My Little Dovah: An Elder Scrolls/MLP Fanfic by Gnir
An adolescent purple dragon roughly the size of a pony slept peacefully in his bed. Sure, it was perhaps a little small for him, but he had grown used to it. It was something familiar, something that was as much a part of his life as the lavender mare he called his sister, as much as the town full of wonderful ponies he called his friends. He sighed contentedly, muttering to himself...
Spike sat bolt upright in his bed, chills going down his spine. It took a lot to wake him up, normally. Whatever that noise was, it touched something deep inside him. Something that screamed to his most primal urges, his mind, his very being. And it was so powerful. He could have sworn he felt the floorboards of Twilight's home rattle as if the very voice that spoke this word commanded respect from everything, living, inanimate, and in-between. Stranger still, he was getting the feeling that he knew what it meant. Somewhere, some forgotten ancestral, inherited memory was telling him...dragons. It meant “dragons.”
ZEYMAH AHRK BRINAHHE, DOVAHHE PAH. GRIND AHST AHROLAAZ.
Spike felt a rush of adrenaline as he somehow deciphered the strange language. Outside, lights were turning on and drowsy but frightened ponies were opening their doors to see what the noise was. The sentence began and ended with a thunderclap—it was exhilarating. As soon as it all began, it was over with, but Spike knew what it meant. For once, he felt privileged rather than just different.
“Brothers and sisters, dragons all. Meet at Mercy Hill...?”
“Spike, you understood that?”
The dragon nearly jumped out of his scales, knocking a lamp over. His growth spurt had kicked in, and he was now the size of a pony, and sported his own set of wings. It wouldn't be long before he could fly on his own. Twilight giggled at him in spite of her apprehension about the noise-- he was in that awkward stage all living things went through, the “in-between” phase. He wasn't a baby dragon, but neither was he a teenager.
“Sorry...I'll clean that up,” said Spike.
“Don't worry about it, Spike,” Twilight said, smiling at him as the giggling quietly came to an end. “I'm more interested in that...well, voice. How did you know what it was saying?”
Spike felt as if he was being pulled, as if every part of him needed to be at this Mercy Hill, wherever it was. “I...don't know, I just did. I had a feeling, though...like only we could understand it. Like it was meant for us.”
“We...as in dragons?” Twilight underwent a subtle change of demeanor. Where before she was worried and protective, now, she was inquisitive, curious. “That's...fascinating. Previous evidence wouldn't have suggested that dragons were social creatures, much less point to the existence of an exclusive language.”
“It's more than that, though, isn't it?” Spike lifted up a claw to scratch at his chin, now more reptilian than stubby.
“Go on,” said Twilight, intrigued at the opportunity to learn and infer.
“I felt it. Inside. Like every one of those words was...like every one of them had a history and significance. It wasn't like when the Cakes tell Pinkie what to get at the market, or when we talk about how our day went. It was more like...”
“When Princess Celestia has something very urgent to say,” Twilight finished, remembering with a blush her town-wide disruption that earned her a personal visit.
“Yeah. I could always feel something when she spoke like that, but I bet the feeling I get isn’t as intense as it is for ponies.”
“Maybe. But that's something we can use to figure this out.” She began pacing around the room. “When Princess Celestia uses her...well, authoritative voice, ponies intrinsically feel it. Nopony but she and her sister can use this voice. Whoever our mystery speaker is...”
“He has authority over dragons,” Spike finished.
“A wise observation, young dragon,” said Princess Luna, standing on the balcony not five feet from Spike and Twilight. Both the dragon and the unicorn quickly knelt to honor the Princess, but she bade them rise. “A thousand pardons for encroaching on your domicile, fair dragon and mare. As you have no doubt guessed, a meeting of the dragons has been called. Young Spike's understanding of the...Thu--” She cleared her throat. “Of the dragon language can only mean that he is now of age, and as such his presence is required at the meeting.”
“But Princess,” Twilight responded, worried. “Dragons are...well, dangerous.”
“Thanks, Twilight,” said Spike, giving her a flat look.
“You know what I meant. What if the one Owlowiscious and I saved you from is at this meeting?”
Luna smiled and waved her hoof calmingly. With her ethereal mane flowing as it did, the effect was more calming than one would expect. “Fear not, Twilight Sparkle. The Dragonfolk hold these meetings in very high regard. Dragons from all over Equestria attend these meetings at the behest of the Dovahjun—the Dragon King. To incite violence at these meetings is to threaten the King himself, and he does not brook threats to his authority.”
“So as long as I behave, I'm safe?”
The Princess nodded, smiling.
“I still don't know about this...do you want to go, Spike?”
“I feel like I have to go. Like I'm literally being tugged to this...Mercy Hill place. But more than that, I want to go. Yeah...I mean, this is the opportunity of a lifetime! I'll get to learn about dragons from dragons. We have our own language! A king, even! I didn't know any of this...I want to learn more. Please, Twilight?”
Twilight bit her lip worriedly, staring at the dragon. He still hadn't lost his knowledge of that pleading look, those big green eyes looking into hers with so much hope...
Princess Luna lightly added, “If it pleases you, Twilight Sparkle, then I shall escort him to and from the Grind—the meeting.”
That was a load off of her back. Only the stupid or the very brave would attack a dragon under the guard of the Princess of the Night during the time when her powers were strongest. She sighed, both out of relief and capitulation. “All right, Spike. If you promise to behave yourself and do what Princess Luna says, you can go.”
He nearly jumped with joy. “Oh yes! Thank you so much, Twi--”
Princess Luna laid a hoof on his head gently. “Volume, sir Spike. I believe my subjects are trying to get back to sleep, yes? Or did you wish for me to answer your enthusiasm with the Royal Canterlot Voice?” She winked at him mischievously, and he chuckled.
“So, where is this Mercy Hill at, Princess?”
“We have an inkling of where it might be, but we--I, that is, think it would be best if you followed the feeling you mentioned.”
Spike paused for a moment, then closed his eyes and let the tug of the voice guide him. It was telling him that he should head towards the Everfree. He gulped. All sorts of bad things called that place home, not the least of which was an emerald dragon Spike had unwittingly stolen from when he was smaller. Hesitantly, he began walking in that direction.
Luna was quiet, waving to the few ponies who were still outside. Some of them, including a little brown-and-white colt she knew as Pipsqueak, waved back, though most just looked on in awe. “I know what you are thinking, Spike.”
“It’s that obvious, huh?” He sort of half-huffed, half-chuckled as he plodded along.
“Well, being imbued with cosmic powers doesn’t hurt one’s perceptions.”
The dragon snorted, a puff of smoke escaping his nostrils. “What if a cockatrice or something gets us? I mean, they’re just dumb animals. Do they know who you are?”
“One should never assume hostile behavior or lack of speech as stupidity. Such thoughts are precisely why the forest is such a dangerous place,” said Luna as the Everfree drew ever closer. Spike could swear he saw the telltale glint of eyes watching from the dark shroud of the trees. “The animals are predatory, territorial, or sometimes both. But they are not, as you say, ‘dumb.’ They would think twice about attacking thee even were thee by thyself. Thou art more than a match for most creatures that dwell within the darkness of the forest.”
“Um, thanks...? Sorry, the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ are throwing me off.”
“Hmph. This revised Equestrian doth vex me as surely as mine Old Equestrian vexes thee. Thou shouldst hope to speak with clarity such as this, shouldst thou ever find thyself imprisoned for a thousand years.”
Spike stopped. “Um...” He really put his claw in his mouth, didn’t he? He hadn’t even thought that Luna might still be adjusting to modern life. Looking back, Nightmare Night went surprisingly well, all things considered. “Princess, I didn’t mean to..”
Luna stopped, and gave him that mischievous smile again. “Be at ease, Spike. I was...how do you say, pulling your leg?”
He shook his head, continuing on. “You really had me going there.” He continued to make small talk, unaware that they were already in the forest now. The animals, as Luna predicted, were giving them a wide berth. “I never took you for a prankster.”
“Of course not. Why would royalty be, as the saying goes, ‘down to earth?’” She illuminated the path before them with a thought, and the shrubs around them rustled as lesser creatures scurried to perceived safety. “Dragons and alicorns are extremely powerful creatures. We live much longer than any other being. You may find in your lifetime that others expect certain things of you, regardless of how fair these expectations are. My sister and I like to keep others guessing--in a good way, of course.”
She bit her lip, expecting a comment about Nightmare Moon, but none came. As a matter of fact, her travelling companion was awfully quiet. She looked to her side to see him veering off in another direction. “Spike?”
The dragon looked back. “Oh! Sorry. This way. I feel it telling me this way.”
“Very well.” The two travellers continued on for perhaps another half hour. Spike was amazed to find that they were unharried the entire way, yet remained quiet and pensive. He pondered about what others would expect from him, and how such expectations might be unfair. Would ponies judge him on his physical appearance? It happened to Zecora, he thought. And I’m not going to be this size forever. And there was the matter of his lifespan. The thought of outliving his friends--his family, he corrected himself--filled him with silent dread.
“Is something wrong?”
“No,” he replied, keeping his thoughts to himself. She appeared satisfied with the answer, but he had figured out by now that things weren’t as they appeared with Luna. Still, she held her peace, and he was thankful. “We’re almost there. The tug is stronger, um...more steady.”
“Very well. I shall wait just before the clearing.”
“The clearing?” Spike stopped. “What clearing? Where?”
“There is one ahead. A large, grassy hill. Quite enormous, by pony standards. Large enough to hold a smattering of dragons,” she added matter-of-factly.
“How do you know all of this?” It was more a question of curiosity than disbelief.
“My sister and I were here when your people named this hill.”
He thought about that silently, continuing to follow the tug of the voice. Not that the Dovahjun was still speaking--if he were, Spike would be on his knees and the whole of the forest creatures would probably clear out. It just felt right to follow the tug, and it also felt as if the resonance of the voice would not be satisfied until Spike was at the meeting. Soon enough, the trees gave way to a clearing. Luna waited just where she said she would, but she called to him. He turned to face her.
“Spike...whatever may have happened between you and this other dragon, do not fear him or hold his actions against him. Territoriality is in the nature of all dragons, even yourself. They are large and seem frightening...but Equestria’s dragons are honorable beings at heart.”
He wondered what she meant by “Equestria’s dragons,” but didn’t have any time
to think about it, as he soon found himself surrounded by several dragons of all shapes and sizes. There was even a purple sea serpent, making conversation with a beige-colored dragon easily large enough to fill Celestia’s throne room.
The beige dragon excused himself from the conversation, and moved to the center of the hill. He sat upon it with authority, surveying his surroundings. Wearily, Spike moved in to get a better look at him. His scales were weathered enough to look like tree bark, and were probably tough enough to stop just about anything. His right eye was glazed over from some ancient injury, and in his left eye Spike could see the wisdom of ages. Two massive horns curled upwards, sprouting from either side of his head, big enough to be ivory trees. A trio of bones jutted out at the tip of his chin, further hinting at the dragon’s age--it looked almost like a beard.
One thing that shocked Spike were how many different kinds of dragons there were. The Dovahjun (he guessed the beige dragon was him) in particular had two powerful hind legs, but unlike Spike, his wings were conjoined with his forelegs. Every move the Dovahjun made betrayed his massiveness, his age, his strength...and his control. That was the most impressive. That this massive being could easily topple everything around him, and there might not be anypony or anydragon that could stop him--but he didn’t. With a gulp, he decided to approach the elder dragon.
“E-Excuse me,” said Spike. “A-are you the Dovahjun?”
Slowly, like an oak bending in the breeze, the old dragon lowered his head and regarded Spike with his one eye. Even before he spoke, the little dragon could feel the power in the air, as if nature was bending to accommodate the power of the elder’s words. “Geh, kiir. Dovahjun.”
Yes, child. I am he. His words rumbled forth from him, and instinctively Spike bowed.
“Eh...um...i-it’s nice to meet you...my name is Spike. I had a few...questions?”
“What is your name in the tongue of the Dov?”
Spike cleared his throat as the elder dragon stared at him, waiting for a question, appraising him. “Well...I was raised by ponies. I’m...that is...I don’t think I have one.”
“We shall name you after I address the first matter of business.” His good eye darted back and forth across Spike’s much smaller form, and he snorted, blowing a puff of smoke towards the younger dragon. Spike thought, oddly enough, that it smelled of incense, rather than burning lumber as he expected. “But you are young. This is the closest you have been to a Dovah, yes? Ask your questions. Learn.” He nudged Spike with the blunt end of one of his horns, and the young dragon had to struggle to stay upright.
“W-well, sir...what’s with this language you’re speaking? How can I understand the, um, dragon language, when I wasn’t taught how?”
“The language of the dov is not as the language of the joor.” Mortals, Spike’s intuition told him. Were dragons somehow immortal, as Luna was suggesting? “The malkey, the tiny horses, get their magic, their flight, their...affinities from their rulers. The dov were given our language by Father Akatosh.”
“Who is Akatosh?”
“The father of the dov, and of the world. He resides in another plane of existence known as Aetherius.”
Spike had trouble believing that. The princesses were the only beings he knew with cosmic powers. On the other claw, he certainly didn’t want to call the King of the Dragons a liar. “What’s so special about our language?”
“Our words have power and true meaning. Not simply a...dictionary definition, but a meaning that holds true in a spiritual way. And some words, when combined with others, or when spoken alone with true understanding, become a Thu’um.” Shout.
Spike would have groaned in frustration were he not face to face with an ancient, immense being. “What is a shout?” He tried to ask in the most polite tone he could muster.
“When a dovah calls forth flame or frost from within...when he engages in battle with another, cows the creatures of the Everfree with a ferocious roar, or calls forth a storm from a clear sky...that is a Thu’um. A Thu’um always consists of three words of power, but not all three are necessarily spoken. A dovah must feel a Thu’um inside him before he can use it--simply speaking the words is not enough, and some of the dov are not powerful enough to speak all three words of a Thu’um.”
“What makes a Thu’um different from...well, me and you talking now?”
“Intent. One could speak of Fo--frost--as much as one wanted without freezing everything in sight, so long as one’s intention was to speak of frost and not create it.” The Dovahjun briefly turned his gaze to his surroundings. “The rest of the dov will arrive soon. I shall leave you with some words of wisdom.”
“Um, thank you?”
“When you learn a Thu’um, even one word will leave an impact on who you are. For to learn any part of a Thu’um is to take its meaning into yourself.” He raised his head after having spoken his piece, evidently finished. There were now twelve dragons, including the sea serpent and the emerald dragon he once mistakenly stole from. Arranged in a circle around the hill. Spike took a seat where he hoped he wouldn’t offend and waited for the meeting to start.
The dragons gathered around the Dovahjun recited his name: Do-vah-jun. Spike joined in, too, and was having fun, until the Dovahjun stomped, demanding silence. When something that big stomped, other things tended to listen. Silence reigned for a few tense seconds as the Dovahjun surveyed his audience, his one eye slowly drinking in the scenery. Eventually, he began speaking, addressing them entirely in the dragon language. He was speaking too quickly for Spike’s mind to pick out the individual words, but his mind was working fast enough to translate the general message.
“I have summoned you all here to address a matter of dire importance to the dragons,” he spoke, his voice washing over every dragon present and stifling them. “One of the little horses--”
“Ponies,” interjected the sea serpent, twirling his mustache.
“Whatever,” answered the Dovahjun, not even bothering to give the sea serpent a contemptuous glance. “One of the ponies encountered me patrolling my gorge. A yellow female with a pink mane. Normally I would have ignored her or sent her away, but her intrusion was not willing. She was fleeing, but more importantly, I recognized her as the aspect of Kindness. Some of you may know her. I personally suspect she may be blessed by Kyne, such is her talent with creatures and nature.” The Dovahjun paused, allowing for comments.
A red dragon with an elongated snout and a hunched form spoke up. “Yes, I have seen her, as has Nonvulnith.” The dragon motioned to the sea serpent, who waved back rather daintily, which elicited a groan from the dragon. “She spoke to me in such a way as to suggest she had a command of the Thu’um.”
Murmurs from the other dragons grew steadily louder at this. The Dovahjun stomped his rear leg again and once more had the silence he desired. “I had words with her. She was fleeing because she saw a seafaring vessel full of creatures...which stood on two legs.”
An uproar erupted, as every dragon but Spike tried to be heard over the other. Some puffed up their chests at the others, while some demonstrated their Thu’um, breathing fire into the air, sometimes frost. The Dovahjun stomped, but none would listen. He stomped again, but everydragon was absorbed in the chaos.
“FUS RO DAH!”
The earth itself quaked after the Dovahjun shouted into the ground. Everydragon but the king was startled into silence, stumbling about. Some even fell over, including Spike.
“I trust I have your attention? Good. Do not test the strength of my voice again. Any of you. Now. We are dragons, children of Akatosh, and we shall behave as such. We will NOT attack the joor vessel, nor shall we jump to the conclusion that they are here to hunt us. We did not renounce the tyrant Alduin so long ago just to succumb to ignorance and arrogance a mere few thousand years later.”
Spike felt the bottom go out of his stomach. The Dovahjun mentioned thousands of years as if they were inconsequential. He felt dread wash over him as he imagined outliving all of the ponies in Ponyville, or even Ponyville itself. The Dovahjun’s speech snapped him out of it, if only briefly.
“Some of you have children. Verily, a child who has just come of age is here with us now, so new to our culture as to not have his True Name. We shall set a good example, and handle this matter even-handedly and fairly.”
The emerald green dragon raised his hand.
“What would you have us do, Dragon King?”
“We shall send an ambassador. One who can make peace with the men if they come seeking war, and who can extol our virtues if they come for some other reason and end up discovering us.”
“Hmmm.” His noise of concentration seemed like the rumblings of a dormant volcano. “Who indeed?” None of the dragons seemed enthused about the idea. Except for a young purple dragon, much smaller than the others. He waved his hand frantically. “Yes, child. We will hear you.”
“Well, um...” He pawed at the dirt as every pair of eyes was on him. Every massive, ancient, powerful set of eyes. He spoke in Equestrian, which caused some of the dragons to snort, either out of irritation or amusement. “I was brought up by joor--by mortals. Y-you could say I’m still being brought up by them.” He winced, expecting another outburst, but all were silent. He noticed they were all holding their peace--it seemed respect for the speaker was the central idea of a meeting like this. “There’s no guarantee I’ll speak the same language as these creatures, these men...but I’m the smallest, the least physically threatening...” More snorts. “And I have the most experience dealing with mortals. That’s...um, all I wanted to say.” He looked down bashfully and pawed at the dirt again.
“Hrmm...the child brings up a good point. Aside from defending territory and the occasional chance encounter, we do not typically deal with joor. Aside from Nonvulnith, that is. Still, Nonvulnith cannot travel too far inland owing to his affinity for the sea. He is also much larger than the child...Yes, I like the child’s idea.”
“What if they end up being dreadful brutes and harm the poor thing?” Nonvulnith, the sea serpent, twirled his mustache worriedly.
“Stephen, only dovah and dovahkiin can harm a dovah. You know this.” The sea serpent raised an eyebrow at the Dovahjun using his Equestrian name, but his concerns were addressed. He remained silent.
“What’s a dovahkiin?” Asked Spike, making sure to raise his hand.
“A mortal born with the ability to learn the Thu’um and speak our language as we do. But there has not been one born since...There have been none for thousands of years. It will do us no good to dwell on matters best left in the past. Are you all in agreement on the matter of the mortal seafaring vessel?”
“Aye,” answered all the dragons present.
“Then we must choose a name for our newest member.”
End of Chapter One
My Little Dovah:
The Hope of Cyrus coasted through waters unknown, its bow easily conquering what little resistance it encountered. Being a sailor and a true Redguard, Amahd Zahiri could be called superstitious. Countless times, he had served under someone else, and now, his first experience at the helm of a ship he could call his own was going very well. Too well. It made his skin itch, as the saying went. Perhaps out of habit or a subconscious desire for safety, the hand not steering the ship found its way to the hilt of his cutlass and he smiled. What a wonderful thing his cutlass was, especially when used in tandem with its little brother, the buckler resting comfortably on the opposite forearm. Every touch or glance of the weapon reminded him of his native Stros M’kai, the island from which he hailed. Its warm beaches, tropical climate, and mysterious, yet somehow still profitable dwarven ruins were always ready to welcome him home after a long voyage. As if to reward him for his seafaring life or to instill in him good memories of home, a warm wind briefly touched across his face, gentle enough not to require counter-steering on his part. He felt the warm sun bathing his dark skin--brown, not blue-grey as the Dark Elf’s was--and was somewhat relieved. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he and the other members of this expedition were experiencing the proverbial calm before the storm.
Clank. Clank. Clank. That would be the Breton, he thought. Edwin was his name, Edwin Debiente, and he was a native of High Rock. Though Stros M’kai was an island, it was still a part of Hammerfell, of which the Breton’s home of High Rock was near. High Rock and Hammerfell, and by extension Stros M’kai, had something of a shared history. As such, he and Edwin got along amiably. At the very least, they got along better than the Nord and...anyone else on board his ship. Nords were always insular people, as distrustful or more so than Redguards when it came to magic (though Amahd’s family wasn’t one prone to magic prejudice). When it came to outsiders in their frozen lands, they could be as bitter as the freezing winds and as stubborn as the mountains for which their land got its name. Especially when it came to Dark Elves. Clank. Clank. Clank.
“How is your map coming along, Amahd?” Edwin’s lilting High Rock accent punctuated the flapping of the sails, the rustling of the wind, and the creak of the ship’s planks. The Redguard smiled. The man’s accent sounded as if he was always preparing for some sort of joke. It was certainly more pleasing to the ear than the Dark Elf’s Vvardenfell rasp, and more clear than Yngmar’s deep Nordic rumble. Amahd looked to his right to see a man of medium height with a skin tone much lighter than his--”caucasian,” as he had heard the term used. His brown, shoulder-length hair danced slightly in the wind. As with many Bretons, his hair was wavy rather than straight or curly.
The one thing that puzzled Amahd was the man’s heavy armor. It had a very distinctive look. The cuirass was a heavy steel affair, with a curious emblem- a stylized eye with what looked like a blank scroll underneath. The arms were unprotected; two short sleeves made of purple cloth could be seen where most cuirasses would have a layer of ringmail. Where most heavy armor would have massive gauntlets, his had steel bracers not unlike the armor of the Imperial Legion. Two heavy steel boots poked out from beneath a long, purple robelike garment, which itself had heavy steel scales woven into it.
“My map? I think I left it on the table below deck,” said the Redguard, not taking his eyes off of the horizon. “Why do you ask?”
“I was just making conversation. Not a lot of that to be had with Yngmar, and Bredas is asleep.” Edwin folded his arms and sighed. “How do you keep track of all of that, anyway? Wouldn’t you want the map up here with you so you could reach it easily?”
Amahd tapped his head. “Everything important is up here. I’ve had years of practice--knew how to draw maps before I knew the smallest tidbit about how to run a ship. I’ve also got navigational instruments. They tell me all sorts of useful things so that I don’t constantly have to make adjustments to the map. Besides, the map is for...the Empire’s benefit, not mine.”
“Yes, of course,” said Edwin. “How do you feel about the Empire? Obviously, you show more support than most Redguards would.”
“The money they offered for this expedition didn’t hurt. My family may never want for food again.”
“But your people are not the mercenaries and sellswords others make them out to be,” said Edwin. “Surely there is another reason?”
“Yes. There’s an old Redguard saying. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ It’s true, Hammerfell is piss-drunk mad at the Empire right now. Most nations are, after the way the Emperor bowed to the Thalmor. The way I see it, though, anything that helps the Empire hurts the Thalmor.”
“I’ll drink to that,” said the Breton. “Anyone who believes that the Aldmeri Dominion really wants peace...well, those High Elves didn’t amass all that land so that they could share the love.”
The two men laughed for a bit, the tension in the air relieved for the moment. “So, what’s the story behind that armor of yours, Edwin?” Amahd was genuinely interested; he had not seen a suit of armor like it anywhere.
“It’s a family heirloom,” he replied. “It’s been in the Debiente family since the crisis in Daggerfall centuries ago.”
“What’s with the insignia? I feel like I should recognize that.”
“It’s the symbol of the old Mages’ Guild. It’s disbanded now, but you might see the symbol here and there.”
Amahd scratched at his thin mustache for a moment. “So why is it on a suit of heavy armor?”
“Simple. It’s designed for a battlemage. I was trained to be one by my father.”
“I would never have guessed you were a mage. Especially not when I saw that hand axe of yours in the cargo hold.”
“Ha! Only a fool or an apprentice never expects to run out of magicka, or to have an angry adversary up close.” The Breton swelled with pride, but only briefly. “The way of the battlemage is a lost art these days, I’m afraid. It’s customary for the Emperor to have a personal battlemage, but the remaining institutions of magic--the College of Winterhold, the Synod, that weird College of Whispers--they don’t focus on it too much. Even the Thalmor, the strong-arm of the Aldmeri Dominion, prefer light armor or robes for their mages. Their loss, really.”
The door to the lower decks creaked open, and the other two members of the expedition came out into the light. Bredas Hlaalu, the Dark Elf, and Yngmar Eagle-Eye, the Nord.
“Good morning, esteemed colleagues,” said Bredas. Amahd and Edwin returned equally polite greetings.
“Keep it under your topknot, grayskin,” said Yngmar coolly. “Redguard, how long until we reach our destination?”
Amahd bristled at the form of address. From a stranger, such an address would be fine, but these four, as well as the skeleton crew on board the ship, had been on the Hope of Cyrus for nearly a month, easily long enough to learn one another’s names.
“Yngmar,” said Amahd, “I have a name, and only so much patience.” The Nord simply snorted, and Amahd sighed. “If you look over the horizon, you’ll see a landmass. My money’s on that being our destination, after what our employer told us.”
“If our luck holds true, we should be able to drop anchor and head for land in a dinghy by nightfall.”
“It’s about time. I don’t see how you do it, Amahd,” said Yngmar, visibly relieved at the prospect of being on land.
“We each have our own talents, I suppose,” replied Amahd. “Speaking of which, Quistus didn’t tell me much about you or Bredas. What are you bringing to the table, so to speak?”
Yngmar spoke up first. Though the climate was a far cry from the bitter cold of Skyrim, he looked perfectly comfortable in his fur armor. “I hunt big game. I have experience dealing with dangerous beasts. I’m good with herbs, too. Know how to make potions and poisons. Uh...not really used to talking about myself. I’m used to working alone. If you put a bow in my hands and an arrow in my quill, there’s nothing I can’t hit.” He scratched his head, his braided blond hair gleaming in the sunlight. Then, he scratched his bearded chin. “They hired me to get an idea of what kind of natural dangers and resources this place has. I also have an eye for mineral deposits, too, so there’s that. Not much else to say, really.”
Bredas was the next to speak. “I am a Hlaalu, and unlike many Dark Elves, I don’t plan on forgetting my heritage so easily.”
“What’s a Hlaalu?” Yngmar asked the question as if a ‘Hlaalu’ were a thing and not Bredas’ last name.
“Once upon a time, we were the most powerful of the Great Houses of my native Morrowind. You see, Great Houses were large families that could be compared to guilds. One could join such a house and enjoy its benefits, but to be born into a house as I was, was a great boon. All of the houses held at least some political and economic sway in Morrowind, but House Hlaalu was arguably the most powerful.”
“Yes, I remember reading about that in my history books as a boy,” said Edwin. “Gods, that would make you--”
“226 years old, yes,” finished Bredas matter-of-factly. He idly rubbed his chin, smoothing out his black goatee. His red eyes seemed to shine with mirth as everyone stood in stunned silence. “I was 26 when Lord Vivec lost his divinity.”
“That’s right unnatural, that is,” said Yngmar.
“Hardly,” countered Bredas. “Queen Barenziah was...400-something when she died. Elves can live up to a thousand years.”
“Why don’t more of them live that long?” Edwin’s eyes were alight with the eagerness of a scholar.
“The same reason your people, or Amahd’s, or Yngmar’s don’t often live to be a hundred and ten or so. Violence, disease, et cetera, et cetera. Regardless of what the High Elves would have you believe, just because elves live longer does not make us inherently wiser or better than men.”
“That’s the smartest damned thing you’ve said all month, elf,” said Yngmar, amused. “You were talking about your house, or something?”
“Ah, yes,” said the Dark Elf. “House Hlaalu was more powerful than the warriors of House Redoran, the mages of House Telvanni, and the other Houses, Indoril and Drelas, because of our talents as negotiators, politicians, and merchants. Ours was the first house to accept Imperial rule in those days, and our holdings increased greatly from it. Oh, it was a wonderful time to be alive back then. The nations of Tamriel were more or less at peace, trade was flowing...some of the Dunmer, the Dark Elves, that is, didn’t take too kindly to Imperial rule, but they got used to it. I met so many interesting people as a noble of House Hlaalu. Nords and Imperials, mostly, if you can believe that...” He drifted off, and everyone was silent for a moment.
“The Empire was strong in those days, eh?” Yngmar had found something he could agree on with Bredas, it seemed. “Not a bunch of cowards who took off at the first sign of resistance. An Empire worthy of serving.”
“It didn’t last forever,” said Amahd empathetically, still standing rigid at the helm.
“Both of you are right. When the Emperor was assassinated, everything fell out of our hands, as if we were trying to hold water. Vvardenfell, the province of Morrowind I called home, was destroyed. Red Mountain erupted...”
“Yes, it’s a very sad story,” said Yngmir, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “I don’t see why all you damn grayskins had to come running to Skyrim. Especially in the middle of a civil war.”
Amahd and Edwin shot him dirty looks, but he ignored them with practiced callousness. He was surprised to receive a civil response from Bredas.
“I don’t know why it erupted...I just know I made it out alive. But I haven’t lived all these years to die an ignominious death at the hands of some forsaken Dwarven contraption, or to grow old and be forgotten in a land that isn’t my own. I know some of my fellow clansmen made it out alive. With the money from this expedition, I can start rebuilding what we once had. Perhaps with our help, the Empire can do the same.”
“I sure hope so,” said Yngmir. “Those damn witch-elf Thalmor would be pissed if they found out about this expedition.”
“What do you mean by that?” Edwin asked.
“I may be an outdoorsy type, but I ain’t stupid. This is obviously meant to be a secret. I bet you the Empire wants to keep this place to themselves. Dig up what resources they can, maybe strike a deal with the locals. Get back on their feet while the Thalmor aren’t looking, and then pull the rug out from under their feet. Leastwise, that’s why I agreed to help. The thought of those smug elves being put in their place. How did the Empire get tipped off about this place, anyway?”
“I asked Quintus the same question when he was briefing me on this expedition of ours,” said Edwin. “He said that a Synod researcher--the Synod are the personal mages of the Emperor, if I recall correctly--happened upon a magical anomaly when performing a cartographic experiment. He was attempting to map out the ley lines of Mundus, you see.”
“Sorry I asked,” said Yngmar, baffled by the mage’s explanation. “I take it you’re a mage, then.” He gave Edwin a cursory glance. “A lot of you Bretons are. Never seen a mage that used heavy armor, though. That’s...pretty impressive. Magic still gives me the willies, though.”
Edwin smiled, even as backhanded as the comment was. “Thank you, Yngmar. As you might guess, I was hired to study the magical properties of this new area. The atmospheric magic there must be very strong to generate an anomaly detectable...do you all see that?”
The sun was now on its way down, signifying the beginning of the evening. A small flying creature, yellow and pink, was watching them. Everyone turned to see it. Amahd picked up a hand telescope to get a better look. “Aww,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cute.”
“Riiight...It’s not a predatory animal from what I can see,” said Yngmar. “Movements aren’t right for that. Gimme that thing, I want a closer look.”
“What’s the magic word?” Bredas asked. He had no interest in seeing the creature, but he did think Yngmar was being a bit rude to Amahd.
“Dead elf,” replied Yngmar, as Amahd handed him the telescope. “Huh. Flat snout, wings. Looks like it’s a bit skittish--yep, it knows we’re looking at it. Wow, look at it go!” The creature took off to the safety of the tree line, vanishing into the forest. “Most likely a herbivore. Small, agile, skittish. Eyes were intelligent, too. Not like, say, a deer or a rabbit. Interesting.” He handed the telescope back to Amahd, who placed it in a compartment under the helm.
The others murmured in agreement. Now everyone was most assuredly excited to see what wonders this mysterious land had to offer, each for their own reasons. Fluttershy, on the other hand, had no idea what those strange creatures wanted, and hoped that if she flew away, they would go away. Unfortunately, the adventurers on board the Hope of Cyrus had come to Equestria to do a job, and that’s what they were going to do.
“Alright, everyone,” said Amahd. “We drop anchor in an hour; the winds were kinder than I could have hoped for. Get to the hold and get whatever you want to take with you. We’re not going to be going back and forth between the shore and the boat unless we have to. Rowing a dinghy full of armed adventurers is tiring, understand?”
Everyone nodded silently.
“Good,” said the sailor. “I bet you expected me to stay on the ship or some garbage, but truth be told, I’ve never been one to wait around when there’s adventure to be had. Hope you’re ready for this, gentlemen.”
Yngmar, Bredas, and Edwin all headed below deck to get what personal belongings they desired. Amahd simply looked towards the quickly approaching shore and hoped that his luck would not run out.
End of Chapter 2
My Little Dovah:
Four adventurers sat in very small chairs on an impromptu stage as a middle-aged mare approached a podium. “I’m surprised they got everything ready so quickly,” said Bredas. The mare, a tan-coated, silver-maned earth pony wearing rather authoritative glasses, shuffled papers and glanced over notes.
“We’re in a village full of candy-colored talking horses, and the warm welcome is what surprises you?” Yngmar sat as he always did, with his arms crossed and a grumpy expression on his face.
“Yngmar, do you have stage fright?” asked Edwin. “It’s perfectly alright. You can tell us. We’re your friends.”
Yngmar gave Edwin a withering look, and the battlemage quieted down. The Nord was about to make some dark comment, but the mare, who had introduced herself as Mayor Mare was now ready to speak to a good sized, if timid audience.
“Fillies and gentlecolts,” she began. Bredas chuckled quietly. “It is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you all four explorers from a land very far from Equestria! These fine people have traveled long and hard, braving the hardships of the sea, in order to foster trade relations with our country. I think I speak for all of us when I say I can’t express my thankfulness that these explorers have found our little town of Ponyville first. Now, we’ve arranged for each of them to come up and share something about their native lands, and I for one can’t wait. Without further ado, please give our first speaker Bredas a warm Ponyville welcome!”
With that, a sound of gentle, hesitant hoof-stomping, greeted Bredas as he approached the podium. “Hello, hello, thank you all very much for your gracious welcome,” he said, bowing deeply. “You honor us greatly.” He looked around the crowd. The six ponies and the little dragon who had brought them to Ponyville looked encouraging, but every other pony seemed nervous, at best. “It seems there’s some apprehension amongst the ranks!” Light chuckles came back. “It’s alright. We’re newcomers to your land, bearing weapons and wearing furs and leather, which must seem atrocious to you.”
Amahd leaned over to Edwin. “Where is he going with this?”
“I don’t know,” said Edwin. “I wasn’t really paying attention. I was looking at that bakery. The one that looks like a gingerbread house.”
Bredas continued, unaware of the whispering behind him. “I can promise you that we come bearing no ill will. Our attire is merely the sad consequence of life across Tamriel. My own province of Morrowind, land of the Dark Elves such as myself, struggles to recover after a natural disaster.” Nervousness turned to sympathy amongst the crowd, and Bredas skillfully changed the subject once he removed their apprehension. “But now is not the time for sorrowful stories. I’d like to tell you briefly about myself, if you’d permit me.”
“Get on with it!” Yngmar shouted. Amahd rapped him on the head, and several ponies in the crowd gave the Nord a dirty look.
“Don’t mind him,” said Bredas. “He means well. My name is Bredas Hlaalu. Bredas is my given name, and Hlaalu is the name of my Great House. A Great House is a collection of like-minded people, a sort of combination of a traditional family and a guild. I understand ponies are known for their special talents?” The audience replied with an interested affirmative. “Members of House Hlaalu pride ourselves in our mercantile supremacy, our masterful grasp of negotiation and speechcraft, and...other things,” he said, thinking of his occasional foray into burglary. “I like meeting new people, learning about other cultures, and exchanging philosophy. I’m two hundred and twenty-six years old, but you’re never too old to try something new.” Several gasps arose from the audience. “Shocked, are you? Some elves live to be up to a thousand.” Even more startled noises. “Oh, yes, it’s quite true.”
“I heard that a Dark Elf wizard named Divath Fyr lived to be up to three thousand,” said Edwin enthusiastically.
“Yes, Edwin, that’s correct.”
“I don’t buy it,” said Rainbow Dash, flying up and pointing a hoof at Bredas. “That guy’s hair would be all white! There’s no way somepony--err, some elf could live that long.”
“Well, I’m sorry you don’t believe me, but we don’t exactly have the time to prove or disprove that theory, do we?” Bredas asked, his mouth forming a roguish grin.
Rainbow Dash frowned at first, unsure of what the Dark Elf meant. Then as the realization hit her, she grinned too. “I like him, he’s funny!”
“I’m glad you like my joke. If any of you are interested, I could tell you about my homeland, but for now, I think I should let Amahd introduce himself, so as not to hog the spotlight.” Bredas bowed deeply and returned to his seat, the audience having warmed up to him.
“Hello there. My name is Amahd Zahiri. I am a Redguard, and I come from Hammerfell, or rather an island near it called Stros M’kai.” He paused as somepony in the crowd raised a hoof. “Yes?” he asked.
A small white unicorn filly with a two-tone purple mane spoke up. “What about your Great House?”
Amahd chuckled at the misconception. “Only Dark Elves have Great Houses, little one. And even then not every Dark Elf is a member of one.” Bredas nodded with approval. “ Zahiri was the name of my father; in Stros M’kai the child’s second name is the first name of the same sex parent. One can often tell what part of Hammerfell a Redguard is from by the construction of his name.”
The unicorn filly, and two other fillies near her, seemed satisfied with that answer. “As for what I do? I am a sailor, like many of my people, and I recently obtained a ship of my own, which I christened the Hope of Cyrus. Cyrus was a hero to our people thousands of years ago. I hope that one day, I may be as fondly remembered and revered. I have a wife and son--my wife is a strong woman who honors her family, and my son will someday be a great warrior, or perhaps a sailor like his father.” Amahd beamed with pride, and a few “awws” drifted up to meet him.
A white unicorn raised her hoof. She had a strong resemblance to the white unicorn filly who had asked a question shortly beforehand. “Yoo-hoo! Mr. Zahiri!”
“Yes...Rarity, was it?”
“You simply must tell us of your exploits as a sailor! Thrill us with tales of swashbuckling, of daring-do! Oh, the adventure, oh, the ro-mance!”
“Err...” the Redguard was at a loss for words. “Well, as I said, I only just obtained my own ship. I don’t know about romance, but perhaps later, at Miss Pie’s party, I could tell you all of the time Captain Rashiid and I held off a pirate boarding party long enough to outmaneuver their ship and turn it into flotsam?” He asked, with such disdain as to suggest, “been there, done that.”
The audience, especially the fillies and colts, seemed to really like that idea.
“So be it,” he said. “In the mean time, please welcome our friend Edwin.”
Amahd bowed respectfully and took a seat. Edwin walked up to the podium, his armor clanking with each step. “It’s very nice to meet you all,” said the Breton. “My name is Edwin Debiente, and I hail from High Rock, a place near Amahd’s province of Hammerfell. Actually, I have the distinct pleasure of living on the Isle of Balfiera, home to the Adamantine Tower, which is undisputedly the oldest structure in Tamriel. Bretons like myself populate the island, and we’re known primarily for our skill in magic.”
“Edwin, tell them about you,” said Bredas.
“Yeah, silly!” said Pinkie Pie. “Like, why are you wearing all that armor? Do you make lots of people mad, or do you just like making noise everywhere you go? Because I do, too! It’s no fun being quiet all the time.” The pink pony gasped, having been struck by inspiration. “Is it so you can let people know where you are? Or maybe it’s like a metal version of party favors! Party Clankers! I bet the parties in High Rock are off the chain!” Before things could get even more out of hand, Applejack placed a hoof over her fellow earth pony’s mouth.
Edwin blinked. “Um, thank you. Well...this armor is the armor of a battlemage. Battlemages are magic users who believe that physical defense should not be shunned in favor of total magical knowledge. Basically, it means that when something decides to get up close and personal, I’m not helpless or at a disadvantage.” He began to sweat as he saw a few concerned expressions forming on the crowd before him. “But I guess I should talk about me. I’m driven by the pursuit of knowledge. I suppose it’s why I have such magical talent. I...just want to see what makes the world tick,” he said. Behind him, Yngmar muttered something, no doubt an epithet against mages. “In spite of that...I’m kind of a bookworm. The library in the tower is vast, and it can be hard to avoid the pull of all that knowledge. But...when I saw an opportunity to gain first hand experience...to learn right from the source, I suppose I couldn’t resist.”
From within the crowd, Twilight Sparkle raised a hoof.
“Yes, um...Twilight, was it?”
“I don’t mean to impose, but if you don’t mind, could we see a demonstration?”
Edwin scratched his head ”Of what?”
“Your magic,” said the lavender unicorn. “I’m just as eager as you are to learn about a foreign culture’s grasp of magic...you said there were schools of magic? That’s fascinating. I’d love to see how a more structured magical theory works as opposed to the more malleable system ponies subscribe to.”
“Alright, alright, enough of the crazy witch-babble. There’s no need to burn any buildings down or turn someone into a newt,” said Yngmar, shoving Edwin aside. The mage made a feeble protest, but the Nord ignored it. “Listen up. My name’s Yngmar Eagle-Eye. You’re not going to hear me talking about how I like to take long walks on the beach or curl up with a good book. I’m not here to make friends, so if you want to talk someone’s ear off, go talk to Bredas. What matters to me is getting the job done. Got it? Good.” He shoulder-checked Edwin on the way back to his seat.
The Mayor was quick to commence the party after that, so as to wash away any residual negativity. As Pinkie Pie started up a record player (Edwin was quite interested in it, but got dragged off by Twilight Sparkle), Dash approached her and began making conversation.
“Hey, Pinks. What’s up with Yngmar?”
“Oh, he’s just a Grumpy Gilda,” said the party pony, tapping a hoof to the music.
“I dunno about him. It was pretty awesome how he took down that manticore, but he seems like the kind of guy I wouldn’t want mad at me,” said Rainbow. When her curly-maned friend gave her a questioning look, the boastful pegasus was quick to add, “Not that I couldn’t take him.”
“Dashie, I think we ought to give him a chance. Besides, he’s got his friends around.” Pinkie hopped up in the air, as if to punctuate her sentence.
“Well, we keep each other from getting all crazy-dazy, don’t we?”
“Pinkie Pie, I don’t think those guys are friends.”
The earth pony frowned at her pegasus friend, who was unable to withstand the sight.
“Okay, fine. Look, I won’t start any trouble...but he has one chance.”
“Everypony should get at least one,” said Pinkie Pie. “Now, get out there and party!” She hopped off to dance with a blue unicorn colt, before zipping over to Lyra and Bon-Bon to mingle and share jokes.
Rainbow Dash shook her head at her friend’s antics, but ultimately decided: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Inside the bedchamber of Princess Celestia, away from the prying eyes of petitioners, the two royal sisters stood silently as Celestia's will guided the sun through the skies, the blazing orb slowly beginning its descent. It was the early evening, and a matter of dire importance was being discussed under the veil of polite conversation. Celestia was the first to speak, her ethereal mane in contrast to Luna's more worldly and straight one. By sundown their roles would be reversed.
“How did the little dragon meeting go?” asked Celestia with a smile.
“Well enough,” said Luna. “Young Spike was given his True Name.”
“How wonderful! What did they name him?”
“Wahlaantahn,” replied the younger alicorn. “Raised by the Herd.”
“Isn't that just darling?” Celestia smiled once more, and even the normally measured Luna couldn't help but smirk. Her sister's radiance was present even in her facial expressions. Indeed, Celestia's eyes seemed to twinkle with motherly pride at Spike's name. “So what did they discuss?”
“Apparently a..seafaring vessel carrying hairless bipeds was spotted by Fluttershy.”
Celestia paused. Only her she and her sister knew the calculations and thought processes going through her mind, so the masquerade was hardly necessary. Nevertheless, Celestia maintained her air of polite interest despite the plans and backup plans she was making should the bipedal creatures prove a risk to the dragonfolk or her little ponies. Though the dragons were very different from both the royal sisters and their pony subjects—the Dovahjun in particular was at least as powerful as Luna—Celestia had come to think of the dragons as family of a sort. “I can't imagine they were too thrilled about that,” she said simply.
“No, dear sister, they were not. Considering the circumstances of their arrival here, we scarcely blame them.”
Celestia nodded silently. She still remembered with perfect clarity the Dovahjun (a title lauded on him by his followers which he was loathe to take) arriving in her lands so long ago.
“My people seek only refuge, not personal gain and certainly not a war,” said the enormous thing.
“Thou wilt forgive us if we are...sceptical, large one,” said Luna. Celestia looked worriedly to her sister. Something had been bothering her of late, and the presence of these hulking things was not helping.
“Please, tiny horses,” said the beige thing. “We are trapped between mortals who hate us, and the tyrannical ruler who is responsible for that hate. We have no more desire to fight Alduin than we do to harm the innocent and rightly indignant mortals.”
“What exactly are these mortals upset about? What is it that makes you different from Alduin?” asked Celestia.
“Alduin thinks that because we are the first children of Akatosh--”
“Who?” asked Luna.
“The father of all creation,” said the beige thing. The two sisters exchanged a glance. Though others often accredited them with creating Equestria, it was not so. Here, however, were creatures claiming direct lineage to the creator of the universe. Their enormous size and strange sorcery (they called it the Thu'um) paired with their rather primordial appearances certainly gave that idea credence, though Celestia and Luna remained doubtful. They would not disrespect this creature's beliefs, choosing to remain silent.
“Sorry for the interruption, dear. Please, go on,” said Celestia.
The thing raised an eyebrow but continued. “Alduin thinks that because we are Akatosh's first children, we are entitled to rule over the rest of creation. He enslaves the mortals and destroys all they hold dear. He rewards those mortals who serve him with vigor, calling them his Dragon Priests and crafting for them masks which grant them power over other mortals.”
“Why then, dost thou come running to us? Thou shouldst crush this Alduin under thy massive heels and be done with it,” said Luna. Celestia gave her an undiscernable look and shook her head. Though her sister tried to conceal it, Celestia couldn't help but notice a familiar resonance of negative energy around Luna. Previously this energy would only appear during Luna's sleep, but now it was more frequent. Celestia in her private journals had taken to calling it Nightmare energy.
“Alduin is the most powerful among us. Many have tried to slay him, all have failed. There is hope that the Dovahkiin may slay him, as they have others amongst us, but he is possesed of some wicked benefactor or technique which allows him to escape from the jaws of death. Even normal Dovah are formidable adversaries. To face Alduin with anything but an army of Dov would be foolish, and regrettably, the army is his to command. My brothers which wait on your shores, and myself, are among the minority.”
“If thou art as formidable a foe as thy claims would suggest, why are mere mortals--” a disapproving glance from Celestia at Luna's superior tone, “a threat?”
“The arrival of Dovahkiin. Akatosh has punished Alduin—has punished us all by granting mortals knowledge of the Thu'um. In his eyes, my brothers and I, who took no action, are likely as guilty as those who enslave and destroy the mortals. The Dovahkiin are slowly but surely destroying the Dovah, and absorbing their souls so that they may not come back to life as is usually the case. Had we not fled, my brothers and I would be caught between Alduin's tyranny and the righteous fury of the Dovahkiin.”
Celestia and Luna exchanged yet another glance. The beige thing looked defeated, as if he had no place to go. To see something so massive in such a state—hanging his head, dragging his enormous feet, sighing with nearly gale-force winds—spoke of his predicament. The two alicorns had a moment of what the beige thing perceived to be telepathy of a sort—their horns glowed and their expressions changed.
“Here is what we will do,” said Celestia, waving a hoof to demonstrate the largeness of the hill they stood on. It was clear for miles, though the two sisters would soon change that. “Bring your brothers and sisters to this hill. We'll make a forest and several landmarks around it for you to live in.”
Luna spoke up next. “Ye dragons..was that the word?” The beige thing nodded. “Ye dragons will not be disallowed from leaving the forest,” she said with a frown. “But it will serve as domicile, refuge from our subjects shouldst thou desire it. We understand if thou art reticent to deal with mortals of any sort. It will be thine own piece of home, the weather acting independently of yonder pegasus ponies.” She gestured to distant Cloudsdale. “It will be...ever free of the need for maintenance, and a permanent symbol of your freedom from persecution.”
“That sounds like a good name, sister,” said Celestia, brushing a wing against Luna in an effort to allay her concerns. Luna smiled a bit; Celestia liked that. Her smiles were becoming rarer these days. “The Everfree Forest.”
The dragon bowed before the two pony sisters, and did so very slowly and deliberately. He cast his eyes downwards, facing them. “I would humbly request this hill remain unchanged, to serve as a meeting place for the Dov, and as a reminder of the mercy you have shown us. We would commemorate it and honor it always.” The two sisters nodded and began working their magic. The dragon who would soon be named Dovahjun looked on in wonderment as trees, plants, and even creatures sprang forth from the ground.
Back in the present day, Celestia's silent musing was broken by her sister's gentle nudge. “Dear sister, is something on your mind?”
“Hmm?” asked Celestia. “Oh, I was just thinking about the day they came here,” she said with a hint of sadness. That memory also brought forth other, more painful memories.
“It is no longer an issue,” said Luna knowingly. “You did what you had to.” She wrapped her forelegs around her sister in a hug. Celestia returned the gesture.
“Thank you, Luna.” She paused, breaking the embrace and returning -almost- perfectly to her cordial tone. “Anything else interesting happen?”
“Young Spike has agreed to be an ambassador to the biped mortals.” Luna tried to gauge her sister's reaction, but her face was already back to its usual unreadable half-smile. Ponies wrote songs about that expression. All the greatest philosophers of the ages debated whether or not Celestia really felt happy all the time, or if it was a perfectly calculated facade. Some said it was a balance of both, that she was a benevolent trickster. (Luna could attest that the latter was often true. Even ageless beings were not beyond whoopee cushions it seemed.)
“I'm sure he'll do an excellent job,” said Celestia. As was the norm, her voice brimmed with warmth and reassurance.
“You're not worried?” Celestia shook her head.
“You don't think we should remove the bipeds for the safety of the dragons and our subjects?”
“No, of course not. For one, they're our guests. We should be good hosts!”
Luna raised an eyebrow. Her sister took the 'I'm an immortal but I'm also your buddy' schtick a bit far sometimes. “And if they aren't here under good will?”
“We'll let them make their move first. Speaking of which, you've left your King wide open, Luna.” The sound of ivory chess pieces moving came from across the room as Celestia's horn glowed the color of sunset. “Best two out of three?”
End of Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Coming Soon!!