by: Hugo V.
The parchment burst forth from a deep, crimson flame only inches from where Twilight Sparkle stood in her quiet library; fright, then confusion crossed her brow. A letter to me? Strange, I only receive messages like that through Spike... She pondered, placing several books about astronomy down on a nearby table. A flash of lightening illuminated the skies of Ponyville, followed by an explosion of thunder. It was raining heavily and had been for quite a long time, four days or so. The ground grew soggy and despite many citizens complaining, there was nothing that Rainbow Dash or any other weather-pony could do to alleviate the incessant downpour. It was named the greatest storm of the new millenium, a title it fully deserved; Pinkie Pie sat in Sugarcube Corner, bored out of her mind with the lack of customers. Applejack could do nothing but watch with a frown as unripe apples fell to the earth under the heavy blanket of water. Fluttershy hadn’t stepped outside of the house since the storm began and Dash had retired to her home in shame. As for Rarity, she was far too busy to mind but found it obnoxious redoing her hair every time an errand was to be ran.
Yet there stood Twilight, eyeing the levitating paper warily. It looked aged, if aged was the proper term. Ancient, she thought, very easily hundreds of years old. It was made of a very peculiar material, tanned and thick. Along its wrinkles were several deeply set sentences that followed as such:
To Miss Twilight Sparkle,
You do not know who I, the sender of this message, am. I’d prefer to keep it that way if at all possible. I’ve recently acquired knowledge of your assistant, Spike, as you call him. It is my understanding that his title has been your ‘assistant’ since his hatching not so very long ago and because of this I must make a request, or rather, a demand:
Bring him to Lavender Hill at 9 o’clock in the evening, this Saturday.
IF you should refuse, which I strongly do not suggest, horrible anguish shall befall your already bleak settlement.
As she finished, the symbols began to fade. With a sudden burst, the parchment once again combusted, this time into nothingness. After the initial shock, thoughts poured into Twilight's head rapidly: who was this Pony? What did they want with Spike? Her violet complexion turned red with anger, and the clench of her teeth could almost be heard. Her faithful companion was, at the moment, clenching his own teeth as he focused hard on organizing Twilight's books alphabetically for no reason other than staving off boredom; it wasn’t working. The unicorn looked at him, unsure of what to say. She remembered Lavender Hill: it wasn’t so much a hill as it was a dangerous chasm, and Saturday was tomorrow.
“Spike,” he turned to look at her.
“Do you have any idea of who might wanna’ see you?”
“Who wouldn’t!” He chuckled. She did as well, though only half-heartedly.
“I just got a letter from somepony-”
“That’s weird, I’d think I’d know if that happened.” He laughed again. For a bleak day he was in an oddly good mood.
“That’s the strange thing,” Twilight responded, comforted by Spikes nonchalance. “See, it appeared like it would if sent by Princess Celestia, but not from your fire. That’s the confusing part.”
“Huh, pretty creepy.” he seemed inattentive. “What was it about.”
“You.” With that single word he perked up and scrambled over.
“Really! Cool! I never get letters!” He jumped in place cheerily. “What’d it say!? Tell me!”
She giggled, then remembered its contents. “Somepony wants to speak to you personally, this Saturday at Lavender Hill.”
“Oooh, Lavender Hill,” he gawked, “sounds romantic.”
“It’s actually a pretty scary place,” Twilight corrected.
“Oh,” his expression changed. “This Saturday huh? What if it’s still raining?”
“We’ll have to see I guess.” Spike noticed the worry on the purple mares face.
“Something the matter?”
With that, they both went to bed. It was in the lateness of night that Twilight awoke with a start. Her head was pounding and beads of sweat trailed down her face. She had another nightmare, the third in one night; as soon as she had opened her eyes the details of it fell through her hands like grain in a sieve. All she could remember were two, very large eyes, eyes that penetrated the utmost core of her being and seemed to consume all upon which they gazed. She looked over to see Spike tossing in his tiny bed. With a yell he leapt up and balled his hands into little fists.
“Are you okay Spike?” Twilight asked wearily.
“Oh, did I wake you up? Sorry...” He relaxed.
“What were you dreaming about?” A creeping sensation spread throughout the unicorn.
“I... Can’t remember. Oh wait! Yeah! I was fighting a zombie!” He grinned smugly, “It didn’t stand a chance Twi, you shoulda’ seen me.”
She sighed in relief, “I’m sure you did great Spike, let’s get some rest.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t finished with him anyway!”
When she slid from beneath her sheets in the morning, a ray of light shone charmingly through the window. Spike was in the kitchen filling himself with rubies and the sound of his exuberant crunching could be heard at least a mile away, if not more. Twilight opened her doors and took a deep breath, enjoying the sun and noticing that many other ponies were out and about. Pinkie Pie hopped by exuberantly with a loud Hello! and a few feet away the magical mare could spot Rarity picking up this and that.
“Twilight darling! It has been far too long, far too long indeed. I’ve missed you!”
“You’re too right Rarity. Nice to see you as well.”
“Tell me m’dear, have you seen Fluttershy?” She asked.
“Actually I’ve been meaning to talk to you all, something very important has come up. I hate to ask, but can you round everypony up and bring them back to my house in around an hour? I’d do it myself but right now I have a lot to contemplate.”
“Sure thing! But I’ll expect you to pay back the favor eventually.” Rarity exclaimed devilishly. Unsure what to think of that exactly, Twilight went back inside. Several hours had passed when Rarity knocked, bringing with her four other ponies who promptly sat down in a circle on the wooden library floor. Spike sat on Applejack’s back.
“So whydya’ bring us here sugarcube?” she spoke.
“Yeah, I have practicing to do!” added Rainbow Dash.
“The animals are just starting to come out of their burrows again...” Fluttershy murmered. Twilight inhaled strongly and told them about the letter and its contents verbatim and the peculiar way it had come to be in her possession (if only for a brief while), including how much it all scared her. From the look on the other ponies faces, they were a bit shaken too.
“Honey, 9 o’clock is almost here.” Applejack pointed out.
“I know, I need each of your help because I’m not sure what to expect.” They all agreed to go with her, though Fluttershy took quite a lot of convincing and a few doe-eyed looks to finally give in. Rainbow Dash was furious.
“Whatever pony wrote that’s gonna’ pay. How dare they threaten Ponyville! My hoof’ll send them from here to Canterlot! C’mon everypony, let’s go.” She practically dragged them all out and set herself in the direction of Lavender Hill. They walked closely behind her and Twilight couldn’t have admired Dash’s courage any more at that exact moment. When they all arrived it was around ten minutes past nine and a new storm had begun to brew overhead, lending an ominous feeling to the deep, jagged valley. They began their steep descent into darkness under a light drizzle that would’ve felt good upon their manes if it hadn’t been for the fearsome task they were preoccupied with accomplishing.
As the six ponies and baby dragon entered a cavern at the very bottom, stone walls encompassed them on all sides. Fluttershy was being uncharacteristically brave. Perhaps she’s gotten better after the dragon incident, Twilight thought, but figured that probably wasn’t the case. Pinkie Pie yelped loudly as she stopped firmly in place, inches away from a very far drop that she hadn’t noticed until standing upon its precipice.
“Where do we go from here?” She asked. Twilight gulped and scraped the little courage she had left to the forefront of her mind.
“I, Twilight Sparkle, am here! I bring with me Spike, who you wish to see! Make yourself known!” She hollered, the echo reverberating with the massive chamber. Since it was getting dim, she lit up her horn with brightly growing magic. That’s strange, she squinted, I can only see behind me. Then a reflection on something grey and glossy, then another reflection. Something was moving in front of them all, something so incomprehensibly massive that they hadn’t noticed it until that instant. Twilight stepped back and nearly fell over as the colossal face of a dragon lifted itself to see her eye-to-eye; the reader can only imagine for themselves how large the beast was for mere words and descriptions cannot do its size true justice. It’s jaw was square and jutting out beneath a horned snout. Two deeply set eyes glared within a sullen brow that seemed tired with age but still burned with a calm intensity; its wings seemed as though they went on for a horrifying eternity. It shifted slightly and kicked up large pockets of dust on the walls and high ceiling. Several limestone stalactites cracked off and slid down its blackened sides. None of the ponies said a word, for they knew it was not a time for speaking. Even the once eager Rainbow Dash was quiet, even more so than the others. Fluttershy was wracked with spasms and Applejack simply kneeled in utter shock. The joy from Pinkie Pie’s face drained and Rarity shook. Then it spoke, spoke with a voice deeper than an ocean and twice as vast.
“I see you have come, and have brought... Friends.” He paused between each words as if they were painful to speak, then exhaled a wisp of smoke. Everypony cowered before the monstrosity, everypony except for Twilight; her previous look of awe had turned to one of determination as she courageously stepped forward.
“Are you the one who wrote the letter?” Her ease was inspiring to her companions and each pony managed to regain their footing. The dragon leaned down close, close enough for Twilight to feel the searing heat of his body and return a strong, measured gaze.
“Yes. I feel as though a proper introduction is called for.” He shifted, shaking the foundation with each minuscule movement. “My name is unimportant, however I am father of the one whom you have named, ‘Spike’.” He accented ‘Spike’ with a low growl, then continued. “Have you brought him?” Twilight simply gaped speechless at the realization. How could she not have known? When she had first met spike he was nothing more than an egg, a test at the academy she attended. Never before had the pony stopped to wonder where the dragon egg came from, whom it might have belonged to, its actual family.
“Yes, he’s here. Come out Spike.” Twilight encouraged, though her smile was clearly strained. The baby dragon did not seem shaken in the least, he had accepted that one day it would have to be dealt with. But so soon? It never crossed his mind. He stepped forward but was stopped by the cyan hoof of Rainbow Dash.
“Now just who do you think you are? I’ve fought dragons twice your size and beat ‘em to a pulp!” She attempted to intimidate, but the giant knew both of her statements were false. Despite this, he pulled back and gave a long, winded sigh.
“You know not of which you speak. My son, my only begotten son,” he looked sadly down at Spike who returned the gesture, “there was a time dragon-kind ruled all of Equestria and beyond. A time when the Goddess Celestia had not yet grown powerful or capable enough of destruction.” Twilight clenched her teeth so hard they almost cracked; she fixed the capacious creature with a malicious stare. “A time when the Goddess Celestia had not yet grown capable enough of genocide.” He added, grimacing. Each word echoed down the countless corridors and tunnels embedded in crag.
“What happened?” Fluttershy seemed genuinely concerned. A disheartened shade adorned his face as he looked down, recalling the events of so many years ago.
“It was centuries before the kingdom of Equestria was built, many centuries. I lived amongst my brothers and we thrived off of our land, not bothering the tiny pony settlements that were beginning to emerge.” The six sat down to listen; Spike was most eager. “There was a simple, unspoken rule: to never cross the decided boundary between our haven and theirs. For a small time this rule was followed, but as days passed the equines grew intolerant and began to stretch, little by little, beyond the border. We chose not to fight, but they stole our food-” he looked at Applejack, then to Rainbow Dash, “claimed the skies-” Rarity trotted back nervously as the mighty beast snorted in her and Pinkie Pie’s direction “and humiliated the weak.”
“We’re so sorry, we had no idea.” A single tear formed to the bottom of Fluttershy’s eye.
“One cold winter’s day, a dragon, whose name I cannot recall, fought back. Several ponies were killed and others wounded. The Goddess Celestia attacked for she saw an excuse to drive us from our rightful territory and claim it under the royal banner.” Every time Princess Celestia was mentioned Twilight's ears became hot, though she dared not interrupt. “My kind were executed daily for falsified crimes and eventually all but a dozen of us were left, cursed to roam a world so horribly different then the days in which we basked. The few of us who survived had to flee into solitude, though on my lonely wanderings I met a dragoness.” his expression twisted to that of fury, then returned. “She was captured while pregnant, and the princess allowed her to carry to term, producing my first born.” Spike placed his hand upon his father’s claw and asked a question, the answer of which he wished not to hear.
“What happened to her... Mom?” The seemingly unshakable ‘monster’ shrunk back trembling, then shook his head. Twilight felt absolutely horrible. What blind faith and passion had caused her to so unquestioningly follow the white mare? Helplessness washed over her as the truth finally set in. Celestia: a cold-hearted tyrant and murderer of species.
“I must apologize for making threats against your town however there was no other way I could be assured of your appearance. I know better now.” Glancing at the lavender unicorn, he addressed her personally. “You are truly wise beyond your years Miss Twilight Sparkle, please forgive me.” He hissed and groaned under his own weight; a profound sickness was apparent. “I call you to see me today so that I may thank you for taking such good care of my child. You remind me of his mother, and take upon yourself the responsibilities she was unable to. For that I am eternally thankful.” Spike cried, clutching the dragons talon. “As you must know by now, I am dying.” He lifted his wing gently to reveal a pulsating scar etched into his flesh. It was the visage of a burning sun, Celestia’s sun. “I cannot escape the curse, but that does not mean that you cannot lead a fulfilling life my son. My final chapter is almost finished, your first has yet to begin. The Goddess can be merciful and will look down upon you with a different perspective. I doubt she even remembers her past crimes.”
“Don’t talk like that! You’re going to live!” The tiny purple lizard sobbed, but was cut short when he noticed the other ponies staring slack-jawed at something behind them. It was another pony, one with long legs, a flowing mane and sharp, pale horn. Impossible light shone off of her wings, unsheathed to their greatest extent. Twilight suddenly realized that the eyes she had seen in her dream the night before, those horrifyingly empty eyes, were that of her very own teacher.
“My faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. How wonderful to see you again.” Princess Celestia exclaimed, strangely keeping with her usual tone of calm nobility. “Hello again Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow, Pinkie, Fluttershy,” a worried emphasis followed the last name, “Spike.”
“P-Princess Celestia,” Twilight gulped nervously, “Is it true?” The white alicorn ignored her and trotted towards Spike’s father. Hate brimmed just below the skin of the grey dragon, though he composed himself well.
“Your Highness.” The greeting was familiar but heart-wrenching.
“I had figured that you would’ve been long dead since now, but I must admit that I have missed you sorely. Your kind have always looked so very handsome in the dark.” The six ponies behind her were utterly baffled at how the conversation was playing out, but chose not to think too much for the atmosphere was tense and constricting. “Let’s see you in the light then.” Strong illumination issued forth from her forehead as she looked him up and down; in the fluorescence of her magic his features became noticeably bolder. The dragon slid back, eyes squinting. “How old are you now? How many millennia have you lived to see the one’s you care for die? I feel regret for what happened between us though, but the insurrection had to be quelled. There was just,” The sad beast cowered below her as if he was a mouse, “not enough space.”
“I am old and tired. I have seen too much to live the rest of my days in guilt or the pursuit of vengeance. Please Celestia, do what you wish to me but leave my son alone.”
“I must finish what was started. Please do not think wrongly of me for this.” The princess raised her hoof as magical fusion ebbed and flowed across her body, lighting up the dragon’s sun with a blistering orange aura. As the beast bowed in acceptance, three razor nails scratched Celestia deeply across the face.
“Spike! No!” Twilight yelled, though it was already too late. Spike tangled and bit at Celestia’s neck with incredible agility. In a matter of seconds he was bucked off. The alicorn’s jaw shook with fierce animosity.
“You’re just like your father: violent, filthy, and ALWAYS the aggressor! Why did I even spare you in the first place!?” Blood dripped down her delicate cheek and gathered on her chin. She levitated him and stomped, snapping him against the ground.
The impact sent the goddess tumbling backwards so far she nearly made it to the entrance. The six ponies sat in alarmed silence as the dragons four legs walked along either side of them, then marched on to where Celestia was thrown. They followed hurriedly with bated breath, hardly believing the turn of events.
The white alicorn crawled out of the cave on her back as the sound of hefty footsteps grew louder and closer. She stumbled to her feet and ran back forty or so yards, enough room to get prepared. The great, slanted peaks of the chasm seemed to shift all around her. Then he appeared - the apex of his past glory - and not even the princess could help but gasp at the sight: at full height he was twice as tall as an Ursa Major and three times as thick, his near-black scales shone in the moon’s hidden light that immersed itself in rain clouds. They spit forth generously large drops of warm water that contributed a brilliant luster upon the entire scene.
“It’s not too late to stop th-” A bolt of arcane electricity shuddered through him as he lurched back and slammed against rock. Around him several boulders rolled off and fell. He moaned in pain as Celestia recharged, her horn sparking with magic.
“It is now out of my control! Prepare to be eviscerated!” But she was too slow. A loud tail crack across her frame sent the pony hurdling upwards. With one rapid movement, the princess was grabbed mid-air and held, writhing, up to eye-level. Hot fire escaped the dragon’s twin nostrils as wraith overtook him; if he wanted, he could crush Celestia then and there with the smallest of squeezes. If he wanted. He didn’t, instead he set the pony back on the ground and turned away, carefully treading towards his waiting son.
“Spike, we will be reunited again, but not for a very long time. Be strong and listen to Twilight, she knows best.” Another blast of arcane electricity swept over him and he faltered. The Goddess Celestia beat him mercilessly with wave after wave of painful spells, but he still managed to stand. Spike held his snout tightly, his own chest shaking.
“Don’t leave,” he pleaded, “don’t.” The rain continued to pour down.
“I never will, I’ll always-” His legs gave out and he collapsed; his curse mark burned vividly, then extinguished itself as the elderly dragon breathed his last into the swirling night sky. Celestia crumpled to the ground with him, exhausted and injured.
Not much of what happened just after the battle is known, but many key events took place in the weeks to come. Celestia went missing and was never heard of again after her dreadful actions came to light, Twilight resumed her studies under the tutelage of a highly respected alchemist and Spike grew up to look very much like his father. Through all the adventures the six ponies and dragon would have, they would never forget the night they spent on Lavender Hill.
That hill; legend has it that if you stand in just the right place, breathe in and shut your eyes tight enough, you can hear two words. It is an infinite echo in the wind, meaningless to most but special to a very select seven.