The Last Treasure
If any pony would ever dare to tread into the deep caves and dark caverns of a dragon's lair, they would, upon close enough proximity to a dragon, find among such creatures the treasures they protect. What these treasures are, most can only venture to guess. What pony would dare to brave such a hazardous journey, to seek out, and to enter the realm of the fire-breathing behemoths, a race of creature not known for their calm temperament or well mannered disposition? Not even the mighty race of the gryphon, with their beaks and talons and courage are a match for a dragon.
No, what these dragons hide in their caves and caverns is not for the likes of ponies to know. It is only a very lucky few, or the very privileged few, whom have ever made contact with a dragon and lived to tell the tale, or to speak of the treasures they hoard.
"Gold! Mountains upon mountains of gold!" one pony may have proclaimed a hundred years ago, "ruby red jewels, for as far as the eye can see!" another may have written in a book a millennia or more ago. It is only these snippets of truth mixed in with hear say, gathered through the ages, from one source or another, that even this much is known. The mind of many a pony is emboldened by plots of easy riches or attempts to trick a dragon from its fortunes. It is for not, and once more, more often then not, it is the life of the lusting pony that is taken.
So a pony may conclude that dragons, these monstrous, enormous leviathans of the land and air, only rivaled in size by the even more fearsome and savage entity pony kind has labeled with the title of the "Ursa", are nothing more than greedy brutes. And perhaps it is so! After all what else should they be deemed? Call them as such and leave them be!
So the majority of ponies label them as such and hope to never come across a dragon. At least not a full grown dragon anyway, young baby and adolescent dragons have been found to be far more docile than their adult counterparts, as well as much smaller, and actually proven to be rather decent companions, so much so as to be favored as company by those of the Equestrian royal fraternity, though their favor is of course dependent on the time period, and dictated by the fickleness of such a long lived regality.
All this is said so that you may understand, without the deficiencies and inaccuracies of rumors and old ponies tales, of what is to be told next. Deep in the darkest, most unexplored lands of the Everfree Forest there dwells a dragon of mighty size and age. If one were to see him, in fact, one might truly consider him the mightiest of all dragons. And perhaps he is; even among the race of dragons his size and long life are as astonishing as they are terrifying. This dragon, like the many before him, and many after, holds out in a cavern, built by his own claws. In his prime, characteristic of dragons, he was nomadic, moving from cave to cave, from home to home, taking with him the growing size of his golden and glittering bounty.
But this is not written to tell of his glory days. For you see, it is not in the prime of this dragon's life that we meet him, but rather at his final moments. This particular creature has spent the last thousand years in his cavern, preserving himself through hibernation and sleep, dying a slow death that only the likes of a dragon can possibly draw out for so long. A normal pony may consider a thousand years to be extraordinary, but for a dragon, it is merely the last tiny fraction of a life that has known and experienced ages long since forgotten by any other living creature.
Except of course, for two particular beings.
The footsteps are what awakened the slumbering dragon for the last time. Though his eyes opened, he could not see; his sight had begun to deteriorate almost five thousand years ago, his ability to smell had begun to fade almost three thousand years ago, his considerable wingspan was last used almost a full century ago. Still, he could hear the clop clop of those footsteps, though once again, not with the clarity he once knew.
"Who goes there?" growled the dragon, raising his head with all the strength he could muster.
"Why, have you forgotten me already my trusted friend?" said the pony.
The dragon smiled, lowering its head upon the gold and diamonds in his possession. "How could I ever forget? Even in my advanced age, how could I ever forget the Princess of all Equestria?"
Princess Celestia smiled. The dragon could not see it, but he could tell. "Oh, it has been too long, far too long," he continued, "it must have been… five hundred years now…."
"I come from time to time, though unfortunately I always find you sleeping. I could never bring myself to be so rude as to awaken you, I hope you aren't offended," said the princess.
The dragon chuckled. "No… I thank you for leaving me to my rest… you know how cranky I get… without my beauty sleep…" his breaths were labored now, how difficult it was becoming for the creature, even to breath.
"I got your message, and came as soon as I could."
"That you sent to me, I was so glad to hear from you, though in my heart I knew what it meant."
"I don't remember…”
"Oh, my dear Spike…" the princess brushed against her friend's worn scales. Long had it been since his purple and emerald armor had gleamed brightly and fiercely in the sunlight or glimmered in the pale white of the moonlight.
"Spike, yes… that was my name… is my name. Don't worry yourself.. my memory has been fading for many a century now… it's all coming to an end… at least for me it is... the world will go on of course, so long, as long as the sisters of Equestria continue… the eternal sisters, my Princess, my friend. Am I to rightly presume that not a single hair has grayed in that magnificent mane, neither yours nor of Princess Luna's? Not even in the entire duration of my thirty thousand years have the ravages of Time worn you, neither in body nor spirit…"
Princess Celestia laid herself against the labored dragon, her youthful, eternal body soft to the touch. Even he could still feel it, though just barely….
"I found a gray hair the other day. Shocking, yes?"
"Indeed, the sky must be falling!" bellowed the dragon, his last laugh as the Princess laughed along side him.
"Yes, that's right…" he continued, "you must collect them… the jewels you tasked me to guard so long ago… the Elements of Harmony… as a loyal servant… as your friend… I sadly must inform you, I can no longer keep them in my watch…"
"You've done a wonderful job protecting them, I'll handle their security from now on. Let's not discuss it further. Instead, let us be as two friends, with our reminisces of the days long passed by, and complaints about the youth and their silliness."
"Who was she?" asked the dragon.
"Who?" questioned the princess.
"In my dreams I see her… a young vibrant pony, brilliantly violet, her mane streaked with lavender… a unicorn with incredible magic…"
The princess smiled, nuzzling the pitiful behemoth. "A long, long time ago, she was someone you considered your closest friend, and someone I loved so very much."
"Yes, Twilight Sparkle. How delightful she was. I miss her, and every pony I've ever grown to know and love, even if my youth and spirit hide the depths of Time's ravages. And when you pass on, my oldest friend, I will miss you too."
And so when he did, Princess Celestia shed her tears, fared her goodbyes, and took the most precious of the treasures the dragon Spike had been protecting for over thirty thousand years.
I, Princess Luna, younger sister of Princess Celestia, was there, watching it all in silence. Whether or not the dragon ever knew I was there I do not know, and probably never will. As my sister and I made our way out of the cavern, with the Elements of Harmony in her possession, I felt compelled to ask something that even in our many millennia of life, had never bothered to previously ask. "Will we… one day die as well?" I asked her, after she coaxed me into finally asking, as my sister is always good at doing.
Her answer to this day I ponder, even in the many millennia since that day with the dragon once known as Spike. "I don't know sister," she said, rather flatly. "We were blessed with eternal life, blessed to reign with peace and kindness over all of Equestria and further still. But we are also cursed. It is said that when death takes a pony, or dragon, or any other being, their spirits reunite with their friends and family long since passed to the after life. Whether or not this is true I do not know, partly because I've never found evidence of the after life, and partly because I've never really searched. To think, that all our loved ones are together even in death, and us, forever to lose them but never to reunite with them, will never know their faces again except through their blood lines. Well, if I ever knew for a fact that such was the truth, it would truly break my heart, I mean, wouldn't it break yours too?"
I never asked her about it since then. However, it does not stop me, even to this day, from looking up at the moon of which I command, and wonder if that dragon is out there somewhere, frolicking with that violet pony he dreamt of, reunited in death. And I have to wonder, if the eternal sisters of Equestria, will ever join them.