Rainbow Dash fluttered over and landed before Torch. “I will likely accept your challenge, but I have a few questions before we begin.”
Torch nodded. “Ask.”
“Where will Dragon Lord Ember be during this game?” Rainbow asked. “She is old enough, isn’t she? But also the current Dragon Lord.”
“Ember will hold the scepter during and after your fledgling eats from it. The traces of mev magic will alert you to leave her be,” Torch explained.
Ember nodded in grasping the situation, having pieced together everything she needed from listening to the discussion.
“Aside from injecting me with this aggressive berserk state, what is the purpose of eating from the scepter? Are we reserving its magic for you? My team has the power to make a smaller, backup copy instead of simply storing it in our reserve,” Rainbow Dash informed the large dragon.
“Oh, that’s quite interesting,” Torch said, and he sounded genuine. “Can your team do that after our game? You can work with Ember on the details.”
“Yes,” Rainbow replied. “But then my next question is: If I were to somehow eat from that copy, would that cause me to go berserk again?”
“No, you would not,” Torch assured her. “The scepter’s magic can only make you go berserk once. As another master mev has told me, any artifact, relic, or any physical object that can trigger your berserk can only do so that one time. Since it is a copy stored from the same object, its turn will be over.”
“So other such objects do exist?” Rainbow asked.
“Yes, but a berserk state from an object will have different rules, depending on the object itself, like its purpose, the creatures who know it, and so on. I can’t promise it will be a fourteen minute game,” Torch informed her.
“Very well. I wish for my team to be able to watch, and we have the magic we need for that to happen. They will be shielded. Dragon Lord Ember, you are free to join them for a better view if you like,” the master mev offered.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Ember said.
“An audience,” Torch said with a smile. “We like that as well. Ember, tell the young ones they can watch with the warning that master mevs can eat fear from younger creatures, even if they cannot bite them to eat their magic. Fourteen minutes should be short enough, so that she is more focused on older dragon magic for most or all of the game.”
Ember nodded. “Sure thing, Dad.”
“I must call forth the other larger older dragons. Wait here,” Torch instructed. “Setting everything up will not take long. As part of the game, you will be imprisoned.”
“Imprisoned?” Rainbow repeated. Why would they want to do that?
Torch smiled with an eager gleam in his eyes. “We like to see the magic that fights containment.”
Rainbow smirked wickedly at that prospect as well. She wanted to feel that magic in her too. “I look forward to it.”
“We shall return soon,” Torch informed them.
With that, he went to gather more large dragons for the berserk game. Ember left to invite the younger dragons for the spectacle.
Twilight put a hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder. “It’s going to be alright,” she assured the master mev.
“I can’t help being nervous,” Rainbow confessed. “I feel like I have to perform being a monster of the exact right caliber. Nothing too terrible but also nothing too boring. I don’t know how little control I’ll have of myself either. I’m not sure I want you all to see me this way.”
“We ain’t denying it might be hard,” said Applejack, “but we do think that between doing this and not doing this, doing it is the better option.”
“Right,” Rarity agreed. “We have done the respectful consenting part, which a berserk state usually doesn’t have.”
That, more than anything else, once again helped put Rainbow’s heart and mind at ease.
The game was to take place in the wide rocky terrain of the Dragonlands. Several large dragons sat or stood at considerable distance from the small group of ponies and smaller dragons.
In a closer circle, the younger dragons surrounded the Equestrian party and Dragon Lord Ember. Not far from the smallest group, a cage that could hold up to four ponies stood. It had a flat surface and wheels beneath it to roll it around easily. Its door was open, and it was empty.
“Here’s the plan,” Ember announced. “You,” she pointed to Rarity, “are going to eat magic from the scepter. I will be holding it while you eat and hold onto it after that as well.”
Rarity nodded in full agreement and understanding.
“You,” Ember pointed at Rainbow Dash, “are going to have your wings, forelimbs, and rear legs chained up.”
Rainbow nodded in the same manner as Rarity did.
“You,” Ember pointed to Rarity once again, “go into the cage first. Then the master mev’s servants will place her inside with you.”
“Very well,” Rarity agreed.
“After that, you will be the eye for the Master Mev that everyone else is in position, ready for her to go ahead and bite for the magic of the Bloodstone Scepter from you.
“That will be when the rest of us move back and clear to wait. Nobody,” Ember stated emphatically, “be alarmed if nothing happens at first. It has been a long time since a master mev visited the Dragonlands. A berserk trigger might not be immediate.
“We will all have to wait. One cue for us will be if the sky goes dark. It won’t be night, but it will look like it. Maybe storm clouds will appear. Maybe they won’t. If it takes more than an hour for some reason, we will assume that for whatever reason, it is not happening and move on with other business.”
Everyone nodded without comment.
“Let’s get started,” Ember said.
The younger dragons went ahead and backed away a few steps on instincts of their own.
Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Applejack, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo clustered together and took a few steps back as well.
Ember steadily held the Bloodstone Scepter out with her arms.
Rarity opened her mouth and began to eat the magic from the designated object.
Scootaloo watched with open-mouthed fascination and realized Sweetie Belle was too, even though her friend had probably seen things like this before. The mevs did not look surprised but focused. Spike was somewhere between their concentration and Scootaloo’s fascination.
Some of the younger dragons walked forward to help chain up the master mev. Rainbow Dash could still stand, but she could not fly or walk. At most, she may have been able to hop herself forward if necessary. After that, the dragon helpers returned to the others.
Rarity entered the designated cage. Twilight telekinetically lifted Rainbow Dash to join her.
Ember shut the cage and locked it. She flew over toward the group of Equestrians and stood to wait.
Rarity glanced all around to ensure everyone was in position. “They are ready, Master,” she said.
Rainbow looked up, and Rarity could see two determined red eyes in a fierce glare. It was as if she were already going berserk, and this process was a mere formality. The white unicorn mev offered her neck for the bite and felt the two fangs dig in. The master mev’s body took on a faint red aura as all watched her eat. The sky slowly darkened thanks to large dark storm clouds that appeared.
Once satisfied with the Bloodstone Scepter magic, Rainbow Dash pulled away from the body that offered it to her
Thunder rumbled in the sky above.
Rainbow Dash felt her head hurt at first. If she were not already chained, she would have been clutching at it with her forelimbs. While she could have broken free to do that, it was her wings that broke their bindings first and turned into bat-like flaps. She growled.
With great force, she pulled her forelimbs apart. The chains themselves faded away into white magic essence that disappeared. The chains on her rear legs immediately followed, disintegrating as well. The bindings were broken. Her cutie mark’s white cloud had turned black to match the storm clouds of the sky.
She turned around and chomped down on a bar of the cage with her sharp teeth and spit it aside. She did the same with two more. “Join the others, Mitria,” she ordered in a deadpan voice, staring ahead and not bothering to look at her fledgling. “My game begins,” Rainbow Dash said with aggressive zeal.
“As you wish, Master,” Rarity bowed and obeyed. galloping to the rest of the group where Twilight promptly created her force-field and levitated the entire group off the ground.
Rainbow Dash paid her servants no further mind.
She darted up to find the nearest adult dragon. She didn’t need to look long as she soon felt the heat of flames shoot past her. Pleased, she darted toward a large red one. The attacker sliced his clawed hands through the air. Swish! The wind sang as he missed his target. Swoosh! Another swipe. Whoosh! Another dodge. The vampire evaded yet a third attempt before finally reaching his neck. She bit in to eat his magic, which was plenty tasty.
And then she tasted the blood. Sweet, sweet dragon blood. As Torch said, it was not much. She could not take it all, even if she wanted to.
A large dark blue dragon swat her off the red dragon’s neck, batting her down to the ground. He flung his clawed hand to follow, ready to crush her. Wham! A mere second later, he felt a tiny sting right at the point of contact between where she must have been and the ground. Tiny though it was, it was enough, for the blue dragon immediately grabbed his hand to examine it.
The master mev flew up and grinned evilly at him. “No containment,” she reminded him with a hiss. The blue dragon made direct eye contact with her though he didn’t mean to. He had been warned what that might do. Sure enough, he felt ensnared in her gaze. “Stay where you are,” she commanded.
He stared with his mouth open, suddenly unable to move except to do the one thing he was told to do if he made this mistake. “Master,” the blue dragon uttered.
“You know it,” Rainbow said wickedly, very pleased to hear her mev title. She darted to his neck and bit right in, taking both some magic and blood.
The other dragons realized the master mev was going to be a challenge indeed. She was a small predator, and they were all very large prey.
A large green dragon, a shade darker than Torch himself, tried next. She reminded herself to not make eye contact and not try to actually contain the master. She blew flames that met their mark, surrounding the small pony body completely. Krafwooom! However, when the flames cleared, the master mev looked no worse for wear. Not burnt in the slightest. She was indeed immune to dragon flame. “Unbelievable,” the green dragon said.
With her expert speed, Rainbow Dash took advantage of the distracted prey and bit into her neck too.
The other dragons realized that perhaps they should wait for her approach instead of them going to her. The berserk creature had no problem with that. She zipped to the first magenta dragon in her line of sight. They breathed fire at her, frwhooo, which again, did nothing. They swiped their mighty claws. Rainbow clasped one of those clawed fingers into her forelimbs. Grinning wickedly, she lifted the dragon upward and threw them to the ground, fwump before landing. Rubble scattered from the impact. Two eager fangs sank into the magenta dragon’s neck. More blood. More magic.
“How are we supposed to actually fight this thing?” one of the dragons asked Torch.
“That’s the challenge,” Torch said with a pleased smile from his perch while waiting for his turn.
Rainbow Dash approached another dragon, one with light blue scales like Ember’s that tried to evade her approach and swish his spiky tail to throw her off. The plan succeeded as the tail made contact and threw the berserk mev off course. It was far enough that a gold dragon was closer in range, so Rainbow targeted that one instead. She could deal with that light blue one later. Her desire for dragon magic could be sooner met here and now.
The gold dragon tried to copy the light blue dragon that hurled Rainbow Dash his way, but the master mev dodged his tail and kicked it with her rear hoof, knocking him down to the ground. BAM! She promptly approached for the bite. The downed dragon tried to cover his neck with his hands before she could do such a thing. Annoyed, Rainbow placed herself in his line of sight. He clenched his eyes shut with pained and fearful grimace before they could make direct contact. She growled. “YOUR MAGIC IS MINE!” she yelled, and she bit his clawed hand, leading the dragon to yelp in pain and lift his hand from his neck. The master mev bit the truly desired spot.
As Rainbow Dash flew up to find her next target, the light blue dragon that swatted her away earlier opened a large, gaping mouth behind the pony. She, the large dragon, clamped her mouth shut as if readying swallow the bat-winged mev whole. The tiny predator inside used her newfound strength for the game alone to pry the jaws open. “YOU…CANNOT…CONTAIN ME!” she growled and escaped, bucking the jaws to thwart the dragon downward. Bapoom! Rainbow dived with the fall to find the dragon’s neck and bite in for yet more magic and blood.
The berserk game went on. A few dragons tried to out-fly Rainbow Dash but soon learned she was too fast for them. At last, Torch was the only adult qualified dragon left. He eyed her approaching flight eagerly and tilted his head slightly left to evade her line of trajectory. Rainbow Dash flew past him and stopped to turn herself around, eyeing the back of his head. She charged and his tail flicked her away with no problem at all.
The master mev grinned and chuckled. Thunder in the sky rumbled yet again. She circled around to face her desired meal. Torch kept his eyes open, making sure to not make direct eye contact, keeping the bat-winged pony in his peripheral view. Rainbow Dash approached quickly but slower than her initial attack, and a large clawed hand bat her away like she was an annoying little fly.
The former Dragon Lord was stalling. So long as he lasted until the berserk ended, he was in the clear to win the game. The berserk creature’s whole body twitched. He had magic and blood that she wanted. She needed to find out how to get to it. She flew several feet above where he perched himself. Torch looked up at her, still doing his best to not meet the enchanting red eyes directly.
Rainbow Dash rocketed down, and Torch realized she was like a mini-missile aiming for him. Had she not learned? Suddenly…
The explosive sound shot out and color with it. A Sonic Rainboom filled the air. The circle of rainbow colors were surrounded with yet another circle of hazy red.
Torch’s eyes bulged in shock though he still attempted a dodge again, noting the wake of a rainbow trail and red aura. He was too late. Smack! He felt the impact of her body as she swerved in the same direction as his dodge, having caught it in time on this attempt. The move knocked him to the ground. Torch flapped his massive wings to lift himself and realized he did not know where the little master mev went. Her rainbow-and-red trail scattered about haphazardly in the air, and before he could make sense of it all, two fangs pierced into his neck from behind. Fwuuuump. He was down again, this time in a sleeping heap.
Rainbow Dash glanced around in search for what to eat next. No more adult dragons. No more magic or blood. But there was still fear.
She flew toward the younger dragon circle. The younger dragons stared up in frightened awe at having witnessed a little pony vampire knock down so many of their elders.
“And here you all are,” she said with a delighted wicked voice and smile to match, “offering up dessert.”
A red circle surrounded them, and a large translucent head lifted out. A leviathan head. A very large translucent leviathan head. The younger dragons’ jaws collectively dropped. Thunder rumbled again, and lightning flashed soon after. They heard a hiss that they could not tell if it were from the master mev or the leviathan dread, but then, that was the point of using their confusion to amplify their fear.
“Master,” one of them uttered, having seen one of the larger dragons try it earlier.
“That’s me,” Rainbow said with a gleeful evil smile.
Blitz circled more to make the space feel tighter.
“Aren’t the fourteen minutes up yet?” one of the dragons said in a low, terrified voice.
Another shook his head. “It’s not like I set a timer.”
Blitz finished her ascent and dived down as if to gobble them all up before dissipating away.
The young creatures felt truly threatened, as if the massive ghostly snake could actually do such a thing. They raised their arms as if to shield themselves, bracing for the worst.
It took two seconds for them to realize they were unharmed.
The storm clouds whisked away, and the sky began to brighten.
“Look,” one of the young dragons pointed upward.
Rainbow Dash herself followed the indicated direction and slowly descended to the ground. The faint red aura surrounding her body faded. Her bat wings morphed into her usual feathered ones. She gently collapsed to the ground and fell asleep instantly.
The young dragons breathed a collective sigh of relief. The force-field bubble containing the Equestrians and Dragon Lord Ember landed near them. Twilight cast the magical bubble away.
“She took out all of them,” a young pink dragon said. “Was that supposed to happen?”
“It’s her goal as part of the game. Dad knew it could happen,” Ember informed them. “He did make sure I warned you all about the fear feeding.”
“I can’t believe we forgot,” one embarrassed young dragon admitted.
“Did your father tell you how long she would be asleep once the game is over?” Rarity asked. “We know that her meals sleep for an hour after being bitten during the day.”
“Fourteen minutes. She’ll be out for the amount of time she was berserk,” Ember explained.
“And do the dragons she ate from get that fourteen minutes or the full hour?” Applejack asked.
“They’ll wake up when she does, is what my dad told me,” Ember said. “After all, this berserk was a game. The winners and losers must face victory and defeat.”
“We certainly learned a lot,” Twilight said, already scribbling some thoughts on a scroll. “Aside from telling Rarity to join us, she didn’t seem aware of us at all and completely focused on eating, which fits with the idea of a berserk.”
“And her nocturnivlair is secondary to the chase,” Sweetie Belle offered aloud. “It seemed to happen only in response to any immediate meal she was preying on. She was not plotting to take them down in any kind of methodical way. She moved from one dragon to the next. If one of them put her closer to another, she changed her target.”
“That would be good for evasion, blocking, and distraction, like we been thinking,” Applejack added.
“She only used mev magic too,” Rarity put in her thoughts as well. “Aside from that super strength.”
“I think that is mev magic,” Twilight said. “Torch said it was dependent on the strength of her pack and not toot my own horn, but Starlight pointed out ages ago I could make the pack really strong as an alicorn.
“Your initial point remains of course. Master did not use any unicorn or draconequis or reserved magic of any kind besides the fireproof status she cast earlier today. Since dragon fire is part of their magic, she still would have been immune.”
“That’s just for this berserk though, right?” Scootaloo asked them all. “Other ones might have different rules.”
“Right, but it’s all we have to go on, and my instincts tell me that it is what to expect most of the time,” Twilight explained.
The fourteen minutes soon ended, and Rainbow Dash groaned, rubbing her head as she sat upright on her haunches.
“Master, are you alright?” Rarity asked with concern.
“Just a little headache,” Rainbow said. “Must be an after effect of the berserk. I think it will clear soon.” She looked at the younger dragons that had quietly listened to the Equestrian party and watched over her. “Are you all okay?”
The orange one that initially greeted her at the gorge surfing location replied, “Are you kidding? That was the coolest thing ever!”
“How did you do that snake thing?” the pink one asked. “It filled us up with just this…strange…feeling….like umm…”
“Dread. That’s her job,” Rainbow said. “She is in fact called a leviathan dread, and her name is Blitz. I can summon her on instinct when I sense fear of me, especially in young creatures.”
“Wow,” said a young brown dragon.
The older dragons began to awake as well and Torch soon approached the group. “You win, Master Rainbow Dash,” he said with a defeated smile.
“Thank you, Dragon Lord Torch. Good game. I’m sorry it can be the only one,” Rainbow replied.
“Haha,” he chuckled heartily. “We’ll be quite alright with this one in our memory for awhile. You may now work with Dragon Lord Ember regarding the scepter copy if you wish. I would recommend after that to relaxing yourself in a lava pool.”
The other dragons, old and young alike, left the area, to let the mevs do their work in peace. Both the former and current Dragon Lord had instructed them to do so before the game. Ember remained to do her part to help Team Awesome. Torch left as well.
“A lava pool does sound mighty nice,” Applejack hinted.
“Yeah, sure, but let’s take care of the scepter first. Rhezenda, get out your drawing pad and markers. You brought markers this time, right?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Yes, Master,” Sweetie Belle answered.
Ember was told about this idea so held the scepter at a proper angle as she modeled it for the adult-sized filly.