The Fire of Friendship

by Azarune

First published

Cinder has been a loner for ages, until a certain mare shows him the importance of friendship

Being a dragon means you live long. Having friends means they'll pass away before you do, Not wanting the burden of outliving others, Cinder is constantly on the move. Too restless to settle down in a far off land, Cinder wanders Equestria searching for something that will put his mind at rest, until an encounter with a grey mare shows him the other side of the horizon.

Roadside Encounter

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It was another beautiful day in Equestria. The beginning of spring had come and the snow was already melting. The pegasi had just started moving the clouds away, so Celestia’s sun began warming everyone after a long winter. Days like this made Cinder feel happy to be a traveler and not subject to the "hundred year sleep" for which dragons are famous. Cinder was a small specimen for a dragon, perhaps twice as tall as a pony when he walked on his hind legs. His “base coat”, as it were, was dark green and his underbelly and wings accented that color with bright yellow. The grass began to show, and whether by clever use of the conditions, or unicorn magic, the road remained dry compared to the muddy hills. Only Cinder was present to enjoy this tranquility. His solitude was not entirely self-inflicted. Most dragons see other dragons as a threat to one another’s territories, and ponies were understandably uncomfortable around anydragon bigger than themselves.

Lovely day like always, though a little too cold for my taste.

Cinder felt a chill run down his spine. Despite being cold-blooded, dragons are able to survive in moderately cold conditions thanks to their inner fire. It was an uneventful walk. At midday Cinder decided to take a break from walking, he didn’t feel very motivated to traveling. If anything he felt bored, so without a second thought, Cinder scratched at the ground tentatively. Curling himself into a relaxing position, he then succumbed to the stillness around him. Before long, the countryside rang with the sound of a dragon snoring.

***

As Cinder slept, he dreamed of flying across Equestria and never needing to land. He half-remembered seeing the amazing places that he could enjoy; soon the images faded black. Barely acknowledging that he was awake, Cinder couldn’t tell if the voice he heard was in a dream or real.

“Uh, excuse me sir? Mr. Dragon?” Cinder didn’t even open his eyes. Barely awake as it was, he settled on the fact that the voice was actually just part of a dream.

“Um, is this the right way to Mexicolt City?”

This dream is very persistent. An Cinder tried the oldest trick in the book for dispelling pestering dreams trying to wake you up.

“Five more minutes...”

Hearing no response, Cinder felt smugly victorious and prepared to go back to sleep. That was when he felt something lay down on his head. It sunk behind the back of his head. This unknown object sunk itself on the top of his skill. What Cinder first acknowledged was that the object was fuzzy; the second was that the object was alive. He felt the weight of it’s chest slowly rising and falling. Admitting defeat Cinder decided to open his eyes.

Raising his neck slightly, he was shocked to discover a pair of yellow eyes looking back at him. He had to blink a few times to make sense on what he was seeing. Here was a mare, and she appeared to be unfazed that she was sitting on top of a dragon. She had a grey coat with a yellow mane. The most peculiar feature that her eyes were both facing different directions. She had her face pressed to his, the top of her head resting gently over his snout. As time seemed to freeze the strange mare gave a smile.

“Oh, good, you’re awake. I am so sorry for waking you up. But I was wondering if this road lead to Mexicolt City, I came from over there.” she pointed one of her hooves towards the direction Cinder was heading. Cinder felt the ponies weight lifting from to his head and neck, allowing him to see exactly what the pony looked like. She was a pegasus, with her tail was almost the same as her mane, yellow not even. Her cutie mark; bubbles. He could only imagine how that manifests into her special talent.

Cinder could only give her an odd look before speaking in a very raspy voice. One that sounded like it hadn’t been used in weeks.

“Uhh, well I am not familiar with that town,” Cinder paused. “Where is it located?”

“Oh, its south of Ponyville, waaaay south,” the walleyed pony responded.

Cinder only briefly looked at the road where she came from, and looked at the sun, which had just begun its descent, to the right of the road he came from.

“I am sorry, but you’re going north,”

The pegasus blinked, and her eyes went in two different directions when they opened again.

“Dagnab it! Not again! At least I didn’t go east like last time. Once again Ditzy you delayed Spring for Ponyville!” She said with a cast down look, which was off set slightly because one of her eyes was pointed skyward. Cinder felt some pity for the pony and decided to see if he could help.

“Well, now I am sure it isn’t the end of the world. Why exactly do you have get to Mexicolt City?”

“I was assigned by the other pegasi that I needed to go tell the birds down South that it was time for them to come back up North. But once again I messed up; I have the rest of the team up there.” She pointed a hoof up in the sky, and there were two other pegasi.

“Why haven’t they come down to help?” asked Cinder, wondering why he didn’t notice them sooner.

“Too nervous. We had a dragon doing some 100 year nap a few months ago,” she said with a matter of fact tone, still with her eyes crossed.

“Oh yeah, some of us are like that; dragons are a varied lot. Anyway, so you need to go south to pick up the birds and, you accidentally lead your team north?”

“That about sums it up.” The pegasus stated with a cross eyed look of defeat.

Cinder looked briefly up at the sky, seeing the other pegasi giving the same look, and with a shake of his head he looked back at the grey mare.

“Now, no reason for you three to look so defeated, it’s only about 1:00 in the afternoon! You got a lot of time to cover enough ground to make it to Mexicolt City,” he pointed to the South with a clawed finger for emphasis. “Sure you’ll be a few hours late, but that is better than never.” The mare, giving him an odd look tilted her head slightly before a smile slowly formed on her face.

“You’re absolutely right! A mailmare like myself shouldn’t just give up on a job! Alright I guess I’ll go fly south! Thanks for the directions Mr. Dragon! See you again!” giving a quick wave, she turns around to fly off. She quickly turns around again to face Cinder.

“Oh, by the way, I’m Ditzy Doo, what’s your name?”

Cinder gave her a quick look, shocked that she waited this long to introduce herself, “It’s Cinder.” with another wave she dashed off to the other pegasi and began flowing south.

Cinder blinked momentarily, watching the three pegasi shrink from view. Ditzy Doo huh? There was a small smile creeping onto the dragons features, Hopefully we will meet again… with that Cinder settled back down, hoping to at least get a few more hours of sleep.


AN: Hopefully this is better than the original. Criticism is always welcomed!

Smoke and Zebras

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Cinder slept through the afternoon, waking up just when Celestia started raising her starry night and moon, he remembered his grandfather told him about Celestia. She was the goddess of the sun, but she had to control both the sun and the moon. Princess Luna, Celestia’s sister controlled the movement of the moon, but hundreds of years ago Luna betrayed Celestia, which led to her banishment. As Cinder became more awake he needed to take stock of where he was, and what he was doing. Seeing that he was in the middle of the still dry road everything came galloping back.

That grey mare, yes, with the eyes. Hopefully she made it to Mexicolt City in time. He nodded and began to stretch. With a sigh of relief he arches his back and spreads his wings to their limits. Cinder strains his muscles to see if he could just extend his body a few more centimeters, imagining he could simply just let his joints fall apart for perfect relaxation. Once satisfied he began crouching down, furled his wings, and began running along the road. After reaching a speed that suited him, he leapt into the air, unfurled his wings and began the most strenuous part of flying for a dragon at ground level: the take off. Slowly but surely he began to leave the ground, flapping faster and faster until he reached a suitable distance from the ground. Once off the ground, Cinder only needed to keep his wings spread and do the occasional flap to maintain his altitude. The night sky was beautiful to behold, the moon was full and bright allowing Cinder could notice anything interesting. As the moments passed his mind began to wander back to Ditzy Doo.

First encounter with anyone I've had in months, he snorted. Still, she confronted a sleeping dragon by lying on his head. That smile crept back into his face, amazed at the spunk that little pony had. Then his thoughts brought him back to the little smile, the one he had after when she hoped they would meet again. "Hopefully we will" that was his mental response. Shaking his head annoyance, Cinder could only ponder why he even thought that, for years he kept himself away from others. Whatever effect Ditzy had on him, it shook his entire set of principals.

Was it that spirit he mentioned earlier? Perhaps.

What about her innocence? No, any encounters he’d had previously had always put ponies in a good light. The check list continued.

Was it her eyes? No.

Her voice? No.

The possible traits that made Cinder desire to meet up with Ditzy were checked and dismissed. He began to ponder actually trying to find her, to see if a second encounter will shed more light. Cinder groaned and breathed a burst of flame into the air, he let himself fly through the embers and the heat helped clear his mind. He couldn't deal with this, he made a vow long ago that he wouldn't make friends with ponies. It wasn't out of contempt, but out of fear. Ponies lived barely a fraction of his lifespan and making friends with other dragons was a dangerous affair.

Though the everyday pony thinks that all dragons are solitary creatures, there are some dragons that prefer to stay with their families. Some are even raised by ponies. It was actually heavily debated among the more scholarly drakes on how the ponies even get the eggs, but it has been widely accepted as just something that is and tolerated because most pony born dragons became happy and strong individuals that don’t cause any problems to the species, and no dragon mother has ever been reported to have an egg stolen.. Between the dragon clans and pony born, there were the solitary dragons scattered about and the chances of finding a civil one who just likes being alone, instead of one who would rather fight than talk, is only known to Celestia.

Friends will lead to heartbreak... Or bursting into flame... Trying focus his mind on something else, Cinder spread his gaze over the land. The evidence of a town was beginning to reveal itself. To his left, he could see a massive castle nestled on the side of a mountain, surrounded by buildings. The fields by this town were green and welcoming, obviously cleared by the ponies. With a quick acknowledgement, Cinder continued flying. Soon he began to live in the moment, enjoying sensation of flying. He began darting through the air, doing corkscrews and barrel rolls. This trick flying went on for an hour before Cinder got bored. As began gauge his bearings, Cinder began to see another town in the distance. Once again, the fields were clear, but instead of a castle, it was just a collection of colorful houses with some buildings looking more elegant than the other. The small village had a certain simple charm compared to the elegant city that appealed to Cinder who just liked the more simple things in life.

Great more towns, I can never fly past a dried riverbed, or deserted quarry can I? Cinder spewed a stream of flame in frustration, not caring if anyone noticed a flying dragon. However, one thing caught his eye, a forest to the left of the small town, still covered in snow. Flying lower to get a better look, he confirmed that the ponies had skipped over this forest. Cinder's curiosity about this strange forest grew, as he could see the ruins of a castle. As he flew over the canopy, he could feel the air get colder. Even the sky felt different in this forest. No longer clear and bright, but clouds only stationed in the forest just added to the sense of mystery the forest gave Cinder.

As he flew closer to the castle he saw purple banners and a massive ravine in front of the castle. Most of the building was still intact, though there were some holes in the roof, nothing made it seem to be unlivable for a dragon. Even the surrounding area seemed to have less snow. Whether the open sky helped it melt, or former enchantments caused this, Cinder didn't care. If the forest keep ponies away from clearing up the snow, then this weird castle will. As that went into his head, an idea sprung from it. This place seems nice and cozy for a dragon... better than any cave I've slept in. What are the odds of me finding a place like this one? It is probably just deserted, and I bet I can handle anything in this forest. Cinder started to nod to his idea-

GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE

Cinder quickly went on all fours and tried to make himself look as intimidating as he could, raising his spines and wings to try and look like the picture perfect dragon. He started circling until he ended up facing the castle. A low hiss could be heard emanating from his throat. Then he felt a sharp pain in his stomach, his pulse quickened, and for a moment he thought he was attacked. It was only until the second time he heard the sound, before Cinder could determine where it came from. It was coming from his stomach, immediately he was blushing in embarrassment.
Of course I would forget that I haven't eaten since yesterdayhe thought allowing himself to relax again.

"I thought I saw a dragon in the sky,

welcom-"

That was all the voice could say, because Cinder not only jumped a few feet in the air, he but gave a high pitched yelp in shock. As he scrambled to turn around he heard the voice laughing. Preparing to pounce on the intruder, Cinder backed down when he saw who the intruder was. It was a pony, Cinder couldn't tell what type of pony because she wore a brown robe that masked her features. Still, he was able to notice that her legs were colored strangely; they were white with black stripes (or black with white stripes.) Even with questions in his mind, Cinder knew that he had to do something to make it known that he wasn't afraid. So he put on his best poker face (which he thought was pretty good, but was, in reality, fairly average) and directed a small puff of flame towards the stranger. Not enough to burn her, but enough to make her back away, or flee in terror, it could go either way.

The stranger held her ground, and didn't even whimper. As the flames died she began to speak, in an irritated tone.

"Now I understand why you’re jumpy

But that's no reason to be grumpy

I was wondering why the sky glowed bright

Though I never expected it from a dragon in flight."

Cinder's spines started to droop at her tone. Feeling pretty lousy at how rude it was of him to do that. Stupid dragon pride, I swear it's going to be the downfall of my race. Looking at the ground Cinder swallowed what pride he had, and apologized.

"My apologies, you caught me by surprise, and I was trying to-um-” Cinder began to blush, "you know, prove that I wasn't afraid..." He rubbed his right arm in embarrassment, "it's a dragon thing, we like to have the upper hand..." Cinder looked up briefly to see that the stranger was nodding her head. She once again spoke in rhyme, but with a softer tone this time.

"Apology accepted

though this was to be expected.

I've seen a dragon here once or twice

though much bigger and with much more vice."

"I would like to know something though. I can understand you noticing me in the sky, but why didn't you run when I breathed fire?" Cinder quickly stuttered trying to make the question seem less, insinuating. "Uh, what I mean is dragons aren't the most sociable creatures in Equestria so why risk being attacked?"

"Well for having such good intuition

I'll inform you on what was my mission.

I use herbs and potions to augment myself

so a fire retardant elixir would be beneficial to my health.

"Now for the question you've given

I'll tell what why I was driven,

on why did I come

So be still your tongue." Cinder quickly shut his mouth and let her finish.

"Though I know very little

about your cold-blooded race.

But I know dragons will fight

to lay claim to space.

I was worried the fight

would be too big a risk

to let it even begin,

so I came up with this:

To warn you about the forest I live in

The strangeness and foreboding that you must have been feelin’.

That this place is cursed and dangerous for all

unless you have magic to keep it forestalled.

But you settled quite far

from where the drake's sleeping

so instead of a warning

I came bearing a greeting."

"Oh, well, ummm... Hi. Thanks for welcoming me to... uuuuh,” Cinder could only scratch the back of his head, and give her an awkward smile.

"Oh, the forest you see

is known as Everfree.

And I wasn't lying

about the forest conspiring.

It goes on its own

For long it has grown

the lives in here as well

are also under it's spell.

They take care of themselves

no matter how hard ponies delve."

"I see, well, thank you again and-" once again Cinder's stomach began rumbling again, causing the stranger to laugh. Cinder could only give a sigh before looking at her. "I should probably get going to find something to eat. Pleasure meeting you Miss?"

"Oh, no need to call me Miss

if anything it will make me remiss

Ponies call me Zecora

I live with the flora

of the forest you see

under the Trees of Everfree"

Zecora then pulled off her hood and gave Cinder quite a shock. Zecora didn't look like anypony he has ever seen. Instead of a coat with one color, it was white with black stripes, or was it black with white stripes? Cinder would ask her that later. Everything about her was foreign and mysterious, from the earrings she wore, to her mannerisms, her eyes.

"But now I've shown my indentity

may I ask what you call thee?"

"Uh, I call myself Cinder...?" Again his stomach growled, and again Zecora laughed.

"Have you eaten at all?

Before you answered my call?

What do you eat?

Is it gems? Flowers? Meats?"

In his head Cinder was absolutely livid with himself. For years he kept away from talking, and now here he is; talking his mouth off with some new type of pony. What did Ditzy do to him and more importantly how was he going to get out of this situation? But first he had to answer Zecora's question; "I eat what I can find," Cinder said, and then realized he found his method of escape.

"Speaking of food, I got to go find something to eat. So I bid you a good day Zecora, or night as the case may be," but before he could even begin taking off Zecora shook her head at him and bid him to stay.

"If apples are what you can eat

I have some at home that none can beat.

So let’s get you something

before your stomach shrinks to nothing"

She began to walk over the bridge, but Cinder stayed where he was. Halfway across the bridge she looked behind her.

"Is something the matter Cinder?" Zecora gave him a curious look.

Cinder only gave her a brief glance and began walking towards the bridge. Only to walk towards the edge of the ravine and jump off. As he reached the bottom, he spread out his wings, and began making his ascent back towards the bridge. Zecora had a look of confusion, and Cinder could only give nod to her.

"Thank you for the offer Zecora, but I need to keep going." Trying to think of a reason, he remembered her mentioning another dragon. "Dragons have very large territories; I don't want to risk the forests safety." Hopefully that will satisfy her curiosity. This was actually, not entirely fabricated by Cinder, most dragons will let another dragon intrude on a small portion of “their space” as long as the intruder does not present itself as a threat. Zecora raised an eyebrow, and Cinder could already feel the sweat began to form on his brow. But instead of Zecora calling his bluff, she gave a made a small nod.

"I see, I see

I guess the visit mustn't be

But I hope you come visit me

One day, right here in Everfree.

Just call my name

I'll do the same

So we can become acquainted.

But now you should go, and get some food

so your strength will be unabated"

As she walked over the bridge back into the forest, Cinder began flying aimlessly, hoping to find someplace where he could rest and eat.

A Dime(ond) Dog a Dozen

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As all Ponyville citizens know, there is a barren and rocky area near the town. What they don't know however was that this placed had gems of all sorts just underneath the surface. For many years ponies never gave the place any thought, for why should they? All ponies with cutie marks tied with mining were out west, and the famous Element of Generosity hadn't yet need to explore.

The desolate place looked sinister in the night, the clearing itself only had a single tree clinging for life. While a shorts walk away had jagged rocks jutting out of the ground, casting frightful shadows, all the while the distant sound of scratching and howls punctured the silence of the night.

Though this place was frightening to some ponies, most dragons would find it a perfect camp site. Cinder landed with a loud thud, immediately began scratching at the ground. He could smell the gems, just beneath the surface. Quickly a mound of dirt was form around him, using both arms he furiously tore at the earth. Soon after Cinder began to see a glint something shiny, which only made him redouble his eforts. scoopful of rock and dirt revealed what would be considered his dinner. Varied colors of red, blues and greens. Not even picking up the gems Cinder leaned in and feasted on the precious stones. Too experience the taste of gems is a rare one indeed, asking any dragon to describe it wouldn't be able to satisfy a curious mind whose diet doesn't already consist on them. Once this vein of gems was depleted Cinder began digging for another batch. No longer worried about having to find food his thoughts finally began to catch up with him.

"Humf, at least I have gemstones..." picking a nice gem and popping into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully.

"I suppose I could make myself a den out here... Enough gems, far away from anything..." a sigh escaped Cinder's mouth, as he began to flick crumbs of gemstone using his forefingers. Watching them shine in the moonlight while they spun away. "Yeah... Far away."

As the seconds seemed to stretch into minutes, Cinder became more and more uncomfortable. Laying on his back he contemplated on the night sky. He stared at the sky, seeing how all the stars differed in size and brightness. Even stars die out, Cinder thought morosely.

There are so many theories about the night sky, a few books believed that each star was a sun, untold distances away and eventually what ever fuels them runs out, causing them to die: subsequently any pony astronomers shied away from bringing this theory up. Another theory was Celestia, (and formerly Luna), simply wished to recreate the night sky from time to time, whether because of a master plan or a flight of fancy is another story. Either way stars don't go out often, even some of the oldest drakes can recall only noticing a handful of them go out. There was even a story of a drake recording a star until it died out, and that dragon is still very much alive while the star faded from existence.

A loud groan erupted from his mouth, which followed with a bellow of flame. He felt restless, bored, and much to his regret, lonely. Despite Cinder's best efforts, he couldn't resist the urge to crave attention, the overwhelming urge to talk with something, anything, tried as he might no amount of thinking, whining or pacing would satisfy his desire for company. Sadly for him, company was already on its way.

As boredom soon followed by inactivity, sleep inevitably crept on Cinder. As the world faded to inky blackness, the distant shuffling of movement could be heard. Ignoring it Cinder allowed himself to drift to sleep.



Somewhere just below the surface, the local diamond dogs weren't deaf to the disruption on the surface Spying from a conveniently placed bushed. The three leaders of various sizes: Spot, Fido, and Rover watched the dragon claiming their roof for his own.

"Dragon eating precious gems!" gasped Spot, the smallest of the three.

"Yesss we must fix problem and get dragon!" Fido, the largest and perhaps the most straightforward of the bunch growled. Nodding in agreement Spot began to climb out of the bush with Fido, until both of them are cuffed on the head by Rover, the "chieftain" of the pack, who began berating them.

"No no no, idiots! He has found many preciouses, and he not big dragon either! Take dragon and make him findprecious gems for us." Immediately impressed by such a brilliant plan Spot and Fido began to turn back to the tunnel, muttering about getting reinforcements to capture the drake.

As Cinder slept, the diamond dog pack wasted no time to try and apprehend the beast. However, one needed to be brave enough to start getting the ropes under the dragon's body. So naturally the pack decided Spot to risk his hide. An small frighten yelp could be heard as he was launched from a freshly dug hole.

The minute Spot was exposed he raised both hands up in surrender as he waited for the inevitable flames. But after a few moments of his fur not igniting, he opened his eyes to discover the dragon was still sleeping.

With a sinister glare that Discord himself would sue because of copyright infringement, Spot wasted no time to begin the process of setting up the ropes. Each one was placed gently over and under the dragon, not even tightening them until the pack would be sure that the drake would be secured. Soon Cinder was in a complex web of rope that crisscrossed around all his joints.

As the final rope rested on Cinder's snout, Rover, swiftly took claims for such a brilliant plan and it's execution, silently ordered Spot to give the order to restrain the snoozing serpent. With a bitter nod Spot gave the thumb's up to Rover and the others. With a short count (that was neither short nor consisted of much counting) the diamond dogs pulled.

In the realm of dreams, Cinder's mind began wandering through the maze of his subconscious, which focused around rhymes and striped bubbles.


Authors Note: Wow, it has been maybe half a year since I updated? Well now I feel guilty for anyone who showed an interest in this story. Now I wish I even had an excuse to justify the hiatus, but sadly I have none, so I am truly sorry for those who wanted to see this story continue. Rest assured, I do not plain to forsake this story, and I have been doing my effort to being writing in any form that I can. Also as the months went by I feel that my writing skills have improved drastically and hopefully such progress will be evident in future updates.

Post your irks, compliments, suggestions, grievances and complaints below, I always want to improve my writing and try and make my story something worth reading.

Note: I have plenty of stories in the works, I just need to write out the chapters. Best wishes everyone!