How to Train Your Pegasus

by L3gion

Chapter 9

That night, Snow Bolt curled up by the cave’s fire and stared at her own cutie mark until he could not hold her eyelids open any longer. Once asleep, she dreamed that she was flying up and up through a sapphire blue sky, into the black night sky above, past the moon and straight on to the stars.

She was awakened the next morning when Scarlet called to her. “Wake up, Pot Pie. It’s morning.”

Snow Bolt woke from her dream still smiling and rubbed her sleepy eyes. “Good morning, Scarlet.”

Scarlet seemed uncharacteristically chipper morning. Snow Bolt could see that she had been up for a few hours, working on something in the corner of the cave that served as the kitchen. The floor of that part of the cave was evenly coated in flour.

“Today’s the big day, Pot Pie. I think we’ve put it off long enough, don’t you? I’ve got the crust and the filling all ready for you.”

Snow Bolt’s sleepy brain did not immediately understand what Scarlet meant. As the realization dawned on her, her smile froze in place and slowly turned to horror. “You… you’re going to eat me?” she asked softly.

Scarlet was using a log to roll a lump of dough flat, but stopped to glance over at the young pegasus. “Well don’t sound so surprised, Pot Pie. You knew this day was coming, didn’t you?”

Snow Bolt’s breathing quickened. She turned to flee, but realized that the cave door was closed, and of course she had no hope of budging it aside. She could not run, and she certainly could not overpower the dragon. She was stuck. She was going to die.

“But…I…” Tears began to roll down the filly’s cheeks.

Scarlet had finished rolling out the enormous lump of dough and carefully laid it down in what looked like a large, above-ground swimming pool she meant to use as a pie pan. Her task finished, she dusted the flour from her claws and approached the little filly.

“But…but…” Snow Bolt again considered making an attempt to flee, but she knew that it would be pointless. “But I can fly now!” she protested.

Scarlet nonchalantly picked the young filly up by her tail and began carrying her over to the kitchen. “Yes, Pot Pie. That was the whole idea, don’t you remember?” Snow Bolt did not struggle. Hanging upside-down from the dragon’s grip, she began to weep quietly. “Now now, Pot Pie, let’s keep the blubbering to a minimum, shall we? I’ve gone to great trouble to get the seasonings just right, and I’ll not have you oversalting my meal. And anyways, weren’t you the one who said you didn’t care if I ate you or not?”

She did remember, but so much had happened since that day when she had first awakened in Scarlet’s cave. Then, it had felt like her life was over, but now she realized that her life, her real life, had just begun. It was only yesterday that she had discovered what she was meant to be, and the future had seemed to stretch out in front of her forever, bright and promising like the dawning of a new day. Had she really come this far, earned her cutie mark and all, only to be ground to bits for a monster’s brunch the very next day?

Scarlet set her down on the granite slab that served as the dragon’s kitchen counter, holding her in place with one claw. The dragon grabbed a great metal knife which may have once been a streetlamp and began sharpening it on a stalactite, idly chatting as she did so. “Well I must say, Pot Pie, you’ve certainly been a nuisance at times, but I rather think I’m going to miss having someone to read books to me in the evenings. All in all, you have not been an entirely unpleasant houseguest. Plus, I think you’ll be rather delicious.” Scarlet finished sharpening her knife and turned to Snow Bolt with a little smile. “Well, goodbye then, Pot Pie. I’ll try to make this quick.”

Snow Bolt clenched her eyes shut tight and waited for the pain. I hope it won’t hurt much, she thought to herself.

Snow Bolt clenched her eyes shut for a few long seconds, but the pain never came. “Wait a minute…” Scarlet said. Snow Bolt heard her put the knife down, then Snow Bolt was lifted from the slab by her tail.

Snow Bolt glared at the dragon with tearful eyes. “What is it now?”

Scarlet was slowly turning Snow Bolt, getting a look at her from all sides. “No, no, no. Oh, this is dreadful, just dreadful!”

“What is dreadful?” Snow Bolt repeated, wishing Scarlet would just get the thing over with.

Scarlet groaned and met the pony’s upside-down gaze. “Pot Pie, the only thing I hate more than white meat is meat that’s too gamey. Look at these flight muscles!” Scarlet twisted her around by the tail and put a finger between Snow Bolt’s wings. “There’s no tenderness here at all! Hard as a rock. Bah!” Scarlet tossed Snow Bolt over her shoulder. Reflexively, Snow Bolt twisted in mid-air, spread her wings, and landed softly on her hooves. She looked back to face the dragon, confusion and pain on her tear-streaked face.

“I can’t eat you now. You’d be all chewy and stringy and – bleh.” Scarlet walked straight over Snow Bolt and over to the cave door, grumbling to herself as she went. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to collect three tons of flour? And don’t even ask me how long it took me to get four tons of corn. Ugh, well I suppose I could stop by the Everfree Forest and grab a few rockodiles this afternoon, perhaps I could do something…” Scarlet trailed off as she reached the mouth of the cave and rolled the boulder aside. “Alright then, my useless little Pot Pie. Off you go.”

Snow Bolt stopped her sobbing, looking from Scarlet to the open mouth of the cave and back again. “You…you’re letting me go? I can go home?”

Scarlet stamped her foot impatiently. “Yes, Pot Pie. Fly a half a day west, until you find the train tracks. Follow them north and you should find that pony hometown of yours. Now go!” She gestured again at the open door with her massive claw.

Snow Bolt tentatively took one step towards the door, then another, watching Scarlet all the while. Scarlet stared down at her, her face unreadable. Snow Bolt kept walking until she was outside.

It was a beautiful day. Looking out across the valley, Snow Bolt saw that the snow on the valley floor was starting to melt in places. The distant sounds of a few songbirds drifted up on a warm, gentle breeze. It was nearly spring.

Looking out across the valley, Snow Bolt gasped as a thought suddenly occurred to her. Scarlet...she brought me to this cave, saved me from falling when I tried to escape...that conversation about my father, and now…

Mouth agape, Snow Bolt turned back to Scarlet. “You…this whole time! You never actually planned on eating me, did you?”

Scarlet snorted and waved her claw dismissively. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Pot Pie. The only thing I ever wanted from you was a bit of pony meat. If I had known then that you were going to be so much trouble…”

Snow Bolt interrupted the dragoness by flying up to her chest and hugging her around the middle, or at least as best as their relative sizes would allow. She nuzzled her face into the dragon’s scales, tears of joy streaming down her face. After a moment, she felt the dragon’s claws gently cradle her.

“Thank you, Scarlet. Thank you. I owe you everything,” Snow Bolt said into the dragon’s scales. After a moment, Scarlet pulled her away and held the little pony up to eye level, a little smirk on her massive dragon face. With all the precision of a seamstress threading a needle, she reached up and touched the pony’s nose with one great, taloned finger. “Such a disobedient little Pot Pie," she said.

They hugged once more, then Scarlet set her down on the ledge. “Now go! You’ve wasted enough of my time.”

Snow Bolt smiled, then turned and walked to the ledge. She heard a soft chittering off to one side, and turned to see Cheeky emerge from between a few rocks. The little squirrel had apparently been watching the whole scene. She now smiled at Snow Bolt sadly and gave a little wave with one paw.

“Oh, Cheeky.” Snow Bolt went over and picked the little squirrel up in one hoof. “I guess I’m leaving now, little friend. Thanks for everything.” She brought the squirrel up to her face, and the squirrel wrapped her tiny arms around Snow Bolt’s muzzle.

They stayed like that for a long moment, then Snow Bolt set Cheeky down on the rock, turned, faced the ledge, and spread her wings.

She made as if to take off, but then stopped and slowly folded her wings again. She turned back to Cheeky. “Say, uh, Cheeky…” Snow Bolt shrugged nonchalantly. “You uh… you don’t want to come with me, do you?”

Cheeky gasped, bringing her little paws up to her mouth, then scurried down the rock faster than Snow Bolt had ever seen her move. She ran up Snow Bolt’s leg and hugged her again around the muzzle. She then took her place atop Snow Bolt’s head, grabbed a lock of mane in each paw, and pointed bravely to the west.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Snow Bolt giggled. She trotted off the ledge, and with a few beats of her strong wings, was airborne. She circled once to gain altitude, and with one final wave to Scarlet, turned westward.

* * *

Scarlet watched the young filly fly off, until she was only a bright white speck in the distance. When she heard hoofsteps behind her, she turned to see none other than Princess Celestia herself walking up to the ledge to join her.

“Your Highness,” Scarlet said, giving a little bow.

Celestia smiled. “Come now, old friend. There’s no need for any of that.”

Scarlet shrugged with a smile of her own. Together, they turned to look after the white speck on the horizon. Celestia nodded in the direction Snow Bolt had flown off. “Will she be alright?”

Scarlet nodded. “She’ll be more than alright.”

“Good,” Celestia said. “I can’t thank you enough for this, Scarlet. I owe you one.”

Scarlet turned to face the sun goddess. “One? Unless my memory is fading in my old age, I believe that’s two you owe me, Princess.”