Chapter 6: A Trail's Challenges and a Final Answer
The young dragon slowly walked into town, confused as to how and why he was in Ponyville, where just a few moments ago he was in Evermare with Star Swirl.
"Is this some kinda test Star Swirl? What is going on here?"
Spike looked around town, it was still the Ponyville he knew.....or was it. Spike began to notice new shops and a lot of new ponies that walking around. Ponyville was small enough that he pretty much knew everypony, but so many new faces already, he hadn't been gone for even a year.
Spike tried to see familiar faces but struggles to see any, he was walking past a bench when he saw three elderly mares laughing together, they looked familiar; a yellow earth pony, a white unicorn and an orange pegasus..."it couldn't be? No way."
"Umm excuse me."
The three mares looked at Spike and all smiled.
"Oh hey Spike, what brings you out today?"
"Shopping for Rarity again?"
"You have fun now, ya hear."
There was no mistaking it, they seemed to know Spike pretty well, it had to be the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but why were they all so old.
"What in the world is going on here? Something is not right."
Spike went to a nearby news seller and looked at a newspaper; his eyes widen as he couldn't believe what he was reading, it was one hundred years in the future.
"How did this happen? Star Swirl, you better not have sent me hundred years ahead and wasting my life magic doing so."
Spike continued to walk through town and went back to the Boutique. It had aged fairly well, although chips of paint and other natural deteriorations were definitely starting to show. Spike slowly went up to the door and opened it; it creaked loudly as opened, adding to the fact that the building had indeed aged over the years.
"Uhhh Rarity, Are you home?"
There was silence.
Spike quietly made his way upstairs to their bedroom. He opened the door to reveal a sleeping unicorn in their bed. She was older, had wrinkles and grey streaks throughout her mane, but she was still Spike's one and only unicorn that he loved, and she was still beautiful to him, even one hundred years older.
The aged unicorn began to wake from her slumber; "Oh *yawn* darling, how are you? Sorry it seems as though I drifted back off to sleep, how embarrassing of me."
Spike was happy to see Rarity but was still confused as to why he was now one hundred years in the future.
"Hey Rarity, do I look any different to you?"
"No darling, should you?"
Spike raised an eyebrow and gave Rarity a look questioning her answer.
"Umm what ever happened of my adventure when I went to Evermare?"
"Evermare darling? What is Evermare? Are you feeling Ok?"
Spike realized something was up; Evermare was definitely real and was not something either of them would forget. He knew there was something wrong with this Ponyville, that is IF it was the real Ponyville.
Rarity looked at Spike was a concerned look, but Spike took no heed of what Rarity was saying. He quickly bolted downstairs and ran to the door, upon opening it he was blinded by an orange light. The sky was now dark and the orange glow was present on the surface illuminated some of the dark sky. Spike opened his eyes and stood paralyzed at what he saw. A mob of pony's wielding pitchforks and torches, it was like something out of one of Twilight's horror novels.
"There's the fiend, the one who thinks he can be with a pony."
"He's an abomination and she is no better."
Spike looked behind himself and there was no longer a Carousal Boutique, there stood only a tall brick wall with a cowering Rarity at the base of the wall.
"You think you deserve to love? You're a monster. The only thing you deserve is death!"
"A pony could never love a dragon. Her brain must have been corrupted by this beast."
The mob started yelling and rushing towards the two frightened individuals, Spike's wings quickly shot out from his back and in a matter of seconds grabbed Rarity and flapped his wings so hard that a few of the ponies running at him fell over on the ground due to his wing's shock waves.
Spike had flown outside of town to the mountain's summit, where he and Rarity had first realized their destiny together.
"*Huff* I think we are say now Rarity.......Rarity?"
Spike looked over and saw Rarity standing dangerously close to the edge of the mountain summit.
"Are you alright?"
Spike slowly approached the unicorn, starting to grow nervous due to her abrupt silence. As Spike was getting closer to her, she started to talk.
"Why...why would you forsake me Spike?"
"I loved you Spike, you were the only dragon for me and yet..."
"Rarity, what are you saying?"
"You have cursed me and our friends, if they were still alive I'm sure they would despise you."
Tears started to form in Spike's eyes, "Rarity *sniff* what are you saying."
"I'm saying that you completely ruined everything, you ruined my life and our friends."
Rarity turned around looked Spike in the eyes, but her eyes were not there, only utter darkness, two dark spheres staring him right into his soul. Rarity started to walk forward in an odd manor towards Spike, literally zombie like in movement looking as though she was going to stumble and fall over with each step. Spike was utterly terrified with what he was seeing his scales could have turned white. As Rarity moved forward, five dark entities emerged from her body and took the shape of Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Pinkie Pie, they all had the empty black spheres for eyes all started to make a croaking sound.
Spike had his back up against the wall as his six friends slowly approached him. Spike curled up into a ball as they surrounded him. He heard them breathing they were so close, in what Spike imagined might be his final few moments he heard the six mares all utter the same words instantaneously."
After a few minutes of being curled up in fear, Spike had realized he was still alive and couldn't hear anything. He opened his eyes and uncurled his body and he could barely see anything it was so dark.
"Where am I now?"
Spike was still trying to comprehend what exactly was happening to him. While he was deep in thought he was bought back to the real world by another sound. It was the sound of somepony crying and very close.
Spike started reaching around himself to find anything or help him reveal exactly what was in his surroundings.
"A door handle?"
He turned the door handle and was surprised by the familiar surroundings, it was the Boutique.
Spike had emerged from the broom closet and was moving towards the sound of the crying, it had to be Rarity, but why was she crying.
The dragon had approached the bedroom as it was the room where the crying was coming from. He opened the door and saw Rarity crying at her desk with her jewellery box open in front of her. In front of the sobbing unicorn was the fire ruby Spike had given to her many years ago.
"Oh Spike...why did you leave me? *Sniff*"
"........" Spike couldn't talk; he wanted to but was unable to, almost as if a spell had removed his voice.
"I wanted to become your bride Spike, I wanted us to be happy together, but how could I do that when you never came back." Rarity's tears were landing on the ruby and slowly dripping down the side.
"I'm right here Rarity," Spike reached over to place his hand on her shoulder, but his hand was unable to do so as it went straight through her.
"What? What is wrong with me, did I become a ghost?"
"Spike, please if it was me, just tell me what I did wrong, why did you not want to be with me, why didn't you return. You said that you would be gone for a year, not twenty!"
"TWENTY! What happened to me? Rarity I would never believe you I swear my life one!"
Rarity picked up the ruby and cradled it, still staining it with her tears.
Spike walked up to Rarity and put his arms around her, embracing her, even if he couldn't do it physically. He closed his eyes and embraced his love, one tear escaping his eye as it splashed on the floor.
When Spike opened his eyes Rarity was no longer in front of him and he was sitting on a chair in the middle of a field. Five chairs were lined up next to his and on those chairs sat his five friends, but something was different, they were all in black dresses with darkened veils over their faces.
He looked up and saw a coffin, Spike's heart started to beat frantically, he was off put by this unsettling setting before him. He slowly approached the coffin and upon seeing what was inside his soul almost escaped his body from shock.
Tears were falling from Spike's eyes quicker than Rainbow Dash clearing clouds.
"No....NO! WHY DID THIS HAPPEN, NO!"
Spike fell to his knees; his eyes were wide open and filled with nothing but despair. He was tired of seeing all these upsetting scenes manifesting before him.
He slowly stood up and turned around only to be surrounded once again by his five friends still donning the veils. Twilight Sparkle moved closer to Spike and whispered something into his with a very crackly voice.
"Go to where you belong monster."
Upon saying this her lavender hoof pushed him back, back into the coffin, but Spike kept falling and falling down into the coffin, it seemed to be a gateway to another realm entirely.
After falling for minutes on end, Spike rubbed his head eyes before looking at where he was now. Spike was completely surrounded by lava and thirty foot high flames.
Spike had grown tired and depressed by all the events and simply sighed.
"Is this where I belong? Is this what everyone truly thinks?"
Spike dropped his between his knees and placed his hands on his head just wanting this to be over.
"Star Swirl if these means I'm unworthy, just end it now please, I can't take it anymore."
"Why would you be unworthy darling?"
Spike's head quickly shot up and turned around to see his one and only white unicorn standing behind him.
"Oh, I guess you aren't real either......sigh, what is the point of all this anyway? Am I being punished for something?"
"Spike, there is nothing for you to be punished for, you just have to see what not only your heart truly wants, but what everypony else truly wants as well."
"What everypony wants?"
"Everything is pre-destined in anypony's life Spike, but sometimes, one who ambitious enough, can turn their destiny into another route, multiple destinies are possible, it is just what an individual does that truly defines them. Do you know what is truly right?"
"What is truly right? Is anything ever right? What right do I have to say what is right or what anypony else thinks is right. WAIT.....What right do I have, my right........my destiny."
Spike's eyes quickly lit up as he reached a realization, a realization about himself and a realization about Rarity and everything else that was important to him in his life.
"I understand now, or atleast I think I do, Thank you."
The Rarity that stood before him gave him a gentle smile, which had a contagious effect on the dragon, causing him to smile for the first time in a long time.
Spike stopped talking as he saw something appear behind Rarity as it emerged from the lava; a giant hand with huge claws towered over Rarity before grabbing her and removing her from the area.
The arm attached to the hand also began to emerge, followed by the rest of a body. Spike saw before him a fearful site, it was another dragon, a colossal dragon, but what scared Spike the most is how familiar this dragon was, purple scales and a green underbelly.
"I..Is that me?" Spike nervously asked
The dragon roared loud enough to shatter all the glass in a city. After making its presence known, the dragon then looked at the imprisoned Rarity in his hands. The dragon opened its mouth; hundreds of sharp piercing fangs were revealed to show how much of a dangerous presence that the dragon was. The dragon slowly raised his hand towards his open jaw; he was going to consume the unicorn. Rarity shrieked in terror and was just mere centimeters away from being consumed before a large green fireball hit the dragon square in the eye, causing it to roar in pain. The dragon's face became angrier as he looked around with his one remaining eye before seeing a small purple dragon on the ground with his wings open wide and a scowl across his face.
"NOPONY, I MEAN NOPONY EVER HURTS RARITY, EVEN IF SHE IS REAL OR NOT SHE IS MY TREASURE NOT YOURS!!!"
The large dragon roared before taking flight in the burning chasm, the dragon's wings caused power shock waves as it moved; it was able to move at an incredible pace. Spike chased after it, shooting fireballs at the giant dragon's wings to try and slow it down.
After flying high enough in what seemed like and infinitely huge chasm the dragon turned around looking down towards the bottom and towards Spike.
The dragon's mouth began to fire leaking from its lips and in between its teeth.
"Oh man, this is gonna be bad....but I HAVE to get to Rarity."
Spike dashed towards the dragon is quickly as possible, accelerating at an incredible speed that would make Rainbow Dash proud. He was closing the gap between him and the dragon that was keeping Rarity captive, moving so fast that a green flame was encasing Spike. As Spike was closing the distance between him and the beast, the dragon breathed a large stream of flames from his mouth; the flames could have been as hot as the sun it was impressive attack to see from any creature.
The flame was almost about to make contact with Spike, but he was not afraid, he kept flying at full speed as he pierced the flames. It felt like multiple large boulders pushing Spike back, the force was unbelievable; it seemed that the flames were provided some form of a barrier against the giant dragon's flames.
Spike inched himself ever closer, reaching out his hand, trying to grab Rarity from the beast.
Spike was moments away from getting to Rarity, but as he saw his hand in front of him, he could slowly feel the heat of the flame over whelming him, the power of this fire was unheard of before this point. Spike's fingertips of his extended arms started to disintegrate before him. The green flames encasing the dragon dimensioned instantly, the young dragon's body was slowly decreasing in size as more of his body disappeared.
Through the flames he could no longer hear anything, but from the distance, he could see Rarity's face saying something, he struggled to read her lips, as the last of his body disappeared.
Spike last image was that of Rarity crying for him, but still making out what she had said bought a smile to the dragon face, the smile being one of the last parts of his himself that slowly charred away long with the remainder of body.
The dragon's flames ease up and dispersed. Nothing was left of Spike, nothing except for.....
A flash caught Rarity's eyes; her teary eyes glimpsed what was left as it starting to fall to the bottom of the chasm.
"The Ruby Heart?" said the grief stricken and confused unicorn.
Spike's precious present given to his love many years ago, symbolically left behind as it fell to the ground.
The imprisoned Rarity said one final thing before the heart hit the bottom.
"Follow your Destiny, Spike."
The heart landed in the molten lava, slowly descending beneath the earth.
A beam of light appeared from where the heart landed in the lava. Rarity smiled as the beam slowly grew in size, the Beam slowly caused the cavern to disappear and everything was chipped away, floating away into nothing. The dragon started to scream in pain as beam began to radiate increased size. Everything returned to nothing, leaving an endless plain of white. All that was left in this white void was a red ruby heart, floating in the nothingness, but standing tall as a symbol that will represent a bond with a blazing image of their love, something that could never be taken from Spike, something that was always meant to be in his destiny.
Spike stood in an endless darkness, but he was not alone, before him stood Star Swirl with a stern look on his face.
"So young dragon, did your trial opened your eyes to the truth?"
Spike starred at star Swirl with intent to kill, he had been through a nightmare, all of the worst possible thoughts, realities, visions or 'what if' scenarios he could ever have imagined that were left in the recesses in his mind, all coming at him at once. But, it was not all for naught, Spike looked Star Swirl in the eye and smiled.
"Yes Star Swirl sir, there is only the one truth and I have seen that truth, experienced that truth and know now what life is and what it means to me."
A small smirk appeared on Star Swirl's face, "hehehe, interesting young dragon, what is it that you understood."
"Every living being comes into the world with one life, everything from trees and plants to ponies and dragons. Everything is pre-destined no matter what to have a certain lifespan, whether it be one year or one thousand. But under no circumstances does or should any one being have the right to mess with another's lifespan."
"Is that all Spike, do you believe now you truly understand yourself enough to make the right choice."
"Yes Star Swirl, I will make my choice, I will use a life force to change one being forever."
"Oh Spike, how disappointing I thoug-"
"No Star Swirl, the lifespan that I will be using is the only which I have the right to use my own."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, but my life will not be given to Rarity or any of my friends?"
"Really? And why is that?"
"Because I have no right to increase their life because I would be changing their destiny and by doing so I would not deserve their love or friendship."
"Congratulations Spike, it seems as though you understand what it is to use life itself as an energy and understand the responsibility that comes with it, along with the rights that accompany it. So Spike what is it you plan to use your life energy for exactly, what choice have you made after going through our trial."
"Star Swirl, I will not give my lifespan to Rarity or my dearest friends, but what I will do is match my lifespan to my beloved. That way I will not affect hers and it will be something that was already pre-destined to happen to me, so long as I saw the truth."
"Very well Spike." Star Swirl placed his hoof onto Spike's chest, "You are most certain about this? It may not be undone."
"Yes I am, please do it."
"Very well, now think of the one you wish to be eternally connected to with both your heart and mind and then say her name."
Spike closed his eyes and pictured Rarity in his mind, her white coat, purple mane, beautiful face, generous nature, everything that was important about her was now the only thing is mind.
Spike opened his eyes and said that which he loved most; "Rarity."
Spike's heart produced a large heartbeat.
Meanwhile at the same time on the other side of the world a lonely white unicorn also experienced the same thing.
She looked around confused as to what happened in her chest, ".....Spike?"
Star Swirl looked at the dragon, "It is done, you and Rarity and now connected eternally from now until forever." The old spirit then removed his hoof and what followed was a green energy flowing from Spike's chest which formed into a large sphere.
"What is that Star Swirl?"
This is the remainder of your life energy which was meant to be your natural life, although it may not return to your body, it is your right to do with it as you please."
Spike looked over the sphere, it was enormous, any creature could survive for centuries upon centuries with that amount of energy. Spike questioned internally about what to do with it, he starred at Star Swirl and smiled, "you know what I think I know what to do."
"What will you do with this energy of yours Spike?"
"Easy, but let's go outside first."
Spike, Star Swirl and the large green sphere moved outside into the frozen tundra of Evermare.
"What do you plan to do young dragon?"
"Oh you will see" Spike said smirking. "But how do I use this energy as a magic?"
"Well in that form, place our hand over it and channel it with your mind what you want to do, the magic should react with enough thought."
"Alright then." Spike placed his hand on the sphere began to think with his entire mind.
The green sphere produced a pillar of energy, which shot into the stormy clouds above. A radiating green ring of energy was seen illuminating the clouds.
"What did you do?"
The dark and concealing clouds began to disperse in the sky, snow stopped falling onto the ground and Sun began to warm the icy grounds below. The ancient icy storm that was caused in the anger of an enlightened one was now gone and replaced by the warm glows of the sun onto the white landscape. Not only that but the environment around them and probably for a great distance out of the naked eye's reach was sprouting and over flowing with new life.
"Why would you stop the storm?" Star Swirl stuttered out in shock.
The smiling dragon looked at his hand and saw a small amount of his energy left, "This is why."
Spike closed his eyes and the last of his energy was beamed at Star Swirl. A green flashed radiated off Star Swirl, enveloping him in a bright light.
Once the light disappeared and he opened his eyes, he only stood there, not knowing what to say.
Star Swirl raised his hoof to his face, "I...I...I'm a pony again, a living pony...."
Star Swirl looked at his now physical hoof and body, "Why Spike, why would you use your energy on me."
Spike walked over slowly and gently placed his hand onto Star Swirl's shoulder.
"After that trial I realized that there is nothing more tragic that what you have lived through, staying forever bound to this mountain, not being able to leave. That is why I used my energy to change your spiritual form back to normal, your remaining life span has not increased, but now you can explore the world and spread your knowledge or whatever you see fit."
Star Swirl was quiet, looking at the ground; he raised his head to reveal that some tears were forming in his eyes.
"And to think dragons are meant to be beings of greed, you have to be the most generous being I have ever meet, perhaps the most generous in all of Equestria."
"Hehe maybe the second most generous." Spike said while producing a big grin on his face.
Star Swirl raised his hooves and hugged Spike, "I cannot thank you enough, you're an intelligent and caring creature Spike."
"Heh, guess being around a book-worm and good friends for most of your life rubs off on ya a little."
"Spike do you have a map of your homeland?"
"Umm...yeah I do."
Spike opened the map he had and showed Star Swirl the area where Ponyville was. "I see, Spike I believe you want to see this Rarity and your friends as soon as possible."
"You wouldn't believe how much so sir."
"Spike let me teleport you back there, now that I know the location I can take you back."
"REALLY, YOU ARE AMAZING!"
"Hahaha, are you ready?"
Star Swirls horn shone a bright blue aura which encased Spike, "farewell Spike, may you and all your friends enjoy your life to the fullest."
"I will and thank you Star Swirl." Spike said with a small tear forming in one eye.
Star Swirl stood there alone in the new lively land surrounding Evermare smiling as Spike was teleported away."
Star Swirl turned around to see a portal appear behind him.
A tall Pony emerged with large black wings. "My word, Princess Luna, it is an honour."
"Star Swirl? It has been ages, I came here to investigate a large magical pulse which happened in this area, was it you?"
"Oh no Princess Luna, not me."
"Star Swirl how are you still alive after all this time?"
"Ho ho ho, that is a long story indeed, maybe we can talk it over with some tea?"
"I see, that is reasonable, come Star Swirl let us go."
"Boy do I have a story for you."
Luna and Star Swirl returned into the portal, closing and leaving the area of Evermare silent once more.
And while one story was starting...
Another was near its conclusion.