On Saturday morning at the library of Twilight’s castle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Sweetie Belle, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle herself stood together. They were making the last preparations before the departure to the Dragon Lands.
The two fillies were not yet transformed into adult bodies and chatted together. “I know you can’t tell me everything,” Scootaloo said, “but can I know a little more about this trip? Why are we going?”
“We’re actually going for lots of reasons,” Sweetie Belle explained. “The ones I can tell you are that Rainbow Dash wants to introduce herself as the Master Mev and scout the place. Rarity might be getting an elemental power like what Applejack has. You know, the ‘earth’ one that Spike guessed on Sunday.”
“That would be so cool!” Scootaloo used her small wings to flutter up in place for a moment.
Sweetie Belle nodded in agreement. “But we have to focus on the other stuff. Most of the time, an elemental power comes as a bonus gift for the work.”
Rainbow Dash trotted over to approach the young servants. “Are you two ready? You need to stay close to me my or my fledglings during this trip. You’re still kids at heart with this transformation. Spike’s different since he’s been there several times and knows Dragon Lord Ember as a good friend.”
“Yes, Master,” they said together at the same time with eager smiles.
Rainbow’s red-on-yellow eyes surfaced. “Grow up!” she teased. The two fillies grew into adult forms. “Flight for my little sister bodyguard,” she added with a smile.
Scootaloo grinned and quickly flew upward, darting to the right before gliding down. She was happily assured the power worked. She could fly today.
“Mitria, over here,” Rainbow Dash called forth.
Rarity approached with a graceful canter and pleasant gleam in her eyes.
“Fireproof for all, besides those not already fireproof of course!” the master mev declared to the air.
Spike and Applejack giggled.
“We’re ready, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash announced to her sixth fledgling.
The alicorn mev nodded. A quick flash of her magic teleported them all to the Dragon Lands. She wasted no time in seeing them off. “Good luck!” She waved them good-bye and flashed away, just as quickly as they had arrived.
“Woohoo!” the Equestrian party heard a young dragon say.
Spike darted in the direction of the voice. “Gorge surfing!” he exclaimed and pointed.
The ponies trotted for a better view and watched the pastime as one dragon slid down a river of lava on a flat rock, akin to a surfboard, lifting off and landing again.
“Wow,” Scootaloo uttered. “That was awesome!”
“I said the exact same thing when I first saw it too,” Rainbow Dash told her with a smile.
The young dragons turned around upon hearing the pony voices. Rainbow’s at least was a little familiar. “You again?” an orange one asked. It was the same one that told Rainbow on her last visit that making peace with ponies didn’t mean she could surf in their spot. “Why do you have so many ponies with you?” he asked.
He seemed irritated to see the group. Yet, in the next breath, he said ever so casually, “Hi Spike. I see you finally got wings.”
“Yup,” Spike replied proudly. “We’re actually here to see Dragon Lord Ember, not gorge surf. Twilight just happened to teleport us here.”
“Oh,” said the orange one, taken aback. He no longer seemed offended by their arrival. “She’s over there.” He pointed east.
“Thank you, sir,” Rainbow replied with a polite nod. The group began to walk in the noted direction.
The orange dragon gently scratched at his chin, mildly perplexed.
“Not so fast!” another voice shot through the air.
A voice Spike knew all too well. Rainbow Dash and Rarity had some familiarity with it too.
The group paused. With an annoyed sigh, Rainbow turned to see a red dragon with several sharp teeth. Garble. He was taller than both her and Spike, and she had embarrassed him on her last visit.
“Hello Garble,” Spike said crossly, and he defensively placed himself in front of Rainbow Dash.
“You!” he pointed past Spike to Rainbow Dash, ignoring the smaller dragon completely. “You owe me a race.”
Spike glanced her way and gave up. He shifted clear of blocking Garble from the group, knowing he could not stop whatever conversation was about to take place.
“Shh,” Rainbow tried to hush the new bodyguard, but she was helplessly smiling and on the verge of giggling as well.
Scootaloo tried her best to hide her glee.
“What’s so funny?” Garble asked.
“Nothing,” Scootaloo said innocently.
“My sister is amused because I’m known for my speed. That’s all,” Rainbow told him honestly. “I could give a demonstration. I’m happy to entertain you,” she offered with a sly smile and gestured with her right forelimb to the land in front of them.
Garble glanced at the group of ponies and flared his nostrils. Snorting, he replied, “Yeah, you better.”
“Name it,” Rainbow said.
The orange dragon approached Garble and whispered suggestions.
“Alright,” Garble said, still addressing the sky blue pegasus. “This time we’ll let you gorge surf. You race me to the bottom and back to the top. You’ll have to find your own board. And look out for the lava on your own.”
“We’re on it,” Scootaloo said as she, Sweetie Belle, Rarity, and Applejack went off to find an acceptable board.
It didn’t take long, and Rarity used her unicorn magic to smooth off the dust from what the group found before passing it to her master.
The Equestrian party stood on one side of the lava river, and the group of dragons stood on the other. Garble glared at Rainbow Dash. Rainbow only smiled slyly yet again. She was quite content to be allowed to have some fun before meeting Ember. The orange dragon flew upward and said, “On your marks, get set…” He shot fire out from and said, “surf” at the same time.
The two competitors began their descent, and Garble tried to leave a wake of lava to block the sky blue pegasus’ path. He was shocked to see her surfing down ahead of him. Her four hooves were planted firmly on the board with her body angled thinly for optimal speed. Her biggest challenge wasn’t going faster than him but making sure she didn’t give in to the urge to spread her wings to fly instead. Garble maneuvered to the left and right of several rocks. The two reached the bottom at the same time, and it was then that all the dragons saw how fast Rainbow Dash truly was.
With supreme ease, she shot upward to make a small, lightning quick Sonic Rainboom and land at the top as Garble barely lifted off from the ground.
Her party proudly cheered, and several dragons took a few seconds of shock before adding to the cheers as well.
“Wow,” the orange dragon from earlier said. “What was that?”
Rainbow Dash proudly dusted off her forelimbs in a standing hover. “It’s called a Sonic Rainboom.”
“Master here is the only pony to ever pull it off,” Applejack bragged to them.
“Although the Sonic Rainboom usually has a bit more flair,” Rarity informed him. “That was like a miniature version of it.”
“Master?” the orange dragon asked. “That’s strange even for a pony name.”
“That’s her title, and it’s why we’re here to see Ember today,” Spike explained. He looked at Rainbow Dash with the intent to move things along.
By this point, Garble had flown up to the top and stared in shock at the scene.
Rainbow Dash descended to talk to him and landed on the ground. “Are you not entertained?” she teased with a cocky smile.
Garble flared his nostrils again. He pointed as if to accuse her of something. “Fine. Yes. You’re fast. And that was awesome. For a pony.” He folded his arms in annoyance.
Scootaloo looked at Sweetie Belle and smiled a big, proud smile. Sweetie Belle smiled back.
“Thanks. Now we really do need to find Dragon Lord Ember,” Rainbow said.
“Actually,” Spike hovered over to tap Rainbow’s shoulder.
Ember flew down to see Spike and everyone else. “Here’s something I don’t see everyday,” the light blue dragon glanced around at everyone with a smile. “I take it that boom is from you ponies.”
“Dragon Lord Ember!” Spike fluttered over for a hug.
“Oh, right, a hug,” Ember noted quietly, more to herself than anyone else. “Hi Spike. Hey, nice wings. You got through the molt okay, huh?”
He grinned at her. “Thanks. That’s a story. But not right now.” He gestured over to Rainbow Dash.
Ember met eyes with the sky blue pegasus.
“Yes, the boom was from me,” Rainbow admitted. “We were just having some fun.” She glanced Garble’s way and waited.
Garble looked away for a moment, then at Ember, and then begrudgingly nodded in agreement though he still had his arms folded in annoyance.
“That’s good news. So, what brings so many ponies at once to the Dragonlands?” Ember asked.
Sweetie Belle magically opened her saddlebag and lifted the letter from Princess Celestia. She passed it to Ember.
The Dragon Lord took it and read its contents. She lowered it, still holding it in her clawed hands, to look at Rainbow Dash and the others. “A master mev? Really?” she asked. Her voice suggested a small hint of recognition on what that meant.
They all nodded.
“What’s it say?” the orange dragon asked.
“None of your concern,” Ember said. “This is business for older dragons. I need to escort this group to my dad.”
The other young dragons glanced at each other in surprise at that news and left speechless. Garble was included among them. If anything, he felt a little less embarrassed since that meant Rainbow Dash herself must have had some special status. Something about her had changed since the last time he saw her.
As Rainbow had foretold, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were not in any way terrified at this prospect and instead found it an interesting development. The fledglings felt much the same. Spike was perplexed but knew he would have to go along.
Torch, Ember’s dad and the previous Dragon Lord, could be intimidating, in both manner and size, but he was not exactly cruel. He had allowed Spike to leave the Gauntlet of Fire before Spike had decided to compete after all.
“Master, I trust your party will be able to follow me,” Dragon Lord Ember said.
Rainbow nodded. “Scootaloo, you carry Sweetie Belle. Rarity, get on my back. Applejack, I’ll carry you with my forelimbs. If any of this proves too heavy, we all know what to do next.”
Everyone nodded at the master mev’s hope to do this part without any more magic than what she had already cast for them earlier. Rainbow was strong enough to carry four ponies at once, so two would not be that difficult, even if inconvenient. Scootaloo had faith in her own strength as well.
The group left and flew onward to another area of the Dragonlands that those who had been there before were not familiar with.
They entered a large cave. Large enough for large, older dragons.
“Dad,” Ember said as she glided to approach him.
Torch sat proudly and glanced down.
“Ember, it is good to see you visit,” he noted. He saw Spike and the group of ponies. “No way,” he uttered.
“Dad, this here is Master Rainbow Dash,” Ember gestured. “You told me to let you know if a master mev ever appeared. I have a letter from Princess Celestia, the ruler of Equestria. It states that she is one. The other four ponies are her servants, and Spike is here as an ambassador.
“Master Rainbow Dash, this is my dad, former Dragon Lord Torch. He’s told me you can still refer to him as ‘Dragon Lord’ as well even though he is retired.”
Torch nodded. “Very well. Thank you Ember. You should stay for all the things I need to tell Master Rainbow Dash here. Listen carefully, so I don’t have to explain it again. Master, I advise your servants remain here as well.”
Ember descended to down to stand with the others and listen.
Rainbow nodded. “So be it.”
“Right then. I take it you want dragon magic for your reserve,” Torch said.
“I do,” Rainbow replied.
“We dragons don’t mind that, but you must understand, that we age quite differently than ponies. Ember herself is barely old enough to be bitten by you, and it would be better if you ate from an older dragon, such as myself,” Torch explained. “But it won’t be as simple as you ask, and I agree.”
He paused to watch her reaction.
Intrigued, Rainbow asked, “What would it take?”
“We dragons like games and challenges. Master mevs tend to like such things as well,” Torch continued.
“That’s true for me as well, Dragon Lord Torch,” Rainbow confirmed for him.
“You may have one of your fledglings eat the magic from the Bloodstone Scepter, but once you eat that from the fledgling, the magic is far more potent with aggression than you’ll have found from anything else you’ve eaten. Probably anyway. It will only affect you in this manner, not your fledgling.”
Rainbow nervously swallowed, sensing where this was headed.
“You will go berserk,” the large green dragon warned.
Everyone in the in Equestrian party tensed but remained still and continued listening. Clearly, there was more to the matter than that.
“I…” Rainbow Dash was at a loss for words yet felt like she was supposed to attempt saying something. “Those are for an emergency.”
“It won’t be like the berserk state you’ve no doubt read about. It will be very short, two minutes for every member of your pack, fourteen tops of course,” Torch elaborated.
“Oh,” Rainbow remarked. She gulped again. “And that is how I will be eating dragon magic?”
Torch nodded. “Yes. We wish to make a sport of it, a challenge for us and a challenge for you. It’s a game we like to call Challenge the Master. Believe me, this is completely different than what ponies go through in Equestria.
“We are aware of the consequences if you succeed in your bite. We are older and contain a lot of magic, so rather than you taking so much from one older dragon, you will actually be taking smaller doses and be collecting them from several.
“We will still be able to fly and breathe fire after the game, just be weaker at them for the week it takes to recover. The bite will be enough for a dragon to go down into sleep and knock them out of the game.” He peered down, drawing close to her and speaking in a low voice. “And as a little perk, I might add, you may draw blood.”
Rainbow blinked and gasped, bringing her hooves to her mouth to catch her breath. Her eyes widened, immediately turning red. Fangs grew. She gulped and found herself licking her lips, very excited by the prospect.
“Master,” Torch said, knowing the exact measure needed to help clear her head, which obviously worked after she blinked a few more times. Her eyes went back to magenta, and Torch didn’t need to see her teeth to know they had retracted.
The large dragon chuckled. “Not much, my little pony, fear not. We will be fine, and you will have a rare pleasure for a magical vampire of your kind.” He gestured his large head for Rainbow to go and speak with her servants.
The master mev walked near to see what her friends had to say on the matter. Rarity, being the initial chosen fledgling for this mission, spoke first. “Master, I believe him. The book you have was written for ponies when it warned of the ’emergency’ part even if it did mention other creatures. It was most certainly not a guide book for larger, older dragons of his size on master mevs. They are different creatures, and you will have their permission. They’re quite powerful.”
“I agree with Rarity,” Applejack said. “Our work don’t involve much combat, and I’m sure there’s some of you that wants this even if you’re nervous about telling us so. We all know you have an aggressive side. I ain’t seen it as much since you first transformed, besides, you know…but maybe that’s part of your condition.”
Rainbow nodded in quiet agreement and looked to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.
“We can handle it,” Scootaloo said bravely. “That’s what the mev bond is for, right? Even though we’re not fledglings, you’ll recognize we’re not food, either because we really are kids or because of the bond.”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “It would actually be a good way for us to learn a little more about a berserk.”
“Is it though?” Rainbow asked. “You heard him. This is a lot different than the one that’s supposed to happen if I starve. It’s an outright game, not an emergency.”
“We already know some of the differences,” Rarity pointed out, “and if it turns out there are other solid magic objects that can make you go berserk, we really do need to do everything we can to prepare for that possibility. This is a best case scenario without having to test it out on ponies who are ignorant of your status.”
Rainbow looked over at Spike. “You’re the only one here without a mev bond. You may not be an adult, but I might try to scare you while I’m berserk.”
“Maybe we should bring in Twilight,” Spike suggested. “She could probably create a force field bubble for us to watch and be shielded from you, especially me. Even if the others don’t need it from you, these dragons are big. She can log the information for Starlight.”
Rainbow Dash agreed with a simple nod. It was a reasonable idea. “Rexa,” she said aloud.
Twilight appeared in a flash and got her bearings of the new surroundings as she spotted Torch. “Wow. What’s going on?”
Spike went ahead and explained everything to her.
Twilight nodded. “I’m ready to do my part.”