“It’s been a long time since we were here,” Twilight Sparkle stated.
“Not long enough. I really don’t want to be here,” Spike fretted.
“I know those awful dragons were cruel to you before, Spikey-Wikey, but we must ask for their help, whether we like it or not,” Rarity reasoned with him as she hugged the large dragon.
“Rarity has a point, Spike. But I do agree with you too: dragons have never been kind to ponies, but we have to give it a chance,” Twilight added, “Lets not forget, they are your kind and-”
“I am NOT one of them!” Spike interjected, “I am better then they are. I am more of a pony then a dragon.”
Twilight hugged her dragon and replied, “I’m sorry, Spike. You’re right. You will always be a pony…inside. But you are still a dragon, and one that we love dearly.”
“Thanks, Twilight,” Spike smiled, “I’ll do my best to help in any way I can, but I still have my doubts.”
“As do we Spike, but we must try,“ Rarity comforted her favorite dragon, then she suddenly thought of something, “While we are at it, perhaps we can persuade them to part with a few of their precious gems.”
“We will have to see, Rarity.” Spike replied, supporting the beautiful pony he cares for deeply.
Twilight just rolled her eyes at Spike and his usual attempts of supporting the white unicorn he loves. But, she soon came to be a little less judgmental and accept it. For he was saved from the Darkness; all thanks to a certain pony the lavender unicorn had started to grow feelings for, even if he was just a part of her dreams.
The storm clouds within the Badlands were just as unfriendly as they were anywhere else in Equestria. As the dragon flew in further, while carrying the two little ponies, he could barely make out much due to the darkness.
“It’s so hard to see anything,” Spike blew some flame from his mouth to help light the way, but only at a short range, “Even my fire doesn’t help much.”
“Well, we are just going to have to watch for the fire of any other dragons…if they are still here,” Twilight suggested.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they had already left.”
“Lets not jump to conclusions just yet, Spikey-Wikey. Although, if they are gone, maybe they would have left some of their gems behind,” Rarity implied.
“Rarity! We are here for the dragons, not their dinner!” Twilight reminded her friend in a serious tone.
“Oh I am well aware of that, my dear Twilight.”
“Then let's focus on our primary objective, shall we?”
Spike could hear the two arguing and was about to butt in, when he thought he heard flapping coming from nearby; apparently not his own, “Uh…Twilight? Rarity?”
“Please, Spike. It is rude to interrupt when ladies are trying to have an argument,” Rarity scolded.
The dragon sighed, remained quiet and flew on, but could still hear the flapping of wings, only this time it was closer.
Twilight and Rarity continued their pointless argument, and remained unaware of the sounds Spike was hearing, until it was too late. The three soon found themselves covered in smoke.
“What…*cough*…is this?!” Twilight muttered.
“It think this…*cough*…is what I…*cough*…was trying to…*cough*…tell you!” Spike answered.
“Why…*cough*…didn’t you say…*cough*…so before?” Rarity asked.
Spike just growled, but was soon hit by something large and started falling downward. The two unicorns held on tight and screamed as they continued to fall. Unable to regain control, the dragon kept falling until he landed onto the ground.
Groaning from the pain of the hard landing, Spike, Twilight and Rarity struggled to get back up on their hooves and claws. They looked around and found themselves surrounded by gems and lava pools, as well as the residents of these lands.
“Dragons…” Twilight muttered in fear.
“Oh my…” Rarity gulped.
A large number of small and large dragons surrounded them, with looks of dislike in their eyes. Spike held the two ponies close to keep them out of harms way, “Stay near me. I’ll protect you both.”
Twilight and Rarity obeyed, but knew Spike could not take them all on. But he was determined to keep them safe nonetheless. Suddenly, the three heard laughing coming from behind them. Once they turned around, before them was a group of teenage dragons…very familiar ones.
“Oh no, not you guys!” Spike complained.
The red one, who was their leader, stepped forward and chuckled, “Well well, if it isn’t the namby-pamby pony dragon. You’re much bigger than before.”
“Garble!” Spike snorted, “You are one of the few dragons I hoped to never see again!”
“The feeling is mutual, Spike!” Garble retorted, “You really humiliated us last time, and yet you still do by coming back here…with these ponies!” He pointed firmly at the two unicorns.
“Don’t any of you come near my friends!” Spike warned.
Garble and his gang just laughed at Spike’s warning. Although he was bigger then them now, there were much bigger ones all around him and the two ponies. The three could do nothing but hold their ground. “So, tell us. Why are you here?!” Garble asked.
“If you must know, we are here to ask for your help against the Darkness and the one who controls it,” Rarity jumped in to explain, but then cowered a little, “Uh…please…”
The teenage and adult dragons growled at the mention of the Darkness, and grew more irritated for reasons unknown. Spike held his friends close, preparing to take off should the worst happen.
“You’ve got some nerve coming here, and asking for something like that!” One of the adults roared.
“Yeah, what makes you think we would so much as consider doing that?!” Another implied.
Spike, Rarity, and Twilight could see that it was already futile: every dragon here would not agree to any form of assistance. “Fine then! If none of you will help, then we will just leave!” Spike roared and lowered himself to allow his friends on his back.
“Look at you, Spike. You are an insult to dragons everywhere!” Garble insulted, “This land of ponies is already lost. You should take this chance to leave here with us. Forget them and return to our Homeland!”
Spike could not believe what he was hearing and growled, “I would never abandon my friends…or my family. I’m nothing like any of you! At least I have a heart, unlike the rest of you dragons!!”
The other dragons all moved in closer, angered by Spike’s insult and for his choosing of ponies over his own kind. Before Spike could do anything to hold them off, a voice called out, “THAT IS ENOUGH!!”
The other dragons all backed away once they heard this. Twilight, Rarity and Spike stood their ground and soon witnessed a large, elder dragon flying in towards them. She landed close and looked down upon them.
“Who…who are you?” Spike asked.
“You may call me The Wise One, Spike,” spoke the elder female dragon.
“How do you know my name?”
“Oh, my grandson told me about you. How you came here once, seeking answers to yourself and your origins. He even told me how you chose ponies over us.” She looked over him and nodded, “It appears you still do. Very noble of you.”
“Uhh…thanks….I guess.” Spike was a little confused.
“Speak up, child. What troubles you?”
“Well, I don’t know what to say, but…you are the first dragon who has shown any kindness to me.”
The Wise One giggled a little, “Oh, not all dragons are like that. They do sometimes forget to show good manners when we have guests.”
“But, Grandma…he’s no dragon…he’s a-” Garble interrupted, only to be shot a glare from the Elder, which silenced him immediately.
“Do not misinform me! I may be old, but I am not blind!” She roared at the terrified teenage dragon.
“Sorry, Grandma…” Garble apologized.
She nodded firmly and turned her gaze back to Spike and the others, “You’ll have to forgive my grandson. His teasing of you is probably the reason you don’t trust us, Spike. I don’t blame you for it, but you must know, our relationship with ponies is one that no longer exists.”
“W-Why is that, Wise One?” Spike asked out of curiosity.
“Yes, why? I’ve been wondering that question myself for some time,” Twilight came out of hiding from her friend.
The elder dragon chuckled and smiled, “It seems we have a lot to discuss and explain.” She laid herself down upon the ground, to which the other dragons did as well. Garble and his gang did the same, not wishing to anger one of their wisest, “Now, young ones, tell us what you know about what is going on. Although we know a great deal already, we would like to hear your side of it.”
Twilight and Rarity stepped forward and started to explain all that had transpired in their home.
A little over an hour passed, and the two ponies finished telling their story of Tirek and his takeover of Canterlot as well as the rest of Equestria. Although the dragons were already aware of this, what interested them was how the friends of Twilight and Rarity were seeking aid from the Buffalo and Zebras.
“It is just as I thought. You and your friends seek our help, because we once faced this very foe…so long ago,” The Wise One explained.
“You know of what happened back then?” Spike asked with great interest.
“Not myself, young dragon. I may be old, but not that old. I am only 800 years old.”
The jaws of the three dropped in shock; This elder dragon was almost as old as Princess Celestia and Luna.
“Is there a problem?” The Elder snapped.
Twilight, Rarity and Spike all shook their heads quickly in disagreement, not wishing to upset this old, yet powerful dragon.
“Good…now where was I…?” She tried hard to remember.
“Uh, you were telling us of the past…” Spike answered.
“Ah yes! Thank you, Spike,“ The Wise One cleared her throat and continued, “You see, my great-grandmother was just a wee dragon when the Darkness first tried to cover our beautiful world. She also witnessed its defeat, by us dragons, along with many other creatures…including the one who lead them…”
“You’re talking about Courageous Heart, right?” Twilight interrupted so suddenly. Spike and Rarity turned to their friend, a little confused by her question.
“That is correct, Twilight…uh…Sparkle was it?” The elder dragon tried to remember if she got it right, “But, I am surprised you would know his name.”
“Yes, Twilight…how do you? I mean we’ve heard it before, but only as Courageous of Light.” Rarity added.
“Well, you see…” Twilight didn’t know how to explain it, and was afraid to discuss her dreams with them. But once she saw all eyes on her, she sighed and explained, “You see, I’ve been having these strange dreams lately, about the Champion.”
The Wise One pondered on that, but then shook her head, “That is unexpected, but probably nothing more than a trick by the Darkness. We have been having nightmares ourselves for some time; Yours may just be something conjured by the Dark One himself, to deceive you.”
“No, it…it can’t be. They felt so real…” Twilight argued.
The Elder shook her head again, “It cannot be real, little pony. The Champion could not have just reappeared after so long since his disappearance. Besides, it was well over four-thousand years ago. No pony can live that long…not even us dragons can.”
Twilight sighed and felt sad; She knew her dreams were real, and so was he. But could what this elderly dragon speak of be true; Could it all have been a trap set by Tirek. The lavender unicorn sat down and thought on it.
“How did the Champion disappear, oh Wise One?” Rarity asked since Twilight was lost in thought.
“My Great-Grandmother passed on the story to her daughter, who passed it on to her son, who passed it on to me.” The elder explained, “I have told this story to my daughter as well, and to my Grandson…although his young mind is too focused on making trouble!” She then glared at him, who quickly tried to hide behind his friends.
Realizing the dragon was off the subject, Spike tried to speak up, “Umm…the story?”
“Oh! Yes…” she resumed, “You see, it was because of the Champion that we are all here today as we are: He gathered the help of dragons, along with others whom he made friends with, and together forged a great power that would be shared among the six…”
“The Elements of Harmony!” Twilight interrupted, as she quickly gained interest upon hearing all this.
“That is correct.” The Wise One continued on with what she could remember, “Anyway…together, along with the Light of the Champion, the Elements formed a powerful force that drove the Darkness away and defeated Tirek: The Rainbow of Light.”
Spike, Twilight and Rarity were all in awe as they listened to the Elder dragon tell the tale, “But you see, although defeated, Tirek was still present. I believe that is when the Champion disappeared.”
“He just…vanished? How is that possible?” Twilight asked.
“I cannot remember….my memory is not what it use to be. The story’s details have changed as it was passed on.”
Twilight hung her head, clearly saddened by an unfinished ending.
“But there is more to this story that I do remember. There is no time to tell of what happened before all that, but I must tell you something that is considered to be the most important part.”
“What may I ask is it?” Rarity asked.
The Elder shook her head, “I will tell you, but I believe we should make our way to your “Appleloosa” first…since that is where everypony and creature has gathered. Only there will I explain the rest.”
Twilight and the other two had no choice but to accept that. They gathered their stuff and prepared for the journey to Appleloosa, where their friends were waiting for them, hopefully.