Diaries of a Madman

When Discord breaks free of his stone prison, he proves to be much older and wiser than he was on the show. A being of ancient and unimaginable power, he forces Celestia to make a deal to save her little ponies. What she doesn't realize is that one of the terms of the deal is that she forgets ever making it. Enter Navarone, a poor human just trying to get by—or at least, to the ponies that's what he looks like. Pulled from his home by an accidental summoning from one Twilight Sparkle, Navarone is thrust into a world of ponies and more violence than he expected from such a peaceful seeming world. These are his adventures—with a few asides from everybody's favorite Lord of Chaos, of course.

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136. Chapter One Hundred and Twelve—Through the Eyes of a Dragon Part 2

“Well that’s good, at least.”

“It just means that there’s more that can go wrong,” he quietly said.

Before I could reply to that, Gilda jumped back on my back. “Hey big guy, wanna go explore the mines?”

I was going to ask her why should we want to do that, but Watcher said, “Save it until you’re back on the ship. I don’t think it would be wise to risk Crabapple’s ire.”

“But there aren’t any mines on the ship,” I slowly said.

“You are seriously jamming my clam, old pony,” Gilda growled.

“The rest of us feel the same way,” he said. “Tease him all you want, but leave it at that.”

“Tch. The ship’s coming back tonight. It can wait ‘til then. See you tonight, big guy,” she said, hopping off my back and walking inside.

“How are we gonna explore mines on the ship?” I asked Watcher.

He blinked a few times before asking, “What starts with c, ends in t, and is filled with a white, milky fluid?”

“Uh, a coconut?”

“What starts with f, ends in k, and comes with a lot of heat and excitement?”

“Firetruck?”

“...What’s long and hard and full of semen?”

“A boat, duh. What’s the point of these?”

“Have fun with Gilda tonight, Spike,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m going back inside.”

Nav, old people are weird.

 

 

“That night, Gilda—”

“Whoa, I don’t want to hear about it,” I quickly said, holding up a hand.

“How did you know what was going to happen?” Spike asked, blushing.

“Clam jam means the same thing as cock block.”

“What do chickens have—”

“Cock is another word for penis.”

“I don’t get it,” he slowly said after a few seconds of thinking.

“Gilda straight up said Watcher was trying to stop her from fucking you. That’s what clam jam means. When she tried to get you to explore the mines with her, she was going to use your penis to explore her vagina.” He blinked a few times. “Sexually.”

“Oh. Then why didn’t she just say so?”

“Because there are things you don’t say in polite company. Christ. And I thought I was dense sometimes… Whatever. Keep going. Remember, important things only.”

“You’d probably think the next day was pretty important…”

 

 

As Watcher said, the ship stayed docked over the mining base the next day. When I woke up in my bed on it, I was confused for a few seconds before I felt the griffin curled up around me. I almost shouted in fear before I remembered what happened. Even after that, though, I very quickly pushed myself away from her, feeling dirty.

She didn’t even wake up, so I left my room, shaking slightly, and went to take a shower, just… thinking. Thinking about someone else… When I got out, for some reason my steps brought me to your room, where I found Taya on your bed. She was curled up and holding one of your gauntlets, asleep.

Since I didn’t want to disturb her, I just went onto the deck and jumped off, flying down to the mining base. When I got down, Watcher was outside, doing sentry duty. “So did you enjoy your spelunking?” he asked with a weird smile.

“We didn’t go exploring,” I quietly said, my voice seeming hollow. “We just had sex.”

“Sounds like you were exploring her body,” he replied.

“I… didn’t get to do much of that. It was mostly her on top of me, holding down my arms.”

“Heh, yeah… I remember my first time with a griffin. You’re supposed to fight back. Rough her up a little. Half of sex with griffins is establishing dominance. But still, they’re always a fun lay.”

“I guess. I really just feel… empty.”

“Oh. Well, not everyone likes one night stands. Empty sex is fun for some people, but not everyone. Just give it some time, you’ll feel better soon enough. Maybe do a few laps around the base or some pushups.”

“Those don’t seem very fun…”

“And sitting around moping about it will just make it worse. Do whatever you want, just be ready to go on sentry duty in a few hours. I’ll be sending the ship off to escort the supply ship in soon, so we’ll need to be ready for anything.”

“I’ll be ready.”

“You better be. And go get some food.”

“Breakfast would be nice, yeah. Just come get me when you need me.”

“Of course.”

A few hours later, I was back outside and the undead were attacking again. It was a smaller wave than usual, but this time there were five of the exploding things. No fliers, thankfully, so we just got to watch the five things slowly waddle toward us until one of the unicorns hit one with fire, making it explode and take out a chunk of ice. They also took out most of the other undead around them, leaving almost nothing for us to do.

While we were still cleaning up the bodies, the two ships appeared from the clouds above us. “Orders, sir?” one of the guards asked Watcher.

“Go inside and tell Crabapple the ships are here. The supplies are her problem, not ours. And stop burning those bodies!”

“But some are still moving,” Taya said.

“I know. If Crabapple is coming outside, I think it’s a good idea she knows the full extent of the threat. Keep an eye on them. They start getting close, push them back.”

The two unicorns shrugged and started watching what was left of the undead. I did the same, because I really didn’t want to get attacked by them. It was then that I realized I didn’t even know how they attacked somepony. “Hey Watcher?”

“What, Spike?” he asked.

“How do these things even fight? Most of them haven’t gotten close enough yet.”

“Teeth, bludgeoning, clawing, using weapons, blowing up… Anything they can do, they will. They’re harmless against a well-trained and well-armored force, but they’re great for causing panic against the uninformed and the untrained. Haven’t we been over this?”

“I dunno, maybe?” Before he could find something to hit me with, the door to the base opened and Crabapple walked out.

“The supply ship is finally here?” she asked, looking up.

“Yes. And it’s not all,” Watcher said, pointing to the crawling bodies.

“I pay you to kill those things,” she pointedly said. “So kill them.”

“They’re already dead,” Watcher replied.

“Then kill them again. I’m not going to begin moving supplies until those things stop moving.”

“Spike, light them on fire,” Watcher said, still staring at Crabapple. She was staring right back, not bothered in the slightest. I just looked to the undead and used my firebreath to kill them. “These things aren’t going to stop coming,” Watcher said. “Not until every one of them is put down.”

“Then I have good news for you,” she said. “We have no plans to renew your contract. In fact, this mine is almost definitely going to be shut down upon the end of your contract, if not sooner. The only metal we’ve found is that cursed base the human died in.”

“Nav’s not—” I started, but she didn’t even pay me any mind.

“The fact of the matter is that we’re leeching money on this endeavor. If we don’t find anything by the time your contract is over, we’ll pull out entirely and sell the location to an archaeologist. Maybe they can get the door open and find more permanent guards.”

“That’s good news,” Watcher said. “Celestia herself professed interest in the base, so I imagine she would be willing to pay for the information. After all, it claimed one of her only personal friends.”

“Then she’s welcome to it. I’m going to go get my miners. Can you send someone to the ships and have them move in closer? I believe the threat is gone.”

“Simple enough,” Watcher said. She nodded and went back inside. “Nightshade, get up to the mining ship, have them pull in closer. Shadow, head to our ship. Tell Gourd to pull up to overwatch. There weren’t any fliers in this batch. If they’re coming in late, I want to know before they trigger the wards.”

“Yes sir,” they both said, hastily saluting before taking off.

“What about the rest of us?” Gilda asked, idly preening one of her wings.

“Go inside, if you want, but be ready to get back out here if needed.”

“Easy enough. I got some beauty sleep to catch up on.” One of the mares next to her snorted. Gilda answered that with a sharp punch to the shoulder before walking to the door. When she passed me, she trailed her tail around my waist, making my ear spines droop. When she got behind me, she slapped the tip against my… my backside, making me flinch and blush. For some reason, everypony giggled.

Right after she walked in, unhappy looking miners started walking out. After the first few got out, they all stopped, staring at the grounds in front of the base in shock. “Sweet Celestia,” one whispered, his eyes wide.

“What happened out here?” another asked.

“What do you think we’ve been under attack from?” Watcher asked. “There’s worse things in this world than diamond dogs or monsters, fellas.”

“What… what did this?” one asked.

“Undead,” Watcher said with a shrug. “See those craters out there, each the size of this base?” All the miners’ mouths dropped. “Yeah. So unload the ship quickly so we can get back to doing our jobs.”

“She does not pay us enough for this,” one muttered, spreading his wings. The other pegasi joined him, while the earth ponies and unicorns almost jumped off the side before they realized how deep the hole in front of the base had gotten from all the undead we burned down there. Instead, they walked to one of the sides and jumped down there, walking back out in front of us to the plain under the ship.

The pegasi on the ship started throwing boxes down, where the unicorns caught them and placed them on the backs of the earth ponies. They brought them over to the base while the unicorns caught more of the stuff being dropped. When the earth ponies got to the base, they made a staircase of boxes and started carrying them up and then into the base. They started a chain of ponies until everything was inside, not that there was really too much.

“Why didn’t they bring much?” I asked Watcher when the last of the miners stepped back inside.

“We’re leaving soon,” he replied. “And this was probably more of a proof of concept than anything. They wanted to make sure their ship was working fine down here before putting too much of value on it.” He was silent for a few moments before smiling and saying, “I think I’ll suggest they head up to the Crystal Empire. They have the ship and there’s already a mine there…”

“But didn’t Nav say that mine was haunted?”

“Crabapple doesn’t seem to mind the dead. I’m going back inside. Everyone else but the sentries are free to do the same.”

Almost everypony took him up on that offer, leaving just me, Taya, and the two sentries on duty. I really wanted to go back inside, but at the same time… “Spike?”

I looked down at Taya. “What do you need?” I asked.

“Can you fly me up to the ship?” she asked, nodding up at our boat.

“Sure. I was thinking of heading up there anyway. Come on.” I gently wrapped my arms under her and lifted her up, then spread my wings and took off. “Couldn’t you just teleport?” I asked while we were on the way.

“Daddy always told me I should save my energy if possible. You never know, he said. Besides, teleporting that far is hard.”

“Makes sense, I guess.” It didn’t really seem that far to me, but I knew it would have if I still didn’t have my wings. Honestly, I don’t know why I ever got on something that could fly without wings. I mean, I know you would save me, but when you weren’t around…

Well, we got up to the deck fairly quickly. Kumani and Kat were up there, staring at the supply ship. “When’s that thing gonna leave?” Kumani asked when I set Taya down.

“Watcher said the miners were gonna load some stuff on it, and that it’ll probably leave some time tonight,” Taya said. “Why?”

“Just wondering,” she said, crossing her arms.

“Wonder if they have anything for sale,” Kat said.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “It’s just a supply ship. Though a few ponies on board might be willing to trade anyway.”

“I’m gonna go check it out,” Kumani said. “You want to come?” she asked Kat.

“Sure. At least it’ll get me off this boat for a little while. Spike, if you see Spider, tell him I’ll be back soon.”

“Sure thing,” I said, following Taya down to the door leading belowdecks. Taya ended up in your room and that’s when I realized my footsteps were taking me to the same place. But I forced myself onward, going to my room instead.

Since Gilda hadn’t been kind enough to… to change my sheets, I did so, changing and washing them. I didn’t want to smell them anymore, not after that. While I was doing that, I found some of the girls, which ended up with me finding the rest of the girls, aside from Twilight. They cornered me and forced me to talk, though getting my mind off things for a little while was nice.

As that day ended, I found myself alone on the deck of the ship, sitting on the rails and just watching the snow fall. Most of the crew was asleep, though the crew of the mining ship seemed to be preparing to leave. They moved quickly and awkwardly in heavy coats, seeming to want to get everything done quickly so they could get back below.

I was so focused on them or just zoned out in general that I didn’t realize I wasn’t alone until Kumani asked, “What are you thinking about?”

“W-what?” I asked, flinching toward her.

“Brooding is unbecoming of a dragon,” she said.

“I thought you said dragon moms were called broodmothers until their eggs hatched.”

She blinked a few times before chuckling. “That’s not what I meant. Tell me, why are you here? Why did you come on this journey?”

“Nav asked me if I wanted to go. She thought it would help me find my place in the world.”

“I see. Do you think your place would be with other dragons?”

“My place is by Nav’s side. She’s my friend, and she needs me.”

“Spike, Navarone is dead. As much as I hate to say it, he—or she, whichever—is not coming back.”

“That’s not true! I know she’s alive.”

“Nav told me himself that he can’t survive without food or water for very long. It’s been days. We can’t get him out. The unicorns can’t get him out. The door can’t be opened. Even if he is somehow currently still alive, he might as well be dead.”

“I don’t believe it. We’ll save her.”

“Well, I do believe it. And I’m leaving, too.”

“What? Why?!”

“Because the others don’t trust me and I don’t think many of them like me. I came because of Nav and because he told me there would be chances to make money. Nav is either dead or a girl, neither of which attract me. And I see no chances for more gold on this trip, or at least not for me. Watcher and Zecora wouldn’t let me get any shares. I hear that wicked mare’s mutters, constantly whispering about dragon greed. So I’m leaving. You’re welcome to come with me, if you want. I’ll find a place for you with the dragons back home.”

“Why would you just… leave Nav like that, though? I thought you two were together.”

“I was thinking with the wrong place when I decided to come with him. Nav is… was really good at sex. I only ever knew him while I was in heat. When that wore off, I discovered that we have almost nothing in common. He’s smart, I’m not. I’m strong, he’s not. And there will be a time when I want hatchlings and he won’t be able to help with that. Especially now that he’s a girl, which I’m really not attracted to. It was cute when it was reversible, but I’m not a lesbian. Even if he was still alive, I didn’t see the relationship going very far.”

“Oh…”

“It was just a stupid mistake anyway. Especially when we got on this boat. I’ve heard the whispers from some of the girls we got in that crystal place. They really don’t like me. But I don’t care. I’m leaving on that supply ship and you can come with me.”

I quickly shook my head. “I’m staying here. If Nav can be saved, I’m going to do it. And if not, then I’m going to help my friends with what Nav was trying to do.”

“Suit yourself,” she answered with a shrug, then spread her wings.

Before she could take off, I quickly said, “Is there anything I should tell her?”

“Her…?”

“Nav. Do you want me to tell her anything?”

“...If he’s still alive, tell him to stay safe. And to never take that bug queen up on her offer. I could smell the corruption on her.”

“Uh, alright. I’ll tell her, I guess.”

“May your hoard grow ever larger,” she said, then jumped off the side and flew over to the supply ship.

 

 

“So yeah,” Spike said. “Kumani left.”

“Huh. Well, I can’t really blame her. Ah well.”

“You… aren’t sad about it?”

“Not really. I mean, I expected we’d last at least a year, but I’m not really that sad that we didn’t. She was right; we really don’t have much in common. And it was obvious she was less than enthusiastic about my sudden lack of a dick, so whatever.”

“Huh… What about what she said about the dragon greed stuff? Was that ever really a problem?”

“Yeah. Or at least, sort of. She was very possessive and any time someone tried flirting with me, Kumani made sure to remind me who I belonged to. My dick enjoyed that, but the rest of me, not so much. She was useful to have on the ship, but I didn’t think she would be very happy for very long. It’s probably for the best that she left. I guess it means I can start utilizing my maid again.”

“I could—I mean, there are plenty of… others on board that would be happy to help!”

“Yeah, I could fuck Dash or Pinkie, or maybe Twilight or Kat. Probably Gilda, too. But as much as I hate to say it, this body sometimes craves something a bit… harder. And longer. Doppel can help with that.” I went silent for a second before snorting. “Maybe I can finally fuck Smiles, too. Not too many on board I can fuck without pissing Watcher off.” Spike was sitting there, a very strange look on his face. He opened his mouth, but I asked, “So did anything else big happen? I don’t really know how long I was down there. That place… time mixed together. Did you guys find me right after Kumani left?”

“...No. We didn’t find you until we were just about to run away.”

“Run away?”

“Two days after Kumani left, things got bad.”

 

 

I was kinda surprised, but no one seemed that upset that Kumani left. Zecora said something about dragon loyalties being hard to earn, but that didn’t seem right to me. I mean, I would never leave you…

But everypony else just shrugged. I hate to say it, but I think she was right: None of them seemed to trust or like her. It kinda made me feel sad, because she had been so nice to me and all the others. Or at least, she had always been nice when I was around. Pinkie was the only one that even seemed to care, and even then, she didn’t care that much.

The next day was quiet, thankfully. A few small groups attacked us, but just two or three at a time. Watcher smiled once, though he denied it when I mentioned it. The naga was even more moody than usual, though that was probably just from being stuck inside for weeks.

The day after that was not quiet. Well I mean, it started quiet, but Watcher told me that the days always start like that before things go bad.

So uh… This is the day I killed a dragon. A really big dragon. A big, undead dragon.

It started as the usual little battles did. Watcher’s wards went off and he got us all outside. The usual suspects were there, along with an extra addition. This one was long and thin, some kind of mutated dog or something.

“Disease spreader,” Watcher said with distaste, staring at it. “At least it’ll be harmless down here in this cold. Normally those things shoot clouds of toxins into the air. But it’s so cold here that anything they shoot out would be harmless. Still, Black, kill it as quickly as you can.”

“Yes sir.”

“Taya, you focus on the fliers. I’ll take care of the exploders.”

“Alright.”

Fifteen minutes later, that was done. The main groups were dead, though a few stragglers were still coming toward us. It was at that point that Watcher flinched, half-turning his head behind us. “More of them,” he muttered. “Taya, clean up here. Everyone else, let’s go to the back. We got company.”

We all followed him around to the other side of the base, wondering what else we’d have to deal with. Once again, it was more of the same. Mostly the normal ones, no fliers but a few exploders. They were no match for us, really. I was starting to wonder why somepony would waste their time even making undead.

But when that group was finished, Watcher muttered a word you really like and said, “We have a problem. They’re coming at us from the front and the left. Black, take Taya and squads two and three to the front. Spike and the other two squads, come with me.” We all split up and moved to the two sides.

“How many are there?” I asked as we picked spots on the battlements.

“I don’t know. But if they’re coming at us like this, I expect we’re going to be seeing a lot more. But there really can’t be enough of them to threaten us, as long as they continue like this. Though this could be the sign of the necromancer, in which case we might be in some trouble.”

“How would we know if it’s the necromancer?” I asked.

“Trust me, you’ll know. Enough questions. Just concentrate on putting them all down as you see them.”

“...Alright.”

Before that group could even get to us, Watcher said another bad word and looked to the back of the base again. “Even more of them. Spike, these are nothing but crawlers. Jump down, let them all come to you, then use your fire to kill them.”

“W-what?”

“You have scales. They can’t even hurt you. But I have to take care of the other side, so get down there so they’ll all focus on you. Squad two, make sure none of them get close to Spike. Squad one, on me.”

Before I could ask him why I had to jump down, he hurried off to the back with his squad, leaving me with an earth pony and a pegasus. “You heard him, Spike,” the pegasus said. “Down you go.”

I sighed and muttered, “Being a soldier sucks.” They both nodded and smiled as I jumped over the side, holding the shield up in front of myself. Seeing a living target, all the undead that were drawing in started moving straight toward me. There weren’t that many, less than twenty, but it felt… bad standing before them alone.

But then I remembered that I had two well-trained and experienced soldiers behind me, ready to help me if I needed them. That made me feel a little better, at least. Then one of the undead got close enough and I hit it with a burst of flame, dropping it. Seeing it die and realizing that I could probably easily win made me feel a lot better and I lowered the shield, picking targets as they got closer.

None of them got within two meters of me, I’m proud to say. Before I could begin celebrating, more of them began shuffling out of the snow and I felt my smile drop. I readied myself for combat again, but Watcher said, “Spike, get back up here.” I turned and jumped back up onto the wall, using my wings to propel me.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Bad, bad things,” he said. “The miners broke through the very wrong ice and now we’re under attack from the inside and three corners. I’ll hold here. Taya’s inside, with the naga. Take my place on the wall, to the back of the base.”

“Got it! Are the miners okay?”

“Not the time!” he said. “Get to your spot!” My eyes opened wide and I jumped to follow the order, running along the battlements to the back of the base. Some of the undead were already halfway to the wall, so I hopped over the side and took up position in the front of the battlements again.

Soon enough, I was hitting more undead with fire. Really, it was just simple stuff, until I noticed one of them was an exploder and really close. My eyes widened when I realized it was too late and it was already on fire. I just had time to duck behind my shield before it blew up.

Surprisingly, the shield held, though I slammed back into the icy wall. Every part of my body not covered by the shield and the arm holding it really hurt, but nothing was broken and I could still fight.

“By the night, be more careful!” one of the soldiers behind me yelled. “That tore a hole in the wall!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t even—”

“Keep fighting!” the other one yelled. I gulped and turned back to the undead, lowering my shield. My entire body was shaking, but after quickly looking around, I realized there weren’t any more exploders. I took a deep breath and continued shooting flames out.

Not too much later, they were all dead in front of me and I pulled myself up onto the battlements, not really feeling like jumping or flying. There was definitely a noticeable gap in the wall where the exploder took out a chunk, but I didn’t think the undead would be able to use it against us. I was more worried that Watcher would be upset, and when he came around the side of the base, my eyes widened.

“Everyone alright?” he asked.

“Yes sir,” the pegasus said. “Spike got a little gung-ho and torched an exploder too close by mistake. No harm done.”

“I-I didn’t mean to!”

Watcher looked from me to the hole in the wall, then back to me. “I don’t think I need to tell you to be more careful. That was almost you, after all. Move to the right side. More are coming in.”

“Can we get a signal to the ship?” one of the troops asked.

“Since Kumani left, no. Not unless Spike here can send a message to Twilight or Gourd instead of Celestia.”

“I can’t,” I said, shaking my head. “I know it’s possible, but the princess only showed me how to do it with her.”

“Then you need to ask her how to do it with others later. We’re in trouble here and we might well need help. Now take your positions on the wall. This side is clear… for now.”

I nodded and the other two saluted and we started walking around to the other side. We each had to jump over the hole in the wall, but we made it there with no problems. Then we got into position and just waited.

You know, you and the naga both told me about something I never really believed in until that day. When you get into a real battle, you enter a strange state of mind. Everything around you seems to slow down and reflexes take over. Against the undead, that was simple. With how easy they were to take down, I found myself… wanting to fight something better. Something tougher. I was in fight time, and I wanted a reason to be there.

An hour later, I had my reason. The group I was in had just taken out another few undead. Nothing major, just an exploder and few crawlers. But when we got them killed, we all heard Watcher’s shout of surprise. Before we could go and ask what was wrong, we all felt the ground shaking under us.

Since our side was clear, we all ran around the base to the front, where Watcher’s group was standing. We were joined by Black’s group a moment later. That’s when we found the source of Watcher’s shout: A very long neck attached to a very large head was moving out of the mist in front of us. After a few steps, we found that it was also attached to a very large and undead draconic body.

“Welp, we’re screwed,” one of the guards said, for some reason sounding happy.

My sword jerked out of its sheath and Watcher pulled it over to himself, muttering something. His eyes lit up for a second or two and he passed the sword back, letting me take it from the air. All the soldiers were probably considering running, and so was I. After all, it isn’t every day that you have to fight something like that.

“Spike, take that sword and attack that thing.”

“What?! Why me?”

“It’s a dragon. It breathes fire. You’re a dragon. You don’t mind fire. Do the math.”

“That equation ends with me dead!”

“If you don’t try, we’ll all die! Now go fight that thing! We’ll keep the lesser undead at bay.”

As much as I absolutely did not want to get anywhere near that monster, I knew there was no choice. If we ran, we would freeze. If we let it destroy the base, we could never save you. If I couldn’t beat it, its magic resistance would probably stop the already tired unicorns from hurting it. So I took a deep breath and spread my wings, taking off.

I knew I had a few things going for me against that thing, which was at least three times the size of the ship. It was undead, so it was stupid and couldn’t move very quickly. But I had a feeling that if it hit me, I would definitely never see you again.

Letting it hit me was not an option.

When I got about fifty meters away from the thing, its mouth opened wide. I held the shield up in front of me since I was expecting flames to come out. Instead of flames, however, it shot a cloud of… I really don’t know how to describe it. The stuff was black and acrid and left an icy chill on the shield and my arm.

But instead of blocking it, as I expected the shield to do, it just acted as a short buffer, letting the breath seep around and hit me. When that breath hit me, I felt myself… changing. In a way, my body seemed to rejoice in it, since it seemed to make me stronger. When I told Watcher about it after the fact, he said the dragon was breathing raw entropy at me, making me age. A normal pony, he said, would probably have turned into dust with the amount of the poison I got into me.

But dragons live forever. As he poured what should have been death into my body, I grew. The shield’s straps broke off my arm and I let the sword drop from hands too large to hold it. Soon, I was around the size of the ship, and that’s when the dragon’s breath stopped.

Normally, such a drastic change would have made me stop in horror and shock. But as I felt myself changing physically, my mental state also seemed to change. I saw a large dragon before me and I knew that dragon was the enemy. I knew my job was to kill him. Panic left my mind and fight time entered. The opponent was still larger than I was, which meant I needed to be careful. But I was also big, so fighting him was an option.

Since I had grown so large and didn’t stop moving, by the time the dragon’s breath attack stopped, I was right up on him. His claws reached out to slash at me and his head darted in to bite, but I twisted and slammed my tail—which had grown spikes at some point—into him. That attack hit his head and knocked him back, but undead don’t feel pain. His claws wrapped around my tail, spikes and all, and then dug into my scales. I roared in pain and turned my head, shooting fire at him.

That didn’t seem to faze him too much, so I jerked my tail and jumped into the air, spreading my wings and taking off. That forced him to let go, which meant my blood started spreading across the battlefield.

I waited in the air for him to start flying, but then I saw his back and realized he would never fly again: one of his wings was missing, torn straight off. When I saw that, a dark smile came to my face and I flew over him, then landed on his back. He groaned and tried reaching me, but it seems that dragons become more and more quadrupedal as we age, which meant his claws couldn’t reach me.

Since I was relatively safe on his back, I started clawing at whatever I could, trying to do as much damage as possible. I ripped off scales, tore into his skin, destroyed his other wing, and then realized far, far too late that I forgot one very important thing.

Dragon necks are flexible.

Since my head was busy breathing fire into one of his open wounds, his teeth latched onto my chest and ripped me off his back, slamming me into the ice. One of his claws pinned me down while the other raised up in the air. I had a feeling I was about to die, but then I saw something flying toward him from my peripheral vision. When I looked, I saw one of the exploding undead things flying straight at him, propelled by magic. As soon as it got close enough, it burst into flames and exploded, distracting the dragon.

That was enough for me to escape, since the claw holding me down loosened up. I grabbed it with both of mine and twisted as hard as I could. It made a sickening popping sound at the elbow joint, and that’s when I remembered something you showed me once. I pushed myself out from under him and then let go of his arm with one claw, then brought my arm down to slam onto his elbow from the back, breaking the arm.

Apparently being undead made his bones weaker, because the two bone fragments broke through his scales, putting a big hole there. Seeing an opportunity, I jumped up, still holding his arm with one hand, and twisted and pulled on it. After a few seconds, it completely tore free at the joint. Thankfully, I wasn’t expecting all the strength I had to suddenly send me on my back, since the undead thing slammed its remaining claw at me.

So I was on my back on the ground when the thing tumbled down, unable to catch its balance with a missing leg. Once again, I foolishly thought I had an easy victory at that point… right up until the arm I was still holding grabbed me. I shouted in surprise as its claws sank into my thigh, shaking and trying to tear whatever it could away.

Since I knew I had to use fire to kill it permanently, I did just that, hitting the disembodied arm with as much fire as I could. After a few seconds, it was little more than a crispy hunk of bone. Thankfully, my own fire didn’t hurt me, so I was able to easily pry the thing away from me.

While I had been distracted with that, the enemy dragon was getting back to its feet. It could no longer use its front arms to attack, but that didn’t stop it from lunging at me, baring its teeth. I dodged to the side and reached out, grabbing at its neck. The teeth missed me and I successfully grabbed onto its neck, making me realize I had no idea what I was planning to do.

After less than a second of thinking, I decided if I could tear off an arm, I could tear off a head. My claws let go of its neck and I snatched at one of the sets of horns on its head, then twisted as hard as I could. The dragon actually roared and started shaking his head, trying to make me let go. But I had gotten that far, so I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. Instead, I kept twisting and jerking, using my full body weight to try to twist his head around.

After a few seconds, his wing slammed out and he pushed back, standing up on his back legs. That wasn’t something I was expecting, but I still held on when his remaining front arm grabbed me by one of my back legs. Then he yanked forward, making me dig my claws into his neck even further. It felt like my leg was about to break, but I knew I couldn’t let go.

He yanked once, twice, and then finally, he yanked so far that he gave me enough force and weight to break his neck. The arm holding me jerked and then fell down as he lost his balance and fell onto his back. Since the neck was already broken, I let go and jumped off until he landed, then got right back to him, twisting his head around and around. It still writhed and tried to bite me, and his body was reanimating without the need for his head, but by the time his arm could move again, I had already found the weak part of his neck and used that to tear his head off completely.

Even with that, his body still struck at random, trying to do any kind of damage to something living that it could. His head also tried biting me, but I was tired of that. Since I knew no amount of fire would ever destroy that thing’s skull, I spread my wings wide and jumped into the air, flying straight up until all I could see was the white from the ground and the starry sky above me. Finally, I lifted the head up high and threw it to the ground as hard as I could.

When it started falling, I flew down, matching its progress with the hope that it wouldn’t hit the base when it landed. Thankfully, it didn’t, and slammed into the ground with enough force to crack the thing like an egg.

With its rotten contents exposed, my fire made short work of the animated head. The body was still a very dangerous threat, but without its head, it was mostly harmless. But just in case, I grabbed it by its arm and broke that one, then tore it off and threw it as far as I could. At that point, it could no longer walk, so I figured it wouldn’t be any kind of problem.

So I turned my attentions back to the mining base, where a small horde of undead was still slowly advancing. My eyes narrowed and I torched the remaining undead, turning the entire field to the left of the base into an instant sauna. Several meters of ice melted straight into steam, which was really neat.

As soon as Watcher realized the threat was gone, he turned to his troops and started yelling something. Two of the squads and the other unicorn rushed inside, probably to make sure Taya and the naga were still alright. Since I couldn’t smell any remaining undead, I walked over to the base, feeling time return to normal. As it did, I felt all the pain that I had been ignoring during the fight immediately push into my mind and I groaned, practically collapsing in front of the base.

Watcher immediately rushed over. “Spike, speak to me!” he demanded, standing right in front of my very large face.

“...I don’t like undead,” I groaned.

“No one does,” he answered, smiling slightly. “How badly are you hurt?”

“I just need some… some sleep. And can you heal me?”

He shook his head, the smile disappearing. “I’m afraid not. Throwing that exploder as far as I did took a lot out of me. And dealing with the others… You’re much older and much bigger, Spike. I can’t heal you. We’ll have to wait for Zecora to brew you up a cure for that poison. Then we can cure you up easily.”

“I can wait,” I sighed, closing my eyes.

“I’m gonna see what I can do with your wounds,” he said. “So please don’t flinch around too much.”

“No promises,” I muttered, rolling slightly so he could see as much of the damage as possible. You always told me it was better not to look, so I just let him do whatever he could. It felt like he was rubbing ice against me, but I didn’t know for sure. At the very least, the horrible stinging stopped, so that was a plus.

When he stopped and nothing else happened for a few minutes, I opened my eyes to find my sword and shield sitting on the ground next to me. Watcher was also there, and he nodded when he saw me looking up. “I did what I could. You’ll hold until they get back, which shouldn’t be too long. And apparently the fighting you and that dragon did opened a few other caves down there. More undead are pouring out. Taya, the naga, and Crabapple's useless security guards turned it into a rekilling ground.”

“I could help them,” I said, lifting my arms to push myself up.

“You can’t even get your head inside,” Watcher said, smiling. “They’ll be fine. Black’s helping them and the ship should be here in less than an hour. Just relax, Spike. You got yourself a story to tell your hatchlings one day.”

I snorted a patch of steam and muttered, “I’d be happy just to get to tell Nav…”

“Well, if you don’t get some rest, you won’t be able to do either. So just relax, see if you can get some sleep. It’ll make the time go by faster.”

“That an order?”

“If that makes you feel better, sure.”

I sighed again and let my eyes close, doing my best to tune out the pain.

 

 

“And that’s how I killed a really big dragon.”

“That’s pretty fucking awesome,” I said, nodding. I was getting really tired, and didn’t feel like moving too much. “Then Zecora healed you?”

“Yeah. Or at least, she de-aged me. It took her a while to cook up the potion. And of course, Twilight and her friends were all over me, talking about how cool it was that I got so big.”

“That seems like something they would do, yeah. I assume Taya dealt with the bastards inside?”

“Yep. Well, not just her. Apparently the naga definitely had some fun in there.”

“And this was the final straw for Crabapple?”

“Yeah. Every single one of her miners demanded to leave after the attack in the cave and when she saw what was left of the big dragon outside—still moving, of course—she was very willing to agree.”

“How did you and Taya take that?”

“No one told us until I was shrunken and healed…”

 

 

The two of us were back in the mining base comparing stories when we noticed that there was a growing lack of anything in the base. Miners were ferrying supplies outside, for whatever reason. It was around that time that Watcher approached the two of us. “We have a small problem,” he quietly said.

“What kind of problem?” Taya asked.

“What’s going on?” I added. “Why are the miners taking everything outside?”

“We’re leaving,” he said.

“What?!” Taya and I both shouted.

“We can’t survive another attack like that and the second elemental is freed. It’s been a week. If the door hasn’t opened at this point…” He sighed, shaking his head. “You have an hour. I’ll send someone down to get you when it’s time.”

“We can’t just leave him!” Taya yelled, jumping to her hooves.

“You have one hour to open the door,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s all I can do. The dragon’s body is still out there and still moving. If it slams down and opened another pocket of undead, it could kill even more miners. We just can’t stay. You know I want to, but I just can’t justify it. So make the most of the time you have. And please, for all of us, find a way to open it.”

“We will,” I said, grabbing Taya. Since she had shorter legs, I picked her up and started running into the mine, carrying her toward the horrible door that stole you away. As soon as we got there, I dropped her and breathed fire onto the thing for as long as I could. She joined me, blasting it with fire from her horn.

Fifteen seconds later, nothing had happened and I had to stop. Taya seemed to sense that it wasn’t working as well and also stopped. Instead, she hit it with lightning, then acid, then a burst of noise so loud that it felt like my ears were about to explode.

Twilight and Ice joined us at some point, though I felt like I was in a trance the entire time, too focused on getting the door open to pay attention to who else was with me while I was doing so. Each of us took turns doing whatever we could. Taya and Twilight used magic, Ice did… something, and I did the only thing I could do: brute force it.

None of it did anything.

At the forty-five minute mark, I think we all realized it was completely hopeless. Whoever made that door made it so well that it was completely impossible to budge. We knew the rest of the metal around it was the same, because the miners had dug up other parts that we assumed were connected to the door. Absolutely nothing any of us did would even put a scratch in it.

At that mark, we all found ourselves standing next to each other, just staring at the door. “Not like this,” I was whispering, shaking my head. “Not you…”

“It’s a human door,” Ice quietly said. “I’m a human machine. I can open this. How?”

“We’ve had problems,” Twilight muttered. “You’ve hurt me, I’ve hurt you. But we’re friends, and friends don’t leave friends behind.”

“I will never let you die without me,” Taya very quietly said. I think I only heard it because of my dragon ears, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. “You won’t be alone.”

When she said that second part, a very bright flash came from her horn and her body… changed. All three of us stared in wonder as she became a human, though she was shorter than you and Twilight were. When she was fully turned, she walked up to the door, though I knew she had to be cold without any clothes on.

“I’m not leaving,” she said, standing in front of it. Then she said something in some strange language I never heard. Apparently it was a phrase in some language you taught her.

As soon as she said that, we heard a click from the door and the panel with the handprint lit up slightly. All of our mouths dropped and Taya slowly looked down at her hand before looking back up to the panel. After thinking less than a second, she slapped her hand onto the device. It was a poor fit since she was so small, but there was another click and the door hissed slightly as the locks disengaged.

All four of us shouted in wonder as it slowly slid open, though Taya was the first to run past it since she was closest. However, she immediately stopped, seeing a massive gaping hole in the floor where you fell.

That didn’t stop me, though, since I had wings. I pulled her away and jumped down. Twilight didn’t let me fall very far, though, using magic to grab me. “Spike, we need to get ropes!”

“Nav could be hurt down there!” I said. “I have to get to her!”

“And risk the door closing on you, too? That won’t help him!” She started pulling me up.

However, I saw something she could not. “Twilight, wait!” I shouted, making her stop. “There’s a door here!”

“Really? But that doesn’t make any sense!”

All three of them looked over, and Ice actually lowered part of his body down to look. “...This is an elevator shaft,” he said. “There are doors on each level. This must be the highest level directly under the top.”

“Then let’s open it,” Taya said. “Daddy wouldn’t let himself fall far. Maybe he got one of them open and is waiting for us.”

“Yeah! Twilight, hold me steady,” I said, reaching out.

“We really should get the others…” she said as my claws forced their way into the middle of the door.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked, ripping the doors open.

As soon as I did, the must of hundreds of rotting corpses hit my nose, followed by the most horrifying screams I have ever heard. Twilight was so startled that she dropped me and I would have fallen to my death if Ice hadn’t caught me; I was so scared that I didn’t even think about my wings.

After the screams came horrible, horrible visions, though thankfully they didn’t last very long and after they left, I couldn’t remember any of them. When the last one passed, everything was… quiet. My eyes finally forced themselves back open…

And that’s when I saw you lying on the floor, a dried pool of your strange blood under you. Every single part of you that I could see looked damaged. Since Ice was still holding onto me, I grabbed onto him and swung myself toward you, using my wings to break his grip and land into whatever room you were in.

Your face was bloody and disfigured, destroyed by what Zecora said was acid. There was some kind of rusted collar around your neck that I immediately broke off and tossed aside. Under that were horrible bruises. Your hands and arms were sliced and cut up. All in all, I honestly thought you were dead and that all of our hard work had been for nothing…

As tears starting coming to my eyes, it seems you got your second wind. You jerkily inhaled, your eyes fluttering open. Instead of their usual beautiful green, they were a pale blue. Still, they looked up at me in wonder. Then your voice said a word… some strange word. It sounded like Artyom or something, whatever that meant.

Right when that word left your mouth, you collapsed once more. I very carefully picked you up and ran back to the door, letting Ice carry us up.

 

 

“After that, Twilight healed you up, but you didn’t wake up,” he said. “You were alive, but nothing we did made you respond. When we got you back to the ship—with a lot of rejoicing from the crew, the girls, and the soldiers—Zecora said there was something very, very wrong with you. Apparently your aura didn’t feel right or something, whatever that meant.”

“It meant I was possessed,” I said. “While you were dealing with the dead on the surface, I was dealing with the dead underground. One of them took a liking to my body, it seemed, and it possessed me.”

“Yeah, that’s what Athena said when we used your thumb to open the chest to get her book. I was so happy to have you back that I didn’t really pay much attention to what they were talking about. You woke up a few times and demanded in some weird language to see Artyom, whoever that was. You calmed down whenever I was there, so I just started sitting with you at all times.”

“Weird. Artyom was some human guy. Wonder why Ava would think that was you.”

“I dunno. Maybe she was trying to tell you something?”

“Doubt it. The bitch was crazy and dead. How long was I like that?”

“A few days. We still haven’t gotten back to Equestria, actually, though we’re pretty close.”

“The elementals?” I asked.

“The two we picked up went on to meet with the others in Atlantis, but Ice is still with us. He said he wanted to be here in case you needed him.”

“Cool. What time is it?”

“It’s… pretty late, I think. I was starting to drift off when you woke up…”

“Well, I’m pretty tired, too. As good as it feels to be alive and out of that horrible, horrible bunker, I think some sleep would be nice.”

“Aren’t you gonna tell me what happened to you?” Spike asked.

“You don’t want to know. No one wants to know.”

“Oh come on, Nav! I told you everything that happened to us!”

“We can talk about it in the morning, but don’t expect to hear it all,” I sighed, leaning back into bed. “But for now, go to bed, Spike.”

“Alright, fine.” He stood and walked over to my bed, then joined me in it.

“...Spike, why are you getting in my bed?”

“My room got claimed since I was spending all my time in here anyway. And… Well, after all that’s happened, I’m worried you might wake up possessed again, so it would be best if I stay here.”

“Right. Sure. Whatever. Just don’t sleep-grope me or Taya.”

“Of course not,” he said with what sounded like a smile. I was too tired to turn my head that way to check, though.

Before I finally drifted off, though, I did have one more thing to say. “And… thank you for helping me through that, Spike,” I quietly said.

“It’s like I said, Nav,” he just as quietly answered, turning and pulling me into a hug. “I would never leave you.”

For some reason, that felt really comforting.

 
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