As night fell on the road, Darling Jewel, landed her carts and pulled them into a circle. She had plenty of energy to continue, but she wouldn't keep her same pace without the Sun illuminating the sky. With her wagons in a circle, she pushed the lead cart into the center and climbed on top. She grabbed up her favorite book and placed it in the location one would put a pillow. Today she ahd quite a flight, she even seemed to catch the notice of some pegasi in blue suits. What were those about? Well it would be a question to explore after she made her lair.
Her tail pushed into the pile of gems. She didn't know why she kept that old childhood habit, but it remained. It comforted her. Her wingfins spread out wide enough to cover her bed pile. Being a solar dragon had it's perks. When the sun rose, she would instantly be energized enought to start right out on her journey to Canterlot. But there was the point that she was a heavy sleeper and couldn't exactly protect her hoard while she slept. A catch 22 it would seem. It was on nights like this on the road that she understood what she would need for a lair.
Last Edit: Feb 20, 2015 15:46:57 GMT -6 by Deleted
As night fell on the road, Starberry opened her large blue eyes and looked at the upside-down world from the tree branch she had been hanging, wrapped up in her cloak like an unattractive, dull green-grey fruit. It was time to resume her travels. Somewhere out there, there was a colony of bat ponies who would allow her to join. Maybe they would even come to care for her, if she was very, very good.
Loosening the drawstring that kept the cloak tucked about her feet, even while inverted, the bat foal stepped off of her perch and allowed gravity to do the work while she twisted in the air and landed with a soft thump on the dirt road below. As little effort as possible. She had to be careful. Starberry paused a moment, listening to her heart quite literally and checking for any pain. Today, there was none. She felt a little cold and a little stiff, but that came from sleeping outside, warm cloak or no. As she headed down the road, she kept an eye out for any suspicious shinings. It wasn't the right kind of ground for starberries, she knew, too open and too dry... but she watched anyway, and her vigilance was rewarded.
Not by a cluster of starberries, surprisingly, but by a cartload of shining gems. Several carts, actually. And a dragon on top, like whipped cream. Asleep. It was Starberry's very first dragon ever, but she'd overheard stories and seen doodles of them- what else could it be? And it was on top of a horde, though out in the open like this, the little filly wondered there was anything left. She edged closer, lifting and placing her feet with noiseless care, creeping up on the wagon. In the moonlight, the gems sparkled and glowed irresistibly. Surely the dragon would not notice a few missing, even one of her saddlebags-full. It had so many, and they were so pretty. Starberry reached out for an especially large sapphire, as brilliant blue as a winter plum...
The jewel was easy enough to pluck. However came the avalanch that occured after spereating a low stone from the large pile. Close to a thousand gems would comes sliding down towards the bitty bat. This sound was enough to catch Darling's attention. Standing up and stretching a bit, she gave off a yawn that sounded pretty much like a roar. She then walked over to the gemslide and saw the little intruder. She didn't stop until she sat in front of the cart. She surveyed the area and sat down.
"Are you alright little one?" Her tail started to sweep some of the scattered gems back into the pile. With it being night, she seemed very tired, but aware enough to notice her surroundings. The edges of her maw felt s bit chapped so she ran her tongue over them to moisturize them a bit. Since she had just awoken from a deep sleep, her eyes her half shut almost giving her a glaring look. All of her fins were flat and droopping.
Last Edit: Feb 25, 2015 18:36:19 GMT -6 by Deleted
You wouldn't think being showered with diamonds, along with assorted rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz, garnets, aquamarines, amethysts, and other precious and semi-precious stones could ever be a bad thing, could you? Yet Starberry found them surprisingly hard and heavy, when they weren't also sharp and pokey, poured in a torrent of hundreds upon her head. They were also distressingly loud in their clattering and clinking. The little bat filly would have run away, but she found herself buried in the pile and couldn't get free fast enough.
The Dragon, of course, awoke with a loud and terrifying roar, and looked around before leaping majestically off it's cart and stalking towards her. Starberry struggled harder to get free. The dragon licked its jaws and gave her a contemplating, half lidded glare, as though surmising how good she would taste.
Then the dragon spoke in perfectly comprehensible speech.
"Are you alright little one?" it asked reasonably, as it helped unbury her a bit. Starberry gave the dragon a slightly puzzled, amazed stare, as she might do if a pair of goldfish suddenly flopped out of its ears. Was she alright.? Was she Alright?!"I'm okay..." Starberry replied, softly and uncertainly. "I was trying to steal some of your gems." There! the truth, boldly spoken! Now the dragon was sure to get mad and eat her.
The dragon's head came down and lifted the bat out of the gems just enough so she could stand on the rockslide. So the pony wanted her gems. And from the looks of things, she wanted quite a few of them. As she sat back up he looked to her and started to pick up the gems in her claws. "Well how would you like to earn some of them instead?"
He unfolded her fins and wings a bit to display her upcoming point. "I am a Solar Dragon and get all my energy from the Sun. Currently I am on a trip to Canterlot Mountain to make a new home. I do need someone to watch over my horde while I sleep on the road. If you are willing, I will pay you two gems a night and allow you to ride in the carts while I travel." As her wings and fins folded down, he quickly brushed her mane with her claws. She then returned to placing the gems back in her cart. Sure the pony was small, but ponies were brave creatures with unknown power. She even heard about a Mature Red Dragon that was chased from his home by a few. And Bats were exceptional at night.
‘As sure as a dragon’s promise’ was a popular saying among her old colony. However, it was always used sarcastically, to suggest that something was very unlikely to be. In fact, her colony had nothing good to say about dragons, except that if a group of bats succeeded in driving one off it’s horde, there would be lots of gems and jewels, free for the taking afterwards. Would this dragon really pay her some of it’s precious horde? Really? It didn’t seem likely.
Then again, though she’d never seen a dragon personally before, she’d never even heard of one who also carried books and scrolls along with its jewels. Maybe… maybe this was a different kind of dragon. Starberry kind of wanted it to be a different kind of dragon. If it was, she could accept Darling’s deal and take it easy for a few nights. Keep a sharp eye and ear out, but sit and rest. She needed rest. She could feelthat she did.
And in the daytime, she could ride in the cart and travel. That riding was worth more to the little bat than the gems, though she wasn’t about to say so. To travel onwards without any effort on her part, while she slept, even. And to rest at night, too! ”Three gems a night.” Starberry insisted, ”That I get to pick out for myself. And only as far as the next town. I wasn’t planning on going to Canterlot.” Actually, she didn’t know where in Equestria she was going, but it wouldn’t do to tell the dragon that, in case it was some kind of trick. ”Let me sleep in the cart during the day, keep watch at night for you... wake you if anything comes-” No sense in suggesting that she’d fight it off herself! -”And pay me three gems that I get to pick out myself for each night. Deal?” Starberry offered her tiny hoof. Hopefully she sounded all businesslike and grown up and savvy.
Darling raised a claw to hold the tip of her maw contemplating. Three gems per night, of the foal's choice. Ws that the going rate for pony's? She suppose this meant that her view of pony economics had new variables. Night time rates seemed to increase by 50%. And perhaps they only could accept certain jewels as payment. Some of them could be worthless? She will have to watch and see what jewels were acceptable as payment. "From the last four carts. First cart is off limits, except to sleep in. It is the most comfortable. You may choose your gems before each night. Will you need a bigger bag?" Standing up she walked back to her precious center cart and lifted the tarp looking through it for a carrying bag.
It didn't take long, while it may have looked battered and used, it was one of her precious. But she had to keep the good graces of her night guard. She literally shrank an inch as she turned back to the babybat and handed it to her to place the gems in. While she felt the energy draining a bit, she kept a sharp eye on the abt as she would start choosing her payment.
Starberry had never even seen a candy store, much less ever been allowed to choose from among its wares for herself, but she accepted the sack with an instinctive 'Child in a candy store' grin dawning on her face as she turned to contemplate the gems she could choose. Her first choice was a good one, as she chose from among a quick pile of sapphires, one with a brilliant white star flashing across its surface even in the dark. This went into her bag with firm decision.
Her next choice was surprising. She pondered quite a while among some mere feldspar pieces, finally choosing not the biggest piece of moonstone, but the second-to-smallest stone, a perfect oval she felt had the best shimmer and luster. It took her a while as she gazed between it and the others, but once the decision was made, it went into the bag with the same determination and satisfaction of having gotten a great bargain.
It was the last choice that took the most time, however. Starberry wanted something very very specific and she hunted up and down the carts, looking for it. She passed over beautiful garnets, diamonds, emeralds, rubies and opals with hardly a glance. Topaz, Tourmaline, and Tanzanite she heeded not at all. At last, her eye caught a gleam and she dived into a pile of jewels, wiggling like a worm to fish out the stone she sought, a large, smooth crystal of purplish blue color that glowed softly in its own captured light. Fluorite. THAT was what she wanted. This went into the bag promptly and she looked up at Darling with a satisfied, fearless smile and nodded.
"You can rest easy now." She told the big dragon with confidence, as though she, Starberry, were four times as big as she really was, and tough as nails to boot. "I'll keep an eye out. I'll protect you." With a little flutter of her bat wings, Starberry lifted off the ground and perched in an old, dead tree, eyes wide and ears alert as she occasionally turned to peer in a new direction.
The dragon placed the jewels that had tumbled out as the batpony wiggled in to retrieve her reward. She seemed happy, And Happy dragons were often times more willing to talk ro do something. Perhaps ponies were like that. As she climbed on the center cart, she pulled out a book and wrapped her front legs around it like a filly with a plushie, Her tail wrapping around and resting on the pile just before her head rested on the tail.
With the dragon asleep, the night would be calm. But under the tarp of the second cart, there was a bit of movement. Poking it's head from under the tarp, a small mouse looked around then pulled out a jewel that looked a bit like a wedge of cheese. It fell to the ground and started to pull it away from the cart slowly. Wanting to get back to it's tree before eating the delicious shiny cheese.
The night was surprisingly long, when you had nothing to do but watch and listen, and Starberry found her thoughts drifting away. What was she going to do, in the long run? Her colony didn't want her, no, wouldn't accept her back if she even went home. She was completely alone in the world. There where other bat colonies, she knew. Somewhere. She thought there was one inside Mount Canterlot... but if this dragon was going there... Then they couldn't be seen together. Dragons and Bat Ponies didn't get along, and she didn't need another colony thinking she was bad luck!
She really ought to get a warning to that colony though... It would make her like, some kind of hero. Maybe they'd even accept her if she saved the colony from a wicked dragon invasion... only... well, this dragon was actually kind of nice. At least, as far as she could tell. And she wasn't sure there was a colony in Canterlot, anyway!
A slight, gleaming movement below caught her luminous blue gaze, and she glanced down. A mouse was stealing a gem. She crouched on the branch and waited. When it had progressed to just under her perch, she pounced, dropping off silently and opening her wings at the very last moment to break her fall, pinning the little rodent securely underfoot without killing it. Yet. Picking up the mouse by the scruff in her teeth, she scooped up the gem in her wing and only thinking once...okay, twice, about how easy it would have been to add this gem to her own tiny horde, she returned it to one of the wagons.
The mouse though, she held on to for a while. She knew she could eat it, Bat ponies were the only omnivorous kind of pony. All of them ate fruit and grass, most of them ate bugs, and some even went for fish and small rodents. Starberry was kind of hungry, too, and this was food. But... She'd never even liked eating bugs. A mouse was warm blooded and ...ugh. Finally, she sighed and dropped it, stepping away a few paces so that it might recover from its terror and flee.
She might be hungry, but she wasn't that hungry. Yet.
The nmosue was easily pinned and overpowered by the batpony which had swooped down and attacked. After the climatic battle, it was certain it was never going to see it's mouse wife and the little pinkies. But then again it's didn't have a mousewife or pinkies yet. And the last one wasn't going to happen without the other. And neither would happen if this batpony decided he looked tasty enough. Then he was lifted by the scruff of his neck. Oh no, this bat liked to play with it's food. Just let it be over, it already saw it's short mousey life flash before it's eyes. The delicious looking super rare cheese hunk was already returned to the mountain of wonders.
And then it was dropped. It didn't move. Not from terror. But of confusion. Why did the bat drop him? Did the bat just take it's cheese and strong armed him away? The mouse turned around to see the pony walking away. It didn't have his cheese. It didn't even care. It was like she was disgusted by it. In a fit of rage, the poor poor little ball of mousey anger erupted like a two inch tall volcano and the mocha colored rodent grabbed the nearest pebble it could and lobbed it at the back of the bat head. The indignity! Was he not tasty enough to be eaten? Did she throw away his cheese because he touched it and made everythign taste nasty? He wasn't going to stand for this.
Starberry was just thinking of taking a small walk around the wagons to make sure that all was well, when she felt a small plonk on the back of her head, almost painful. Like a really really heavy insect had smacked into her. She turned, puzzled.
And she saw the mouse. Starberry blinked, and looked down to the pebble at her feet. It had thrown a stone at her. She'd spared it's life, the crummy little creep, and it had repaid her kindness by chucking a stone at her! It didn't matter to the little bat that she hadn't been hurt. All that mattered was that she'd been rejected. Again. Hot, indignant anger flared up in her chest, and her face flushed with shame and furious tears. She didn't think about what she should do. With a little sob, she flung herself at the rat, determined to catch it a second time and squish it! If no good deed goes unpunished, she'd see if a bad deed brought a reward!
As Starberry lunged for the mouse, the mouse lunged at the bat. It wasn't going to go down without giving it everything he had. What he didn't have in strength he had in speed. Once he made contact with her, he would attenpt to run around her body, The element of surpise was not in her favor this time. He would win, he would get his cheese back. Or he would join the stars in the sky.
Darling had no real idea any of this was going on. She was a solar powered dragon. She stored what energy she had for bigger matters, but her tail did flick once or twice every so often. Occasionally the tail tip would hit the skin of a drum and cause a loud thump.
Who would have been the victor, mouse or tiny bat pony, was not destined to be determined that day. Starberry, furious though she was, saw she shadow gliding across the ground and turned sharply, flinging herself headlong into the shelter of a briar bush, though horns and branches tore at her mane and even drew blood. Any joy the mouse might have felt at seeing his antagonist vanquished was immediately extinguished with the sharp, cold, cruel talons of a gigantic owl closed around him and carried him off with only a soft whooomp-ing sound.
And then there was just the soft beat and swish of ghostly wings.
Starberry's icy blue eyes stared in terrified awe of the shape in the sky until it was quite gone from sight. Ponies generally, she knew, need have no fear of owls. Any normal bat pony is more than a match for any owl. But she was exceptionally small for a foal. And she never liked owls of any size. She was even just the tiniest bit afraid of them. You could not hear them in flight until it was too late. Their calls were loud and booming and eerie. And that, she thought, had been an exceptionally loud owl. She sat and trembled in her thorn-shelter for a full five minutes before she began to gingerly pick her way out. The sun would be rising soon.
As the sun creeped over the horizon, the Sparkling Dragon stood up and stretched. Her wings splaying out and her fins goign up to capture as much sunlight as possible as she crawled off her hoard. Looking over she saw the tiny and shivering batpony crawl from the brambles. She walked over and lowered her head so she was eye to eye with the filly. "Had an exciting night?" Her head moving into position to pick up the tiny bat and carry her over to her.
The sky was going to be nice and warm, she could knock another day out of her flight on the way to Canterlot. The Next town was Ponyville, which was but a day flight to the northwest. Not to bad of a detour. Hitching back up to the lead cart, she looked behind her to check on the safety of her batty guard.
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