• Published 8th Jan 2012
  • 10,856 Views, 882 Comments

Last of the Dragonlords - Fluttershy20

Fluttershy sets out in search of answers after a dragon attack left her changed.

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Chapter 11


Applejack sighed. “Yes, Pinkie?”

“I’m hungry,” Pinkie stated.

Applejack groaned, and then turned her head to look at the other earth pony. “How on Terra could ya still be hungry?! We only ate half an hour ago at least.” The moment after she said those words she felt incredibly stupid. This was Pinkie Pie she was talking to; she could eat all of Ponyville if it was made out of chocolate, and still have room to spare.

“Don’t know. Just really, really hungry.” Pinkie gave Applejack puppy dog eyes. “Oh, Applejack, let me have just a small bite, pretty pweeease? I’ll be your friend.”

“You’re already my friend, Pinkie,” Applejack said. “And sorry but no. We need that food if we want to continue looking for Fluttershy.”

She took her eyes off the pouting pony and looked around her. “Just exactly where here is?” she wondered aloud. Around her were large pools of black, sticky water that bubbled and popped every few seconds. The trees and bushes were dried up skeletons where a single touch would break them apart. The only thing keeping the five ponies and one horse safe was the narrow, muddy path they were forced to navigate.

Applejack recalled back to how their hunt brought them here. It was the early morning when the arrived at the Ragged Mountain range. The mountains shadows clouded their steps as they walked through dense woodland. The trees whistled as the treetops were blown about by the wind above them, and with the sun behind the mountains, the morning was a cold one.

When they finally made it out of the woods, they stumbled into a large clearing with a small dirt path that led east; towards a place Thowra would later call the Frozen Steppes. It was in the clearing where they had discovered, to their joy, Fluttershy’s hoofprints.

Thowra sniffed the ground, and then raised his head again to look at them. “These tracks are fresh. Probably about a day old at least.”

“So we’re in the right direction, then?” Rainbow asked.

Thowra nodded. “Less than a day or so ahead. If we hurry then we may be able catch up with her.”

They had only run a few feet more when Thowra froze, staring at the ground in horror. The five ponies looked at what he was staring at. A single yellow feather, slightly dirty from the evenings rain, lay in one of the hoofprints.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, Thowra,” Rainbow said. “Pegasus ponies lose their feathers from time to time, so it shouldn’t be something to worry about. Hay, it’s even given us a clue to where she’s heading.”

“Yes,” Thowra said with a hint of reluctance. “And it’s a place I don’t like at all. The Frozen Steppes.” He looked back down at where the feather was and noticed something different about the hoofprints on the ground.

“Give me your hoof, Twilight, please?” he asked the pony next to him. Twilight nodded and brought her hoof up. Thowra gently guided Twilight’s hoof on the print and, to their surprise, found it to be bigger than hers.

He gestured for Twilight to walk over to the one alongside and found them to be a perfect fit. “While these tracks are definitely Fluttershy’s,” Thowra said as he pointed to the mare sized hoof mark on the muddy ground. “These ones, however,” he pointed to the ones alongside, “are larger and, I would presume, belong to a stallion.”

The five mares gasped. “Looks like she might’ve found that pony she came here to look for in the first place,” Twilight said.

“But if she has done that, then why don’t she now just go home?” Rainbow asked.

The six equines pondered at this. It was correct that Fluttershy’s intentions to coming here was to find Firewing. So now that she’d found him, why don’t she go home?

“What if…” Rarity started hesitantly. “What if they’re… you know… together?” she suggested.

Twilight looked at her friend for a moment, and then shook her head. “I wouldn’t have thought Fluttershy to be that type for older ponies.” The others nodded in agreement.

“Fine,” Rarity sighed in defeat. “But if we do find them kissing or such, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Now, Applejack felt cold and lost in a place of what could only be described as dead. She looked back to see Pinkie hopping along the path, always threatening to fall in to the tar pools but thankfully and narrowly avoiding. Further back she could see Twilight, with Rarity clinging on her back as the tired mare soldiered on.

Applejack turned to face forwards again. “Thowra!” she called to the grey horse not too far in front.

Thowra turned his head to look at her. “Yes, Applejack?!”

“Are ya sure she went this way? She might not mind as much getting her hooves dirty than Rarity, but this just seems a bit too scary for her.”

“I’m positive she came this way,” Thowra replied. “But I admit it does seem weird that she did. Even the bravest horses tend to avoid this place.”

Applejack smiled. “Amazing. One shy, reclusive pony is actually braver than the whole of Horsca.”

Thowra turned to look at her with a look of confusion. “Shy? Reclusive? Are you sure this is the same pony we’re looking for?”

Applejack narrowed her eyes and tilted her head in confusion. “I don’t know any other Fluttershy’s. Why?”

“The pony I met I wouldn’t say was reclusive. A bit shy but then that’s what usually happens when you meet new people, well in my experience anyway. She spoke with some great confidence when she told us about you lot, and was quite friendly and open with me and Freya, my cousin.”

Applejack was surprised. She had heard stories from Twilight on how she watched Fluttershy kill a bear with her bare hooves, and took on and defeated a cockatrice, saving Twilight in the process. But confident with a group of people she met only a few hours ago seemed unheard of when Fluttershy was involved.

She came out of her thoughts when she heard a scream from behind. She turned to see Rarity had fallen off Twilight’s back and had fallen into the black water. “Well don’t just stand there gawping, do something!” she shrieked, flapping her hooves all over the water, splashing the ponies nearby.

“Stay still, Rarity. I’ll help get you out,” Thowra said, racing past Applejack and up to where the unicorn was now stuck.

Although Applejack was concerned, she was trying her absolute best to repress a snigger. “I swear, when we find Fluttershy I’m going to kiss her and then, I’m going, to kill her!” Rarity yelled.

Twilight was lying on the ground and breathing heavily, knackered from having to carry Rarity, and her face was laced with sweat. “Seriously, Rarity… you need to… do some more exercise,” she said between breaths.

“Oh great. First I fall in this muck which can’t be described as water, and now one of my best friends insults me by calling me fat,” Rarity whined. “Can this day get an-” she was cut off when a magenta cloud zapped her lips shut.

“Don’t you ever say those words. Ever! Understand?” Twilight glared at the other unicorn, who faintly nodded. The cloud disappeared from Rarity’s lips and wrapped around her instead, pulling her out of the water with ease and back onto dry land.

“Thank you, Twilight,” Rarity said. The lower half of her body was covered in water that looked like treacle, and half of her mane was completely straight.

“You’re welcome, and I’m sorry for implying you were fat,” Twilight said, her head low to the ground and pawing a hoof.

Rarity waved a hoof in dismissal. “Oh not at all, dear. You were only being honest. I must admit I have been putting on the pounds lately, and a lady must watch her features carefully.” Rarity looked at the ground. “So could I perhaps…”

“Not a chance,” Twilight answered, walking off next to Pinkie. Rarity cursed under her breath and trotted on slowly afterwards.

Applejack sniggered and turned forwards again, and noticed she was leading. She walked a few feet when she scrunched up her face and looked back around to look at the five equines behind her. ‘Wait, five? There’s meant to be six?!’

A snigger from above settled her fears, and increased her frustration. Applejack looked up and saw Rainbow Dash hovering above her, with a bright grin on her face. “Pegasi one, earth pony zero,” she sniggered. “Hope the water’s warm enough for you down there!”

“Rainbow, what do ya think ya doing?! Ya agreed to stay on the ground so we could stick together!”

Rainbow laughed. “In Rarity and Pinkie’s case that’s quite literal,” she said, looking back to see Pinkie had somehow got stuck to Rarity, with Twilight doing her best to pull them apart. Rainbow looked down to see Applejack’s glare on her only increase and put her forelegs onto her waist. “Oh come on, AJ, it’s not like I’m gonna run off from the rest of ya.”

Applejack looked away at that moment. Rainbow saw the hesitation on her face and her wide grin faded. “You actually thought I might, didn’t you?”

Reluctantly Applejack nodded and sighed, lowering her head to the ground in shame. “I’m sorry, Rainbow. It’s just that I know how important Fluttershy means to ya, and ya will do anything to find her again.”

At first Rainbow looked like she was going to give Applejack a right earful, but she didn’t. Instead she sighed and landed right next to the farm pony. “Well, you’ll be right,” Rainbow admitted. “I have thought about it.”

“Ya have?!” Applejack looked up, surprised.

Rainbow nodded. “Of course. There was one plan where I would wait until you were all asleep, and then soar off into the sky and search all over Horsca for her.”

“Then why haven’t ya done?”

“Because of you lot, I suppose. It wouldn’t be right leaving you lot out here. And yet, it isn’t right leaving Fluttershy out here all alone.”

“But she’s not alone, not anymore.”

“But how do we know that, Applejack? How do we know this pony isn’t pursuing her? Or she’s being forced to go with him?”

“We don’t,” Applejack answered honestly. “We just hope that’s all.”

Applejack and Rainbow turned their heads to look where they were going, and stopped when they found themselves in front of a large brick mound. “Thowra, gals!” she called back. “Come and have a look at this!”

Thowra cantered forward and stared at the thing in confusion. Twilight was soon next to him, followed by Rarity and Pinkie, who were now separated from each other. Rainbow tilted her head to the side and whistled. “Wow, that’s impressive,” She said, and then looked behind her at Twilight with a confused look. “What is it?”

Twilight looked at her and shrugged. “I haven’t a clue.” She turned to Thowra. “Do you know what it is?”

Thowra shrugged in answer, and then walked forwards, sniffing and looking at the ground. “There were two ponies here,” he said, pointing at the hoof marks on the ground. He walked up the mound, following the scent. When he reached the top he sniffed the air again, and his eyes widened. “No, no, no, no, where’s it gone?” he muttered to himself in alarm.

“What is it?” Rainbow asked.

Thowra looked back down at her with alarmed eyes. “I lost the scent.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened and she shot up into his face. “What do you mean you lost the scent?!”

“I lost the scent, Rainbow. They came up here, and then disappeared. It was as if they never existed,” Thowra replied.

Applejack joined them, her eyes full of despair. “So ya saying… we lost them?”

Thowra’s ears went down and nodded sadly. “I’m so sorry,” he muttered.

“Sorry is not good enough!” Rainbow bellowed. “If we were just a bi…”

“Rainbow Dash!” Applejack shouted, glaring at Rainbow. “Don’t ya dare blame Thowra, or anypony for that matter for this!”

Rainbow cowered under Applejacks stare and after a moment of silence sighed, hanging her head in shame. “You’re right, Applejack.” She turned to face Thowra. “I’m sorry for shouting at you, Thowra, could you forgive me?” She lowered her head once more.

Thowra placed a hoof under Rainbow’s chin, lifted her head and saw that Rainbow’s eyes were watering. “You know, under all that cockiness and arrogance, there’s a good hearted pony who’s willing to go an extra mile for her friends. I forgive you,” Thowra said with a smile.

Twilight meanwhile had to comfort Pinkie, who upon hearing they lost the trail, started to cry. “Is there any way we can find out where they went?” Twilight asked.

Just as she finished speaking, a roar echoed across the steppes. Six pairs of ears perked up and their eyes widened in horror. Rainbow took the air, scanned the sky, and then descended back down to the ground with a horrified look on her face.

“Okay,” Rainbow said. “I’ve got bad news, and I’ve got really bad news. What do you want first?”

“Um, the bad news,” Twilight replied.

“The bad news is that was a dragon we just heard.”

“And what’s the really bad news?” Pinkie asked fearfully.

“The really bad news is… it’s coming this way!”

“Quick, everyone, into the bushes and stay down!” Thowra ordered. He jumped off the mound and dived into one of the bushes. Applejack and Rarity dived in another, and Twilight, Rainbow and Pinkie nestled under another one.

“What the hay is a dragon doing all this way in Horsca?!” Rainbow called over to Thowra.

“It might be the same one that attacked Andulusia,” Thowra suggested. He crawled out of his hiding place to get a look at the dragon as it soared overhead. He gasped when he saw it and recognised it as the same one.

Its hide was covered in crossbow bolts and small cuts from swords, but surprisingly not a single wound had closed or showed any signs of re-healing. While its eyes seemed as bright as the sun, because they blazed with an unnatural fire.

He crawled back into the bush as the dragon hovered overhead, before coming down with a thud, a gust of wind blowing about from his landing. The dragon began sniffing the ground around the mound, its wings stretched wide and its claws sharp, ready to kill.

Twilight looked around to Pinkie and noticed she was on the verge of screaming. She quickly clamped a hoof around Pinkie’s mouth and watched with wide eyes as the dragon started sniffing the top of the mound.

‘What if it scents us? What if it knows we’re here?’ Twilight thought erratically. She turned to Rainbow and whispered, “If it looks in our direction, run for it.”

Rainbow gave her a look that said, “well duh,” and continued to watch the dragon with baited breath. The dragon stopped sniffing and stood perfectly still for a few seconds. Everypony got themselves ready to run for it, feeling sure the dragon will know they were there and would begin attacking them. The dragon suddenly raised its claws and struck down onto the mound, clawing at it with great ferocity.

After a while, the mound collapsed in on itself, with dust filling the air and the equines nostrils, making them want to cough, sneeze or both. When the dust cleared the dragon began sniffing the ground, its burning eyes never blinking. After a while the dragon raised its head and gave a mighty roar. It then flapped its wings and took off into the sky, heading towards the highlands with great speed.

Thowra scrambled out of the bush and watched it fly until it was a small speck in the distance, then turned to face where the mound once stood. It was completely destroyed. Not a brick was left in place, and all that was left there was now…

“Stairs!” Pinkie exclaimed, hopping in front of him and looking down. Thowra craned his neck to see and with wide eyes saw she was right. A flight of stairs did indeed descend down into the darkness.

“How could we have not seen the entrance?” Rainbow enquired, just as surprised as anypony about this.

Twilight put a hoof on her face and groaned. “Of course! Illusion magic!” She looked to see the others completely confused faces and began to explain. “It’s complicated, but simply put. When you want to hide something, you place a spell in the area that changes your perception of things, deceiving you and making you think something else is there, when in reality there’s something else. Makes sense?”

They looked at each other perplexedly, and then back at Twilight. “Sort of, Twi,” Applejack said, with a small shake of her hoof. “So how did the dragon know what we didn’t?”

“Probably because it guessed by the fact that Fluttershy’s scent stopped righ…” his voice faded into nothing. His eyes widened in horror at the epiphany he was getting. “Oh no.”

“What is it?” Twilight asked upon seeing the troubled look on Thowra’s face.

Thowra turned to face her. “The dragon that attacked Ponyville, was it the same one as this one?”

Twilight thought for a moment, and then shook her head. “No, the dragon that attacked Ponyville was red. This one’s green.”

“But Fluttershy said that one had flaming eyes, like this one. Was she right?”

Twilight’s eyes wandered from his for a moment, not clearly understanding what was going on. “First a dragon attacks Ponyville, leaving only one death; Fluttershy’s,” Thowra went on. “A month later, another dragon attacks Andulusia, the same time Fluttershy arrives. And now, this. That dragon could have been anywhere, but instead it was here, why?”

Twilight instantly came to the same conclusion as Thowra had. Her eyes widened in horror as she looked into his own. “You think that…”

“I don’t think, Twilight, I’m certain it is,” he said. He turned to face the others, who looked confused and bewildered. “Come on, you lot. We need to find Fluttershy before that dragon does!”

“You think that dragon is after Fluttershy?” Rainbow asked.

Thowra nodded. “I’m sure of it, Rainbow.”

“But what does it want with her?” Applejack asked.

“It’s not what it wants with her,” Twilight said quietly. “It's what it wants to do to her.”

“And what is that exactly?” Rarity asked.

“It wants to kill Fluttershy,” Thowra answered grimly.

A grave silence fell among them. Applejack, Rainbow, Rarity and Pinkie stared at each other in horror. “Why… why would someone want to kill her?” Pinkie said in sheer disbelief. “She’s the kindest soul who ever lived and yet a big meanie hates her so much to want her dead. What sick creature would want to do that?”

“I don’t know, Pinkie,” Thowra replied. “But I swear when we find her whoever wants her dead, they will be sorry for even coming up with the thought.”

“There’s still one thing I don’t understand,” Rainbow spoke up. Everyone turned to look at her. “Why are we still standing here?! Come one, we’ve got a friend to save!”

Everyone nodded and begun the descent down the stairs. With Twilight taking the lead and her horn lighting the way, the six equines galloped down the steps and through the small passage without even the thought of slowing down.

When Fluttershy opened her eyes, they squinted under the bright sun in the sky, blinding her for a few seconds. When she recovered from the bright sunlight she gasped at the quiet city street in front of her. She craned her neck up and looked around, blowing some of her mane out of her eyes, as she confirmed to herself she was in a city.

“Dad?!” she called out, but there was no reply. “Dad?! Again nothing. She looked around her and with wide eyes saw he wasn’t there. She was alone. ‘Has my father already abandoned me?’ she thought. She shook her head. ‘My father wouldn’t do that, not again. He might even be here somewhere.’

She got up from the ground and preceded to walk in a random direction, in this case left, down a small, narrow, empty alley. She emerged the other side into a large street with around fifty to seventy ponies occupying it. All of them were wearing clothes of various colors and sizes, from short robes to long dresses that hid the tails. Some were more rags than clothes, but the wearers seemed happy enough as they walked about. For Fluttershy, she felt a bit exposed in a city full of ponies with clothes, and yet for some reason, nopony was paying attention.

She saw a young unicorn filly wearing a light brown hooded robe that covered her body, standing still with a small smile on her face. Fluttershy walked up to her, hoping to get answers. “Um, excuse me? Can you tell me where I am, if you’re not too busy?” The filly didn’t acknowledge her existence. She suddenly broke into a gallop, going right through Fluttershy and disappearing down the street.

Fluttershy looked on, frozen in horror, with her mouth agape and her eyes wide. She shook her head and broke the trance, before running back into the empty alley. “She went right through me. Ho… how is that possible?”

She looked back into the street and saw two ponies close by talking. One was a pegasus stallion in a dark blue robe, and the other was an earth pony mare with a short dress that ended at her flanks, and was a color like sunflowers. Fluttershy then noticed the two ponies mouths moving and suddenly realised how quiet it was.

There wasn’t a sound in the air – no bird song, no bells tolling, and not even the sound of ponies talking filled the street, as it should. Fluttershy couldn’t understand it, for she could hear herself fine, which meant her hearing was okay, and she could place a hoof on herself and not have it pass through her.

“Okay,” she said to herself. “I’m lost. I have no idea where I am. Nopony can see me, and I can’t touch anything.” She looked back out the street and came to a decision. “I could try looking around to see if I could find anything written about this place.” Normally she would be panicking at this point, yet for some reason unknown to herself, she remained calm. “I’ll panic later,” she reasoned with herself. “Panic when I don’t know how to get out of here.”

She came out of the alley and walked through the streets, flinching every moment a pony passed through her, or jumped out in front and walked straight through her. Eventually she made it out of the path and onto a smaller, yet empty street. She took a moment to look at the buildings of this city.

The houses were built out of stone, and done rather quickly, and cheaply. They were built as two floor houses, with a small flight of stairs at the sides to head to the house above, making them able to easily accommodate two or more families in each. While just below the front window, was small gardens filled with plants that Fluttershy instantly recognised.

“Lavenders!” she squealed when she came across some. “I haven’t seen you in ages.” She floated over to them and tried to sniff them, but to her surprise couldn’t smell anything. She frowned and tried again, but again with no success.

She stood back from the flowers with her ears down and her mind spinning about in confusion. “Am I dead?” she wondered aloud. She placed a hoof to where her heart was and felt it beating against her chest. “Okay, not dead, good. So then where am I?”

She looked left then right, and decided to go right. She passed a few streets, each being occupied in a range of several to many ponies, each in lavish dresses, robes and togas, and all with wide smiles that showed that this place was a cheerful one.

She stopped though when she saw a scroll stuck to a post at the corner of a street. At first she thought it might be nothing, but curiosity got the better of her, so she moved over to get a closer look.

At the top of the scroll was a picture, an artist’s representation of an earth pony and a winged unicorn, staring into each other’s eyes with wide, blissful smiles. Below it read:

Fellow Citizens of Ferghana!

Yesterday, the Princess Chihiron, the one who lead us all out of the gloom of the Great War that ravages the continent, has declared her undying love for the earth pony, Prince Galiceno.

I’m sure you all are thrilled about this news as I am, and I’m sure that you all will share good will to the new couple and, as of now, our fair and just rulers and liberators of the savage land beyond our natural borders!

I’m sure as well that you would all be speculating, as much as I will of whether the first foal will be a colt or filly.

“Aww,” Fluttershy said as she stared at the picture. It struck her as to how familiar it was, but she couldn’t put a hoof on it. She noticed a further notice below and read it;

At this moment our fair rulers have locked themselves in the palace and will not be seen by anypony at this moment.

Fluttershy re-read the whole thing again just to be sure, then sat down and pondered, placing a hoof on her chin. “This place, seemingly called Ferghana, was around during the Great War. So that would mean I’ve jumped back in time! But how? And why?” She looked back at the picture of the two ponies. “I could head to the palace, find the tallest spot and then consider what I should do next,” she decided.

She scanned the area, looking for any signs that might lead to the palace. Her eyes soon locked onto a large white tower that spiralled into the sky. Its walls were decorated with banners and flags that easily gave it away as the city palace. While at the top, she could make out a large beacon.

She broke into a canter towards the palace, thanking Celestia that it was tall enough to be easily spotted. A few minutes later she arrived at the front of the palace gate. Beside the large wooden gate stood two guards. Both were unicorns in chainmail armour and had swords at their sides and spears in their hooves. She walked in front of one and waved a hoof in his face, with no response, then moved to the other one and did the same, again with no response.

She moved to sit in front of the gate, lifted up a hoof and pushed it towards the gate. The hoof disappeared behind the wooden structure and out the other side. She gave it a wiggle before pulling it back and setting it down on the ground. She then hopped through the gate and emerged the other side. It felt weird to jump through walls and gates, but another part of her, her reckless side that usually stayed hidden, enjoyed the freedom she seemed to get from such a thing. She trotted past guards armed with spears, who was either standing to attention, or patrolling the outer areas of the palace.

She walked through the palace gardens, admiring the lush, neat grasslands that were arranged like slices of pizza around the palace, with each having a single white tree with beautiful violet leaves at their centres. She turned her gaze away and focused on the large bronze door in front of her. She walked casually past the guards and into the palace.

As she entered she saw two doors that were open that lead into the throne room. She could see a large golden throne at the far end, with a small brown one to its left. While in front of the thrones, arrayed in a half circle, stood at least twenty-four chairs, all facing towards them. “Must be the council members chairs,” Fluttershy reckoned. “Then where are the Prince and Princess?”

She looked to her left and saw the corridor lead around the corner and out of sight, then looked right and saw it was the same. “Well all roads lead to Canterlot, as the saying goes. Might as well go… right.”

She began trotting right, heading around the bend, staring in wonder at the richly decorated banners that hung off the walls. The floor was a dark white with two dark green stripes at each end, while above her, spaced a few feet apart, where black with golden trimmed chandeliers.

She took her gaze off the interior when she glanced a single iron door in her way. She walked through and saw a large flight of stairs that spiralled upwards, to the top of the palace. With a groan she began climbing.

As she walked she wondered whether her father was in the same predicament of her as well. She sighed sadly as she remembered about him. She only said a few words with her re-discovered father before they set off into the highlands. The rest of the journey was done in silence save for the sounds of heavy breathing and a few warnings on steps.

Whilst she had accepted the fact Firewing was her father, it was tricky to adjust to that fact and there were so many questions she wanted to ask. There were many times on their journey Fluttershy wanted to ask Firewing about her mother; what happened to her, and why she was left at the orphanage in the first place. But she never did, fearing it may start another heated argument. ‘He will tell me when he’s ready,’ she had thought, although whether he’ll ever be ready was the main question.

She crawled the final few steps before falling onto the floor and rolling onto her side, panting as if she had just run a marathon across Equestria. Once she got her breath back she got up and followed the corridor around the bend once more.

A short walk later she found herself beside several doors. She craned her neck through to find it was only a storage cupboard. The next one was an empty bedroom with straw-filled beds for several ponies.

She came to the third one, and went through the door, only to come out again with a dark red blush on her cheeks and fighting to control her wings. “Oh, so that’s where the Prince and Princess are.” She was now so glad she couldn’t hear anything.

Shaking her head to get such intimate images out of her mind, she hastily walked to the next door and peered through. It was supposedly the Prince’s chambers with beautiful white with red striped curtains, stunningly bright white with golden swirled walls, and comfortable looking seats and a large bed. “Oh Rarity would faint with joy if she saw this place.”

She noticed a glass door at the far end leading onto a balcony and grinned. “Perfect.” She trotted through the door and through the glass one revealing the entire city before her. She gasped at how beautiful it was.

There were three walls: an outer wall holding the entire city in, the middle wall holding the two districts apart, and the inner wall surrounded the palace. The city was a large circle, with wooden huts between the middle and inner walls. While more reliable stone structures with straw roofing nestled between the outer and inner walls.
Outside the walls lay farmland that stretched as far as Fluttershy’s eye could see. Golden wheat fields dotted the landscape with small windmills turning slowly, giving away to the pegasus the lack of wind. While on the horizon, she could make out the vats expanse of the ocean.

Below, earth ponies, pegasi and unicorns walked, trotted, galloped, flew or teleported their way around the city. Strangely though all of the pegasi flew lower than the city walls, but Fluttershy let it aside. The city was a marvel to look at and she looked down with a smile. She looked up into the sky and her smile faded when she saw it.

It came down from the sky like a meteorite, with thick black smoke trailing its descent. Fluttershy squinted her eyes and noticed with great alarm the ‘meteorite’ was heading straight towards the city. She panicked at first but calmed once she remembered that she couldn’t be seen, heard or feel anything, nor could she hear anything other than her own voice.

She squinted her eyes to look at the ‘meteorite’ once more and realised it was slowing its descent, only when it spread its wings did her eyes go wide in horror.

The dragon was completely black, but its scales, horns, even its eyes burned with as a bright intensity as the sun. The dragon’s head alone was large, with spikes trailing from across its nose, between the eyes and down its back, while two horns protruded from behind its eyes and arched towards the mouth.

Fluttershy knew who this dragon was, and it made her blood run cold and her eyes water in horror. “Heimdallr,” she said breathlessly.

Heimdallr came out of his dive and soared straight towards the palace. He opened his mouth and fired a large fireball at its base, which exploded in a mass of flame and smoke. Fluttershy felt the tower collapse beneath her, so she quickly spread her wings and took to the air. She watched in horror as the tower collapsed downwards, then toppled onto the main city gates, landing in a large dust cloud on several ponies.

Heimdallr curved around the ruins of the palace, then stopped and seemingly let out a deafening roar. Ponies across the city began to run blindly. Some were heading towards the city gates to get out, while others went back to their homes and hid, praying they would be spared.

Heimdallr spread his wings out far; giving him the momentum he needed to stay up for a while. He then tucked his wings towards his chest, and quickly spread them out wide again, creating a massive, magical wave of fire and heat, that incinerated an entire area of the city: buildings, trees, bushes, and ponies.

He looked down to see a group of ponies cowering before him, begging for their lives to be spared. Fluttershy could see one of them was a young mare and was pregnant. She prayed that Heimdallr had some compassion to spare her and what seemed to be her family.

Heimdallr slowly raised his claw, aiming it at the group and once it glowed a bright golden glow, clenched it together. Fluttershy screamed in dismay and looked away as all the ponies before him instantly turned to fire.

He roared one more time before sweeping aside a row of buildings with a jet of flame from his mouth. The buildings collapsed into nothing within seconds, the flames too hot for the structures to hold. He continued to do this on every building until the entire city was ablaze, and every pony that lived in this city lay dead.

Fluttershy flew over to where Heimdallr was hovering and landed in front of him. She looked around with watery eyes to find everywhere was ablaze. Ash started to fall from the sky and the sun disappeared behind the thick smoke, blacking out the day. And everywhere and anywhere, the bodies of Ferghana’s inhabitants lay dead, frozen in their final moments.

Fluttershy looked back and her teeth clenched together in anger when she saw the wicked smile that formed on Heimdallr’s face. “You… you… YOU MONSTER!” she screamed. “I DON’T CARE IF YOU CAN’T HEAR ME, BUT I SWEAR YOU WILL BE SORRY FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE HERE, HEIMDALLR!”

At that moment, the world froze. The flames stood still, the ash that fell from the sky stopped, only to float in mid-air, and the ponies that were still writhing in agony froze. Fluttershy felt her nerves return at full velocity as she started so shake with fear. She spun slowly around, staring at the frozen city in terror.

She turned to face where she was looking originally, only to find Heimdallr right in front of her, staring into her eyes with hatred she never felt before in her life, making her shiver all over. Fluttershy wanted to bring her gaze away from Heimdallr’s, but found she couldn’t.

“Oh, and just what exactly are you going to do me, Dragonlord?” Heimdallr sounded nothing like Fluttershy was expecting. He had a deep, calm yet cold voice, and had a slight cackle, which made it sound as if trying to speak gave Heimdallr untold agony.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened even more and she stepped back in surprise. Heimdallr landed with a thud before her, his eyes gazing at the pegasus with only malevolence. ‘He heard me, how could he have heard me?!’ she thought.

“Because I was the one who brought you here, Dragonlord,” he answered. “I can also read your thoughts, so don’t even try to hide anything from me.” She could feel his breath on her and she shivered at its touch. It was as cold as a bitter winter wind, and it seemed to the pegasus it was as if he dead.

“So you know who I am then?” Fluttershy asked.

“Unfortunately yes,” Heimdallr replied with a nod of his head, which groaned in its movement. “I have watched you, and your father, for some time. Like a hawk that soars over its prey, ready for the kill.” He leaned his large, spiky head closer to Fluttershy’s own. “And soon, the time will come for the strike.”

Fluttershy didn’t respond to his threat. She managed to take her eyes of Heimdallr’s and look at the frozen city around her. She looked back at Heimdallr. “What is this place?”

“This? This is my playground,” Heimdallr answered with a smirk. “A place for me to remember my most glorious achievements and be able to play them out once more.”

Fluttershy felt her teeth come together once more in anger so hard she thought they might shatter. “Glorious? You call this glorious?!” She gestured with her forehooves the devastation around her. “I don’t see anything glorious here! Only the mind of a sick, twisted creature!”

Heimdallrs face formed into a mask of rage. “You dare insult me, you insolent little thing?!” He brought a claw up in the air and then swung it at Fluttershy, who brought a hoof up to her face and made herself ready for the pain that was to come. She felt the claw pass through her like a shadow of a cloud. She lowered her hoof slightly and opened a single eye.

In front of her stood Heimdallr, with his claw still in the air, looking surprised and confused. She felt no pain and saw she was completely okay. She faced Heimdallr again and blew a raspberry at him.

Heimdallr lowered himself once more and brought his eyes closer to Fluttershy’s own, then widened them, activating the ‘dragon stare’. Fluttershy quickly countered this with her own ‘stare’ and pitched the two in a battle of wills.

Despite Heimdallr’s expertise and use of the ‘dragon stare’, Fluttershy was able to hold her own against him, forcing Heimdallr to try harder. Every time though Heimdallr increased his ‘stare’, Fluttershy was able to counter easily, and hold off his psychological onslaught. If the ‘dragon stare’ were able to produce sound, every building that was still standing would collapse in its intensity.

“Why do you not give in?!” Heimdallr asked incredulously.

“Because I fought a cockatrice, Heimdallr, and won,” Fluttershy replied. “This is foal’s play compared to that.”

Eventually, Heimdallr gave up, raising his head from hers and looking away. Fluttershy blinked and fell back onto her haunches. Her eyes felt strained and were stinging as if shampoo had just dripped into them. She gently massaged her eyes until they felt better.

While Heimdallr looked down on Fluttershy in sheer disbelief. This was not the cowardly pony that jumped at her own shadow he saw in Ponyville those many nights ago. Instead he saw a tougher, stronger mare, and it scared him a little.

“It appears we are at a stalemate,” Heimdallr concluded, drawing Fluttershy’s attention back to him. “You can’t hurt me and I can’t hurt you. So let’s talk, not as enemies, but as intelligent creatures.” Heimdallr lowered himself back on the ground; his whole body groaning as he did so, while Fluttershy didn’t move, just stared at him with the same hatred she was receiving from the large dragon.

“Okay,” Fluttershy said in agreement. “So how about this. I ask a question and you answer, then you ask me one and I answer.”

Heimdallr nodded. “Okay then, so why don’t you go first?”

“Thank you. So first off, how did you survive? The Dragonlords defeated you and confirmed you for dead. And yet, you’re here.”

Heimdallr chuckled. “I survived because I know far greater magic then any magic user ever would on this planet.”

“Care to elaborate?” Fluttershy said with a raised eyebrow.

“When I became… this,” he said, gesturing with a claw his flaming body. “I also cast a piece of my soul into that place, which is well hidden, and yet in plain sight. That piece of my soul then returned to me after my ‘death’ and re-ignited the flames, restoring me to life.”

“Except you’re not fully alive. You’re between life and death. A half life as it were.”

“You’re not as dumb as you look, Dragonlord,” he grudgingly agreed. “Yes, I am neither living nor dead. It’s not what I… anticipated, I admit. But I have been able to live longer than anything on this earth, so that’s a plus.” He leaned closer. “Does that answer your question?”

“Sort of,” Fluttershy answered with a nod.

“Okay, that means it’s my turn,” Heimdallr said with a mocking sneer that made Fluttershy cringe. “When I watched you, and looked at your memories, I saw a pony who once said ‘we all need to be shown a little kindness’. So why haven’t I received the same treatment yet?”

“Because even kindness has its limits, Heimdallr,” Fluttershy answered, her eyes narrow. And I don’t think I can give you any, because of what you’ve done.” She leaned in closer to Heimdallr’s head. “Does that answer your question?”

Heimdallr snorted. “Yes. So what…”

“My turn,” Fluttershy said. Heimdallr nodded and allowed Fluttershy to ask hers. “So why do you hate everything? From what I’ve learnt the dragon race was once proud and noble, and sought to help life flourish, not destroy it. So why do you want to destroy the people of this world so much?”

“Because the peoples of this world had their chance, Dragonlord, and blew it when the Great War happened. You weren’t there to see the terrible slaughter that happened through those many years, the thousands that killed each other over nothing, the bloodshed that shouldn’t have happened. If you saw what I saw, Dragonlord, then you might agree with me.”

Fluttershy felt sick to her stomach. “You say that the fighting in the Great War was terrible. And yet, you say the slaughter you wreak is glorious! You’re nothing but a hypocrite, Heimdallr! Your slaughter is no different to what happened in the Great War!”

“You’re wrong,” Heimdallr said. “The fighting of the Great War was over little, petty disputes, or basically nothing. But my war. My war is a noble cause; one that will see true peace, and total harmony reign across the world. Think about it, Fluttershy Firewing. Peace. True, never-ending peace. Isn’t that something you’ve always wanted?”

“Yes,” Fluttershy nodded, after a moment of silence. “But I know it's something that would most likely never happen, ever. It’s a dream, Heimdallr, nothing more.”

“Maybe, but that dream will soon become reality, and you and your father will not stop me.”

Fluttershy backed away. “We’ll try,” she said.

Heimdallr laughed. He then spread his wings and took to the air. “I am done talking with you, Fluttershy Firewing,” he said. “The next time we meet, it will be our last. Tell your father that I’m coming for you both, and that you can run, but you can’t hide.”

With that he roared into the sky and sped off towards where the sun would be, with Fluttershy watching him as the dragon disappeared from view. She looked down and thought for a moment. Fluttershy Firewing, was that her full name now? She looked up again to see the world suddenly turning white. She raised a hoof to shield her eyes as the white consumed her.

She could feel nothing, all senses in her body had gone, but all she could hear was the sound of somepony, quiet at first, then growing louder with concern and alarm, as the world turned black.

“Fluttershy? Fluttershy? FLUTTERSHY?!”

Fluttershy’s eyes shot open and she sat upright, gasping for air. She felt like she wanted to be sick, and her lungs felt like they haven’t been working for a long time. “Take deep breaths, sweetheart,” she heard her father say.

She looked up to see Firewing next to her with concern and relief in his eyes, and felt his hoof run up and down her back to calm her down. She glanced around her to find herself in the familiar cave the two found after they were forced to seek shelter from the heavy rainstorm that was now coming down in torrents.

“How’re you feeling?” Firewing enquired.

“I feel… like… I’m gonna… be sick,” she answered between gasps.

“Ah,” he grimaced. He got quickly up and trotted over to his saddlebags resting in the corner, and got out a small bucket. “Here have this.” He gave the bucket to Fluttershy, who accepted it with both hooves and let loose the contents of her stomach into it.

Firewing sat back down next to her and rubbed a hoof across her shoulders. “There, there. Let it all out,” he cooed softly into her ears.

When she finished, she chucked the bucket away from her and looked at Firewing. Her coat was a lighter yellow than usual and her breathing was a slight hoarse. She suddenly wrapped her forelegs around her father and began shivering.

“It was horrible!” she blurted out. “I watched a city burn and good, innocent ponies die horribly and-”

Firewing cut her off by placing a hoof on her lips. “Slow down, sweetheart. Now start again from the beginning, what happened?”

Fluttershy took a deep breath and started re-telling what she saw. “I was in a city, a great white city with a tower at the centre that went up into the sky.”

Firewing nodded. “Did this city have a name?”

“Yes,” she answered with a nod. “I think I read it as ferghayna, or was it farghana?”

“Ferghana?” Firewing’s eyes widened.

“Yes! That was the one!”

“You saw the second pony kingdom of Ferghana?”

“Yes well I think it was called that anyway.” Fluttershy tilted her head to one side. “You know of it?”

“I think everyone in Equestria knows about the second kingdom, Fluttershy. Who was in charge?”

“Um,” she pondered, looking away for a moment. “I recall seeing this picture of a earth pony Prince and a winged unicorn Princess looking into each others eyes.”

Firewing gave a wide smile and then walked back to his saddlebags. He fished out a big book with a dark green cover. “I’m glad I kept this book,” he said through gritted teeth. “It’s a good bit of light reading to pass the time.”

“That… is light reading?” Fluttershy said with a look of puzzlement.

Firewing placed the book in front of her, allowing for Fluttershy to read the title. "‘The pocket guide to the history of Equestria and the rest of the world’.” She looked back up at Firewing. “I don’t see the pocket side of this?”

“Neither do I,” he replied. “I think it was their way of trying to make humour, and failing at it.” He opened up the book and scanned the contents page. “Ahha!” he exclaimed. “There it is, page three hundred and forty five.” He flicked the book to the page number and then turned it around for Fluttershy to look at. “Is that the picture you saw?”

Fluttershy looked down and gasped. She saw the exact same picture as the one from the scroll, love hearts and all. “That’s it! That’s the same picture! But where have I seen it-” she stopped when she saw the page header above it.

The legend of Hearts and Hooves day

She stared at the heading for a long time with wide eyes, and then back up to Firewing. “Is… what I saw… what truly happened?”

Firewing nodded. “After the Prince gave the Princess the love poison, the two went into seclusion and weren’t seen in public ever again.” Fluttershy nodded with a small blush on her cheeks as she remembered seeing them together. “Things were okay for a good two weeks or so. The council kept the kingdom going and everyone was happy. And then…”

“Heimdallr attacked,” the two finished together.

Her father nodded. “With the deaths of the Prince and Princess, the council members and the destruction of the city, the kingdom fell into chaos and ruin. The small villages formed into nomadic tribes and began fighting each other for control. They’re still at it apparently. The only real surviving part of Ferghana’s legacy is the ingredients of the love poison. Nothing else survived.”

Fluttershy looked down, her eyes watering at the memory. “I saw him. He attacked the palace first, killing everyone inside, then turned his attention to the rest of the city. He used magic, he used his claws, he used everything. He killed ponies in their hundreds, cutting them down as if they were wheat in a field. I watched a young, pregnant mare die. She was only young! And yet, Heimdallr didn’t spare her, he spared noone. He’s just evil, truly evil.”

Firewing wrapped his forelegs around her tighter to comfort the haunted pegasus. “There, there, it’s over now. It’s all in the past.”

Fluttershy pulled back and looked into his eyes. “But it’s not. He’s gonna try again, and if we don’t stop him then those deaths would’ve been for nothing.”

“You’re fixed on trying to stop him now?”

“Yes,” Fluttershy said with a firm nod of her head. “At first I wasn’t sure. But now after what I saw, and our little chat, I’m certain he has to be stopped.”

“Wait,” Firewing said with a shake of a hoof. “You spoke to Heimdallr?!”

Fluttershy nodded. “At first I thought he wouldn’t be able to hear me. So I let out my anger and scolded him for what he did. After I did though, the world froze. Everything stopped, just like that, and I felt my nerves return to me in the speed of a bullet. When I turned around I… I saw him, staring at me with such a hatred I never thought I’d see in my life. He said he was the one who brought me to see him destroy Ferghana, what does that mean?”

Firewing looked away, deep in thought. “I believe you might have suffered a mind jump,” he said, after a few moments of silence.

Fluttershy looked at him perplexedly. “What’s a mind jump?”

“It’s when a being has their conscious pulled, either willingly or forcibly, from their mind and taken into another’s,” he explained. “Do you still feel sick, and giddy?”

Fluttershy nodded. “A little bit, better than I was.”

Firewing got up again and walked back over to his saddlebags, taking the book with him and placing it back in. He buried his nose in one of the pouches for a moment before taking something out and walking back over.

“It seems you were forcibly mind jumped from your mind to Heimdallr’s. And the best way to cure the nausea is…” He dropped the thing he was carrying from his mouth and pushed it towards Fluttershy. “Chocolate!”

Fluttershy looked at it hesitantly. “Go on, take the lot. It really helps,” Firewing said.

Fluttershy slowly picked it up with her hooves and unwrapped the paper around the bar, and then scoffing it down greedily and quickly. She moaned in pleasure at the sweet, melting taste of the chocolate, and tried to remember the last time she had some, but couldn’t.

She swallowed the last of it and wiped her mouth of the chocolate that stained her lips and cheeks. She could feel her nausea go away quickly and her coat returned to its normal yellow color. “Oh I feel much better already,” she said happily.

“I’m glad,” Firewing said with a smile. The smile slowly faded away. “Now… I was wondering whether you could tell me what you and Heimdallr talked about.”

Fluttershy looked at him fearfully. “Okay, don’t worry if you don’t want to say-”

“No, no. It’s okay,” Fluttershy said with a wave of her hoof. She took a deep breath once more and began re-telling their conversation. “Well it started off pretty rough. Heimdallr tried to kill me with a claw, only to find it go right through me. He then tried the ‘dragons stare’ on me, but I was able to hold it off with my own.”

Firewing jaw dropped. His daughter took on an ancient, evil dragon, and beat him at his own game?! ‘Looks like we’ll make you a Dragonlord yet,’ he thought. He put on a huge smile and brought her in again for a tight hug. “That’s my girl.” He pushed her away gently and looked into her eyes once more. “Then what happened?”

“He said we should just talk, as intelligent creatures,” she answered. “We asked each other a few questions and that was that really.”

“Did you, or he say anything about Starwirl’s keys?” he asked anxiously. Fluttershy shook her head, allowing Firewing to breathe a sigh of relief. “Then he doesn’t know they exist yet. That’s good.”

“But he must do,” Fluttershy said despairingly. “He said he has been watching me and you for a long time now. He must know they exist, he must!”

Firewing bit his bottom lip and rubbed a hoof through his long mane. “Ah, then I guess we just wait and see what happens.”

“There was one more thing,” Fluttershy added. “Before he left he called me Fluttershy Firewing. Is that my full name now?”

Her father looked at her absentmindedly, lost in thought. “That is up to you, my child,” Firewing replied after a while.

Silence fell between them for a while. Fluttershy looked down at the ground, glancing at her father from time to time. ‘Come on, Fluttershy, here’s your chance! Ask him about your mother. Ask him why he left you at orphanage. Just say it!’ her conscious screamed at her. Fluttershy shook her head and lightly hit it with a hoof, making her conscious’s pleas fade away to the back of her mind.

If Firewing noticed the conflicted looks Fluttershy was giving, he didn’t ask about it. He looked at the cave entrance and sighed as he watched the heavy rain create a wall at the cave’s mouth. “I think you should get some sleep,” he said. “We’ve got a long walk ahead of us tomorrow.”

Fluttershy shook her head rapidly. “I don’t want to go back to sleep!” she cried fearfully. “Heimdallr might come back and I don’t want to face him again, not alone!”

Firewing grimaced at the fear in his daughter’s eyes. He laid down onto his stomach and patted the ground next to him. “Then sleep next to me,” he said.

Fluttershy hesitantly walked over and laid down next to him so that their sides were touching. “Do you know any lullabies?” Fluttershy asked.

Firewing shrugged. “I know one, but it’s short and it’s not that good.”

Fluttershy rested her head on his forelegs. “Sing it to me anyway, please?”

Firewing raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you too old for lullabies?”

Fluttershy shot her head up and looked at him with a look of offence. “You can never be too old for lullabies.”

Firewing sighed. “Alright then.” Fluttershy grinned and rested her head back down on his forelegs and by his chest. She could feel his heart beating every few seconds against his chest. “Comfortable down there?” Fluttershy nodded.

Firewing took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and began to sing. It was a low hum at first and then formed into words. He wasn’t the best singer in the world, but Fluttershy found it to be soft and relaxing.

“Darkness, darkness, be my pillow. Take my head, and let me sleep.

“In the coolness, of your shadow. In the silence, of your deep.

“Darkness, darkness, hide my earning. For the things I cannot be.

“Keep my mind from constant turning. Toward the things I cannot see.”

He hummed for a moment and then sung the words one more time. After he finished he took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “See, I told you it was short. Did you like it though?” He looked down to see Fluttershy fast asleep, breathing softly and with a small smile on her face.

Firewing smiled and kissed her lightly on the head. “Goodnight, Fluttershy,” he whispered. He lowered his head onto hers and watched the rain come down outside. The sound of the rain hitting the ground was soothing and for that moment, he felt at peace.