a broad smile “You’re… a nice person after all, Ratimir!”

Ratimir froze upon hearing the words. A baffled look on his face as he stared at Twilight. Twilight tilted her head and gave a confused look to him. “D-did I say something wrong?”

“I… you…” Ratimir closed his eyes as his expression shifted to annoyance. “Shut up.”

“Enough. I need to finish up.” Ratimir quickly stated irately as he walked away from the kitchen and headed into the hall, leaving Twilight by herself. The unicorn gave a worried look at the hallway entrance.

“Did I say something wrong…?” Twilight whispers to herself, her body shifting positions to get ready to go after him, but she stops herself and shakes her head.

` No! I bothered him enough. If I go after him, it’ll only make him more upset… and I don’t want to test his kindness… `

Twilight laid back down onto the couch, igniting her horn and opening her saddlebags to grab hold of one of her books. Twilight pulls the book to her view and looks over the title. “The Canterlot Guard; A history of Canterlot’s elite force”. Her eyes wandered down to the cover, seeing a depiction of Celestia with the sun in the background with Solar guard on the sidelines. Twilight places the books down.

Her magic grabbed the cover and opened the books, only to pause mid-way through the action. Her eyes briefly glanced back to the hallway entrance.

` Why did Ratimir say he was content… Why not… “okay” or “fine”... or any other more positive wording? Not only that, why was he even hesitant to answer that in the first place? Gah! Twilight, you’re overthinking it! Just start reading and wait for the train! `

Twilight nodded and opened the book slightly more, only to stop again.

` Why did he seem upset about being called nice too? Enough to make him leave? Bah! Twilight! `

Twilight released the cover and took hold of the book again, smacking herself lightly in the face with it. A small grunt left her upon contact, her hoof coming up and rubbing her muzzle.

` Stop! You're overthinking it Twilight! You’re overthinking it again. `

Twilight let out a sigh, giving one last glance at the hallway entrance before turning back to her book. Twilight opened her book, checking its table of contents before diving into the first segment of the historic book.

` I hope I’m overthinking it… `

Author's Note:

Originally this was going to be a 10k word chapter but I decided to cut it in half as through research I begun realizing how Spike was similar to Ratimir, and it how it goes well with the theme of arc. Anyway, next chapter we'll finally get onto the damned train to Canterlot.