Target Praxis

by The Cloptimist

The only chapter

"I just... I think maybe you're not getting it. Like, the reason I'm..."

"...Being dumb?", asked Cadance.

"Uncomfortable," finished Shining Armor, with an impatient snort.

"Same thing," said Cadance, rolling her eyes.

There was still a trace of winter cold on the gusts of air which fluttered the pennants, although even at this height, the magic of the Crystal Heart had transformed a bitter, whipping wind into a pleasantly fresh breeze.

"I just don't see why you're so sure it has to be..." - Shining Armor gestured around him with a hoof - "...this!"

The lone crystal pony guarding the balcony looked like he was trying really hard not to look like he wasn't listening.

"Look, Shiny," said Cadance. "History is really important to the ponies here. We all showed we could save the crystal ponies with their history-"

"-don't sing that song again," muttered Shining Armor, glancing up at the guard and giving him a look that said I dare you to start whistling if you want a year of KP.

"-the point is, Flurry Heart is a Princess of the Crystal Empire. She might have to save the crystal ponies herself one day. And what we did is now a part of that history."

"Yeah, I'm with you up to there, but-"

"And so the time may come when this makes all the difference," continued Cadance. "We didn't mean to do it, but you know what the ponies here are like when it comes to writing everything down and building legends. The only reason they didn't add a statue of the two of us in, uh, mid-action, to go with Spike's, was that I complained the way you were holding me up like that. So I explained I didn't like the symbolism, of me being literally lifted above you, or anypony else."

"You complained because you said the sculptor made your thighs look fat!" said Shining Armor, and Cadance's regal poise dissolved into furious blushing.

The guard half-cleared his throat, as if he was about to say something. Two pairs of unamused royal eyes shot over to glare at him, and persuaded him this was not a good time to interrupt.

"-The point is-"

"You said that already."

Cadance took a deep breath, before continuing through gritted teeth. "The - point - is, we may not have meant to, but what we did, you and me, we wrote our own new chapter in the history of the Crystal Empire that day. We're going to be legends. Flurry is going to be a legend. And if and when her day of destiny arrives, when she has to carry the weight of saving the Empire on her own shoulders, and be the Princess the crystal ponies need her to be, then she'll have to live up the example we set when we wrote her legend for her. She'll need to be ready."

"Look, Cadance, I'm all for teaching Flurry Heart about the past, and the expectations she - and you - have to face every day as a princess. I'm looking forward to the day we get to tell her about what happened at her Crystalling. But there's a difference between knowing what you might have to do one day, and... this!"

"Exactly! It's not the same! Reading can only take you so far - what she needs is practice! And that's why she needs to know, not only what she might have to do, but that she's already done it! And not just once, but again and again, regularly, until it's second nature to her, and her alicorn instincts kick in, like an automatic response to this kind of call to action."

"So... is it an alicorn thing, or a Crystal Empire thing? Because only one of us can fly, as you like to point out."

"...I apologised for saying that," mumbled Cadance. "And anyway, you were... pretty impressive doing that thing swinging from the banners. And you had Flurry with you!"

"You know what I mean, though," said Shining Armor. "I'm not an alicorn OR a princess, and so I know some of this stuff is going to be, y'know, Mom Stuff. But I don't know how soon her reactions are going to be good enough, and, well..."


"Well, I haven't been an alicorn baby. And neither have you," said Shining Armor, pointedly. "You're just guessing that because she can cause explosions, or rewrite spells to make tidal waves of pudding, or almost bring about the end of the world, she's going to be fine-"

"Because she is," said Cadance.

"Even if that was true, and that's a pretty big if... well, ponies are going to notice," he said, tilting his head and motioning to the guard. "I still think it's just a really bad idea. I'm sorry."

"It'll be good for them to see!", said Cadance, pleadingly. "It's part of the whole thing of why it's important. You know, showing the royal family living up to the legend."

"The 'legend' we wrote."

"Right! It could become a regular tradition or something. Can't you just see it? Everypony would gather round, say 'she looks lovely hurtling down'... Just imagine, maybe they'd make the trip from miles away! Like a festival, or a pilgrimage... filling the hotels, coming to watch every year-"

"Every year?!", spluttered Shining.

"I don't see why not! It's, like... her heritage. Her birthright, even. Her duty!"

"...Her duty," repeated Shiny, eyebrow raised.

"You don't know it won't be!" snapped Cadance, loudly, and the guard's ears involuntarily perked up before he stood back rigidly to attention, eyes fixed on the horizon.

"Last warning, buddy," snorted Shining Armor, just loud enough for the guard to hear.

"Look, I understand why you believe it's a bad idea," began Cadance, but Shining cut her off.

"No, I really don't think that you do," he said, pacing anxiously across the platorm to the edge of the balcony. He took a look over the precipice, and drew in a sharp breath.

Far below, crystal ponies were milling around, tourists from elsewhere in Equestria were taking pictures and buying overpriced Crystal Heart souvenirs from enterprising salesponies. From up on the tower balcony, although the Heart itself wasn't visible below, the warming blue glow could be seen and felt for a long way around. Down on the ground, the ponies themselves looked more like ants going about their business.

It was a long way down.

"It's a long way down," he said, anxiously.

"She'll be fine," said Cadance, waving her hoof. "This is only, like, the third-riskiest thing she'll have done this week-"

The royal couple looked over to Flurry Heart, who was sitting up in her crib watching her parents being so interesting.

They looked at one another.

Almost without a glance, Shining's horn lit up and grabbed the guard's ceremonial sword out of the air, stopping it mid-flight as it gently floated on its way to their daughter. He gently floated it back in his magical aura, giving Flurry a look - half apology for taking away her new toy, half I see what you tried to do there - and smirked as he carefully reattached it to the sheepish guard's belt.

"...Okay then, maybe the fourth-riskiest," said Cadance.

Shining looked at her. Cadance didn't back down.

"Look, I can fly. You can probably learn to teleport. But as of right now, only one of us knows what it's like to be the Princess of the Crystal Empire and be launched into action," she said. "Now, c'mon, Shiny, please! Do what every decent dad would do, and throw your daughter off the tower!"

The baby gurgled happily.