• Published 31st May 2013
  • 1,319 Views, 53 Comments

The Unicorn with Fire on Her Flank - Noradora



When a troubled unicorn flees her home in Canterlot, what kind of life awaits her in Ponyville?

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Chapter 1: New Beginnings

Author's Note:

This chapter, as well as the next, has been touched up as of July 20, 2014, to fit better with the quality of those that follow.

The train from Canterlot left a cool breeze in its wake as it chugged along the countryside. The sun hung high in the sky, shining down on the colorful world of Equestria. It would seem, to most, a beautiful and ordinary day.

As far as a certain unicorn aboard the Friendship Express was concerned, however, it was just a relief to get away.

Looking away from the window, she looked down at her cutie mark. She saw a purple flame, and heard a scream...

The young mare shook her head, her two-toned mane swishing side to side. Maybe if I hadn’t bothered with the tickets. Maybe...

With a sigh, she leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. Don't think about it. Just keep facing forward. There's a lot to do today...

Steeling herself for the day ahead, she opened her sky-blue eyes once more to the grassy plains outside and saw her new home looming on the horizon.

Ponyville.

—————————

"Hm."

The young mare was now standing at attention, hardly blinking as a middle-aged stallion eyed her from across his desk. Captain Searchlight took another look down at his junior's files, scrutinizing some line of text or another. A few moments later he resumed his stern gaze with a grunt.

"Well, you look the part. You seem disciplined enough, and you're more than qualified. And as I told you, we're low on numbers. I don't see a good reason not to hire you, Wispwillow."

"Yes, sir."

Searchlight straightened out the papers on his desk with a quick flare of his horn and slipped them back into their manila folder. "Consider yourself hired, then. Come back in a few days to meet your partner and start your patrols. Until then, take some time to get familiar with the layout of town."

Wisp nodded her assent. "Yes, sir. But... patrols? Doesn't the—"

She clopped a hoof against the side of her head. "Right, right, nevermind. Forgive me, I'm just so used to living in Canterlot."

The captain grunted again. He did that a lot.. "Naturally, even if we did have Guards stationed here, we would still have our own patrols. Preexisting security would be no excuse for complacency. Besides, Search and Rescue is a different profession and can lend itself more to some skills that the Guard might not. Like that tracking spell of yours."

"That spell isn't great at tracking most ponies... But that makes sense." With that settled, Wisp turned to leave. "Is that all, sir?"

"One more thing. Your file is exemplary. You could make great use of your skills here, but don't let your little anger issues get in the way of the job. Understood?"

Her tail bristled as her mouth formed into a grim line. "Yes, sir. It won't be a problem."

"Good. You're free to go."

Wisp promptly made her exit, her aura fading from the doorknob as she shut the door behind her. With a scoff, she started on her way out of Ponyville Town Hall. I need you to tell me that... Not when you look so much like her.

As it turned out, besides that sour note, the day was off to a decent start. Wisp had heard about how friendly and close-knit Ponyville's community was, but it was another thing to experience it. G Sure, that one stallion had been in a hurry, and that pink mare had seemed... strange before running off, but it had proven easy enough to get some directions. It was, all things considered, a positive first impression.

Now then, the unicorn thought to herself as she stepped outside the building, I just need to find that property for rent and get some food, and I'm pretty much set.

She looked back at her custom-made saddlebags, which naturally contained the money and other essentials necessary to make this move. It matched her ashen blue coat in color, and the clasps were made in the shape of her cutie mark. It really was a beautiful piece of work, but she couldn't help but feel regret as she considered who had paid to have it made. Sorry, moms. I don't plan on coming back very soon...

Her parents...

Wispwillow's thoughts drifted as she left the town hall's patio and began heading north. Though her biological mother had been understanding enough, Glory Lily had adamantly tried convincing her to stay. Her step-mom had always been the stubborn one... Not to mention that she felt that she was, in part, to blame.

Sidestepping a unicorn stallion, her mind drifted further. And Tiger Lily... She sighed. This is all such a bunch of horseapples. I had to leave, but... What's she going to do without her big sister?

She stamped a hoof on the ground in an attempt to banish those painful thoughts. No, stop worrying. It'll be fine. I can go back and visit anytime. It's not like Canterlot's very far by train—

Wispwillow suddenly found her train of thought interrupted by an unidentified flying object as it crashing into her side and sending her sprawling across the ground. How rude of it. She was trying to convince herself that...

Oh, sod it.

After taking a few moments to catch her breath, she opened her eyes. To her considerable surprise, she found herself staring at a pony's rump. With understandable agitation, she yelped and pulled the pony off of her with a flash of her horn as she scrambled back onto her hooves.

"H-hey, what's the big i—"

"I'm so sorry, it was an accident! I was just in a rush and I... Um..." There was an awkward pause as the grey mare looked up at the ground. "Could you put me down, please?"

"Huh?" The unicorn blinked. "Oh. Right." With a quick twirl, the other mare was back on the ground, instead of floating upside-down.

The pegasus scratched at the back of her neck with a hoof. She wore a guilty expression—and rightly so, Wisp thought—and looked like she was about to say something when a gust of wind signaled the arrival of another pegasus.

"Not again, Derpy... Are the both of you alright?" This new pony's coat was some shade of purple, and her pale, wild mane blew in the wind as she came in for a landing.

"Me?" Wisp asked. As if she were talking to anyone else. "Yeah, I'm fine. I think." Looking over to the first pegasus, a gray one apparently called Derpy. She wondered why she was showing concern for the pony who had just plowed into her, but still she asked, "Uh... How about you?"

The blonde mare nervously rubbed her shoulder and looked around her. "Oh, I'm okay. I'm just glad none of this mail is damaged..."

Only then did Wisp notice the mess of envelopes scattered on the ground. Again, she felt like she should be more indignant, but with hardly a thought she picked everything up in her magic and slipped it back into the bag slung around Derpy's neck.

It was then, as she was making sure they all fit, that she finally noticed the mare's wall-eye. Huh. That might explain a lot.

"Oh, thanks!" the mare exclaimed. One could almost forget that she had just barreled into somepony. "But, um... Sorry to cut and run, but I should really get back to work. But I'm really sorry for running into you, miss."

"Eh, i's alright. Just... try not to make a habit of it, yes?"

"Eheh... Don't worry, I won't," Derpy replied as she took to the air and flew away.

"Make sure to fly straight, Ditzy Doo!" the other pegasus called after her. She gave an exasperated sigh when the mailmare bobbed and weaved out of sight without showing she had heard her.

Ditzy Doo? What, is that her real name?

Ruffling her mane, the purple pony turned to Wisp. "Sorry about that. Derpy can just be a bit... disaster-prone."

"No, it's alright. She seems nice enough. Though I can't say I was hoping for a pony's rear in my face when I woke up today..."

With a chuckle, the mare said, "Ah, you'll be fine," and offered a hoof. "Anyway, name's Cloudchaser."

"Wispwillow," she replied, returning the gesture and shaking hooves. "But my friends just call me Wisp."

"Alright. It's good to meet ya, then, Wisp," Cloudchaser grinned. "You're new around here, aren't you? Don't think I've seen you around before."

The unicorn nodded. "Yeah, I just arrived from Canterlot. I was just on my way to rent a place to stay, actually."

Cloudchaser smirked at that. "Ooh, fancy pony. Well, if you want a guide, I can show you around, give you a little tour or something. Especially if you need help finding your place. But, uh..." The pegasus scratched her chin. "Pinkie Pie could show up at any time. Might wanna just... keep an eye out."

Wisp raised an eyebrow at that. "Pinkie Pie?"

Cloudchaser rolled a hoof in the air as she explained. "She's Ponyville's resident party pony. She throws parties for everything: Welcome parties, birthday parties, afterparties... after-afterparties... end-of-the-fiscal-year parties... Point is, if you're a new pony in town, she'll find you and throw you a party."

Wisp was taken aback. This pony sounded a little intimidating. "I see..." Thinking back to an hour or two ago, she remembered asking a pink pony for directions. And had been left scratching her head when that pony simply gasped and ran off. "I think I may have met her..."

Cloudchaser got a laugh out of that little anecdote. "Yeah, that's definitely Pinkie. She must be planning your party already. She'll show up sooner or later, when you least expect it. Best to just let it happen."

"If you say so..." This pony sounded harmless enough, but she also sounded... eccentric. "Anyway, you said you could show me to my place. Would you mind?"

Spreading her wings and taking a bow, the pegasus proclaimed with an exaggerated Canterlot accent, "Yes, milady. The wise and illustrious Cloudchaser shall be your guide."

Wisp couldn't help but scoff and roll her eyes. It's not like she found that even a little amusing, or anything. "I can't tell which one of us you're trying to flatter, but I'll have you know I'm not a noble or anything like that."

Cloudchaser pulled herself back up into a standing position with a flap of her wings and held a hoof to her chest. "'If you say so,' Miss Wispwillow," she proclaimed with a snicker. "Anyway, you're right. Let's get going, Fireflank."

"Eh?"

Pointing in the direction of her flanks, the pegasus answered, "Well, I have to assume that's your cutie mark."

Wisp glanced at her saddlebag clasps. "Oh, right... Yeah, that makes sense. I've just never really had a nickname like that."

Cloudchaser raised an eyebrow, grinning at her. "Custom saddlebags and boring nicknames? And you say you're not fancy."

The unicorn rolled her eyes again. This was shaping up to be an interesting day.

* * * * *

Fortunately for the new mare in town, the current owner of her home-to-be had been readily available to show her through the building and broker a deal. Also fortunately, it sounded like rent in Ponyville was pretty cheap. By Canterlot standards, anyway.

But then, that didn't really matter, did it? She didn't intend to rent a place as her parents had hoped. In any case, Wispwillow was beginning to feel suspicious of all her good fortune when she saw the stallion waiting for her patiently outside the door, and it only grew when she noted the pony's greased black mane and moneybags cutie mark. His tie even had a money sign on it.

Despite his appearance, he seemed a decent enough pony, though. On the surface. But he still fit strongly into a certain profile (seriously, the tie was just silly), so she kept her guard up throughout the tour.

The two-story home was fully furnished, although the couch looked a little worn. She would probably replace that. Nothing appeared to be wrong with the plumbing, the foals' room could be used for storage or something, the bed was perfect,and the cellar was of a decent size—perfect for practicing magic.

Once they returned to the front room and the realtor showed Wisp saw the final figures, she say something. Quill hovering inches away from the dotted line, she asked, "Alright, is there some kind of catch? This seems like an awfully... fair price."

The stallion gave her a patient, knowing grin. "Fair? Of course it's fair. You don't get where I am in life, or make the money I do, if you cheat your customers. Just ask anypony in Ponyville about my business practices."

"Huh. I suppose..." The unicorn had to admit, she was impressed. "Equestria could use more salesponies like you, Mr. Rich."

The tall stallion laughed heartily, his bright blue eyes twinkling with more than just mirth. "Don't I know it. Incidentally, I have been meaning to expand..."

Wisp grinned at him, satisfied. Signing the papers with a flourish, she pulled a note from her saddlebags, scratched her name and a number onto it, and levitated it over to Filthy. Also satisfied, he primly nodded and allowed her to slip it and the quill into his own saddlebag.

"Well then, Mr. Rich, it's been a pleasure doing business with you," Wisp said as she removed her saddlebags off herself and dropped them off on her new couch. "Thanks."

"Oh, think nothing of it, young lady," he said, smiling in kind. "Just be sure to stop by Rich's Barnyard Bargains sometime. There's no better place to purchase a gift for your friends or special somepony."

Wisp's face froze. Special somepony...

Several moments passed. It didn't take Filthy long to notice the change in mood, so he cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, miss. Did I strike a nerve with my little advertisement?"

The unicorn shook her head and looked up at him with a plastic smile. "Oh, no, I'm fine. I was just... thinking it's funny you seem to always have money on the mind, that's all. Heh..."

Filthy Rich wasn't convinced, but one also didn't get where he was in life without knowing when not to press a mare. So he gave her an easy smile and said, chuckling, "Yes, well, I have money as my cutie mark for a reason." Before leaving, he added, "Anyway, I'll leave you to your new home. Places to be, money to make, and all that."

Wisp's strained smile gave way to one more genuine. "Thanks. I guess I'll see you around, Mr. Rich. Have a pleasant day." The stallion kindly nodded and went on his way, leaving her to her own devices.

As soon as the sound of hoofsteps faded, she turned and bucked a hind leg against the rickety couch. "Argh, why can't I just forget?!"

Her new house didn't feel particularly inclined to answer. In time, however, there was a knock at the door.

Right, Cloudchaser must be back with her sister...

Taking a deep breath, and trying to let her mind clear, the unicorn slowly trotted over to the door and opened it with her horn. She found herself greeted by a lot of... purple.

"Heya, Wisp. Mind if we come in?" asked Cloudchaser.

"Yeah, sure. Come on in."

Backing up to make room for them, Wisp watched as Cloudchaser was followed inside by her fellow pegasus. They were both remarkably similar in complexion, besides that the new mare's coat was a few shades lighter and her hair more well-groomed (and a light opal color rather than white and blue). A pinkish bow cemented her overall appearance as decidedly different.

Somehow, paradoxically, this pony looked a bit less prettied up than her counterpart. Maybe it was Cloudchaser's eyeliner.

Said pony looked beside her and said, "Well, this is her, sis. That fancy Canterlot mare I told you about."

"Cloudchaser, if you make me roll my eyes any more I might have to go see an optometrist," Wisp replied.

"An optomma-what?"

The new pony giggled before introducing herself. "Sorry about my sister. She'd a bit of a blockhead."

"Hey!"

"Anyway, my name's Flitter," said the pegasus. "Welcome to Ponyville!"

Wisp smiled at her. "Thank you. I can't say I mind warm welcome on my first day here." Then, looking between the two of them, she asked, "I take it you're the polite and responsible one?"

Cloudchaser swooned with faux indignance. "Polite? This one? She can be a real ice queen."

Flitter nudged her sister with a wing, despite her own grin. This seemed like a familiar routine. "You're the one who skips weather duty because you're too lazy to actually work."

"You skip with me."

"Only sometimes."

Wisp couldn't help but laugh. "Well, you two are quite the pair."

Cloudchaser puffed out her chest and held a hoof to it. "Yep, that's us. The Dynamic Duo of Doing Daring... Stuff."

"Yes, how very eloquent, sister."

"Of course. I'm the leader of the group, the Queen of Eloquence," Cloudchaser snarked, bouncing her eyebrows.

Flitter just quietly facehoofed, but fortunately the moment passed.

"Anyway," Cloudchaser said, stepping forward, "Let's get out of here and hit the town. I said I'd give you a tour."

The unicorn nodded in agreement. "Yeah, sure. I could use a snack, anyway, and I gone out for groceries yet."

And so it was decided. Following the pegasi outside, Wisp's horn lit as she stuck a small bag of bits into her tail and locked the door. It took just a moment to feel out the locking mechanism and figure out where to push.

Outside, the sun was still high in the sky, but had made some progress on its eastward journey since she last looked. Ponies were walking the streets and flying overhead, exchanging greetings with passersby as they carried on with their lives. Wisp found the sight... comforting. Only a few hours ago she had left Canterlot, abandoning her home and family with only the hope that things in her life would straighten out. Although it was a bit early to assume anything, Ponyville's friendly atmosphere did a lot to make a pony feel at home, and on top of that that she had secured both a job and a permanent home. Better yet, it seemed she had already made a friend or two in her very short time here. So far, things were looking pretty good.

These thoughts in mind, it took a while for Wisp to realize that those friends were both giving her a strange look.

Head tilted, Cloudchaser asked, "You just locked the door with magic instead of using a key like everypony else, didn't you?"

Something of an awkward smile crossed her lips. "Well, yeah... I’m pretty good at magic, and it's actually safer than carrying a key around."

"Oh?" intoned Flitter.

The unicorn nodded. "Yeah. My special talent is basically magical fire, but beyond that, learning spells comes pretty easily to me. More than for most unicorns, anyway." She blinked, "Although that wasn't much of a special spell I just used. It was just focused telekinesis."

"I see," the pegasus nodded. Then, with a sly look in her eyes, Flitter added, "Hmm... You know, if you can lock a door with your magic, you can unlock it. What's to stop you from sneaking into an unsuspecting pony's house at night?"

"If I wanted to sneak into somepony's home, I could just as easily unlock a window."

Awkward silence.

With a cough, Wisp amended, "Uh, not that I would, of course. Think of it this way: If somepony else breaks in, I can go right in and take care of them instead of wasting time looking for the entrance they used."

"Or you could just blow the door down," Cloudchaser cut in.

"Yes, or I could do that."

"I don't know about this pony, sis," Flitter teasingly lamented. "Whatever would we do if she learned where we live?"

"See, she's doing it already," Cloudchaser snickered. "Cold, I tell you. More importantly, though, I haven't made fun of you for how fan—"

The purple pegasus looked down her muzzle. There didn't seem to be anything wrong... She opened her mouth again. "How fan—"

There it was again. When the pegasus realized Wisp and Flitter were both enjoying, she noticed the glow around the former's horn. "Hey, that's cheating!"

Still laughing, the unicorn told her, "Well, you seem like you'd do the same if you could. Just stop calling me fancy and I'll leave that pretty face alone."

"Hey, you said it that time, not me." Looking to the sky, Cloudchaser added, "Anyway, let's get moving. I'm getting hungry, and we can show you a few places on the way to Sugarcube Corner."

The trip proved a fairly short one. Flitter and Cloudchaser pointed out several areas of interest along the way, such as the Golden Oaks Library—interesting magic indeed that could keep the hollowed tree from dying—a small confectionary store, and a large, extravagant cloud mansion in the distance that Cloudchaser claimed belonged to a pegasus named Rainbow Dash. Hm. That name sounds familiar...

It suddenly dawned on Wisp that she hadn't taken notice of either Flitter or Cloudchaser's cutie marks yet. It hadn't even occurred to her when her own was brought up. Acting quickly to rectify this, she looked up to Flitter a small ways ahead of her. So her mark is... dragonflies? I don't get it. I'll have to ask about that later...

When Flitter looked back and saw where she was looking, she raised an eyebrow but didn't seem to mind.

Wisp couldn't help but cough. "Sorry, I just now realized I hadn't seen your cutie marks. I was just curious."

"Is that so?" Cloudchaser started. "What do you think of mine, then?"

The darker pegasus was on Wisp's other side, and now wiggling her flank provocatively at her. Pfft... So, a shooting star. Maybe she's a skilled flier? I'm not sure, but it looks good on h—wait, what?!

The pegasi certainly hadn't expected their new friend to fall on her rump looking as if Princess Celestia had insulted her mother. Wisp was frozen in shock, pinprick eyes wavering as her thoughts went straight to... what she had run away from. "Shooting star..."

"What is it? Is there something on my flank? ...Wisp?”

Flitter sat down and embraced her with a wing. "Hey, are you alright?"

It took a few seconds, but the unicorn broke out of her daze and cleared her throat. "Yeah. I just... uh..."

Cloudchaser didn't seem to know what to do with herself, seeing her sister was already winghugging her. "You sure? You don't look so good."

Wisp tried shaking it off, but this time it did little to help. "S-sorry. I was just..." Looking pensive for a moment, she took a deep breath and allowed her features to slowly still. "Can it wait? It's complicated."

"Are you positive?" Cloudchaser asked. "I know we've just met, but you can talk to us if something's bothering you."

The unicorn looked away, setting her jaw. "Sorry. I really don't wanna talk about it."

Flitter gently retracted her wing and stepped away. "It's alright. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to, either."

Pulling herself back onto her hooves, Wisp trained her eyes on the ground, away from theirs. "...Thanks."

"Well, anyway," Cloudchaser laughed awkwardly, "we're not far too from Sugarcube now. We should get going, yeah?"

An uneasy silence fell over them as they continued their little journey. Wisp kept silent, trailing slightly behind the pegasi, and Cloudchaser didn't care much for it. This new pony could be fun, but right now she was being a stick in the mud. She didn't want to talk about it, but that didn't mean somepony couldn't cheer her up.

The pegasus exchanged a look with her sibling, wiggling her eyebrows and gesturing towards the mare behind them. A wink confirmed that she got the message. Hah. This is gonna be great. Probably.

They stealthily slowed their pace until they lined up with Wisp, slowly inching closer until they were each hardly a hoof's distance from her. The time was almost upon them.

And three... two... one.

Flitter and Cloudchaser, in perfect unison, pressed their flanks into Wisp's, effectively sandwiching her. The young mage immediately let loose a loud squeak and tripped over her front legs.

Before face could get properly acquainted with the ground rushing up to meet it, she wrapped herself in her own unicorn aura, stopping her descent only inches away from pain. At this angle, her horn would have smacked into the ground first... And the mere thought was almost enough to collapse her magical field right then. That would not have been pleasant. Not at all.

Quickly pulling back up and releasing herself, the unicorn was soon back on all fours with cheeks aflush.

"Uh, w-what was that about?"

It took her a second to notice that the mares beside her were wide-eyed and slackjawed. She didn't get it, but Cloudchaser soon spoke up and clarified. "Woah. I don't think I've ever seen a unicorn besides Twilight Sparkle levitate themselves before."

Brushing herself off, Wisp replied, "Yeah, well, like I said, I can't deny I'm pretty good with magic... It's pretty tough for most unicorns to levitate themselves, because when you cast a spell like telekinesis, you have to feel what you're affecting with the spell. Feeling your own magical focus, or horn, is pretty... awkward." The mare paused, trying to think of a decent metaphor. "It's almost like... trying to swallow your own mouth. Or lick your own tongue." She shrugged. "Having to wrap your mind around that can make a spell pretty taxing until you get used. But me, I'm blessed with a lot of 'mana' and, well... a talent for spellcasting."

By complete coincidence, both sisters blinked at the sane time. Creepy. "That... actually kind of makes sense," Flitter offered. "Though it's still pretty hard to imagine."

Her sister nodded. "Yeah. Kinda cool, too. I wish I could lick my tongue..." As Flitter rolled her eyes, she continued, "...Oh, uh, right. Sorry for pulling that on ya, Wisp. You just seemed really down, and I wanted to cheer you up."

The unicorn was surprised. That little stunt had felt a bit personal, but the two of them had done it just to cheer her up? Once she remembered herself, she said, "Oh, don't worry about it." Then a strange look passed over her face, and then she was nursing a blush and looked away in an attempt to hide it. "I appreciate it. And I... I think we could be good friends, Cloudchaser."

Wisp wasn't the only one blushing now. Scratching her mane and nervously fluttering her wings, Cloudchaser replied, "Well, uh... I-It wasn't just me. Flitter was in on it, too."

The mare in question daintily stamped her hoof and feigned an indignant face. "That's right. You should be bonding with me, too!"

This unicorn was getting to laugh an awful lot this day. "Thank you, too, Flitter. It's kinda strange to say this already, but... I feel lucky to have met you girls. I'll have to remember to thank Derpy later."

After the three of them brushed themselves off and were, again, ready to head off, they resumes their leisurely trot to to Sugarcube Corner.

They were almost able to smell it before they saw it. A warm, sweet aroma telling of many fresh-baked goods to come wafted out past its three-piece door, passively but insistently inviting ponies in to have a treat. The gingerbread house motif (or... was it actually made of some sort of gingerbread?) only made the place even more appealing.

Mm, gingerbread...

Trotting ahead of her companions, Wispwillow went ahead to open the door and was suddenly assaulted by confetti and a roomful of party.

"Surpriiiiiise!"

Right. Of course.

Pinkie Pie.

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