Grimstar the Black examined the three apprentice heroes before him in the courtyard of his wizard’s tower. They were an undisciplined and rowdy bunch of scoundrels, but he had high hopes for their futures. Truly, was he not the same, in his own youth? Were his friends not equally unruly, even at the peak of their skills?
Once again, the wizard remembered the great tragedy which had split his own party asunder and scattered its members to the far corners of the land. The return of their prodigal companion had been both unexpected and disastrous. Sadly, their quest for the Dragon King would remain unfinished forevermore, as even the Gods themselves had abandoned them. He furrowed his dark brow, banishing the bleak reminiscences from his mind. Striking the rocky ground forcefully with his staff, he gained the young ones’ attentions.
“Lo, novice adventurers,” he said, “It is time to begin your training!”
“Okay,” said Twilight, setting up the DM screen, “we need to make your characters.” Spike was in Canterlot on official business, so she decided to take over Dungeon Master responsibilities herself. The three girls sat on the rug in front of her, acting unusually quiet and attentive. Fluttershy sat on the couch nearby, happy just to watch for now. Twilight shuffled through her old character sheets, glad she hadn’t had the heart to throw them out. “First things first, what should we name them?”
“Ummmm…” Applebloom said, trying to think of something appropriately medieval-ish, “Oh, I know! How about Apple-BOOM!”
“Yeah!” said Scootaloo, liking the direction this was going, “And I could be SHOOT-aloo!”
“And I’ll be, uh…” Sweetie Belle thought hard, “I got it! Sweetie HE…umf!”
“You know what?” said Twilight, her hoof in Sweetie Belle’s mouth, “You all have such nice names already. Let’s just stick with those, okay?”
The training session had gotten off to a rocky start, but Grimstar soldiered on. Leading his young charges onwards through the hilly countryside, he decided to try appealing to their intellectual curiosity.
“You are new to these lands,” he said, “I do not wish to boast, but I am wise in the way of the warrior. Ask of me anything you like, and I shall answer you truthfully.”
“Okay, then,” said Applebloom, gamely, “What are we?”
“An excellent question,” said Grimstar, “For what indeed is the measure of a man? Is he to be judged by his birthright or more by his actions? Or is there, perhaps, a deeper level of…”
“No, I mean, why are we all pink and weird?”
“Ah,” said Grimstar, disappointed, “You speak of your nature as human beings. Although you have not yet revealed to me your racial heritage, so there may be something dwarfish or elfish about you.”
“Can’t we be ponies?” asked Sweetie Belle.
Grimstar laughed heartily, “Why would you want to? In this world, ponies are merely unintelligent beasts of burden!”
“That’s… a little messed up.” said Scootaloo, scrunching up her nose, “But I guess I’m okay with being a hoo-man.”
“Yes, I can see now that you are all full-blooded humans.” he said, quickly moving on, “Come, I shall teach you to wield a sword.” They crested the hill and made for the edge of a wild forest, its floor tangled with undergrowth.
“What’s so hard about using a sword?” asked Applebloom, struggling to keep up, “You just hold the blunt end and stick the pointy end in bad people.”
"I assure you, it will take more than that to become true warriors.” Grimstar halted the party as they came upon a path cutting through the dark woods. “Ahead is your first challenge. I will give you each a weapon, that you may learn their proper use.” The wizard magically produced armaments from his robes and presented them. “For Scootaloo, a sturdy short sword. A bow of finest yew shall go to Sweetie Bell. And last, a stout mace for Applebloom.”
"A mace?” said Applebloom, dubiously, “Can’t I wield somethin’ cooler?”
"I want a sword,” said Scootaloo, “that’s, like, an axe too. An axe-sword!”
“Can I have a magic wand?” said Sweetie Belle, “I wanna point at stuff and make it go ‘pew pew pew’!”
“You are sure to come across finer weaponry on your journey. For now, these will do.” Grimstar patiently reassured the heroes. He pointed ahead, into the dusky gloom of the wood. “Behold, the first enemy on which you will prove your mettle!” There, in a small clearing dimly lit by the thin columns of light coming through the forest canopy, a small, blue-green gelatinous creature awaited them. It gurgled at them menacingly.
“That’s it?” Applebloom said skeptically, “A little jelly blob? What’s it gonna do, wiggle at us?”
“It is a creature appropriate to your level.” said the wizard.
“I kinda feel sorry for it.” said Sweetie Belle, “It doesn’t even have arms. Or… anything else.”
“YARRGH!” shouted Scootaloo, ignoring them and charging into the fray. Rushing into the clearing, she stomped the creature under her heavy leather boots, causing it to burst in a spray of blue slime. The others stared at her blankly.
“What?” she said, looking back at them, “It was comin’ right at me! You saw it!”
“Well, that’s one less a’ those things.” Applebloom said stoically. She turned to Grimstar. “What’s next?”
“Next… yes.” said the wizard with an awkward cough, “I sort of thought that would take… longer.”
“Uh, let’s see…” Twilight flipped frantically through her guides. The fillies eyed her quizzically.
“You can’t think of anything, can you?” said Applebloom.
Twilight eventually gave up. “No… I guess I can’t.” she sighed, “This is harder than it looks. I guess Spike was right about that.” The girls groaned in disappointment.
“Wait,” said Sweetie Belle, an idea occurring to her, “What about Fluttershy?”
Fluttershy looked up from her place on the couch. “Me?” she said, startled, “What could I do?”
“You tell us bedtime stories all the time,” Sweetie Belle persisted, “I bet you’d be a great Dungeon Master!”
“You really think so?”
“Go ahead.” said Twilight, getting up and inviting her over, “You can’t be any worse at it than I am.”
“O… okay.” said Fluttershy, taking her place behind the DM screen. “I’ll give it a try…”